This year was not necessarily significant in the grand scheme of life. But It was the last year of my twenties and in ceremonious (perhaps even a little cliché) fashion, I decided to make it a special one. I dubbed year 29 my year of “why not?”. At the time that I made the decision to do this, I had no idea where I was headed. And now, coming out on he other side, I’m still not sure where my life is going. But I think I’ve learned that not knowing is okay and that it is simply a part of life (although it is still frustrating). So, why the heck not?
The last year of my twenties was spent trying new things, going to new places and meeting new people. I can’t claim ownership of the idea of the “Year of Why Not.” It came from a girl friend of mine who is a pretty smart gal. Below you will find a list of all the things I experienced and probably wouldn’t have otherwise if I hadn’t made the commitment to try things outside of my norm (and renew things I had abandoned) and see what happens.
Attend New Events—
This year I made an effort to get out there and really find things that I love to do in the hopes of meeting more like-minded people. One of the events was Nerd Nite. These monthly lectures are a bright spot for me every month. It’s a great opportunity to go out, have a drink, and learn something new about all sorts of topics. I also have started going to local jazz events. There are a number of bars and clubs in Kansas City that host musicians making the jazz.
Travel to a New Place—
Traveling Alone: In July, I went to DC to visit my sister. While in the Northeast, I decided to venture out on my own to Baltimore to fulfill a dream of visiting the grave of Edgar Allan Poe. I successfully took the train to Baltimore and wandered the city alone. I also forced myself to eat in a restaurant alone. This probably doesn’t seem like much. But, up to this point, I hadn’t ever gone to a place without someone tagging along. Overall, it was a pretty empowering experience. I think I’m ready for more solo trips in the future if I get the itch to go somewhere.
General Traveling: My year culminated in a trip to Alaska with some family and wholly and completely experiencing a new place and environment. You can see some pictures from our trip here.
So I have a really poor sense of balance, but I’ve always wanted to feel like a deep-thinking yogi. Thus, with the aid of Groupon, I tried out a series of classes. I felt so at peace afterwards. All I wanted to do was drive home in silence. No music. Windows down. I just wanted to hear the world as it was without enhancements or distractions. There is no way I will ever be a pose-rocking yogi because, frankly, yoga hurt my back too much and I still need the adrenalin rush I get from kickboxing. But, I could definitely get used to the sense of peace bit.
Try Belly Dancing—
Coupled with my poor sense of balance is the fact that I am really lacking in rhythm. I can’t dance to save my life. I went to a Zumba class once and I have never felt so silly in my entire life. With this in mind, I’m sure you can understand my apprehension about belly dancing. I took a beginner’s class, thanks to Living Social. I told the instructor on the first day that I couldn’t dance. She smiled and said not to worry.
The class was broken down to the absolute basics to the point that I actually could catch on and do some of the moves! I was really proud of myself. And, as a double bonus, I felt kind of sexy and empowered at the same time.
Try Spin Class—
Spin class has always had a bit of an allure to me. All those super healthy women, kicking it on their fake bikes. So I decided to try out a class. I’m in pretty good shape myself, but those ladies are insane. I don’t think I could ever keep up, even if I had a million years to do it. Kudos to them. But they’re too crazy for me. I’m headed back to kickboxing!
Bring my Poe Pilgrimage to Fruition—
On July 5, 2013, I found myself standing before Edgar Allan Poe’s grave. It was the culmination of years of academic study and research and a truly momentous experience for me. I took the train to Baltimore from D.C. and wandered the city for a few hours while my sister was at work. You can read about my trip here, if you like.
Lecture at Nerd Nite—
In October, I lectured at Nerd Nite. I started going to their events in May of 2013 and, with some friendly encouragement, decided that I needed to get up on that stage and share my love of Gothic literature and monsters with the world. I had so many friends attend my lecture that evening. It was a truly amazing experience. I have always known that I have lots of wonderful friends. But sometimes I forget how truly lucky I am and I sometimes feel quite alone. I never want to burden them because they are so busy with their married lives and their babies and such. That night, I was reminded of how many caring people I have around me. And now, next time I feel alone, I just have to think of that night and remember how many people took time out of their own lives and were there cheering me on.
The lecture itself was great too! The title of my talk was: “Vampires, Werewolves and Zombies (oh my!): The Domestication of the Monster in Popular Culture.” Giving this talk allowed me to share my love of Gothic literature and to comment on the way this genre is changing in the modern entertainment world. Plus, I overcame a discomfort with speaking in front of a crowd and I was even asked to give the lecture again on two separate occasions. Overall, it was a phenomenal experience.
Go to a Scandalous Show—
Yup, I did it. I went with a friend to watch very attractive men with Australian accents. I think you know what I’m referring to. It wasn’t an activity I have ever though of as scandalous. I simply just had never gone before and decided to change that. It was fabulous and fun.
Have a Big Holiday Party—
For the longest time, I have wanted to host a fancy holiday party. Being in a one-bedroom apartment makes this a little hard, especially for me because I tend to host larger gatherings. This party wasn’t fancy. But it had a great theme. I’d been planning it in my head for most of the year leading up to it. We had a hot chocolate buffet with lots of snacks and treats. I got tons of different toppings: marshmallows, homemade whipped cream, chocolate chips, cinnamon, various liquors, heath bars (crushed), Andees mints (crushed), peppermint sticks, cinnamon sticks and many more! I was hoping to be in a bigger place by the time the holidays came around. But since that didn’t happen, we made it work in my tiny one bedroom which made it a rather intimate affair. This is definitely going to be an annual event, no matter where I’m living.
Have a Fancy Night Out for New Years—
As a child, I watched my parents dress up and go out to fancy New Years Eve parties (for most of the years I can recall). My mom would don beautiful sparkly dresses and wear her hair in a french twist and my dad would sport a tux or a suit and they’d leave us home with a babysitter. Year after year they would do this and I decided when I was very young that I wanted to do the same thing when I was old enough. I finally made that happen for the 2013-2014 transition. I put on a pretty dress and heels, went out with good friends and a really sweet date and celebrated the new year as it should be done. I went to dinner with a few other couples and my own date. Then, went to a club down in the P&L district. Oh and my new year’s date is now my boyfriend.
Find a Volunteer Project—
I have often felt like something was missing in my life. I used to do lots of volunteer work in high school and college. I was a youth soccer coach for a lot of that time and it was one of my favorite pastimes. Giving back had been absent from my life since I began working in the real world. This year, I began volunteering with Literacy Kansas City, a local organization that I discovered a couple of years ago. They train adult literacy tutors who help illiterate adults learn to read. I have not taken on the role of tutor because the time commitment is a bit too hefty for my schedule. But I have worked in various capacities for the organization. I’ve administered placement examinations to help determine the current reading level of the incoming student and I’ve helped lecture a Start Now class (a series of classes that the students take before beginning the program with their individual tutor). The people who run this organization are wonderful and they are always grateful for your help. It feels great being able to donate my time to such a great cause and to work with such appreciative staff members and students. I have met some amazing and very interesting people during my time with the organization.
If you made it all of the way through this list, thank you for being a dedicated reader! Next week we shall return to our regularly scheduled literary studies. Writer out!