30 before 30. (Part 1).

Saturday, 7 October 2017

I got a text the day after my 29th birthday that said "What's on your 30 before 30 bucket list" (exactly like that. No question mark. Somehow I was so taken with the idea, though, that it didn't even bother me). A few of my friends had done a 30-before-30, and while I hadn't really thought about it before, I read that text walking down the Kings Road in search of red lipstick, birthday shopping fever still deep in my bones, and knew I wanted to get on board. The idea to blog it followed pretty quickly; if it was a list of goals rather than experiences, to write here more frequently and personally would be near the top, so it made sense to share whatever the bucket list would become.

What follows are 30 experiences I want to engineer for myself in the next 364 days. The list itself is going to be split in to three parts - not thematically, more because I want to give my reasons and to do all 30 at once would be epic in a way I don't think is appealing! As I go through them, I'll be writing up the particularly interesting ones, and instagramming the whole lot with the hashtag #Avas30before30. I'd love to have you all along for the ride.

So here goes. Part 1 of the list, in no particular order.

1. Write in New York
I've spent, proportionately to other cities, quite a lot of time in the one they say never sleeps (I find that it definitely does, but maybe I'm looking in the wrong places). I've holidayed there a lot, once went twice in 3 weeks for producing work, was summoned to talk about the show-that-never-was from a penthouse overlooking New Jersey, and spent a Summer there with my musical The 8th Fold. By that time, though, my work was long since finished (for that version at least) so the one thing I've never done in my favourite place in the world is write anything of any significance. Scribblings on hotel paper, of course. The Instagram caption on my first selfie, and countless emails, and an accidental essay about Hamilton, but I've never been just... writing. This year I want to spend time in the coffee shops, and hotel bars, and even wandering through Soho, 'cause not all writing happens when words hit the paper. I want a week where I can spend the days working, and the nights drinking cocktails and hitting up Broadway. I think in the story-of-Ava, this reads like the most obvious cliche, which makes the fact that it's never actually happened even more strange. It is long since time.

2. Do a full forward fold with straight legs.
I am not a bendy person. A lot of the other 30-before-30 lists I looked at had find your 'thing' in exercise as one of the goals, and I'm pretty lucky that I did that at 28 when I got back in to yoga. I knew I wanted a yoga-thing on here, and while I'm ambitious, I'm not stupid... it was never going to be a headstand or that one where your legs look like a broken barbie because they're behind your head at such an unnatural angle. I'm keeping it simple but personally challenging with a full, feet together, legs straight, forward fold. I can't remember ever being able to touch my toes, and I want to. While that's the specific, the broader goal here is to keep getting better at a form of exercise I truly love, make it to classes more regularly, and never call it 'my practice' because that's cringe. Sorry.

3. Learn to bake Macarons.
Because it means I get to eat more Macarons.
(But seriously, everyone tells me they're really difficult. I'm a good cook but a pretty terrible baker (except bread. I kill it at bread) so a challenge and learning to make my favourite sweet treat all in one seemed like a good idea. I've been awake since 7am googling methods. I'm going to buy a Macaron mould this afternoon. Don't say I'm not taking this seriously).

4. Find a cause. Talk about it.
This one comes with a little bit of a guilt-hangover from the past year. I'm a huge advocate for speaking out about the things that ignite your passion, and in 2017 for me that was Jeremy Corbyn. And I did not do enough. I'm not saying I believe my voice would have necessarily made a difference. I definitely didn't play down my allegiance, and I made a successful and conscious effort to bring my personal politics in to my social media for the first time, but when general election day rolled around I felt certain I could have done more. I think if you believe in something; a person; a cause, you owe it to that thing but mostly to yourself and your integrity to champion it out loud. To add yourself to that narrative; to know you did everything you could for the thing you thought was right. So this year, I'm going to find a cause, and talk about it. And when I say find, it is already found, and when I say cause, it's Jeremy Corbyn. Just so we're clear.

5. Kitten!
(Even if it does mean hiding her from my landlady for a little while).

6. See a new piece of immersive theatre in another country.
So not Sleep No More in New York. (But also probably, in addition, Sleep No More in New York).

7. Produce a show.
I don't really do this anymore, by which I mean... I don't at all. There was a time, though, when producing theatre was my one true ride-or-die career love, and that feels a bit unfinished. This year I'd love to produce a concert, like we used to when theatre was just all my friends, fumbling our way through, having a laugh and mostly getting it right. As for what (or who), there's this one artist on my dream-list who juuuust managed to elude me last time around. That would be nice.

8. Finish The West Wing.
A masterclass in writing, makes complicated politics ridiculously accessible 'cause the characters are so well created, Donna Moss is my favourite fictional woman, and yet I've been stuck somewhere in the middle of season 4 for... literally years. I want to carry on; to earn that Josh & Donna moment I've seen over and over on Youtube, to get to the most perfect closing line in TV I've ever heard. Make time for the things that make you happy, even if they are only old TV shows.

9. Cook 30 new recipes.
Cooking something gorgeous with a podcast in my ears is often one of my favourite parts of the day. I love cooking, but while my repertoire is varied it's relatively small and I'm bored of it. This year I want to try 30 new recipes. That's the only criteria. (Remind me one day to tell you about the time I used an entire pot of Oregano in 24 hours... making up sauces. Cooking is creating too, isn't it?)

10. A solo weekend.
Escaping London with people I love is one of my favourite things in the world. Fresher air, the fact that it's somehow acceptable to open a bottle of wine at lunch time, ideally some sea views... what's not to love. That said, I also enjoy my own company, especially when I'm writing (or at least trying to), and the last time I got away alone was in 2014 (I came back with an excellent first draft of an entire script from a single weekend. It works for me). This year I want a solo weekend in someone else's gorgeous house to put down some words in a way I never do in London. I'm firing up Air B'n'B as we speak.

Part 2 coming in the next few days. Comment below with your own 30-before-30 lists, ideas, and general musings! Thanks Liam for the idea! 

Part 2 - Here.
Part 3 - Here.

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