Heating and cooling (and writing) in summer hell

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If my fate is to spontaneously combust, it will probably happen this year and this summer. The heat is a killer. It has certainly been one of the hottest years in recent memory, considering I was unable to go swimming until mid-June last year. The hands fail to type when the crushing sun sits on your back. At that point, you are just squeezing out writing if it can be done.

Poet H.D. writes in her poem “Heat” that we must “rend open the heat, cut apart the heat, rend it to tatters” if we are going to make it through. Yet, that’s a lot easier said than done when you don’t have AC, and this year was the year that my central air decided to quit working.

To be honest, it quit working the second year we lived here, and five-hundred dollars later it was back on and humming. The very next year it quit working again—this time it was an underground short in some wiring—and then it went back to jamming along. But then this year it didn’t turn on at all. The sweaty man with the sweaty ring around his neck and the bad posture told me the compressor was shot.

“It’ll be somewhere around $3,500 to $4,000 dollars to fix…I can’t really give you an exact estimate right now,” he said. I nodded unhappily and considered moving all my family’s belongings into the basement because it was much cooler down there…but life as a Morlock sounded sad and lonely.

As it turns out, heating and cooling companies no longer make parts for the model I own (I got two different referrals). I would say there is a conspiracy to control the market (forced integration of upgrades and what have you), but conspiracies need secrets to stand and the sweaty man with the sweaty ring around his neck and the bad posture didn’t look like he was lying to me.  

“Cut the heat– / plough through it, / turning it on either side / of your path.” H.D. states.

The mind reels at one’s Eloi existence when the central air stops working, and you can no longer lounge around the house in your underwear like an overcooked polar bear. Writing under such conditions becomes stressful, as staying motivated is always an issue when life is lined up in front of you like so many spikes.

Have you ever seen that episode of the Twilight Zone where the Earth’s orbit gets out of whack and begins moving closer to the sun, so everybody starts to fry to death, but then it turns out that it was just the fever dream of a woman who is actually living on an Earth that is slowly moving away from the sun and now everybody is freezing to death?

It’s called “The Midnight Sun” and it’s a great episode. It’s also super relevant for the summer months because I can almost see my pictures and paintings melting off the wall and the thermometers cracking under the strain of mid-90s temperatures. More morbidly, I can also see myself peeling my own face off as if it was made of wax while being cooked alive inside my easy-bake-home. Try to type a few paragraphs of a blog post or the next chapter of that book your writing while wax drips off your face and onto your keyboard. I dare you.

As host Rod Serling says in the outro of the aforementioned episode:

“The poles of fear, the extremes of how the Earth might conceivably be doomed. Minor exercise in the care and feeding of a nightmare, respectfully submitted by all the thermometer-watchers—in The Twilight Zone” (Midnight Sun).

I relented, though, and a reliable heating and cooling company will fix my central air next week, so it will be repaired a little early for the hottest month of the year, which bodes well for me and my family. The AC problem is seemingly solved…for now. There’s always next year.

With that, I will leave you to it friends–and thermometer watchers. I hope this summer weather fairs well for you and your writing, and I hope we make it together just fine to the cooler months.

Works Cited

D., H. Heat by H. D. – Poems | Academy of American Poets. poets.org/poem/heat. Accessed 1 July 2022.

“The Midnight Sun.” The Twilight Zone, created by Rod Serling, Season 3, episode 10, CBS, 1961.