Forever 29?

I’m officially 29, which goes to show you can’t be 28 forever. This is unfortunate, since I built my website around the opposite thesis.

On my birthday I like to take stock of my life and where I’m at. Each year I vow self-actualization: I will have health insurance. I will get THE job. I will buy the good Victoria Secret underwear from the back of the store.

When I turned 28, I hoped for a career in social media and a closet full of J. Crew. I made it halfway. On occasion, my job requires me to tweet and I have exactly 7 shirts from The Limited in my closet. This time next year, maybe I’ll shop exclusively at White House Black Market and own a duvet from Pottery Barn.

Getting older still doesn’t bother me and I doubt it ever will, because each year gets better than the last. I don’t languish over my 20s because I’m not losing anything that can be taken away. If anything, I’m gaining. Each year brings more clarity and new experiences.

To Do: Make a “to do” list

I love making “to do” lists; they’re cathartic. The act of listing my daily goals in a straight line makes me feel successful even if I don’t actually do anything. It’s the intention that counts (same for vegans and skorts), which is why I prematurely consider the task half-way done, if for no other reason than having written it down. I’ll even add things to the list that I’ve already done, just so I can cross them off.

Not only do they fool me into having an unjustified sense of accomplishment, they also help organize my thoughts.

At the beginning of my day, I’m usually confused and overwhelmed: Should I make the bed or learn Russian? Brush my teeth or crochet a hat for my neighbor’s dog? Fold clothes or organize my wrapping paper? It’s a toss up and I’m not always sure I make the right call.

At the heart of it, “to do” lists represent the best versions of ourselves. They’re thinly veiled vision boards of the person we want to become.

On an average day, my “to do” list usually look something like this:

 

  • Shower
  • Go to the gym
  • Vacuum
  • Laundry
  • Write
  • Make [obligatory craft I found on Pinterest two weeks ago]
  • Read

 

It’s sad that I’m 28 years old and still need a visual reminder to shower, but it’s where I’m at in my journey.

However, if I was being honest, this would be a more accurate reflection of my day:

 

  • Eat breakfast
  • Check Facebook
  • Think about showering
  • Refresh Facebook
  • Think about dinner
  • Snack
  • Change to go to the gym
  • Don’t go to the gym
  • Google “is milk bad for you?”
  • Check Beyonce’s Instagram
  • Find my passport
  • Research juice cleansing
  • Reactivate my Myspace account
  • Buy a grilled cheese press
  • Watch three episodes of “Say Yes to the Dress” on TLC
  • Go to Wal-Mart
  • Buy batting and embroidery needles
  • Embroider nothing
  • Consider adopting a dog
  • Order two bathing suits from ModCloth instead
  • Make dinner
  • Watch an episode of House of Cards
  • Go to bed

 

Most people don’t put things like “buy a grilled cheese press” or “drink a bottle of Bacardi 151” on their “to do” lists, but sometimes shit happens.

Lessons Learned

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I not-so-recently just got back from a trip to Italy which I’m going to pretend is the reason I haven’t posted in two months and I learned a few things while traveling abroad:

 

1. When it comes to airplane bathrooms, the name of the game is don’t pee on the seat or yourself.

I have a hard enough time not peeing on myself during ideal circumstances. Throw me in a 3’ x 3’ box within a box and my level of control is severely limited.

Speaking from experience, there are few things worse than sitting in your own pee, but there’s nothing worse than sitting in someone else’s.

 

2. Learn the language – but not too well – because, America.

Americans have been indoctrinated into believing that we are superior to all other countries in every way. Therefore, the only language worth knowing is American. That’s why I make sure not to learn the host-country’s language until I arrive.

If you’re looking to insult locals and make enemies, follow suit.

 

3. Limoncello is a lie.

If you’ve ever seen Mad Men, you already know Don Draper makes scotch look good. This is folly, since scotch tastes like rubbing alcohol aged in the bowels of Mount Vesuvius.

Similarly, Diane Lane swindled me into believing limoncello tasted like hard lemonade – the perfect nightcap after a 3-hour drive with a complete stranger.

I thought one swig from a bottle of neon-piss would imbue me with the charm of Audrey Hepburn and prompt an intercontinental romance, but the only thing it imbued me was heartburn and faulty expectations.

Incidentally, limoncello also tastes like rubbing alcohol aged in the bowels of Mount Vesuvius, but with a twist of lemon.

I will never forget my disappointment or the burning sensation I was left with – much like the first time I had sex.

 

4. Italy doesn’t believe in air-conditioned trains because they hate their people.

Not all trains, but even one is too many.

