Hi all! Happy almost-June to you!
For the first time in many moons, I feel like I’m truly on summer vacation. This is the benefit of working (mostly) according to the academic calendar. And having a second job that means I can sit in my favorite oversized red chair in my living room with the balcony door open and stay in my sweat pants.
My roommate’s first question when she gets home from her nine-to-five job every day is, “Did you leave the apartment today?” It does not sadden me not at all that most days I can say “no” before we change and leave for the gym. Bonus: I’m saving a ton of gas money because I never go anywhere.
But, I’ll be honest, I feel super conflicted about this time that I have on my hands. I could find a third job, something part-time that could bolster my savings account and help pay for all of the lovely wedding details. (Side note: My impulse there is to say “stupid” wedding details, because wedding planning is so not my favorite thing and the expense of the wedding is STRESSING ME OUT. But, I’ve been told that I need to, in Jesse’s words, knock it off. And it occurs to me that calling the wedding stupid might just be hurting Nick’s feelings, so I should probably, you know, knock it off. So, “lovely” is the word I’m going with. If it comes across as sarcastic, well…there’s only so much a girl can change.) (Side note to the side note: I am more excited to marry Nick than I have been about just about anything else in my life, which is a weird thing to admit out loud for this girl who always prioritized school and work, but there it is. My goal for the rest of the summer is to try to get that excitement to translate to excitement about the actual wedding. I’m sure I will be perfectly lovely as I attempt this.) (Side note to the side note of the side note: Nick is saint.)
The other thing I can do with this summer is…write.
If you’ve been around here at all in the last few years, you know that I have been kicking around the idea of a book. You may even know that I have a shitty first draft of a manuscript on a hard drive buried in the back of my TV cabinet. (Another side note: If you’re a student and you’ve been in my freshmen comp class, you just caught that reference to Anne Lamott. I want you to note that all writers start with shitty first drafts, and then we do the work to make it better, usually with an editor. The best lesson you can learn as a writer is to love your editor. Also, hi students!) (Another side note to the side note: I can’t not teach. It’s in my bones now. Enjoy.)
My editor-friend, more friend than editor, is so committed to my writing that she has arranged her schedule so that we can work across from each other most Friday afternoons at Grand Rapids coffee shop. She does her editing and emailing for her real job, while I try to stay off Twitter and try to get some writing done. This is what happens when you have good friends who take you seriously when you say, “I’m really poorly self-disciplined. I need someone next to me to yell at me to stop getting online and baking cookies.”
I’m grateful for good friends. And because of just these Friday afternoons, I have at-least-they’re-started shitty first drafts of six essays wanting my attention to be finished. I’m hopeful that these are the bones of a better book than the one that’s on the old hard drive.
I suspect if I buckle down, I might be able to knock the thing out before school starts again in the Fall. But, that assumes I can get over the guilt of not taking on another job. (My best people are already championing me and yelling at me to get over myself. Don’t @ me.)
I gave my final the first Wednesday in May, and within three hours of the last student putting the last period on their last essay, my bags were packed and Joy and I were headed to the airport for a week in Portland, Oregon. I graded on the plane, and I suspect that I was kinder in my marks than I would have been had I been at my dining table. That’s just what vacation does to a teacher’s mood. (Students, hi again. And you’re welcome.)
I won’t repeat what most of you have already seen on Facebook and Instagram, but let me say – I think this really was the trip of a lifetime. Not because I got to see a part of the world that I hadn’t seen before, or because we did a lot of really cool things and ate a lot of really good food, but because these friends who went through college with me are still my friends today, and there’s something special in spending time together as adults. There’s something sacred in knowing each other so well.
Also, we met Megan Rapinoe, and no one else in my world would nerd out even half as hard as three of us did over this photo with the US Women’s National Soccer Team’s corner-kick queen.
Photo credits to Betts, for the selfies, and Joy, for everything that isn’t a selfie.
So, Joy and I have been working through Grey’s Anatomy on Netlflix for…way too long. It’s become even longer because we hopped over to the least-known Shonda show, Private Practice, which was a Grey’s spin-off. We saw a note pop up that it is leaving Netflix June 6, so we’ve been taking it down hard this month.
Frankly, it hasn’t left a lot of room for anything else. No shame.
I have discovered that I like running at the gym a lot more when I’m listening to a book or a podcast. You know I’ve been listening to Harry Potter for, like, the last two years. But, I’ve hit that part in Book 5 where Harry is a whiny little baby and I threw the book across the room the last time I tried reading them. I can’t afford to throw my phone, so I just stopped listening. I’ll get back to it again, but when I’m trapped in the car with hours to just power through and finish it. Next month I’m road tripping home again, so I’m hopeful for that then. (I’m sure it will be lovely.)
Instead, I’ve discovered that listening to the Popcast is a great way to distract myself at the gym. I’m now the idiot laughing on the treadmill with my ear buds in, but oh well. It’s, in their words, “delightful idiocy” that is “committed to educating you on the things that entertain but do not matter.” Yes, Lord. I am in.
Also, Sheryl Crow released a new CD this month, and though I have not purchased a physical CD in years, I ran out and got this one. Sheryl’s music was the soundtrack of the year that Joy, Betts, and I all lived together in college, so it seemed only right to get it before we left on our trip to Portland. I’m not sorry. It sounds like a re-visit to the old Sheryl, like Tuesday Night Music Club Sheryl, which means it’s roll down the windows and sing along music. Which means it will also be a great soundtrack for this summer.
Basically, I sent a frantic text to Jesse and Nickie that said something along the lines of, “If I can’t check out of wedding planning every once in awhile, I’m going to elope and tell no one. I may not even tell Nick. I need a novel, what’ve you got?”
Nickie responded by buying and shipping me a copy of a Brent Weeks novel that is HUGE, and I’m glad I’m in summer hours and have the time to read it. Jesse, in typical Jesse fashion, offered the cheesiest of fairy tale stories. But, they weren’t available via my library, so I opted for a series that was suggested based on my search. Do not judge; it has a terrible title – The Princess Academy. It’s a trilogy, and it follows this one particular girl from a mining village where the next princess for this land is supposed to have been prophesied to come from. But, she’s kind of, as you would expect, the anti-princess and she does everything wrong. She’s not couth enough, she’s not pretty enough, and she’s not educated enough. She doesn’t even really want to be at the Academy where these miner girls are being trained to be a princess. She just wants to make her father proud, which of course she does, as you would expect.
I’m not saying it’s great literature, but it was a fun read, and I took each of the books down in an afternoon. Yay for middle-school age young adult fiction when you need to check out from wedding planning before you stab yourself in the eye with a fork if you have to look at one more Pinterest board!
Next month, I’m aiming for that Brent Weeks novel, S by JJ Abrams, a lesser-known JoJo Moyes novel, and a smattering of spiritual memoir. Because that is my favorite genre.