My 2020 summer bucket list // collab with Purely Oliva and Not All Who Sonder!

Last year summer started when school ended, but this year, my marker for the beginning of summer has changed to the switch from nice to hot weather. Which in an unfortunate series of events, happened last week.

Ugh, that allusion doesn’t even make sense. Where am I going with this intro? Dude, writing intros is kind of worst. I can’t think of a way to not do one when it’s a collab post. Okay, let’s try again.

This is my summer bucket list. It is a collab with Olivia at Purely Olivia and Lucy at Not All Who Sonder. I literally love their blogs and brains so much.

Oh my, that’s three sentences.

But I have nothing else to say!


You know what, I’m done with this.

1. Read classics

Two years ago, I walked into Barnes and Noble and discovered that they were have a Buy 2 Classics for 10 Dollars sale. And so I bought twelve of them. (I would also like to mention that I was very much encouraged to do so by my mom. She even egged me on to get more.)

Two months ago, I had only finished one of them (Emma) and had started—but not finished—three of them. Mostly they acted as decoration for my bedroom nightstand. Sometimes they were arranged in rainbow order (oh my, that’s how you know you have a lot of books), and once they were conscripted into being the hiding spot for a clue my friends and I were playing. The one thing the books weren’t doing was the one thing they were made to do—be read.

Then without even realizing it, I had the same idea at the same time as a bunch of other people: I started reading War and Peace. At A Public Space, the writer Yiyun Li created #TolstoyTogether in the middle of March. It’s a virtual book club where they read fifteen pages a day, and they finally finished(!!!) this week.

I was able to finish earlier than they did because a) I’m guessing I have more time on my hands than someone who’s an adult and has more responsibilities and b) if it took me eleven weeks to read one book, I would likely give up. After War and Peace, I’ve so far finished Crime and Punishment, The Picture of Dorian Gray, Middlemarch, and Vanity Fair. The books I have next are Ivanhoe, Tess of the D’Ubervilles, and Wuthering Heights.

After I finish them, I’m planning on doing a post of mini-reviews about all of them because I’ve seen people say crazy things about these books. For example, this one post described War and Peace as an “easy read.” I truly don’t think we read the same book.

Olivia: Okay, I’m so excited to hear your thoughts! I feel like I would never be able to read a book over eleven weeks either. Hence why I’ve failed at every “read the Bible in a year” challenge I’ve ever started.

Lucy: The hiding spot from the scavenger hunt right? I remember that. My mom used to do the same thing, and buy me classics when I was in middle school which I would never read.

2. Actually watch a show

This past week my friend alerted our group chat that his Netflix account (which at least three of us had been using) is going to expire in August because he’s getting HBO Max instead. That means I have three months to hopefully finish at least on my To Watch List. This one is probably the hardest thing on this list because for some reason, keeping up with my movie bucket list and Youtube channels is easy, but finishing a show is difficult. I think it’s similar to how I would give up if it took me a really long time to read a book.

Right now the top contenders are Avatar and All American. Two of my friends are strongly in favor of Avatar, and a third is equally in favor for All American, but I’m not sure how I feel about either of them. I’m going to try an episode of both.

Olivia: I hope you finish them! I’m interested in All American too, but I haven’t started watching it yet. I’m the opposite as you on this- I’ll watch a show that takes me weeks before I ever get around to watching a two hour movie, haha.

Lucy: AVATAR YAY. Okay when I first started watching both of them, I was not that interested but I think both shows get a lot better as you go along.

3. Finish interviewing my dad

I think I got the idea to do this because I read some random article about kids knowing their family’s history. Another part of it was that I would hear different stories, but I couldn’t keep any of it straight.

So starting maybe a year or two ago, I’ve been interviewing my dad. Here’s a funny story I heard for the first time recently:

My dad’s an engineer and for his first job, he was assigned a radar technology project. At the time, this project was still new in China, so the year the paper was successfully published, it was given the second highest rating (kind of like orchestra or marching band) in the country’s annual recognition thing. He said that he became famous because of this To which I said: famous?? You were famous??? To which he responded very confidently: yes, I was famous. Everybody in China who did radar projects in the years afterwards followed my paper.

