30 Since 20 List
When I turned fifty years old in 2016, I compiled a list of thirty memorable events/facts of my life since I was twenty years old and first went to China. I purposely did not include family milestones, of which there were many, for this particular list. I titled it, “30 Since 20 List.” The following are the first ten entries:
1. Worked as a Chinese Translator with the C.I.A.
(January 1989-July 1991) Translating and publishing open and classified Chinese materials at the Foreign Broadcast Information Service and being involved in intelligence community meetings in the DC Area as a twenty-three year-old was exciting.
2. Collect Chinese Snuff Bottles
As seen in China Sings To Me, I began collecting in China (about a dozen bottles). It has continued with Ebay, local auctions, and return trips to China. My collection now numbers ninety, though there are thirty bottles that I would not have bought with the benefit of experience.
3. Wrote a Memoir (about China)
This entry is self-explanatory, a long journey that has now resulted in publication.
4. Grew/Grow a Ponytail (3x)
Who knows what sparked this interest. I first grew my hair long from early-1990 to early-1992. My boss at the C.I.A. told me later that had I had the long hair when I first applied, I probably would not have been hired. My hair was long when I got married in 1991. I grew it out again from late-2003 to late-2007, and yet again from late-2016 to the present. Sadly, each time I have less and less hair on top of my head.
5. Tandem Skydived in Hanson, MA
My good friend, Vyshali, and I had talked about doing this on and off for years. I often wondered if I’d have the guts to do so. The thought of the first step always petrified me. When she found a Groupon for a tandem jump in 2014, we took the plunge on a sunny day in June.
6. Completed 39.5 Mile, Two-Day Boston Avon Walk for Breast Cancer
In May, 2008, three friends and I completed this event in and around Boston and several suburbs. I walked in honor of my wife, who had just completed her first (of ultimately many) chemotherapy treatments. I raised more than $10,000 for breast cancer research.
7. Saw Phantom of the Opera (3x), Les Miserables, Big River, and Spamalot at the Theater
I have always enjoyed musicals. Phantom is a particular favorite. We saw Love Never Dies, the new sequel, in February 2018. It is good, but does not match the intensity or wonder of the original.
8. Saw U2, Paul McCartney, Bob Seger, TSO, and Nightwish in Concert
I also enjoy rock concerts. For U2 in 1987, I sat with college friends at the highest, farthest reaches of Giants Stadium. We borrowed someone’s binoculars so that we could see the stage. For Bob Seger in 1996 (on the floor at the Worcester Centrum, now DCU Center), my wife and I smelled the pot being surreptitiously smoked near us and later learned that she was in the first weeks of being pregnant with our oldest son.
9. Watched John Williams Conduct the Main Theme from Star Wars with the Boston Pops
Early June, 2014 (three weeks before I went skydiving), Boston Symphony Hall. I got goosebumps and still do just thinking back on it.
10. Drove across the Continental United States (1.75 times)
My wife and I decided to move west after I graduated law school in 1994. We were heading to Portland, Oregon. We spent most of August driving 7,700 miles up, down, and across America. Twenty-two days of visiting family, friends, and seeing a whole bunch of this large country. The second trip was shorter when I helped my brother-in-law bring two cars and two dogs back from Colorado to Massachusetts in 2000. We didn’t dawdle, but did catch baseball games in Kansas City and St. Louis.