The Things Left Uncrossed

No, this isn’t a religious post concerning those unholy things that have been left unblessed by a lack of Hail Mary’s and crossings-of-thyself. Imma instead be talking about checklists, of the travel sort. And as this is my 200th post, I thought I’d do a longer and more philosoraptor-y piece as I did for my 100th.

I started writing this a long time ago – back when I came back from Australia and was ruminating on all those things I’d had as a list of to-do’s. My checklist for Oz followed as thus:

–       Get hair dyed

–       Eat bread

–       Eat cheese

–       Eat chicken pot pie

–       Go to North Gong beach

–       Get a picture with cockatoos in Sydney

–       Try surfing

–       Have steak (MMM BEEF)

–       Hang out in Sydney

–       Go on dolphin kayak trip

–       Trampoline park

–       Nan Tien Temple

Incense stand looking out from the Nan Tien Temple; took this on my last visit, but I really wanted to go back again.
Incense stand looking out from the Nan Tien Temple; took this on my last visit, but I really wanted to go back again.

I also had a list of four people that I wanted to see, apart from C who I’d be staying with.

But, no matter what the trip, it’s impossible to get everything done that you wanted to. Your checklist – physical, mental, or vaguely lodged in the back of your brain – will always have a few things left uncrossed.

I used to feel thwarted by life if I didn’t get to accomplish everything in one go. This could be attributed to a Virgo-esque need for organization, but was mostly likely a dash of good old OCD and the highest of expectations caused by my fanciful daydreaming nature.

When I was really young, as in eight-and-under, an outing checklist could be something like spotting all the different animals in the Montreal Biodome, which we visited a lot.

Inevitably either the otters weren’t sliding down their waterfalls, the beavers were hiding, or the sloth was lost in the canopy of the rainforest room. As such, I never managed to have, what was in my mind, the “perfect” Biodome visit.

Montreal Biodome, a picture I took ages ago of a particularly excited crowd of kids on a school trip.

When I was older and went to New York, my goal was seeing all the touristy stuff – Statue of Liberty, Rockefeller Center, Empire State Building, and every single art museum from top to bottom.

I’ve been to New York five times and never been to the Empire State Building or the Guggenheim (the last one still breaks my heart though).

Although I have been to Times Square. Numerous times.
Although I have been to Times Square. Numerous times. (Photo circa 2008)

I started to realize the flaw of the completed checklist a few years ago while at the Brome County Fair. For all those who haven’t been, it’s literally what it sounds like: a county fair in Brome, Quebec.

I’ve been going since I was a tiny tot wearing overalls, flannel, and rocking wheat coloured curls. And what happens when you go to something every year since wobbling on your first pair of light-up sneakers?

Tradition.

In my case, it was having all my favourite foods – of which, there are a lot there.

Bratwurst sausage on rye with mustard and sauerkraut.
Gotta have my bratwurst sausage on rye with mustard and sauerkraut.
And cotton candy of course.
And cotton candy of course.
And we can't not have the home made potato chips...
And we can’t not have the home made potato chips…
And omg the Lord of the Onion Rings truck!
And omg the Lord of the Onion Rings truck!!
Day's not complete without those.
Day’s not complete without those.

But what happens when you try to eat three people’s daily food intake in a few hours and enjoy the rides and not show the rest of the fairgoers the contents of your stomach?

Well one of those things has got to give, and I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions.

What I finally started to understand was that you can’t have your cake and eat it too – almost quite literally in this case. You can no more pack in every single checklist item into a trip – no matter the length of its duration – than I could eat all the food at the Brome County Fair in an afternoon. Sometimes just being in a place is enough and you really can’t have it all go your way.

Result? Cherry-picking what you really want most out of the experience.

Though this certainly isn’t what the kid in all of us wants, it’s what the grown-up we become has to learn to compromise with.

Just one of the many aggravating things about growing up.

That said, it certainly makes those things you do choose to do a lot more special.

When Andrea and I started planning our Montreal exodus, there were heaps of things we wanted to do to say goodbye to our country: go camping, see Niagara Falls, perhaps drop by the Maritimes, take a spontaneous drive down to the states…but we didn’t accomplish any of that. Instead, we unconsciously agreed (on the frequency level of our psychic brain-twinnery connection) that what we really wanted to do was two simple things:

1)   Spend time with family and friends incessantly until our presence disgusted them.

