Category Archives: Life

36 Before 36

A week ago, I turned 35. I didn’t accomplish much on my list and I’m not sure how I feel about it. I also don’t quite know how I feel about 35.

My 30s have definitely been quite amazing… what “they” say is turning out to be true. But now that I’m officially in my mid-30s, I’m trying not to let it bother me. Am I where I thought I would be? Absolutely not. However, in the last couple of years, I have learned that comparing myself to others (or even my own standards) is useless and unnecessary. Still… it feels strange.

I’m not entirely sure why I didn’t put more of a focus on this list this year. For part of the year, I was looking for a partner in crime of sorts; hoping that I’d have a gentleman to accompany me on some of these adventures. But then I had a revelation this spring and decided that there’s nothing wrong with doing these things alone.

Part of why I started doing this list is to encourage me to do things I wouldn’t normally do. This is something I think I have lost sight of. And I have to say, though I didn’t accomplish all the tasks, I certainly feel that I am enjoying my life the way I want to.

So, for my list this year, I removed some items that I have lost interest in. Also, I’m not going to be discouraged by the items I imagined being done in the company of others. If I want to do it, I’m going to just do it. The first 23 are leftover from the previous lists… the remaining items are the new ones. Here’s to 36!

1) Travel abroad
2) Go to drag bingo
3) Take a class
4) Go to the famous sites in Central Park
5) Take a boat ride in Central Park
6) Go to Atlantic City
7) Go to a Giants game
8) Learn how to knit
9) Take an unusual fitness class
10) Go to a live taping
11) Go skiing
12) Try Ethiopian food
13) Take an improv class
14) Go to the ballet
15) Go to the symphony in Central Park
16) Take a cooking class
17) Volunteer
18) Take a dance class
19) Go ice skating in Central Park
20) Go to a midnight showing of Rocky Horror Picture Show
21) Go camping
22) Take an art class
23) Go on a day trip outside of the city

24) Run a half marathon
Yes, this is a cheater item. I have already signed up for one in January. Though I haven’t been running as much as I was a few months ago, I am running a 10-mile next weekend… and I’d like to get back into the process.

25) Go apple picking
I have done this in upstate New York, but I would love to do it a bit closer to the city and perhaps with some friends who have never been.

26) Go wine tasting on Long Island
I do love wine tasting and I have heard there are some great places within a couple of hours of here.

27) Go to the Cloisters
This is way too close to where I live to not go.

28) See a movie at Film Forum, the Angelika, or Paris (or all three)
I don’t often go to the movies, but these are some pretty cool places (or so I’ve heard) to see some more obscure films. Seems like fun.

29) Go on a literary pub crawl
I did one in Scotland and it was a blast. I know of a couple here in the city and that’s pretty much right up my alley.

30) Go on a tour bus in NYC
I know this seems silly and super touristy, but the idea is to be able to see the city from a different perspective. It’s one thing to walk around and see the sites… but I think it would be fun to sit back and take the time to see everything.

31) Join a social sports team as a free agent
I have been playing with the same softball team for the last couple of years, and I’m about to play soccer with some friends… but I think it would be fun to join a random team to meet new people. Bowling or kickball or whatever. Especially during the cold months!

32) Go to the Bronx and Central Park Zoos
I don’t LOVE zoos, but I hear these are pretty awesome – and easy to get to.

33) Go site seeing in Philadelphia
I took a spontaneous trip to Philly with my friend Chrissy to see a Mariners/Phillies game. And while we did walk around a bit, we were pretty much there just for the game. It was a great city and I’d love to spend some quality time there.

34) Attend Drunk Shakespeare
This is more than completely up my alley. Drunk actors performing Shakespeare. YES.

35) Go to a baseball game outside of New York
I have been fortunate to have been to a lot of ballparks in the US, but I’d like to keep that challenge going. Maybe Baltimore? DC? Boston?

36) Perform at an open mic
This has been on my silent to-do list for most of my life. Maybe by putting it in this list, I will actually be held accountable. Wish me luck.

