Annual birthday self-portrait. Years ago, I decided I would take a self-portrait shortly after midnight on my birthday (I’ve come to hate this rule because I’d rather be sleeping) with no makeup, no special lighting, no fancy processing, just me. So here it is for this year. I need a nap. Also I am now concerned I might be somewhat cross-eyed.
Twenty years ago now (good lord, I have to let that sink in for a minute), I had an assignment in my 10th grade English class, to write about what I’d be up to in 10 years’ time. I remember being 15 and thinking that in 10 years, when I would be 25, I would be so cool and such a grown up and I would have it together at last. (My 15-year-old self imagined that my 25-year-old self would be a writer who worked on a typewriter — I worked on a typewriter at the time, so it seemed logical — and had a tattoo. Writing would, of course, be my full-time job. I’m sure there was other stuff, but those were some of the things I remember.)
When I turned 25, I was disappointed when I realized that I was not a grown-up who had it together at last. In a lot of ways, I felt much the same as I did when I was 15, and also I didn’t have a full-time writing career or a tattoo. I remember, when I turned 25, that I had some anxiety over the fact that instead of having it together (I was an adult, after all, halfway through my 20s and at what point was I supposed to have it together if not then?) I felt restless and confused.
And now it’s 10 years after that. I still don’t have a full-time writing career, but I do have 2 tattoos. I still don’t have it together at last, but I have realized that there’s actually no such thing, so that helps. And my 15-year-old self would never believe this, but I am really good at accessorizing now.
Who says I’m not accomplished?
Anyway, it’s my birthday. I haven’t come out and said it, but if you are able to do math, you will know that I am now 35. Hello. This is my first post as a 35-year-old. I’m sure it will be monumental.
There’s one slight problem — I don’t have a lot to say. My birthday this year kind of came out of nowhere. I mean, I knew it was going to happen, but I haven’t really thought about it much. I’m not sure how much I ever really think about it, but this year I’m a bit blindsided by it, mostly because I’m still slightly surprised that it is not, in fact, still mid-July. Not sure where the summer went. It just kind of disintegrated. All of that to say I guess my biggest birthday surprise this year is the fact that oh hey, it’s happening now.
I find that I don’t care much about turning 35. I thought perhaps I’d feel something about it, the fact that I’m now officially halfway through my 30s and turning 40 is no longer a vague concept for the future but a highly likely possibility, provided I don’t get hit by a bus or something between now and then. Now that I’m here, though, I realize that I am pretty okay with it. (You want to know a dumb secret that will no longer be a secret once I finish typing this parenthetical statement and don’t you love when I get all meta? The age that freaked me out the most so far? It wasn’t a milestone year and there wasn’t anything outstanding about it in any way, but I was really bothered about turning 33. For whatever reason — and I have absolutely no idea what that reason might’ve been — that shit freaked me out. But I lived through it, and here we are and I’m going to stop with the parentheses now.)
Typically in one of these birthday posts, I’d spend some time reminiscing about the year past, but I don’t think I will this time around. Oh sure, stuff happened. Some of it was good and some of it was bad. I find that I’m not interested in the majority of it, though, the most recent collection of 365 days that brought me here to this post. It happened, but I don’t have anything much to tell you about it. It was pretty quiet, fairly solitary, and I don’t know. I read some books and I think I still have PTSD from this past winter, but overall, 34 was a rather nondescript blur. But that’s okay. I had a lot of drama in my 20s, so maybe this is the decade when I get to be more even-keeled and spend my spare time binge-watching things on Netflix. Could be worse.
One nice thing about getting older is that I am definitely more at peace with the fact that life doesn’t have to be exciting all the time.
So. Now that I’m 35, I use anti-aging moisturizer on my face at night, not because I’m concerned about wrinkles (I’m not; they’re going to happen regardless), but my god my skin has gotten so dry and that stuff really hydrates and what did I tell you about not being exciting?
I’m going to have a year. I’m going to try to write more, though I don’t know how much of that will happen here. A week or so ago, I found a recording on my phone of my grandmother telling a story one Sunday afternoon when my mom and I were visiting her, and though it was a weird, meandering, circuitous story, it reminded me of a book I was writing. Not because it was weird, meandering or circuitous (though it may in fact be all of those things), but the rhythm of my grandmother’s speech patterns when we would sit and she would tell me stories about her youth in Arkansas was one of the things that inspired it in the first place. The story I was writing back then in 2009 when I first started it still nags me, and I owe it to myself to finish it, although I have a feeling that might mean scrapping everything and starting from scratch, but scrapping everything and starting from scratch is kind of my thing anyway, so that works. I don’t think I was ready to write it when I started it back then. I think I am now.
Writing still won’t be my full-time job, but it’s about time I got closer to the dream I had forever ago, even before I wrote it down for an English class assignment. So there’s that.