Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Day 338: Walk It Out

One of the many reasons (along with my friends, my job, and the weather) that I am so positive about living in Atlanta is because I live close to my office, so I rarely suffer through the intolerable traffic that the city is known for. Door to door, I live a mere 4.4 miles from work and I get to drive through quaint neighborhoods to get there, avoiding the interstate altogether. My company offers free parking across the street from my office, so I drive to work every single day.

On Day 338 I vowed to change my mode of transportation to work, by weighing three options: take MARTA (Atlanta's transit system), ride my bike, or walk.

I'd looked into taking MARTA to work many times. I like living green, I like riding (good head-clearing, read a book time) and I love not spending money on gas.

But when I researched routes, I quickly realized that while possible, taking MARTA from where I live is counter intuitive; the closest MARTA station isn't within walking distance to my house, and riding a bus to get there would take an hour to do what takes me, at most, 15 minutes to do in my car. I'm not against it, but it just seemed like a colossal waste of time. And driving away from the direction I am headed just to ride the train is simply ridiculous.

Riding my bike to work was another option, but I'm not at all confident about my bike-riding skills, especially on the busy downtown streets. I'm willing to look like an idiot for the blog, but since escaping death on Day 195 , I promised I'd do less daredevil-ish challenges. I was so close to hitting the 30-year milestone. To risk ending it all while merely trying to pedal to work just seemed like a mistake.

So straight off enjoying some of the food that Atlanta is famous for at the Varsity, the time had come to tackle another Atlanta-based challenge. A blog activity I'd thought about since I started Project 29 to 30. On Day 338 I took to the streets and walked to work as the thing I've never done before.

To those of you big city dwellers, this probably doesn't sound very impressive. But for me, this was a big deal because Atlanta is not a "walking city." At least that's what people tell me, and almost everyone has a different opinion as to why.

"The city just grew up way too fast!"

"MARTA doesn't go anywhere."

"Everything is so spread out."

Regardless of the reasons why, most of the people I know drive to get where they are going. Neighborhoods are spread out and having a vehicle is almost necessary to get anywhere. I know but a few people who have chosen to live here without wheels and most of them eventually folded and eventually bought a car. It's not ideal; in fact it is one of my least favorite things about Atlanta, but it's reality.

On Day 338, though, I was on a mission to walk my non-walking city. And with a little preparation, I knew I could make it happen. I had a convenient work schedule on my side (I didn't have to be at work until 11am, so I wouldn't have to walk in the dark), the weather was hot (but not raining), and I am a member of the gym at my office, so I could shower and change my clothes before heading to work.

I woke and packed the items that I would need for the walk. An outfit, shoes, toiletries, my wallet, and my Blackberry were all I really had room for in my Jansport (circa 1999) backpack. I dressed in workout clothes, laced up my sneakers, strapped on my iPod and took off for work.

I'm not sure why (all I was doing was walking), but this challenge made me a little nervous. A ridiculous emotion, considering I knew the terrain. Half of the journey to my office was on a route that I run two or three times a week anyway.

Plus, the walk was nice. Relaxing, really. By not driving, I had time to be alone with my thoughts, without the distractions of the radio or traffic. I confess I reached for my Blackberry several times and caught up on work emails, which sort of killed the mind-clearing aspect of the journey, but I eventually forced myself to put it away and just walk. I even made it a point to stop and smell the roses (literally) and even enjoyed the company of a butterfly for one leg of the journey. I discovered about 10 houses that I wanted to buy and confirmed that my yard is significantly more awesome than every other yard in my neighborhood.

The looks I got from neighbors and passersby were sometimes comical; the workout attire I was wearing said, "Girl on morning exercise trip," the book bag screamed, "Student on her way to class." But as much as I'd like to believe that I still do, my days of looking like a college student have long since passed, so I'm sure the look was overall quite confusing.

At the edge of Grant Park, I passed my friend Mark's old house, took a picture of it and emailed it to him in New York.

"Hello from Atlanta! Your house is doing well, just like you left it," I wrote. He loved it.

I stopped for coffee at Ria's Bluebird, a diner on the edge of Grant Park. While waiting for my drink, I caught a glimpse of a man who looked like he could be my friend Trey's dad.

I texted our other friend Philip to tell him. Within a few minutes, Philip called me back.

"I think I just saw a guy that looks exactly like Trey's dad," I yelled into the phone as a car whizzed by.

"What? Where the hell are you?!," he yelled back.

"I'm walking to work," I yelled cheerfully.

"Are you nuts?" he asked.

Indeed I am.

But I don't care. This was a great idea; one that I questioned only once when I had to cross over Interstate 75/85. The sidewalk was wide and I was not at all in danger, but there were some sketchy construction workers who were a little "mouthy," and it killed the relaxation for a bit. Plus the smell of fumes coming from the highway could've done some permanent lung damage.

Once I made it across, I really started to think about Atlanta and its "non-walking city" status. I live in a neighborhood outside of downtown, and I never had to venture from a sidewalk. I don't think I'm on a plight to single handedly make Atlanta a walking city, but when my work schedule allows for it, I'd definitely like to do this again. And since, I've considered all of the other places I used to drive to that I could walk to instead and I've done it.

I arrived at work (an hour and twenty minutes later) both relaxed and energized. Sweaty, and in need of a shower, but feeling great. I had already exercised for the day and had already done my blog activity. I'm sure there were a lot of factors in play there, but I credit the walk for making Day 338 a really good day.

When it was time to go home, however, my co-worker Alta was none too pleased that I was attempted to brave the tough Atlanta streets on my own. I was fighting daylight, so the walk home was much faster than the morning. I think I might've even jogged a few times. And while I encountered a few crazies, I definitely hit more on my way there in the morning than I did on the way home.

Who said Atlanta isn't a walking city? I walked it out.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Day 337: What'll Ya Have?

Like the Coca-Cola museum and the Georgia Aquarium, eating at the Varsity is just something that tourists do (or should do) when they come to Atlanta. The world's largest drive-in is undoubtedly an institution in the city, and in Athens, Georgia, where I went to college. I was introduced to food from the Varsity when I was a student at UGA; a friend of mine's parents brought chili dogs and onion rings to a tailgate and I happily ate them both right up before a game.

