Heat Reminders and Also, What’s That Smell?

Amidst the elephant stampede that is my work life for the time being, I had a momentary realization and went to go check when the summer solstice was happening. Sure enough, it was yesterday.

Thank you, Google, for spelling it out.

What? Is it humid?

What prompted me to check, if I’m being honest, is that it’s been balls hot this week. I think I’ve alluded to the fact that I’m not a hot weather person. The recent ninety-degree temperatures and my hair’s response to the 400% humidity, not unlike Monica in Barbados, made me wonder if it was the official start of summer just yet. Sure enough, it arrived a day early.

I have such a love/hate relationship with summer. On the one hand, I complain that it’s too long and it’s too damn hot. On the other, it goes by SO fast, as it commences unofficially with Memorial Day, followed closely behind by Independence Day, and rounds off with Labor Day. Before we know it, bam! It’s September and it’s Cinnamon/Apple/Pumpkin season, also known as cinnappkin season, and I’m wondering how long it will be before Christmas everything is in my face.

But back to summer.

Before I get to enjoy delicious cinnapkin treats, I must endure three months of doing everything I can to stay reasonably cool, usually failing miserably (short of being cooped up in an air-conditioned office all day, which then makes me happy to be at work, and then I get all workaholicky).

Heat emanating in waves from concrete or asphalt is one of the worst feelings in the world. In addition to the sun already frying my pale skin, it feels like death can’t be far away as long as I am being cloaked in an armpit of reflected heat from the surface on which I’m walking. (How could I ever wonder whether I was destined to move away from New York City?)

Secondly and perhaps more importantly, summer brings certain odeurs with it that other seasons do not. Namely, the smell of putrid rotting garbage. In the heat, every smell is magnified to an intense degree which is difficult to endure. Being a person who can sniff out the slightest of scents hours after they’ve occurred in an enclosed space, whenever I’m hit in the face with the smell of rotting garbage or sizzling dog poop because it’s a hundred degrees out, I gag and fiercely wish for the swift death of this particular season.

There are the nice parts to summer, too, but they are as fleeting for me as seeing a shooting star. It’s rare I get to go on any kind of “summer vacation” at this point in my life, so enjoying a beautiful place with a beach or mountains or doing anything else fun where I could actually enjoy being out of doors is pretty much out of my grasp. Plus, even when I do get to be outside for any length of time when the sun is at its strongest, I’m obsessing about my skin’s exposure to the strong summer sun. And then I get hot, tired, and thirsty really easily. And then I whine.

Summer = whining, can’t you tell?

While I am grateful this other issue I’m about to mention isn’t as literally in my face as when I lived in the Big Apple, summer also brings with it extra strength B.O. Being a defensive pedestrian (as opposed to being a defensive driver, I guess?) means holding my breath a lot more, especially when walking past certain people (I make snap smell judgments) or if a jogger/biker/greasy-looking-person happens to whizz by me. Or takes a wiz BY me.

Okay, probably time for me to find another positive aspect to summer.

I DO enjoy the extra hours of daylight. It’s nice to get ready for work in the morning, especially now that I’m an early-morning-schedule person, with the sun shining in and seven a.m. doesn’t feel like three a.m. Same goes for coming home from work and having the lingering light go into the eight o’clock hour.

And, if the air is feeling soupy at night and I can’t sleep because I’m feeling too warm, I remind myself that I pay my own electric bill and can choose to go up to my thermostat and crank down the temperature to 65 degrees if I damn well please. So there is that – summertime reminds me I’m not subjected to the thermostat whims of my parents any longer. Win!

But really, for the most part, I’m gritting my teeth and waiting for the sweet release of autumn. And cinnappkin everything.

Blerg. Three months to go.

The Summer Blues

I don’t know if any of you out there have experienced what I have dubbed as The Summer Blues but it’s basically the three hottest months of the year just not turning out how you thought they would.

I have vivid memories of being a kid and having summers off, watching my mother go off to work and having absolutely no clue why she couldn’t take off the same amount of time. I remember thinking that it seemed so silly that everyone didn’t have summer vacation. It’s hot and icky out, who wants to go to work? Answer: no one. (I would probably be writing a different kind of post if I’d grown up in Europe, where traditionally many countries take off the entire month of August. Lucky ducks.)

