The week before finals my first semester of freshman year, the dining hall right next to my dorm made a major and marvelous change: every table was covered with gigantic sheets of paper and adorned with Crayola crayons. It was great because most (if not all) of us hadn’t colored at the table since we were ordering off the kids menu, and for a few minutes, we could take our minds off finals and scribble next to our plates.
You see, Bolton was on to something – finals, obviously, is the most stressful time of the semester because it kills students’ brains. And coloring is brainless – that’s part of why it’s so empowering. Even though some people say that coloring books kill creativity, they’re great for therapy because you don’t have to make any decisions grander that what color crayon you’re going to use next. You don’t even have to follow the rules. Your parents didn’t care when you didn’t color inside the lines, did they? No, because they wanted you to be happy, so they hung your masterpieces on the fridge or even framed them regardless of whether you filled the lines in neatly or scribbled all over the page. And that made you really happy.
Coloring is therapeutic for me because I can feel myself pushing my problems out through the colored pencils. For 15 minutes, I can cast whatever I’m worrying about (so, you know, everything) away and just focus on getting a job done, and nobody is going to assess my performance because well, criticizing how somebody filled out a coloring book is kind of ridiculous. Maybe you’re super anti-coloring book and hating everything I just typed, but you know, coloring works for me. It really does.
So, what did I think when I came across a Lisa Frank coloring book that’s selling for a dollar last night?
LISA FRANK. MY CHILDHOOD AND THE DOLPHIN STATIONERY I LOVED.
I can’t believe Urban Outfitters isn’t selling this same book for $15 yet.
Okay, but really, this is the only coloring book in the whole dollar section, and I think I’m supposed to take it home with me and use it.
I didn’t even flip through it until after I got home, and do you know what I found? Leopards. Puppies on a giant heart in a checkerboard dimension. Angel kittens in angel kitten heaven.
And then I saw it: a cow and her baby. This was the first page I was going to color, and it was going to make me feel better.
And you know what? It actually did.
I am a woman of lists: lists of what to eat, what to do, how to behave, and even what I should think about. I know I’ve mentioned this before. My summer starts in six days. Because I am a girl, I’ve started dreaming up tons of expectations for my summer. I do it every year, just like everybody else. I don’t want to call it a bucket list. That name just seems a little ominous, especially with what’s going on in the news right now (you know, the bucket list baby that died today?). Besides, this isn’t a list that I want to cross out before I die; it’s more short-term. I mean, sure, I can do these things some other time, but I’d really like to do them this summer. This summer is important to me. I’ll be in Europe for six weeks. It’s going to be crucial to my development. This list needs to be lighthearted, not heavy like a bucket. Beach pails are pretty light. Plus they’re brightly colored and obviously marketed for summer vacations. That works. This will be a beach pail list. I’ll keep my beach pail list relatively short because I don’t want to bore you all to death and I really should be studying or eating or writing my feature story or something. 1) Go stargazing. I have wanted to go stargazing for years. Well, I kind of did it once, but that was almost six years ago. I’d like to go again. I think it would be good poetry material. I just need to figure out the best way to defend myself against mosquitoes first, because those bitches (only the female ones want your blood) love me. This brings me to my next item on the list…. 2) Figure out some way to get mosquitoes to stop biting me. I’ve heard that drinking vinegar helps. Actually, can’t you get B-12 shots for that? I’ll do that. It beats getting bitten every time I go outside (I’m already sporting several welts, as a matter of fact). 3) Go to Munich and see my friends. That will be awesome. 4) Try new foods when I’m in Europe. More food equals more chances to get fat! 5) Read a lot. Once I get all those books that have piled up out of the way, I can get some more. 6) Work on my people skills. That is a big one. 7) Unwind a little. 8) Make that classical music pilgrimage to Vienna. 9) Go on an impromptu trip. I think that will be very possible in Europe. 10) Write a good story. Because I’m a little out of practice and really need to.
That’s all I can really think of. My brain just turned to mush, so you guys are lucky. I guess I can always add to this. Now all I want is some prosciutto and a nap.