My Version Of The Bucket List

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Starry Night by Van Gogh

The Bucket List

 This list has been circulating for a few months, and I posted it with my answers already. However, this list has a few new questions, and I added a special question the end. But for the sake of this post, I thought that I would elaborate a little on my answers to some of these questions.

Things you have done during your lifetime.

(X) Gone on a blind date: I have done this twice in my lifetime. The first time was such a disaster that it is still imprinted in my memory after all of these years. I was working at the newspaper, and a friend (using the term loosely here) wanted me to come to a Halloween party. I didn’t really want to go, so I made the excuse that I didn’t have a date. She said that that wouldn’t be a problem as she knew the perfect guy for me. Those are scary words, people.

His name was Mark, and he sold spices, as in salt, pepper, seasoned salt. He also drove a white Corvette which he told me that he liked to drive very fast. The street that I lived on at the time was a dead end and not very long, but somehow, he managed to top 40 mph in just a few seconds before hitting the brakes at the stop sign. I was supposed to be impressed. I wasn’t. The night went downhill from there.

(X) Skipped school: In my senior year of high school I skipped French class 17 times in one grading period and still managed to get an A. Madame Thomas was, shall we say, oblivious. I would stick my head in the door and say, “Madame, I have rehearsal for the senior play today,” and she would wave at me. Very nice woman.

(X) Watched someone die

( ) Been to Canada

(X) Been to Mexico

(X) Been to Florida

( ) Been to Hawaii

(X) Been on a plane: When Alexis was one, her father and I took her on a plane with us. We were flying to Massachusetts for a family vacation to see his grandparents on his dad’s side and to introduce the first great grandchild. Alexis was fairly good until she had a messy diaper right as the fasten seatbelt sign came on because of turbulents. She was most unhappy that I wasn’t changing her, and made her unhappiness known to everyone on the plane. It was a wonderful flight.

(X) Been lost: I would just like to say that Corey deserves some kind of award for this, and as soon as we are able, I’m going to buy him a phone that has a buit in GPS.

(X) Gone to Washington, D.C.

(X) Seen and/or swam in the ocean. Which one(s)? Atlantic, Pacific

(X) Cried yourself to sleep

(X) Played cops and robbers

( ) Recently colored with crayons

(X) Sang Karaoke: I am a karaoke ham. Lola really comes out to play when there’s a microphone around.

(X) Paid for a meal with coins only

( ) Been to the top of the St. Louis Arch?

(X) Done something you told yourself you wouldn’t

(X) Made prank phone calls

(X) Been down Bourbon Street in New Orleans. Before or after Katrina? Before. When I was a teenager, my parents and I went to New Orleans to visit his cousin. We went down Bourbon Street one night, and it was pretty incredible. All of the doors were open to the bars, and since I was behind my parents, I managed to catch glimpses of things I had never seen before. The best one was this man dressed in drag coming down a ramp from the ceiling to the middle of the bar. He had this wonderful feather headdress on and a few pasties and strategically placed feathers. I still remember that they were peacock green.

Bourbon Street was wonderful in those days. My daughter and her boyfriend visited just before Katrina hit.  When I saw the devastation on television, I was so overwhelmed with sadness at the destruction of New Orleans and the deaths of all of those people.

(X) Laughed until some kind of beverage came out of your nose

(X) Caught a snowflake on your tongue

(X) Danced in the rain: I love rainstorms, but I hate cold rain. Often during summer storms, I am tempted (or at least I used to be) to run outside in a bathing suit and wash my car in the rain. It makes perfect sense to me.

(X) Written a letter to Santa Claus

(X) Been kissed under the mistletoeblowing-bubbles

(X) Watched the sunrise with someone

(X) Blown bubbles: My old lab Mokie was an absolute fiend for bubbles. When the kids were all younger, they had those bubble wands that would make hundreds of bubbles at once. Mokie used to bark in delight and jump high into the air trying to catch as many as possible. It was so much fun to watch her, but we would have to stop her because she would completely exhaust herself.

( ) Gone ice-skating

(X) Gone to the drive-in movies: One of the drive-in movies that I went to was The Exorcist. I went with several friends. They watched. I hid behind my hands the entire time. I was a real coward when it came to scary movies when I was younger, and that’s because my dad let me stay up one night and watch a scary movie with him, and I had nightmares about it for months. I still remember there was a coffin scene and maggots. Scarred for life.

( ) Been deep sea fishing

( ) Driven across the United States alone

( ) Been in a hot air balloon

( ) Been sky diving

( ) Gone snowmobiling

(X) Lived in more than one country. Which one(s)? U.S., England, Philippines

(X) Visited another country. Which one(s)? Scotland, Spain, France, Morocco, Mexico, Cayman Islands, Philippines

starry-sky(X) Laid outside at night and admired the stars while listening to the crickets

( ) And watched a full lunar eclipse while listening to Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon”

(X) Seen a falling star and made a wish

( ) Enjoyed the beauty of Ole Faithful Geyser

(X) Seen the Statue of Liberty

(X) Been to the top of the Empire State Building

( ) Gone to the top of Seattle Space Needle

(X) Been on a cruise

(X) Traveled by train

( ) Traveled by motorcycle

(X) Been skiing or snowboarding: I used to love to snow ski and water ski, and believe it or now, I was actually pretty good at it. I used to go snow skiing a lot during college. If I got on a pair of skis now, I would probably end up in traction for life, and that kind of makes me sad because I loved the feeling of racing down the slopes.

