The Reality vs. Fantasy of My Summer

You know that scene in (500) Days of Summer where Tom’s fantasy of how his night will go plays alongside the reality of what actually happens? In case you haven’t seen it (and shame on you), let me give you a brief summary: Boy knows he will be seeing old girlfriend at a party that night and imagines how he will woo her back, make her laugh, and how they’ll fall into a passionate embrace at the end of the night. And then there’s reality, where exactly none of those things happen. It’s the same scene any teenager or early 20-something  or any single person with even a smidge of imagination has played out in their heads before the fantasy comes crashing down around them and they’re left (alone) with reality.

Oh harsh, harsh reality. Why you gotta be so cruel?

This is a fairly accurate description of how I’ve felt waking up every morning so far this summer, with my yet-to-be-written-thesis playing the role of old flame who I’ve already planned my wedding to, despite the fact that we haven’t seen each other in months and maybe we never had anything substantial to begin with. I think about all the things I told myself I was going to accomplish, and then think about all the things that have actually been accomplished, which so far consists of cleaning my bathroom and paying my parking ticket. Oh but surely you must do more than you realize, you might say. Unfortunately, you are wrong. Please see below for a day-in-the-life of an MFA student stuck in the limbo between their first & second years.
Fantasy: 7:00 am: Rise early so as not to waste any part of the day. Brew a pot of strong coffee and write for at least an hour.
Reality: 9:00 am: Wake to my alarm (or my kitten stepping on my face, whichever comes first), remember I don’t own a coffee maker, hit snooze and sleep for two more hours.

Fantasy: 8:45 am: After a successful writing session, pick up Ulysses and try to conquer somewhere around 50-100 pages, with the goal of finishing by the end of the summer.
Reality: 11 am: Roll out of bed. Look at the copy of Ulysses sitting on my table, weigh it in one hand and put it back down, with the goal of definitely starting it tomorrow.

Fantasy: 10:30 am: After the thrill of reading Joyce, sort back through poems from the past year, successfully revise 2-3.
Reality: 12 pm: Count the number of hours until I have to be at work that night. Decide it’s time for lunch.

Fantasy: 12 pm: While eating a healthy & fresh salad for lunch, review Latin vocabulary and verb charts from high school with the goal of translating a Catullus poem from that book I bought at Powell’s in November.
Reality: 1 pm: After an impromptu nap on the couch, decide it’s actually time for lunch. Look at my empty cabinets and finally decide nachos are probably easiest.

Fantasy: 1:30 pm: Pick a thesis book from my list of 15 to read. Take notes, think deeply and productively about the overall theme of the collection.
Reality: 1:30 pm: Feel sick after the nachos. Take another nap.

Fantasy: 3 pm: Go on a 4-mile run, with the goal of placing in Bloomsday next year.
Reality: 3 pm: Wake from nap, flip through whichever poetry collection is closest at hand, stare at the ceiling with the goal that inspiration will eventually strike.

Fantasy: 4 pm: Take a shower, then break out the French flashcards, with the goal of becoming fluent enough to apply for a Fulbright at some point in the near future.
Reality: 4 pm: Take a shower, then put videos of Henri on in the background while I browse Facebook, with the goal of becoming fluent through the process of osmosis.

Fantasy: 5:30 pm: Cook a complicated and delicious dinner, with the goal of improving my culinary skills.
Reality: 5:30 pm: Grab an apple and a Tupperware container of Lucky Charms, with the goal of not being late to work.

Fantasy: 7:30 pm: After finishing dinner, take a leisurely stroll around the neighborhood.
Reality: 6:00 pm: Serve ice cream to parents & their screaming children, whose favorite activities include running in and out of the door—setting off the alarm each time—and wiping their dirty hands on every glass surface in the store.

Fantasy: 8:30 pm: Read the latest issue of the New Yorker. Write a response to the editors about each article, pointing out the flaws in the argument and/or important considerations the writer left out.
Reality: 8:30 pm: Think about how much more productive I would be if I was only at home instead of at work. Resist the urge to spit in a customer’s smoothie.

Fantasy: 10:30 pm: Get to bed early, for a full 8 hours of sleep.
Reality: 11:30 pm: Return home from work. Think about showering, sit on the couch instead. Gather notebook and several poetry collections around me. Watch 3 episodes of The Hills instead. Go on Facebook. Go to bed at 2:30 am.

[Repeat cycle endlessly. Occasionally write Bark post. Deny all of this if Chris Howell should ever bring it up.]


  • Cathie Smathie says:

    Haha this hits so close to home I don’t know if I should laugh or silently weep.
    We should meet and write together on a strict schedule.

    ps I hate 500daysofsummerfuckthatmovie

    • Fitz says:

      Dude, yes please. Just name a time & place. However, I don’t know that I can condone your judgment of 500 Days of Summer..

  • Laura Citino Laura C. says:

    So true. I haven’t written a single new word of anything creative — possibly because I just made myself read “The Waves” (which is my “Ulysses”) and now I am too exhausted to even contemplate the creative process.

    I am forced to love 500 Days of Summer because of the elevator scene where Zooey Deschanel sings The Smiths — I spent all 4 years of high school and most of college (fine, all of it, and the year after too) wishing that would happen to me. Joseph Gordon Levitt is my spirit animal.

  • Shannon says:

    Forget poetry. Write a comedic memoir instead. Also, you took 500 Days of Summer with you when you moved across the country and I’ve yet to see it. This must be remedied.

    • Casey says:

      What! I didn’t realize you’d never seen it. We’ll watch it when you get here. And maybe I’ll write a series of comedic poems and publish them as a memoir. Hmmmm…

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