24 for 24

Today is my birthday! I am approximately 21 years older than this picture. This is a weird birthday. I haven’t been at work in a week because of Hurricane Sandy (our offices were without power) and I’m going back today.

I like birthdays. I like other people’s birthdays, I like my birthday. Cupcakes are fun! But I also like markers to see where the year has taken me. I do this every chance I get! The change of the seasons, the new year, the beginning of a school year (even though I’m not in school anymore.)

It’s interesting looking back at the person I was a year ago. I think I’m different now. Of course I’m different now. For the past few years now, though, I’ve made a list of 20-odd things to do before my 20-odd year. I don’t even want to go through the list from last year – I haven’t accomplished most of those things, not even the easy ones! Why keep making the lists you say? Because! I like to fail things.

Just kidding. Because I like to have some kind of guide, some kind of reminder of what was important to me on this date in 2012. Last year I went with “vague.” This year, I think I’ll go with specific. Also, I know that the title doesn’t exactly make sense because this is my 25th year, so it should be 25 for 25, but let’s just say 24 for my 24th birthday and be okay with it.

1. Start a collection of Madeleine L’Engle books. I want to own them all, so that my kids will grow up with them the same way I did.

2. Keep up with “books in, books out.” So far, so good. I realized, though, that there’s not any kind of built in punishment. I decided that as long as I am in the negative, like right now, I just absolutely can’t bring anything in. Fortunately I’m only one book in the red, so as soon as I’m done with the book I’m reading I will be back at even.

3. Lose 10 more pounds. This is something that I don’t really talk about that often on this blog, but over the past year and a half, I’ve lost 25 pounds and a dress size. Which, yes, is abysmally slow, but I feel good about doing it slow. It feels like it’s staying off, which matters more to me than losing it quickly.

4. Don’t fall into your yearly gym-slump from November-March. Every year, from November to March, going to the gym and working out feel like pure torture and I barely do it. This year feels different!

5. I don’t know how many times I have to tell myself to write more, but damn, I need to write more.

6. Write one poem a week.

7. Build up savings. This has been hard. I’m trying to pay off my student loans quickly, so I don’t have a lot of extra cash to save, but I know that I can do it.

8. Take a class in something. This was on my list last year and I didn’t do it. Shame on me, because I’d really like to do it!

9. Travel to a city or state I have never been before! Last year I went to Columbus, OH for work and Chicago to visit a friend of mine and had a blast. Things I’d really like to see in the US: California, the Grand Canyon, Texas, New Orleans, the Twin Cities, Boston, and Maine. I don’t think I’ll get to all of those this year, but the list has started.

10. See a few shows. Mostly cheap off Broadway ones, but splurge on at least one Broadway show.

11. Do one thing that terrifies me.

12. Crochet through my yarn stash! 

13. Submit writing to writing contests, magazines, websites.

14. Check out one cookbook a week from the library, cook from it, and review it on Weekend Cooking. This is so ambitious. Let’s just admit now that I’ll probably only do this twice.

15. Spend less money. Bring your breakfast to work! Don’t be quite so lazy. Figure out easy ways to pack breakfast. Use the library!

16. Classics Club – Get started on that!

17. Keep up with the Poetry Project.

18. Use my sewing machine. I did lug it all the way from Virginia to New York. I should really try and use it.

19. Read more comics.

20. Travel outside the US. Switzerland! I’m comin’ for ya.

21. Make a real donation to the library, instead of getting a huge fine. Yeah, I need to work on that.

22. Volunteer at the library.

23. Visit all the museums in the city! Another ambitious one, but I’m determined to do this one.

24. Write letters to authors about how much their books mean to me. On a recent reread of A Wrinkle in Time, there’s a moment in the afterward when Madeline L’Engle’s granddaughter mentioned how much all her fan letters meant to her. I feel like I should be writing letters to the authors whose books mean so much to me. If just to say thank you for writing such a lovely book.


Happy birthday!

23 years ago yesterday I was born!

