My Whole Expanse I Cannot See…

I formulate infinity stored deep inside of me…

Things to Do

There’s a fantastic and hilarious movie called, Things to Do. It’s about a guy who, for reasons we learn later, leaves his spirit breaking office job in the big city to return to his parents’ small-town home, which is depressing in its own way. One day he’s watching some “teens gone wrong” day-time talk show and the host says that to be happy in life a person has to be organized and have goals, advice our protag closely follows. He creates a Things to Do list, a list of anything he wants to do, but has never done. Then he tackles the list with the idea that it will help him find his place. I’ve been seriously thinking about the same issues, so I’ve begun this page, linked at the top right corner of the blog. My list is public and dynamic. I will add things as I think them up and cross them off as I do them. I’ll also post about my experiences. I’m making it public because of a post I read on Ecstatic Days by Catherynne M. Valente. She posted about writing a novel in 30 days, but the part that really struck me was about how it’s important to make goals public because it’s so much easier to quietly fail in private. People are welcome to join me in tackling the list.

Here’s the list so far:

Spend a day theater hopping at the movies

Have a home and a family of my own

Stay in a dive hotel in a city like New Orleans or New York

Go on a post-trache trip without my family

Ride a riverboat

Visit the Canadian side of Niagara Falls

Visit a New Orleans cemetery

Ride a Greyhound bus

Write a novella

Experience a shooting range

Fire a gun with a switch

Camp at the Grand Canyon

Spend an entire night on a beach with a woman I love

Sleep at a New England bed and breakfast


17 Comments so far

  1. Cody Austin December 27th, 2008 2:00 pm

    As far as New Orleans cemeteries go, I recommend St. Louis #1 where you can visit the grave of Marie Laveau, the voodoo priestess.

  2. Gary March 11th, 2009 11:20 am

    This is one of my favorite parts of your blog. I can’t speak too much from experience on a lot of these (and you’re one up on the ‘day at the movies’), but if you ever make it to your seedy NYC hotel (Chelsea Hotel is the obvious choice – spring for room 100 if you have the itch for some historical bathroom deaths a la Sid and Nancy – not like that would be the only crazy thing that ever happened there…), let me know if you want to add being on the Great Stage at Radio City Music Hall to your list. I work there and would be happy to make that happen. I mean how many people can say they sang a few notes at Radio City? Anyway, I know you are switching out switches, but hopefully you are staying well read.

    As an aside, I have ridden a greyhound bus from Syracuse, NY to Miami, FL (when I was 16) and it was definitely something you should do – just for the people you get to meet and observe. I had Thanksgiving on a Kentucky riverboat this past year and it was a nice way to have a holiday away from home. I once camped NEAR a beach with the woman I love and that beach was where I proposed to my, now, wife. That being said, I am trying to keep a home and have a family of my own. I’ll keep checking back to see your list hopefully ebb and flow. I’d also love to see things crossed out that would have been on your list that you have already done, like getting a tattoo.

  3. Dylan April 6th, 2009 11:07 am

    When you visit NYC, I can put good effort into getting you on a shooting range.

    Let me know when you are planning a voyage…

  4. Jeff April 11th, 2009 3:33 pm

    The Canadian side of the falls is pretty commercial in places, like the continuous row of haunted houses on the main strip, mixed into the carnival simulacrum.

    That said, the coup de grace has to be riding in a Maid of the Mist boat. They travel to within maybe 250 feet of Horseshoe Falls. You don a thin blue windbreakers (to keep the spray off of you) and away you go. It’s quite an experience.

    I must add, if you’re going to be on the Canadian side anyway, it’s only about an hour to Toronto, the greatest city in Canada and perhaps in North America itself.

  5. Jay July 17th, 2009 5:16 am

    I recently did the theatre hopping trick and whole little story came out of it. I wasn’t planning it, and just decided it was time to make it happen. I am really going to contemplate the public “things to do” list. Good luck in NYC. I recommend, Central Park (of course), the deck overlooking the East River at South Street Seaport and since we are both big on movies, you don’t want to miss spending some time in Washington Square Park in the Village.

    Have a great trip. Very eager to read about your travels!

    -Jay (Boston)

  6. Jaelyn July 18th, 2009 10:03 am

    When you come to the Canadian side of the falls, you must contact me. Come stay a couple of days in Toronto… and I know some great goth bars that will blow your mind.

