Many of you dream of hiking Mt. Everest, sky diving, or traveling to some interesting place I don’t really care about.  I’m an introvert by nature, and because of this, perhaps I might have a different list than you might have.  While many of these items might not sound sexy, my “bucket list” is more like things I’d like to do with my life – rather than “before I die”.  I just turned 40 and I’m a bigger guy.  For most people, this is halfway through their lives.  For me, with a father who died at 56 of lung cancer, and a waistline that keeps expanding, I feel like perhaps there are things I’d love to do with my life or experience that I might not be able to do when I’m retired.  Why?  I might not make it there.

I’m graduating with my second master’s degree in three months and with that, it’s opening up a lot of free time with my life.  My wife wants me to mow the lawn, pick up a hammer, or learn some form of carpentry.  I don’t like the idea of living someone else’s life.  Also, to keep some soppiness from this, I’m going to keep things off of this regarding my kid.

So – what do I want to do with my life?

  1. Learn languages.  I got a $500 Spanish scholarship for college and have had classes in Spanish and French, so I have a bit of a background.  I’d like to go the distance with Spanish and French and become fluent – so I’m one of those geeks who wants those language learning software programs.  Italian is pretty close to Spanish, so I’d also like to learn that.  But the most beautiful of all of them seems to be Portuguese, which sounded to me like a cross between Spanish, French, and Italian.
  2. Read more of the classics.  I grew up pretty busy a lot, and I may or may not have mailed it in with a few books like The Scarlett Letter.  I hated Shakespeare.  I liked a lot of the romantic poets.  I loved Great Expectations – but there’s a whole isle now in Barnes and Noble on the classics, and I just want to buy all of them and read them in a year or two.  Not enough time.
  3. Learn to play the piano.  I played in an orchestra for quite some time and won Most Musical in High School (trumpet), so I’m not exactly a newbie to music.  However, the instrument that first spoke to me was the piano, but my parents told me in second grade that my hands were not big enough.  Maybe I have Trump hands, I don’t know.  Hearing Chopin and Beethoven…it just moves me to the soul.  I’d love to dedicate an hour or two a day to this for 5 years to see how far I could go.  At the very least, I’d like to learn how to play Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata.
  4. Get a six pack.  This isn’t for vanity reasons.  I literally can’t remember a time I wasn’t overweight.  With this, imagine living 40 years of your life never feeling attractive to anyone and no one ever making you feel attractive.  I’m sure I’m going to piss off an ex or the like with that statement, and they I might hear something like, “remember that one time when we were in Italy?”.  Yeah.  So no, I haven’t felt like I wanted to feel, pretty much ever.  I would like to be in great shape for health purposes, yes, but I’d like that one moment where I walk into a room with 100 people and not feel that people are looking at me for negative reasons (one reason I generally don’t like crowds).  I can’t remember a time when I didn’t buy clothing at a Big and Tall store.  It’s so fucking embarrassing, and no, shaming people into losing weight doesn’t work, it usually makes them feel like a piece of shit and compounds the problem.  If you want to help someone lose weight, invite them to healthy things that are fun.  In my case, I am usually stressed beyond belief and this stress manifests itself in a lot of….unproductive ways.  Removing stress helps, and then before you know it, it’s piled high over my desk again and people are bitching at me 24/7.  Anyway, a six pack would be nice for a bit.  I wouldn’t be douch-ey about it, but I’m sure it would add even more to my confidence.
  5. Run a 5k.  This one I might be doing sooner rather than later. Despite being over 300 pounds most of my adult life, I have stayed fairly active in the warmer months in the northeast.  My high school cross country team was legendary, winning the state title like 4 of 6 years during the time I was there.  I once went on a vacation with my friends and we went to Ocean City New Jersey.  While many of you drank in high school, this vacation had a bunch of us running the boardwalk.  I think I put in 4 miles a few times when I was there.  Through most of my 20s and 30s, I’d run on a track near me and could put in 2 miles.  The most I ever ran was around 7 miles.  I was 23 and had just graduated college and was around 340 pounds.  One night I just got in the zone and ran…and ran…and ran.  I think I could have kept going, it was the most “in the zone” I ever felt in any sport, ever.  I still run occasionally on the treadmill now.
