Heyyyyy it’s my birthday! I turn twenty-seven today… yikes! I wanted to do something for myself this year. It’s easy to forget all you’ve done in your life as each year rolls on. I’m constantly told by people that I’ve done so much and that they’re jealous and I’m always left perplexed. What have I done that’s so extraordinary? Yes, okay, I’ve traveled quite a lot, but I never thought of that as extraordinary. And then I listed all the countries I’ve been to (28 at the moment), and then I really though… really thought, about what I’ve done in the past twenty-seven years. And the more I thought about it and the more I wrote things done, the more I felt incredibly humbled and very lucky.
So I thought I’d remind myself and share with all of you twenty-seven things I’ve done in twenty-seven years that I’m proud of or were particularly important to me. Who knows, maybe it’ll inspire you to do some amazing things of your own! I hope you enjoy!
This is mostly in chronological order… or at least I tried. Thinking is hard.
1. Acted in a professional company
I started acting when I was around fifteen or so. I fell in love with Shakespeare and entered into a program with The Shakespeare Project (now the Maryland Shakespeare Festival). Eventually I progressed through the ranks from student to intern to the professional company, both acting on the main stage, assistant stage managing the main stage, and stage managing the intern productions. It was a blast and I miss it.
2. Studied abroad in London
My junior year of college was amazing. I did a May Term the summer before when I went for a semester abroad in London (& then the following summer I went to Israel for five weeks). I fell desperately in love with this city and with Europe. Having this base in London allowed me to jump around Europe at will and I covered most of Western Europe in those four months. Studying abroad was the best decision I have ever made.
3. Got my scuba diving certification
I always enjoyed snorkling and wanted to go the next step. Thankfully my college offered a scuba diving certification course! It was fabulous and now I can dive up to 60 feet deep!
4. Did an archaeological dig in Israel
My undergraduate degree with a double major of history and archaeology. In order to complete the archaeology part, we had to go on a dig or get an internship. I decided to head to Israel for five weeks to help excavate the Iron Age site of Tel Gezer. It’s pretty much between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. It was incredibly hard and tiring, but such a rewarding experience. We had the opportunity to go to Jerusalem and explore multiple times as well as take trips to the beautiful garden that is northern Israel (seriously, Tel Dan is AMAZING), and see the desolate desert of southern Israel. Being part of an active excavation was great though, even if you ended up at the end of the day caked in 2,000-year-old compacted dirt, battled massive spiders, trapped scorpions, and practically bathed in pottery shards. I managed to unearth a complete intact 2,500-year-old jug though that’s in a museum somewhere. My crowning achievement to the archaeological world.
5. Went to the West Bank
One of the chances we had while in Israel was to go to The West Bank. It was a very interesting experience and one that I am much richer for. To get into The West Bank you have to go through this massive checkpoint and bunker where everyone is screaming either Hebrew or Arabic at you and you’re mostly just confused and flashing your passport at anyone who will look at it. Once you’re in there it’s a slightly different world. Bethlehem had a lot of rubble from missiles, but had the nicest people I met during my entire trip. The sprawling landscape of The West Bank was also amazing, as hopefully evidence by the photo above. What’s happening over there is horrific, but I am glad I got to experience as much of the area as I did.
6. Created a medieval fair at my college
I became the president of the history club at my college my senior year and decided I wanted a medieval fair to happen. So, I did it with the help of a great team. We had a few hundred attendees and easily my favorite part of it was tricycle jousting with pool noodles. Everyone needs to do this at some point in their life. Trust me.
7. Taught English in Japan
Though I got accepted to grad school, I decided to accept a position with the JET Programme and go teach English in Japan for the Japanese government. I was dropped into a fishing village in Shizuoka with barely any Japanese knowledge to my name, and there I remained for a year. It was one of the most amazing, craziest, and frustrating years of my life. I was fresh out of college, and despite the rigorous interview process (that lasted ten months!) and the training we were given, I felt like I had NO idea what I was doing. But in the end, that’s what was great about it. I became a teacher. I formed bonds with my students, some of who I still talk to, and I got to live in a culture so very different from my own. I got to travel around Asia and I made friends that will last for a life time because of our shared experiences. Teaching abroad was a great choice, and one i’m glad i made, even though a lot of horrible stuff happened both there and afterwards.
