Summer So Far


As this, my 27th Fourth of July holiday weekend comes to a close (yes, that's right: 27th. As the youngest TBA contributor, I can assure you that come early August, the "ranging in age from 28 to..." portion of the "About Us" section will be quite true. That being said, any details/offers for birthday cupcakes, cake in general, homemade dinners, autograph requests, or what you will can be left in the "Your Thoughts" section. I'll reply promptly, surely!), I'm sad to see it go. Sad because, yes, it's a holiday and long weekend, but sad, too, as this weekend marks my summer being half over.  Not to mention that this 4th of July weekend has been particularly amazing: my Phillies swept those not-so amazin' New York Mets (oh, let the rivalry banter begin!), my favorite Roger Federer won the men's Wimbledon championship, and today, July 5th, I took part in my first-ever Philly Phyzz Fest, which was quite charming, truly, and means I spent the afternoon post-tennis marathon match walking around my beloved city, camera and two bottles of America's first soda pop firmly in hand.

For me, so far, summer has been full of hits and misses, but mostly hits: hits include, among other things, my trip abroad, which part of me wishes I was still on; a bit of dissertation writing (also to be categorized as a 'miss'); a relaxing 4th of July weekend doing the minimal amount of work possible while still getting out for bike rides, some hiking, and consuming an exceptional amount of ice cream; catching Erin McKeown's show at Concerts Under the Stars; Drowners summer softball games (yes, I know: 'Drowners' is perhaps not the most optimistic team name for a softball team, but we have our reasons, I assure you. Not to mention very fashionable tshirts!); and planning an innumerable number of vacations I've yet to actually go on.  But I like lists, what I can say.

Future hits include the advent of Philadelphia Eagles training camp at my university's athletic complex; Musikfest, which I like to think of as the city of Bethlehem's ten day celebration in honor of my birthday and which is part of what we locals refer to as the advent of our holiday season (with Celtic Fest happening in September and Christmas, which, in Bethlehem, really is all year round); writing another chapter of my dissertation by the end of this month; and most likely more vacation list-making (this is what happens, apparently, when I don't go anywhere for six years).  I should add that if you're in the area and are a Catie Curtis fan, she's playing the Fest this year on August 2nd, and, if you're a Dar Williams fan, she will be at the Fest on August 5th.  If you're not in the area, well, you'd not be the first to pilgrimage to Bethlehem, but we'd welcome you, surely...

The biggest miss so far is a class I was scheduled to teach at my alma mater was cancelled thanks to (a) low enrollment and (b) the general state of the economy. This is disappointing mostly because I was very much looking forward to it, but also the fact of my general economic state and a summer of, shall we say, creative financing.  However, only one big miss halfway through the summer is a very good percentage, and I am never short on creativity.  Or so I like to think.

But one of my most favorite parts about summer is my neighborhood. As I've mentioned before, my neighborhood has a lot of, well, character and characters, and in the summer the confluence of these two aspects is exceptionally apparent.  This 4th of July weekend, I've been spectator to not one or two fireworks shows but eight, which began on Thursday evening.  Most of these, except for the officially sanctioned fireworks display near City Hall, I got to see from the convenience and relative comfort of my front stoop.  I'm sure, in spite of it being Sunday evening, there will be yet another display (a relative term, at this late point in the weekend).  I can also count on the ice cream truck rolling by with its incessant song, which is nice at first, truly, but after, oh, two renditions really gets a bit old, for another, well, knowing my neighborhood's ice cream truck, few months.  Last summer's ice cream truck season extended well into October.  In my neighborhood, this surprised no one.

While I joke often about my exceptionally small, yet somehow (to someone, somewhere, I'm sure) stylishly converted hardware store of an apartment, as well as my very learned behavior of keeping an eye on my neighborhood (much thanks to growing up in New Jersey with my very Jersey mother keeping a close eye on our cul-de-sac), I must say that neighborhoods, as living, working, functioning, and sometimes self-governing spaces, very much fascinate me.  If I had to do my education over again (here, my father cringes both audibly and visibly and yells to my mother to disconnect their telephone and cell phone plan, and perhaps even to sell their house and leave no forwarding address), I really think I'd go back to school for urban studies.  It would be nice to see how cities and neighborhoods form, both in terms of textbook theories and, well, the actual practice of going out, walking around, and saying hello to your neighbors. How many neighborhoods you have--that of work, school, where you actually live, your grandma's house, your best friend from kindergarden's apartment in New York City, the city in which you really want to live, etc.--and how you interact with and in them is an interesting examination not only of those spaces themselves, but also of your self.  And it's interesting, too, to see how neighborhoods (and neighbors, for that matter) adapt to seasons and the changes that brings.  Even more interesting is that what I see in my neighborhood could be similar to you TBAers see in your neighborhoods and also, perhaps even simultaneously, it can be entirely different.

I hope that as this summer has gone on, you've taken the time to look around, perhaps throw a baseball back over a fence or help corral someone's loose dog (or cat or any other domestic animal that may have experienced mometary freedom) or, as the saying goes, borrowed a cup of sugar, and I hope you've enjoyed those seemingly small moments of connectivity.  If you'd like, talk about them because those stories, I think, are fascinating to hear.


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