Well, the Summer of Jean has come and gone. You Jeanketeers will know what I'm talking about: In a column back in June (boy, does that feel like a lifetime ago…), I discussed how I was really going to take charge of this summer and make it my own. And I meant it. My goal was to emerge at the end relaxed, reenergized, and renewed!

So why did I fall so short of my goal? Three words: weather, weather, weather! When going outside felt like standing over a vaporizer, how was anyone expected to be productive? I practically camped out in front of our little room air conditioner. And when I was forced to walk downstairs to the airless foyer of our apartment building to get mail, I'd come back having to practically wring out my ballerina-mouse tee. Also, during those unavoidable outdoors excursions, I found parts of my body I was only dimly aware of before that chafed from rubbing against each other! Definitely not the type of self-discovery I was hoping for this summer! Maybe it's global warming, like they say, but I swear, I was envying those polar bears who paddle around where their ice caps used to be!

Because I wasn't able to move, I didn't come close to achieving another goal: acquiring that sultry beach body! Seriously, you try losing 15 pounds when you're either cooped up in your home or sucking down Cokes and Vitamin Waters in an indoor flea market with malfunctioning AC! The size-18 floral two-piece romper I was going to strut my stuff in at Velvet Antler Lake is still sitting in its original Pamida bag. Guess I'll just toss it into the drawer that holds my size-14 pair of jeans, my size nine rhumba pants (ooh la la!), and other items I'd be happy just to squeeze myself into someday!

Saddest of all, I didn't make my long-dreamed-of four-day road trip to Hershey, PA. If that PM Magazine segment I watched in 1985 is still to be believed, it's like Mecca for chocolate lovers! But it was just one thing after another. First, the AC in my Dodge Neon was shot, so I was forced to roll down my windows for climate control. (If I'd rented a car for the trip, it would've cut too deep into my hotel and chocolate budget.) I was determined to make the trip anyway, but only got 40 miles out of town. I totally forgot that several lanes of the interstate were closed for construction! Traffic was almost at a standstill. That meant that no breeze was blowing in except for an occasional gust, and when that happened, I was treated to a blast of superheated air and dust in my mouth! After a couple hours of this, I spotted a dirt road in the median and turned around and headed back to town. (Hubby Rick said that he knew I wouldn't make it out because of the construction. I swear, that man loves to punish me for my wanderlust!)

But before you bust out the handkerchiefs, Jeanketeers, you should know that my summer wasn't a total bust. I did get a few important things done, so I can't exactly droop my head in shame.

I bought several plastic tubular thingies for my wrapping paper. I love giving gifts, and for years my hallway closet was full to bursting with gift wrap for every occasion—Christmas, birthdays, weddings, baby showers, even exotic holidays like Hanukkah (I got a Jewish gal for Secret Santa back when I worked at SouthCentral Insurance). Now that the gift-wrap rolls are all properly stowed away, I'm that much closer to discovering the source of the cat pee odor deep in the bowels of the closet!

I befriended a squirrel! Kid you not! I keep a hanging bird feeder on my balcony-porch that I regularly fill with seed. I get a few birds, but by far the most common visitor is this pesky-but-adorable gray squirrel! Now, most people with a bird feeder would do their utmost to keep unwanted critters away. But not this animal lover! Instead, every morning for the past couple weeks, I've taken to hanging out near the balcony with the sliding door partially open so that the squirrel gets used to me. She (Yes, I'm sure it's a girl! I feel it in my bones! Why assume they're always male?) got to the point where she no longer scooted if I tapped the glass. Now she jumps down to the floor of the balcony and sniffs around. Once she got less than a foot away from my own foot. It's fun seeing a squirrel up close. Did you know they have whiskers? Do you think a squirrel would let itself be leashed? I named her Skittles!

Oh, and I completed the last couple chapters of my book. No, I'm not talking about my summer beach reading—I'm talking about my very own book! Yes, Jeanketeers, come October, for the very first time, I'll become a published author of a book you can actually buy at a bookstore! It's called A Book Of Jean's Own! (Get it? It's like the name of my column, only it says "Book" instead of "Room"!), and it won't disappoint. It's 270 pages chock-full of hilarious observations on marriage, working, not working, cat ownership—oh, and chocolate, chocolate, chocolate! I put my all into it, and resisted the urge to self-censor. The results are a Jean Teasdale at her most candid! So if you can handle full-tilt, take-no-prisoners Jean, then this is the book for you!

So that's what I did—and didn't do—this summer. Ah well, at least I have fall to look forward to. My book will be out, and I'll be the proud mother to a squirrel!

-------------------------------

Jean Teasdale is on Twitter. Follow her @JeanTeasdale.