This Bucket List Kicks Back

Hey, folks. Today’s Daily Prompt is all about bucket lists. You know, the list of stuff you want to do before you die? I don’t know about you, but mine seems to get longer every time I think about it. Here’s a (work in progress) list:

  • Earn my master’s degree, and least a few more bachelor’s degrees.
  • Learn many languages, most likely Mandarin, Arabic, Russian, and French for starters.
  • Learn how to drive. (I really don’t want to, but I’m going to have to.)
  • Learn a martial art. (My college freshman jiu-jitsu course was a long time ago.)
  • Learn coding, either in terms of sites or apps.
  • Learn how to create digital art.
  • Learn how to read music.
  • Learn how to horseback ride.
  • Relearn Calculus and continue beyond it. (MIT has courses for independent study)
  • Read at least one novel a week. (I usually have a couple on hand.)
  • Write and publish a novel. (Hopefully winning a Nobel Prize for Literature?)
  • Review 1,000 games. (I’m at 702 now.)
  • Visit all seven continents. (I’ve only got South America, Australia, and Antarctica left!)
  • See at least one new country a year. (I’ve managed this three years in a row, Italy is coming up in a few months.)
  • Visit an active volcano. (Visited Kilauea in December 2014)
  • See snow fall.
  • Celebrate Holi.
  • Participate in La Tomatina.
  • Participate in the Taiwan Lantern Festival.
  • Visit the Pyramids at Giza.
  • Visit Hagia Sophia.
  • Visit Easter Island.
  • Visit Stonehenge, preferably during an equinox.
  • Visit the Burj Khalifa.
  • Visit the Taj Mahal.
  • Visit Petra.
  • Visit Angkor Wat.
  • Visit Santorini.
  • Visit Vatican City. (This might be happening soon.)
  • Meet the Dalai Lama.
  • Ride the Trans-Siberian Railway.
  • Stay in Finland’s Kakslauttanen igloo hotel and see the aurora borealis.
  • Stay in the Rangali underwater hotel in the Maldives.
  • Return to Paris and explore the Catacombs.
  • See Japan’s Nabana No Sato, Shibuya, Mt. Fuji, and all of its castles.
  • See Machu Picchu. (This one almost happened this year!)
  • See Iguazu Falls. (See above.)
  • See Victoria Falls.
  • See the Hunan province.
  • See Holland’s flower fields.
  • See the Amazon and Sahara.
  • See Uluru.
  • See the DMZ.
  • See the polar ice caps.
  • Participate in a research expedition. Classifying new species in the Mariana Trench, archeological digs in Europe or Asia, etc.
  • Visit ALMA.
  • Visit CERN.
  • Visit Pic du Midi.
  • Watch all of Hayao Miyazaki’s films.
  • Go skydiving.
  • Earn a pilot’s license.
  • Ride a hot air balloon.
  • Walk the Great Wall of China.
  • Climb all the major mountains of the world. If I can only choose one, then:
  • Climb Mt. Everest. If I can’t make it to the top, then I want to see the mountain at the very least.
  • Learn how to play an instrument, preferably the guitar.
  • Get a tattoo.
  • Watch a space shuttle launch. (Or to go space myself!)
  • Experience zero gravity.
  • Finish a marathon. (Bay To Breakers is probably the closest I’ll get.)
  • Donate to or create a charity.
  • Do volunteer work abroad.
  • Attend Comic Con, E3, and compete in EVO.
  • Start a gaming/review channel on YouTube.
  • Do voice acting for a video game or anime.
  • Invent/discover something that would be beneficial for society.
  • Have an astronomical object or theory named after me.
  • Restore the old family house.
  • Further expand my personal library.
  • Find a house big enough to store my personal library.
  • Retire in Cinque Terre. (Open to other suggestions, though!)

It seems like a lot, I know. Kind of far-fetched, too. But looking through some other people’s bucket lists, I’ve now realized that I’ve already done a ton of weird and awesome stuff. I’ve seen most of the major landmarks and buildings here in the States, been to a dozen countries, visited a Buddhist temple in Thailand, fought a fire, lived in two countries, went to the Eiffel Tower and Versailles, was a pallbearer, camped out in the Sierras the old-fashioned way, gone on a cruise, went to Chichen Itza, ate durian, bought goods in a kasbah, spent a weekend on Alcatraz, grew a garden and trees, lead a wedding procession twice, graduated from college without loans…the list keeps going and going. Judging by everything else I’ve thought up, I’m nowhere near finished.

What’s on your bucket list?

