Idle hands

Summer is treacherous. Summer scares me, just a little…

Well, actually, what I should say is—I scare me.

Before summer begins, my life is a series of duties and responsibilities, schedules and lists.

A typical weekday:

9:30 – 12:00: grade 9 papers
12:00 – 1:00: take a break, eat something (if there’s time?)
1:00 – 3:00: grade 6 more papers
3:00 – 4:00: get ready, drive to school
4:00 – 5:00: prep. for my English 100 class, make photocopies
5:00 – 6:00: hold office hours
6:00 – 10:00: “teach”
10:00 – midnight: come home, eat, sleep…

A typical weekend:

Friday: grade 7 papers, take a break, grade 5 papers, take a break, grade 4 papers, take a break
Saturday: play basketball, eat, take a nap, grade 5 papers
Sunday: grade, take a break, grade, take a break, and so on…

But then summer comes (glorious, lovely, amazing summer!), and suddenly there are no more duties, no more responsibilities. No more schedules or lists. This, as I mentioned, is what scares me—because here’s what my life becomes:

Monday: wake up at noon, go to the coffeeshop, drink coffee, read the paper, get a sandwich and sneak it into a movie, take a nap, make evening plans (Dinner with friends? Drinking with friends? Drinking in a bar full of strangers? Drinking at home, alone? Those are pretty much the options.)
Tuesday: Same as Monday.
Wednesday: Same as Tuesday.
And so on, for months…

I know, I know—I shouldn’t complain about something as rare and wonderful as a long vacation. (Sorry, nine-to-fivers, for sounding like such a whiner). But, basically, I end up drinking and eating and sleeping too much (and feeling bad about it). I end up actually “doing” very little. The days blend together, one into the next into the next, and before I know it, I don’t know what day of the week it is anymore. Now, certainly, I know I need this downtime to recuperate from the grind of the semester; and by the 15th week of the term, of course I’m always desperate for the break. (And, trust me, I wouldn’t have it any other way…) But, somehow, when I have too much idle time, I reach a point at which I’m not quite sure what to do with myself, when I start to feel like my life is spiraling out of control…

Which leads me to this—my plan to stay busy, to keep myself off the streets and out of trouble. Here’s what I hope to accomplish between now and August 25th (when school starts back up):

  1. Read actual books. Not just the LA Times or ESPN Magazine or even The New Yorker. A modest goal: one to two books per week, at least 20 total over the summer. Any summer reading suggestions?
  2. Start learning how to play the guitar (again).
  3. Print a bunch of photos and do something with them.
  4. Complete various home-improvement (OK, apartment-improvement) projects, like getting new blinds and maybe putting in new linoleum.
  5. Change and rearrange the art on my walls. (I’ve been meaning to do this since before Scotty came over and declared, “Geez, you need to put some new stuff up already!” Yeah, yeah–it’s been a while.)
  6. Exercise, at least three times a week.
  7. Eat better. (Who am I kidding? Nevermind that last one.)
  8. Finish Grand Theft Auto IV (sigh… yes, seriously).
  9. Go somewhere (without spending too much money).
  10. See some Art.
  11. See live music.
  12. Prep. for my fall classes (I don’t want to think about this yet, but I had to put it on the list).
  13. Other. (Suggestions?)

OK, so I’m not planning anything too extreme. I just want to stay out of a dull, monotonous rut. Otherwise…

a.) What other summer plans/resolutions should I make?


b.) What do you plan to accomplish this summer?

51 responses to “Idle hands”

  1. The Other James says:

    Books: something by Brautigan (In Watermelon Sugar perhaps); something by Calvino (If On A Winter’s Night A Traveler maybe); something by Barthes (no suggestions); something by Borges (Ficciones if you haven’t already); Maldoror by the Compte de Lautreamont, if that’s your kind of thing (I enjoyed it, anyway). . .

