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Before I Die...Paris Play #100



To celebrate our one-hundredth edition of Paris Play, we've created our third Surrealist Café, our virtual gathering place where readers/friends contribute, and we curate.

Last week, we asked you to fill in the blank: Before I die I want to ______________.

This week, your heartfelt, soul-deep replies; we tried to honor them each with the best illustration that we could create.

Thank you, everyone who played. You make our lives so much richer with your depth, and your willingness to participate in community. When we first arrived in Paris, we worried about isolation from our loved ones. Hah! Not a chance.

May all your dreams come true before you die.


Kaaren and Richard


Ted Tokio Tanaka


Before I die I want to feel comfort to move on to after life.


Porter Scott

Painting by Ku Gao (c) 2012

Before I die, I want to tie the ribbon on my life (or come full circle) by signing all of the paintings of my youth and selecting all of the best photos I’ve taken over the years; thereby leaving my small visual mark on the world as my most satisfying accomplishment!




Before I die I want to marry someone rich to take care of me.


Anna Waterhouse


Before I die I want to see God, preferably in Italy.


Ann Denk


Before I die I want to welcome more grandchildren into our family.


Malika Moore


Before I die I want to be ready, as in Hamlet's saying, "All is readiness."


Polly Frizzell


Before I die I want to see my beloved sisters Kaaren and Jane in the flesh many more times.


Jon Hess


Before I die I want to be free to trust in love.


Aline Soules 


Before I die, I want to know that I've lived completely.


Suki Edwards


Before I die, I want to explore Scandinavia and New Zealand.


Hope Alvarado


Before I die I want to go on an African photo safari.


Sojourner Kincaid Rolle


Before I die, I would like to have a poem that I have written acknowledged for its timeless perfection and, as its composer, be recognized in the history of our time as a Poet.


Marguerite Baca


Before I die I'd like to develop a green thumb, if that's possible, and grow an abundance of vegetables and herbs to share with friends and loved ones.


Joanne Warfield


Before I die, I want to love as I've never loved before with every cell of my being until I turn back into stardust.


Daniel Abdal-Hayy Moore

Street art by Jérôme Mesnager 

Before I die, I want to breathe eternity's air, die before I die in the sweetest sense, and swim in its light.


Larry Colker

Street art by Pole Ka

Before I die, I want to hold my great-grandchild.


Vivian Beban


Before I die, I'd just like to host a fantastic party for loved ones and friends, especially those I haven't seen in years, with a live band (my son-in-law Jeff being the leader, of course) and the best caterer money could buy, in a natural setting or a beautiful winery, and I'd want it to go on for a whole day and evening just like in the old movies.


Bayu Laprade

Street art by ME Paris 

Before I die, I want to achieve great joy, success and mastery in a creative realm.


Sab Will


Before I die I want to know I made a difference.


Carol Cellucci


Before I die I want to stop working and travel.


Craig Fleming


Before I die I want to whirl like a dervish on the razor's edge, entranced yet all the while fully awake.


Ebba Brooks


Before I die I want to get my novel published.


Kari Denk


Before I die, I want to know that my daughter is and will be strong, independent, happy, loyal, charismatic, loving, and an all-around good person.


Bruce Moody


Before I die, I want to bring my work before folks on line and clean out my basement so my daughter doesn't have to do it then.




Before I die, I want to...document every last piece of urban art in Paris.


John Brunski


Before I die, I want to go surfing as much as I did as a kid, or at least as much as my son does now!


Eric Schafer


Before I die, I want to have my book published.


Ren Powell


Before I die I want to grow very, very old slowly; to pass through my days like an outward-bound trip, seeing the new every moment.


Anne Reese


Before I die, I want to walk as I used to, or I want to walk well.


Connie Josefs

Create to create

Before I die, I want to finish and publish my work.


Nancy Zafris


Before I die I want to spend an afternoon with the Loch Ness Monster.


Dawna Kemper

Street art by Fred Le Chevalier

Before I die, I want to see a smart, soulful, progressive woman in the White House (as President, not First Lady; we thankfully already have the latter).


Kaaren Kitchell

Before I die I want to bring forth what is in me,
to transpose vision and memory
into literary works of art.


Betty Kitchell

Street art by Sardine Animal

Before I die, I want to do…nothing!  I've done it all!



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Reader Comments (41)

So very beautiful...even though I didn't really get "my own" image and it'll probably have to be explained to me like I'm five years old.

What a blessing you both are.....created to create!

With much love and appreciation.....

