Turning 40: Lists, Part 2

Today’s post is a continuation of yesterday’s. These lists are more random, while yesterday’s were more about who I am as a person.

Things I’ve Quit Because My Ego is Too Big

  • Girl Scouts in second grade because I wasn’t voted president
  • 4-H Club in third grade because I wasn’t voted president
  • Flute in fourth grade because I didn’t get first chair
  • Softball in elementary school because I didn’t like my position in the batting order
  • Musicals in high school because a new girl joined our school and was a better singer than me so she got the lead my freshman year instead of me
  • Plays in college because no one wanted to cast me in a lead role my first semester
  • Gettysburg College because I didn’t instantly have a massive group of friends who thought I was awesome
  • Many, many jobs because I didn’t get to do exactly what I wanted and thought was best

Things It Took Me Too Long To Learn

  • If your gums are bleeding, it’s because you aren’t taking care of your teeth. Floss and brush regularly.
  • If your lips are chapped all the time, especially in a humid climate, it’s because you aren’t hydrated enough. Drink more water. Get rid of those nasty, sugary drinks.
  • There will always be another sale. You don’t need to buy something just because it’s on sale if you don’t need it at that point in time. It took me a long time to unlearn this habit from my parents. They buy an obscene amount of stuff. I can’t believe how much shopping for groceries and household necessities they do when every inch of space in their fridge, freezer, and cabinets is accounted for. But if toothbrushes are buy-one-get-one, they will buy them even if they already have twenty still in the packaging in a cupboard somewhere.
  • Along the same lines, don’t buy an article of clothing if you don’t absolutely love it. It’s easy to get lured in by deals and low prices and buy something that only feel so-so about. If there’s anything at all you don’t like about the fit or style, it’s going to sit in your closet and no matter how cheap it is, you will have wasted your money.
  • It’s okay to quit reading a book, watching a movie, or listening to a podcast. If you aren’t enjoying it, give it away, turn it off, or delete it. Move on to the next one. Life is too short to waste time on art that isn’t pulling you in completely.
  • Use the notebooks. All of them. Even the pretty ones. Even the expensive ones. Stop saving them for “the idea.”
  • Take pictures of people, not places or things. When you’re old, you’ll want to look at photos of your first love and your sister at her high school graduation and you and your friends laughing on a patio somewhere. You won’t want to look at a photo of the Taj Mahal or the Sydney Opera House or the Lincoln Memorial. I heard this advice early on in my life, but it took the internet and the easy, mass availability of professional photos of every inch of this planet for me to buy into it. But it’s true. I always look at photos of my friends, family, and lovers and never at photos I took of objects or places. And I’m not even old yet! Well, kind of.
  • Upward mobility at work isn’t always the goal. Know your skills and professional interests and talents and find what makes you satisfied. You may not be happy being a manager. There’s nothing wrong with being an individual contributor for your whole career. Think about the professional culture and job responsibilities that make up your ideal work situation, and be honest with yourself. Next to sleep, you’ll spend most of your adult life at work, so getting this right is important.
  • What the lyrics really mean. I was obsessed with music in high school. Music was life, especially punk rock, but all kinds of music really. However, much like rewatching a movie from your childhood decades later, when I listen to the songs from those years now, I feel like I’m comprehending the lyrics for the first time. And I don’t mean that the singing was unintelligible until now. I mean that I never actually paid attention. For example, Hook, by Blues Traveler. Until about six months ago, I was the person the song was making fun of. I bet most of you still are.

