Years ago, I undertook this project, making a list of 101 things I hoped to achieve in 1001 days. I met with limited success, completing only just over half the things I set out to do (although some of them were really stupid, and some, I've since done, like put a dartboard in the house -- okay, it's in the garage, but still -- and see the Grand Canyon).
But I'm going to do it again, partly to be my own taskmaster, and partly as an effort to reboot my regular postings on this blog, without making it All Beans All The Time. But if it's beans you want, well, fear not -- you'll get it.
Also, I do have a birthday post coming up soon, with lots of really chocolatey photographs that I think you'll enjoy. SPOILER:
Back to the topic at hand, though: I'm going to do this 101-list malarkey again. Hopefully with a better success rate. Most of my list items are kind of, well, domestic. And maybe even boring. I guess that's my life now, and I wouldn't trade it. Still, if "domestic" and "boring" nonetheless adds up to failure, for every goal I don't complete, I'm going to donate $5 to TACA, the autism awareness group my sister works with (she founded the chapter in her area in Maryland, because she is awesome).
Without further ado:
Okay, I lied, there was a LITTLE ado. Anyway:
1) Complete one major household project, which includes but is not limited to: replacing kitchen countertops, refinishing kitchen cabinets, repainting and re-tiling our master bathroom, fixing up the guest bathroom, and renovating the garage. All things we've discussed but not pulled the trigger on, because we're busy, it's a lot, it's expensive, yada. The idea is to stop making excuses and actually do the stuff that's going to spruce up our house, add value to it, and generally make us happy. There's no point if we make it what we want it to be, right before we sell it (on that hypothetical day).
2) Then at least start another one. Because there's always more than one, and hell, I'm giving myself 1001 days. Get off your ass, lady.
3) Cook something from The French Laundry. Kevin's father gave me the cookbook, and I've read Carol's adventures cooking her way through it and what it's done for her confidence and skill in the kitchen. I could use a boost in both.
4) Pitch a TV show. Jessica and I have been procrastinating making any serious inroads on this one, mostly because we've been working on our book. I'm not totally sure if this is for me -- I've never really wanted to write scripts, despite trying to want to over the years because I thought I was supposed to -- but if we're ever going to do it, it's got to be in the next three years, I think, while our iron is lukewarm.
5) Add a fruit tree to the house. I'd love lemons or avocados, something I love to have fresh but don't usually buy because I'm never sure whether I'll use it all. Mmm, lemons. We keep forgetting we have an orange tree in the back. Maybe I should use that one first. In fact:
6) Use the orange tree we have in the back. Just for good measure. I'll define "use" as "eat or employ its fruit weekly during its ripe period." Whenever that is. See? I don't know stuff.
7) Run a half-marathon. I actually put this on my last list, I believe, and couldn't achieve it. I may never. Some people just aren't born to run, to borrow a phrase from The Boss; I'm not sure my knees like the pounding they take on pavement. So I'll allow myself to complete this one on a treadmill if need be/if possible, but I'd like to push myself to go the distance regardless. Or maybe if I DREAM that I did one, I can count it...
8) Take the beans overseas. My sister is moving to Germany in a month or so, and will be there for the entire span of this 1001 days. It's perfect.
9) Go back to Calgary.
We had such a nice time on Memorial Day weekend, even with the cold. Maybe especially with the cold, except for Dylan (left, in the penguin hat, for whom this was a rare smile when out in the elements -- although to be fair, he was also tired, as evidenced by him falling asleep in the Baby Bjorn about twenty minutes later). Going back once every fifteen years is stupid. I went to high school with some really nice people, some of whom now have really nice families. I'd like my kids to know them. And, I want to ski.
10) Beat the new Super Mario Bros. for the Wii. This is going to be almost impossible, because I haven't had nearly enough time to play it since I got it for Christmas. You can't save your progress very conveniently, like, say, if a bean is crawling over his brother's face, or trying to stand on his stomach, or is trying to eat the cover off Me Talk Pretty One Day. You have to warp back to an easy castle level and beat it real fast, but the thing is, castle levels by definition aren't that fast. Oh, woe. I know you all feel really sorry for my horrible, sad pain.
