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#20: Get a Manicure/Pedicure And/Or a Massage

June 15, 2011

Date of completion: January 2011 & May 2011

It blows people’s minds when I tell them I’ve never had a manicure or a pedicure. I’m twenty-six years old and fairly vain, and yet, I’ve somehow never managed to enter a nail salon.

To be fair, I think I might have had a manicure when I was six at a birthday party at the local cosmetology school, but that doesn’t really count.

I decided a professional massage was something I also needed to experience in my life, so I tacked that on to the end to make sure I’d do it. Ironically, that was the part of this “task” I accomplished first. I snagged a half-off Groupon in early January and took a day off work to do absolutely nothing except get a message and relax. (I’m not good at relaxing). It was nice, even though I have far too many self-esteem issues for some stranger to be touching my skin in all the parts I don’t like to look at in the mirror.

The mani/pedi just hung out in the back of my mind as probably the easiest thing to knock off the list, but there are so many other things I’d rather spend my money on. Bad haircuts, shoes, coffee, books.

So when my friend scheduled us all an appointment to get our nails done before her wedding, I was excited and oddly a bit anxious. I don’t know the etiquette or protocol for having one’s nails done, and I was a bit concerned that I was going to look like an idiot. I’m a big advocate of the “fake it til you make it” philosophy.

The ladies at the salon were as astonished as everyone else that I’ve made it this far in my life without having either of the ‘cures, but they were very nice and it was very relaxing and I couldn’t stop staring at my nails when I was done. They looked like they belonged in a nail polish ad.

To be fair, I barely made it out of the salon before I smudged one of them up. Check that, I didn’t even get out of the salon before I messed one of them up. (This is why I can’t have nice things). Even so, I was enamored with how they looked and for the days after the wedding, planned my outfits accordingly so they would match my dark fuchsia nails. Then, inevitably, life happened, and they chipped, and I had to remove the metric ton of polish from my fingernails and go back to life with boring nails.

My toes still look good, though.

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#13: Make a Dramatic Change to My Appearance

June 12, 2011

Date of completion: November 2010

I apologize for getting these out of order. And also for subbing this one in. It was kind of on my mental to-do list if not my written one, and I decided that I do not have the time or capacity right now to try to learn a foreign language, so I had to pull a substitution. My blog, my rules.

Besides, dramatic makeovers are always fun, right?

Basically: I’ve been a blonde my whole life. From when I was a wee youngin’ to the time I went to college. Granted, as I got older, I was largely aided by various chemicals and discount store hair dyes. My freshman year of college, it got so out of control blonde that it was scarily close to being platinum. At one point, I had considered inching back toward my natural color (which at that point, I assumed was either kind of an ashy dark dirty blonde or a very light brunette color)… and then there was an Incident in which various chemicals from one color to the new didn’t play nice and it turned a very distinct shade of lavender. Sadly, no pictures exist.

Gradually, I kept trying to color it darker and my hair, being as stubborn as I am, kept lightening itself up. Finally color began to stick and I did a short bout as a brunette before going back to a blonder color. I noticed something, though, around the time I went brown… it had settled into an almost auburn color, instead. And when I went blonde, it went strawberry-blonde. I didn’t even notice until the first time someone called me a redhead and it caught me completely off-guard.

Then I began to ponder to myself: what if I dyed my hair red? Like, actual redhead red?

First of all, I knew I had the skin tone for it. I’m very fair-skinned and sometimes it actually helps to have a darker color so I don’t look so washed out. Second, both my grandmother and my mother have a red hue to their hair… now, I know we all alter our color, but even so, it wouldn’t look genetically out of place or anything. My grandmother has had red hair the entire time I’ve known her… it wasn’t until I was probably a pre-teen that I realized it was fake.

Thirdly: the idea was exciting. It was a bold, bold move. It would attract a lot of attention, for starters. It wouldn’t be a subtle change. Also, redheads are kind of stereotyped as being sassy and feisty and fierce – would I be able to live up to that image? Was I worthy of becoming a member of that elite group?

Ten years ago, even five years ago, I would have said no, and I would have recoiled in terror at the thought of making such a dramatic leap.

Last November, though… I went for it.

I have never gotten so many compliments on my hair color in my life. Even now, as I’m going on almost seven months with this color, people still stop, tilt there head a little bit, and announce how much they love it. Even our Director of Sales one day stopped mid-train-of-thought and commented on it.

At first, I was a little shy of it… but I’ve gotten used to it, to looking in the mirror and seeing something darker than I used to. It’s not RED-red… it’s more of an auburn, especially right after I retouch it. But I like it.

I contemplated going back blonde again but a friend of mine tried to go from red to blonde recently and it took five hours (!) to strip the color out of her hair. No thanks. Plus there’s the fear of it going orange. It would have to be a professional project, and that’s expensive.

