I’m dreaming of white styrofoam

Have a look.

72 degrees in the day, 43 at night. (22/6 C)

But wait!

Come Sunday, we slide to a daytime 61 degrees, 37 at night. (16/3 C)

Like bbbbbrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr! {snark}

Folks in Snow Country may understandably call this paradise. I call it purgatory, sort of.

Traipsing about in flip-flops in January feels absurd.

Ditto having my windows wide open to let in spring-like sunshine and air.

I’m an earthy seasons-attuned hippy barefoot sorta girl. And my body’s shouting: What the fuck?!?

Body and psyche innately keep reaching for that reset button of reflective winter … that rhythm of the seasons.

And they keep coming up empty-handed. ‘Cause they ain’t there!

I’ve lived in places with four distinct seasons. I felt at home, on point, in tune, in sync with nature. Fulfilled.

Southern Arizona, like Phoenix, has whacked out my inner compass that naturally points to the Four Directions and Four Seasons.

That compass is erratically madly spinning as if I’ve landed in the Bermuda Triangle.

I miss snow and blizzards — though I wouldn’t wanna live in ’em.

I miss rain – deeply.

I miss cloudy gray skies — though I absolutely wouldn’t return to the Pacific Northwest!

Believe it or not, you can actually tire of blue sunny skies! … the redundancy … the boredom.

It’s like anything, say coffee.

Drink the same brand every day every month every year and the palate loses its ability to discern. It needs variety to keep it sharp, informed and on point, otherwise it sinks into the slumber of boredom.

Variety IS the spice of life. And necessary.

I’ve written it before but it bears repeating.

Jan. 7 2020. It’s 72 degrees in the day, 43 at night.

Yet there shall be no gloating, no “read it ‘n’ weep” aimed at folks in winter from these quarters.

I WISH I were where you are! — for a spell.

I envy your biting cold and white stuff and dynamic skies and, yes, the use of a furnace!

Early January and I’ve yet to turn on the heat in my studio. But you can bet that air-conditioner’s gonna be up and running way too soon and long!

The holidays are past so I can’t say I’m dreaming of a white Christmas.

Here in weirdly warm Phoenix, I’m dreaming only of styrofoam pretending to be snow spread across my floor.

styrofoamsnow

I’m dreaming of white fake snow …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Move over, Pillsbury Bake-Off, Phoenix is here!

Water water everywhere … but Phoenix.

It’s the last week of August. Approaching autumn, haha, right!

And yet again Excessive Heat Warnings are in effect for today and tomorrow for us baking here in southern (and central) Arizona.

Predicted highs of 114 F. (45 C). Near record-breakers.

This current excessive heat spell is the fourth of the month. Our hottest day this month (Aug 5) was 115 (46.1C).

For comparison, the average high in August is 102 F. (38.8 C).

Equally newsworthy but more frightening is the absence of monsoons. This desert state depends on a few months of massive rainfall for its annual precipitation.

Grab the galoshes! …

… for  a whopping 0.11 inch (0.27 cm) of rain has fallen in August.

Average monthly precipitation is 0.94 inch (2.38 cm).

Our hot season — when daytime temps strike triple digits (100 F  … 37.7 C) and there remain — runs from around June to October.

That’s of 4-5 months of an unrelenting dry summertime Bake-Off. Not even Pillsbury could pull this off!

It is taxing.

It is trying.

It is time for frying eggs!

skilletegg

Not your brain on drugs but your stovetop in Phoenix, Arizona

That’s a stock photo. Sidewalk egg-frying competitions, official and unofficial, do occur.

I myself have never given it a go.

I’m partly curious and partly recoiling. I mean, if I can actually cook an egg on a sidewalk, then I’m in the fucking wrong place!! And I need to haul my a** outta here and get back to water, baby.

Water baby. Pisces. That’s me. Water is my element, the ocean my joy, my place, my natural home.

pisces

This is my first full summer in Phoenix. It’s pure bad luck that it’s been one of the driest and hottest on record.

Because it’s my first, I’ve paid attention to my experience and responses — physically, emotionally, mentally.

I’ve sought to use these taxing hot dry months that go on and on and on as an educational experience to help chart my course in current Bigger Life Choices and Demands — primarily where to live and settle down and Move No More!

I’m 62. I’ve moved like 60 times. Most on my own — independent, without movers or much if any help.

It is enough. I’ve got maaaaaaaybe one more move left in me. Which is why it’s SO incumbent upon me to make a positive and lasting choice of location.

