Archive for February 11th, 2008

40 Before 40

I wrote out a “40 before 40” list (that’s shorthand for “40 things to do before I turn 40”) around the time of my 30th birthday in 2006, but I didn’t have a blog yet.

So since I believe in telling the universe what I want (or at least telling the blogosphere), without further ado:

40 before 40

Wedding Rings (Photo from Kathryn Riechert) by cimorenegal on Flickr1. Get married. I’m aiming to do this with P, and hopefully before the age of 33. The actual planning and family logistics are putting this on hold for now.

2. Start a family. Again, with P, and for the first new member to be in my arms by the age of 35.

3. Make a family recipe book. I’m thinking recipes from my mom, my grandmother, P’s mom, other relatives, and us. And any other ones I like, since, you know, I’m the author and all.

4. Establish traditions for holidays. Thanksgiving and Fourth of July are the biggies for me to incorporate because they aren’t normally celebrated here. All the others are important too, but I want to be sure my children get the American holiday feel as much as possible.

5. Knit/crochet/cross-stitch gifts. First I have to learn how to knit and crochet, and then we can work on the gifts. I’m set on the cross-stitching, though…now to find the time!

6. Read The 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990-2000. Standing in the way is accessibility and cost since I have access to precisely no public libraries, but we’ll do our best. Online options will help this quest.

7. Read Time’s All-Time 100 Novels. Ditto for the commentary on #6.

The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri8. Read classic and modern Italian literature in Italian. Boccaccio and Dante up to Eco and Calvino. I want to be able to read Italian as quickly as I read English. It could happen. [I’ve begun!]

9. Learn another language. I’m thinking French. German doesn’t count because I’ve already taken a year of it in college. If it so inspires me to continue, well, I won’t count that as new anyway. So probably French, possibly Lithuanian, Greek if I’m feeling extra frisky.

10. Start a blog. This one must happen within the next year or two. [It did! You’re looking at it!]

11. Get novel published. Must finish one first.

12. Organize photos into albums/scrapbooks. First I have to get all that stuff here. That alone will probably take the better part of the next 10 years.

13. Get everything out of storage, selling what needs to go, and getting everything I want in Italy here. See commentary to #12. I’m going to have a make a trip to the U.S. to just take care of that stuff, but it needs to be done.

14. Go to Hawaii. Does this need an explanation?

Swamp wallby by JIGGS on Flickr15. Go to Australia. P’s got relatives there, so that would cut costs, right?

16. Find family villages in Lithuania and Germany and visit. This will take a major genealogical search, and it’d be nice if I received a little blessing from the Family Tree Fairies. Of course then perhaps I should reconsider my commentary on #9.

17. Pick up the flute again. And then I could join a Calabrese band!

18. Keep a well-tended garden. P’s got a head start here, but I’d like to have flowers in addition to vegetables, even if I only have them on my balcony. P, practical Calabrian that he is, doesn’t really get my desire to grow and tend to flowers.

19. Make sure I can make all the dishes P makes. We split the cooking duties, so there are certain things he always makes, but I want to know the secrets too. And then I’ll put ’em in the family recipe book (see #3).

Cameras by Garlyn on Flickr20. Learn and practice photography. An in-person course would probably be difficult to come by here, but thank goodness for the Internet–and I have a lot of good inspiration for pictures.

21. Send out real birthday cards and letters. No more e-cards for the important people, and I really need to write out and send more snail mail.

22. Study more world history. Being American, I feel greatly undernourished on the meal of the rest of the world’s history. I need to study up, especially on Europe.

23. Learn Italian and/or American sign language. Going to have to do this one within the next couple years because I want to teach any future baby.

24. Be in the house we’ll be in for the long haul. I want to be settled in the house our children will grow up in.

25. Have that house completely as I want it (at that moment). I will probably look to change things up every couple years since I get bored easily, but I just want everything major in place and working, even if styles may change.

26. Get to and maintain my ideal weight. I’m pretty much there, but the main part of this is to stay there. Super-skinny isn’t the goal by any means, but I do hope to be at the right weight according to the BMI and an appropriate waist-to-hip ratio (*healthy*).

27. Only have clothes and shoes that we actually wear. Anything that’s so grossly out of style that we’d never wear it cannot take up room in our limited storage space.

28. Still be hugging and kissing P every day. I don’t want this to change.

29. Still be dancing in the kitchen on a regular basis. Not saying we do this every day, but it’s often enough that I don’t want it to stop.

30. Singing more (and with the (hopeful) kid(s)). I love to sing, and I want to validate that. I do have to find more music to sing along to, which I suppose is like #30(a).

Rebel Without a Cause31. Get caught up on classic movies. I really should have seen movies like Casablanca, The Philadelphia Story, Rebel Without a Cause, etc., by now. Lucky for me, SKY has a great classics movie channel. I’m working on it.

32. Take some sort of course on something in some way. Subject could be photography (see #20), language (#9), world history (#22), or something I haven’t even considered yet. But I want to learn more about something in an organized way with a teacher who knows the material well. I miss school. There I said it.

33. Have savings. Doesn’t have to be in a bank and it doesn’t have to be a lot, but extra cash in case of emergency would be a really nice thing. [I’m on my way!]

34. Go to a Broadway show. Yes, I’ve already seen several (The Phantom of the Opera is my favorite), but the fact that I live in Italy now doesn’t make it as accessible as it once was. If we have children, and they are of a certain age by the time I’m 40, it’d be nice for them to go too.

35. Paint/draw more, with more actual knowledge of what I’m doing. I’d like to learn how to do watercolors, in particular.

36. See the Grand Canyon. I’ve never been, and P would love this too.

37. Visit Yosemite National Park. Ditto commentary to #36.

38. Have a real vacation where I don’t worry about anything. Can’t remember the last time I just lounged on a beach not worrying about a freaking thing. I hope that can happen again, although the beach isn’t necessary–a mountain cabin would work fine too.

39. Vegas. See commentary to #36.

40. Study all major religions (and even some minor ones if there’s time). I know a lot about Catholicism but not everything. And I know a little about a lot of other religions. But I’d like to know more.

After I typed this out, I realized there are actually so many more things for me to do before 40. Guess I’ll just have to live longer then.

What’s on your “(X) before (X)” list?

Michelle KaminskyMichelle Kaminsky is an American attorney-turned-freelance writer who lived in her family's ancestral village in Calabria, Italy for 15 years. This blog is now archived. 

Calabria Guidebook

Calabria travel guide by Michelle Fabio



Homemade apple butter
Green beans, potatoes, and pancetta
Glazed Apple Oatmeal Cinnamon Muffins
Pasta with snails alla calabrese
Onion, Oregano, and Thyme Focaccia
Oatmeal Banana Craisin Muffins
Prosciutto wrapped watermelon with bel paese cheese
Fried eggs with red onion and cheese
Calabrian sausage and fava beans
Ricotta Pound Cake