So yeah, my dad for a time was very famous among radar engineers in China.

Olivia: That’s so cool!! You are related to a famous radar engineer.

Lucy: Your dad has the craziest stories, I definitely want to hear everything else you learn after you finish the interview.

4. Learn to play worship songs on the piano

I’ve been playing piano for a while now, but it’s all been classical music. I’ve never learned how to play pop songs or anything like that. Both my parents and my friends have told me that I should play piano for worship team at church, but my answer has always been no.

But last month, something in me just switched. I wish I remember what the moment was like when I realized I had changed my mind—what the “exigence” was, if you will—but I don’t remember. It was a pretty immediate transition.

There’s only been a few decisions that I’ve made where it just felt right, and this has been one of them. In connection to this, a kind of crazy thing happened just a few weeks later: my piano teacher unexpectedly told me that she was retiring. It was almost as if my hand was being forced. From the outside looking in, it seems too coincidental, but from the inside

So far, I’ve gotten a somewhat solid grasp on four songs (Center My Life, Another in the Fire, This is Amazing Grace, and God Who Stays). I’ve been learning them by making Jonathan send me videos of him playing them, but I’m always confused so every time he has to send follow-up videos and explanations.

Right now I’m waiting for him to send a video of Yes I Will even though I’ve already asked him multiple times now, but me making this passive-agressive comment isn’t even productive because he’s not going to read this. –mentally sends a glare–

Learning the songs has been both aggravating and rewarding. The beginning and the end of the process are exciting because each song feels like a new challenge, but the middle part of actually figuring out how to play the songs is difficult because it’s like I’m struggling to understand a language that I thought I already knew.

All the music I’ve played in the past has been with sheet music where all the notes and much of the dynamics and tempos are spelled out for you. Now I stare at a bunch of chord names and have no idea how I’m supposed to change it into piano music. And I would also like to blame part of this on Jonathan for not being good at explaining things. Dear someone who’s not going to see this, please become a better explainer.

The craziest thing about this so far is that playing piano is actually fun. When I was taking piano, practicing wasn’t unenjoyable, but it definitely felt like a task. I would practice the dictated amount each day, and then I would be done. It still feels strange to just want to play piano.

Olivia: Seeing the word “exigence” gave me AP Lang flashbacks. I think it’s awesome that you’re playing piano for fun now and it’s enjoyable! I also love a lot of the songs you mentioned- especially Yes I Will and This is Amazing Grace.

Lucy: This is so cool!  I also thought of AP Lang unfortunately when you mentioned “exigence”. I would want to see Jonathan’s videos too for more ideas, and I really like all the songs you are playing so far!

5. Do my art homework

The art program at my school is kind of intense. Each year, the head of the department usually takes over announcements for one morning and lists all the awards the art department has won that year. When he did this my freshman year, I was so surprised to see that people were actually interested.

I think the main reason is that he does this thing where he compares how many awards or entries my school’s art department received compared to other schools that entered, and people get excited over how the smaller private school I go to keeps pace or even does better than the bigger public schools. Basically it’s just underdog vanity.

If I was to psychoanalyze, I would say it has it do with the fact that my school isn’t very good at sports. Actually, in some of the programs like golf, cross country, and wrestling, people are extremely good, but for the one sport that matters when it comes to pride and reputation and what not–football–my school has been terrible recently. They’ve won exactly one game in the past two years. So even though 99% of students would rather have a stellar football team than a stellar art department, you take all the victories you can get.

Okay, back to the art homework. Over the summer for AP art, we have to do a certain number of sketches and projects. (The difference between the two is size.) They’re not really graded assignments. It’s more for us to experiment and to test ideas out because the teachers don’t want us to have to start from scratch when school starts.

