Make a list of the projects that you want to do. Write it in your journal, and maybe post the list on your refrigerator as well. Then start doing the projects on your list.
The Original 52 Projects
Ask your Grandparents to tell you some stories. Make sure to document these stories, either in writing, or on a digital audio or video file.
“I got a call from the school. They said, ‘Come in right away.’ So I left work and headed over there. I was worried that your Dad had gotten hurt.
“But when I got there, your Dad was just sitting on the bench right outside the Principal’s office. He didn’t say a word. He seemed very calm.
“The Principal waved me in and closed the door. He thanked me for coming in on such short notice and then told me that your Dad had threatened him.
“I asked, ‘What happened?’
“The Principal explained that he had caught one of your Dad’s friends misbehaving. ‘I had taken hold of the boy’s arm, to escort him to the office, when your son stepped in front of me and said, “Take your hands off him.”‘
“I just nodded.
“The Principal then said ‘It was quite inappropriate and frightening to be spoken to in that manner.’
“I nodded again, and told him, ‘Okay, I will deal with this.’ I thanked the Principal for his concern, but I didn’t apologize.
“I walked out of the office and your Dad followed me to the car. I didn’t even say anything to him. He wasn’t in trouble with me, see, because I knew your Dad. I knew that was just his way.”
Go to the library. Find your favorite writer’s books. Then, see which writer comes next on the shelf. Someone you’ve never heard of before? Good. Check out the works of this newly discovered writer and start reading.
During the next summer rainstorm, walk outside to a place without shelter and immediately take a picture of yourself (and whoever else you can convince to join you). Keep standing in the rain until you are soaked to the bone. Once you are thoroughly and completely drenched, take another photo.
Make a box with someone special in mind, something that will slide easily under the bed or fit in an underwear drawer. Then, place a single letter in the box, and mail it off to that special someone (even if you share a home). In the letter, make sure to mention that you plan, in the years to come, to fill the box with letters.
Remember all your hiding spots.
Most everyone else had been caught, so the game was clearly coming to an end. Looking for people is never as fun as hiding from them. I had managed to stay safe, despite several close calls in open space. I had run across the lawn, thinking no one was around, but a couple of the girls had been resting, just laying on their backs and staring up into the star-filled night sky. At about the halfway point, one of them screamed, “There he is!”
Shit. It’s the only word that comes to mind when you’re playing ditch and you get spotted, but still have enough distance between you and those that are trying to hunt you down to maybe, possibly, hopefully, make it to safety.
I picked up the pace and headed for the deepest, darkest patch of bushes. Are my feet making all that noise, or are they right behind me? Don’t look back. Just get to the bushes and dive.
Once you hit the ground, you push out whatever branches are keeping you from maneuvering, and you start crawling. It’s okay to make some noise, right at the beginning — the pursuers, they’ve seen exactly where you jumped in — but stealth mode goes into effect the second you start heading in a new direction. Otherwise, you just get trapped, tagged and laughed at the second you peak your head out of the bushes. All the scratches on your skin and the dirt on your clothes were for nothing. I listened for footsteps. Nothing. I don’t think the girls were even looking. They probably didn’t even get up. That’s how they’re having fun now — Watching the idiots still hiding duck for cover even though no one is going to bother to really chase them.
The deep cover mindset is hard to shake, however. If you walk out to ask if the game is over, well, then, it’s definitely over. So you just stay patient, listen, and pretend like someone is quite possibly stalking you, waiting for you to take just one more step, right into their trap. Tag. You’re out.
Still, you can only bide your time for so long. You wait and wait, but still hear nothing, and at some point you’ve got to walk out there and find out what the hell is going on. This is the most stressful moment. To break cover or to hold out. Making the decision to go from one to the other is the life or death decision in ditch.
I made my way out of the bushes, into the center. This area was shielded from the park’s lighting, but the full moon graced an illuminating glow over the area.
He was standing so still, I wouldn’t have even noticed him had he not spoken. “Jeff?”
It was T. The way he was whispered, I knew he was still in the game. My God, we were both still alive.
I ran towards T. and he ran towards me, slowly at first, and then with the speed of a full-on sprint. We dove into each other’s arms. There was something manic in the way we were celebrating, as if getting caught might have meant more than the end of a game. We were laughing loud enough to give up our position. But no one came. They had all turned in and were probably having a chuckle about how we were still out there, hiding. But we had the last laugh. We definitely had the last laugh.
Before your next haircut, take a headshot photo. Immediately after your haircut, take another headshot photo. Proceed to take the same photo every day until your next haircut. Once the cycle is complete, place the photos in a photo album that flips easily. Watch your hair grow.
Write a one-minute autobiography.
Don’t necessarily start at the beginning, and don’t worry about the ending. Indeed, do not let any kind of chronological order hinder your effort. A good place to start is the first thing that comes to mind. Once you start writing, other memories will pop into your head. Go with them. The interruptions enhance the flow.
Once the minute is up, read over what you have written, and then immediately repeat the exercise. Keep going for as long as you can.
Record the nuances of one of your regular ol’ days.
At the end of any given day, when you’re just about to hit the point when you need to climb into bed to crash, sit down at your kitchen table with a digital recorder, push the record button, and start talking about your day. Begin with the moment you got up, and take yourself all the way to the point where you are recording yourself at the kitchen table. Mention names, places, things that you saw on the way to work, what you got done, what you didn’t get done, phone calls that you made and received, emails that you sent, overheard conversations, elevator banter, what you ate, the funny thing that happened on the way to that meeting. After you’re done talking, save the audio file (making sure to include the date as part of the file name) and archive it in a safe place.
Make a cake. A big one. Write something obscure on the top of it:
“How about 1972?”
“He just wouldn’t SHUT UP”
“Texas, here we come!”
“Tuesday is the day to roll the dice.”
“Here’s to more closet space!”
“Cubicle 404, YES!”
Then, place the cake in your office’s kitchen area or break room. Put paper plates and plastic forks next to it, and make sure to cut out a slice, so people know that it’s okay to eat. Don’t let anybody see you bring in the cake.