  6. Play adult baseball.  This might be after I get the six pack.  I finished my legion ball up with a .389 average.  I could hit.  The lowest I played at was around 240 or so, and being 5’9″ that means I’m neither tall enough or fast enough to go anywhere.  What’s interesting is I learned a ton about baseball after I stopped playing, and would love to apply what I know now as an adult to an over 40 baseball team.
  7. Play chess professionally.  Today, there’s no money in it.  So, shall I say semi-professionally.  I think I’d top off around 2000-2100 rating – the people above those ratings I tip my cap to.  I was around 16 when I stopped playing and went 5-2-1 in the World Open in Philadelphia in 1991.  My parents divorced and I was working every weekend.  My rating stopped around 1650 or so, and adjusted for today’s ratings it’s somewhere around 1750-1800.  On my bio page you get a nice pic of me as an 8th grader helping my HS team win counties.  Anyway…I’d love to be able to spend weeks/months going more into the nuances of the French and Dutch.  I spent months/years when I was younger studying  the Sicilian, King’s Indian Defense, Benoni, Modern Benoni, Slav, Queen’s Indian, etc.  To just be able to retire and have a few million in the bank…and just dedicate my life to excellence in this…to put it into perspective, someone who played against my team around the same age/rating as me then has been PA champion and is ranked somewhere in the top 200 in the United States.  After all, it’s just a game – but to lose yourself for hours or days in these complexities is….relaxing to me.
  8. Write a book.  I hate fiction.  It would probably be more of a collection of shit like I’m writing here.  I feel like someone like me needs a Wiki page so 200 years from now some idiot can stumble onto me and I don’t feel so dead.
  9. Cook  better.  I’m working on it, now learning to cook with some wines and vinegars.  I love my Alton Brown, but he’s hit and miss.  Some things are amazing, some things turn out kind of shitty.  I have gotten better with my knife skills and have a kick ass cutting board, but my wife hides the damn thing on me so I have to take out 43 things for me to use it.  Fuck.  Anyway, I feel like a lot of these skills should be taught when younger.  I’m not talking about putting on an Apron in home ec.  I’m talking about the science of cooking.  Food safety.  Knife skills.  Types of cuts.  Acids.  Leavening.  Stews.  My next project is some Asian foods, we’ll see how that works.
  10. Finish up the AFI top lists.  When I was like 22, I shredded my ankle pretty good and couldn’t really move, so I started watching movies and fell in love.  Watched a LOT of the AFI top 100 back then.
  11. Live in San Diego (or any other place where it’s 72 and sunny all year round).  I hate the northeast.  When I’ve travelled to Florida or North Carolina and been near the beaches, I felt so much better from the inside out…centered…tranquil.  One trip to see my brother had me walking the beach in the morning for an hour, riding bikes for an hour, playing tennis for 2 hours, then running for an hour every single day.  The sea air in my lungs felt amazing.  It rejuvenated me, and I truly believe THAT was the fountain of youth Ponce De Leon had found.  This was in St. Augustine, and I loved it.  Granted, I wasn’t there during summer, but this was 78-83 and it was December.  So – someday when I win my millions, San Diego is calling.
  12. Have a garden.  As a kid, I saw both sets of my grandparents having a garden and I couldn’t relate.  Today, I’m jealous.  Having been part of a CSA, I really like the idea of fresh food off of the farm.  However, I never had classes like that in high school and it seems something I’d like to start slowly with after I lose a ridiculous amount of weight.  I just like the idea of getting things from your garden and cooking them up that evening.
  13. Train 90 minutes a day.  The only real time left in my life is the morning.  All through high school I’d go in early to life weights.  I’m not a stranger to lifting.  I just do it for days/weeks and then life happens and I lose my way.  I’m thinking I have to start a 5:30AM daily regimen soon.  I know those mornings where I run 2 miles and lift a lot…then you shower, go in to work, and you feel AMAZING all morning.  Calm.  Pulse is low.  Brain runs on a million cylinders.  It feels like drugs.  Life has a really strange way of fucking me all the time, so this may be something I can do here and there, but not consistently.
  14. Write blogs.  Wait, that’s what I’m doing!  Yeah – I’d like to continue this.  Maybe someday I get famous or my son really wants to know who his dad is besides someone’s ass he can kick at NBA 2k15 on the xbox 360.  I felt when I hit my 20s like I wanted to know everything I could about my parents and grandparents.  I think when you’re young, you just don’t know how self centered you can be, it’s only when you grow up you really want to know where you came from and the struggles/joy that others had in their life before you came along.  So – maybe someday we will have a reference of a few hundred or thousand of these to get a profile on who I am and you can bring me back to life digitally 🙂