Category Archives: thirtysomethings

The Future Is Disappointing

I think this mid-life crisis business might be real. One doesn’t want to drape one’s destiny  around a looming, arbitrary number (forty, coming up in July), but as the date that wasn’t supposed to mean anything draws nearer, the funnel of possibility that was once so wide it was impossible to avoid it is getting narrower by the minute.

I keep reminding myself that the way I live my life, my way of being, means much more than the sum of my accomplishments, but I still have this nagging feeling that there are certain things I must do (write, draw, make music). At the same time I know in my very bones that I’ll never do them – not the way I want to – and that makes me profoundly sad.

I think often about the way our lives affect those of others in ways we’ll never know and could not have imagined, and sometimes that thought is enough to half-convince me it will be okay if I never publish a book or sell another piece of artwork, or live abroad, or learn to sing alto, or read Ulysses, or appear on the Daily Show as a special guest.

There’s another part to my mid-life crisis I like to keep close to my vest. I’m not sure when it started happening, but I fear I’m becoming somewhat of a recluse. It’s not that I don’t like people or want to have friends; more that I prefer solitude and the quiet introspection of daily, repetitive tasks to the trauma of picking up a telephone, making plans, sustaining conversation, putting on a pair of socks.

I don’t think it’s good for me, but the warm cocoon of my domestic dominion has some kind of built-in force field that makes it very difficult to step out.

As I write this, my husband is in the next room over, building a robot. He has decided that fishing is too emotionally draining and taken up robotics as a hobby instead.

“The future, as I see it, has been very disappointing,” he said. “By now we should be commuting to work in hovercrafts and having robots complete our daily tasks.”

“I think I’m having a mid-life crisis” I told him.

“Why do you think I’m building this robot?” he said.

Here is something I’ve discovered: life gets smaller the longer you live it, not the other way around.

I’m not depressed, in case you were wondering. And I know that if could just find a good cause to throw myself into, all of these imaginary problems would be roundly solved. Because isn’t that the ticket? Doing things for others instead of the solipsistic navel gazing I’ve been engaging in, instead?

 

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How to Ask Your Husband on a Date

Recently, I realized that the P-Dawg and I hadn’t been on a date in a long time. The problem was that between the two of us, I was the only one who’d realized it.

I began turning it over in my mind. Some might say, “perseverating.” I really wanted to go on a date! Sure, I could have just asked him. But that would have defeated the whole purpose, which was for my husband to naturally arrive at the realization that what he wants, more than anything in the world, is to wine and dine his smart, beautiful, and not quite thirty-nine year old wife.

Reluctantly, I activated the handy, but not always reliable first tier persuasion mechanism: mind control. Whenever the two of us were together, I would close my eyes, furrow my brow, and direct pointed thoughts about going on a date toward my husband.

“Why are you making that face?” he asked me. “Do you have to go to the bathroom?”

Next, I dropped strategic hints, such as naming some couples I knew of who had gone on a date. “I heard it can be fun,” I told him.

Finally, there was no choice but to broach the subject directly.

Husband: “What’s wrong?”

Me: “Nothing.”

Husband: “Are you sure?”

Me: “I guess.”

Husband: “What?”

Me: “Forget it.”

Husband: “No, what?”

Me: “It’s just that . . . oh, nevermind!”

Husband: “Okay.”

Me (sulking): “Okay.”

(Time passes. Husband pays some bills, organizes his fishing gear, and putzes around on computer.)

Me: “Unbelievable.”

Husband: “What?”

Me: “It’s like you forgot we were even having a conversation.”

Husband: “I thought our conversation was over.”

Me: “That just goes to show you how out of synch our energy is. I don’t even remember the last time we went out together.”

Husband: “You know, you’re right. We should go on a date! Why didn’t you mention it earlier?”

Me: “I don’t see how I could have made myself any clearer.”

Sometimes, you just have to spell it out for them.

 

(By the way, we went on a date and it was really fun, just as I heard it could be from some couples! Also, I feel I must tell you that the P-Dawg is actually a fantastic husband. In fact, I really think he got the short end of the stick when he married me. There is really nothing for me to complain about in our relationship, except the fact that after almost twelve years of marriage, he has not yet mastered the subtle art of mind reading.)

 

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You Can Go Home Again

I didn’t want to tell you this, but I was a bit nervous about going to my high school reunion. I mean, the only thing preventing it from being freshman year Howdy Dance all over again was the fact that this time around, I had a date.

I wanted to make an inconspicuous entrance, but as soon as I descended from the private jet*, my friend Karina started screaming and practically vaulted over the beer garden balcony to give me a hug. Then she whipped out the journal I’d given her twenty years ago and had me read the inscription I’d written in it. She made me feel welcome right away, and I’m very grateful for that.

You go to your twenty-year high school reunion hoping that at least one person will have had a sex change operation or show up with a mullet and a hunting vest, but this was not the case. I don’t know if it’s thanks to the reversal of the food pyramid or the fact that people are no longer doing drugs, but pretty much everyone who came looked good and seemed to be happy in their lives. It was heartening. When you’re line dancing with your old gang to R.E.M.’s “Stand” with a beer in one hand and a wedding ring on the other, you forget the ancient hurts and feel genuinely happy that everyone made it out okay.

Even the P-Dawg had a good time. On the drive back home the next day, he said, “You know, I feel like I went to my own high school reunion, only with different people.”

Which is great, because it means I won’t have to go to his.

 

*When I say “private jet”, I mean “hotel cab.”

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If You Do Not Attend Your 20 Year High School Reunion, No One Will Recognize You the Next Time Around

It’s hard to believe it since I’m only 29, but my twenty-year high school reunion is coming up this weekend. That means I graduated from from high school twenty years ago! When people still wore shoulder pads, no one had ever heard of the Internet, and cordless phones were as big as a grown man’s foot.

I discovered red lipstick and the color black in high school, and I thought I looked pretty good in both. I briefly changed my name to Veronica. I ran around town in a “Freedom for Lithuania” T-shirt, soliciting signatures for my Amnesty International letter writing campaign.

I picketed a fur boutique.

I shopped at vintage clothing stores with my best friend Ginny and I wore cheap canvas Mary Janes from China held together with a safety pin. I listened to Depeche Mode, Love & Rockets, the Cure, R.E.M., New Order and Nine Inch Nails.

I had big eye brows and I pegged my jeans.

I tried out for the senior year musical. But it was very last minute and I didn’t have a song prepared, so I went with “Here I Am, Lord” from the Glory and Praise Hymnal.

The Lord went with someone else.

I took Anatomy instead of Physics, and every day when I got to my lab table, the cat I was dissecting had a Dorito in its mouth. Who put that Dorito there? Maybe on Saturday I’ll find out.

I’m looking forward to this reunion not only to see my old classmates, but also because I went to high school in Charlotte and I haven’t been back to North Carolina since graduation. The P-Dawg has never been, so it will be fun to show him where I had my formative years.

I’m going to bust out my southern accent, eat pork barbecue, visit my old neighbors, and dig up a few things I buried in our former backyard. Not to mention I finally have a comeback for that one dude who used to always tease me for being short.

The only problem is that I’m getting to that age where I no longer remember people or faces. So if you see me at the reunion (you’ll recognize me because I don’t look a day over 18), please come up and introduce yourself. Give me some context clues. Did we sit next to each other in homeroom? Did you ever try to stuff me in my locker? Did you sign my petition to free Lithuania?

Did you put that Dorito in my cat’s mouth?

High School

 

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