Tag Archives: musings

On turning 30

My twenties were good to me. The mainly traditional thing I did (from that little checklist of “things that must be done according to society at large or so they say”)(is anyone even looking at this list anymore) was get married and buy a house-getting in under the buzzer on that one. No babies. One dog, one husband. A few degrees and a lot of travels and books read and films seen and alcohol drunk. An indefinitely permanent move abroad was made. They have been chaotic years, and it’s been a bit of a chaotic decade really. Things only seemed to settle around the 28 mark, although in the past year, and particularly in the past 6 months, I’ve felt more myself than ever before. And I feel like a door has solidly shut behind me, and shut on a fair amount of uncertainty, of insecurity.

When I was 12, it was a tradition at my school to write a letter to your future 18 year old self. Pretty neat and not at all cheesy, I know. My classmates and I wrote these letters in our 6th grade English class, saying what we’d hoped we’d done by then, and who we assumed we’d be, asking questions to our future selves, licked the envelopes closed with favorite pictures or trinkets inside, and when we graduated, if we were still at the school, they were given to us once again. I know I still have my letter somewhere, so enthusiastic and pure and earnest as all get out and so so hopeful for everything that my nearly teenage self assumed would happen. I remember getting teary when I opened that letter during the spring of my senior year in high school, although I can’t at all remember what I wrote to myself. But so it goes.

If I had written that letter again at 20, or 23, or 25, I don’t know what I would have said or asked of my thirty year old self.  It may have been more cynical in tone, surely. But maybe just as hopeful that things would eventually smooth out, and bare some semblance to a life that I wanted and might have dared to dream of. And definitely a life that had a reassuring kind of stability to it, one where I felt safe and secure and loved and continuously optimistic all at once, in a way that I didn’t feel or know if I would find for a hefty part of the last decade.

Things seem to be settling now. My twenties were very very good when it comes down to it. But maybe my thirties will be, too. Or they’ll be better. And I’m ready for that, whichever way it goes. I don’t mind getting older, and can’t relate much to those who do. It is a thing that seems so silly to complain about. What’s the alternative-death? No thanks. So. Here we are. Thirty! Man oh man.

thirty year old

thirty year old selfie taker

 

On good professional feelings

happiness at work

Bruce on my work desk, apropos of nothing. But he’s so cuuuuute.

Today I presented my first professional writing workshop. Twelve employees of a company I consult for, none of them writers, most of them developers, stared at me blankly, or nodded sometimes, or took notes. I got them all brainstorming ideas for articles around themes, I got them chatting to one another to think up clever and interesting titles, I taught them what to look for when proofreading and editing one another’s work, and I hopefully made them feel a little more empowered and able to take ownership of their writing abilities. It went really really well, and even though I wanted to throw up just a little bit before it began, I didn’t. Yay.

To me writing has always come fairly easy. A hobby but also a skill, and a craft. The idea of it, but more often the act of it. Writing makes me feel better, more connected to myself and my thoughts. And so many people don’t have that and don’t feel comfortable putting proverbial pen to paper, and I love that my job now is so much about getting people to find those words and get them out, even if it isn’t always about the most interesting of things.

Teaching was hard. Being a teacher was really hard. It was fun and satisfying and forever interesting, but it was hard and underpaid and overworked too. I loved teaching my students of all ages how to tap into their own thoughts and jot those things down, and getting in front of that group today was like being in front of a classroom all over again.

It is incredibly satisfying to feel like I’ve found a thing that I want to do for the foreseeable future, that I’m good at, but that I can get better at. It’s good to be paid a good salary to do good work with good people. I never really thought all those parts would fall into place, and I still can’t quite believe that they have. But they have. Or they seem to have, for now. Which is good enough for me.

painters painting

painting the living room

Since we moved into the new flat two months ago, we’ve been working on one thing after another, little bit by little bit-the things that need done (or that we want to do) compiled onto a list that just keeps getting longer and longer. And it’s fine that way, and even a bit fun. But it’s also a little overwhelming too, and frustrating, in that we do not have Donald Trump-style endless piles of money laying around, or expertise in literally anything, but we have brains full of ideas and stuff we would like to see happen and I have watched a lot of HGTV in my day, mind you.

So painting? Yep, sure, let’s do it. Easy, cheapish, and with the biggest pay-off!

The actual physical labor involved in painting all or part of every day of a 4 day weekend was something I didn’t really think of until I kept waking up all sore and stiff in the mornings, my old joints creaking and crying. In the end we painted the kitchen, the living room, a wall in the bedroom, and the bathroom door. We also took the bathroom cabinet off the wall and moved it higher, replaced the broken toilet seat, super-glued the crack in the back of the cistern, filled many a hole with poly-fill and sanded it down, framed and hung innumerable pictures, put together a sofa bed for the second bedroom/home office….it was a busy few days. But things are coming together now, and it makes me very very happy, despite the terrible weather outside. We’re having a little silly Eurovision viewing party on Saturday, and I’m looking forward to having people in the house now that it’s looking a little more “us”, and a lot less yellow-and-brown walls.

