Another Reason Not to Procrastinate

I have a habit of procrastinating. I’m not embarrassed to admit this because almost everyone does it. If I have a clear deadline or specific duties that need to be done at certain times I do them, but outside of that it can take me a really long time to get going. In other words, I fulfill my obligations and commitments but it can be very hard to get things done if there is not any set commitment…

Bookmarking sites are a great invention. You can make a note of websites or articles that interested you and come back to them later. Much later. Like, months after you intended to. One of the bookmarking apps I use has a number of sites marked that I had intended to blog about. Some of them have been up there for a long time. At this point I can go back and read/look at them, of course, but good luck remember what it was I initially wanted to say about it. Good luck recalling that spark of an idea that made it feel significant enough to bookmark. It may come back upon reading the site; it may not. It’s a mystery and a gamble.

If I had read them right away, or, say, within a week, I might have written something poignant and thoughtful. Chances are if I try now what comes out could very well be half-formed and short of that original point that came to me way back when. Of course, since I can’t really remember the ideas, I can’t prove they weren’t terrible ideas to begin with. But now I’ll never know, because I procrastinated for too long.

Bookmarking is an excellent way to procrastinate because it makes it very easy to forget about things.

Losing Summer

It is now the first day of fall. I noticed how perfect the weather was today when I went out to get my groceries. The sun shone brightly but the air was cool. A few of the trees on my street have already started to change. THIS is the best of weather.

The turn of August to September saw a flare-up of oppressive heat, but that seems to be the last surge of summer. It’s cooling off again; it seems the season is ready to accept defeat. As usual I had that moment of regret for all the days I didn’t spend at the beach, and having only sat outside at a restaurant with friends or family a few times, despite walking by such patios constantly. I barely wore sandals and I spent far too many days inside.

Every year now, I find a moment to complain about how summer is not very exciting as an adult. When you’re a kid you get the time off from school, and depending on your circumstances, your parents will take you somewhere for a vacation (even if it’s just a two hour drive to a town in the same state). For the rest of the summer you read, you spend time with friends, you hang out in someone’s pool (I always knew someone with a pool). You eat a lot of ice cream, go to barbecues, and don’t have to wake up early.

Then you start to get older. For most people, summer jobs start somewhere in the mid to late teens. Some start much earlier and a few won’t have jobs until after they graduate from college–but those will probably spend the summers volunteering or studying. (This story does not include those people who never have to work. I have no frame of reference to talk about them.) Suddenly, you don’t have all these days off anymore. Teenagers’ jobs are often part-time, so although they sacrifice some of their free days, they still have quite a lot of time to eat ice cream and hang out in their friends’ pools.

But then you enter the “real” world. You have a full time job, or two or three part time jobs, and you don’t have the time to enjoy the beach or spend a day wandering around town with your friends. You have responsibilities instead. If you do have the time to do these things whenever you want, chances are you don’t have the money. Much of your summer free-time goes to waste lamenting that you’ll barely be able to pay your bills this month, so instead of going to the beach, you scour Craigslist for a new job. Gone are the days of being free to enjoy the summertime. Just like they said it would, adulthood sucked away all the fun (I don’t know who “they” are exactly).

As summer becomes just another part of the year with the same schedule, the same stress, and the same lack of time, we long for the time when summer actually meant something more than just wondering what the hell you can wear that won’t cause you to die of heatstroke on the way to/in the office.

 

When you think about it, though, what exactly are we losing? Think back to being a kid during the summer. Really think. My memories of youthful summers are getting a little vague and fragmented at this point, but I’m fairly certain that I ended up bored and ready for summer to be over somewhere around the beginning of August. If I could go back and talk to my ten-year-old self, I’d say “Find something to do and be grateful for your lack of stress.” But unfortunately, hindsight never benefits us. I was always pretty eager to go back to school, even excited.

Of course, I got sick of being back at school after two weeks, instead of two months. I think I just liked the change, the feeling that things were moving forward. New teacher, classroom, notebooks, clothes. Sometimes new friends.

