On Glamour’s 30 before 30 list

A couple years ago, I read and bookmarked this article on HuffPo about turning 30. The article was a reboot of a list published in 1997 in Glamour magazine, written by Pamela Redmond Satran, whose book The Man I Should Have Married was one of my first chick-lit favorites. (I always loved that the book was dedicated to her husband – “the man she should have married, and did”.)

The list, “30 Things Every Woman Should Have and Should Know By the Time She’s 30,” was the inspiration for a book of essays put together by Glamour.

The list is divided into halves: 15 things you should have and 15 things you should know. As a woman in my late 20s, I read the list with interest. How would my own life measure up with this classic, if somewhat arbitrary, list?

Well … first, let’s look at the list.

By 30, you should have …
1. One old boyfriend you can imagine going back to and one who reminds you of how far you’ve come.
2. A decent piece of furniture not previously owned by anyone else in your family.
3. Something perfect to wear if the employer or man of your dreams wants to see you in an hour.
4. A purse, a suitcase, and an umbrella you’re not ashamed to be seen carrying.
5. A youth you’re content to move beyond.
6. A past juicy enough that you’re looking forward to retelling it in your old age.
7. The realization that you are actually going to have an old age – and some money set aside to help fund it.
8. An email address, a voice mailbox, and a bank account – all of which nobody has access to but you.
9. A résumé that is not even the slightest bit padded.
10. One friend who always makes you laugh and one who lets you cry.
11. A set of screwdrivers, a cordless drill, and a black lace bra.
12. Something ridiculously expensive that you bought for yourself, just because you deserve it.
13. The belief that you deserve it.
14. A skin-care regimen, an exercise routine, and a plan for dealing with those few other facets of life that don’t get better after 30.
15. A solid start on a satisfying career, a satisfying relationship, and all those other facets of life that do get better.

About a week away from turning 30, I’m doing pretty well on the “you should have” side of the list. Relationships I’ve learned from and furniture I bought for myself, access to all the tools I need for home improvement tasks, a good purse/suitcase/umbrella (even if I can’t find the umbrella right now). I have a youth I’m happy to move beyond and I’ve had adventures I’ll enjoy retelling one day when I’m old. I have the email address, voicemail and bank account, the resume and the lingerie, the skincare and exercise routines. I have a wonderful circle of friends with whom I can laugh and cry. I have a wonderful start on a satisfying relationship that I hope will only get better with time. While I’m by no means wealthy, I have some money for emergencies and some money for vacation and I’m working my ass off to build my career into something really great.

As for what I don’t have? Well, I don’t have the perfect thing to wear if the employer of my dreams wants to see me in an hour, and I think items like this speak to more than just “having the outfit” but being prepared for life’s opportunities, and that is something I could definitely improve in my 30s – because yes, I believe I deserve to be prepared for and embrace all the best things about life.

Now for the second half of the list.

By 30, you should know …
1. How to fall in love without losing yourself.
2. How you feel about having kids.
3. How to quit a job, break up with a man, and confront a friend without ruining the friendship.
4. When to try harder and when to walk away.
5. How to kiss in a way that communicates perfectly what you would and wouldn’t like to happen next.
6. The names of the secretary of state, your great-grandmothers, and the best tailor in town.
7. How to live alone, even if you don’t like to.
8. Where to go – be it your best friend’s kitchen table or a yoga mat – when your soul needs soothing.
9. That you can’t change the length of your legs, the width of your hips, or the nature of your parents.
10. That your childhood may not have been perfect, but it’s over.
11. What you would and wouldn’t do for money or love.
12. That nobody gets away with smoking, drinking, doing drugs, or not flossing for very long.
13. Who you can trust, who you can’t, and why you shouldn’t take it personally.
14. Not to apologize for something that isn’t your fault.
15. Why they say life begins at 30.

Yes, I’ve learned these lessons, in the ways they’ve come to me. Living alone was one of the best things I’ve ever done, and I hope everyone has the chance to do it. I know that being a mother is, most likely, not for me. And I learned the hard way not to assume that never having a cavity doesn’t mean you’ll never get a cavity. Sigh. Then there were the lessons that nobody can ever put on a list for someone else, the things that we alone can discover and learn.

Mostly I’m excited about looking forward, not back, and finding out more about why “they” say life begins at 30. Because the 20s have been a great learning experience, but I’m looking forward to really kicking ass more than ever in the next decade.

HuffPo: The Problem With ‘Waiting for Marriage’

“If people feel compelled to wait, that’s their choice, and as a sex-positive person, free-choice — regardless of whether I’d make the same decision — is important to me. But spreading the idea that physical love must wait for marriage puts a restriction on the way people express love. It makes women and men seem like they’re incapable of making their own sexual choices and being happy with them. Or that it’ll be impossible to pick themselves up if and when a long-term relationship doesn’t end up as they’d planned. The argument to “wait until marriage” puts sex so high on a pedestal that love and exploration — what sex is truly about — are lost to fear and uncertainty. It makes any kind of sex before marriage experience (good, or bad, or ugly) look like a failure when, in reality, those experiences can teach us a lot about ourselves, our wants and our desires.”