November 5 was my birthday. That’s right. On my birthday people shout “Remember, remember the fifth of November!” and in the UK they set off fireworks. I thought I would share this picture of me approximately 21 years ago with a crown and a mustache in honor of Movember. Last year on my birthday I shared 22 things I wanted to do before I turned 23. Let’s see how I did!

1. Write a 150 page thesis minimum about Roberto Bolaño’s 2666. Oops, that didn’t happen, for lots of very dramatic reasons, but there’s another thesis in the works. I just have a completely different topic.

2. Travel to a part of the USA I have never visited before. Check! This year I went to various cities in North Carolina I’d never seen before and Auburn and Skeneateles, NY.

3. Keep reading amazing books. What? I had to give myself a few easy ones.

4. Embrace changes in my life instead of being stressed out by them. This will be a lifelong goal, I can feel it. But I think, in a lot of ways, I did much better with this than most years.

5. Move to a new city. Check! Twice!

6. Write more. I refuse to give myself points for this one. I wrote some more, but not really more.

7. Keep maintaining a healthy lifestyle. I got derailed for a little while, but I’m certainly back on track now at 20lbs and one dress size lost.

8. Cook more! Z & I have been cooking a lot! We still eat out a couple times a week and I need to do better about breakfast, but so far so good.

9. Read more of the books on my shelves. Yes! I have been doing this. I’ve only moved some of my books with me, so I don’t have as wide a selection as I’d like, but I’m trying, slowly, to pare down my book collection. Intake has been minimal as well. I’m collecting books that I want to own forever, especially graphic novels. Everything else is given away or bought for my ereader.

10. Clean more. I’m trying, okay? Trying.

11. Refinish this old dining room chair I have in my room. Um… my step-dad threw this away, so this was a fail.

12. Learn how to sew, better. Nope, not this year. But I’m reinstating this goal for next year. I just bought the BurdaStyle Guide, so I’m hoping that will help me.

13. Finish my granny square blanket. Okay, I’m actually kind of sad that I didn’t finish this one. I was really satisfied with the squares and how they were turning out, but once I started to connect them I was really disappointed with the look. I still have all the squares and might attempt to finish it in the future.

14. Enjoy every minute of my life. I feel like it’s hard to calculate whether this one was a success or not, but I am definitely trying hard to enjoy the little things.

15. Keep up Regular Rumination. Like every year, there are a few slips and slides with the blog, but for the most part, I have maintained it as well as I could and I hope to do an even better job next year!

16. Start a food blog. I threw this idea out the window pretty early on in my 22nd year. And I’m perfectly okay with that. Sometimes the ideas we have on a whim aren’t always the best ones. While I admire a lot of food blogs and I would love to start one, I think I have a perfectly happy home in the book blog world.

17. Make a photo light box. Nope! Maybe this year, but I don’t think I’ll put it on my list. My apartment is tiny.

18. Save some money. I caught up with this one at the tail end of my 22nd year. I’m saving a little bit as I go now and hopefully will be able to do something really nice with it.

19. Start learning another language. Maybe one year, but not this year!

20. Never take my loved ones for granted. I think I accomplished this, but you’ll have to ask my loved ones to be sure!

21. Start collecting furniture. Z & I combined our furniture and we have a nice little collection now. Unfortunately, our apartment is as full as it can be, so the best we can hope to do is start updating our furniture as the years go on, unless we move. For now, we are happy with what we have. I call this a success.

22. Don’t be afraid. Another one for the lifetime achievement goals, but doing better every day.

Tomorrow, I’m going to post my new list for the 24th year. But in the mean time, as a thank you for being such an awesome community of bloggers, I’d like to offer you a present on my birthday. If you’d like one of these books, all you have to do is ask. List the title of the book you’d like in the comments. I’ll draw winning names for these books next week!

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe
We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
The Illumination by Kevin Brockmeier

Why, yes, it is my birthday.

Is it wrong to tell you that it is my birthday today?   Like I’m asking for happy birthday comments?  MAYBE.


CC Image source: Jessica N. Diamond