Tidying Up Loose Threads

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With the knowledge that I’ll be moving out at the end of the summer, I started to evaluate what I have lying around half finished. I’m very good at starting a project and either finishing in a day, or waiting a year.

The first place to start was with books. I tend to read most of my books through my library’s e-book lending service. It works wonderfully and I usually have all of my holds on a rotation, reading on my Kindle or my phone. But as I’ve increased my e-book consumption, my consumption of the books I physically own fell. I’ve been very good about not buying more physical books until I can finish those I have, but there’s still twenty or so books that I haven’t read or have accumulated through holidays or sharing with my father. Because I’m planning to move, I only want to take books with me that I haven’t had a chance to read yet. But in order to preserve my back, I want that number of physical books I haven’t read to be on the smaller side. (Bonus – once I get the books I’ve already read down to a smaller number, I can finally justify buying more books!) I’ve recently read my physical copies of Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng, We Were Liars by E. Lockhart, and I’m part of the way into Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller.

The second place to go is to the TV – well, let’s be honest, it’s more like all my streaming platforms. Last year, I made a list of all the finished shows I’m halfway through. Again, I’m very good at finishing the first few seasons, but I get distracted and don’t always make it to the end. Because I need as few distractions as possible, I’m trying to make it through the shows available on streaming platforms I don’t use as frequently. I’ve managed to make it to the end of Teen Wolf, The Mentalist, and I’m on the last season of Criminal Minds. If I can knock off one or two before I head to law school, I’ll be happy to cancel my subscriptions for a few months and bring one or two back for the winter break.

The last loose thread includes genuine loose threads. I’ve taken up quilting over the last year and have started quite a few different projects. At the moment, I’m not planning to take any fabric or a sewing machine with me, so I need to wrap up as many of the half-started projects I’ve got as I can. I’ve got a finished top that I’m avoiding finishing because quilting it is daunting and I’ve got a top that I’m not sure how I want to proceed. Both of these quilts are unfinished out of anxiety about the next steps, but I’ve got about a month to get over that and get them done.

In addition to these half finished hobbies, I made myself a little bit of a summer to-do list. I know that I’ll be spending the next few years studying and working almost year round and I wanted to enjoy my last “free” summer while I could. The list includes a trip to the beach and the consumption of good watermelon, as well as meeting up with friends before I leave town. But like every year, the end of summer is fast approaching and my list is still long.

Hanging On To Summer

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I know that the weather will fluctuate over the next month or so, going from classic DC area summer weather to true chilly autumn weather. However, I am not quite ready to give up on my summer yet. You would think that Labor Day would have served as the traditional reminder that summer is over, but it wasn’t until I had to open my sock drawer for the first time in five months that I realized I would soon be transitioning from sandals to snow boots (okay, probably not snow boots, but I couldn’t skip that opportunity for alliteration). So for the next month or so while I can still justify it, I will be pretending it is still summer.

Being an adult is weird because the concept of summer isn’t quite the same as it was during school. Summer is no longer determined by having a designated set of days of relative freedom, but is instead marked by taking full advantage of three day weekends and sunny lunch breaks. I “started” my summer a little late because I was trapped inside working, but I happened to binge watch Outer Banks on Netflix and had immediate nostalgia for summertime. The show is good ole trashy fun, but it really reminded me of the perks of summer (when previously I had been focused on the negatives of summer in DC: mosquitos, sweat, humidity, the constant sound of A/Cs running).

I missed that feeling when you’re driving with the window down and you don’t have to rush anywhere. I missed that moment when you stepped in from the heat and the A/C hit you. I missed reading a book outside under the sun. I missed having a cold beverage after an hour spent toasting outside. I missed it all.

Now some of this nostalgia is misplaced. I never spent my summers running around with friends (I was at camp or work or my friends had left the area). Unlike the tan teens of the Netflix show, I burn – my Irish skin and I are meant for the shade, not the sun. And I have spent very few days lounging about on a boat. But the semantics don’t really matter.

I want to spend the next few weeks soaking up any sunshine I can find. And I want to go for drives with no set destination with music playing on my car speakers. I want to listen to the birds chirp and (now that it is less humid) I want to go for late night walks and read a book out on the deck. I want to pretend that life doesn’t start up again at 9 a.m. on Monday morning and the biggest worry I have is whether or not I’ve reapplied sunscreen recently.

I mean, I get the love for crisp autumnal days and spooky season, but can I linger in my summer haze for just a few more days?

