So Friggin' Hot: Everyday Magic, Days 342-343

Ice water? Check. Sitting in front of air-conditioning with ceiling fan on high? Check, check. Bag of cold cherries? Happy check. Wearing as little as possible without embarrassing myself in public? Of course. One thing I’ve learned in my 32 Midwestern summers is how to get through summer, but that doesn’t mean I can’t complain up one side of a hot wall and down another. Summers in Kansas are hot, and this summer, the heat is blasting in a few weeks earlier than usual, making me yearn for Thursday’s forecast (high of 88!). Of course, the closer it gets to 100, the lower the humidity usually gets too.

Complicating or aiding — hard to tell yet — my first intense encounter with the heat is also my first intense encounter with fly-by-night poison ivy and chiggers. Gentle readers who don’t know what the chigger is, I won’t destroy your innocence, but suffice to say that black flies, no-see-ums and mosquitoes have nothing on the chigger. In a sense, being in Kansas is like living with the Fire Swamps of The Princess Bride but instead of ROUS (Rodents of Unusual Size), quicksand and exploding fires, there’s chiggers, ticks and HOUP (Heat of Unusual Persistence). Walking out into the grass is a dangerous journey that will likely leave its mark on you for days to come.

Having been so marked, I’m now on steroids, which makes me both want to nap and run fast simultaneously, and buzzes my body in perfect tempo with the roaring cicadas (aren’t they early too?). The hotter it gets, the louder it gets: a.c., cicadas, movies we must watch to distract ourselves, and bags of ice we must hit with a hammer to break up. So I sit in the roaring echo of air and insect, my fingers wanting to type twice as fast as usual and my mind craving only cool water, and remind myself that sometime soon — maybe 4 a.m. — it will drop down to the 70s, and if I wake (likely, given the drugs I’m on), I will step outside and breathe in the moment of non-sauna living, then go back to sleep, dreaming of winter and preparing myself for the long stretch of summer.

Strange Days Indeed: Everyday Magic, Days 339-340

The storms have settled down here…..at least a little……at least for a moment, but that anything-can-happen feel permeates everything from what I thought I was doing yesterday (working in a coffee shop, but instead driving my mother-in-law to doctors after she took a tumble) to my skin (two scary words: poison ivy). When the days get strange, the nights get stranger: when I woke up this morning, I evaporated from the upstairs of a Victorian home full of secret rooms where a woman who let me hide there (after a man was chasing me with machete) showed me an elaborate cape she made from iridescent tiny blue beads.

After some days of fighting off intrusions to my work and thrashing against the reality of the poison ivy spreading from my neck upwards (e.g. face) and downward, I finally got into the groove of the strangeness. Escorting my mother-in-law down long halls in medical buildings because we parked in the wrong place, or doing drive-through fast food for lunch (something I rarely do, but when the gal has to eat between ferrying an 88-year-old about, the gal has to eat), I had a mild realization about strange days: they go a lot better when you simply surrender.

So back and forth to town caverta cheap cialis generic viagra multiple time because of things left in doctors’ offices? Inhale. Young adult son heading to Newton with no place to stay but the back seat of someone’s car? Exhale. Tick on my leg to pull off? Cat jumping high? New tiny spot of poison ivy on the wrist? Water not draining right in the tub? And all the phone calls lately when someone’s phone died, voice cut in or out, or the call mysteriously disconnected, only to have five minutes of missing each other as we simultaneously dialed each other at the same time? Breathe, breathe, breathe. Don’t push the river. And just start laughing at it all.

The strange days flow in, spill over, and with them, bring their own weird magic and surprises: poison ivy isn’t too bad with a lot of Zanfel, Sudifed and coffee, chicken mcnuggets are better than I remembered, the wind comes sweetly despite the heat, friends last night talking about friendship lifted my heart, having to take some detours showed me new curves to drive, and while sitting in doctors’ offices for hours, I found a lovely way to organize a poetry anthology.

Strange days indeed, and to celebrate them with John Lennon’s song on this topic, take a listen here. Most particular, Mama.