Saturday, September 22, 2012 at 18:58 | Unregistered CommenterAnna

We saw Water for Elephants last night on DVD, not a great movie, but visually arresting, and I wanted to change my entry here, though I stand by it, to: Before I die I want to fall asleep against an elephant. Now that would be a strange and strangely fulfilling experience, no?

(Interesting, by the way, how many want to publish their works here... I took it on and began self-publishing in 2005, and today it's not an embarrassment, but it is hard to "get the work out to people," in a marketing sense... that's the next hurdle. Plus posting work on blogs, like this lively and sweet breathing one we're on here, and the tally of hits, which can be very satisfying... and it's actual people reading or seeing our work. Yay the heartfelt community of creative workers!)

Saturday, September 22, 2012 at 19:03 | Unregistered CommenterDaniel Abdal-Hayy Moore

Betty Kitchell, you are an inspiration--and so is your daughter.

What perfect words. What a privilege it is to read and see what others are so fearless to share.

Perhaps next time I'll feel brave enough to share my wish to the universe. You've all inspired me. Richard selected images like they were long-lost and reunited at last. Is there a word for punctuating with images (or is that word actually an image)? ( ;

Thank you Kaaren and Richard, and congratulations again on the 100th issue!

Much love to you all. xo

Saturday, September 22, 2012 at 19:12 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer

Such fabulous reflections of life embedded in the reflection of death. Of course it was my intention to contribute - but being retired takes up far more time and space in my daily life than my prior busy work schedule and I never seemed to find the right moment. But my contribution would have been: Before I die, I wish not to be afraid of death.

And tell Suki Edwards to contact me -- I am about to head out on a 3 week trip by myself to New Zealand and company is welcome!


Saturday, September 22, 2012 at 21:45 | Unregistered CommenterVarya

Dear, dear Anna:

Yes, that's my doing. Kaaren thought it was weird, but when I explained, she said, OK.

Here's the backstory:

1.) I figured you knew the story of Moses and the burning bush, which is one of many cautionary tales, across cultures, of how humans are forbidden to look directly into the face of gods or goddesses. Semele and Psyche come to mind in Greek myth; Moses in the Bible; the story of White Buffalo Calf Woman in Native American myth.

2.) I also figured that you, as a screenwriter, would come up with a way to do it anyway; hence the 3D glasses as a possibility, and as an homage to your craft.

3.) And, I was assured by the crew that did the mural that all of the folks in it are Italian. (OK, I stretched the truth there.)

If that doesn't work for you, just say the word and I'll check in the vat and brew you a different photo.

Much love,

Richard (and Kaaren)

Saturday, September 22, 2012 at 21:46 | Unregistered CommenterRichard Beban

Dear Daniel,

We understand the need to have ALL your wishes recorded, but the elephant wish you could fulfill in one day. Yours as stated is wonderful. I rode on an elephant in of all places, Venice, California, and I must say it was a huge thrill. I'm sure there's an elephant where you live who'd like to meet you.

We wish some of our friends were in town for a talk next week in Paris by literary agents, Michael Larsen and Elizabeth Pomada on how the publishing world is so transformed with e-books, etc., that un-published writers no longer need to exist.

I think you do a fine job of marketing your work!

Much love,

Kaaren (& Richard)

Saturday, September 22, 2012 at 22:14 | Registered CommenterKaaren Kitchell & Richard Beban

Dearest Jennifer,

Thank you so much! That word for punctuating with images? You must invent it. That's your job as a writer.

Betty has four daughters and one son, and she inspired all five of us to go for what we want, as she and my father did their whole lives, and as she continues to do.

As far as sharing your wish to the universe, it certainly isn't too late. Just post it in a Comment. Or... wait till the next Surreal Cafe and join in. Any surreal game we play will be easier than facing death, I think.

We wish you the granting of your fondest wish.

Much love,

Kaaren (& Richard)

Saturday, September 22, 2012 at 22:31 | Registered CommenterKaaren Kitchell & Richard Beban

Dear Kaaren and Richard
Another amazing blog: I'm blown away by the beauty of it - love, love, love the images you've chosen (even though, like Anna, I'm not entirely sure about mine!!!) Nancy Zafris' wish is my favourite, joint with Betty Kitchell's (who I'm guessing from the name and the comment above is your mum Kaaren?) . May everyone's wishes be fulfilled and exceeded. All the best, Ebba xxx

Saturday, September 22, 2012 at 22:38 | Unregistered CommenterEbba

Dear Varya,

I am making note of your wish, and relieved that Richard didn't have to try to "illustrate" that!

