Yesterday, I wrote about the list of 30 things I was supposed to do during my 30th year. I didn’t have much success thanks to my own slacker behavior, but this year I’m committed. I’m posting my list online to make myself accountable to my readership. All 15 of you. As I finish more interesting items on the list, I’ll post about them here.
Some notes on the list: this is no bucket list. These are things I might realistically accomplish in the next year given schedule and finances. So you won’t see, “Paraglide over Grand Canyon,” or “Buy couture gown.” There’s a variety here– big things and small things. I’m hoping by giving myself some easy wins I’ll be more likely to tackle the more intimidating ones. Big or small, they’re all things I actually want to do. Might as well do them this year.
If you read an item that sounds interesting to you and you want to join me while I attempt it, let me know in the comments. This obviously only applies if you know me in Real Life.
And away we go.
Item 1: Finish stitching the wall hanging for J. I told her I would do it well over a year ago. This is now ridiculous. It’s not like I don’t want to and it’s not like I don’t have time.
Item 2: Make French Macarons. They are very challenging and I will beat them.
Item 3: Get back into volunteering– at least a semi-regular gig. Choose something fun. I was doomed from the start with the hospice thing last year. When your Real Job is to listen to everyone’s worst day ever, you need your volunteer work to be more uplifting.
Item 4: Catch up with my unread book list. This is probably impossible.
Item 5: Read Anna Karenina. It just seems like something I should have read by now. Also- movie this year!
Item 6: Clean out and organize pantry. CONTAINER STORE. Bring LMac because she’s into that kind of thing.
Item 7: Visit Center for Puppetry Arts. MUPPETS. This is one of the weirdest things about ATL and I can’t believe I still haven’t tried it. All of my friends who grew up here went on field trips in elementary school. Maybe I’ll convince someone to join me for the Halloween puppet show?
Item 8: Finish watching Friday Night Lights. It’s stupid that I’m still working on it.
Item 9: Donate at least $31 monthly to charity. ($30 if they only take $10 increments) Readers, I’m open to suggestions! I know it’s not much to give, but everything counts, right?
Item 10: Check on SkyMiles situation. Figure out how to use them. Then I can have more airport Bloody Marys.
Item 11: Back up computer. Suck it up, get it done, get Harrison (Engineering PhD cousin) to help.
Item 12: Post to this blog 4x weekly. Posts to book blog don’t count, lazy ass.
Item 13: Host game night. You love board games. You have some that you’ve never even played. Make your friends play them. Some of them might even like it. Don’t worry, CK, I won’t invite you.
Item 14: Keep at least semi-regular journal.
Item 15: Make Book It t-shirt. I’m never going to the find this shirt in a store. It’s time.
Item 16: Do something really nice for my sister. Not posting what it is here because she might read this, but I have PLANS. These are her kids. Sooo…. you can see why she might want a break.
Item 17: Make all Christmas presents except books. This is crazy. Try it anyway. Put that Pinterest board to good use.
Item 18: Send Grandma weekly pictures of funny and cute things. Heidi should be featured often. Grandma just moved to a new place and she’s having some stress and cute pictures of dogs are good for the soul.
Item 19: Meet neighbors. At least the ones on ether side. Maybe the guy on the balcony over mine that talks really loud. At least to tell him to hold his deep philosophical discussions with his cell phone until after 9 AM on Sundays. Bring cookies to bribe them to like me.
Item 20: Find good reading chair for office. Something cozy and readerly.
Item 21: Go some where on this list: Boston, Europe, Hogwarts (in Florida), Canada. I recognize this is a strange list. I’m keeping my options open. Do you want to go?
Item 22: Visit Elizabeth in Statesboro. She just moved there and I miss seeing her.
Item 23: Read Volume 1 of Mark Twain’s autobiography. This will be an endurance test, but I did the math and it’s possible to get it done in 2 months if you read 10 pages a day.
Item 24: Take wine tasting class/ go to wine tasting/drink wine in some educational capacity. Bring Melissa… after she has her baby.
Item 25: See a musical I have not seen. Bonus points if it’s in NYC.
Item 26: Go to a book convention or workshop of some kind.
Item 27: Go to DC and do something really pop culturey with CK, Lennie, and Chris. I’m always jealous when they go to movies together or watch Community or whatever. (I know, Chris, “MOVE TO DC, M. NOBODY IN ATL LIKES YOU ANYWAY.”) I want to pick a good pop culture related activity and go hang out with them. Eric can come too if he’s not too busy being International.
