Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The 21 Club

Last time I wrote, it seems I was too busy lamenting my lack of a royal coronation to notice that I should have been celebrating my one-year blogiversary! And I promise that the coming year at marissabidilla will be even better. I'm full of grand (if vague) plans to get more readers. For one, I want to be more open about telling people I'm a blogger when I meet them in real life.

Still, gotta look to my future: just a short while after this blogiversary comes my own birthday--I'll be 21! And you can imagine how much I'm looking forward to that. It's a real pain to spend 4.5 months in France at the age of 19, drinking good wine on a regular basis, then return to this country and still be 14 months too young to buy alcohol.

And I have a story that relates to this--no, not to alcohol, but to turning 21. Two years ago, on the day I turned 19, I learned I had won the Young Playwright's Contest and flew to New York for two weeks of seeing plays and attending workshops. Lucas, the Young Playwrights literary manager, led the familiar exercise where you find an intriguing story in the newspaper and figure out how to dramatize it. Playwriting teachers love this--I think I've done it in every playwriting class I've ever had.

Since I love historical subject matter with a light touch, I found a New York Times review of a new biography of Lorenzo Da Ponte, Mozart's most famous librettist. I said I'd write a kind of jukebox-opera in which an elderly Da Ponte looks back on his life and tells his own story--all the songs would have Mozart's music but new lyrics in English. I'd still like to see a play or movie about Da Ponte--the guy led a fascinating life.

But in this exercise, I was totally bested by my fellow playwright Brittani, who found inspiration in Seventeen magazine: an article called "21 Things To Do Before You Turn 21." "This," she announced, "is going to be the greatest romantic-comedy movie ever."

The heroine of Brittani's movie would be a girl who was about to turn 21, read this list and realized that she'd lived a really uneventful life. Maybe she'd done some of the boring stuff like Save $1000 or Donate Prom Dress to Charity, but none of the kooky things that make this list so hilarious. So, before she's 21, she decides to Go on a Road Trip with her best friends and complete the to-do list. And naturally, she falls in love along the way. The last line of the movie would involve her checking off the last item on her list: "Say 'I Love You.'" Aww.

So, with my own 21ist birthday coming up, I decided to hunt down this Seventeen article and check off what I've accomplished.

  • Learned to play a musical instrument--I don't excel at it, but I can plunk out chords and melodies, and play a little Mozart, on the piano.
  • Saved $1000--My last name means "stingy" in Czech. And true to form, I like to save money!
  • Gotten to know my grandparents--I loved asking them about what life was like back when they were my age.
  • Won an award--Uh, I've kind of been an overachiever since elementary school.
  • Had my fortune told--After my high school graduation, my school threw an all-night party including a fortune-teller. It was pretty fun.
  • Done my own laundry--I would HOPE that every 21-year-old has done this!
  • Ridden a horse--A few times, when on vacation.
  • Seen the ocean--Not that hard to do, growing up in Portland.
  • Left the country--It started when I was 5 years old and went to British Columbia, and now I consider myself a seasoned traveler!
  • Taken a road trip--Never in the classic way with a group of friends. But I drove out to Joseph, Oregon with my dad last summer, and that was pretty fun.
  • Said "I love you"--I've gotten better about telling my friends and relatives that I love them. But I've never been in a serious romantic relationship. "Seventeen Magazine--Making Girls Feel Inadequate for Not Having Boyfriends since 1944!"
  • Milked a cow--I think I might have done this once, when I was a little girl at some Pioneer Days or County Fair-type event.
  • Forgiven someone--The article means this in the sense of "formally make amends." But I'm more likely to forgive someone in my heart than to do it face-to-face.
  • Seen something that is "the world's largest"--Well, I've never gone out of my way to see the world's largest ball of string, say, but I've been to other silly roadside attractions like the Oregon Vortex. By the way, I think that in Brittani's movie script, there would have to be an annoying frat-boy character who claimed he had the world's largest schlong. Right?
  • Learned to love my body--Oh, I'm sure this is an ongoing process for every girl. But, for instance, I've become more accepting of my big feet, etc.
  • Gone skinny-dipping--The Mock Trial team at my high school used to bond by skinny-dipping in the freezing Oregon ocean, but I never did Mock Trial.
  • Bought a lottery ticket--Why haven't I done this? (Maybe 'cause I'm stingy?)
  • Learned to drive a stick shift--Hell, I only got my license six months ago!
  • Gone to a drive-in movie--Are there any drive-ins left in Oregon?
  • Donated my prom dresses--Maybe I'm just selfish, but my prom dresses were beautiful vintage pieces, and I don't want to give them up.
  • Waitressed at least once--My mother once said to a friend, "I don't think Marissa is nice enough to be a waitress." I took offense at the time, but now I see what she means--I probably lack the patience to be a really good waitress.
image found here


Shamiah said...

I am so loving your blog!
wow. your truly an inspiration to me. to think you have been invited to such events? wow.

Marissa said...

Thanks Shamiah! Winning the playwriting contest and getting to go to New York was definitely a great experience. But I wasn't just "invited" to it -- I mean, I worked hard on my play before I submitted it. I know it's a cliche to say that "hard work" is the best way to accomplish things, but it's kind of true.