September 6, 2010

What I Meant to Do on My Summer Vacation

I'd like to take a moment to reflect on all that I accomplished on my summer vacation:


Perhaps I should reflect, instead, on what I didn't do. I did not:
  • ride my bike down to the lake every (any) day
  • go for long walks before daylight (that's really the only time I like walking, and then it's only because it makes me feel smug and superior)
  • attend the weekly brown bag concerts, the farmer's market, the Friday night concerts, or the Venetian Festival
  • finish all those literary journals that seemed to arrive on the same day in May
  • read all (any) of the craft books (The Nonfictionist's Guide, Fourth Genre, Keep it Real, The Art of Writing Creative Nonfiction, among others) that have been languishing on my shelves for lo, these many years like pressed, primped, and aging wallflowers
  • write
That's not completely true. I did do some writing, but not what I had hoped.

As the spring workshops wound down in May, I declared that this summer would be all about the writing.  My own writing, not that of others. Encouraging others to write, that's a good thing. Probably the thing I do best. But, you know, "Do as I do" is really more effective than "Do as I say." And so, as I bade the writers in my workshops "Go forth and write," I might have promised to do the same. I figured that posting to this blog once a month would not be too great a drain on all that writing I was going to do.

Turns out this blog was no drain at all; you can add blogging to the list of things I didn't do.

Frankly, I just don't do summer well. I don't like the heat, and no matter how I spend my time, I always feel as if I'm not having the right amount of fun. Ah, but, that's another season entirely. I have always loved fall: the cooler temperatures, the almost unbearable blue of the October skies, my birthday, college football. School supplies.

By the time that my childhood summers wound down, time seemed to slow, almost to stop, as if the heat and humidity sapped its will to pass. I could hardly bear the anticipation of school and the excitement of buying school supplies--at no other time did we get so many new things at once: a new three-ring binder, pristine, unmarked; an unopened pack of loose leaf paper, unopened, the edges aligned perfectly; crayons; scissors; glue, a ruler; pencil case; and, when was old enough to need them, dividers. The new, unchewed-upon Ticonderoga #2 pencils, with their flat ends, did not seem sufficiently prepared for the work they would be asked to perform, and so I did the only thing I could to hasten the arrival of the First Day; I trooped to our basement, to the yellow and blue hand-cranked pencil sharpener mounted beneath the stairs, and hoped that one would emerge perfect, smelling of wood and school and possibility.

So have a good year, everyone. I'm off to sharpen some pencils.

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