Posts Tagged ‘life list’

Life List: Get a Fish Tank

All it took was one afternoon out with Alden, sans Damon’s supervision.

When I was a little girl my dad put a huge saltwater fish tank in my room. It sat up on high wrought iron legs and had to hold at least 75 gallons. We had seahorses and starfish, along with clown fish and angel fish and other fish I could never identify.

Now I do know the difference between my dad’s skill level and my own. He had a deft touch with living things. All his plants were lush and happy. Sometimes my coworkers come take my office plants away to give them a break from me.

So the other day Alden and I went out to pick him up some new winter pants. We went to Once Upon a Child and snapped up a ton of cords (There are always lots of cords. I am the only one who wants them.) but were still feeling frisky. So on the way home I was looking around for something interesting and then up on our right came Fins and Skins. One hour later we drove off with a 10-gallon tank, some pretty rocks, a fake ship wreck and one goldfish.

So far little White Orange (as Alden insists this is his name) seems content, although I fear he’s lonely. If he continues to not die I will get him a goldfish companion.

Although, when I fed him today he was kind of… non-responsive. Maybe he was sleeping?

Also, having a goldfish is a pain in the ass when you’re going out of town.

Life List: Progress Report

That c25K program that I’m supposed to start Monday? Yeah, , I need to talk to you about that.

We’re friends here, right? Promise you won’t try too hard to picture me if I tell you I have a raging infection in both eyes. Odds are middling that I’ll even be able to leave the house as soon as Monday, and nil that I can go get my running shoes by then. One week deferral?

I’ve never had pinkeye, corneal scratch, detatched retina, or anything else occular I can muster. Why now? Who knows? I place the blame on preschool. What I do know for sure is that it’s gross and when Damon sees me standing in the shadows (which is always since the light hurts my eyes) he says I look like a vampire or a demon.

There are two other Life List items pending. The herb garden, I confess, is dead. I did grow the herbs, but then I got discouraged when I learned that the cilantro has such a short life. And more discouraged when I started harvesting basil leaves and soon wound up with a little stick plant. I did something wrong there.

It leads to the question: How do I consider an item on my list complete? I know I don’t think I did the garden thing properly. I think I need to start over and trust that I’ll know when it’s accomplished.

As for the recipes, I have a documentation issue. I started by just recording the recipe, the cookbook, and the date. That’s not very satisfying. Do I take a picture of each one? Do I record who ate with me? Tell a story? I don’t know.

Life List: Run a Mile

One. Mile.

This is a modest goal, at least for normal people. I, however, don’t exercise. I’ve flirted with it, but only in that I’m-backpacking-through-Europe-and-you-don’t-speak-English kind of way. I never meant it for more than a few days.

When I was a pre-teen I had exercise-induced asthma. It’s easy to recall all the fine details of an asthma attack I had in a health-club bathroom, alone and laying on the floor like a landed fish. Thus ended my Jazzercise period.

Bopping around to music can be a little bit fun, until it is miserable. Running starts miserable for me. I feel awkward and graceless, like maybe I’m doing it wrong. Not in the sense of imperfect technique, but in the sense that I might be putting my feet down out of order. My arms huddle in by my sides and my shoulders scrunch up around my neck. It’s less like an adorably gangly Bambi on the ice and more like a duffle bag full of laundry falling down the stairs.

Which is why I want to run one mile. I’m so far below average. I just want to rise to a place that isn’t quite so ridiculous. And if I’m a little fitter at the end of the process then that’s a nice bonus.

I think I’m going to try a beginner running plan I found on the Women’s Health site, but I remain open to suggestions. I plan to start, and now it’s in writing, the third week in September.

Life List: Get a Gorgeous Family Portrait Taken

I needed a win. I needed an unadulterated victory. And I got it.


We’ve been talking about it for a while. We actually went to Atlanta shortly after I wrote that, but our booking got rained out. Stacey offered to vamp up a shoot, but I wasn’t willing to compromise.

Good call.

Two weekends ago we tossed the kids in the car and pelted down to Atlanta to meet Stacey in Grant Park.

The morning went a little bit like this: We fed two boys an early breakfast and then hosed them down. We decided everyone would go to the park dressed and ready, except for Alden. His clothes were rumple-able, so he would ride in his underpants. I’d carefully picked our clothes to be nice, but not formal. Complementary, but not matchy. Neutral, but not dull. Then as I stood at the door with Elliot on my hip, he pooped explosively and torched both my outfit and his. So you may notice that Alden and Damon look ready to go to brunch while Elliot and I look like we’re ready to hit the gym. Improvisation, it’s the central pillar of motherhood. I actually had to dig through our host’s daughter’s closet for a top for myself that didn’t clash horribly. And I faked a bra with a sport tank from the same closet. If you’re wondering why I didn’t have a backup outfit… I can only manage one layer of planning.

So my outfit is wonky. The heat and humidity committed atrocities on my hair not containable by simple ponytail holder. I love the photo. It’s perfect. I’m askew, imperfectly prepared, a little out of synch. All of that is absolutely true of me right now. I love that our photos capture that, but in a compassionate way.

The whole preview set is on Stacey’s blog.

Life List: Get a Gorgeous Family Portrait Taken

Every time I see a beautiful portrait of a newborn I sigh. I missed out on that. I have a lot of lovely photos of my tiny boys, but it’s not like I got them in front of that lady who stuffs babies in flower pots and sacks (I can’t think of her name).

Every time I see how much a real photographer charges to take those portraits, I sigh again.

But the boys aren’t going to stop growing and Sears isn’t going to cut it.

I was reminiscing last night about that time when Alden was a baby and I was still struggling to process this new, intense love. I used to say, “I just wish I could kill somebody for him.” Not, like, an innocent bystander. Somebody bad. Maybe the old go-back-in-time-and-kill-Hitler cliche. I could do it as a tribute.