The last time I was able to experience having three months off was in the summers between college years. Most students find jobs. I really did try. I applied for cashier positions at Bed Bath & Beyond and the like. Nada. Not one phone call. And I had retail experience and administrative experience. I was unemployable, apparently. Despite being flat broke and having nowhere to go, I made the best of it and enjoyed some lazy days off, looking forward by August for the school year to recommence. I didn’t know then how much I would later wish to have absolutely nothing to do or nowhere to be.

Despite not working from May to August, no two summers were ever the same. Some I spent at my mom’s house, visiting with my dad, some I spent staying with a then-boyfriend of mine. I don’t come from a family with a lot of money so luxurious vacations have never been a part of my life. When my brother and I were kids, we had the occasional road trip to see grandparents and my mom was able to give us a trip to Disney World once. I was around 17 and I got severely sunburned. It wasn’t pretty. Still, Disney means it when they say they provide you with some lifelong memories.

In the summer of 2003, I had a chance to do something totally different. I got to spend ten days or so in the south of France with a friend of mine from college and it was one of the best times I ever had. Lots of sun, beach, swimming, good food, laughs, French speaking, memories – no sunburns. I still have the unfinished scrapbook, waiting to be completed. I haven’t been abroad since I studied in Paris in the spring of 2004, either. I dream about traveling more, though. Visiting Seattle this year and going for almost a week was a Big Deal. I travel a lot in my mind and daydream constantly about places I’d like to visit.

In 2010, I moved out of New York City to where I am now in Illinois. Needless to say, that summer went by insanely fast because we were so busy with packing, moving, and getting settled in. This year, the summer is moving along at a brisk clip, as well, but less eventful since we’re all settled in. The things I look forward to most are having people come visit and enjoying two whole days off in a row (read: weekends) with Kevin, without one of us worrying about work/school/obligations. Once the school year starts up for him, the task of occupying myself falls to my feet once again.

This particular summer feels more “bluesy” to me because we’re in this odd transitional-yet-static place in life. We’re not planning a wedding, we’re not saving up to buy a house, we’re definitely not family planning (hell to the no).  It’s just insanely hot outside and I still have to go to work everyday. My best friend Helen always likes to say, “I survived childhood for this?” Haha. That’s a little dramatic but you get what I’m saying.

Oh, have I waded into the Pity Party for One at the end of the pool? I’m not trying to say life is bad or anything like that. For the most part, all is well. In this moment in time, there is stasis, and there is something to be said for that. But it will be short-lived and we’ll be moving towards the next goal, the next occurrence, the next thing, (the holidays? God…) really soon. I’m looking forward to autumn for many reasons – the weather, mostly – but also trying to slow down and enjoy each day for what it is without getting too impatient.

This is the first calendar year since 2001 that I haven’t moved. (I consider each move-in and move-out of college a move. Holy cow that was a lot of stuff.) And moving, as we all know, is a bitch. I moved so many times in New York City that I don’t think my brain has fully processed that in the year 2011, we’re not switching residences. Weird, but nice.

Just one more month left before it’s Labor Day, Back to School, football season, and the colors change. We’ll all be restocking on our cinnamon scented candles in no time. Well what do you know – I just cheered myself up.

Arbitrary Musings on a Hot Summer Day


It is hot as crap outside. Summer is officially here.

Actually, today is only 88 but the 90s have come and gone and are only a day or two away from happening again. I’m finding that there are those people in New York City who love how hot it gets here in the summertime. I am baffled by them. The streets hold in the heat, feeling like you have an invisible electric blanket shrouding you everywhere you go, even in (and sometimes especially) on the subway platform. (How did people live here before air-conditioned subway cars?)

In the past two weeks, I have only been able to wear my hair down once. And not because it was cool enough to do so. The high was only going to be 86 yesterday and I determinedly blow dried my hair and put a touch of anti-frizz silk stuff on the crown of my head to keep my hair from making me look like an unkempt 7 year-old the second I stepped foot outside of my un-airconditioned bedroom. Usually I can’t stand the thought of having long hair cover my nape while I am trying to keep cool to and from work so I think screw it, and I put my hair up wet in a makeshift bun. (I have yet to learn how to give myself a French braid but am hoping to get a lesson very soon.) Having my hair up everyday is not the most stylish thing to do but when it comes to being sticky and uncomfortable, I always end up choosing comfort over style. The picture you see here is how I look pretty much everyday in the summer at work. Hell, it’s how I look right now, minus the mascara and earrings.