8. Climbed Mt. Fuji
You may not have noticed, but I’m a little on the fluffy side, and so physical activity isn’t my strong suit. However, because we ALTs (Assistant Language Teachers, our official titles) had the good fortune to be assigned to Shizuoka, we were pretty much hazed by climbing Mt. Fuji. It was awful. I cried. I was colder than I’ve ever been in my life. Drenched in sweat. And my legs totally gave out on the way down, but I made it. I got to the 9th station out of 10.
The line to get to the tippy top was so long and the sun was rising, so instead of going up the ant trail, I watched the sun rise over the clouds. This was worth it. When we started at the 5th station we were already at cloud level, but to be so far above it (we had portable O2 container things), and see that sunrise? Kind of amazing. But I am never doing that again.
9. Stayed up for 55 hours for charity as the support team for the Oxfam 100 km hike
I did a lot of crazy things in Japan… seemed a theme. The ALTs of Shiz were amazing and an annual event was a 100km hike for Oxfam. I volunteered to be on a support team and while originally was only supposed to meet the hikers at the first half of the stations, ended up staying awake until they crossed the finish line over fifty hours later. It was insane and I saw double for those last few hours, but I’d do it all again.
10. Took a 13-hour train to Hiroshima
There are some things I didn’t want to leave Japan without doing. And one of those was paying my respects at Hiroshima. It’s at the very end of the main island and the shinkansen was really expensive, so I decided to take the slow train. It took thirteen hours, but I saw some of the most beautiful scenery along the way, and it gave me time to reflect. My stay in Hiroshima was short, as I had 13 hours to go back, but it was poignant. Seeing the A-Dome in person, let’s just say a lot of tears were shed and I had to sit down a lot because I felt I was going to faint. It’s a hard thing to look at, especially when it was your country that did it.
11. Climbed The Great Wall. Well, part of it
What happens in Beijing, stays in Beijing. But this was Mutianyu, soooo… The Great Wall is a place of wonder and the Mutianyu section was virtually deserted. It was beautiful. Snow sprinkled mountains and a winding snake of the wall.
12. Went to the DMZ
My late grandfather served as a medic in the Korean War, so when a friend and I did a weekend away in South Korea, I wanted to make sure I got there. I hate tours, but it’s the only way you can go to the DMZ. Parts were very interesting and chilling, like being lead around by the army and watching North Korea soldiers watch you through binoculars, and the South Korean soldiers standing like statues, ready to react and fight at the drop of a pin. A lot of it was also just very cheesy and touristy, and my friend and I spent a big chunk of the trip being boggled at how the DMZ was being presented. Still, I’m glad I went. I technically crossed into North Korea. I was asked to come back by the officer in charge of us.
13. Climbed a 1,000-year-old temples at Angkor Wat
I have very few pictures of my time in Cambodia because my laptop was stolen, but the memories will last forever. I felt like I was in Indiana Jones. These temples are so big and so intricate. They’re towering over you and as you walk in, you’re given free reign. So, being the lunatic I am, I climbed all over these bad boys. I got so high I could look out over the jungle and it was astounding. Angkor Wat and all the temples in Siem Reap are beautiful pieces of architecture and history.
14. Wrote a book
A few of the other ALTs and myself did NaNoWriMo and out of it I had my first finished book. I had started so many stories since before I can remember. I love writing. But this was the first one that made it to the end. It’s only just over 51,000 words, but it’s special to me because it just poured out. So after editing, my friend who was doing a MA in publishing, needed a book to publish… and voila! You can read more about it and even buy it if you fancy here.
