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100 Things, 1000 Days Report and Bonus Round

When I first made this list, I was coming off a terrible year. In June of 2010, I wrote a massive pity party post on this site (which has since been taken down because, really, no one wants to see that). Well, things continued to get worse right until September, when my wonderful dog Fudge died at 15 years of age. I spent the next two and a half months in a bit of a fog, but in December, something finally gave me the kick in the pants I needed to start waking up fully, doing things, and enjoying life again. That thing was the ethereal moment of clarity that sometimes comes after a bout of depression, when your body and mind have been slowly gathering their strength for weeks and are finally ready to use it. And in order to keep that feeling present for as long as I could, I made a list of 100 things I had always wanted to do but, for various reasons, had never gotten around to doing.
On September 21st of 2013, the arbitrary time period I had assigned myself because it sounded cool, the 1000th day since I began my list, ended.
  1. Get my stupid degree [In progress since the dawn of time] [completed November 10th, 2012]
    Bachelor of Journalism with a Minor in Classics, bitches!
  2. Take a voice acting class
  3. Take a singing class [completed January 29th, 2013]
    I did take one class. I think I’d like to take more.
  4. Finish the first draft of my book (The King) [In progress]
    This is…still in progress.
  5. Get my driver’s license [In progress]
    This is also still in progress.
  6. Volunteer at an animal shelter
  7. Sustaining Memories program at Ryerson University [In progress] [completed May 29th, 2013]
  8. Play an instrument in a big band
  9. Learn to play Rhapsody in Blue on piano
    This is way, way harder than I thought. I’m not sure I can learn it without some help.
  10. Learn to play Somebody to Love on piano [In progress]
    I can play it, but it’s not yet memorized, therefore it does not get crossed off.
  11. Paint something [completed February 20th, 2011]
  12. Start drawing again (buy a sketchbook [completed March 27th, 2011] – fill it up)
  13. Stop picking [In progress]
  14. Do some fun creative baking (ask Po for help if needed 😛 ) [completed April 1st, 2011]
  15. Finish a scrapbook                                     -> 0/3
  16. Finish another scrapbook
  17. Finish another scrapbook
  18. Join an improv class
  19. Act in a play
  20. Do an archaeological dig [completed June 15th, 2012]
    I had such a great post planned for this, but how do you distill 6+ weeks of Italy into one blog post? I don’t know. Maybe I’ll do it one day. Until then:
  21. Visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter [completed December 26th, 2010]
  22. Watch all of Farscape (an 11th TV show for #65, since my movie list also had a random extra title) [In Progress]
    Technically, this is also done, but I wanted to re-watch, and also watch the special features, because I LOVE THIS SHOW SO MUCH.
  23. Go to a San Diego Comic Con [completed March 9th, 2013]
  24. Participate in a NaNoWriMo [In progress] [completed November 30th, 2012]
  25. Get computer organised once and for all [In progress]
  26. Make website for photographs (e.g. travel photos, portfolio photos) [In progress]
  27. Learn to Scuba dive (note: this means go one time; if I like it, I’ll take the certification classes) [completed in spirit on August 2nd, 2013]
    I tried so hard, you guys. I booked a lesson in Hawaii, and it was cancelled. I booked it again, and it was cancelled. I tried to book one for Lake Atitlan in Guatemala and I couldn’t get a bus in time. I tried to book one in Toronto and I couldn’t make the first couple of classes because of work. Now I have no money, and therefore won’t be booking one for a while longer. BUT! In this time, I did manage to go parasailing (a fun and exciting quasi-water sport that I’d never done before) AND SNUBA diving (which was amazing, and is half way there, after all), and as soon as I have the moolah I will be signing up to get certified, so I consider this item completed in spirit.
  28. Stop biting nails AND start doing nail art [completed January 22nd, 2012 to present]
  29. Volunteer at a Toronto Distress Centre
  30. Get TEFL OR Live in a different country (i.e. not Canada; pay rent; longer than 2 months) [In progress]
    Taking a 140-hour online course plus 20 hour in-class component through i-to-i TEFL.
  31. Play paintball (followed by a dinner for winners at Denny’s) [completed August 8th, 2012]
  32. See The Daily Show live
  33. Visit Marina in Hawaii [started June 30th, completed July 5th, 2013]
  34. Watch 20 [21, apparently] great old movies (I haven’t seen a LOT of the classics, so this is a selection from IMDB’s Top 250)                    -> 21/21 [In progress] [completed July 28th, 2013]
  35. The Shawshank Redemption [completed November 12th, 2012]
  36. The Godfather [completed July 17th, 2011]
  37. The Godfather Trilogy [completed July 28th, 2013]
    This one also contributed to me getting truly drunk for the first time.
  38. 12 Angry Men [completed January 28th, 2013]
  39. Goodfellas [completed April 1st, 2013]
  40. Se7en [completed February 17th, 2013]
  41. Silence of the Lambs [completed February 26th, 2013]
  42. Memento [completed February 20th, 2013]
  43. Dr. Strangelove [completed July 20th, 2011]
  44. Citizen Kane [completed February 28th, 2013]
  45. The Shining [completed January 19th, 2013]
  46. Spirited Away [completed April 1st, 2011]
  47. Alien Quadrilogy [completed May 14th, 2013]
  48. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind [completed February 4th, 2011]
  49. Requiem for a Dream [completed February 8th, 2013]
  50. Back to the Future Trilogy [completed January 1st, 2012]