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Daily Prompt: I Have Confidence in Me, Or: The Paradox Of The Shy, Adventurous Writer

Hey, folks. Today’s Daily Prompt is about confidence. Specifically, what you’re good at, and what you’d like to be better at. This one’s actually hard for me to explain. I understand that I’m good at writing; it comes naturally to me. I’ve only improved over time and effort. My standards are much higher than they were a decade ago. The words flow from my fingers like a river, and the ideas therein are the rocks and rapids. You know how most students loathe writing essays? I thrived on that in college. A good piece of writing is like a puzzle; each word is an individual (but essential) component of a more complex structure. It’s just a matter of examining each piece and arranging it correctly to convey your message. Oh, and the key to developing a writer’s voice? Just read what you’ve written out loud. If it sounds weird, then you know you need to change something. It’s that simple. Unless you want to sound like a space alien pretending to be human or blatantly show off your thesaurus-perusing skills, but that’s an entirely different issue…

Going on a tangent. Sorry.

From an objective standpoint, I know I’m good at this. Getting the words together on paper (though it’s more on-screen these days) is really easy. Dealing with my internal critic, however, is a struggle of epic proportions. You probably know what I’m talking about. It’s that little voice in your head that just loves to sow doubt and undermine everything good you believe about yourself. Typing again, huh? It’s not even worth your time. Who’s going to read it? You think anyone will actually care, let alone notice? Where’s the money? Writing is your greatest skill? What a joke. Why can’t you get a real job, and be like everyone else? Failure! You don’t have a future. You’re never going to make it. You’re going to starve, man.

…Yeah, I need to work on the confidence thing.

For the longest time, I bought into all of that. On my really bad nights, I still do. But if you get me motivated and focused, I will be on fire. It’s all about the situations and objectives. The last time I did NaNoWriMo, I burned through 20,000 words in a single sitting. When I found out that that I might miss the deadline for my college graduation, I buckled down and scheduled more than a full course load, aced every single class, and got my degree on time. You give me a goal I’m interested in, and I’ll show you what tenacity and willpower can accomplish. Resolve is one of the greatest and most terrifying qualities a person can have.

My skills aren’t limited to writing, though. I’ve got a critical eye with regards to pretty much everything, so I’m good at picking up details. You know how kids are capable of absorbing tons of information? It’s kind of like that. Facial expressions, vocal tones, languages, accents, structural designs, philosophical concepts, colors, anything. It’s pretty handy when you’re tasked with reviewing something; I can take a game/story/whatever apart quickly. I can read and predict others easily. People think I’m insightful, but my observations seem really obvious. Anyone who’s ever played against me in fighting or strategy games knows what an utterly ruthless tactician I can be. It’s not about thinking outside the box; it’s about thinking outside the room the box is stored in. I’m capable of memorizing lengthy procedures and scheduling around them; I used to have my college commutes calculated down to individual steps. I’d like to think it was practicality over OCPD, but I know better.

I’m also a really good traveling companion. Whenever I travel in a group, I’m usually the one with the map or an idea of where to go. Give me a little time to figure out the layout of a new place, and I’ll quickly adjust to it. I explored Paris on Le Métropolitain, and I didn’t speak a word of French. Someone even asked me for directions! The pigmentation of my skin is ambiguously olive enough that I can pass for a local most of the time. Since I’m good at reading facial expressions, I don’t always need to verbalize to communicate. I’ve also got a cast-iron stomach; I’ve eaten local cuisine that have left others bedridden for days.

Huh. It’s surreal reading the last few paragraphs. I know I’m good at all of that, but it clashes with my personality. I’ve mentioned before that I’m introverted. It’s not a flaw (no matter what social expectations say), but it’s completely the opposite of adventurous side. Wandering a foreign city? I’m fine. Stuck in a crowded room? I’m lost. I’m really shy and uncomfortable in social situations. It’s tiring and awkward, and it makes me look arrogant and aloof. I don’t want to talk about my interests, because I just end up confusing the other person. People are sometimes intimidated by my use of direct eye contact. It’s a tactical measure; people know I’m paying attention, which puts them more on edge and gives me the advantage. I’ve also been accused of being a charmer, which always seems bizarre to me. I’m not trying to be charismatic; I’m trying to survive the conversation without making a fool of myself. You’d be amazed how far a smile, a joke, and polite conversation can get you. I’m always taken aback when women (and men, with surprising frequency) try flirting with me. I never know what to say, and I just want to back away as quickly and gracefully as possible.

Ye gods, I’m actually blushing now.

I need to work on the social skills. I get that. I’m not good at connecting with people beyond a purely academic level. It’s just scary, awkward, and unnerving. I wish I had a stronger voice, too. It’s annoying when people can’t hear you because your indoor voice is apparently a whisper. I can hear myself just fine. I wish I was more physically coordinated, too. I can hike for hours at a time, but I’m not good at conventional sports. I did pretty well in jujitsu, though…There are so many other things I wish I could do better. When I have the time – I’m heading out to a party now, incidentally –  I’ll make a list. It’ll be a long one.