Our Bucket Lists

Lea Wait:  Sorting through papers this month (January is that sort of month) I found a sheet of yellow legal paper dated July 6, 2000 on which I’d written a list of goals. I’d moved to Maine 18 months before then, was anticipating the publication of my first book in 2001, and was taking care of my mother pretty much full-time at that point in my life. Some things on the list were specific. “To have a rowboat with a motor.” (Check!) “To find someone in Maine who can do my hair.” (Check!) Others clearly came out of where I was emotionally at that time “Lots of warm baths and massages and cups of tea and glasses of champagne.” (Sounds like a solid ongoing goal to me!) Some were too personal to share, and others I won’t bore you with. Most of them, I’m happy to say, have been met. And even surpassed.

But the list got me thinking. What dreams would we be willing to share? What fantasies? Not counting that list, I’ve managed to do most of the major things I’ve wanted to do in my life. Considering my age, that’s a good thing. Some things I know now I’ll never do. But … if I were dreaming … what would I love to do? Here are a few things on my dream Bucket List:  Visit the three countries my daughters came from where I’ve never been (Thailand, Hong Kong & Korea.) Be invited to the White House. Go with my husband to Florence, Italy and St. Petersburg, Russia. (Not necessarily in the same trip!) Write a truly wonderful book, in which the words sing. Spend New Year’s Eve in Paris. Visit a few places in North America I’ve never been: Newport. Montreal. Key West. The Grand Canyon.

What about the rest of you? What’s on your bucket list?

John here: The movie by this title made me skittish about the term, but like everyone else, I have secret, or not so secret wishes I’d love to see come true. Some are achievable, some highly doubtful, but I’ve learned that nothing happens if I don’t desire it. In no particular order mine are: Mining an opal in Australia, fishing for monster brown trout in New Zealand, sailing through the Straits of Magellan, having tea with The Dalai Lama with the Himalayas in the background, seeing my first book as a movie, meeting Medwyn Goodall in Cornwall, going across Canada by train. Riding the Copper Canyon Line, visiting Bainbridge Island again and then taking a ferry to Vancouver, visiting the dozen or so states I haven’t seen yet.

Lea: Oh, I want to borrow your ‘traveling across Canada by train!” I used to want to travel on the Orient Express, but I’m not sure there even is one anymore. But I’ll add that one, too.

Kaitlyn Dunnett here. I’m not entirely sure what the difference is between a bucket list and a wish list. I’m thinking the bucket list consists of things I could actually do if I just put my mind to it, while achieving goals on a wish list (making the Times bestseller list; being offered a million dollar book contract, winning an Edgar, etc) is pretty much dependent upon things beyond my control. Incidentally, the first two are not on my personal wish list. I’m quite happy being a midlist author. The third one is, but it’s never going to happen. The only humorous mystery novel I can think of that ever won an Edgar was Sharyn McCrumb’s Bimbos of the Death Sun and that was either paperback original or best first, neither of which I qualify for. Oh, well. I have my Agatha (for nonfiction). I’m quite content with that.

So what’s on my big to-do list, as opposed to my little, daily ones? I want to see my fiftieth published book in print. This requires writing it. It’s under contract. It’s started. It’s due September 1st. I just have to turn the current fifty or so pages of garbage into a fast-paced, twisty, funny 300+ page mystery novel. All do-able, if not exactly a piece of cake.

What else? Hmm. To tell the truth, I’ve already met most of my long-term goals. I’m living where I want to live. Sandy and I are reasonably healthy and busy with activities we enjoy. I have a three-book contract that will keep me coming out with new Liss MacCrimmon mysteries until 2015. I would like to write at least one more mystery using characters from the Face Down series (w/a Kathy Lynn Emerson), although not necessarily with Lady Appleton as the sleuth. I’d sort of like to visit England and Scotland again, but since I don’t enjoy traveling all that much this is one of those on-again-off-again items. I really do enjoy just staying home. I’ve long had one other secret desire. It is going to be fulfilled. But since it’s a secret, I can tell you about it yet. Soon. Very soon.

Barb: Ooh, Kaitlyn–A secret. I’m intrigued.  (Lea:  Me, too!)

Kate Flora: Though I hate the term “bucket list,” I do have things I want to do that I don’t seem to get around to. Some of the things on my list–like getting an Edgar nom and having a book optioned for a movie, have happened. Now I have to get out of my chair and start doing some of the active things. I want to climb Katahdin before I’m too feeble to do it, and see Gulf Hagas, though after the stories the wardens tell, I’m a little nervous about that. I want to learn to tap dance. Yes. Really. I do. I want to learn to take good photographs. I want to learn to sing. A silly thing to have on the list, since I sing like a crow, but still. I’m stuck on that image of Michele Pfeiffer curled up on the piano in Fabulous Baker Boys. Yeah. Silly. Especially since I’d look like a sack of potatoes in a slinky red dress.

