If you enjoy living, it is not difficult to keep the sense of wonder. (Ray Bradbury)
Today is my 28th birthday.
I’m a big birthday person. I insist on cake and perhaps a little selfishly, I like it when people take a moment to recognize that today is a special day for me, because it’s nice to know that they care enough to make a gesture. But most importantly, I like to use every birthday to look back on the year between now and the last one, and sort of take stock of everything. To note all the memories made and the things accomplished. It’s a way for me to be satisfied that I’m doing something with my life, and also, it’s just fun to look back, and appreciate everything.
So in semi-chronological order, here are some of the things I was lucky enough to do or to have experienced since last July:
- I got to meet one of my favorite baseball players of all time, David Eckstein, and his equally talented wife Ashley. There’s something special about talking shop with the guy you once daydreamed about playing alongside.
- Finally had the pleasure of meeting Michael Trucco in person, and we all know I can’t say enough good things about him (although I certainly tried for his birthday). It made me get choked up later to realize that I’d earned the friendship of someone I admire.
- Wrote my first TV pilot in a few years…in three days.
- Finished my sixth novel.
- Chef Gordon Ramsay declares, when I’m introduced at the end of a conference call, that “they saved the best for last.” I’m honestly not entirely sure what I ever did to earn his respect, but I am inordinately grateful for it.
- Got to go to a The Voice press conference and reception at Mark Burnett’s mansion in Malibu. Blake Shelton made a point of coming over and giving me a hug, I got to hang out with Adam Levine’s tour manager, and then of course I got an Adam hug. It was one of those nights where you just pinch yourself. Repeatedly.
- Speaking of The Voice, I made a ton of new friends while covering Seasons 3 and 4, and caught up with so many old friends from the show, including Dia Frampton, Tony Lucca, Justin Hopkins, Karla Davis, Pip, Lindsey Pavao, Nakia and Erin Willett, and I finally got to meet Rebecca Loebe.
- And there were plenty more Adam Levine moments. I’ll never forget some of the things he said to me this season.
- Plus, there was that concert at the Staples Center where he pointed me out and winked at me in the middle of a sold-out show. And then sung part of “Love Somebody” to me later.
- Finally got to meet and interview one of my favorite actresses, Suits star Sarah Rafferty (actually, it’s three times by now, and I still adore her).
- Once again crashed the set of Top Gear and got to hang with three of my favorite guys on the planet: Adam Ferrara, Rutledge Wood and Tanner Foust. (That’s where the picture above comes from.) I can’t describe how cool it is to watch a trio of crazy people drive an apocalypse-converted Toyota Camry and rip out a vending machine. It’s just spectacular. Plus, you know you’re having the time of your life when half your 20-minute interview is just catching up and laughing hysterically.
- Was named The Voice‘s biggest fan.
- Spent five minutes talking smack with David Koechner (Anchorman) in the most off-topic – and hilarious – interview I’ve ever done in 13 years. Seriously, you should watch the video, because it’s ridiculous and awesome.
- Finally catalogued all 2,500 (2,700 now) of my DVDs and Blu-Rays. That was only like 5 years overdue.
- Did my second one-on-one interview with Top Gear host and one of my heroes, Richard Hammond. I never thought he’d talk to me once, so having had the opportunity to chat with him multiple times is just an incredible honor that I’ll cherish for the rest of my life.
- Visited the set of TNT’s Monday Mornings and started on my way to conquering my fear of hospitals.
- Also thanks to that show, I finally met Jamie Bamber and only embarrassed myself slightly. I think. I hope.
- Got the chance to bid farewell to my favorite theme park ride, Universal Studios’ Terminator 2: 3D, which closed in December.
- Had my much-awaited, long sought-after interview with James Wolk.
- Reunited with my college classmate Phil Plantier, who’s now the hitting coach for my San Diego Padres.
- And former Padres pitcher Brian Lawrence, another of my favorites who’s now the pitching coach for my Lake Elsinore Storm.
- Got to chat with Mark Valley again thanks to his role on Body of Proof, and was surprised when he A) remembered me from our work on Human Target, and B) read my article on his career and quipped that he should use it for his official biography.
- Had coffee with John Barrowman.
- The 2013 Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race at the Grand Prix of Long Beach. I don’t even know where to start with this. There was media day, where I got to sit around and just catch up with my friends Rutledge and Michael, and be pleasantly surprised that they were able to spot me when I thought I’d just sneak into the room during lunch unnoticed. Or race day, where I got to cheer them on as they placed first and third respectively, then interview them both and try not to get emotional when they both told me they were glad I was there. As if that wasn’t enough, I got to meet Brett Davern, Carter Lay, Rutledge’s brother-in-law Adam, Michael’s wife and Michael’s mom. It was one of the best experiences of my career. Not bad for somebody who thought I’d fail miserably at covering auto racing.
- Did a wonderful interview with one of my longtime faves, Harold Perrineau. Working on Wedding Band was just a generally fantastic experience, thanks to Josh Lobis, Harold, Peter Cambor, Derek Miller and Kathryn Fiore, who got me to watch the show in the first place.
- Got my own fan club.
- After more than a decade of trying, finally met the man who inspired my writing career, Aaron Sorkin. Not only did I meet him, he told me that I made his night. And then I went and cried tears of joy.
That seems like a long list, right? That’s the short list. I’ve omitted the compliments, the kind words, and other, smaller memorable moments from the last 365 days. The fact that I can do that and still come up with a list this long shows how great my life really is, and I’m proud of that, because I know I’ve earned it, too. So as I start a new year, I just look at this list and think, “Okay, what’s next?” Not because I’m not happy, or because I’m trying to one-up myself, but because I really love what I do and who I am, and can’t wait to see what’s around the corner.
When I was growing up, I used to tell myself that I wanted my whole life figured out by the time I turned 30. I’m two years away from that now, and I definitely don’t have it all sorted. (My parents would still like to know when I’m getting married and giving them grandchildren.) But I have a life right now that I’d be more than happy with living for the rest of it. I’ve already done way more than I ever thought I would, talked to people I never thought would give me the time of day, and made friends out of people that I get to go home and watch on TV every week. It breaks my brain to think about sometimes. A lot of times, actually.
So as I go off to celebrate my birthday, I’m going to look back on this last year and just shake my head and smile. Now let’s see what I can do with year 28.