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Vita Brevis, List Longa

I‘ve done some cool things in my life. I’ve collected degrees and learned languages; I’ve read Plato in Greek and Ovid in Latin and sat under leafy trees in verdant quads and discussed the meaning of life, the universe and everything including the superiority of Paradise Hotel to Survivor and whether the fourth season of Big Brother was the best thing on television, ever. I’ve sipped champagne cocktails in the Plaza and seen Ariadne auf Naxos at the Met and spun around in an intersection on Fifth Avenue and tossed my hat in the air. I’ve snorkeled in the Caribbean and climbed a Mayan ruin. I’ve taken the train, alone, through southern France, and refused ice cream cones in Brindisi from cute Italian boys and slept on the deck of a ship sailing from Italy to Greece. I’ve gotten lost in Paris. I’ve been held captive on a Greek Island. I’ve been to Salvador Dali’s house.

I’ve walked the catwalk and appeared in a heavy metal music video and once staged my own production of Annie. I’ve been on a plane that got hijacked and I’ve white-water rafted and I’ve escaped a burning house and I’ve toured as a performer with a theater company and been asked for my autograph. I’ve eaten snails.

I’ve loved and I’ve lost and I’ve loved better. I married my soul mate. I’ve given birth. I’ve held my father’s ashes in my hands. I’ve believed in God, and lost my belief in God, and believed in God again and wondered what it even means to believe and wondered whether it even matters. I’ve seen the universe in a blade of grass. Okay, maybe not that last one, but you know what I mean.

I’ve learned that life is too short. I’ve learned that there’s more to do. I’ve learned that there’s always more to do, but what the hell, you might as well do as much of it as you can…

