It reached 93 F here today and as I write this at nearly nine pm, it is 89 in the air shaft outside my office window. For you in the northern hemisphere, it’s not as nice as you think it might be. For a while I sat on the balcony with pen and paper and wrote a page, page 158 to be precise, that smeared when the sweat from my nose dripped onto the paper.
Earlier I went to a cafe, but not one of the three or four I usually work in most days, depending on how far I want to walk. The nearest one is only ten minutes away, the farthest nearer forty-five minutes. But I had compelling chores today and stayed in the barrio because of that. It was not a good cafe. Loud, unintelligible music played from a radio station and the view was to the huge YPF gasoline station on Godoy-Cruz at Segui. I like places where you can see girls in their summer dresses. Although if there are a lot of girls like that, one does not work much.
Had sushi for lunch, but that here isn’t what you think it is. They don’t do fish at all in Buenos Aires. They do steak. Only steak. But how much beef can a person eat? Everyday? So I went to a place in the barrio that even has sushi in its name. But they only had salmon. Not real salmon, but salmon from some farm. A salmon farm. Beef also comes from farms. I ate all of it because I was hungry and had a glass of wine to help swallow it and brought a book to read, which I finished there, and the server was unusually sweet. There is 2000 miles of Atlantic coastline along the east side of Argentina, but they don’t do fish. They do cows.
The book I finished at the salmon place with sushi in its name was Richard Holmes’s “The Age of Wonder.” It’s about science and romantic poetry in the 18th century, mostly in England and France. It’s very good, if you like science. I learned something new on almost every page. Now I am either going to start with Orhan Pamuk’s “The Museum of Innocence” or Antony Beevor’s “D-Day: The Battle for Normandy.” When we lived in Berlin, I read Beevor’s “The Fall of Berlin 1945” and thought it was an important addition to the stuff already in my mind. Also, World War II interests me. I was born a few months before it ended, so the span of my life is the span of history since World War II.
So, it’s summer down here. This would be like August were it on the other side of the equator. It is rare that I have a birthday when it’s hot. It happened a couple of times in South Africa, it happened here last year, and will happen again next week. People with winter birthdays, February in my case, become long used to making plans that go with cold. But here it is hotter than hell, dog days, and all that I can think of is what the world is like in winter.
Across the air shaft is the bedroom of a girl I think seeing from that distance is in her teens, maybe 14 or 15. She doesn’t sleep much. Often when I get up in the middle of the night, as old men do, I see her light on and the TV flickering. It is maybe 4 or 5 in the morning. She rises and gets ready for school by 7 in the morning. She has long legs and long hair. When does she sleep? I became quite curious about this, so I asked an Argentine acquaintance who has teenage children when do they sleep. They go to school in the early morning, but they don’t eat dinner until very late, often close to midnight, and they watch TV or whatever all the rest of the night. Everyone here lives like that. We have been in a cafes near midnight and seen families with small children sitting down to dinner. So here’s the answer. The kids sleep most of the afternoon. They go to school at 7:30, but it’s a short school day, they leave at 1:00. They come home, have a snack, then sleep all afternoon. They get up to do things with their friends in the evening, eat dinner late, dance and do whatever else kids do until wee hours, watch some TV or maybe do homework if so inclined, sleep for a couple of hours, then start all over again. Frankly, I don’t think this is healthy. There are cultural attributes that lead to early death. Even late death is not a good thing; early death is moronic.
I am sorry most of you will never know how grand books were when they were real and important.
It’s supposed to be hotter tomorrow than today, but then a storm is forecasted and Sunday might be in the low 70s. San Diego like. San Diego has the finest weather in the continental United States, according to the American Climatological Association. I lived there for ten years.
I miss looking at deep snow through a warm defrosted window. Especially if there are mountains out there.