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30 Before 30. Except After.

So I meant to do this whole 30 Before 30 bucket list thing you know… before I actually turned 30.

I did.

But not really.

I knew that I never would, because I am an accomplished procrastinator and as such, I’m very well aware that some of these things that I plan for myself will, in fact, never actually happen.

But to avoid the inevitable crash that comes with the realization that I didn’t actually achieve a goal that I set for myself (hell — I didn’t even achieve the goal of listing my goals), I’m going to list some of the things I actually DID do before I turned 30. I feel like this is a much more effective way to feel good about myself, and hey. Life’s too short to not feel good about myself. And also, it’s difficult to see where you might be going if you don’t first analyze — or at least glimpse at — where you’ve been.

1. I have been to 9 countries. (This is not NEARLY enough, mind you, but considering I’m fortunate enough to supplement overseas travel with quite a bit throughout the continental U.S., I feel pretty happy about this.)

2. Went skydiving in Hawaii.

Skydive Hawaii

3. Went scuba diving in St. Lucia.

4. When I was 16, I got my belly button pierced. Then? Big deal. Now? Cliché. And I know that now that I’m 30 I should probably take that sucker out, but by this point it feels like an old friend. I’ve had it almost as long as I haven’t had it. It knows my deepest secrets. We’ve been everywhere together. Sometimes, we like to drink wine and listen to the Gin Blossoms and reminisce about less complicated times. Like when belly button piercings were cool.

5. At 18, I got a tattoo. It has since also turned into a huge cliché, and though I’d like to get another tattoo one day, I figure I will have to first decide what I want and then wait at least 10 years to make sure it doesn’t turn into a cliché. Because by now I’m like — the Queen of Cliché Body Modifications.

Hawaii Beach
Photo by: Leah B Photography

6. I quit college when I was 20 due to family complications. Quitting college was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done.

7. I finished college when I was 25. The kids in my freshman English course kept asking me to buy them beer. Instead, I told them I’d edit their English papers and probably made more than one cry with my extensive use of red ink, but all of their grades improved drastically.

8. I’ve had at least 17 (taxable) jobs (that I can count), effectively making me a Jack of (almost) All Trades. So THERE, stupid college career counselor.

9. I put 5,500 miles on The Tracker during a self-financed month-long road trip through the western U.S. when I was 20.

10. In high school I had a 4.2 GPA. Because it’s cool to be a nerd.

11. At my first college, I was convinced to join a sorority. The one I chose (and subsequently chose me) had just gotten reinstated after being kicked off campus for excessive partying. Those girls changed my perspective on sororities. They still change my perspective on many things today.

12. When I was 20, I learned that my parents were actually real people. It was terrifying.

13. I traveled to Europe for the first time when I was 23. I haven’t forgotten the feel of cobblestone streets, the taste of tarte flambé, or what it means to be a foreigner.

14. I once survived a vicious wiener dog attack.

15. I’ve only gotten one speeding ticket. Ever. For going 19 over the limit. While driving on a military installation. In a government vehicle. (Hey. Go big, or go home.)

16. I’ve gotten my writing and photography published on Apartment Therapy.

17. I had a beer with D.B. Sweeney. I think he was mad I didn’t ask him to say, “toe pick.”

18. I made hot sauce for 2 months in Costa Rica. And rappelled waterfalls. You know, the usual.


19. I’ve eaten authentic paella from a nondescript restaurant house on Ibiza.

20. A real artist — Valerio Gentile — has drawn my eyes on a balcony in Malaga.

21. I’ve sunbathed topless on the beaches of Formentera. It was pretty much the best feeling in the world.

22. I’ve conquered my fear of cooking.

23. I have been a (semi) consistent blogger for over 2 years. It seems so small, but it has encouraged me to try new things and meet new people and has given me the courage to consciously decide to stop sleepwalking through life.

24. I’ve designed, constructed, and hung a kick-ass industrial closet organizer out of plumbing fixtures and never finished telling you how to make it.

Plumbing Pipe Closet Organizer Domestiphobia

25. Across states and continents, I’ve managed to build and maintain some of the best friendships a woman could ask for.

26. I’ve effectively come to grips with the fact that sometimes, in order to avoid sounding awkward and uptight, I have to end a sentence with a preposition.

