Bucket List Part 3: Taste Absinthe

OK, again, not a very lofty bucket list item – but (again) not many of my bucket list items, are.  So – why absinthe?  Well, I just couldn’t help it… over the years, the literary & arts lover in me had conjured up romanticized images in my mind of sitting around an old Sherlock Holmes-esque English parlor having marvelous, deeply intellectual conversations with fascinating people about the arts, philosophy & religion –  all while partaking in the ritualistic sipping of a glass of absinthe, involving an intricate-looking beverage contraption… fancy, huh?

absinthe-decanter-goblets_1ac99f46

 

So, as I’m always on the lookout, opportunity finally knocked and I got my chance!  A restaurant had opened up in Halifax, advertising an ‘old-timey’ feel and serving absinthe, so last year while my son was at a nearby event, my partner & I dropped in so that I could give it a try. 

What I was served wasn’t entirely what I had expected – I had expected the elaborate font from which water would drip onto a sugar cube above my absinthe (as pictured above).  However, what I received was still quite lovely – a small, fancy glass of vibrant green absinthe, a small decanter of iced water, a sugar cube and a small silver, perforated spoon.  I was directed to place the spoon over the glass of absinthe, place the sugar cube onto the perforated spoon, and slowly pour the iced water over the sugar cube to drain down into the absinthe.  You could add less or more water, to taste.  The icy sugar-water turned the vibrant green of the absinthe to more of a milky green – and it turned out that this was actually the traditional way to drink absinthe!  (So, I didn’t feel gipped on my experience!)

absinthe

Absinthe was quite close to what I expected it to be – it had a primary taste of licorice (due to, I would guess, the anise & fennel), with a hint of ‘herbal’ taste, behind the licorice.  I was told that absinthe also contains wormwood – which has a bitter taste.  Well, somehow, together, it all just – worked, as I enjoyed the slight contrast of the bitter wormwood to the licorice/herbal taste.  And, it was quite potent!  One glass left me feeling pleasantly warm & relaxed.  However, as it was so potent and rich (& me being a bit of a lightweight!) I had but the one glass! 

Over my glass of absinthe, my partner and I did not discuss philosophy, the arts or religion (more likely the logistics of our weekly schedule or the grocery list!) and, sadly, I did not devise any earth-shattering ideas for world betterment, nor did it magically make me a literary genius.  However, in the end, the experience was highly enjoyable, (I did not cut off an ear, much to the relief of my partner!) and found that I’d certainly be willing to drink absinthe again, should I ever have the chance!

 

Bucket List Part 2: Carpe Ocasionem…The Time I Rode a Mechanical Bull

Right off the bat, I’ll just lay it all out there. I’m not much of a Carpe Diem (Seize the Day) type gal.

I wish I was, because who doesn’t love a Ms. Positivity-Go-Getter with boundless energy?!  But sadly, I’m not sure it’s in my nature.  While I love life and am grateful for every minute of it that I have, I don’t spring out of bed each morning, smiling, feeling energized and ready to greet the day like the woman in the Gain Laundry Detergent commercial.  I swear, (and you’d think I’d remember!) every morning the alarm clock wakes me up at an ungodly hour with the same visceral jolt – leaving me feeling like my soul hasn’t quite yet re-entered my body.  I struggle to fully awaken, drag myself from the warm bed and work to find my land legs.  I’m stiff, wobbly and groggy – and in immediate need of a hot shower and a coffee.  Probably because 5 days a week, like many others, I need to go to work – early and on time.  And my work does not involve bringing about world peace, saving lives, solving world hunger or curing cancer.  Basically, at my age, it came down to a choice: if I choose to have certain things in life, I need to be able to pay for them.  Work provides me with benefits that any parent hopes to have, such as paid vacation, a pension plan, medical and dental.  It provides me with enough money to support my family so that we can live in a decent house, have heat, water, food, a pet, and my son can play sports.  However, it also takes up the bulk of my waking day.  Taking me away from the many things in my life that give me joy down to my soul: my child, my partner, my cat, leisurely shopping, coffees or chats with friends, yoga, hours of reading, taking random fun courses, furthering my education, wandering aimlessly around the city, taking photos, writing…and so on.

Of course I can still do all these things – just not leisurely, on a whim, or whenever I want.   Things I want to do for me must be scheduled; squashed in, and timed to fit in amongst all the “need to’s & have to’s”.  Because like most working moms (if you aren’t lucky enough to have a housekeeper!), once the paid work day ends, the unpaid work day begins: homework, practices, lessons, groceries, supper, dishes, laundry, dusting, vacuuming, and anything else that may need doing.  And not that I mind, because I love being a mom (best job in the world!) and having a home, it’s just that sometimes, at the end of the day, I’m just so worn out that all I can do is fall into bed, hopefully watch a show and then fall asleep.  Too tired to do yoga, too tired to read, too tired to call a friend and catch up.  Just ready for sleep and ready to repeat it all again the next day.