Like 114 F. (45.5 C) … on August 28 … Phoenix, Arizona. Not leading that list.

There is this silver lining however.

anti-theftAZ

“But it’s a dry heat” – and fatiguing as f*ck

Winter fatigue gets all the attention and airtime.

Summer fatigue — heat fatigue — just as real.

This is my first full summer as a resident of Phoenix, AZ — aka the Valley of the Sun. (Makes the hideously crowded Los Angeles-of-the-Southwest sound sooo much nicer!)  

Heat here starts early and runs long … from June to October. Four months of Triple Digit days that begin at a “cool” 100 F (37.7 C) — official entry into the triple digits always garners headlines and elicits dread for what’s ahead — then escalate into 115-120 F (46.1-48.8). Not uncommon for it to be 100 F (37.7 C) at midnight.

“But it’s a dry heat.”

The running line here. The lack of humidity has its challenges. Still, Phoenix is an oven. Creatures bake. You bake. And yup, egg-frying contests on sidewalks ain’t a rumor.

dryheat

Summer relief comes intermittently with the monsoons. Most people think Arizona’s just hot dry desert. SOOOOOOOO not the case!

Not only does the state have VERY varied climates — from Snow Country to the north to Brutal Desert to the south — but it receives very powerful and dramatic monsoons between, officially, June-September — though in practice more like July and August.

Except this year. “Nonsoons” they’re being called. Virtually no monsoon activity.  We are in a heap of trouble.

My first summer in Phoenix has been tough. Educational. Memorable — as most firsts are. I want to capture the highlights while they’re blazing in my face.

I’m Tired of Blazing Blue Skies

Sure, clear bright blue sunny skies are great — ESPECIALLY if you’ve lived under miserable constant gray damp cold sunless skies of the Pacific Northwest. Every day I see the sun — even in excess — I’m reminded of where I’ve been and am in gratitude to no longer be there.

Still. Imagine a humongous blue canvas hanging in your home for months on end. Sure, it’s a pretty blue but after a while it feels flat, redundant. My eyes, my mind hunger for visual stimulation, for something OTHER than Blue Sunny Sameness.

True, this Sameness is exacerbated by the absence of monsoons, their incredible cloud formations, torrential downpours, lightning, haboobs (dust storms). What clouds we have seen pass too quickly. It’s Back to Blue. The upbeat version of “Back to Black” by Amy Winehouse but still depressing in its way.

Heat is Exhausting

I’m of European Nordic heritage. I’m not built for this. I’m wired for cold — DRY, please! I’m not in my element. It’s simple Biological Dissonance.

I‘m Tired of Living in Containers

Take my home for starters. A tiny studio with two windows. One faces east — thus is bathed by (hot) morning light — and the other west — thus is subject to summer blaze.

Thermal blackouts are imperative to keep out the natural elements: the heat and sun … and keep in the cool of air-conditioning.

I can’t remember the last time I got to open my curtains and windows! Oh wait! Like June!

I am ALL ABOUT natural light and fresh air. I REALLY need both more than most people. I’ve ticked off more than one past roommate by opening a window in cool weather!

Having to keep my studio sealed up is tantamount to a prison cell. My brain cells rebel. My mood shifts to DEPRESSIVE. To combat that, I often crack a curtain to allow in some natural rays — at the expense of losing cooled air and related cost.

I’m Tired of Life in An Airplane Cabin

EVERYWHERE you go in Phoenix is air-conditioned (sometimes to the Arctic Zone, which presents its own issues).

You’re breathing recycled manufactured air everywhere for months on end as you bounce from one air-conditioned space to the next. From your home to your car. Your car to your workplace to store to cafe to fill-in-the-blank.

Sharply contrasting life in the airplane cabins is the Space Between — the Phoenix Furnace. You do not linger there. In fact, you’d RUN through it to the closest air-conditioned space if only you could! Truth is, the HOT forces you to move slowly if you can move at all. The heat does not fuel your zip. It zaps it.

Some people fare better than others but every body is affected. Articles on surviving the heat abound. Excessive Heat Warnings are a norm. People die from it. Phoenix heat is as deadly as winter freezes …. just not talked about or appreciated outside the region.

Point is: Air-conditioning is ubiquitous because it has to be. It enables us creatures to survive. Nonetheless, it’s artificial recycled air — an airplane cabin — for months. My body, my lungs yearn for natural air. But I sure as hell ain’t gonna go hang around outside in 115 (46.1 C) for it! It’s an effort just getting from my studio to my car!