 

5. If someone approaches you offering a tour, risk it.

The possibility of jumping a three-hour line outside the Vatican in 90 degree heat far outweighs the risk of sex trafficking.

 

 

A Word on Commitment

I would like to provide a justifiable explanation as to why I haven’t been active for the past 57 days. Something like, “I’ve been busy covering the conflict in Ukraine as a war correspondent” or “ferrying unaccompanied minors across the southern boarder” or better yet, “training for a marathon,” but I haven’t. I’ve been weighing the pros and cons of becoming a female body builder and watching season 2 of Orange is the New Black.

My lack of commitment isn’t derived from fear – it’s chronic. I’m prone to make sweeping declarations, but only because they espouse meaningful transformation, a notion that I find irresistibly enticing, like diet fads or balance bracelets.

One not-so-recent incarnation of this illness was my three week obsession with yoga.

More than two years ago I signed up for a yoga class at what I’d stake my life on is the prettiest yoga studio this side of the Ganges River. It was a one room yoga studio, clad in white wainscoting and sheltered by tin ceiling tiles, circa late 19th century. A Home Goods mirrored end table supported a handful of lit tea light candles at the front of the room and a string of Tibetan flags rounded out the effect.

I liked the idea of getting ripped while sweating minimally and I was sold on the real estate.

The first 3 weeks I was a devout student, going to class every day, Monday – Friday.

Who doesn’t want to be a yogi master and be able to contort themselves into a sunbird or a camel? To have inner peace, presence of mind and exquisite delts?

I fantasized about wearing lululemon and developing a Wilson-like relationship with my yoga mat.

Once I had achieved sophisticated yogi status – which in my book qualifies anyone who can do a handstand without using the wall – I would show off how much more spiritually in tune I was with the natural world than my friends, but only in the most loving and nurturing way possible.

When it was time to purchase my next round of sessions, I thought I was the real deal.

Full of vigor and misguided enthusiasm, I bought the high roller package: One month unlimited classes for roughly $43,936 (price adjusted for inflation and former salary).

I went 2 more times and never used it again.

I don’t know why this happens. Probably something to do with instant gratification and a deficit in attention, but maybe if I had stuck it out, I would have been able to take advantage of some self-introspection.

As it stands, I’m back.

Resume Builder

Aside from having to pay back $30,000 in student loans, the worst part about life post-college is applying for jobs. Having personally sent out 1,000,000,000,000+ resumes over the course of my 20’s, I imagine that most of those well-thought out, time consuming resumes wound up in a digital pit of despair somewhere in the seventh circle of HR hell.

So much so was my despair that there came a point when I was grateful to get a rejection email, because it meant my resume had been viewed by a human – or a cyborg, at the very least.

As time advanced and prospects diminished, I revised and rewrote hoping to impress someone enough to overlook my lack of qualifications, thus each incarnation grew in length and exaggeration. Not unlike my dating habits, I presented the best version of myself to seem more desirable than I actually was.

Since most college graduates have no viable work or life experience to speak of, save for a semester abroad or performing menial tasks for people with actual full-time jobs, most people lean on their GPA’s, achievements, interests, skills and high school jobs.

It’s relatively easy to make a no-experience-necessary part-time jobs seem impressive simply by adding words like “chief,” “liaison,” “producer,” or “coordinator,” to the job title.

The paperboy becomes a “media distribution officer” – the gas attendant a “petroleum transfer engineer” – the dishwasher at Red Lobster a “gastronomical hygiene technician,” etc.

Suddenly the four and a half years I spent ringing up daylilies and calling for José to bring “tres bolsos de rojo mulch” at the local garden center was quickly rebranded into: “customer service rep” and “fluent in Spanish.”

My favorite part of the post-graduate resume was the irrelevant list of activities and superfluous technical skills section, which inevitably amounted to “proficient in Word, Excel and PowerPoint.” Had my own interests and skills been true to form, this is what they would have looked like:

 

Interests/Activities

• Crafting

• Well vodka-based drinks

• Themed mixers

• Abbreviations

• Power hour

• Pre-gaming

 

Skills

• Proficient at balloon arches, discerning ripe avocados, reading upside down and hugs

 

Unfortunately, hiring companies weren’t impressed with how many flip cup championships I’ve won (3) nor were they keen on my extensive collection of haute couture mixer wear, so I had to swap binge drinking for volunteering.

My resume has come a long way since then, as has my work experience. I’ve worked in television, radio and print, but should the occasion call for it, I can flip a cup faster than Wyatt Earp on a fast draw.

Copyright © Tracy Orzel 2013