my mom used to love to accuse baby brother and me of being spoiled. "you kids have it so easy. try living without any 'aircon' ["korean" for air conditioning] at all," she'd say when we complained that it was still hot and the A/C needed to be turned up. or when we were traveling in the summer in sticky hot florida, europe, or korea. "someday, you need to suffer a little to appreciate what you have."

since she had grown up in relative poverty in what was still a third-world and war-torn country during her childhood, she was justified in her accusations. however, how did she think we ended up so-called spoiled? if she really wanted to teach us a lesson, she could have easily switched off the A/C, opened the windows, and saved a wad of cash. a lot of my friends had immigrant parents who had the means to pay the power bill but refused to and did just that. there was no way she was going to do that in the 909 summers, though. she had grown quite temperature-sensitive herself over the years and innately was/is even what some might call...high maintenance.

the summer after dad died, she planned a grand tour of the canadian rockies for the three of us. she needed the time away. we needed the time together, as a family, since she was home even less while trying to finish up another degree and support us alone. there's supposedly this famous drive for west coasters to do. fly up to seattle or vancouver, rent a car, and drive east through the rockies hitting up vancouver, jasper, glacier national park, lake louise, banff, edmonton, and ending in calgary. or do you end up in edmonton? i wouldn't know as we did it backwards.

we flew into edmonton and worked our way west over the course of about 10 days or so. you see most of few of canada's pristine national parks in british columbia and alberta along this scenic, long drive. you see lots of deer and moose. you see lots of trees and lots of green--a far cry from the dry, perpetually yellow grasses that covered the hills on which we lived and the bermuda grass in everyone's yards. the weather in summer is for the most part pretty pleasant at those altitudes. sunny, blue skies but not too hot. i've posted a photo from that trip before.

in any case, the point is that despite the fact this trip was a road trip for the most part and rather nature-y for our suburban kids' tastes, we lived it up hotel-wise thanks to mom. like i said, she has always had a taste for the luxurious and slightly out of our staunchly middle-middle-class (and with the death of my father, maybe even lower) means. she needed relaxation. she needed comfy traveling. none of this roughing it business. yeah, she's strong, but no one expects to be widowed that young. even she needed some sort of just plain being taken care of. since most of our extended family was overseas, i figure she had to find a way to take care of herself. and this was one part of it.

we stayed at three-star and up hotels and resorts only. we stayed at a luxurious castle-like place in banff, the splurge of the trip. i don't remember much about the luxurious rooms--just that they had mini golf at the hotel and that baby brother and me had a ball doing an activity we associated with the much-coveted trips to family fun centers at home. and so the spoilage began.

she's most likely where i get my snobbery and high maintenance-ness. as much as i hate to admit it and as hard as i try to come off as down-to-earth, both of those characteristics are lurking not too far below the surface. thank goodness i was able to keep up the ruse for a little bit when first dating the completely unpretentious, snob-hating bear. by the time he realized what i was, too late--poor guy was hooked. luckily/unfortunately for the bear, i also inherited by dad's frugality making for one conflicted potato who can save her pants off if she has to (all the while pining away for luxury resort stays and michelin star-rated food).

well, that someday has come, gone, and come again. i've always been blessed to have a decent roof over my head, but some of those roofs housed questionable or no real HVAC (heating, ventilating, and air conditioning--jargon to you, everyday language to me) systems. my freshman year college dorm had one big window. period. so no cross-ventilating breeze in the sweltering, humid upstate late summer. the radiator was impossible to turn down in winter, so we'd open our window a crack to cool it down and to let some sort of moisture into that parched desert of a room. i won't talk about the basement apartment that the narcoleptic, granny, and i shared our senior year of college. at least it was a little cooler during the summer since we were subterranean. two of my places in LA proper only had unit A/C in the living room, both so old that the roommates and i were always afraid (and too cheap) to use more than a couple of times each summer. they both had that radiant heating system in the form of cables behind popcorn ceilings that was either unfelt or too hot and dry in the winter. in fact, ever since i moved out, i have never had central A/C or heating minus the couple of months i moved back home after college, the couple of months i stayed with a family friend in her new-construction townhome in irvine, and brief stint renting a room in a friend's cousin's brentwood luxury condo. our current place is split neatly in two by a faux wall, and both the unit A/C and heating units are on the side i spend the least time on. plus we're too cheap [and i have treehugging, energy-saving tendencies] to use them anyway and instead just bundle up or sweat away. have i proved myself unspoiled [at least in regards to temperature] to you yet, mom? ;)

now i'm just spoiled like a rotting vegetable in this heat.


  1. all the while pining away for luxury resort stays and michelin star-rated food

    Hey! This is me, too! ;)

  2. Dude, it's tough not having A/C. I truly feel for you!

    Good news is that it should be dramatically cooler this week. Still warm, but not ovenly hot.

  3. I don't have enough will power to now leave the AC on. All day.

  4. i think the sorority house might have had a/c (but obviously, not controlled by the lot of us), but other than that, i've lived w/o it my whole life.

    i'm beyond thrilled that the new place has central heat and a/c. wheeee!

  5. ditto, jane. my new abode will be interesting...I think we're going to cave and use the a/c 24/7. the electric bill should be fun.

  6. haha! my family calls it "aircon," too.

    i'm truly ascurred of opening the ol' sce bill in the next few weeks. yikes.

  7. As I write this comment, I'm sitting in a very cool bedroom in our condo :) Central air is a luxury, despite the high electric bill. Hope you have a fan and lots of shorts and tanks.

  8. Get a dog. Before the dog we never used air conditioning, but now...well it's just not fair to the dog to be stuck in the heat.

  9. your mom sounds like my parents...

    'we didn't have a/c back then.'

    'if you're cold put on some more clothes.'

    'a/c costs to much money. are you going to pay for it?'

  10. You went on that Vancouver trip too?

  11. Well I guess we're the spoiled ones because Matt for the last 4 days has refused to sweat in his sleep and put on the air-conditioner while I froze. Brrrr.

  12. Hey, we were the immigrants who refused to turn on the A/C in 909 summers.

    But now the A/C or heater stays on year round. Spoiled? Check.

  13. I'm sorry, but I think central AC should be a given in all of the hot zones in Southern CA.


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