Excessive Heat Zaps My Will

This is somewhat surprising. I live in far too much solitude in a tiny studio.  Whether it’s to the gym or nearby favorite craft brewery,  I need to get out, meet people, TALK with humans, engage beyond the confinements of four walls exacerbated by the dampening effects of thermal curtains, closed windows, the constant running of a fan and air con.

It’s all I can do to move.

Even as I know my well-being and health require getting out, CONSIDERABLE effort is required to lift myself up, face the blast of the furnace, drive with air-con blasting and deliver myself into another air-conditioned spot

The mystery is that even when I’m indoors, not directly in the heat, I still feel the heat. It zaps my will. Sucks the life outta me. Frighteningly, it prods me toward an eternal siesta from which I’d never awaken.

Climate Control is Costly

Air-conditioning strains the budget. I keep my space at 78-79 F (25.5-26.1 C) — which many folks consider rather warm. I’m tough — definitely not a Whining Snowflake Millennial!! — and will endure discomfort to cut costs. That said, I’m ready for my electric bill to return to a reasonable level. Really ready.

In sum …

The extended Phoenix summer is at the halfway point. Come mid-October generally, this excessive oppressive heat lifts and the best, most temperate time — envied by America’s wintery regions! — begins.

Nuthin’s free in life. We PAY for pleasant winters with brutal summers.

 It’s official. I’ve got Heat Fatigue. 

The will to endure has been replaced by the need for it to be over. Think of it like the holidays. You feast on carbs, meals, sweets, drinks. Come January, you’re beyond ready for regular food in moderate amounts!

Heat Fatigue deserves equal attention and airtime given to Winter Fatigue.

Perhaps it doesn’t get its fair share ’cause everyone’s too zapped to speak and write! (haha)

 

 

 

Merci, Mother Nature!

A pleasant surprise awaited me when I got up today.

My thermostat read 82 degrees (27.7 C).

Amazing relief compared to the 95 in my little studio just the other day!

Phoenix, Arizona, is getting a break from burgeoning heat — why, just 4 days ago, we officially tapped into the triple digits of 100 (37.7)! — due to a weak cold front sweeping the nation.

Some states are getting snow, rain.

Phoenix ain’t so lucky. Our luck rests in relief from heat. We’ll take it!

Today’s forecast says a high of 84 (28.8 C), low of 63 (17.2 C). Verrrry comfortable! Course the cooldown won’t last.

However, the difference between 84 (28.8) and 100 (37.7) is remarkable — the dry heat notwithstanding.

That’s the big line in Arizona. “But it’s a dry heat!” True enough. Images like these abound on postcards, souvenirs, etc.

Miniscule humidity most of the time. You bake. You fry. You run, you crawl toward any place cooler — or the illusion of cooler. Shade, for example.

Public air-conditioning is ubiquitous in Phoenix. Has to be. More than half the population would flee otherwise!

Anyways, today’s cooler temp brings with it a slight breeze. Whoooo-hooooo! My two windows don’t open wide enough to bring it on  — and in!

I’ve been feeling oppressed by the heat … while fully realizing that 100 (37.7) ain’t nuthin’ compared to what’s ahead in July, August.

We got 118, 120 degrees (47.7, 48.8 C) to look forward to (cough cough}.

Say it ain’t so!

Oh it be so!

So fucking hot.

So as I luxuriate in today’s comfy cooldown, I can’t help but be disturbed by something.

At 11:34 a.m., the outdoor temp is 76 (24.4 C). In my little studio, it’s 80 (26.6 C).

Can you say heat trap? Does not bode well for what’s ahead.

Which is why I’m in the business of fans. Portable powerful fans. Researching fans like never before! Like my life depended on it!

All too soon, it shall.

But today, we’ve got relief, merci mother nature! Daresay it’s even better than an icy gin ‘n’ tonic.

What’s to celebrate? Uh, wilting for starters.

Had to happen.

Always does. Not as predictably as Christmas on Dec. 25. Still, from media to bar folks, it’s had everyone talkin’.

Today it happened.

Phoenix officially hit the triple digits — 100 degrees (37.77 C) — for the first time this year.  At 2:10 p.m. and a week earlier than last year.

Records are kept on Phoenix weather, you betcha! From summer monsoons to heatstroke to air-quality warnings, seldom’s a dull moment in Arizona’s Valley of the Sun.

Speaking of air quality, Phoenix just made a nationwide list again. Ranks No. 7 as the most ozone-polluted metro area. Up from 8 last year.

Ugh.

No bragging rights there.

