writing exercise #21: 50 Things I Would Never Do (a confessional)

This was fun. I invite readers to leave their own list in the comments. Fifty was kind of a lot, so go for 10 or 20 if that’s easier.

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50 Things I Would Never Do

Skydive. That’s one. I remember the time my sister, an ex-jock, perpetual adrenaline junkie, tried to take me on this crazy skyline in Vegas. You strap into a harness, they hoist you a hundred feet into the air then send you screaming across the sky the length of a football field. Housewives from Kansas flailed happily overhead, but when my turn came, my body seized into a panic. “I can’t do this!” I said, the words tumbling out despite my determination to be brave. My sister looked disappointed, but rallied. “It’s okay,” she said. We moved on.

Kill an animal. Well, maybe if the world fell apart and I had no other way to feed my kids. But under current circumstances, I can’t imagine actually killing one. Fighting off a shark or mountain lion or bear to the point at which they run, sure. If attacked. But deliberately seeking out the death of a living creature, that’s a line I don’t expect to cross. Bugs, obviously, don’t count. That’s two.

Three: Lie down in front of a tank.

Four: Visit the Midwest.

Five: Get an abortion. Yes, I’m pro-choice and yes, I’m sure the folks I know who opted to get one made the right decision, but for me, wow, as much as I support each individual woman’s right to choose, I could never reconcile the idea that one day “it” wasn’t a baby and the next day it was. How does one arbitrarily pick a date to define the difference? Again, totally  pro-choice – but not a choice I would make.

Six: Get my tongue pierced.

Seven: Get my clitoris pierced.

Eight: Live away from the ocean. Offer me a million-dollar mansion and a lifetime of free chocolate if I move to Nebraska. I will say no.

Nine: Believe that the death of young people is somehow okay because God or the universe deems it so. A friend tried to tell me that the teenage girl who died in a car crash was serene the whole time, according to witnesses, that she’d said she’d wanted to die young, that the moment was beautiful. I have teenagers. I have spent nights worried they’d not make it home. “I can’t have this conversation,” I said.

10: Vote Republican. Have you checked them out lately? They’re lunatics.

11: Comment anonymously on the internet. Okay, confession: I have (rarely) commented anonymously on the internet. But only for good reason! And, generally, I’m against it. Lack of accountability brings out the worst in people and the world needs us to rise, not degenerate.

12: Tell anyone if I have cancer.

13: Torture anyone. At least, not physically.

14: Tell another’s secrets.

15: Tell my own secrets. Good thing I have so few.

16: Pour my heart out to anyone ever again. You know what men mean when they say, “I love you”? Or, “You’re great!”? Or worst of all, “You’re so beautiful!”? They mean, “I want to fuck you.” Which is fine, but not the same. And when the one with meaning is confused with the one that lacks, my heart is the one left hung out to dry.

17: Drink Absolut Peppar. It’s awful.

18: Ski. I tried it. I fell down. It hurt. It was cold. I did not like it.

19: Enjoy music in which the words “nigger” and “bitch” regularly appear.

20: Get a tattoo of a Chinese character. Take that, suckers.

21: Tell anyone that they should read The Celestine Prophecy, watch What the Bleep or subscribe to The Secret. Really, people? All the beautiful, meaningful literature and film in the world and you choose that crap? Get out of your house and into the forest, leave your laptop and head to the beach, dig yourself out of the garbage and wander into reality, in which working hard and being a good person get you halfway and the circumstances you’re born into define the rest. And then keep working hard and being a good person.  And pick better books and movies.

22: Stop being so impulsive.

23: Stop being kind of greedy.

24: Stop feeling strongly about things.

25: Stop pointing out that the aforementioned attributes are a large part of why people are drawn to me, why I’ve ended up having adventures, why life continues to be big and juicy for me, even if eventually they also all lead to my downfall.

26: Take myself too seriously. At least I hope not.

27: Reach a point where I no longer worry about my children.

28: Grow embarrassed over my scars. Stories, all of them, and what is life without stories?

29: Enjoy raw broccoli. I know, right? Total character flaw.

30: Regret trying to improve myself. Speaking of character flaws.

31: Understand the appeal of instrumental music as anything other than background. I know the reason is because I can’t play anything and all I can do is sing along, so I resent when the singing is taken away – how am I supposed to be a part of things when the music is reduced to its parts? Parts I cannot pretend to understand. I feel excluded and I hate that.

32: Have sympathy for those younger than me complaining about turning 30. Big fucking deal, guys.

33: Not pick up trash on the beach. I am that good a person.

34: Stop regretting I wasn’t better with money all these years. Jesus, the waste. I could’ve sent my kids to college with the overdraft fees alone. That’s an exaggeration, but the dollars run into the thousands, unforgiveable.

35: Being annoyed by people who equate owning pets with having children. It’s not the same, folks.

36: Understand the appeal of the Grateful Dead.

37: Stop thinking owning a Hummer indicates anything other than you’re a complete asshole.

38: Stop wishing I was less judgmental.

39: Look good in lavender.

40: Like the smell of eucalyptus pods. Cat piss, anyone?

41: Feel less smug about my ability to parallel park. Like a boss.

42: Forget to be grateful for my friends, who tolerate my smugness and the fact that I’m an judgmental asshole.

43: Think rape is something asked for. The guy who forced himself on my when I was 16 thought it was okay because I’d had sex with other guys and should therefore have sex with him. He was wrong.

44: Excuse my behavior by saying, “I was really drunk.” Okay, so I’ve excused my behavior with exactly that more times than I can count. But explaining and apologizing is not the same as condoning – and that’s what I hope to never do. If I’m a jerk, an embarrassment, I will do my best to own it.

45: Stop regretting the times I eschewed romance for practicality. I’d have fonder memories if I’d valued the former more.

46: Forget to be grateful for every moment spent lying in the sun by the river. Each one suggests a life worth living. I have been lucky.

47: Wish to be someone else. Miss out on all these adventures? The three kids, the husband, the poverty, the dysfunction? The love, the laughter, the mutual admiration of sunsets and silly movies? Box up my life and tie a bow around it – the whole complicated package has been a gift.

48: Be brave in the face of loss. I am terrified.

49: Run out of ideas.

50: Quit writing. I hope.

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