Tuesday, November 10, 2009

List of Stuff to Do, Redux

I've been wanting to revist this list, which I wrote when I turned 47. Now almost 49 (in four months), I've done a bunch of the things I wanted to do, and I've realized I don't want to do a bunch of the undone things. Realizing what I don't want is about as big as doing what I do want.
The biggest realization is that I care a million times more about stories and individuals than about political action and community.

I boldfaced things I've done.
I struck through things I don't want to do anymore. [The html for that is an s (for "strike through," I guess) inside wedges <> to open, and /s in <> wedges to close.]
I italicized stuff I still want to do, or that's ongoing.

Here's The Original List (March 2008), Annotated November 2009

1. Learn to surf. This is a challenge, living in the center of a huge continent, but I heard there are women's surfing classes somewhere on some coast. At least look into this.

I looked into it, and found Las Olas (The Waves): Surf Safaris for Women. Motto: "We make girls out of women." Cute, but a little too Oprah salon/spa for me---comes complete with yoga. Why? It's expensive too: around $3,000 for a week in Mexico, and that's sharing a room. A better bet might be to go to California, get a board, and ask some surf bum for help. I'd still like to give it a try.

2. Go to a Star Trek convention, before all the classic stars die. (Too late for DeForest Kelly and James Doohan.) Buy badges and gadgets and wear/carry them home on public transportation.

Done! *tribble trill of joy* Star Trek: Las Vegas, August 2008 And surely one of the most heartening things I've ever done: it restored my faith in humanity, even after working on a book about Sudan. I'm not kidding.
I'm so glad I went before Star Trek 2009 came out. The new fans are welcome to it; in 2008 I was with all the die-hard old timers.

3. Mount the pottery tiles my sister brought me from Mexico as a backsplash behind my kitchen sink. Don't hyperventilate.
Naw. Not worth it. I propped the tiles up until I got tired of them, and that was good enough. I'm no home-improver.

4. Go to City Hall; meet my council member. Gold star for asking him out to lunch.

Oh yeah! Remember? my city council member came to my downstairs neighbor's door while I was in the bathtub, so I wrapped up in a towel and went and shook his hand just because I saw a chance to fulfill this clause. Good guy--I just voted for his reelection--but that was enough.

5. Go to the State Capitol; see the State Legislature in session. Gold star for figuring out who my representative is.
Last January I went to a rally for health care reform at the capital. I was more interested in the architecture than the politics.
I did find out who my rep is, but I've forgotten.
I've since come to accept that politics is not my way. Better to put my energy toward stuff I care about enough to remember.

6. Sign up to be an "election judge" (volunteer poll worker) for the 2008 elections. This time, bring snacks that will provide the calm I require to help voters who start screaming. Do not eat the rice krispie treats.
See above. I worked the polls once, and it was cool; but that was enough.

7. Get married. No, wait--all I actually want is a wedding like Julie Andrews' in The Sound of Music, complete with a 50-foot train and nuns in habits. Skip the seven kids.

Moviemaking fulfills this play-acting desire; it's all about getting dressed up but not having to face the morning after.

8. Wear the teeth-guard that stops my teeth grinding in my sleep.(It's a nifty little thing that fits over my upper, front teeth so my jaw can't clench. But I don't wear it.)

I can tell how much distress I'm in by how much I clench my teeth at night. I've learned to judge if I need to wear this thing or not. Recently I learned that clenching your jaw not only breaks your teeth, it can contribute to vertigo, so I'm especially vigilant right now.

9. Repeat my fortieth birthday party in London on my fiftieth birthday, in 2011. (I invited everyone I know to tea in the Russell Hotel in Bloomsbury, in 2001. Eight friends and family came, and it was a blast.) You are invited.

Yep! Still on the slate. I'll be 49 this coming March, so join me the year after.

10. Make documentary movies. Since I was a kid, I've wanted to be a filmmaker, which seemed an impossible dream. Now, I could edit films on this very laptop.

Wow. I did this. I DID this!
Funny that docs were my first choice. I have made one--interviews with my aunt and uncle (both in their 80s), but I haven't edited it yet. Turns out, to my surprise, I prefer made-up-stories movies, at least to start. Anyway, links to my little movies are on the sidebar to the right, if you're new here and haven't heard me trilling over each one.

11. Learn how to be visually creative on the computer. What you see on this blog is about as far as I've gotten in exploring its capabilites. Change that.

I did this too! Weird. Now it seems like I always knew how to use iMovie, but the first time I opened it, I had no clue. It took me two hours just to figure out how to make a still image with text, for my first Star Trek mash up (still a favorite).
I haven't yet learned photoshop and garage band; but those'll follow. The point is, I no longer use my computer only as a typewriter/encyclopedia/post box.

