Summer is trying its best to get here.
As I write this, in the middle of June on Long Island, we're experiencing some gorgeous May-like weather with cool temperatures and breezes that mean no patio umbrellas for a while yet. It's not quite summer yet.
And yet, June's half over.
My family has been vocal about how cheated they feel. "Hey!" They shout to Mother Nature, tapping the calendar. "Winter's over. Give us some beach days." They can't wait for ninety-degree heat and humidity.
But me? I am quietly loving this cooler-than-usual summer weather.
Last year at this time, I was diagnosed with an auto-immune disease called psoriatic arthritis. I've had psoriasis for about three years -- small scaly patches that dot my elbows and legs. But last year, it worsened to include a most painful form of arthritis. It began in one arm, in the elbow. Here I am, in Brooklyn, accepting last year's Firecracker Award from CLMP. You can see my arm frozen in an awkward position.
After the arm healed, I had a flare-up in several fingers, the worst of which was my ring finger. My wedding ring finger. The swelling was significant, so I was given an IV of prednisone. The pain was so unbearable, I begged my husband to take off my finger with garden shears.
This is a picture of the hand AFTER three weeks of medication. My manuscript was delivered two months late because of that. (By the way, Dragon Dictation software is fun!)
I found a rheumatologist and besides prednisone, began taking four other medications. I now carry a special wallet with all my various potions zipped into separate compartments, except for one that's injected twice a month. I've become a human science project. It beats experiencing that level of pain again. No flare-ups in a year and aside from a truly depressing weight gain, I'm okay.
The downside is no pool days, no beach days, no sun. I have to sit in the shade, well-covered, to protect my body from further damage that could be caused by mixing sun and all these medications. I'm so excited about summer FINALLY getting here, but have to enjoy it from behind glass, like the science project I often feel like.
So I'd be truly happy if summer never got any hotter than this.
It reminds me of all the creative ways I looked for ways to cool down when I was a kid. I grew up in a NYC apartment -- no air-conditioning. Playgrounds had to be avoided at any cost --no trees to sit under. I used to grab my favorite mystery novel and sit at this bus stop. The breeze created by traffic was somewhat soothing and best of all, it was shady because of the trees.
Two years ago at this time, I was writing A MATCH MADE AT CHRISTMAS, my first contemporary romance (Tule Publishing Group, 2014). Mine was book 4 in a Christmas in New York series so I gathered with three other author friends in one's beautiful backyard and we wrote our series bible under the shade of her beautiful giant umbrella. (There's nothing quite like singing Christmas carols in ninety degree weather!)
So, last year, we bought a similar umbrella so I can have some shade when I venture outdoors. Despite my new limitations, I'm still happy summer is finally here, and look forward to grabbing a great book to read -- or dreaming up a new one to write -- under my new umbrella.
What creative ways do you have for avoiding sunburn while enjoying summer?