40 before forty: I’d best get busy


I turned 30 yesterday, although judging by the keg of hard cider–that’s right, a keg of hard cider–I just saw my boyfriend roll into the house, the party is very much today. Yesterday, as a means of focusing and comforting myself about the big birthday, I posted a list of 30 things I’m glad I’ve done, seen, and experienced.

Today, I’m posting 40 more things that I’d like to do, see, and experience before I turn 40. It’s a pretty mixed bag. Some are trips that I’ll need to save for, but others are mental blocks and financial know-how and, well, it’s a pretty good reflection of life, actually. If it was just a list of places I wanted to see, I’d be missing out on other opportunities to grow and learn. And if you see anything you think I should add, just let me know.

1. My pilot’s license. My grandmother was a pilot. My grandfather was a pilot, and for the last 10 years or so, I’ve really wanted to start flight training. It’s expensive, but not as costly as regret.

2. India. When I was very young there were three countries I most wanted to visit: India, Ireland, and Peru. I’ve now seen Ireland and Peru.

3. My third book. The idea came to me when my mom and I were on a plane flying over Fairbanks in winter. This is the weird book, the artsy book, the one I’m so freaking excited to start writing, hopefully later this year.

4. A house. There. I put it out there. I want one very badly, and hope to find some means of acquiring one.

5. My fourth book. I’ve already got the basic premise. I just need to finish and polish the second, write the third, and I’ll be able to focus on this one.

6. That pesky literary half-sleeve tattoo that has eluded me thus far.

7. Antarctica. I know it’s expensive. I know it’s cold. But ever since I watched Encounters at the End of the World, I’ve just got to see it.

8. My fifth book.

9. Dog mushing. Again.

10. Roller derby. I keep thinking “next year, next year, next year.”

11. Belonging to a dog as an adult. This is where having a house would be helpful.

12. Getting my ulcer under control. I’ve always been very bad (negligent) when it comes to my health and as I get older, that’s an attitude that needs to change.

13. Learning to drive stick. I’ve had a couple lessons in the last month or so, but I mean confidently, with other drivers around, possibly even on a highway.

14. The Transsiberian railroad. Russia, Mongolia, and China all in one go. Assuming Russia gets its head out of its ass about gay rights.

15. New York City. I’ve never been, and always wanted to go. And it doesn’t count unless I see a Broadway show.

16. Be in a boxing match. Not professionally. It’s just something I’ve always wanted to do just to test myself.

17. Contacts. Don’t get me wrong, I like my glasses, but sometimes they seriously get in the way (like with that boxing match I mentioned above). I’ve never been able to get contacts in my eyes and it really does feel like a limitation.

18. Learn a foreign language. Fluently. Hablo espanol. Pequito, pequito espanol.

19. Visit the pyramids in Egypt. Also, work my way down the Nile.

20. Get Clyde fixed up. Clyde is my ’55 Dodge Royal and he could really use a little work.

21. My sixth book.

22. Being able to put on a dress without having a panic attack. I’m not sure how I’m going to get there mentally, but I will.

23. LASIK. I don’t mind having glasses, but I get tired of being the girl with glasses. It would be nice to ditch my dependence on a fragile piece of plastic.

24. See the Northern Lights. They eluded me in Norway and Alaska, but I’ll hunt those gaudy suckers down.

25. Ride a motorcycle. Considering the fact that my grandfather and mom both owned and regularly rode motorcycles (before I existed) the fact that I’ve never even been on one seems a little bit embarrassing.

26. Make the acquaintance of new and challenging authors, including the ones I wouldn’t usually read for pleasure.

27. Visit a psychic. I don’t believe in it, but I’m curious as to what they’d say and I think it would be an interesting experience.

28. Ride in a hot air balloon. I booked one once, for a friend’s birthday, but it was too overcast the day of our launch and they just gave me my money back instead.

29. Learn how to apply my own makeup. I never wear it. I don’t want to regularly wear it, but it would be nice not to have to rely on someone else for special occasions. Also, this fits with the overall theme of being comfortable with yourself.

30. The Dune Forum project.

31. Do whatever it’s going to take to consider myself an author. I don’t know what it will take to silence that inner critic, whether that means finding a real publisher for one of my future books or writing 100 of them in rapid succession.

32. Learn to take proper care of my car (putting air in the tires, removing the tires, checking the oil), which I really should have learned awhile ago.

33. A retirement plan. The truth is, everything pertaining to money terrifies me, in part because I have so little of it. But burying my head in the sand is only going to hurt me later. It’s time to face my financial fears.

34. Karaoke. It’s completely lame, and I have a terrible voice, but isn’t that kind of the point?

35. See more of the United States: New Orleans, the east coast, Philadelphia, Boston, Austin, and the Grand Canyon specifically, but hopefully more than that.

36. Watch the Olympics in person. Preferably, the summer Olympics, preferably track & field, but I’d make an exception for a combination winter Olympics/ dog mushing/ Northern Lights adventure.

37. Go on a safari in Africa.

38. Volunteer. I don’t just mean a day here or there assisting with a special event, but a regular commitment to a non-profit.

39. Participate in Ramadan. I’m not Muslim, but when I was in Morocco a friend I met there explained the significance of fasting for a month as truly understanding what it means to be hungry and thirsty in the world. I don’t have any concept of that, and think it would be beneficial for me as a human being to understand it better.

40. Eliminate fish from my diet. I’m starting to feel guilty about the fact that I eat fish, and it’s been long enough since I cut other meat out of my diet—three and a half years—that I feel like I can cut back further and still maintain control.




  1. […] that made me feel better about the milestone. And the next day I followed that post with a list of forty things I hope to accomplish, do, and see by my fortieth birthday. Some things were easy. Writing more books, visiting new […]

  2. […] day after my 30th birthday—February 8, 2014—I published a list. Forty things I hoped to accomplish, see, learn, acquire, before I turned 40. In a little more than […]

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