About Amanda

I’m a disgruntled Metro-North commuter by morning, real estate journalist by day, insomniac by night, and cancer butt-kicker for life.

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Bingo Reading Challenge

One of the biggest disappointments from my first 100 in 1,001 list is how few books I read, considering I was once a voracious reader. Life has certainly gotten in the way, as well as a lack of a commute. (You’d be surprised how many  books I’d finished in LIRR delays.)

Yesterday, my friend Tara found the Retreat by Random House Reading Bingo Challenge, which encourages you to fill out lines—or even whole cards—of reading challenges like “A book with 500 or more pages” or “A ‘classic’ YA book” by the end of the year. I’m quite intrigued and joined a Facebook group Tara set up for people who want to participate. I’d like to fill out at least one card this year—that’s 25 books—with one book only filling one square. Then maybe I won’t feel so ashamed when Heather from I Haz A Choo Choo Train Problem announces how many books she’s finished by the end of the year. (Which was 85 in 2013, by the way. Eighty. Five.)

A Forgotten Treasure Chest

When cleaning out my mom’s house of all my stuff, I found a box that was packed away long ago. And forgotten. Judging by its contents, I likely packed it before I left for college in 2001. Unpacking it has been like revisiting old friends (except they’re non-stalkable on Facebook). Books, stuffed animals, knickknacks. I didn’t know the box even existed. Once in a while I’d think of something that was in the box, wondering what happened to it. Did I give it away to charity? Sell it in a garage sale? Lend it to a friend? I never connected the dots that they’d all might be together somewhere.

There were boxes in that storage area that were even older—some from our original move in 1992. I found toys I hadn’t seen in years, including a wooden puppet stage I once had. I’m itchy to see what else will be recovered over the next few weeks.

At the rate we’re going, I’m hoping that the boxes we’ve moved to Ossining don’t get unpacked for another 13 years. Yikes!

101 in 1,001 – The Results

For the past 1,000 days, I participated in Day Zero’s 101 Day Project, a unique challenge that inspires you to set and achieve your personal goals in life. My friend Caitlin had started one, and I was intrigued. At that point, I had been in five years’ remission from cancer and was basically a lump when it came to goal setting. The diagnosis had resulted in my having a hard time looking in the future, as I got in the mindset of “Well, anything can change quickly.” I thought that starting the list would be better than a so-called bucket list in inspiring me to look forward again. (And I’d just beaten cancer… why would I want to think about kicking the bucket?)

The challenge runs 1,001 days—I started September 12, 2010 and ended today, June 9, 2013. To count, tasks must be specific with a defined result that represents some amount of work on my part. Here’s a summary of my first list and what happened. Bolded items are ones that were completed. Not bad for my first try, with 54 of 101 goals achieved. I start Part II tomorrow, and will aim for 75 next.

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86 Days Left, A Lot Of Goals To Accomplish

On September 12, 2010, I started a 101 in 1,001 list—a list of 100 goals that I would like to complete in 1,001 days, or in this case, by June 9 of this year. I created it to get myself out of a slump that began after I finished treatment for Non-Hodgkins lymphoma. After a life-altering event like cancer, it sometimes gets hard to dream and envision the future, but instead of a bucket list (I hate that name anyway), this seemed like an easier, more tangible way of reintroducing goals back into my life.

I’ve done pretty good so far:  44 goals have been completed and 13 are under way. I was supposed to chip away at three this week, but things always seem to get thrown for a loop. That included ice-skating at Wollman Rink (goal 69; I refuse to call it Trump Rink) with my friend Deena, but squats at the gym this week killed my calves. Rain and snow bumped my plans to march in the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade tomorrow (goal 50), but Alex and I are thinking about making some creative hats and instead participating in the New York City Easter Parade. We may see a local stand-up/theatrical show called Welcome To Lawn Guyland this weekend to get a head start on goal 38 (attend three local performances).

Overall, I still have a ways to go (and that includes reading 15 books in 86 days), but it’s been a fun experiment so far and has encouraged me to go beyond my goals, including learning more recipes, getting a once-a-month massage membership, seeing more independent films, and becoming more healthy. I don’t think I’ll be able to get everything done (for one, goals 65 and 66 of visiting the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island have been impacted by Hurricane Sandy’s aftermath), but it’s helped put me back on a path of having dreams again versus having fear of a future that can change in an instant.

Now that I’m rounding the corner, I’m going to put a renewed focus on reaching more of those goals. Wish me luck!

Book Review: “Did I Do That? The Best (And Worst) Of The ’90s” by Amber Humphrey

If you were born in the Reagan and Bush 41 years, admit it—you’ve got a soft spot for the ’90s. In fact, a lot of people do. I recently wrote my first article for Buzzfeed (as a contributer) outlining the typical day of a teenage girl in the late ’90s—and within a mere 48 hours, it began going viral, with nearly 1.2 million hits. When you go to Buzzfeed Rewind, you’ll see it’s quite the popular decade.

After the Buzzfeed article made the rounds, I was asked if I wanted to review Amber Humphrey’s Did I Do That? The Best (And Worst) Of The ’90s, which focuses on the kid culture of the ’90s—so don’t expect references to flannel shirts or Kurt Cobain.

In the words of the immortal Michelle Tanner: “You’ve got it, dude.”


The book is broken down into 40 chapters, each highlighting a popular fad in the ’90s, from Super Soakers to Skip-Its and Tamagotchis to TGIF (which you know doesn’t stand for “Thank God it’s Friday”). But the book doesn’t just fleetingly mention a trend: Amber often delves into the history of the fad, peppered with images, sketches, and her personal memories. As I read the book, I found myself constantly nodding in agreement—it’s almost like we lived the same childhood. The book ventures into the obvious—think Spice Girls and Beanie Babies—to things you’ve pushed to the back of your memory bank. (Rollerblade flick Airborne, anyone?)

Amber does warn in the introduction that the toys, games, and show in the book are ones that played a role in her own adolescent years, meaning that all fads weren’t included. Even so, I felt glaring omissions when I finished the book. No Macarena? Windows 95? Men In Black? Body glitter? The Baby-sitters Club? But that’s not necessarily a bad thing—I think Amber can easily pull off a Volume 2 of the book, crowdsourcing trends if she needs to. For one, I would have loved to see more mention of food and beauty products, like Crybabies, Fruitopia, Dunkaroos, and Bonne Bell Lip Smackers (although some did get shout outs, like Shark Bites fruit snacks and Ecto Cooler).

The book is a must for any ’90s kid at heart. It would be an especially good gift for someone experiencing a quarter-life crisis or turning the big 3-0. (On the other hand, it may just make them depressed for the good ol’ days.) The book even comes with a nifty “Did I do that?” iron-on transfer, complete with Steve Urkel, in the back of the book. You know it would look phat on an oversized white t-shirt—tied to the side with a scrunchie, of course—over brightly colored Spandex bike shorts.

My only complaint is that the book cover is slightly low quality, and it’s already looking a bit worn out (more so on the back cover). This book is meant to be passed around at parties, shared with friends, and perused through every time you need that dose of nostalgia. I’d love to see a hardcover edition.

Title: Did I Do That? The Best (And Worst) Of The ’90s
Author: Amber Humphrey
Pages: 208
Publisher: Abrams Image
Price: $19.95 (US)/$21.95 (CAN)/£11.99 (UK)
Release Date: March 12, 2013