Friday, July 12, 2013

on the occasion of my 39th birthday: part I

I turn 39 on Saturday.  The first of many times I will turn 39, I think.

Last year's birthday was terrible.  We had moved across the country a few months earlier, I had no friends, I had just signed my two youngest children up for full day preschool and felt that I had no purpose in life, felt terrible about my lack of career, and I was having a midlife crisis of epic proportions that came to a head and resulted in a full day of crying.  Like, a full day of crying while driving around trying to get a flat tire fixed.  It experience I hope not to repeat.

This year will be better, I think.

The summer I was 21, I came home from college in early May.  My father and I drove over to visit my grandmother, and we sat outside on the deck, enjoying the pleasantly warm evening with Grandma and Grandpa.  "What day is it?" asked my Grandma.  My father replied "May 4."  "Ah," sighed my grandmother.  "Summer is almost over."

At the time, I laughed.  But in the last year or two, I have thought about that moment more and more, because I understand that feeling now. Grandma was right. Time is speeding up.  Just yesterday it was March and I was buying a house, now its halfway through July.  Blink and tomorrow it will be Christmas. My babies are not babies anymore. Soon they will be in college. (Not really.) What am I doing here? What is my purpose in life?

Last weekend while returning home from a day trip to San Diego we narrowly avoided being part of a very large multiple car pileup.  One second we were driving along just fine, the next second it was like an action movie, with cars sliding sideways and bumpers flying past our windshield.  I saw my life flash before my eyes, and it was not a particularly long or accomplished life.

Is this what I am doing with my one wild and precious life?

The days are long but the years are short.

I keep saying that.

At 39 I have accepted "I yam who I yam".

I am a foodie, despite my many food intolerances and deep dislike of cooking.  I love to eat out but I like to eat at 5 pm, so that I can be back on my sofa reading a book by 8 pm. (When you eat out at 5 pm you may end up in restaurants that double as God's waiting room.)  I am not an evening person, nor am I a morning person.  I am a middle of the day person and would gladly sleep from 10 pm to 8 am every day if the banshees would let me.

I like reading trashy romance novels while eating cookies.  I am loyal friend, if not the most tactful. I am a homebody and an introvert. I believe in the best of people, even when I have been proven wrong.  I am mildly dorky and socially awkward, but reasonably intelligent and sort of funny, on occasion.

I am no longer that interested in my appearance.  Which is to say, I like to look pretty but am not overly interested in putting forth the effort to be pretty.  I will pick Comfortable over Pretty any day.  I do not find mascara Comfortable. I have many clothing rules (no waistbands, no polyester voile, no tight or close-fitting clothing, and on and on ad infinitum). The only time I wear makeup is for weddings and the Mister's work events. I lust after pretty shoes but will not suffer foot pain for any reason, not even weddings or funerals (see dorky, above; includes orthopedic shoes).  I like my skirts long but am not afraid of baring my bosoms in a low cut blouse.

I am a reader.  I am not, despite possible appearances to the contrary, a writer.  I read voraciously, but writing is a struggle.  I hesitate to hit Publish on every single post (especially this one. Its 10:40 pm and I'm hitting publish because otherwise I will keep this in draft indefinitely).  I hate reading depressing shite.  I like happy endings (see above, trashy romances).

I am a teacher (despite the out-of-work appearances to the contrary).  I think I am not bad at it.

I am a Big Picture person. Attention to detail is not my thing.  I once lived in an apartment for twenty-four hours before noticing that there was no fridge.

I'm working on growing and improving myself as a person, but I think I'm good enough, smart enough, and gosh darn it, some people like me.

The career. Oh, the career. What career, you say? The one I abandoned?  Yeah, that one.

What am I doing with my one wild and precious life?

The discussion of my first world problem of how to find a fulfilling career will have to wait till part II.

This essay is a rambling post from a disordered mind.  I have been working on it for a week (a year, really) and yet I cannot seem to marshal my thoughts into a semblance of coherence. The career portion is so disjointed and long I had to separate it out.  I apologize for my loose meanderings.  If you want a recap, I feel old and time is flying by and aside from popping three amazing people out of my nethers I haven't done that much with my life, although I like who I am as a person, basically.

Happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me, happy birthday to meeeee, happy birthday to me.

Tante auguri, peeps.  


  1. these thoughts are familiar to me, too!!!! i will be 35 this summer and though i am happy i am not quite as fulfilled as i want to be.. working on it!

  2. My grandma was 39 for years. I think she thought that was the best age she'd been. Me, I think I still haven't hit it. ('m 48.) Pretty sure I've peaked physically, but I'm holding on to the possibility that that's not true, either.

    I think you know yourself far better at 39 than I did. I thought I knew exactly what my life was and would continue to be for--well, pretty much ever. At 42 it all fell apart. I'm not wishing that on you (or anyone), but what I learned is: You just never know what it will bring. It will bring you what you need. The important thing is to pay attention and not try to quash the small voices inside you saying things you don't want to hear. Turn up the volume. It's all OK. It's going fast, but you have more time than you think.

    Happy birthday. Just like with our kids, every age has its joys and pains. (And I really liked this rambling post from a disordered mind.)

  3. First of all Happy Birthday! Second of all, from one of my favorite movies ever "Snap Out of It"!! I say that with the utmost respect and caring. And I say that b/c I have to say it to myself at least monthly. Most of us feel the same way you do and hopefully that gives you comfort but don't dwell on it. Focus on all the amazing things you do have and have accomplished. I know you are selling yourself short!

  4. Happy Birthday!! One of your best posts. I wish we could talk in person about the importance of A CAREER. You know what I mean - the pressure to have something to do that is BIGGER THAN YOURSELF, and of course, MUST BE MORE FULFILLING THAN STAYING AT HOME. Because I feel like the world yells those things at me all the time. Nice to know I am not alone. I hope you have a lovely day filled with cake, and sunshine, and absolutely no tears.

  5. HAPPY HAPPY . Hope you are having a lovely day.
    Careers are very overrated. I worked as a manager in an IT company - I enjoyed it, it was stressful and took up way too much of my time. I quit a couple of years ago to take care of my family because I had neglected them. I am really glad I did. Our family is happy and healthier as a result. It's not easy to introduce yourself to others without having a career title, but it feels better actually living this life. I hope you feel more comfortable with the yourself, from your blogs you do sound like you have a lot of it worked out pretty well.
    Kind Regards

  6. Happy Birthday, whatever you do, please celebrate each and every birthday. If you have ever lost someone too soon, then you know how they would have loved to grow older each year.

    Now, for the it now! Whatever the'it' is the time. The time will fly and five years from now you will look back on this moment. I hope it is because it was a turning point and not the 'I should have..when I was 39'.

    P.S. My kids like me better when I am busy with my own stuff.

  7. Were you drinking while writing this? :) Happy birthday!

  8. First off, Happy Birthday. I'm having a birthday this week. 41. Sigh. Secondly, I don't think you are alone in your feelings. My sister was just diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. She went in for something unrelated and found out. Life is short. It's been a bit of a wake up call for me. I think I've been in a rut but I'm trying to change that and start really living. Just food for thought.

  9. I'm slowly catching up on blogs - hope you had a great day and that the last two weeks have been nice as well. :)

    I've had very similar thoughts, but I'm only 29! Something I ought to talk about with my therapist perhaps? Haha!


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