The Yearbook Office
Writings on staying alive

Ask The Yearbook Office Contributors: What I Learned On My Summer Vacation

It is "back to school" season here at the Yearbook Office, but not before the last gasp of summer escapes us. Still time to go jump in a lake or whatever it is kids do these days! (Minecraft?) Before we go pick out our new lunchboxes and Trapper Keepers to confront the coming school year, we polled our contributors to find what they learned over their summer break.

Elisabeth Geier

A summer salad should have a protein, an herb, and a crunch. Quinoa is an adaptable base. Mix some cooked quinoa with edamame and corn. Forget measurements: make as much as you want. Add some jicama and chopped-up cilantro if that’s your thing. Throw in a handful of cherry tomatoes from the plant you ignored all summer long. Drizzle the whole mess with olive oil and squeeze a lime over the top. Toss until combined and season to taste. It will taste better the second or third day. Adapt the recipe as much as you want. If you don't have edamame, try black beans. If you don't like cilantro, try chervil. If you don’t give a fuck, try a minced jalapeno, but remember not to touch your eyes. Make enough to store. Eat it for weekend lunch or weeknight supper. Eat it in scattered midday forkfuls standing in front of an open fridge. Eat as much as you want. Summer doesn’t mean what it used to, so try to make it last. When the season changes, your tastes will change, too. An autumn salad should have a fruit, a nut, and a cheese. A hearty green is never a bad choice.

Josh A. Cagan

Summer Job: Producer, “The Wil Wheaton Project”

Think about the crappiest thing you’ve seen on TV. A catheter commercial. One of those “Real Housewives” reunions where people sit on expensive couches and yell at each other. Someone selling “Quacker Factory” fashions on QVC with the fervor of a revival preacher.

Think about those things, and then know that it takes a miracle for them to appear on your television. Actually, miracles have nothing to do with it. It takes hordes of fanatically dedicated people essentially moonwalking while juggling chainsaws blindfolded on a treadmill turned up to 11.

That’s what it takes to get crap on your TV. To get not-crap on your TV, it takes those hordes of fanatically dedicated people, with the moon-juggling and the blindfolds and the treadmills, forcing their brains to turn themselves inside-out sixty times an hour. Thinking in every direction, Making something amazing out of nothing. Then, doing it again. And again. And again.

This summer I learned that the people who strive to make TV that is not crap deserve high-fives and frosty adult beverages. To those that I served with, I owe you all of these things.

Amy Spalding

If it's the middle of the night in Manhattan and you've had some beers and you need some sleep, and you're suddenly unsure of the plural form of the word "crab", you should think about being quiet instead of trying out "crabbes", to be pronounced as "crabbizz".

Janice Barlow Collier

The bitter lesson of the summer for everyone? No matter how far we believe we've come from the schoolyard, its prejudices and pitfalls follow us into the streets. Our education is never over.

Gary Butterfield

Summer vacation was all about Back 2 School for me! Like almost everyone I know, I was working a garbage office job where I felt underutilized. It was quickly becoming unbearable so I came up with a three step plan:

Step 1) Quit job. Step 2) Go back to school. Step 3) To be determined.

It's essentially as if I was on fire and paid tens of thousands of dollars in order to live in a lake for a couple of years. At some point, I'll have to swim to shore, prune hands and all, and see if it's still on fire.

But who has time to worry about that in a Summer full of pizza and skateboards! When I wasn't studying in the quad, I was asking my best girl Elisabeth to go steady while holding an ice cream cone in each hand! I've been wearing a toga for three whole months and between skinnin' knees and spellin' bees, I don't even have time to wash it! If those liberal wackos at Frontline are lying, the future couldn't look brighter for the modern college student. Goooooo Mascots!

What I learned this Summer is that it's OK to make a scary, dangerous choice if the alternative is abject misery.

Chad Collier

This summer I learned that my brain is normal.

There was specific reason to have my brain checked, and I did so, with magnets, as is the custom of our time. There were no growths, nor lesions. I am not bleeding anywhere I shouldn’t be, and there is no damage or trauma to my brain. I was not shown anything particularly interesting; I was, in fact, not shown anything at all, so normal was the current physical state of my brain.

I am, of course, pleased at this revelation. It’s the kind of thing you want to hear when your brain is checked magnetically.

It’s impossible to shake the thought, though, that maybe they missed something. Surely all the quirks and deficits I find myself living with are visible somewhere amongst gyri and sulci. Where lies the dyslexia? The stutter I fought down with little help as a child that still rears itself if I’m not careful? Can’t the magnets see my social anxiety or my tendency towards literalism? “Oh,” you would think they’d say. “This explains everything.”

But the magnets just shrug, and tell me my brain is normal.

Nicole Dieker

The truth will set you free.

Brandi Murphy

The convenience store ran out of club soda. My work inbox was blowing up. The swimsuit I brought with me didn't fit right. The sun was obscured with smoke. Wildfires were burning, homes were being evacuated less than two hours’ drive away. Our boat was strewn with ash as another family's worldly possessions fell from the sky. Later, our boat sank and fifteen drunken adults bailed, hauled, and barked orders until she was hitched back up to the truck. It was not what anyone would picture as a dream vacation. But we were safe. We splashed with my nephew in the lake. We were together. Maybe, just maybe, I have not a damn thing to bitch about.