2)   Eat as much Montreal-specific food as could possibly be consumed.

We left Canada none-the-wiser as to how majestic Niagara appears, but with great memories of friends to last us until our next visit home. (Also we looked marginally like bloated belugas from all the poutine, steamés (steamy hot dogs), maple bacon, and bagels we’d stuffed ourselves with for #2, but that’s besides the point).

No regrets.

So while checklists are great for keeping focused, making sure time doesn’t get squandered if it’s in short supply, they usually work better as a general guideline.

In attempting to follow this line of thought, I try and keep one or two main important things in mind for a trip – the things that, should I not accomplish them, I’d be truly disappointed in myself for failing at life so thoroughly.

For my first trip to Australia, it was to dive the Great Barrier Reef.

Nemo fish in anemone at the Great Barrier Reef!!
Nemo fish in anemone at the Great Barrier Reef!!

For this trip, that happened to be visiting the list of people I wanted to see, all but C of whom I hadn’t seen in almost three years.

This was accomplished with flying colours (a feat all the more impressive for the fact that I had no phone or internet connection for like 98% of the time to coordinate meetups).

As for the other checklist items, I threw in stuff like “try surfing” (on my list since last visit as well) knowing almost full-well I wouldn’t do it. But it was there as incentive, should opportunity arise.

Getting my hair done was a semi-important one that was accomplished, since Caucasian hair bewilders the majority of Asian hairdressers, but most of the other stuff was very simple to knock off, such as my many food goals. (Laugh all you want at those, but damn does having no real bread or cheese take its toll a few months in).

And steak! Red, juicy, rare-as steak!

My actual photos of the steak (yes, I took pictures of my steak) were on my broken hard drive, but this is a juicy substitute for your mind’s eye.

I compromised by cutting the dolphin kayak trip, trampoline park, and a return to the Nan Tien Temple, partly because I was terribly sun sick but mostly because time just ran out.

So, though I did not accomplish everything I set out to do this trip, I wouldn’t say it was a failure, nor would I say I was thwarted by cruel, cruel life’s attempt to cheat me out of a good vacation. Because when I set out, I wanted it to be just that: a vacation. Therefore relaxing and taking a break from Korea was my main intention, and in this way I couldn’t have succeeded better.

Callala Beach, one blissful afternoon.
Callala Beach, one blissful afternoon.
Oh, glorious sun-baked sand, how I missed thee.
Oh, glorious sun-baked sand, how I missed thee.

Anyway, the good thing about never having a completed list is always having something to look forward to, to always have a reason to go back.

So here’s to all the future plans to keep us going.

Because I’m rereading Harry Potter so Potterverse references all around.

And, dear readers, I ask you: what are some of the uncrossed checklist items that are burning a hole on your bucketlist?

P.S. I’ve also been crafting up a new page for your entertainment (and my own sense of life organization!) which will map out my bucket list which is expanding at roughly the same rate as the universe. I’m hoping that this blog will be around long enough (if I can get my act together and start posting consistently again!) to see me cross a bunch of those off over the years.


17 thoughts on “The Things Left Uncrossed

  1. 1st thankyou for adding another picture of Luna Lovegood, my fav characters in the movie portion of the series.
    2nd. I so ❤ the pix of you at the fair, so HAPPY, like the song now that's played so often (sorry Robyn but I love it)
    3rd. You finding your Nemo fish made me so Happy for you.
    4th. I could not possibly eat all those items at the fair (for my better judgement, I love my stomach)
    5th. that reminds me my sister brought up Michigan Red Hots we used to eat down near Plattsburgh, NY, when father used to satisfy his weekend bucket list of american beer, snacking food and novelty items. I have a vague memory of that odd hot dog and even more oddly named stomach churner.
    6th. my bucket list is more like The Code. It's more a guideline of stuff i'd want to try, attempt, hike to, wander about, wish for, consume and aim for, though some are well beyond reality.
    7th. I am presently and at this moment accomplishing one of those i wished for and have been strongly encouraged to adopt by my progeny and presently using it to comment here.
    So there, one more checked off my bucket list.
    Thanks Marta for the opportunity to take up so much room on this blogfest.

