Thursday, August 14, 2008

Adulthood: It ain’t as advertised

You know, when I was a kid I could hardly wait to be a grownup. I envisioned a world of complete freedom, where I could do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted!

Heh. Heh. Ha. Ha. HA! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! {snicker…snivel…}

Yeah. That’s exactly how it turned out! Also, I have a pet unicorn! And a talking pig named Henry! And a mazillion dollars!!

Oh wait…no, I don’t!

Unfortunately, along with that Big Person ability to decide my own destiny (or at least what I was going to eat for dinner) came maturity.

I got mine as a byproduct of my master’s degree. That’s right! I have an MS in Stupid Mistakes, from the School of Hard Knocks? Yeah, and the thing is, when you’re taking the coursework in Stupid Mistakes, well, there’s all these Maturity units that are just sort of, you know, along for the ride and junk.

Use ‘em if you’ve got ‘em, I always say…so I’ve got a minor in Maturity and damned if it doesn’t keep coming in handy.

When you find yourself suffering from a case of Maturity, you have this way of understanding that there are consequences for things, and that while something might sound or even feel good right now, it isn’t necessarily a good idea.

I learned that the morning after that night-class in pounding back sweet-mix martinis while shrieking and giggling with a bunch of gossipy girlfriends. Hmm. My head still aches a bit, come to think of it…and I think I may have gotten married to that cute Norwegian busboy. Or was he a tennis pro? Built like one, if he wasn’t…anyway, yeah. The Maturity part of the units was about how actions have consequences.

Sometimes not-so-fun ones.

Anyway-anyway…yeah. So I’ve got the grownup ability to twiddle with the electronics in the house, or play video games all day, or drink a six-pack of soda, or ALL KINDS OF COOL FUN STUFF…but now I know why my mom always said, “NO! Now, go clean your room!!”

And worse…I agree with her.

GAH! Is there no end to the horror?!

…sometimes, it feels as though there is a very disappointed kid living inside my head.

A kid who, right now, would really like to turn up the air conditioner. Just a little. Say, oh, nothing much…twenty degrees cooler? OK, fifteen. Ten? Please?! I’ll be your best friiiiiiend…!

The Den has a problem with air circulation. It’s one of those houses where one room (say, my bedroom, where my office is) is a good twenty or even thirty degrees hotter than another (like, the living room – north side of the house, under the shade of a big tree).

In the winter, this room is heaven.

In the summer, it’s hell. But also where all my files are, where the printer lives, where my LAN wire plugs in…sigh

That inner child that was so looking forward to being a fully independent grownup is pretty pissed off right about now. She’s been bitching all day long about the heat, and I don’t blame her one bit. It is hot today. It’s hot in here, it’s hot out there, it’s hot beyond belief in the vehicles…I think I lost five pounds in sweat just walking from the car to the preschool classroom to get Captain Adventure this afternoon!

Unfortunately, Adult Me knows a little something about the air conditioner as pertains to this particular room, and it is this: Bringing the temperature down in here by any significant amount is a costly proposition. The problem is not only in the air circulation (which I’m already battling for all I’m worth with fans, to ‘eh’ effect), but a far more powerful thing: The sun.

As always, the sun rises at the left corner of my bedroom, and progresses throughout the day, slowly and with great determination, from left to right, lingering on the back wall of the master bathroom until he slowly, sloooooowly sinks behind the hills…

In the dog days of summer, when the overnight low is still in the 70s or even 80s and the daytime highs soar up into the hundreds, what is a loving day-long smile in the winter becomes a searing leer. “Yeah, you want some? Here it is, sucka! Oh-oh, you were complaining about how cold it was last month? HERE’S SOME HEAT FOR YA!!!! BWA-HAHAHAHAHA!!!!”

Trying to overpower the sun with your air conditioner? Eh, not gonna end well. Just sayin’.

Darn that Mother Nature! Always showing off with the ‘I am stronger than you!’ thing!!

If I want it to be cool in this room, well, I can do that. I have the technology! I have the power of thermostat control! I just have to be willing to accept two things: One is that there will be ice cubes forming on the piano in the living room.

I might be willing to accept that…but the other thing? A PG&E bill that can easily blow past $500 a month. Shoot, if I really wanted to be super-comfortable, that $500 might be merely the kindling used by PG&E to power the super-computer necessary to calculate the actual bill.