Certain that the grease and calories from that one meal would put me at the risk of gaining the "Freshman 15" and then some, that one experience with the Varsity would be my last. I never actually visited the restaurant in Athens, except once to use the bathroom. When I moved to Atlanta, the home of the original Varsity, I thought for sure I'd get there eventually. But six years later, I'd never made it.

I vowed to change all of that in my 29th year, so after work on Day 337, I jumped in my car and headed to the real-deal Atlanta Varsity to drink a Frosted Orange.

I figured this would be an easy task to complete; my office is downtown not very far from the Varsity. Plus I've passed the restaurant multiple times each week for six years. And the restaurant is hard to miss. There is a large sign and big neon red lights. Everyone knows where it is, and can figure out how to get there.

Everyone, of course, except for me.

I'm on my way, certain that I know exactly where I am going. I drove up and down streets assuming that the Varsity would be exactly where it was all of the other times I passed it and never stopped. But after driving for a while, I knew that I had to have driven too far, so I turned around. I drove up and down streets, turned around twice, and nearly made it all the way to Buckhead before I decided to stop the car, pull over, and look up the exact address on my Blackberry.

My sense of direction or lack thereof, is truly remarkable.

When I did find it, I parked and walked through the doors to find dozens of people behind a long counter bustling with activity. All of them paused briefly to acknowledge my entrance and almost in unison, they all yelled, "What'll ya have?!" That slogan is what the Varsity is famous for, and it's not just a gimmick. All of the cashiers actually did yell it the moment I walked in.

Granted, some say it with more passion and gusto than others. There were several who muttered the words under the breath, terribly uninspired. I had to figure some of them had a bad day.

Regardless, the yelling was a bit shocking, especially all at once, especially when I was by myself, especially since I didn’t know what I wanted.

I wasn't super hungry, so eating a chili dog and onion rings like I did when I was at UGA seemed excessive. Even though I’ve been out of college for years, I guess there will always be a part of me nervous about gaining the “Freshman 15,” at the hands of Varsity cuisine. Plus, there were so many menu items that I hadn’t yet tried, why not use this opportunity to try something new?

I went for a Frosted Orange. Or an, “F.O.,” as it is referred to by the Varsity staff. They have nicknames for all of their menu items (for example, a “naked dog” is a hot dog without anything on it and “bag-o-rags,” is a bag of chips.

I’m told that an F.O. is the frozen version of the Varsity’s Big Orange (which I’ve never had so I don’t really know). It tastes like a Dreamsicle in milkshake form, which means that it was everything a milkshake should be: Cold. Refreshing. Delicious.

I enjoyed my Frosted Orange while perusing the memorabilia wall full of pictures from when the Varsity first opened and of former Presidents enjoying chili dogs wearing Varsity hats.

And I crossed another Atlanta must-see destination off the list. Freshman 15 or not, I think I might have to head back for a chili dog really soon.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Day 336: A Salty, Peachy Life

Mark, Jen and I slept late on Day 336 and enjoyed a very relaxing morning at their house before I had to head back to Atlanta.

We ate bacon and eggs, and watched Away We Go, a beautiful film starring Maya Rudolph and John Krasinski about a quirky couple trying to find a place they can call home to raise their baby. The movie was sweet and it made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Before I got on the road, we met Sean and Julie once again for a late lunch/early dinner at Salt Life. When we walked in, I recognized the logo on the wall. I'd seen the same one on bumper stickers all over town. I assumed this restaurant must be a Jacksonville favorite, until Mark explained to me that "Salt Life," was a campaign for beach enthusiasts that was later turned into a restaurant. The bumper stickers came first, then the restaurant. Weird.

After another round of frozen yogurt, I said my good-byes and began the trek back to Atlanta. On the way home, I realized I hadn't done anything for real that I'd never done before. I mean, the movie and the restaurant technically could've counted, but both seemed a little lame, so when I got to south Georgia on I-75, I decided to do something else that I'd always wanted to do.

Day 336's thing I've never done before was to stop at one of those neon-sign covered peach stands on the interstate and buy something.

I assumed, based on the tacky decor covering these monstrosities lining the highway, that they'd be full of chintzy souvenirs and crappy produce. But I found the exact opposite. There were rows and rows of fresh produce, homemade jams and salsas. None of it was particularly cheap, in quality or in price.

The man tried to sell me pralines and peanut brittle, and some peach gummy candy that looked a little suspect. I thanked him, but politely declined.

I opted, instead, for a $10 enormous bag of delicious Georgia peaches; far too many for a single person to consume in a reasonable amount of time, but overall a great purchase and an enlightening experience. This stop was worth it, and will not be my last.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Day 335: Group Dates

The morning of Day 335, Mark, Jen and I woke up at 7am to meet their running group for a three-mile run to the beach.

I'll admit, getting up early on a Saturday to jog is something that I wasn't all that thrilled about. It's also something that I never do in my regular life. I took it in stride (pun intended) and went along with this outing, adding, "exercising before noon on a weekend," to the list of things I'd never done before.

Plus Jen and Mark's running group is more than just a group of people to exercise with; the group consists of many of their friends they hang out with socially. And that was another reason I wanted to go.

The morning run was good, and perfect for the summertime since any later and it would've been too hot. Can't get much better than running through a golf course neighborhood to get to the beach. Plus, by 8am, the run was over, and we had the rest of the day to enjoy ourselves.

I wondered if I could start a running group in Atlanta with my friends. I'll bet I'd be much more likely to actually run if it meant I could use the time to catch up with them and hear about what's going on in their lives. Currently, my friends and I catch up at bars, drinking beer and eating fatty foods.

After our run we stopped for coffee before heading back to the house. Mark drove me through some of the nicest neighborhoods in Ponte Vedra Beach, showed me where he and Jen go to church and the Ponte Vedra Inn, a hot spot for tourists in the area.

We returned home and lounged for a bit, ate some bacon and eggs, and then decided to go to the beach despite the less-than-sunny temperatures. I couldn't come all this way and not hang out on the beach at least for a little bit.

Mark, Jen and I set up our chairs and enjoyed people watching and chatting about nothing in particular. We observed a middle-aged couple walking in front of us past our chairs. As they first approached on the left, they seemed to just be taking an innocent, slow stroll down the beach engaged in a deep conversation. Once they got closer, however, I couldn't help but notice that the woman was the only one talking. The man kept the same walking pace, but he looked straight ahead and never spoke a word that I could tell. I'm not even sure he was even nodding, or that he could hear what she was saying.

