Originally uploaded by Julia_h_j

Last night, Wayne Coyne floated past my head in an oversize inflatable balloon. Nothing says summer like a Flaming Lips concert at the Harmony Festival in the middle of Northern California, on a day that hovered right around 80 degrees.

It is the best time of year--that time when cherries are plum and red, when the sun stays out so late that you can walk out into the fields long past dusk, when even on the shittiest of work days you know that by Friday you will have an adventure in your back pocket. Thursday was my last day of work as a graduate student researcher at UC Davis, and after spending about 30 hours that week on my final term paper, I walked off campus with that special kind of glee reserved for the last day of school. I don't care how old I get; this is still the best feeling in the world. That feeling that you have finished what you set out to finish, and hopefully you're smarter for it; and if not, well at least you've produced something that you probably wouldn't get to finish, if it weren't for deadlines and professors.

It helps that I got to spend the weekend with my best friend, boyfriend, and extended family; also that I spent the better part of a day driving along the California coast just one week after the rainiest, stormiest June 4 I've ever seen. This week I am supposed to get this pesky cast off my arm--decorated though it is, I am impatient to jump in the water. I have a short list of things to accomplish this week, and then Ryan and I are off to Discover America, Part Deux: Canadian Invasion. There is so much of this world left to see, and goshdarnit, we are off to see one more slice of it--while we both have vacation time and health insurance.

I keep thinking of this image that the Flaming Lips projected onstage last night: it was the silhouette of a naked woman pounding the drums. She started her set by pointing one drumstick straight outward, like a wand, walking in a circle as this beam of green light was beamed out across the audience. She stopped right before the band launched into its drum or guitar solos, at which point she'd throw all her weight into this one drumstick, slamming down on the drums with explosive force. The screen erupted into a series of rainbow pixels.

I want to be her, ringing in the summer with unabashed energy, force and rhythm. Who knows, maybe by the end of August, Ry and I will no longer be driving my little white Volvo, but rather rolling from state to state in a huge plastic ball. Hey, it could happen. The nights are long enough this time of year.