Saturday, September 17, 2016

8 Before 30

I love lists. To-do lists, to-buy lists, to-read lists, you name it, I’ve made a list for it.  In my desk, there is currently a growing list of food I want to eat in the near future, because I can’t think clearly when I’m thrashing violently Emily Rose style, seized by the satanic hands of Father Hunger. In my purse is a list of songs to sing in my head when I’m on the train, and a list of dead animals I’ve seen by the side of the road leading up to that train. Just kidding, if I had a list like that, it would only have one item: a rat.  Can I just mention that nobody seems to mind this recurring appearance? I’m the only one clutching my chest, gasping for breath when I find myself nearly stepping on its body, mouthing “Oh my God” to let everyone know I am a compassionate human being, outraged by dead rats, and clearly much more sensitive/distinguished than those who simply walk past it. No one cares, and, in the afternoon, on my walk back, the rat is gone. It’s probably the same rat every time. Desperate for attention, he plays dead a couple of times a week, and when the morning rush carelessly walks by (well because they already know this trick and have had enough, cheers) he slowly sits up, fixes his hair, dusts off his knees, and walks back into the bushes. Number of people gasping Oh My God today: One, his list says, Will return tomorrow.



Anyway, following my girlfriend Amy’s brilliant idea to make a list of things to accomplish by the time she turns thirty, and seeing how cool the end result was- thirty fun challenges crossed proudly off her list-I thought it would be great to make a list of my own. You can read about it here, actually. I made the list well over a year ago, and was convinced I would attack it with the same determination with which I tackle my running training schedules and employee appreciation cakes. Nabokov and Hemingway were going to be my dreamy escapes from the harshness of Canadian winters, until I was ass-deep in Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged with no chance of ever, ever finishing it. Look, I tried, but despite reading it twice a day, every day, for three months of commuting to the suburbs, I just couldn’t stay excited about a seventeen hour monologue marrying the metaphor of trains with the fickle human condition. 





That said, that year I rented my apartment in a really cool building named after the lead character’s last name, so there. I will finish this book one day, when I’m feeling like re-opening that can of slow-moving worms, but until then, apart from a few pop literature books I read on vacation...










(Mindy Kaling’s Why Not Me? Lena Dunham’s Not That Kind of Girl, Jon Ronson's Lost at Sea: The Jon Ronson Mysteries and Lindy West’s masterpiece Shrill) my reading list remained untouched. 

Eight. Eight items have been more or less completed. Looking at it now, I don't know how I expected for some of these opportunities to just present themselves in the span of two years, but here's what got crossed off, and why:





Running that marathon with that awesome finish time is probably my favourite memory from that list. That one I crossed off, fair and square.  




As you can see, #7 is crossed off with a squiggly line which is kinda the way you tell your doctor that you drink "socially" while keeping your foot firmly over the snack-size bottle of Absolut nestled in your purse.  #12 was to see a broadway show, and thanks to my lovely fella, we saw "Once: The Musical" here in Dublin, and I didn't even barf! When the performers were warming up, I briefly thought about leaving (oh yeah, I hate broadway shows) but I'm definitely glad I stayed because it was as genuine and un-campy as broadway shows get. Plus, I had my moment in the spotlight:



And did I grow all the ingredients for a salad? Well, if you're making a salad of basil, parsley and cilantro, then you bet I did! But the reason I'm squiggly-crossing that one off my list is actually because here in Dublin, I've kept my basil plant alive for TWO MONTHS! Two whole months of watering it and clipping the leaves when they get too old (or eating them). It's unreal. Like, guys, it actually fucking grows back. I can't believe it. 
Okay so then there's #19 which is the one where I help my mom with a big project, and that one I definitely did when I organized her move into her new house and moved most of the stuff and I hope that she can't see this part if she's reading this blog but if she is then sorrayyy not sorray. Also, you can read about that in this blog post.
And directly after that one is the one about taking a cake decorating course, which you will soon see is not necessary for me as I have actually become Buddy the Cake Boss. It was Jeff's birthday a few days ago, and I decided that when you are living in a new city, country, and continent, you should opt to bake a last minute secret cake to feed 40 people with ingredients you have never used before - specifically the terrifying F word: Fondant.  Buddy stretches that thing like it's nothing, but even on his show, the pros are always freaking out about the fondant cracking, sweating, peeling off, or just "not cooperating" (what?).  I've avoided it for years and years, opting for the safe and predictable icing scenario....until now.  I don't know what came over me, but I decided to just do it, and without any practice or any idea how to even handle it, I applied the fondant to my cake at 5 am the morning of Jeff's birthday party day. I won't lie, all of Dublin pitched in with ideas. The cake decorating cake store clerk drew pictures of how the fondant should look when it's flat, the grocery store clerk assured me that it'll be grand, the Irish baker tutorial said it would be just like marzipan so don't sweat it...and somehow, the birthday gods came together, and I managed to secretly bake three layers of red velvet cake, ice them with cream cheese frosting, and cover it in the aforementioned cloak of gastronomical terror. And so, when it was all done, before me stood one of my biggest fears, conquered: a steak cake, with marzipan mashed potatoes, peas, and carrots. 





As for the disco roller skating, my very thoughtful guy took me to a disco roller-skating place one day, until halfway through the trip I pulled him onto a bus going to the airport instead, so we could have coffee and watch people travel. No regrets, it was fantastic. We did disco roller-skate anyway, actually, at a music festival this summer…and it was every bit as terrifying as I hoped..

Much grace so elegance wow
And lastly, of course, there was the adventure of getting my driver's license. After a month of lessons with a man named Barry who giggled when I said fuck, and weekends of being an unbearable human being around my loved ones who offered to supervise me while I yelled "I'm not ready for Bank Street!" and "Parallel parking is not necessary in this country!", I passed my G2 test, on the first try. Very proud of that, and embarrassed for the person I was in the weeks leading up to it. Anyway, moving on...



Today is just a few days before my birthday, and I can confidently say that I will not complete my 30 Before 30 list, and the reason that I've written about it here is that I can confidently say that this is the first list I will not complete, in my stash of testaments to my OCD.  Even though part of me wants to bite into a brick, a much bigger part of me is kinda like let’s see what happens. I mean, let’s see what happens when I don’t accomplish a set of crazy goals. Let’s see what happens when, instead of running myself ragged just for the momentary satisfaction of crossing off an item, I let myself have a relaxing few days (nay weeks) and enjoy not worrying about it.  Maybe it's the Irish lifestyle rubbing off on me, or maybe it's the acceptance that the things I did complete have been pretty fantastic, but I think I'm okay with being human, this time. 



And if on September 26th I wake up and I’m still alive, despite that list glowing venomous red with a thousand little Outlook reminder flags, if the sun still shines (well as much as it would in Dublin anyway), then maybe that’ll be the new me: Alisa in her 30s, who’s comfortably nerdy, spends some (most) weekends eating pancakes and watching reruns of Home Improvement, gets along best with old people, and doesn’t always cross every item off the list. Let’s see.



1 comment:

  1. So I read this the other day (and then texted you to say how much I liked it), and then today it DAWNED ON ME (I guess it was percolating in the back of my brain) that you have SO taken an Italian class before!!! full of pantera neras and i miei's! get that red pen back out.

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