Over a year ago now I made this post on my old blog, about all the lovely adventures I wanted to have in the (then) intervening 3 and a quarter years between the post and the end of my 3rd decade (sounds grand, doesn’t it? Maybe I will wear a diamond bracelet and go to cocktail parties and laugh heartily with a cynical glint in my eye, like a character in a novel by F Scott Fitzgerald. Or maybe not. Place your bets now…)
The really lovely thing about the original post was that it sparked some nice conversations with people. My sister-in-law suggested a bible app and one of my former colleagues revealed that she’s a dab hand at lemon meringue pies. (Unfortunately lemon curd is available precisely nowhere in Hanoi and judging from other interns’ experiences with uncooked eggs I, erm, wouldn’t make my own out there 😉 )
Here’s the little ‘get out of jail free’ clause I gave myself in case I don’t manage everything 😛 and below I’ve put the original list with my updates in red. <> indicates a swap has taken place.
“I know the first one is cheating because I’ve already started it, but if you tell me that you’ve never started a list with things you’ve already done to make yourself feel better then you’re a liar.
NB: This is an aspirational list, not a realistic one. I fully expect some of these things to take longer than three and a half years and others may simply not appeal to me in a few months time, but mainly these are things I’ve wanted to do for years.”
1.Teach English abroad — as admitted in the original post, including this was sort of a cheat. I feel like I’ve challenged myself one step further though, by taking the infamously stressful full time CELTA course and then putting what I learned into practice teaching much smaller classes of much more attentive students (adults!) in Berlin. I’m still veeeeerry much a novice teacher and I cringe when I think back to my Vietnam days but oh well, no time travel yet 😉 I miss working part time with kids, although I also love having students who are not a physical danger to each other so, you know, swings and roundabouts. 2.Be able to make small talk in Welsh
3.Go sailing again <> I have swapped this for the much warmer but less glamorous idea of developing a strength exercise routine. I hate doing strength exercise, but I love having done it, and I love how my body feels when I get into a routine of it. Also just running alone is a recipe for injury; much as many of us loathe to admit it, runners need to work on strength too. 4.Go on a camping/trekking trip self-navigating
5.Go to Northern Ireland and see the Giant’s Causeway
6.Put my best poems in a collection to publish and illustrate it
7.Find out the name, place of birth and occupation of 4 ancestors born before 1900 — I have done this! In between Vietnam and Berlin I got one of those free two week trials with ancestry.co.uk. I was a woman possessed for two weeks, seriously. We have a bunch of coal miners, a domestic servant, and I think a locomotive driver?! Something to do with locomotives.
8.Start teaching writing workshops <> I think this was on the list because I thought it was the kind of thing jobbing writers ‘should’ do, to be honest. I still find teaching really stressful sometimes and I’m still in the process of working out whether it’s just standard novice teacher self-doubt or whether it’s just not the job for me. I’m replacing #8 with developing a network of other writers who inspire me, who critique my work and get my (writing) goals. This is a massive thing for me because my writing output rockets when I have a sense of duty to do it. When I was in Mouthy Poets I wrote and edited more than I had at any point in my life since uni, and more than I have since. It’s not that I don’t enjoy writing, it’s just absolutely terrifying.
9.Start making most of my own jewellery
10.Start drawing every day
11.Finish reading the Bible — my sister in law recommended an app for this. You can do it in one year but I won’t because some days it just doesn’t happen. I’m slowly getting there though.
12.Start reading the Quran — No but I mean…I only put ‘start’… I should basically just go into Waterstones and read the first page. Boom, done. ‘But won’t you have to read it in the English translation?’ Yes, dear. And I can assure you I ain’t reading the Bible in the original Hebrew/Aramaic/Greek/Latin, either 😉
13.Go to Sapa — Done 🙂 I spent a few days here after my internship in Hanoi ended. It was bliss.
14.Meet an Orangutan <> learn about 10 species living in/ migrating to the British Isles which I hadn’t previously heard of
15.Try street food in Penang <> learn to cook 5 new dishes really, really well.
16.Go back to Nepal <> go on holiday somewhere I haven’t been before
17.Go to Myanmar or Laos <> find a meaningful way to serve the community I live in
18.See Arctic Monkeys live <> go to a festival I haven’t been to before, where a band/singer I love is playing and discover new artists I like.
19.Write a stage play
20.Develop a daily writing habit
21.Start a PhD <> I have an idea for a little writing project I want to do instead. It’s funny because I used to be so, so convinced that I would do a PhD, and now I really don’t think I want to. I think when I say ‘I want to do a PhD’ what I mean is ‘I want to return to the last place I excelled at something (university) because then I felt validated.’ Just NO, Beccy. That way madness lies.
22.Go to Cornwall, Pembrokeshire, the Outer Hebridies, York and Winchester
23.See the Aurora Borealis/Australialis
24.Run another half (sub 2 hours) <> develop a regular, manageable running routine which I stick to (except for illness, injury, storms etc.)
25.Make a lemon Meringue pie <> Learn to make 5 vegan puddings (Americans: I mean dessert 🙂 ) so well that I would happily serve them to non-vegans. So I never did the lemon meringue pie, and then I went vegan in June. The recipes for vegan lemon ‘meringue’ pie look, frankly, crap. (Why does being vegan mean you have to have ‘raw’ pie base?! Stop trying to make healthy pudding happen, Gretchen, it’s not going to happen.) The specific lemon meringue pie thing was because my Granny apparently made an amazing one. My new goal is a way for me to carry on my Granny’s legacy of baking bloody well and making people happy in my own way.
26.Move out of Mum and Dad’s…permanently! (My parents are lovely. But I graduated 4 years ago…) — I now graduated 5 years ago. I’m going to say yes, I’ve done this *frantically touches wood* Wherever I go though, Derby feels like home. I wish I was joking. I am like an excitable puppy on one of those leads that just extends and shortens as necessary. England gives me a long leash, but it never completely lets me go 😉
27.Read poetry every day
28.Print off more photographs!
29.Read a book in German — I mean, yes, but it feels kind of hollow because it was an ‘easy reader’ aimed at German learners…Tbh I am going to keep trying to read German books until I can read poetry by Rainer Maria Rilke. And then I’m just going to carry on. IMAGINE HAVING TWO LANGUAGES OF BOOKS TO GO AT?!?! 😍😍😍😍😍
30.Keep seeing loved ones regularly” — Umm….I mean regularly is relative? Considering I live in another country I see my parents a fair bit. To be honest a lot of my close friendships have commuted to social media now and it’s not as lovely as actually sitting in the same room as someone and hearing their laugh or reading their poems but hey, it does the job for now.
So there you have it. I’ve just clocked that the word count would make Tolstoy jealous (sorry guuuuuuys! Thank you if you made it this far!) so I’m going to add #31 to be completed a very long time before my 30th birthday; learn to write a bloody 500 word post! This is the Twitter age!
No, but thank you if you did 🙃 Let me know what you think, what are your life/5 year/ 5 hour goals, and what do you think of the changes I made?