Vita Brevis, Listis Long-as-My-Heart: in emulation of Her Bad Mother


I had heard the term ‘mommy bloggers’, but had never read one until I stumbled on Her Bad Mother when I first started Tweeting.  Someone who I was following followed @herbadmother and retweeted something Catherine wrote.  I laughed my ass off, started following her myself on Twitter, and now read her blog pretty faithfully.

I’m a  huge fan now – of Catherine’s energy and passion, her love for and commitment to her family and friends, her ranting, her praising, her joy.  Everything that rolls through her head seems to show up on her blog, and I think that’s a very good thing, for writer and readers alike.  I’d want to be like Catherine when I grow up, although I suspect she would say that she’s not sure she’s actually grown up.

Anyway, one of the things she’s done on her blog is to create her ‘bucket’ list which she called Vita Brevis, List Longa. I changed my title a little (didn’t want to completely rip her off) but the idea is the same.  These are things I think about, the experiences I seek (or wish were mine to have enjoyed, in the case of the historical ones), the truths about which I am most curious.  I’ve broken my Listis into several parts, and it will always be an on-going thing, hopefully with a few things crossed off the list, and lots more added to it.

Who:  I would prefer to lunch or dine with these people, maybe around my own table, but would willingly settled for martinis & lots of great talk, not necessarily about their areas of expertise!

  • Dr Oliver Sacks (I am in love with his mind & spirit)
  • Dr Temple Grandin (an interview by phone is not the same)
  • Robert DeNiro (we share a birthday)
  • Simon Winchester (who has written two of my favourite books of all time)
  • Molly O’Neill (my MFK Fisher)
  • Roger Ebert (even when I disagree with his film reviews, I love his politics)
  • Scott Simon, Jake Tapper & Brian Williams (the 3 US broadcast journalists I listen to/watch)
  • The Prince of Wales (to discuss organic farming and modern architecture, and to ask if he intends to take on a true leadership position in these areas when he becomes king)
  • Colin Firth (… and the second reason is, he truly is an extraordinary actor)
  • General Romeo Dallaire (a hero, in the best & most honest sense of the word)
  • US Vice President Joe Biden (an honest man, and embodiment of the reasons why so many people still believe in the American dream)
  • Michael J Fox & Tracy Pollan (have you read his books? that’s why)
  • Chuck Lorre, Aaron Sorkin and Shonda Rhimes (because I think they write really great television, and I would love to hear them discuss it)
  • and Her Bad Mother, of course

What: Some of these things might actually happen, some are beyond my scope of making happen, but all are things I dream about.

  • Standing at the top of the Eiffel Tower on a moonlit night, seeing Paris for the first time with a man who will love me forever
  • Finding a really good editor and publisher who loves “This Town” (working title) as much as I do and wants to publish it
  • Directing a play, professionally
  • Riding camels in the Egyptian dessert
  • Taking a long, slow gondola ride in Venice, with someone actually singing Italian love songs as we rippled along the canals (a late spring activity)
  • Cooking with Bobby Flay
  • Skydiving
  • Riding a hot air balloon
  • Having a one-line role in play at Stratford or at Shaw (whichever one offered me the gig first)
  • Playing anything by Chopin on the piano – which requires learning to play the piano first
  • Singing “Route 66” – the only jazz standard I can actually sing and sing well – with Diana Krall
  • Writing & publishing a cookbook based on my family’s love of cooking & entertaining, especially relying on my mother’s (and some of my grandmothers’) recipes
  • Learning to actually ride a horse
  • Owning a race horse (I’d call him Christmas Fielding)
  • Asking James Lipton the Pivot questions
  • Have a rose named for me
  • Dancing in the fountains at Versailles
  • Learning to tap dance
  • Actually, learning to dance a box step should come first
  • Taking the younger nieces & nephews to DisneyLand in California, and the older ones, with one husband & one long-time girlfriend, to Umbria

When: These are events/happenings/eras I would have liked to be part of… or at least a fly on the wall for. Some are pretty obvious, but some are about what I believe in or wonder about, and none are possible until Dr Sheldon Cooper invents his time machine

  • New York City during WWII, hanging around with the writers and other cultural icons of the day
  • In the studio for a day while Edward R. Murrow worked (& I choked on the cigarette smoke)
  • One day on the bus during the Obama presidential campaign (but a good day, please)
  • Churchill Downs, trackside, the day Secretariat won the Kentucky Derby
  • Four days in Victorian England: one as a servant, one has an aristocratic man, one as a married woman in Society, and one as a merchant or other member of the rising middle class
  • One day on Ellis Island at the turn of the 20th century
  • One day each Sir Wilfrid Laurier and with Pierre Trudeau – compare & contrast
  • Get back the day I met Mike Harris and, knowing what I know now, give him a much bigger piece of my mind than I did that day!
  • The day the first steam engine train rolled, I would have liked to be a passenger on it
  • Been in the CBC studio the day the first radio broadcast happened
  • Heard Beverly Sills sing her first Met role, live
  • To be in Paris on Liberation Day
  • Hung around with Mordechai Richler for a day
  • Hung around the Algonquin Round Table for a day
  • Spent a week at MGM studios in its  heyday
  • One day at Los Alamos, before the test
  • One day with Itzhak Rabin – but not the last one
  • Watching my friend Conor Vilaca make his Broadway debut (this is a future event which I am sure will happen)

Where: These are places (mostly cities, because I like cities) I long to visit without any particular, or little, agenda in mind.

  • The Faeroe Islands (this one actually does have a big agenda)
  • Tokyo
  • Istanbul
  • The Maldives
  • Qalia Resort in Australia
  • Hawaii – but not Honolulu
  • Prince Edward Island
  • Stavanger, Norway
  • all of Denmark
  • Santiago, Chile
  • St Petersburg, Russia
  • Glasgow

This list is long enough as it stands, but isn’t nearly comprehensive enough.  My dreams are still so big… and I’m running out of time!  I mean, I recognize intellectually I don’t have half a life time left to live any more, but emotionally, I want to believe that all the things I want and hope for are still possible.

This is not to say that I am ungrateful for what I have and for what I’ve done. Even considering the things that have gone horribly wrong, or the people I love who have died (most of whom having done so in their time), this is a pretty good life I’ve lead and have still today.  Although it’s going through one of those periods of great transition – again! – I have Jeff (and he  has me), we have wonderful family, and we have amazing friends, so the transition is not ours to make alone.

Listis Long-as-My Heart is partly a dream, partly an exercise, and partly… about tomorrow.

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One thought on “Vita Brevis, Listis Long-as-My-Heart: in emulation of Her Bad Mother

  1. For the “Where”, don’t just make a list. Make a plan. Some you can do all in one trip. There’s a wonderful cruise that Ron and I are going to take in the next 2 or 3 years that goes through all the Scandanavian countries and up to St Petersburg.
    If you don’t have a goal, you can’t score.

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