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Friday, April 03, 2009


So far, the most remarkable thing about this Blog Every Day April thing (aside from the fact that it is happening, and that other people are doing it, and that SO MANY other people are doing it) . . . is all of the stuff I am learning by reading your blogs. I am finding out what madness goes on in your school, and that it is sunny in England, and that cats guard Chopin’s grave . . . so many things.

The first featured blogger (because every day, someone’s blog will be featured so everyone can MEET THEM) was Jordan. Jordan is also the BEDA coordinator and keeps the blogroll with all the participants. So far, about 250 people are in BEDA. IT IS NOT TO LATE TO JOIN. This is like a SLOW MOVING CARNIVAL, and you can just come right along.

Anyway, Jordan’s blog yesterday was all about this list of “18 Things to Do Before you are 18,” which he read on a box of Reese’s Puffs cereal. Having just turned 18, he wanted to make sure he was all caught up—only to find the list was a HORRIFYING AND MOSTLY IMPOSSIBLE INDEX OF MADNESS.

Here are a few excerpts:

1. Ride the world's biggest roller coaster.
Just so you know, the world's biggest roller coaster is the "Kingda Ka," a Six Flags attraction in New Jersey. Despite it's terrible name, the Kingda Ka boasts a 456 foot climb and a 418 foot drop, and accelerates 0 to 128 mph in 3.5 seconds.

I don't know about you, but I–and this may seem a bit selfish on my part–prefer living as opposed to being dead. So it should be clear that a) I don't like roller coasters AT ALL, and b) I have not been on the world's biggest roller coaster. Moving on.


2. Bungee jump!
Why the heck do the people at Reese's want me to kill myself? NO. NEXT.


6. Go back stage at a gig.
7. Meet your idol.
8. Play a part in your favorite TV show.

10. Make a discovery.

Here, it means "Make an actual discovery. Not like those cheesy emotional ones where you discover a new hobby or something new about yourself. We want you to make a legitimate scientific discovery, and then it must be named after you."

Please forgive me, demanding box of cereal, for I have not yet made a groundbreaking discovery like the Jarvik artificial heart or the Dyson Ball.

13. Invent a word that makes it into the dictionary.

I think Jordan’s responses to this list are appropriate. What right does a cereal based on CANDY have to tell you how to live your formative years? You might as well ask your Graduation Day Troy doll for medical advice.

No. This list is the work of some advertising copywriter who was asked to create something EXTREME and EDGY for this box. Something ASPIRATIONAL, so that you will buy and eat more candy cereal, because you will develop a COMPLEX and think you are not GOOD ENOUGH and must keep SHOVING THIS CRAP DOWN YOUR THROAT while you are developing new words and building inventions in your lab and throwing yourself from great heights.


In response, I have developed my own list of 18 things that you can do AT ANY TIME. I remove the pressure of age—so if you are about to turn 18, or if you have long ago turned 18—it’s all good. These are 18 sensible, achievable things.

1. Blog every day in April

This is an obvious one, but I felt like I had to start with it. And by every day in April, I mean, do what you can! Start now, even if it is not the 1st of April!

2. Make some soup

I only know one person who does not like soup, and that person is Robin Wasserman. Make some soup for yourself, or someone else!

3. Get a hat

You could really use a hat.

4. Read a book

You should have done this by now. Feel free to tweak this as you like. “Read a book . . . every week.” “Read a book . . . every two days.” Whatever you want. But let’s start with a baseline of A BOOK.

5. Make a friend

Another one that has probably been covered, so you can rewrite it however you like. I suggest you “Make a friend . . . on BEDA.” Why not just read some of the blogs and start talking to someone if you like what they have to say?

6. Say something nice to someone

Many people are walking around thinking that they suck. One nice word can make all the difference. Absolutely true story from my first day in the Polyester Gulag (high school) . . . I got through that day by the skin of my teeth. I was in a convent. I didn’t know any of the prayers that everyone else knew (I wasn’t Catholic). I didn’t know the local parishes, or how things were DONE, and we were lectured all day long on how we had to memorize all the rules by the end of the week or we were going to get our a$%es handed to us. I sat on the bus home, demoralized, thinking that I had just done day one of a four-year prison sentence, and that the best I could hope for was some kind of terrible accident . . . like maybe a sinkhole would just open up and drag me down to the middle of the earth.

