Lists: 19x19 Birthday Lessons & Loves

Sunday, October 24, 2010

(click to see a larger version)

Today is my 19th birthday. It was a fairly low key affair spent with gourmet pizza, vegan desserts (Pala Pizza and Babycakes are both delicious!), and my dear roommate Liberty. For the workaholic in me, there was also a gift: I mandated that I could do no work today for any class, enforced by said roommate. And so, as I lounged around on subways and reflected on this year in my life, I thought I would do something rather silly and awesome. Make a list.
But unlike regular lists of to-dos and goals for the future, this list is one that looks back on my life lessons and loves in my first 19 years. The collage above and the anecdotes below are representatives of some of my best-loved words of wisdom and material possessions nowadays. The items are in no particular order. So, without further ado, here is my 19 by 19 list.*

19. Big dreams, little steps
I have always been a big dreamer. When I was in kindergarten, I announced proudly that I wanted to be a writer, and that hasn't much changed in all my years of life. I have molded it to fit in with a practical lifestyle, but it persists in my mind as one of my most important goals. Becoming a writer, as defined by me, has come in a series of steps. Step one: write a lot. Step two: write badly. Step three: ameliorate said bad writing. Step four: repeat for years and years until finally you can look back on your writing and say 'hey, maybe that wasn't such a bad idea.' That's the stage I am at now. By this time, I have written three novels (unpublished as of yet), a running set of blogs, a set of short stories and poems, and several zines and personal essays. And I'm still going at it by forcing myself to write and finding the diamonds in the rough.

18. Artichokes, mushrooms, and olives [my favorite veggies ever!]

17. Trying new things
I am a terrible beginner. I get frustrated if it doesn't come easily. When I was in my angst-riddled teen years, I used to throw things (knitting needles, video game controllers, dumbbells...) across the room. But, at my now great age and wisdom, I have learned to combat it. I will always get frustrated when I don't understand or feel completely uncoordinated at something (*cough* roller derby *cough*), but my desire to try new things will generally prevail. I tell myself: "You love to do these things. Why would you give up now?" And usually that's all I need.

16. Zines, podcasts and blogs [independent media rocks my socks off]
Some suggestions:
PODCASTS: Stuff Mom Never Told You, Stuff You Should Know, Body Love Wellness podcast, The Moth podcast, This American Life, and (for those of you ok with raunchy sometimes sexist humor) The Mens Room podcast
BLOGS: Already Pretty, Body Love Wellness, Weightless, New York Times Wellness blog, Sepia Mutiny, FunkyBrownChick, Racialicious, Feministing, Salon Broadsheet, How Stuff Works, GalaDarling, Refuse the Silence, and Well Woman (those are the ones I read daily or write for... I am an information nerd)
ZINES: Too many to count - check out the Barnard Zine Library if you're in NYC or ZAPP in Richard Hugo House if you're in the Seattle area! (my zines are featured in both these locations)

15. Body acceptance
This has been something I've struggled with since I was in my early teenage years. I learned that I didn't "look right" as compared to my white, thin, more developed peers, and my depressive years made that stick with me. But, since coming to college, there's been a profound change in this outlook. Culminating with my daily outfit photo project, I have become more used to the way my body looks and how I want it to look. The two have reconciled, which makes me feel much more safe in my own skin.

14. Handmade items & photographs

13. Long-distance relationships
I didn't know Josh and I were headed towards this until we got here. We were dating in high school and now... now it's bee 1 1/2 years, half of it when I was away at college. The internet makes it easier, but this type of relationship is inherently hard. I feel like we've proven our mettle as a couple just by attempting it, which makes me feel like - dare I say it? - we might stay together for a long time.

12. Letters/notebooks/paper [the tools of the trade]

11. Self-love
Yoga, sleep, reading, writing, taking long baths, crafting, moving my body, eating delicious things... these are some of my methods of self-love. What are yours?

10. Clothing from the thrift store [e.g. the majority of my wardrobe]

9. Passions & self-study
School is only (or even less than) half of all the learning you do in your young life. College has opened my horizons on a lot of things that I was interested beforehand, but never got the chance to see in depth. But I think that having a passion outside of school really enriches your life. I have many - from DIY to derby - but it's ok if you just have one or two. Josh has guitar and an encyclopedic knowledge of diseases. How about you?

8. Books [please, become as addicted to bookstores, manga and fiction as I am]
7. Small adventures in NYC [which you could argue are actually huge, but frequent]
6. Headphones & Sansa Fuze

5. Living with others
I can't imagine not living with other people. I was afraid to sleep alone at a friend's house for many years, and still feel some discomfort in empty rooms. I think it's a valuable experience to learn independence and how to set up boundaries, even if you decide you want to live alone later on.

4. Roller skates

3. Creating
Creating anything from a knitted scarf to a collage to a piece of writing is always an awesome feeling. It's something that is fundamentally yours and so personal.

2. Good food [and the occasional Top Ramen fix]

1. Growing
I have been wrong a lot in my life. Although, even now, I get a bit miffed if I am wrong about a subway train or a random fact, I also believe that being wrong is a source of growth. Of healing. I don't have to be correct all the time in order to be wanted or capable of something. I think that growing up enough to know that is perhaps one of the greatest lessons I've come to know.

*The idea for this list was inspired by Marissa Falco's mini-zine 39, which can be found on the shelves in the Barnard Zine Library (and I had to read it for work!)

If you enjoy this list, check out the plethora of lists I make on a regular basis.