And rather contrary to a widespread perception that this desert Phoenix air’s great for health and respiratory issues. Retirees relocate here from all over the country for health. Car emissions are chiefly to blame for the shitty smog in this city of 5+ million, where drivers crowd narrow roads and sit daily in standstills.

Ugh.

Not that anybody’s dissuaded by this and other local unpleasantries. Phoenix’s largest county (Maricopa) also made the list of the fastest-growing county in the country for like the 4th year in a row.

Ugh ugh and ugh.

My relief lies in having no plan to stay. Even 6 months ago when I officially became a resident, I knew my stay would be short-lived … 1-1/2 years perhaps, time necessary to figure out the next move.

Anyhow, the Triple Digits arrived early. In no time, today’s high of 100 (37.77 C)  will be the low at midnight.

Ugh.

It was 95 degrees (35 C) in my studio apartment today.  I’m not happy. Neither are the blooms I bought just a few days ago.

They seem appropriate to mark the day’s occasion.

poorblooms

April 26, 2019. Happy Heating, Phoenix, Arizona

 

 

 

Leaping from long johns to longing for lakes

These lightweight long johns will be too heavy soon enough.

They’re pajama bottoms actually. A cute patterned garment with a waistband and cinch tie designed like long johns. Ideal for mild winters. For hot springtime — such as Phoenix’s — not so much.

Phoenix came thiiiiiiiiiiis close to cracking the barrier today. The mercury reached 99 degrees (37.22 C).  On April 19, 2019. Good Friday. What’s good about it for this uber non-religious person is that it stayed a degree shy of that Triple Digits.

We know it’s coming. The light of the train in the tunnel that’s speeding toward us. It’s unavoidable. Sho ga nai, in Japanese. Can’t be helped, loosely translated.

Weather’s much talked about in the desert. As it should be.

While Phoenix fell juuuust short of its initial and official entry into the Triple Digits — and I’m grateful! — the looming inevitability gets mucho airtime on the radio. Like the annual first blizzard in New England. Stats are kept, dates written down, records are created and broken. Theirs center around snow, ours sun.

Crossing that boundary from double to Triple Digits foretells what everyone already knows! It’s psychological as much as physical. Once the Triple Digit is achieved, there’s no turning back for about six months.

I’m not new to a desert climate. Resided in southern Utah, whose climate is similar to Phoenix’s. Also visited Phoenix briefly — only way to visit, especially in summer — during the hot months. I blistered, flopped about and withered like a fish outta water.

I’m a new resident (as of October) so this is my first cycle through the seasons. Having visited, I know what’s coming. Having visited, I had an immediate built-in escape — an effusive PHEWWWWWW!!!!!! Having no real affection for Phoenix or plan to stay, I brace myself for the miserable looming Furnace by telling myself two little words:

It’s temporary.

Or three words:

You’re passing through.

I don’t need Triple Digits daily highs around 118 (47.7 C) exhausting brutal heat and yeah at least it’s a dry heat to know I don’t wanna be or stay here.

But here I be, for now, bracing for what’s quick around the corner, adopting best I can a philosophical stance — a perennial favorite for those surviving horrible circumstances and trauma.

I tell myself — or perhaps kid myself? — this:

Experience has value.

One full summer in Phoenix, then I can say I did it and be gone.

No real value there in the context of philosophy, life experience and cultivating wisdom. It’s simply what is, for now. 

Today when I got up, it was 91 (32.7 C) outside and 81 (27.2 C) in my studio apartment. A 10 degrees difference ain’t much. I shudder imagining my studio — which faces west, oh boy! — when it’s 118 outside!

The air was warm, still. I craved a whisper of a breeze.

And it’s not even HOT yet! I mean, 99 (37.2 C) is laughable. We’ll all be celebrating 99 in September!

Weeks ago I switched from flannel sheets to uber lightweight summer cotton sheets.

Now it’s time to launder and store these PJ lightweight long johns. Even rolled up, they suddenly feel like heavy heat traps.

Is there a garment light enough for sleeping in a Phoenix spring-to-summer?!

Perhaps. It’s called skin!

From long johns to longing for lakes … it’s a quick leap here in Phoenix, Arizona.

Add to Dante’s List: Parking Purgatory

I’m a sardine in a tin.

A room renter in a new subdivision.

Where it’s clear that the city sought to pack ’em in to maximize revenue and let residents battle bloodily like piranhas for the single precious commodity. The. Prized. Parking. Place.