(X) Been horse back riding: We won’t discuss the time the horse threw me the first time I went riding with a person of the opposite sex that I was trying to impress with my horse back riding skills. Damned horse knew it, too.

(X) Ridden on a San Francisco Trolley

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Tropical Rain Forest

(X) Been to Disneyland or Disney World

( ) Truly believe in the power of prayer: Unfortunately, not in a long while. 

( ) Been to the top of an active volcano and seen hot lava

(X) Been in a rain forest

(X) Seen whales in the ocean

( ) Been to Niagara Falls

( ) Ridden on an elephant

( ) Swam with dolphins

1. Any nicknames? Not any more

2. Mother’s name? Ethelda/Babe: My mom was the baby of 12 children. She’s probably lucky they remembered to call her to dinner.

3. Favorite drinks? Hot tea, Pepsi, and wine occasionally. I used to really like microbrewed beers. I probably still would if I ever had occasion to drink them.

4. Body Piercings? ears

5. How much do you love your job? Don’t have one any more

6. Birthplace: Norfolk, VA

7. Favorite vacation spot: the Caribbean

8. Ever been to Africa? Yes.

9. Ever eaten just cookies for dinner? Yes. And I have also just eaten chocolate for dinner.

10. Ever been on TV? yes. I did a few television interviews when I worked for the Museum, but the most fun was when my former husband and my three children and I were featured in a commercial for the Museum. The kids were absolutely adorable.

11. Ever steal any traffic signs? no

12. Ever been in a car accident? yes

13. Drive a 2-door or 4-door vehicle? 4 door

14. Can you drive a standard shift car? yes. I love to drive standard shifts, but I’m hard on clutches, and they are expensive to replace.

15. Favorite pie? Homemade apple pie. My mom-in-law used to make me a homemade apple pie every year on my birthday because it was my favorite. She also used to make the most amazing strawberry/rhubarb pie. 

16. Favorite number: 7

17. Favorite movie(s): The English Patient and The Lord of the Rings

18. Favorite holiday? Christmas

19. Favorite dessert? Depends on mood: cheesecake or hot fudge cake

20. Favorite food? Salmon with tequila sauce

21. Favorite day of the week? Sunday afternoons are my favorite time for reading a good book. When the house is quiet and no one is around, and if I can keep the dogs from barking at air and leaves, then I can consume a novel while wrapped up in a soft blanket. Good times.

22. Favorite brand of body soap? Depends on season. Usually some kind of liquid body wash that is clean-smelling or that smells like lavendar

23. Favorite toothpaste? Colgate Total

24. Favorite smell? Lilacs or Rosemary

25. How do you relax? Read a book or write

26. How do you see yourself  in 10 years? In the islands

27. Furthest place you will send this message? Germany

28. Who will respond to this the fastest? No idea

                                                                                                                                        

 
Big Question: What is the one thing that you feel deep in your heart that you must do before you die?

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Great Wall of China

Travel. I want to see Ireland because it’s someplace that I’ve always wanted to go. I want to visit Wales for the same reason. I’d like to go to Greece because it is such a beautiful country. I also want to see the Great Wall of China. I’ve always wanted to go to Australia and Iceland, and I’ve also always wanted to take an Alaskan cruise. Then I want to spend the rest of my days someplace that is warm and green and lush and near clear blue water and far away from Wal Marts and malls in general. I don’t want to be living in a cookie cutter house in the suburbs. I want to be able to go outside and get in my hammock, or sit under a tree with a laptop and write.

I don’t know that I’ll ever have these things, but this is what I wish for. I don’t want to have lived without living as deeply as possible, without sucking “all the marrow out of life and end my days as if I had never lived.” I know that it may sound like a cliché, but from the first time I heard Thoreau’s words, I knew that that was what I wanted to feel before my end of days.

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“The Ultimate Exit Interview”

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George W. Bush at His Final Press Conference

W.’s Final Steps in Rewriting His Legacy

He walked in affable and waving. After all, it was going to be his moment. He greeted the Washington Press Corps as if they were old friends about to have a final chat. The amiability was short and sweet. The first question hit like a boxing glove, and George W. Bush’s plans for a friendly get together took it right on the chin.

“I hope the tone is different for him than it was for me . I’m disappointed by the tone in Washington, D.C. . . . It’s just that the rhetoric got out of control, declared George W. Bush during his final press conference of his administration. And I think that it’s a very telling quote. George W. Bush is still in denial. The press made everything so negative for him, and his response was “disappointment.”

