Daughters of the Dirt / Sarah Higdon

60 Things a Woman Should Do Before She Dies
by Rebekah Shardy

My mother-in-law gave me a subscription to one of those sappy womenís magazines that intersperse pictures of pornographically rich desserts with the latest ascetic diets. My preference has always been sophisticated menís magazines with their urbane interviews, discussion of fine wines and fast cars and dark, craven wit. Best, they never bore me with articles full of cheap marital advice (the guys just donít share that angst, gals).

The November 1999 issue of Esquire, for example, had a fun list called "175 Things a Man Should Do Before He Dies" offering the sublime ("Talk to God") with the ridiculous ("Shave a Womanís Legs"). In honor of their creative pique, I have put together a similar list for the other half of humanity. If you donít like it, have fun making your own:

1. Date a younger man.

2. Allow your chewy, salty heart to be marinated in the tender juices of a younger manís obsession.

3. Ride a train through Europe (better yet, the Orient Express)

4. Say grace to the Goddess

5. Vote from lust.

6. Tell Richard Simmons to just shut up and sit down

7. Run for office, win and then resign in a grand gesture of moral indigestion.

8. Sing to a child.

9.Sing to a dying parent.

10. Buy a really expensive, well-made pair of boots.

11. Go a month without shaving your legs.

12. Write your own erotica.

13. Audition for local theater.

14. Get published.

15. Teach someone, besides a child, to read.

16. Donít think one judgmental thought for a day. Okay, an hour.

17. Learn a few choice phrases in French or Russian to use when flirting or angry.

18. Ride a motorcycle alone across the Nevada desert.

19. Stay in a convent for a week.

20. Wear a fedora in public.

21. Be someoneís fairy godmother.

22. Flirt with a stewardess just for the hell of it.

23. Serve something flambť.

24. Learn to belly dance and integrate it into your lovemaking.

25. Play the sax or cello or learn at least one aria or gospel song.

26. Interview three plastic surgeons and tell them why your bodyís flaws are precious to you.

27. Refuse to settle down.

28. Tell only the truth to a child.

29. Whisper your darkest secrets to a beloved tree.

30. Let someone make love to you in a fragrant field of sweetgrass at dusk in late summer.

31. Rent a luxury hotel room for a night alone.

32. Adopt a hairstyle you know everyone will hate but you like anyway.

33. Make friends with silence and solitude without having to get sick first.

34. Write a love letter that you know has the power to change someoneís life.

35. Accept your luminous, inimitable talents.

36. Cry in the rain.

37. Smuggle good scotch to your (or someoneís) dad in the nursing home.

38. Start a food fight.

39. Practice telepathy with your cat.

40. Have a nude portrait of yourself done by a sensitive female photographer.

41. Go gray for a month.

42. Dance under a full moon with a bunch of cackling women.

43. Read a book on astrophysics or molecular biology from cover to cover.

44. Realize you are not your body.

45. Make a list of all your female ancestors and mentors and make an altar in their honor.

46. Be the boss of someone who is bigger and has a deeper voice than you.

47. Rent a tuxedo.

48. Do Stevie Nicks on karaoke Ė sober.

49. Read James Joyce to telemarketers.

50. Stick your nose where it doesnít belong to stop child or animal abuse.

51. Eschew a job for a career.

52. Eschew a career for a life.

53. Buy yourself one significant piece of original art.

54. Kiss a girl.

55. Lead a protest or commit an act of civil disobedience.

56. Forgive the unforgivable.

57. Drop cable to spend the money on a $50 bottle of champagne once a month.

58. Abandon self-doubt.

59. Embrace change.

60. Give birth to your heartís deepest desire and develop post-natal amnesia about the pain so you can do it again and again..
Rebekah Shardy is a professional trainer and writer who teaches creative writing to women recovering from prison and addiction through the nonprofit "Mighty Muse Writing Project for Women" in Colorado Springs, Colorado.