A Sticky Week for Writing

Tempers are flaring everywhere I go, and even a simple non-athletic feat like washing the dishes or walking the dog can get me sweating enough to where I have to throw my clothes into the ever-growing pile in the laundry hamper.

Everywhere around me, people are on vacation. It’s not like living in Martha’s Vineyard, but Southern California is one of those places where working people coexist with people who are off the clock, temporarily or permanently. Since I work from home most of the time, and live not too far from the beach, it’s more pronounced. Take my dog for a walk at, say 11 a.m., and there’s a guy about my age all dolled up in colorful spandex sitting on a bike. Vacation? Early retirement? He couldn’t be unemployed. Nobody’s unemployed these days, supposedly, except by choice.

But I also have friends and family who are off and want to do things. When I was unemployed — or as I like to call it, “exiled” — I partly justified my existence by becoming the unofficial recreational planner for stressed-out friends and relatives. It almost seemed like I could take it up as a full-time gig: “C’mon. Relax. Go to the beach.” “You think I should?” “Hey, look where being a workaholic got me!”

Anyway…it’s one of those sticky summers we get occasionally. Hot sometimes, humid always. Today in the South Bay, the temperature is 73 degrees, but the humidity is 66 percent. Over in St. Louis, center of a big heat wave, it’s 97 degrees, but only 38 percent humidity. Up in Boston, it’s 76, but with 80 percent humidity. Awful, but we’re not much better. We Southern Californians typically don’t complain about weather, though. That would look ungrateful.

Could this be a signal of global climate change? Could be, but if so, the pattern began more than 20 years ago. I remember a summer in the mid-1980s as the first sticky one in memory, when whipped cream puffs of clouds hung over the region, the coastal waters were hot and subject to algae blooms. It seemed very weird, even ominous. We still talked about nuclear war back then, and for some reason that summer felt like the final days before apocalypse. Unlike this summer, I remember that one never gave us an afternoon breeze. The waves didn’t crash on the shore — they shuffled their feet and fell to their knees.

Now I get it. The weather has changed in some way. We get dealt a humid summer out here once every four or five years, and 2007 we got stuck with one.

Anyway, so I’ve not been writing here much because it’s so sticky that my mind is stuck, and because so many people around me are either on vacation, in a bad mood or both…but I’ve got a few things in the works. So stay tuned. Or come back after your vacation.


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