The Slow-Cooked Sentence

Five things to finish this summer

Rachael Conlin Levy

I like fresh starts, mornings when I wake before anyone else, and first sentences in books. I like hilltops and horizons. I like the potential contained inside the sunflower seed I poke into the soil. I like baby bumps, the first day of school, the first day of the year, the first lost tooth. I like beginnings.



I’m not so good with endings, just ask my children how many times the tooth fairy forgot to deliver. Except on hikes where I happily wag the tail, I rarely make it to the finish line. I’ve got a bag stuffed with granny squares crocheted for an afghan I was dreaming of circa 2008. I’ve got fifty thousand words written in November 2009 when I participated in National Novel Writing Month, and twenty-nine drafts moldering on this blog. I’ve got pajama seams that split and jeans that ripped and moth-chewed sweaters waiting for repair. In a kitchen cupboard sits ten pounds of barley flour purchased last year when I decided to master the art of sourdough bread making. Unopened barley flour. And shall I mention the Levis in incremental sizes stashed under the bed waiting for a slimmer me? Oh, I could go on and on and on, which only underlines my point, don’t you think?

But this time I’m choosing not just the start, but the finish, too. It reminds me of newspaper reporting when I didn’t have a choice but to deliver the story or get dinged, demoted or dumped for not making the deadline. Thinking, perhaps, that I secretly desire duress, I launch myself into my summer projects with sadomasochistic spirit: The bookends of summer — Memorial Day and Labor Day — are my starting and my stopping points. But when I worked in newspapers, I also had editorial support and a system to work within, and so I’ve recreated those things, too. I’ve got accountability. I’ve got a code for marking my todo list. I’ve got inspiration.

Now, all I need is to finish.

  1. Complete a short story.
  2. Run a 5K with one of my kids.
  3. Paint the front of my writing desk.
  4. Sew my sashiko stitchery into a wall hanging.
  5. Rip out roots and repair the rock wall in the front yard.

5 responses to “Five things to finish this summer”

  1. Christina says:

    Ah, you should see all the hopeful starts and unfinished projects I have packed up to take with us to our new house, wherever that may be…how tempting it was to ditch them all and start fresh! I guess I have to bestir myself to think of them not as boxes of Guilt but rather as boxes of Potential.

  2. Ending and I are not on the best of terms. I get it. Such prioritization is a big help and your 5 look totally doable. You’ll knock these items out, no problem.

  3. Andrea says:

    Ah, alas, me too. Buying yarn and fabric is so much more fun than actually finishing whatever you bought it for. Ditto daydreaming a story or a project. So much possibility at the start…so much pressure at the end. So, good for you for planning to finish…it looks like a good, well-rounded list, not too long (also, list-making is something I do…not so much on the crossing-off!!).

  4. Linda says:

    Your list of five is great and achievable. I hope you have fun with each of them and use your creativity in the process. When I see you in Aug., I’d be glad to help with some of the sewing stuff. Missing you and loving you always,

  5. […] Summer rushes in like river and I’m swept away from routines and rhythms. This new current carries me, my kids, the garden, late nights and sleepy mornings, county fairs, camp outs, juice popsicles and grilled hotdogs to a distant shore, far removed from this blog. But I returned to report on my progress on the Five Things to Finish this Summer: […]

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