Things I Want To Do Before I’m 40
… JUST KIDDING! I’m not falling into that trap again. That whole “Things I Want To Do Before I’m 30” list I made 10 years ago this Sunday turned out to be a terribly depressing combination of things I failed at and things I never tried.
For those of you that haven’t gotten the memo I put out on the Associated Press (just kidding, again… I may be a blogger but I’m not that much of a narcissist): I’m turning 30 this Sunday. It’s a terribly depressing occasion for this bitch, and before you all start thinking I’m annoying and young and shit, just hear me out. I had this magical list of things I wanted to do before 30 and it wasn’t stuff like “swim with the dolphins” and “discover a cure for influenza,” it was a conglomerate of things I really actually thought and tried to do. Like finish graduate school. Like start a successful teaching career. Like be happily married. Like move the hell out of California.
So I have already been celebrating my birthday for a few days now. I suppose you could consider my epic travels to my sweet home, Chicago to have been something of celebration, but I am meaning in immediate terms when I say “celebrating.” Yesterday I went to lunch with my parents, which was nice (daddy got me drunk by 2 in the afternoon). I got my new Cuisinart Multicooker and a gravy boat that is shaped like a cow and pours the gravy out of its mouth. Today I am baking myself a cake (since no one else is apparently planning on doing so). And there is something else I need to do as I go into my weekend of minimal activities, and that is to light fire to my list of things I want to do before I’m 30.
Graduate school and a successful career in teaching … burn it down
I suppose I should give myself credit for the fact that I have not one, but two Bachelors of Arts degrees from an accredited, private institution. And while I began my graduate degree in Philosophy, leaving the program was a necessity to stop wracking up debt that I wasn’t going to be able to sustain as a result of having limited job opportunities locally where my husband’s job in the film industry is. I really wanted to be done with graduate school and well on my way to a successful career in teaching by now. This defined my life for the better portion of my 20s. For now at least, my graduate degree and a career in teaching is not in the cards for me. I think it’s time to get over this and move on.
In addition to that, though, after having been out of graduate school for a few years now, I can see how insane grad students are. They don’t eat. They don’t sleep. They look like shit all the time. No offense to my graduate student friends and faithful blog followers, but have any of you considered how much coffee and crap you ingest just to get through the day? I have never felt as healthy and well as I have the last few years, which owe in large part to the fact that I’m out of that grind.
Publish my first novel … up in flames
The novel was a recent goal that I added within the last three years or so since about the same time I left graduate school. It’s a lot of work to write a book, though – more work than I thought it would be. And I don’t just want to write crap, which is why after completing my first draft of the book about nine months ago, I trashed the entire thing and have begun the story concept again. Unlike most of the writers I have met in my community, I am not in it to write some quick and dirty chop shop of a piece of literature. I want to write a good book because I have ideas I think are good and I enjoy the craft of writing. That’s it. I’ll finish the book, but setting up a time table really is unfair to me and the work I’m trying to produce.
Burn up thoughts of a happy marriage
Marriage is an institution, and who in their right mind wants to be institutionalized? I’m not saying I hate my husband. I’m not saying I’m entirely unhappy with my marriage. But the wedding is probably the easiest part of getting married, and we all know how stressful weddings are. In the relatively short period of time my husband and I have been married, we’ve had to deal with a lot of bull shit – mostly in the form of family drama. Hello Kitty Toaster and the gang have made happy times a real challenge, as has the fact that my husband’s job takes up about 95% of his focus and attention. There is a reason California has the highest divorce rate (3 of 4 marriages), and my husband is a Californian to his core.
In spite of all that, fortunately I am smart enough to know that a marriage like mine will actually be the one that lasts. It’s those people that are so infatuated with how happy they are, together we shit rainbows and fly to work on unicorns and all, that when reality sets in that life sucks and there is a lot of crap to deal with every single day of it, everything falls apart. If you can still be together and have some semblance of love despite all the miserable crap around you, that means more than all the “OMG I have the best husband in the world he gets me flowers and candies and wipes my ass every day” Facebook updates.
There is a wall of flames between me and moving out of California
I still have really really really, unrealistically high hopes of moving out of California in the near future (can you guys tell?), but doing it before I turn 30 is unlikely. I mean I’d basically have to pack up all our stuff and just leave tomorrow. While I did actually consider doing that last night, just as I did the night before our vacation to Chicago came to an end a few weeks ago, it’s not happening. I will not be moving out of California before I turn 30. I’m not putting that on a 40s list, though, because I’m pretty sure if I don’t leave California well before 40, I won’t make it that far. (I just can’t stand this place that much.)
On the flip side, I have to say that living in California has given me a lot of fodder to write about, both on my blog and in my book. I consider my life in California to be something of a tragic comedy – hilarious at how absurd it is, tragic for the same exact reason. Just today I was driving in the rain and saw some hillbillies sitting outside in their trucks, two sitting in the cab and one (shirtless and smoking) standing in the truck bed with a large, shiny stick. It was a thunderstorm and as I got closer, I saw that those rednecked weirdos were actually trying to get struck by lightening. Had I not been here – where the majority of our population is made up not of glitz and glam and movie stars, but of descendants of southern hillbillies who came over for work during the Great Depression – I never would have seen that.
What does this all mean, you ask? And why should you care?
Well you shouldn’t. I mean you can and I think it’s awesome that as many people that read my blog do. (In fact, on that note, I’m feeling a little honored by how many people take the time to read and comment on my stupid little blog of bitching and complaining and snarking…)
What it means, though, is that now that I have burned up my list of things to do before I turn 30 (because 30 would have burned it for me just two days from now), I can focus on other things. Like baking myself that cake. Like trying lots of good wines. Like working on my book because I want to. Like reading my long list of books I plan on reading this year. Like finding out if my upstairs neighbors really are running a prostitution house up there (I mean, seriously .. people showering at 2 in the morning, strange men coming in and out at all hours…).
So happy birthday to me. It is my party and I will be crying as all of this stuff melts into flames, but here’s the thing about crying: it always feels so good afterwards. Only when we lament the past can we get on with the future, right?