According to the book 101 Things To Do Before You Die, we can thoughtfully and consciously improve our lives by making lists. Lists! I love lists! But, according to the book, rather than just micromanaging ourselves with grocery and chore lists regarding cottage cheese and dry cleaning, we can chart our wilder desires and greater goals with the help of this zingy little paperback. The macabre yet cute introduction offers the following framework: ATTEMPT. COMPLETE. EXPIRE. What to attempt is open to personal discretion though a list of examples are suggested.
Catch a fish with your bare hands while skinny dipping at midnight, cook it to your own perfected recipe on a fire you made without matches.
Hm. I'm pretty sure that's not going to be on my list.
Complete is all about tracking your lifetime achievements by filling in the book's easy-to-follow forms. And expire, of course, tackles dying and possible regrets and what ifs and should haves and how if you want to avoid feeling like shit on your deathbed you might want to get off your ass and focus. Like right now. Kelly Dearborn gave me this book a week ago as part of a care package consisting mostly of toys (plastic pirate figurines, bacon-scented air freshener, glow in the dark stars) with which to decorate my bunk on the tour bus.
The last time I saw Kelly before hitting the road was in New York. It was the last day of school for the New York public school system and Alex and his colleagues, all teaching fellows in Queens, met for pints of beer and free popcorn at a Brooklyn pub to celebrate another year of teaching. I showed up with Kelly and Sarah for the Guinness, the Brooklyn accents as thick as East River sludge, and to do some drunken shopping whereby we traipsed through Boerum Hill boutiques knocking over handwoven baskets full of expensive t-shirts and irritating shopkeepers. We left each other on the downtown corner and and promised to meet again when Idol pulls through Long Island.
Since I'm currently living out of a suitcase, it would be challenging to pack all the useful gear suggested by the 101 plan of life enhancement. I'm having a hard enough time writing or returning personal phone calls regularly so I think it's okay that I don't spend time right now trying to get my hands on a confessional booth, spray cans, poker chips, and a ski mask. Luckily a few of the other things are easier like a pen, a strong stomach, glue, some strangers, some friends, beer, a fearlessness of heights, a reckless spirit, a stick of chalk, a celebrity, a good imagination, a sense of humor, and fruit. I've had only a quick look at the suggested list of 101 things but am thrilled to announce that I can safely attest to completing at least five of them:
1. Design your own cocktail
The Austin: campari, soda, vodka, cranberry. Thanks to Shane and Sunny for participation and inspiration.
2. Leave a job you hate
I'm sorry Feminist Press but I had enough right about when all the backstabbing started.
3. Bungee jump
Thrilling, frightening, so surprised I didn't poop my pants. And I don't recommend parking lots in Las Vegas where they have to dangle you upside down after you jump and then pull you ALL THE WAY BACK UP to the top of the tower feet first. That was easily as bad or worse than the jump itself.
4. Leave your mark in graffiti
If you're going to be indignant and self-righteous and decide to graffiti for a cause in high school, you should probably make sure you know how to spell otherwise you end up looking a fool. Also, it dilutes your intended message. My early-90s causes were anti-fur animal rights and freedom of speech civil rights. The word I had a problem with was CENSORSHIP.
5. Meet your Idol