When I first was looking for sublets in New York, a lot of people I talked to about their apartments told me right away that their apartments lacked air conditioning. It had been about 98 degrees in New York for most of July, and these people were melting- their popsicles were melting, their soap was melting, their hairdos were melting- and they really wanted me to know what I was getting into if I rented their apartment. I appreciated that, if only because it seems like someone who confesses their apartment’s temperature regulation problems on the first phone call seems unlikely to be trying to rip me off or scam me into some sort of “Cheap room in exchange for backrubs!” kind of arrangement.

While I appreciated their candor, however, I did not actually listen to what they were trying to tell me. I didn’t much care about whether the apartments had air conditioning or not. I actually kind of hate air conditioning. I can’t sleep with it on at home or I wake up with a sore throat. I despise the chilled, sterile feeling of over air-conditioned offices. I’m a big fan of fans.

I had, of course, forgotten what New York is like in the summer. I lived in the Bronx for a summer four years ago (as an aside, it freaked me out when I counted back and realized it was four years ago because where the hell did those four years go?) when it was also record-breaking hot in New York, and I have never looked or felt so awful and dowdy for such a prolonged period of time as I did that summer. My hair was an unmanageable mess of frizz, my clothes clung to my body from the unstoppable sweating, and I was covered with a fine layer of chalk dust at the end of every day (more a function of my job as a summer school teacher than the heat, but it definitely was not helping me look any better.) I slept in an un-air-conditioned building with the other girl teachers in my program and would have killed any one of the boy teachers if it meant I would have gotten to take their spot in the air-conditioned building. I don’t know how I could have forgotten all of this. It was miserable.

And so it is in New York in the summer: miserable. (And smelly, but that’s for another post.) I’ve been okay with actually sleeping in my apartment so far, with a ceiling fan droning all night to keep me cool, but the exertion that comes from waking up, showering in the kitchen, and getting ready for work is enough to drench me in sweat. The subway is, of course, the hottest place in the city, if not on all of God’s green earth, which causes me to sweat even more and develop attractive armpit sweat stains to add to my already sort of deflated appearance. I arrive at work damp, frizzy-haired, bangs plastered to forehead sleeping toddler-style, and very very hot. Within 5 minutes, I’m shivering from the dreaded air conditioning. This is not a good look for me.

What I want to know is this: how do all the other women in my office manage to look fresh and well-pressed in this shit? Seriously. It’s like some sort of New York secret that they aren’t sharing with outsiders. So if you know a way that I could arrive at work looking more like an office worker and less like someone who’s just come from birkam yoga class, please please please tell me how.

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