The main thing that I’m planning on trying over the summer is illustrated journalism. I know for most schools that would probably not count as art, but as a rule, the art teachers at my school are pretty weird. As long as it’s good, we’re pretty much allowed to do anything for this class.

The story I’ve started researching is NASA’s Mercury program. The first reason I chose this was because I was so clueless about NASA’s manned space missions. I wasn’t even exactly sure what a “manned space missions” was. (It’s just something that involves people going into space.) I didn’t even know which mission it was that Neil Armstrong first walked on the moon (Apollo 11). The second reason was that I keep learning interesting things about astronauts that I’d never heard of and I was curious about all the other names that we don’t know exist.

Olivia: Whoa, you’re so good at art! Learning interesting things about astronauts while also doing art sounds amazing. :)) Defining football as the one sport that gives pride and reputation as football is so true. My school’s team is not really good or really bad- at least not bad enough to where no one even goes to the games, but also bad enough to get beat by a team this year that had never won a game before.

Lucy: Hahaha my school is the opposite. Football is the main thing we’re good at and there is so much school spirit involved about football, but sadly our art and music departments don’t draw that much attention. Your regular art projects are probably more detailed than some of our school’s AP/competition pieces. I wish we got to do as many cool, open-ended projects as your school. 

Is your school good at sports?
Do you have any favorite worship songs?
What’s on your Netflix To Watch list?
Are classics a genre you normally read?
What’s one of the best stories you’ve heard your parents tell about themselves?

P.P.S. My bucket list from last year and last, last year.

23 thoughts on “My 2020 summer bucket list // collab with Purely Oliva and Not All Who Sonder!”

  1. First of all, very cool to reread your post here, this collab was a lot of fun.
    Hahaha your intro is amazing. 11/10.
    I think most of my thoughts are in the comments already, but update me on what you think of Avatar and All American.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, thank you.
      Ummm don’t tell anybody yet, but I don’t think I’ll be finishing either Avatar or All American. BUT MAYBE I will. We’ll see. I still want to try the kdrama you talked about.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Intros really are ridiculously HARD. I don’t even know why. But they are.
    AHH, I love your artwork! So, so cool 🙂 The University I just graduated from had a pretty terrible football team, but the marching band was AMAZING. People would go to the games just to see the marching band. A friend of mine who was in the marching band said that afterwards sometimes people would say, “The football team lost, but the marching band won.”
    I read a fair number of classics, but of the ones you mentioned, the only one I’ve read is The Picture of Dorian Gray (which was interesting, but also kind of depressing because Dorian Gray is not the kind of character you can root for). My sister keeps trying to get me to read Crime and Punishment. I’ll get to it someday 🙂


    1. Ahaha, he’s going to be very excited you said that. Ahh, thank you! I hope you have a great summer as well :)) Are there any books you’re really looking forward to reading soon??


  3. Yay for the collab!! I’m so happy we did this, thank you for being the mastermind organizer behind it all. :))
    Haha, I loved your intro! First of all, yes, the transition from warm to hot has hit very hard. Today when I got in my car the temperature said 108- I mean, yes, my car was outside so it was skewed, but still, that’s hot. Second, intros are hard and that can be seen by my many failed attempts at intros over the many, many blog posts I have written. Third, I smiled because I love your blog and brain too.
    It feels weird that I already commented on everything because normally I would comment on everything…but if I had any additional thoughts I will still put them here.
    Oh, I didn’t say this, but if you ever have any stories from interviewing your dad that you feel comfortable sharing online, you should do a post with them! I would love to read them. I need to ask my parents to tell some more stories, too, because your postscript made me realize that I don’t know a ton, other than random stories they’ve told me at times when I potentially wasn’t paying enough attention to be able to retell them later. My favorite story is probably how they met, because they both ended up at the same restaurant one night despite neither of them wanting to go, but being forced to go by friends, and they ended up meeting. :))
    I loved reading this! Even though I already read it, I enjoyed reading it again.❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ME TOO. And aha, you’re very welcome–I wish I had done a better job of keeping on top of it.
      Ahaha, I’m a bit sad that I can’t do every intro like that. Well, I guess I could…
      That’s so hot!! Okay, one thing I will not miss with having to stay inside is the car being super hot and the seatbelt metal part being so intensely fiery. I love your intros, Olivia! And thank you :))
      Ohhh, I would love to do one. My dad would love it too. I think he’s typical in that he loves telling people his stories. Your last part about how not being able to retell it is a huge reason why I wanted to do this that I totally forgot to mention. One thing that I’ve thought about several times is telling it to my kids if I have kids when I grow up. Whaaaat, that’s amazing!!!! Sounds straight out of a YA contemporary :))
      Ahh thank you :))

