Tag: Birthday

Why (So Far) My 30s are Better Than My 20s

“With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come.” 
― William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice

I’m on the cusp of another birthday so I thought I’d reflect a bit on why, thus far, my 30s are leaving my 20s in the dust. I always looked forward to my 30s in my teenage years and young adulthood and I was not wrong to do so. You could not pay me to set the clock back to my previous decade. Here are a few reasons why:

Body confidence. Don’t get me wrong, I still have a shed load of insecurities but I’m no longer crippled by excruciating self hatred for my corporeal form. Thank god, I never want to go back to that dark self-inflicted shame spiral! I also, shock surprise, actually like quite a few things about my body which is a future 21 year old me could never imagine. Which was foolish and short sighted in the extreme because I now know in my 30s that my 20s body was pretty good and I miss it.

A somewhat congealed sense of self. I feel like everyone is a bit lost or up in the air in their 20s and though on paper I was ticking a lot of boxes, the truth was that I had no idea what I was doing most of the time. My identity was all over the place and most of my identifiers were external. Now, in my early 30s, I feel like I have a handle on my personality and personhood (warts and all). I may not like all my traits, but I also know which ones I want to work on improving, and which are 100% okay to accept. I own my likes and dislikes, my strengths and my terrible weaknesses, my ambitions and my shortcomings much more handily than I could have ever imagined a decade ago.

A developed professional grounding. Ten years ago I was about to graduate university and had no clue what I was getting into. Now I’ve been able to try a couple of different jobs and ways of working, and learned the things I value in a workplace. I’ve freelanced full time and worked in offices, and while I haven’t found the perfect balance (I’d like to get more creative or writing work back into my life), I’m earning where I feel I should be at the present moment.

Fewer ****s to give. I care less about what other people think about me than I have ever done and it’s great. There are a few, carefully identified people in my life whose good opinion matters to me and whose judgement I value. The commentary or disapproval of anyone not on that list barely registers anymore. This shift has been life changing.

Goals accomplished. There have been setback and surprises and there is a long list of life goals that I feel behind on, but in my 30s I feel like I can say I’ve started achieving some of the things I’ve prioritized and that are important to me. I wanted to move back to London, and we made it happen. I wanted to try to freelance full time and I did it for three years. I wanted to be making a certain salary and I’ve hustled hard towards that goal and it’s within reaching distance. Am I where I’d thought I’d be in all cases? HELL NO. Am I okay overall? HELL YES.

I’m going to spend the weekend being grateful for where I’m at.

Pretentious Thoughts on Turning 29

“The afternoon knows what the morning never suspected.”
― Robert Frost

Granted I’m still in my 20s and therefore probably hilariously unqualified to make this statement, but I have zero problems with getting older.

I turned 29 at the start of the month and got a few friendly jibes about nearly being 30, which is no problem because most of my friends and acquaintances are hilarious and the puns were on point. But also, I’ve always looked forward to my 30s. I don’t know why, it just always seemed like a pretty decent decade to me, where in experience would be had and **** would be figured out, as they say.

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I’m not sure of achieving the latter in any notable way, but I’m still pretty positive that my 30s will hold a lot of good things that I’m looking forward to. I live in one of the world’s most incredible cities with a husband I’m rather partial to, we’re on our way out of student debt, in jobs that will turn into careers which we also happen to really like. I am infinitely more confident now than I was a decade ago, no doubt a result of being more skilled and technically intelligent. Getting older has come with some pretty great by products–a university degree, a good partner, almost ludicrously varied life experience, work skills, writing opportunities, travel… What on earth is there to be upset over about that? Wrinkles? Please!

Call me vain, but getting older also hold no fears thus far physically. Sure, I’ve already got some lines around my eyes started and still need to exercise more, but hand on my heart I can say that I look a lot better at 29 that I ever did at 19! I’ve never been hugely body-conscious, but neither have I been radically body confident, and I’m convinced that puberty is decently crummy all around on self-esteem. At 19 I still had a ton of teenage plumpness and, as a short girl, curves that were still not sure where they wanted to end up. At 29, things have settled down, symmetrically and largely without further incident. My figure and I fit each other (and probably more importantly, I’ve learned how to dress it. “Finally!” shouts my BFF from New York City who tried but failed to teach me the basics of hair care and style as early teenagers). I’ve grown into my own face. Or, perhaps this is all in my head and at 29 I simply care far less about what other people think about my looks and personality. This too is a delightful possibility.

