Posts Tagged ‘Summer’

By Tricia Lunt, English Faculty

The greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time. ~Bill Bryson

Very soon, I will be enjoying the one preposterously pleasant perk I receive for my pains as a teacher: two months off. I’m anxiously awaiting my travels this year, which include a trip back home to Ohio and my first trip to the Pacific Northwest with stays in Portland and Seattle.

Travel brings out the best in me, which is true of everyone else, too.


Traveling renews our sense of our selves. The essential core of people—their inclinations, habits, and predilections—will emerge in full force once entirely engaged in vacation mode. Travel results in self-augmentation in every possible way. A “putzer” will be content to laze around a hotel room until 2:00pm. A shopper will battle the crowds and bazaars with zealous abandon. A night owl will be escorted from bars at 4:00am.

Many people erroneously suppose that they will encounter a life-altering experience whileHawaiitravel on vacation, but this is seldom true. While being on holiday may encourage each of us to let go of our daily routine, expecting a dramatic transformation will only result in disappointment. On your flight to Hawaii, you will not meet a handsome stranger.

I think too often vacations are sold (and bought) as “getaways” and “escapes” from everyday life. No matter how surroundings change, the traveler remains the center of the experience. Although people may leave some reservations behind when they go on a journey, the activities pursued arise from interest and desire, not a lapse of reason. Despite the brilliant marketing campaign, whatever happened in Vegas was intentional. I do not like Vegas (and will never go back) primarily because it is the antithesis of my life, to which I say, “No, thank you.” I do not understand the appeal of Las Vegas since in addition to being completely artificial it is also fundamentally depressing: the luxurious hotels and opulent casinos built on the foundation of lost money. Moreover, gambling with a group is unwise; a lesson learned when sitting at a roulette wheel with my oldest friend’s husband. Every time I won, he lost, and vice versa, which does not make for a pleasant evening among friends.

Holidays are trancroissant-d-or-seatingsformative when we allow ourselves to do and be what we want, thereby illuminating ourselves from within. I’m an early riser. After fifteen years of impatiently waiting in hotel lobbies for friends and fellow travelers, I recently started going to breakfast on my own and returning to collect my group. I fulfill my wish to explore the city and my friends get to take their time. In this way I have discovered remarkable spots, including the terrifically charming Le Croissant D’Or in the French Quarter, to which I will return if I pass that way again.

Ultimately, the genuine, open, engaged selves we display on vacation while exploring happily, accepting heartily, and indulging eagerly simply reveals the phenomenal people we already are.


By Tricia Lunt, English Faculty.

I’m on my quarter off from good ol’ RMU, which means I am free to do whatever I like, as long it is within budget, which unfortunately excludes my top choice—yachting in the Mediterranean. Nonetheless, I am doing my best to enjoy my time off, even though relaxing is not my natural state. Somehow I have stumbled onto the most cliché of writing assignments—“how I spent my summer vacation.” However, it is with true delight that I begin this self-assigned task.

I read a lot. I have read all but one of the titles on my “Radical Summer Reading,” list. I am currently moving unhurriedly through As I Lay Dying, which is awfully brilliant, and, unsurprisingly, extremely depressing; such is the way with literary masterpieces, and I find reading tragedy is too overwhelming in the winter. When Faulkner gets to be too dark, I switch to something lighter, including The Lady Woolfs selection for August, Fraud by David Rakoff. My “want to read” list on Goodreads gets its due attention in the summer months when I don’t have to accommodate the grueling grading schedule that exists during the school year. Reading anything I want, for as long as I want, indoors at home, or at a favorite café, outdoors on my (new) deck, or at the park, ah, that’s luxury, yacht or not.

One of the easiest ways to enjoy the summer is to behave like a 12-year old: spend time outside, play with friends, attend picnics and BBQ’s, ride a bike as often as possible, preferably to the pool.

