One: Taking My Life in My Hands

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Ripe. The time is ripe. There is a full moon and a million stars and my mother and I are driving through my dark neighborhood, on our way to the Snellville, Georgia Target shopping center where we will meet Bob the Pilot and his crew, and the other passenger, a woman celebrating her birthday.

"If there was ever a time for you to be 100 percent truthful about your weight, it's now," I tell my mother a few days earlier when we have to email our weights to Bob the Pilot.

"In clothes?" my mother asks.

"Yes, the jeans and sneakers."

We have to wear long pants and closed-toe shoes, for the who-knows-where landings.

"That's the adventure part!" Bob the Pilot wrote enthusiastically.

The crash landings, Chip had warned. The landings in a field of snakes, I had made the mistake of commenting to my mother.

"That's it," she says. "I'm not going."

"Oh, come on," I goad. "It'll be fun. And don't forget to sign the release. Make sure you initial the clause about the crouch-and-hold-on requirement during landing."

Stop. I'm telling you too much, too soon, like in Love Story when you find out in the very first scene that Jenny eventually dies.

Let's be frank here. It wasn't the fact that doctors were calling me "mom," which is certainly not my name to them, as in "so what's wrong today, Mom?" when I would bring my children in for sick appointments. It wasn't the increasing incidence of drivers not stopping for me in crosswalks and my growing realization that maybe I was starting to become invisible, although perhaps I was imagining this. It was a simple little incident on a very regular night, perhaps not unlike a night in your suburban home, that served as the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back (although the camel wouldn't happen for years yet, unbeknownst to me at that time).

"So, what's your dinner story?" my older daughter asked me, after she and her sister had shared the excitement and joy of their day.

Blank. I was totally blank. After 11 years of suburban life (and still wondering how I ended up in a neighborhood where I had to get approval of the color before painting my shutters), I was suddenly, finally, completely speechless. Me, the native New Yorker who couldn't go to the corner deli and back without three stories. Blank. Totally blank. And starting to reach the aching realization that I was becoming a mere shadow of who I had imagined myself to one day be. My favorite book was 'Round Ireland with a Fridge, about a guy who makes a bet in a bar that he could travel the periphery of Ireland with, well, a refrigerator, and proceeded to have a truly hilarious and unexpected life-affirming journey. Truth be told, I longed for some sort of journey myself, some sort of adventure, but how? How would I do this while still packing lunches each morning and putting dinner on the table each night?

And that's about when it happened. When I found the long-lost list full of things I long-ago wanted to do in life.

And this is what happened next.

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Two: Publicly Committed

Three: You Have to Watch Your Tension

Four: Does the Right Hand Know what the Left Hand Is Doing?

Five: Milk's Leap Toward Immortality

Six: Unjustly Imprisoned

Seven: Word, Word, Words. I'm So Sick of Words

Eight: Wholly Ordered to Contemplation

Nine: Big Money Tonight

Ten: Only in America

Eleven: You'll Never Find an Old, Bold Mushroom Hunter

Twelve: Lucky for You, There's TiVo, Baby

Thirteen: You Get the Hoe-matic

Fourteen: Requiem for Methuselah

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