Tag: summer vacation

Unmarked Hazards


Heading west, I’m reading The Universe Has Your Back by Gabrielle Bernstein.  “The universe is our classroom, and when we accept our role as the happy learner, life gets really groovy.”  I want to hurl it against the bulkhead.  Then again, she’s come highly recommended by people I respect, and I like this: “Obstacles are detours in the right direction.”

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

Marion Winik
The writer prepares for a book reading in Martha’s Vineyard.

Feeling sorry for yourself now that summer’s almost over? University of Baltimore Professor Marion Winik’s retelling of her less-than-perfect break will have you feeling like maybe your holiday wasn’t so bad after all.

Often the best thing I can say about my attempts to live a decent, productive and meaningful life is thank God no one is watching. But then I think about how, insofar as I have any mission here on earth, it is to lift the spirits of others. And unless you are Bradley Manning or living in Syria, it might give you a little boost to hear how lame my summer was and be glad that whatever other burdens you are laboring under at least you are not Marion Winik.

1. The Breakup(s)

Despite my published proclamations of happy singlehood, the tree of life, via its avatar Facebook, shook me down a boyfriend back in the spring. From a small town in Pennsylvania, with thick-lashed brown eyes and arm muscles of granite, he was a 27-year veteran of unloading rail cars at a paper mill. He painted pictures and wrote song lyrics on the side.

He told me he was bipolar the first day of nonstop texting, so it wasn’t a total shock when he also told me that he was in love with me a couple days later. In fact, I went right along. I like intense. Before long, he was wearing my leather ID bracelet and I his varsity jacket from high school. I became quite attached to his favorite breakfast spot, his giant motorcycle, and his affectionate parrot, to whom he now probably regrets teaching my name.

Robbed in Peru: It Happened to Me on Summer Vacation

Photo by Allard Schmidt, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.
Photo by Allard Schmidt, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

University of Baltimore Asst. Professor Marion Winik has recently returned from her trip to Peru with Roland Park Middle School on an emergency passport, as faithful readers will be unsurprised to hear.


Date: 23 June 2013, Hour: 12:10 PM

In the city of Cusco in the Office of the Tourist Police, the tourist MARION LISA WINIK (55), a U.S. national, single, a teacher, presented herself without personal documents or papers of transit through the city. The aforementioned tourist had suffered the loss of her brown handbag in a cafeteria …



Date: 23 June 2013, Hour: 6:10 AM

In the unheated breakfast room of our hotel, I was writing a journal entry titled “Cranky in Cusco.” Though I’d been having a pretty good time on my educational tour of Peru with 25 seventh graders, their teachers, and some of their parents, Day Six found me in a snit. Hoping to get it out of my system, I wrote at length about the smelly hotel, the boring food, the effects of the endless walking on my arthritic knees. Having broken a fifty-five year ban on organized travel to take this tour with my daughter Jane, I’d begun to remember why I might not like such a trip. I also remembered that I was not all that interested in ruins or the brutish ancient civilizations behind them. Machu Picchu, I admitted, was the best of the bunch. If you like mountain scenery. Which I don’t.

When Jane came down with a group of six girls for breakfast, I suggested we skip the daily rolls and margarine and try our luck elsewhere. A few blocks away, we came upon a fancy pastry shop where I was only slightly surprised to find almost all the other members of our tour group already dining. Things were looking up, I felt. So much so that I pulled out my journal to note the fact. Cafe Valeriana. Good quiche.

Ready or Not, Here Comes Summer

credit: azdailysun.com
credit: azdailysun.com

Ready or not, summer break is right around the corner. While my kids for have been counting down the days left of school for weeks, if not months, I’m a tad more ambivalent about the 12 weeks of summer that lie ahead.

Okay, I’ll be honest. I try to put summer vacation out of my mind until the very last moment, like the first day of summer break. That’s when I wake up and, instead of shuttling everyone off to school before settling down in my quiet, peaceful basement office for a long stretch, breaking only for a quick lunch where I feed just myself, I rise to find my children assuming it’s okay to lounge around all day and wait for me to feed them breakfast, or watch Sports Center for hours on end, or bicker with one another—just because.

This behavior drives me to the breaking point by about day three, whereas my husband, who has off most of the summer, possesses a Zen-like ability to tune out completely the alternate chaos and slovenliness surrounding him. While my husband taps at his computer or reads the paper in apparent peace and solitude, I play the role of drill sergeant. Out of my mouth spews a tirade that, by summer’s end, becomes like a repetitive news feed that goes something like this, in no particular order: You’re old enough to make yourself breakfast. Get out of your pajamas; it’s noon. No electronics before you read something. Stop bickering. Make yourself useful. Do something. Generally, my rant falls on deaf ears.

How I Found Myself at Skateland


Baltimore writer Elizabeth Hazen describes a life-changing summer outing on wheels

It was an early summer idea. Why not roller-skate? My friend Jane had recently taken her five-year-old daughter to a birthday party at Skateland, and her appetite for wheels had been whetted. She tried to articulate her desire to skate, but all she could say was, “It was so much fun. I had so, so much fun. We need to go back.” I was skeptical, but it was June. School was out, the weather was hot, and we all needed something to look forward to.

Greetings from Asbury Park: A Tale of Life after Death


University of Baltimore Asst. Prof. and Bohemian Rhapsody Columnist Marion Winik ventures home again.

New Jersey, our state

All our best is addressed to you!

New Jersey, our state

We’ll keep abreast of the times with you!

Once again we’re here to tell

The many ways that we excel

In New Jersey the state that is great, great, great

In New Jersey, the Garden State.

This is not the state song of New Jersey and I can find no record of it anywhere except my head, where it was downloaded long ago by some elementary school teacher and still comes up on the jukebox rather often.

If New Jersey were actually an armpit, the town where I grew up would appear as a mole just below the axillary hinge, 55 miles south of Manhattan, a mile from the shore. Though we of Parkway Exit 105 breathed fresh salt air rather than the refinery stink the state was infamous for, we looked around our ranch-house mansions of glory and saw what Springsteen saw. It’s a death trap, it’s a suicide rap, we gotta get out while we’re young. Tramps like us, baby we were born to run.

Maybe that should have been the state song.

I haven’t lived in New Jersey since I was 17. While I was holed up in Rhode Island, Texas, and New York City, my sister moved away, our grandparents and parents died, and the house on Dwight Drive where my father carved MARION & NANCY 1960 into the wet cement was sold to people I never met. When I visit, I stay down the street at my best friend Sandye’s mother’s house, which feels both weird and lucky. No matter what the weather I pay my respects to the boardwalk in Asbury Park, which greets me like a sweet old relative who has no idea who I am.

It is too late to fall in love with the place I grew up. So of course I have.