Fictional Bucket Lists

One of these days, I’ll get to posting my own bucket list on here. It’s on the long, never-ending to-do list, I swear.

It’s just that I find other peoples’ bucket lists more fascinating. Other people think of things I would never thing of, and it’s such an interesting peek into a person’s inner workings.

Besides. I get stumped when I think of what to add to mine. It’s like when you’re playing “Never Have I Ever” and you can only think of things you’ve done already. But something fun I do, is imagine what some of my favorite characters would have on their bucket lists.

And over a series, that might totally change. It’s like, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. If that mouse gets a cookie, he’s going to want a glass of milk, and so on. Just like when we cross things off of our bucket lists, we end up finding more things we want to do.

Harry Potter’s bucket list when he lived under the cupboard under the stairs, was probably something like: Get something other than socks for Christmas. Have his parents or someone miraculously rescue him from the Dursleys. Have Dudley turn into a pig.

…All of which, remarkably, happen, one way or another.

Who else? The Doctor’s bucket list is probably as long as his lifespan. The universe is full of so many things to see and do! A planet made of diamonds, a planet that is an entire library, anywhere and anything in all of time and space. Oh, and he has to see Barcelona. The planet, not the city. It has dogs without noses, apparently.

I don’t know if I can necessarily add intergalactic time travel to my bucket list, but I can derive from the Doctor’s great sense of adventure!

Gollum’s bucket list must’ve been pretty simple. Have his precious. Stay away from nasty hobbitses. While Merry and Pippin’s bucket lists probably only extended to the acquisition of their next meal.

I like to imagine bucket lists for our characters once they got their happy endings. After all, once you finish your bucket list, you’re not going to go and commit hara kiri, are you? “Welp, I ran out of things, guess it’s time to go now”.

Nah. Don’t do that.

Snow White totally wanted to go on a cruise with all seven of the dwarves (they really deserved a vacation from the mines) and matchmake them with some equally adjectivally-named dwarvettes.

Elsa’s going to go on a round-the-world trip and meet Jack Frost and have lots of snowy little babies. (I CAN DREAM. STOP. LET ME GO ENJOY MY FANFICTIONS). Though that’s probably not on her bucket list, because Elsa is a strong, independent ice queen who doesn’t need no man! …But Jack Frost just happens to be around. And is super dreamy…

Okay, enough with the tangent. John Watson’s bucket list is hoping to live one day where Sherlock doesn’t give him a heart attack. Maybe Professor X dreams of gaining a superpower to grow a fierce head of hair.

I don’t know. But it’s fun to think about the sorts of silly and serious things characters would jot down on a crumbled post-it, or in their secret diary. It certainly helps me dream of what else should be on mine too!

Who is one of your favorite characters and what would be on their bucket list?

 

Love always,
Gabriele

Inspiration 7.25.14

Summer is so unfair. The days are so long, but the season goes by in the blink of an eye! We’re nearly into August, and I’m just not ready. This week, I worked with two amazing groups of writers, who are inspiring me to try to coherently organize my own ramblings. Ooh, and not to totally be in-your-face, but I’m sorta kinda super proud of this silly article I wrote for Bibliosmiles on books recommendations for each zodiac sign. (Psst – you should all write something for it!)

Also I’m focusing on badgering people for bucket list interviews this weekend. Hopefully some will share with us! But go out and live your own bucket list – and as always, if you need help, here are the interesting picks of the week.

• Why old books smell of vanilla – I wonder what an old kindle will end up smelling like…

• Hammocks are perfect for summer reading. And well, life. I want one of these crazy ones!

• Did you ever have these worry dolls? I did – I love the idea of talismans.

• Important lesson on not giving a sh*t.

• XOJane challenged their writers to show off their beach bods and then the readers did the same – all that is required, is to have both a bod, and a bathing suit. No insane dieting or exercise, sounds good to me!

• I’m not a teen, but I still loved this thread on AskReddit where teenagers ask adults life questions.

• My lovely boss lady wrote about our field trip to Penguin Publishing House last week on her blog.

 

Enjoy your weekend!

