The family name of the man who cuts my hair in Tokyo is Kawai. This means “scary” in Japanese. I call him Kawai-san. We were born in the same year and we both love good French bread and Shimoda, a laid-back seaside town at the tip of the Izu Peninsula. Last week, at his salon in Ebisu, we started talking about the music we listened to in high school. Duran Duran, Paul Young, Bryan Adams, Bruce Springsteen, Wham. We sang “Little Pink Houses” by John Cougar (from the time before Mellencamp) while three of his employees, women less than half our age, smiled from the other side of the room. We remembered watching the first ever music videos including A Ha’s “Take On Me.” Kawai-san has the video on his iPhone.

He’s my mirror-person. My Japanese twin.

In early June, a couple of days after our seniors graduated, a group of them went to the beach for the day. I saw a young couple letting themselves out the school gate. The girl was wearing a navy and white striped tee-shirt, short jean shorts and sandals and the boy’s hair was pulled back into a ponytail and they looked like summer itself.

I’ve been thinking a lot about that time in my own life. I graduated from high school in 1985. I had great friends. I worked part-time jobs that taught me how to be a grown-up and I read novels. For fun. We listened to good music and danced all night and talked about religion and politics and sex. All the good stuff.

There was no Internet. Mark Zuckerburg, who would grow up to create Facebook, was just one year old.

Things really were simpler.

Don’t misunderstand me. This is not a rant. I love the Internet and what it has made possible. It helps me stay connected to my family far away and my friends all over the world and, for this reason alone, it’s nothing short of a miracle. But it sometimes feels like the Internet has too much power over me. Nope. That’s too passive. I have given it too much power.

And this has been an amazing year. I published the first Sunday Reader on 17th August 2014. Ten months later, I’ve run Geography of Now four times. I wrote the first draft of a YA novel which a very kind and writerly friend has now read, from cover to cover, and given me fantastic and encouraging feedback. Really, I’ve never had a more productive or happier year.

But I’ve also never been this tired.

Do you ever feel like there’s just too much noise in the universe?

Recently it occurred to me that I can simply turn the volume down… that I’m holding the remote in my hand.

I want a summer like I had in 1985, when Mark Zuckerburg was one-year-old, and I had just graduated from Grade 13 and was headed to university and I was in love, really in love, for the first time and the whole world was mine to unwrap.

And then I read this article: Get Off The Computer And Complete This Italian Teacher’s Summer Assignment. You Won’t Regret It. And I felt like the universe was speaking directly to me. Who knew that our angels might show up in the form of a Huffington Post article?

Here are my favourite of the summer assignments given to students by Cesare Catà, a teacher at Don Bosco High School in Fermo, Italy:
3. Read as much as you possibly can. But not because you have to. Read because summers inspire adventures and dreams, and when you read you’ll feel like swallows in flight. Read because it’s the best form of rebellion you have (for advice on what to read, come see me).
4. Avoid things, situations and people who make you feel negative or empty: seek out stimulating situations and the companionship of friends who enrich you, who understand you and appreciate you for who you are.
5. If you feel sad or afraid, don’t worry: summer, like every marvelous thing in life, can throw the soul into confusion. Try keeping a diary as a way to talk about how you feel (in September, if you’d like, we’ll read it together).
6. Dance, shamelessly. On a dance floor near your house, or alone in your room. Summer is dance, and it’s foolish not to take part.
7. At least once, watch the sunrise. Stay silent and breathe. Close your eyes, be thankful.
11. Be as happy as sunlight, as untamable as the sea.

So, for two months this summer, I’m going back to a time before Facebook and Twitter. From now until mid-August when school starts again. And I’m going to experience Bangkok, Luang Prabang, New York City, Ottawa, a cottage in Picton and St. John’s Newfoundland without thinking about what I should share or how that might make other people feel. No Facebook or Twitter starting Monday 22nd June.

I’m going to walk around in bare feet and read and think and figure some things out for myself.

Of course I’ll continue to write my daily poem and post it on the blog but I won’t be sharing the link on Facebook. If you enjoy my daily poetry experiments, you are most cordially invited to read them at MonnaMcDiarmid.com. Come on over anytime you like; the door is always open.

I’ll post a Sunday Reader on Sunday 19 July and again on Sunday 16 August. We’ll pretend that we’re all living in France for the summer so it will seem perfectly normal that I am only posting once a month.

And you can always email me.

But beyond that, I can’t say. I’m going to do relaxing, creative and fun stuff whenever I feel like doing it. Like a happy teenager dancing at a Taylor Swift Concert.

{Wish me luck.}

My summer wish for you is that you find time to create your own brand of bliss.



  1. AUGH! Monna! I am going to miss you on Facebook and Twitter… It’s so funny to me, because I was just thinking how nice it is that it’s summer and I can get back on Twitter again because I’d been too exhausted to engage during this particular school year. BUT I was also thinking how it’s a shame I’m not reading as many novels because I’ve been so busy trying to read the entire Internet.

    Like most of your writings, I’ll keep this one in my back pocket and remind myself to unplug and read a book.

    I wish you a peaceful and fabulous summer. 🙂 I’ll see you at monnamcdiarmid.com.


  2. I’m so happy to read this. As summer progresses, and I’m still on the computer too much, I think – what the heck? summer is supposed to be FUN! So I’ll streamline my work, and READ. yes. See you in NL!!

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