15. Moved to London
I ended my contract in Japan, moved home for three weeks, and then moved to London. Talk about cultural whiplash! I was going back to the city I fell in love with, desperately trying to figure out what I was doing with my life. I started an MA in Medieval History at King’s College London, but would only last nine months. The depression that had grabbed a hold of me in Japan destroyed me in London, and I withdrew for six months, heading back to the states. I would try again and last nine months once more, but by that time I knew I didn’t want to pursue history, and so I had to say goodbye to London once more.
16. Founded the BSB
Without a doubt, one of the things I am most proud of and most thankful for. My first attempt in London was not entirely unsuccessful, because I made amazing friends through a mutual love of Sherlock Holmes. Having done a radio show in college and being quite fond of podcasts, I propositioned the idea and away we went. The BSB and the Babes have been my rock the past three years. It’s been a wild ride from being a silly little show to interviewing those involved in Sherlock to being invited to the screenings and getting to know those involved. It’s just so humbling to have the following we do and to have these chances. At the heart of it though are the girls who create this content with me, who put up with my crazy dictatorial ways, and who have saved and shaped me in so many ways.
17. Battled with depression and eventually won
Not everyone is so lucky. I never thought I would be lucky enough to beat it. I haven’t fully beat it, let’s not kid around. There’s still days where getting out of bed requires a monumental amount of effort, and I frequently look in the mirror and despise what I see. But more often I am excited. I am positive. I made the very conscious effort to cut the negativity out of my life. I distanced myself from toxic relationships and friendships. I made myself see the lighter side of issues. I didn’t sweat the small stuff. I let things go that I previously would have freaked out over. When I lived in Japan I was diagnosed with panic disorder, depression, and insomnia. I was drugged up to my eyeballs and stayed on a high dosage of anti-depressants for over a year. And then I stopped. I didn’t want to be on drugs. Drugs really worked for me for a long time and I fully support using them if they work for you. But I wanted to try it another way. I didn’t succeed at first and had to go back on them for a few months, but eventually I weaned myself off of them. I forced myself to get out of bed. I wouldn’t let myself flake intentionally on social gatherings. I pushed myself. I got involved in tons of things. I went into overdrive. I made really tough decisions. It’s been five years since my diagnoses and I think I can now say that I’m OK. I still get panic attacks, but I count myself as a survivor.
I battled with depression for so long, even before I knew what it was. I know so many of you battle with it every day. I know a lot of people don’t make it. But I just want to say that it is possible to deal with it, to beat it, to live with it. You can do it, I did.
18. Was on the red carpet at the BAFTA TV awards
Want to go to the BAFTA? Yes! So I did. And got to walk the red carpet. And got recognized. It was awesome. (always check for public tickets to these things, they’re quite the experience!)
19. Fell desperately in love with languages I can’t speak
How is this a thing I’m proud of, you ask? Well, basically, I suck at learning languages. Even when living in Japan for a year I only had a basic grasp of the language. However, this hasn’t deterred me from just enjoying and loving languages. I’m a rabid foreign musical fan and know all the lyrics to multiple German musicals. Also I have a fondness for KPOP and Hungarian (hey oh Magyar!). I fell in love with language hardcore and know bits and pieces of a ton. I can order alcohol in multiple languages. It’s important, okay?!
20. Became a very glamorous Mary Poppins in NYC
For a period of nine months, I had two children. Twins, actually. I was a modern day Mary Poppins with a live-in nanny position on Central Park North. It was a fascinating and rather positive experience. I realized three things: 1) I desperately wanted to be a mother, 2) I was no where near ready to be a mother, and 3) Any job that let’s you roam around the Hudson on a private yacht is a pretty amazing job.
21. Braved the madness of San Diego Comic Con
Oh Comic Con. I had heard tales of your wonder and your madness, and decided to not dip my toe, but plunge in over my head. My first comic con was 2013 and it was also the first year of SherlockeDCC, the Sherlock party I run along with Being Geek Chic, The Nerdy Girlie, SherlockDC, and Cara McGee. It was also the year Sherlock went, so not only was there that panel, but the party was insane. You can read about the original SherlockeDCC and the 2014 party here. It was a truly overwhelming experience, but one I adored. I can’t imagine NOT going to Comic Con now.