    What do I plan to accomplish this summer? Ugh. Find a job, move somewhere in proximity to said job. Those are my only plans. Can we say “stress”? Yep. But I’m trying to take it easy. I may try to read The Tale of Gengi finally, or Ulysses again, but I make no promises. I’d like to seem Mominem, and some of my friends from Undergrad, but in both cases the “Great Job Hunt” is taking most of my time and attention. If anyone has some suggestions for an freshly minted Master of Art History and Criticism, other than “Swing Shift Manager at Kentucky Fried Chicken,” or contacts in the museum, gallery, not-for-profit arts sector, I’d love some suggestions, but I don’t want to detract from suggestions for Jeremy’s summer.

  2. (Sorry, nine-to-fivers, for sounding like such a whiner)

    No, I totally understand this fear. Wish I could have a couple-of-months vacation so I could confront it again!

    Learning to play guitar is a good idea. Might I suggest taking lessons? That will put your practicing into more of a framework than you would have teaching yourself from a book. Since it’s your vacation you might even want to think about two lessons a week.

    Reading books is good also. Lots of recommendations are to be found at my blog, and I might just mention that Saramago’s Blindness and Seeing are a very powerful combination and together make great reading for this election year.

  3. (Oh also, I meant to say: I’ve found that keeping a journal of your reactions to what you are reading, can give the reading a great deal of focus and more of an intellectual framework than it would have otherwise.)

  4. ks says:

    Your schedule and mine are frighteningly similar, both while working and while not…. For the first time ever I am looking ahead upon a “free” summer, with no (terribly) pressing writing deadlines, no job searching to do and no summer classes to teach. I keep catching myself feeling guilty for all the time I spend in the garden or reading for pleasure.

    Fearing slothfulness, I have generated a list of both small and large projects to do this summer. I know they will not get accomplished without a prioritized list. I am trying to knock at least one small thing off my list each day (like go through closet and weed out clothes for donation or cleaning one small part of the house as though we were readying it for sale), and one larger thing each week (like finally addressing issues that will allow us the use of a room we have heretofore used only for storage). Wow, we could actually have a new office/guest room by summer’s end if I get my act in gear.

    One problem for me with academe is that it is filled with deadlines but few of them offer any real sense of accomplishment or satisfaction. But oh how good I feel each time I make a line through an item on my list. I hope your list guides you well. You seem off to a very good start just for having made one.

  5. Rachel says:

    I plan to finish all the items on last summer’s “to do” list! They include running a 10K, rereading all of Shakespeare’s Roman plays, finishing a long-deferred article, and cleaning my office.

    Oh, and teaching a LOT. The only way for me to get things done is to stay on a working schedule. Last year I slipped in a Veronica Mars DVD one lazy afternoon and ended up re-watching the entire series.

    Keep us posted on your home improvements! Take photos!

  6. Jeff says:

    You’re in California, a battleground state in the fight for marriage equality come November.

    Rally against the ban on same-sex marriage!

  7. rm says:

    it’s called a dark period, embrace it.

    continued mastery of pop-a-shot doesn’t come without dedication and practice, no?

    if you really run out of things to do you’re welcome to give baby sitting a try…

  8. J-Man says:

    Here’s what I’d do if I had the summer off:
    1. Go to the east coast and southern states and soak up the heat and humidity, hang out in someone’s yard, barbeque, wear shorts and tank tops at night, and listen to the crickets.
    2. Travel around to various national parks that I normally don’t have time to visit, and spend a huge amount of time in the wilderness.
    3. Sit in cafes and read.
    4. Write new songs, practice guitar, play shows.
    Hmmm. I realise this all sounds rather mundane. I suppose after I got bored with relaxing, I’d have to challenge myself to something.
    Maybe you should put something on your list that you’d never imagined yourself doing – something that would completely challenge your way of thinking or being.

  9. Book suggestion: Read Catch-22. Endure through the first 100 pages because it takes that long for the non-linear plot to make sense. Then it’s extremely funny.