  51. Ghostbusters [completed December 31st, 2011]
  52. Die Hard [completed August 5th, 2012]
  53. Annie Hall  [completed February 13th, 2013]
  54. The Social Network [completed March 27th, 2011]
  55. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid [completed December 24th, 2012]
  56. Run a marathon of sorts [In progress] [completed in spirit on May 26th, 2013; will be completed in name on October 20th, 2013]
    Ok, it might take a little bit longer than I’d hoped, but I still intend to run a marathon before 2014 is over. However, due to multiple injuries (the ones I can pronounce: fallen arch, right tibial tendinitis, and shin splints; the one I can’t: piri-motor-something something – whatever, I hurt my hip rotating thing, okay?), I’ve had to downgrade my big October marathon plan to a half-marathon. I’ve still run a 5k and a 10k since writing this list, though, which is more than I’d run before, so, again, mission accomplished (in spirit).
  57. Knit something [completed October 17th, 2012]
  58. Whiten teeth [In progress]
  59. Go two weeks without drinking coke (shut up) [started March 16th, completed March 30th, 2011]
  60. Participate in/skate in a Winterlude in Ottawa [completed February 19th, 2011]
  61. Get a bottle of vitamins and finish it without missing a single day (yeah, some of them I just stole right from Heather of gofugyourself fame) [In progress] [completed July 29th, 2011]
  62. Read one bookshelf’s worth of my unread books                 -> 34/36 [In progress]
    Still have two more shelf-books to read, I’m afraid: Exodus and Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. I so would have finished this one if I hadn’t read 10 OTHER books during the same amount of time, though. Still, I’m getting there.
  63. Complete a Cannonball read (                            -> 46/52 [In progress]
    Six more reviews to write before I can count this one as complete. I am on track to finally read 52 books in one year, though, so that’s something.
  64. Get past fear of diving
  65. Watch some finished/cancelled TV shows                            -> 7/10 [In progress]
  66. Watch all of Terriers [completed January 31st, 2012]
  67. Watch all of Battlestar Gallactica
  68. Watch all of Better Off Ted [completed January 9th, 2012]
  69. Watch all of Slings and Arrows  [completed February 12th, 2013]
    This has to be my favourite of all the shows I watched for this project. Please, everyone, give it a chance. And don’t judge by the first two episodes.
  70. Watch all of the West Wing [In progress]
    On season 4 of 6.
  71. Watch all of Blackadder [completed June 2nd, 2013]
  72. Watch all of Buffy and Angel [completed January 11th, 2013]
    I watched TWO LONG-ASS shows for this one. No one can say I was easy on myself for this list, okay?
  73. Watch all of the Wire [In progress]
    By September 21st, I’d seen the first three seasons. I’m mid-way through the fourth season as I write this.
  74. Watch all of Freaks and Geeks [completed January 17th, 2013]
  75. Watch all of Spaced [completed March 16th, 2013]
  76. Take a long-exposure picture [completed June 26th, 2013]
  77. Learn to juggle
  78. Solve a Rubik’s cube [completed December 29th, 2012]
    And I can still do it, too!
  79. Donate blood [In progress]
    I TRIED! They didn’t WANT my blood. I’m working on building iron now. Sort of. I will, I swear. And then I’ll try this again. At any rate, I’m putting it down as in progress – I went to the damned clinic and they pricked both my fingers and told me to go home.
  80. Witness an eclipse [completed May 24th, 2013]
  81. Do pottery (make a pot or a vase) [In progress] [completed April 6th, 2013]
  82. Learn 5 card tricks                             -> 2/5 [In progress]
    I’ve bought a trick deck for those last three. This oughta be fun.
  83. Go camping [completed May 3rd, 2013]
  84. Do the splits (every day) [In progress]
    Ugh, I did this every. single. day. For about a year, and I got nowhere. I’ll try again with a trainer or something, because just stretching everyday didn’t get me much closer to being able to do the splits (which was the actual, albeit poorly stated, goal of this item).
  85. Learn glass blowing (take a course)
    Again, lack of funds is a problem when these courses cost a minimum of $300.
  86. Renew CPR/first aid licence [completed October 14th, 2012]
  87. Make a candle [completed July 27th, 2013]
  88. Finish Learn French in 10 Days book [In progress]
    I have done…3 more pages since I made this list.
  89. Grow a plant – do a picture a day and make a stop motion film [In progress] [started February 11th, completed February 27th, 2013]
  90. Creatively ice a cake [completed July 20th, 2011]
  91. Throw bachelorette party for Nataly [completed January 22nd, 2012]
  92. Make a gravy train
  93. Learn to do that two-fingered whistle [completed July 15th, 2013]
  94. Spend a day tree planting [completed June 1st, 2013]
  95. Allow a spider to crawl on me without screaming
  96. Do a 1000+ piece puzzle [In progress] *asterisk* [completed July 26th, 2011]
  97. Get my ear cartilage pierced once and for all [completed September 23rd, 2012]
  98. Pay back mom and dad [In progress]
  99. Donate $10 to the Cyril Ross Nursery for each goal not completed by the end date [To be done after this post]
  100. Begin world traveling [Completed, but in progress]
    Since writing this list, I have been to Barbados, Finland, Thailand, Italy/Vatican City, Various North America cities and states including: Montreal, Florida, South Carolina, Hawaii (Oahu, Kauai, Hawaii, Maui, Molokai, Lanai, AND Molokini), Mexico, Belize, and Guatemala. So even though I haven’t quite reached 26 by 26, I think I can safely count this item as complete, with the understanding that it will never be really complete, and it will always be on my list.

