Archive for ‘Lists’

To-Do Before I Die

March 29th, 2012

A local art center uses their wall as a rotating art installation, and the one that left space for people to write in their aspirations snagged my imagination. Bucket lists and New Year’s lists have enduring fascination, probably because the part of us that wants to hope and soar gets buried by all the daily to-do lists that seem so incredibly important at the time. We need to have our souls nudged every now and then, so here are a few of mine:

* Develop a creativity workshop

* Go back to Hawaii and get another tattoo

* Live abroad for a month every year (and find a way to pay for it)

* Learn to garden (is it possible to develop a green thumb?)

* Make a zine.

* Take a trip with my daughters.

When I look at my list, I realize that many, maybe all, of those things are do-able with a little planning, work and saving. So why do I postpone and think in terms of someday?



December 20th, 2011

– for a tiny white Christmas

– for a guru to solve all my gadget problems and hook up my Sonos music system. Otherwise it will sit in the box until it becomes obsolete. It comes with a simple 3-step installation guide, and I’m already flummoxed. Generally, I have to call my daughter in California to have her walk me through any technology installation. So pathetic. My iPhone 4s is so complex that I’m afraid that next I’ll be reduced to using a Jitterbug senior phone.

– that I could lose the 7 pounds that crept onto my body as a result of my weakness for cheese, wine and anything salty. The only craving I haven’t succumbed to are Pringles, and I’m only a vacuum-sealed can away from that.

– that my family had started drawing names for Christmas years ago. It has been the most stress-free holiday ever. Does that sound Scrooge-ish? I’m an anxious gift buyer and I never seem to get it right while trying to make sure I give everyone the same number of presents so no one will be under- gifted . By the time it comes to unwrap, I’m a wreck. Focusing on one person soothes my ADD-ishness.

– that I were as funny and clever as the people who made Shit Girls Say. I feel like I used up all my clever a few years ago.

– that I could have a vacation for two — me and my Kindle — on a tropical island with room service.

– that I could stuff a handful of sea salt Good Karmals in my mouth and not face the inevitable calorie karma.


Bare Ruined Choirs…

December 13th, 2011

This photo, taken on a walk along the G.W.Parkway in Alexandria, VA, this month, reminds me of  Shakespeare’s sonnet 73, one of my favorites. I guess it’s kind of melancholy, but winter is in general bittersweet — the hibernation and dying off that makes new growth possible in the spring. I used to hate winter and can’t say I don’t whine when I have to go to work in the biting cold, but I also have a better appreciation for it since I spent last January in London and loved it. Loved bundling up, loved walking home in the dark, stopping to buy a cup of pomegranate seeds from grocery stall, the sacred seed that reminds me of Demeter and Persephone. I’ve been thinking today of things I love about the earth pared down and somehow pithier:

— Christmas lights on all the fire stations, especially the old brick firehouses in downtown Charleston. The two near my office are simply decorated with strings of colored lights outlining the contours of the whole building, and it makes me so happy to drive by them on my home at dusk or dark.

— Winter Song by Sara Bareilless & Ingrid Michaelson.

— Nars Space Odyssey silver glitter nail polish, in honor of light and tinsel and the winter solstice.

— A recipe a coworker shared with me today for easy white bean, kale and sausage soup that even I could pull off. I can’t wait to make and eat a bowl of this with a glass of red wine and a piece of crusty bread.

— Making Cocktail Hour mixed CDs for New Year’s presents.

— Coming out of therapy, feeling happy and weight-less and having to wait for a white horse drawing a carriage to pass before I crossed the street. I forget that what seems ordinary in Charleston — getting caught in traffic behind a horse-drawn carriage and bitching about it the whole time — is such a gift.

— Watching Love Actually again, a cheesy heartthrob of a movie for the holidays.

— Drawing names in my family for Secret Santa gifts and avoiding the manic consumerism that usually has me ready for a strait jacket. Best. Holiday. Ever. It means being able to take time to select a gift for one person that is intentional and not hastily improvised.

