Saturday, September 01, 2012

What I Didn't Do This Summer

Clean Out The Garage. I had a plan, I really did. All that stuff we've accumulated over the past 20 plus years has been building up. There're items which did indeed serve a useful purpose, like cans of paint and bottles of garden goop, some meant to help grow and others meant to help kill. Then there're toys with which our kids played, though with them in their twenties it's unlikely they'll be clamoring to use the Air Aviva Rocket Launcher anytime soon. There's wood I was saving for some unnamed project, fishing rods I never untangled and enough balls, pucks, sticks, and bats to equip a good sized summer camp. Nothing wrong with any of it, once you clear off the cobwebs. Looks like those spiders get a new lease on life.

Run a Marathon. I don't run as much as I used to ever since I tore my knee. But a year ago the doctor stitched it up, and it's almost good as new. I ride my bike more, but still clock 5 or 6 miles on a Saturday morning, a circuit that takes about 45 or 50 minutes. And I've always wanted to do more. A friend who has done many marathons says if you can run a solid hour you can make the distance; all it takes is time and focus. I think I could figure out the former. Not a prayer with the latter.

Write a Book. No shortage of ideas, I'll tell you that. There's the one about the videogame developers who come up with a game where they sign up real people to mimic the avatars. There's the coming of age story of a young boy finds himself in a world where he gets to live every day exactly twice. There's the story of the screenwriter who writes a screenplay about the imaginary exploits of his neighbor, only to see what he writes comes true one week later. But it's a long way from having an idea and a first sentence, to developing the story and writing several hundred pages. Many starts, and an equal number of stops.

Learn a Foreign Language. While you can argue (and pretty persuasively) that English is the de facto lingua franca of the world, travel just a bit and you will feel like an idiot. In other locales people speak two or three or more languages effortlessly; here we're lucky if we can handle one. With all the resources available, wouldn't it be smart if I learned how to communicate in someone else's native tongue, so I don't lose the subtlety and nuance of what others are saying? Maybe Chinese would be helpful for the future. Certainly Spanish is a good alternative almost anywhere these days. Or maybe something more esoteric, some Middle Eastern dialect that is in the news. I could buy a CD, download a podcast: how hard could it be? However, turns out my ear for pronunciation is as tin as can be: to hear me butcher "huevos rancheros" is to never order eggs again.

Take More Pictures. On the surface, not really that hard. In fact, easier to do than ever, with cameras on everything from phone to pads to computers to mountable on your bike helmet. But I'm not talking snapshots; I'm talking pictures. It's not about the equipment, it's about making the time and the effort to go and look and see and get down on your knees or up a staircase or under a bridge to see an angle that's more than just walking down the street. Like everything else in life, you have to get off your duff and make more than a token effort. Too bad my duff feels so good.

Eat More Local Corn, Tomatoes and Peaches. Not a bumper crop this year. But I did eat an inordinate amount of fresh cherries and grapes. So consider this one about even.

That's not to say that I wasted the entire summer. I did take more walks in places I've never been, heard more live music from more people I've never heard before, and spent more time reading interesting books with a glass of iced tea by my side. On balance, those all count in the "win" column. I also rode my bike, replaced the fan in the bathroom and ate out a fair bit, as much in a lawn chair as in a restaurant. None of that is bad, to be sure.

But you just wait till next year.


Marc Wollin of Bedford is always amazed at how fast summer goes by. His column appears regularly in The Record-Review, The Scarsdale Inquirer and online at

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