1 -5 on my bucket list:
I always hear people talking about their bucket lists. I’m sure I suffer the same fate as everyone else — as I check one thing off, 3 more pop up in its place. The more I see, the more I learn, the more I do, the more things get added. I’m hoping that trend goes on forever.
My bucket list is l-o-n-g so I’m breaking it up into chunks. Here are five things on my list.
1. Climb K2
Everyone goes to Everest. That’s on my list as well, but from what I’ve read, K2 is harder and more beautiful (as well as a LOT cheaper….Climbing Everest costs around 60 grand from what I understand and K2 is half that or less). I wanted to give K2 a look and talk to some people there as well as take some preliminary climbs in the area, but thanks to an idiotic American filmmaker and an equally dumb French caricaturist, both my visas were rejected and there was no way for me to get into the country during the 2 months I had set aside at the end of my trip. The fatality rate on K2 is 27%. It’s considered by many to be the world’s most dangerous mountain. Challenge accepted.
Why climb? My father was a mountain climber. He climbed many of the highest peaks in Europe as well as some in Africa. Pictures of the peaks that he had summited littered our house. He had wanted to take me with him when I was still a baby, strap me to his back and spend a few days in the mountains. My mother, unfortunately, didn’t allow it. My father kept his climbing gear in a box on our screened-in porch in New York and when I bothered him enough he would take it out, teach me about his ropes, his spiked shoes, his pick axe and carabiners. Tell me stories about climbing adventures he’d had with his friends as a young boy, climbing into the French Alps above Bourg s’Oisans, his home town, and picking Edelweiss to sell to both tourists and locals, or times when he was older, climbing higher, narrowly escaping death a number of times. I was hooked, and have been ever since. So here it is, one of my many white whales…
2. Have my own sailboat
After spending the last few summers in Spain I’ve been overcome with the desire to own a sailboat. What these two things have in common may not be immediately obvious. I’ve spent the majority of my adult life in harbor cities: Miami, West Palm Beach, Jupiter, NYC…but while I’d admire sailboats, I never bothered looking at them. Then came my first year in Spain (one of the best summers of my life) and along with it, my first Estrella Damm commercial. I was hooked. Fun, sailing, partying, true love, all seemed (and still seem to me…good job Estrella advertisers) to be only a sailboat away. I’d sailed small catamarans on a lake near our summer house in central France and had been out on sailboats in the south of France with my father’s friends when I was younger so I’m familiar enough with them (or so I think…which clearly means that I’m not) but all of that comes with practice. Buying a sailboat, fixing it up, and spending a few months sailing around the Mediterranean in search of a good time and a girlfriend remains smack at the top of my list.
3. Go to the World Cup
I was living in Spain during the summer of 2010, and was supposed to meet one of my best friends from NY in Capetown for the World Cup. Plans fell through and rather than go by myself, I figured since Spain had such a good team I’d take a shot and see how it was to be in a football-obsessed country itself while its team hopefully made its way into the finals. My gamble paid off, although admittedly I should have thought through my location. Barcelona, being Barcelona and full of Catalans (I love you Catalans…you know this…no offense), opted to root for whichever team was playing against the Spanish team the majority of the time. I had watched the first game of the World Cup in Paris (and we had an absolutely awful team) on a huge screen next to the Eiffel tower. The 2006 World Cup (which, let’s be serious, France should have won.) I watched on a huge screen that had been set up near my apartment in SoHo in the city. The point is most large cities have similar large-screen setups. Even America, where football (or more aptly soccer) is a fifth level sport at best. There were no large screens set up in Barcelona in 2010 except for the actual final. Mind you I think something like 7 or 8 of the starting 11 ALL played for Barcelona, but hey, who am I to complain? We flooded Las Ramblas in our red t shirts after the game and sprayed each other with Cava. A good time had by all. All that to say that, having lived in Rio, and with my friends sending me pictures of the setups they had on the beach for World Cup 2010, heading there for the next World Cup is a no brainer. Barring any extended hospital visits (and even that I don’t think would stop me) I’ll be back in Rio after a 3- year hiatus for the World Cup 2014. Can’t wait.
