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Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Life in Exile: The Long Hot Summer of My Discontent

As the stores start putting out the down jackets and corduroy, we here in the desert look forward to dipping into the upper 90s. While you all out there are experiencing sweater weather we are still months away. And even in December we may get temperatures so mild that really a long sleeve shirt will do. No need to get all crazy and don pants people.

As summers here go this one was not too bad. We have birthday parties in May and June for our kids and usually by June it is just too hot to be outside, so by about 2 o'clock everyone migrates indoors. But this year we spent all day outside, adults under the covered patio, cool drinks in hand, kids on the slippy slide. And even during the true summer months it was still cool enough in the early mornings to sit on the patio.

See that is the thing that gets to you. In other parts it may get to high 80s or even 90s in the day but by nightfall it gets cool again. And one off-shore or northern breeze can sweep the whole thing away. But not here. Sure temps may dip by 20 or so degrees at night but if you're starting at 110, well...

I used to say 104 was my threshold, that after that point I was disgruntled and everyone might as well just stay away, leave me alone because I was going to grumble till October (yes, non-desert dwellers OUR summer is from roughly mid-May through the end of September, sometimes October so eat that June complainers!). OK, that last comment was grumbly, and I apologize, because what I was going to say is that my threshold seems to have risen. Either that or the mildness of this summer's temps have not thrust me over to the dark side.

Or maybe it could be that I have a plan. I'm not saying it's a good one. I don't know that I've ever made a good plan for my life, and at this point in my life I'm not gonna go getting all cocky about it. By normal weights and measures it may not actually turn out to be a good plan, but it is a plan nonetheless. I am getting a teaching credential so that I can teach to my degrees (see, I told you it was not necessarily a good plan). Where, you may ask, could I possibly teach something having to do with theatre and or film and television in the desert! (Don't you dare say, "You should move to LA" or I will roll my eyes so hard at you!)

Well, though this may not be the mecca of media innovation and creativity (although we have a Mecca in this valley, I just don't know what it is a mecca of... sand possibly, or trailer parks, boasting the largest welfare check rolls per capita... I know stop me now, and it's not even hot today! Only about 95!) there are a number of colleges and universities within shooting distance, well long-commuting distance. And though I have never really wanted to commute, or teach necessarily (I attribute that last comment to high school peer pressure, you remember, the old "those who can't do teach" saw that only makes sense to 16 year olds) I am thrilled at the prospect of thinking about and researching theatre, film, and television or any combination thereof.

Or maybe I am maturing. Or maybe it is my forays into raw food eating (and subsequent "oh my god I lost how much without even trying!" weight loss) and focusing on getting healthier. I am a relatively old mom afterall. I will need to be a fit bird if I want to live to see and pester my grandchildren. I also may be working well into my 70s since there is no pension waiting for me on the other side - I just better not get to the other side! (of working, not death, relax) So if I am to possibly be the oldest living waitress at Sherman's then I'd better get ready. Or maybe all those self help and new spirituality books finally kicked in.

Or maybe you can only be grumpy for so long, particularly if it is not in your nature, which I don't think it is in mine. Mine is circumstantial grumpy. Although to be honest I can hang on for long periods of time. And you know I did have 7 whole days off in a row, how you say, vuh... cau... vay... va-ca-shun? which I haven't had since 2006. And I did get to drive to LA-ish for my friend's babyshower and spend some time with her and another friend. That made me happy. I could still be riding those oh-you-mean-there-is-intelligent-life-somewhere wave.

Or most probably, my kids are 8 and 6 and that has an impact. No longer can I fool myself into thinking that I am not influencing who they hope to become with my mood. Especially my daughter. I see my kids trying on their parent's behavior for size quite often now and it is scary when it is your darker moods they are emulating. So, there you go, a slap in the face by your adorable children. Snap out of it Ryan! Fhhhhwack!

So life gives you lemons you make lemonade. Or if you drink too much lemonade - there are lots of lemon trees growing in the desert - the summer drink of choice, and since summer here JUST NEVER ENDS, maybe a nice meringue pie? Oh, or what about a lemon chiffon cake with lemon icing! Oh you know what would be good, shrimp sauteed in lots of butter and lemon juice... lemon curd on toasted brioche, yum....

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