The List

It’s a little embarrassing to tell you how long I’ve been working on this Life List.  I was inspired by several I’ve seen around the web and I initially thought it seemed like a pleasant diversion – something I could do instead of grading papers or the like.  I think I actually started  it while proctoring a final exam at the end of the last Spring semester.  Now here I am finally finishing it in the middle of proctoring a fall semester midterm.
The reason I spent so many months finishing the list was that I began to see it as such a self-defining task. It became something other than just a list of 100 things I wanted to experience. The things we want out of life — our goals, our plans, our aspirations — are nothing if not the most obvious signifiers for how we want to see ourselves. I had felt such strong emotions reading other people’s lists — admiration, inspiration, envy, and even sometimes a little smug disdain (it’s not pretty, but it’s true) — that I began thinking quite critically about my own.   Who am I now? Who do I want to be? What are 100 things I can do to get there? Or, what 100 things will signify to me, after I’ve done them, that I am who, where, and what I want to be? It’s a lot to think about.
Although I wound up sorting the list into categories as you see below, the very first item on the list was also the very first item I thought of: right there in the number-one slot.  “I’m making a Life List,” I thought to myself, “and you don’t have to ask me twice what goes in the top position.” Articulating that number-one goal will, I think, give me some direction in the months to come.  All in all, making the list has been a very revealing exercise for me, so I thought I’d share.
What would go at the top of your list? I would love to know!
BUT FIRST: Notes and Disclaimers. I have actually completed some items since I started drafting the list, so I left them on for the satisfaction of striking them out. I have starred the items that I am currently working on.  Also, of course, it probably goes without saying that some of these may wind up becoming less relevant to me in the future. As for right now, though, this is the list.
I. LIVING
1. move back to the West Coast
2. live in a modern house
3. have a dog-friendly yard
4. have as many dogs as I want
5. make my house as environmentally friendly as I can
6. drive a very fuel-efficient car that is also accomodating of tall people
7. live near a body of water, near the mountains, and where winter snow is easily accessible
8. banish all carpeting from my home
9. find and acquire the perfect office reading chair
10. design/build the perfect book shelving system
11. have a seriously great stereo system
12. design/build/live in an Earthship
13. have a beach/vacation house on the Oregon Coast
II. SPORTING
14. run a 5K
15. run a 10K
16. complete a triathlon
17. cycle a half century (and maybe then a century)
18. run a half marathon (and maybe then a marathon)
19. get my (running) mile pace under 10 minutes
20. take surfing lessons
21. learn the Ashtanga yoga practice
22. sail the 400 Danish isles
23. start swimming for exercise
III. TRAVELING
24. spend the night of my birthday in the Ice Hotel in Sweden
25. visit Iceland
26. visit Greenland
27. visit Denmark again
28. visit British Columbia
29. visit Russia
30. visit France again
31. visit Germany again
32. visit London
33. visit Scotland
34. visit Ireland
35. visit Alaska
36. visit Yosemite again
37. visit Morocco
38. take a trip by train through the U.S. (and then maybe one through Europe)
39. take a trip by boat
40. take a cycling trip
41. take a truly leisurely road trip
42. take a first-class flight
IV. ARTS AND CRAFTING
43. write a narrative book (i.e. a novel or memoir)
44. work seriously on my photography again
45. see and photograph a glacier (and then maybe the aurora borealis and a moose)
46. hang my own art in my house
47. design the interior of my house in a clean and efficient way
48. finish knitting that one scarf (and then maybe do a sweater)
49. start playing saxophone again (and then maybe play at least once with a band)
50. learn the guitar
51. learn web design, photoshop, CSS, etc (enough to design my own site)
52. write more poetry
V. HAVING FUN DOING STUFF
53. sing more karaoke
54. learn some badass breakdancing moves
55. achieve excellence at vegan baking
56. have a vegetable and herb garden at home
57. train the dog to do more cool tricks, including not jumping on my guests
58. train a therapy or assistance dog, or help someone do this
59. host a fabulous dinner party
VI. WORKING
60. get a tenure-track job
61. get tenure
62. publish that one article (and those other two)
63. publish the book (and then start the next one)
64. learn Russian
65. learn Spanish
66. get in a position to mentor doctoral students in a way that is actually helpful to them (i.e. unlike how my program “mentored” me)
VII. GROWING UP
67. pay off credit cards
68. pay off student loans
69. set a secure retirement plan
70. meet and ensnare a man I can stand
VIII. HEALTHY LIVING
71. eliminate all animal products from my diet
72. lose the dissertation weight
73. banish soda from my diet
74. quit smoking
75. go all organic
IX. ACTIVISM AND VOLUNTEERING
76. spend a week volunteering at Dog Town
77. volunteer at a local food bank or food kitchen
78. get involved in local or state politics through volunteer work
79. volunteer or donate to the local humane society
80. volunteer for a community education or outreach program of some kind
81. convince at least one friend to go vegetarian
82. donate time or money to a farm sanctuary
83. help support the cause of gay marriage through some kind of volunteerism
X. CONCERT-GOING
84. see Bob Dylan
85. see Dinosaur Jr. yet again
86. see the Pixies
87. see Morrissey
88. see Neko Case
89. see Death Cab for Cutie
90. see The Decemberists (again)
91. see Paul Simon
92. see Rilo Kiley
XI. ACUIRING
93. get a nice DSLR
94. find and get the perfect pair of black heels
95. have a sailboat
96. find and get the perfect suit
97. get a bike
98. finally get that dissertation celebration tattoo
99. get a pair of high quality, perfect-fitting jeans
100. get a new laptop

