I’ve never really sat down and written out a ‘Bucket List’. I’ve had things in the back of my mind that, when I think about them, the phrase ‘Maybe some day!’ pops up. But after this past week, I’ve realized that I should have been writing these things down. Just so I can have the satisfaction of scratching the things I’ve done in 2014 off of them. (Doesn’t crossing things off a list always feel incredible? Sometimes I want to write a list of boring things, just so I can feel productive when I cross them off. You know, things like: get up. Make coffee. Take three deep breaths. I mean, what a way to start the day, already having marked things off!)
The things that I would cross off this hypothetical list are as follows (In an annotated form, of course. I’ll never not ramble.) :
-Drive the U.S. from coast to coast.
Earlier this year, the first of 2014’s road trips included a drive from Los Angeles to Denver, Colorado. At the time, I didn’t think anything of it. Now, having just left New York City, I realize: I have driven clear across the U.S. this year! I never knew that was something I wanted to do. And yet? It’s a test of will power, patience, and sanity. I think I failed each of those tests, but I still accomplished a pretty ridiculous feat.
-Dominate traffic in NYC.
Once again, something I never knew I wanted to do. And once again, being able to successfully dodge, duck, dip, dive, and dodge alongside the experienced yellow cabs was still an empowering feeling. Sure, there was a lot of heavy breathing, thanking God I still have Wyoming license plates on my car (that way it’s more than obvious to get out of my way, as I clearly have no idea what I’m doing), and promising myself that if I successfully navigate out of the city, I could reward myself with a giant coffee. Assuming the adrenaline shakes wore off before the caffeine kicked in. As you know, I tend to have quite high anxiety. And city driving/finding parking is DEFINITELY one of my triggers. But instead of remembering how horrible a panic attack can feel and backing out of the trip, I faced my fears. If I were to back out of everything that was guaranteed to give me a panic attack, life would be pretty boring. Maybe it’s the endless number of psychology classes in undergrad (see, Mom-I’m getting my money’s worth!), but I really believe that you shouldn’t let your fears stop you from enjoying life. You might be sweating profusely and puffing on an inhaler by the time you’ve finished, but knowing that you can do things while being petrified at the same time is a pretty great feeling at the end of the day. It is also a really great thing for deodorant companies; Dove, never stop what you’re doing. You’re fabulous and I, and everyone around me, thank you.
-Present research at an academic conference.
I’m not going to lie to you, folks-I was really doubting myself before last week. I never thought, fresh out of grad school and never having done an actual professional thing in my life, that I would be able to participate in a conference among such giant names. Several of the professors and researchers that I had the honor of presenting alongside had been names that appeared often in lectures and reading lists last year during my M.A. I also forgot how much I’ve missed learning, and eagerly took diligent notes during each presentation. I also believe that mine was alright; I say ‘believe’ as I was so nervous I don’t really remember talking. But I didn’t hear any boos when I’d finished, and no one told me my conclusions or research were wrong, so I’m counting it as a win! Being amongst scholars also gave me the opportunity to mingle with people from all over the world again (something I’ve really been missing in rural Wyoming); whether it was a Australian professor who now teaches in Florida, the director of the Ukrainian Center for Holocaust Studies who had much to say on the recent developments in Crimea, or a fellow UCL grad, it was such a refreshing experience to be around such a diverse group of people. So thank you, Seth Ward, once again for not only pointing this conference out, helping me with my proposal, and speaking on the same panel, but for helping me regain a little bit of confidence and ensuring that I actually handed out the business cards I printed out. Your advice, as well as choice in Scotch, is always flawless.
But the adventures are far from over! During my quick weekend in New York, I got to visit a good friend who I hadn’t seen since London, and am now making my way to Washington D.C. for a day trip. And then, I’m heading back to my beloved Texas. I haven’t been able to see my wonderful Texan family in almost two years (what?! How does the time fly??), and so I’ve invited myself to their neck of the woods for a visit before I head back to Wyoming and figure out the next step in my life. As of this moment, I have driven 2,200 miles since I left Wyoming last Sunday. I have also developed an addiction to audiobooks, Goldfish crackers, and avoiding motel coffee. As the trip thus far has been more focused on the driving, I have no photos to share with you. Hopefully that will be changing, starting first thing tomorrow morning! Until then, my minions, happy Sunday evening!