12. Prepare for a good old age, like Maude in Harold and Maude. Key: keep my head open and my joints bendy.
Ongoing. And actually, this is more real and present than ever this year, after some physical distress.

13. Live for a Good Death, while I'm at it. (This is a Catholic concept that deserves a wider audience.)
Ditto. Since I wrote this, I've seen how little I know how to suffer, and how key it is--unless I'm hit by a truck soon, there's going to be more of it, before I'm out of here. There's an art to it--I can see that by looking at different people doing it, or not.

14. Load songs on my new teensy iPod, my first ever. (Maybe Sally will help me on Saturday).
Not only did I realize I don't want to listen to an iPod and got rid of it, but Sally and I are no longer friends. Huh.

15. Ask for help. (This scares me.)
I'm boldfacing this as done, even though it still scares me and I still need practice. But filmmaking was all about asking for help, and I did it. This was a huge breakthrough.

16. Offer help. (This scares me too.)
Ongoing. This has morphed into cultivating sustainable kindness---practicing compassion at the right distance. Lately I've had a hard time with finding this. So it goes.

17. Buy a new microwave. Don't get the crappy brand this time.
I don't really want one.

18. Visit Chile. Check out the surf near Pablo Neruda's last home. Gold star for asking Ariel Dorfman or President Michelle Bachelet out to lunch.
Not a huge desire, but sure, I'd still like to go to Chile. Now I'd also like to go to Berlin... and Helsinki for the annual herring festival. Gold star for asking Finland's woman president Tarja Halonen out for lunch.

19. Get a driver's license.
This was interesting. At some point I realized that I've never gotten a driver's license because I don't want to drive. Ha! Easy. Just took me until middle-age to figure this out.

20. Drive cross-country in a big old bomber. Hmmm... or drive to Chile.
The realization above notwithstanding, this still appeals to me, so I'm leaving it. More a dream image than something I intend to do, but dreams are real too.

21. Acquire a vintage Jaguar car. Alternatively, acquire a lover with a Jaguar.
Now I want that pink DeSoto I filmed in Montana. Big enough to live in.
A lover? Hm. Kind of like a driver's license: I rather suspect I don't have one because I don't want one.

22. Climb down into the Grand Canyon. Spend the night in one of the cabins down there.
I'd still like to do this, but I could die happy without it.

23. Breathe in the rain forests of the Pacific Northwest.
Yes, I very much want to see the giant ferns. Vancouver is probably my top travel destination.

24. Practice non-aggression when I am annoyed. (Ha!) Practice some more.
Oh, baby!

25. Buy new wool sweaters. Turn the ratty old ones into felt (wash in hot water) and make mittens with it.
I am such a nonshopper. I turned a couple old wool sweaters into felt, yeah, but I haven't replaced them, and now it's getting cold. I want to make toys out of the felt, not mittens, but I'm not much of a crafter... We shall see.

26. Keep expanding my capacity for compassion. Keep relaxing my tendencies toward self-defensiveness. Expand. Relax. Repeat.
Stet. Expand, relax, expand, relax, expand, relax...

27. Keep exercising my body, even though, frankly, I'm not that jazzed about it.
Yep. I took half a year off the YW, and that felt great. Then I started to miss it and rejoined. My approach to exercise is starting to change, too, at mid-life. With vertigo recently, I want to learn a different kind of exercise---more about balance and stretch and less of the Rocky type stuff.

28. Enjoy food! First goal: buy steel-cut oats instead of oats chopped into dust. Give myself more time in the morning to cook them.
Cooking 'em right now.

29. Don't forget crusty bread, runny stinky cheeses, red wine. And sauteed dandelion leaves in the spring, dressed with lemon juice, olive oil, and black pepper.
This stands as a general guide, as I do tend to drift into living off cold cereal.

30. Keep sending my brother birthday cards, even though he more or less hates me.
This has been another tricky one to get in focus. Saint Benedict wrote some advice that I take to heart: If you can't be in a situation and maintain your compassion, he says, then leave.
I realized I was forcing myself to send cards into a cold, hostile void, and I resented doing it more and more. My heart actually feels softer toward my brother if I just leave it alone. Open to revision, but for now, I am not sending him cards.

31. Make a list of the top ten Star Trek episodes. Make a list of the Ten Best Worst Episodes too.
Oh, I went waaaay beyond that. : ) 222 posts labelled Star Trek ... so far.