I was also looking through some old photos and I was surprised to find that I didn’t love the blonde as much as I used to. It didn’t look right.

So, I guess for the time being, I shall stick with where I am.

Behold, a before and after photo:

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#3: Visit Las Vegas

June 11, 2011

Date of completion: May 2011

Las Vegas always seemed to me to be one of those cities that one must visit, especially in one’s youth. I did not quite expect to fall in love with Sin City quite as much as I did, but from the instant I got there, I knew I was at home. (I mean, I wouldn’t want to live there, but I want to go back as often as possible.)

I loved everything about it. I loved the ridiculousness and the randomness and the excess. I loved the glitter and the lights. I loved how everything is intertwined and close together on the strip. I loved that we wandered around and not once did I not feel safe. (I did NOT love how expensive everything is, but I guess anywhere I go will be more expensive than the middle of Iowa, so… I won’t hold a grudge.) I loved the sounds of the casinos and the people-watching.

I loved the fact that my Vegas experience was rather atypical: instead of going with my group of local friends, I took a giant leap of faith and went as a part of Bloggers in Sin City. (In hindsight, I should have had “attend a blogging function/meetup” on my list, but if I add it now, it will probably just be cheating.) The whole experience was surreal and I would do it again in a heartbeat. In fact, I want nothing more than to do it again next year.

You can read more about the Vegas trip on my other blog, if you so feel inclined.

Sadly, though, the one thing I regret from this trip, even more so now as I went to put together an image for this post… I did not make it to the famous “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign. I guess I will have to be sure to do that the next time I go…

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#2: Earn My Black Belt in TKD

January 13, 2011

Date of Completion: December 2010

Somewhere between last year and this year (well, it’s 2011 as I write this, so, somewhere between 2009 and 2010, I guess), I started spending longer hours at work and fewer hours in extracurriculars. Which is an odd shift for someone like me, who as always spent so much time on the extras, both in high school and in college.

My progress in taekwondo slowed down, as I wasn’t able to attend class as much, and when I could, I was usually exhausted and unmotivated. I took a month off in the fall of 2010 just to get my bearings again.

But I didn’t give up. I had an end goal in mind and no matter how long it took me to crawl to it, I was going to get there.

So, six months after I tested for/received my first degree recommended rank (the red/black belt – I considered this to be “half a black belt” so while it technically counts as being a black belt, in my mind, it didn’t – not until I got to the rank of first degree black belt decided.)

A testing session came ’round in December and I pulled it together and decided to go for it. My board breaks were only successful about half the time… I wasn’t terribly worried about my sparring, or my form (I’d been working on it for over six months, after all), but my confidence was shaky. I hadn’t been the best student lately, but I needed to kick my butt into gear. I didn’t have the best faith that I would pass, but even if I didn’t, it would get that first attempt out of the way, so hopefully the second time would be much less nerve-wracking.

Waiting for testing to start was, in fact, the most nervous I have ever been. I’m always nervous before a belt testing, but doubly so, this time. It didn’t help that I’d invited my dad to come watch (him being a black belt, back in his day), who brought down his girlfriend and my uncle. I had spectators.

My legs felt like jello all during warmups and even past when I got through my form – which is usually what I am most nervous about, but fortunately the portion you do first. (A form is basically a set sequence of various moves, almost akin to a choreographed routine, of sorts.) When testing for your black belt, you get one chance to do your form, unlike when you are testing as a colored belt, when you get three. So if you mess up, you’re pretty much SOL.

Form went well, from what I can remember in my heightened adrenaline state. Sparring was okay. Boards… boards were what I was most nervous about (besides remembering I had to do a secondary form and having to re-teach it to myself in the five minutes before we started – oops.) I actually broke them both on my first attempt… except I’d made the mistake of adjusting my first board after I was bowed in, which negated the break. Flustered, I couldn’t break it a second time, and I was so beyond pissed at myself. (I didn’t learn until after testing was over why I had to repeat my break – I wasn’t aware that I couldn’t touch the board after the initial setup… I’ll know for next time!). So I was confused and flustered and mad at myself for not being able to do it again.

Fortunately, I had enough points from the other sections that I was still able to pass… so right before Christmas I found out that I was now officially a black belt! I didn’t get the belt itself until January, hence the belatedness of this post, and learning to tie that thing was a challenge in and of itself. One of the ladies in my class was really good at explaining it, so I think I’ve got the hang of it now…

So, from here, I won’t be testing as regularly, the next “step” would be to test for a second degree, but I’m content to hang where I am right now and get caught up to where I feel my skill level should be, and then my new goal is just to keep up.

But, this is obviously one of my bigger goals (clocking in at #2!) so I’m incredibly excited to have been able to achieve it and cross it off the list.

