31 July, 2010

A Ghost In Boston

Specters, spirits, ghosts. Things that go bump in the night. Regardless of what you call them, and whether you believe in them or not, something hit me in the face in the middle of the night last Tuesday. My money is on ghosts.

Let me go back. I grew up having a serious curiosity with "the other side." When my parents thought that I was old enough, they allowed me to watch the old Nickelodeon series, "Are You Afraid of the Dark." Mistake #1. My parents would also buy me books about kids that solved old mysteries and interacted with historical ghosts from civil war-like time periods. Mistake #2. After I turned thirteen, my parents more or less let me control what I watched, read, and was entertained by. So, because I was fascinated by the idea of ghosts, I sought books about them. The more I read, the more scared I became. The more scared I became, the more I felt I had to read more of them in order to confront my fear of ghosts and move on into the brave world of adults. Mistake #3. There have been few peaceful nights since.

After all of this learning about the undead, for my own credit I'd like to state that it's not that I'm scared of ghosts, really. I just have an incredible aversion to getting maimed by things that I cannot see. Which, really, is not such a unfounded fear to have. And though I like being entertained by them in television shows, books, and movies, I'm still not entirely sold on the idea of whether or not they actually exist. However, I would never voice these thoughts aloud, especially not late at night when it is dark and I'm alone. There is always the fear that nearby spirits could hear me say these things, become angered, and kill me. It could happen.

To be honest, they wouldn't even have to be that proactive about killing me; I'm pretty sure my fight-or-flight instinct is misfiring somewhere. My bodily reaction to extreme fear is not the adrenaline-inducing sprints or punches of species survival, but total body freezing, not unlike that of a fainting goat. Not exactly a life-saving skill. There is very little chance that my genes would have been passed down to future generations if I were to, say, have been born in the middle of the Amazon in the 1600s. Red-bellied piranha swims past me? I'll save it the trouble- instant heart attack. Anaconda in my bed? No need to squeeze me, I'm long gone. A sheet floating by me, however cliché, would more than do the trick. So I like to hedge my bets and avoid any and all discussion of dead things after sun down. Just to be on the safe side.

When I was twelve, my parents abandoned my beloved childhood home for a bigger one across town. I'm sure there were very good reasons why we moved there. It was a fine house; it had a pool and a large backyard, and even access to a pond that harbored enough mosquito eggs to ensure that the rest of my summers I would be covered head-to-toe in attractive bites. As though middle school wasn't hard enough. Thanks, parents. Unbeknownst to my parents, our new house also included the addition of invisible things that made rocking chairs move in the middle of still nights and gave a seriously eerie sense that you were being watched. In other words, a ghost.

Depending on who you ask, there are a few front-runners for the title of first ghost in my house. There was Colonel Eaton, the man who used to own the estate that my house sits on. While my house was located in the cattle-pasture area of his estate, he could have felt a unique affinity for the barnyard and decided to haunt there after he passed. This is all just educated guessing on my part, but it seems probable. Then there is my grandmother, who came from the Old Country and was just stubborn enough to avoid passing on into "the light" and instead chose to forever sit in her favorite perch, a rocking chair by the fireplace. Lastly there was Moody Brown's wife, the woman who died in the house before we moved in. A big part of me wants it to be the wife, because "Ol' Moody Brown's wife" is quite possibly the best name for a ghost I could ever have imagined. 

With four daughters, my house had seen many a gentleman suitor on its grounds. Many boyfriends have been relegated to sleeping on downstairs couches at night if they were to stay over. A few of these boyfriends have had not so normal nights. My boyfriend, Dan, lives in New York. Whenever he comes to visit he claims a space on the living room couch. He swears that during one of these nights the rocking chair next to the couch started to move on its own accord. The rocking was slow, steady, and continuous, leaving very little evidence that it could have been made by a rogue wind. The rocking chair was my grandmother's favorite, so this would seem to solidify her as the pre-eminent ghost of the house. Personally, I never want to get close enough to find out.

Sometimes, when I'm home and it gets late, I latch onto nearby family members. I'm not too proud to admit that this is a desperate attempt to avoid being alone with who or whatever else could be out there. In nearly every horror movie known to man, if you're in a scary situation and you get split off from the group, you die. If you're a female, you get chased, and then you die. If you decide to be brave and fight back, you die. So while I may have terrible fight-or-flight instincts, I will never be the one who says, "Hey, what was that scary noise? I'm going to go check it out all by myself!" and so, I have at least a solid chance at survival. What am I supposed to do, go upstairs alone and be forced to expose my back for an attack from behind? Simple math suggests that stairs + ghosts = instant death.