So what this means is that I have completed 64 things (which is just barely a passing grade), am in the middle of 19 still, and have not even attempted 17 yet, which is actually way better than I was anticipating. For #99, I will give $10 for each un-attempted item, and $3 for each item in progress, for a total of $227. Half ($113.50) will go to  the Cyril Ross Nursery in honour of Mr. Gillman, half to the Alzheimer Society of Canada in honour of my grandfather.

It has been almost three years since I first started crossing things off this list, and a lot has changed. Five of my friends have started lists of their own (which is awesome). I’ve graduated, I’ve been to 8 countries, I randomly have 41 awesome WordPress followers, I have a new dog named Shado, and I’ve started running fairly regularly. Some things have changed for the worse; my grandfather died last September.

A lot has stayed the same too, though (or become the same again); I’m living at home again, I’m working at my old job again, I have another unfinished degree to add to the top of another list of things to do.

And there’s a lot still to come. I’m currently applying for TESOL jobs in Korea and Japan, and intend to leave Canada to live in another country in February. I’m going to South Africa for the first time in 11 years in January, I’m chipping away at that second degree by taking correspondence courses, and some time next year, I will run a full marathon. I’d like to start a new list.

But before all that happens, I’m giving myself a bonus round. New Years is the perfect traditional and cliche time to start off a list like this, so I’m giving myself until December 31st, 2013 to see if I can’t cross a few more things off this list. I’m considering it a bonus round. Anything left over will be carried over to the next list, which I’ve already started planning.

So all in all, not a bad little project.

