A holiday to fill the august void

Summery green, humid pond.

August. You can see the humidity.

In my family, the 4th of July is big enough to imbue much of June with a Christmas-like anticipation. There are even a few days post-4th with same lazy quality as December 26th. Then the rest of the summer lasts for five hellish eternities, eternities as tortured as though they were all spent drinking weak, acidic coffee and listening to that noise the baby from Eraserhead makes. The vicious heat of July stretches into August, and from August to infinity, or so it feels to my heat-addled brain. Even as a kid, my hatred of the endless heat outweighed my hatred of school, and I would wish for September to start. It may not be so hot that I can’t sleep, but it’s still hot enough for the middle part of the day to be an unacceptable, activity-preventing haze. And there are no redeeming holidays.

The only official August holiday I can think of is VJ Day—Victory over Japan Day—and Rhode Island is the only state that still celebrates it. I grew up in Rhode Island, and I don’t think too many people there want to give up a Monday off from work, even while acknowledging that VJ day is creepy and outdated. And even in Rhode Island, VJ day doesn’t do very much to improve August.

Then there’s Lughnasadh. Celebrating the start of the harvest season and honoring the Celtic god Lugh, Lughnasadh is one of eight neo-pagan high days. Celebrations usually involve competitive games. In a group where the attendees tend towards bookishness, this can involve things like thumb wrestling and rock, paper, scissors, rather than races and feats of strength. Voice of experience. While it’s a fun holiday, and a great excuse to celebrate seasonal foods, it is ultimately a religious holiday. So I don’t think it’s going to get the widespread adoption that a Big August Holiday needs.

There is a an enormous roster of made-up* holidays out there, and I think one of them must qualify. Some of them are too specific, or dedicated to foods I don’t like. I’m looking for something that can justify a day off of work, a cook-out, and possibly some activities. After doing some reading (mainly here and here), these are my top candidates.

Sister’s Day

I am a sister. Not a nun, just to clarify, but a female with siblings. This is a self-serving choice, but not one that would do anything for me, since I can’t even imagine my brothers showering me with presents and grilled meat on Sister’s Day. Plus, it would probably suffer from the same food-gendering as Mother’s Day. Dads are supposed to get steak, while Mom wants breakfast in bed and quiche? Who thought of that one? What about steak in bed?

Senior Citizens Day

Acknowledging Senior Citizens, giving them a pat on the back and a steak, and congratulating them for having gone through decades of shit is not a bad idea. Better than pretending they don’t exist. This is also a self-serving choice. It will take decades to pay off, if I live that long, but I will gladly contribute to creating hoopla around Senior Citizens Day if it means that, thirty-six years from now, the youth will prostrate themselves before my throne (ok, it’s a recliner. With a heated blanket) and shower me with gifts they picked up an hour ago.

Left-handers Day

Banks will switch their pens on chains to the left side. Even if banks also decide to close for this auspicious day, they will still do it. Activities could include left-handed games. Like, instead of going out to play normal badminton, everyone plays left-handed. And those of us who are left-handed or ambidextrous defeat them easily. It will get old very quickly for the right-handed folk.

National Aviation Day

I saved the best for last. This is already a federal obversance, and this year it’s on Tuesday, August 19th. I’m not sure if it’s always the same day, or if it moves around based on the full moon or day of the week or airline schedules. According to timeanddate.com, here’s what people do on National Aviation Day:

On this day, some schools organize for students to participate in classroom activities that focus on the topic of aviation. Activities include: discussing aviation history, including the efforts of the Wright brothers, Amelia Earhart and other aviation pioneers; and engaging in interactive tasks about airplanes and other means of flight transport, as well as careers associated with the aviation industry. Aviation enthusiasts and students may visit museums about aviation history and technology.  Some people visit the Wright Brothers National Memorial in North Carolina at this time of the year.

That sounds mildly interesting to me, but not if I’m going to do it every year. First, there needs to be a cookout with aviation related activities. Kites, paper planes, and toy rockets can all be brought out to celebrate this day. Maybe a historical storytime for the kids. Of course, there will need to be more movies. Christmas and Halloween have tons of movies. Thanksgiving has a few. Even Independence Day has one. We need to have a movie like It’s a Wonderful life, only about Amelia Earhart, a movie that we can expect to see on TV to every National Aviation Day’s Eve

The point is, National Aviation Day is the most ripe with possibilities for celebration. And even if you don’t do a damn thing besides have a meal with family, if any of that family had to fly in from afar, you’ve participated.


*recently made-up, that is. When someone says something is a made-up holiday, what they really mean is that some person invented it rather recently, instead of a government or religion inventing it quite a long time ago. All holidays are made up, even Christmas, which was designed by a committee including Jesus and Santa.

Humidfest 2014

In my last post, I mentioned my hatred of hot weather. This inspired me to write a post about all the things I actually do enjoy about summer, like the smell of cut grass, that help to balance all the unthinkably humid aspects of the heat itself.

That didn’t exactly happen. I started to write about cut grass and the wind in the air before a thunderstorm, and ended up on a tangent about all the awful qualities of summer that I hate. But it turned out to be more than a tangent.

