Friday, August 8, 2014

38 Things I Learned During My 38th Year on Earth


I'm turning 39 at the end of this month.  I don’t particularly care that I’m turning 39…..I don’t feel any doom or gloom that 40 is just another year around the corner.  Age is just a chronological number assigned to you based on the amount of time that has elapsed since you were born (or thereabouts for those who favor being creative when asked their age).  I recently read a very entertaining blog post by Jess M., The Militant Baker, where she recounted the best things that she learned while she was 27 (she celebrated her 28th birthday earlier this week – Happy Birthday, girl!).  It inspired me to think of what I’ve learned and accomplished over the last 12-ish months.  I wanted to challenge myself so I decided to try and dig up no less than 38 nuggets of life lessons – shouldn’t be too difficult, right?  Here’s what I came up with…..

 

1.   I still enjoy being creative, just in a different way.  Where I trended toward visual arts in the days of my youth – and lapsed into a long hiatus during which I didn’t exercise much creativity at all other than the occasional “creative budgeting” with my checkbook – I found a renewed love of the written word…..and decided to sack up and start this blog.

2.  I have more cojones than I ever thought I did.  Throwback to #1, this blog….I tossed around the idea of expanding my online rhetoric beyond the occasional Facebook musings, Twitter gems and Instagram pictorials.  Not until I found my renewed creativity through the written word did I actually find that sharing my every waking (and sometimes unconscious) thought with the interwebs isn’t that gut-wrenchingly scary after all.  You’re welcome, interwebs.

3.  I have done a great job raising my kid.  Don’t get me wrong, there are still times when I want to sell him to the gypsies (he is blond, after all) but for the most part, he is not nearly as irritating as I had feared he would be.  Hell, I'll even go so far as to say that he can be quite entertaining to be around, particularly when he does "live recreations" of some of my favorite internet memes.  He will be 20 years old later this year.  He has two jobs, a full time and a part time.  He is financially responsible (not sure where he learned that from).  He is loving, caring and has inherited my “animal eye” – which isn’t always a nice thing to have.  An example of all three in one was while working one day recently, he spotted a box just sitting out in the open with a towel thrown over it.  He worked up the nerve to see what was in it and it was a large bird that “didn’t look right”.  I know the majority of 19 year old young men, when faced with this situation, would likely have ignored it and gone about the rest of their day, thinking no more of it.  Not my kid.  He called the local humane society, guarded the box while waiting for the wildlife person to come and even gave her his name and number to the person who came to collect the injured bird.  On a side note, it was a seagull and the wildlife lady said that it probably had broken both its wings.  I love my kid.

4. My kid knows that I did the aforementioned “great parenting job” virtually on my own.  Without getting into specifics, some things happened of late that were through no actions of his or mine and after a heart-wrenching realization that was a long time coming, my kid vocalized that I was really the only parent who actively participated in his upbringing.  Yes, I am paraphrasing, but yes, I am 100% sure that that was the intent of the words he used.  Nothing has made the last 15 years more worthwhile and satisfying than hearing those words, unprompted and without any ulterior motives, from his mouth.

5.  My parents are getting old.  And that terrifies me.  Yes, this may sound obvious but it seems to have come on all of a sudden – this aging thing that happens to old people.  You may have an idea of who my mom is if you read her page on my blog here.  And perhaps her insight into her experiences in aging has brought a smile to your face, maybe even made you laugh (literally, none of that “LOL” bullshit).  And her stories are funny – mostly because of the way she recounts them.  But there’s an underlying darkness in her stories.  Sure, she sometimes forgot her keys before she was in her 70’s, it just wasn’t a frequent occurrence.  She finds herself “at a loss for words” more and more, not because she doesn’t know what to say but because she can’t think of the right words to fit (sometimes putting made up words in their place, on purpose…most of the time).  She and I make light of it as much as we can but we both know that it really isn’t funny – but what else can you do?  Just keep on keepin’ on and try to stay away from the grim side of things.  Dad is old too, but he shows his age in a physical way.  He still wants to do everything he did ten years ago.  You know, cut his lawn, my lawn, and the lawns of three of his neighbors.  Except now he uses a riding mower for a lot of that….and is still much more tired when he’s done.  I just like to live my life with my head in the fantasy world where I find out that my father is really an immortal vampire, my mother really IS from another planet and both of them will live forever.  That’s getting more and more difficult each year.