Item 28: Find make-up artist and learn how to make up my face properly now that my skin is clear. It’s time I learned how to use eye liner appropriately.
Item 29: Try that elusive and exclusive Holeman & Finch burger. Note to non-Atlantans: they only serve 24 of them and they only serve them at 10 PM at night. They are allegedly incredible.
Item 30: Play Shuffleboard at Twain’s. Play with Diette if possible. I always put it off because there’s a wait to play and I’m shy about getting in line for things because I’m a terrible, terrible introvert. Time to make myself have fun, dammit.
And the very biggest one:
Item 31: Write novel. Be ready to query agents by next birthday. This is it. I’m doing it. No excuses. It’s time to be who I’m supposed to be.
And that’s it. I’m reserving the right to change the list in the next week if something occurs to me, but I think this is it. Wish me well in the comments. 31 is 13 backward, so this year can only be great, right?
Thirty is not a particularly fun birthday. It feels like a turning point even though it’s not like someone hands you a card that says you are old. There’s no sudden shift in rules or weird restrictions. You just have this sense that it’s time to get serious and that options are now definitely eliminated.
But you go on. You keep going to work and you laugh with your friends and not much seems to change, even though you’re aware more than ever that you have mortality and what will you do with it?
A year ago tonight on the last night of my 20s, I made a list of 30 things I wanted to accomplish this year. Unfortunately, I only checked this list once during the year, so I didn’t have much success getting everything done. I managed 13.5 things on the list. I gave myself a half point for creating the Summer Reading Project because Item 9 was to read all of my unread books. I gave myself partial credit because I’m more than half way through that list. Also, Item 20 was to be something other than a super hero for Halloween, but then I decided that was really stupid because wearing a cape once a year is one of the best things I do. I didn’t give myself credit for that one, but I did lower my list to 29 items.
Here are some highlights of things I did manage to cram into the last year.
Item 1: “Leave the country. At least go to Hogwarts (in Florida). “
In May, I went to Germany and Austria. I blogged about it and went on a Sound of Music tour. Very successful!
Item 4: “Speaking of follow through, post 1-2 times per week on at least one of my two blogs.”
I didn’t manage this very well on this blog, but I was nearly perfect at my book blog.
Item 10: “Read a classic book I’ve been skipping.”
Read A Confederacy of Dunces. Was not disappointed!
Item 13: “Send actual Christmas cards. Pictures optional.”
DONE. Already planning new ways to exploit my dog for next year.
Item 19: “Try a food I have not tried before.”
I had many strange foods this year. This one sticks out because it came out of a food stand in Germany. Mustard helped.
Item 24: “Eat at Bacchanalia.”
In case you are not in Atlanta, this is an extremely nice prix fixe restaurant. It’s the kind of place your parents take you, but you could never go alone. Luckily, my mother wanted to go for her birthday.
Item 26: “Go to a social event that I would usually turn down and find a way to make it good. i.e. don’t be awkward.”
Considering that left to my own devices, I would just stay home and watch Netflix Instant and read books, I’m going to call it a win that I left my house at all this year. I’m sure I stretched my comfort zone at some point. Maybe when I wore sequins to a Taylor Swift concert?
Item 27: “See at least half the movies nominated for Best Picture.”
I actually did this! I loved The Artist, and Moneyball was better than I expected. The Help was WAY out of its league and The Descendants was really depressing.
Item 29: “Do something for New Year’s Eve. Do not just sit at home and eat junk food no matter how much you might want to do so.”
You will notice I’m not in this picture, but it’s only because I took it myself. UVA played Auburn in a NYE bowl game in ATL and I went with some friends from here. My friend Dave captured the general spirit, but UVA pants were sadly not the norm.
Tomorrow: 31 things to accomplish in the next year. This year, I’m keeping the list posted on my wall and I’m super serious about it.
Until then, good-bye, 30. You really weren’t as bad as I heard. In fact, you were basically okay. You have a bad reputation but you’re actually misunderstood. Like Judd Nelson on The Breakfast Club. But with less leather.
