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One week from now, I’ll be 30 years old. To some, 30 represents youth, enthusiasm, and “the good old days”. For others, it feels like our youth just gave us the finger while shoving “the good old days” down our throats and knocking the enthusiasm right out of us with a swift roundhouse kick to the nether-regions. I’ll let you figure out which group I fall in.

After 359 days of being 29 however, I’ve realized that turning the big 3-0 isn’t all that bad. I mean so what if I’m losing my youth, I’ve still got my looks. What’s that? Oh…well…so what if I’m losing my youth and my looks, I’ve still got my wit and charm. I’m sorry, what? Oh for crying out loud!

Anyway, if you’ve been following me over the course of the past year, you know that around this time last fall, I unveiled my “30 Before 30” list. Nearly 12 months later, the list remains with over half the items unchecked. It would stand to reason that I’d be disappointed in myself for such a poor showing, but surprisingly, I’m not. Maybe it’s the wisdom of a man in his 30’s kicking in, but I’ve realized that it isn’t so much the completion of a task that provides the most gratification, but rather the steps we take along the way.

Yes, I’ve only crossed off 11 of the 30 items (which falls well below my normal 87% rate of completion when it come to normal, daily tasks), but there are so many things that I have done this year that don’t appear on the “No-I’m-Not-Dying-So-Stop-Asking-Me-If-You-Can-Have-My-TV” list. So in a glass-half-full kind of way, I present “30 Things I Didn’t Expect To Do Before Turning 30”.

#30- Receive positive feedback on my blog from complete strangers. – I expected this from family and friends. After all, the quality of their Christmas presents depended solely on the rave-ness of their reviews. But to get so many digital high fives and exploding fist bumps from people I’ve never met, has been both humbling and encouraging.

#29- Meet a famous chef.

#28- See a Ravens/Steelers game in person.

#27- Make an appearance on Freshly Pressed. – Not once but twice.

#26- Get a promotion at work.

#25- Endure a 3 hour, in-home, sales pitch that felt like I was being punk’d. – I spent most of the night waiting for Ashton Kutcher to jump out of a closet. Also, I might add that I never thought I’d meet Willy Loman from “Death of a Salesman” fame, but sure enough, there he was in my living room trying to sell me new windows.

#24- Make it on the Jumbo-tron at an Orioles game. – Granted it was during the “kiss cam” segment and it was my neighbor, not my wife, sitting next to me…but still.

#23- Sit in a luxury box at a Capitals game.

#22- Reconnect with an old friend.

#21- Move one of my kids out of diapers. – I also didn’t expect Izzy to choose Disney World as the perfect place to start potty training, but I guess when you gotta go, you gotta go.

#20- Throw my back out. – Apparently, my body is akin to a car that begins to fall apart days after the warranty expires. I wish someone had advised me to get the extended coverage.

#19- Meet Rory McIlroy’s Mom. – Or maybe it was just a guy who knows Rory McIlroy’s mom. Or maybe he just lives near her? Ugh…I can’t remember, it was a rough night.

#18- Be there for the birth of a friend’s first child.

#17- Contract Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes disease (or whatever the hell it’s called!)

#16- Rediscover my passion for writing.

#15- Reach some impressive blogging milestones. – These include writing 100 posts, amassing over 100 subscribers, and surpassing 30,000 page views. I couldn’t do it without all my loyal readers and the fake aliases they created in order to reach these numbers…so thanks again everyone!

#14- Shake hands with a Duke fan in Cameron Indoor Stadium. – Maybe it was the arena, with her rich history and southern charm, but in spite of my seething hatred for their basketball team, I found myself shaking hands with a Dookie and saying, “Good game” after my Terps were defeated in January. The fact that my father and I were even there at all was unexpected, despite its inclusion on my list, and I have my wife to thank for that. But there’s no excuse for lowering my guard like that while in enemy territory. You may have gotten me this time Cameron, you evil temptress, but never again! NEVER AGAIN I SAY!! Whoa…sorry about that. I get a little carried away sometimes. Anyway…

#13- See the Orioles win the World Series! – Wait, what? The Orioles’ record was what? Ugh…nevermind.

#12- Go hang gliding. – Ok, I didn’t actually go hang gliding this year. But I did go on the new Disney ride called “Soarin'” and it’s about as close as you can get to hang gliding without the whole, “I could very easily fall out of the sky right now.” feeling.

#11- See both of my Grandfathers holding my kids. – Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I thought anything would happen to either of my Grandfathers during this year. I mean this more from the standpoint of being a kid and thinking about the future. I don’t think I would have ever imagined a scene like this when I was an immature high school kid who couldn’t get a girlfriend if he paid one (not that I ever tried that or anything…).

#10- Go on a cruise.

#9- Not win my first writing contest. – I know it sounds a bit conceited, but I really thought “The Roommate” had a good chance to take first prize.

#8- Witness a sea of naked humanity in the middle of winter. – I’m talking about the warming tent at the Polar Bear Plunge…what did you think I was talking about?

#7- Meet the “Next Great American Author”. – Just the opinion of a little ol’ Wordslinger here, but The Hack Novelist is going to be very un-hack-y one day. Glad I got in on the ground floor.

#6- Start a search for the right Pre-School. – Acceptance into pre-school is no longer a given. It’s cut throat out there and you have to start early. Izzy is only 2 1/2, yet I get the impression that we are way behind the 8-ball after watching a pregnant woman put her unborn fetus on a waiting list.

#5- Get a letter from Bill Simmons.

#4- Have that letter turn out to be a restraining order.

#3- Break 100 from the tips at Bethpage Black.

#2- Have my blog show up on the first page of a Google search. – Type “30 Before 30” in the search box and scroll down. Booyah!! I’m just saying, there’s over 3 trillion results for that search term and I’m #4…4!FOUR!!!

#1- Be happy about turning 30 and excited about what lies ahead for The Wordslinger!