    Go somewhere! I’m surprised this isn’t at the top of your list. A bachelor with three months of time on your hands such as yourself, I would think you would go somewhere. Surely there’s a pocket of the US you haven’t seen yet. The Badlands, Niagara, The VLA, or my recent favorite, The Fremont Troll under Aurora Bridge in Seattle.

  10. lane says:

    Hey I’m stuck in jury duty. (but that aside)

    Why don’t you go to India? Or China, or . . . Morocco.

    Hell, even Mexico would be cool.

  11. Might I suggest getting your ass handed to you in Halo 3?

  12. brooke says:

    Jeremy I fear #8 might take top priority and the lion’s share of June. At least that’s what would happen to me.

    After that, I would do a little traveling if you can afford it. Hop down to central American and hang out on the beach. You could be slothful and lazy in CA or the Caribbean and still feel like you’re accomplishing something because you’re “traveling.” It works for me anyway.

    I’m going to be doing a lot of studying and book learnin’ this summer, plus a cross country trip from SF to Philly. If I hadn’t already found someone almost as charming as you to do this trip, I’d try to talk you into it!

  13. Dave says:

    God, I wish I had the summer off. My reading list: finish Tristram Shandy, collection of Immanuel Wallerstein essays, A Brief History of Neoliberalism by David Harvey (my current commute read); start and finish Nixonland by Rick Perlstein (I got to go to the book party last week!), Bad Money by Kevin Phillips, a book on the New York fiscal crisis of the ’70s that my roommate has, and maybe some kind of contemporary fiction? I just don’t have enough time on the subway to get through this stuff.

  14. LT says:

    I know if you had the funding, you’d travel all three months…plus, you hate nature. Therefore, my suggestions are related to your so cal opportunities:

    -Read everything by Melville and then set up regular phone conferences with BW.
    -Try one new restaurant a week.
    -Spend two hours every afternoon shamelessly trolling the internet for new music.
    -Run or swim.
    -Write that book you’ve got rolling around in your subconscious.
    -Learn to cook. Seriously. C’mon, I know you can do it.
    -Call your friends and gossip.

    And I’m not very good on the guitar either. Let’s make a band that has really simple song structures with witty, ironic lyrics.

  15. rm says:

    these suggestions lack oomph.

    if you have this kind of free time you may as well do something really absurd rather than these incremental “improvements” which are variations of things you already know or do anyway.

    here are some that come to mind:

    1) get huge. shakes, lifting every day, hell, why not try some ‘roids (hgh at the very least)? useless muscles, cutting the necks out of your shirts, playing the 4-sounds like a riot to me.

    2) learn a language you would rarely use but otherwise impress people with your esoteric knowledge. my vote is czech, “no subtitles for the janacek opera, no problem.”

    3) um, some refer to it as tail…

  16. Oh, you hate nature. Well, then, in light of that fact, Niagara and the Badlands are out, unless you like people-watching. But you can go to your local airport for that.

    But the VLA is still in. After all, the nature is not the reason to go.

  17. lane says:

    I agree with RM, “oomph” can be found in India, or Bangladesh or Nepal.
    And it’s cheap, once you get there.

    Do this AND lift weights, come on man, Where is your AMBITION!

  18. Jeremy says:

    Great suggestions, all of them. Unfortunately, I’m not getting paid in July and August and I’m really bad at saving money, so they big trips are not in the cards for me this summer (next summer!). And, OK, Tremain–that’s now officially on the list: 14. Start a with LT.

  19. Scotty says:

    get huge. shakes, lifting every day

    Should read: Get huge shakes…every day (as in milk shakes).

    I once had that as a summer ambition. There was a great beach ice cream shack that made the best mint chocolate chip milk shakes with in walking distance of where I was living.

  20. Scotty says:

    This summer I plan on drinking lots and lots of champagne. The fun will follow.

