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...


It was the summer of 2010. go to Maine have a Frappuccino walk by the water almost every day drink (most of) our wine read "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest" reread "Wuthering Heights" make mint iced tea with my mint plant run a road race grow and eat our own tomatoes see the coffee exhibit at the Peabody publish another first person essay eat at Lenny's (again) go to Poland see some fireworks take Nora to the beach take a walking tour of Yale read "For Whom the Bell Tolls" show my parents how to video chat publish another first person essay buy some new bookcases read a non-fiction book read another non-fiction book take a class, any class organize the basement go to Scranton bake my own bread steam my own mussels see a live concert have a picnic in Prospect Park have coffee on the patio