My twin, a night-owl and fellow late-night person in her own right, is usually my latch-ee. Sometimes I do feel a bit bad for her since we are the same age and I should at least pretend to be brave. But on certain nights after dark I regress back into a 12-year old girl. But in my opinion, feeling regret and still remaining alive is preferable to death by invisible ghost. Rachel and I will inevitably be watching television, and then she will move to get up from the couch.

Me: "Hey, where ya going?"
Rachel: "...The bathroom."
Me: "Cool. Can I come?"
Rachel: "No."
Me: "Well, how about you just leave the door open like a foot or two and we can talk."
Rachel: "What? Why?"
Me: "No reason. I just love you. Please do it."
Rachel (already down the hall): "You're weird."

At which point I grab the nearest blanket to give my body some semblance sense of protection. Everyone knows that ghosts can't penetrate the sacred fortress of a quilt.

Me (whispering): "I can't believe you left me here alone to die."

It might be easier if I did die, or at least get knocked unconscious for a little while. The fear itself is somehow worse than actually meeting with a ghost and getting it over with. I think, if I were to meet one, I'd just be like, "Oh. That's it? Ok, whatever." But it's the fear of the unknown that is intensely horrifying. So I count the seconds 'til she returns, turning the volume of Tosh.O up higher and higher to scare away any menacing spirits that (god-willing) can't stand to be around loud noises or internet memes.

Rachel returns. "Em. We're in our living room."
Me: "You mean Moody Brown's old bedroom where he died."
Rachel: "Stop watching tv."

And then I force her into having a sleepover.

Which brings me back to today. My apartment building is located in a historic Boston neighborhood which was settled nearly four-hundred years ago. Whether or not it is related to the ancient settling of my 'hood, my apartment, most likely, is haunted. Not even haunted, really, just a presence. A presence that is mostly focused around my bedroom.

At night the pipes rhythmically click click until I courageously decide to overcome my fear and inspect it. But then the clicks stop. So I get back into bed again. And the clicking starts anew. It's like invisible chinese water torture, but less insanity-inducing. (At least, so far.) One night, out of severe frustration, I exclaimed aloud, "C'mon ghosts. Clicking? That's the best you can do?" But then my door opened by itself, a poster fell off my wall, and my light burnt out. Two seconds later I was in my living room, after scrambling out of the room like the Road Runner and apologizing into the air profusely. Even if they don't exist, having a ghost mad at me is not high on my list of priorities this year.

That was the last time I tried to talk to them. Now I've resigned myself to the fact that there may be a ghost in my room, but I like to think of it more as a cohabitation with a roommate that I don't particularly like. If I leave them alone, they leave me alone, and everything is cool. The clicking I can deal with, as long as they leave my lights on.  I just wish they'd kick a little in for rent. Because if I have to share my space, I should at least be able to enjoy some financial perks, too.

28 July, 2010

Pittsfield Loves A Parade

The 4th of July is no small celebration in my hometown. The fireworks are legally (and not so legally) set off around the city starting from the 1st of July and lasting to at least the 6th. Patriotic anthems spill out of amazingly be-flagged homes and American flag tee shirts, on sale from the local Old Navy, are proudly donned by the masses. The proverbial icing on the flag cake of the 4th of July holiday is my hometown parade.

This year saw the 185th celebration of the Pittsfield Parade. The city honored this tradition by putting on nearly two complete hours of back-to-back sparkly dance troupes, peppy cheerleaders and brass bands, beaming local politicians, the obligatory Shriners with their comically tiny cars, and the red, white, and blue-shirted gaggles of senior citizens who sing oldies 'neath a waving flag. Most interestingly, the parade was held on Monday, July 5th. Apparently this observance day was a state-wide phenomenon. (Because Massachusetts loves itself a three-day weekend, especially one in the name of freedom.)

To give you a frame of reference for how long this has been going on since Pittsfield began the grand ol' parade tradition, the United States of America had just elected its sixth president, John Quincy Adams. In that same year, Walter Hunt had patented the safety pin, and the Erie Canal, that connects the Great Lakes with the Atlantic Ocean, was opened. But we were having a parade. We might just love America a little more than you do. I mean, did you get the 5th of July off? Probably not.