Burnt

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Sunburn, an unfortunate side effect of beautiful summer weather, and I have a long and storied past. Last summer, as I sat there covered in aloe (thank you Nationals baseball for this particular set of burn lines), I figured I would pass on how my super Irish skin and I handle sunburns.
Hydrate or die: my solution to most things is to drink some water. After a full day in the sun, your body needs refreshment. And when my skin is in need of nourishment, my insides will appreciate hydration as well.
Lather up early and frequently: the second I think I might have a burn, I cover myself in lotion. I’ve had burn lines show up a day or two later so I do not trust my skin to give me timely warning on a sunburn. I step in the door, shower off any grime and cover myself in lotion or aloe or whatever is available. And I reapply constantly – when I wake up, on lunch, as soon as I’m home again, and once or twice more before bed.
Mix it up: everyone’s skin is different and I find that my skin loves lotion but isn’t too keen on aloe long term. I also vary my lotions because sporadically one will burn or will not do the trick or I’ll hate the smell, but then the next time around it might be the perfect blend. It’s always an adventure to find the perfect combo for my skin. (Pro tip: stick your aloe in the fridge. It’ll feel even better)
Loose fitting clothes: based on past mistakes, avoiding tight fighting clothes is key to surviving a burn. This is the perfect time to ditch bra straps and leggings and opt for flowing dresses and linen shirts. Keep the air flowing and the clothes away from the skin.
Lastly, pack sunscreen next time. I’ve built the habit of wearing a moisturizer with sunscreen everyday but carrying sunscreen in your purse or car makes it a thousand times easier to remember to apply. And then reapply throughout the day. Bring a hat or an umbrella and stay in the shade.

Roadtrippin’ 101

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Whether you’re headed for the beach or a music festival, someone somewhere deemed summer the perfect opportunity for road trips. Immortalized in films and tv shows as a freeing experience, there’s few things as painful as being shoved in a car with a friend and all of your worldly belongings, hoping traffic isn’t this bad for the rest of your 12-hour journey. Despite my distaste for the realities of road trips, I figured I’d share how I’ve managed to survive them thus far.

Plan accordingly. Factor in bathroom breaks and rush hours into your drive time. If you’re gonna hit a major city at exactly 5 p.m., maybe a bathroom break before the mayhem is appropriate. Or maybe you’re visiting a friend on the first weekend of summer vacation – maybe avoid those roads that head straight to the beach. I also have a rule that if you’re making multiple stops, you never want to drive more than three or four hours a day in a row. Sure, that final day may have to be a horrible six-hour drive, but if you can avoid three days in a row of seven hours in the car, you should.

Dress appropriately. Sure it may be chilly at home, but cars heat up. People are hot and sweaty, and it’s pretty gross when you hop out of the car at Grandma’s house to give her a sweaty hug. Short sleeves and layers are your friend. If you run cold, grab a blanket. Wear shoes that aren’t too smelly and are comfortable. Comfort is important because if you’re anything like me, you will inevitably end up snoozing at one point and it ain’t fun to nap in your tightest jeans. I also recommend socks, even if you’re in sandals, but my toes are always cold so I might be biased.

Snackage is key. Hungry people require more stops on the road, so be prepared. A salty snack and a sugary snack will cover basic cravings. I’d avoid chocolate in case of meltage, anything particularly stinky, and anything too messy like Baked Cheetos or powdered donuts. This isn’t to say you should bring a full twelve-course meal. Instead, these snacks should cover you between gas and dinner stops. Hydration is also important. A bottle of water for each person will cover basic needs. I avoid coffee or anything that’ll spill and leave my car smelling of bad milk, but up to you on that one. I would also leave the straws at home; not for environmental reasons necessarily – just because I drink five times faster with a straw and then have to pee five times more frequently.

Pack an activity bag. My mom instilled the power of an activity bag in me since I was a wee thing. Bring along technology and technology free entertainment. Kids might enjoy a toy or a coloring book, while adults might like a Sudoku puzzle or that magazine you’ve been meaning to read. Knitting needles or a crochet hook for those crafty folks will keep your hands busy. Grab a notebook for keeping track of every state license plate you spot or to do a quick game of hangman in the backseat. Boredom can kill a road trip in thirty minutes, trust me.

Music is crucial. I’ve probably said it before but I don’t trust technology. I’d rather go old school with a few prime CDs than rely on my phone. Plus I’d rather save the charge for directions and finding the closest Dunkin Donuts for my random cravings. I recommend having everyone in the car contribute a CD or two that they enjoy (if people still own CDs like my family) and avoid CDs of contention (in my family, the Beatles and Grateful Dead stay out of road trip playlists). I’m a big fan of Stadium Arcadium by the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Sam’s Town from The Killers. Other good ones are Hozier‘s first album, Signs of Light by The Head and the Heart, Lord Huron’s Strange Trails, and anything by Elbow or Passenger. Or make your own mix CDs – really lean into the throwback. Anything you enjoy and can sing along to or jam along to.