As most of you know (and for those of you who don’t, consider this my confession), I grew up in a small suburb of San Diego called Santee. Loganites–stop laughing at me! And as much as I tease Santee for being a small town and oh-so conservative, I really did have an excellent childhood there. My education was superb (I mean, look at me now, snicker snicker), the community was small enough that you couldn’t get into too much trouble without everyone–I mean, EVERYONE–knowing about it, and most of us who grew up there maintained very precious friendships that have endured the test of time.

That said, I believe every Santeean, across all 4 miles of Cuyamaca Street and all 3 miles of Magnolia Avenue, will agree with me on this one point:

The summer heat is unbearable.

Am I right? Can I get a witness, folks? I remember the good ol’ days in the Santee summer with no air conditioning. When we used to run the hose over us until we were all shivery and then slap our freezing bodies on to the steaming sidewalk to warm up and dry off, which would take all of about 3 minutes, only to repeat the cycle again. Or when my mom admonished us four kids NOT to sneak out into the living room (aka her bedroom) at night and sleep in front of the ONLY FAN IN THE HOUSE. And yet, every morning, there we were, 4 kids wrapped in blankets, lying in a row in front of the fan.

And so it is with a perverse pleasure that I offer you this:


This is our grown up version of sneaking out to sleep in front of the fan.

Please, allow me to explain. Eastern Europe has been in the middle of a long-lasting, record breaking heat wave (go ahead, take a minute to read the short news article, especially the part where 16 people collapsed). Every day the temperature reaches about 95-100 degrees Fahrenheit. Need I remind you that all the buildings here are concrete and have very few windows? Oh…and that we live on the top floor of such a building? Yeah. Stifling in here. There is no way to ventilate this place and even when I try, we are invaded by swarms of mosquitoes who, apparently, delight in Amerikanski blood because we keep getting eaten alive and when we ask Bulgarians how they handle mosquitoes, they usually respond with something like, ” well, I see them around, but I never get bitten…”. Grrrrr. This situation has led to basically two solid months of sleepless nights (and sleepless mornings if you factor in the construction noise next door that begins promptly at 8am every morning, including Saturdays and Sundays). Double Grrrrrrr!
But we do have one bright spot. They call this thing “air conditioning”:


This little machine is supposed to cool the entire flat. We can all laugh at the word “entire” since the whole flat here equates to one large living room back home. And you guessed it….it most definitely does not cool the entire flat. It cools the 5 feet in front of its location and that’s about it. So for the last two months, either Mark or I would slip out and sleep on our super hard plastic couch…because we couldn’t decide which was worse, sweating all night long or waking up with a sore neck from the couch. Each morning, one of us would find the other all sunggled up IN BLANKETS in front of the air conditioner.

Well, when Mark came home from work at 1:00 in the morning the other night, I was already snoozing peacefully IN BLANKETS on the couch. I guess he had had enough and could not bear the thought that he would not be able to sleep there. And so he brought out the mattress from the second bedroom–the twin sized one–and threw it on the floor. Now we have a bed in the middle of the living room. Umm, more accurately, we have a bed for a living room, because once the twin sized mattress is on the floor, there is no room to walk around it.

To all of this, I say…..GENIUS! I LIVE on that mattress now. I have wired up my computer, mouse and speakers and I am currently typing from there. I would be listening to some music or podcasts but for the fact that Mark is snoring gently beside me. Sleep at last!
So, as it turns out, I came all the way across the planet to end up….back in Santee.