The Dog and Cat and Children Days of Summer
The theme song to the Disney Channel animated T.V. series Phineas and Ferb starts out with the words "there's one hundred and four days of summer vacation 'til school comes along just to end it/so the annual problem for our generation is finding a good way to spend it." Whenever I watch that show I wonder "104 days of summer vacation? What school do those kids go to? No one has a summer vacation that long!" Well, I just calculated it, and, give or take a few days, that's how long Oberlin's summer break is this year.
I'm sure having a 104 day summer vacation would be great if you were Phineas and Ferb and spent your days building a rollercoaster in your backyard and owning a crime-fighting pet platypus. However, when you're a student who really likes college, having a super long summer can be a burden.
This summer, I've spent most of my time lifeguarding at the pool that I've worked at for the past four years. While lifeguarding isn't the worst job I could have, it isn't exactly the kind of job that makes the summer fly by.
Luckily, I have also had some other things to do that have been a little more fun. I spent six weeks teaching swim lessons, which turned out to be a surprisingly enjoyable experience. I've always thought that I did not get along with or do well with children, but for some reason this summer was different. While some of the kids that I taught were insufferable, I actually found many of the kids to be very cute. Also, a lot of the kids talked to me, and still talk to me when I see them swimming at the pool where I lifeguard. I always ask one of them if she's watched Frozen recently, since, at the time that I taught her, she had watched it every day of the summer. I always tell another to do a triple back flip, since she joined the dive team this summer. I recently threw dive rings for two others to go get. Overall, I think that this summer has actually marked a turning point in my relationship with children, which I guess is a good thing.
On a similar note, I have also been tutoring high school students for the SAT. I know a lot of people don't like the SAT, and I have to admit that it isn't a perfect method of testing aptitude, but the truth is- brace yourselves- I actually think the SAT is pretty fun. It's like a game where you just have to practice and then you beat your own high score! Anyway, I really like tutoring because it feels like there's an actual point. You set a goal for your students and then you work towards it together. I like having goals.
I've also been dogsitting for a family that goes to my church. I have three words for all of you: I. Love. Dogs. I haven't had a dog in a while, which is pretty sad, but I have two cats. I actually love cats even more than dogs, but that's a story for a different day. Anyway, this dog that I have been dogsitting is very cute. She has very floppy and very furry ears.
Look at those ears.
But, even if you aren't Phineas or Ferb, summer isn't ALL about work. I've done some other fun things this summer. One of the things that (I've heard) you're supposed to do when you're home from college is spend time with your friends and family. I got to spend a lot of quality time with my family when we drove up to Maine to visit Acadia National Park, at which I got to geek out about geology because pretty much the whole park is made out of granite. Guess what I learned last semester? Granite is an igneous rock! Guess what? I can name the minerals present in granite! I always think it's so cool when you see material that you've learned in class out in the real world! (Wow, this post is getting nerdier and nerdier but that's me, so I guess you're going to have to deal with it).
I've also done some fun stuff with my friends this summer. Some of my friends from Oberlin were staying with one of my friends who lives in my town and also goes to Oberlin, so I got to see them even though I was here and not in Oberlin! That was pretty crazy. Also fun.
Our friend Robin was so happy to receive this picture that he didn't even respond.
I've also spent a lot of time with my friends from home- or at least some time. Most of my friends seem to be doing really fun things like learning Chinese IN CHINA or doing fancy internships at Princeton University or getting paid $10 an hour to hand out flyers about a noodle store. I'm pretty jealous of them, but I'm also pretty happy that my friends get to be happy. Also, it gives me inspiration to do something super cool next summer!
Anyway, when my friends are around, I've spent some fun times with them. One of my friends and I recently marathoned an anime called Puella Magi Madoka Magica- it is amazing, and I would recommend it to anyone, but I wouldn't recommend watching it one day. Maybe it's just me, but watching almost six hours of television in a row makes me feel kind of sick and makes it difficult to concentrate on what's happening on the screen. This same friend and I have also seen some opera movies. They film operas that are performed at the Met and then broadcast them across the country for one day only at movie theaters. The tickets are $15, which seems pretty steep when you're talking about a movie, but when you consider how expensive tickets to the Met are, it's actually quite the bargain.
I've also spent a lot of time with friends at the wonderful establishment that is Chipotle. I love Chipotle. About as much as I love dogs.
I want to grow up and be Chipotle.
I've also tried to keep in touch with my friends who don't live nearby. Frances and I have been meaning to make a post with some of our Snapchats, so this is a good opportunity to include some of those here:
I've found that videochatting freaks me out a little, but there are so many other ways to keep in touch with people now, too. I think that I make good use of Facebook messaging, texting, and the aforementioned Snapchat.