Pittsfield's peak in the highly competitive field of parade-dom occurred in 2004, when live parade footage was linked directly into nearly a million homes in eleven different states across America. Even parts of Montana and Texas received the satellite feed. (I'm sure at least one person out there tuned in. Maybe two.) Since that golden year, Berkshire-ites (and the select few Montanans and Texans) have seen a scaled-down parade. But even in 2010, with the mercury eking up past the 90s and humidity hanging heavy in the air, thousands flocked to the main streets of Pittsfield to observe our illustrious parade. Myself included.

My twin, who has borne witness to and been involved in more than her fair share of parades, sadly found herself in Amish County during this greatest of all American days. With naught but a horse and buggy and the giant SuperWalmart to entertain her, in addition to the mental anguish that comes with not having a Pittsfield parade satellite feed, I (along with my boyfriend) took it upon ourselves to document snapshots of what I like to think of as the Best that Berkshire County has to offer. These are not things that will be covered in your glossy travel guide.

Dan and I thought of this journey as small-town America parade-side bingo. And this is what we saw. (But first, this is us: two stalwart young heroes who enjoy themselves a good ol' fashioned parade and the occasional American flag tee shirt.)

 Here's a sample of what would win our bingo game.



Costumed Pre-Parade 5K Race Runners
The parade always starts off with a 5k race. I used to run it annually with my brother-in-law, before I came to the realization that, on the one hand, I could wake up at 6am and run a race in 90-degree heat, or on the other, I could sleep in and celebrate our nation's birthday in my own quietly unconscious way. I think our forefathers would understand.

Even though I didn't run it, the race was still the best way to open up the parade, mostly for the many characters that enjoy running through downtown in the blazing mid-summer heat. Like these runners pictured here who bravely put on baseball caps over their skintight green and yellow jumpsuits. Hey, I'm no running coach, but that has to impact your oxygen intake. There is also the man who runs as Santa Claus every year in full velvet Santa regalia. This year he had the innovative addition of two young-ish runners that wore antler headbands. While refraining from a pedophile joke here, I do hope there was some compensation for them. Lastly, my favorite of these characters is the old man who runs every single year  v e r y  v  e r y   s   l    o   w  l     y.  He is easily pushing 85. We can all only hope to be that active in our 80s. 

Uncle Sam Sightings

A parade just isn't a parade without a showing by Uncle Sam, who, for 198 years old, looks remarkably spritely. (Fun fact: my dad has those very same pajama bottoms. We force him to wear them at Christmastime. While we're still working on him to grow an Uncle Sam beard, I'm holding out for the blazer and the neckerchief. Baby steps.)










Uncle Sam's Chorus

While already hilarious, it would be so much better if they, too, were dressed as Uncle Sam. Or at least wore the patriotic neckerchief.










Historical Child Re-Enacters

Every year without fail, there is a legion of children soldiers. What is it about costumed kids en masse that is so terrifying? Is that just me?








Bored Teens!

The creme de la creme of any parade experience for me is seeing the teens that participate in them. Observing bored teens in an this environment is endlessly fascinating, because watching someone try to look so cool while being flanked by a band of geriatrics belting out the classics from the back of a wagon and Bowey the Clown playing with his hand puppet is an epic undertaking. As a former teen myself, I was not immune to the very real goal of trying to look as bored and aloof as possible, regardless of what you are doing. Even if you're holding a banner in a parade. (Especially if you're holding a banner in a parade.) Most wonderful of all, these two incredibly bored teens are holding the banner for my alma matter, Taconic. Amazing memories of previous parades and recitals flood back in, especially involving those events that I didn't really want to be involved in. ("I just want everyone to know that I am far too cool for this chorale concert.")


Mildly Disturbing Clowns

I wasn't kidding about Bowey the Clown and his hand puppet.






 
Amazing Mottos

First, let's be clear about my public school education: I loved it. That being said, the Pittsfield Public School system has to have one of the most uninspiring mottos in the history of public school systems. The motto reads "Small enough to care about kids, but large enough to be comprehensive." Really, Pittsfield public schools? That's the best you could do? Seriously?




Inaccurate Depictions of the 60's & 70's

Because this is what love children actually did, rode around in their technicolor vans with highlighter-colored tie-dye tee shirts. Somehow that's not the image I took home from Berkeley in the '60s.