I do not for one second subscribe to the idea that high school are college are the “best years of your life,” even if you have good experiences with them. I do not want to go back to being smaller (emotionally speaking, height-wise nothing has changed), dumber, narrower, less experienced, less confident, or less capable. I’m annoyed by social pressures, normally physical and largely directed towards women and girls, that make me feel like I’m supposed to stop, or worse turn back, the clock in some way.

Moving forward, I’ll get more wrinkles and my hair will go gray–I hope in patches so I can channel Stacey London. Or Cruella de Ville, whichever. I will wear bright lipstick until they nail my coffin down. I will keep learning to do things that feel beyond me. I may go back to school. I may have a family, if Jeff is persuasive enough. I will definitely get a dog. I will go fabulous places, both with my pretty awesome husband and by myself. I will keep doing work that intimidates me. I will probably be bad at most of these things at some point, and life will still tick on because I will also probably be good at some of them too.

The term “aging” needs to go. It’s called “living.”

Solidly Late 20s

“With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come.”
― William Shakespeare

As of yesterday I am (so one of my younger brothers informs me) “officially old.”
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My Big Brother also weighed in…I find this a bit creepy, but weirdly sweet at the same time?

I had a delightfully low key birthday and got just what I wanted: flowers, savory food, sweet food, and hangout time with Jeff. May was a rough month for both of us, work wise, and it was nice to go out to dinner just the two of us to relax from it. For about an hour and a half, after which it was straight back home to the email piles. Adulthood, kittens!

On Sunday we trekked to Old Spitalfields Market in search of my specially requested cake alternative (cupcakes from Flavourtown Bakery), only to learn that they had not set up shop in their usual spot this week. It turns out, they are being featured in the Selfridge’s food hall – well done! So, undeterred, after grabbing a quick bite at one of my favorite food trucks, we shot off to Bond Street.
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The cheekily named Mother Clucker specializes in Southern style, twice fried chicken. Spices and buttermilk are of course included, but what makes this joint the real deal is the (also Southern style) sweet tea marinade that juices up their meat. Seriously, you can’t get that level of soul food without heading south of the Potomac. They also make really good fries/chips, something both Jeff and I tend to be picky about.
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On Monday we both went to work as per usual before slapping on red lipstick (in my case) and reconvening after 5pm in Notting Hill at our favorite pizza joint, Otto. I first learned about Otto thanks to Lauren’s Pizza Night back in January, and it’s been a regular date location ever since. We plumped for snooty artisan lemonade and ginger beer, a treat since we almost always stick to the wallet friendly option of water when we eat out, and wolfed down three slices each of the gorgeous cornmeal crusted wonders.
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After this we went home, followed up quickly on a handful of work projects, and then cracked open the cupcakes and pulled up an episode of House of Cards, our latest entertainment addiction. It was exactly what I needed. Here’s to 28, I’m ready for it!
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With Age, Wisdom?

Email chain twixt Scarlett and myself about our then-impending birthdays, but two days apart.  I’m 25 today, a full quarter century.  Many happy returns/Condolences!

Scarlett:
So PLEASE tell me I am not the only one freaking out here about our impending birthdays.  25 is PETRIFYING.  the last hallmark before “Qualifies for Senior Discounts”.  The end of the “18-24” check-box.  The end of pretending you’re sort of maybe still a “young adult” and can justify things like hitchhiking and trespassing and running around on roofs and switching jobs every six months because you’re still kind of college-aged and therefore still kind of post-adolescent and therefore still kind of justifiably enjoying your youth.  25 is “No More Excuses For Not Having Your Merde Together”-Land.  It’s doom and destruction and HOLY LORD I AM HALFWAY TO FIFTY and I Am Actually An Adult And Need To Start Behaving As Such.  It’s like AGH HOW AM I NOT PUBLISHED YET AND WHERE HAS MY LIFE GONE AND I HAVE BEEN FREAKING OUT ABOUT GETTING OLD SINCE I WAS ABOUT TO TURN *FOURTEEN*, SO THIS IS DIRE!  And knowing that for every year after this I’ll be begging the fates to be “only” 25 again.

