At the beginning of this summer, I created a bucket list full of things to read, watch, eat, do, et cetera over the next few months. I’ve mentioned it quite a few times on this blog but haven’t discussed it in depth until now. Now that school is back in session it seemed like a great time to tell you all about how I spent my summer when not in class!
1. Eat an ice cream cone
Accomplished: Yes, multiple times… (oops!)
CLEARLY the best part of summer. I still haven’t decided whether I like Oreo- or cotton candy-flavored ice cream, though. Maybe I’ll just have to try some again.
2. Watch The BFG
I was super excited for this movie because it’s based on one of my favorite books from childhood, so my roommate Luísa and I went to go see it. It was OK… not the worst book-to-movie adaptation I’ve ever seen, but definitely not the best either. I’m glad we went on a student discount day!
3. Buy some cute clothes
I have a hard time finding tank tops that A) fit me and B) I like, so I was so happy to find a style I liked that I bought four of them. Also, my friend Jill gave me a super swooshy blue dress that she had outgrown, so I now have that too!
4. Go to the farmers’ market
Luísa and I bought some sweet corn and tried to cook it in the microwave – “tried” being the operative word here, because the ears were a little too dry and chewy from being in the microwave for too long. And then we accidentally put way too much salt on them. OH WELL. WE TRIED. #adulting
5. Go to Studio 13
Studio 13 is Iowa City’s gay bar! I meant to go by myself because I don’t drink but a lot of my friends do, regardless of whether or not they’re of legal age to do so, and I didn’t feel like getting pressured into anything. (I was literally just going to get a soda or something and meet people.) Buuuuut I ended up being too tired from my summer classes and the accompanying homework to do much of anything in the evenings.
6. Go to the Johnson County Fair
This was one of the last things Luísa and I did together before she left! We looked at the animals, ate a funnel cake, watched the fireworks, et cetera… it was a really fun night and I’m glad that we decided to go because it was the very last day of the fair!
7. Participate in #ReadProud
I signed up for this challenge with the goal of reading one book a week, or four books total, during the month of June. But – you guessed it – I was too busy with my classes to continue it. After reading sometimes an entire book in a day just to stay on track with my busy schedule, the last thing I wanted to do was read yet MORE books. I did read two of the four books I selected, though – If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo and Gay & Lesbian History for Kids by Jerome Pohlen.
8. Make a summery playlist
Accomplished: Kind of?
I started this, but never finished it. It kind of turned into a much more massive project in which I make a playlist for each season themed around music by and about LGBTQ+ people? So I have a half-finished playlist titled “Summery Gays” on Spotify that I clearly need to finish so I can share the link here!
9. Make art
I had all these cool ideas for art, and then no motivation. TYPICAL. Why am I like this? GET IT TOGETHER, ME.
10. Attend a reading at Prairie Lights
I attended a reading from the memoir Boy Erased by Gerrard Conley, which is about his experience in conversion therapy. I still haven’t gotten around to actually reading his book yet, but I really really want to!
11. Go out for breakfast
When a few of my friends who spent the summer in another town and/or several states away came to visit Iowa City for a few days, we decided to get breakfast together one morning. It felt weirdly adult, not eating at the dining hall or being chaperoned by anyone’s parents or something like that.
12. Explore Hickory Hill Park
AHHH THIS WAS SO MUCH FUN. My friend Merric and I spent a lovely Saturday afternoon hiking, and getting there was half the adventure because we got lost on the way! We took a ton of pictures and talked a lot, too – it was nice to get to know each other more, because we’d only been friends since about halfway through the preceding semester.
13. Have a picnic
The evening before the Pride parade, Iowa City hosted an LGBTQ+ picnic! The food wasn’t that great, but I met some older LGBTQ+ adults and it was neat to talk to them. Also, someone brought a puppy with a rainbow bandanna tied around its neck, which is THE CUTEST THING EVER, CLEARLY.
14. Go swimming
There were SO many mornings when I told myself that I would put on my swimsuit and go for a swim after class that afternoon, but somehow it never ended up happening. Oh well… I’m going to try to exercise more often this semester than I have in the past, so I’ll just have to make sure I get to the pool sometime this fall before it gets too cold! (Because walking back to the dorm with cold, wet hair sucks.)
