Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The List of Things to Not Be

Today I turn 24, which is ninety-six percent of the way to 25, which is eighty-three-point-three-repeating percent of the way to 30, which is my official "Have Things Accomplished" age. Yikes.

Now, I know most people (including myself, to this point) have their lists of things to do, things to be, things to have some relative degree of success in by age whatever. But the more I think about it, the more unrealistic it seems to keep this ongoing Christmas list of what we want. It's too easy, as we grow up and as our goals change, to negate certain items, to brush them off with a simple "I was too young to know that was impossible," and also to add other items as they came to mind ("Well, if I'm asking for a house with a white picket fence by the time I'm 34, I might as well throw in a three carat engagement ring!")

So: Starting this year, I'm working in reverse.

I'm looking at what already is and deciding whether or not I want to work in a different direction. I am creating The List of Things Not To Be.

For example: I don't want to be stuck in an apartment forever, so I'm adding "Renter" to The List of Things Not To Be by the time I'm 30. I can add anything to the list: titles, adjectives, phrases. I can add items to The List at any time, and can give each item its own timeframe by which I should Not Be. And the best part: instead of mentally crossing things off the list as they become impractical (as I would have to do with a List of Things to Be) I can add a mental check mark next to the things I no longer am. See? Positive, not negative! This is the first step in checkmarking "Negative" on my List of Things Not To Be by the time I'm 25.

* * * * * * * * * *

As far birthdays go, my past two have been monumentally awful. Last year, I was at the peak of my annual change-of-seasons cold, brought on, I think, by my trip to Atlanta, where I had to endure the guilt-of-singleness implied by a full-blown Catholic wedding.

The year before that, I was forced to attend the wake of a cousin's cousin's cousin or somesuch distant relative I'd never met. As testament to how white trash I really can be: I was actually OK with attending a wake on my birthday, because I was told it would be at the KFC. Now, how I thought honoring our dearly departed had anything to do with fried chicken, I don't know; probably I misheard on purpose in some sort of psychological attempt to get right with the birth/death dichotomy unfolding before my very eyes. Or whatever. Turns out they were saying K of C, which, while it certainly does not serve fried chicken, absolutely does serve as the worst place in history to celebrate a birthday.

So, yeah, at this point I'm two for two in terms of shitty birthdays. Today's is going awesomely in comparison, but it's only 8:30. I'll hope for the best, though, because "Pessimist" is definitely at the top of The List of Things Not to Be.