Things I Want To Do Before I’m 40

… JUST KIDDING! I’m not falling into that trap again. That whole “Things I Want To Do Before I’m 30” list I made 10 years ago this Sunday turned out to be a terribly depressing combination of things I failed at and things I never tried.

For those of you that haven’t gotten the memo I put out on the Associated Press (just kidding, again… I may be a blogger but I’m not that much of a narcissist): I’m turning 30 this Sunday. It’s a terribly depressing occasion for this bitch, and before you all start thinking I’m annoying and young and shit, just hear me out. I had this magical list of things I wanted to do before 30 and it wasn’t stuff like “swim with the dolphins” and “discover a cure for influenza,” it was a conglomerate of things I really actually thought and tried to do. Like finish graduate school. Like start a successful teaching career. Like be happily married. Like move the hell out of California.

So I have already been celebrating my birthday for a few days now. I suppose you could consider my epic travels to my sweet home, Chicago to have been something of celebration, but I am meaning in immediate terms when I say “celebrating.” Yesterday I went to lunch with my parents, which was nice (daddy got me drunk by 2 in the afternoon). I got my new Cuisinart Multicooker and a gravy boat that is shaped like a cow and pours the gravy out of its mouth. Today I am baking myself a cake (since no one else is apparently planning on doing so). And there is something else I need to do as I go into my weekend of minimal activities, and that is to light fire to my list of things I want to do before I’m 30.

Graduate school and a successful career in teaching … burn it down

I suppose I should give myself credit for the fact that I have not one, but two Bachelors of Arts degrees from an accredited, private institution. And while I began my graduate degree in Philosophy, leaving the program was a necessity to stop wracking up debt that I wasn’t going to be able to sustain as a result of having limited job opportunities locally where my husband’s job in the film industry is. I really wanted to be done with graduate school and well on my way to a successful career in teaching by now. This defined my life for the better portion of my 20s. For now at least, my graduate degree and a career in teaching is not in the cards for me. I think it’s time to get over this and move on.

In addition to that, though, after having been out of graduate school for a few years now, I can see how insane grad students are. They don’t eat. They don’t sleep. They look like shit all the time. No offense to my graduate student friends and faithful blog followers, but have any of you considered how much coffee and crap you ingest just to get through the day? I have never felt as healthy and well as I have the last few years, which owe in large part to the fact that I’m out of that grind.

Publish my first novel … up in flames

The novel was a recent goal that I added within the last three years or so since about the same time I left graduate school. It’s a lot of work to write a book, though – more work than I thought it would be. And I don’t just want to write crap, which is why after completing my first draft of the book about nine months ago, I trashed the entire thing and have begun the story concept again. Unlike most of the writers I have met in my community, I am not in it to write some quick and dirty chop shop of a piece of literature. I want to write a good book because I have ideas I think are good and I enjoy the craft of writing. That’s it. I’ll finish the book, but setting up a time table really is unfair to me and the work I’m trying to produce.

Burn up thoughts of a happy marriage

Marriage is an institution, and who in their right mind wants to be institutionalized? I’m not saying I hate my husband. I’m not saying I’m entirely unhappy with my marriage. But the wedding is probably the easiest part of getting married, and we all know how stressful weddings are. In the relatively short period of time my husband and I have been married, we’ve had to deal with a lot of bull shit – mostly in the form of family drama. Hello Kitty Toaster and the gang have made happy times a real challenge, as has the fact that my husband’s job takes up about 95% of his focus and attention. There is a reason California has the highest divorce rate (3 of 4 marriages), and my husband is a Californian to his core.

In spite of all that, fortunately I am smart enough to know that a marriage like mine will actually be the one that lasts. It’s those people that are so infatuated with how happy they are, together we shit rainbows and fly to work on unicorns and all, that when reality sets in that life sucks and there is a lot of crap to deal with every single day of it, everything falls apart. If you can still be together and have some semblance of love despite all the miserable crap around you, that means more than all the “OMG I have the best husband in the world he gets me flowers and candies and wipes my ass every day” Facebook updates.

