The Ultimate To-Do List 76–100

I've been in a bit of a rut these days. Being without a job leaves me feeling aimless and, more to the point, incredibly boring (after all, Mama Bossy always told me, "If you're bored, you're boring"), which is why I've been so very neglectful of you, my dear reader(s).

It's been about 2 months since I started my To-Do List. I haven't completed any goals thus far, I'm sorry to say. In order to finish in the next 10 years I need to complete 10 goals a year, meaning that in the past 2 months I should have completed 1.2 goals already. So, in the interest of starting to work toward these goals in earnest (and there's no time like the present—have I mentioned that I have no summer job?), here are the last 25.

  1. Read (or re-read, as the case may be) every book on the Modern Library's 100 Best Novels list despite the fact that the vast majority are written by white men.

  2. Go kayaking.

  3. Take a picture every day for a year.

  4. Drink hot chocolate in front of a fire while it's snowing outside.

  5. Give a month's salary to charity. Doesn't count if it's during a month when I'm unemployed, obvs.

  6. Learn to schmooze for real.

  7. Grow an herb garden.

  8. Take tennis lessons.

  9. Sell my car and live without one.

  10. Ride a mechanical bull.

  11. Learn to like coffee.

  12. Take the Mensa test, just to see.

  13. Spend a night in a castle.

  14. Get in the habit of reading non-fiction.

  15. Ride in a gondola in Venice. If the gondolier feels like singing "O sole mio," I won't object.

  16. Sing in a piano bar.

  17. Go to Oktoberfest in Munich.

  18. Watch a sunrise on the beach.

  19. Learn to be content in a moment without thinking so much about what comes next.

  20. Attend Austin City Limits or South by Southwest.

  21. Take a horse-drawn carriage ride through Central Park.

  22. Eat a meal at The French Laundry.

  23. Donate blood despite my freakishly small and hard-to-find veins.

  24. Fly across the country (or the world) to surprise someone.

  25. Write about every goal I cross off this list.

Have any of you been inspired to create your own list? If so, tell me about it!

War stories of the travel-weary

It's no great secret that I love to travel. I write about it frequently in this space, I talk about it incessantly to anyone who will listen, and I could easily fill up an entire to-do list exclusively with travel goals.

Some days, however, push even a travel addict like myself to question whether it's all worth it. Like yesterday, for example.

12:00p EDT All packed. Spend the next 3 hours congratulating myself on fitting everything I need for 20 days in Oregon into my allotted 2 carry-ons. Eat some lunch.

3:00p EDT Off to Dulles Airport a bit early.

3:30p EDT Happily ensconced at my gate with Starbucks and magazines.

5:04p EDT Scheduled departure time for flight to JFK.

5:50p EDT Actual departure time for flight to JFK.

7:30p EDT Scheduled departure time for flight from JFK to Portland.

7:30p EDT Actual arrival time in JFK, followed by feverish running to my gate while shoving people out of my way right and left.

8:00p EDT Delayed departure time listed at gate slash cruel joke played by airport employees.

9:00p EDT Thunderstorms cause the airport to close its ramp to all departing and arriving flights. Coincidentally, all airport restaurants close. Whiny phone calls to CameraMan and the Bossy parents ensue.

10:05p EDT Board the plane to Portland. Attempt not to faint from hunger.

12:00a EDT Stumble back to the flight attendants to beg for food. Receive crackers as a reward.

11:00p PDT Scheduled arrival time in Portland. I include this only for emphasis.

3:30a EDT Wheels up. Nobody applauds.

6:00a PDT Arrival in Portland, only 7 hours late. Met by Bossy parents with food and a pillow. Have never been more grateful to see a banana in my life.

7:30a PDT Asleep in my bed. All is right with the world.

All I'm saying is, the next time I spend 11 hours on a plane, I better end up in Europe.

The Ultimate To-Do List (51–75)

Continuing the list started here and here.
  1. Stop picking at my cuticles. It's a disgusting habit.