6.  I am a feminist.  I never really even knew what that meant until this year.  I previously subscribed to the widely believed fallacy that a feminist was an unattractive man-hating woman who always felt under-paid, under-valued and forever wronged in some grand way.  I was educated through reading articles online at everydayfeminism.com, huffingtonpost.com and others.  A feminist is simply a person who idealizes equality for everyone.  I can get behind that.

7.  I don’t have to lose weight to be considered a valuable human being.  I was introduced to the concept of body love this year.  I made a few missteps during my learning curve but finally came to a solid understanding of body shaming, body love and health at every size (HAES).

8.  Body shaming comes in too many shades to name.  People shame fat humans for being too big.  People shame thin humans for being too skinny.  People shame muscular humans for being too bulky.  People shame tall humans for being too far above ground and short humans for being too low to the ground.  The fact is that “normal” is an ideal branded into the human psyche via media and entertainment.  There is no single normal.  Normal is different for everyone.  Normal is how you feel your best – whatever shape/color/size/lifestyle that forms.  I am equally appalled when I hear someone tell a thin person to “go eat a good meal” as when I hear someone tell a fat person to “maybe pass on the fries this time”.  Seriously, everybody, just stop your commentary on the way you perceive anyone other than yourself.

9.  Being a homeowner isn’t as scary as I thought.  There have been ups and downs throughout my first year as a homeowner.  Some things are more difficult for me to do and I would rather have the means to pay someone to do them for me (lawn maintenance, for example) but wouldn’t everyone prefer to do that….if provided the means.  So, when the boy isn’t able to mow the lawn, I do hobble through it and get it done.  I think I am finally over having knee-jerk reaction to potential fix-it project be “I better call Glenn”, who was the maintenance guy at the apartment complex I lived in for 14 years.  Now the thought is more, “I wish I could just call Glenn….”  But then I get over it….and spray for bees, Drain-o the bathtub and silently pray to the gods that the washer stops making that intermittent clunking noise.

10. I am a dog person in addition to a cat person, something Jackson Galaxy calls “bipetual”.  Last July, I gave into the boy’s (ok, and my own too) wishes and adopted a dog from the humane society.  It took a long time….almost a year….but I finally can say that I really love that dog.  So much so that I allowed the boy to talk me into getting a second one – a puppy.  It's a daily struggle.  Being a dog parent is MUCH DIFFERENT than being a cat parent.  I realize that that sounds like a ridiculously obvious thing to say but until you have a dog, you have NO IDEA what it’s like to have a dog (yes, again, I know that sounds na├»ve).  You have cats a pets and you want to go away for the weekend?  No problem!  Make sure their litter pans are clean, their water dishes are topped off and they have plenty of food.  Done and done.  You have dogs and you want to go away for the weekend?  Pssshhhht.  Good luck.  You’re not feeling well and you have cats.  Great, they can cuddle up with you when they wish and pretty much take care of themselves.  You’re not feeling well and you have dogs.  Shit….no, really….they will shit on your floor if you nap at an inopportune moment and their “I have to shit” death-stare fails to wake you.  All that business aside, they are (mostly) cute and cuddly and I’m glad I rescued them.  I am hopeful, however, that when the boy moves out, he is able to take them with him and they can be the dogs that come to visit often but then then live somewhere else.

11.  I enjoy chaos.  Throwback to #10 here.  I finally get back to a point where I feel like my life isn’t so crazy.  The dog willingly goes in her (soft, tent-like) crate if I need to leave the house and the boy isn’t home.  If the boy is away for the night, she will sleep quietly in said crate until I get up the next morning.  Some of the cats are actually showing mild interest in possibly not hating the dog.  What’s the next logical life step?  Why, it’s get a puppy, of course!  Maybe I just always need something to complain about.  I don’t know.  If I didn’t like this chaotic environment, I would’ve followed through on any one of my thousands of threats to drop the first dog off at the nearest junkyard.  Oh well.  Life goes on, albeit in occasional, crate destroying chaos.

