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30th birthday girl

Some people really embrace their milestone birthdays. On Bianca Jagger’s 30th, she rode into her party at Studio 54 on a white horse led by a naked man covered in gold glitter. Today is my 30th birthday and, unless Tony has me in for a real surprise, I’m not doing that. I’m normally into celebrating birth-months, not birthdays (and I kind of did that this year anyway, because I went to Mexico to celebrate it a few weeks ago and have publicly shared my dread on a near-daily basis since). I always thought I was the type who would do a “30 Before 30” bucket list challenge, but 1) I wanted to bury my head in the sand and pretend it wasn’t happening and 2) I just generally don’t have my sh*t together enough to plan that far in advance. Organization is not my strong suit (hoarding is). So instead, today I’m reflecting on the past 30 years. Here are 30 things I’m glad I did before I turned 30:

Marry the love of my life. This can happen at any age (although you have to get your parents’ approval before you turn 18. So I guess any time after 18 is good). You don’t even have to get married ever. But I always wanted to. And for me, as a person who doesn’t feel like a “grown-up” in a lot of ways, I’m proud to have made such a profound, very grown-up decision that I have never once questioned or doubted. I may struggle with the decision of what to order at lunch, but this one was a no-brainer.

Wear sunscreen (*almost) every day. (*At cheer camp in high school, I forgot and got a 3rd degree burn that landed me in the hospital. My mom still cries whenever people bring it up, and reminds me constantly that I’ll probably get skin cancer because of it. Consider this my PSA to wear sunscreen to keep moles AND moms off your friggin’ back.)

Adopt 3 rescue dogs. One per decade!

Know what I want to do with my life. I had dinner with my sister-in-law last night, whom I’m so grateful for because I always wanted a sister and never had one until her, and she gave me this beautiful sister insight: A lot of people spend their entire 20’s trying to figure out what they want to do, and I spent mine chasing my dreams. She told me that knowing what I want to do and pursuing it every day is a success, too, and that made my heart feel full.

Learn that some dreams don’t come true, but that those crushing experiences often open the door up for something even better. I watched my then-boyfriend, now-husband fly to New York to test for Saturday Night Live, his dream of all dreams, and not get it. Now, he’s starring on a different TV show that didn’t require us to cart our 3 dog-babies in a cross-country move to a city I’m not sure I could survive in. And I’m still waiting to see how my dreams pan out.

Discover what is not for me. Namely: Spray tans, breaking rules, casual dating, camping, most cooked fishes, letting people down, diets, karaoke, beer, rollercoasters, social climbers and obeying laws about the legal number of pets a person can own (my one exception to that rule-breaking thing).

Survive a major break-up, and realize I can survive anything and that there is no such thing as “The One.” I stayed in an unhealthy relationship for too long out of fear that I might be throwing away the soulmate the universe had assigned to me. But in my opinion, it’s much more important to find someone you love and cherish, and choose them yourself instead of believing some outside source picked him or her for you. And every day, keep choosing them and making them “The One.” That’s some The Notebook-scale romance right there!

Survive a friend break-up. The older I’ve gotten, the more important I’ve realized it is to surround yourself with people who truly love and support you, and don’t wish bad things for you just because they’re unhappy with their own lives. Life is too short.

Live with an 80-year-old woman for a roommate who became one of my best friends. Her name was Pearl and she was a retired opera singer who had outlived several husbands in the Los Angeles mansion she opened up to me. It was my first home in L.A., and she was the best roommate I ever had (sorry, Tony). I wish she’d lived to see my wedding, so she could’ve been a bridesmaid. She taught me that every day is a gift, to pursue your dreams with relentless, optimistic passion and to always date a few guys at once, just in case one of them died. She made me laugh, loosen up, stand tall, put lipstick on and believe in myself, and helped me figure out who I am. She could drink me under the table. She read several newspapers a day, spent hours with the people she loved, and once tried to set me up with a man I think was her step-son from one of her marriages, who was the same age as my dad. She went to the Oscars with Zsa Zsa Gabor. She sang until the day she died because she loved it. When she got sick, she had her floors re-covered in a gorgeous light pink carpet that reminded her of a hotel she’d once adored. She taught me that soulmates come in many forms, and I’m forever lucky she chose me as one of hers.

