25 before 26

New things:

  • My poem “Angles” is out in Spry!
  • It’s National Poetry Month. In honor of that, I am sharing one of my favorite poems.
  • I’ve started watching the TV show Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, and it’s as good as everyone says.
  • It was National Puppy Day and my birthday two weeks ago. To continue the tradition, I’ve made a new list of new things to try.

To explain, since high school, I have been a huge fan of Sarah Von’s blog Yes and Yes. She seems genuinely interested in being a part of the world, and I’ve always aspired to be a little like her (or at least her branding). In keeping with that vibe, every year on her birthday, she makes a list of new things to try, an annual bucket list of sorts. In the beginning, the number of items was dictated by her age that year. I’ve followed in her footsteps, and I’ll probably keep up with this system until I no longer want to share my age.

I started doing this when I turned 21. It was a little over a year after my mom had died, after she’d been sick for the entire duration of my college years, and I was about a year into grad school. That first year after her death, I felt so depleted, and grad school was really difficult in mostly non-intellectual ways that I had never anticipated. At some point, I became seriously ill. Just breathing seemed so hard so much of the time.

But when I turned 21, there was no longer any big life thing I was legally and/or symbolically barred from doing. And after my mother’s death, what was there left to be afraid of? So I decided that was the year I was allowed to stop putting my life on hold and to start living in full force again. In truth, it started mostly as a way for me to give myself things to live for and distract myself from the omnipresent grief. But it was also a push to do the things I’d always wanted but was too afraid to try.

In the last year, I ticked off a bunch of boxes and

  • made this website
  • asked my good friend Yizhen to help me take some professional-looking headshots
  • was paid actual money for a piece of original writing (Thank you NYT and Rattle!)
  • read my poems at quiet lightning events for the first and second times
  • put together my first poetry manuscript (though I’m still fiddling with it, as always)
  • snuck into the Tsukiji fish market before it opened to the public and ate super fresh tekka don with my last few yen in my last few hours in Tokyo
  • traveled to Europe for the first time and wandered around Riga, Latvia and Stockholm, Sweden (more photos here)
  • tried cooking lasagna in a slow cooker, which was delicious the first time, but I never managed to succeed after that… (Thanks for the idea Buzzfeed)
  • went on a wild food foraging tour through Golden Gate Park
  • kayaked in Sausalito and saw a bunch of adorable baby seals planking
  • visited friends in Chicago, went to an amazing conference in Boston (and visited friends), and am about to go to a conference in New Orleans–all cities I’d never been to before
  • attended a ballet at Yerba Buena
  • went on a trip with my boyfriend for the first and second times–we went to Vancouver and roamed around the Yucatan
  • visited the Museum of California in Oakland, which turned out to be one of the best museums I’ve been to in the Bay Area
  • checked out the new Exploratorium, courtesy of a friend, and it was awesome
  • had dinner at Kokkari Estiatori, Zuni Cafe, and Brenda’s Meat and Three (after watching Bladerunner for the first time at the Urban Film Festival, which was also pretty cool)
  • saw a film (Jauja) at the Roxie Theater
  • waited in line for an hour to eat coconut pancakes prepared at a Buddhist temple in Berkeley
  • visited my friends in Alameda and saved at least eight lives at the pinball museum (on one of the machines)

I’m going to give myself a mental pat on the back for actually making through most of my list this year. It’s so gratifying to see in writing how much I really have accomplished, especially when I feel kind of stagnant in lab/life right now.

Accomplishments in previous years included:

  • running a mile, then a 5K, then a 10K and half-marathon
  • trying yoga, pilates, zumba, spinning, skiing, fencing, kickboxing, regular boxing, skydiving, archery, horseback riding, rock-climbing, and trapeze and pole-dancing classes
  • took my first solo trip
  • had drinks at the Tonga Room
  • published my first essays
  • published my first poems in non-school-affiliated journals
  • visited a friend in Austin
  • toured Napa
  • finally read Reading Lolita in Tehran, And the Band Played On, and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (and made a new list just of books)
  • voted in a presidential election

Here’s my new list:

  1. Attend another writer’s conference/workshop
  2. Submit all of the poems in my manuscript at least once
  3. Develop a book proposal
  4. Visit a new domestic city and/or national park (possibilities: Portland, OR; Albuquerque, NM; San Juan, PR)
  5. Eat a beignet and cafe au lait at Cafe du Monde (and probably wait an hour for it) and at Cafe Beignet–compare and contrast and make a chart for shits and giggles
    5.5. Get a Po’boy (or two or five) in New Orleans
  6. Check out the Frenchmen Art Market
  7. Visit a new (to me) continent
  8. Live in a foreign country
  9. Tour Alcatraz
  10. Submit my science manuscript, damn it
  11. Attend a Moth Storyslam
  12. Go on a hike/daytrip outside of the city (options: cave paintings, waterfalls, Mt. Tam, Point Reyes)
  13. Learn how to forage for mushrooms
  14. Go to an Irish pub with live music
  15. Try a new Chinese restaurant with my boyfriend to prove that I don’t hate Chinese food
  16. Eat a delicious Senegalese meal and dance at Bissap Baobab
  17. Have a meal at Tadich Grill before I leave San Francisco
    17.5. See if La Taqueria is actually worth the hype
  18. Visit a faraway friend
  19. Go to Harry Potter World and have a blast
  20. Have a sushi meal omakase-style
  21. Snack on delicious things and eat Taiwanese ice at a night market in Taiwan
  22. Have a pot of tea and play with cats at KitTea
  23. Camp in a national park
  24. Go on a heli-ice hike in New Zealand
  25. Learn how to ride a scooter
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