And then, just as she got off the bus, some random sophomore stopped and said something really nice to me. I didn’t know her. She just took five seconds and said something nice, and I PROMISE you, I instantly felt better. I sat there trying to work it out in my mind—how something that was conceptually THAT CHEESY could have such a major impact on me. But it did. The fact that she said ONE NICE THING to me changed how I viewed that day, and I kept going at it, faking my way along until I was actually making it. And I still remember it.

So you can do that. It works! Right now, a lot of people are down about their blogs. Why not leave a FRIENDLY COMMENT. It may help you to do #5.

7. Work on your moves

I don’t mean to imply that your moves are not ALL THAT THEY COULD BE, but there’s always room for improvement.

8. Speak for an entire day in a fake accent

It’s really annoying for everyone else, but very fun for you. I once did it for an entire week.

9. Cultivate a completely imaginary relationship with someone famous

Another one I think many of you have covered! Add to your personal happiness index and EXPAND YOUR IMAGINATION with your awesome boyfriend/girlfriend/general buddy. (Note: this does not extend to STALKING said famous person. You are ABOVE that. Your love is so pure, you need never sully it with actual contact. That is why Robert Downey Jr. and I have been so happy for so long, and all my new companions and I are getting off on the right foot.)

10. Do something completely sekrit

Don’t tell anyone. Shhhh.

11. Go into a store and pretend not to know how something works

And I mean something really simple, like a mug or a pillowcase or a stapler. Ask for really detailed explanation. Write it down. It will give the people in the store something to talk about for a while. I did it with a toaster. “Push what? Can I only use bread? Does it just make it hot? And what do you mean crispy? Like, it makes it hard? It makes it hot AND hard?” L.O.L.

12. Spend one week completely offline

But not this month, though. RIGHT WHERE YOU ARE, WEBMONKEY.

13. Plan to go somewhere

I’m a big one for travel, which part of the reason why I keep writing books where people go on long, crazy trips. Set yourself a travel goal, and start taking the steps to get there. Get a passport. There’s a good start. Read about the place. Get a map. Maybe start writing to someone who lives there. That’s how many great trips start!

14. Hit the shiny red button

Just do it. Then run.

15. Write to me

I wanted to put one in that was really easy and you could just knock off right away. This was the same philosophy I used with Girl Scout Badges. I was absolutely obsessed with reading about the Girl Scout Badges, which are these little tiny sew-on patches you could get for performing a variety of tasks, and you put them on your sash. I LIKE earning things and collecting them. So I scrutinized the guide for months, trying to single out the easiest badges I could snatch right up. Except that I was such a crap girl scout (I forgot my troop number at the first meeting, for example) that I just left after about three weeks and never got ANY badges.

So I am trying to give you a FREEBIE. It’s maureen@maureenjohnson.com. You’re welcome.

16. Learn to sew on a button

You should know how to do this already. If not, learn.

17. Admit it

Go on. Just ADMIT IT.

18. Try again tomorrow

There you go! 18 achievable things, and you don’t even have to eat PUFFS.

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Blogger LaBelleRiviere said...

cool list, you forgot "master a bird call" lol

2:35 PM  
OpenID juliakarr said...

I love your list!

2:59 PM  
Blogger Anne Karoline said...

Love this entry and love the list. I think i'll start a late BEDA.

5:54 PM  
Anonymous :O) said...

I love the list. I was a girl scout once too, so I feel your pain. Except, I was in it much longer, so the badges (for me anyway) kind of lost their magic. :o(

6:11 PM  
Blogger delightfully mediocre said...

I enjoy the fact that this is tagged "contributions to society." Thank you, Maureen Johnson!

6:43 PM  
Anonymous epiphany renee said...

