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Is it possible that this summer might actually feel a bit more "normal" than last year?


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Define "normal," as I am confident we are not returning to normal, but instead are transitioning to a new normal.


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Fine. I just meant in comparison to last summer when I was hoarding toilet paper, fully stocking my pantry and freezer, and constantly wiping down seemingly every surface in my house.


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I guess you could call it "the summer of survival" since we were not prepared for the pandemic, especially not the lockdowns.


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Exactly! Which means that this summer will be more like a pre-pandemic summer in that we'll have more freedom, especially for those of us that are vaccinated. And it feels great.


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I agree, but at the risk of sounding like a pessimist, we have to be careful not to lapse into a state of complacency. Yes, we are more protected if we are vaccinated, but not everyone is getting vaccinated. And, fewer and fewer people are wearing masks.


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I know that. I'm not hiding from reality; I just want to be able to enjoy the "mindset" of summer. As in the lazy days of summer. Now, I don't mean that literally, of course. It's just when things just seem to "ease up" a little, days are longer so you feel like you have more time. You know, summer.


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No, I do not know. For me, summer only means it is hotter outside, and it stays lighter longer.


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Seriously? Summer for you is strictly related to temperature and daylight?


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Correct. I do not have kids, so it is not like I have to adjust for them being on summer break. I do not work in an office where I have to plan for people to be away on summer vacations. I live alone and am a workaholic that works from home.


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I find it very hard to believe that last summer, at the height of the pandemic, it didn't feel any different for you than any other summer.


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That is not what I said. I said that for me, summer, regardless of the year, is the same as any other season. Unless you take into consideration what fruit and flowers Whole Foods has since those are seasonal.


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This is when I want to say that you really need to get a life, but I do understand what you're saying. But tell me, did summer ever mean anything to you?


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How far back are you asking?


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As far as you want to go.


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As a child, summer meant no school, hanging out in the neighborhood, and since my favorite television shows were all reruns, almost every night the boys from the surrounding houses and I would have watermelon seed spitting contests.


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If nothing else, that would explain a lot about your competitiveness. Well, my most vivid summer memories are of when the girls were little, and I had to go into big-time "camp counselor" and "chauffeur" mode during the summer. It's funny, it was exhausting at the time, but now they're priceless memories. And bittersweet since Natasha's no longer living at home and Sawyer's driving herself.


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Not to mention, she goes off to college at the end of the summer.


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Thanks for the reminder, but I'm trying not to think about that. I just want to fully enjoy this summer. Of course, safely, but still, I want that more carefree feeling of summer.


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Interesting concept, being carefully carefree. However, you do bring up an interesting side effect of the pandemic. It has allowed many people to experience, or re-experience, the "simple pleasures" of life. To stop and reflect on priorities and begin to make some changes about where to focus their time and energy.


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Yes, simple things like being able to escape the summer heat by going to re-opened movie theaters. There's something about needing a sweater when it's 100+ degrees outside that just screams "summer."


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Well, that sounds like it is related to temperature, which is how I think of summer. Anyway, I went a year without seeing friends and only recently have started going out to eat again. For the most part, we have been dining outside, but Houston's summer heat and humidity will change that to dining inside with social distancing.


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Yes! And that's what I meant when I said that I hoped this summer might actually feel a bit more "normal". And that's mere mortal "normal", not your "normal".


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In other words, you want a summer rerun of years gone by. FYI, I will admit that every summer I think it would be fun, although totally unacceptable, to spit watermelon seeds off my high-rise balcony.


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Oh, that I want to see!

Want to read other columns? Here's a list.
Photo by enviromantic for iStock


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I know I shouldn’t say this, but I can’t stand N95 masks! They make me feel like a duck.


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That quacks me up. Regardless, they are much more effective than cloth masks. And, FYI, they do come in different shapes.


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I just wish they were more comfortable.
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Photo by bhofack2 for iStock

Popcorn. Just the thought of popcorn makes me smile, makes me want to indulge, makes me happy. And I’m guessing my popcorn obsession makes Black roll her eyes (although she might admit it can be a healthy snack). However, plenty of people must love popcorn as much as I do. Why else would there be a National Popcorn Day?!

Over the past few years, the pandemic posed challenges that none of us could’ve foreseen (and I’ll never forget the dedication of the front-line workers or make light of the sacrifices so many had to make). But part of me has to laugh at the irony because it ended my seemingly easy “escape” from the stresses of life – going to the movies and enjoying the largest bucket of popcorn – when I needed it the most.

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Design by Sawyer Pennington, Underlying photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash


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Well, it’s our first column of the year. A new beginning. Any “new” ideas for topics? Something other than New Year’s resolutions.


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Is there a reason you do not want to talk about resolutions?


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Obviously, yours was not to ask fewer questions.


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That will never happen, but you are avoiding the question. Why?


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Because every year, I have a long list of things I want to do, and I start strong, but within a few months, I fall back into old habits. Sometimes it only takes weeks. It’s frustrating and disappointing.


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Next question. What is the opposite of “old?"
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