11) Buy an earthquake preparedness kit. Yes, technically, I could go do this online right now. But I won't, because I know myself. (Also, I started this list a month ago, and still haven't done this -- so, see? I know myself.)
12) Learn to knit. This one was on my last list; obviously, I failed. But I figure, in the next three years, it can't hurt to see if I can try again. Especially since I am friends with at least two terrific knitters. In fact, I noted in my roundup of things I hadn't done, "Maybe when I have kids, Jen and Catherine will teach me to knit them booties. In the meantime, it'd be better if I just finished my damn needlepoint." They didn't -- because I forgot to ask -- and I haven't. I was really on a roll toward completing that thing before my early labor, though. So that's something.
13) Exit the locker room at Notre Dame Stadium, smack the historic "Play Like A Champion Today" sign in the stairwell on the way down to the field, then run out of the tunnel and straight for the opposite end zone. This was also on my last list, and I wrote, "If I were to die one second after completing this, then I'd die happy. That's how much it means to me." So why not try for it again? It also goes hand-in-glove with...
14) Take the beans to their first three sporting events. In 1001 days, I figure we have time to try them on baseball and football. Maybe even hockey, if it's not too cold in there -- although clearly I am a protective little wuss in that regard, as I've seen people with infants at hockey games. I'd like one of those events to be a Notre Dame game, so maybe that's how I can rope in No. 13.
15) Learn the jackknife. This is a really hard (for me) move on the pole, where you stand with your back against it, the pole against one shoulder or the other, and your feet a few inches away from the pole so that you're leaning. You put your hands behind your neck, lift your legs off the floor, and tip backwards and upside-down, your legs over your head, splayed, one on either side of the pole. I am setting myself up for a bit of failure on this one, as I've never even gotten my feet off the ground for more than a split second when I've attempted it. But if I could do it, I would be SO FREAKING THRILLED.
16) Visit Napa. A friend in Calgary wanted to try this, so I'm hoping putting this out in the universe means I can make it happen with her and her husband.
17) Two salads a week for lunch, for two months. Just because. If I ever bitch about my ass or my skin or my hair, chances are it's because I'm not bothering with my veggies.
18) Watch twenty-six movies I've never seen, starting with each letter of the alphabet. I got this idea off a Web site devoted to the 101-in-1001 idea, and it sounded kind of cool, and in the vein of the "Watch the AFI Top 100 Films" thing I tried (and failed) to complete the last time. Tragically -- for this list, not in life, obviously -- I have already seen Xanadu. But you know what I have not seen? XXX. Hello, friend. (0/26)
19) Answer the "50 Questions That Will Free Your Mind." Why not? My mind could use a little freedom, right? If I can't answer 50 questions in 1001 days, then I have problems. (0/50)
20) Complete a 365-day photo challenge. This one will be hard, because remembering to do it and upload it and whatnot every time is going to be a bit of a trick, especially when/if I am traveling. But that might force me to be more creative and/or at least improve my short-term memory, so why the hell not. (0/365)
21) Re-read the works of Jane Austen. It's been a long time, and since I had to read most of them for school, accordingly I didn't pay much attention to them. I'm the classic fool who won't do it if it's homework, but on my own, will love it.
22) Then the best of the Brontes. Ditto.
23) Read ten recommended fiction books. Commenters, have at! (0/10)
24) Read ten non-fiction books. I'll decide later whether borrowing Jessica's copy of Russell Brand's My Booky Wook counts. (0/10)
25) Get back to using Netflix. I've had the last DVD from season one of Felicity sitting around since I went into labor.
26) Finish my needlepoint. I tucked back into this while I was pregnant and Kevin was out of town, certain I would polish it off before I had the babies. I would have, too, except for their early arrival, after which I haven't picked it up again because my hands are too busy with them.