Geesh…..are we only on #11?

12. I still want to continue my education.  Along with my revitalized interest in the arts, I have found that I have a want to further educate myself in the craft of writing.  Nothing fancy like a degree or anything….just a few online classes….something to expand my creative writing horizons.

13. I would prefer to live in a house where the nearest neighbor is miles away.  I thought it would be better in a house of my own over apartment dwelling because I wouldn’t be sharing walls with the people living next door to me.  Well, apparently that’s only half the problem.  Not sharing walls doesn’t stop your neighbor from traipsing through your grass and across your dangerously cracked driveway to have a little chat with the neighbor on the other side of you.  Damn old people.

14. I just don’t like musicals.  I tried to watch Rock of Ages….I really did.  I hated it just as much as Glee, Grease and Chicago.  I was even pissed that they felt it necessary to do a musical episode of Grey’s Anatomy.  Just.No.

15. I have inherited my father’s green thumb.  Being mostly settled in my own house this spring, I got the itch to plant a veggie garden.  Dad always had a garden, full of tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers….even corn some years.  Turns out I can garden, too.  My veggies are doing well, after I learned that you have to water them more often than you water your houseplants.  I ate the world’s most delicious cucumber last week.  It was so good because it was the first one that I grew all on my own.

16. I don’t like gambling.  I love my aunt.  She is my godmother and I don’t feel weird saying that she is also a great friend.  She invited me on my first gambling trip this year.  I was excited and conflicted.  I saved some “fun money” and also got some to spare from some of my family.  It was all gone in those two short days full of dizzying colored lights and a cacophony of jingly electronic sounds.  I can’t recount the total loss, mostly because it makes my stomach feel fuzzy in an unfriendly way.  I can tell you that the weeks following that trip were spent thinking about how much fence could’ve been built with the money I lost in those slot machine.  I still get flashes of uncomfortable hope and the urge to shout “You’re a lying bitch, Vanna” when I hear the music from Wheel of Fortune.

 

Seriously…not even half way yet?  Let’s speed this shit up, hey?

 

17. I am pretty.  Blogged about this before.  ‘Nuff said.

18. I don’t care to be in a relationship.

19. I still thoroughly enjoying driving a car with manual transmission.

20. The Sims is still and always will be the best video game.  I don’t care what G4 says.

21. I can forgive my ex-husband and his wife.

22. I am not political and probably never will be.

23. I love internet quizzes.

24. I want to write a book (like, for reals).

25. Green juice is yummy when you make it yourself.

26. I still don’t like fish (to eat or as pets, they are just creepy).

27. There really IS a $20 annual wheel tax tacked on to your license plate renewal fee if you live the City of Milwaukee.

28. Customer service has become more of a myth than the unicorn.

29. Daniel Radcliffe is slowly going crazy (but I still love him).
 
OK, I know this is really for a movie, but,c'mon.
 

30. I prefer firm pillows over down-filled, soft ones.

31. Chiropractic adjustments are nice but don’t help enough to justify the cost.

32. You can have arthritis in multiple joints before you’re sixty.

33. Space heaters are very expensive to use and were obviously designed as instruments of evil by the energy companies.

34. I prefer chocolate cupcakes over vanilla.  But always vanilla buttercream frosting, let’s not get crazy here.

35. The Familyhood shopping sites (Wag.com, Soap.com, etc.) beat Amazon's ass (most of the time).

36. Once I start a series on Netflix, I have an obsessive need to finish it, even if it’s the worst show ever (Secret Life of the American Teenager, anyone?).

37. I can be happy sometimes, sad other times and express my anger when I need to and none of that means that I am in any way mentally ill.

38. People really like me….like, just plain old me.  Not “putting on an act” me or “pretending to be who I think someone wants me to be” me.  JUST ME!

 
Man, what a year.  I have made a lot of life changes in the past 12 months.  I feel good about all of them and look forward to what I’m going to learn in the next 12 months.  Because I intend to live my life in such a way that I never stop learning…..in one way or another, even if it’s learning through making my own mistakes.  Bring on 40!

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