Things I've Wanted Since I Was Old Enough to Want Things

This I am adding because I have always wanted the blue dolphin balloon from the parade street vendor. My parents deemed it (and all like balloon/parade-type things) too expensive, and I have never fully justified spending seven dollars on something that in all likelihood will float away. But still, how can you really justify the desires of one's own heart?











Like this. Some little kid's heart just broke into a thousand tiny pieces.








Seeing Parade People Out of Parade Formation

I assume this rogue tuba-player was part of the parade initially, but seeing him all dressed up and lost without his band-mates was both tragic, and kind of inspiring. You go, glen co-co.












Hilarious Costumes

This section of the parade is put on by the local hospital. For all of those that didn't comprehend what this man is dressed as, let me save you the minutes of confusion I suffered through.

He is dressed as a cancer polyp. A walking cancer polyp being wrangled by a gleeful nurse in purple. It is unspeakably awesome. It takes a lot of guts to dress up as a polyp and parade around downtown, and for that, Berkshire Medical Center, I applaud you and your out-of-the-box thinking. Brava. 



Hilarious Costumes Pt. 2

As I didn't catch the sign for this woman, I'm not sure who she is or why we should applaud her. But by god, did I love her and her panache.







Bonus Sighting: Usage of Unnecessary Quotation Marks

We "are" the people. Because we aren't really the people, you see. Think that one over.






Free to Be You & Me

It just isn't the 4th of July until you have at least one sighting of a random man without a shirt on. There was an excellent opportunity to take a picture of three bored teens walking around the parade without shirts on, but I was too slow on the draw. It will forever haunt me as the one that got away. (But there's always next year.)

Oh, the fourth of July and all your goodness. God bless this great little nation of ours, and hometown parades everywhere.

25 July, 2010

A Noodle That Knows You Love It

Chicago has the Bean. Cincinnati had Touchdown Jesus. Long Beach, Washington has giant frying pans. And now, on a smaller scale, Boston has the noodle.

More specifically, Faneuil Hall has a noodle. The noodle is a fiberglass structure that is large, bright yellow, and more than a little random. To place such a giant statue of a noodle in a public place is a puzzling act by itself, but in conjunction with the aggressive statement of "you know you love it" painted on one side, the whole thing is jarring if you haven't had your morning coffee yet (as I discovered last week when walking to work). But if you're going to have a noodle, why not have one that assertively states that you already love it? Confidence is attractive, even with elbow macaroni. But I was more than a little baffled about Quincy Market's most recent installation.

The noodle sits on a large white platform not fifteen feet from the three-story Abercrombie & Fitch. This probably was an intentional choice, as the pounding base from Abercrombie's über-hip tunes and the noxious cologne smells wafting over the square mix together to make one feel more than a little disoriented. Which, when you're standing in front of a giant noodle, is probably the right effect. Aside from the words "you know you love it," the noodle lacks any discernible branding and, at least the first time I walked by it, anyone besides other curious tourists to answer my questions. But later on that same day, I had the opportunity to walk by again. This time, there was a man standing conspicuously close to the noodle, holding a clipboard in his hand and wearing a tee-shirt that said 'you know you love it.' I was fairly confident that this man was either a) a promoter associated with the installation of the noodle, or b) just a really big noodle fan. Either way, I was going to get my answers.

And I had so many questions for him. Who put up this noodle? Are you giving out free noodles? Is this modern art? How do you know I love it? This is how the conversation went.

Me: Hi there. I see that you're wearing a 'you know you love it' tee shirt. Do you work with the noodle?
Noodle Man: Yes, I do.
Me: Great. Why is it here?
Noodle Man: It's a promotion by Kraft.
Me: So why doesn't it say Kraft on the noodle? Why does it say "you know you love it? I mean, I do- I just want to know why.
Noodle Man: That's the Kraft motto. You can log onto facebook and be entered in a chance to win a lifetime supply of Kraft mac and cheese.
Me: Who decides how much Kraft a person can eat in a lifetime? Does a lifetime supply mean noodles once a week, or every day, or every meal?
Noodle Man: I don't know.
Me: Can I have a 'you know you love it' tee shirt?
Noodle Man: No.
Me: Please? I love the blue box.
Noodle Man: No.

