Sometime after the beginning of the school year I start questioning myself and everything around me. ‘It’s the first day of class, how the hell do I have a paper due today?’ ‘What is this questionable lunch meat on my sandwich?’ The questions persist everyday and I’m left wondering why I’m in school if it’s such an uphill struggle. To be honest, it doesn’t help waking up for an 8 o’ clock class and the sun’s still down.
If the sun can't decide if it's up or down, I think I should be able to go back to bed.
So when I’m dragging my unruly body up the many stairs in the Bush science building along with the rest of the herd I like to think about my summer adventures.
There are many things I could have done this summer. I could have travelled across the wild untamed moors of the Irish countryside, the vast greenness of the landscape spreading out before me, lost in the Celtic romance of it all. I could have gotten henna tattoos in Morocco before going off to perform my civic duty with some community service. I could even have returned home, having not seen Jamaica for over a year now. But no, I did not do any of those things. I was not blinded by any vast expanse of green, drowned with the scent of clovers and shamrocks. There were no Moroccan henna tattoos (although I did use henna to dye my hair) and unfortunately, no community service or civic duty fulfilled. I did not indulge in any extravagant beach parties, have an authentic beef patty or get yelled at by one of the many irate homeless men that are characteristic of my island. No, instead, my summer was punctuated by two momentous events.
This summer I outran a thunderstorm and edited a book. One of these is more exciting than the other. Obviously I mean the book.
Most may be of the opinion that the book editing is the less significant event, lacking the tumult and din that often accompanies a thunderstorm, not to mention the fear that one may soon be hit by lightning. Yet, throughout my work, I have found this to be severely untrue. I received the job as a result of my work-study agreement with one of Rollins’ teachers, working for her during the summer and for the rest of the academic year. She would send me various articles (and a book!) she’d written so that I could edit and format them. While doing this work, I learned quite a bit about myself. I learned very quickly that the thesaurus may be the inanimate love of my life, second only to the semicolon, and we’ve become very close this summer.
Webster and I are very happy, thank you very much.
I’ve also realized that any amount of work done on computers may be interrupted by uncontrollable bouts of playing solitaire (or Sims 3, or Portal. Minesweeper too.), and I learned that I have a deep well of self-control that was utilised in not playing computer games on paid time. But while every completed piece of work awarded me some satisfaction, the mental agitation during a new venture was sudden and surprising. Here was the opportunity to try something I’d wanted to do for a long time, but I was very aware of my own capabilities and limitations. Failure appeared to be the only option, but I’d already agreed to the job, so there was no choice but to stop staring at the text splayed across the screen and figure out what the hell to do about the erroneous quotation marks and comma. Somehow, every comma, every colon, every underlined and bolded text seemed a personal challenge. With each correction made, a red line indicating change while using Word’s ‘track changes’ feature appeared and the challenge was promptly slapped across the face and defeated. I had won, I was master of comma and question mark, bold, italics, and underline my unwilling serfs; I had conquered and no slight of font size, irregular spacing, or unfinished sentence would escape me again.
All those red lines? That's me winning.
Unfortunately, the thunderstorm did not arrive in the form of a punctual email, but was instead the product of Florida’s ever-confusing climate, and its resolution, while a happy one, was significantly less momentous.
One humid evening, my mother and I decided to take a walk around the neighbourhood, get out of the house, get some fresh air. It’s important to note, and I am not ashamed to say it, that on holiday breaks, when I don’t have to leave the house, I am every bit a hermit as a hibernating polar bear. It follows then, that I haven’t the slightest idea what my neighbourhood looks like. And so, on this fateful evening, the air heavy and thick, my mother and I promptly got lost. No immediate danger presented itself as most of our neighbours are elderly, concerned only with the bloom of their orchids and their strange collection of mismatched lawn ornaments. However, the quiet night air was soon broken by the loud and sudden atmospheric explosion that marked the beginning of one of Florida’s sudden downpours. Lightning clawed its way across the darkly clouded sky above us. We both reflected briefly on my mother’s cell phone, my metal glasses frames and the metal permanent retainers in my mouth; we didn’t bother to think about if we were actually conductive. We sped up. The neighbourhood proved itself a veritable maze and several times we found ourselves in the same dead end, staring at the same large ceramic lions perched on one inhabitant’s lawn. As the lightning grew, each flash brightening the street for a few moments, and the thunderous bass shaking the sky and the earth increased, we found our veranda, hurrying inside as the clouds wrung themselves of their moisture, narrowly escaping a thorough drenching and electrocution.
Admittedly, the events are quite different in nature, and I could have told you about my ventures in the world of bread-baking (I lead a very homely, cozy life, apparently. To be fair, it was quite beautiful strawberry banana bread, if I do say so myself.).
The strawberries kind of look like a squid's suckers...
But for me, both events were adventures in and of themselves, important and similar. With every new article I was sent, there came the slow and steady thundering of the possibility of something going horribly and magnificently wrong as I make corrections. The violent atmospheric disruptions that altered an otherwise quiet evening are reflected in my mental state, usually calm and unperturbed. Whole paragraphs morph before me as fingers move like lightning across the overwhelmed keyboard, the rapid tapping of keys matched only by the torrential gunfire of windswept rain against windows. So no, I didn’t go to Ireland, I didn’t go surfing in Hawaii, belly-dancing in Morocco, or hunt down a beef patty in my Motherland. I roamed around my neighbourhood, I baked bread and I worried over commas and margins. These are my summer adventures, and I am very grateful for them.
Especially since I have 3 papers due and an upcoming exam…