  7. Tony Wilson July 26th, 2009 9:49 pm

    Lafayette #2 is a good cemetery as well. When I was there, some local drunk/”caretaker” gave us an informal tour. We tipped him and he followed us to the neighborhood bar and continued his drinking. As for dive hotels, there are plenty. I hope you get a chance to make it down there.

  8. jen July 27th, 2009 6:57 pm

    I lost my job and it’s true..I feel hopeless I should start my own list. My things become colorful once again..

  9. Liz August 5th, 2009 1:04 pm

    From all the things you have written, I would have thought you’d written a novella by now. Not even a novella but most likely a novel! Your writings are awesome and I praise you.

  10. Katherine Thomley September 3rd, 2009 8:21 pm

    I have several guns of my own if you want to go shooting, I would love to help with that if you’re interested. There are a couple of machine gun shoots a year in Hernando county if that is something you would like to check out. I would suggest seeing a night shoot as well, they use tracers and that in itself is cool to watch. Check out my friends site, at the very bottom of the page you will see a night shoot on video, it’s really quite entertaining. As far as firing a gun with a switch, I don’t know much about that but will volunteer any one of my 14 guns for that if it’s possible.

  11. Dag Nabbit October 9th, 2009 10:44 pm

    Great list. Honestly, I’m not sure there *are* dive hotels in New York anymore! No, there are, I’m sure. But they are few and far between, compared to the “glory” days of the Bowery.

    And btw, you *have* written a novella. It’s called your blog.

  12. CountessM June 28th, 2010 11:49 am

    Being from Southern Califorina spending a night at the beach is something I have done A LOT. I have slept in the sand, in the car, in a tent, a hotel and a B&B or two. I can suggest a few: San Felipe, Mex., Huatulco, Mex., Big Sur, CA., and Sylvia Beach, OR. Mexico is the best, because it harks back yearly family vacations in Loreto and San Felipe, and my Honeymoon, which was in Huatulco. There is nothing more blissfiul than to lay scantily or unclothed next to your beloved, feeling the balmy air on your skin and the sound of the ocean lulling you to sleep. The sea of Cortez is an amazing place.

    I am also enamored with the notion of pine trees lining the beach, so I love the beaches of the Northwest. My husband is from OR but has spent most of his 20s and 30s living in Seattle. We have taken several road trips through OR and I need to stop a lot to take in the beautiful beaches on the Oregon Coastline.

    If you ever want ton come to San Diego, hit some dives, a cemetery, great Mexican food, hit some pretty neat coffee shops and greasy spoon, I invite you.

  13. Kim July 11th, 2010 12:41 am

    I just wanted to say that I love your list. I just got back from Niagara Falls (Canadian side) and it’s wonderful the spray you feel from the Horseshoe Falls on a ninety degree day. The Falls are something best appreciated from a variety of angles and in the early morning before the crowds, in my opinion. I keep a list of travel goals on a site called There is also the website for general goals. I would recommend checking those out. Just a nice way for people with the same goals to connect and communicate…

  14. laurel June 8th, 2011 1:22 pm

    Might be a good idea to write exactly what it would take to accomplish the list. Then maybe people could try to find a way to help.

  15. Karen July 11th, 2011 8:10 pm

    Anyone know of a beach house I can rent for a few weeks on the California coast?

  16. Benji June 21st, 2012 11:35 pm

    Ok so yeah you’ve got some pretty dope ideas but what about your own punk show. I mean seriously, get a couple of punk rockers over to your place with some acoustic guitars and jam some of your favorite punk songs. I’m just saying, that would be on my list.

  17. jk June 24th, 2017 3:18 am

    So many of the experiences you desire are what a writer might have on their bucket list. I’ve done a few of these things…

    Get that novella written, Michael. I’ll be reading and looking for word on its progress. It doesn’t have to be a standard novella with an orthodox structure. You state you’re more comfortable with flash fiction, and there’s no reason to change this. You can use a more stream-of-consciousness style such as in your “Music in the Dark” piece, and in the flash fiction cultivate threads that spin out through a series of shorts that ultimately cohere as a novella. You are the one who decides on the nature of that weave; it can be apparent and tight or ephemeral and loose.

    Your formulations of the “infinity stored deep inside” and consciousness of “the whole expanse I cannot see”, these are all the muses that any author could possibly require, but not all possess after years of seeking inspiration.

    Good luck with that novella. I look forward to purchasing it the day it comes out.

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