100 Things To Do This Fall

To quote Matt Dillon — in his iconic role as Jeffrey Willis, the working-class cabana boy in “The Flamingo Kid” — summah’s ovah. Dear Lord, we watched that movie 26,000 times in my preteen-era home, since it was the parallel story of my Brooklyn-born father’s sixties-era teenage years, save for winning the heart of Janet Jones. 26,000 times. At least. I’d get dropped off at the video store on Friday nights while my father circled the parking lot in his midlife crisis-esque Toyota MR2 — with a spoiler — for a space. “Kath, get ‘The Maltese Falcon,’ ‘The Thing,’ or ‘The Andromeda Strain.’ If they don’t have those, then get ‘The Flamingo Kid.’” Any fish you wish. Jeffrey’s going to Praaaaaaaatt. I could quote the whole damn script, line by line. My father was a dead ringer for Matt Dillon back in the day. Just with a more pronounced Irish nose.

Where was I? Yes, yes. Summah. Ovah. Even though it’s the hottest day of the heretofore summer today in New Jersey, we’ve adopted Fall in our hearts and minds, and in our caffeinated beverages. Fally Fall Fall’s on the seasonal horizon, people. Cinnamon candles and leaf piles and pumpkin-flavored toothpaste await. Better get on board and accept it. Don’t make me belt out “What I Did For Love.” Kiss today, goodbye….please, stop me. Because that won’t be pretty.

As I grow older, the turn of each season seems sweeter. The passage of three months — give or take — seems like a welcome opportunity to clean mental house, to take stock, set goals, and to just keep trying. Summah’s ovah. But autumn — oh, autumn! — is waiting in the wings. So here’s my to-do list for Fally-You-Know-What, whenever it arrives. Some are items I that I still didn’t cross off my summer list. Some are brand-new. They’re all very do-able. Like Jon Hamm. What?

We’ll get there, Pop. We’ll get there. — Al Pacino as Michael Corleone, “The Godfather” It’s my “Flamingo Kid” — the movie that I’ll beg my children to rent repeatedly on NetFlix, or on their Google Glasses, or what have you. 26,000 times.


