5 Tips to Surviving The Midwest


I took my 12-year-old to the bus stop at 6:40 and thought the same thing I’ve been thinking since I realized where my ancestors decided to settle down,

‘Why the fuck did you choose here? After jumping ship at Ellis, why didn’t you keep going West…..like to Los Angeles?’

All they had to do was follow Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman’s lead, bring a stake and throw it down in the land they wanted. Or at least that’s how it’s done in the movies. I guess it could have been worse. They could have kept going West but ended up in Oklahoma, Idaho or Nebraska. Suddenly Columbus, Ohio isn’t that bad.

And it really isn’t bad at all. I have pride for my city except when it’s January or 10 degrees outside (for the rest of the world, that’s 50 fahrenheit but you probably already knew that. Us ass holes in America decided not to take the time and memorize the conversion). Don’t get me wrong, if a publisher offered a book deal tomorrow, I’d uproot this family in a heart beat to California.

So alas, I bring you a guide to living in the midwest.


The few times I’ve witnessed this, it’s pretty magical. Not a tornado but a new Ohioan will be sitting at their desk and all of a sudden they hear the tornado sirens.

“Oh my God! What’s that? Is that a tornado? Do you have a basement? We’re all gonna die!”

“Sit down Karen! They’re just testing the sirens!”

And that is what they do, they test the tornado sirens either every Tuesday or Wednesday at noon. Newbies don’t know this and despite snow on the ground, they think a tornado is coming.

I take every tornado seriously. Anytime the sirens go off and it’s not lunch time on a Wednesday, the boys and I head down in the basement with flashlights to wait it out. My husband though has yet to every come down. He is so confident there isn’t a tornado he just sprawls out on the sofa, enjoying the peace and quiet. His approach has a 100% success rate. Whateve’.


Bean dip, artichoke dip, onion dip, salsa, cheese, 24-layer something dip….it don’t matter. You either need to know how to make a dip or have a fine appreciation for dips. I have 1 dip I’m really good at and that’s the one my mother-in-law taught me- an onion dip. Surprisingly, that’s one of the few things I don’t screw up.

Snow Emergencies

Snow emergencies usually occur when the roads get nasty and driving is discouraged. They range from 1-4 with 1 being the least severe. Now what you want and what you pray to Jesus, God, Buddha and anyone in between is for a 4. Why? Because if your county is deemed a 4, you can be arrested for being on the road.

“Sorry boss, can’t come to work today. It’s against the law.”

And that is that. You legally can’t go to work.

Normally it only gets to a 2 and I think I’ve only seen a 3 a few times and a 4 once. The 4 came during a holiday ice storm in 2004. I was 6 months pregnant and the electricity went out. We spent 2 days in my mother’s condo with my other 2 sisters, 3 dogs and one of their boyfriends. It was not ideal.


I’m talking about driving in the winter. Full disclosure, I drive like a grandmother on snow and ice. My tires are probably so worn that ice cubes get better traction. It’s really not a problem till you have ass holes in monster trucks, thundering down the highway at 65 when the speed limit is 55 and there is 2″ of ice on the road. Or the dick who still insists on riding your ass, leaving 0 stopping and will undoubtedly slide into your car if you break. When its slick, I usually start breaking for a red light a quarter of a mile away, anticipating I’ll be sliding. Once I slid into an intersection (my car would not stop) and I fully accepted I might be hit. The best thing I could do was slam on my horn while sliding to alert on coming traffic. By the grace of God, I didn’t get hit.


Football is a cult here. As many of you know, I give zero fucks about football. I’ve literally been frowned at on more than one occasion because I wasn’t wearing an Ohio State shirt on game day. It’s not uncommon to be in a bar and someone yells out, “O-H!” and the rest of the crowd yells, “I-O!” And don’t even think about wearing Michigan stuff and not getting sneered at. I always look at people wearing Michigan shirts and think, ‘that is either a really brave or stupid person’. We are going to Michigan Saturday for a soccer game and my sons have told me they are going to wear all of their Ohio State garb. And I’m like, ‘you little fools. Are you trying to get yourself killed?’

And to any of my mid-western readers, what are some additional “how-tos” when living in the mid-west?



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