It seems almost surreal that The One Where They All Turn 30 aired 19 years ago, when I was nine years old. It perplexed me then why Phoebe, Rachel and especially Joey were all upset about turning 30 and now, two years closer to that age myself, I still don't get it.
True, I still have a good two years before I hit the big 3-0, but honestly, I'm ready. Some people do look at 28 negatively as two steps closer to thirty. Every time I've been asked about how it feels to be 28, I've said the same thing: "Did you know Toni Morrison published her first book when she was 34? In two years, I'll be four steps closer to publishing." (She was actually 39, so I've been off five years. Point still stands.) J.K. Rowling published hers at 32, only two years from 30. If my future is anything like the careers of these two women, then bring on my thirties.
I've been immensely blessed the past twenty-eight years, and no matter what happens, I will continue to be blessed. I'm prepared for the good, the bad and the truly ugly because I have faith and the experience to know that my God will bring me out of anything, or help me through the worst of situations. He gave me a wonderful family and over the years, he's given me a multitude of other people to love and care about in various parts of the world. Not everyone can say that, but I can.
So to thank Him for the beautiful life He's given me and to look back on my life thus far, I present twenty-eight of my favorite experiences, in no particular order.
1. Interning for The Cork Independent. I learned so much from Wendy, Lou, Brian, Niamh Áine, Alan, etc. and met so many people I never would've spoken with otherwise.
2. My current position in the Lancaster County Office of Registration and Elections. I absolutely love my job; though I still hold on to the dream (and have been encouraged to do so,) it's a great team, a great office and I use a plethora of my talents and abilities.
3. Moving to Cork. I don't need to say much about this. You all know how I feel about the city, the county, the country and its people.
4. Moving to Lancaster. The culture in this city is fantastic, with all the galleries, cafes, little local shops and an abundance of other things that I will spread throughout this blog at some point.
5. Visiting London, twice. Next to Cork and right before NYC/San Diego/Lancaster, London is my utmost favorite place in the world.
6. Meeting Rebecca Herbst, twice. My favorite actress to this day, even though I no longer watch General Hospital or any of the soaps. She is one of the sweetest people I have ever had the pleasure of being introduced.
7. Visiting Italy, especially Florence (though I immensely loved Venice and walking through 3,000 years of history on [and under] those Roman streets.) This also includes the whole Expat Explore tour in general, and the people I met during this trip.
8. Visiting Paris. It was the perfect way to practice my French.
9. Visiting Switzerland - despite that bout of vertigo at Jungfrau.
10. Visiting Copenhagen and in particular, Tivoli.
11. Those four years on The Scribe and the beginning of my journalism career. Seeing the man behind the Reading Rainbow of my childhood, Levar Burton, was a particular highlight. He's only one of the incredible guest speakers UCCS manages to secure for their talks.
12. Attending the hurling quarter-final with Maggie in Dublin. Never been much for sports outside of basketball and swimming, but hurling captivated me immediately.
13. Visiting Bruges (are you seeing a pattern here?)
14. The Disney College Program, primarily the many times I hung out at both Disney World and Wizarding World of Harry Potter, like it was just a normal day after work.
15. Visiting Manchester. I really loved Manchester and no, I didn't go to watch a game.
16. The first time I went to NYC and Philly and the several times after that. Philadelphia is an incredibly underrated city.
17. Every time we went to the Laura Ingalls Wilder home in Mansfield, Missouri.
18. Seeing Jess Glynne, Darius Rucker and Taylor Swift in concert (individually.) Next up - Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Lady Antebellum, The Shires, Alexander Rybak and Adele. It'll happen - one day.
19. Learning the violin. It's a beautiful instrument that I do miss playing here and there, but a secondhand violin doesn't last forever.
20. Every beach, mountain, etc. that I've visited (especially Pismo Beach, Cape May, the Alpines and the Rockies.)
21. So many memories with my family that I can't begin to name them all (usually having to do with Mom and Leeners, or Dad, or Aunt Judy, or Ray, or Grandma and Grandpa, or Nancy, Kim and Carrie, or [well, you get the picture.]) One that especially stands out is when we all went to Silver Dollar City for the first time. I'm still in love with that park. There were a billion and one exhilarating moments with Aunt Judy, quite a few at the fair, and every conversation with Grandma will be forever treasured. I hold each and every member of my family in my heart, whether near or far away, whether biological or found.
22. Three years of travelling all over Missouri with Academic Team and Mr. Hockensmith - lightning trivia rounds, learning poker, earning the title of "Literature Expert," the first time since the 1980's that Kickapoo went to state.
23. Becoming Queen Elizabeth I, Anne Frank, Betsy Ross and a slew of other inspirational women from history. (Also every time we went to the Children's Museum in SLO. I had to throw that in somewhere.)
24. Consistently winning the Kiwanis Read-Aloud to the point of where they purposely gave first place to another participant in fifth grade; winning the DARE essay contest in fourth; my first published story in the Carver "Voices from the Middle;" Mrs. Frederick's delight at the ballet slipper; Professor Cunningham's enjoyment of the fairy tale; Mr. Broaddus' remarks on the World War II project i did with Hannah; Mr. Hillme's fascination with the ABC's of history Mom helped me finish only one night previously; etc.
25. That first flight alone. That first international flight alone.
26. Joining the congregations of Cork Church, One City Church, Easterngate Freewill Baptist and of course, the time we spent at Nipomo Four Square. Some of the best family can be made in church.
27. Exploring San Diego with Dad and my grandparents.
28. Teen Library Council and all the Saturdays of planning events for the teens.
(one to grow on) 29. Watching my little sister with the love of her life.
These are only some of the experiences I look back upon fondly. I can't wait to see what the next 28 - or however many - years have in store for me. Whatever happens, it will be incredible.