100 things to do this fall

  1. Write every day. Something. Anything. Ass in chair.
  2. Beat the shit out of a heavy bag at the gym, at least twice a week. I hate running. But I love to hit inanimate objects.
  3. Take walks. Crunch leaves.
  4. Drink hot lemon water as my first beverage of the day. Then drink a shitload of hot coffee.
  5. Intersperse with cups of hot green tea so I don’t get the shakes.
  6. Continue my efforts to throw a ton of shit out. A shit-ton of shit. God, I need nothing. Absolutely nothing.
  7. Walk the High Line with my husband and children — and explore the newly opened section extending to Thirty-Fourth Street.
  8. Make larger holes in the soles of my favorite cowboy boots, with the scuffing and the walking and the shit-kicking and what-not.
  9. Read Rudyard Kipling’s “Just So Stories” with my children at night.
  10. Carve out a cozy and inspiring space in our house to write. In peace.
  11. Take our kids to the Bethel Center for the Arts and show them where the Woodstock Festival actually took place.
  12. Ask my hair stylist to paint bolder highlights in my hair in late September. Blonde or red or copper.
  13. Use my digital camera and lenses more often. The Garry Winogrand show at the Met was overwhelming and inspiring.
  14. Paint cheap flea-marketish tiered endtables in ombre colors. Get some paint in my newly highlighted hair.
  15. Embrace quinoa.
  16. Eat more fat, as Mother Nature intended.
  17. Wander Manhattan by myself.
  18. Wander Brooklyn by myself.
  19. Take a knitting class with my daughter.
  20. Wear more dresses and tights and high-heeled boots this fall. With leather biker jackets. Like a wanna-be bad-ass.
  21. Read voraciously. Until I’m snoring in chairs and on couches and upon pillows.
  22. Meditate, in the morning and at night.
  23. Make more phone calls. Send fewer e-mails.
  24. Buy an old turntable and speaker set-up. Fall asleep listening to my records, while stretched out on the floor.
  25. Visit the Brooklyn Flea at the Williamsburg Savings Bank.
  26. Light more candles. My college dorm and my city apartments and my San Francisco digs used to look like sexy churches. Little children make for scant open flames. They’re older now. So it’s safe to bring sexy — candlelight — back.
  27. Climb into the kids’ treehouse with my babies. And later, with my husband. Before it starts snowing.
  28. Love myself more. Be gentler with my little old self.
  29. Give away all of my scratchy wool sweaters.
  30. Take baths at night. Pin my hair up, and sink my body down. Be still for several minutes. Repeat.
  31. Go to Holy Cross Cemetery in Brooklyn and visit my ancestors’ graves. Continue my work on genaology.
  32. Watch old movies on rainy weekday afternoons while I fold wash and prepare dinner.
  33. Bring back the slouchy beanie. Don’t care if it’s so Fall 2013. It’s a look for me, and I’m fucking adorable in it.
  34. Consider the menswear look. Maybe just some wingtips and rolled jeans. Dear God, I’m Duckie.
  35. Share some favorite films with my kids. They’re getting older. And funnier. They’ll get them.
  36. Get to Rutt’s Hut in Clifton, and eat a big-ass hot dog. Just once. Twice is death on a greasy paper plate.
  37. Renew my passport, as my husband keeps reminding me. Because maybe he’ll surprise me someday.
  38. Get more massages.
  39. Keep wearing pigtails.
  40. Climb into my husband’s lap more often. It’s even better in the fall.
  41. Take pictures of my children, and of their neighborhood friends. So big. So beautiful. So fast it goes.
  42. Bake yummy breads and muffins and cookies and pies. Healthy ones, of course.
  43. Cook on Sunday afternoons.
  44. Get to a movie at the Warwick Drive-in before the season’s over.
  45. Latte the hell out of myself.
  46. Incorporate activities with warm blankets and pillows and firepits.
  47. Bring back the “reading hour” we used to employ when the kids were younger. We all need it before bed, to wind down after busy, frazzled days.
  48. Go pumpkin picking.
  49. Go apple picking.
  50. Eat cider donuts from small farm stands.
  51. Buy a shitload of mini pumpkins. Put them everywhere in the house, including the bathroom medicine cabinet and in my husband’s underwear drawer, just to make him absolutely crazy.
  52. Buy a shitload of decorative gourds. See #51.
  53. Bake winter squashes.
  54. Practice yoga, instead of planning to practice yoga.
  55. Get tickets to see Bob Dylan, the Eagles, and the last Allman Brothers concerts at the Beacon Theatre.
  56. Practice mindfulness, one half-step at a time.
  57. Let the tears come when they will.
  58. Recognize how beautiful I was in my twenties. Think on how I will see my fortysomething myself from my sixty-, seventy-, and eighty- (please God) something eyes. See myself that way now. As beautiful.
  59. Make green smoothies.
  60. Limit sugar and processed foods. Even more than I do now.
  61. Limit alcohol. Even more than I do now.
  62. Sleep, sleep, sleep.
  63. Braid my daughter’s hair. And let her braid mine.
  64. Take my time while tucking in my children each night. I was struck the other evening by how much I will miss those moments — oh, when they barely fit into their twin beds, when they’ve gone off to college and moved away. And don’t call me often enough. See #57.
  65. Drink just a teensy bit of scotch. Neat. Maybe in the bathtub.
  66. Take day trips to forgotten places.
  67. Bike the Ashokan Reservoir.
  68. Stay open to new friends. The circle only gets smaller if you choose to live that way. Let people in. Let life in.
  69. Shop more frequently on the main streets of small Bergen County towns. Spend less time online, and at the g.d. mall.
  70. Write, even when it’s awful.
  71. Ask for more forehead kisses from my husband. They heal me. Offer them in kind.
  72. Take morning walks with the dog. She loves them so.
  73. Wear more moisturizer. Not quite as supple and soft as I was in my thirties. I need synthetic suppleness. That doesn’t sound right.
  74. Get to the Rockaways, now that the beaches are mostly empty, save for the locals. Walk along the beach. Listen to the waves. And the accents.
  75. Switch out the silk robe for the gray cashmere one I was given as a gift many moons ago. It’s good cashmere. It’s heaven.
  76. Practice the drums. My little-girl soul and my sexy-girl soul meld in the backbeat.
  77. Practice the guitar. Learn the chords to Clash songs and play them as slow acoustic tunes.
  78. Get casserole-crazy. Brown rice and veggies and cheese and chicken and comfort food and Ma Ron. Casseroles can be healthy, damnit. Somehow. I’ll find a way. They’re so tummy-warming.
  79. Make soups. One of my favorite things about fall. I make some pretty, pretty good ones. The soul-snuggling kind. (Dear God. I really typed that, didn’t I?) So stand back, people. I’ve got an immersion blender, and I know how to use it.
  80. Plan ahead for Christmas and get some of that holiday shit done in the fall. Like I swear I will every year. Actually do it this time, instead of cursing my superlative procrastination skills at 3 am on Christmas Eve.
  81. Be brave and sign up for spoken word performances. I give good accent. I can do this, right?
  82. Finish the A to Z photo project with my kids.
  83. Think better of myself.
  84. Don’t wait for affirmation or approval. Find it within myself.
  85. Play more board games. I loved them as a kid. When it gets darker and we need to be indoors more often, they’re such a solace and still a lot of fun. Except Boggle, apparently. Not for me, but for my pissed-off family. I’ve been banned from Boggle by my husband and children because I have some sort of quirky visual giftedness and find 85 six-letter words in each round. Doesn’t everyone find “murdered” and “emotive” amongst the white cubes? Fine. Because I’m that awesome. Banned for life. Sucks.
  86. Sit on Sunday morning and read the paper. Not on an iPad, or a Kindle. Touch it. Get ink on my fingers. Pass sections back and forth with my husband. Tell my children to read certain articles.
  87. Spend less time on social media and more time on my writing. Now or never, Irish.
  88. Clean out my closet. Keep the garments that make me feel sexy and happy and warm. Give away the rest. Except the leather skirt which I’m going to fit into again. I will, damnit.
  89. More colorful lacy bras. Less boring and utilitarian black ones. Because they only go downhill from here.
  90. Find the right shade of red lipstick to suit my skin tone — and wear the fuck out of it. With smokey eyeliner and sass.
  91. Putter in bookstores. Go to the Strand and get lost.
  92. Start a vintage ashtray collection.
  93. Lower my expectations.
  94. Read a Judy Blume book with my son.
  95. Read The Diary of Anne Frank with my daughter.
  96. Help my mother more often.
  97. Take my father to lunch.
  98. Keep trying.
  99. Keep failing.
  100. Repeat.
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  1. Inspiring! Off to write…

  2. Yes, Stacey! Yes!


  1. […] morning, I read my friend Kathleen’s blog post titled 100 Things to Do This Fall.¬†At first I was simply overwhelmed by the fact that she had made a list of 100 things. Whenever I […]

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