What I Did Over Summer Break 2020


Did anyone else have to write those terrible “here’s what I did over summer break” short responses when they were young? I feel terrible for all the kids who might be suffering the same fates in this, the Year of Covid-19, when normality as we know it is pretty much gone. Still, in the interest of honesty and calculating where exactly did the time go and what (if anything) happened in the blur of June, July, and August, I figured I’d try my hand at this ever timeless thought exercise.

I’m officially back to work now. Well, technically, I’m “remote” and this is a fulltime job and I’m not a student anymore and this is the real world of being an adult. You work, you earn money, you pay the bills, and you spend/save everything else. I’m still kind of figuring it out. Especially the whole balancing time thing. And the pandemic really put a dent in my plans for my post-MFA life, and for the summer.

Originally, I was supposed to go to Las Vegas to see Shania Twain during her residency as a graduation gift (I know! How amazing, right?). Plus, if you remember from all those years ago, I still haven’t had a proper 21+ trip to Sin City. I was hoping to visit my family in Auckland for my Dad’s birthday and actually have a relaxing vacation in my home-away-from-home, but lockdown obviously said nah to that idea. I imagined that my friends and I would go on wine walks, out to visit our favorite buffet, taste the delicious brunches of Reno, and visit many of the bookstores. Hell, I figured what with my degree and that time suck being over I might actually be able to go on dates with eligible bachelors.



What actually happened is a mix of good and bad things and I’m not going to organize it any particular order, because this summer was a mishmash of emotions, experiences, and things I might remember or forget. It passed by so slowly and, yet, just as quickly as a normal summer did even though I barely left the house.


What did I do this summer?

  • Read too much fanfiction; finished reading two books; started a handful of others and didn’t complete them. You can blame post-MFA brain on this one, at least a little.
  • Rediscovered my love of Broadway musicals.
  • Cleaned and organized parts of my apartment and now all the stuff to donate is blocking half my hallway.
  • Wrote four poems that need work.
  • Submitted three stories; received two rejections (so far).
  • Received three other rejections for earlier submissions; one of them was very personalized though, so that’s encouraging.
  • Restarted the “What I’m Listening To” column on the blog, which not only helps keep track of my favorite monthly songs but encourages me to seek out new music.
  • I have been better about blogging, or, at least, better than I’ve been lately.
  • Cooked a lot of new meals! My favorites of the summer were: red beans and rice with bacon, arugula rice bowl, and Thai red curry soup.
  • Finally made good use of the Disney+ account and watched a lot of old favorites again.
  • Started my research project that I hope (fingers crossed) to take to the Ann Radcliffe Academic Conference at StokerCon in Denver next year. It requires me to watch a lot of horror movies—some I’ve seen and some new ones, which helps a bit with…
  • Started on OcTerror prep early so I’ll be ready in case work is busy during posting time.
  • Helped take care of the new puppy my family got in June. We’re pretty sure she’s deaf, but she’s full of love, trouble, and cuteness. It’s been nice this time around to have the time and energy to pay attention and see her grow so quickly!
  • Did this thing called “green bathing” that my Mum recommends, which basically means I try to spend a bit of time outside with the plants, low tech, and do some breathing. It does help my mood.
  • Went on a wine boat for my cousin’s birthday celebration in June. Although it was a bit different because of Covid regulations, it was still a lot of fun and it had been ages since I was even on a boat so that was a treat. Tahoe was as beautiful as ever, and it was a great day.
  • Visited Graeagle, California for a day trip, which was the first time I’d left Reno since March. We went on a (really) short hike to Lily Lake, had a refreshing lunch with some yummy wine, and spent the afternoon chilling with the dogs. It was great, by August, to get away from everything again and to be outside for a while and away from the city. I really needed it.
  • Spent a lot time moving between my bed and the couch with super low energy because my depression came back—yay!
  • Had trouble sleeping and when I did I’d get weird dreams or nightmares because my anxiety was higher than normal—woo!
  • Tried to work through trauma and it’s not going perfect, but it’s a process (or so I’ve heard).
  • Made a floral bouquet inspired by Midsommar to brighten up my bedroom.
  • Rearranged my bedroom in the middle of the night for, like, three hours and still can’t decide if it works or not, but at least it’s different.
  • Bonded with my codependent cats even further because now they expect me to be home all the time.
  • Ate out at a restaurant twice; it was Pinocchio’s both times—they’re amazing.
  • Hung out with a bit of my extended family at a park, and it made me miss my hometown something fierce—crazy to think I spent an entire month there last summer and I’ve only been once this year.
  • Celebrated my sister’s seventeenth birthday in rather subdued fashion with Nothing Bundt Cake and takeaway sushi. (I’ve learned to trust takeaway sushi).
  • Had a lot of conversations with my sister about random stuff. She finally watched Avatar: The Last Airbender.
  • Had a lot of conversations with my friends about random stuff, and sent memes.
  • Rejoined Tinder, left Bumble, and joined Hinge. Attempting to date during a pandemic sucks.
  • Increasingly wore my hair in what I call an “Amidala” bun.
  • Joined TikTok and my serotonin increased by 40%.
  • Figured that since I’m wearing a mask when I’m in public I should figure out how to do fancy eye makeup again; I’m still experimenting.
  • Listened to Taylor Swift’s folklore on repeat through July and August.
  • Started writing a new book that had been building in my head since May but it stalled after two days; I don’t think I’m emotionally or mentally ready to write this book, if I ever will be.
  • Came up with fourteen different story/novel ideas—started none of them (yet).
  • Sold my Jeep and got a new car that was made this millennium (RIP Kiki).
  • Felt lonely.
  • Chatted with my family in New Zealand multiple times.
  • Told myself I should workout more (or any).
  • Told myself I should go outside because agoraphobia isn’t fun.
  • Told myself, “You’re doing the best you can, and that’ll have to be enough.”
  • Paid attention to Black Lives Matter and the protests in Portland; kept updated on politics just enough not to go insane or spiral.
  • Hoped for a better 2021.

I believe Avenue Beat said it best in their song “F2020”: Put your hands in the motherfuckin’ air / If you kinda hate it here and you wish that things would / Just like chill for like two minutes.


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