Love always,
Gabriele

Permission to Be Happy

Overachievers have a bit of a curse. It’s difficult for us to be happy. I think we’re not impressed with our own track record. Because like, how could we be anything else? Yes, I had the perfect GPA. Yes, I managed three jobs during my senior year of college. Yes, I did this, that, oh and that too. But, there was no other option. To perform at any level but my best would be like trying to hold my breath.

For perfectionists, at least myself, there’s this constant – not even a voice, but an electric undercurrent in my skin, that’s buzzing along, endlessly worrying. Am I doing enough? Am I reaching my potential? Why haven’t I reached this milestone yet? Good gracious, what is wrong with me?

Sashi's always happy

Sashi’s always happy

A lot of my problems have stemmed from needing to be perfect. Perfect daughter. Perfect body. Perfect student. Perfect manic pixie dream girl, to myself.

And I worry that in having a bucket list blog, it seems like a race to check off all the things on the list. But, a lot of times, the accomplishments I list here, just happen totally coincidentally.

And it’s good to push yourself – it is. But it’s okay to stop on your journey and take a moment to breathe too. Or… to enjoy the journey. Be happy where you are, find happiness in the struggle. Why is it a struggle, anyway? Maybe we should call it a ‘strive’. That sounds so much better, like a plant leaning toward the sun for warmth, its roots stretching out in the rich soil for nourishment.

I feel like I need to give myself permission to be happy where I am.

Maybe it’s a millennial thing, or a being-in-your-20s thing. Maybe it’s from being the product of an ambitiously rigorous environment. Maybe it’s my own neurosis. Type-A personality. Whatever. There doesn’t need to be a reason.

But here it is. You, me, everyone, has permission to be happy where you are. Keep growing. Keep leaning toward that sunshine and letting your petals unfurl. Keep adding things to your bucket list. Do your best, everyday. But appreciate where you are too, because you’re not just some random clod of dirt. Your life is just as beautiful a garden as anyone’s, and you’ve made it so.

You’re a rose. Or a lily. An orchid, a bluebell, a forget-me-not. Hey, be a cactus if that’s what you want. It’s all fantastic.

Even if there are things we feel we must change. I ought to stop my crazy chewing-gum addiction. Budget and learn to be financially savvy. Do more things to help my fellow earthlings. Be kind.

But I’m also enough where I am right now. Because it’s impossible to be any ‘Me’-er than I already am, at the risk of sounding like a Dr. Seuss book. We only flower for such a short instance on this planet. It’s far too silly, I think, to spend it miserable.

So even as I continue to grow, I’m going to find joy. I’m going to strive, instead of struggle.

And then, I’ll thrive.

Love always,
Gabriele

Inspiration 7.20.14

Hello! Hope your weekend is full of sunshine, and if you haven’t yet crossed going to the beach off of your summer bucket list, you do so immediately.

I kicked off this weekend with a field trip with my coworkers to take a tour of Penguin publishing house and meet John Green’s fabulous editor. For those of you not in the YA literary world, John Green is basically Beatlemania, and his editor would be like meeting the Beatles’s manager. It was such a treat to meet her! I spent the rest of the weekend reading (what else) and catching up with friends I haven’t seen in years.

Here are your weekend links for inspiration in your own life!

• The story of the tallest woman to ever live is unique and touchingly poignant.

• Is it bad that I really would love to see these Rejected Princesses get their own movies?

• I love this 17 minute movie short about a blind boy in Portugal falling in love, entitled Eu Não Quero Voltar Sozinho or, I Don’t Want to Go Back Alone. It’s being expanded into a full-length film this year!

• An offshoot of the American Confederate South living in Brazil? Life is stranger than fiction.

• This site is so helpful for fueling my Netflix binging.

• Life, After. How one reporter adjusted to life after losing his arm.

• Does “Orange is the New Black” match up to prison life? One former inmate gives her perspective.

 

Enjoy your weekend!

Love always,

Gabriele

Bucket Firsts – Attend a Bridal Shower

So. It’s that time. The marrying time.

I know three women from my high school who have been recently married – two from my year, and one who was in choir with me. My friend from Purchase tied the knot a few months ago.

