Slack Summers

Because I still have no real idea, or at least no set goal, about what I want to do with my working life, I spend a lot of time thinking about it. I read about people's money philosophies, life philosophies, shitty jobs they had, dream jobs and how they got them. It seems like most of the time that I manage to post something on this blog of mine—which used to be about living in Europe, and then was a mishmash of having cats and being a person who read and wrote things occasionally—it's usually about work. Not that I ever seem to get anywhere in my career ruminations—I mainly just think in circles, trapped in the web of constant commuting, budgeting, and scheduling.

It's normal for young people to devote a lot of time to their careers. For many people my age, without families and obligations, it's what this phase of life is for.

But I also think it's silly. Part of why I have such a hard time with the career thing is that I've never felt like a job was going to define me, or knew what I should do. What mattered were my books and my plans and my friends. I miss learning. I like to read and eat and make things and see pretty places. (Not that I don't appreciate the fulfillment of a job well done. I just haven't yet found a good job that is worth doing.)

Even as I'm trying to find quiet moments of clarity for soul-searching, job-wise and life-wise, I also wish I made more time to just daydream. That's one of the things summer is for. I used to lie down on my bed and stare out the wide, open window at the sky above the houses and trees. I'd think about living—all the different things I could do once I was done with school, out of there. It was sometimes scary, but it was often a lot of fun. There wasn't so much pressure, or so many boring necessities to consider. No accountability, not like there is now.

Taisia Kitaiskaia describes it beautifully:
One moment you’re wrapped up in all manner of activities and the next you’re standing in your darkened apartment kitchen, an endless afternoon circling with the ceiling fan. The feeling is not unpleasant. It’s like slipping outside of time—societal, human time. It’s in these slack summers that I feel most immortal, as unknown and useless as a god, unseen by any mortal eye and somehow full of a vain and hopeless majesty. ("True Summer," The Hairpin)
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Over summer vacation, as the heat got oppressive and the books ran out, as friends disappeared on family trips, grilled cheese for lunch stopped tasting good, and the days wore on, parents would forbid us from saying we were bored. We were supposed to do something about it, not complain. These days, I'm only bored when I'm chained to a place of work that is demanding very little, or even nothing, from me.

Three jobs and no definite priorities (just a lot of contingencies)—that's why I feel boring, so much of the time. Shuttling from one obligation to the next, with nothing worthwhile to report. Sometimes I read an article online that gets me thinking, but those thoughts are dulled as I return to copy-and-pasting or whatever other banal task I'm currently burdened with. Ultimately, the thoughts are forgotten in the shuffle of job after job and the neverending pursuit of responsible adulthood.

I'm aching for those real summers. You don't need to feed me, you don't need to entertain me. Let me read that stack of books, physical and imagined, that I've been building the past few years. I love the breeze through the window. I don't mind shutting down my mind when the afternoon heat gets too heavy; I am fully capable of staring at the cats and doing nothing else. Let me write angsty poetry by the light of the streetlamps outside the window like I used to. Life was real, even if I was doing nothing.

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