22. MA Radio @ Goldsmiths
After withdrawing from my MA in Medieval History and being a nanny, I once again moved to London, but this time for something a bit different. I started, and have nearly completed, my MA in Radio at Goldsmiths University. Creative radio, broadcasting, social media, sound design, editing… everything. They taught us everything, enhanced what we already knew, and I have made some of the most amazing friends through the course. It’s given me drive and really told me what I want to do. I’ve presented and produced and I love it all. I love everything about this course and the people on it. I’m sad for it to be nearly over.
23. Edited an essay collection
The One Fixed Point in a Changing Age: A New Generation on Sherlock Holmes was an idea we at the BSB had of editing an essay collection with contributions solely from the new wave of fandom. It was a momentous task that had four editors working long into the night for weeks. But it was great, because we came out with a really great book by amazing writers, some only teenagers. We’re hoping to put out another edition in the future. You can read more about it and purchase it at wessexpress.com.
24. Won an award for Best Talk Radio
My friend Andy and I decided we wanted to do a radio show. So we did. It was called Hipster Moose and it was hilarious. We won an award for it, bronze for Best Talk Radio. Considering we had only put out five shows by this point, it was particularly great. You can listen to the backlog of Hipster Moose here.
25. Went to Wimbledon
I’m not a huge sports fan, but there’s a few that I can get really riled up about. One of those is surprisingly tennis, mostly thanks to my amazingly tolerant flatmate Lyd. She sucked me into this world of Roger Federer adoration and I cannot get out, so I just embraced it. She suggested we camp out for Wimbledon tickets and so we went down to Southfields. The camping part sucked, because it was rainy and ugh… nature, but after eighteen hours of queuing, we were in to Court 1 and watching the Fedman himself. Seeing tennis live is, unsurprisingly, so much better than on tv (though that’s still entertaining of course). It’s electric and exciting and the spectator reactions are the best. Plus Lyd & I were on the BBC coverage tons because we were practically sitting on the court. Wimbledon is just a great atmosphere, and it gave me a greater appreciation for the sport.
26. Met Cookie Monster!
SDCC 2014 was stellar for a lot of reasons, and you can read about those here, but the highlight? Meeting Cookie Monster! The Muppets have always been my favorite. I adored them growing up and I still love them now. So when Nerd HQ did a panel with them AND a photo opportunity? I had to jump on it. I was a little girl again and this was probably the thing I was most excited about the entire week.
27. Figured out my life??
I think so. Maybe. It’s been a long way coming. I distinctly remember wanting to be an astronaut at some point and a marine biologist and an author (er, check?) and a ballerina (oof, that was a rough phase), and then an archaeologist. I settled on professor, and while that was a noble goal, it was one that ultimately didn’t do it for me. It wasn’t in my heart and soul and so I waited for life to tell me what to do. But that’s not how it works. I had to chase it. But after three years, I think I’ve got it. I want to produce. I want to create. I want to make radio and present, and create great audio content. So that’s the goal, and I’m hoping the next twenty seven years will see it flourish.
So that’s my twenty-seven for twenty-seven. This was both very easy and very hard to write because reflecting on my own life and what I’ve done has been exciting but oddly annoying. I don’t want to feel like i’m boasting because I know I am incredibly lucky in what I’ve been able to do, but I also know a lot of it is because I took the chance. I took that step, hell, that leap, and did something terrifying. I know that’s a hard thing for a lot of people to do, to break out of their comfort zone like that, but I am of the mind that if you never do try, you’ll never know. It’s how I’ve lived my life the past few years, and it’s proved to be so rewarding.
So what are some of the things you’ve done that you’re proud of? Would love to know, so please share down below :)