But now. Now, things have hit that next level of adulthood. One of my high school friends is on her way down the aisle.

Jen set the tone for my entire high school life. As freshmen, two of my friends and I were split from the rest of our middle school friends, all of them had been scheduled the earlier lunch time slot. The three of us perched on a free space in the busy cafeteria, scared to break any of the rules of that sacred jungle. Somehow, we met Jen, a senior, and she took us under her wing, letting us sit at her lunch table.

 

Early days

June 2008! A lifetime ago. I’m in the brown dress, Jes is center, and Jen is at the end.

 

We were indoctrinated into her mishmash group – the gamers. Soon, we eager-faced little freshies were hanging out with them at the DDR club, and totally thinking we were the coolest ever. I would see Jen sneaking back into the school after she had ‘smoked’ cigarettes in the parking lot. She never actually smoked them, she recently revealed to me. At Jen’s graduation, and then her grad party, I met her sister, who was a year younger than me. Her sister was coming to the high school next year, and would turn into one of my best friends. Jes!

Jen went off to college, but her family became like a second home to me. It takes a village to grow up, and Jen’s family was, and is, part of my village.

And now Jen is getting married! Ahh! I wish her and her fiance nothing but happily-ever-afters. Her bridal shower was beautiful – set in peacock colors, and the favors were tea sachets (truly after my own heart, there). We sat Jen down on a throne so she could open her gifts, and Jes, our friends, and the bridesmaids became an assembly line of presenting her with her gifts.

We were pressed on time, so we each had a duty. Jes’s aunt instructed Stephanie and I to open the envelopes for Jen with the end of a spoon. Anything sharp at a bridal shower was bad luck, she told us, and we shouldn’t take any chances. But we severely underestimated the amount of presents, so we were told to unwrap them for the bride-to-be.

It felt so taboo to unwrap someone else’s gifts! Like I was the Grinch, stealing Christmas. We were flustered and out-of-breath as we tried to keep the presents moving to Jen, and then back around the table, after her audience, the brood of women had clucked their approval for each.

I looked up, and spying the only little girl in attendance, I said to one of the bridesmaids, “What we really need is a kid. This is a dream come true for a kid.”

So we drafted Jen’s five-year-old cousin to our ranks. Clutching a pink elephant plushie, the little girl was all-too-happy to tear apart wrapping paper and be the first to see what laid beneath. She also wanted the prettiest of the ribbons for herself, which I suppose was due payment.

By the end of the ceremony, I like we’d had just run a marathon. Our littlest soldier looked disappointed the pile of presents turned out, sadly, to be finite.

 

The beautiful sisters, now.

The beautiful sisters, Jes and Jen, now in 2014.

 

Still, the bridal shower was beautiful. It was tremendous to see this gathering of women come together for Jen, as we all send her good juju for life’s next adventure. She was beautiful, aglow with happiness. It’s incredible to see both her and Jes, grown from our early days of high school, into such gorgeous, extraordinary women.

Life, huh? It’s still a couple months til Jen’s wedding. I’ll watch my first friend get married! …And we’ll be sure to learn I’m one of those crying sentimental saps.

 

Love always,
Gabriele

Inspiration 07.13.14

Happy weekend! I can’t believe we’re almost halfway done with summer already. I could stay forever in these days that seem endless.

This weekend, I’ve been busy catching up with movies (How to Train Your Dragon 2!) and friends alike. I went to my first bridal shower, and then to a barbecue with the old high school gang. These days are so busy. There is so much to see and so much to fit in, all under the blue skies that stretch into forever. I love it. There’s scarcely time to breathe.

But if you do have some down time, I’ve prepared some interesting links for mindless browsing. Enjoy!

• Have you seen the gorgeous Super Moon over the last view days? It looks to me like a giant cookie!

• A couple creates their OK Cupid profiles to see how well the site would match them together… Eek.

This video of How to Put On Your Face is a must-watch. Everyday. Forever.

• Wow. I’m so inspired by people who can work in Child Protective Services. I think my heart would break.

• Christopher Walken as Hook in Peter Pan? Can we just cast Christopher Walken as all the roles?

• What it’s like to be raised by an intellectually-challenged parent.

