Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Twenty-Five and a Half Ain't So Bad...

She refused to be bored chiefly because she wasn't boring.
-Zelda Fitzgerald

This post is not about books. I know. I'm shocked, too. Books are my favorite topic, we all know that. But my second favorite topic of late is my 25 of 25 list that I'm slowly working my way through. Seeing as I am officially 25 1/2 years old as of June 10, I thought it only right (and completely self-indulgent) to post about my progress so far. (I do so love a good excuse to talk about myself.)

One thing you must know about me--I love lists. Lists rule my life (in a positive way, I think). I make a to-do list every. single. day. While I was in school, I made a to-do list every Sunday night and often made additional daily lists depending on the week. I live by planners and schedules and it makes me happy, even though it's a little weird. But who doesn't love that act of the cross-off when you've done something?

I have a list. It's big and wonderful.

This list is comprised of things that I want to accomplish while I'm 25. (I've introduced this list in the blog before here.) In October of last year, I started having this weird quarter-life crisis that was bringin' me down. I don't know why 25 sounded so wrong to me, but it was all I could think about. I was still getting used to not being in school and I generally wasn't thrilled with where I was in life (which sounds so self-help-y, but whatever). So I was a downer in general. But I was sick of being that--no one likes someone who complains all the time. So when I was figuring things out for myself, or trying to, anyway, a list made so much sense. My friends Cassie and Liz had also turned 25 sort of recently and they both made to-do lists for themselves for their 25th years. A list that has goals that you WANT to accomplish?! Bingo! This was right up my alley.

Let's be honest here--I've had a list of things I want to do before I die since I was about 12, and while some of them will never come true (an Olympic athlete I shall never be), I actually have accomplished some of those pre-teen wishes for myself. So, I thought, why not try and get some of these goals complete and add some new, smaller, more realistic, but important goals to the list and set myself a time-line?

So that's what I did.

I created a new Excel spreadsheet that I named "25 Goals of 25" and let it sit empty for a while. Once I created it, I found myself furiously trying to find a pen and paper in bars, on the metro, at work as my brain started firing off random things I wanted to do.

Out of these scraps of paper and text messages to myself, I came up with a list. Originally it was to be a list of 25 things. But as I was entering the wise-old age of 25, I know something about myself--25 things was going to be too many and I knew I'd be disappointed with myself when I couldn't do all of them. So the list stands at 19.

19 things I want to do this year.

It's an exceptional list, if I do say so myself.

I love it. And to be honest, I really think that it's added more fun than stress to my life--it's forced me to be fun and adventurous where I wasn't before. Not only that, but I can honestly say, that even though I'm only halfway through 25, it's been one of the better years ever.

Plus, it's a killer conversation starter. :)

So now that you have a little bit of an explanation, here are the things that I've done, I'm in the middle of doing, and I'm looking forward to doing to get through my list.

Things that I have accomplished so far:
1) Get braces. This was my first goal accomplished, and it may be the one I'm proudest of. My teeth have bothered me since I started college. I often don't notice things about myself, but I noticed in college that my teeth started shifting forward and I was starting to get snaggly. Before my senior year of college, my mom and I went to the orthodontist to get a consult on how much it might cost to get braces, but it was far too expensive and insurance did not cover it. So I waited. In grad school, I was quite broke (as it's only really acceptable to be), so there wasn't much of a choice there. I decided in January that since I now had a real job and had saved enough money and gotten to the point where I wanted to take the plunge I wanted to get the braces. So on January 19, I became Brace Face. At 25. The waiting room at the orthodontist's was swarming with tweens and it made me sad, even though most of them were talking about what color rubber bands they were going to get and I was paying extra for the clear brackets. But ya know... I don't mind them so much anymore. Mostly because I can see such a difference already! I still have a year to go in them, but that's nothing. And it will be so worth it. Plus, I have to be careful what I eat, so I've lost weight while they've been on. Double score! :)

2) Try 25 new beers. This goes without much explanation, really. I mean, who doesn't love trying new beers? It gave me an excuse to mix it up and try new things. I accomplished this goal on March 24 (don't judge me, fools) and I'm actually at number 33 (I want to keep counting!). Got a new beer you think I should try? Tell me!

3) Try 5 new restaurants. This is the goal that has surprised me the most and taken on a life of its own! I live in Washington DC, which, granted is not the most known place on the earth for its restaurants, but there are some fine ones here. While in grad school, I very rarely ate out (I mean, Chipotle was a huge treat for me). So, since I now had a real, paying job, I wanted to try all these places that people always mention. If you want to accomplish this goal, start dating someone. That's the key. Since December 10, I've now tried 25 new restaurants, 18 of them with my boyfriend (who seems to enjoy the game of accomplishing this portion of my list). Before May hit, I was on a roll trying 5 new restaurants A MONTH, which was exciting and awesome (obviously it takes very little to please me, or haven't you caught onto this yet?). My only regret is that I haven't recorded what I got at each place and how I liked it. I guess I'll have to do that next year.