It’s a little embarrassing to tell you how long I’ve been working on this Life List.  I was inspired by several I’ve seen around the web and I initially thought it seemed like a pleasant diversion – something I could do instead of grading papers or the like.  I think I actually started  it while proctoring a final exam at the end of the last Spring semester.  Now here I am finally finishing it in the middle of proctoring a fall semester midterm.

The reason I spent so many months finishing the list was that I began to see it as such a self-defining task. It became something other than just a list of 100 things I wanted to experience. The things we want out of life — our goals, our plans, our aspirations — are nothing if not the most obvious signifiers for how we want to see ourselves. I had felt such strong emotions reading other people’s lists — admiration, inspiration, envy, and even sometimes a little smug disdain (it’s not pretty, but it’s true) — that I began thinking quite critically about my own.   Who am I now? Who do I want to be? What are 100 things I can do to get there? Or, what 100 things will signify to me, after I’ve done them, that I am who, where, and what I want to be? It’s a lot to think about.

[It’s also a little awful to think about wanting to do things because doing them will make you the kind of person who does those things, but, well.  That’s a philosophical question for another time.]

Although I wound up sorting the list into categories as you see below, the very first item on the list was also the very first item I thought of: right there in the number-one slot.  “I’m making a Life List,” I thought to myself, “and you don’t have to ask me twice what goes in the top position.” Articulating that number-one goal will, I think, give me some direction in the months to come.  All in all, making the list has been a very revealing exercise for me, so I thought I’d share.

What would go at the top of your list? I would love to know!

BUT FIRST: Notes and Disclaimers. I have actually completed some items since I started drafting the list, so I left them on for the satisfaction of striking them out. I have starred the items that I am currently working on.  Also, of course, it probably goes without saying that some of these may wind up becoming less relevant to me in the future. As for right now, though, this is the list.

I. LIVING

1. move back to the West Coast

2. live in a modern house

3. have a dog-friendly yard

4. have as many dogs as I want

5. make my house as environmentally friendly as I can*

6. drive a very fuel-efficient car that is also accomodating of tall people

7. live near a body of water, near the mountains, and where winter snow is easily accessible

8. banish all carpeting from my home

9. find and acquire the perfect office reading chair

10. design/build the perfect book shelving system

11. have a seriously great stereo system

12. design/build/live in an Earthship

13. have a beach/vacation house on the Oregon Coast

II. SPORTING

14. run a 5K

15. run a 10K

16. complete a triathlon*

17. cycle a half century (and maybe then a century)

18. run a half marathon (and maybe then a marathon)

19. get my (running) mile pace under 10 minutes*

20. take surfing lessons

21. learn the Ashtanga yoga practice*

22. sail the 400 Danish isles

23. start swimming for exercise

III. TRAVELING

24. spend the night of my birthday in the Ice Hotel in Sweden

25. visit Iceland

26. visit Greenland

27. visit Denmark again

28. visit British Columbia

29. visit Russia

30. visit France again

31. visit Germany again

32. visit London

33. visit Scotland

34. visit Ireland

35. visit Alaska

36. visit Yosemite again

37. visit Morocco

38. take a trip by train through the U.S. (and then maybe one through Europe)

39. take a trip by boat

40. take a cycling trip

41. take a truly leisurely road trip

42. take a first-class flight

IV. ARTS AND CRAFTING

43. write a narrative book (i.e. a novel or memoir)

44. work seriously on my photography again*

45. see and photograph a glacier (and then maybe the aurora borealis and a moose)