If you haven’t already been able to tell, I am very fair-skinned and I do not have a high tolerance for heat…or direct sunlight, for that matter. My boyfriend despises the heat more than I do, and if I had any doubts as to his tolerance for temperatures above 78 degrees, I had only to look to the dog that he came with. I present to you below Lucas, an Alaskan Malamute/Husky mix.

This is a dog who eats ice like popcorn and bathes in snow.

The three of us go into either the living room or the bedroom, switch on an air conditioner and proceed to stay cool doing all the stuff we normally do at home – watch TV, get on the interwebs, sleep, etc. And so here we are, on a gorgeously hot Saturday afternoon, hanging out in the cool bedroom while I sit at my desk and the boyfriend does whatever it is he’s doing on his laptop. On Monday morning, I’ll be regaled of stories of what other folks did over the weekend besides sit next to an air conditioning unit. This is just how we roll.

And now, as if that introduction wasn’t long enough, I’ll detail the few wisps of thoughts I have had over the last week or two to share with you all. Because, you know, I should have something to say after a six month hiatus from the blog.

Enjoy these random observations from yours truly and stay cool (or hot, if that’s your preference).

1. Have you ever thought about the fact that when your phone isn’t ringing, it means that not one person on the face of the planet wants to call you? Considering the number of people, telephones and phone numbers that exist, you’d think the odds of your phone ringing at any given time would be higher.  Maybe I just don’t get that many phone calls. Hm.

2. I tried the new snack size Reese’s McFlurry from McDonald’s the other day. It melted into candy soup in about five minutes flat. However, for the 180 seconds it was semi-solid, it was absolutely delicious. There was a run on ice cream snacks when I ordered it. People were running in and shouting out ice cream orders like the streets were frying them alive. Maybe they were. Anyway, a guy ran in and ordered three or four sundaes and asked if the ice cream was soft. The server replied wryly, “Well yes, it’s soft. It’s soft serve.” The man replied, “Too soft?” The server answered, “I guess.” I suppose it’s possible that there is someone who has never gotten ice cream from McDonald’s and that every second, someone new tries it, but I’m just perplexed at anybody who doesn’t understand the consistency of fast food ice cream. It’s not even real ice cream. What do you expect for $.99?

3. Working in the summertime reminds me that working in the summertime sucks. Hard. I always think about when I had summers off as a kid up through the time I was 16, and I never really appreciated it. Actually, I was unable to find work between years in college and I enjoyed lazy days then. I could do with a solid month off, even if it was just sitting in front of my air conditioner and pondering how I have nothing to do.

4. In order of use and preference of social networking sites, it goes Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare. For those of you who don’t have Foursquare yet, I absolutely recommend trying it. You earn Mayorships and Badges the more times you check into venues. It’s become so popular that you can actually earn discounts from participating companies the more you check in to places. The novelty of earning the badges/mayorships keeps me remembering to do it. It’s kind of like a real life video game, where you earn meaningless rewards for just walking around. (I think that was the creator’s intent, actually.)

5. I hate when people ask you if the elevator is going down, when the wall indicator not only alerts you audibly, but lights up a big red down arrow – twice! The other day, I’m in the elevator in my work building going down to the lobby and it stops on the second floor (the SECOND floor), where a man on his cell phone looks up distractedly and asks, “Is this going down?” The other guy in the elevator and I stared at him incredulously before replying yes. Seriously, dude, you’re going to hold us up even further by clarifying whether the elevator is going down before you get on it? To be clear, there is a stairwell for the folks on 2. They ought to wear a blazing red A for Asshole when they need to take the elevator DOWN. Or at least have the decency to apologize when you get in. Yeah that’s right, you should be sorry. I’m not a skinny gal but even I would be taking the stairs everyday if I worked on the second floor.

6. Robyn’s new song, Dancing On My Own, (click on that link to see her video!) has taken over my life. I have listened to it obsessively and I ended up buying her album, Body Talk Pt. 1, on iTunes, because I loved it so much.  The song invokes images of Flashdance and J. Lo impersonating Jennifer Flowers in Flashdance, because if you’re like me, you’ll just want to dance and dance to the crazy awesome beats. Get you some Robyn!