On Turning 27...

I am a big birthday person. Skip Thanksgiving, just acknowledge Christmas with a phone call--or show up at the house if youre my S.O.--, take a shot of Patron with me for New Years, V-day only requires a text message. But my birthday?!

Its not just a day. It is an event! And got damn it, you better act like you know. I dont need gifts, but a bunch of undivided attention from my inner circle is required. Make a big deal over me. Go the extra mile. Allow me to inconvenience you for just one night. Indulge my ego for one day. Oh, and dont laugh at my tiara (yes, I wear one all day on my b-day) and most important: make sure if (when? LOL!) I dance on the table that youre there to catch me if I should stumble. Thats all I ask.

Is that too much?

In previous years, Ive anticipated my annual Big Day with giddiness, thinking only of the pure debauchery of the upcoming celebration. The count of the years creeping higher didnt faze me in the least. I made no New Years resolution-type list of goals to reach in the upcoming 12 months. My birthday has always been just another day on which a major party occurs and a lot of shots are consumed in my honor.

But this year, eh things are a little different. Ive found myself taking stock of lifewhere I am, where I thought I would be, where I want to be. Its not a milestone year, but Ive officially entered my late 20s. I feel funny still trying to claim girlhood and all the easily pardoned stumbles that being young allows for. I feel like I have to be a Woman now and Im not sure exactly what that means.

Recently, I was reading an old issue of Honey (from the great years when they had the original editors and publishers) and I came across an article entitled something like 30 things a woman should have/do/know by 30. If it was a graded T/F pop quiz, I would have passed barely. Ive never approached a man to ask for his phone number, much less insisted on getting the home number. I cant spot a flawless diamond and even dont know how theyre graded. I dont know how to cook a grand meal and I would butcher any attempt to recreate one of my mamas dishes. I have no clue how to change a flat tire or insert a female condom.

However, I have traveled internationally (just got back from my third trip to London earlier today, in fact.) I moved twice into my own apartment without borrowing money to do so. Ive read the black female literary cannon. And Ive had a (actually several) mind-blowing orgasm(s) without anyone elses assistance. Ha!

There were a couple other notes on the list that I checked off (performing a breast exam, getting out of debt, fixing my credit), some others that I would like to accomplish sooner than later (praying regularly, actually asking for a promotion instead of avoiding the conversation and quitting for a better job and more money, purchasing a classic power suit from Barneys).

While I also get to accomplishing what I havent already on that Honey list, I figure with my birthday rapidly approaching and my self-defined entry into official womanhood, Id make my own late 20s checklist of what I think women should have/do/know.

A woman should (in no particular order):

Use her woman/from-the-diaphragm voice even when she can get her way easier/faster with the squeak (theres a blog coming on that one soon.)

Get an HIV test

Accept that it is ridiculous to tie her worth and daily self-confidence to a number on a scale. Accept that a size 4 or 6 or any size is not worth starving for.

Get a job she loves or at least likes instead of one that inspires little, but pays the bills

Finish whatever it is she started (for me, its the book Ive been on-and-off writing for 3 years.)

Own good lingerie. (Its not just for him. Its for you too!)

Dance on a table; dance like no-ones watching even if its off beat

Stop drinking beyond her limit and officially put the hangover weekend behind her; Drink brand liquor. House brand is guaranteed hangover

Give back. Volunteer; donate time and/or energy to a cause.

Quit experimenting with hair color at home. Professionals are better at dyeing hair than fixing botched dye jobs (add to that, only dyeing her hair colors that reasonably can occur in nature.)

Not lie about her age or anything else. If youre grown enough to do it, be grown enough to own it.

Own a sex toy and know how to give herself an orgasm in under 5 minutes

Buy a cherished piece of jewelry for herself

Let a man who wants to go, leave; walk away from a relationship as soon as you know its not going to work

Become a proud feminist (there is nothing wrong with wanting equality)

Use condoms 100f the time (birth control only means youve decreased your odds of getting preggers. Its still quite possible and it does nada to prevent STDs/HIV.)

Forgive herself for having an abortion

Have her pictures framed. No more thumbtacks or tape to hold up her pictures

Contribute to her 401K; Invest in something; Save at least 10ør the future

Know how to instruct a man to please her physically; tell a man when she has not been satisfied by him

Establish a strictly platonic relationship with a man

Understand that No. is a complete sentence and that it is okay to say it as often as you feel necessary

Take a solo vacation; eat, got to the movies, a concert alone; understand that alone does not mean lonely

Make an important decision without consulting anyone or asking their advice

Know NOT to follow a man to another city without a ring!

Handle being broken up with in a dignified manner (break up does not mean break down)

Own a full length mirror; Buy clothes that fit in the size that she is, not the size she hopes to become someday