I couldn’t think of anything big enough to express how I felt.

Another element of that intensity was the way I would weep at the evidence of his aging. When he was X weeks old instead of X days old I was crushed. I hated it when he went up a month. That’s all settled down now, although heaven help Damon if he promotes Elliot to the next month one day before it’s official.

I need to document these kids and I want the picture to be beautiful like they are. I’d also be awfully excited to have a photo of all of us together where my part doesn’t make me cringe a little.

My favorite family portrait so far was taken by my cousin Joella at the Central Park carousel nearly two years ago:

Stacey Bode shot my friend Sarah’s wedding. Among the many, many gorgeous photos she took were these of Alden:

The last two times we’ve been to Atlanta Stacey hasn’t had any time for a booking. So today I sent her an email asking if she’s free either of the next two weekends. I’m willing to drive down for it. These babies won’t wait.

Life List: Take Another Trip With Dad

Things I inherited from my dad*: eyes, coloring, reclusive nature, appreciation of high class things, reading bug, fascination with history, love of cooking and eating great food, impulse to travel

Lots of those things tie together, and never in a better way than when Dad decided it’s time to take a trip.

He wasn’t around much when I was growing up. He wasn’t absent, but he came in somewhere a little light of the classic every-other-weekend-and-two-weeks-in-the-summer standard with which every child of divorce is well familiar. We didn’t have anything in common. Or if we did, we didn’t know it.

We had a breakthrough the summer of my junior year in high school. Dad was going on a trip to Europe, courtesy of his employer. He was a salesman, and the highest earners each year went on a swank trip. He went on a lot of trips. Normally his wife went along, but sometimes the travel fell during their semi-regular breakups. He was meeting a coworker and his wife in New York before they took off (Maybe for Kenya? I get the trips mixed up) and decided to make a weekend of it. I got invited as the stand-in fourth. I was crushed to realize the trip fell in the middle of my spring break trip with my friends, which I would probably have ditched except that I had already shelled out a chunk of my savings for my share of the hotel. But Dad threw open that door that felt so glamorous to me, where anything could be fixed, and experience could be upgraded. He simply flew me from the beach to New York City and then returned me to my friends the following night. On that trip, my first to that city, I saw a Broadway play (Cats). We ate at a famous restaurant (that I’m chagrined to say I can’t remember — Brown Derby Manhattan outpost?) and it was the first time I’d ever seen an a la carte menu. I was shocked that vegetables were extra. I wore my homecoming dress. We stayed at the Marriot Marquis and I sat looking out the window long into the night. Dad made sure we had a room with a view of Times Square. The next day before returning me to the airport he took me to Tavern On the Green. Dazzling. I ordered a soft-shelled crab sandwich and then couldn’t eat more than a bite when I saw that it was a whole, crab-shaped crab still in the shell. I thought soft-shelled was just a name.

It was the beginning of our adult relationship. I think we both had more fun than we expected. Or maybe it’s more accurate to say that we enjoyed each other’s company more than we expected.

They broke up again and the summer after I graduated Dad took me to London. We poked our noses in all the sites of some of our favorite historical spots — Westiminster Abbey, The Tower of London, Stonehenge. We talked about the book Sarum, which he’d given me to read the year before. A month later his company sent him on yet another trip and this time I got to go along. We spent a week in Italy, based in Rome. When I was little Dad had given me replicas of all the coins minted during the reign of the Caesars. We talked about Tiberius while standing on a balcony on Capri. I had my first caprese salad there and spent futile years back home asking for “that cheese that looks like melting ice cream” before fresh mozzarella became common.

We’ve gone to Jalisco in Mexico. We’ve gone to Kauai. Dad took me on a long trip to Egypt, a dream come true for both of us. I’ve stood inside the Great Pyramid with him. We rode camels in the Sahara. We flew deep into the desert to see Abu Simbel. We traveled the length of the country, living on a boat on the Nile.

My dad’s health is not great now. He’s unsteady. He doesn’t have any stamina. He’s got a lot going on. I want one more trip with him. I know he wants the same. It will have to be a different kind of trip. I’m thinking a cruise, which will do most of the work for us. He’s got grander ideas, but I think we might be lucky to pull off something even minimally ambitious. This is about a lot more than a trip, of course. I want him to know that it’s more him I’m after than any fancy destination. I want my sons to have done this with him, to understand the source of our love of travel and of history. My dad never gives me parenting advice. All he’s ever said is to be sure to take them out into the world. He should be a part of that.

I’ve been begging and prodding and nagging him to try to get his health in order. I know that he probably won’t. We can’t go unless he does. This is a big goal on the list, and one largely out of my control. It’s reflective of a bigger wish; and a reminder to do what small bit I can to push things in a good direction.

*Things I wish I’d inherited, but did not: height, killer charm

Life List: Grown an Herb Garden

Every week or two I throw hunks of parsley and cilantro in the garbage. And then I buy more. Until grocery stores come around to my way of thinking and start selling herbs one sprig at a time* I’m going to either keep wasting food and money or come up with a new solution. That’s why growing an herb garden is on my life list.

The complication is that I kill everything I grow. I killed a snake plant. I may have killed your plants just by accessing your home via computer monitor. Go check. I WANT to be a grower of green things. (I also want to be a tea drinker.) I’m going to figure this out.

My plan is to grow cilantro, parsley, chives, basil and mint since those are the things I dump in the landfill most frequently. I’m going to buy an inspiring container for each one for motivation.

*I love how I can crack a tiny chunk off the ginger rather than buying a whole root. Last time I got it free because my piece was so small it wouldn’t register on the scale.