Oh, and by the way:

OTHER Awesome Things I’ve Done While Attempting To Do 100 Things In 1000 Days

  1. Gone on a submarine
  2. Gone ziplining
  3. Learned to surf
  4. Made a card
  5. Finished entire phone Sudoku game
  6. Attended a Pride Parade
  7. Attended a Jazz Festival
  8. Attended a Just for Laughs Festival
  9. Attended Pixar animation masterclass
  10. Broken a world record (albeit accidentally)
  11. Learned chopsticks! (INCLUDING FOR SOUP!)
  12. Was maid of honour!
  13. Went to Casa Loma
  14. Appeared in a commercial (next time – do it while not looking like a complete fool)
  15. Went to tiff! (But I did it wrong – I didn’t see any celebrities)
  16. Saw Avenue Q
  17. Posted once a day for a month
  18. Did a mindfulness course
  19. Started/completed (so far) watching: New Girl, Raising Hope, Go On, and Elementary
  20. Went to Stratford (saw Tommy: The Musical, and it was amazing)
  21. Snorkeled with Manta Rays! In fact, did quite a lot of snorkeling!
  22. Drove the Road to Hana! (Well…was driven. But I provided directions and stopping points! Well, I say directions…there’s really only one way to go on one road…NEVERTHELESS!)’
  23. Watched the world get formed (lava hike)!
  24. Went zip-biking!
  25. Ran a 10k!
  26. Went to FanExpo! MET NATHAN FILLION!

100 things to do in 1000 days; #87: Make a Candle.

IMG_7032Toronto is not a small city. You can do all sorts of weird things in Toronto. We have a sugar museum and a shoe museum and places to learn ukulele, and we have three universities and five colleges with what I am assume are an almost infinite amount of school clubs and societies, but so far as I can tell, we do not have a place to make candles. The closest place I could find was the very friendly and accommodating Village Craft & Candle, located in St. Marys.


Now, I do not have a driver’s license, and a bus trip to St. Marys ends up being a journey of about six hours (ONE WAY), so I gently suggested to my mother that perhaps this would be a nice bonding experience, and I just bet she’d love candle-making, it’s right up her crafty alley! And, in exchange for tea, help with scrapbooking, and a lifetime of using this against me, mom agreed!


I don’t have a heck of a lot of funny stories from the actual day. We made pumpkin spice tarts, crispy apple votives, Canadian pillar candles, and autumn-themed cube candles.

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After the lesson, we drove to the gift shop, and bought the entire store. We have since made blueberry and raspberry votives, a giant citronella candle for my aunt, one million tea lights of various scents, and some cute cup candles and glass candles. Despite all this, I still get guilted for “forcing” her to drive all the way to St. Marys for something she had no interest in doing whatsoever. None at all.

100 things to do in 1000 days; #27: Learn to Scuba dive.

I tried really hard for this one. I booked weeks in advance for an intro dive course in Maui with Ed Robinson’s Diving, which has excellent reviews on Tripadvisor. But LONG STORY HERE, they cancelled. I tried again on two other days, and they told me the whether was too rough and the visibility too poor for the shore dives that intro divers do. I tried again in Belize, on Caye Caulker, but before I got around to booking I was bitten by a dog in Mexico and told to stay out of the water for three days to prevent infection. Naturally, two of those days were our only days on Caye Caulker. I tried one last time to organize an intro dive in Lake Atitlan, Guatemala, but because of the altitude requirements and bus schedule, couldn’t make it work.

I’m counting this one as done anyway, however, because I did a lot of snorkeling in Hawaii and Central America, as well as a bunch of adventure activities I’ve never done before, and doing things I’ve never done before or always wanted to do is the whole point of this list. I went parasailing, caving, cenote jumping, and finally, snuba diving, which is ALMOST scuba diving, after all.

Essentially, I’m treating item 27 the same way as item 56: I have completed this in spirit, and by the end of the year, hope to complete it in name by taking a diving course in Toronto.



100 things to do in 1000 days; #34: Watch 20 [21, apparently] great old movies.

With the completion of The Godfather III, this is DONE. And you can’t say I was easy on myself. There were fun movies and short movies, but also three-hour-long, tedious, infuriating trilogies, and when movies came in groups, I watched them all (see: The Alien Movies, The Back to the Future Movies, the aforementioned Godfather Atrocities). I loved some, liked some, and hated some, and I feel like I’ve expanded my cultural knowledge. This item’s a keeper – I think I’ll have it again on my next list.

100 things to do in 1000 days; #76: Take a long-exposure picture.

I’ve already posted twice and it’s after 1am on a work day, so I’ll make this quick.

