Of lists

I have a lifelong habit of making grand lists and forgetting where I put said lists or what was on them in the first place. Of excitedly sketching out plans for adventure on tiny napkins during cocktail hour, diligently saving these records, but never looking at them again. Of making both vague and specific New Year’s resolutions but not paying attention to whether I met any of my goals.

I don’t mind this particular habit. I do a lot of fun things with friends, try plenty of new things, and have a lot of adventures – it’s only that I rarely keep track of them in list form. I think I enjoy setting down intentions in writing, but then leaving it up to the universe (and my capricious memory) as to which items in particular  I actually pursue.

So, when I turned thirty last November, I naturally made one such overly-thought-out list of things to do during this monumental (well, to me at least) year, and just as naturally forgot to look at it since December. At this point, I’m not sure I’ll get to all of the points on this list  – and that’s okay. Just for myself, though, I will update this page with notes whenever I check something off the list.

30 things to do while 30:

1. Hike the Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim in a day

2. Lead a multi-pitch climb somewhere awesome

3. Take a mountaineering safety course

4. Learn to surf

5. Read 10 classics (i.e. Hemingway)

6. Speak passable French

Result: JF (the boyfriend) and I visited his francophone family in Belgium over Christmas 2012. We also spent a week traveling in France. I did not get lost. I was able to make myself understood, if occasionally with wild gesticulations. I ended every day mentally exhausted, but my grammar and vocabulary both improved during the visit. I am newly motivated to sign up for proper lessons. Maybe after I graduate.

7. Jump into ocean in fancy dress after my best friend’s beach wedding

Result: Not only did I attend a lovely beachfront wedding in April 2013, I was the officiant! (Well, I “unofficiated” the ceremony. The couple was already legally married.) After sufficient wine, the bride and I ended up doing drunken beachfront cartwheels by moonlight. In our fancy dresses. As I ended up soaked with seawater, I’m counting this as a win.

8. Take, print, mat and frame my own photographs

9. Live alone for the first time; decorate my apartment for my tastes only

Result: I moved into my very first (minuscule) single apartment during 2012. Took a week off of work to move, hang art, arrange furniture, shop at IKEA, etc. The next time I manage to clean it, I will attempt to photograph my little nest and record it here.

10. Publish my first scientific paper

11. Graduate with my Ph.D.*

*I am amending this to “tech review for my dissertation,” which is Step 1 in graduating. I am currently scheduled to do so in September. I won’t be able to defend until March 2014. Such is life.

12. Run a marathon

13. See more glaciers (this will remain an ongoing list item for as long as I live)

14. See Mt. St. Helens

15. Collect amethyst at the only working mine in Arizona

16. Visit the D-Day beaches

Result: Drove to Omaha and Juno Beaches, Normandy, France in early January 2013. Terribly cold and very moving, as if suddenly history cracked itself open just a bit and let me peer briefly into the past.

17. Submit my first “real” academic grant proposal

Result: As a graduate student, I cannot be PI (principal investigator) on a grant proposal, but I can be a co-investigator. And as of this month, I am. Subglacial Weathering in Volcanic Terrains was submitted early this month, and I have moved on to panicking about new and different things.

18. Hike Havasupai Falls, Arizona

Result: I did this hike with friends in April 2013. The travertine-bounded, insanely richly deep blue pools blew. my. mind. Also, waterfall yoga.

19. Attend my first yoga retreat.

Result: Puerto Penasco, Mexico. May 2013. Three lovely days of sunrise yoga (on the beach), fresh shrimp cocktail from tiny handcarts (on the beach), and napping under thatched palisades (on the beach.) Also fun: getting cheerfully ripped off in the market, suddenly understanding every Jimmy Buffet song EVER while lounging at a beachfront cantina, and kirtan, which involves a lot of drumming, chanting, and side-eye from the wedding party just down the beach (who probably didn’t expect a gathering of frickin’ hippies.)