 

Here’s what I was able to do before 35… not a grand list, but I had a blast with all of them… and I even did a few things I didn’t plan for… a movie in Bryant Park, a visit to Philadelphia, a visit to Charlottesville, VA, a couple of shows (solo), a 10K, a women’s baseball clinic at Citi Field, and MANY new friends were made. A good year, I must say.

Run a 5K*
Go to roller derby*
Participate in a Hash*
Go see a cabaret show*
Go to Coney Island
Get a new tattoo
Visit a new city in the US
Go on a spontaneous outing


Don’t stop now, just be the champion…

I’m a runner.

Well, not quite yet, but I’m getting there.

I had an item on my 35 before 35 list that had carried over from the previous year’s list: run a 5K. I can’t remember exactly why I chose this but it was there and had a good chance of sticking around for yet another year. Thankfully, I have many runner friends, and one in particular who decided he was going to help me to get this goal accomplished.

He found us a 4 mile run through New York Road Runners and I signed up. Yes, this was more than the 5K I had in mind, but I didn’t think much of it. I got some new Nikes and joined a gym to begin training. My goal was to run the entire 4 miles… no walking, no stopping. A grand feat considering the last time I ran was to chase a kid who stole my phone.

Unfortunately, right after I signed up, the weather turned ugly. And stayed ugly. I was not motivated to leave the house unless absolutely necessary – and running, in my book, was not necessary.

The run was quickly approaching and I wasn’t ready. I kept hearing (from others and from my internal monologue) that it was “just 4 miles” and that it “wasn’t a big deal.” And that was keeping me motivated, for the most part. Until I went to pick up my Run for the Parks t-shirt and saw this:

Shit just got real.

Shit just got real.

I didn’t know I had to wear a bib for this!!! Again, it was just 4 miles. But somehow this made it feel like a bigger deal. It was real. And it was fast approaching.

The night before the race (yes, this is what I started calling it after the whole bib thing), I went home early and attempted to get a good night’s rest. Which I did. For the most part. I was excited to run but I was nervous. People kept telling me not to be too hard on myself or feel let down if I had to walk or even stop. I kept telling myself that this was my first time and if I enjoyed it enough there would be more. This took the pressure off a bit.

I got up bright and early and met my friend at the corrals. I was obviously in one of the last corrals because I’m slow as balls, but I told my friend that he definitely didn’t have to keep pace with me (he’s a REAL runner and I didn’t want to hinder his personal goals). And 10 minutes after the fast people up front had crossed the start, I was on my way.

Many thousands of people were in front of me. But I was really ok with that.

Many thousands of people were in front of me. But I was really ok with that.

It was a chilly but gorgeous morning in Central Park and as I started the first mile I was encouraged by the scenery. The Guggenheim to the right, the Reservoir to the left. Oh, and look! it’s the North Meadow softball fields where I spend every Saturday from April to August. I was also encouraged by the people. Not only were volunteers cheering us along the route, but the pack of people running together felt like a community in a way I wasn’t expecting.

Something in me just kept going. I am quite stubborn (or strong-willed if you would like to put a positive spin on it) and despite the advice about not being too hard on myself, I did have a goal in mind. My body didn’t hurt too bad and I was keeping my breathing under control. Pretty soon I was another mile down… and then another… and then I was in the home stretch. I had been keeping a steady pace the whole time, but then Britney Spears’s “Work Bitch” came on in my earbuds and I could’t hold back- I was either going to stop on the spot and break it down club-style, or run like I was on fire. I picked up the pace and managed to cross the finish line at 46:26 with a pace of 11:37 per mile. Not the best, but I’m proud of myself.

Sweet victory... well, MY victory at least.

Sweet victory… well, MY victory at least.

I set a goal to run a 5K and I ended up running a longer race, AND managed to do it without stopping. Even better than that, I’m motivated to keep going. I have signed up for a 10K in June and I’d love to do a half marathon before the year ends. I have even been going for runs on my own… like, for fun and exercise. Whaaaa? Looks like I definitely drank the runner Kool-Aid.