But let us pause her a moment to reflect with the 43rd president. His disappointment was over things such as the abuse of prisoners (torture) at Abu Ghraib, the response to Hurricane Katrina, and the fact that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Well, okay. I believe the American people are disappointed over Abu Ghraib, the response to Hurrican Katrina, and the fact that we were led into a war because of the loud declarations of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

The difference? Bush’s disappointment seems to be that things did not go as he expected or as he wanted. The use of torture was made public, and can be chalked up to a few rogue people. The response to Katrina was very slow in coming, and if only there were WMD in Iraq, he could say, “I told you so.”

Our disappointment with the same things but for different reasons: The ire of Abu Ghraib wasn’t over the few people involved, it was over the use of torture and that use being condoned by those in positions to make those decisions. The response to Katrina was very slow in coming: Looking down from an airplane on the mass destruction below is not a president being on the scene, and by the way, how are the levees coming? And WMD, we didn’t believe in them in the first place.

For example, while discussing one of the worst storms to hit the country in history, Bush said that he debated as to whether or not he should land when flying over Katrina but decided that he did not want to “burden” local officials with his presence. Why does he still not understand that at a time of crisis as encompassing as Katrina, the President of the United States needed to be seen and heard, but more than that, he needed to be reacting in a timely way.

 The record shows how poorly the administration reacted even though they were warned in advance that the landfall was going to be devastating. But don’t say that to President Bush: “Don’t tell me the federal response was slow when there was [sic] 30,000 people pulled off roofs right after the storm passed.”

(And by the way, people who fly helicopters are called pilots, not drivers, but as the president pointed out: “Obviously, some of my rhetoric has been a mistake.”)

What’s amazing is that W. still doesn’t understand that coming clean doesn’t necessarily mean that you understand what you did wrong. Confession may be good for the soul, but confession without self-realization is wasted rhetoric. For example, take his comment on Abu Ghraib: “I don’t know if you want to call those mistakes or not, but they were — things didn’t go according to plan, let’s put it that way.” And the plan was to make sure that the public did not find out about the torture? Or was there another plan?

Also very telling was W.’s preface to many answers with phrases such “the challenge was,” “the problem was,” and “the question is.” No, Mr. President. The point of the press conference is to talk about your administration’s answers and solutions. 

Bush’s biggest problem has always been the perception of his intentions. Believe it or not, I don’t think of W. as an evil man, certainly nowhere in the leagues of Dick Cheney. I just think that the current president has always been just one step out of sync with just about everything that he has done, right down to choosing the people who advised him—Cheney and Rumsfeld anyone?

Again, in the department of admissions of things that went wrong, Bush mentioned the huge “Mission Accomplished” banner: “Clearly, putting `Mission Accomplished’ on an aircraft carrier was a mistake,” he said. You think? It was that whole cowboy mentality that so many people found shocking just two months after the war in Iraq had begun, especially in light of the fact that the U.S. was still suffering casualties even as the president was declaring victory. How does a nation’s citizenry reconcile two such disparate images?

Bush’s demeanor during the press conference ranged the gamut from playful (“It’s a pretty cool job”), to regretful (on the “Mission Accomplished” banner: “It sent the wrong message), to self-deprecating (answering question about critics: “Sure. You know any?”), to downright defiant: “I strongly disagree with the assessment that our moral standing has been damaged,” when responding to a question about America’s standing in the world. “But people still understand America stands for freedom; that America is a country that provides such great hope,” he continued.

In the end though, George Bush still came across as a man who really does not know or cannot accept how the world sees him, declaring at one point, “You know, presidents can try to avoid hard decisions, and therefore avoid controversy. That’s just not my nature. I’m the kind of person that, you know, is willing to take — to take on hard—hard tasks.”

And then a few minutes later saying, “One thing about the presidency is that you can make—only make decisions, you know, on the information at hand . . . You don’t—you don’t get to have information after you’ve made the decision. That’s not the way it works. And you’re—you stand by your decisions and you do your best to explain why you made the decisions you made.

Crystal clear.

Self-justification, hostility, defiance, imagined self-pity to take the glare of the real self-pity . . . It wasn’t great oratory, but it lasted over 46 minutes, and Bush gave us more of his real legacy in this 46 minutes than he realizes. All attempts at legacy refurbishing at this point are meaningless. After all, W. himself said, “You know, where does a president’s—did a president’s decisions have the impact that he thought they would—or he thought they would, over time?”

And in conclusion: “My view is is that most people around the world, they respect America. And some of them doesn’t like me—I understand that—some of the writers and the, you know, opiners and all that. That’s fine. That’s part of the deal.”

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President Bush Leaves His Final Press Conference

I would have to say, though, that there was one point about this press conference that I truly enjoyed: Its conclusion. It’s the last press conference with a president that we’ll hear in quite a while in which the English language is turned on its ear.

For anyone wishing to check my use of Bush’s quotes, I direct you to the source: the actual transcript of the press conference, which can be found at http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2009/01/12/raw-data-transcript-bushs-white-house-press-conference/. (I deliberately used Fox News for the transcript lest I be accused of relying too much on MSNBC.

And that gentle folks, leaves us with 7 more days in which George W. Bush can attempt to persuade us that all is well and has been for eight long years, in spite of 9/11, two wars, natural disasters, rising unemployment, and a fiscal crisis bordering on the Great Depression.

Of course, there will be more later. Peace.