It became a brainstorming session. Every Wednesday (because Wednesday is an awful day, the summer of days) from now until August, I am going to write a barely controlled, seething rant post about summer’s sub-par attributes. The posts may even show up on non-Wednesday days, just because there’s so much material here.

Summer trees from depcrepit fire escape.

Summer. Looks pretty, but don’t touch it.

Summer means difficulty sleeping. Summer means clothing I hate. Summer means that trickle of sweat down your back when all you’re doing is standing there thinking about how much you hate the world. Summer means no running or hiking, because you can keep the heat stroke and mosquitos, thank ya very much.

There are so few of us who prefer winter to summer. Every time I meet someone who shares this quality, it’s like sharing a secret winter-club handshake. You might be a Mountain Dew-swilling, monster truck connoisseur*, but as soon as you say, “Why won’t this heat ever end? I can’t wait for fall,” I will know you as a kindred spirit nonetheless.

That conversation doesn’t happen often, however. Small talk, for most people, is something to fill up the awkwardness of elevator rides. For introverts, it’s an unpleasant thing that happens when you’re trying to read. For introverts whose seasonal hatred runs in reverse to that of the rest of the world? Meteorological-based small talk is an angst-filled minefield.

Summer means, when my normal level of irritation with the world in general has been raised exponentially in relation to the relative humidity and number of degrees over 55 Fahrenheit, that the typical weather chat of acquaintances becomes a constant barrage of taunting. Even as I’m wiping moisture off my forehead, chugging water and gatorade, and trying to stay frightened deer-still because movement makes the heat worse, people come up and say, “Isn’t it lovely? I hope you got out today, it is bee-yoo-tee-ful. Enjoy it while it lasts!”

Then every winter, every day, when I’m trying to enjoy the glory and austerity of snow, I hear complaints about the weather from people who decided to dress like it’s any other time of year than the one it actually is.

Enter Humidfest 2014. Here are all the complaints about summer that I hold back during most small talk this time of year.

On Deck: Pieces of Summer Apparel that We Should Burn.

 


 

*You snob. Of course people who enjoy monster trucks can be connoisseurs. They say things like, “Note the sprightly quality to the ear-obliterating sturm and drang of Lightning Warrior Monster as it crushes that line of small cars. Quite uncommon.”

Hello World, Part II

There’s a lot of pressure on the first blog post. If I post regulary, it will soon be relegated to the murky depths of my archive, but I can’t help feeling that this sets the tone for my whole blog. In fact, I’ve left up the default WordPress “Hello World” post, as well as my own test post, in the hopes that it would take some of the pressure off this post. Rather than jumping right in with fully-formed posts, I could make my blog evolve, like a diagram of prehistoric creatures crawling out of the sea and growing legs. I could even post dozens of test posts, single-celled nouns becoming the land-dwelling quadrupeds of complex sentences, with commas and everything.

But I’m not doing that. I’m jumping in. It’s not so much evolution, but rather something more akin to a toaster being invented, and the next day becoming sentient and taking over the world. This may have been too many metaphors, and they may not have worked. Like when your sentient toaster eats your English muffin and then vengefully electrocutes you because no one ever taught you not to battle your toaster with a piece of metal when it’s plugged in.

That’s never happened to me, by the way. I’m acting like I know what I’m talking about, but in reality, I’m making my blog on a mattress of lies.

Which is actually appropriate, because I write fiction. Specifically, I write sci-fi and fantasy. Speculative fiction, if you want to call it that. I’ve accumulated a collection of promising (to me, anyway), partially finished stories about magicians and travellers, thieves and ghost hunters, park rangers and bards. People who don’t have a handle on basic life stuff, like making telephone calls, or who want to build fires in places where they’re not allowed to, like a space station. And everyone in the world who knows more about writing and publishing than I do says I need to have a blog, if I would like to sell my fiction one day.

That’s not the only reason I’m doing this, though. It may even be just an excuse. I put my first website online in 1999, when I was 14. I devoured all the information I could find on html, ftp uploads, stupid tricks you can do with Javascript, and how to make animated gifs. All this so I could share with the world such gems as new versions of the Pledge of Allegiance (one was to the Republic of Mr. Peanut) and animations about 12 frames long, in which a stupid little character based on my brother’s stupid friend birthed whole from my prodigious imagination basically lived the life of Wile E. Coyote, only without Road Runner. If you think about it, Wile E. Coyote’s life without Road Runner would be kind of pathetic, a string of incidents in which Wile E. orders dangerously malfunctioning items from the ACME catalog, for no reason at all, and never learns his lesson.

Anyway, my first website was something I had a lot of fun with. You’d know this if you saw it, because the whole thing was in Comic Sans. I’ve had a few websites and blogs since then, but they were always halted by my perfectionist tendencies. It would take me weeks to write a post like this. I would agonize over every sentence, which I have clearly not done here, as evidenced by the clumsy metaphors and the fact that I admitted to Comic Sans. Things only grew worse when I learned CSS and some basic Photoshop skills, because then I felt like I had the power to make things REALLY perfect.

I hope to create this website in the spirit of that first one.