Even San Francisco parking pales in comparison to this segment of metro Phoenix (AZ). A BOLD statement indeed. Having lived in the City decades ago before it and California swirled irretrievably down the crapper, I know of what I speak.

As comparison, for its undeniable parking arduousness, what San Francisco has in its favor is opportunity. Yes, you’ll have to drive ’round and perhaps park 8 blocks away or in an adjoining neighborhood then walk — or take Uber I guess in this culture of Laziness and technology — there IS parking to be found and it will be found with persistence.

Not so in this subdivision.

To be fair, every sardine-d condo has a garage for one, perhaps two cars depending on size. For reasons unadvertised, I’ve no garage parking access, relegating me to the roadside piranha pool.

Due to geographical logistics/layout — details unnecessary — it’s park there or nowhere.

Or at some motel.

Which is precisely what I nearly did — just a couple nights after moving in, when I was learning the lay of the land.

The Land of No Parking.

I returned early one evening to park. Found precisely: Nothing.

Round and round and up and down the same citified subdivisioned narrow roads — where two vehicles can pass barely — I went.

“God, if this is the daily norm for residents, imagine what visitors face! Imagine the holidays with umpteen friends and family visiting umpteen residents!” I shuddered at visions of 60 people vying for one spot, followed by preliminary ponderings of a personal escape route. Arizona’s vast deserts are nearby … and parking’s never a problem …

Like a tweeking hamster on a wheel I drove, round round round the same several blocks, not only on the lookout for a space but more importantly anyone walking, sitting in a car, headlights on, turning wheels, the sound of an engine … ANY possible sign that a person’s leaving.

For some 25 minutes I did this. It’s not even late! Just after 8 o’clock. On a Monday night no less!

I was not alone.

I repeatedly passed the same drivers circling on that hamster wheel in our shared relentless fruitless pursuit of that piece of paradise called a parking place. That slice of concrete of exceptional value. Only the Sunrise Ruby is more precious. It sold for more than $30 million. That’s $1.18 million per carat.

So’s you can appreciate: The Sunrise Ruby is the world’s most expensive ruby and most pricey gemstone other than diamond. It’s named after a poem by the Sufi poet Rumi.

I finally — and this is so goddamn hard to say, so very contrary to my nature — WAS FORCED. TO. GIVE. UP.

Yes indeedy, I threw in the towel, nearly input “nearby motels” into my GPS. Remember now, I’m totally maxed-out aggravated, tired, exhausted in fact, and pissed off … and as a renter I’m paying for it all, which reallly pisses me off.

One can fantasize …

findingparking

Truth told, I haven’t in me to disrespect others’ cars or my own in this way.

Fueled by dogged refusal to tack on motel costs to housing for which I already pay, I ventured afar for the sole solution. Leave the area.

So I hopped on the major thoroughfare and weaved around ’til I found something.  Something legal. Something that wouldn’t incur costs of towing and impounding, say.

Turned out to be a spot on the other side of a very busy, fast, wide and most pedestrian-unfriendly thoroughfare (not a crosswalk or signal anywhere near!) a quarter of a mile or so away.

Crossing the “mini-freeway” demands a certain finesse, precision timing and athletic prowess as if scurrying for one’s life. Because you do.

Thankfully I’m sporty and most importantly wasn’t loaded with precious goods like laptop or groceries or things to slow me. From start to finish, the endeavor to get home ate up about 45 minutes.  Niiiiiiiiiiiiiiice. 😦 😦 😦

That single night taught all I needed to know.

1. Weekdays, if you don’t arrive in a narrow window between morning (after residents go to work) and 2-3 p.m., good luck. Just as well search for the elusive snow leopard. Weekends are less predictable.

2. Wear good shoes — for a hike home and/or risky sprint across speedy thoroughfare

3. Carrying anything? Drop it off at the house first, THEN go look for parking. You may get lucky and find it in 5. Or in 25.

As a Phoenix newcomer, I need to orient, explore, meet people, hence it pains to admit that I am a Prisoner of Parking.

Worse than being a Prisoner of Love. I’ve been that too.

I do opt out of activities, curtail pleasures, avoid social engagements, postpone errands SO AS NOT TO LOSE A PARKING SPOT. 

Like Friday night. Roommate asked whether I was going out. Seems I should. I am new to town, after all. I know no one except the roommate.

“NO WAY!” I shot back faster than Bruce Jenner off the starting block.

“I got a parking space!”

Short of it is, I wouldn’t wanna live in the big house. But them prisoners got a freedom I ain’t got. A freedom from parking purgatory, the 8th circle, unofficially, on Dante’s list.