Travel. Aside from giving your money away to charity, I truly believe it’s the best thing you can do with your hot steaming cash. See the world.

Perform as a cast member of the Groundlings Sunday Company. It was a dream I’d had ever since my mom wrote Will Forte a fan letter when I was in high school, he called her out of the pure kindness of his heart, and she became his stalker. Thousands of people go through the Groundlings school every year, and I was lucky enough to make it into their junior company and perform on the same stage that Will, Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Will Ferrell and countless other brilliant people did every week for a while. And, I met my husband and most of my best friends while I was doing it.

Fly to New York to see a live taping of Saturday Night Live, courtesy of Will Forte. It was my dream come true, and the result of Will being one of the biggest-hearted humans on this planet and my mom being a really, really driven stalker. We gave Tina Fey a half-eaten, mushed piece of peanut butter pie and I watched my comedy heroes kill it live. It was magic.

Volunteer. Nothing puts everything into perspective faster. Spending time with the kids at CHLA has been one of the greatest gifts in my life.

Learn to never give myself a bikini wax. Especially not on Valentine’s Day. Some things are just worth paying a professional to do.

Write 11 scripts. I may not have sold any of them yet, but a lot of important people read (and briefly attached to produce) some of them. And, above all, I lived my dream and loved every second of writing them.

Drive to Mexico with my mom on a madcap adventure that she hoped would lead to me becoming famous. It’s a long story for another time. (It should be known that one of her great regrets is that she never got to be a Stage Mom.)

Barf in a cab in Vegas, and remember I’m not a Vegas kind of girl. I’m a fancy spa kind of girl.

Get my heart broken by a guy with his mom’s name tattooed over his heart, and a tramp stamp of his fraternity letters. And break someone else’s heart, and learn it’s just as hard to be that person and we’re all just doing our best.

Realize the power of kindness and politeness. It can turn someone else’s day around, it can land you a job but most importantly, it will allow you to make deep and lasting relationships with others and live with yourself.

Ride a horse on a beach into the sunset.

Move to a different state. I spent a year in Texas for my freshman year of college. It was scary and awful and I was so homesick I transferred to USC and moved right back to California as fast as I could. But, I’m proud I was brave enough to do it. And I wrote my first screenplay about that very experience. So.

Invest in a good bag that will never go out of style, ridiculously uncomfortable shoes that make me feel confident even when I’m not, a dress I can rock at a kid’s birthday party and a fancy date night out, and lipstick that will last through a taco binge.

Swim with whales.

Tony suggested I add “Learn to put oil into my car,” and I had to tell him I still don’t know how to do that. So, I guess, learn that I still have so much to learn?

Attempt to zip line. (I only made it as far as the practice line, which was maybe 10 feet above the ground… In the video of this practice run, you can hear me groaning like a bear in labor.) That day I realized it’s good to try things outside your comfort zone, but it’s also important to avoid risks that might kill you. I’ll drink water in Mexico, but I will never zip line.

Dye my hair red. I’d always wanted to do it and thought I would look like Jessica Rabbit. I didn’t. So, I changed it back. It was a frivolous, expensive lesson that very few things are permanent, so lighten up, mix it up and don’t be a rigid perfectionist with your look or your life. You can always change it up again.

Be on time. Once. (If you know me, you probably don’t believe this. It’s something I really want to work on now that I’m a 30-year-old adult.)

Start this blog. I love to write and was sick of waiting for somebody else to give me an opportunity, so I created one for myself. It’s still a work in progress, but it allows me to do what I love every day and I have met some of the kindest, smartest, funniest people from all over the world because of it.

Be reminded on a daily basis that family is everything. I love the family I was born into, I love the family I’m building with Tony and I love the family I’ve chosen with my pack in L.A. The people I’ve surrounded myself with are the best thing in my life.

Discover that life doesn’t go according to plan. Sometimes, beautiful surprises happen. Other times, shit happens. Either way, I’ve realized I’m a lot happier when I roll with it and am open to it (as difficult as change is for me).

So, that’s it. I’m 30 now. I still don’t have it together like I wanted to, but I’m alive sharing my life with my favorite person on this planet, and I’m about to have cake for breakfast. In these next 30 years, I’d like to worry less, believe in myself more and live in each moment as fully as possible. And maybe have kids. And definitely adopt more dogs…