The last of the things I’m glad I did, numbers 76-100:
76. Hummingbirds busy over Bryan’s shoulder at my 28th birthday breakfast.
77. Up on stage with everyone else to play air guitar after the championship competition had ended.
78. Playing Island of the Blue Dolphins using all the kitchen bowls to collect poisonous berries
79. Warm bottle in hand, Hank’s tiny head tucked under my chin
80. Dad telling me to reach into his jacket pocket, and finding a puppy inside
81. Stringing necklaces with mom at a big table in the sunshine.
82. Finally learning to swim because my sister bribed me with Ritz crackers.
83. Toilet papering Chris Parson’s backyard on Sunday morning when we knew he was away at church.
84. The smell of hardcover books and steam heat in the library.
85. Roadtrip games of Choose with smart friends
86. Back of our pickup truck, holding a warm donut, legs buried under freshly folded newspapers.
87. My first kiss: after the slow dance ended, just above my right cheekbone, on the soft skin beneath my eye.
88. Dancing drunkenly on the bed in PJs at the Ace.
89. Wrangling a litter of kittens in the playhouse in Julie Tucker’s backyard
90. Crying to gospel music
91. Running classified ads through the waxing machine
92. Collecting shells on a beach where even the smallest grain of sand was actually a shell, in Jamaica
93. Cheese board and a glass of wine on the patio at the San Jose in Austin
94. Freshly shaved legs and clean sheets
95. Spinning on the tall stools at Grandma’s tiki bar in her living room
96. Learning the chocolate chip cookie recipe by heart.
97. Kettle corn at the flea market in a sun hat
98. Sneaking to 7-11 after school to buy candy on my way home
99. Collecting lady bugs in jars to release in the garden
100. Backseat of the VW bus, legs sticking to the vinyl seats in the heat, Jim Croce tape
If you haven’t done this yet, it’s awfully fun. Add a few of yours in comments.
More scenes I hope to see as my life flashes before my eyes, numbers 51-75:
51. Waking from a dream that was entirely in Spanish.
52. Plane ride back to California with a New York cheesecake on my lap
53. Bryan pulling a tablecloth from a dry bag on our surprise kayak camping trip
54. Answering a roommate ad to find one of the few friendly faces from 7th grade
55. Backyard picnic in my cap and gown, babies splashing in the plastic pool
56. Pulling a keg across San Francisco dressed as a plumber
57. Donning the newspaper crown for my editor photo
58. Making mud pies next to the Iris while mom weeded the bed
59. Pregnant in the bathtub, watching the baby roll over inside me
60. “What do you do?” “…I’m a writer.”
61. Climbing the pine tree in my PJs in the dark
62. Ordering the sushi myself
63. Karaoke in the living room until 4 a.m.
64. Me chewing on sour grass, the dog chewing at my shoelace knot
65. After an hour-long hunt, and countless “can I help yous,” finally figuring out where they keep the condoms
66. Breakfast by the campfire, fresh blackberries and cream
67. Lincoln Memorial at midnight
68. Christmas tree bonfire on the beach
69. Adirondack chairs on the lawn overlooking the lake, blanket over my legs
70. Swing dancing in the Music Concourse on Sunday afternoons
71. My first and only shot of whiskey in the Stanford dorms
72. Seeing a live cassowary
73. Homemade spaghetti and sourdough bread
74. Taking the train into the city after work
75. Having a single key on my key ring
As always, add a few of yours in comments if you haven’t already.
More scenes I hope to see as my life flashes before my eyes, numbers 26-50:
26. Riding through the canals in Amsterdam with the baby
27. Picking confetti from my hair
28. Catching fireflies in Tuscany
29. Jumping on the hotel bed
30. Mixing Pimm’s Cups at my Great Gatsby birthday
31. Surge of joy on the swing set when I remembered there were no doctor or dentist appointments looming
32. Passing out signs at the Boston convention
33. Popping my first champagne cork
34. Swinging out above the river from a rope
35. Walking around the park at night with my tipsy college roommate
36. Giving the wedding toast
37. Dancing in the middle of jam circle–perfect partner, red dress
38. Dappled light on the deck with girlfriends
39. Swing band in our living room, sailors smoking on the porch
40. Slipping on my engagement ring
41. Watching the old couples tango over a bottle of wine in Argentina
42. My name beneath an article in the New York Times
43. Riding through the cave on an inner tube
44. Tea in the claw-footed bath with an ocean view in Malaysia
45. Wading in the backyard creek, hip-deep, my Keds sucking on and off my feet.
46. In line for the De Young Museum opening at 4 a.m., ludicrously painful stilettos
47. Archery in the mall in Asia
48. Flying on the swing ride at the California State Fair
49. Floating in the unearthly hot springs in Iceland
50. 4 a.m. tea and peanut butter toast with mom before an antique show
Emerging themes for me: travel, the sensation of flying, water, dancing, and being awake when I’d usually be asleep.