The (Life/Bucket/Seize-The-Day/I-Wanna-Do-Cool-Shit) List

    1. Take the train across Canada.
    2. Kiss the Blarney stone.
    3. Make a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela.
    4. Swim with dolphins.
    5. Have lunch on the Bernina Express.
    6. Write and publish a book.
    7. And another book.
    8. And another.
    9. And especially that YA one that is kind of embarrassing but also sort of awesome.
    10. Eat sushi in Japan.
    11. … and also drink sake, the really good stuff.
    12. Learn to surf.
    13. Play a game of poker in Vegas.
    14. Do a stand-up comedy routine. On stage. In front of an actual audience. (Nah, nope. Changed my mind on this one. It was over-reaching.)
    15. Build a tree fort.
    16. Spend a day at circus school.
    17. Learn to hula dance.
    18. Learn to fence.
    19. Learn to drive.
    20. Learn to ride a motorcycle.
    21. Meet a ballerina. Have her correct my turn-out.
    22. Take cello lessons.
    23. Learn to play chess.
    24. Learn how to do at least one cool magic trick.
    25. Learn how to rock climb.
    26. Swim in the Dead Sea.
    27. Listen to bagpipes in Scotland.
    28. Take my children to Loch Ness and see if we can spot Nessie.
    29. Ride a mechanical bull in a dive bar.
    30. Visit a dead volcano.
    31. Visit a live volcano.
    32. Start a company.
    33. Chase a storm.
    34. Ride the Cyclone roller coaster at Coney Island.
    35. Go cliff jumping.
    36. Bungee jump.
    37. White water raft the Colorado River.
    38. Hang glide.
    39. Sky dive.
    40. Scuba dive.
    41. Take photographs from a hot air balloon at dawn.
    42. Hike Mt. Kilimanjaro (or do some other awesome hike somewhere very high up and very far away.)
    43. Visit the Fjords of Norway.
    44. Visit Stonehenge.
    45. Visit the prehistoric caves of Europe – Lascaux, Altamira
    46. Climb the Eiffel Tower.
    47. Throw a coin into Trevi fountain.
    48. Take a transatlantic ocean voyage on the Queen Mary 2 and see if I’m brave enough to make jokes about the Titanic while on deck.
    49. Visit the catacombs of Rome.
    50. Stand on the easternmost coast of Newfoundland and wave at the British Isles.
    51. Spend 24 sun-filled hours in the Canadian North
    52. Attend the Lopburi monkey festival
    53. See the pyramids from the back of a camel.
    54. Hike the Pacific Coast Trail.
    55. Drink mojitos at a hotel bar in Havana.
    56. Drink beer at Oktoberfest in Munich.
    57. Drink single malt scotch in Scotland.
    58. Drink vodka in the footsteps of Dostoevsky at the Literaturnoe Kafe, St. Petersburg, Russia.
    59. Do whiskey shots at the White Horse tavern in honor of Dylan Thomas.
    60. Drink mint juleps at the Kentucky Derby while wearing an awesome hat.
    61. Have a drink in a swish bar in New York or Paris or London while wearing a sequined dress. It’s the dress that’s important. It should be red, ideally.
    62. Visit Montesquieu’s vineyard in Bordeaux and toast his de la Esprit des Lois and Lettres Persanes with a glass of his best. Tipsily confess to his ghost that I still mean to write that paper on the representation of women in his Persian Letters.
    63. … Write that paper.
    64. Milk a cow.
    65. Tread wine grapes in a barrel (doing so while wearing Lucille Ball costume: optional but preferred.)
    66. Camp on a beach.
    67. Go back-country hiking.
    68. See the geyser in Yellowstone National Park.
    69. Go camping in an Airstream trailer.
    70. Make a quilt out of my children’s old onesies and blankies and tee shirts.
    71. Fly a kite in Central Park.
    72. Host a roller skating party.
    73. Help build a house with Habitat for Humanity.
    74. Take part in the great tomato fight – la Tomantina – in Valencia.
    75. Take high tea at Fortnum and Mason in London.
    76. Bake a decent cake and decorate that cake. With icing flowers and awesome.
    77. Make a short documentary film.
    78. Host a conference.
    79. Meet at least a few of my favorite authors and tell them how much they inspired me (Judy Blume, Margaret Atwood, and Neil Gaiman would be a start.)
    80. Find my paternal great grandmother’s grave, and inter some of my father’s ashes there.
    81. Find my long-lost adopted brother.
    82. Take an actual honeymoon with my husband (we spent a weekend in Seattle because we were too busy and too poor to do anything else; it was awesome but we can do better).
    83. Spend a weekend alone with my mom in a cabin somewhere, with no distractions and an ample supply of Chardonnay, so we can just talk and cry and stuff.
    84. Get my husband to take me and the kids on a white-water rafting trip down the Thompson River, guided by him, so that he can brag about how he used to do cool stuff like guide white-water rafting trips down the Thompson.
    85. Take my kids on the road trip that my parents did with me when I was six – Vancouver to Disneyland and back, in a camper.
    86. Take my children to see dinosaur remains in Alberta’s badlands.
    87. Take my children snorkeling while they’re still young enough to think that they might find Nemo.
    88. Take my kids to my favorite secret swimming hole in Canada.
    89. Take my mom to Greece for a Shirley Valentine holiday.
    90. Take my daughter to Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria and Chateau de Chaumont in France to show her that real castles are way cooler than theme park castles.
    91. But also take her to Cinderella’s castle at Disney World – in full princess kit, her and me both – and tell her that that’s pretty cool, too. (Half-accomplished – even Disney execs don’t get to dress up as princesses on site.)
    92. Pray at the Wailing Wall.
    93. Attend mass at St. Peter’s.
    94. Talk with a Buddhist monk.
    95. Make a Marian pilgrimage to the important cathedrals/sites dedicated to the Virgin Mary: Lourdes, Chartes, Santa Maria Antiqua, Fatima.
    96. Bless the rains down in Africa.
    97. Fail at something, spectacularly.
    98. Be open about that failure.
    99. Change the world. (In progress.)
    100. Love, in the mode of the active verb. (In progress.)

And for Tanner:

Tanner passed away before I could accomplish all of these. I don’t really care about not having run a 100 miles, or a marathon (I ran a lot, and raised money, and if I run more I will do it in his name, but otherwise I think it’s all good); that he wasn’t able to die at home hurts my heart, but I don’t think that was ever really going to be possible. The In & Out Burger went in his coffin; the celebratory party was beautiful and crowded with amazing friends who spoke to how he impacted their lives, but it was also so devastatingly sad, which of course it was always going to be. All of which is to say: sometimes goals don’t get met, or don’t get met the way that you want them too. And that’s okay. That’s life.

  1. Run 100 miles in Tanner’s name.
  2. Run a marathon, in service of some of those miles.
  3. Organize a running team to run – in tutus – a relay or group run to raise money for DMD in Tanner’s name, to make up some more of those miles.
  4. Help Tanner make some his dreams come true before he dies. Like this one: take his cousins to Disney
  5. And this one: meet an astronaut
  6. And this one: take an overnight train trip
  7. And this one: be on television
  8. And this one: have a big party with lots of friends
  9. And: have an In & Out Burger
  10. Find some way, any way, to make sure that he can die at home.
  11. When he passes (deep breath) throw a party that celebrates how happy his life was, and how rich he made our lives, and pledge to always to do this, to celebrate him, by living our own lives as fully as we can.