What Rhymes With Bucket?

Stonehenge at vernal equinox.

People come out in droves for must see annual events. The running of the Bulls in Paloma. Carnival in Rio. Octoberfest in Munich.

There are lists and lists of things that people want to do before they die. Yes. I said it. This is someone sitting down with pen or keyboard saying that before they die they’d like to accomplish Thing X, Thing Y and Thing Z. That’s what a bucket list is, a marker of mortality.

And, I mean, what happens if you do it all? Do you die right then? Or do you just add more? If you run out of Things, are you unhappy for the rest of your dull days? And if you don’t complete your list, do you die unhappy? Is a bucket list just an organizing tool for planning weekend activities (skydiving-ugh!) or vacations (Machu Picchu-yay!)? Maybe it’s just something for the list-obsessed to do. I couldn’t tell you, since I don’t have a list.

Actually, I do have a list. Things that make it to my list just stall. It’s more like a list of guilt rather than a list of to-dos. But that’s just me.

To get items checked off your bucket list you need to figure out the when–a calendar works here. Then you have to try and figure out the how. How to get there, where to stay, and, I would recommend, a quick primer on local laws and the location of the American Consulate.

Just to be safe.

Anyway, some things on a bucket list are harder to navigate. They are more ephemeral. Like seeing a whale breach. Timing and good luck are everything. Or catching the winter monster waves off Maui’s Pe’hai North Shore. Unless you live there, you could miss them.  The vernal equinox at Stonehenge–you can calculate it, but can you get there? Then there’s seeing the cherry trees in D.C.

Wait. How’d the cherry blossoms make this list?

I am clueless for that one. They are both hard to predict (they were 16 days earlier in 2016 than in 2015) and a mess. They are in peak bloom for a few days, then “poof!” Literally. (Okay, not really literally, but work with me.) Literally the trees look like poofs of barely pink cotton candy floating in a robin eggs’ blue sky.

Anyway, I don’t have a bucket list. I can see the cherry trees every year since I live here. Also, I could walk across the overcrowded boulevard filled with people who are wearing shorts and printed t-shirts in the cold all the while brandishing their selfie sticks and end up getting run over by an open-topped tour bus with a student group from Omaha, Nebraska.

But without a disappointingly incomplete list, I’d go happy.

Cherry blossoms, in my hood, on my way to work, by my house. Boo YA!
I took this pic on my way to work. Near my house. Boo YAH!


A New Season

How beautiful is that blue on an early spring evening walking down 12th St to the Metro Center Station?

The newspaper has unequivocally declared winter over and spring sprung. Nothing like laying down the gauntlet to the pernicious weather gods. At least I know where to shake my angry fist if there’s a sleet storm next week.

I, therefore, am a bit hesitant to offer that I, too, feel the signs.

As is my habit, I flew down our building’s Cinderella staircase. I kept my shoes on my feet and stepped out to an unfamiliar feel on the street.

It was not warm warm, but there was a top layer of warm to the expected chill of the dusk. Maybe the sidewalks absorbed so much heat from the sunny day that it reflected back–like one of those propane heaters at a restaurant when you sit al fresco on a mild wintry day drinking your brunch. You feel that it’s cold, but the heat does some kind of inversion or some entropy thing and the heat insulates you top down like an airy feather quilt. No weight but the warmth is held in, close to you.

I drew in a breath to identify the scent of spring. All I got was foul diesel from the bus and the stench of a burning cigarette. So the spring wasn’t yet available in the scent sense.

I got off the train and stretched myself like the dog uncoiling his spine as he steps his front paws off the couch while his back end is still anchored there. This move is usually accompanied by a big-mouthed yawn, sometimes with a high-pitched yawly sound effect.

I’m feeling a spring metabolism, skipping down the steps, flirting with the turnstile as I swipe my farecard, and leaving the train station with my chest out, shoulders back and wearing a silly grin.

The escalator handrail didn’t get the memo. It was cold. But the breeze didn’t bully me in to pulling my collar close to my neck. Instead, I left the moving walkway with my jacket open and my gloves in my bag.

Feeling frisky I turned the corner, like la primavera. Ahhhhhh. Feels good.


Adieu 2014

adieu: old french TO GOD

It’s the end of the year, and many have told me to quickly close the door on 2014.

But this has been an extraordinary year. One that is a marker for me. Not because I had a ton of punches on my healthcare loyalty card.

No, extraordinary because I spent a little time in the darkest space I’ve ever been, and a lot of time squinting in the absurd brightness of the lightest spaces.

I dodged the bullets–not through anything but serendipity.

I know that I am lucky, fortunate, blessed, charmed, or whatever you call what happens when you are right on the edge of everything going to hell but then it turns out okay.

I know that it’s not because I am good or that I am bad or that God is taking care of me or that God is rejecting me. I don’t think that you only get what you can handle or that there is a greater purpose.

I also know that I am not in control of what I am dealt. Last, I do know that “it is what it is.” And acknowledging that helps me to mine my experiences for lessons (maybe that is “purpose?”).

Major lessons? The only thing that I can control is how I process and react. The fountain of kindness of my family, friends, neighbors and colleagues is infinite. Asking for and accepting help is more than necessary, it makes me both more humble and more human. Yes, giving is important, but so is being receptive. I learned the real reason why people pray–sometimes it’s the only thing you can do. And, you can’t go wrong if you do things out of love. It won’t guarantee you are right, but motives frame impact.

You know how at the end of the book, the character collapses after bruising battles and wakes up days later asking “how long have I been asleep?” This end of the year has been like that, but without the sleeping part.

Yeah, this has been a bruising year. But it is a year that has been full of amazing–and maybe some unspeakable–lessons.

I am not sorry to see the year end. So, I send you, my friend 2014, with fondness to God. Adieu, 2014.