Slow-motion waterfall shots in nature photography! I like them! I want to do one!

To make a short story even shorter, my dad is an amateur photographer, his camera is capable of doing that, and Hawaii is capable of providing the waterfall (granted, so is Niagara, but we were already in the Aloha state, so…). So he showed me how, we set up the camera, and I clicked the button a few times.

Mission accomplished. I hope to become more proficient in this skill after taking some photography classes, but that is a goal for another day.

100 things to do in 1000 days; #33: Visit Marina in Minnesota Washington California Hawaii.

I have some bad news to break to you guys: growing up can kind of suck. That cozy little shell of a home city you lived in, the one that that held all your friends and family and familiarity inside, it cracks open, and the people you were closest to spread out all over the whole damn world. One of my best friends from high school went to do her master’s degree in the US. I swore I would visit her – Minnesota is not that far away! But I was also at school, and not earning that much, and anyway, the next thing I knew she got a job in Washington. What an awesome place to go visit with a friend! I was so serious about finally getting to see her that I went and put “visit Marina” on my list of 100 Things To Do. But I didn’t get over there, either, before she moved to California. That’s right! The very place where I’d be this summer when I went to Comic-Con! Hurrah! Only I didn’t tickets, the group I was going with bailed, and California was no longer doable.

But no matter! Because this friend was getting married in Hawaii in July, and guess where my parents were planning on going for the next family vacation! (On my suggestion, with only constant prodding and wheedling and whining and nagging!) That’s right!

So finally, after, what, six years? I got to visit Marina. The wedding ceremony was beautiful, the day was wonderful, and it ended with an exciting view of the 4th of July firework celebration from a dinner cruise. I am so, so happy that I got to be with you on that day, Marina. I hope your honeymoon was amazing. And I swear, it won’t take me another six years before I visit you again.




100 things to do in 1000 days; #93: Learn to do that two-fingered whistle.

Remember how, when I learned how to solve a Rubik’s cube, I posted an unedited, 5-minute long video proving it on YouTube? Well, I took pity on you this time. Instead of throwing up 20 minutes of raw footage of me spiting fruitlessly onto my hand, I downloaded some free editing software from AVS and went to town. Unfortunately, playback on my computer kept skipping as I’m running low on memory, so to see the finished product, I had to post the finished product, and hope for the best. To be honest, I don’t know whether I’m more proud of the whistle or the one hour crash editing session.

I also make sure to annoy people with it at least once a day, to make sure it wasn’t a fluke.


Updated to add: Nataly, who has been my champion throughout the doing of this list, was filming me, and it was on her suggestion that item 93 was even attempted and accomplished. Could not, and most likely would not, have done it without her! I plead exhaustion for leaving this out earlier!

100 things to do in 1000 days; #65/71: Watch all of Blackadder. Black Adder. BlackAdder? Whatever.

BlackAdder_UltimateEdMy last few posts have been rather long, and I still have a memo on sleep and dreams in British literature to write, so today, it’s time for another Half-Assed Review from a Lazy Person!

Series 1 (The Black Adder):

  • Ep 1 – The dead king ghost is vaguely amusing, as are some of the elaborate insults, but otherwise – bah.
  • Speaking of bah, the baaaa made me laugh out loud. So that’s one.
  • Ep 2 – meh.
  • Ep 3 – I laughed! parts were fully enjoyable! Progress!
  • Ep 4 – also okay!
  • Ep 5 – I did NOT like this one (witch smeller was a pain in the ass)
  • Ep 6 – this one was alright; I liked the closing theme; also the ending to Cougarton Abbey makes sense now.
  • That was really…underwhelming. But the theme song is the ear-wormiest thing I have ever heard. I go humming it around the house, at dinner time, at parties.

I bought the complete series on DVD, and after watching the first series, I was beginning to regret my investment. But certain friends talked me into giving the rest of the show a chance, and I’m glad I did.

Series 2 (Blackadder II):

  • Ah, we’re off to a much better start. I actively enjoyed the first episode (except for Lord Flashheart, who can bite me, and not in the way he’d want to), and have already laughed out loud twice at second. Way to go for meeting the bare minimum of comedy, Black Adder!
  • I pity the loss of smart Baldrick, but smart Blackadder is plenty entertaining (and…kind of weirdly attractive).
  • New lyrics every episode?? Excellent.
  • Also, the queen character is weird as hell, but…you know how when sometimes things annoy you for no reason you can name, you say they “rub you the wrong way”? Well, she rubs me the right way.
  • The last episode of s2 was best so far. Am I biased because Hugh Laurie had a major role? Only perhaps.
  • As for the special features: the commentaries are decent but unremarkable.