A list presented without comment: TV Shows That Should Be On Netflix Instant
2) Rainbow Brite
3) MMC: The All New Mickey Mouse Club
4) Gilmore Girls
5) The West Wing
6) Lizzie McGuire
7) The Good Wife
8) Freaks and Geeks
9) Veronica Mars
10) Pushing Daisies
11) Best Friends Forever
12) Young Americans
13) The OC
14) Being Erica
15) Game of Thrones
Hopping a plane or a cruise boat or an interstate this summer? Want to be entertained without resorting to the “I Like” game? (Rules: Take turns saying things that you like. That’s it.) Make like LeVar Burton and read a book.
In the summer, I prefer books that are completely frothy or completely absorbing. Also, they must be paperback. I know everyone has e-readers now, but you can’t bring your Kindle on the beach without risking a sand invasion. Here are some suggestions for Summer 2012.
If you want to snort laugh on the airplane and cause your seat-mates to give you strange looks:
Go for something by Jen Lancaster. I just finished My Fair Lazy, her attempt to exercise her reality tv atrophied brain with some high culture. Pretty in Plaid is another safe bet if you like coming of age stories. JenLan is like your loudest and most ridiculous friend from high school except she’s more articulate. You can freak out with her over the new season of The Bachelor, but you can also rub elbows with her high society pals who take her to the opera to Eliza Doolittle her.
(image from the author’s website)
If you want to get really absorbed in an epic that will take you all summer to read:
Try to get through George R.R. Martins’ Song of Ice and Fire series. This seems obvious, right? Like, we’re all watching Game of Thrones on HBO anyway and we all want to know when Joffrey the Jerkwad gets what’s coming to him. I’ll admit that I tried to read this before and gave up midway through the third book because I got bored with all the war, war, war. The first book was pretty easy to get through thanks to the visuals in my mind from the TV series, and I have a feeling that will help the rest of the series for me too. I’m planning to try again this summer. You should too!
(image from the author’s website)
If you don’t care if you ever the touch the beach again:
You’re not going to want to spend much time on the sand after reading Maggie Stiefvater’s The Scorpio Races. Every fall, the beach on this Irish island is overrun with vicious flesh eating horses that emerge from the sea. The wacky locals catch the horses, try to tame them, and then they ride them in a deadly race down the shore. Don’t let the YA designation fool you; it’s a lyrical book with evocative descriptions that bring the salty air right to your nose.
If you have a short attention span:
Depending on your literary tastes, crack open Jennifer Weiner’s The Guy Not Taken or Neil Gaiman’s Smoke and Mirrors. Very different but satisfying experiences. Each book collects many of the respective authors’ best short stories. Truthfully, Weiner’s tales skew more feminine, but that doesn’t make them less worthy or engrossing. Smoke and Mirrors includes one of my favorite Gaiman stories: “Snow, Glass, Apples.” Makes these new Snow White movies look like child’s play.
If you want to screw it all and just watch a fun girl meet cute with a handsome dude:
Zoey Dean’s How to Teach Filthy Rich Girls has everything I look for in a rom com: smart girl who likes to write, handsome but nice boy who happens to have money, bad boyfriends who get comeuppance, rich people, budding socialites, and a cover that has metallic accents. You already know exactly what you are getting with this one, but it’s still pretty fun to watch Megan stumble through her own personal love story.
If you want to feel intellectually superior to everyone else on the cruise ship:
Just pick up whatever Toni Morrison just released. I promise it will be well written and heart wrenching and it’s like carrying a sign with you that says, “I’m smarter than you.” It will not be frothy though. You’re on your own there. Read Rebecca or something if you’re looking for some literary fluff.
If you want to embrace the YA side:
Read Spoiled by the Fug Girls. I think of this as a gateway drug because the Fug Girls are widely read on their celeb fashion snarkfest website. If you’re not already a YA fan, you can just say that you think they’re funny and wanted to read their book. And it is funny! It pokes fun at Hollywood and celebutantes, but there is some heart underneath. The cover looks like your average beach read too, so it doesn’t scream “YA” so much as it screams, “I am on vacation and I don’t care if I get smarter here.”
(image from the publisher’s website)
If you want to spout annoying facts for weeks after your trip:
I’ll admit that I haven’t finished The Disappearing Spoon by Sam Kean yet, but I did read the introduction and part of the first chapter and it is a readable science book. It’s about the periodic table of elements and the author collected all kinds of interesting factoids about each element and put it in narrative form. If high school chemistry had more storytelling, I would have done better.
(image from author’s website)
For my own summer reading, I’m trying to finish all of the 53 books that I’ve bought without reading in the last couple of years. 53 books in three months… I must be mad.