Is It Winter Yet?!

Greetings, from the surface of the sun.

I don’t deal well with heat. That’s putting it mildly. I broil in the sun till I’m an attractive lobster-red, sweating is possibly my least favorite summer activity, and summer is just generally my least favorite season. This year is making it especially clear why.

And even though I’m thankful that I missed the brunt of Aomori’s summer while I was off on vacation in Europe, the past few weeks have been some of the most downright uncomfortable that I’ve felt since moving here. It truly baffles me that a place that has such frigid, extended winters can get so hot that I feel like my brain is slow roasting in my skull. It’s the kind of heat that causes me to start sweating profusely five minutes after I’ve gotten out of the shower. In short, it’s gross.

Today has been the coolest day of the past week, and it’s currently 85 degrees in my office. Did I mention that our office doesn’t have air conditioning? It was supposed to rain this afternoon and while there are some nice foreboding clouds gathering on the horizon, I’m skeptical that we’ll actually see any rain or that it will do anything besides jack up the humidity to the point where I’m breathing water.

Yesterday, it was even worse. It was a balmy 94 degrees, and with the humidity factored in, it felt like it was a nice ‘n’ toasty 103 degrees. By around noon, I was ready to trek to the river by my house, dig myself a hole in its bed, and crawl in to hunker down until autumn, mudskipper style.

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He’s got the right idea.

I am so ready for winter.

Never thought I’d be proclaiming that, but right now, I would give anything for there to be five feet of snow outside and a glacial chill in the air. (Feel free to remind me of this moment in five months, when I’m lamenting the fact that I live Beyond the Wall and that spring is never, ever going to come.) In the winter, I can always crank up my heater another few degrees and huddle closer. When it comes to this heat, there’s not much else I can do except lie on my kitchen floor like a beached whale.

In Pittsburgh, I worked on a produce farm for nine straight summers. (Shout out to Harvest Valley Farms!) I regularly sweated my way through the days in the farm’s greenhouses, also known as the furnaces that stoke the fires of hell. I thought that there could be nothing worse than digging onions in a greenhouse whose thermometer only read up to 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

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See? Not an exaggeration.

I was wrong. As it turns out, it’s infinitely worse to sit at a desk in an office with no air conditioning and sweat through your professional attire. Button-down shirt sticking to your back from sweat = gross. My students, in their uniforms, have it pretty rough too, though they at least have some relief. On days that it’s truly hot (…as if the past few haven’t been…), they’re allowed to trade in their uniforms for more comfortable shorts and T-shirts. Makes me turn Hulk-green with envy. I’m still trying to figure out how to work my way into the “tracksuit-garbed inner circle of trust” of teachers…

One thing about this heat: it definitely proves that misery does truly love company. It’s hot in the office. Everybody knows it. That doesn’t, however, stop people from piping up incessantly, “暑い よ!” Or in English, “It’s hot, isn’t it?!” I love my coworkers, I really do. I know everyone else is just as miserable (Except for the lucky gym teachers, in their basketball shorts and T-shirts…). But when somebody voices this in a half-cheerful, half-incredulous tone…ugh. Yes. It is hot. I have sweated what feels like a gallon today. I know it’s hot. Please, please, stop reminding me. I haven’t forgotten since the last time you said it.

One silver lining: I’ve learned the Japanese words for “lingering summer” (残暑), “fierce heat” (猛暑), and the colloquial phrase for “I’m dying.” Said in a really exasperated tone, that last one at least gets a chuckle out of my coworkers.

Thankfully, it does feel like autumn’s reach is gradually advancing, at least in the mornings and at night. When I get up to run at 5:30 every morning, there’s an autumnal crisp in the air. (Bonus points because the sun isn’t fully risen yet.) Even if I can only feel it for the first five minutes of my run, at least I know it’s there. And at night, it gets chilly enough that I don’t wake up with sweat-drenched sheets. But oh, what wouldn’t I give for a proper October chilly breeze right now…

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