Thirty Before Thirty

On a date two years from today, I will turn 30.

Of course that means on a date that is today, I turn 28. Twenty-eight. Twenty-eight. Maybe if I say it, and type it, and say it (Did I already say that?) enough, it’ll stop feeling foreign. I am twenty-eight. Nope. Still weird. The only thing I imagine will be weirder is on that date two years from today, that number that has made up half of my age for eight years now will no longer be my own.

I get this 2-, and one more 2-, and then it becomes 3-. I’m okay with this, really. Really really.

I am the eldest of my mother’s three children. I was born on the third day of the third month, on the third day of the week (That is, Tuesday). Locker combinations, phone numbers, my wedding date: Filled with threes, and multiples of. I often look directly at the clock at 3:03 pm. The first of the #100happydays images I posted on Instagram (Follow me.) was, coincidentally, my 333rd share.

Threes — and by association, turning 30 — don’t frighten me. I am enthralled, and inspired by the number three, and all the wonder it brings to my life. (Boy, oh boy, the year I turn 33 is sure to be one for the record books.)

Okay, you. Get to the point.

The point is simple. See above. My (as of yet unaccomplished) mission, and purpose for the creation of this blog was to uncover inspiration for a life lived with intention. Great tagline, huh? The only thing I’ve uncovered is something that was never really covered to begin with: I am a terrible blogger. I am a terrible blogger, living a wonderful life, in a wonderful corner of the world.

Let’s try and fix that, shall we?

On this date, two years before I turn thirty, I am recommitting myself to inspiration, and intention. To books, and travel. And fitness. And love. And local tourism. And and and. Here is where we begin.

Thirty. Before thirty.

Make yourself happy.

1. Attend SXSW.

2. Go at least two places I’ve never been before.

3. Take a dance class.

4. Unplug for a day, or a week.

5. Adopt a dog.

6. Have a baby.

7. Own a pair of patterned pants.

8. See Washington DC from the top of the Washington Monument.

9. Read 30 books. (More is good, too.)

10. Run (Okay, walk) five 5ks.

11. Ring in the New Year in a city outside the United States.

12. Learn to make French macarons.

13. Blog regularly.

14. Earn a social media certification.

15. Buy a home.

16. Commit to an exercise plan.

17. Get crafty.

18. Volunteer.

19. Go horseback riding.

20. Attend mass at the National Cathedral.

21. Throw a kickass dinner party.

22. Go ziplining.

23. Find the perfect little black dress.

24. Send more snail mail.

25. Learn how to braid my own hair.

26. Pay off [most?] of my student loan debt.

27. Convince the Boy to pose for anniversary pictures.

28. Go to a World Series game.

29. Make bread from scratch.

30. Go viral.

What would go on your 30 before 30 list?

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Fear

Writing is hard. I don’t need to tell you this.

If it’s so hard, why do we do it? Because not writing is harder. Harder to admit, and harder to reconcile. Yet here I am admitting it. I haven’t been writing.

My mom is a writer by trade, my grandfather a closeted poet. I spent much of my youth rebelling against something I think I always knew was my path, too. Turns out, I’m a pretty good writer. I don’t mean to toot my own horn; in fact, I sometimes wish the opposite was true.

I write marketing copy with gusto. And case studies about the fastest, quietest, most advanced new piece of printing equipment with ease. But when asked to write something creative — something that bears my own stamp — I’m crippled by fear. In college, I cried. And cried. And convinced myself I couldn’t. But then I did. Five years post college, that anxiety manifests differently. Avoidance. No deadlines force me to write; no longer do I have professors that gently scold.

I guess I have to set my own deadlines; I guess I have to scold myself. I have to continue to remind myself that not writing is harder, and that that damn blinking cursor isn’t out to get me. Is it fear of failure? Or fear of success? Maybe it’s both.

How do you surmount this kind of fear? How do you convince yourself to do what needs to be done, even when it scares you?

A family tragedy

Good afternoon, book smellers.

It was my intention to finish reading, and write my review for Emily Giffin’s The One & Only by now.

In the time I thought to devote myself to Ms. Giffin’s words, tragedy struck. My husband’s brother, just 41, passed away suddenly as the result of an accidental fire in his home. We have been traveling back and forth between the DC metro area (where we live) and Philadelphia all week, and will continue to do so until the occasion of our first wedding anniversary on Sunday.

There are lots of interesting discussions to be had about the books we read, and why we read them, so I will be back with that full review in the blink of an eye. But for now, we grieve the loss of a brilliant, beautiful man taken away too soon.

First Impressions: The One & Only by Emily Giffin

“I should have been thinking about God. Or the meaning of life. Or simply grieving the fact that my best friend was now motherless and my own mother without her best friend. Instead, I found myself gazing into the sleek mahogany coffin lined with generous folds of ivory silk, silently critiquing Mrs. Carr’s lipstick, a magenta with blue undertones that subtly clashed with her coral dress, the same one she had worn to Lucy’s wedding nearly five years ago.” — The One & Only

The One & Only

This long-awaited novel from Emily Giffin opens in a church, where our narrator, Shea, and her best friend, Lucy, have gathered with their families and what seems to be the whole town of Walker, Texas to lay Lucy’s mother to rest after a battle with cancer. The women have been friends since childhood, a relationship Lucy dominates. In fact, it seems Lucy dominates everyone she knows — Angel, the hairdresser; her husband; and Shea’s boyfriend, Miller, a trait no doubt derived from her mother.

“Coach Carr was something of a deity in our town,” a man everyone respected and feared in the best kind of way, including and especially Shea. The father of her best friend, and a kind of surrogate for her own father, the thirty-three year old Texan (and football fan extraordinaire) recalls an occasion when the police took her to the Carrs’ as punishment for underage drinking and driving, a fate “worse than spending the night in jail.” He is described as fit, passionate and rugged, someone for whom football is escape. Much like Shea.

