I got pressured into being on the office social committee earlier this year, and for our September event we decided to do a happy hour at one of those fancy downtown high-rise hotel bars. In the company-wide email I sent out, I described it as “…a celebration of the end of oppressive, demoralizing summer weather.”
I immediately received a whole bunch of snarky emails from co-workers, one of whom went so far as to proclaim me a “summer Grinch,” and wonder what sort of monster could actually be relieved to see summer go.
Relieved isn’t a strong enough word. Of a more appropriate strength: thrilled, jubilant, ecstatic.
I hate summer. I hate the blunt heat and the insidious humidity. I hate the smells of sunblock and steamed B.O. and that metallic algae odor that bodies of fresh water give off when it’s hot. I hate shorts and tank tops and sandals that rub my toes raw. I hate how exposed and judged I feel when the sun shines so bright. I hate feeling like I have to be productive for 5 extra hours every day because it’s light out until 9. I hate feeling guilty for not going outside. I hate watching other people bloom into their summer selves — youthful, fluid — while I’m still as stodgy and self-contained as on the coldest morning in January. Watching other people in summer is a little concentrated bit of my high-school experience — always feeling simultaneously like I’m too old and too young — except the vicarious thrill’s been replaced by weary resentment.
I hate, hate, hate not being able to sleep the night through because I’m too sweaty and the sun comes up at 5 in the fucking morning. I’m in a sleep-deprived stupor from early July to early September every year.
I’m gonna take a leaf out of A’s book and (a) be less bitchy for the rest of this post, and (b) make a list: things that I am looking forward to this fall.
1. I have this one perfect sweater I bought at Macy’s two years ago. Classy enough to wear to work, but doesn’t need to be dry-cleaned like my dress shirts. Big enough to hide a paunch, but form-fitting enough to not look bulky on me if I’m losing weight. If put on over an undershirt, it can be worn every third or fourth day for 2 or 3 weeks before I have to wash it. Warm but not too warm, it is my favorite article of clothing. On shittier days, it’s sort of like a security blanket I’m already wrapped in.
2. Soup! On Sundays I try to make a big batch of something I can take to work with me for the coming week. In summer, my mind inundated with magazine articles going on and on about all of the incredible fresh fruit and veg options, I feel obligated to make something exotic and exciting and photogenic. I usually only manage to get as far as exotic. My most recent summer catastrophe was Thai curry with acorn squash. I didn’t like squash to begin with. After that slimy traumatic mess, I don’t even like curry anymore.
But in fall and winter, the magazines tend to focus more on deserts, and I can go back to making boring, un-photogenic, reliably tasty soup. Soup’s hard to fuck up, even for someone with only the most amateur cooking instincts. Soup makes the kitchen smell awesome while you’re fixing it. Seamlessly incorporating the three main elements of the vegan diet — green, grain, legume — is a snap. Barley mushroom with kale? Splendid. Lentil with brown rice and spinach? Scrumptious. Tofu tom kha with rice noodles and brocoli? Bring it on. A nice hearty soup never fails to get me excited around lunch time.
3. You know what’s not super conducive to impulse control? General summer malaise compounded by sleep deprivation. Too much Excedrin, too much Tylenol PM, too much alcohol, way, way too much sugar. Drunken-sailor grade spending sprees. Anything to distract myself and feel better for a little bit.
You know what is super conducive to impulse control? General calm brought on by cool, dry weather, gentler sunlight, and the ability to pass out on the sofa at 9:45 pm to help replenish summer sleep deficit.
To be continued.