Visit Cuba, Sing in Public, & Plant a Rose Garden

13 April 2008 at 5:38 pm 2 comments

I am obsessed with lists. I make them to remind myself of daily tasks, grocery needs, and letters to write. All too often, I end up losing them, only to find them months later, cleaning out a purse, and laugh at the reminder of what was once important (or stressful) and how easily it got lost. 

In high school, one of my classmates, Curt, died in a car accident. That spring, at one of our monthly coffeehouse open nights hosted by the Drama Club (yes, I was a dork, and still am), one of our teachers stood up. Mrs. DuPree sang, a capella, a fairly off-key but courageous rendition of “Leavin’ on a Jet Plane.” She explained that in her class, she handed out a blank list to her students, and asked them to fill out goals for their lives.

Big, sweeping, or immediate & mundane, the contents of the list mattered less than the making of it. The writing down of the who, what, and where of their dreams & goals. She said, “sing in public is on my list.” And Mrs. DuPree handed out photocopies of Curt’s list, made only that year. “Graduate high school,” “Pass math class,” and “Build a turtle pond” were some of the things he wrote. 


I still have that list, and I still have the one I made at 17, on Christmas Eve, 1999. I was overwhelmed with the urgency of it all: the death of several classmates (around 7 or 8 students in the three years I attended West Ottawa), the passing of the century, my upcoming graduation. As an artist, these things build and crest like waves, and so on Christmas Eve, I made the first list. 

These lists are not new ideas; recent films like “P.S. I Love You,” or “The Bucket List” are variations on the theme. And really, everyone ought to make them, revisit them, check them off, and make new lists at different stages of life. I do, and it’s both funny to review, and amazing to see what I’ve actually accomplished of the once-lofty or seemingly impossible ideas. 

What I’ve checked off my first list: 


  1. Visit Cuba  (I’ve actually gone twice, in fact)
  2. Sing in public (recorded it, even, for later sheepish embarrasment & posterity sake)
  3. Go to a Braves game
  4. Be in a movie (if working crew on an independent film counts)
  5. Go a whole year without TV (sorta….and the internet doesn’t help!)
  6. Go skiing
  7. Go to a wine & cheese tasting (big dreams, people!)
  8. Meet a Hollywood star (Connie Britton)
  9. Make a formal dress (my bridesmaid dress for my best friend Mary’s wedding)
  10. Go to a premiere (theatre premieres, though I think I meant a movie premiere)
And so, this blog begins. I’m in the process of expanding my photography exhibits, and giving myself space for creativity & big dreaming. Photography, painting, and most art that I’m doing now were “too big” for my list–dreams I’ve had since a child, but couldn’t express until more recently. 
An excerpt from my slightly revised list: 
1. Keep my indoor garden alive & even move to outdoor gardening (!!)
2. Take more walks around my neighborhood
3. Publish poetry
4. Paint a mural
5. Sew more clothing
6. Settle into a church
7. Invite friends over for dinner more often
8. Travel to Barcelona
9. Give time & resources graciously & generously
And so on.

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