27. From childhood we’re taught to not talk to strangers. Ignoring that advice is the best thing I’ve learned. It’s how I learned the story of the most generous waiter in the world. It’s how I gained the confidence to try and chase my dreams. It’s how I learned the phrase, Reason, Season, Lifetime and its significance in my life. It’s how I turned a chance meeting on an airplane into an informal job interview and potential offer with a prestigious technology firm. These things happen. You just have to converse.

28. I survived a 3-hour formal job interview with a spider bite on my ass.

29. It took me 30 years, but I’ve finally found my sense of direction.

30. I’ve managed to land myself a pretty incredible guy. I’m still not quite sure how that happened. He comes home this week.

So. All-in-all, I feel pretty good. I may not be able to fix my electric fence. I may not be able to get my wireless internet working again. I will likely never learn how to dougie.


Life, so far, has been a trip.

And I think I’ll stay on this train for as long as they’ll let me.


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HEARTS!!! I read this while drinking a celebratory beer & you just made my Monday happy. Your 30 before 30 is way cooler than most peoples’ 30-before-death. You’ve led an interesting life thus far, lady, and I love watching ( / reading about) it unfold.


What are you celebrating?? I hope it’s awesome!

Meh… I don’t necessarily consider a celtic butterfly tramp stamp “cool,” but it’s me. ;)

Solitary Diner

Happy 30th! Sounds like a great set of accomplishments for part one of your life.


Maybe 1/4 accomplishments and 3/4 “learning experiences.” ;)

Dennis Hong (@DennisHHong)

Ahem, a few random responses:

5. A tongue ring would probably be the next cliche to go for.

11. Hey! I never realized you were a soho. (Hey, if I’m a frat boy, then you’re a soho.) :-p

12. When I was 20, I learned that my “parents” were not actually real people. In fact, they were artificially generated memories implanted into my brain in order to hide the fact that I was a genetically engineered fetus created inside a top-secret Chinese laboratory for the specific purpose of growing up to one day infiltrate the Americ….

Shit. I think I may have revealed too much.

My bad, my bad. My parents? Real as all hell. You can count on that.

17. No. You’re supposed to say “toe pick.” He rolls his eyes when you say it.

And then you fall angrily in love with each other.

21. Dang.

30. So I guess we won’t be hearing from you for a few days starting later this week. Er, well, maybe your neighbors will be “hearing” from you. But we in the blogosphere probably will not.


31. Welcome to MY generation (at least for another year-and-a-half).


I probably wouldn’t have noticed if you hadn’t mentioned it!

1. I wanted a tongue ring but my mom said she wouldn’t pay for the potential dental damage and since I was the “practical” rebellious sort, that went out the window.
2. For a year-and-a-half, I was a soho. My second college didn’t have the same sorority. But even if they had, I doubt it would’ve been the same. :)
3. LOL. And by “real,” I think I meant “fallible.”
4. You’re probably right. I waited so long that he said it himself. Without prompt.
5. Seriously. This should be common practice in the U.S. Bikinis are uncomfortable as shit.
6. Are you kidding? It’s been 4 months. You’ll be hearing from me in approximately 7 minutes.
7. Dang. ;)


I like your list. It got me counting things, which made me happy. (25 taxable jobs. I win.)


But don’t you have a year or two on me? ;) KIDDING! And those are the ones I could count. I spent a good 2 years of that time in a haze of Mary Jane, so there could be more…


Yeah, I’m older than you, *but* I’ve been holding at that job number since I was 28.


Haha, win. :)


That’s a great list. You’ve done a lot. I thought I had done a lot, but you win. The body modification cliches made me laugh. I am SO GLAD I did not get a tattoo when I thought it might be a good idea. I thought about it for so long, I knew it couldn’t be a good idea or I would have just done it!


Haha, thanks! And you know? I got my tattoo right when I turned 18. I was positive I wouldn’t regret it. Of course, my mom was right ONE time and I haven’t yet heard the end of it. ;)

Dennis Hong

I like how I’ve totally messed up the formatting not just on my comment, but on every single one after it.

There, let’s see if this fixes it….


There. I fixed it. Now you can sleep. ;)

Dennis Hong

Oh, thank god. The world is right again!


Best one…#30, in my humbled opinion.


Yeah, that one’s pretty great. :)

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