4) Go to a wine festival. We went to the Vintage Virginia Wine Festival last month and it was so fun! We took a keg bus down (of course, you have to get your palette ready with some Bud Light before wine) and had a lovely day. It was a beautiful day out and it's something I've always wanted to do. Goal accomplished!

Things I am in the process of accomplishing:
These are the goals that are both the hardest and the most rewarding. Anyone can happen to try 5 new restaurants or go to wine festivals. Pishaw. I made some goals that I'd have to keep up with throughout the whole year. These are my favorites.

1) Read 5 books from my to-read-before-I-die list. Yes. This list does physically exist. It's existed since I was 21. I've actually done some sweet damage to it since its creation, and I always try to read at least one thing on it a year. But this year, I wanted to feel literary. So I want to read five. Since December, I've read two: Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck and 1984 by George Orwell. These are books that most people read in high school but somehow, I missed them. I loved them both (for different reasons, obviously.) The other books I'm hoping to cross off the list and add to these two are To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf, A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess, and Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. I seem to have a very post-modern, dystopian thing going on here... I'm loving it. This is fun and it makes me feel good to get some real reading done!

2) Update my blog once a month at least. I actually have done this, and I have really loved it for several reasons. One being that it's fun to reflect on what I've read. It helps me to not only remember things, but to make better-shaped recommendations when people ask me. The other reason I love it is because it kind of gets my mind working. I'm not the most eloquent of writers, that I know, but I love the challenge of trying to tie things together and give the quick and dirty on any given book whether I liked it or not. Even if no one reads this but my mom. :)

3) Write one letter a week. This is by FAR my favorite goal. I love mail. I love sending it. I love getting it. I love picking out the perfect card to send to a person (I am a Platinum member at Hallmark. Seriously.). And I feel like people don't send mail enough. I've waxed philosophic about letter-writing before, and I'm hoping to write a whole post about my experience with doing this, but let me tell you that sitting down once a week, thinking of someone to write to and writing to them is one of the more therapeutic things I do during my week. It's a lovely feeling to put that letter in the mailbox and even though I generally don't expect to get anything back (though I do sometimes!), I love the whole process of letting my thoughts and my affection travel across state lines and wind up in someone's mailbox to surprise them when they least expect it. A letter. Just for you. It's lovely. It's getting hard to do, I won't lie. My goal was to write to 52 different people, one different person each week, but I'm beginning to think that I don't know that many people! But I shall soldier on. I'm a little behind (a few weeks, actually... cough cough) but I'm planning to catch up this weekend.

Finally, here are some more things to look forward to me talking about to the point where you're going to want to slap me:

Goals that I'm hoping to accomplish sometime soon:
1) Find the perfect lip color.
2) Find a spoon ring (they are so elusive!!)
3) Write a short story.
4) Buy and learn how to play the ukelele (mainly so I can play this: and this: )

I've accomplished a few other goals, but they aren't very exciting, really, and some are a little personal, so I'll spare you.

But these are the goals that have made my 25th year so amazing so far (along with some other wonderful things).

Sorry to take that jaunt away from books for a post here, but I wanted to somehow mark my status as a 25 and a half year old!

However, I've been reading some AMAZING books (Home by Toni Morrison, anyone?! The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown?) and I hope to write about them soon!

Stay tuned.

Keep reading (and accomplishing goals!),


  1. Hey Stephanie!
    It's been a while since I randomly saw you on my way to the bus- hope all is going well!
    I've never posted to your blog, but I should point out that I love your book recommendations, and I'm constantly pulling titles off of here and adding them to my ever-growing 'books to read list'! Any chance you have any great non-fiction recommendations right now? I'm looking for something new, but not feeling very inspired :)

    1. Hi Leigh! It has been a while--we should remedy that soon! All is well here and I hope the same goes for you!
      Non-fiction... depends on what you're looking for. Have you read "The Warmth of Other Suns" by Isabel Wilkerson? It's about the Great Migration of blacks to the North after the Civil War... it's so well written and interesting. Or "Moonwalking with Einstein" by Joshua Foer which is about the history of memory... he competes in the US Memory Championships. Really interesting and quirky but cool. Also, there's a memoir that you would probably like called "Lunch in Paris" by ELizabeth Bard. She moves to France and falls in love and tries to learn how to cook while there. It's full of recipes and it's really good. Okay, one more: Just Kids by Patti Smith. I thought it would be about something else, but it is really about this wonderful love story of the friendship between Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe. So good. Okay, and of course Bossypants. Man.. maybe I should do a post about non-fiction!! :)
      I'm glad you like the blog and read it--I often wonder if anyone does! Let me know if you need any personal recommendations.. I love making lists! :)

    2. Those look really great! Thanks a million. I think I'll be downloading The Warmth of Other Suns to my e-reader shortly, and adding the rest to my ever-growing list! I've been reading a lot of mystery novels lately looking for something light for the summer, but they're not very stimulating mentally. If I plow through those I'll ask you again.

      Let's grab drinks sometime soon! The next two weeks are a bit busy, but then life will hopefully slow down a little :)