So begins my birthday week, and I’ve decided to celebrate myself. Too often I am self- critical or negative about any hint of vanity or pride, but I think self-celebration is critical to personal contentment. So, celebrate away, my friends. The following is a remix of one of the most interesting Facebook creations: “25 Things.” Imbedded are many things I find interesting and celebration worthy about myself.

1. I receive crayons and a coloring book for Christmas every year. (The last time I counted, I had 17 coloring books.) It’s one of my favorite things about my mom: she constantly indulges my youth… I have one with me in Mexico right now.

2. I categorize my crushes. For example, I have “daddy crushes” and “friend crushes” and “second grade crushes.”

3. My mom and I have nicknames for each other. I’m Neil and she’s Buzz, a throwback to those dudes that landed on the moon… you know the ones. You gain the right to the name “Neil” if you accomplish something first. We also always sign our cards with a version of “I love you more than thunderstorms, little kids who sing, and chocolate.”

4. I have a strange fascination with clouds and like to take photos of them when I see really pretty ones (I think they’re all pretty). This is a habit I got from my great grandmother, who always had a disposable camera around for that purpose. Sometimes I receive text messages from my friends with pictures of clouds. They make my day.

5. I have a wet-shower phobia. When I step into a shower stall, it must be dry. Only I can get it wet. I always try to get in them before my brother does. I also abhor going into a bathroom when the shower curtain is open. Creepy.

6. My use of Febreze and Clorox spray is excessive. Sometimes I use half of the bottle of Febreze in my room. Probably not very healthy in light of recent research I’ve done about toxins in our environments.

7. I love the grocery store, especially the produce section. Going to the grocery store is my favorite domestic chore- it should hardly be considered a chore! The produce section is like a museum- colors and descriptions and varieties of texture and ripeness. Don’t even get me started on the farmer’s market.

8. I really like the look of folded towels. I want threadbare towels when I grow up, the ones that you’ve used for years and years until they wear through…. I don’t like that all of our towels at home are new. Recently, though, I’ve learned that mites live in towels. Sad news.

9. I like chopping vegetables, especially with a really sharp knife on a really big cutting board. Sometimes I pretend that I’m a chef and try to chop really fast.

10. I like ethnic foods, and I crave them at weird times. I can’t understand why people don’t like to try new foods or have new experiences.

11. I want a rice cooker and a salad spinner REALLY badly. I think it’s because I really like sticky rice and I really hate wet lettuce.

12. I like keeping my nails short and my toenails bare. When I go to the beach, one of my favorite things is that my toenails look really clean and pink.

13.I have two scars on my chin, and so does my mom. Sometimes I get all of the stories mixed up and forget how each one happened. When I tell that story I feel very connected to my mother.

14. My (great) grandma Addie had a rule: you’re only allowed to go barefoot after you see the first butterfly of the season in spring. It’s one of my favorite life rules- one that I’ve passed on to my friends, who let me know when they see their first butterfly.

15. I really dislike when people confuse “less” with “fewer.” This is among the many grammatical errors that I take note of, although I myself used the word “Capitol” when I should have used “Capital.”

16. I drive a stick shift and I’m overly proud of that fact. I think it stems from the fact that my brother can’t do it, and there are few things that my brother cannot do that I can.

17. Wooden hangers are on the top of my fetishes list. I love looking at my wardrobe hanging from wooden hangers, especially if it’s color coordinated. Recently, while at Costco, I literally started drooling over a box of 50 wooden hangers that the lady next to us was buying.

18. I could spend hours in Staples picking out office supplies. I also spend an extravagant amount of time picking out things like shampoo and fruit juice, because I want to know every detail about the product I’m buying. Don’t go shopping for toiletries with me if you’re not a patient person.

19. I love the smell of red dirt and construction sites, because it reminds me of the house my family built when I was little, when I spent lots of time at the construction site.

20. I lost my journal in Kenya and that loss is one of the things that make me saddest in life. I miss the physical representation of my life there, the words written in Kiswahili by a Kenyan pastor (Pastor Ben) and the eloquent words I used to describe my experiences. I fantasize about finding it when I return there one day. If my house is burning down, I’m saving my journals.

21. I get extremely excited when I think about all of the opportunities I’ll have when I live in a community (abroad or stateside) as an adult. Edit: I am an adult, and I do live in communities. Choosing how to invest in these communities is the challenging part. I’m excited about community gardens, apartment parties, recipe sharing, and passing my neighbor on the street and saying hello.

22. Train travel is seductive. There’s something about the rhythm and the passing scenery- it lulls you into a different realm. I fell in love with someone on a train, but I don’t know who he is.

23. I’m organized and cluttered at the same time. It’s highly annoying. When I travel, I think about going home and cleaning out all of my closet/attic/basement storage and selling things for more travel money. I live in a strange tension between simplicity and collection. Perhaps we all do.

24. I love Olivia the pig. If you haven’t heard of her, you should investigate.

25. I love rubber duckies. My favorite rubber ducky is one that my mom got me. It lights up. (Is it obvious that my mother knows me really well and buys really appropriate gifts for me?)

(and because I’m prone to over-doing things)….26. My favorite possession is the diamond necklace that my mom gave me when I turned 16. Her dad gave it to her in a gold setting when she turned 16, and now it’s in a silver setting. It’s one of the things that make me feel grounded, settled, and secure. I don’t know my grandfather, but when I meet him, we’ll hug for a very long time, go horseback riding, and eat food with lots of black pepper (a taste that we share and that makes me feel extremely connected to him.)

I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.

-Whitman, Song of Myself