Happened so fast...
Just as August ended and an autumn crispness crept into the air, it finally started feeling like summer.
We've had weird weather this year like everybody else: a strangely cool start, heaps of rain and hellacious thunderstorms, finally some heat waves. Summer isn't only about the weather, though; it's about traditions, new and old, as with any season.
Last year I found a local Japanese market called Maido and started indulging in anko again. Anko is a paste made of mashed red beans, or azuki, and sugar; the amount of sugar and the chunkiness or smoothness of the paste depends both on individual taste and on how or with what you're serving it. Around the same time I became a regular at Maido, Mad Men's second season began, the Phillies were barreling towards the playoffs, the Olympics started up, and I began watching MSNBC regularly. Yes, I'm what many would call a liberal, as if that magically codifies the fullness of my opinions and convictions. No, I don't always agree with the perspectives of Keith Olbermann, Chris Matthews, or Rachel Maddow, and occasionally find the former as insufferable as I find the latter delightful. Maddow became a guest host for Olbermann and an MSNBC general commentator right when I settled into a groove with the channel, shortly before the Presidential candidates were nominated at their parties' national conventions; I was quite happy when she was quickly given her own show, though alumnic pride was removed from the equation when some basic Googling (which always makes me feel like a stalker) revealed that despite her familiarity she was merely an endearingly snarky, wonky lesbian roughly my age and I didn't actually know her in college.
So the point of the preceding monstrous and poorly structured paragraph is that my August last year was defined in part by noshing on red-bean paste while watching political coverage and Michael Phelps.
There are no Olympics this year, of course, and for some reason since the switchover to digital broadcasting MSNBC has dropped out of my cable lineup. Comcast hasn't stopped offering it, mind you, it's just joined TV Guide and Cartoon Network among the channels that I'm supposed to get with the basic package but that don't come through because of the weak signal to the house. That weak signal is the same reason why I can't upgrade to the actual digital tier with a DVR and all those channels above 100. True to form Comcast has failed to help remedy this even though they stand to gain more money on a monthly basis. At least our PBS station does come through, if sometimes fuzzily, since the digital switchover.
Maybe it's been the weather, maybe the fact that we didn't have a major superhero blockbuster at the multiplex (Harry Potter movies feel more like the fall) or that I didn't make it to fireworks on the 4th of July (after my cousins' backyard blast, that is), maybe it was my abject lack of Mack's Pizza. While the AC unit finally went in the window and other annual events were duly marked, summer just hadn't clicked into place for me until last weekend. The AC was off and the window open, oddly enough, but I had treated myself to some anko after months of abstention and kicked my feet up to watch Mad Men when I was surprised by that tingle peculiar to the observance of a ritual. Since we were up to the third episode already, I concluded that at least two out of three Ms in the unlikely trinity of Maido, Mad Men, and Maddow were necessary for the effect, and had occasion to curse Comcast all the more.