There is a wall of flames between me and moving out of California

I still have really really really, unrealistically high hopes of moving out of California in the near future (can you guys tell?), but doing it before I turn 30 is unlikely. I mean I’d basically have to pack up all our stuff and just leave tomorrow. While I did actually consider doing that last night, just as I did the night before our vacation to Chicago came to an end a few weeks ago, it’s not happening. I will not be moving out of California before I turn 30. I’m not putting that on a 40s list, though, because I’m pretty sure if I don’t leave California well before 40, I won’t make it that far. (I just can’t stand this place that much.)

On the flip side, I have to say that living in California has given me a lot of fodder to write about, both on my blog and in my book. I consider my life in California to be something of a tragic comedy – hilarious at how absurd it is, tragic for the same exact reason. Just today I was driving in the rain and saw some hillbillies sitting outside in their trucks, two sitting in the cab and one (shirtless and smoking) standing in the truck bed with a large, shiny stick. It was a thunderstorm and as I got closer, I saw that those rednecked weirdos were actually trying to get struck by lightening. Had I not been here – where the majority of our population is made up not of glitz and glam and movie stars, but of descendants of southern hillbillies who came over for work during the Great Depression – I never would have seen that.

What does this all mean, you ask? And why should you care?

Well you shouldn’t. I mean you can and I think it’s awesome that as many people that read my blog do. (In fact, on that note, I’m feeling a little honored by how many people take the time to read and comment on my stupid little blog of bitching and complaining and snarking…)

What it means, though, is that now that I have burned up my list of things to do before I turn 30 (because 30 would have burned it for me just two days from now), I can focus on other things. Like baking myself that cake. Like trying lots of good wines. Like working on my book because I want to. Like reading my long list of books I plan on reading this year. Like finding out if my upstairs neighbors really are running a prostitution house up there (I mean, seriously .. people showering at 2 in the morning, strange men coming in and out at all hours…).

So happy birthday to me. It is my party and I will be crying as all of this stuff melts into flames, but here’s the thing about crying: it always feels so good afterwards. Only when we lament the past can we get on with the future, right?

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Dirty Thirty, Dirty Thirty

You all recall I’ll be turning the big three-OH in less than six months; on April 15th to be precise.  Thirty is a huge deal to me, although it remains to be seen exactly why.

For years I had a huge and overtly unrealistic list of things I wanted to do by the time I turned thirty, of which not one thing on the list was completed.  Not a one.  So for my 100th blog post, I went ahead and recreated my list with some things I thought were a little more realistic.  To review, that list in short was:

1) Finish 40 books for the calendar year 2011 and get a good start on 40 for 2012

2) Go on a date with Wolf Blitzer

3) Prove to myself once and for all that I am going to stop letting what other people say influence me so much

4) Buy a plane ticket to take a trip home in 2012

5) Take a road trip to northern California to visit the John Steinbeck museum

6) Eat sushi

In hindsight, though, faithful blog followers, short of #2 inspiring me to Photoshop a picture of myself with Wolf Blitzer, that list was pretty lame.  There were no typical-Heather crazy times on there.  There was nothing too terribly difficult or lofty.  (I mean, seriously … eat sushi?)  In the end, I think I was just trying to cop out so that I could hit thirty and say that I had actually done the things I wanted to do before turning thirty.  Well, I’m still months out and have accomplished almost all of those things already.  I’ve almost finished my forty books for the calendar year and have stacked up my pile for next year.  I had happy times in Photoshop Land with Wolf.  Recently I decided to ignore the majority of the comments made by a group of writers I previously allowed influence my writing to the last period, thus proving to myself that I actually can overcome uninhibited influence of others.  I ate sushi (albeit just a taste) and I have planned a trip to the Steinbeck museum as well as booked my trip home (in fact, that very trip is happening a few weeks before the dirty thirty hits).