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One Year Mark: The List, Revisited

September 23, 2010

Today, I am 26. I started this project as I was turning 25 – let’s check in and see where I’m at with my items.

1- Fall in love
Stipulation – it needs to be reciprocal. This adds to the challenge somewhat. But dammit, I’ve been patient long enough. I need to get myself out there. Update: eh… I might remove/modify this somewhat. I haven’t decided yet.

2 – Earn my black belt in TKD
Update:  so close!

3- Visit Las Vegas
A road trip with my girls would obviously be ideal but given time constraints of vacation time and what have you, I am ok with flying. This also accomplishes “visit a casino” which isn’t a separate line item but could be. This might take a while given my lack of finances… perhaps I’ll save it to the end and that is how I will celebrate my 30th birthday? oooh, I like that. Hear that, girls? My 30th birthday – we are headed to Vegas! Update: I’ve decided to end my twenties in Vegas, so this might be the last thing to get crossed off. September 2014, mark your calendars!

4- Kiss someone at midnight on New Year’s Eve
This is something I’ve never actually done… I’ve always been flying solo to ring in the new year. Update: We’ll see how things look around December, haha.

5- Sell a piece of artwork – COMPLETED AUGUST 2009
Ok, it was to my friend Steph… but it was AT an art show! So it totally counts. This also simultaneously knocks “be in an art show” off my list. Maybe I should be more ambitious… Sell a piece of artwork to a stranger? Complete

6 – Photograph a new city
Cites that I’ve already done (more or less): St. Louis, San Francisco, New York, Des Moines. Anywhere else is fair game. I’d really like to hit Minneapolis, maybe. I don’t think I’ve taken enough shots to really count it. Maybe I should go somewhere new? Chicago? I’ve never been there… Update: no updates; haven’t really gone anywhere.

7 – Learn a foreign language (or enough to be mildly conversational)
Either French or Spanish. French cause it’s pretty, Spanish cause it’s useful. Update: uhhhh… so far, I haven’t even attempted this.

8 – Get a tattoo
Update: still tossing ideas around

9 – Visit a winery – COMPLETED AUGUST 2009
Already knocked this one out, but I’d love to go visit more! Maybe I could expand this to “tour a winery” – not just taste all their wine! : )  Complete

10 – Pay off my credit cards
Update: I’m on track to have these paid off in 2011. I think.

11 – Find the perfect little black dress – COMPLETED OCTOBER 2009
Found one, then found a better one. I’m calling it Complete.

12- Lose 30 pounds
(25 would be acceptable. Hell, I’d even take 20 at this point.)
Update: Laughable.

13 – Sing karaoke
Doing it as a group totally counts, as long as it’s in front of people. And we’re liquored up. Update:  not yet… but soon!

14 – See a Broadway show
… on Broadway. Damn, I guess that means I’ll have to go to New York. ; )
Update: I’m broke and odds of getting to NYC anytime soon are looking slim. I might have to rethink this one and bump it into the next decade of my life.

15 – Learn to drive a stick shift
My dad tried to teach me once. It ended in epic failure. There’s still time! Update: haven’t gotten to this yet… need to find someone willing to teach me!

16 – Go out to the middle of nowhere and watch a meteor shower
Update: I think there is supposed to be one every August?

17 – Visit a haunted house – COMPLETED OCTOBER 2010
This will freak the shit out of me. I should probably do it anyway.  Complete

18 – Travel outside state lines and buy fireworks
Yo, Missouri – what’s up? ; )
Update: not yet… maybe next summer?

19 – Learn the Thriller dance – COMPLETED FEBRUARY 2010
This is very important. Because it would be AWESOME. Complete!!!!

20 – Get a manicure/pedicure and/or a massage
I’m almost tempted to not cross this one off until I do both. I have been missing out!!  Update: I just need to go and do this already. It’s an easy one.

21 – Go to the Iowa State Fair – COMPLETED AUGUST 2009
I came, I saw, I ate something on a stick. And deep fried Oreos. And totally almost lost my car in the parking lot. It was fun.  Complete

22 – Go campaniling
This only makes sense if you are an Iowa State student/grad. One of the traditions is to kiss under our campanile (clock tower) at the stroke of midnight. They say you’re not a true Iowa Stater until you do it. I never did it! : ( For as into ISU as I was, this makes me feel kind of like a failure…  Update: sigh.

23 – Take a ballroom dance class.
I think I watched a little too much Dancing With the Stars. I’m probably going to nix this one.  Update: no update. Probably will remove/find something else.

24 – Participate in a cancer fundraising walk – COMPLETED OCTOBER 2009
I will never be able to run a 5K, but dammit, I still want to participate. I am signed up to do one in October – it’s just 1-mile walk, but it’s something. Complete. And will probably do it again.