I wasn't the only one who noticed this couple. Mark and Jen and I laughed amongst ourselves, assuming the couple was in a fight and the wife was really letting him have it. But she wasn't really yelling, just speaking intently; neither of them appeared to be unhappy, the conversation just seemed unbalanced.

A short time later, the couple walked in front of us again, and it was the same thing. The man stared straight ahead, the woman barely came up for air chatting his ears off.

"Oh man," I thought to myself, "Please don't ever let me be in a relationship like that."

I am a talker for sure, but I think that I would at least recognize (and stop) if I ever noticed I was having a conversation with someone who wasn't listening or responding at all. Mark, Jen and I started brainstorming what could possibly be going on with them.

"Maybe they're having problems in their marriage," someone threw out. Clearly. And the problem is the wife talks to much.

"Maybe he's deaf," someone else said. For his sake, I hoped that he was. She would not shut the hell up.

Whatever it us, we were amused. We were further amused when we packed up our belongings to head back to the car and saw the couple again, this time sitting in beach chairs under an umbrella. He had his chair tilted back. Hers was upright. She was still talking.

We stopped for frozen yogurt on the way home, at a place similar to Yoforia, because I was on vacation and that's what I do when I'm out of town: I eat.

The plan for Saturday night was for us to meet back up with Sean and Julie and our friend Scott (who was in town for work) and go to St. Augustine, the nation's oldest city, and popular tourist destination north of Jacksonville. I'll save you a history lesson because truly I don't know it. I'll also save you too many details about how we almost didn't leave Mark and Jen's house after discovering that Footloose was on television.

But St. Augustine is where the Fountain of Youth is, and since I was already starting to notice my almost-30 skin looking a little tired and wrinkled, what better place to go? Only on our way into town, Mark and Jen drove right past it. They didn't even slow down.

"What about the Fountain of Youth?," I asked, surprised that the sign leading to the fountain was right across the street from a Pizza Hut and looked every bit as cheesy as something I might find in Myrtle Beach.

Mark and Jen said the Fountain is less than impressive, and not worth the stop. Still, I was looking forward to taking a dip and stopping time, keeping my face looking 29 forever. But I took their word for it, and decided it push came to shove, I'd just have to resort to plastic surgery.

Just kidding.

Kind of.

We parked our cars and hopped out with and started what Jen had already decided would be a St. Augustine pub crawl. That was the big thing that I did on Day 335 that I'd never done before.

On our walk to the first bar, I looked around and noticed how truly lovely St. Augustine is. The cobblestone streets, old buildings and palm trees made me feel like I was in Charleston, only with Spanish-influenced architecture.

We started our crawl at J.P. Henley's, a bar that claims to have the most beers on draft than any other place in St. Augustine. I believe it; I had a very hard time deciding what to order.

After a couple of beers there, we took off for our next destination. The walk during the pub crawl was one of my favorite parts of the evening. There were lots of people walking around and beautiful buildings and historical markers along the way. Our next stop was Taberna del Gallo (Tavern of the Rooster).

Taberna del Gallo is a 1740's Spanish Tavern. The waiters and bartenders dress in period costumes. We sat at a table outside and ordered drinks while Jen went on a search for a game that she said I must play while I was there. One of the waiters, dressed in knickers and a vest, located the game and brought it to our table.

The game, "Shut the Box," (I'm serious, that's what it's called) requires a pair of dice and a box with numbered tiles. The tiles, numbered 1 through 12, start standing up. She told me to roll the dice, so I did. I rolled an, "8," meaning that I then had to flip tiles over that equal the number, "8." Jen said I could flip a the "7" and the "1" or a "5" and the "3." The goal of the game, is to, "Shut the Box," and end with all of the tiles turned down, or come as close And my turn ended when I rolled the dice and could no longer flip down any tiles. The game was fun, and moved fast, and who doesn't love yelling, "Shut the Box," loudly in a restaurant full of tourists?

After we left Taberna del Gallo, we headed to dinner at Columbia, a restaurant specializing in Spanish cuisine and, according to Mark and Jen, very tasty sangria.

The restaurant was bustling with people and noise; dinner lasted several hours. I'm sure it was the pub crawl that made us think we were so hilarious, but we laughed a lot at that dinner. If I had been at any other table, I probably would've found our group obnoxious. We laughed at nothing, and everything.

The highlight of dinner, besides the food and drinks was definitely our peculiar waiter who unabashedly attempted to "up sell" us bottled waters and appetizers on in hopes to win a contest between the servers at all of the Columbia restaurants in Florida. I've been a waitress and I've participated in these ridiculous contests, so I felt for the guy. He just laid it out there. I've never seen someone work so hard for what I'm sure was nothing more than a $50 gift card to Best Buy and to be so shameless about it. He wanted to win this contest, and he didn't care if he put us on the spot and made us feel uncomfortable. We must've not cared all that much either, though, because we happily satisfied him and ordered bottled waters and appetizers, just like he'd asked us too.

I left full. And happy. But mostly full.

We stopped in Cellar 6, another bar/dance club for one more drink. I showcased some of my moves on the dance floor until I realized that the guy that I was dancing with was videotaping the whole thing and live streaming it on the web. I asked several times what the web cam was for, and when he refused to give me a good answer, I left the dance floor.

Shortly thereafter, we left St. Augustine and headed back to Ponte Vedra to Mark and Jen's. I was done. We were tired. It probably wasn't even midnight.

Again, another full day (and night) of activity in Jacksonville. That's what happens when you get up at 7am on a Saturday, I guess. I should try it more often.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Day 334: Really Good Decisions

Ahead of my highly anticipated trip to Jacksonville, I got an email from Mark, my childhood friend who is like a second brother to me. In it, he presented three options for my first day in Florida:

Option A: A friend offered me an opportunity to play golf at the TPC Sawgrass course for free (it usually costs $250)! It is an early tee time (7:30) and I would be the third person of the available four. There is one spot available for you if you want to play (Free).

A free round of golf on a course that the professionals play? Yes, please! My dad would be so proud and so jealous.

Option B: Jen was considering a spa outing. When you purchase any service (Mani, Pedi, Facial, massage, etc.) you can stay at the spa facility as long as you like and they have a really nice pool. Y'all could lounge at the pool after your treatment and then we could meet up for lunch. By the way this spa rocks we don't get to go very often but it is awesome. They also have a gym if you want to get up in there and work on your fitness!

I couldn't think of anything wrong with a day at the spa. Not one. Plus, I had been fairly stressed out at work, so a massage sounded perfect.

Option C – Do jack shit… wake up whenever and do whatever. Maybe ride some bikes to breakfast or just lounge on the couch.

Mmmm . . .bike rides . . .and breakfast . . .doing jack shit? I love them all equally.

Mark knows me. He knows me well. All of these options sounded like a perfect way to spend my first day in Jacksonville. There is no doubt that I'm a terrible decision maker, and with so many viable options, I actually had to ask Mark for more time to think about what I wanted to do.

I'll save you from the honest-to-God freak out that went on inside of my brain about which option to choose. My head is a dark, complicated place sometimes. Clearly a girl who stresses this much over such non-important decisions needs a trip to the spa. And just like that, my decision was made. I sent Mark and Jen an email; I told Mark to go play Sawgrass and told Jen to make me a massage appointment, preferably with a big, burly guy with strong hands.

I know all of you golfers out there are screaming at the computer, and there is a good chance my dad will never speak to me again after knowing I had the option to play golf for free and turned it down. But I think I made the right decision. I know I did. I mean, let's be serious -- I don't think my golf game is quite ready for Sawgrass. I don't think Sawgrass is ready for my golf game either.

Plus, Mark had to get up super early (he was already gone when I got up), and since I'd arrived so late, sleeping in was definitely a priority. Jen and I enjoyed a delicious breakfast (that included toast with cranberry lemon jelly which I instantly became obsessed with) and then we headed over to the Spa at Sawgrass.

One of my favorite things about spas is that moment when I first walk in and can feel the clam aura come over here. The lobby smelled like eucalyptus and mint; it was like stepping into a bear hug or a cozy blanket. After checking in at the front desk, we did as Mark suggested and "worked on our fitness" for a little bit before rinsing off in the luxurious locker room.

I don't want to go on and on about this locker room, because that's just mean to all of you who weren't there. Plus, I feel like if I tell you how incredibly awesome it was, I might portray myself as some redneck country bumpkin who hasn't ever seen a spa before, and that's not the case at all. I've been to many spas; several, in fact, for blog challenges (facial, Brazilian wax, reflexology). I love spas, and have for many years. But this was the first time I spent a significant part of my day at one. I mean, we packed bags, unloaded our belongings into a locker, wrapped ourselves up with the soft robes and slippers they'd provided and then helped ourselves to lemon lime water and trail mix.

All this, of course, right before we lounged dramatically onto a chaise lounge and waited for our big, burly massage man to beckon us for our hour long massages.

At one point, I asked myself, "Who the hell do you think you are?" And then I laughed as I added it to the list of other times I've asked that very question throughout the year. Thanks to some very good and generous friends, I've done some pretty amazing things.

The generosity continued when Jen let me have the only male masseuse on staff that day; he wasn't particularly burly, but he was talented and I was completely relaxed. I dreaded the hour ending, but I left feeling renewed, rejuvenated and confident that whatever the price, it was worth it.

And the massage just kicked off the day. We decided to make the most of our time, so next, Jen and I changed into our bathing suits and alternated between the steam room and the Jacuzzi tub before heading outside to the pool. The weather was overcast, but that didn't stop us from ordering a glass of champagne and toasting to our good fortune.

Sipping champagne in the middle of the day by the pool was another one of Day 334's things I've never done before. And it was splendid in every way.

I couldn't help but consider, as Jen and I sat there talking about life, that the atypical kind of day I was having was probably ordinary to some people. I felt so blessed and so lucky to be there, but there have to be people who enjoy such luxury all of the time. I paused, my champagne glass in hand, and tried to think of a plan so that my life could include more mornings at the spa, so that I could be more like those people. And then feeling my relaxation and my sanity slipping away, I stopped myself and said a small prayer instead. "Thank you God, for making this day possible. And thank you for allowing me the perspective to truly appreciate it."

We finished our champagne and enjoyed long, hot relaxing showers in the locker room before headed back to the lounge to get ready for the day. We met Mark back at the house; he was giddy because he’d birdied a hole on his golf outing. I briefly thought I might’ve made the wrong decision about going to the spa, and then I remembered how much I suck at golf, and remembered that I absolutely made the right decision. We headed to lunch Palm Valley Fish Camp, where good decisions continued. We sat at the bar, I ordered a delicious shrimp salad, we sat outside on the dock and looked at the river. I was truly at peace, and halfway into Day 334 (Day One of Jacksonville), already having so much fun.

After lunch, we drove over TPC Sawgrass to see the course that Mark had played earlier that day. Admittedly, I love golf as much for the landscaping of the courses, the outfits, and the clubhouse as I do for the game itself. Our afternoon visit allowed me to enjoy what I love without ever swinging a club. So I managed to achieve several of those things without actually playing.

TPC is every bit as lovely as I would've expected it to be, and it's a golf course I've seen in photographs and on television many times before, I just hadn't realized it until I saw it for myself. The Players Championship tournament is played there every May and the clubhouse is full of portraits from past tournaments and clubs of previous winners. I immediately started planning my return to Jacksonville for the TPC. I may not be ready to play the course myself, but walking around and watching the professionals do it would suit me just fine.

By the time we were done seeing the course, we headed back to Mark and Jen's house for a little pre-drink cocktail (Shark Bites, Jen's specialty) and obviously some more relaxing.

Before leaving for Jacksonville, I connected with my friends Julie and Sean, who also live in Jacksonville. We went to their house before dinner where I got to play "matchmaker" for two sets of friends (that's right, I allowed my worlds to collide). Turns out, the collision was a good thing, and we all enjoyed tasty tacos and plenty of tequila at Taco Lu and made plans for the next day.

When I look back on that day, I guess I don't really have much to show for it. No souvenirs, and no pictures even of the beautiful places I went and the beautiful food I ate. (This is my fault, of course. I took pictures, they are just lost in the snow in New York).

But it was a full day. A full day indeed.

I'm a good decision-maker.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Day 333: Destiny at the Pump

Day 333's thing I've never before was to drive to Jacksonville to to visit my friends Mark and Jen for the weekend. Seeing their house and sleeping in their big guest room bed were both things I'd never done before.

But something else happened on my trip to Florida that was also a first, and so superbly awesome, I had to take a picture and share.

I stopped for gas somewhere in middle Georgia, and did what I always do, trying to maximize my time and be in and out as soon as possible. I have my dad to thank for teaching me how to make pit stops efficient. He's a master. I started the pump and while the tank was filling, I went inside to use the restroom.

When I got back to my car, my gas tank was full and I was ready to head on my way. When I returned the pump to its holder, I saw that it had stopped at 38 dollars exactly. $38.00. I was shocked, stoked, completely dumbfounded. I quickly retrieved my phone and snapped a picture, sure that no one would believe me.

I had to laugh about all of the times I'd tried, and failed, to get the pump to stop on an even number. I guess sometimes when you relinquish control and just let things happen naturally, they can still work out the way you want them to.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Day 332: Sweat it Out

Joining the deal-of-a-day website Groupon was a great decision for the blog; their daily emails often include ideas for things I've never done before, all offered at a huge discount. A great thing, I suppose, except I've ended up buying handfuls of coupons for things I don't really need or want, just because they're on sale. I'm a sucker.

On Day 332 I redeemed one of these Groupons I didn't need -- this one for a Formostar Infared Wrap offered at Solar Dimensions Tanning Salon in Buckhead. It was the thing I've never done before.

The Formostar Infrared Wrap purchase is a classic example of me buying something simply because it was discounted. I don't know what a Formostar Infrared Wrap is. I didn't even know how to pronounce, "Form-o-star Infra-red Wrap." But since it was offered at a discount, and it was something I'd never done before, and the advertisement used phrases like, "lose inches," "keep weight off," and, "burn between 900-1200 calories in one session," I obviously wasted no time in purchasing one (at a 60% off.)

The company's user-friendly website made buying the Groupon pretty easy. Making an appointment to use it was anything but. I called several times with dates and times in mind and each time they told me those times were unavailable. Clearly I wasn't the only one with an affinity for discounts and quick fixes for calorie burning. Day 332 was the first opening they had, and I booked it immediately.

When Day 332 arrived, I packed a bag full of the clothes that I would need so that I could leave straight from work. I left my office far later than I'd intended to, however, and had to race to Buckhead to make the appointment on time.

The woman behind the counter was sweet, but I could tell she was annoyed that I was a few minutes late. She could tell that I didn't know what I was doing; she knew, before I told her "diarrhea of the mouth" style, that I was new to the Formostar Infrared Wrap and therefore had lots of questions. She pointed at a dressing room in the back and firmly told me to change into the clothes I brought for the session. I headed back there and following the instructions on the salon's website, put on sweatpants and a long-sleeved t-shirt. When I was ready, the lady walked me down a hall past other rooms of tanning beds and spray tanning booths.

The room we entered had a bookshelf with a stack of magazines and a television with a built-in DVD player. There were several fake plants and something to lie on that looked like a cross between a doctor's examining table and a massage table.

She motioned for me to put my things in a chair by the door, and then she instructed me to lie on the table and, "get comfortable." For some reason, when she told me to get comfortable, I immediately started to feel uncomfortable, in a "what have I gotten myself into," kind of way.

So, I did what comes naturally to me, and I started chatting with her, all while she began strapping what was the equivalent of heating pads to my entire body, over my clothes. With the exception of my head and neck, I was completely covered in these contraptions.

I told her how difficult it had been for me to book an appointment. She nodded and said the wraps were very popular and thanks to the Groupon, they'd seen a lot of traffic. She also suggested I go ahead and book my next appointment before I leave. Optimal results, she said, are achieved after getting regular wraps.

Those tricky Groupons -- they bait you with the discount in hopes that you'll return for more at the regular price.

I nodded while giving her a look that said, "This is probably a one-time only deal for me." But I don't think I needed to. She'd been treating me like a cheap Groupon client since I'd walked through the door. She knew.

By that time, she'd finished wrapping my arms, legs, and stomach with the heating pads. She said she'd turn them on and she'd be back to get me in an hour. I was quite constricted with all of the wraps, so she offered to start a movie for me or get me a magazine from the stack on the shelf. A movie seemed silly since I'd only be in there for an hour, so I requested she bring me some magazines.

She laid a few on my chest, on top of the wraps, and then exited the room.

Within a few minutes I could feel the pads heating up and I sensed that what was supposed to be happening was indeed happening. And then it occurred to me that I had absolutely no idea how this wrap actually worked. I talked about a lot of things with the woman who had outfitted me for this ridiculous treatment, but not once did I ask her what was going to happen to me, or my body. Could I drive? Could I drink? Did the wrap have any side effects? I had absolutely no idea. But it was on sale! Who cares if it could kill me?!

Despite having no idea what the wrap was or was not doing, I settled in for an hour of forced relaxation. I was away from work and the constant ringing of phones; there were no computers or Blackberries, and no loud television blaring in my ear.

It was just me, lying still on a table with four tabloid magazines. What a treat! I usually get my celebrity gossip from websites, but here I was about to dive into the actual hard copy of the magazine. I picked up an US Weekly and read the cover excitedly, only to realize the stack of magazines was at least three months old, full of gossip that had already long been disproved. Huge bummer.

Eventually I dozed off and woke up lying in a pool of sweat to the front desk lady telling me that even though my hour wasn't finished, the next customer had arrived and since I had arrived late, I would have to get up. This news was fine with me. I was terribly uncomfortable and dreadfully hot and highly skeptical that I'd just wasted my money on this little experiment. I mean how could I have possibly burned 900 calories lying on a table and sweating? Maybe I lost some water weight, and maybe I even detoxified a bit having sweated so much, but I remain highly skeptical that I could lose weight by sitting on that table covered in heating pads and taking a nap.

If I'm ever looking to shed some pounds, I think I'm going to have to go about it the old fashioned way -- with good old diet and exercise.

But if sweating like a pig in a wool sock while reading outdated celebrity tabloid magazines and napping on a massage table is what you're after, I know just the Groupon for you.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Day 331: Chicken Soup for my Throat

On Day 331, I could feel myself getting sick, and since I was headed into an out of town trip that weekend, I decided to make some homemade chicken noodle soup as the thing that I've never done before.

The only thing I can say about this challenge is that there is a reason why chicken noodle soup comes in a can for easy preparation and consumption. Because if you are like me, and the only reason that you eat chicken noodle soup is because you are sick, the last thing that you want to do, or should do, is try and make it yourself.

Not because making it is particularly difficult, but because grocery stores, chopping vegetables, measuring spices -- none of these things are meant for sick people.

But I did it. I went to the store, I chopped vegetables, and I measured spices. I finished the soup. And then I stared at it for ten minutes trying to figure out why it looked so odd. In my sickly haze I forgot to put the noodles in it.

Sick people have no business cooking. Chicken noodle soup requires noodles. And I forgot them.

Even with the noodles, my soup was just depressing. Flavorless. But unlike other cooking disasters I've had in the past, I blame this on the fact that this chicken noodle soup lacked two very important ingredients: love and sympathy. Every time someone else made me soup, it always had a healthy amount of both.

I think the broth still did the trick though, and I was on my way to recovery.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Day 330: David Gray and Ed Hardy, In Concert

Day 330's thing I've never done before was to see singers David Gray and Ray Lamontagne in concert. The David Gray half of the show was the new thing, since I'd seen Ray before.

My friend Dayton organized this outing and advertised it as a girls night out. I was down, even though the only girl in the group that I knew was her.

We met at Dayton's, and then I drove all four of us over to Chastain Amphitheatre, one of my most favorite places to see live music in Atlanta. We exchanged pleasantries on the way over, and I got to know Sarah and Brooke, the other girls, all while keeping an eye out for a place to park. Because I had to work late, and didn't have a pass, I knew we'd be in a tight spot, but we'd circled the place a few times and were still coming up short.

I'd resolved to just find a place and walk, but clearly that was not going to sit right with the mom squad, and the next thing I know, all three of them are yelling from the back seat of the car that I needed to pull into the parking lot that we didn't have a pass for and try and pay off the attendant for parking.

"What? Really? Are you serious?," I asked, rapid-fire style, as if one of them had asked me to smoke crack in a dark alley way. I mean, I'll make irresponsible decisions all day long, but for some reason trying to scam the parking lot attendant was just a little too much for me.

Which is weird on many levels, but especially because I absolutely hate paying for parking. All the time. Always. I should've been happy about ripping them off.

By they time they could answer that yes, they were serious, I had already missed my opportunity to turn. I kept going, hopeful that we would find another option. We did not. So at their insistence, I turned around and headed back to the lot.

"Should I pull in?," I asked my car mates, my voice uncertain.

Dayton, sensing that I was chickening out, said, "Yes. I'll do it." She pulled a 20 dollar bill out of her purse. I was impressed. Becoming a mother of two had not impaired her ability to be a bad ass.

I don't know when I got so old and lame that paying off a parking attendant got to be, "bad ass," but here we were. Seriously, why am I this lame? It's parking.

Day 330's thing I've also never done before was to pay off a parking attendant, which in retrospect wasn't even that big of a deal because the concert had already started and I think he would've let us park there even if we weren't flashing cash in his face.

Just like nearly every concert I've ever attended at Chastain, there were a plethora attractive women and men. Always on the lookout for water man, I hesitated to get too excited -- I had to assume that any man at this concert was probably there with a girl. In most cases I was right.

Except of course for the one gem who sat in the empty seats next to me towards the end of the concert. He and his friends (another guy and girl) were engaging in a loud, drunk conversation beside me. I turned to my left to see three of the most unlikely David Gray concert-goers I'd ever seen. I stared at them for a solid 30 seconds before locking eyes with the girl in the group.
"Don't you want a fucking piece of this shit?," the girl said to me, motioning to the guy, who was wearing an Ed Hardy shirt. She was scary. He was terrible.

I don't speak, "freak," but I think she meant to ask me if I'd like to hang out/befriend/make out with her friend.

"Nah, I'm good," I laughed. A nice offer, but no.

I mean of all the eligible bachelors in the place, I'm not quite sure how this one finds the vacant seat next to me. It's truly remarkable. What vibe am I putting out?

The concert was highly entertaining and super laid back- both Ray Lamontagne (who we arrived late for but it was okay because I had already seen him before) and David Gray are so talented and their performances were effortless. This was a sit in your seat and tap your foot kind of concert, which was fine by me; and yes, I confess, there were times when we may have been those people using the concert as background music to our endless chatter. I was beside myself about Hollis' writing class and I wanted to tell Dayton all about it. And Sarah rattled off a list of single guys she was willing and ready to set me up with, so there was that.

When I was listening to the music, I realized I knew way more Ray Lamontagne songs then I did David Gray ones. And surprising to me, David Gray is one of those singers who is British, but whose accent is virtually unrecognizable when he sings. I was hoping that Ray and David might come out at the end of the evening and sing together, but no such luck.

But overall, a Monday night concert success.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Day 329: Book It, Baby!

When I started Project 29 to 30, I did so with a single goal, and that was to write. Writing was something that I had all but stopped doing since landing a full time job and real-life adult responsibilities; but there was a time when I used to do it a lot, and it was one of the few things I feel like I'm good at. Writing is one of the few things that I can lose track of time while doing, a feeling that is strangely satisfying, even if it has made me late for dinner dates and even work a handful of times.

Soaking up each day of my 29th year by trying 365 new things -- well, that was just a gimmick for me to have something to write about. I wasn't necessarily passionate about changing my routine or looking to cross things off a "Before 30" bucket-list; all of that was secondary to the challenge I set forth to sit at my computer everyday and write about my life.

I expected that the blog would be humorous and entertaining to the people who know me well. I knew that my friends and family would enjoy checking in on me from time to time to see what kinds of wacky adventures I could get myself into. I didn't expect for people, many of whom I don't know, to respond so positively to my writing, and my take on being 29. Months after the project began, I was completely floored, and truly flattered when people other than my mother would come up to me and say things like, "You could turn this into a book," and, more aggressively, "Who is going to play you in the movie?"

The remarks were sincerely touching and at times, overwhelming, and though I'm terrible at accepting compliments, after months of consistent, positive reaction, I'd started to consider that maybe Project 29 to 30 could be something more than just a silly blog for my friends and family.

The same was true for my friend Julie of Julie vs. Vegetables. Her personal decision to tackle her fear of cooking and eating foods she thought she hated became hilarious entertainment for me. And like my blog, Julie's had resonated with far more people than just her circle of friends. Thanks to endless flattering comments, Julie had started to consider, as I had, about turning Julie vs. Vegetables into a book.

She had done more than just think about it, though. And in her usual bubbly way, she could not contain her excitement after taking a book development class offered in Atlanta by local columnist and author, Hollis Gillespie.

"OhmygodyouhavetotakethisclassHollisisamazingIalreadyhaveanagent!!!!!!!!!," she said to me at the end of her blog party I had recently attended.

"You have an agent?," I asked her.


"Julie! That's amazing!"

Julie's blog is a riot and a great idea, so I wasn't surprised. I was incredibly impressed. And I'm not proud of it, but I was insanely jealous.

I wasted no time in signing up for the class and immediately started imagining all of the wonderful, and probably unlikely, possibilities. Getting a publisher, accepting a book advance, autographing my first copy, reading entries at book stores across the country, accepting an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay and last, but certainly not least, taking over the world.

First things first, though, I had to take this class that Julie had raved about.

Day 329's thing I've never done before was to take Hollis Gillespie's class about pitching a book idea. I also started really imagining that I could be an author.

I arrived at the class, which was in the Castleberry Hill part of Atlanta. Between this class, and glassblowing the day before, I'd covered a lot of ground in Atlanta. I'd also dropped some serious cash, all in the name of the blog.

I walked through the glass door, clutching an old English notebook from my Alma mater UGA, and looked around at several people already sitting at the square table in the center of the room.

I deducted that with the possible exception of one very attractive woman, I was likely the youngest person in the class, a reality that both intimidated me and made me feel confident all at the same time. I recognized Hollis by her dark rimmed glasses and cool sense of style, before she ever said a word. She instructed me to have a seat wherever, so I did, and was welcomed by my classmates with friendly smiles. I don't know why I thought there might be some competitiveness within the class, but if there was any, I didn't feel it. In fact, my nerves were instantly calmed by the general and unspoken feeling of support I was getting in the room. Like we all had taken this ballsy, dramatic first step and now we were going on a journey together.

After inviting us numerous times to partake in the snacks that she brought us Hollis began the class at 11am with a general introduction to the class. She gives presentations a lot like I do, with a fair share of anecdotes and personal tales of her own experiences, which were both humorous and informative.

One of the first things Hollis did, presumably to boast her success rate with the class, was to talk about one of her most recent student's successes in landing an agent. I was delighted to see that Julie was the student she was talking about and she'd pulled up Julie vs. Vegetables on her LCD projector. Throughout the class, Hollis would reference all of the things that Julie did really right with her blog and the letter to potential agents, but within the first 10 minutes, I was already beaming with pride, as if I had something to do with Julie's success.

After the general overview, Hollis said we were going to go around the table and explain what our book was about, and how much of it we'd already written. She started with the gentleman seated to her left, and since I was sitting directly to her right, I knew this meant that I'd probably go last. I was quite pleased about that, prepared to quietly judge all of the other ideas while preparing to pitch my own.

The first man's novel was a war/crime/spy novel. Naturally, my eyes glazed over and I was completely bored. Not because the guy's idea wasn't good, but because that genre is simply not my cup of tea. Hollis stayed with this guy and his book for what felt like an eternity. Luckily she threw a lot of information out that had nothing to do with this guy's idea specifically (thank God), so I remained engaged in the class. This man hadn't yet written anything; all of his ideas existed in his head. Hollis said that was perhaps his biggest hurdle: he needed to get whatever was in his head out on the page and see what was really there.

Next to the war/crime/spy guy was a woman who claimed she grew up in the same Bronx neighborhood as several celebrities, none of which I can recall right now. Her book was about how growing up in the projects had shaped her life and theirs. She was concerned about upsetting someone with her real-life accounts. Hollis said she once called her brother-in-law a nasty name in one of her books and it caused some family tension for a while, but that it's all a part of being a writer and telling it like it is. I thought about all of the times I've glossed over situations in my life for my blog and wondered if writing the book version meant that I'd have to be brutally honest, even if it meant hurting some feelings.

The next person to talk was the super attractive young woman who had, I learned, in the last few years, been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer; she was wearing a wig and talked about her unimaginable experiences in treatment, and about finding out she'd never be able to have children. I think she had enough stories and information for five books. Hollis said her book needed focus to do well. Did she want the book to be a self-help book for people receiving treatment? Or did she want to talk about her spiritual journey battling a life-threatening disease? Or a funny tell-all about how much cancer sucks? She had written a lot, and had been featured on several cancer websites; her biggest obstacle was narrowing down her ideas, an exercise that would no doubt be difficult.

Next to her was a woman who happened to be married to the possible author of the war/crime/spy book. I was fascinated that these two writers were married to each other, though I'm not sure why. I'd dated a writer before, but for some reason the two of them taking the class together was interesting to me. I wondered if they worked on their books together at their house, and if they proofread each other's work. If one of them got a book deal and the other didn't, would there be tension in the house?

Anyway, she had two ideas for two books, both of which I thought were hysterically funny. One was about going through menopause and all of the not-so-appealing things that happen to your body when you do. The other, was all about being a southern belle married to an Italian man, with an Italian mother. She told hilarious stories about her mother-in-law, and she had the class roaring with laughter. She confessed she had anxiety about an upcoming trip through the Italian countryside with her mother-in-law. Hollis thought, and the rest of the class agreed, that her book could be about the trip, peppered with other anecdotes about her wacky mother-in-law from over the years. I can't wait to read it.

There were a few more ideas, one about a first generation Indian growing up in American culture with old-school Indian parents, and a woman who wanted to write a non-fiction collection of short stories about starting a small businesses.

I was genuinely impressed by everyone in the class. Obviously some books sounded more interesting to me than others, but overall, there were a lot of promising pitches.

By the time she made it around to me, we were running extremely short on time. Obviously I wanted loads of feedback from Hollis and from the others, but she had already shared so while talking to the others, I wasn't expecting we'd have a lot of time to talk discuss Project 29 to 30. I wasn't too concerned; I'd already learned so much. Plus, I felt confident about how much I'd written compared to all of the others. I'd already jumped into the deep end of the writing pool, and most of them were just hanging out in the kiddie pool.

When it was my turn, I felt a lot like I did when I had tried out for my own show on the Oprah network. I looked around at everyone and smile, quickly spitting out, "My name is Stephanie and my book is based on my blog, Project 29 to 30, which is about my quest to do one new thing every single day of my 29th year."

Hollis' eyebrows raised and she laughed, "No way! Cool. I love it." My classmates smiled at me, and nodded approvingly.

I continued, dropping Julie's name for effect.

"Julie, your former student . . . well, she and I are friends. She and I actually started our blogs at around the same time, and she recommended this class."

Hollis pulled up Project 29 to 30 on her computer which was flashing on the screen in front of us. She scrolled down.

"So," she said, matter-of-factly, "What are some of the things you've done?"

I started rattling off a list of the entries that usually impress people: polar bear plunge, sky-diving, taking a trip with someone I didn't really know that well.

Hollis continued to give me positive feedback both with her words, and her body language, as I asked her questions about a title, how to arrange chapters, and how best to incorporate the blog into the pitch, if at all.

She shared her opinions on each point. I knew she was on board with my idea and I was relieved. I was elated.

"Publishers love 'project books,'" she said, "You set a goal. You achieve it. You write about it. It's relatable. It's good."

Plus, she said, a blog shows them that you already have an invested audience, and that's good for business, plain and simple.

I was thrilled. This could really happen.

We talked briefly about the length of the blog and I told her I was averaging 1000 words per entry, setting myself up to have 365,000 at the end of the year-long blog. Since an average book is between 70-80,000 words, editing was going to be my biggest challenge. She nodded, but said that's the easy part. I refrained from telling her that I managed to come up with 500 words about making spaghetti sauce from scratch. Clearly editing and conciseness are not my strong suits.

Our class' guest speaker had arrived by then, so I expected Hollis would soon wrap it up with me. I felt like I had a clear handle on how to proceed, and I had the confidence that a publisher would respond well to my idea.

And then she hit me with a question I wasn't expecting.

"Did you fall in love this year?," she asked me casually and directly; it was as if she was asking if I'd taken out the trash.

Her question completely caught me off guard. I was ready to tell her about seeing a psychic or rock-climbing. Falling in love? Wow.

I instantly felt tears welling up in my eyes, and I looked up at the ceiling, begging them not to fall as I considered her simple question. For several awkward seconds, I couldn't find the words to answer her; and then I looked at her and began slowly shaking my head while I squeaked out, "Yes. Yes, I did."

Suddenly, scenes of the two men who had come in and out of my life throughout this past year played in my head like a mellow dramatic montage in a bad Lifetime movie.

Both had been the source of extremely strong feelings, a lot of laughs and so much fun; the time I spent with both provided a lot of adventure, and a great narrative to my story. But I'm not sure if I was in love with Mountain Man or FF.

I was in love with the story of Mountain Man. The innocent and special nature of our friendship that led to the amazing, romantic trip that we took together; despite the seemingly insurmountable geographic distance between us, and nearly everyone's belief that we could never work as a legit couple, I truly believed that we could and would be more than just a cool trip and an unforgettable story. With FF, I was in love with the opposite: he lived in the same town as me and seemed more realistic, more tangible; plus, our relationship was comfortable, practical, and drama-free. I liked that FF seemed to like me exactly the way that I was, and I fell in love with that for sure.

Neither relationship had turned out the way I wanted them to, and when they ended, there were varying levels of heartache, but I'm still not sure I could call it "love" in either case. Maybe it was their potential that I was in love with. Regardless, it had been months since I'd stopped thinking about them, and even longer since I'd shed any tears over them.

So why were there tears now? And why did I say "yes," when the real answer to Hollis' question was, "Nope. But I came really close?"

I think when I shook my head, "yes," I did so for fear that if I said "no," the whole room, that I was so far holding in the palm of my hand with my tales of adventure and excitement over the last year would've completely deflated. They were rooting for me, and I could feel it. I’ve got a great story, and it's funny and it's reflective; it's going to be a great book. As long as, of course, there's a love story.

I said "yes," because I was afraid that if I said, "no," then the 328 other things that I had already done wouldn't matter. And if that's true, I just wasn't ready to face it.

I used to joke with my mom that if I ever won a Nobel Peace Prize or became President, I'd better lock down a husband first, because all anyone ever wants to know about me is if I'm dating someone and if he's the "one" (whatever that means.) Where I come from, professional accomplishments pale in comparison to finding a suitable mate.

But it's not just other people putting that kind of pressure on me. I'm perhaps harder on myself about my failures in the relationship department than anyone else is. Love was supposed to come easy, and it was definitely supposed to arrive before I turned 30. With just six weeks to go until my birthday, I had to face reality that "falling in love," was probably not going to get crossed off the list. It was disappointing, but I had come to place of peace about it. I was not at peace with love, or my lack thereof, jeopardizing the possibility of my turning Project 29 to 30 into a book, however.

I don't know much about publishing, but I know enough to know that any book that makes it to a bookstore shelf has gone through numerous, and sometimes massive, edits; Hollis said that by the time it's all said and done, a final version of any novel is usually a 100 percent collaboration between the writer and the publisher. And as an author, I have every right to exercise creative liberties and stray away from the truth as it absolutely happened. I'm willing to do just that, but thinking that my story wouldn't be as interesting to other people or a publisher without a proper love story just bums me out.

And if it's true, then what does it mean for my life? Will all of my personal success and triumphs be considered less than if there isn't a man? Or romance?

I crave companionship and human touch and all of the things romantic love provides. And I've been fortunate to have experienced it with wonderful people who've been in my life for a time. I just haven't happened upon "the one." Not yet, anyway.

But make no mistake, my 29th year wasn't without love. There was lots of it. I know it sounds cheesy, but go ahead and cue the sappiness, because I'm serious. I fell in love with a lot this year: red nail polish and snow-skiing, my blog bff Olivia,, Boston, New York, San Francisco. I fell in love with my friends, and my life. I fell in love with me. Crazy, unpredictable, high-maintenance, demanding me.

But while falling in love with myself makes for a great Whitney Houston song, that's not the kind of love other people want to read about. They want romance and a happy ending. I've had both this year, as well as a lot of other adventures, just not in the package I was expecting.

And to that I can only say, "Fine publisher. If you say I must fall in love by age 30 with a beautiful, bearded man who lives by the water and loves to travel and is smart and charming and perfect, then who am I to argue with that?"

I'll do whatever it takes to make my dream of being an author a reality, even if it means peppering the real version of my story with some saucier details. Thanks to Hollis and her class, I feel like I really have something on my hands. I'm a writer.

And Project 29 to 30 will be a book. Even if I have to publish it myself.