Off to camp, with a bag full of books.

First: oops, I got extremely sidetracked by the end of the semester. However, all final exams have been completed, all papers edited and turned in, and everything moved out of my apartment on campus and back home.

While I will miss Boston during the summer, I can visit, and besides, it’s nice to see a bit more nature. I’ve been home a little more than two weeks, and I’m still loving all the trees. I went for a walk through the woods/along the Charles last week. It was beautiful out. One of my favorite shots from the walk...I took some pictures, despite my camera being somewhat broken now. (The screen is cracked, and there is no other viewfinder, so everything was taken a bit blindly.)

I think, after unpacking the last box of stuff I haphazardly stuffed into my closet when I got home, I finally have everything put away and organized and I can start to relax and enjoy this summer vacation…

Which brings me to the second, and main point, of this post: I’m going to camp. Not a real camp, mind you, but Camp NaNoWriMo. If you’re familiar with NaNoWrimo, National Novel Writing Month, Camp Nano is much the same. It just takes place in the summer, for those who can’t commit in November or just want an excuse to ingest large amounts of caffeine and stay up until all hours of the night writing. The premise is this: write a 50,000 word novel in a month. Sounds easy enough, right? So, this June, I will be participating in Camp NaNoWriMo. That means that starting this Friday, June 1, until 11:59:59 PM on June 30, I will be writing, writing, and writing some more. About what? Well, I have no idea. I have yet to go into a NaNoWriMo month knowing what I’m going to be writing about. It’s part of the excitement, though. Who knows what I’ll end up with when the clock strikes midnight? It could be a pile of crap. It could be… slightly less than crap. It’ll be a lot of work, but I’ve got some spare time, so I figure, why not? I’ll try to update here as my writing progresses. (And Camp NaNo runs again in August, so maybe I will do it again then!)

Of course, I can’t just focus on writing. I’ve got a whole list of books that I want to read this summer. I’ve come up with a list to help me keep track. They are as follows:

Books I am currently reading:

  • Sphere, Michael Crichton
  • The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood
  • The Geographer’s Library, Jon Fasman

Books I have yet to start:

  • Rozencratz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Tom Stoppard
  • Waiting for the Barbarians, JM Coetzee
  • When You Are Engulfed in Flames, David Sedaris
  • The Tiger’s Wife, Tea Obreht
  • The Silence of the Lambs, Thomas Harris
  • A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, Mark Twain
  • The Shadow of the Wind, Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Books I have previously read all or most of and want to reread/finish:
  • Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde
  • On the Road, Jack Kerouac
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, JK Rowling
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, JK Rowling
  • The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien

If all goes well, I’ll have made some progress on my very big stacks of unread books this summer and I won’t feel so guilty for having bought them all.

A Well-Timed Message

As the semester moves closer to its end, all the things that I’ve got to do before that time have started to roll together. Every time I  look at my to-do list, it’s packed closer and closer together and I feel more and more stressed.

By the end of the week, I’ve got to have a (minimum) ten page draft of a paper combining literary analysis and feminist theory (that I’m still trying to unravel and understand) ready to submit and revise. Before the week is even over, though, I’ve got a film to watch and a long list of film-related terms to define and give examples of for one class, a presentation to give on Langston Hughes in another, and a research project to develop for a fourth.

On top of that, I have to do things like eat, do laundry, and, apparently, find the Sword of Gryffindor in order to slay the Basilisk that is trying to come out of the shower wall.

I'm convinced this leads to the Chamber of Secrets.

The tiles have started a rebellion. One of them slipped out and landed on my foot the other week, and last night four more were on the verge of jumping, so I took them down to avoid any more foot-related injuries. Of course, now I’ve got to go fill out a maintenance request, and in the meantime, find a plastic bag or something so we don’t damage the wall while shampooing. Ugh.

So, I’m feeling a bit stressed. As soon as I finish one thing, another comes up. As soon as I think I’ve fixed one problem, something else says, “Hey, fix me!”

It’s not all bad, though. After my roommate was gracious enough to let me back into the building this morning (I forgot not only my keys, but my entire wallet when I left for a meeting two hours earlier. Really off to a great start this week.), I was greeted by a little card. Thank you!

It was a completely unexpected, but entirely welcome, little message from my site manager at work. There was no reason for it that I can discern–it’s been business as usual at work, really. It was just a little note expressing her appreciation for the work I’ve been doing, but it put a smile on my face on a day where I was really feeling stressed out and panicked by all of the work that I’ve still got to do before the semester ends early next month.

Perhaps I should find some time to send a few notes and cards to friends that I know are going through the same stressful end-of-semester blues as I am. I’ve also got to remember to stop and take some time to relax, even if I don’t think I can afford the break. Do you have any simple and effective tips for relaxing during a crazy busy time?