Now even though it’s already Thursday, having Monday off threw me for a weird loop this week. And since I also haven’t had any meetings yet (none till tomorrow!) I’ve been doing all my work from home. Basically, Sunday was the main day spent out of the house, food festivaling, but Saturday, and all of this week have been completely house-bound. I’m getting a slight case of cabin fever. Also, the rain. Wind and rain. It’s gloomy, is what I’m saying, and I haven’t left the house in 4 and a half days. Tomorrow morning I have two meetings in a row and then a lunch date, and I am seriously looking forward to getting out there in the world and leaving my freshly painted walls behind. But then again, on a day like today with gale force winds and the sea melting into the gray sky, I’m glad to have the solace of spending a day barricaded inside, typing away on my little laptop. Silver linings.

land to sea

jon and bruce on the beach march 2014 shoreham

bruce on shoreham beach 2014

Growing up in rural Ohio, my life until 18 was mostly cornfields and endless country roads. I grew up in a tiny town of less than 2000 people, and went to an equally tiny high school, with a miniscule graduating class of 81 (I like to think of myself as that special extra one, heyooooo). The closest body of water was the local pool, and outside of that, a few hours’ drive north, was Lake Erie. I remember sitting on those dirty, mostly muddy beaches with my mom and grandma and sister, playing in the sandbars that appeared at low tide, rubbing that disgusting muck all over our bodies. And I remember hot summer days as a teenager driving out to the “beach” in Delaware with friends, lazing the days away in a land-locked Midwest style, no real beaches needed but the water was good enough, and it didn’t even need to be actually hot outside. Just better than warm was fine.

Now, I have a house on the river, sandwiched between its languid flow and a beach a few hundred yards away, a few minutes walk behind us. A beach, mind you, that fights English tradition and actually has a fair amount of sand on it when the tide is low enough! And if we stay here, we could have kids here. And my hypothetical future progeny would be….dare I say it….water people. They could grow up knowing the tides and the sea mist and stormy days on the seafront and winters by the Channel and little else. They could probably be outdoorsy because we sure do take a lot of long nature and/or beach walks around here. And by “outdoorsy” I mean outdoorsy activities would be forced upon them until they reached the age at which they could reasonably sass their way out of it. They would not live near farms, they would not know corn fields and what should be knee high by the fourth of July, and they would not know endless country roads and the joy of driving down them. Maybe they’d join a rowing team (a LOT of people row around here), or maybe they wouldn’t, but I bet they’d know people who did. They wouldn’t be bothered by the rain or the gloom, year round at least not like I am, because it would be completely normal for them. And they’ll probably think winter here is cold, when it isn’t really, they just won’t be used to seeing snow every year. Maybe they’d like canoeing, or body boarding, or be those brave English surfers that I’m always so impressed by (because beach or not, it’s oh so cold here and I’ve still never been in the water, Shoreham or Brighton, and it’s going on 3 years now….maybe this summer will be the year it changes).

I guess the point of this is that life is weird, and I can’t help but think of my ancestors, my peoples’ people who were European, and how they married people from other places, and immigrated to the States many moons ago, and the marriages and the procreations that just kept on keeping on, and generations later, I’ve moved back across the ocean, from whence we came, and seriously, the universe boggles and circles come back upon themselves and here we all are.

It’s hard to imagine.

in the dark

nightime in lindfield

Today I found out that someone I love is going through a terrible time, some real personal turmoil that I can’t really imagine, and that I only came to know second-hand through another sweet friend. And in this new year, post-holiday come down, where the sparkle is all gone and it’s back to reality, I really feel that the tenuous ties that bind some of my dearest relationships are at their thinnest, their most delicate, and I must work harder to keep them close to me. It is hard to be aware and present and enough for people you see once or twice a year, or even less,  and even then for just a few hours at a time. It is hard to be a flitting shadow to people, or a memory. And it isn’t all really connected to my friends illness, and I don’t want to be a person who uses another’s reality to talk about oneself, but this is a sobering reminder of the frailty of all things.  I don’t know that I have much more to say about it, no exposition to be found, except that I am sad and that I miss my people, scattered around the globe.

Hello, new year.

new year's resolutions

So this is the time of year when people either make resolutions or complain about the fact that people are so keen to make resolutions, because I suppose we are meant to think everyone is a big, fat failure, right? I stand firmly in the middle of the road, putting motions in place to be a hopefully somewhat better version of myself, without trying to throw myself under the proverbial bus of failure that would surely come with any sweeping proclamations of change. You will not see me pledge to do anything crazy, per se. I’m more of a “stop drinking so much and maybe get around to buying the electronic toothbrush that the dentist recommended” kinda gal.

Here we are and it’s already the 7th of the month anyway, so I’m actually pretty late in getting around to this chatter. But while the death of an old year and birth of a shiny new one is more of an arbitrary thing that we humans made up to mark the passage of time on our cool floating space rock, it is still good and right and useful to find a time when you wipe the slate clean and try again to do well for yourself, and why not when everyone else in the world is making a go of it at the same time? My two cents, there they are.

Things I wouldn’t mind doing for myself in 2014:

Be a little less boozy. Very doable! More frequent flossing (you can see i’m busting out the big guns here). Use less internet, and maybe also quit a social media site or two (i’m looking at you facebook….side eye is definitely in your direction). Travel to a few brand-new places. The wheels are in motion here, so success is imminent!

Here’s to making the most of a new trip around the sun. May it be challenging and fruitful, in all the best ways.