I am, my friends, now a member of what I’ve heard called, The Sandwich Generation– a new phase of life where you have so many things competing for and requiring your immediate attention: children, aging parents, deadlines, paid work, work in the home, etc… and unless you are one of those Type A personalities who have so much energy that they can easily do it all (of whom I’m totally in awe of, by the way!), somewhere along the line, you end up neglecting yourself – putting yourself and your needs, last.  So, (while regularly fantasizing about retirement) and through my personal reflections of measuring a life well-lived via a bucket list, I feel I’ve had to morph into more of a Capere Ocasionem (Seize the Opportunity) kind of gal.

I do this by keeping a running list of all the things I want to do, see, have, experience and accomplish.  I keep it with me all the time.  I read it once a day.  Sometimes, I add to it.  And each day, if ever the opportunity presents itself of my getting to cross an item off the list, I go for it.  It’s the main way I manage to fit things in and help me feel like I’m accomplishing some little things just for myself.  Whatever works, right?

This brings me to the “Ride a Mechanical Bull” ilorins-phone-018tem on my bucket list.  Something I’d always wanted to do, but for some reason the opportunity never presented itself.  Like, really?  How many working moms have the time to seek out and plan to ride a mechanical bull?  None I know.  So it stayed on my list.  Waiting for the opportunity…

And finally it came.  A couple of years ago, my son was invited to a birthday party at a place called Hatfield Farms.  We had never been there before, and he was a bit shy at the time, so my partner and I planned to stay with him.  The farm party had many fun activities: a wagon ride, BBQ, bouncy castle, mini golf, gladiator fights, a petting zoo, a mechanical bull…wait.  Mechanical Bull!?!  No way!  The heavens opened, the angels sang and capere ocasionem!  Because, yes.  Lo and behold in one area of the compound – there it was – a mechanical bull.  I didn’t know where or when I’d ever have this opportunity again, so children’s birthday party or not, I decided then and there, oh yeah… this was happening!  So, while the children were busy with games, other rides, etc… I grabbed the bull by the horns (or so to speak!), and rode the bull.

It wasn’t exactly like I thought it would be.  For some reason, after all these years, in my mind, I assumed I’d be some sort of mechanical-bull-riding-prodigy.  However, it was harder than I thought – kind of like a full body workout in a few short minutes.  My right hand was white-knuckled to the saddle.  My head (and my whole body) were whipped violently this way and that.  But to my credit (while I didn’t risk the maximum setting) I held on and managed to stay on!  I was a bit nauseous when I finally got off, my butt felt bruised and my thighs hurt from gripping the sides of the bull to keep my balance, but hell yeah, I DID IT!

It’s always a moment of joy, a small victory and extremely cathartic for me when I get to cross an item off my bucket list!  And while I no longer have a burning desire to ride a mechanical bull, I’d probably do it again if the opportunity ever presented itself!  Capere Ocasionem!  Yee haw, y’all!

The Bucket List

The Bucket List

bucket-list

Life is short.  Sure everyone knows this, but how many people really know this?

How short life can be really didn’t fully hit home for me until a few years after I lost someone in my life when we were both at a relatively young age.  My husband died of malignant melanoma when he was just 38 years old – and it took only 2 short, rapidly debilitating months – from diagnosis to death.  At the time, I was 37 and our son was 3 1/2.  There were still things in life that he hadn’t yet been able to see or do, but he (we) felt that we were young – we had time.  However, we blinked.  And for one of us, time ran out.

For several years after my husband passed, I was so preoccupied with unexpectedly becoming a single mom, working full time and going to university part time that I didn’t really have time contemplate the shortness of life.  At that point, life was more about survival and getting things done.  And while it was extremely rewarding to care for my child and to continue with my university classes, balancing those joys with working full time to pay the bills, left little time for much else.

Fast forward a couple more years and yes, life was still busy.  However my son was now older, I’d graduated from university (bucket list item!), and being in my mid-40s – it was then really starting to hit me:  Life here on earth is short.  We are here one moment, and then gone in the blink of an eye.  And for a moment, I felt small and insignificant.  What have I done with my life?  I obviously hadn’t cured cancer or single-handedly brought about world peace.  But aside from a global perspective, I wondered, have I done all the main things (big or small) that I’d hoped to do, personally in my own life?

So, like so many others before me, I decided to make a list – my own Bucket List – of things I’d always wanted to do, see, experience, accomplish, etc…over the course of my life.  I wanted to see how many of my heart’s desires I had already accomplished vs. how much still remained.

My list wasn’t overly grandiose; and I still don’t view it as a ‘race to the finish line’.  I even occasionally add something else to it, as I think of it, and I work to accomplish what I can, when I can.

But I can happily report that a good many of the items I had hoped to accomplish over the course of my life, I already have.  However, there are obviously still many items to work towards and cross off!  (And if you’re a bit OCD like me, you know the tremendous satisfaction that comes from crossing something off a list!)  Some of my remaining list items are the more expensive/difficult things to accomplish for a variety of reasons such as money vs. responsibilities; (ex. visiting the pyramids of Egypt or the catacombs of Palermo, Italy) and some are small, even silly, by another’s standards, (ex. singing Karaoke or performing in public) – a personal sheer terror.  But, in the end, whether crazy, silly, difficult or near impossible, the list is mine and mine alone: my experiences to have, my goals to achieve, and my fears to overcome.

For when it’s all said and done, only we, ourselves, can truly measure our life well-lived.

Stay tuned for more pseudo-mediocre adventures on The Bucket List…