Leisurely summers feel like a story someone told me, rather than anything that really happened. Maybe I block them out because they make me feel guilty for not doing more with my free time when I had so much of it. Of course, I was a kid then, and kids don’t need to be responsible for “getting things done.” I think the problem is that now I know what I would do if I could spend my time how I chose without having to worry about adult things. I’ve felt like there could be so much art, music, friendship, love, etc. in my life, if only I had enough time.

Five Things Friday: November 8, 2013

(I’m late! Oooo, I’m telling on you…) For personal reasons, this date is usually a day for memory. So this week, here are some thoughts from (or rather, about) my youth.

1) I regret being into pop music as a kid. I don’t hold myself fully responsible for my taste back then–the music you like, until you know better, is largely based on what you’re used to, and the influences of peers and radio were not easy to shake off then. Pop music is catchy, designed to please your brain in a certain way without paying any attention to whether the music is good. I admit I’ve always been a sucker for a more-or-less pleasant melody I can sing along to… but of course, that’s oversimplifying it. That’s not to say that ALL pop music is bad. Some of it I do enjoy now. I’m totally in love with Marina and the Diamonds, whom I only discovered recently. And sometimes I don’t even know how to categorize the music I listen to. “That’s pop? No, that can’t be pop, it’s good.” That’s usually how my brain works.

What it comes down to, though, is this: while I’ve always been good at singing and I found very basic music theory easy to understand, it took me a long time to actually be good at music–that is, to really hear it and be able to recognize whether a song is in fact good, or just catchy. Although I was one among many, I find it embarrassing that I spend my early years listening to boy bands and Britney Spears, instead of actually becoming familiar with Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, Garbage, and Jeff Buckley.  And Brahms. Brahms is awesome: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1trE3ms3AGo.

2) Once, someone shared a secret with me and only a few minutes later I ended up telling the person it was about. I have no idea why I did that. But it’s just one of many, many times I’ve said something I shouldn’t have. I’m much better about that now, having learned that you can’t just tell anything to anyone at any time.

I have not gotten over saying stupid things, though. I do it frequently. And I often look back at things I’ve said and feel uncomfortable with how stupid it was.

3) I know a lot of people grow up and still like fast food, and continue to eat McDonald’s. I have slightly higher standards for my fast food now. I haven’t eaten at McDonald’s for at least three years now. But I remember how much I used to love it. My senior year of high school, or maybe my junior year, I spent so much of my time driving down the street and getting an order of chicken selects for dinner. I LOVED those things–I was never into the chicken nuggets so much, and at this point I probably couldn’t eat them without getting queasy, but the chicken selects were whole, white meat. That was my lifeblood. I still love chicken, but no longer go to McDonald’s.

4) I think I actually had a better attention span when I was a kid than I do now. That seems strange, doesn’t it? If I really try, I can focus on things, but most of the time I get too distracted, and I can’t really just do one thing. I find this frustrating and perhaps that’s why I’ve had a strange nostalgia for my teenage years lately–I knew what was happening, I didn’t have to pay bills, and I could actually sit down and read a damn book.

5) In the house we lived in when I was very little (the one that burned down shortly after I turned 8), my enormous bedroom had a walk-in closet. My brother’s room has this little secret room, a door that opened outward or upward or something, into a little private cave. I was jealous of this nook even though I had a nice big closet that was, at times, my cave. I can’t remember what was kept in this little secret room. Was there a chair? Were there pillows? Books? Stuffed animals? Was there a light? I don’t know. However, I do know one thing… I kind of wish I had one of those now.

Nostalgia: …and the living USED to be easy

Fish might have jumped, but were probably swimming  for the most part, and maybe the cotton should stop doing so much drugs.

All right, now that the misquoting is out of the way, on to the actual writing:

 

The ads for fall clothing and back to school sales start pretty much as soon as it’s August, when we still have over a month of summer left. That’s too early. No one wants to hear about the end of summer when it is technically right in the middle of summer. Now that it’s getting toward the end of August, it’s all about “Pumpkin spice lattes are coming!” …Yeah. In a month. Calm down everyone. I like fall a lot but you really are getting a little ahead of yourselves.

