Hot and cold

This July is on track to be the hottest New York City July on record. If that happens, it will beat July 1999 for the record — that was the month I first visited New York, over a record-breakingly sweltering Fourth of July weekend. Despite the heat, all I wanted to do was walk around the city, gawking at buildings, neighborhoods, and street life. I don’t know how I didn’t get heat stroke.

This July, I broke down and bought an air conditioner for my bedroom, even though I’m moving in August. It’s been too hot most days to spend time outside; there’s no enjoyment even in going to the park, much less in strolling through the city.

I used to hate the cold more than anything, but I think I’m being persuaded that heat is worse. If you learn to dress appropriately for cold, you can be out all day in it (unless it’s really awful, of course, but we don’t live in the arctic). Cold takes away from the enjoyment of the outdoors somewhat — you don’t want to sit on a park bench — but at least in New York, winter is still perfectly navigable. The subways are a pleasant temperature, the streets don’t smell like urine and garbage, and there’s plenty to do indoors.

The sort of nasty heat we’ve had this month is impossible to accommodate with clothing, short of maybe walking around in a bikini while being spritzed by servants. Subway platforms are their own special hell; sometimes easily as hot as an E-Z Bake Oven. And plenty of indoor spaces, including most of my apartment, aren’t air conditioned adequately or at all. Even more than in winter, living with nasty summer weather is a drastically curtailed existence of scurrying from habitable microclimate to habitable microclimate, screwing up one’s face against the awfulness of what’s in between.

13 responses to “Hot and cold”

  1. Someone I knew when I lived in Chicago said the only way to bear the wind was to lean into it and mutter “fuck” a lot. I can’t say it helped me get through the winters with my sanity in one piece.

    Cold is harder for me. At the end of the winter, I notice I’ve been hunching for months and it feels like my mood has been hunched over as well. Inevitably when it starts to get consistently over 40 degrees the phrase “back from the dead” pops into my head, along with some reference to the part of The Wizard of Oz where things are in color instead of black and white.

    Not that this summer has been pleasant, though I maintain those two insanely hot days with not so much humidity weren’t so bad. Probably we’d all be best off in California.

  2. Tim says:

    Probably we’d all be best off in California.

    Well, of course.

    When I lived in Minnesota (admittedly not for long), the winters were terrible, but the summers were surprisingly worse. Having grown up in upstate NY and lived in Chicago, I was more or less prepared for the nasty winters (although they were nastier in MN). I just didn’t know what to expect when it came to summer, though. I thought (ha ha) that perhaps they would be pleasant, as karmic compensation. The heat, the humidity, and the mosquitoes! The occasional destructive hailstorm! Ugh. For me, spring and fall were the only consistently tolerable seasons there.

  3. Rachel says:

    Cranky about the weather, are we, Dave? Well, city heat is a particular kind of hell, especially the subway tunnels.

    My first summer in Chicago was 1995, when we had 10 days where the temperature never dropped below 100 degrees and 800+ people died. Completely crazy. One way to deal is to spend the days sleeping someplace air-conditioned (like a university library) and stay up all night, loaded if at all possible. *

    * (May only work if you are a shiftless grad student. Which you will be soon! So yay.)

  4. LP says:

    Probably we’d all be best off in California.

    When I moved to LA, I thought it would be for a short time – maybe one or two years – after which I’d move back to the East Coast, to NY. The longer I was here, the more addicted I became to warm weather with no humidity, and no mosquitoes. Hiking in shorts in January? No problem! Sitting outside in someone’s yard with a glass of wine in the summer? No mosquitoes! It was/is heavenly.

    I began to dread having to reacclimate to the weather patterns of the East Coast. Could I really go back to snowy days and stiflingly humid, hot summers? Then I met RB, and suddenly I didn’t have to anymore. As much as I love New York, it was kind of a relief to be able to stay here. I do miss the occasional snowstorm, and it’s discombobulating to suddenly think, mid-day, “What month is this?” But it’s easy to get used to, believe me.

  5. jeremy says:

    Am I hearing a motion on the floor proposing that all East(and Mid-)-Coast TGW’ers move to California?

    I second the proposal.

    Shall we put it to a vote?

  6. Summer in Modesto is pretty brutal. Just sayin’. I’m not sure if I prefer NJ (high 90’s, humid) to Modesto (mid-100’s, dry); just that California > Los Angeles. I like the heat better than the cold, I would rather be in full-on summer in NJ or in Modesto than in full-on winter in NJ. Winter in Modesto is pretty bearable though.

  7. Dave says:

    I am indeed cranky about the weather. Unfortunately, I view California, especially Southern California, basically as represented in Annie Hall. And I quite like not having to drive more than once a year.

  8. F. P. Smearcase says:

    Let it not be forgotten that kvetching about New York is part of loving New York.

  9. Stella says:

    After the hottest June on record in DC and a hellish early July, I’m feeling ok, for the first time ever, about visiting England for a predictably rainy vacation. 60 degrees and torrential rain – woohoo!

  10. foxforcefive says:

    Dispatch from the Bay Area:

    Friday: Hi 76, Low 56
    Saturday: Hi 77, Low 58
    Sunday: Hi 75, Low 57
    Monday: Hi 74, Low 56
    Tuesday: Hi 74, Low 56

    It’s those cool summer nights that are especially fantastic. We still have the down comforter on our bed. And as a former New Yorker (who lived there during the summer of ’99, and remembers the combination smell of piss and street food), I gotta say that it really is better out here. Not only can you turn right on red per Woody, but there is actual culture, and even public transit.

  11. Josh K-sky says:

    Coolest July on record in Los Angeles. Catastrophic climate change is our new patio mister.

  12. Dave says:

    Today the humidity went down in New York, and this evening is pretty pleasant. I’ve got the fan running in my room but not the A/C.

    The Bay Area has my favorite weather, I think. It is tempting, although I’d fret about water and a state government that’s even worse than New York’s.

  13. foxforcefive says:

    You’re right about the California state government. And if you think that’s bad, you should see the city governments of San Francisco and Oakland. As for water, you wouldn’t need to fret; the Bay Area is not a natural desert, like LA is. Our water comes not from afar in concrete rivers, but from the Sierra and the Delta. As Mr. Malkmus sings, the south takes what the north delivers.