27) Move to a bigger house. This one makes me sad. I adore our current place. It's cute and cottagey, it was our first house, and so many good things have happened to us here. But if we ever want another kid, we're going to have to upgrade, or else we will run out of rooms.
28) Have another baby. Don't get excited. This one, if it happens, will be toward the end of the 1001 days. But number three is in the plan down the road. Preferably just one, although if the fates decide we're meant for multiples again, so be it. We've certainly enjoyed our first go-round so far, although I'll get back to you once they start walking.
29) Spring cleaning. I've done a thousand tiny little sweeps through cabinets and closets and shelves, but I think it's time to do a harsh and massive one. My problem is that I love keeping things. But really, what am I going to do with the galley copy of Jancee Dunn's But Enough About Me? or sTORItelling? I'm not going to read it again, even though it was cute. I probably don't still need my old AP Stylebook, since the world has made it outmoded about ten times over since I acquired it. And the folders of old Fashion Week invitations... well, I might archive those, but they could certainly be stored someplace better. I'm a packrat.
30) Take the dudes sledding or skiing. Once they're old enough, we're so excited to bring the boys someplace snowy and show them winter fun. I wish we were raising them someplace with proper seasons, but it helps that there's a mountain within driving distance that can at least approximate that.
31) Sell a new book idea. We've got one more or less in the can, and we have to write its sequel, but I'd love for Jessica and I to keep the book train rolling with another separate novel. We had so much fun creating this universe, it'd be great to see if we can do it all over again on a blank canvas.
32) Become an active investor. For this one, I would define "active" as going through a year with awareness of how my market positions are doing. I own stocks in accounts that my father manages, and couldn't even tell you what all of them are, and I own two long-term mutual funds from my own pension funds through GFY. Do I remember what they are? No, no I do not.
33) Read my New Yorkers on time. I have never managed this in all my years of subscribing to that magazine. I'll consider this one done if I can pull this off for three consecutive months.
34) Decorate the blank wall in our hallway. We used to have a giant poster, behind plexiglass, from Luis Bunuel's L'Âge d'or (it was Kevin's, and I always say, thank God he didn't get one from Bunuel's other movie where THE EVIL happens to THE THING and we WILL NOT TALK ABOUT IT FURTHER but I just went into a coma thinking about it) but I kept saying we needed to replace it when the beans got tall enough to pull up to a stand on it. But we never did, and then one day, Maria bumped against it and it tipped onto her -- gently, but still -- and popped out of the frame, and so Kevin carried it out to the garage, and there it will stay until we can toss it properly. I want to replace it with a collage of photos and frames, but of what? THE PLOT THICKENS. Except, not really.
35) Drink at least two liters of water a day for a month, and then try to keep it up. I've gotten wretched about hydration. I don't know if it's backlash from all the water I drank while I was pregnant, or what, but it's just terrible. My skin is like, bitch, I'm THIRSTY.
36) Clean up and rearrange my contacts. My iPhone usually asks me if I want it to sync with my Gmail contacts, but this last time, it just did it without the question. So now my address book in Gmail AND my iPhone contacts list are both total messes. This is full-on dull housekeeping stuff, but it needs to be done, and it will delight the (very small) OCD part of my soul.
37) Draft and finalize our will. Depressing, but necessary.
38) Complete a NaBloPoMo. I hate that term. But the idea of posting every day for a month is very appealing to me. I want to modify it so that I'm not required to do it on weekends, though, so when I start, I'll factor that in, add those days as weekdays, and then figure out what my actual end date would be.
39) Use my creme brulee torch. Because seriously, WHY have I not played with fire before? It's just SITTING THERE in my kitchen cupboard. Pathetic.
40) Assemble baby books for the boys. I'm not sure how to do this, as scrapbooking gives me hives -- I seriously just walk into that aisle in Target and I get itchy and confused and disoriented. It's too much for me. But I have a lock of Liam's hair from when they had to put an IV in his forehead, and I have Dylan's diaper from when they had to put him in the size one step smaller than Pampers' "preemie," and they should be preserved either in an album or a box. I might just catalog a box and make a photo album their baby book. Not sure.