4. Start my own charity or have my own school
I come from a lineage of teachers of all sorts and the value of an education has been drilled into me since I was younger (although admittedly I rebelled against that as many young people do). My mother is a natural-born teacher and we discussed at length how education could not only help people but change their lives. Those conversations have had, and continue to have, a huge impact on my life. Growing up in New York and being blessed with what I believe was one of the best educational systems in the world, it was easy to take for granted the amazing gift that learning from a good teacher is.
There are so many parts of the world I’ve been to where you just KNOW that these kids’ only hope of getting out, of making something of themselves, is getting an education. In a world where we are increasingly teaching toward an outcome quantified by a number on standardized tests, getting kids to simply regurgitate information, I worry the fascination of taking an idea and running with it, learning and discovering things you never knew or thought about before, will be ground out of students in school today. If all they learn in school is how to take tests instead of developing their natural curiosity and learning the skills and habits to seek and gather knowledge on their own once school is over, their lives will be diminished and the world will lose the potential they have to offer. Yes, students need basic skills. What they don’t need is to have their natural enthusiasm suffocated. The world doesn’t need human robots, it needs thinkers.
It’s always been a dream of mine to build a small school somewhere and have more creative thinking classes. My most favorite class ever was called “Math Excursions” (I’m admittedly a nerd at heart). In that class we were given problems that might or might not have had solutions and encouraged to come up with creative ways to solve them. There was no homework, no tests. The teacher would throw problems up on the blackboard and in groups or individually we would discuss different possibilities of arriving at an answer. A lot of times we would come early and stay late. Thank you, Mr Liberi. You’re one of the greatest teachers I’ve ever had in my life.
Today there’s a tendency to just Google whatever comes to mind and stop there. But it’s the links that matter. Everything is related. It’s important to see how. It’s better to understand the pattern of the steps to solve the Rubik’s cube than just memorize the solution.
Think about things! Don’t be lazy. Be excited. Thinking for yourself is a beautiful thing. Education is power. Education is freedom. Education is beautiful. I hope to add to that beauty someday, making students hungry to discover and learn all their lives and on their own.
5. Live/work at a vineyard
I’m French. I was born in France. After we moved to America my father would sit across the dining room table from me after school as I did my homework, I with my various schoolbooks stretched out in front of me, he with his English books. We helped each other. We learned from each other. It was one of the happiest times of my life. I was too young to drink wine back then but he would always sip a glass and occasionally our conversations would drift to the development, the complexity, the beauty of wine. He would give me a sip and every once in a while let me have some watered down. My family in France, as I think most families there, spent hours arguing over which wine went best with what we were going to have for lunch or for dinner. The quest for the perfect meal (which naturally includes the perfect wine) was an ongoing battle, one that everyone thoroughly enjoyed fighting. A favorite fight during “l’apero” is who gets to open and serve their choice during the upcoming meal. L’apero is, in my opinion, one of the greatest of French gifts to the world. It’s a time to relax and savor something to eat, something to drink and the company of family and friends. The meaning of l’apero is that life is good and meant to share. The meal is later. L’apero is now.
My mother’s college roommate and one of her good friends was Robert Parker’s high school sweetheart. It was she who introduced him to wine after studying in France during her junior year in college. He went to see her there and the sleeping giant of his palate awoke. It was love at first taste and he’s now one of the world’s leading wine critics. If you’re American then you have certainly seen wine rated on a 100 point scale. Robert Parker invented that. If you’re into wine and don’t subscribe to The Wine Advocate (http://thewineadvocate.com) well, you should. I remember visiting the Parkers’ home when I was young and I remember being astonished at his already vast wine collection. They had wine tastings at their home and I remember playing with baskets almost as tall as myself full of corks.
In the summers in France I would often escape to the wine cellar of our country house when it got too hot outdoors and amuse myself examining the dusty bottles, each as precious as a gold ingot. In short, wine has always been a part of my life. For me wine is like a vacation in a bottle. It’s familiar, like home is familiar, and it’s an adventure all at once. It’s one of those luxuries I absolutely treasure when I’m traveling. Nothing is better than to sit back with a book or a conversation, sip a glass of wine, and unwind at the end of a typically crazy day. What I have never done, however, is actually work or live at a vineyard. I’ve visited plenty, but I think working at one would bring depth and understanding to one of my passions. The only thing I worry about is that I wouldn’t leave.