The Chicago Park District boasts an impressive number of indoor pools for use year-round, but swimming is much more fun in the summer. I love my pool, love it, Imagelove it. I am not telling you where it is; it is too crowded already. Open swim times are limited to a scant 9:00am to 10:00am Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Thus, three days a week, I ride my orange Huffy cruiser, Orangina, to the pool. I always arrive early, kick off my shoes, stow my bike helmet and towel in a locker, affix my gigantic (over-glasses) swim goggles, and proceed to lane six. I choose the far side of the pool in an effort to avoid the many older ladies who ultimately spend most of the hour wading and chatting between sporadic bursts of water aerobics. These ladies begrudgingly allow me use of my swim lane, rushing back and forth as I swim directly at them. Nevertheless, it is encouraging to see older people in bathing suits. Once, a geriatric walker was parked next to my bike.

Another spectacular summer truism relates to frozen treats: if they are available, by all means get some. My friend Tammy just introduced the Urban Family to Paciugo in Lincoln Square. I went crazy for the salted caramel gelato three weeks ago, and I am still thinking about it. I recently discovered that Miko’s, a Logan Square favorite, is a straight shot from my new apartment. There, a sign encouraged customers to try a combo, so I did: mango and kiwi. Kiwi was the winner. I haven’t walked up to The Ice Cream truck that rolls through my neighborhood, but summer isn’t over yet.

By Paul Gaszak, English Faculty

While getting ready for work yesterday, I was listening to the album “R.E.V.O.” by the band Walk Off the Earth. I saw them for the first time this past weekend when they headlined the post-race festival at the Rock n’ Roll Half-Marathon in Chicago’s Grant Park, and I’ve been hooked on their album since. This time while listening, I instinctively labeled their song “Gang of Rhythm” as a “great Summer Song.”


And immediately after, I thought, “What the hell is a Summer Song?”

Every summer, a song is labeled THE Song of the Summer. Billboard defines the top summer song as the one with the best “cumulative performance on the weekly Billboard Hot 100 chart from Memorial Day to Labor Day.” Currently, Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” is in the lead (even though it was released as a single on March 26, well before summer). Last year, the winner was Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe.”

thicke-blurred-lines1But defining a Summer Song by Billboard data is too simple. Too numerical. Too inaccurate. Partly, this is because there is a difference between The Song of the Summer (ie: the song that just happens to be the most popular during the summer months) and a Summer Song (ie: a song that somehow just FEELS like summer.)

When I defined “Gang of Rhythm” as a great Summer Song, it wasn’t based on data. It just FEELS like a Summer Song. In fact, “data” works against it. It isn’t a chart topping hit. It isn’t even one of the three best songs on “R.E.V.O.”

This then means that a great Summer Song doesn’t necessarily have to be a great song. (Ahem – lookin’ at YOU Carly Rae Jepsen….)

But to be a Summer Song, the song must have certain qualities.

Consider two songs that are undeniably Summer Songs, both by name and by sound:  “Summertime” by DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince and “Summer Song” by Joe Satriani.

One is lyric-driven rap. The other is guitar-driven instrumental rock. Yet, both are Summer Songs.

Both songs are upbeat, light-hearted, and fun. More than that, they are anti-melancholic. The same can be said (for me) for “Gang of Rhythm.” The same can be said of “Blurred Lines,” and for the last several Billboard winners of Song of the Summer.

Still, the case is not closed. I can think of plenty of upbeat, light-hearted, fun songs that don’t FEEL like Summer Songs.

It must have something to do with how we view summer. Notice that we don’t do a Song of the Season for the other seasons. Come early December, you won’t hear people saying, “Jingle Bells is the WINTER JAM of 2013, y’all!”

What is it about summer that makes us want to crown a song and to label some as Summer Songs? And what are the remaining qualities that a song must possess to fit the description as a Summer Song?

I need help here, people, because I wouldn’t accept “….it just FEEEEEEEEEELS like it,” in an argumentative essay from my students, so there must be some solid way of defining a Summer Song.