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At 83, Here Are Things I’d Like to Do Before I Reach 100 

And here are things that I’d never ever do.

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illustration of a woman holding a long list of things to do before turning 100
Julianna Brion
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I just turned 83, which is older than I ever expected to be. Living until 100 is no longer an impossible dream, as women in their 90s are among the fastest growing segment of the aging population. I guess it's time to make my plans for the next 17 years. 

Here is my bucket list of things I am raring to do and things that I would never, ever do: 
1. Learn how to parallel park. I have never mastered this skill. What other people can do in two moves takes me 10 tries, and I still end up three feet away from the curb. I have been known to give up and ask some passing stranger if they would please do it for me. (I generally pick a guy, because they love the macho pleasure of aiding a helpless female.) 

2. Get my husband, Benni, to take salsa lessons with me. I think Latin dancing is one of the sexiest things a couple can do together. Who can resist the stirring tropical rhythms of the cha-cha and the rumba? Who can ever forget the pulsating mambo scene in West Side Story? Benni can, that’s who.  He would rather dance the Lindy Hop to swing music!! 

3. Make sure my grandson learns to play the piano. Like all kids, he wants to play the guitar, but that instrument gives you a fraction of the education that the piano does. Learning piano means learning to read music. To this day, Paul McCartney cannot read music. Though, I do admit Sir Paul has done pretty well for himself. 

4. Make sure my grandson learns to play chess. You learn to plan, to analyze, to focus, to be creative, and to compete. Playing chess may boost IQ scores and may improve problem-solving skills, according to The Science Times. It sounds like a win, win, win, win, win, win, win situation to me. I cried at a 60 Minutes segment where a group of kids in a very poor, rural area were taught chess and won a state competition. More kids from that under-served community then went on to college than ever before. 

5. Write a book that inspires people all over the world to be nice to each other, therefore winning the Nobel Prize. Just accomplishing the global niceness would be good enough. You can’t really trust that Nobel committee to make the right choice. Most people I talk to have never really heard of — or read — many of those obscure writers? Okay, I have heard of Bob Dylan. 

If I had a ton of money I would 

1.  Buy every gun in America for $5,000 each, plus give each owner a choice of piano lessons or chess lessons. The guns will then be melted down and used in the construction of small-home communities for low- or no-income families. So simple. Why has no one else thought of this? I should run the world. 

2.  Invite my 100 closest friends on a month-long cruise of the Mediterranean. During the day, we would disembark and experience the local culture. And by that, I do not mean churches and museums: I mean markets, and small local restaurants where Grandma rules the kitchen. Every night each guest will offer a talk or entertainment of some kind, followed by a pescatarian meal created just for us by Wolfgang Puck. These grand dinners would be followed by salsa dancing with live music by Tito Puente. And some swing by Harry Connick for husband Benni.  

3.  Plan and attend my own memorial service. It will be held at The Kennedy Center and hosted by Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Awkwafina. All the speeches will be about how wonderful I am. I will write Benni’s speech for him and hire Tom Hanks to read it. The food will be everything I usually deprive myself of, but as I am so close to the end, I am no longer concerned about my health. The menu will be deep-fried everything, hot fudge sundaes for dessert, and smoking will be encouraged. 

4.  NOT travel into space. I am seriously claustrophobic. I take the stairs to avoid elevators and try to get aisle seats in theaters. I cannot imagine anything more horrifying than to be entombed in a sealed contraption that is hurtling through the sky far, far away from planet Earth. No thanks. 

5.  NOT buy a Himalaya Birkin bag for $480,000. I understand that the process of dyeing crocodile hide is time-consuming, and I appreciate the luxurious touches of 18K white gold and diamond hardware but — seriously? I can think of 480,000 ways to use my money in a more meaningful manner. 
My single greatest wish 

My family is very scattered: some on the other coast, many in Denmark, none near me. I am blessed with many close and loving friends, but I still feel that I’m missing out on something essential. Especially around the holidays. I would love to gather everyone — all three generations — in the same place for one week. It may sound like a fantasy but who knows? I have a few years — maybe a couple decades — left to work on it and miracles do happen! 

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