  2. Be mistaken for a native German. Preferably while speaking German.

  3. Read every Shakespeare play.

  4. Become a person who throws dinner parties.

  5. Write letters on pretty stationery.

  6. Learn how to use every feature of my incredible camera.

  7. Tell someone who has hurt me that I forgive them. Mean it.

  8. See the cherry trees in bloom in Washington, DC.

  9. Drive a convertible with the top down.

  10. Make a delicious mojito.

  11. Change a tire by myself.

  12. Throw a surprise party.

  13. Play the stock market.

  14. Make someone cry from happiness.

  15. Walk a red carpet.

  16. See a movie at a drive-in.

  17. Be debt free.

  18. Climb to the top of the Statue of Liberty.

  19. Go somewhere for the sole purpose of seeing the fall colors. Probably not Houston.

  20. Go one week without internet, phone, or TV.

  21. Eat snails the next time I'm at a restaurant that has them on the menu.

  22. Live in Chicago.

  23. Become an expert at parallel parking.

  24. Discover a talent I didn't know I had.

  25. Learn to take both criticism and compliments gracefully.

A Night in New Orleans

In the interest of being adventurous, we ordered the alligator. And we didn't stop there. We ordered pork cheeks, too, despite not being able to say with a high degree of certainty exactly which cheeks we were getting. And to round it all out, cucumber salad and a spicy sausage with grits. We did, however, draw the line at rabbit livers, although I don't doubt they were delicious. As were all the small plates we ordered. On a hot tip from Kitchenplay we had made the reservation ahead of time, and we were not disappointed.

As the waiter cleared our plates, CameraMan and I dove for the last piece of alligator as I made a crack to the waiter about not letting any of it go to waste. It's funny, he said. Alligator isn't really a great meat. It can be tough and flavorless. But ours is so good. It's partly because of the way it's cooked, but it's mainly because…we only use baby alligators.

I'm picturing them looking something like this. Except, you know, with big Disney eyelashes.

And I should probably mention, this somewhat stomach-turning revelation did not stop us from both ordering dessert. Or drinks.


There was a line to get into the piano bar at Pat O'Brien's. While CameraMan held my place in line, I went to the restroom and made a new friend. She was in a stall talking slurring loudly on her cellphone. Eavesdropping on ladies' room conversations in bars is always entertaining, but, like most things bachelorette-party themed, it's even better in New Orleans.

I don't know what to do. Thank goodness I'm wearing cute underwear. Pause. Oh, it's pink and white striped. And not a thong, so that's good. She stumbled out of the stall, a girl about my age, and caught my eye as I washed my hands. Look! And she turned around to show me where her pants had ripped, exposing about half her underwear. The back half. I fumbled in my bag for something that might help, but all I came up with was a bobby pin. As I left the restroom, I could hear her telling her sister on the phone, No, no, you don't understand how bad it is. Even perfect strangers are trying to help me.

Back in line, midway through regaling CameraMan with the story, she arrived to try to get back in the bar. Her response to the bartender telling her she needed to stand in line again was to turn around and show him (and everyone standing in line) exactly what had happened to her pants.

The best part is, nobody seemed fazed in the least by this. Idly curious, yes, but nothing more. You got the feeling that anybody asking for an explanation simply thought, It happens. This is New Orleans.

Bellies full of breakfast (beignets and coffee at the Cafe du Monde, of course), we walked along the river. When I saw the man playing the saxophone, I immediately nudged CameraMan to take a picture (I had my camera, too, but he has a telephoto lens). You can see the picture here. And the ensuing hilarity here, as the man (Dr. Saxtrum is his name) began serenading me with "Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans?" The amount of distance between us in the picture was pretty constant for about 5 minutes. The sun made the Mississippi shimmer, and the good doctor was singing, and I couldn't stop grinning as CameraMan attempted to capture the moment with his camera. It was perfect.

And then he charged us $19 for his CD and warned us not to give any money to hucksters claiming to be shoe shiners.

I know I'm not wrong, this feeling's getting stronger,
The longer I stay away.


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