Well, another year has come to an end. I’ve had quite an adventurous year, all in all, and am enjoying my (slow) process of writing about it. The multiple feet of snow that have landed on Prince Edward Island over the last month has made writing about southern England in the late autumn rather surreal, but that’s just fine. I’ll get there eventually.
As it’s that time of year, I’ve been contemplating my plans for the upcoming year. I’ve decided to spend the next six months focussing on writing and a few related endeavours, so you’ll be hearing more about those — and seeing some changes to the blog, I expect — over the coming months. I’m going to be writing weekly for Gail Vaz-Oxlade on the topic of starting a small business, something I presently know next to nothing about — but that’s why I’m writing about it! Those posts start tomorrow over on the Other Voices portion of her blog, and will continue every Thursday.
Since I’ve decided to move back to Halifax for now (rather than get stranded in a foreign country when my savings run out; plus I found a good living situation there, and can have my books, which is key), I had a look at my old List of Things to Do before I turned Thirty. It’s been niggling at me that I haven’t finished it, so I thought I might as well add on three more to make it Thirty-Three Things Before Thirty-Three. Which is even more splendidly alliterative, if admittedly more of a mouthful.
I decided that I don’t need to re-do activities, unless they were fun. (Making bagels, for instance.) With two years I might actually manage the bus routes and walking every street of the Peninsula — certainly I will enjoy the attempt.
Thirty-Three Things to Do Before Thirty-Three
I am going to cheat slightly, and add something I accomplished in 2013, but since it is a long-standing goal, and a fairly big accomplishment, it counts; it’s to walk across a country. It’s only cheating a little bit, the same way I do if I write a to-do list later in the day; I often include things I’ve already done, to have the satisfaction of crossing them off and feeling that I’ve at least done something already with my day. (If I’m writing a to-do list in the afternoon it probably means I haven’t accomplished very much with the rest of it; I usually write them before bed for the next day.)
Here, then, is my slightly revised and updated List. Things already completed get to stay on it.
1. Learn to use a sextant.
2. Memorise twelve poems by heart.
3. Read the complete works of Shakespeare. I’ve been working on this on my travels — so far I’ve been stuck on Henry VI for three months.
4. Read the complete works of Plato.
5. Learn to tie twelve knots.
6. Cook Pad Thai from scratch.
7. Make pasta from scratch. On: 3rd December 2011.
8. Learn to make five really good cocktails, including martinis, Pimm’s Cup, and kir.
9. Play my flute in public. On: 18th December 2011.
10. Walk every street in the Halifax peninsula and across the two bridges. The bridges: on 21st July 2012.
11. Walk out of Halifax (and back). Out of town: on 10th November 2012.
12. Take each Halifax Transit bus to the end of its line. Also take the ferry.
13. Make bagels from scratch. On: 7th June 2012.
14. Learn the major northern constellations and their primary stars’ names, and go star gazing one night to pick them out. Star gazing: on 10th August 2012.
15. Learn twelve useful and interesting things to do with a handkerchief.
16. Learn twelve interesting ways of wearing my hair and actually do them. I still haven’t quite got the hang of the herringbone braid, but I have been trying more options.
17. Become able to do 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups, 100 squats, and skip rope 100 times. In case you are curious, I am starting very close to 0. (Update for January 2014: I’m still pretty much at 0 for most of them, but I now know I can walk 1000 km!! And I’m much stronger in the thighs, so my squats are improving.)
18. Write one letter or thank-you card each week.
19. Read all the books on one bookcase.
20. Read my writing aloud in public. To my colleagues and students, no less! On 11th October 2012.
21. Learn how to do a cartwheel.
23. Make a tapestry (either woven or needlepoint) cover for my footstool. I did this for Christmas 2012, but seem not to have written about it as it was a Christmas present for my mother. Here’s the pictorial proof:
24. Learn to play three recognizable songs on the piano.
25. Read all of Montaigne’s Essays in French.
26. Improve my Latin fluency.
27. Read all of the Divine Comedy in Italian.
28. Write for a full hour every day.
29. Make phyllo pastry from scratch.
30. Host a movable dinner party.
31. Walk across a country. Completed 10th November 2013 — England from the Scottish Border to the English Channel! (I’ll put up a link once I’ve finished writing about this.)
32. Publish a book.
33. Write one hundred short stories. (I’m starting with one — it’s currently on submission.)