41) Once Julie moves to Germany, send her one piece of snail mail every month. Because nothing is more fun than getting real mail. (0/36)
42) Donate hair to Locks of Love. My hair isn't so great, but it's the thought that counts.
43) Attend spinning class once a week for two months. I miss doing spinning. The times at my current gym are super inconvenient, so it's going to be tough to make this work, but that's kind of the point of the list, right? To push myself, even if it's in shallow directions? My ass will thank me. I am giving it a better tomorrow. This is practically philanthropy. (0/8)
44) Call an out-of-town friend every month for a year, and then try to keep up. I am terrible with the phone, so even though once a month sounds like a pittance, it is the perfect test.
45) Unearth all my old photo prints and begin making albums. There's no fun in keeping them in a musty box under my bed. Unless they are ugly.
46) Confess an embarrassing moment. We'll see.
47) Write a letter to myself to open at the end of 1001 days. Hopefully I'll get off my bum and do this one first. The trick will be whether the contents of the letter burn in my brain, or whether I can forget what I wrote and be surprised by it in three years' time.
48) Write down five good things a day for a month. Because it's nice to accentuate the positive. (0/30)
49) Pickle something. Other than my liver. Actually, maybe I'll make this pickle THREE things. Because sometimes stuff is good pickled. Like my liver. (0/3)
50) Make 20 new recipes, with at least seven of them being something I think seems too hard for me. Not invent, just make. I love to cook, so why not? Best to push myself. They don't have to be hard, though; they just have to keep me from being in a rut. (0/20)
51) Get up to 100 REAL push-ups in one sitting. I define that as, I can take brief breathers, but I can't, like, get up and do something else and then come back to it.
52) Finish old Egypt travelogue and picture-organizing. Because COME ON.
53) Catalog the contents of my pantry and try to cook with anything in there that hasn't gone bad, instead of tossing it out. My dry goods cupboard is a total mess, and maybe this will dare me to make sense of it while also getting value for the money I spent. Of course, most of what's in there is probably old soup and pasta, which may not make for a very interesting menu.
54) Write two short stories, just for myself. I suspect I need little exercises like this in order to get better about coming up with ideas, and executing them. And what I really need is to spend more time at my computer.
55) Jot down everything I spend money on -- everything -- for two months, and then see where I can make cutbacks. I'm no good at keeping a budget, in terms of allotting myself a set amount of money for a certain thing, so this might be a good way to work backwards and be like, "Okay, I shopped there more than I thought," or, "I didn't shop there nearly as much as I expected." It'll also give me a look at what we spend on groceries and whatnot. You know, whatnot is surprisingly pricey. It adds up.
56) Play tennis again, semi-regularly. That, I define as a periodic date with a rally buddy -- I guess that's still pretty vague, but really, I mean: more than once but not every week. Unless I can get myself to take lessons, but that costs money I probably don't need to spend right now.
57) Locate, understand, and use the running trails in the Sepulveda Dam area. When I lived in Austin, the trails around Town Lake were divine: you could do a three-mile, four-mile, seven-mile, or ten-mile loop, all of which were clearly marked, and dotted along the way with water fountains. I know the Dam area has trails, but I don't know the best place to drop in and out, and I don't know if they're as user-friendly. To me, that whole area is the opposite of user-friendly. And I would like to be its friend. I would. But I need it to do all the work. So I guess I should revise: I would like to be its toxic friend.
58) Do the Times crossword every day for three months. I did this while I was pregnant, but lately I've been too busy, even though they're just a finger swipe away on my iPhone. I figure three months is a long enough time to get me properly back in the habit.
59) Go back to the driving range five times. Not something I've managed even once since I got pregnant. (0/5)
60) Finish Kevin's Father's Day present (from 2010, just in case I also muck it up in 2011 and beyond). Yes, it's a tad late. But I know one thing I'd like to do; I just need a second to do it, without him home to see. [Completed Aug 2010.]
