Happy birthday, self! You’re 30!

Have I been on this earth for three decades? Wow, what a thought.

Here I am about 25 years ago, same love of color, same thrill of living:

Kindergarten me, with my friend Audrey at my left, and Shra with our friend Elena at my right.

Full speed ahead!

The typical birthday post is introspective and thoughtful, but I do enough of that here, so today I’m just going to revisit the life list I first published on my LiveJournal in 2008. It’s a fun thing to look back on — and I’ve got a great reason to revise it now, as you’ll find out tomorrow (yes! big news a-comin’!).

My lifetime 100

Already accomplished

  1. Play piano in a public recital (high school, college).
  2. Write a paper that’s praiseworthy and prideworthy (undergrad senior thesis).
  3. Present that paper in a conference (3x!).
  4. Take modern dance classes (college, grad school).
  5. Teach people to read (LA Public Library Adult Literacy Program).
  6. Work for a nonprofit (ditto).
  7. Take a creative writing class (UCLA, VONA, IWL).
  8. Go to grad school (UCLA, 2004-07).
  9. Volunteer (high school, college, grad school). I’d like to do this again sometime.
  10. Travel alone (summer 2004).
  11. Take a homeless person out for a meal (did this once in college). Should do this again.
  12. Eat at Ubuntu in Napa (2008).
  13. Find a vegetarian/carnivore balance that suits me.
  14. Move out of LA (2009).
  15. Do something that seems impossible right now (2009: singing vibrato, topping out at the bouldering gym).
  16. Learn to sing in a way that pleases me (2009).
  17. Have a garden, however small (2009-present). Someday I’d like to actually be able to take time with my garden, though!
  18. Have a website I like.

In progress (limited)

  1. Work my way through my cookbooks.
  2. Write a book. Or write and draw one.
  3. Make creative work my livelihood, or at least be able to call it my profession (part-time is okay).
  4. Vacation somewhat regularly in a place that feels secluded and unspoiled, like a little hut on an island, or a cabin in the woods in some remote place in Canada.
  5. Work from home in a beautiful light-filled studio with flowers.
  6. Learn to do really good portraits, preferably in paints, but in pen and inks if that’s what it takes.
  7. Make a family tree or in some other way delve deeply into my family history.
  8. Firm, love, and show off my butt. Not in a vulgar way.
  9. Make a painting that is really beautiful (to my taste and no one else’s).
  10. Sell cards that I draw, in however tiny a way. (I’m not sure this is still a goal. Are my Etsy paintings fulfilling this need for me? Maybe.)
  11. Articulate my ideas on TSVW (this is shorthand for one of my personal insights). (I am kind of doing this already, with a lot of my writing.)
  12. Own a pair of shoes I really love that I can actually walk in. (I own such shoes! Only… they’re not appropriate for cold weather. I should amend this item to two pairs of shoes…)
  13. Get good at watercolors. (I cannot believe that only in 2009, this goal seemed so far-off that I had consigned it to the “shelved” section!)
  14. Do something crazy and lasting on a whim, and never regret it. (Oooh, this might happen. See tomorrow’s post!)

In progress (lifetime)

  1. Be fit.
  2. Never stop feeling like I’m making a difference in the world.
  3. Have a happy marriage.
  4. Do whatever I can to help my sisters and closest friends realize their full potential.
  5. Make a habit of visiting friends who live in other places.
  6. Fear nothing, including (and especially) death.
  7. Write, write, write, and own it and love it.
  8. Learn to truly live in the present moment.
  9. Care not for material things.
  10. Meet lots of people. Have parties I can invite them to.
  11. Be outdoors and in nature regularly.
  12. Have the kind of home my parents have, where people come over all the time, and the house always feels lively and full of laughter.
  13. Travel somewhat regularly.
  14. Live someplace where I can go to the farmers’ market (or its equivalent) multiple times a week, so I can eat local, seasonal, super-fresh food almost exclusively. (Our CSA box is doing us well for now.)
  15. Invest time and work into something, and then be officially celebrated for it (on however small a scale, but not just within the household or something like that). (I think IWL qualifies, but I’m no longer satisfied with this goal as a one-time thing! So I’ve moved it to the lifetime category.)


