Why I Hate “Bucket Lists”




The term “bucket list” appears to have originated as a type of sorting algorithm in computer programming.

Since an eponymous 2007 film, it has come to stand for a checklist of things to do before one dies.

In any bookstore you can find tomes consisting of lists of things to do before you “kick the bucket.” Fifty Places to See Before You Die, or 100 pieces of music to hear before shuffling off this mortal coil.   A Hundred Books to Read before commencing to pine for the fjords.

Of course there are places I’d like to go with my children, and adventures I hope to be able to share with them.   I’d even like to be the kind of person who could parachute out of a plane or zip line through a rainforest, but none of my hopes and dreams in this life consists of solitary indulgence.

My problem is with parading around with “bucket lists”; I recoil from their premises.

Why? Continue reading “Why I Hate “Bucket Lists””

Changing Seasons: Summer to Spring Segue

Fall  Edging In (c) SMG

My husband Jim’s diagnosis hit us along with summer’s pulverizing heat.  Coming out of the air-conditioned hospital to lean against a cement pillar and weep was like stepping through a portal onto the tarmac in San Cristobal.

For me the summer was a whirlwind: physicians, surgical procedures, hospitals, chemotherapy, pharmacies and prescriptions, paperwork, imaging and re-imaging.

It was exhaustion–not pain or nausea, nor even a side-effect that made drinking cold liquid feel like swallowing crushed glass–that most distressed my husband as he endured the worst of the treatment attempts: having to sleep for so long meant to him a day slipping through his fingers, among precious few seasons of such days. Continue reading “Changing Seasons: Summer to Spring Segue”

Shifting Senses

Oil painting (c) 2008 Emma E. Glennon

During his intensive chemotherapy treatments, at least two of Jim’s senses changed.

Some things did not smell as they always had to him.  I imagine it was similar to the way my brain idiosyncratically processed scents when I was pregnant: a scintilla of coffee, for example, would overpower everything around it, a bitter and nauseating shroud settling over everything in its enveloping reach.   But I smelled things which were, at least in microscopic quantity, somewhere around me.  Jim smelled things which were not there.

His palate changed, too.  Only a constantly-changing and narrow range of foods appealed to him.  Sometimes nothing did.  Sometimes he could down two sandwiches and then some while in the chemotherapy “pod.”

No doubt most of these changes were a physiological effect of drugs being infused into him.  An oncologist warned us that after he received a particular portion of the chemical cocktail, if Jim drank anything above room temperature it would feel like he was sipping broken glass.

For one of my daughters, a different kind of palette changed.  Her oil paintings had tended towards the vibrant jewel tones which so suit her intensity and her very coloring.  (Her skin and hair tones make her, in the well-worn seasonal wardrobe formulation, a “winter.”)  Before Jim was diagnosed, her paintings sported emerald greens, scarlet reds, bold puce, and white seemingly lit from within, beribboned with vermillion and yellow.

That fall she began filling her hand-built canvases with ivory, ochre, rust and deep grays, backlit with a more distant, suffusing light. Continue reading “Shifting Senses”

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