thirty four

Well, hey there. It seems like only a week or so ago, it was the beginning of July, and now here my birthday is again, which means that it’s September and fall is a little over a week away. I’m not really sure how that happened, except of course that time keeps on going, regardless of how much attention I’m not paying to it, because that’s what time does. There were some really good things and some really bad things, which is fairly normal for a year. In fact, I think all years could be summed up the same way, and what differentiates this year from all the others are the things. Yes, I know that 1) that’s terribly ineloquent, and 2) it is also true of every other year ever. But I guess even if I can’t update my blog for months at a time, I can still do the annual birthday post at least.

...and I can also do the annual birthday self-portrait, about which I have very little to say, except hi!
…and I can also do the annual birthday self-portrait, about which I have very little to say, except hi!

So, to sum up:

Last year at this time, I was looking for a new job. I didn’t hate my old job, but I needed a change. And health insurance. So I was sending out resumes and not holding my breath. About two months later, I got a new job. For the same organization, but an entirely new position in a different building. It was the change I needed, and it came with health insurance, and check out how things work out sometimes. I didn’t officially transfer over to the new position until January, and looking back now, I am surprised and happy with how far I’ve come in what is just a matter of months. People ask me what I do for a living and I try to explain, because it’s a million things, it seems, and a lot of them involve data and spreadsheets and reports and conversations about data and spreadsheets and reports, and these are things which tend to make people’s eyes glaze over, so I stick to the one thing that is the least eye-glaze-over-y, which is that I do a lot with electronic medical record software. It boils down to making sure that everybody can do their stuff, basically. I like what I do a lot, and I’m glad that I get to do it, even on the days when it totally stresses me out.

I also got to be in a play this year, which was a lovely experience (even on the days when it totally stressed me out — a theme!). I had a small role in a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and it was my first time being in a play in approximately 100 years. I got to wear some pretty fantastic jewelry and in one scene I got to carry a very heavy rifle, which was really very heavy indeed, and I had a lot of fun. It was more fun wearing the fantastic jewelry than carrying the rifle, but the entire experience was great. Theater used to be such a big part of my life when I was younger, and it made me happy to return.

There was, of course, the bit with cancer, though — thank god — it turned out I didn’t have cancer. I will always have a two-inch-long scar on my left breast as a reminder to be grateful because it just as easily could’ve gone the other way, and I’d be living a different story now. I always took not having cancer for granted, because not having cancer is a default setting, but I don’t anymore. I’m thankful every time I get dressed in the morning and see that scar. I’m not only thankful for not having cancer, though believe you me, I AM SO THANKFUL FOR THAT, but I’m also thankful for the people in my life who were there for me during every scary step. God, I love the people in my life, so much sometimes I feel like my heart could explode.

And about six weeks after wrapping up the episode of Do I Have a Potentially Life-Threatening Disease?, I learned that my father had died. I learned this news on Father’s Day, so I may possibly hate Father’s Day forever, and I guess I’ll see how I feel the next time it rolls around. People have asked how I’m doing with that, and I’m okay, mostly. I won’t make it through this paragraph without crying, but maybe you’ll have better luck than I have. That night, after that horrible, blurry afternoon when my cousin broke the news to me, I went home, and a friend came over to see me. We went for a drive, and then a walk, and then we wound up sitting in the park by the waterfall. I looked out at the field where kids used to play soccer, but it has, over the past few years, turned into a soggy marshland, and that night, the tall grasses were full of fireflies. And I thought how terrible it is to be alive, and how beautiful. Sometimes it’s more terrible, and sometimes it’s more beautiful, and you know? Sometimes it’s a toss-up.

I don’t know how I’m doing about that, about my dad, about not being able to figure out how to say goodbye in any sort of meaningful way that makes me feel like I have some closure. I guess I’m doing as well as I can do. But I’ll be honest. My heart broke that day. My heart has broken before, and it always heals, but it’s never the same again.

But yeah, I’m okay, mostly.

And hey, it’s not all death and cancer scares! Aside from the new job and the play (and the death and the cancer scare), I have had some fun. I’ve looked at art, bought some fantastic shoes, read some good books. I’ve gone to the movies and to the beach. I’ve seen Soundgarden (my teenage rock icons, and I was so close to the stage that when I thought I made eye contact with Chris Cornell for a second, I may even not have been entirely delusional), Ben Folds (seriously, he did a plank on the piano), Dawes (it was a good show and also it was sweltering in there) and Yeah Yeah Yeahs (I really am pretty sure that Karen O is a ninja… a water-spitting, glitter-confetti-throwing, giggling ninja). There have been haircuts and pedicures and nights out where I’m at the table with the people having way too much fun. There has been beer and there has been ice cream, though I don’t think ever at the same time, which is probably for the best. I’ve reconnected with some old friends, and made some new friends and realized how great all of them are. I’ve laughed and I’ve cried and I’ve laughed until I cried and I’ve cried until I laughed.

And it’s been a year. And that living thing, I just keep doing it. And now I’m 34, holy shit, but I still get carded sometimes, so I guess it’s ok, even if my hair is grayer and sometimes when I stand up after I’ve been sitting for awhile my knees make wonderful popping noises.

Also, David Sedaris is so happy I’m alive.

It’s terrible and it’s beautiful and I’m happy about it too.

5 thoughts on “thirty four

  1. Happy birthday, Jamelah! I’m glad you were born, and I know I’m not the only one to feel that way. You have brought many smiles to many people’s lives.

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  2. yes. it’s been a year and crying/laughing/shoe-wearing/haircutting aside – you’re alive and infusing your words with all you’ve endured. may this year be rich with experience. – judih

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  3. Happy birthday, lovely lady. Your life is rich with experience, although I do hope your next year has fewer of the really bad things and more of the really good things. Glad you’re still here on the internet, and everywhere you are.

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