True story, I had a neighbor tell me last year that her bill was over seven hundred dollars during the summer months. MONTHS! Plural! $700! OVER. SEVEN. HUNDRED. DOLLARS.

This just in: The consequence of hearing that kind of story may well be a trip to the ER to have your heart restarted!

I just stared at her. Like a bird facing a snake. Can’t…move…gasp!...can’t…BREATHE…!

Obviously, Adult Me feels this is too much to spend to be cool during the day. Adult Me suggests that Little Me change into a pair of shorts and a halter top or something. It’s not like we have a web-cam going, where the boss is going to unexpectedly wire in and think I’ve been eaten by some kind of cave-dwelling slug when he sees a vast expanse of rolling moon-white mommy-belly peeking out from between them!

(I know. That was not a visual you particularly needed. Sorry about that…)

Adult Me also knows that this is a relatively short period of suffering. Give it another month, and it’ll be bearable. As the nights start cooling off, we’ll open up the windows first thing in the morning and set a fan in the window to suck the cold air into the room…if we can get it down to 70-something first thing and then slam all the blinds shut before the sun’s rays actually hit the windows, it will stay at least bearable in here.

And a month after that, the air conditioner will be off and, in the mornings, Little Me will be whining about ‘can’t we turn the heater on, just for a little while?!’

Adult Me points out that we can have a whole lot of fun on the $250 each month we aren’t spending on even a minimal bump in comfort.

Adult Me mentions that after all…we’re all “into” the whole nature-thing, right? Observing and appreciating seasons, trying to enjoy the Now a bit, embracing the whole ‘circle of Life’ thing…right? C’mon…right?!

Then Adult Me sighs, closes her eyes, shakes her head and says…

“OK. You can go downstairs and get another soda and a couple cookies for snack. Or a bowl of ice cream.”

{BAM!} Tama-shaped hole in the air up here…and a phantom voice shrieking after me as I pelt at full speed down the stairs…“…but not both! Are you listening to me?! NOT. BOTH!!!!”

“Wha? You say something? Sorry…can’t hear you…chewing ice-cream-cookie-sandwich-float…!”


Leoal said...

It's the opposite here, I look forward to summer as a break from energy bills. It doesn't hit higher than about 30C here (86F) on the hottest days. I don't have air conditioning. I have a 12 inch oscilating fan for the hot days.

But I still know how you feel, because I spend all winter, from November until April, wrapped in blankets and debating the relative merits of going from 17 to 20 (63-68) versus a $300-$400/month electricity bill (I have electric heat, no gas or oil for me)

Luckily I have a lot of yarn to keep me warm.

Anonymous said...

I knew there was A Reason I was staying here, plugging away at My Job, rather than throwing the yarn and perhaps a change of clothing (if there's room) in the car and pointing it at the coast.

Darn those maturity units...

Another Joan said...

Delurking.....We had the same problem (and don't even have a/c) until we bought some bamboo blinds for the outside of the windows. Something about keeping the sun OFF the windows made a difference. Hope you are adjusting "in a mature fashion" to the absence of the Denizens during the day!

Teresa said...

Hey! I can actually help! I live in Sunnyvale, CA with no a/c so we've learned some neat tricks for keeping the house cool and this one is super cheap. Tape tin foil, shiny side out, on the inside of the window. That's it! The more of the windows you cover, the cooler your room stays. And darker. But that might be preferable.

ccr in MA said...

I was the exact same way as a kid. I could not WAIT to grow up, and be able to do Whatever I Wanted!

Yeah. Work, pay the bills, buy groceries, clean... it's just all fun all the time here Chez Cat Hair.

Every once in a while, I do have ice cream for dinner, though. It feels so good!

Yarnhog said...

Plant a tree. Outside the bedroom window. You'll have free air conditioning for life. Sort of.

Kaviare said...

Being hot in summer and cold in winter is hard. but not as hard as being cold in summer and hot in winter. WHY? Why must my office mates diddle with the air con to the degree that I have to wear fifty layers of clothing, NO MATTER THE SEASON.


Ms. Packrat said...

Ever seen the little portable acs that have wheels and don't hang out the window? Excess ehat is bad for computers, after all. And some of them are darned efficient - says the woman with a bedroom on the third floor facing west ...

Caitlan said...

play in the sprinkler! Work will wait! (at 19 I'm still delighting in adulthood)