I have started BEDA but it's on my myspace blog... myspace.com/epiphany_renee.
Maureen your are an inspiration, your blogs should be published! like a collection-- new one every year, I would totally buy that. You could call it .... Monsterpiece Maureen, or Jabbering Johnson, or something infitely more inventive that I can't think of as I am now falling asleep...

6:43 PM  
Anonymous Rachel said...

Do you know the Reeses' Puffs song? Their commercials feature rappers sing/say/rapping
"REE-ses puffs, REE-ses puffs, peanut-butta-choclat flava!"

6:54 PM  
Blogger bucketlips572 said...

wow, that reeses puff list is just kind of er, depressing, for someone whos 18. As it would make your life amazing to have done some of those things. one you need money, which alot of people dont have at this time. and two you need skill for like the scientific discovery one, some kids just aren't intelegent enough. Im gonna boycott reeses now.

7:05 PM  
Blogger Candy said...

hahahahahaha I love that cereal and I hate THE LIST too. I'm pretty sure it's been there for at least three years.

And the last one??? How can you "Achieve 18 years of age" before you are 18? That has always boggled me. Maybe Jordan has covered that issue as well :)

*goes to read Jordan's blog*

7:25 PM  
Blogger Redcabbageispurple said...

I just wrote you before even actually really finishing reading your blog... that's at least one off the list.
I guess that means I'm going to be starting a late BEDA as well. cool.

7:35 PM  
Blogger Erika Lynn said...

I like your list much, much better!

8:51 PM  
Blogger DoreMifa said...

his blog was prrrretty much spectacularish! i am proud to say that i have spoken in a fake accent for one whole week in bio class. We even made plans for what accent on what day. and silly accents like "Charlie the Caterpillar" accent day was right after Mexican. But before Scottish. We even did different dialects! WOO!

11:43 PM  
Anonymous Shannon said...

I'm thinking I need to print out your list and stealthily find a way to replace every list on Reese's Puffs cereal boxes at my local Publix.

2:40 AM  
Blogger Little Willow said...

I've done everything on MJ's List of 18 Things. That's pretty nifty.

2:48 AM  
Anonymous Sarabeth said...

Maureen, why did you go to a Catholic school to begin with?

3:48 AM  
Blogger Stephanie said...

I was never a girl scout. Not even for three weeks. But I did have a friend in first grad who was a brownie. When I found out, I really, really wanted to be a brownie. I pictured tables and tables of gooey, hot dessert that could make up for the icky green outfits. Or were they brown?

3:59 AM  
Blogger iamliterate said...

Reading your blogs make my day a little bit better.

6:19 AM  
Blogger whitefluffyhat said...

*hits shiny red button*
That was easy!

7:31 AM  
OpenID geckobird said...

I must admit, that I like your list of 18 things, much, much better than Reeses Puffs. For lets be honest, Reeses Puffs's list really just invokes a sense of worthlessness, for who could honestly achieve all eighteen before the age of 18 without being super rich, super smart, super everything and not really human?

7:52 AM  
Blogger betty said...

The Troy doll disturbs me. I must go hid in the corner now. *quickly hides in the corner of her bed muttering about evil dolls*

8:18 AM  
OpenID radcat38 said...

I love your list. Perfectly attainable and realistic. And hopefully nothing death defying. You should make more lists for the rest of us poor mortals who are list challenged...just because I "might" make them once in awhile does not mean I actually do them(or follow them). But yours are crediable and doable.

6:00 PM  
Anonymous Bryn said...

I don't like soup either.
Now you know two people who don't!
But I like Mr. Noodles..so I'll just make that. :)

9:48 PM  
Blogger Suzy said...

Number 9 is my favorite! Number 8 is second on the list.

10:42 PM  
Anonymous Karen said...

It's weird that you mention Robert Downey Jr. in this because I am watching Kiss Kiss Bang Bang RIGHT NOW.

7:15 PM  
Anonymous Jordan said...

haha! imagining you doing the toaster thing just makes me laugh. you're one of those people who can actually do something like that without laughing. which makes it SO much funnier. hahaha! you're awesome. =)

8:54 AM  

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