Anyway, while this summer has had some fun times, I am most definitely ready to go back to Oberlin. I have a countdown on my phone, and, luckily, the date is drawing near. See you soon, Oberlin!
"My dad was sick all summer and I didn't do jack."
This is what my dad suggested I say in this post when I lamented to him that I didn't remember a thing about the last several months. He's had mono all summer and is bitter. He's getting better, but this summer is the longest I've ever had in my life. This is a literal statement. This three-month chunk of time is the longest I've spent away from Oberlin so far, and it's the longest amount of time I've ever not been in school. What have I been doing with this time, you ask?
Well, the first five weeks of summer were a little rough. I came home from Oberlin on May 17. This was approximately four weeks before most of my friends returned home from school. This was five weeks before my summer job as a camp counselor started. Back at Oberlin, this span of time looked great. In the midst of finals-induced hunger rage, I would dream of five glorious weeks to spend doing absolutely nothing. And it was great, for like four days. Then I realized that aside from babysitting every now and then, there was pretty much nothing for me to do. The friends that started trickling home were already working, or were on vacation. I spent a lot of time by myself during the day, and the time I did spend with friends took place very late at night at a café in my hometown.
I did go on a hike with these crazy people.
California killin' it.
I'm the type of person who doesn't mind spending time alone, so this time wasn't all bad. I did some reading, watched about four shows in their entirety on Netflix, and spent time with my parents. I also got my first cavity filled—that was a high point, obviously. I was very happy when it became time to start my camp job at the end of June.
The past few jobs I've had have involved working with kids, so when I was looking for jobs in the spring, I thought working at camp would be something that I'd be good at. But aside from making ca$h money, my experience working at camp (it's a science and art camp that has many locations in the Bay Area) was AMAZING! Basically my job was to lead a group of approximately 16 first and second graders around to different activity rotations and serve as an assistant to the teacher at each of these rotations.
The job had its challenges: There was a time when I turned around and one of my campers was buck naked, a time when in the hectic part of the day when campers checked out to go home, two parents decided to just take their children without checking them out, and we all thought they had been abducted. It was also great because kids are the best! I also found, like Brendan, that first and second graders have literally one thing on their minds 24/7, and it's Frozen. If you can talk about Frozen and start a lanyard, they will be your best friends forever. There were some kids who came for a week and were obsessed with me, and some kids who I had all seven weeks and couldn't even muster a high-five when they left on the last day. (Maybe they were a little freaked out by my half-laughing-half-sobbing.)
Another cool thing about the job was that I got to be a teacher for a day. I picked a lesson in the curriculum that I wanted to teach, prepared for it, and taught it to a bunch o' kids. Apparently I was good! I still don't want to be a teacher, but it was interesting to be exposed to a new field.
Camp was also awesome because I got to dress up several times a week. I was especially thrilled with the days I could wear socks with my Birkenstocks and pass it of as part of my costume. One day I dressed up as Rosie the Riveter and indoctrinated the children into the feminist conspiracy! (BWAHAHAHA!!!)
Now I have stumbled upon this day, this day I knew would come, this day that I would officially become Bored Out of My Mind™. During long days at camp, I imagined this time, these three glorious weeks after camp and before returning to Oberlin, to be filled with time spent reading in the sunshine, hiking with friends, and soaking up time with my family before our time apart.
Needless to say, this time has not been going exactly how I've planned. It soon became apparent to me that a lot of my friends are out of town, or are busy working. My parents are also busy with work and various other commitments, and our backyard is home to a booming yellow jacket population this summer, which has made leisurely reading outside more of a risk-taking experience than usual.
My cat ushering in fall by sitting next to some gourds.
I'm counting down the days until I return to Ohio, but it's nice to know that I still have some stuff to look forward to in the next several weeks. I'm going to a Giants game this weekend with my dad, and next week my family is going down to Catalina, an island off of southern California, for a couple days.
Throughout my childhood, I always enjoyed the easy transition from summer to fall in California. Starting from my birthday in early August, the already parched landscape always manages to become even more dry and brown, and you can't go anywhere without hearing crows calling in the trees. It brings me to reflect on how I was feeling a year ago today. Last summer, most of my thoughts about leaving for college were about what was to come, what my life would be like once I got there. Being back home this summer has reminded me how much I've left behind. Not just my family and friends, but my place in the ebb and flow of life at home. It's weird to know that things basically continue as they always have, even though I'm not there.