  21. trixie says:

    what about knitting?
    i can actually imagine you making some really nice looking sweaters.

    plus, you could do it while drinking and once you get good, even while you are at the movies.

  22. LT says:

    20: scotty! i will join you in mad amounts of champagne drinking!

  23. Scotty says:

    There’s a case ready for Friday night’s festivities…

  24. farrell says:

    Alright, my two cents:

    Along the lines of #3, how about a weekly journal entry about not just the books youre reading, but YOUR OWN life? I haven’t done it in quite a few years, but it’s on my list for the summer.

    How about a visit to philly–haven’t you always wanted to build a roof deck? And aren’t there a few HBO and Showtime series you need to catch up on?

    And i was thinking, how about some vehicle test drives to figure out what your next car is going to be? That’s always loads of covetous fun.

    And finally of course, as a doctor, looking out for your health and happiness, I heartily concur with #15, c.

    Happy summer fun!

  25. farrell says:

    And with this much time on your hands, a Thursday playlist goes without saying.

  26. Beth W says:

    When I used to have a real summer break, I was always sad when fall came around because of all the things I didn’t accomplish on my list. Even now, September makes me vaguely sad and and disappointed in myself.

    But, to get back to Jeremy. Would it be wrong to be completely self-indulgent and just do whatever you want whenever you want to? That’s the beauty of being a single adult, right? Re #21, if you want to learn to knit, I can teach you. We can find some yarn that won’t be itchy and make you a snazzy sweater vest just right for the professor look come September.

  27. lane says:

    15 + 21 = tail knitting

    nice combo

  28. PB says:

    How about dividing your summer into Campbell’s Hero’s Journey and come up with some activity for each step? It is a cool re-read and it would give some reason to get blinding drunk and live in the basement (see chapt 5 – the belly of the whale).

    Also wii fit is soooooooooo fun – especially the skiing program. Little scary voices telling you that you have missed three days and your BMI is over the top is a little disconcerting, however.

    fun post!!!

  29. Dave says:

    Jeremy, we will expect a full report at the end of the summer.

    And some Thursday playlists.

  30. Natasha says:

    My really good teacher of creative writing once told me to get out of my comfort zone and experience the very things that make me feel uncomfortable. Certainly, knitting drunk at the movies would be one of them (it’s already hard enough to get the loops drunk, plus it’s dark, plus you have to catch the plot). In any case, getting out of your comfort zone might encourage you to write as well as to change your perspectives on things. Writing might be the solution to never worrying about what it is that you can afford this summer but rather what it is that you want to do. Imagine, if Lisa T. wants to try out this new restaurant in Paris and you say, “Sure, lets go out tonight, I’ll meet you at your airport, VIP access, next to my jet…” Your list looks good too, I am glad you are changing your reality to a more constructive one and as long as you do all of the things you planned, you should keep pretty busy and, hopefully, pretty happy…
    All of you guys talking about lots of drinking, can I come?

  31. Tim says:

    I kinda hate giving advice to people about this sort of thing. Everything I can think of sounds either holier-than-thou (e.g., do good deeds) or more-decadent-than-thou (e.g., do *really* good deeds).

    Frankly, sleeping until noon, coffee shop, sandwich, movie, etc., sounds like a great day to me, but I guess it’s not the kind of thing that leads to retrospective satisfaction or feelings of real “accomplishment.”

    How about you find some good shows in LA and let us know about them with a little bit of advance notice? We’ll join you at any and all we can.

  32. Cynthia says:

    I would say go do something you normally would not do. get out of the confort zone.