Random, Meaningless Memories That Stick In My Brain For No Reason

  • I was standing in the girls bathroom adjusting my hair in 7th grade. Ladies, you might remember a time when wide hair clips with big poofs and ribbons and other decoration on them were all the rage. I had about ten of them in different colors and styles, including the one I was wearing that day with a net attached to it to pile my long hair into. An 8th grader named April (she had dark red hair and lots of freckles) came in and told me that my hair clip was so pretty and she just wished they were in fashion so she could wear one too. Burn.
  • Also in 7th grade (which was apparently a rough year for me), I was at my locker while class was in session, so the hallway was mostly deserted. I was wearing these calf-height, super-supple faux leather brown boots that I loved more than any shoes I’d ever owned, even after one of my male classmates had told me that my feet looked so skinny in them that they made me seem like an elf. Two 8th graders (Stephanie Williamson and someone who I don’t remember) came walking down the hall. And I decided it would really impress them if me in my kickass boots karate kicked my locker door. No, I have absolutely no idea why I thought this. But I did it. And they laughed at me. Obviously.
  • Dancing in the falling snow in the parking of my friend Brandon’s apartment on Elmwood Avenue in Buffalo while we blasted Hole’s Celebrity Skin album out his kitchen window
  • One time, when I was living in Mexico, I was massively hungover and not at all in my right state of mind when I woke up in the morning. I went into my bathroom to pee. I checked to make sure there were no cockroaches in the toilet bowl, as there often were, and then sat down. As I let go, I felt a weird sensation. I was peeing but it didn’t feel normal. I looked down and realized I still had my underwear on. Well, no point stopping. I kept going and then threw the underwear in the trash. No way I was going to wear them again, no matter how many times I washed them.
  • My first year in Russia, probably in my first month there, the four of us expat coworkers went out for dinner at a pizza place for mayonnaise pizza. This is a thing in Russia – mayonnaise on pizza instead of tomato sauce. I don’t like mayonnaise but somehow, this style of pizza really grew on me over my years there. Anyway, everyone else was eating their pizza with a knife and fork instead of picking up a slice with their hands like a normal pizza, so I caved to peer pressure. And like I do with all food I need to cut, I cut all my bites my first, and then started eating. My stuffy British coworker Andrew thought this was the strangest thing he’d ever seen and remarked on it out loud. That someone wouldn’t cut, bite, cut, bite like he did was inconceivable. Pardon me if I like to enjoy my food while I eat and not have to work for it between every mouthful!

Random Things I’m Scared Of

  • Pulling off a sweater and hearing the static, knowing I’m about to touch something metal
  • Dying while I’m vacuuming
  • My dog getting poop stuck in his butthole and me having to pull it out for him. This happened once. It was traumatizing
  • Being stuck on the tarmac for hours and hours while the toilets start overflowing
  • Being on a plane that’s going down. Not because I’m going to die, but because the person next to me might start molesting me in his panic and knowledge that there will be no consequences
  • Getting assaulted in the winter. Not because of the assault, but because I could be lying there for hours in the cold unconscious and freeze to death
  • Getting kidnapped. Not because I’ll be kidnapped, but what if I’m on my period and they don’t let me change my tampon or give me a new one? What if I’m wearing my contacts and they dry out and I have to take them out but I don’t have my glasses? What if they put a gag in my mouth while I have a cold and can’t breathe through my nose? It’s the logistics that bother me

What I Would Do If I Won $500 Million In The Lottery

  • Pay for housing for my adopted brother and sister for the rest of their lives so they have one expense they don’t have to worry about. I’d pay off my biological brother’s mortgage too.
  • Go back to school and get more degrees, starting with an MFA and then degrees in multiple sciences. There’s so much I want to learn! and since that is only a 30 week a year commitment, I’d have plenty of time off to travel. I’d go to all the countries on a mix of volunteer and leisure trips.
  • I’d start a fund for lower-middle class kids to help pay some bills. That’s how I grew up and for the first 36 years or so of my life, I always felt like I got screwed over. We weren’t poor enough for me to get real financial help or social benefits that I often felt I needed, but I didn’t have nearly enough money to feel comfortable. For much of my life, if someone had given me just $5-$10k, it could have made a huge difference.
  • Research small, deserving, struggling non-profits to leave all the money to when I die. I’d like to spread the wealth around to as many of them as possible.
  • Have a personal assistant to primarily cook my meals and clean my house. I’d pay him or her really well and give that person plenty of free time to pursue interests, as long as those two things were taken care of.
  • And definitely throw out my entire wardrobe, hire a personal shopper, and go on a major shopping spree in New York City. Come on, I’ve got to do one super vain thing!

Silly Comparisons That Are Part of Why I’m Me

  • I cut my food into little bites first and then eat; they cut, bite, cut, bite in an endless pattern
  • I put my panties on first; they put their bra on first
  • I speed up when the light turns yellow; they slow down
  • I send one large text with line breaks; they send multiple successive texts
  • I would rather stab myself in the eye with a pencil; they use the letter “k” in cutesy spellings like skool and kute
  • I pull off the toilet paper I want before I start to pee; they pull it off after or during urination
  • I send a meaningful message immediately; they say hello and wait for a response before telling me what they want
  • I walk quickly and with purpose; they walk as if they’ve just finished climbing Mount Everest
  • I can ignore the ding ding ding of the car seatbelt warning and drive for several miles; they will go insane after several seconds
  • I put the hot water in first; they put the tea bag in first

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