Mind & Body

    The Joys of Grownup Summer


    When I was a kid, summers always seemed endless. That might be because, as a survivor of a 70’s childhood, I was charged with finding ways to occupy myself every day. Both of my parents had survived the Great Depression; they had no patience for childhood ennui. You want something to do? I’ll give you something to do was a pretty standard reply to complaints of boredom.

    When my own kids were small, I did my best to fill their summers with fun stuff. I focused on things we didn’t have as much time for during the school year. We did lots of art projects and kitchen experiments, made trips to the library and the neighborhood swimming pool.

    But now that I’m the parent of adult children, I’m back to being in charge of my own time. Fortunately, summer is a whole different game when you’re a grownup with a car and an income.

    Just a handful of the things I love about my grownup summers:

    Reading time

    As an English professor, I basically read for a living. During the school year, though, I feel guilty for reading anything that isn’t “required.” There’s always a more productive way to use that time.

    During the summer, though, I give myself permission to read whatever I want. People are always surprised that I read anything other thanĀ Literature, but as long as it doesn’t feature dialogue that no real human being would ever speak, I’m game. Celebrity biographies, tell-all memoirs, cozy mysteries, the occasional best-seller–bring it on.

    Blogging time

    I have so much fun writing this blog. Occasionally, though, the job that pays my bills has to take priority over things I don’t get paid to do. That’s why, during the school year, I can’t spend as much time as I’d like making sure this blog is cohesive from week to week. I’m doing my best to keep publishing new material.

    I’ve cut back on summer teaching precisely so I can devote that time to She Dwells. (Now that I have one child safely through college, a little bit of extra income isn’t as crucial–free time feels more valuable.) This year I’m planning to do a some re-branding in addition to the usual writing. You may already be seeing some new pieces falling into place. I’ll write a post to introduce the newly refocused She Dwells later this summer.

    Locally-grown produce

    There are long months of the year when oranges and bananas are the only fresh fruits worth eating. One of my favorite things to do in the summer is to go to a farmer’s market and put my money in the hands of the person who grew the food I’ll be enjoying for dinner that night. Variety + a small carbon footprint = better health, not to mention a better world.

    I also grow a little of my own produce. I’ve had no luck with carrots in the past, but this year they seem to be going gangbusters in their new location. I also raise peppers, tomatoes, onions, Meyer lemons, and a pretty wide variety of herbs. Gardening is contemplative and immediately rewarding. That makes it one of my favorite summer pastimes.

    Summer movies

    In general, I’m not a big fan of action movies–but in the summer, I do enjoy the occasional blockbuster. I have very fond memories of seeing Backdraft with Mike on a humid summer afternoon when we lived in Iowa City, and escaping the rigors of graduate school and parenting small children by going to a matinee of Twister when we lived in Columbia, Missouri. I saw Spiderman with my kids when the air conditioning went out at home.

    I’m pretty confident that none of these are movies I would have seen during the school year, when time is precious commodity–but during the languorous summer months? Absolutely. I’m already looking forward to War for the Planet of the Apes. (I have a completely inexplicable obsession with the entire Planet of the Apes franchise, with the exception of the 2001 Mark Wahlberg travesty. #GoTeamCaesar)

    A justification for being lazy

    Hot weather basically encourages all of us to be indolent. Heat is dangerous, you know; even the news anchors tell us to be careful out there. Here in south Texas, we’re basically encouraged to be as immobile as possible during the daylight hours.

    So go ahead, enjoy a patch of shade in your hammock. Let the breeze blow you around a little bit. Have a glass of sweet tea or lemonade. No need to feel like you should be getting something done–you wouldn’t want to get overheated. Wait until things cool off a bit.

    And if they don’t? Oh well. Autumn will be upon us soon enough.

  • Mind & Body

    How Becoming a Mom Made Me a Feminist

    Have you been watching The Handmaid’s Tale on Hulu? I first read the book it’s based on when I was a youngish graduate student. I read Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel because everyone I knew,…

  • Work & Home

    Things I Did Right as a Mom

    We’re just a week away from Mother’s Day–a complicated day for many people. I have friends who are estranged from their moms, mother-friends who are grieving the loss of children, friends who are struggling…

  • Mind & Body

    The Importance of Argument

    Several weeks ago, I saw a question on my Facebook news feed that originated from one of the blogging pages I follow. The question was pretty straightforward: Are there any topics you choose not…