  33. juliethepingpongqueen says:

    when I was broke with too much time on my hands (working freelance art dept.) I used to go down to the san francisco police headquarters and act like I was a private eye. I looked up all my friends in the public files to see if anyone commited any crimes recently and then rode the elevators till I got wind of any good trials. Then I’d pop in and watch them.
    I also went to the airport if I had wander lust and drink a whisky and lie about my life and where I was going.
    and you always have time for scrabble Jeremy. You always have scrabble.
    SCRABBLE, ahhh.
    Scrabble backwards is El Bbarcs. FYI

  34. juliethepingpongqueen says:

    also maybe those photos you want to do something with…well, why not become some sort of guerrilla graffitti/photo artist and makes tons of interesting collages and then tons of copies and shellack them from LB to Encino. Make a name for yourself. Get some fine chicks. Drive in limos and do drugs with Steve O. Burn out and wake up at the end of summer with tattoos and the biggest hangover known to man.

  35. LT says:

    wow, julie, #34 is like a mini novel. i really like your suggestions for j., but you scare me just a bit with the police/airport lurking.

  36. Scotty says:

    JTPPQ: I never wanted to be someone else till now. Much respect my sista.

  37. juliethepingpongqueen says:

    Scott it is not easy being me but you are more than welcome to try. Your nice.
    LT I am sorry I scared you. I know it is all a little creepy but I am telling you it is fun. Plus once I found the juiciest letter to a prisoner outside the jail. That was way before FOUND magazine.

  38. Jeremy says:

    JTPPQ: I’m not sure I’m intrepid enough to take up a few of your suggestions here, but I sure hope to play some Scrabble… oh, and make a name for myself as a graffiti artist. But that goes without saying.

  39. Speaking of graffiti, if anyone has not yet seen the video from BluBlu, well go look at it. Seriously great.

  40. trixie says:

    someone sent me a link to the video in 39 the other day. i agree it is super fun.
    y’all should check it.
    it’s kinda long, though.

  41. Jenomnibus says:

    That video is amazing!!! I wish the graffiti in our neighborhood looked that good.

  42. Beth W says:

    How about knitting, reading and drinking at the same time? It’s totally doable if all three activities are kept low on the challenge scale.

    Scrabulous looks like a good time waster.

  43. juliethepingpongqueen says:

    #39 That is amazing. Do you have any more great graffitti stuff to show? I am curious.
    I say we keep this thread going for the whole summer so Jeremy has the job of responding with witty comebacks. Plus we could all win an award for longest thread at the TGW Awards Ceremony. I hear it will be black tie in Montreal with Celene Dion as guest presenter.
    Jeremy please become a graffitti artist. I can only imagine how you could shake up this world. You could post the rules to record club and leave us all scratching our heads in wonder…

  44. any more great graffiti stuff

    I really like this mural from Montreal, and this one. And here is something great from Pittsburgh.

  45. juliethepingpongqueen says:

    thanks Modesto I really love the one from Pittsburgh.

  46. Breanne says:

    Well, to get you started, there’s this on Saturday:
    An exhibition called “The Nipple Project” – what more could you possibly desire for your Summer fun?
    My Summer accomplishment? Taking my mom to a nipple exhibition.

  47. chrissy says:

    i’m going to be working very little in july. i plan to spand it in the studio but when i’m not, i’ll go to art shows with you.

  48. ph says:

    what about a couple of treks to your favorite desert?!

  49. Jeremy Zitter says:

    haha. ok, mom!

  50. juliethepingpongqueen says:

    jz…having a problem w/ the email connection so i just want you to know i fixed the situation and I am sorry.

  51. autumn says:

    I join the team for JZ as new street artist phenomenon. Or maybe there’s a few assignments from Learning to Love You More that you could work on. Perhaps you wouldn’t have to go very far, but start interviewing/photographing strangers and using it as fodder for short stories.

    I plan on continued short trips around the US visiting local thrift, sampling local food, day-hikes and drinking a smattering of champagne, wine spritzers and G&Ts. Also a ditto to previous posts, live music + art with friends = good time. roof-top dinner alfresco anyone?

    p.s. I applaud JJTPPQ and want to know more of her past summer schemes.