Another summer is just about in the books for me. (If you're new to the site and wondering why I'm doing a summer wrapup so soon...well, I work in academia and thus operate on an academic calendar, so with public schools starting tomorrow, my summer ends tonight, no matter what the calendar on the wall says.) Last year at this time, I noted that the summer of '03 was the best one on record. I'm happy to report that this summer totally blew last summer out of the water.
How so, you ask? It would take a while to count the ways, but it was better in nearly every category. For one thing, I have a best friend again, and that's made all the difference in the world. The rest of my friends are a top-notch group too; there was almost never a lack of stuff to do. I taught more students this year than in any other summer, so money was much less tight than it's been in previous years. I wasn't rolling in it by any means (though the situation improves drastically this week), but I didn't have the cloud of stress hanging over me all the time like before.
I didn't get to take any really exotic trips like Vermont or anything, but the Schlitterbahn weekend was near-perfect and came at just the right time. (Besides, there'll be a few weekend roadtrips to out-of-town concerts during the year.) I got to see pretty much every cool new movie that came out, usually within a week of opening night, and go to Six Flags again for the first time in several years. I've made it to several Rangers games, with more to come. The weather was generally great (only one 100-degree day so far, and it was the day I was in Indiana). I got to recharge my batteries quite a bit for the long school year ahead, and there were a few times when I was just plain lazy. I also rarely wore shoes (yay), and when I did, it was usually just my trusty leather flip-flops. In other words, all the good stuff of summer pretty much happened in droves this year.
It's also been a great summer for music. Besides recommitting myself to daily practice, I also had some cool gigs, enjoyed the smoothest-running Jazz Camp ever and have a new jazz combo in the works. My challenge--and I know I'm up to it--is to keep my personal playing from seeming like work even when things get mondo-busy (my "musical workout buddy" Halfling will find this same challenge as he hits UNT at the end of the week). But I've seen the results of hard work in my faculty colleagues at camp, and I know I can get to where they are if I keep my nose to the proverbial grindstone.
So my favorite time of year comes to a close in mere minutes now. Thanks to all those who helped make it great, and to the One in whom all things are possible. This one will be burned in my memory forever. Here's to a new set of challenges that start in the morning...