twenties project update 1.5 years in + reflections + sad but inevitable things: mammoth post.

Look at me, being on time with this check-in stuff! Probably a once-in-a-decade occurrence.


Not much has changed, unfortunately. But I got a good solid kick in the pants from my “Musical Legacy of Shakespeare” class to appreciate and enjoy opera, and that class also provided me with some really good listening techniques to employ. I’m planning to have dedicated Sunday music times this semester and hopefully that’ll get me through to the next check-in with some more substantive mileage.


No short story for this year yet, though I’ve been finding that the ideas come easier. It’s just the finding time to write them. Still hacking away at that novel occasionally. I also did a slightly off-the-plan thing and submitted the 15-16 story to the school’s literary magazine. We’ll see if anything comes of that. I realized, as I was giving it some last tweaks, that the teenage writing website I used to haunt obsessively as a sophomore in high school was actually invaluable for giving me a concrete place to put my work, and thus a more concrete reason to work. Thanks, TeenInk.


I’ve been stuck on Moby Dick for literal months, but you know what? I knocked three Shakespeare plays out just this semester. Thanks again, Musical Legacy of Shakespeare. YAY.


I have skied once this season! So that’s another one down, even if I never find the time to go again this year. I am planning to start an exercise plan again this semester, which should be interesting as I haven’t exercised consistently in over a year (oops), but whatever. Forward!


Yeehaw for some really good progress! I’m not going to say that I’m at conversational fluency in German yet, but I’m on my way to using it more and I really do think it’s getting better. (I need to listen to more SlowGerman.) And my Japanese made immense strides. It was crazy how fast it came back, even after all that time off from studying it. This semester really reaffirmed for me that languages are my thing, and that even when I mess up and get a D I can come back from that. YAY.

Academic and Professional

I applied for a Bosch Foundation internship! Which is actually Cultural Vistas, but whatever. So that’s done, and now to wait and see if it bodes well. Fulbright stuff will start sooner than I think, though…


Germany may be forthcoming…and I am well on my way to that nest egg.

Some changes I might make to the list

I’m thinking of taking “learn to play hockey” off the list altogether, as I really don’t see myself having the time for that in any winter in the foreseeable future.

I’m going to move Spanish down to the “maintain an ability in” line. I haven’t taken Spanish since high school and only one year’s worth then. It’s a useful language to have an ability in, so I mean to, but since German and Japanese are part of my major, it’s more important to me to be really good in those two than it is to have any Spanish ability at all, so it’s taking a hit in terms of priority. I don’t think its feelings will be hurt, though.

As stated before, I really don’t know if five years at Sjölunden will be possible for me, but if it is you may be sure I’ll do it.


2017. Wow. And now I have that one Billy Joel song about the lights on Broadway stuck in my head.

I haven’t done a proper year-recap since I started doing the Twenties Project, so maybe it’s time for a nice long look back – my life has changed a lot since New Year’s (As Usual).

Man, if you click on that…holy cow.

After writing that blog post, what happened to me?

I got promoted to actual elections commissioner.

I became a lifeguard.

I met Sam.

I went to Reno for fraternity conference.

I ran a successful election and its run-off.

I got admitted to the College of Business.

I got my first D.

I got hired to work at the Danish camp.

I went back to Sjölunden and made new friends (and resolved to never do a two-month summer ever again).

I got stuck in Denver airport overnight.

I came home and told Sam I loved him.

I had a quick, sweet reunion with Hannah and Derek.

I flew all the way to Umeå alone.

I shared a taxi to the university with a Korean girl named Jessie that I never saw again.

I slept without a mattress.

I started out in my new home with no internet, no friends and no idea.

I made it work.

I made new friends.

I taught myself (well, Beth from BudgetBytes taught me) how to cook.

I saw the northern lights.

I visited friends in Stockholm.

I went hiking along the Baltic coast.

My family visited me for Christmas – and I cried the only happy tears I had ever cried at that point.

I rang in the New Year in a little island stuga and we watched the fireworks pop over the mainland.

I traveled north of the Arctic Circle, saw the northern lights again, drove a snowmobile, cross-country skied, fed reindeer, drank the purest coldest water I have ever tasted, and ran in the snow under the stars in my underwear. (What? Nobody takes a bathing suit to the Arctic.)

I got stuck in Kiruna after the trains stopped because it was -40.

I took an impossibly difficult finance class that I still haven’t technically passed. (Oops.)

I joined a choir.

I visited Riga, Latvia, saw the museum devoted to the Soviet occupation thereof, went on a one-sided dinner date, and decided that I’ll be back someday.

I visited friends in Stockholm again, including the beloved mentor who solidified the continuation of my journey.

I sang in the choir’s Valborg celebrations, and later in concert in the city church.

I played in a brännboll tournament.

I celebrated a lot of birthdays, ate a lot of pancakes, did a lot of goofy karaoke, went to a lot of parties, played a lot of Ring of Fire, and just generally loved being with my friends.

I saw the sun rise at 1 a.m. as I walked home for the last time.

I flew home and met my mom in Minneapolis to see my grandma and family for a bit.

I came home – really truly home.

Sam and I brought each other loose-leaf teas that neither of us have tried to brew yet.

I spent some time at home with my dad while my mom and sisters were in Germany.

I went back to Sjölunden, and it was the best summer yet.

I came home and got elected president of the fraternity.

I went to Comic-Con with Hannah and Derek.

I made it through this semester. (No joke, it was a hard one.)

I had the first peaceful, normal Christmas since 2012. At home. With my family. No hospital visits. As it should be.


It’s been a big couple years. I thought at the end of 2014 that I’d grown up quite sufficiently, but don’t we always think that? I certainly hadn’t. I’ve come so, so far. It’s staggering, strange and sweet. Not to mention weird. Though, yes, this time I do recognize that I am nowhere near done. What these next few years will bring is going to be big, no matter what.

I’m a little sad going forward. My grandmother is dying without much clarity as to when, and that hurts. And I suck at being patient and trying to be content. My guilt complex doesn’t help me in this: I forget about it for a couple months at a time, and then it hits me all over and I get slammed with the “Oh God, I should have been paying attention.”

I feel a little like I’m waiting for a shoe to drop in terms of big traumatic life events, and that’s not fun, and forgetting periodically about it and having to remember is even less fun. Not really sure how to fix that. Basically, I’m anxious for the future: in that I want to get started on all these plans I have for my life, and in that I’m a little nervous that it’s gonna rip me a new one.

But I guess if the last two years are any indication I can claw my way through this.


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