1977. First words spoken about me, by a doctor, immediately following my entrance into the world: "Look at the shoulders on this kid, he's going to play football. Oh, it's a girl!"
1978. I say my first words, "mama" and "dada," not because they're the people who feed me, but because they're early emerging consonant sounds paired with vowels, which are basically formed by opening your mouth and making noise. My apologies to parents everywhere.
1979. My parents decide to start trying for another kid, and are told by the doctor that my mom would have to spend her entire pregnancy in the hospital, because I almost killed her in utero. (Was this the same doctor who thought I was a boy? Maybe get a second opinion.) They decide not to have anymore children, thus placing all of their expectations on my man shoulders.
1980. I have a little panda toy on wheels that I push around everywhere. I distinctly remember fantasizing about being able to climb down into it and have it open up into a place much like the house that I live in, only without anyone else there. Years later I realize that I was wishing for my own apartment as a toddler.
1981. When my dad pours himself a beer, he lets me drink the foam off the top, which I enjoy. It was probably just a convenient way for him to get rid of the head. I wonder what child protective services would've had to say about that.
1982. I wonder where babies come from, but I'm too nervous to ask because I intuitively know it's dirty. In the meantime I continue rubbing Barbie and Ken together until they both start to chafe.
1983. I get a project done before everyone else in my class and am told that I'm "the star of first grade." As a reward I get to hold the Bus #10 sign at dismissal. I almost pass out from happiness.
1984. I keep a short-lived food journal, and on January 20th report that my breakfast consisted of waffles, orange juice, and "starwberry yougert," which I proudly, however misinformed-ly, note underneath as containing "no calories!" I was SEVEN. And the day before I wrote down that I had tuna fish and Fritos for dinner. Was anyone watching me?
1985. I am absent on the day that we learn how to do cursive capital Js, which is inconvenient because my last name starts with one. My Js will continue to look a little off until that summer, when I decide to adopt the J from the Julio Inglesias record in my grandmother's living room. For the next several years, my Latin-influenced Js are quite dramatically big and swirly.
1986. I live in the perfect neighborhood for a kid: one of my best friends lives across the street and one of them lives a street away; both are named Katie. The rest of the street is filled with kids from school to play with, with all of us having dinnertime as our curfew. Garbage Pail Kids, scratch and sniff stickers and charm necklaces are our currency. The only one who doesn't play with us is this kid Stephen who always goes right home after school, despite living in The Funnest Neighborhood Ever. I'll know him peripherally until the end of high school, and always wonder what his deal was.
1987. I turn ten, which feels anticlimactic, as all my friends are about to turn eleven. This will continue to vex me until many of them start turning thirty.
1988. I become a godmother to my newborn cousin Chris. I will spend the next 18 years imparting my wisdom, which he will ignore.
1989. I am going to marry Joey McIntyre. You know this because of the giant pin bearing his face that's affixed to my jean jacket, and the poster of him over my hamper, and the interview with him in Big Bopper that's ripped out and thumbtacked to my bulletin board.
1990. While my friends and I amuse ourselves with terrorizing and being terrorized by neighborhood boys during sleepovers, I hear that someone in my class is having sex and am shocked. I search their face for signs of it and don't find any, but am sure that they now possess a new sense of maturity and worldliness. In reality, they probably possess chlamydia.
1991. I start high school and retire my hypercolor t-shirt.
1992. They Might Be Giants are my favorite band, and they come to play in my high school auditorium. I am paralyzed with joy.
1993. I spend lots of time at Newbury Comics, wear big black boots, and almost always have some crappy faded plaid shirt tied around my waist. If you're not one of my friends or Eddie Vedder then shut up because you don't know anything.
1994. I've taken all of the English classes at my high school, so I start doing an independent study on Freud because that means I can recycle a paper that I wrote for my psychology class the previous year. My laziness is mistaken for ambition, and is actually rewarded when the teacher overseeing my independent study writes a recommendation letter for me to the college that I want to go to, praising my non-existent initiative and work ethic.
1995. At graduation, my mom takes a picture of my then-boyfriend Justin getting his diploma. Six years later I'll meet Steve and it will turn out that he had been at my high school graduation because he was dating a girl in my class. I found the picture of Justin from that day, and there's Steve standing in the background. I will continue to check this picture whenever I start dating someone to see if they're in there, too.
1996. I start consuming solid food again after having spent the better part of the previous year eating sugar-free Jell-O, break off my "engagement" to Justin, and discover that the guys down the hall from me have an extra room in their suite that they've basically made into an opium den. I like college.
1997. I turn twenty the night that Live ER premieres. There's a picture of me watching it, either riveted or high, on the floor of my dorm room with two of my friends. I guess it's a rockin' birthday when there's a picture of you watching television.
1998. I go on my first real spring break WOOOOOO!!! trip and have fun, but am secretly glad that I'm graduating soon so I won't be doing it again.
1999. First real job, first apartment, first bloodcurdling scream after seeing a mouse run under my bedroom door and into my closet.
2000. I have my first and last gin and tonic at a wedding where the bartender informs us that he is only allowed to make drinks that contain two or less ingredients. Despite never having had a G&T, it's the first thing that comes to mind. Well, right after, "That's freakin' ridiculous." I was not yet a wine drinker and wasn't able to stomach beer, since at that point I still associated it not as a beverage but as the sticky stuff all over my bathroom floor in college (I lived with boys, remember).
2001. The little stick tells me that I'm pregnant. I panic, and then sort of accept it. When I find out I'm not, I'm actually surprised. Then I throw up. (If I had been knocked up, there's a good chance I would've been married with a kindergartener right now. But let's not go there.)
2002. I move into a new place with a living room that has a mirrored wall.
2003. I start writing a blog. The world begins anew.
2004. I finish graduate school. I neglected to mention starting but, needless to say, the finishing was the most important part.
2005. I make the unfortunate discovery that the only thing worse than John Mayer is James Blunt.
2006. I find an unopened Nature Valley granola bar in my bag that's smashed beyond all recognition. I throw it away, feeling wasteful, but really, I'm just not going to eat that.