Again, if you haven’t already, please add a few of yours in comments.
Here’s the last of it, 75-100:
75. Watch Hank eat his first ice cream cone
76. Write thank you notes to my teachers
77. Own land
78. Throw a block party
79. Remove money as a concern
80. Write a million dollar check to a charity
81. Help decorate Hank’s bike for a neighborhood parade
82. Take a two-week vacation without computers
83. Attend my sister’s nursing school graduation
84. Zip line through a canopy
85. Lemonade on the front porch swing, warm summer night
86. Finish up or give up all the unfinished projects in the house
87. Play imaginary games with the kiddo
88. Buy a stock on my own
89. Make a quilt of Hank’s Christmas annual jammies
90. Supply an excellent dress-up chest
91. Have a big wedding anniversary party
92. Dinner at the French Laundry
93. Finish the baby book
94. Christen a boat
95. Read or attempt every book on the book list I started in high school
96. Remove toxins from our food and environment
97. Do something I think I can’t do (marathon, sky dive, hang glide, movie script)
98. Plant bulbs in a public space
99. Have a family portrait taken
100. See a glacier
All right, everybody. Please do this. I thought it would be fun, but it’s actually been surprising as well. Good questions to ask yourself:
-What would surprise me if I found out I hadn’t done it by the time I died?
-What are the little things I expect to just unroll in front of me?
-What are the big, amazing things that absolutely wouldn’t happen without some heads-down, teeth-clenched work?
-What things have I been concentrating on that don’t really matter?
Fifty through seventy-five:
50. Live in another country for a year
51. Wear a large hat at the Kentucky Derby
52. Taste durian
53. Sparklers with Hank and Bryan
54. Get in the habit of grand loving gestures
55. Live in a house with a window seat
57. Have a portrait done of myself in the style of a portrait of my grandmother
58. Swim with bioluminescent plankton in Puerto Rico
59. See the floating fire lanterns
60. Ring a church bell
61. Attend services at Glide Memorial
62. Take photos of the little girls twirling outside the Nutcracker
63. Organize a gathering for strangers I’d like to meet
64. Rewire a lamp
65. Use my work to improve lives
66. Form a workplace with people I love
67. Repay the woman who let me live with her in college
68. Participate in a giant food fight
69. Know San Francisco like the back of my hand
70. Pretend we’ve had a power outage once a month
71. Go a day without speaking
72. Plant a tiny orchard
73. Carve our initials inside a heart somewhere
74. Write another book
75. Do one of Miranda July’s projects
These are getting much more difficult as I go along. I also find that I’m very hesitant to list things that I think are improbable, which is part of my drive to cross stuff off. I’m struggling to roll with the unlikely anyway, because I think most of us tend to have a skewed perspective of what’s possible for us versus what’s possible for others.
As usual, add a few from your list to the comments. The comments have been an awesome springboard for me. Also, start thinking about the stuff you’ve already crossed off your life list.
Twenty-six through fifty:
26. Publish a piece of fiction
27. Know basic French
28. Know basic Mandarin
29. Set foot on all seven continents
30. Set foot in all fifty states
31. Help someone get into or through college
32. Stand atop the Great Wall of China
33. Stand inside the Taj Mahal
34. Host an annual party when the fruit trees bloom
35. Go clamming again
36. Do two pull ups
37. Go berry picking and make pies
38. Meet Ms. Winfrey
39. Have a dog again
40. Take tap dancing lessons
41. Section hike the Applachian Trail
42. Make my own perfume
43. Launch a new Mighty site
44. Take Hank camping
45. Make a peaceful living space for our family
46. Institute chocolate and champagne Tuesdays
48. Do a “10 Things You Don’t Know About Women” feature for Esquire
49. Attend TED
50. Give $100 to a violin-playing busker
Please post a few of yours in comments.