46. hang my own art in my house*

47. design the interior of my house in a clean and efficient way*

48. finish knitting that one scarf (and then maybe do a sweater)

49. start playing saxophone again (and then maybe play at least once with a band)

50. learn the guitar

51. learn web design, photoshop, CSS, etc. (enough to design my own site)

52. write more poetry

V. HAVING FUN DOING STUFF

53. sing more karaoke

54. learn some badass breakdancing moves

55. achieve excellence at vegan baking

56. have a vegetable and herb garden at home

57. train the dog to do more cool tricks, including not jumping on my guests

58. train a therapy or assistance dog, or help someone do this

59. host a fabulous dinner party

VI. WORKING

60. get a tenure-track job*

61. get tenure

62. publish that one article* (and those other two)

63. publish the book (and then start the next one)

64. learn Russian

65. learn Spanish

66. get in a position to mentor doctoral students in a way that is actually helpful to them (i.e. unlike how my program “mentored” me)

VII. GROWING UP

67. pay off credit cards*

68. pay off student loans*

69. set a secure retirement plan*

70. meet and ensnare a man I can stand

VIII. HEALTHY LIVING

71. eliminate all animal products from my diet*

72. lose the dissertation weight*

73. banish soda from my diet*

74. quit smoking

75. go all organic*

IX. ACTIVISM AND VOLUNTEERING

76. spend a week volunteering at Dog Town

77. volunteer at a local food bank or food kitchen

78. get involved in local or state politics through volunteer work

79. volunteer or donate to the local humane society

80. volunteer for a community education or outreach program of some kind

81. convince at least one friend to go vegetarian

82. donate time or money to a farm sanctuary

83. help support the cause of gay marriage through some kind of volunteerism

X. CONCERT-GOING

84. see Bob Dylan

85. see Dinosaur Jr. yet again

86. see the Pixies

87. see Morrissey

88. see Neko Case

89. see Death Cab for Cutie

90. see The Decemberists (and then see them again)

91. see Paul Simon

92. see Rilo Kiley

XI. ACQUIRING

93. get a nice DSLR

94. find and get the perfect pair of black heels

95. have a sailboat

96. find and get the perfect suit

97. get a bike

98. finally get that dissertation celebration tattoo

99. get a pair of high quality, perfectly fitting jeans

100. get a new laptop

8 thoughts on “The List

  1. MC Etcher September 24, 2009 / 5:59 pm

    Great list, wow! It’s surprising how many of these I’d put on my own top 100 list.

    Contrary to all the agreement, we apparently have completely different musical taste, except for Rilo Kiley.

  2. Silliyak September 24, 2009 / 10:34 pm

    Alto or tenor sax? (If you play the baritone I’m totally in love with you even though I’m as old as your dad)

  3. cazzableu September 25, 2009 / 5:48 am

    Nice list! Gets me thinking…

  4. Vague September 25, 2009 / 12:49 pm

    MC – Thanks! I love Rilo Kiley and have never before seen them play. I hope they’ll do another album and tour so I can get the chance to cross that one off.

    S – It was the baritone! That’s why I don’t have a sax anymore – the school would just give you a loaner because the baris are so expensive, so I never bought my own.

    C – Thanks! I definitely recommend the process of making your own list. It had me thinking for a whiiiile.

  5. Silliyak September 25, 2009 / 6:03 pm

    So how do you feel about older men? (Just kidding, I’m very happily married for 32 yrs, but still…. no,no, no)

  6. Timothy September 26, 2009 / 8:39 am

    All those years out west and you never made it to BC? Or Timberline Lodge (it’s on a glacier, you know)?

  7. Vague September 28, 2009 / 9:30 am

    T – Nope! Regional travel did not happen much while I was out there. I can count on one hand the number of times I went up to the city and NOT to the airport.

  8. mel September 30, 2009 / 2:05 am

    we all need a little more sax in our lives. wah-waaaah.

    corny jokes aside, i would LOVE LOVE LOVE to have you on the west coast, close enough to drive to instead of visits being such a major production. my vote is for san diego or, dare i dream, vegas, but not sure if either of those totally fit your reqs. tho i have several work buddies who are into winter sports and apparently there is good snow close by in utah. humidity also not a problem here.

    on that note, we should plan a Special Ladies Exclusive Trip For Lady Friends Only at some point to someplace on your list some time when we all have money/time, which will pretty much be never, but i can dream right?

    and don’t you already know all the spanish you need to know? yo quiero razcar mis huevos!

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