Friday, August 31, 2012

Odds and ends - summer's over

This is going to be a potpourri of thoughts and musings provoked by the summer drawing to an official close this weekend.  Students are back on Tuesday, and I'm doing my teaching show starting Wednesday.  However, I officially returned to the land of adulthood and responsibility this week, attending meetings, taking notes with a purpose, and dressing somewhat more professionally than my summer garb.  While the look-like-a-working-person issue is not the most challenging aspect of the summer to work transition, I do have to make an adjustment, especially in the shoe department.  After wearing flip-flops 90% of the time that I had to wear shoes, my feet then suffer when they are suddenly confined.  Not that I wear uncomfortable heels or anything like that, but even my most comfortable of "comfort" shoes (yes, I'm an old lady) give me blisters.  

Overall, being back and seeing people - reconnecting with old colleagues and meeting new teachers - makes me feel optimistic about the year, but the meetings do fray my nerves a bit.  By the end of the day on Wednesday, I came home and crashed and felt completely depressed that the summer was over and the year was about to commence.  Fortunately, I have "snapped out of it", but I needed a low-key night in order to strengthen my resolve and shift my mindset to a more positive one.  Nothing like a beer, burger, fries and wings to lift my spirits.  In addition to seeing colleagues, there are several parent/trustee functions that I must attend (those obligations continue until mid-October).  Last night's "party" marked the beginning of these soirees, but at least alcohol accompanied the schmoozing!  It's easier for me to talk to high-powered executives if I've had at least a glass of wine or two.  

Now that the summer is over, I can think about what I actually accomplished over the past few months. I often view summer as a great opportunity to read good books, do some professional development, travel, hike, cook, go to the movies, spend time with friends and family, and explore a bit of LA and/or California.  This summer, as I've recounted ad nauseam, I focused mainly on the Boulder race and then Nicaragua, so the major event pressure was on the back end.  However, I did accomplish much of that list: read (not good books, but that is another issue), PLENTY of travel, not much hiking, a decent amount of cooking although few new recipes, good times with friend and family, only saw one movie at the theatre, and somewhat limited LA/CA exploration.  So, it all evens out in the wash I suppose.

As far as the summer books I read, I'm almost embarrassed to list them because the list is both brief and filled with plenty of fluff!
- First of all, the Game of Thrones TV series sucked us in at the end of the academic year, so I read Books 1-5 over the summer.  They are easy but long reads and completely like mental crack - so addictive and pleasurable at the time, but don't leave much of a lasting impression.  Still, quite fun, despite the fact that most of my favorite characters are now dead.  
I did read two "real" books this summer:
- Black Swan Green (link is to NYTimes book review) by David Mitchell.  Really enjoyed this coming-of-age novel set in 1980's Britain.  It does make me want to read Cloud Atlas, which is bolder, more complex and ambitious.  
- The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion.  I'd wanted to read this book for a while and picked up a used copy at a book store in Denver . It is beautifully written reflection on death, dying, grief, relationships, memory, and so many other themes.  
And another a fantastic adventure book about the Tour Divide, a mountain bike race from Canada to Mexico.  Be Brave, Be Strong by Jill Homer is not the best memoir I've read, but it fascinated me and I often found that I couldn't put it down.  
I'm also reading Canada (NYTimes review) by Richard Ford, his latest novel, and I'm enjoying it, but I find myself easily distracted.  I would like to finish it before the month of September ends!

In terms of other forms of leisure/entertainment, we did see plenty of movies, but I only saw one movie in the theatre, as I mentioned.  The movie selection for me was underwhelming, to say the least, but I did enjoy the one movie that we saw July 4th - Brave.  Not the best movie I've seen, to say the least, but I didn't resent the fact that I spent money to see it.  We seemed to trend to older movies this summer, mainly because the new releases just look terrible.  So, we re-watched a few oldies (Double Indemnity which is just amazing, Charade, which also held up; there were a few of them that were not as good as we had remembered, The Moderns being an example of that). We also took a chance on plenty of  movies, classics or not, that we ended up loving.  Some surprised us with their relevance today (Network was a prime example of that) or they delighted us for other reasons (Hopscotch and The Taking of Pelham One Two Three - the original, not the remake - fell into that category - although I think that Walter Matthau had much to do with it in both of those movies).  So, a light season of summer blockbuster hits for us, but plenty of satisfying movie watching over these past few months!

And now, I have started to turn my focus to the fall - the weeks have already begun to fill up with plans, events and some travels, and thoughts of school occupy my mind.  But I plan to fully enjoy this weekend as the last breath of summer!

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