— Coming home in the dark and plugging in my year-round Frida-like porch lights. Hello little house, sweet little Happy Shack — I love you!

— A cold December rain outside while I’m warm inside under my down duvet. Realizing how undeservedly lucky I am. Why am I at home and not homeless? I need to give more and take less.


October 5th, 2011

…why I need someone to show up at my home or office and force march me to spinning class or weight lifting or just power walking. Why am I so lazy when most of the people I know are exercise junkies with zero body fat? They don’t even need to be self-disciplined because they actually love to exercise.

…why I always sit behind the person on the plane who has to have his/her seat reclined all the way into my lap for the whole flight even while eating. It gives me Row Rage to the point that I want to slam a water bottle into their head as I struggle to slither out of my seat as if I’m doing the limbo in order to get to the restroom. Or bounce my knees against the back of their seat like an unruly two year old. Or open and slam shut my lap tray until they start to bleed from their ears.

…why I still haven’t learned not to start the Monday morning commute listening to any Karen Carpenter song. By the time I get to work, I need Thorazine.

…if I would want to date myself if someone set me up on a blind date with Me? Makes you think.

…when my funny bone got osteoporosis. Realizing that I’ve laughed more in the past two weeks than I have in a long time, especially in therapy which you would think is no laughing matter.

…where I lost my favorite bracelet with Chinese characters painted on the beads. Still looking for it even though it seems hopeless. As does so much of life, but still we have to keep believing in delightful surprises.

(00ps–should have mentioned that the photo was taken at the V&A in London by my talented friend Claire Kramer MacKinnon)


September 16th, 2010

Looking back, there are so many things I could regret:

*  Starbucks Pumpkin Loaf (7 Weight Watcher points!)

* All the shoes whose price would have made a nice contribution to my 401K.

* Losing sleep over hate mail from readers of our magazine who feel free to spew in email but would never say such nasty things to my face.

* Not going to Austin City Music Festival the year I had tickets.

* buying the expensive blue sequined tank top that made me look like I was wearing a postmenopausal Kevlar vest.

* buying the expensive black suit that made me look like a nun working with juvenile delinquents.

But those are so minor–if I have one big regret, it’s not daring enough, not trying enough, not risking enough. Especially after my kids were on their own. It’s so easy to let inertia settle you into a way of life. So easy to think you have enough time time to try XYZ next year. So easy to justify not doing something. I’m a true introvert, and living in my head is really satisfying for me. I love to read and dream and imagine, all from the safety of my home. But I also see how much I’ve missed out on by not forcing myself out into the world more. Introverts tend to get drained by social interactions, but we need it nevertheless. It’s like bringing a kill back to the cave — we have to have things to gnaw on or our brains get starved. And every time I’ve gone against my grain, I’ve been better off for it. Eventually. It’s just hell while it’s happening! Travel? Oh my god, so terrifying and shattering. But also enlivening, enriching, indispensable to my self-confidence. In hindsight, I wish I’d terrified myself so much more.

I’m afraid if I lived on this road it would intensify my tendency to focus on the clouds behind a silver lining. I’m one of those people who has to fight for positivity, and living on Misery Point Road might make these kinds of thoughts run through my head more often than they usually do:

I wonder if my cellphone is giving me a brain tumor.

If only I’d starting doing bicep curls years ago–too late now.

Now that the warranty is up, I guess the car will fall apart.

What if everyone is laughing at me?

What if no one notices me?

I’ll eat these raw oysters, but I’m sure I’ll get food poisoning.

Will anyone show up at my party?

If I hadn’t lived like a grasshopper, I’d have a house on Easy Street.

What’s the point?

What’s My Line?

May 4th, 2010

Sometimes I find myself trying to guess my identity in the way the panel did on the old TV show “What’s My Line?”. I’m often the mystery guest in my own life. Here are some contradictions that have popped up lately:

* I’m a feminist, but I wish I had the plump lips nature didn’t give me. Periodically, I’m tempted to get my upper lip injected with whatever will give me the bee-stung look. I’m not stopped by philosophical misgivings but only by the fear that I would end up with the duck-bill look.

