If you know me — or even just my blog — at all, you know I am a lover of lists.
Love lists, grocery lists, to-do lists (although those can drive me up the proverbial wall at times), Christmas lists… heck, even lists of words I really like (bliss, pomegranate, obsidian…)
But the kinds of lists I am NOT a fan of are the lists that isolate the “30 under 30″ or “40 under 40″ in any sort of industry. Not because I am no longer under 30 (sigh), and very much on the downward slope towards no longer being under 40 (nooooooo!), but because people seem to develop a profound sort of anxiety around them.
Not me, mind you.
I never really thought about competing with 29 or 39 other people to be considered super awesome at anything that I do — I mean, what the heck are the standards?
The amount of money I’ve made?
I think we can all look at the exceptionally profitable career of Justin Bieber and agree that recompense doesn’t equal excellence. Unless we’re chatting about autotunability (which isn’t a word yet, but give it time) — and then he’s AMAZING.
The quality of the work I’ve done?
To continue on a theme, when one checks out out the full range of reality programs currently viewable at MTV, it quickly becomes obvious that the “quality” of things isn’t really what sells them. Sure, MTV programmers display exceptional excellence at targeting their demographic, (which is really their only metric, mind you)… but if you’ve ever watched “My Super Sweet 16″ or whatever the hell it’s called, you know it’s not because the programming is excellent that it does the job.
The position I’ve achieved in a company?
Okay, who is honestly delusional enough to think that being in leadership in a company means you’re the best worker/smartest person in that company? Not everybody at the top is Steve Jobs, people. And there are plenty of people arguing about him, too (not me, though. I have been known to go into the Apple store just to hug things.)
The amount of “giving back” I’ve done for the community?
Well, I actually kind of like this one as a gauge of success (although “giving back” always sounds a bit preposterous, like you stole from the community in the first place) — but anyone who watched the 2010 version of “We Are The World” (Justin Bieber starts it off with TRUE autotunability) knows that sometimes giving back is way more about profile than progress (and, in that specific case, autotunability. I’ll keep using that word until it sticks, I swear I will.)
The amount of people who know who I am?
I have to point to how many people who know who the Octo-Mom is. And leave it there, pretty much.
Why do we need someone else to give us the nod, anyway?
So we’ll be able to put it on our resume? So we’ll get better jobs in the future? So we can impress our dates?
Strikes me that most of the people I know who actively strive for these types of recognition live their lives in a constant state of grasping for the next thing — without ever enjoying the moment they’re in, or learning what they can from the struggles and challenges they’ve faced along the way.
Spending time with these people is like trying to talk to a toddler in the toy aisle at Target. Only two thoughts prevail: “Oooh, how can I get that thing over there?” and “Ooooh, what role will you play in me getting that thing over there?”
It’s good to have goals. It’s good to be successful. It’s good to strive in a direction. GOOD.
But when your yardstick for achievement is to appear on a list populated by publicists, social climbers and people who would literally sell their grandmother to squeak in at #29, you may need a reminder about what really matters in life.
So, in celebration of what REALLY matters, I thought I’d name 36 things I think are awesome at 36, from people to flavors of ice cream. This list could change tomorrow — likely to include more awesomeness, because WHY KEEP OUT THE AWESOME?
(And no, these things aren’t in order. Stop being so rigid! Unless you are a steel girder, and then I think you’re just doing your thing.)
36. Rhubarb sorbet: My friend Ron made it for us as a “palate cleanser” the first time I had it… and let me tell you, my palate was rhubarb fresh! I’ve loved it ever since. Also, I’ve tried cleansing my palate with other things (wire brushes, Pine Sol, Clearasil pads) and nothing else was quite so effective. Or non-toxic.
35. Al Green: I can’t hear “Love and Happiness” or “Let’s Stay Together” without grinning my face off.
34. Candlelight: A worthy inclusion on any awesome list. Not only do candles smell great when they burn, they cast a golden, forgiving light on all the faces nearby. And trust me, at 36, I am ALL ABOUT a forgiving light.
33. Cool breezes: Whether I experience them in a car, at my desk at work, or standing by a lovely, wavy ocean, I do most definitely adore a cool breeze. Especially since I’ve been in the midst of a Heatpocalypse in Boston since, oh, June.
32. Freckles: I love my freckly arms and face. Connect the dots to make your very own Meg!
31. Espresso: Come on now. I forced myself to put it this far back in the list to distract from my addiction issue BUT NO ONE IS FOOLED.
30. Giant handbags: Yes, I realize that there’s annoying trend of waifish young women in leggings and drape-y tops carrying things that look like hockey bags, except made from red leather and studs stolen from Michael Jackson’s “Bad”-era jacket, but a) I am not waifish b) I HAVE A LOT OF STUFF TO CARRY AROUND. Which brings me to…
29. Lip gloss: I have more shades of lip gloss than I own pairs of shoes. Which is fitting, since I often walk on my lips. Wait, what?
28. Goldfish: I adore both the little cheese crackers and the little orange guys who swim in bowls (who may also be cheese-flavored, but I think finding out would be super awkward.)
27. Tank tops: As someone who is perpetually overheated, I enjoy a good sleeveless garment. Granted, my arms are not exactly toned, per se (unless you consider pillows as prime examples of “buffness”… really, it’s more “puffness”) but I give great hugs and WHY LET FABRIC COME BETWEEN US?