Series 3 (Blackadder the Third):

  • Wait, Hugh Laurie’s in ALL of s3? Excellent. This is now my favourite season.
  • The music isn’t as good as the first two, though.
  • Also s3 has more clunkers than s2. Really didn’t like Nob and Nobility (even if it was nice to see Percy again) and…um, one of the others. Can’t remember which.
  • Amy and Amiability was good, though. Also liked Duel and Duality. Although it didn’t end with Blackadder and everyone else dying, so I’m not sure it was the right episode.
  • Overall, I think I’d rate it about the same as s2; more uneven on the one hand, but regular dosage of Hugh Laurie on the other.
  • Commentaries are better in s3 as well.

Series 4 (Blackadder Goes Forth):

  • He’s in all of s4 as well??? I AM OVERWHELMED WITH RICHES!
  • Ah yes, series title. I see what you did there.
  • I think part of the reason I like Tim McInnerny so much is because he reminds me of Michael Palin. I’m glad he’s back full-time.
  • Enjoying s4 best (British M*A*S*H* is the obvious comparison…except that I’ve never seen M*A*S*H*. I know, I know) but I miss the credits of s2. I think I’m mentioning that I miss them now just because it’s been two whole seasons without them, instead of just one, and I’m really feeling the loss.
  • There’s a bit of Bertie (Wooster) in both of Laurie’s main characters, and a bit of Jeeves in Atkinson’s Blackadder the Third butler. And references to the name Bertie. But imdb tells me that Blackadder came first, so I guess it’s just coincidence.
  • Yes, this one is definitely my favourite, and one I can see watching over and over again.
  • Commentaries are also quite enjoyable.

The Specials:

  • As nice as it always is to see Stephen Fry, the Cavalier Years felt like a bit of a waste of time.
  • Christmas Carol was decent, though.
  • I know I’m in the minority, but I really did enjoy Back and Forth. Like, a lot.
  • Might as well say it here: Before Blackadder, I’d known Rowan Atkinson from Mr. Bean during vaccination days at school, and Rat Race. So his ability to speak in complete sentences was surprise enough, but to see how funny he can be as straight man? Damn my North American ignorance!

EMBARRASSING CRAZY SIDE NOTE: As if I needed it, I have been well and thoroughly reminded of how much I love Hugh Laurie, how amazing and talented and funny and tall and blue-eyed he is, and how much everyone else in the commentaries and interviews thinks so too. And how adorable his relationship with Stephen Fry is. So now my obsessive little fangirl heart has been reignited and validated. So thanks for that.

100 things to do in 1000 days; #94: Spend a day tree planting.

IMG_0659I have a very ambiguous relationship with nature. I love looking at pictures of it. I think we should be nicer to it. Several plants and animals that exist in it are pleasing to me. However, it also tends to make me itch and sneeze. My nose basically runs year-round; colds in winter, pollen and ragweed in summer. I also react badly to bug bites; they itch, swell, burn, and bleed. Last summer, one on my arm looked so bad (it had…a tail) that doctors thought I might have blood poisoning. (I didn’t. But that is not the point.) I’ve never been stung by a bee before, but family history isn’t uplifting. A classic approach/avoidance dilemma. Basically, the math is this:

(wonder + beauty + science + actual place that provides sustenance and shelter for life) – (allergies + fear) = …positive x? minus x? irregular x? y?

I don’t garden, and I’ve never owned any plant that wasn’t either a cactus or one of those idiot-proof bamboo trees that don’t need too much water. And I’ve still managed to kill two or three of them. (And remember that one plant I bought for #89? Remember how I kill things?) But I try. (Oh my god, do I try.) And how much damage can I really do here? Tree planting is fairly intuitive; dig hole, insert plant into hole, refill hole.

So I put “spend a day tree planting” on the list, because it’s all about learning and doing new things, and that’s why Claritin was invented. Only in this case, “a day” means “two hours” because the only tree planting program I could find that wasn’t both a) in another province, and b) about 4 months long was through Green Toronto’s Natural Environment and Community Programs, organised through the City of Toronto Forest Initiative and Toronto Region Conservation Authority under the Urban Forestry Naturalization Program.


