Sunday, June 26, 2011

Beach Etiquette

I have lived at the beach at this point, most of my life. Since so many of my land locked friends may be traveling to beaches for their own vacations this summer, I thought I'd share a couple of things that I've learned and observed:
  1. I know you think when you're drinking on the beach that it somehow gets rid of that extra weight you've gained, adds on the hair you've lost and you're transformed into a cutie from a beer commercial. The reality is you annoy your neighbors, and prove your stupidity because drinking in high heat and humidity is only guaranteed to make you seriously ill.
  2. If you're going to play football, put the beer down and either play close to the water or up by the dune. Do not try and catch a football with a beer in your hand three feet from me. Because when you hit me, I will not be happy. And- by the by, it's rude.
  3. If you're one of those families that includes four million members and lots of screaming children, make sure you set up next to the rest of the screaming families. Trust me- they are easy to spot. Do not set up next to the singletons that just want to read their book and catch some rays.
  4. The beach is lovely and gorgeous. So while you're there, and when you leave, take your crap with you. There are lots of trash cans and recycling bins that you pass on the way out to your car. Use them.
  5. Remember those cute little politeness rules you learned as a 5 year old? USE THEM! Yesterday, I got hit by a football thrown by drunk frat boys with no apology. A friend told me a story about a family using his beach chair to store a family's boogie boards, and yet another person shared how she got pooped on by seagulls because the family next to her kept feeding them french fries. That's all rude, whether you're at a park, a pool or the beach. So DON'T DO IT.
There's always a rumble just getting ready to happen when locals meets tourists. Some people take the position of "I Hate Tourists". Some of us are more moderate, just adjust our schedules during the summer to limit contact, and remember to have some perspective because after all, the tourists are our livelihood. However, here's my advice to visitors- I know that you don't know where you're going, and that 35 in a 55 seems like a good idea. But just keep this in mind- try and be a little nice. Try and think of how you'd want visitors to your hometown to act.

And the next time you're at the beach, try to act like a human being. Remember, just because no one knows you here, doesn't mean that you can act any way you want.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

My First Free Summer

I have made not a single plan for this summer. I only have one thing on my To Do list- teach online. And it's only on my To Do list because well, they hired me, and it's good money, and I've spent the last year working towards this, so there you go.
But nothing else.
There's not a single thing I have to do.
I find I am unprepared for this.
2010 Nehi and I traveled to Santa Fe so I could finish Bread Loaf and graduate.
2009 I had just bought the house, and we'd only moved in a couple of months before, so that was spent getting the house in order.
2008 I was in Vermont being eaten alive by black flies, drinking local beer and starting my obsession with Milton.
2006 and 2007 it was Santa Fe again, and I fell in love with the area.
2005 I worked at the condo pool and worked on reading everything in sight and having a savage tan. I also coached cheerleading, much to the delight of my friends as it provided them with months of snarky comments and potential blackmail pictures.

2004 I came home for a visit and ended up in a whirlwind Alice in Wonderland adventure where I whisked myself back to Brooklyn over a weekend to pack and move because I was hired at a school back home.

So, summers have been busy. So what have I accomplished so far this summer? Well, in my two weeks off I have written a paper on Loki as the basis for Milton's Satan in Paradise Lost and submitted it for the 2011 Conference on John Milton in Murfreesboro, TN in October. I have gotten used to my online teaching schedule and organized the parish picnic. I've read a lot. And managed to bruise Nehi's paw pads on a bike ride. Nehi and I went to the beach for the first and last time, because she tried to eat the entire beach. I'm still teaching myself Old Norse. Paid off my undergraduate student loan and bought a monster laptop to replace the decrepit Duckie.
This summer off was by design, sort of. I graduated, so Bread Loaf is no longer the defining center of my summers. I wanted to get started with online teaching without anything else going on so I could learn how much time I needed for it. And my mom died five months ago and quite frankly I haven't given myself time to think about that.
And on that topic, this past week of summer has been defined by Mom's autopsy report coming in, on the same day I submitted my essay to Real Simple's contest on "Understanding the Meaning of Love". I'm pretty sure that's a sign. Of what, I have no idea, but definitely a sign. The report did not tell me anything I didn't already know. It doesn't change the fact that she is gone. It doesn't mean I don't cry myself to sleep when I think of all she's not going to ever do again.
I honestly don't know how anyone moves on from this. I know you put one foot in front of the other, until that's what you focus on instead of anything else. But other than that, I don't know how I'm supposed to reconcile myself to the fact that she'd gone. Getting the report this week brought all these thoughts back, but there was no one I could talk to about it. Dad didn't even want to read it. My sister wants to use it as proof of- I don't know. What few friends I have seem to have forgotten that my Mom died. Or at least it's not relevant to the anymore. And I'm sorry, but that sucks. Because I haven't forgotten about it.

So, my first free summer. And here's where I am so far.
I have to tell you that I love teaching online, for a million reasons. Part of me wishes I could do it full time, but the other part knows I'd quickly morph into Sandra Bullock from The Net where no one would know me except for the pizza delivery man.
I'm happy that I got the Loki paper written and submitted, as well as the panel on Milton organized for SAMLA in the fall. I'm going to really try not to psych myself out by asking why I think I'm cool enough to rub elbows with real Miltonists, you know, ones with PhDs.
I'm a little jealous of my friend who is in the process of selling her house and moving so she can start her PhD program in the fall.
I'm trying not to be anxious about August, and what the new school year will bring.
I haven't made it to the beach yet, but it's on the list to get back my savage tan.
Now that Loki is finished, I can move onto turning my conference paper from last year's SAMLA into an article for Milton Quarterly.

I'm hoping that this summer allows me to recharge my batteries. That I can find my happy place, make peace with a few things, and find my center before the craziness of August starts. Most of all, I hope that this summer allows me some time to figure out what I want, what I don't want and where I'm headed. Because the simple fact is, my life is my own again, as horribly as it got that way. And I need to figure out what adventure Nehi and I are going to have next...