So there you have it. Sadly, the people at Kraft placed a sign that states "no climbing, sitting, or sliding down the noodle," but they do let you take your picture with it. These kinds of publicity events make me realize that I would be perfect in the world of marketing. Someone in an important meeting at the Kraft international headquarters somewhere legitimately pitched the idea to both build a giant noodle statue and then install it in downtown Boston for all the commuters and visitors to be confused by and later google on their smartphones. And other people thought this was a great idea! I could totally be that person. Why stop with noodles? Giant food statues everywhere! Cheese-steaks in Philly, crabs in Baltimore, giant lobsters along the Maine coast; the possibilities are literally endless. But with my statues I'd let people crawl on them. Because seriously, if you're going to randomly put a giant food object in the middle of someone's path to work, at the very least let them climb on it. Why would you just want a picture of a noodle? I want a picture of myself sliding down a giant noodle; that's truly facebook worthy.

14 July, 2010

Look, ma! I'm accomplished!

It's been a year since I left that safe little haven called college and lately I've been feeling reflective. What do I have to show for it?

Well for one, I have a brand new Aquarium-sanctioned fleece with the Aquarium logo officially emblazoned on the left breast pocket for all the world to see. Over the course of the past ten months I have elbowed and pushed more than one fellow intern out of the intern applicant pool and into the literal penguin pool to become the Aquarium's: July Intern of the Month. Success. My dad thought that there should be a monetary reward attached and asked if there was a salary that came with the distinction. Why does there need to be a salary, Dad? I don't need a salary. I got a jacket. Jackets are cool! Parents just don't understand sometimes.

My previous boss put me up for the award, highlighting my "energy," my "eye for the finer details" (ah yes, that's me), and the fact that I left a few cds behind in the lab that inadvertently created what he calls the "theme music for the Wet Lab work day." (Can't go wrong with Kings of Leon and Lady Gaga, friends. You just can't. Now a literal scientific fact.) My favorite part of his write-up was when he talked about my ability to keep up with him during my previous internship as well as the "monumental task of taking directions" from my current boss. Because it's not a real accomplishment unless you can cut someone else down first.

I am determined to wear this fleece until it becomes physically unhealthy for me to do so, it being humid and the middle of summer. However, I have the mental fortitude of the last airbender and an unusually low body temperature, so I will be wearing it for at least the next few days.** And I will signing autographs as the special "Intern of the Month" until the end of July. When I will be forced to take off the fleece by my mother.

Then there's my modeling career. Oh, you didn't know I was a model? Before today, neither did I. I suppose that I should say that I am the "face of a marketing campaign" for that is more accurately what it is, and sounds so much more sophisticated. I would know, for I am a model.

 I discovered this poster advertising my study "abroad" program this afternoon while walking down the hall to my desk at the Aquarium. (Here, "abroad" is used in quotation marks because during my "study abroad semester," when most of my friends traveled to such exotic locales as Fiji, Amsterdam, and Ecuador, I chose... Connecticut. It was a maritime study program, or as they spelled it, programme. And it was awesome! But, sadly, not so abroad.)

For the record, I am the person on the left and not the lion on the right. (It's an honest mistake.) And yes, I am wielding tongs holding a piece of metal that is on fire. The programme was exxxtreme. The picture was taken during my brief but brilliant stint as a blacksmith during my study-away time. While I was not what one might call "a natural," points in my favor are that I didn't seriously injure anyone and I gave out some pretty damn fine bottle openers as Christmas presents that year. (And you are welcome, Kate & Tom.) This marks the second advertising campaign that I have been involved in with nary a retroactive kickback nor a free tee shirt thrown my way. Though I guess one time I did get mixed nuts and non-alcoholic beer. So I can't say I didn't get anything.

In important news (news that is contingent upon whether the dark spirits of unemployment rain down their black curses upon my uncertain future) I have a new job. Really, a new job. No, seriously. I'm not going to jinx it by putting its name up here to be search-able on the giant forum that is the world wide web, but I've been told I start Monday. As in, this Monday. Allegedly. About 90% of me expects them to call at any moment between then and now.

"Hello?"
"Hello? Is this Emily?"
"Yes, this is she."
"Oh!" (Hearty laughter) "We were just kidding about that whole job thing last week. Whew, we really had you going, didn't we? Well, it was great to meet you. And best of luck on your job search!" Click.

