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Saturday, September 20th, 2014
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Postcards from the Windy City - Doing Summer


By Abby Stocker

Fri, Aug 16th, 2013
Posted in All Columnists



Hi, Readers.

Well, we’re reaching the point in the summer when even the most nonchalant among us will soon be forced to reckon with The Question: what have you done this summer?

For some I know, this question doesn’t seem to cause much stress. Like I said, nonchalant. It’s all cool. So they’ve worked or finished their one big project, or maybe went on vacation. They’ve hung out with friends. For adults not involved in the school year-cycle, maybe summer’s been the same routine, peppered with bike trips or barbecues. Summer equals more time, more sunshine, more freedom, right? All the better to kick back and relax, right?

Wrong. There are things to be done. I’m making my list and checking it twice. And even if, for all practical purposes, I agree with the rest of the world that summer should be a break, or at least a change in routine, I don’t quite feel that my summer has started right unless I break out a fresh piece of paper and create the To Do List. (Usually accompanied by its sister, the Summer Reading List.)

So I do not fall into the “casual careless” category of responses when it comes to end-of-summer story swaps. But I’m also not in with those few who not only made to-do lists, but have felt the satisfaction of checking off at least half of the items on said lists. No, I am among those who decided, a few days into July, that the list was never realistic anyway. So I scrapped a few items, trimmed it down. Which turned into a rolling process of trimming and adding. Auto-response to The Question: start a new list of things actually accomplished...

One item on my list to do this summer was finally accomplished on my second-to-last weekend in Chicago: I visited a college friend at her home about an hour north of where I am. We talked, played with her dog, went shopping. Nothing spectacular, which was perfect. A day-long break from my Internet connectivity and schedule, invested in long hours talking about books, life, whatever. Fun to see my friend, and a good reminder that “rest” perhaps should have been on my summer list, as well.

But then, the items on my list are a bit more vague than those of some people I know. My to-dos included going to Chicago, writing this column, and reading. Both my mom and host mom outlined more practical projects to be done this summer—yard work and home improvement items topping their lists. Some summer lists, or at least things to-be-done, are given to us. Honey-do lists or summer homework isn’t exactly the most thrilling, but there’s outside pressure. Real consequences are (potentially) involved.

Still, special things go on a summer list. Kind of like a New Year’s resolution, but more concrete and (supposedly) not as long-term. I can’t vouch for everyone, of course, but summer seems to be a time to not only get stuff done that just didn’t happen the previous fall/winter/spring, but also to explore, try new things, or even a time to just rest.

My favorite items to check off my summer To Do mostly revolved around people and places: a short camping trip, catching up with my friend this weekend, learning to work with new people in the new setting of my internship. Writing about some of those places in this column.

So, friends, summer’s winding away. By the time you can read this online, I’ll be nearly done with my internship, and by the time you read it in print, I’ll be back in Fillmore County. Here’s to last opportunities to accomplish, to improve, and—perhaps most importantly—just to enjoy.

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