air conditioning my samurai spirit

“You know he doesn’t let his family use air conditioning, right?” My coworker asked.
“…But why?” I said, “I mean, I know air conditioning screws up your body’s ability to regulate its own temperature and stuff…but it’s…really hot out.”
“Well…I mean, maybe that too,” my coworker responded, “but I think it has more to do with how it’s supposed to diminish your samurai spirit or something.”
I gave him a look.
“I swear, it’s a thing. Look it up.”

We were trading some gossip, as I attempted to fan the humidity and sweat off myself with a plastic folder. Tokyo summers are densely humid and hot – this past week having been particularly brutal – but it was the first I’d heard of air conditioning being a detriment to my samurai spirit. I had, until this point, been under the impression that artificially cooled environments were aiding my ability to remain zen when my body seemed unable to stop sweating. And sweating uncontrollably just didn’t seem very samurai.

But this was the coworker who had warned me about the Paris Syndrome, so I gave him the benefit of the doubt. A five second Google search later confirmed his statement. The references were vague, but enough to concede that yeah, it’s apparently a [real] thing. "Okay, fine," I said to the back of my coworker's head, over the partition between our desks, as I pulled on my cardigan. The air conditioning was kicking in in the office.
My allegedly diminished samurai spirit came to mind again on Sunday as I pushed the pedals towards home. It was my second day in a row riding outside in heat so intense it felt like the sky had pulled a wool blanket over Tokyo, while blasting the city with a heat lamp. On Saturday, I knew temperatures would peak at 37C, but thought, well, how bad could it really be? And the worse it was, the better it would be for my samurai spirit, anyway, right?
Apparently it can get pretty bad. And apparently, I’m lacking in the samurai spirit department.

Five bottles of water and Skratch kept me alive on an easy three hour spin on Saturday, but the next day, even with stronger legs and slightly less punishing temperatures, I was toeing the edge of heat crazy. If you keep pedaling, it’s not so bad. But your denial inevitably stumbles across the too obvious signs of what exactly you’re doing to yourself: the hot water in your bottles, the waves of heat coming off the asphalt that reaches under your bars to sear your eyes, the sight of your shorts sprouting salt crystals, the reality of sweat coming out of your shins. It's like doing one of those masochistic juice detox fasts, where you convince yourself you have to feel like shit for a little while, but don't worry, in ten days, you'll feel so much better. Clinging to life on a hunger high, it's not hard to chant to yourself that you feel better ["energized," even] doing this, but stop and think about the situation for a minute and you realize all you want is a huge burger and a king size bag of chips. Or, in my case, a cold shower, green tea shaved ice, and air conditioning.

Sprawled out on my bed after scrubbing the sweat off of me, my skin still stained with the heat, I reached for the air conditioner remote. Modernity may be maiming the samurai in me, but actual death by dehydration seemed equally detrimental to that cause. Or so I told myself. Shaking my head at my own ineptitude, I drew up my knees and noticed crisper tan lines that were finally edging towards "good." I stretched my heels towards the ceiling before dropping heavy legs onto the bed.
"Whatever," I thought, as cool air swirled around me, "samurais never had to ride bikes, anyway."


I hate it when people ask me whether I prefer hot or cold weather. If I had to absolutely choose one over the other, which one would I pick? Like if all year long, it was either really hot or extremely cold, and you couldn't ever move again. It's kind of asking someone, if forced into this unrealistic hypothetical situation, whether they would rather choke themselves with a spoon or a fork. Both options have their pros and cons; but is this really going to happen?
Wait, I take that back. It actually might [the choking part]. Mostly because this heat is making me do some ridiculous things.
Like how I thought that time on the rollers would be a good idea at 8am, then decided after a pathetic 20 minutes that it wasn't a great idea and that I should really just lie down. And then falling out of my bed when I attempted to actually get up. And then heading to school on underinflated tires, thighs still twitching in protest, to stare at a few books without so much as a sip of coffee to power me through.


All of which resulted in me coming back to my apartment in the scorching afternoon heat, drenched in my own salt water [you might not be able to see it, but that is sweat from my face on my hand]. And to top it all off, I even got to experience exactly what sunblock, sweat, and eyeliner feels like when it drips directly into your eye.
Yeah, yesterday was fucking awesome.
Don't get me wrong, I love the summer. And with temperatures peaking at around 30C [or 90F], and having lived in Tokyo, I really shouldn't be complaining. It's just that I'm starting to look downright ridiculous.
The tan lines, I mean. I'm considering slathering on the fake tanning lotion. Because it's spreading.


Mid-checking-out-my-own-ass-and-weighing-exactly-how-unhappy-I-am-with-its-massive-proportions, I caught a glimpse of the back of my shoulder. Ah, the bane of sleeveless jerseys. Keep in mind that only the back of my shoulder is that tan. The front has some t-shirt tan going on that's a noticeably lighter shade. All exacerbated by the fact that I don't wear tank tops enough because the whole mess is so embarrassing.
Which makes me wonder why I'm actually smiling in that picture. The only plausible explanation is that the heat was going to my brain, again. Because after that picture was taken, I actually considered getting back on the rollers. Without coffee. Again.


The sheer amount of sweat in my hair made me think twice, and after scheduling a haircut, I ended up doing lots and lots of stretching instead [for once]. Weak, I know. But today, I'm out to a ride that might end at the gym, before I attempt to resist the temptation to cut all my hair off. Then, of course, time on the rollers.
Crazy, right?