15. Blow bubbles
Luísa and some of her other friends and I did this at night after watching Aladdin! (See below.) We both had a bunch of bubble stuff and I’m sure people were amused by the antics of the young adults running around the Pentacrest chasing after bubbles at almost midnight.
16. Participate in the Iowa City Public Library adult summer reading program
Unfortunately I can’t seem to find my list of the books I read to complete the program, but I can assure you that I had a lot of fun! Most of the books I read this summer were for school, but the ICPL summer reading program did motivate me to seek out some books just for fun. And I won a free book as a prize, too – Nimona by Noelle Stevenson, which is amazing. YOU SHOULD READ IT.
17. Watch the Iowa City Pride parade
YESSSSSSSSSSS. I went with a bunch of my friends who were still here for the summer and we had a blast. I had my face painted with rainbow hearts and sapphic symbols! I bought a Pride flag! I got a sunburn!
18. Watch a movie on the Pentacrest
Accomplished: Yes, twice!
The evening after the Pride parade, Luísa and I went to a screening of Rent on the Pentacrest, which is this big open grassy area in the middle of campus. Neither of us had seen the movie before! A few weeks later we also watched Aladdin there and consumed a prodigious amount of snacks. As one does.
19. Listen to Alice Isn’t Dead
I really need to listen to this podcast! It’s by the same people who created Welcome to Night Vale (which I have yet to finish) and is about a woman who’s searching for her missing wife. But it’s supposed to have a happy ending? IDK, all I know is that I heard the creators reassured people that it wasn’t going to have yet another Bury Your Gays ending, so I added it to my ever-growing list of STORIES I NEED TO READ/WATCH/LISTEN TO.
20. Watch the fireworks on the 4th of July
Accomplished: Yes – well, close enough
So apparently Iowa City has their fireworks show on the 3rd of July? I’M SO CONFUSED. Anyway, I went to that and took a ton of pictures because I’m trying to get better at nighttime photography.
21. Donate my hair
Accomplished: HECK YES
I donated eight inches to Pantene Beautiful Locks, and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made! I’ve been thinking about cutting my hair for the past few years, but never had the guts to do so before. This summer, though, I decided to chop it all off and see what happened. AHHH I LOVE IT SO MUCH IT’S SO FLOOFY AND AWESOME.
22. Watch Steven Universe
Accomplished: Unfortunately, no
I’ve lost track of the number of people who have told me that I need to watch this show! It’s a super gay children’s cartoon, which is very ME. So I don’t know why I didn’t get around to watching it? Maybe because there are soooo many episodes.
23. Have a sleepover
I ended up being too busy to do this! I talked about doing this with a few friends, but all our plans gradually fell through because either I had something to do all of a sudden, or something came up in their schedules, or whatever.
24. Spend a day reading and writing in a coffeeshop
I went to High Ground, which is a cafe near my dorm. This was part of a mini project in which I scouted out new places to study, since I’d become bored of the (very few) places I studied last school year. I read four (!!!) books, then wrote and scheduled some blog posts in advance while I was there.
So as you can see, I didn’t accomplish everything on my bucket list… and I’m trying to make peace with that. I love making lists and crossing/checking things off as I go, so at times it really bothered me that I wasn’t able to get everything done.
But I’m trying to look on the bright side: I strengthened my friendships with various people because I invited them to accomplish my bucket list goals with me. I explored my surroundings and took advantages of all the fun activities Iowa City offers during the summer. I stayed amused and busy and creative and curious.
All in all, I made some incredible memories this summer. The bucket list motivated me to DO something with my time these past few months. I wanted to make sure that I didn’t stuck in a rut of classes, homework, and more classes and more homework. I gave myself something concrete to do so that I wouldn’t wake up on a day off from school and not know what to do with myself. I’m really proud of what I accomplished this summer, and can’t wait to make a list like this next summer!
P.S. Stay tuned for a follow-up post in which I discuss why and how I was able to do almost everything on my list! I may not have finished everything I set out to do but I’ve made a list of Things To Do each and every summer for the past few years, and it’s not at all uncommon for me to do two, one, or even zero of the activities on those lists! Things were different this time around, so I’d like to go into more detail on that shortly.