bucket list gifts.

I have 15 days left to my summer vacation, then back to the bear pit. I hate that I even feel the need to call it that, yet that is what teaching increasingly feels like. On the one hand, I like that they are practically giving us call sheets to adhere to and scripts to read these days--this fuels my active imagination, as I'd like to pretend I'm a low budget, grade B horror movie actress day in and day out. On the other other hand--where's the heart? Where's the heart. (Some days August through May, mine is just broken.)

But I didn't come here to write about education. I came here to write about bucket lists. 

I have a bucket list--a To Be, To See, To Do list. I can't share it all with you here (it's very long), but over the years I've checked off a few things. Live in the Sonoran Desert? Check. Swimming with dolphins? Check. Running the Peachtree Road Race? Check (twice). Dancing naked in a summer rainstorm? Half-check (I had clothes on; can't win them all).

Here's a sample list of things I've not been able to check off yet:

*Travel somewhere ancient and mysterious

*Get in my car, pick a direction, and drive until I run out of gas, and wherever that is stay there for a weekend

*Hang out on a movie/television show set for a day and just...observe (I like to observe)

*Visit The Louvre

*See a play at The King's Theatre in London (it could be any London theater, really...I just like how imperially important "The King's Theatre" sounds and looks). (But I also like that London has an Old Vic Theatre and a Young Vic Theatre...I wonder what the difference is?) (jotting that down on my Bucket List right...now...find out what the difference between Old Vic and Young Vic theatres is.)

*See a Broadway show in New York City (how have I been to NYC three times and never seen a show on Broadway??) (possibly for the same reasons I lived in Arizona for 3 years and never once saw the Grand Canyon)

*See the Grand Canyon

I have many others on my list. What I don't have a lot of is "To Be" items. Lots of To Do's and To See's but not too many To Be's. I don't know why this is; possibly because I am mostly content with who I currently am? I am. I am content with who I currently am--and let me tell you: that was a bumpy, twisted, mountainous, hellish road to walk down to get to this place. I still have to dodge pot holes every now and then. And I've had to practically mental block out my entire 20's...if I didn't, I'm certain I'd need to take PTSD meds.

One thing I once had on my list was: "Develop a close, inner personal circle of trusted people." Over the years, I've been able to check that off. I often kick myself for choosing to leave support teaching and go back into high-stress, crazy classroom teaching...and yet, I do believe the Universe lands us exactly where we're meant to be at that very moment in time, even when that place looks insane and makes us say to ourselves: "What were you THINKING, choosing this?? Were you on CRACK??" Because, typically in these situations, the Universe also makes sure to surround us with people who will help us grow into exactly who we're meant to ultimately become. No one crosses your path by accident. Ever. Even the ones who make us say to ourselves: "What is that person's PROBLEM?? Surely they're a minion of Satan." And that's what going back into the classroom has done for me: hugely widened my circle of people who are the opposite of Satan's minions. (It's also widened my circle of people who ARE Satan's minions, but that's another post for another day.)

I have slowly come to realize what a gift other humans are. All humans are gifts; even the bad ones. (This makes me think of my poet hero Mary Oliver's brief poem "The Uses of Sorrow": Someone I loved once gave me/ a box full of darkness./ It took me years to understand/ that this, too, was a gift.) So sometimes the particularly bad people are gifts, because they teach us who we DON'T want to be and how NOT to behave. And it's a gift to have that knowledge, let me tell you.

But when you encounter angels disguised as friends, the GOOD ones, then isn't Life just so much sweeter? To know there are people out there who'd follow you off a cliff, who'd walk through fire to help you? And that this is a circular thing, because you would do the very same for them. Some days I am consumed with rapturous joy about this; I feel quite confident in saying nobody else in the Animal Kingdom does this for others they haven't given birth to...well, maybe dolphins do it for other dolphins. And whales. And elephants. But certainly not sharks or hyenas, though.

Wait--do you have time for a quick parable? 

Once upon a time (Wednesday to be exact), I was driving home from a teacher technology course and I accidentally hit a curb and ripped up my passenger side front tire. I pulled into a small driveway leading to nowhere so I wouldn't cause traffic jams or get hit, and called for help. While I was waiting, I vented about my situation on Facebook (to feed others' Schadenfreude) and a man came and stood outside my window, clapping his hands to get my attention. I rolled down my window, thinking he wanted to help me, because clearly I was in distress--my warning blinkers were on. Nope. He just wanted to yell at me for being on his private property. When I let him know I was in distress and had a flat tire, he demanded to know if I'd called someone. Finding out I had, he walked away. Jerk. If I'd sat there another 30 minutes, I'd have been desperate enough to have to pee outside...and I'd have done so all over his stupid, private property bushes. On the flip side, ten minutes after Grumpy Man walked away, my friend C was pulling up to check on me after reading about my situation on Facebook. She stayed with me until the emergency roadside help came. 

Light and dark, evil and good. They both teach us, but I find the light and the good far more fun and pleasant to hang out with, don't you? Darkness and evil only get you so far, and nobody brings you flowers as you lay dying at the end. I hear.

In a few minutes, I'm getting ready to spend a whole day with people who are of the Light, and are very very good. Don't you feel so much better after being around people who laugh and hug you, who inspire you to do things you've always dreamed about doing but don't always believe you have the wherewithall to accomplish...but they show you how you do have it in you? 

I love inviting people like that into my inner circle. I think it's nice to be someone who helps people cross things off their bucket lists...and to surround myself with human beings who help me cross things off mine. 

Plus, I know any one of the people I'm spending my day with today would be totally willing to drive back to that Grumpy Man's house, pull down their pants, and take one collective piss on his private property front yard. And listen to me: you don't find those kinds of friends just anywhere. Put "Have friends who'd pee all over mean people's lawns with me" on your bucket list. Right now.


  1. I will pee on a mean man's lawn with you any day!

  2. Hahaha! I know you would! Let's make a pee on mean people's yards date! I'm wide open Labor Day weekend. ;)

  3. Every summer I come here to read and wonder why we don't live close enough to sit down and have a chat! am sorry for your waning summer. I'm just starting to get used to mine... xoxoxo

  4. I think the United States should get on a nationwide summer plan...it's never made sense to me that we go back do early here I the south. It's 120 degrees August through October. We should start school in October.

    I wish we lived closer! I would love to meet up with you for coffee & a good long chat. One thing on my bucket list is a writers retreat in New England--if that ever works out, we can! :)


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