But apparently, allegedly, incredibly, happily, I start next week. And then they're going to start paying me! Which is the part that I am the most excited about. I have a brand new space to visit every morning, Monday through Friday, and that thrills me to no end. There are new friends to make and things to do like "fighting the good fights" and hanging around the coffee machine griping about "the economy" and "politicans." I cannot wait. Notably, the office is so eco-friendly it doesn't believe in air conditioning. (It's like they read my blog posts!)

I'm sure there's other stuff in my life that I should mention, too. I danced at a few bars, cooked some new recipes, drank a lot of wine, hiked once, and took a nap or two. I also may have killed Lazarus-the-Jesus-plant for the very last time. (I said I was sorry.) But my friend Sarah sent me a new plant in the mail who I have lovingly christened Jesus 2. Perhaps naming it Jesus 2 is a bad legacy to bestow upon another plant ("He died six times? Six? But... how?" Answer: 'cause he's the Jesus Plant.) and yeah, it perhaps is the slightest bit sacrilegious. So I welcome any name contributions you can send my way. If it will make you more inclined to vote, I can make it a contest. I can't exactly give you a jacket, but how about I mention you on the blog? That's pretty cool. And you obviously get the satisfaction of helping a friend and of a job well done. So get on it, friend.


** Hip and timely airbender line credit goes to REF. Because she is always both hip and timely.

08 July, 2010

Hot Child, Summer in the City

It's hot. It's hot hot, the kind of heat that doesn't cool off at night and causes you to lay awake and contemplate the deeper mysteries of life. Will I be successful? Is there a God? Why didn't I buy a bigger fan? It's the kind of heat that makes anyone standing within three feet of you be viewed as seriously encroaching upon your personal space, and the kind of heat that my mom complains about if she were to catch you wearing anything more than a tee shirt in this kind of weather.

"What is that? Why are you wearing that?
"This hoodie? It was a little chilly inside, Mom..."
"I don't care! Take it off, I'm hot!"

The ability to generate my own body heat is not something my mother passed down to me.

For nearly ten months of the year New England is not what one would consider to be a tropical climate. We have long expanses of winter, a few weeks of a chilly and muddy spring, some stretches of short but brilliant real summer, and then we dive into a too-quick fall and another long expanse of winter. Winter feels like it lasts thirty months, and it gets longer every year. And while there are different changes sometimes, that's more or less how it is. At least as far as I remember it.

New England's inhabitants, like me, have been raised since birth to be prepared for drastic swings in temperature. People used to joke, "Don't like the weather? Stick around for another five minutes!" because people like to repeat weather anecdotes as though they are fresh and funny. They usually aren't, but the weather does have a tendency to shift pretty quickly. My professor Glenn once said, "If you're cold, you're stupid" in terms of being prepared for the weather. While I'm not sure that Glenn grew up around these parts, he sure is a quick student to the weather of the Northeast coastline.

Two weeks back I was contentedly wearing my skinny jeans and sneakers with socks, perhaps even a light jacket at night if I was feeling a little chilly and trying to coordinate an outfit. (By this I mean trying to not wear a tee-shirt to a bar. Again.) That outfit is but a distant memory after these last few nights where the thermometer barely docked below 80, with the mercury soaring up to 95 during the day. It's hot hot.

I'm sure others might disapprove, but because I am fully prepared to death-grip New England's  fleetingly few beautiful weeks of summer, I gaily and with song welcome these days of 90-degree weather. After six months of hard winter, we've earned it, people. We have earned it.

Both metaphorically and literally, I embrace the warm weather. Because my arms are forced into the confines of long sleeve shirts and because our society strongly enforces me to wear pants for too many months of the year, when warm weather finally hits I spurn the idea of carrying warmer clothes with me, just in case. And why should I? All year long I've been longing for this kind of warmth harder than azaleas on the tundra, so why would I want to separate myself from the elements? I love the elements! They are awesome. I love the sun! It is bright and beautiful. I love the humidity! It makes my hair curly and allows me to sleep without a blanket at night. (Which I would do if I didn't have a quiet but real fear of vampires). But things I don't love (besides vampires)? Air conditioning.