26. Monkeys: Monkeys come up a lot in conversation for me, whether I am using my favorite exclamation (“Sweet monkeys of doom!”) or expressing incredulity (“Schwaaaa, and monkeys might fly out of my butt!” Actually, I don’t say that second one. I find it annoying when people say that second one. But I still love monkeys. Especially curious ones, and the 100 monkeys with the typewriters who work on MTV show scripts.)
25. Boys in glasses: I’m thinking more of glasses in the horn-rim Superman sense than the Kanye West “stunna” shades sense. I think anyone who wears sunglasses that look like they have built-in mini-blinds should be forced to hand-dust all the mini-blinds at a Sheraton. I don’t care which Sheraton, but I want that dust GONE!
24. Hoop earrings: Everyone looks good in them. They suit most outfits. Pirates like them! Anyone who doesn’t like hoop earrings should walk the plank.
23. Miles Davis: No music allows me to disappear into happy quite as quickly.
22. Tiny birds: I love the wee birds that hang out on coffee shop patios, going bananas over a muffin crumb. They are the living embodiment of the famous adage, “it’s the little things that matter.” Also the less famous adage, “muffin crumbs are the shit!”
21: Laughing aloud at your desk: Because I just did!
20: Grace: I don’t mean physically speaking, because I’VE NEVER EXPERIENCED THAT, but emotionally speaking. I love it when people give other people room to be imperfect, and love them anyway. It’s not a quality that we should abuse in our friends, but a strong grasp of grace is something that makes people really wonderful to know.
19. People who smile big in photos: I have long been known for not showing my teeth in photos, because I don’t like my teeth. They won’t show up on this list, that’s for sure. Unless, that is, they start making in excess of $200,000 per year or are chosen to manage a hedge fund or start an organization to reclaim city parks. Hang on, my mind just wandered. But smiles! That are big! Are good!
18. Trees: Fun to look at, fun to stand under, fun to swing below on an old tire, fun to pick fruit from, fun to climb… thanks, trees!
17. Water: What else can you both swim in, clean yourself up in AND drink down to the last drop? And don’t say coffee, because that’s only true on Mondays.
16. My friend, Cat: My best friend, in fact. True love.
15. Anthropologie: It’s like someone took a bunch of stuff they thought was pretty, and made a store out of it. And then I found it, and I agreed all the stuff was pretty! And then they took all my money. Uh oh.
14. The Oregon Coast: I haven’t been there since 2007, but when I did go, there were big waves, long beaches and tiny bunnies. Also a killer hot dog, but why dwell on the negative?
13. Sushi: Despite my reluctance to try eating a goldfish, I do love raw fish prepared with sharp knives. Especially with LOTS of wasabi. And by LOTS I mean that, if I’m not crying by the end of the meal, I’ve pansied right out.
12. Photos taken from above: I’m thinking that I should hire the people who take aerial shots of disasters to take photos of me — not because I am a disaster, but because they would totally avoid shooting my double chin.
11. Magazines: I love magazines. I feel better when surrounded by stacks of glossies. More in the Barnes & Noble way than the Hoarders way, mind you. Although I may be on the “lip gloss” edition of that show before long.
10: Cooking: Inventing recipes has become a hobby of mine. Except that I forget to write them down, so it’s not really like I invented anything. Imagine if Edison didn’t write down the whole light bulb thing! We’d all be sitting in the dark! Or in candlelight… which wouldn’t be bad. So maybe I’m doing the right thing?
9. Air conditioning: I didn’t know I loved A/C until I moved to Boston and found myself spending days in what feels like the inside of a Tupperware… a Tupperware full of pudding… a Tupperware full of pudding, left in the sun. But I love it. A lot. Not big on pudding, though.
8. Bravo TV: It’s SHAMEFUL. I know it is. I do. But as long as I can drag OTHERS into my SHAME (Gradon, I’m looking at you!) I feel more like I’m part of a shared experience than the Decline of Western Civilization.
7. The Ocean: Beaches! Blue! Waves! Salt! Floating! YES!
6. Giant cocktail rings: I have quite small hands, so I enjoy the way a large ring seems to give my digits a little more presence. Granted, it can be hard to type or hold hands with certain rings on, but I’m willing to forgo writing and a healthy relationship for a great ring! *cough*
5. My mom and dad: They’re awesome. I miss them. I won’t even try and joke about this. Okay, maybe I will: “An artist and a minister walk into a bar. The bartender looks at them and says, ‘Why the long face?’” Wait, I’m already confused.
4. My job: I work with wonderful people in a wonderful place with a wonderful view and there is a wonderful bakery a block away that will be the wonderful death of me when I explode from eating TOO MANY MUFFINS! But little birds everywhere will be very excited about the debris left over.
3. Gradon’s kids: No one has ever cared quite as much about me seeing all their important video game moments. And while that sounds like something I wouldn’t be into? It would seem that I am.
2. Gradon: I love you, buddy.
1. YOU! Yes, you. Who read all the way through this. You deserve to be on a list. So enjoy it! You can put this on your resume, even!
Or don’t. Maybe just enjoy it privately. But not in a creepy, “behind the curtain in a video store” kind of way.