32. Don't be so embarrassed. As Helen Fielding (author of Bridget Jones) points out: people aren't paying attention anyway. They're thinking about what you're thinking about: themselves.
I never thought I would make headway with this one, but again, moviemaking was the perfect practice--especially going to make a 48-hour film with bink in Montana. There were two of us. I could either get over my embarrassment and act on camera, or I could make a film with one actor. I got over it.

33. Make art!
Of course art-making is ongoing, but I consider this one completed because it was really about a return to making art, coming out of the 3-,4-, 5-year emotional coma that fogged me in after my mother's suicide. Can't make art in a coma.

34. Have a love affair with someone who is is a native speaker of another language, and learn that language. Preferably a person who has to return to their far-away home after a year or so. (In Chile, maybe. Or on Vulcan.)
Honestly, having a love affair and learning another language both look like this to me now: A Lot of Work.
A friend asked me if I'd like to go on a blind date with some wonderful guy she knew, and my spontaneous response was, "Do I have to?"
So, I don't know. Another mid-life acceptance, maybe? I'd far rather have an art partner than a lover. And moviemaking is enough of a foreign language for me.

35. Get bifocals.
Got 'em! They're great!

36. Buy a ticket for a flight into outer space. Or make one.
Blogging L'Astronave ("star ship" in Italian) takes care of this desire. I finally added the L', which symbolically fulfills this step.

37. Try cassava greens.
Not yet.

38. Invite friends and family to collaborate on photo projects, now that we all have these easy-peasy digital cameras.
I would say filmmaking overshoots this step, and I'm going to count it as done.

39. Call the career counselor. Find the perfect job that engages and directs my brain but doesn't cramp it. Something like problem-solving on Star Trek screenplays. Or assisting Bill Moyers with interviews. Or getting paid to ramble in writing. You know what? I'd like to work collaboratively on a magazine. Maybe an online one... Maybe start one.
I did see a wonderful career counselor, and she said just what I needed to hear: start where you are.
The job I was trying to describe turned out to be moviemaking. (And blogging, too.) True, it costs money rather than bringing any in, but it is good work. For pay, I find that having taken a year and a half sabbatical from working geography books, I'm plenty happy to be back doing it. I'm not sure about long-term paid work, but I'm not worried today, either.

40. Keep on blogging.
So, I'll now add #41.
#41. Write a new List of Stuff to Do
Photo: a ride at the State Fair


ArtSparker said...

I liked your list very much. Would love to make the Birthday tea in London.

momo said...

This is SOOO inspiring. I've been looking for the time and mental space to do this since my b'day last week, but haven't yet found it.
For the oatmeal: I bought the cheapest possible Japanese rice cooker which turns out also to be perfect for cooking Irish oatmeal (the kind that you have to stand over for 20 minutes) without fuss. I highly recommend it!

Nancy said...

Hurray for the power of the goals list! Do you advocate posting where you can see it, or putting it aside and checking at a later date?

I might just do one again--I was a big user at one time and then achieved some things on the list which injured me a lot (as in the old "beware of what you wish for"). I've decided to be more Piscean in the last couple of years.

I do like the "live for a good death" notion, though I'm fuzzy on the details. Remind me?

Fresca said...

ART: That would be so fun if we could meet in London!

MOMO: A rice-cooker: What a great idea! I want to read your list too.

NANCY: For me, this is a list of "desires" rather than "goals"--a softer (more Piscean?) word, not a stick to beat myself with.
I think how these lists help us is really an individual matter.
For me, list-writing is an end in itself---a way to show myself what I WANT to do--or might want to do, ... or, in this case, in the end, what I don't want to do.

What happens to the list after that doesn't matter much to me--it's left its footprint in my mind. Though it was really fun every so often to note when a desire had come to fruition.

"A good death" is something Catholics pray for, in various ways --(e.g. the main prayer to Mary asks her to "Pray for us now, and at the hour of our death")-- but again I think that its up to the individual to decide what that means.

For me, it's about cultivating consciousness, practicing intentional living, and also, conversely, letting things be, relaxing my grip.
The very phrase itself is an invitation to think about how we're living.

deanna said...

I sure like your list, hadn't read the original. Come to my house in the Pacific Northwest, and I'll drive you to Vancouver (especially if you'll settle for Vancouver, WA ;o)). But I could take you to a US rain forest, if my car was working well at the time (details, details).

Maybe I'll make a list, beginning with "Make a list before I turn 50. We'll see. I'll reach that mark sooner than you will.

Fresca said...

Oooh, really? I might just show up at your door, Deanna!
Would LOVE to read your list of things you want to do, too.