Nothing like a broken air conditioner…

When people ask me where I’m from, I say Florida, even though I make it back there so rarely that when I do, it’s like visiting any other foreign land. Well, almost. Of course, some stuff looks the same. One of the reasons I do not live in Florida anymore is how terribly hot it is, and the fact that humidity and mosquitoes compound the misery. Japan gets pretty hot (暑い — atsui, kinda sounds like ‘hot’) and humid (蒸暑い — pronounced mushiatsui, which just sounds like what it means, to me) in the summer, too, but it’s much easier to tolerate the heat and humidity when you know it’s not going to last half the year. Also when you’re in Japan, which is pretty much as close to perfect as any country I’ve traveled to has gotten.

But I digress. Florida is really hot and humid, and I don’t like it. The only thing weather like that is good for is the beach. I remember many years ago, in the tiny A-frame cabin where I grew up, our window unit air conditioner broke, which was the only one we had. The landlord never took care of things promptly, and in fact, some things he’d promised to fix never got fixed before he sold the place. Anyway, we my family couldn’t count on him to save us. This was in one of the hotter months, August. Months before this, however, two things happened which set us up to be even more miserable than maybe we had to be. First off, the A-frame ‘roof,’ which is kind of also the walls, was replaced. It had been composed of some sort of shingles that my dad, if no one else, thought were better insulating. What went up instead was actually some sort of huge mat. I don’t know what the material was, other than that it was durable, and was made to look like something between bricks and shingles… anyway, it was almost like a giant rubber-ish sheet covering the A-frame. I don’t know much about these things, but my father insisted it would be hotter with the new ‘roof.’

Secondly, we lost a major source of shade. Almost all of my childhood, there had been a huge tree next to our house. It was both tall and wide, and its boughs shaded a huge portion of the house until somehow it became apparent that it had some sort of tree disease, and was a risk of dying and falling… I guess. So it was cut down.

Oh, what a hot August it was. My parents couldn’t afford a new air conditioner, or at least not one big enough that it would really make a difference. They weren’t going to buy a small unit that would only do a room. There was also the matter of where to put it, how to move it, etc. I don’t remember quite how long we were without an a/c, but I remember us all fighting over fans, and generally fighting quite a lot — even more than usual. It was brutal. On top of it, I don’t think we left windows, and certainly not the sliding glass door, open at night because it was somewhat of a dangerous neighborhood. I remember one of my father’s friends helping move a huge a/c unit up to where we wanted it, eventually. That was the same friend who gave me a rosemary bush. He was a very kind Romanian man.

Anyway, nothing like a broken air conditioner to stir up all sorts of hate and strife. I guess I am joking when I write this, but perhaps… perhaps there is a quite simple reason why the Scandinavians are so much more peaceful than the Middle Easterners? Perhaps the same reason why Canadians are more peaceful than all the other Americans living south of them? I know that’s silly, but I also know that being hot, and especially sweating without performing any sort of exercise to seemingly justify it in one’s mind, makes me want to start ripping throats out. Some irrational monster just awakes inside of me. One moment I’m cursing, the next I’m sobbing.

And the reason I write about that old experience is because it’s really quite hot here in California, too, though I admit it is dry, and our air conditioner isn’t working properly. Naturally, the place where I do most of my studying gets to be the hottest room of the entire place. Granted, I don’t have to tolerate my parents — and I say ‘tolerate’ because that is often how we feel about our parents when we are in adolescence, as I was during that one hot August. I have more resources now. I even feel comfortable leaving my windows and doors open here. It just makes me think.

I became very upset not very long ago, before I sat down to write. I have a dental appointment at two, so I’d planned to take my bike with me, and go on a ride while I was out and about, before coming home. So I went down to the garage, which is no hotter than the rest of the apartment, but more stale, and got to work preparing my bike. Damn that! Probably no one in history has had the same amount of trouble as I have when it comes to the simplest bicycle maintenance — and even pumping tires. So I became angry with that. Then I became angry because I was sweating, despite not exerting myself at all. Then I became angrier with the tire business, and how I can’t seem to get my husband’s $80 floor pump to do anything for me, though the emergency hand pump works… but how to measure the pressure then! Oh, I was frustrated.

Eventually, the torrent of anger, frustration, and sadness over biking in the first place was unleashed. Biking, of course, isn’t what I’m even interested in. It was on a stationary bicycle that I first injured myself, and I have never forgotten, as that part of my body has never gotten back to what it was before. Biking gets boring, even on the trail, after very long. I needn’t elaborate much on this; the bottom line is that I’m angry, frustrated, and sad that I can’t run right now. It’s no different, I suppose, than when I was having issues with my foot. Why can’t I be smarter though? What book must I read that will teach me better? Every time I hurt myself, I read the a million people have done the same thing which resulted in the same injury. If only I could read first, and never get injured.

So I am just waiting for this tendonitis to subside. If I must bike, I guess I will ask my husband for help on maintenance, or even — I shudder to think of it — go to one of those damned elitist hipster bike shops, and have someone else deal with it all for me. Or I will swim, if I ever get the courage to go to a public pool.

As for now, I shall prepare for the dentist, perhaps read a little, and try to be glad that it’s a dry heat.

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