Many years ago, I set some goals for myself.  I had no idea if they were realistic or worthy, but I set three specific goals.

1.  To become fluent in a foreign language.  If I set this goal in middle school, I would have been just starting to learn French.  I don’t think I knew my aptitude for languages back then.  I knew I liked my French teacher (Mme. Beauharnois), and fluency in a language I was starting seemed like a reasonable goal.  At the time, my family was living in Upstate New York.  The Real Upstate.  None of this Westchester or Buffalo nonsense.  We’re talking 7 hours due north of New York City.  Our nearest big city was Montreal.  Therefore, French also seemed useful.  Now, of course, I am nowhere near the French-speaking pockets in this country or any other. Spanish has become the vogue language to pick up as a second tongue.  The majority of my students whose parents do not speak English, speak Spanish.  I did not have that foresight in 7th grade, but I did figure on a second language being a useful thing.

2.  To have a book published.  Following alongside my linguistic penchants, authoring a book seemed a noble task.  I knew I’d have my whole lifetime to figure this one out.  I wasn’t picky — an illustrated children’s story, the Great American Novel, a non-fiction reference book, some professional writing — I just wanted to be published.  I think authors have a quiet kind of fame, which also appealed to me.  They’re not recognized in the street or the grocery store, or followed by paparazzi, but they are known in name, and respected.  As a child, I wrote to some authors when we were required to in school.  Before my brain surgery, I read a book by Suzy Becker about her own brain surgery, and I was moved to write to her care of her publisher.  She not only wrote back; she called.  I seek to achieve that level of coolness that I ascribe to them.

3.  To learn to juggle.  Silly?  Ridiculous?  Not really.  I’m not the world’s most coordinated or athletic person.  I did gymnastics for a while but quit when my friends quit because no one wants to be in a class without friend.  I made it as far as a hesitant back-walkover, but only while on a slight declining slope.  Unfortunately, I never got to the elusive handsprings, and my back-walkover skill was not meant to stay.  I can barely do a forward somersault anymore.   Juggling seemed like a cool skill, not requiring much flexibility or agility, but something that, once you figured out, was locked into your hands’ lexicon forever.  Klutz published a juggling book for kids.  If it was targeted at kids, surely I could figure it out by the time I died.  Right?

So, would you like to know how I have done so far?  I’m 27, and my goals have had 15 years or so to ripen. 

1.  I do consider myself fluent in French.  I don’t have much opportunity to practice anymore.  My conversational partners have been living on different continents of late, and I haven’t been to France (or Francophone Canada, for that matter), since 2000.  Still, I have retained enough to tutor French for the past few years, so my retention of grammar can’t be that bad.  I’m sure the vocabulary would come back to me.  Here’s my new goal though — I am trying to learn Spanish for work.  Mr. Apron has taught me, informally, how to conjugate regular verbs in the present and past tense, and he teaches me new words daily.  Today’s was cebolla, the word for onion.  I’m not sure how being able to say, “I ate the onion” will help in preschool speech pathology, but it’s all part of the greater goal.

(Una nota del editor: “Comé la cebolla.”  Gracias por dios.)

2. The book deal has not yet come.  I see my greatest opportunity to write about my brain surgery.  Hence, I have started blogging about my surgery experience, but it is slow going, and very emotionally exhausting.  I told myself, going into surgery, I would write down all the details as they were happening, so wouldn’t forget a single procedure, a single nurse’s name, a single rehab landmark.  When I emerged from surgery, my glasses were MIA and I had developed double vision.  I could only read with my right eye closed.  Needless to say, I did not chronicle much.  I have written text for a children’s book which aims to cover the topic of brain surgery.  It’s on the level of a 5-8 year old, I think.  There are now some children’s books about medical conditions and procedures, and I haven’t yet found one about brain surgery.  The goal continues.

3.  Not a chance.  Especially because of my surgery, my left hand just doesn’t do what I tell it to in the same way my right hand does.  My movements are not as fluid, not as strong.  I had to relearn how to button my clothing, how to type on a keyboard, how to hold a shopping bag.  I’m sure learning to juggle would be very therapeutic, but that level of coordination is, alas, beyond my reach at this time.  I can’t even text using two thumbs. 

Do you have goals?  Or objectives on your bucket lists?  My father’s goal, as he told me when I interviewed him some years ago, was to become a father before he was 40.  I helped him accomplish that goal by being born when he was 39 years, 7 months, and 29 days old.  Go me!

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