But I’m not actually here to talk about fall right now. I want to talk about summer. Which it is–right now.

I actually don’t like summer too much. I used to like it just as much as the next kid. That long break from school was pretty great. Being able to just relax, less rules, more hanging out. One or two-week trips to some location away from home. For me it was almost always in the states and most often in New England, because we’re not fucking rich.

Summer is nothing like that now. Summer as an adult kind of sucks. It’s exactly like every other time of the year, the same schedule, the same stresses, except it’s so hot out that after you get dressed for work, you want to die.

The last time I could really say I enjoyed a summer, I think, was the time before my junior year of high school. The summer before my senior year I wasn’t working, but I was miserable, so that one can’t be it. I can’t remember anything I actually did during the summer I was 16, but I imagine it was a lot of reading, singing (at home, to myself), and spending time with friends. Sounds pretty good, right?

Since then, I’ve either been working too much to have a real chance at summer, or rather depressed, too much to enjoy the free time. Lots of Netflix going on…

I think the summer after I graduated from college was pretty good. I was working, but not full time, so I did have a lot of free time. I had just passed a life milestone I was very proud of and I was going to California that September (a move that failed pretty spectacularly, but had its moments anyway). It was nothing anyone would make a wacky, epic teen movie about, but I can’t say I’d complain about it.

This year, it’s just the regular old full-time work week with a tiny bit of vacation thrown in the middle. Occasionally my weekends are actually rejuvenating times. Not too often. And they keep the office so cold with air conditioning…

So I’m happy that fall’s coming. Bring on the pumpkin spice lattes (not from Starbucks though) and the leather jacket weather. And an excuse to buy new boots.

Nostalgia*: Little Italian Towns

For no reason at all, I started thinking about my 2008 trip to Italy the other day. It happened during my semester abroad, which I spend at University College Cork in Cork, Ireland. My mom and I headed off to one of the lands of our ancestors (we’re both mutts) during the long study period between the end of classes and the start of exams. We were there for nine days, eight nights, I believe.

What came to mind? What was the aspect of that long-desired journey that popped up unbidden by any conscious process?

Part of our trip was spent in the small Tuscan town of Montespertoli, about an hour or two outside of Florence. It was rather secluded and quite beautiful around our lodgings, the house of a friend, but that is not what I remembered either. I thought instead of the few minutes we spent in the town, picking up a freshly baked loaf of bread that we would dress with salt and olive oil, sitting on a bench in the piazza with a small cup of gelato (the flavor escapes me. Stracciatella? bacio? Perhaps it was something with cherries and dark chocolate). The memory flashes in my mind, such a fleeting snapshot that I could never really describe what it looked like. I remember it being small. Not many people there, very different from the time we spent in the cities.

Is the feeling you get in a small town in a foreign country due to the place itself, or is it because you’re in a new place, unfamiliar and quieter than what you’re used to?

What would it be like to live in a place like that? Would you know everyone in town? Would you meet an attractive stranger and share a bacio on a patch of grass (either the gelato, or in the other sense)?

All I can think now is how much more I’m sure I could have appreciated what was around me at the time.

 

 

*I was going to call it a “Throwback thursday” post, but “Nostalgia” just sounds so much better. It sounds like either a flowering vine or one of those nebulous diseases that are so hard to diagnose. You decide… In fact, vote! In the comments!

Are Dreams Real?

If you’re half awake while dreaming, and aware that you’re lying in bed, a dream can feel more like a memory. Sometimes it’s very obvious, once you fully wake up. But what if your dream only involved people and/or animals who are really in your life, and only mundane events that might really happen? You could ask the other people if they remember it, but even if they say no, it could have just been a moment that didn’t make it to their long-term memory. And you would never know…

 

Is it made real just by dreaming it? If perception is everything (or, a large part of things), and you perceive a dream as real–