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The seatbelt metal part being intensely fiery is so accurate! To top my story of my car being 108, the other day it was 121 DEGREES and I had my sunshade up and everything?!?! I was very shook. I know the sun is beaming down on it all day, but I didn’t think it could get that hot.
        Yay, I would love to read it! Aww, that’s so cool. I think I want to interview my grandmother sometime because she’s told me a lot of awesome stories and like you said, for the posterity. Haha, you’re so right- I never realized this before, but my parents kinda had a meet cute.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. 121 DEGREES?? I actually have barely been going out of the house, and I totally forgot about sunshades. I don’t think I’ve ever seen my car thermometer/however it works say a number that high. Wow, did you immediately take a picture and send it to people? I think I would’ve done that.
          And I’m glad you liked reading it :)) Ahh, I know it’s not what your normally do, but I would love to heard stories that your grandmother tells too!

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I KNOW it was insane! And yes, I definitely immediately took a video of it before it could go down. So now it lives inside my snapchat memories as a memento from summer 2020. :))
            Oh, that would be a fun idea! Maybe I will do that, if I get to see her this summer.

            Liked by 1 person

  4. Wowww your art. I am so impressed with that colored pencil work. It’s with programs like that I wish a bit that I was in public school. (I’m homeschooled,) … the community I’m in doesn’t have a lot of easily accessible art opportunities or classes.
    And I love classics and usually go for the Barnes and Noble printings of them. Not gonna lie I’m a bit jealous of all the ones in the pictures of there. xD
    I enjoyed reading this post and I hope your goals go well!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh my goodness, thank you. I’m more impressed that you could tell they were colored pencil! I’m not good at telling what people made their art with. I think a good part of the credit should go to the fact that they’re Prismacolors. They did half the work for me. Ohh duh, of course that would be a difficult thing to do when it comes to be homeschooling. What materials do you like to use?
      Hahahaha, I promise I did not mean to make you jealous :))
      Thank you!!


  5. Ahh this was such a fun post to read!! I love classics, and I’m planning on reading a few this summer too! Although I will be reading them to get ahead in reading for the next school year… but I should enjoy them still!! Oooh that project with interviewing your dad sounds super interesting, best of luck finishing it up! 💕

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! Ohh, which ones?? For school, I have to read Life of Pi and Joy Luck Club over the summer, which I think would count as modern classics.
      Thank you!!


        1. Ohh, I read Tale of Two Cities for school! It’s probably one of my favorites that I’ve had to read. If you’ve finished, I need to hear what you thought. about the ending. Jane Eyre is on my list to read. Last year I listened to Pride and Prejudice on audiobook narrated by Rosamund Pike, and I think it helped me love it so much more than I would’ve reading it on paper. Thank you :))

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Well that makes me more excited to read it! Ok, I’ll let you know what I think when I’m done 🙂 Oohhh I wonder if listening to it would help me love it even more. I’ve read it before but it was a simplified version so I’m excited to read the full version this time around! No problem ❤️


            1. Ahh please!! Oh my goodness, I know I already said this, but I just wanted to reiterate that I really loved the audiobook version. Ohh, I hope you like the full version!

              Liked by 1 person

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