• I’m already in Game of Thrones withdrawal, but I’m going to miss Jack Gleeson even more.

 

Enjoy your weekend!

Love always,
Gabriele

Finding Family

I spent my Fourth of July weekend out in Long Island with my best friend and European safari buddy, Jes. She is fully Italian – I’m a lowly halfblood – and the chance to hang out with her boisterous family was as fun and stimulating as you can imagine. As Jes puts it, “We’ll cry and yell and then be laughing the next minute.”

From Europe to Long Island, anywhere we go, we're still awesome

From Europe to Long Island, anywhere we go, we’re still awesome

We had our mix of relaxing on the beach, watching fireworks, and oh, there was the excitement when a drunk man walking home from the bar thought Jes’s house was his, and kept trying to open the door, so we had to call the cops on him. You know, usual things like that.

But it was exactly what I needed. And I’m so grateful to Jes and her family that they let me tag along. I love listening to family stories, and picking the brains of older generations for their experiences and advice, especially as I stumble my way through early adulthood.

Sometimes, there are firecrackers in our lives that get in the way of having a conventional family life. Things beyond our control, before we were born. Feuds over things, whether they’re mountains or molehills. Separations, impermanent or permanent. Geographical distance. And then, there’s the question of what really makes a family?

I love reading about unconventional families. I’ll read articles about polyamorous families, or blended families, or communes, intrigued by how people can live so differently.

And some of the best fictional families are quirky too! Snow White lived pretty well with seven dwarves, after all. For many people, having a family is an unspoken necessity on their bucket list. It is on mine, in some form or another. I’ve written about some of my favorite odd families here:

Eloise by Kay Thompson
This spunky six-year-old lives in the Plaza hotel with her darling Nanny (played by the equally darling Julie Andrews in the movie). Her sophisticated mother is constantly off on whirlwind business trips, and is never shown in the books (see – neglectful parenting). But Eloise has the often weary Plaza staff, perplexed hotel guests, and of course, her pug, turtle, and pigeons on her NYC windowsill to keep her company.

Harry Potter by JK Rowling
While the Dursleys’ love for Harry is debatable, he finds a new family in that of the Weasleys, his godfather Sirius, and Hogwarts.

“Well,” said Mrs. Weasley, breathing deeply and looking around the table for support that did not come, “well…I can see I’m going to be overruled. I’ll just say this: Dumbledore must have had his reasons for not wanting Harry to know too much, and speaking as someone who has Harry’s best interests at heart –”
“He’s not your son,” said Sirius quietly.
“He’s as good as,” said Mrs. Weasley fiercely.

Even if you take out the magic, it’s a powerful story about a boy finding love in spite of being an orphan. And I think all of us found a family in this series and the community that sprung up around it. As JK Rowling wrote, “Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home”.

Matilda by Roald Dahl
The sleazy, anti-intellectual Wormwoods are proof that the family we’re born into can be like living with Martians. But Matilda manages to find someone who needs a family just as much as she does. Her sweet and quiet teacher Miss Honey welcomes Matilda into her perfect cottage. I can picture the two of them there eternally, reading books among the flowers.

The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells
Growing up in pre-Civil Rights south, Vivi, Teensy, Necie, and Carol’s family’s all have their demons. From the time they’re young enough to enter a Shirley Temple lookalike contest, the girls cling to each other. War, religion, and – all buffet the girls like pieces of debris in a tornado, but they ground each other.

“Some women pray for their daughters to marry good husbands. I pray that my girls will find girlfriends half as loyal and true as the Ya-Yas.”

His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman
In this alternate universe, our souls are manifested in animal forms called daemons that stay close to us our entire lives. These companions can change what animal they are until we become teenagers, and they settle into an animal that is the perfect complement to our soul. Lyra doesn’t have much in the way of family, but her daemon Pantalaimon is everything she needs.

I know I’m missing a ton of families from my list. The possibilities are an infinite as human beings are unique. But they’re a good reminder that there is no normal, and that fitting our lives into a box is both unrealistic and obstructive to our happiness.

Family is who you let live in your heart with you.

Love always,
Gabriele