In the authorial ambitions/bucket list department? I have books I still need to write, about six more at this point, and books I want to sell, but I’m strangely content after years of being jealous of the other kids. Yes, I have to write another Thea Kozak mystery. I need to see what happens next. I need to finish the Joe Burgess quartet. I have two nonfiction projects that I need to finish, because they matter to other peoples’ lives. And I have to write the book I’ve never been able to write. It’s pretty great, really. But I’ll never come near to Kathy’s fifty. I just don’t want to get stuck at 13, which is where I’ll be if I sell one more.

And Kaitlyn, I still have my well-worn copy of Bimbos. Was sad when Sharyn decided she wasn’t one of us–not a mystery writer–any more.

Sarah:  Don’t laugh, but it’s been a long time since I spent a whole winter somewhere warm, and that was in Northern California, not exactly known for its tropicality in winter. I’d like to do it either in Arizona or somewhere in the East that I don’t know about yet. But southern California isn’t out of the question; I’ve been there only very briefly. Maui would be good, too. And a different one every year would be fabulous. But that’s getting beyond the bucket list and into fantasy-land, isn’t it? So I’ll just go back to “a winter somewhere warm” and leave it at that.

Barb: Amazing how many of our list items are travel-related. I have some of those, too. I’d like to rent an apartment for a month every year in a different city. Rome. Paris. New York. And now that I’m just back from Cuba–more on that this week–Havana. Though the State Department would have to cooperate.

Writing-wise, I’m very happy with my current contract for three Maine Clambake Mysteries, but I also have a stand-alone suspense in my head I’d like to write. I’d like to go back to a more literary bent with my short stories. I have another series concept that I love and would love to find a publisher for–and the time to write.

Other than that–time with family, and, of course, more time in Maine.

Vicki:  I may the only one of our group who is still a full-time parent — meaning, I have a child still in school, yet to fly our little Camden nest — so I think that factors into the fact that I haven’t had much time to think about bucket or wish lists… yet.  I do set goals every year, and write them down, and some are professional (both real estate and writing) and some are personal. Some are house projects!  I’m pretty good at knocking things off my lists and it’s gratifying to go back and see what I’ve accomplished.

Basically, though, I agree with Kaitlyn — I’m very content. Happy and grateful to be writing, loving the new people I meet through real estate, proud of my kids, etc etc. There are some amazing bike trips I’d like to take (southeast Asia, for instance) and I would love to live in Italy for several months and become fluent. I will think seriously about these ideas when Lexi’s safely ensconced at Northeastern.

Meanwhile….I am taking on two very exciting new things next month:  an acting class (which I’ve always wanted to do!) and ukulele lessons (never really wanted to do it, but my daughter and I decided it could be fun!) Who knows, maybe a new bucket list goal will be to act in a play or strum for a Hawaiian band.

Oh, and Kate — both Katahdin and Gulf Hagas are TOTALLY awesome. I’ve climbed Katahdin three times, and it is a truly spiritual experience for any Mainer.

Gerry: No complaints. Healthy and happy and well aware that compared to many, many others (read the news) I’m damn lucky. So the things I have on a list (if not on paper than in the back of my head?):

Reread King Lear and Macbeth. Travel in Asia, including the cross-China trip I missed by wrecking my knee a couple of years ago. Write poetry, including one thread of a poem that keeps coming back to me, year after year. Get back to Cape Town and stay a while, with someone I know well. Reread Thoreau. Turn in the paperwork for my Irish citizenship. Write a collection of short stories. Reread Moby Dick. Sail down the eastern seaboard to the Caribbean. Send a collection of my books to Keith Richards (he loves the genre)–and have him actually receive them. Write a crime novel that sums it all up. And then have a great idea for another one.

James:  To write and deliver the acceptance speech for my third Oscar.  My second Oscar would be okay too.  Even my first. At the moment I’m lying in the sunshine on the beach in Longboat Key Florida. 70 degrees and perfect so I’m crossing that one off the list.

Lea: Sounds as though we’re all doing pretty well! If  there are any tortured souls among us … we doing a great job at hiding them. Which is just fine. Onward into 2013 …. or as one of my favorite toy cartoon characters says, “To infinity … and beyond!” 



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2 Responses to Our Bucket Lists

  1. I forgot one. Definitely would like to be able to hire a cleaning service to do all that housework I currently ignore until the dust bunnies are as big as one of the cats. First, though, I have to conquer my aversion to having strangers handle my stuff . . .

  2. Yes — a cleaning lady would be sooooooo nice.

    And Lea — I have to tell you about the time our family was stuck on a ride at Disneyworld (something happened and it broke) and all we heard, again and again, for what seemed like hours, was the character from Toy Story belting out, “To Infinity… And Beyond!”

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