So it’s time for a revision.  Here’s my new list of things to do before I turn thirty on April 15th … this time, please tell me if it’s lame:

Meet an author that actually inspires me

I’m not talking about the people that write that glitter puke crap like Twilight or Harry Potter; I’m talking about a real author.  Someone that has made me cry when I read their poetics, or that has given me the hope and courage to move forward with my own writing.  In graduate school, I always wished I had been in a situation to had the opportunity to meet the likes of Bertrand Russell or Plato; Nietzsche, Sartre, or Simone de Beauvoir.  Now that I spend hours and hours a day reading, I salivate at what it would have been like to meet some of the American greats – many of whom I missed by only a few decades.  So goal #1 is to meet an author alive today that actually inspires me.

Finish my manuscript, once and for all

A few months ago, I finished the manuscript of my first book only to turn myself around a few weeks later and start the entire thing over from pieces of the original.  Since then, I have thrown away more writing than I have ever thrown away – in all of my years writing professionally as well as academically.  I have learned so much about myself during this time, mainly that I have self-confidence issues when it comes to my writing, that I let myself get caught up in what others want rather than what I know is good, quality writing, and that I lack the focus to stay on track sometimes.  So you see, in meeting this goal by dirty thirty I will have done a lot of other personal growth in the process.

Go for a full week without dropping the f bomb

… or the s bomb, the d bomb, the GD bomb … you get the point.  I swear a lot.  I know, I know, faithful blog followers – perhaps I’m being too hard on myself.  But seriously, I curse worse than some of the sailors I know.  I am sure I can go for a day or two without dropping any of the bombs mentioned above, but a whole week?  That is quite a challenge.  This isn’t to say that after the week is over I will swear less, just that it would be nice (I’m sure) for the people around me to not have to hear my potty mouth for a week.

Finally get up the courage to delete dysfunctional family from Facebook

We all have at least a couple dysfunctional family members – many of us have more than a few.  The difference between you and me, though, is that I can admit that they are dysfunctional and I also know that no line of blood, nor obligations of “contributing to my existence,” require me to associate with them when they’re that messed up.  The first step to mentally freeing myself from the psychological discord that accompanies every family holiday?  Deleting those psychos from my Facebook friends list.  I’ve hemmed and hawed over this one for months, it’s time to give them the ax.

Begin turning my cell phone off for three hours every day, and stick with it

I feel overly connected.  Everyone can reach me at all times – be it over email, cell phone, Facebook, Twitter, you name it.  It’s frustrating because with such accessibility it seems that people now expect to get a response immediately.  This really hit home for me last week when a woman I met at a conference called me to ask a question about Facebook, then called me three more times and emailed me twice upset because I had not returned her phone call right away.  Effective immediately, my phone is going off from 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm PST.  Let’s see how long it lasts…

Start a new trend like owling, planking, or tebowing, only with some sort of a purpose or message.  You know planking was so stupid and had no message.  Then owling and tebowing – both stupid.  But there’s also something to be said for the impact of an Internet sensation and the potential to actually carry a message.  So I want to start a new Internet trend with a purpose.  Sure, probably five people will participate … but five is better than none.

So, faithful blog followers – do you think I can do it all?


Magic Number 100, or things I want to do before I turn 30

Yippy!  This is my 100th blog post!  Excitement abound at the Schmidt Ranch, and of course by excitement I mean me (in pajamas) skipping around the house and sipping an extra large bottle of bubbly, Canada Dry ginger ale.

For me, faithful blog followers, this is an exciting day.  That I have had enough things to bitch and complain about to constitute one hundred entire blog postings is, in itself, something exciting.  But it also may not be surprising – I have a whole cadre of things filed away in my head, just waiting to get out.  The topics have been varied, although it is obvious what my pet peeves are:  stupid people, hipsters, hillbillies, poor use of the English language, things that put me either in danger or at an inconvenience, and … well, basically the rest of humanity.

