Amelia Mendes headshot new

It’s day two after finals. You find yourself sitting on the sofa, in your pajamas, eating makeshift s’mores you just heated in the microwave. It’s official. You have fallen victim to the temptations of the “Summer Slump.” So, here are a few tips and tricks to make your summer fun and create your own Margaritaville without breaking the bank.

Step 1: Self-care: Take stock of your raw existence head to toe.

Let’s start with your hair. Has it taken the semi-permanent shape of the sweaty baseball cap you wore through weeks of cramming for finals while justifying not washing what’s left of your precious locks? Do you even remember its original color? It may be time to seek professional help, or at least a new regiment including a fresh, apple-scented shampoo and conditioner.

Now that you’ve ignored your face for long enough, it’s time to scrub the trauma of the pandemic off your skin and out of your pores. Invest in a pack of teeth whitening strips and welcome back your pearly whites. Get your fifteen minutes of sun every day and perfect the precious art of tanning by attempting to acquire a sun-kissed glow, not the crispy finish of a piece of Bojangles chicken. 

As your inventory travels from the neck down, be kind to yourself. You just survived a pandemic, of course you had to resort to comfort food and might have packed on a few pounds. If you do want to take advantage of the summer to try and shed them off, Carmichael Gym is open and ready to help Pump YOU Up

But a quick fix definitely includes spicing up your wardrobe. Have your sneakers taken on a life of their own or do they still pass the smell test? Did someone compliment you on a shirt that was never actually tie-dyed? Head to Marshalls, or any of the few remaining clothing stores — I miss you, Stein Mart 💔 — and get yourself some new threads. 

Want to take this reinvention of yourself to a new level? Bestow yourself with a new nickname for your post-pandemic persona. If you’re at a loss for ideas, here are some suggestions: Moondoggie, DeDe, Goldie, Chip, Kip, Birdie.

Once you’ve restored your public image, move on to your environment, in particular your four-wheeled friend. There’s nothing scarier than knowing there were french fries under the car seat, except looking down there and seeing they’ve disappeared. This is your sign. It’s time to clean the car. 

Step 2: Passion Projects: Doing things “just because.”

We all have little fantasies of projects we say we’ll get around to once we “finally have some free time.” If you’re taking the time to read this right now, congratulations, you have free time. I emphasize the word “free,” as in free yourself. Don’t take this time to be “productive.” You just completed a year of school amidst a plague; trust me, you’ve been plenty productive. Let your creativity run wild as you walk through Hobby Lobby with purpose. Whether it’s the call of gently tapping the pedal of a pottery wheel, creating your own silk screen t-shirts, playing with your grandad’s telescope or assembling the intricate pieces of a model airplane, know that if you want to do something, that’s reason enough. 

Think outside the box and don’t be afraid to go for something a little bigger. You know that Rolling Stones cover band you always joked about forming with your friends? It’s time to start it up (pun intended) and maybe even play a local gig or two. 

Read recreationally. Personally, my latest literary obsession has been Caroline Kepnes’ “YOU” series with the controversial, overly attractive serial killer. Put down Hemingway and Faulkner and treat yourself to some guilty pleasure reads you’ve been too embarrassed to buy at Mr. Mike’s Used Books — I highly recommend Linda Howard, Jackie Collins and the great Candace Bushnell. Scare yourself silly with the latest Stephen King or pick up a book on paranormal activity and consider yourself a Ghostbuster. You ain’t ‘fraid of no ghost. 

Step 3: Get out of the house: Happiness is spending time with friends.

Assuming you have joined the ranks of those who have been vaccinated and are now ready to roam free, it’s time to be joyfully reunited with your peeps. Reinstate movie night. Try out new recipes for a potluck dinner. Hit a club. Form a bowling league. Mine is called the Ball Busters and we’re scheduled to play against the Alley Cats next week. And if your friends can’t make time to hang out, go annoy them at work. If they work at a coffee house, visit them, look them dead in the eyes and order a low-fat white chocolate mocha with 2% milk, 2 extra pumps of sugar, steamed, with just a dash of cinnamon, shaken, not stirred… and a birthday cake pop. If they work at a Barnes and Noble, ask for their help and loudly inquire as to why they sell Playboy and not Playgirl, then request to speak to their manager to address this sexist injustice. 

Don’t be afraid to try new things either. For example, a law student friend of mine recommended I join her for one of her case studies in divorce court. I swear, divorce court was more addicting than any soap on the CW. By couple three I was hooked, and I’m considering sitting in on a few cases again this week and seeing if I can sneak in some snacks so I don’t have to bum another granola bar from the bailiff. Anyway, don’t be afraid to be a little adventurous. 

All in all, enjoy your 90 days of summer. Recharge your batteries, reconnect with friends and celebrate the beginning of life as we knew it.

Sincerely,

Cookie Mendes