I’m sitting in my apartment, overlooking the lake while the sun shines through my window. It’s a beautiful day here in Hanoi – 81 degrees and mostly sunny. I know I should be out enjoying the weather, but I’m hungover, so give me a break. The only indication that it’s winter and that the end of the year is coming is the Christmas music I’m listening to, trying to get into the holiday spirit. It’s still strange for me, preparing for Christmas in warm weather, even though I spent most of last December in Costa Rica.
All the things that normally remind me the year is coming to an end – cold weather and/or snow, the Browns losing, a warm fire, holiday shopping – just aren’t happening this December. (Quick tangent: Every Nov/Dec/Jan, the Browns seem to intentionally lose their final 6 games in an attempt to improve their draft status so they can waste another top 5 or top 10 pick on a player who is doomed to fail before even arriving in Cleveland. Now, they’ve won 3 in a row and have a good chance to win a 4th, their final home game of the season. My prediction is this…The Browns are going to win their 4th in a row this week followed by the world ending 5 days later as the Mayans and many pessimistic Browns fans have predicted. “The world will come to an end before the Browns win the Super Bowl.“)
But I digress. What I meant to say is that listening to Christmas music today has reminded me that the end of the year is coming and I haven’t thought about my 26 For 26 list in a while. Sad as it is to say, my 26th year will come to an end in less than two months, so it’s time to re-evaluate the year and see how I’ve been doing on some of my goals, activities, and “bucket list” items.
1. Skydive – This one has eluded me. I’ve wanted to skydive for as long as I can remember. It was on my 25 For 25 list, yet I still haven’t done it! I even made tentative plans this past summer with a friend back in Cleveland…but it didn’t happen. Some day – though I’m not sure Vietnam is the best place for it – I’ll get around to skydiving.
2. Read 26 books – In progress, but it’s not looking so good. I should have read way more when I was unemployed last summer. I’ve read 15 so far, and with only two months left, I don’t think I’m going to make it. My favorites this year are (in no particular order): The Hunger Games series, This Love Is Not For Cowards by: Robert Andrew Powell, and Behind The Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo. See all the books I’ve read this year here on Goodreads.
3. Visit Asia – COMPLETED. I’m in Vietnam right now! Duh.
4. Learn HTML and CSS – *COMPLETED. – The asterisk is because I’m no expert. However, I have improved my knowledge and can use some basic HTML and CSS commands for formatting and the like.
5. Chicago Cubs game at Wrigley Field – COMPLETED. I went to a game with my brother in May. I remember three things. (1) It was so cold and windy that we had to watch the last few innings from a bar. (2) Not many things trump drinking Old Style and watching baseball at Wrigley Field. It’s just magical. (3) The Cubs fan bars surrounding Wrigley are as much a part of the allure as the field itself. One in particular that I remember is Sluggers. I distinctly remember it because of the arcade and batting cages on the second floor. Whoever thought that batting cages and alcohol were a good mix is crazy.
6. Minnesota Twins game at Target Field – I didn’t make it to the Twin Cities this summer. Hopefully I can make it some day.
7. Take my nephew to a Cleveland Indians game - COMPLETED. Click the link to read about it.
8. See a play - Why can’t I make this happen? For the second year in a row. I guess I have two months to figure it out.
9. Make my own granola - COMPLETED. It was delicious. Click the link to read about it and for the recipe.
10. Bike 500 miles in June, July, and August – COMPLETED. I finished this one on the last day of August. The majority of the miles were logged in the Cleveland MetroParks. I ended up riding a total of 501.5 miles in three months. Not bad, right?
11. Try Cross-fit for 3 months - I never got to a Cross-fit class, and it hasn’t made it to Vietnam yet. I’m not too upset about it. I joined an AMAZING gym (VietFighter) here in Hanoi. I usually do three strength and conditioning classes a week, plus Muay Thai and BJJ classes. Who needs Cross-fit? I’d argue that our hour-long strength and conditioning classes are just as hard or harder than any Cross-fit session. OK Cross-fit gurus, who wants to debate?
12. Catch a wave - No waves yet. I’m planning a vacation in February that will likely take me to a beach, so it’s still possible.
