Earlier this summer, I had a conversation with my sister and her friends, who are teachers. They were sharing their enthusiasm for summer — their annual season of freedom from work. Somewhere between the cackles of laughter and anticipation of their upcoming Jamaican vacation, I drifted off.
Where is my freedom from insights and strategies, ideas and innovation? Each year planning season gets more intense, as more clients embrace contextual planning. Good for business, but bad for what used to be called my personal life during planning season, which happens to fall in the summer.
While my sister dreams of white, sandy beaches and a liquor dispenser in her hotel room (what will they think of next?), I am lucky to catch 90 minutes of sleep on my commute between Atlanta and New York. So when I was asked to write this article about “summer,” I was stumped — for weeks. How could I write about something I can’t even imagine? But when I recalled the warmth and freedom of summers past, a calm came over me.
Let’s imagine that I did take a break this summer. What exactly would I do?
>>Upgrade my cable television DVR to a TiVo. What I loved most about my DVR was that it was turnkey, with the cable provider activating it with a flip of a switch. But now that TiVo has the capability of being programmed remotely, it’s worth the hassle of purchasing and setting up.
>>Watch the season finales I recorded but never viewed. What good is a DVR if you don’t have the time to watch what you recorded? I’d also like to watch the new shows I missed at the upfronts. Fortunately, our branded entertainment department, Connective Tissue, compiled summaries and opinions about each of the new shows. I did have the time to read that.
>>Go to the mall. In my time-challenged world, the hundreds of catalogs that flood my mailbox — Nordstrom, Bloomingdales, Neiman Marcus — have become my personal virtual mall. It’s an effective substitute, but I yearn for a mindless day at an actual mall.
>>Hang out at Emperor’s Roe Champagne and Caviar Bar. A champagne and caviar bar in Harlem, NYC, the new cultural mixing bowl. What’s next? A billboard without one basketball, urban streetwear, or Ebonics reference? Boy, am I waiting for that day.
>>Upgrade my iPod shuffle to a nano. It’s not that I’m a technology laggard. I just refuse to jump on the marketing hype behind every new innovation, preferring to wait and see how “the new” can really fit into my world.
>>Go to Wal-Mart. Some of my urbane friends find it hard to believe that shopping at Wal-Mart is a guilty pleasure for people with time to kill. For me, Wal-Mart is a dose of normalcy in my chaotic world.
>>Watch “The Sopranos” on HBO on Demand. I cancelled HBO after “Sex and the City” ended and “The Sopranos” went on hiatus. Now there are just too many viewing options — “The Family Guy” on Fox and soon “Girlfriends” on the CW — vying for my attention during the same timeslot.
>>Update my MySpace page. The 26-year-old hipster who works with me has announced that she will soon be shutting down her MySpace page. “It’s over,” she said. But I’m still a frequent user of the social networking site. I like that it makes random connections possible, and I like the Prince and Public Enemy videos that currently greet my visitors. So stop by before this “aging hipster” moves on, too: myspace.com/bkaspecialk.
>>Watch every episode of USA’s “The 4400” in real time. Yet another conflict with “The Sopranos.” I’ve been hooked since Season One, catching repeats on Sunday night at midnight while getting ready for another workweek.
>>Read my BlackBerry instructions. I never imagined I would be a BlackBerry girl. Who wants to be expected to respond to e-mails on the weekend and in the wee hours? Oh, I do that anyway. My BlackBerry actually does make life easier. I can only imagine what it could do if I knew all of its features.
Okay, so maybe my summer plans aren’t as exciting as partying in Ocho Rios. But I look forward to carving out a few minutes of summer for my summer fun list. Here’s hoping that at some point before Labor Day, you will find me in the aisle of the Fayetteville, Georgia Wal-Mart, squeezing the Charmin.
Kendra Hatcher is vice president, group director, at MediaVest. (Kendra.Hatcher@Mediavestww.com)