20. Attend the Arizona Lavender Festival

 Result: June 2013, Concho, Arizona. (I know, right? There’s a LAVENDER FARM in the Arizona high country.) Bought lavender plants, which I have yet to kill. Spent two days breathing in the most amazing scented air, eating lavender cookies and drinking lavender lemonade with good friend K. Topped the whole thing off with a visit to the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest. Hottest weekend of the summer (so far) but camping in the heat was completely bearable with a bag of ice and a pitcher of sangria.

21. Climb Humphrey’s Peak, Arizona

22. Visit the Trinity Site/Very Large Array

Result: April 2013. Drove to the Trinity Site, New Mexico, where the Atomic Age was ushered in, again with K. The site is only open to the public for two days a year. It is in the middle of the White Sands Missile Test Range, and feels a very long way from anywhere. Highlights: the green, shiny, radioactive mineral trinitite, which is scattered over the site, and people-watching. Atomic tourism is a strange industry.

23. Visit Florence and Venice, Italy

24. Celebrate my grandpa’s 95th birthday

Result: February 2013, Olympia, Washington State. Spent three days at a mini family reunion with aunts, uncles, my mom, my brother and his family (and oh, my baby niece never hit the floor), cousins, and my grandpa packed into a lovely house in the woods on the Olympic Peninsula. Ate seafood until we could barely move, wandered downtown Olympia (one of the hippie-est places on earth, and my personal Happy Place), did yoga on the wide porch in the chill, foggy mornings. Felt my heart about burst with love.

25. Go downhill skiing

Result: February 2013, Sunrise, Arizona. Piled 16 grad students into a cabin for two days of skiing and three nights of cooking, card games, movies and general fun. Highlights: rediscovering my love for moguls, amazing huge breakfasts, and laughter. Lots and lots of laughter. My abs got a workout.

26. Sit in a hot spring naked with friends. Again.

Result: February 2013, an annual trip to Tonopah, Arizona with K and other friends. “Healing waters” at a kitchy-as-all hell “resort,” mimosas and snacks, optional swimsuits, and lots and lots of talking. A quietly amazing and intensely relaxing day.

27. Climb a volcano

Result: February 2013, Mt. Elden, Flagstaff. JF and I took a spontaneous winter drive to Flag to stay at a cute B&B and climb the dacite dome looming over downtown. Highlights: winter hiking, which involved plenty of post-holing through snow, a gorgeous sunny day, the coziest rooms at an otherwise empty B&B, and the cold, clear, stunning view of the San Francisco volcanic field that we took in from the summit of Mt. Elden.

28. Get back on cross-country skis (amended: after half a lifetime)

Result: January 2013, Oslo, Norway. Visited my friend Kat who lives in the city, breezily planned a three-day, frontcountry, cabin-to-cabin ski trip in subfreezing temperatures. After two train rides and a long, COLD, stumbling walk to the trailhead, proceeded to take three “steps” in my borrowed rig and suddenly, viscerally realized that I haven’t done this in FIFTEEN YEARS. The next three days were..difficult. And cold. And indescribably lovely. Highlights: crossing a frozen lake for the first time. Hearing the ice “boom” (i.e. thermally contract) on a frozen lake for the first time. While skiing on aforementioned lake. Feeling like crying while skiing for the first time (but refrained, as tears would have frozen to skin.) Learning to make “Norwegian-style” coffee, which involves a bit of dancing in the kitchen. Eating dinner by firelight in a 100-year-old cabin. Watching the sun set and the moon rise over a dark Nordic forest. Skiing through a meadow and running across a small marker noting that American paratroopers landed there during the liberation of Norway during WWII. Finally finding my ski legs on the third day and keeping up a conversation while skiing side-by-side with Kat. Stopping to take a “victory” photo after crossing our final (mostly) frozen lake. Eating chocolate and drinking hot tea to stay warm.

29. Knit something lovely

Result: Knitted a hat for JF’s father for Christmas 2012. Finished it in the New Year. Am still working on the cowls for his sister and mother. Maybe I’ll finish by Christmas 2013…

30. Go wine tasting


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