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  2. BTW the Ginger comment from the above as well as this one should read Daddo and not Ginger. There is still some work to be done about reconfiguring this machine. My apologies to Ginger et al.

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    1. Hahahaha I was so confused for a moment there – it sounded so much like something you would write (memories and all) that I did a double take before reading your second comment. Mystery solved! Also what’s the accomplishment listed above which said progeny encouraged you to complete?

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  3. You ARE growing up! Have you watched “The Bucket List” yet? It’s really good. And really makes you take a look at what you would like to get done. General guidelines are about right. Stars to steer by. Doesn’t mean you can’t explore unexpected islands on your way to the shore you are aiming for. Life is about the journey…ALL of the fun is in getting there, because when you get there, much like the ride at the fair, it means it’s over. You rough out an approximate route and then make sure you keep your eyes wide open to try to see everything as you go. It will never be the way you thought it would be…may as well make it a game and see how close it gets, and judge in the end which version was best. I remember when planning to head off backpacking those 5 months (long ago) that I only did it because I felt the safety of travelling with the college chum who suggested it. When the plans fell through and she said she’d meet me there in a month I was terrified…on my own for a month! I didn’t want to ever leave that first hostel. There was no way I could manage! But I did. And I got really sick from the wet and cold…but survived. And I met some of the best people I have ever known in my life and lived more happily than I knew I could and had a BLAST! When the month was up and the time to meet up came around I didn’t want to meet…I LOVED the way my journey was progressing…the spontaneity and ability to either travel with new folks or go solo. Luckily for me she never showed up. Sadly for her, while this trip was more than I had ever imagined it could be, hers was every form of disaster including being ill and losing her passport and luggage and money. So she had gone home within a couple of weeks, while I carried on traipsing through lands and learning about this new person I had never met…myself. The best friend I ever made on that trip. And that is the best to hope for, that you come to enjoy your own company, become stronger, and simply find joy in the details. Be brave, because that takes you far.

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    1. Well said! Ironically I’ve not yet watched The Bucket List (it’s on my bucket list?). But it’s true – you just need to go with the flow. Have destinations in mind and then make the memories on the trek between checkpoints. So glad you went on those travels – if you hadn’t, you never would have told me all the stories that inspired me to do the same 🙂 so thanks to Mom of the past from her future daughter.

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  4. Marta, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this post – perhaps it was all of the references to things dear to me like the Brome Fair and Harry Potter or perhaps it was just (once again) reading your writing and feeling so, so proud that I had a teeny tiny part of making you what you have become today! Whatever the reason, it amazes me how much courage you have to be doing what you are doing and to embrace every success and challenge with an open mindedness that seems to be way beyond your years. I know that I could NEVER have done what you are doing. I hope you never lose your desire to add to and continue striving to complete your bucket list. xx

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    1. Thank you! I can’t even say how much that means to hear : ) many thanks for tolerating my most insolent years (at least prior to mid-teenage-hood). And as for doing all these things, there’s always time to set out on an adventure, ludicrous and terrifying as it might seem when in the bucket list planning stages. So never say never! 🙂 All you need is a support network of friends, family – and teachers of course! – and you can do next to anything.

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  5. Great philosoraptor-y piece Marta! And those pictures of you at the Brome Count Fair are just bursting with such joy & happiness. But what’s with that beluga? Was it about to give birth to a full-grown adult? Lol And that picture you took of those Biodome kids, I thought it was one of those professional shots you found on the Internet. Great composition (no, I don’t know what I’m talking about but if I did, that’s what I’d say).
    To bcp457: the 5 months were alone? Now I’m even more impressed & not just with your lack of baggage. 😉
    And my bucket list? I don’t have one. I’m either too jaded or have been watching too much Cesar Milan. I just live for the moment. Lol

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    1. Living for the moment is still very wise! (Especially if one is as good as yourself at making sangria to enjoy said moment with ^ ^). And there’s a lot to be said for Cesar Milan – Andrea has taught me much of his philosophy lol.

      As for that beluga…I have no idea. All I know is that it was too hilarious to let float away on the waves of the internet – I had to tether him/her to this blog.

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    2. Alone except for occasional certain people that I journeyed with for a bit or kept bumping into. I did cheat after the first month and used Vienna as a home base/springboard every few weeks popping in to check on family.

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