I sweat. I sweat a lot. I sweat during my spin and yoga classes. During my high octane aerobic activity, I am expected to sweat and carry that sheen with grisly gym pride. However, when I am not bouncing around or spinning on a stationary bicycle, I hate sweating. Last summer I was in New York during one of their humid heat waves, I cursed each sweaty step through the city, wiping my brow with soaked clumps of Kleenex.
I categorize my Sweat Levels. Nervous Sweat and is similar to Trapped With a Blind Date Sweat. Heat Wave Sweat is "everyone around you is sweating and it's okay to look miserable because everyone else is" Sweat.
If you watch the news or listen to the radio during that long ride into work, you know that a heat wave is about to blanket our asphalt city this week. The power grid will be taxed and the sound of air conditioning units and ice clinking in glasses will be the white noise of the day. But at my house, it will be the sound of fans and the sound of my kettle.
I have central air in my house, but I rarely turn on the AC. For two reasons, one I don't need the whole house to be chilled like a bowl of sorbet and I hate paying the DWP just so that I don't have to sweat. To save money, I have found what works to keep me cool. One is a fan, two is to have a white roof, three is to drink hot tea. Drinking hot tea is Chinese Thinking. Traditionally we don't drink cold liquids because it is bad for digestion and our bodies heat up just to warm up the cold frosty soda, therefore making us hotter. I also believe that by heating up our bodies, it feels cooler, so I down cups of hot green tea.
I learned from my Mother how to cook perfect rice, how to be a gracious hostess and she passed onto me the stories she grew up with; as a pebble is thrown across a pond it will keep skipping until it looses momentum, and as long as I keep telling my history, the pebble will never disappear from view. She was a fount of eyebrow raising superstitions that I kept close like footnotes in the book of our family history. She told me that that clipping toe-nails or finger-nails at night would bring ghosts to that place, I only get mani-pedis before sunset. She also told me to eat every kernel of rice or else every wasted kernel was a pimple on my future husband and to never flip over the steamed fish because you will capsize your boat/luck. Every old wives tale was an another treasure to me, it was a story passed from one generation to another.
With every sip of hot tea I honor her and our shared history.
Artist, designer and teacher Ophelia Chong explores her adopted city of Los Angeles with an eye and ear for the small moments that tests the duality of being an Asian American. Join her on her journey every Thursday on KCET's SoCal blog
Image: Ophelia Chong
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