Summer Time Blues or, Why I Haven’t Been Updating My Blog

photo by Jennifer Margulis

photo by Jennifer Margulis

You may have noticed that I haven’t been spending much time around here.

Actually, you haven’t noticed because you’ve stopped visiting since there’s nothing new to read.

I could lie to you and tell you it’s because I’m so busy.

I could point you to the writing I’ve recently published, adding exclamation points for emphasis: A post for Beyond the Bris about how being Jewish helped me decide not to circumcise my son! An essay for The Doula Guide on how to have a positive pregnancy and empowering birth!

I could tell you about the three articles I’ve been working on that are going to press: one on end-of-life issues and dying with grace for the Jefferson Monthly; one on a new ecotourism that is taking Eastern Oregon by storm for Oregon Business Magazine; and one on the inadequate screening of in-home health aides for the AARP.

But the truth is that I’ve been hit by a bad case of the summer time blues. Two of my winter friends, Self-Doubt and Grief, have come for an extended stay. Fuck them both. They are as welcome as rabid bats in the bedroom. I’ve tried shooing them out with a broom. It isn’t working. They seem to have settled in. My friends tell me to exercise. This is good advice, easily given. But Self-Doubt isn’t having it. You run too slowly, SD says, you suck at exercising. So I don’t exercise. And then I feel worse.

This morning at 3:38 a.m. instead of sleeping I wrote a letter to my mom. My mom would be the first person I would call. She would nod her head sympathetically when I told her how much my oldest and I have been fighting, remembering aloud how hard it was between us when I was that age; she would whoop at the news that I am going to be interviewed for an hour about my book on the Jefferson Exchange, a local NPR affiliate, on August 1, and that I’ve been invited to be a featured speaker at the Decatur Festival of the Book on Saturday, August 31; and she would wait impatiently while I told her that I haven’t been writing a new book proposal because I feel like I’ve forgotten how to write and I won’t do a good job. Then she would say, “Don’t be silly, Jenny. Stop indulging yourself and get to work.” I would hang up the phone, turn off the internet, and knuckle down.

Only my mom isn’t here anymore. “Grandma Lynnie died,” Leone says sadly. Three years old, lingering on the word “died.” She likes to talk about me dying, and her dad. First you’ll die, then Daddy, she says one day. First Daddy is going to die, she says another. Then you. I wonder if she is prophetic. If death is around the corner and only my three year old knows it is coming.

These summer time blues started when I opened some of the boxes I shipped to myself from my mom’s house. The smell of her laboratory permeates my office now, a smell so familiar it feels like I am being stabbed in the guts. I double over in pain. “You look tired, Mom,” my 13-year-old says. She doesn’t realize my eyes are red and swollen for another reason.

“Stop being silly, Jenny,” my mother chides me. “I don’t want you to spend one second feeling bad on my account.”

My mother loved what she called a Chinese saying: grandparents die, parents die, then children die. When death happens in that order, it happens as it should.

I’m reading She’s Not Here: A Life in Two Genders by Jennifer Finley Boylan who was once James Boylan, a novelist and professor at Colby. She was so successful as a man, with two young sons, a loving marriage, a good income, a novel that was optioned for movie rights, Richard Russo his best friend. And she was also so dark and secretive and unhappy, feeling like a fraud, feeling like a failure.


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Categories: reflections on life.


  1. michele

    hey ~

    pity parties are okay – for a while. so yes, you can wallow every now and then. and then, you must pick up and put it away. or at least on a shelf. as your mother would want you to. you hear her voice. so listen to it.

    leone may be prophetic but she is definitely being 3. she is trying out language. she is learning about the power of words.

    and – HUGE congrats on your interview! fb when and where! and ALL your other literary invites! whoop whoop!

    breathe. we all love you.


  2. Hugs, Jennifer. I’m of the opinion that we can’t possibly be successful and busy in all areas at once. Right now, you are grieving, and that is work. Your time to write will come again too.

    And FWIW, I find honest posts like this very, very helpful. It’s so easy to read books and articles and think that the writer has it all together. But real writers are plagued with self doubt and fear just as much as anyone. The only difference is that they push through anyway, as I know you will when the time comes.

  3. Kimberly Ford

    Okay. I so hear you. But what you’ve just done is really moving. As one who suffers from summertime blues from time to time, and who feels things deeply, you just made me feel less alone and more alive. So be nice to yourself and do something indulgent and take all of this with a grain of salt and know that people around you love you and your work and all that you do.

    • Jessica, thank you for stopping by and commenting. The comments on almost all of my posts are open and uncensored. The only time I would consider deleting a comment is if it is attacking or contains inappropriate language. But I do sometimes close the comments if a post is very personal. You may have been trying to comment on Vanessa’s birth story. I decided to close those comments because I feel protective of Vanessa and did not want to subject her to reading potentially hurtful comments. Please feel free to visit (and comment on) any of the other blog posts. Glad to have you!
      Jennifer Margulis recently posted…Autism Is My Problem: Report From AutismOneMy Profile

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