Blog song title: “Work Bitch” by Britney Spears (seriously, put this jam on your workout/running mix… guaranteed motivator)
Photo credit: Yours Truly


I can go… with the flow…

I moved around a lot as a kid. By the time I was in 6th grade, I lived in 6 different cities. After high school I moved over 14 times, including a 3 month period of crashing on couches and floors.

You learn a lot when you move. From a young age, I learned how to adapt quickly and let go of attachments. I was always well-liked, so I never had trouble making friends but I struggled with laying roots. I was always jealous of my peers who had friendships that started at birth because most of my friendships were new and only lasted until I moved again.  And because of this, I never feel fully grounded. To this day, everything feels temporary. Relationships, apartments, jobs… nothing feels like it can last forever.

A strange side effect of this seemingly perpetual motion is that I go along with things very easily. Some may call this “being flexible.”

Most people may say that it’s a good thing to be so flexible. Though some may perceive me as high strung, I can roll with the punches. Since I have spent most of my life adapting to new situations I don’t freak out when routines change, and last minute alterations don’t faze me a bit.  But the problem is that I am never satisfied. I never get what I truly desire. I have gone along with the agendas of others for so long, that I tend to put myself last. And what’s worse is that I’m afraid to speak up for what I want for fear of sounding too needy.

Now don’t get me wrong, I never do anything I don’t want to do. I never do anything I’m uncomfortable with or that I regret. But lately I’ve grown a bit tired of just going with the flow.

Clearly a big step in fighting against this tide was my relocation to New York a couple of years ago. My complacency put me in such a state of unhappiness that I decided to shake things up. And shake things up I did. I restarted just about everything in my life. I wasn’t following anyone else’s script. I was making my own path. And this has truly made me very happy. And still does.

But then there’s the dating dilemma. I have had many guys come in and out of my life since I moved here. And it’s been fun. This is the first time I ever dated casually. However, more than once I’ve found myself falling a bit for someone and wanting more, but they didn’t want the same thing. So, I end up settling for what they want… which is really just a fraction of what I actually want.

I suppose the idea here is that I’m flexible… I can be whoever I need to be for that particular person. But I know what you’re thinking: grow a backbone and don’t settle for anything less than what you want. It’s not as easy for me. I’ve had this concept burned into my brain forever- that if I actually say what I want and fight for it that I will be seen as needy or high maintenance. I worry that if I speak up, I’ll just end up with nothing at all.

I took a big risk coming to New York. I had no job, no apartment, no friends… but I stuck to my guns and have managed to do quite well for myself here. I have new goals all the time and I’m inspired and encouraged by the city and all the wonderful people I’ve met here. I didn’t back down and settle… I went for it.

They say fortune favors the bold. If I was able to risk everything to move myself across the country, surely I can fight for what I want out of a relationship. Even if I risk losing someone I care about in the process. Easy to say, but much harder (for me) to do. Stay tuned.

Blog song title: “Go With the Flow” by Queens of the Stone Age


Peace of mind… heaven knows you give me mine…

I had promised to write about this a while ago… but if you read my previous post you would know that I’ve suffered a bit of writer’s block lately.

So, right after I made my 35 before 35 list, I was able to cross something off:

2. Get a new tattoo

I had wanted to get something while I was traveling. Nothing special, but it would be a good story nonetheless. So, when I made it to London at the end of my 3 week European adventure, I sought out a tattoo parlor at which I would be branded with something random to serve as a memento of the trip. I was thinking of a Doctor Who tattoo that I had wanted (“Allons-y” for all you Whovians out there). But then the time came to get it done… and suddenly I felt the need to make it more meaningful.

Earlier that day I was aimlessly wandering around London… I found myself crossing the Waterloo Bridge and looking to my right I saw Big Ben… and I was smacked in the face with emotion. I started crying. Happy, overwhelmed tears.

I was at the tail end of my trip… a trip I had been determined to make. A trip for which I worked my ass off… and did all by myself. It’s still hard for me to fully articulate. It was a moment where I felt the very definition of strong and independent. I felt so tiny in the world and yet incredibly powerful. I learned about myself. I changed. I grew. And all at once, it hit me.