25 – Go Tailgating – COMPLETED SEPTEMBER 2009
Can you believe I never went tailgating in college? Ok, I went once, but I was 19, and the thought of getting a MIP charge wasn’t cool. There was no beer involved. And it wasn’t fun. So I finally went, as someone of legal age, and it was everything I hoped it would be. Except I didn’t get fed. Maybe next time I can tailgate with people who will grill some burgers. Complete.

26 – Write a short story. Send it in to be published. Frame the rejection letter.
By 40, I hope to take a stab at a novel. Or my memoirs – y’all know I’ve got some good stories to start it. For now… something smaller.  Update:  need to write something to be able to submit it. ugh.

27 – Walk a dog – COMPLETED OCTOBER 2009
I’ve never done this. We’ve always had cats…  Complete

28 – Go to a casino
Never done this either. I suppose it correlates with #3, but I could always do it around here too. Update: Haven’t given it much thought. Should be easy to cross off.

29 – Learn to parallel park – COMPLETED
Cause, seriously? Right now I will park blocks away just so I don’t have to. Complete! Though I will only do it if I have lots of space… it still makes me slightly nervous. One time I wedged into a really tight spot. I was really proud of myself.

30Learn to tie a cherry stem with my tongue
I have a friend that can do this and she tried to direct me on how to do it one time, but I failed miserably. Just something fun and silly to round out the list! Update: need to buy some cherries and practice ; )

So, there you have it. One year in and I’ve accomplished 10 items – I’m a full third of the way done! Plus a couple random bonus items that I never planned on doing. If I can keep up this pace, I’m totally going to breeze through these! I seem to have slowed down considerably, though. I’ve still got four years, though. Lots of time. Right?

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Bonus Item: Wear a Mascot Suit

April 14, 2010

Date of Completion: April 2010

Now, this is not something I ever planned or even really ever wanted to do… but I got a desperate text message from one of my dear friends one day inquiring as to my Saturday plans and could I maybe help her out? She works at the local gardens (I shall not name names to preserve her anonymity, BUT, I guess they made it to CNN the other day because this summer they are hosting the LARGEST GNOME IN THE UNITED STATES, second largest in the world. It was supposed to be the largest in the world but Poland snuck in there and got all bigger-gnomey in secret and by then, our gnome was already half constructed. Still, it’s going to be awesome) and they were having their Easter event with an egg hunt and, well, Easter Bunnies. Of which she got roped into wearing the suit. Which is too hot for one person to wear continuously for three hours. Would I help out and trade shifts? Pretty please?

Once I got done giggling, I kind of shrugged and asked for more info. And then she said the magic words: “and you can blog about it!”

Now, friends, who am I to pass up excellent blog material? Exactly.

So, Saturday morning, with mixed levels of enthusiasm, I made my way to the Gardens and thus began our adventure. For the first hour I was her escort/bodyguard to make sure she didn’t run into any walls or accidentally ignore any adoring children. Then: it was my turn.

Any excitement I’d had that was rooted solely in morbid curiosity, evaporated.

I was going to suck at this! And I was going to disillusion an entire generation of kids! And I was probably going to fall down! And suffocate!

She made me put on the suit.

It wasn’t… horrible. It was toasty in there, but we managed to go outside for the egg hunt so there was a nice breeze and it was a mercifully cloudy day. I spent an hour waving at kids, pretending to hop, and getting awkward hugs from some small children who wouldn’t let go for ages and another one who awkwardly stroked the side of my thigh. You’ll notice the theme of “awkward.” I also only made one little girl shriek in fear, so, you know. That’s pretty good.

My hour was up and my friend donned the suit again and after we did our time, we went to lunch to celebrate our triumph of Not Dying. We could not fathom how people would voluntarily do this, nay, WANT to do this – apparently it’s a BIG DEAL to be our college mascot and people compete for it and it’s this big thing and all we could think was, whyyyyyyy.

Also, I was absurdly sore the next day or two. My legs were screaming at me every time I tried to move. I guess I didn’t realize how often I was squatting down to be at kid-height. So, you know. Mascot suits are excellent exercise.

So there you have it. Something I never would have done on my own and would likely never do again, but I’m glad I did it and had the experience. The end.

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Housekeeping Things

March 9, 2010

So, I updated the List. #28 and #30 were lame and since they were originally both just filler items to get me to thirty things, I replaced them with things I thought of later, that are cooler and more interesting. Which is totally not cheating because it’s my list and I can do what I want. Also, for the record, I almost almost took off #1 but I didn’t really have anything else worthy of the #1 spot and by removing it, it’s almost like giving up hope.. and I’m not ready to do that yet. Even though it probably shouldn’t be on my list because it doesn’t really fit my criteria, but, well. I’m not going to be super strict about it.

In the meantime, I guess I shall try to figure out what to tackle next. I am thinking it might be time to try my hand at karaoke… and to the world? I’m sorry in advance.