Thursday, June 3, 2010

Air Conditioning

I live in the desert. The American Southwest, to be more precise. The desert is hot. No great revelation there. But it isn't until you live in it that you can really appreciate just how hot that is. I've been out here for over 10 years now, and while I still enjoy it, that first week when summer REALLY starts to hit is always a bit of a shock. Sort of like being in a nice REM sleep when that alarm comes crashing in with it's loud annoying noise to jar you out of the state of comfort you're in, and the realization sets in that, yes, THIS is what it's really like.

This has been the first week of the year when I've actually had to use the air conditioning in my house. Air conditioning in the desert is like water for fish. It is completely necessary for survival. To be able to get to June without having to really turn the thing on is amazing out here. For instance, I have very vivid memories of May 1, 2007. We hit a high of over 100 degrees that day for the first time all year...and we didn't have a day with a high of UNDER 100 degrees until sometime in October, quite possibly November. I only WISH I was exaggerating. So the fact that this is now the 3rd consecutive year that we've been able to get this far with really nice weather is wonderful, amazing, fantastic, and all sorts of other positive adjectives. I really do try to enjoy and appreciate the wonderful weather as often as I can, especially seeing as I spend much of my day outdoors, being a mailman and all.

You know that old joke, "Oh, but it's a DRY heat"? Well, there actually is something to that. I lived in New York for nearly 30 years, and I'd much rather take the desert heat. New York summers could be brutal. An average July day would see the temperature go to the upper 80, maybe low 90's, but combine that with humidity of nearly the same numbers, and you would just turn to a puddle without doing anything. There was almost no point in showering, as all you had to do was open the door, and go stand outside. Without doing anything to physically exert yourself, you would start dripping in sweat in less than a New York minute.

In contrast, the American Southwest, while getting hot, is incredibly dry. An average day in the winter sees the humidity at 10% or less, which can actually cause some problems in the other direction (lotsa skin lotion around the house...). In the summer, those numbers rise, but even a really bad day sees the humidity under 50%. There are a few weeks in late July and early August where it gets a little higher, and combined with an average high temperature over 110 degrees, yeah, it gets a little rough. I find myself taking some headache medicine at least once a week during that period.

The only thing the heat does to me is make me sleepy. If I sit still for too long, even on a normal day, I start to doze. Once you start factoring in excessive temperatures, sitting still for "too long" becomes something resembling that New York minute again. I've had dreams at traffic lights. Some of the lights are kinda long out here (they stay red for up to 2 full minutes at a time), so I've gotten to the point where I just put my vehicle in park at them now. And more than once I've snapped to, with the same vehicles around me, and I realize I've just had a dream, meaning for some brief period, I was unconscious.

What sparked this whole piece was while sitting and watching "Like, Totally" by Dylan Moran (for a future write-up on Unseen Films), I was enjoying the air conditioning unit cycling on and off, blowing nice cool air thru the house. And it sparked very vivid memories of growing up in Whitestone, New York. We weren't rich by any stretch, and we were frugal. A little went a long way. We didn't have central air, or a roof unit, or anything like that. We had one little window unit air conditioner for the whole house, and we rarely used it. Frankly, I'm not sure how we survived some of those New York summertimes without using it more.

Anyway, it was a real treat on the days when it got to be too unbearable that it was decided that we would turn the little unit on. In an effort to make it work more efficiently, we would close the doors to the bedrooms and the bathroom, so that only the living room and dining room areas would receive the joys of cool air. It seemed like heaven. I didn't even have to do anything. I would just lie on the floor in the living room and enjoy the feeling of...comfort. I used to love New York summers. I'd play outside for hours, probably losing many pounds a day in body weight strictly in fluid that I'd sweat out. But on those rare air conditioning days, I would revel in the strange feeling

And that memory just hit me like a ton of bricks a while ago, so much so that all of this just got written in under 45 minutes. And all the while I've been enjoying the air conditioning.

Blog Post Soundtrack; Red Hot Chili Peppers, Rollins Band, MC5, Corrosion Of Conformity, Fu Manchu, Clutch, Prong, Fatso Jetson, The Blues Brothers, The White Stripes, The 5, 6, 7, 8's (covering The Ikettes), Joy Division, White Zombie

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