Back at my hostel, I brainstormed with a couple of people for tattoo designs. I casually mentioned this story and it seemed obvious what the tattoo design would be: a bridge. Bridges are symbolic of strength and transition… a joining of two sides. I think this was pretty representative of this trip.

So, I made a very last minute appointment with a tattoo artist recommended by one of the hostel workers. I told him I wanted a bridge on my wrist and a couple of hours later I was sitting in the parlor while Jake, my artist, sketched something up. I wanted something small and simple. And this was the sketch:

The outline...

Placement of the outline… am I really doing this?!

When he showed me the sketch I thought it was too big… was I ready for something like this? And then he mentioned color. Now, I already have a couple of small tattoos. They are fairly hidden and are black and grey. Color was not something I wanted. But I let Jake convince me. Why the hell not? Go big and all that, right?

And just like the other tattoos I have, there was a moment of absolute doubt and hesitation in the seconds before the first needle touched my skin. This is forever after all. But then he started… and there was no going back.

I just kept remembering why I was getting this… what it meant and how it will always serve as a reminder of my time spent abroad. The friends I made… the lessons I learned… the strength I gained. And when it was all over…

IMG_2917

The finished product…

Aside from the constant questioning regarding its geographic significance (it’s just a bridge… it’s not the Golden Gate or the Bay Bridge… or the Brooklyn Bridge), I LOVE IT. I love looking down at it and knowing what it means to me.

Even now when I doubt myself, I can look down at my wrist and I know what I’m capable of: anything

Blog song title: “Gone” by Vacationer (this was the song playing while I was on the bridge… the lyrics don’t necessarily match the mood… but when I hear the song, I still remember that feeling I had on the bridge that day)


Losing concentration, losing motivation, losing ground…

So, I haven’t written in a long time. I have sat down to write about a hundred times in the last couple of months… but this strange anxiety has kept me from clicking on the link to WordPress. I’ve definitely had this problem before… and too much time passes and I lose momentum. And then I lose inspiration. And then the doubt sets in.

I don’t know what it will take for me to work my ass off at this. I do know that my head is full. And I KNOW that getting so many of these thoughts out is useful to me… (and hopefully useful to others). But fear is a motherfucker. And though it may not always seem like it, I’m gripped with fear quite often.

But I talked to a wonderful friend of mine last night. She also has a blog and has been writing more lately. She mentioned that she checks my blog often and has noticed a lack of new work. I felt embarrassed. I felt frustrated. I felt like a fraud. Not like I’m calling myself a writer by any stretch… but this is something I want and something I love and I’m letting it fall to the wayside.

Chrissy said that she’s setting aside time every day to write… a piece of advice I had received from another dear friend (also a writer) a while back. It’s not always going to be great work, but it creates the habit. Which is what I need. Hearing this feedback and advice to my face last night definitely sparked something. And that’s why I’m here today. And will hopefully be here more often.

As I’ve said before, I am not going to make any promises. I will be making more of an effort for now… and I plan to expand my writing into fiction (yeah, you won’t be seeing any of that any time soon). Some stuff will be published here while some may be tucked away for other projects. But over the next couple of weeks, I’m hoping to nail down a writing schedule that works for me… and actually stick to it.

Blog song title: “Let’s Talk Turkey” by Ima Robot


Stand in the mirror… you look the same…

Many people have been asking me about my travels… which now seem more distant than ever. I’ve been back for two months and haven’t quite gotten around to really discussing or writing about what I gained from my trip. But I’ve realized something recently.

I met some amazing people from all over the world… seriously… everywhere. Every continent except for Antarctica was represented. And I spent time in some amazing cities. But when my plane touched down in New York City, I was so happy to be home.

When I first came to New York, I was desperate for some new experiences. I needed them. I needed change… so much change. I needed things to be different from what they were before. And they were… almost instantly.

But then I seemed to fall into a rut. Same people, same places, same drama. I had always wanted to travel and for most of my young adult life, I put it off. The timing of my trip this year was perfect without me even realizing it. I needed to step away from my life here. And I did. And it was, as I mentioned earlier, amazing.

