107 degrees of separation

Was life in Sweden and Norway so bad that people thought this was better?

Welcome back to another fun-filled “spring” semester at the University! All kidding aside, this semester begins as so many spring semesters before: in the agonizing throes of a Minnesota winter.

Now, many of you out there don’t know much else – having been born and raised in this environment. I’m not one of those people. Nope, while I was born in the snowy berg of Toronto, my parents wised up and moved to Kahlifornia three years later.

Growing up, I really didn’t know winter. Seeing snow was voluntary and involved a car and driving an hour or so up the mountain, real mountains by the way.

Then, three years ago, I got the bright idea of not only going to law school, but doing it here. I’m now going into my third winter, and I’ll be frank with you, I still don’t get it.

For example, let’s take last week – it was 67 degrees when I got on the plane, but when I got off, it was 10 below 0 with a wind chill of 30 below 0. Somewhere in that 107-degree difference it struck me: What were people thinking? The wind chill back in Los Angeles was something like 65.

I’m now well past beating myself up over why I chose to go to law school here. Now, I’m trying to figure out why anyone would move to Minnesota. Was life in Sweden and Norway so bad that people thought this was better? What were the conversations like?

“Hey Olaf, let’s leave this beautiful fjord and move to a flat-as-a-pancake, Godforsaken, frozen wasteland in the hinterlands of the United States.”

“Gee, OK Sven – sounds fine to me! I hear it gets even colder, too!”

Looking at today, we have heaters, humidifiers, cars, medication and all sorts of other things to keep us from getting harmed as easily by the weather, so moving to Minnesota isn’t as absolutely insane as it must have seemed 150 years ago. Back then, the Minnesota winter was stripped down to its bare essentials: The weather is trying to kill us.

This experience has taught me a few things about human nature I didn’t expect:

Three years ago, I never quite understood the allure of spending spring break in Mexico or one of the “Girls Gone Wild” locales, because the weather at home wasn’t all that bad. Now, spending “spring” break in Minnesota’s March has made me see those destinations in a whole new light. Hell, I’m ready to inaugurate a “Daily Columnists Go Wild!” video – a ghastly thought, I know.

As for the Scandinavians, the Vikings totally make sense now. Back in those hellish Medieval times, spending a winter in these kinds of conditions would drive anyone a little batty – and full of vindictive jealousy. Yup, I bet all those Viking raids were all about taking out their frustrations on the peoples of warmer climates. Heck, I’m ready to lead a longboat expedition down the Mississippi River to sack New Orleans, Tampa, Fla., and Miami right now.

Now, as I spend my already groggy mornings trudging toward the University in the ridiculous cold, I’m no longer angry at myself for being here, the state for being this cold or Stanford University for not letting me in: I’m pissed at all my friends back home in Los Angeles. Oh yes, they’re the ones who don’t know exactly how lucky they have it. Bitching and whining about a little rain – I was there last week, it wasn’t that bad – and temperatures that fell into the high 40s. Those stupid little weaklings ought to come out here and serve a few winters that’ll build their characters.

Yeah, “build character” – that’s what I was told would happen when I moved here. Now, I know it’s code for “understand entirely new levels of despair.” Good times.

Bobak Ha’Eri welcomes comments at [email protected]