13. Sleep under the stars – Not yet. I guess I could sleep on my balcony one night, but the haze in Hanoi doesn’t really allow the stars to shine most nights. Plus, there are rats out there sometimes. I was actually thinking more along the lines of camping.
14. Obtain an Italian passport - I wanted to do this as I was thinking about possibly living and teaching in Italy. As my plans have changed, I haven’t thought about it or pursued it. However, I will definitely get an Italian passport eventually…just not this year.
15. Organize a charitable event or meetup – Not yet. I have an idea that might work out with some of my students, but that still remains to be seen.
16. Pay for a flight with airline miles - COMPLETED. With the help of an old Epic friend, Jenny, and her 5,000 gifted miles, I used 70,000 American Airlines miles to get a round-trip flight from Hanoi to Chicago for Christmas! The Chicago to Cleveland flight was on my own dime, but that’s OK. I’m flying halfway around the world (and back) for free.
17. Run a 5K or 10K race in Cleveland - COMPLETED. I hate running. Most people know this. I did finish the race, but it was super slow. I think if I were to do it again now, I’d be slightly faster (I’m in better shape now than I was last summer)…but I have no motivation to force myself to run.
18. Win a sports bet in Vegas - COMPLETED. After betting and losing on both the Cavs and Indians (I know, dumb mistake), two UFC underdogs came through for me and I won about $100 total. Small bets, I know, but it’s still a great feeling to win.
19. Make a photo/blog book - I started working on a kick-ass photo blog book chronicling my 2009 Baseball Roadtrip, but it still hasn’t come to fruition. I’m not going to finish it this year, but I am going to finish it.
20. Visit 5 new countries – **COMPLETED. This one’s completed with a double asterisk. The first asterisk is because the 5th country has yet to come (next week). The second and much bigger asterisk is because I didn’t actually visit 5 new countries. Last February, I visited Ecuador and Colombia. Now I’m in Vietnam. The 4th was a layover in the Taipei, Taiwan airport. The 5th will be a layover in the Tokyo, Japan airport. I know, it’s a huge asterisk. I still have a two-week vacation coming at the beginning of February, and, in theory, I could hit a couple other SE Asian countries…but I want to spend that vacation exploring, traveling through, and getting to know Vietnam.
21. Go to a live MMA event – COMPLETED. UFC 152 in Toronto. I love the city of Toronto. The UFC event was pretty awesome too. It would have been better if Vitor had finished the arm-bar and upset Jon Jones…but it was great, ey?
22. See and IMAX movie – COMPLETED. The Dark Knight Rises. Cool movie, not great. But the IMAX made it seem pretty awesome.
23. Get another tattoo - There’s a strong possibility this is happening during my upcoming visit to the States. What it’s going to be is still up in the air, but I have a pretty good idea.
24. Go to the Grand Canyon – Didn’t happen and clearly isn’t going to happen this year. Bummer.
25. Donate 26 things I don’t need – I donated 18 things before leaving for Vietnam. I’m thinking I can easily get rid of eight more unneeded possessions in the next two months. No problem.
26. Go to Cedar Point – I had all of last summer to make a trip to The Point, but I never made it. Another big time bummer.
So for those of you counting at home (just me, I’m sure), here’s how it looks.
Completed – #3,4,5,7,9,10,16,17,18,20,21,22. Thats 12/26, or 46%. Not so great.
Maybes – It could get better. The one’s I might cross off in the next two months – #8,12,15,23,25 (23 and 25 being the most likely). If I get to ALL of those, that’d be 17/26, or 65%. A little more respectable.
Not happening – #1,2(unless I plow through 11 books in 2 months. Doable but VERY unlikely),6,11,13,14,19,24,26.
I guess I was quite ambitious with my goals for this year, but that’s just fine. You have to set lofty goals and aim high. You won’t reach all of them, but you’ll almost certainly surprise yourself in the process of reaching some of them.
26 has been another great year, but it’s not over yet. Gotta get back to work…
What are some of the coolest, most interesting things you’ve done this year? Did you cross anything of your bucket list (on paper or just in your head, whatever works)?
* If you enjoyed reading this, please consider sharing it with others! – MJP