So now that I’m back and have had adequate time to think about what the trip meant to me, I just keep thinking how grateful I am to be here in New York. However, things are different. Some of my friendships have fallen to the wayside and some have become stronger. Some of the things I used to do are not as interesting to me anymore. And this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

OK… so this is my main takeaway: I need to stay dynamic. I used to find comfort (complacency?) in routine, but now it makes me anxious and frustrated. For example, lately I’ve been “cheating” on my alumni group with another school. Is it because my new (and very dearest) friend is involved? Sure. Is it because I have a little crush on a boy in the group? A bit. But mainly it’s because it’s different. New people, new environment. It’s refreshing.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love and appreciate all of the people and experiences I’ve had over the past 2 years here in New York. But my trip reminded me why I’m here. I need to continue to branch out… to meet new people and to seek out new experiences… to keep things shaken up.

Do I have more to say about my travels? Sure. But some of my stories/lessons are going to come out in other ways… stay tuned.

Blog title song: “Home” by Foo Fighters


35 before 35

OK… here it is… the 35 before 35 list. For those of you who don’t know… every year I will create a sort of a birthday bucket list. The idea is that these items are accomplishable. I typically aim for things that are a bit more NYC-centric so that I am sure to take advantage of living in the greatest city in the world. Anything that doesn’t get done will go onto next year’s list. The only rule is that there are no rules. Items with an asterisk are carried over from last year’s list.

1) Go to Australia
Starting big. And this one is kind of a cheater… I am still abroad, but already planning a trip to Sydney in September 2014. My favorite Aussies (and Berlin buddies) are getting married then and I’m more than honored to attend the festivities. So the savings start… NOW.

2) Get a new tattoo
This might get accomplished next week… while I’m in England. Yes.

3) Visit a new city in the US
Traveling to Europe isn’t so easy… but traveling within the US isn’t so bad… especially on the east coast. Philadelphia maybe?

4) Go to drag bingo
This has come up many times… but has never actually happened. If you know me, you know of my obsession with drag queens. This must happen.

5) Take a class
Could be anything from a literature class to a history class to science class. I just want to keep the noggin running.

6) Go to the famous sites in Central Park
I’ve spent plenty of time in Central Park… playing softball. But somehow I’ve never been to any of the iconic sites… the mall, the fountains, the boathouse… nothing.

7) Take a boat ride in Central Park
Touristy, yes… but I think it would still be fun.

8) Go to Atlantic City
I really have no motivation for this. Just seems like something I’m supposed to do while living in NYC.

9) Go to a Giants game
No, not much of an NFL fan, but I know many people who are so I’m sure I won’t have trouble getting to see a game… and tailgate

10) Learn how to knit
I’ve wanted to do this for some time. I think if I start towards the end of winter 2013, I’ll have a great scarf for winter 2014.

11) Take an unusual fitness class
Could be some weird yoga… or strip tease aerobics… but I want to do something different.

12) Go to a live taping
Ideally it would be the Daily Show or SNL… but anything will do (and yes, I’ve done this before in California… but time to give NYC a go).

13) Go to Coney Island
No idea how I haven’t done this yet…

14) Go on a spontaneous outing
Yes, this is vague. But my thought is to get one of my friends to play hooky and then go do something… go to the zoo, go bowling, get a train to Ossining, stay in the city and take a bus tour… just do something!

15) Go skiing*
16) Try Ethiopian food*
17) Go see a cabaret show*
18) Take an improv class*
19) Go to the ballet*
20) Go to the symphony in Central Park*
21) Get a bike*
22) Get paid to write something*
23) Take a cooking class*
24) Go to a magic show*
25) Participate in a Hash*
26) Volunteer*
27) Take a dance class*
28) Go ice skating in Central Park*
29) Go to a midnight showing of Rocky Horror Picture Show*
30) Go camping*
31) Take an art class*
32) Write every day for 7 days*
33) Go on a day trip outside of the city*
34) Run a 5K*
35) Go to roller derby*


%d bloggers like this: