On Day 365, I woke up as a 30-year old.
As suspected, I didn't look or feel any different than I did the day before, except for the fact that I hardly slept and was so nervous I wanted to throw up.
I might've assumed I was having a physical reaction to my thirties, but I knew why I couldn't sleep and why my insides were turning over and it didn't have anything to do with getting older. The tossing and turning and nerves were because of Day 365's thing that I've never done before: to join a popular radio show to talk about Project 29 to 30.
Sometime around January of 2010 (about 100 days in), I sent Jenn Hobby, co-host of the Bert Show, an email telling her about Project 29 to 30. She and I share a mutual friend (John) and I thought she might think the idea was cool. What exactly I wanted from her and the show I wasn't sure, and I didn't exactly say it in the email. They had an intern at the time who was aspiring to dance 100 days in a row and I thought maybe I could join her. But obviously I was up for anything at that point, and with the help of their listeners I knew they could come up with some great ideas.
Best case scenario, I thought, she would love the idea, love me and I'd become a regular, "girl trying new things," segment on the show. A win-win for us both. Worst case scenario, they'd never respond and I'd be no worse off than I was when I started. I'd never know if I didn't ask, though, so I did.
Within a day, Jenn responded and told me that she loved the idea. She said she'd share it with the others and see if she could make something work out. I was elated. A few days after that, the show's producer, Tracey, emailed me and asked me for my phone number. I emailed her back and checked my phone like a psycho waiting for a guy to call me.
I waited and waited, but just like the guys who have taken my number and never called, I never heard from Tracey.
My friend Emily, a big Bert Show fan, followed up with an email on my behalf, but still nothing. I know that many times in situations like this, persistence is the way to go, but I also find there is a fine line between being persistent and being annoying. And I didn't want to cross that line. Plus, I had a blog to write and new things to do, so I just let it go.
I forgot about the show until I was listening to them one morning do a segment that was so terrible, I htought, "My idea is way better than this!" Clearly they were at one time interested in it, so I emailed Tracey one more time, told her that my birthday was a month away and that I'd love their help thinking of new things to do.
And just like that, she called. We played phone tag a few times, but when we finally connected, she suggested that I come in studio on the morning of my birthday at around 9am.
Emily, who had already taken the day off from school to recover from the weekend, offered to come with me and to drive us to the station, which is in an office building north of Atlanta. But since I was a ball of nervous energy, I told her I'd prefer driving so that I would at least have something else to focus on.
I was a complete spaz, though, and we passed the building a few times before pulling in. I'd already put my phone on silent, but Tracey had been calling me wanting to know if I was still coming. We finally arrived and after sitting silent in the waiting room, Producer Tracey came out to get us.
The co-hosts of the show are local celebrities in Atlanta, so I knew what they looked like, so there wasn't the, "Oh, YOU'RE Bert?! I thought you'd look different!" What was odd, was shaking their hands as if we were strangers; I was definitely a stranger to them, but since the show can get quite personal, I knew quite a few details about each of them. I'm sure they're quite used to this, but I felt creepy asking Jenn about her wedding or Tracey about her infant daughter.
While Emily and I were standing outside the studio waiting to go in, the host of the show, Bert, teased my segment saying something to the effect of, "Stephanie just did 364 things and one of the last things on her bucket list was to meet the cast of the Bert Show. We'll talk to her next."
I work in media, and I understand the art of a good tease, but I was a little confused as to how they got "bucket list," and, "wanting to meet the cast of the Bert Show," from the correspondence we'd had. Now everyone thinks I'm some obsessed radio show fan. Let's be clear, if I did have a bucket list, the only "must meet" people on it would be Paula Deen or Kelly Ripa.
As much as I wanted to clarify, I decided to let it go. I refused to get caught up in the details. I was about to be on the radio.
When I walked into the studio, I noticed first how small the room is. The show was in a commercial break, so everyone was sort of chilling out and doing their own thing. I was in the next segment, so they showed me my seat, gave me a headset and showed me the microphone that I was supposed to talk into.
I sat to the right of Jenn, and she and I started talking about her guest spot on Live with Regis and Kelly (amazing, so jealous). She started asking me about the blog and then she stopped herself, and "Wait, I'm sorry. Let me hear about it with everyone else."
I've heard that on radio shows and television shows that they refrain from a lot of pre-interviews so as not to ruin the conversation on air. If Jenn and I had this conversation now, then having it again minutes later might sound a little forced.
Coming out of the break, Bert welcomed me to the show and he asked me to talk about the blog and I went for it. Emily said she tried to take pictures of me, but I was talking with my hands so much that it was hard to get a good one.
I hesitate to say, "radio is easy," because I was there for less than ten minutes, but the whole segment went by so fast. The co-hosts were friendly and engaging and since they're all right there in the room, it felt like I was just having a conversation with them. After my initial nerves calmed down, I forgot that I was talking on the radio.
Though I don't think my blog is terribly controversial, or worthy of further discussion, part of me hoped they would take calls from listeners. I really wanted someone to call in and say something hateful like, "You've got a lot of nerve, Stephanie."
But they didn't, and before I knew it, someone brought in a beautiful birthday cake and the segment was over.
I can't even tell you all that we talked about, because it all went by so fast. Even as I walked out of the show, I looked at Emily and said, "Did that just happen? What did I say?"
The whole segment is still on their website and you can listen here.
After we left the Bert Show and headed back to Emily's, I felt so jacked up, like I could've lifted my car or run a marathon. It was so much fun and such a perfect way to end the year of doing things I'd never done before. It sure didn't hurt that my cell phone immediately started blowing up with sweet phone calls and emails from my parents, friends and colleagues all telling me that I did a great job. And, no surprise, my blog was never more popular. The Bert Show bump is for real.
Since Trish (just one month into motherhood) couldn't make it to the birthday weekend, she offered to take me to lunch on my birthday. Emily and Kyle were off work too, so we all met at Henri's for two of my favorite things: sandwiches and gossip.
Emily offered to let me leave my car at her house so she could drive us, and we stayed well over an hour just catching up. Little did I know that when everyone abruptly said we had to go was because there was another surprise in store for me back at Emily's.
Her offer to drive to lunch was not simply a nice gesture, but actually premeditated move, orchestrated by our friend Lisa, who on my birthday, avenged the Valentine's Day prank Elizabeth and I played on her with a little prank of her own.
When we turned the corner down to Emily's house, all I could see were balloons tied to the top of my car, which was covered in paint, fake mustaches, and even a cougar tail. I know I overuse this word a lot when I'm speaking, but it was hilarious. She did such a good job and pulled off the greatest prank. Nine months later, after several washes, there are still flecks of paint on my windows.
We stood around laughing and taking pictures for a while and Lisa declared a truce. I'm not so sure either of us is going to stick to that but I agreed for the time being.
Not quite ready to head home, and unable to convince anyone to come out with me for another night of celebrating, I spent the rest of the night at Trish's house, drinking wine and talking. Not exactly a raucous birthday celebration, but exactly what I needed.
I could end this with a lot of sappy reflection about age and say all of the right things about how age is just a number and you're only as old as you feel. I do believe all of those things, and from where I sit, it's difficult even at age 30, to look at my life and feel anything but great.
But to be honest, I still freak about getting older. Less so because I feel old and am worried that I'm not where I should be at this age; more because I know how much the world has to offer. How will I ever find enough time (and money) to do it all?
I still struggle with the unknown and I worry, despite truly believing, "All who wander are not lost," that the only true obstacle holding me back from getting what I want is my inability to identify what that is. But with each day and each new experience, I think I'm getting closer to defining what success and happiness is for me.
This blog hasgiven me an outlet for which to share my joy and my sorrow, something that strangely, does bring me much happiness. What that means for the future, I'm not really sure.
But I have enjoyed this ride so very much.
To Mo and to Lauren, who tirelessly edited versions of these entries that were all over the place and filled with typos, it's OVER! WE did it. Thank you. Seriously. What a shitty job. Thank you times a million.
To my parents, I'm pretty sure "blogger" wasn't exactly what you meant when you said I could be anything I wanted to be, but thanks for always supporting my adventurous spirit. I am who I am because of you, and I'm sorry for the times when that's not a positive thing.
To everyone who participated in this blog, read it, commented on it, stuck with it despite it taking me so long to finish, there will never be the appropriate words for me to thank you enough for making me what I always wanted to be. A writer.