How I spent my summer vacation

Ok. I know it seems like I didn't try very hard with the reading. But for some reason "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest" (which was AWESOME) took me forever. I think it's because I insisted on trying - in my mind - to pronounce all those Swedish locations, and that added time to the project. And "For Whom the Bell Tolls..." Well. I know that's a great work of literature that, somehow, in my years of fervent reading of the classics just for fun during high school, and my study of literature during college, I missed out on. So I started reading it. And, you guys, it made me feel sad. I know you can't simply say that about Hemingway: "It made me sad," and then put it down. So I'm continuing on, because I know how wonderful it is and how happy I will be when I finish it. Which might be about a year from now because I think I'm going to read it during the day when I can, a few pages at a time, and retreat back to my murder mysteries at night. Come on, you know I deserve it.

But as for the list as a whole, honestly, it made my life better. I know that sounds crazy - that a list that included "have a Frappuccino" made my life better - but it really did. Little things, like the fact that instead of watching TV I'd opt to take the dog for a walk down by the seawall, where I'd have a few moments of peace. Or that I'd take Nora down there instead of staying inside and doing the dishes, and it wouldn't be peaceful, but it would be really fun.

I ran the New Haven Road Race over Labor Day weekend, and it was so much better being a participant than an observer, as I have been in the past when J runs these things. Plus, it was the first competitive race I'd run since high school cross country, and it was a hell of a lot less stressful. The smell of freshly cut grass on an autumn morning still makes my muscles clench up in nervous anticipation - that's how strong those memories of cross country are for me - but this was simply a good time. I took it easy and ran alongside the thousands who were taking it pretty easy, too. I listened to the live bands play and waved to people cheering from the sidelines.

The list was good for inflating my ego, as well, but in a purely constructive way. I was very proud of myself when I impulsively latched on to the long trail of people who'd just started on the Yale walking tour one day when I just happened to be passing by. I realized happily when cutting up the first tomatoes we'd picked from our garden for tacos one night that - sweet! - I could cross off another goal.

I got all worked up about the fact that I hadn't published any column-like essays at the end of the summer, so when my brother suggested I write something for The Huffington Post, I worked harder and faster than I would have otherwise, with a piece on the challenges of being a stay-at-home mother the result.

And although I didn't do it all (I seriously can't believe we didn't go to Lenny's), I'm excited to keep working on the list this fall. I can't wait to try baking my own bread, especially because I hate baking and I need to get over my fears. And also because, I mean, anything to avoid reading "For Whom the Bell Tolls." Ha! Kidding! I know I'm gonna love it! I should read some right now! Or, well, "SVU" might be on or I don't know if I've exactly got the time...