61) Get the dudes a little red wagon. I mean, right? How cute will that be?
62) Grill dinner for Kevin three times. The barbecue is his territory -- not because he's possessive, but because I don't know what the hell I'm doing. I'd like that to change, so that the grill doesn't become this hulking thing in the corner of the yard that I can't touch when he's not around because I will doubtless burn down the house. It's time for me to learn the art of cooking with fire, baby. (0/3)
63) Cook with the cast-iron skillet three times. We got it as a wedding gift -- and yes, we asked for it -- but we've never used it, because we sort of never got around to figuring out how and when one whips out a cast-iron skillet, except for murderous purposes.
64) Finally get rid of my old laptop. There's a very specific recycling center to take old computers, and you can only go certain days and times. This seems safer than donating it, although I deleted everything on the hard drive, but part of me still wants to find something more altruistic to do with it. Even though it's a piece of shit and has chunks torn out of the S key. [Completed Aug 2010.]
65) Make our home footage of the boys from the past year into a watchable video. This might be more for Kevin, although I'm willing to take a whack at it via the deeply imperfect Windows Movie Maker, which I used to make a slideshow of our summer vacation.
66) Tell a story a week on this Web site that doesn't involve the beans. Just to keep alive that other side of me.
67) Put together a home inventory. This is more something you'd do if you were my parents, who own a lot of valuable collectibles and antiques -- and in fact, they have been doing it since we got our first little Macintosh Plus black-and-white computer in the eighties. But it's a good habit to start. When did we buy it? From whom? And, where relevant, what are the care instructions? Are there any stories behind the mementoes? Stuff like that. Otherwise, memories die. Information gets lost.
68) Take the beans to Disneyland. Somewhere in the next 1001 days, I reckon they will be old enough to appreciate at least some of the chaos, and not scream and run at the sight of the giant rodent in gloves surging toward them with manic glee.
69) Carve a Halloween pumpkin. I've never done it -- or at least, not as an adult. I don't care for squash innards. So chalk this up to the list of things that you do because you have kids. What tremendous self-sacrifice. Do they give medals?
70) Complete the 5,000-Question Survey. I've heard it's a bit outdated, but whatever. I'm game. (0/5000)
71) Go ice-skating. I'm terrible. But I'd like to try again anyway.
72) Properly learn to use Photoshop Elements. What's the point of having it if I can't retouch myself in pictures? I mean REALLY.
73) Learn what all the different camera settings mean on our nice Canon. This thing makes pretty pictures idiot-proof, but I could do better if I knew what the little dial was trying to tell me.
74) Talk to a personal trainer at my gym. I'm not doing a great job of toning myself up on my own; I think I need a pro to craft a program with me.
75) Volunteer for a day a year at the L.A. Food Bank. I love food. Thus, I should help other people have the opportunity to love food. (0/3)
76) Get my eyes checked. Just in case.
77) Get my ear checked. I have a chronic itch and dry skin in my right ear, and it's making me mental. I have to get a referral to an ENT specialist, though, and the nurse at my clinic seems resistant to doing that. But she will relent. Oh yes.
78) Get my moles checked. Again, just in case.
79) Take swimming lessons with the dudes. They love being in the water, and I think we should get going on making sure they love it forever, and safely. And cutely. Floaties!
80) Find a local pool that I can use to swim myself. The LA Fitness by our old apartment had one, but this one doesn't. I kind of miss it.
81) Take an online course in ... anything. Foreign language, creative writing, investing... whatever. I should just do something.
82) Wear my night guard every night for a month. I hate wearing this f'ing thing, and it can be so hard to fall asleep with it in; you can imagine how sleep is at a premium these days. But I've got to do it. It's SO bad for me that I don't.
83) Complete some kind of tooth-whitening regimen. Nothing wack, like Brite Smile; just something gentle and at-home, that I won't feel bad about spoiling with my Diet Coke habit.
84) Get GFY's official Facebook page up and running. Honestly, this is more of a reminder, but it's got to happen. [Completed Aug 2010.]