Oh the problems that come with living in America.  Such a tragic and difficult life I lead, with so many real and legitimate problems!

Enjoy your last days of youth…

C.:
Sorry, beloved, I did this particular freak out when I got married at AGE TWENTY-THREE and WHAT AM I THINKING?!  I have to be a Real Live Grown Up now, what the hell – what do you MEAN a 401k plan?!  However, to be fair, the “AUGH HOW AM I NOT PUBLISHED YET AND WHERE HAS MY LIFE GONE” I can totally relate to.  I think I’ve just decided to (in public) age gracefully and act as childish as possible in private.  So far it has served me well.  I don’t mind going to a new age grouping as I suspect that I shall never have my merde together, no matter what age I am.

Scarlett:
I laugh at myself on this point as well.  It’s odd because part of me relaly doesn’t care, in terms of how society-at-large tends to freak out about aging…it’s just the not-published/waste-of-life thing that freaks me out!  I seriously remember (as I’m sure you recall as well) running around school like a crazed person on my 14th birthday.  Having spent my childhood DESPERATE to be 13 because TEENAGERS WERE SO COOL, I was completely unable to deal with being 14 because it sounded “too old to be a child prodigy” and I hadn’t written a symphony or been published yet.  Oh, 8th-grade Scarlett, if only you knew how LITTLE you would actually accomplish OVER THE NEXT 11 YEARS.

C.:
I remember dying to be a teenage and then realizing it didn’t feel too different from being a pre-teen.  My aging angst died at that moment.  I realized that some people spend their lives racing to be a certain point and they dedicating the rest of their lives to staying at that point, and it frankly seemed more than a little ridiculous.  Ah, pseudo maturity!  How I shall abandon thee when the wrinkles come!

How I see me and my friends fifty years from now. We'll look like the Queen, but wear higher heels and use (probably) less fragrant language.

Happy Birthday, J.!

“The secret to staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly, and lie about your age.”
– Lucille Ball

J. turned a whole quarter century old yesterday (geezer!). We celebrated with steak, cake, nieces, and nephews.   And for some reasons why he’s worth celebrating:

He understands that my friends and I can and will do crazy things. Routinely. And he’s always willing to come along for the ride.
He’s wonderfully reliable and still infinitely interesting.
He puts up with me. No easy task sometimes.

Happy birthday, love!

You Ought to Know, Kiddies

“A painting.  Moving.  Spiritually enriching.  Sublime.  ‘High’ art!  The comic strip.  Vapid.  Juvenile.  Commercial hack work.  ‘Low’ art.  A painting of a comic strip panel.  Sophisticated irony.  Philosophically challenging.  ‘High’ art.”
“Suppose I draw a cartoon of a painting of a comic strip?”
“Sophomoric, intellectually sterile.  ‘Low’ art.”
– Bill Watterson,
Calvin and Hobbes

While my opinion of having children in the near future is well known, J. and I do like to theorize on it.  And occasionally I do something that I find completely baffling: I nest.

Not in the physical sense, in the intellectual.  See, I have it in my head that there are certain things I was exposed to growing up (mostly books and movies) that I found absolutely necessary to my happiness and that influenced me profoundly.  And therefore they will naturally be necessary to my children as well.  No discussion permitted.

And so, every once and a while, when no one is looking, when I run across one of these Necessary Items For My Future Spawn on sale, I snatch it up.

Luckily J. understands because one of the things that I think is absolutely necessary is quality cartoons.  None of your Spongebob Squarepants inanities and annoying Scrappy Doos, if you please.   Which is why he’s slowly building my collection of classic Bugs Bunny cartoons!  Behold one of my birthday presents! Looney Tunes – Golden Collection, Volume Three

Future spawn be darned, I watch these during Saturday morning chores!

See? Is this not required viewing? "Kill the wabbit!"