And that's hilarious. (I must tell our readers that Varya just retired from her work as an international lawyer who has been to most countries on earth. And she's busier now than when she was lawyering. I can vouch for this. When she--you, Varya!--was in Paris this summer she covered more ground in a day than I do in a month and I do LOTS of walking and exploring.)

Suki, you should take Varya up on the notion of going together to New Zealand. You'd see every animal, bird and town there is to see. Plus... Bayu!

Much love,

Kaaren (& Richard)

Saturday, September 22, 2012 at 23:12 | Registered CommenterKaaren Kitchell & Richard Beban

Dear Ebba,

Thank you so much! I didn't get your (or Anna's) image at first either. But now I do. Yours is a man in bed reading your novel. He could be doing anything, but that's the one thing he HAS to do, because it's so riveting.

Isn't Nancy Zafris's great? (But I love them all.) And yes, that Betty Kitchell is my Mum (as you Brits put it). My darling 100% Norwegian Mum who has always sailed off in new directions like a true Viking, fearlessly!

I second your wish that "everyone's wishes be fulfilled and exceeded!"

Much love,

Kaaren (& Richard)

Saturday, September 22, 2012 at 23:22 | Registered CommenterKaaren Kitchell & Richard Beban

Thank you Kaaren! Lovely to see everyone's wish/prayer/desire w/Richard's wonderful photos!! xoxo

Saturday, September 22, 2012 at 23:34 | Unregistered CommenterConnie Josefs


You're welcome! It was a fun post to do. Richard thanks you, too.


Kaaren & Richard

Saturday, September 22, 2012 at 23:39 | Registered CommenterKaaren Kitchell & Richard Beban

Delightful, inspiring and so wonderful to read. Hoorah for a mama who "did it all". I would like to feel that way at the end of my life.
Thank you also for the link to Candy Chang's Tedtalk. She is such a moving speaker. Her project in New Orleans "Before I die I want to...." is spreading around the world like fire.
Thoughtful illustrations for every entry, Richard.
love, sister Jane

Saturday, September 22, 2012 at 23:47 | Unregistered CommenterJane Kitchell

Before I die I'll have to participate in one of K&R's "Before I Die" compilations. Spot-on photography, Richard!

Sunday, September 23, 2012 at 0:24 | Unregistered CommenterStuart Balcomb

Dear Jane,

Thank you--we love hearing from you. Hooray for that Mama! A pretty good feeling to have as you near life's end, no?

Next Surrealist Cafe we want you to join in. And yes, Candy Chang's Ted Talk was moving.

And I agree with you about Richard's photos.

Mucho amor,


Sunday, September 23, 2012 at 0:29 | Unregistered CommenterKaaren Kitchell


Yes, you will! So we'll do another one soon. Richard thanks you!


Kaaren (& Richard)

Sunday, September 23, 2012 at 0:34 | Registered CommenterKaaren Kitchell & Richard Beban

Dear Kaaren & Richard (and all of you lovely people who contributed) ~

Thanks to everyone for such inspiring wishes! So honest and true... so much love and sweet longing and even humor (it had not occurred to me but who *wouldn't* want to spend an afternoon with a mysterious famed monster! :)).

And the photos perfectly complement these beautiful dreams and dreamers...

Thank you both, K&R for this wonderful post, and this lovely community you have nurtured. And congratulations on your 100th post!!! May Paris Play continue to bring you joy... we are lucky to be able to share in your creative gifts here.

And, to echo Ebba, may all of us see our wishes come true, even those of you whose wishes are unspoken here, but tucked away in your heart.


Sunday, September 23, 2012 at 2:08 | Unregistered Commenterdawna

Magnifique! Merci beaucoup!!! Ahhh to travel with Varya would be a joy! Alas, I will stay stateside for now but will contact Varya before
I do (hopefully) get to New Zealand. Congratulations on 100 magical postings!
xo Suki

Sunday, September 23, 2012 at 3:32 | Unregistered CommenterSuki

kaaren and richard.....this was incredibly creative and lovely to see. the graphics to the wishes were gorgeous and o so appropriate. thank you for doing this. absolutely fabulous. j

Sunday, September 23, 2012 at 3:42 | Unregistered Commenterjeannette

Richard, I was looking at those faces and thinking, "Huh. Mussolini...?" But now that I have the explanation, it's my favoritest of all!

Brilliant. I'm packing up my 3D glasses now, for future use.

Sunday, September 23, 2012 at 17:47 | Unregistered CommenterAnna

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