85) Set up a house-cleaning schedule. Since we can't get a housekeeper right now, I need a schedule where I rotate which room gets the thorough once-over on which days, rather than letting it get to the point where every room needs it all at once.
86) Buy the new oven/microwave. I had this as a kitchen improvement project, but that was back when it felt like a want -- not the need it became when our microwave broke. Getting this done will still take a bit of effort, as it's hard to find gas ovens that are the right size any more, so maybe we'll need to put in an electrical line, and maybe the expense of doing that means it's worth a bit of renovation... we'll see.
87) Do a little genealogy research/make a family tree. It'd be fun to see my ancestry laid out.
88) Invest in five new things and set regular investment meetings with Kevin. This is related to my "become an active investor" thing, because there's a difference in boldness between just actively tracking my existing positions, and stepping out on the ledge with new ones. The problem is, I am so afraid to lose, that I don't try. But then I look at my parents and how well they've done for themselves in life, and I think, "I'll never get there." But then I remember that they got there through trial and error, but above all, by trying. And being patient. It's a scary time to be throwing money into things, but sitting on what spare cash I have does nothing for me either.
89) Finish all outstanding thank-you notes for beans-related gifts. This one will stretch forward to include anything they get in the coming weeks, as I know a couple awesome aunties sprang for presents even though I told them not to worry about it.
90) Read a bedtime story to the boys without them trying to eat the book. This will take time. So much time.
91) Take the beans to New York. Central Park, WATCH OUT.
92) Have one dinner party a month for a year, with different people at each one. This will get us cooking more and seeing the people we haven't been able to catch up with as much since we became parents. (0/12)
93) Hang out with our neighbors. We really LIKE our neighbors. Maybe it's because we don't hang out with them all the time, but I tend to think they're actually just nice people, so while we live here we should take advantage of the fact that we don't want to kill the people our property borders. Because that one Samuel L. Jackson movie that I call Help, It's The Neighbors! is so realistic.
94) Do a road trip with the boys. I hear California is large, and full of places to go.
95) Try ten new restaurants. We're always bemoaning that we don't have that many dinner options, which can't be true. The Valley might not be as fun or flashy as the other side of the hill, but it's also not devoid of places that will take our money in exchange for a meal. (0/10)
96) Don't order takeout for a month. Embarrassingly hard, that.
97) Go to a farmers market once a month. Weather permitting, of course. I will not define what "weather" means because anyone who lives in a less temperate climate might deliver a virtual punch to my face.
98) Clean my kitchen counters. I hate tile grout. And as much as I like the look of the white tile on my counters, it makes me stabby when it gets dirty and I can't ever get it as clean as I'd like (kind of like teeth, in that way, no?). Soft Scrub failed me. My Clorox Bleach pen failed me. A toothbrush failed me. But there has GOT TO BE A WAY. I'm coming for you, bitches.
99) Beat Super Mario Galaxy 2. I will have to buy it first. But then. OH YES. I beat the first one, and now it's your turn, SMGII (not to be confused with Sarah Michelle Gellar II, which is probably the name of somebody's boat somewhere).
100) Do an hour on the Wii Fit once a week. It's so fun. Why do I spend so much time on the f'ing Internet, when I can put my Mii in a chicken suit and fly around trying to hit targets? Or do a fake obstacle course? I'm a fabulous fake musician and a pretty respectable fake athlete. So I should not deny the world -- read: my living room -- my fake prowess.
101) Quit potato chips for a month. Saving the worst, the meanest, the hardest, for last. Can I do it? I DON'T KNOW. But since I skipped Lent this month, even though it's the only Catholic tradition besides Christmas that I even indulge in regularly (sorry, Mom, Jesus, and Easter Bunny), I feel like I should attempt this to make up for my tragic lack of interest in organized religion.
And that's it! I reserve the right to make substitutions, if it turns out I no longer want to do any of these -- like if my neighbors mysteriously turn into assholes or something -- but otherwise, I'm going to give it a whirl. I'll be keeping you posted.