So for my 100th post, though, I wanted to do something different.  While it is the B(itch)log, I thought it would be nice if I didn’t bitch for once.  Instead, I thought I would talk about something more positive:  My Revised List of Things I Want To Do Before I Turn 30.  I decided to do this for my 100th blog post, mainly because hitting 100 posts was one of those things I recently added to the list of things I want to do before I turn 30; also, because I am just a few, short days away from 6 months out from the big 3-0.  For years (actually over a decade), I had this extensive list that I wanted to achieve, all of which I have failed to do.  So recently, I started scaling back and accepting that I probably won’t publish that book or finish that Ph.D. in the next six months.  That doesn’t mean I can’t do some things, though.  So here we go, and I am counting on you, faithful blog followers, in keeping me on task:

My Revised List of Things I Want To Do Before I Turn 30

1.  Finish 40 books for the calendar year 2011 and get a good start on 40 for 2012.  At the beginning of this year, I decided I was going to keep track of the books I read and try to read as many quality books as I could before December 31st.  Now that we are nearing the end of the year, I am within site of 40 and think I can do it.  I have just finished numbers 30 and 31 … just a few more to go.  For my completed list, click here!

2.  Go on a date with Wolf Blitzer.  I know, sounds psychotic, right?  A week or so ago, I blogged about my hatred of Chicago news-weatherman Tom Skilling and in it mentioned that I have a secret love of Wolf Blitzer.  After that blog went out, people emailed me, Facebooked me, and even asked me in person what it was that gave me the hots for Wolf.  In truth, I can’t explain it.  But as I grasped for any reason to give people, I realized that I really do have an infatuation with most news anchors that are as hard-hitting as Blitzer is.  Since my chances of even coming in contact with Wolf Blitzer, let alone going on a date with him without finding myself in divorce court shortly thereafter, though, are slim and none … not to mention I would probably pee my pants if Wolf, Chris Matthews, or any of the other dream-teamers were actually in the same room as me … see photoshop below.  Mission accomplished?  I think so!

3.  Prove to myself once and for all that I am going to stop letting what other people say influence me so much.  A few weeks ago, I realized that I spend more time writing as an author based on what other people suggest and what other people are going to want, rather than what I want to write and what I know is good.  This is something that, unfortunately, is in almost every aspect of my life:  I let myself get pushed around by the wishes of others rather than either a compromise or what I know is right.  Before I turn 30, I want to prove it to myself that I am working to get over this (sometimes crippling) fault:  be it in my writing, my blog, or some other arbitrary aspect of my life.

4.  Buy a plane ticket to take a trip home sometime in 2012.  This is a big psychological problem for me, mainly because I know that flying home to sweet home Chicago will make it very difficult for me to get on the return plane home.  I am that homesick that often.  But I have missed so much in the last decade of my absence that to continue to forestall a trip back is just plain assholish of me to do.  It’s time for me to put on my big girl pants and buy myself a trip home.  While I know it won’t be the same as it was a decade ago (when I was last there), I also know that there is so much there I need to see and do before I turn the page to the next chapter (so to speak).

5.  On the note of trips … take a road trip to northern California to visit the John Steinbeck museum.  I really have few other interests in northern California besides that, but it is something I have wanted to do for years and yet never done.

6.  Eat sushi.  I have never eaten sushi – real sushi, that is – and yet every time we go out for Japanese food (which is frequently), I pine after it.  I have no idea what my fear of it is – probably the fact that I don’t really like fish all that much, as well as the fear that I would develop deadly tomaine poisoning – but I want to get over it and try it, just once.

That’s six things, as compared to my prior list of twenty-five (which you do not even want to read, it is that sad).  If you count my 100th blog post, which I am now about to hit “publish” on, that is seven; I think manageable given the time frame and my idiosyncrasies.  Let’s knock another one off that list … right ….. now …. this was on our way out for a nice, celebratory dinner in honor of my 100th blog post (in my head, that is) …………. the only thing needed is an audio file you faithful blog followers could play over and over of me going “Oh Wolf!”

Happy 100 Blog Followers!!  Thanks for reading!