Forgive the picture quality, it was taken through a window.

About 35 people, children and adults, showed up to the event, which took place at Marie Curtis Park in Mississauga.

Together, we planted about 400 trees in just under two hours.

The weather was perfect. The sky had been threatening rain all day, but the downpour only started (and with a vengeance) a couple of hours after planting finished. So we got to plant in the sunshine, and the plants got refreshment. Win-win. I planted 11 trees, plus, I escaped with only several mosquito bites!

My first tree!

My first tree!

The park used to be the site of an old arms factory, and we also dug up a lot of brick, plastic bags and tape, and one explosives fragment with fuse.


Most Toronto tree plantings take place in open areas, but this one took place in an already established forest. Why? I spoke to two leaders of today’s event, Jeanette and Cheryl, who told me that although this is a mature forest with high quality understory, they want to protect the older healthy trees and help the endangered species that grows in the area, the butternut tree. There are a lot of bike paths and hiking trails in the park, so we helped to close some of them by planting new trees on the former pathways, and thus concentrating traffic in a sustainable way. Or, if you’d like, we re-routed the routes to avoid roots.

We planted iron wood, American beech, sugar maple, alternate dogwood, choke cherry, black cherry, and red raspberry on nice, soft soil, and on gravel-and-stone-infested soil.

I can see how some people get addicted to this; I added it to the list a few years after reading a short story by Charlotte Gill, taken from her novel Eating Dirt, because even after all this time, her story (which I read in J-school) stuck with me. Nature may be icky, but if you spend enough time in it, icky becomes okay, even fun, and I’d gladly do it again. The trick is to just immediately get dirty, and the rest is easy. It’s kind of like paper mache that way.

100 things to do in 1000 days; #7: Sustaining Memories program at Ryerson University.

It took six months, but my part in the Sustaining Memories program, a joint project coordinated by Ryerson and the Azrieli Foundation where I used to work, is finally complete.

(The program pairs volunteers with Holocaust survivors who want to share their story in the form of a memoir, but, for whatever reason, require some help to actually get the story on paper. It involved several initiation/information sessions, interviews, hours of transcription and organisation, data gathering, chronological ordering, and finally, editing the mess into a readable story representing the life of the survivor as told by him or her.)

The experience was a wild array of adjectives and emotions. Meeting, interviewing, and getting to know my survivor was deeply moving and educational, but also disturbing and overwhelming. Where to start? How to do her story justice? How to react as she tells me about these dreadful experiences? How much and when do I probe? These problems were compounded by a slight language barrier (English is her fifth or sixth language) and the usual difficulties that come with age (hearing loss, sickness, memory lapses).

Writing the manuscript was another monumental task – I knew transcription was a long and monotonous process from my time in J-school, but I had never had to deal with such huge quantities of tape. I had over 11 hours of material from interviews and video documents, some of it repetitive, some of it contradictory, all of it important. There was also a huge amount of existing literature and data both online and in libraries in which to read, sort through, and find relevant information. And worst of all were the three competing authorial visions – left to my own devices, I would have written the memoir one way; my survivor also had a fairly clear picture in her mind of what she wanted; and the Sustaining Memories program itself had a clear and rigid set of rules and guidelines. Shaping the story into something that satisfied all three of us might have been the most difficult part of the whole endeavour…if it wasn’t for everything else.

It was stressful, time-consuming, and exhausting, but I also feel that it is one thing that is important and good that I helped bring into the world. I’ve never in my life felt like I was doing something more worthwhile. In some ways, it feels weird to write so much about my experience helping with the memoir, almost like I’m trying to appropriate her experiences. I hope it goes without saying, but I am under no illusions about how lucky I am, how minor these “difficulties” were in the larger scheme of things, and how much of a privilege it was to be involved.

Today, I received a package in the mail containing a bound copy of the manuscript, a certificate and letter of appreciation, and finally, a sense of closure, and with that, I count this item as complete.

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Name hidden to protect privacy of the survivor until she is ready to release it and/or the manuscript is published in an anthology.

(There are currently talks about putting all the memoirs from this year and last year into an anthology, and having it published. So we’ll see where that goes…)