40 Before 40: Go One Month Without Drinking Alcohol

When my dad and I were in London a couple months ago I mentioned that I was thinking about taking July off from drinking and he actually started laughing at me.

"You don't think I can do it?" I asked.

"No," he replied.

Well daddio, you were wrong.

For 31 days in July (and, for good measure, a couple at the end of June) I didn't consume any alcohol, not a single drop. In all fairness to my dad, however, even I thought I would have to put this particular 40 Before 40 goal off until the bitter end (like age 39 and eleven months-ish) but the moment he told me he didn't think I could do it I had no other choice but to try and prove him wrong as quickly as I possibly could.

So thank you Dad, for not believing in me.

The no drinking thing wasn't actually as tough as I thought it would be. In fact, there were only a couple of occasions during those 33 days when I wished I had a drink in my hand, once at a 4th of July BBQ and once during every single second of every single brunch.

Instead of drinking/staying out late/being hung over I spent July sleeping more than I usually do, reading a lot and probably running myself into early knee replacement surgery (I logged a little over 115 miles including four half marathons over consecutive Saturdays).

Even though I won't be continuing my boozelessness into August (Micky’s in town from Chicago tonight and I'll be in Provincetown next week), I'm happy I did it and, I will admit, a little bit proud of myself.

40 Before 40

Late Updated: October 12, 2018

If all goes according to plan, on August 13, 2024 I will turn forty.

Prior to blowing out the candles on that particular cake, however, there are some things that I'd like to accomplish/experience first—forty of them, in fact. A few of the things are silly (like #3, for instance), some I probably would have done anyway (#20, for example) and a handful scare the sh*t out of me (I'm lookin' at you, #19), but I'm gonna do my darndest to complete each task by 11:59:59pm on August 12, 2024.

As far as rules go, I have only two:

  1. The completion of each task must be documented in a blog post

  2. Each task has to be checked off before my 40th birthday

I plan to track my progress on this page (I'll link to it in the sidebar) as well as in future blog posts (I'll use the tag 40 Before 40) and on a publicly shared Google spreadsheet (which can be found here).

Although having a list like this may seem ridiculous to some, for me it's like a self-kick in the pants, a way to make sure that I continue to push myself beyond my limits, to seek out adventure and to try new things.

The clock starts now.


40 Before 40.png
  1. Eat a vegetable that I grew myself

  2. Go one month without drinking alcohol (Complete)

  3. Go skinny dipping

  4. See a match at Wimbledon

  5. Ride the California Zephyr from Chicago to San Francisco

  6. Ring in the New Year in a foreign country

  7. Spend a night under the stars

  8. Spend a night in a lighthouse or a tree fort

  9. Spend a night at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City

  10. Buy a piece of art

  11. Buy a watch (Complete)

  12. Donate $10,000 to a single charity

  13. Attend a silent retreat

  14. Learn one song on the piano

  15. Take a solo vacation

  16. Hike Half Dome, Lost Palm Oasis or McWay Waterfall Trail

  17. Run Bay to Breakers (in costume) (Complete)

  18. Attend a writing workshop

  19. Complete an Ironman

  20. Read or reread (at least) 150 books (status)

  21. Volunteer (at least) 500 hours (status)

  22. See (at least) 100 ballets, concerts, musicals, plays, symphonies, etc. (status)

  23. Take a dance class

  24. Run a half marathon in another country

  25. Send (at least) 250 thank you notes (status)

  26. Have a piece of writing published

  27. Be mentioned in the New York Times

  28. Shake hands with (or hug) Barack Obama, J.K. Rowling or Lin-Manuel Miranda

  29. Run (at least) 2,500 miles (status)

  30. Attend Pride celebrations in five different cities (status)

  31. Watch 100 sunrises (status)

  32. Watch 100 sunsets (status)

  33. Swim in three different oceans (status)

  34. Do the AIDS/LifeCycle bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles

  35. Learn to knit

  36. Bake a birthday cake for a loved one

  37. Rewatch every episode of The Office and The West Wing

  38. Listen to the soundtrack from each of Stephen Sondheim's major works in a single sitting

  39. Reach the top of the Eiffel Tower, Empire State Building or Transamerica Pyramid on foot

  40. Ask a complete stranger to lunch (Complete)


Late Updated: August 29, 2018 at 5:53pm PST

Goals Game Yaaas

As the screen capture above these words might've indicated, I jogged a casual five to Golden Gate Park and back this morning which means all of the low-key goals I set for myself last week have been marked complete.

Also, B and I had brunch with my cousin Christopher at Clooney's Pub this afternoon and even though Christopher is technically a relative, I'm gonna pretend I batted an impossible 5 for 3 on that "meals with friends" goal.