Bucket List

I’ve been meaning to make one of these for ages – a bucket list is a list of things to do before you die (or ‘kick the bucket’). For me, it’s also a list of things I want to do that would make me feel like my life hasn’t been meaningless, like I’ve not only done things that have shaped me as a person but also made the world a better place.

These are the things I have come up with so far (NB: the list is incomplete and will probably be added to)

Celebrate Día de Muertos in Mexico

Wikipedia says: “Day of the Dead (SpanishDía de Muertos) is a Mexican holiday celebrated throughout Mexico and around the world in other cultures. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. Traditions connected with the holiday include building private altars called ofrendas, honoring the deceased using sugar skulls, marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed, and visiting graves with these as gifts. They also leave possessions of the deceased.”

Get a full driving license

I have a provisional license, mostly for ID purposes, but I have always regretted not learning to drive as soon as I was old enough. At the time my parents didn’t have much money, and what I earned from part-time bar work went straight back into the bar’s till. Now, with credit cards and overdraft debts, and an imminent move to London, driving lessons are on the backburner although I did enjoy the couple that I had.

I’m convinced that the earlier a person starts driving, the better a driver they become, and also that if that person learns to drive in London, s/he will never be scared of driving anywhere else, so more lessons are definitely in the pipeline. It’s just a question of money (as usual).

Go to Rio Carnival

Back to Wikipedia for the source: “The Carnaval in Rio de Janeiro is a world famous festival held before Lent every year and considered the biggest carnival in the world with two million people per day on the streets. The typical Rio carnival parade is filled with revelers, floats and adornments from numerous samba schools which are located in Rio (more than 200 approximately, divided into 5 leagues/ divisions).  Street parades, blocos and bandas take place throughout the city of Rio during Carnival. There can be more than 300 bandas taking place at any given point in time. According to police estimates, more than 5 million people attended a bloco during Rio Carnival 2012 and there was not one reported incident of crime.”

So basically, it sounds like the best street party in the world – what’s not to like?!

Swim with dolphins

I know, one of the most cliched bucket list items, along with “write a novel”, but it would still be magical.

Shoot a gun

When my mum was at school in late 60’s/early 70’s Russia (then USSR), they had a class called Civil Defence. One of the tasks in this class was to take apart and put back together an AK-47 – pupils were timed and my mum scored the fastest time, multiple times. The downside of the Perestroika is that I never got to do anything cool like that, but I’ve seen an advert for a shooting range in Poland where you get to run around with anything from a Glock to a Kalashnikov, and that would be cool as fuck.

Donate a piece of medical equipment to a vet

On a less deadly note, I’ve always had a soft spot for animal charities because if there is a God, they are doing God’s work helping those that in Russia are called ‘our little brothers’. When I was out of work and returned from the Job Centre one day to find my cat alternating between collapsing and peeing blood all over the flat, I don’t know what I could’ve done without PDSA. They saved his life and I’ve always wanted to do something for them in return.

But – I do feel funny about just donating money. It feels like a bit of a cop-out, and I always feel like that money is probably just going to pay the directors’ salaries rather than buying food or medication for the animals. Directors are necessary to run a charity but I still prefer that the money goes to the root cause. So I’d like to buy equipment for a PDSA hospital – like an X-Ray machine or a CT scanner or any other scanner. If I win the lottery, that will be the first thing I do.

Visit Chernobyl/Pripyat

On 26 April 1986, an unexpected power surge in Reactor 4 led to a series of explosions and an eventual highly radioactive fallout over an extensive geographical area, leading to evacuation of 350,400 people from the most contaminated areas of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus.

When people were evacuated from the nearby town of Pripyat, they were given almost no time to gather their belongings. As a result, the ghost town has become a goosebump-inducing ghost town and screenshot of Soviet life at the time – some photos can be found here and an interesting blog post here. It’s not your standard city break but if after seeing the photos and reading that blog post you don’t understand why someone would want to go there, I’m not sure how to explain it!

Adopt a retired greyhound

When I was younger, my stepdad owned a racing greyhound that won a shitload of awards in races. When it retired, I begged my parents to take it in but his co-owner adopted it and we got a cat.

Lately I’ve been thinking about how lovely they are and even went to Croftview Rehoming Kennels to walk a few dogs. I was amazed at how friendly and well-behaved they were, and read up on their general behaviour and temperament when I got home. Apparently, the fact that they need loads of exercise is a myth – they actually do pretty well with 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day, the standard amount that a human requires. They sleep a lot of the time, have been nicknamed Velcro Dogs because they love human contact and will follow their owner from room to room, and get on well with cats. Plus by adopting one, I would be doing a good deed by giving an ex-racing dog a good home.

How can you not love this adorable face... aww!

How can you not love this adorable face… aww!

Own my own house/apartment

Pretty standard/suburban bucket list item… but not only does it bring safety and security to life, it also requires a hell of an effort to accomplish. I can imagine there’s no relief quite like the relief you feel when the last mortgage instalment is paid.

Design a heirloom piece of jewellery that will be passed on through generations

At this point in time I don’t want children, but I’m happy to admit that this may well change a few years down the line. I have a silver ring that my mother used to wear, and before that, my babushka (grandmother), and now it’s on my finger. I’d love it if my daughter (or niece) had a similar piece of jewellery, one with history attached to it, that they could show to people and say, “Oh, a woman called Elena designed that, back in 20..”.

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