* Part of me wants to go on a spiritual journey, while another part of me just wants more shoes.

* I’m resilient but not at all brave.

* I want lots of traffic on my blog, but at the same time, I think it’s self-indulgent narcissism.

* I despise snobbery but fear I’m elitist.

* I believe we’re all here for a purpose, but I don’t believe in God. And yet I think I might go to hell for writing that.

* I long for roots, but I hate being tied down.

* I know beauty is only skin deep, but I envy gorgeous women because being pretty opens doors I’ll never be able to walk through.

* I was brought up to be nice no matter what, and yet one of my most vivid memories is of stabbing a pencil into the scalp of a playmate who was a lot like Nellie Oleson on Little House on the Prairie. It was only skin-deep but extremely satisfying. And it might have been the last time I reacted so viscerally. I don’t advocate that as a career strategy, but I would like to develop the civilized equivalent of pencil stabbing at work instead of feeling like I have to funnel all my reactions through Nice Nikki, who just doesn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.

* Wearing fur is awful, but it feels so good.

Day Dreaming…

April 27th, 2010

  • that people will stop sending me viral videos. I don’t want to watch a cat eat curry or a wedding party I don’t know dance downthe aisle. I guess they’re cute, but viral videos seem like digital styrofoam peanuts to fill in the empty spaces in the brain.
  • that America will end the era of mean-girl legislation. Arizona, WTF?
  • that the terminal I fly into will be the terminal I fly out of.
  • that Thomas Jefferson will be put back into Texas textbooks.
  • that I will spend a night without sleep aids
  • that companies will stop using those weird real people turned into cartoons in their ads. They give me the creeps.
  • that Sarah Palin will stop talking in that high-register voice that is supposed to be down-home Cracker Barrel  folksy and appeal to me and you.
  • that I could break up with Comcast.
  • 5 Notes to Self

    March 28th, 2010

    1. Cut back on my addiction to outcomes. I’m always jumping ahead to the finished product and finding it inadequate, so I’m going to make something I intend to throw away instead of something that needs to prove how “good” I am.

    2. Get out of bed 15 minutes earlier every day this week, not because of any Puritan work ethic, but because I’m addicted to the Snooze button. And when I finally give in to getting up, I start the day like in a snarly she-wolf frame of mind because I’m already late for whatever.

    3. Take a photo every day. Stop waiting for the perfect cloud or magic light or clever composition to shoot, and just take a shot.

    4. Listen with my inner ear instead of half attending to what people are saying. This is so hard for me, and yet it’s the very thing I want from others.

    5. Stop buying things I think I should eat or might eat, like chard and edamame, that end up going to waste in my refrigerator.

    10 To-Dos This Week

    March 21st, 2010

    1. Cultivate one fresh, green idea. Not just the dull, rusty I’m-in-hibernation green of my frostbitten jasmine vine or the I-might-be-dying green of the bamboo plant I’m nursing on my porch. I want sap-running green, neon green, spring-onion green…tender green shoots promising succulent, tasty projects.
    2. Make a map of my day, inspired by Sara Fanelli’s book.
    3. Download something inspiring to listen to on the way to work, like this.
    4. Make a 7-song playlist for the week. You can sample my choices here.
    5. Dress with more creativity instead of resorting to black on black every day.
    6. Have a conversation with my conscience and work on one thing that will make me a kinder person.
    7. Believe someone is going to rock my world in a good way this year. Please, no rocking my boat, only my world.
    8. Love my wrinkles. Or at least be good friends with them. Okay, maybe shake hands with them and have a cup of coffee.
    9. Think sexy thoughts. Absolutely necessary for creative mental juiciness.
    10. Go fishing for deeper friendships instead of waiting for them to jump in my boat.