Much unlike her best friend and father, Lucy has never understood the allure of the pigskin. “‘No riffraff at the house’,” she declares after the burial, casting this net to include “‘Boosters. Fans. Players, past and present.'” making one exception for “Walker’s only Heisman Trophy winner” Ryan James. (This detail, and that Mrs. Carr loved him are all we learn of Ryan James in the first chapter.) “Friends and close family only.” Though Shea insists the town of Walker is one big family in its own right, Lucy has none of it, expressing grief through anger at her neighbors for expecting access to such a personal, terrible moment.

The chapter concludes as the friends depart, and Lucy demands that Shea ride with her father. He’s stubborn and shouldn’t be alone, and besides “‘he actually likes talking to you.'” 

First impressions mean everything.

Much is said about a book’s opening line, but perhaps most telling of all is this first chapter’s last. He actually likes talking to you. Shea and Coach Carr share a bond he and his daughter don’t: football. In fact, he and the whole town share in ways he and Lucy don’t, or can’t. She may not resent Shea over this (yet?), but it’s made clear she is not a fan of the town’s influence on her life and family.

And what of Shea’s parents? Only discussed in fleeting glances, the elder Rigsbys (“long divorced”) and Carrs maintained a lifelong friendship themselves; the former couple appears civil and united “through this ordeal,” Mr. Rigsby’s new wife left behind in Manhattan.

Who is Ryan James? What will become of Shea’s boyfriend Miller? And Lawton Carr — will Walker’s late matriarch see her “Kill two birds with one stone.” marriage prophecy come to light?

Let’s find out together. Read on.

Deserving of love, not neglect

Let’s talk about neglect.

There’s much I neglected last week — the dust bunnies parading through my living room speak volumes — as I suffered, knocked-down sick with a head cold, dependent upon my darling husband to take care of the day-to-day. Thankfully, he loves me enough to bring me a new box of tissues, or a fresh glass of OJ, and to oblige my request for grilled cheese and soup for dinner. Aren’t I a lucky girl?

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Colds subside. Dust bunnies can be swept away. Neglect remains. What am I still neglecting? Myself. My passions. My words. My books. Excuses are easy, and heaven knows I’ve made a ton over the years: Grad school was usurping all my energy; I had a wedding to plan; I read and write all day long; I need a brain break when I get home. Enough is enough. If I love these word-filled contraptions enough to make them my life’s work, they deserve my extracurricular attention, too.

Let’s have some fun.

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I’ve never met a bookstore I didn’t like. If you’re at all like me, it’s nearly impossible to pass back through Barnes & Noble’s heavy wooden doors without a purchase (or four) in hand, despite having not even come close to finishing those purchased last week. This literary love affair is dedicated to the pretty little neglected books, books relegated to the nightstand, as worthy of my time (and, I think, yours) as they were of my dollars.

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1. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle – Barbara Kingsolver
Author Barbara Kingsolver and her family abandoned the industrial-food pipeline to live a rural life—vowing that, for one year, they’d only buy food raised in their own neighborhood, grow it themselves, or learn to live without it. Part memoir, part journalistic investigation, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is an enthralling narrative that will open your eyes in a hundred new ways to an old truth: You are what you eat.

2. The Book Thief – Markus Zusak
It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.

Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement.

3. Whistlin’ Dixie in a Nor’Easter – Lisa Patton
Leelee Satterfield seemed to have it all: a gorgeous husband, two adorable daughters, and roots in the sunny city of Memphis, Tennessee. So when her husband gets the idea to uproot the family to run a quaint Vermont inn, Leelee is devastated…and her three best friends are outraged. But she’s loved Baker Satterfield since the tenth grade, how can she not indulge his dream? Plus, the glossy photos of bright autumn trees and smiling children in ski suits push her over the edge…after all, how much trouble can it really be?

4. The Goldfinch – Donna Tartt
It begins with a boy. Theo Decker, a thirteen-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don’t know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his unbearable longing for his mother, he clings to one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.

5. Ten Things I’ve Learnt About Love – Sarah Butler
About to turn thirty, Alice is the youngest of three daughters, and the black sheep of her family.  Drawn to traveling in far-flung and often dangerous countries, she has never enjoyed the closeness with her father that her two older sisters have and has eschewed their more conventional career paths.  She has left behind a failed relationship in London with the man she thought she might marry and is late to hear the news that her father is dying.  She returns to the family home only just in time to say good-bye.

**All book descriptions from Barnes & Noble, where all books are available for sale.

What books have you neglected lately? I’ll read mine if you read yours.

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I’m participating in Literary Love this week — a St. Valentine-inspired celebration of all things bookish. Spread the love; check out what’s going on at write meg!, Estella’s Revenge, Love at First Book and From Isi. And for the Twitter lovers, follow the smooching under #LiteraryLove14.

Ohhh, How Pinteresting: A Question Posed

I’m so very sorry to have missed Typically Tuesday yesterday. Our tropical vacation is a mere few days away, so work and to-do lists are piling up, and this may be my only post this week, though I hope not. It’s a good one, I promise.

Not only is it Wednesday, and time to link up with Michelle,

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On Friday night, at a beautiful vineyard, in beautiful Loudoun County, Virginia, The Boy asked me to be his wife, and I said YES. I had been thinking for weeks he was going to propose during our jaunt to the Caribbean, but that would have been too obvious.

I was completely surprised.

The ring is beautiful, and fits perfectly.
See for yourself…

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That being said, as a newly minted bride-to-be, this week’s Pinterest finds are dedicated to my burgeoning wedding plans. Ready? Here we go.

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That’s that, folks.

What did you pin this week?