– from The Problem With ‘Waiting For Marriage’ by Mandy Velez

My first month using a Clarisonic

About a month ago I bought a Clarisonic because my skin was really annoying me. It’s always been problematic, but suddenly I had teenager problems and aging problems. I finally felt like it was worth investing in something beyond a tube of sensitive skin face wash, a bottle of witch hazel and a jar of coconut oil. I also have an occasional facials with a fantastic aesthetician, but since I can’t always go as frequently as I’d like, I wanted a home remedy too. So I got the Clarisonic because it was supposed to be able to transform my skin.

The Mia 2 model was on sale at Ulta that weekend in about eight different colors. Too many options. My first impulse was to grab a blue one, so that’s the one I bought. After charging the brush overnight, I began using it the next day.

After only a few uses I noticed results – smoother skin, smaller-looking pores with less overall irritation. I have discovered that I get better results from using the brush at night, and letting my skin rest, than using it in the morning right before I want to apply makeup.

Here’s the basic routine I follow. It sounds more complicated than it actually is. I was already using every product listed below, the only real change is that now I’m (usually) washing my face at night and (always) using the Clarisonic.

Every night: remove makeup with a makeup wipe. Cleanse face with Clarisonic and Alba Botanica Good & Clean gentle face wash. Moisturize either with coconut oil if my skin feels extra-dry, or with Simple Skincare night cream.

Every morning: rinse but don’t re-wash my face in the shower. Use witch hazel as toner. Moisturize with Garnier Rescue Refresh gel cream. Apply makeup as usual.

Products I currently use:

  • Alba Botanica Good & Clean cleanser
  • Trader Joe’s Organic Coconut Oil
  • Simple Skincare Vital Vitamin Night Cream
  • Garnier Moisture Rescue Refresh Gel Cream
  • Witch hazel
  • Clarisonic Mia 2 cleansing brush

You can pick up the Clarisonic Mia 2 (and other models) at Ulta or Sephora. Make sure you choose a store with a good return policy just in case the brush is not your face’s new best friend.

For me, the investment has been completely worthwhile so far and I would definitely recommend giving the Clarisonic a try if you are looking for smoother, healthier skin!

Writing for the hell of it

Like many people who write blogs, I have a pretty love/hate relationship with blogging (and I’ve succumbed to the temptation to write about that relationship from time to time). This website was originally intended to be a portfolio for my freelance writing, but my day job has taken a turn that’s really kept serious freelancing on the back burner for the last year. Someday that will likely change again, but until then, what to do? There are days when I feel really self-conscious for writing online at all, and there are days when I really just want to write online anyway.

After waffling a bit, I decided to try something new: turn off comments, turn off the pressure in my head to be any certain way on the internet, and just write for the hell of it. That doesn’t mean I don’t want this blog to generate conversation – not at all! But there are lots of other avenues for those conversations – Facebook, email, Twitter, etc. so for now, I’ll give this a try and see how it goes. Honestly, it’s not like I ever had many comments, or a consistent posting schedule/readership/topic anyway, though those of you that have commented on my posts have made me smile every time times, and I have really appreciated every time someone has taken the time to say they enjoyed (or disliked) something I wrote. For now, writing for the fun of it seems like the way to go – and I can’t wait to see what grows from there.

Remember when you were a kid and had a hobby you were completely into? Maybe it was photography or riding mountain bikes or reading or skateboarding – for me, it was writing. I never went anywhere without a notebook and pen or pencil, and my preferences of notebook, pen, and/or pencil changed over time, but they were always very specific. When I was 13, I loved marbled composition books – in bright colors, if possible, but classic black was always a good choice. Sometimes I was really into mechanical pencils and sometimes I favored gel pens.

People used to ask me if I was writing in a journal. Usually, the answer was “no” – I was writing stories, or ideas for stories, or outlining characters for stories. I used to just go for it. I’d write homages to my favorite books or movies, silly little copies that we could have a good laugh about today. But I was writing, every day, all the time. When I was 13 I hand-wrote a chapter story in which the not-so-fictional narrator (me) bumped into her celebrity crush (Leonardo DiCaprio) who was shooting a movie in town and they ended up dating. (Presumably in this work of fiction, either the fictional me was of legal age or the fictional Leo was also a minor; I can’t remember which, although I do remember chuckling to myself at whatever point in adulthood I realized we could totally date and the ten-year age difference would be no big deal. You know, if we bumped into each other on the street.) I have since searched my parents’ basement for those acid-green marble-cover composition books, but couldn’t find them, which is somewhat disconcerting.


It’s a habit I never outgrew – carrying a notebook and pen everywhere, not writing my celebrity crushes into my fictional romances. There’s always a notebook and pen in my purse, but as an adult there’s just not the same joy in it as when I was a kid. Or there hasn’t been, anyway. I spend too much time telling myself my writing is shit, or it will never be published anyway so shouldn’t I just be focusing on something practical, like cleaning the kitchen, or catching up on my Hulu queue? But then recently, a couple friends and I were talking about submitting our manuscripts to a local e-publisher and I realized, well shit, guys, I don’t have a manuscript. All these years I’ve been toting notebooks around acting like I’m a writer and I don’t even have a completed first draft of a book, let alone a manuscript I could submit to a publisher on a whim.

So if there’s one place I’d like to start in changing this weird and dysfunctional relationship I have with actually being a writer, it’s this: remember that there’s no such thing as an arts emergency, and just write for the hell of it.