13 February 2013

Thirty by thirty: the final countdown

Guess what!

“Today is Ash Wednesday.”

Okay, yes, but guess what else?

“Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day.”


“Sunday is your birthday!”

Yes! Indeed! The big 3-0, actually, though I’m feeling rather blasé about the whole thing. Mr. P’s been in his thirties for a few years now so I sort of forget sometimes that I’m still in my twenties.

As a matter of fact, the only “big” thing I did to celebrate being around for three decades was create a long list of items to accomplish before I hit thirty years old. You know, the infamous 30 by 30 list! Yes, you may be sick of hearing about it by now. But see, it really was the reason I started the blog, as the list preceded the blog (see item #1 below). So it seems fitting to revisit that list one last time to check how I did.

Fortunately, I finished two more items under the wire, bringing my total of checked-off items to a respectable twenty-four. First, as you know, I finally, finally conquered my inherited sewing machine.

I think I might be more surprised than anyone that this item was completed. At the end of 2012 I honestly had no interest in, let alone plans for, even trying to use the machine. Thank goodness I found those pretty napkins right around the time I wanted some new durable throw pillows! I still have a few more napkins to turn into pillows, but I’ve only put that off because my time’s been short, not because I’m afraid of my sewing machine. I win!

Second, I did, in fact, participate in a community project before the deadline. When I added that item to the list, I had the first anniversary of Nashville’s big flood weighing heavily on my mind. This post I wrote sums up my feelings well; honestly, I still cry when I read it. If you don’t have time to read the whole thing, then just look at this photo and I think you’ll get the gist.

So for the nearly two years I had the “community project” item on my list, I was intimidated by the overwhelming feeling that to complete this item, I had to Make a Difference, Preferably a Big One in a Time of Disaster. It was only here, at the last minute, that I realized my talents don’t necessarily lie in building or cleaning for my community. I’m better at educating. And way better at just straight-up TALKING. (Who knew?)

Which is why I stopped beating myself up for letting this “count” as my community project:

If you’re skeptical, well, maybe it will help to know that in addition to serving as a panelist at the Brain Bee, my past few days have been spent preparing for an entirely different high school visit. Yesterday I collected some embryos and took them to the school and gave a thirty-minute talk. I’ll be doing the same thing again next month. Taking the time to really talk to youth about what scientists do (as a reasonably fashionably-dressed young woman, natch) is a form of community service. It’s called outreach, and I’m going to start feeling the honor it is to be able to do it.

And with that... here’s the final count, completed from May 2011 (when the list was written) to February 2013:

#1: Start a blog
#2: Sell our house
#3: Organize important family paperwork
#4: Start family planning
#5: Send birthday cards to immediate family
#6: Buy a new couch
#7: Design photo storage for old family photos
#8: Contribute at least $5000 to non-profits
#9: Donate at least 100 items to charity
#10: Volunteer for Winter Inn [I attended training but haven’t been there with the guests, so I won’t count it!]
#11: Participate in a community project
#12: Get published
#13: Earn a Ph.D.
#14: Teach a college course
#15: Live outside Tennessee
#16: Get my affairs in order
#17: Run a 10k race revised to: Run 10k
#18: Eat from a Nashville food cart revised to: Eat from a St. Louis food truck
#19: Throw a dinner party
#20: Have Saturday brunch once a month
#21: Prepare one vegetarian meal a week
#22: Take a train to visit family in Chicago
#23: Go on a beach vacation with Mr. P
#24: Visit far-flung friends
#25: Visit three new cities
#26: Learn how to use a sewing machine
#27: Plant and grow something outdoors
#28: Re-learn five piano pieces
#29: Read five new novels
#30: Organize and create a digital system for my photos

Whew. I could be annoyed with the few little things I didn’t check off the list, or explain which ones I’ll be tackling next, or even feel insecure that my list wasn’t cool enough to start with, but instead... I think I’m just gonna let that go.

Instead, when I look at that list, I’m pretty happy about being almost-thirty. Because that list represents who I was and who I became throughout my twenties, and honestly... it embodies a person I’m rather fortunate to be.