Air conditioning is stupid. There, I said it. Yes, air conditioning can be useful and relieving and I'm sure it helps to save lives somewhere in the world. I get it. But while I am, admittedly, very stubborn, I thoroughly dislike the unnatural feeling of being inside an air conditioned office building and shivering while a heat wave rages on outside. When I need to wear pants and a cardigan inside a building lest I become hypothermic, and then have to leave aforementioned office building after a socially acceptable time to deal with the 90-degree heat radiating up from the sidewalk underneath me, a little part of me dies inside. Dies. Being cold during a heat wave just seems so fundamentally wrong, and more than a little cruel. This is Massachusetts: I'm cold ten months of the year. Don't take away my two months of glory.

Therefore, I have undertaken my own personal stand against air conditioning. It being the middle of July, I refuse to carry a sweater with me in anticipation of the inevitable Arctic breezes from the temperature-moderated buildings of the seemingly sweltering office workers of Boston who crank their all-too-effective air conditioning units. Even the commuter rail isn't safe from over-eager air conditioners that, with great intentions I'm sure, try to keep their passengers nice and cool by lowering the thermostat to mid-March temperatures. No really, no thank you. If I'm on a train and shivering in shorts and a shirt, and then can look out the window and see a man in shorts and no shirt who is visibly sweating, I am not going to make your day pleasant, monsieur train conductor. Even if you have a cool hat and let me ride for free. (Just kidding, Conductor Seth who probably doesn't read this blog. But if you do, I think you are incredibly nice and thank you for all those free rides! Now please turn down your air conditioning.)

It should be every person's right to decide how hot or cold they want to be. I will dress appropriately for the weather; I can trust others to do the same. And while in Texas there may be a definitive need for air conditioning, this here is the Northeast: don't thrust your air conditioning edicts on me. After 23 winters, all I want is some good alone time with that familiar stranger, the sun. 

Aside from the cardigan hassles, you may ask yourself what effect these heat waves have on my day-to-day life. (And I shall tell you.) This recent temperature spike has had unanticipated detrimental effects on my apartment decorations. As I am only a full year out of college and I haven't learned better/ can't afford better, many (...all) of my photos and frames are hung on the walls with sticky tack. My sticky tack color of choice is blue. Sticky tack helps me to hang my collection of postcards that have been sent to me throughout the years, my crazy photos from wild nights in college (...Sawyer Library), the Twilight New Moon poster behind my closet door (because I am secretly a pre-teen) and my Red Sox banner (because I am trying to blend in with my fellow homies. Let's go, Big Daddy! ...Big Papi? Whatever.) Sticky tack is rather awesome, because even though it's not actually all that sticky (misnomer!) it has an amazing capacity to temporarily suspend seemingly too heavy objects, like the thick cardboard-like Jason Mraz poster on the wall above my bed. This poster-hanging tack worked for about 10 months, which is a pretty decent track record. But even sticky tack has its failings.

Now, I love Jason Mraz with all that I love. Because of these strong feelings over the years, one or two fantasies may have crept into my late-night dreams. For example, there's this one that involves Jason Mraz falling into my bed. It was a great dream. But this fantasy was less cool when a) Jason was a 2-D poster and b) it didn't even happen to me, but to my boyfriend. It was one of the hottest nights to hit Boston so far, and even the fans circulating air around the room felt oppressive. Allegedly, the sticky factor that is oh-so-crucial to its name was compromised in the heat, causing the tack to degrade and the poster attached to the tack to fall directly on top of my boyfriend's face. No one was more surprised than Dan, let me tell you. While I did feel a little sorry, inside I was just the smallest bit jealous. Because even in paper form, it's still Jason Mraz. And that's enviable.

So now, with Jason tucked safely underneath the bed until the heat wave passes and the sticky tack can restored to its previous tacky-ness, and the sheet tucked securely over my body (lest I leave my neck exposed for vampires), I can't even sleep because it's so hot. Irony. But there is something rather soothing about the whir of air conditioning units buzzing in the night air outside of my window. If I close my eyes hard enough I can almost imagine that the noise is really just the crash of a wave hitting the shore line. A constant, metallic-sounding wave. Or it's a swarm of bees, which is slightly more disconcerting but still an interesting thought-experiment to undertake. Living downtown and listening as everyone cranks up their air conditioning units is at least an amusing way to pass the time until I can fall asleep. Yes, maybe I'm a little jealous that my neighbors are cool enough to actually sleep in this weather, but that doesn't mean I'm going to bring a cardigan with me on the commuter rail tomorrow. I've got my pride.