I I I I I I I  

The Middle Lassitudes

I will never get the hang of July.

When I lived up north, it was February that always brought me down. After so many days of gray light and snow, that short month was often my undoing. Rather than get re-bundled for another assault on the frigid temps -- which I'd already been doing for a few months -- I routinely would instead choose to stay snuggled under the covers, oblivious to college classes and icy sidewalks. 

That all changed when I moved to Texas. Suddenly February was a dream, that rare month when you could actually wear a light sweater to guard against a coolish wind. February was the month for young lovers, which the hub and I were then, and the time when our schedules eased up enough that we could enjoy mini-vacations or snuggle in front of the fireplace. 

It was then that July began its plague. Summers are brutal in the Lone Star State, especially to a Yankee who is used to only having to endure three blistering months. By July of my first full year in Austin, I was ready for the heat to end. Only it didn't. July is when the heat gets around to taking off its coat and settling in your nice comfy easy chair so that it can hang out for three more months. Toward the end of July, I found myself scuttling about Austin like a roach, darting from air conditioned sanctuary to air conditioned sanctuary. I saw a lot of movies that first year, not caring what was actually playing and only concerned that the theater be dark and cold.

Each morning I would walk from my car, which was parked down in that massive student lot near I-35, up the hill to the Mass Comm building on Guadalupe. Even that early, temperatures were already in the 80s and I'd arrive soaking wet, so much so that my backpack had sweat stains on it, after a few weeks of summer school. Entering the building was exhilarating, given that the AC was kept low enough to store meat. The frigid blast on my wet skin was almost erotic. 

July was what finally forced me from Texas, that place where women and horses suffer. I was freelancing for the Austin Chronicle. Given the furious pace at which I was churning out quality copy for them, I firmly believed I deserved some offer of legitimate employment. But my demands were made during the July lassitude, when it was too hot for anyone to think, much less act. But that lassitude also saps all my patience. Rather than wait it out, I bolted and started sending out resumes. By spring, I was in Tennessee, where the summers are shorter and muggier.

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I didn't leave my July problem behind, however. In the years before this past one, the seventh month was the one when I'd start pondering all of my other career options. Should I finally get a teaching certificate and leave behind this writing madness? Should I find something else in another state, where my job-related problems will at least be new? Should I just chuck it all and go backpacking across Alaska? 

Long sunny days aren't good for me. I don't deal well with the slower pace of summer. When everyone else in the country is on vacation -- which indirectly means that I can't get a damn thing done -- I sit and stew. I am restless, antsy. Rather than wait it out, I force things to happen. That never turns out well.

Last summer, it was July when I had my own vacation on a locked psych ward, driven there by my own personal crap complicated days when it felt like the sun never went down. It was also last July when we decided that we needed to get out of Knoxville and closer to family back north. Change was in the air at my husband's place of employ and it didn't smell good. It was just time to go.

It is July again and we are still here. The husband's job prospects didn't pan out this year, and we're regathering our resources for another run at finding him enjoyable and meaningful employment elsewhere. His job here stinks like stagnant pond water, but he still wades in every day. The hub is a trooper.

My professional life seems to be on hold. The day job is undergoing a reorganization and the jury is still out whether the changes are positive. Freelance gigs are hard to come by, stretched even thinner by Mr Bush's economy and vacationing editors. I have a book proposal floating around NYC right now, but it seems to be languishing in the mid-summer torpor. Nothing is moving right now, and I am ready to bite any hand simply so that something will happen.

As it turns out, I didn't have to. July bit me, instead. As I was charging out the door over the weekend, with the now walking baby on my left hip and a bundle of mail, a grocery list, and her shoes in my right hand, the baby decided that she'd much rather be on the ground. In the struggle to not drop anything, I tripped over a ceramic flowerpot. Baby, shards of flowerpot, mail and I tumbled down a couple of steps, ending with me flinging the child into the gravel beside me so that I wouldn't land on her. She is fine. I, however, have 21 stitches in my left calf where a shard caught me, and a baker's dozen of bruises and scrapes.

Fucking July.

It will mend, I'm sure. And when I am asked about the scar, I shall change it from one inflicted by a flowerpot to one inflicted by a biker gang as a defended my virtue. 

Until then, I can do nothing but wait it all out -- the stitches, the editors, the job -- all of it. Fortunately, I have a prescription for pain killers and the knowledge that this month will eventually end.

About the Author:
Adrienne Martini has been a theatre technician, apprentice massage therapist, bookstore bookkeeper, and a pizza joint waitress. Eventually, someone started paying her for her words and an editorial mercenary was born. She has written theatre reviews and features for the Austin Chronicle, blurbs about tofurkey and bottled water for Cooking Light and a piece about knitting summer camp for Interweave Knits. During the day, she fields freelance gigs and is gainfully employed as an editor at Metro Pulse, Knoxville, Tennessee's weekly voice. At all hours, she is mom to Maddy, who will be a big one-year-old in June, and wife to Scott, who declines the mention of his age. Email Adrienne at: shaken@austinmama.com


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