Chaos, Calm, and Crunch: The Three Levels of Summer

There are three beats to our summer.

There are periods of time when we’re packing for traveling, traveling, and cleaning up after the travel. Or we have guests, who need clean sheets and a sanitized bathroom. The last two weeks have been chaotic with travel, work, and a long visit from Steve’s folks.

Now, we’re in a calm period. My guests left this morning, and I have a fridge full of leftovers; I don’t have to cook for three days. My work obligations are reasonable in scope; two days of research and no writing. I can even get time to get back to my book shop/side hustle.

My kid responsibilities are minor. Ian only has two appointments this week, and the rest of the time, he’s playing hours and hours of video games, and I have decided to not feeling guilty about it all. We have some vague plans for the last two weekends of the summer – maybe the beach, maybe camping. We’re treasuring this momentary calm, because around the corner is crunch time.

In two weeks, Steve has a big deadline for work. I’ll be busy, too. All the best articles of the year will be published at the end of summer, which usually triggers in me a mad fury of jealous writing. I’m chomping at the bit to have several uninterrupted days of work to develop two embryotic writing projects. Ian starts his school after Labor Day, so I should have a normal workday then. This is crunch time.

I suppose there are some people who like to pick a lane – chaos, calm, or crunch – but I love having it all. I appreciate today’s calm after three weeks of chaos. And I’m looking forward to the work crunch on the horizon.

The rest of year doesn’t really seem to have these distinct phases — each day is a mix of routine and work — but our summers are somehow different with more concentrated, more refined chaos and calm. Fall has its own awesomeness with the smell of fall leaves, outdoor beer festivals, and backyard fire pits, so that will be good, too.

How are things in your house right now? Calm, chaos, or crunch?

Picture: A leisurely bunch with Steve’s folks this weekend.

23 thoughts on “Chaos, Calm, and Crunch: The Three Levels of Summer

  1. Everybody is back in school now! So that’s where we are.

    Something I try to remember is not to book anything for the last week or two of summer, because that slot fills up very quickly with school meetings, haircuts, and shoe shopping.


  2. We just dropped of younger kiddo and said farewell two hours ago. So crunch and chaos? followed soon by physical calm but mental chaos?

    We are still in college town because we wanted travel to be simpler and wanted to be there for any last minute requests (which we probably won’t get).


      1. Yes, when my daughter left I cried for three weeks. When my son left, I didn’t, but when she left I was suddenly alone and missed both. It gets better.

        I wanted them to go and live and not be held back because of me, but it was so hard.


      2. I have to admit total jealousy. We’ll never be empty nesters. And right now, all four of us are in one house all the time. Steve’s office is under construction, so he only goes in once a week. Ian has nothing to do until school starts up in two weeks. Jonah goes to the public library to do his job searches, so he can get away from everyone.

        A little job gossip. So, Jonah is applying to jobs online. He’s been doing it full time for a couple of weeks with only one interview. At first he was picky, but now he’s just applying for anything. Indeed gives the statistics. He’s one of 700-1000 applying for one job. Restaurants aren’t hiring new people right now, so he can’t even get a temporary job. Crazy.


      3. yes, mental chaos because of the empty nest that I entirely do not understand yet.

        Good to hear from people like Tulip — I’m not crying yet, and I don’t know if I will but life is really changing.

        I also wasn’t too affected by dropping off elder because younger was still there. But this feels huge.


      4. Laura, I apologize for the unsolicited advice. Applying for jobs online is brutal. Our older kids found that having computer skills really, really helped to get that first job. Computer skills doesn’t need to mean a degree in computer science! But concrete things such as being able to use a spreadsheet, some knowledge of web tools, a facility with data entry, can get a foot in the door. If his resume doesn’t list such talents, maybe it should, just to get the key words available for the filtering algorithms.

        If he has any facility for coding, there are online coding bootcamps that make a difference.


      5. He does have the basic skills with spreadsheets and all. Not sure if it’s on his resume. Will check. And yes, if the recession continues and jobs suck, he’s going to take computer classes at the community college. Recessions are a good time to get new credentials or practical skills.

        Thank you!


      6. Having read many of your essays, I understand your trust in the community college system. However, competent computer instructors can be difficult for any college to afford.

        There are free resources available online that he can use, if only to break up the tedium of sending out his resumé. For example, there is Google’s Digital Garage:

        Indeed has put together a list of free resources:


    1. Imagine that brain space that wonders where they are, when they’re coming home, what they’re eating will eventual stop humming and I’ll be good, as long as they’re doing good.

      Got a text this afternoon, “It is literally 400 degrees”. Kiddos are good with wet, damp and rainy, but not when the temp goes about 75 with clear skies. Expect to continue to get updates on melting until the weather cools down. Mind you there are lots of outdoor activities and kiddo is not used to using the air conditioned spaces to cool down (there are a few in the dorm).m


  3. If he is at all interested in data science, Jonah can also try Kaggle. The contests provide projects and singles can win in their own categories. employers like applicants that go beyond class assignments.


    1. I’ve been looking to update my analysis tools and wonder if Kaggle will get me some of what I want.

      I totally want to be able to play with available datasets (mostly for my own amusement). I used to play with my own data sets with Matlab (which consisted of neural responses under different conditions). I’d enjoy playing with the many available datasets that exist now, but excel, which is all I really have, is a tedious tool.


  4. Following on the job search. Older plans to work before deciding on grad school.

    Sorry to hear that restaurants aren’t hiring because they all seem understaffed. I guess they can’t count on the future and the inflation is hitting them hard. I saw an article saying that coffee shops aren’t facing the same constraint.


    1. Jonah specializes in fancy places, but he’s going to hit up a taco place today because he’s desperate.

      Part of Jonah’s problem is that he’s short a couple of classes for his BA. Neither fish nor fowl. Restaurants might not want to hire him becuase he’ll be out the door soon, but he doesn’t officially have the BA yet, so he’s getting filtered out of good jobs. Maybe. But I’m starting to head stories from others about having trouble finding work. Somebody told me that 40% of all job offers were rescinded last month.


      1. I recommend refraining from trying to explain why any particular employer doesn’t respond to his application. Certainly, it would help for him to finish his BA, as that’s likely to be a filter used by HR departments and hiring managers. However, right now, its lack cannot be instantly remedied. And if employers are receiving hundreds of applications for single openings, the vast majority of applicants will be out of luck.

        Around here, restaurants seem to be doing well, but they’re cutting down hours of operation or turning off takeout ordering when they get overwhelmed. The restaurants most likely to have survived the pandemic are probably more risk-averse when it comes to adding staff.

        You’ll want to kick me for this recommendation, but volunteering for a local organization can help him to make contacts with other people. The first job is important, but any job is a start.

        Some jobs can start a career, too. Relatives started their teaching careers working as substitutes. For that, of course, I assume he would need a completed BA.


  5. Agree with cranberry. Better to remind him that he only needs one offer. Anything else may push anxiety, which isn’t needed.


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