  1. Be able to do a yoga handstand without any human help (the wall is okay).
  2. Be comfortable doing yoga arm balances.
  3. Develop a meditation practice.
  4. Get through the must-see movie list Jason made for me when we were neighbors in LA.
  5. Put my correspondence and event programs into scrapbooks that I then actually look at.
  6. Get more massages.
  7. Give more massages.
  8. Have a house in which the indoor (kitchen) and outdoor dining space are so connected that we think nothing of moving easily between the two for meals.
  9. Live in a different state.
  10. Hike/walk a mountain in another country. This is more about the scenery and experience than the mountain or the exercise, so it doesn’t have to be Everest (or even close to it)!
  11. Find a beach I really love, and go there regularly. This can mean every day, or every few summers. (I have to say, I’m not sure if this is still a goal. Maybe “seashore” or “coastal trail” can substitute for beach.)
  12. Be able to sew my own clothes (even if I don’t end up doing so).
  13. Take a sunrise hike… or just go someplace special to watch the sunrise.
  14. Go to the desert in the early morning with Erik, and take pictures.
  15. Re-learn to dance, though it doesn’t have to be modern.
  16. Learn to sing folk songs, chants, and old old songs.
  17. Write a fan letter to an author.
  18. Take Mommy to Chez Panisse Café, or equivalent.
  19. Take Erik to Alinea, or equivalent.
  20. Learn how to sculpt or make pottery.
  21. Learn to like swimming.
  22. Have a dog.
  23. Raise children. Adopted kids count.
  24. Be friends with someone who makes movies I like.
  25. Plant/maintain our own fruit trees, especially lemon and orange.
  26. Write and illustrate a children’s book, if only for my own kids (or my sisters’).
  27. Live with Shra and Devin, either in the same (big) house or next door.
  28. Paint the interior walls of my living space. (This goal has taken on new meaning now that I actually paint. When I first recorded it, I meant house paint, but now… !)
  29. Keep chickens.
  30. Bake regularly for my kids and grandkids.
  31. Visit Greece.
  32. Visit Japan.
  33. Travel throughout China. (This is kind of in-progress if you count HK.)
  34. Visit Prince Edward Island, because I’ve always loved Anne of Green Gables.
  35. Be friends with someone who owns a bakery, store, café, or restaurant I like, so I can hang out there!
  36. Really, really splurge on something material but not silly (so: house but not sports car, coat but not strappy shoes).
  37. If he still wants one by the time I can afford one, buy Daddo a houseboat. When we were kids Shra promised to someday buy him a house, and I promised a houseboat. (I’m now doubting he will want one. But maybe I can find an equivalent gift he’ll like as much.)
  38. Go on a rollercoaster that scares me but doesn’t terrify me. Splash Mountain will work, but none of those horrible drop-straight-down things. (Not sure whether this is still something I want to do.)
  39. Be able to identify lots of trees and plants.
  40. Live in a place that fills me with joy. I mean a geographical place, not the house itself… though that’s great too!
  41. Have a bathtub big enough for two, preferably next to a window. Temporarily is acceptable.
  42. Host another party like our wedding shindig, but this time for no “official” reason. (Actually, even though it’s a much smaller event, my 30th party feels similarly momentous. Is that good enough? I’m not sure.)
  43. Learn more Shanghainese.
  44. Learn more Cantonese.
  45. Improve my French.
  46. Visit Ireland.
  47. Visit Denmark.
  48. Invent something, maybe.
  49. Take a cool train trip with my best friend Jackie on a classic line, like the Orient Express or Trans-Siberian Express.
  50. Row/paddle a boat across a lake. Even just those little paddleboats at Vasona Lake will do. WITH SUN PROTECTION!!! (I did kayak for a couple of hours around a sheltered area of the Bay Area coast this past summer. That was pretty grand.)
  51. Do something (on this list perhaps?) I’ve always wanted to do “but it’s just too crazy.” Even the thought of this makes me feel light and liberated. (As early as 2009 I wrote: “I don’t know, there are a whole lot of new and updated things on this list that make me feel light and liberated when I look them over. Maybe my definition of ‘it’s just too crazy’ has changed, so that nothing seems too crazy anymore. That is cool. I like that. I’ll leave this item here for now, though, in case I ever do find something crazy enough that it still makes me reel and go, ‘wow, it’s just too crazy.'” I feel exactly the same way now.)
  52. RV road trip! And there must be the kind of sandwiches I ate on our family RV road trip when I was four: white bread, Kraft Singles, ham (or veggie ham), mayo, tomato, and iceberg lettuce. Ugh, but yes.
  53. Visit Antarctica. (Not sure whether I still want to do this.)

I like my list a lot, and in spite of a few exceptions, I still want to do almost everything on it. The funny thing is, though, that the vast majority of these items seemed completely out of reach in 2008, whereas now I skim down the list and think, “Huh, really? Where’s the really crazy stuff?” Which is awesome, amazing, wonderful, because it means I am expanding ever outward in my search of vital adventure.

If, the next time I revisit this list, I find that I can move many of the items to “accomplished,” I’m thinking I might need to start a second list, just so I can continue to have 100 items that I still want to do. Barbara Sher would say this is a very Scanner thing to do, to which I say, woohoo! Bring it!!!

Much love to you all, and thank you so much for helping to bring me to 30 as excited and happy and loved as ever. 🙂 ❤ ❤ ❤ Here’s to joy and continued exploration for us all!