Bodacious Birthday Blather!
June 2000
June 27, 2000, is my thirtieth birthday.


How can I possibly be thirty years old? As if that isn’t bad enough, I’ve found myself growing more Stereotypically Freaked by the approach of this particular landmark age… which bugs me even more. Thirty years is one-third to one-half of an average human’s life.

I used to think a lot about turning thirty when I was little. I remember my mom’s thirtieth birthday, and how she proclaimed it the "best birthday ever!" (but I suspect she was exaggerating), and, to me, it seemed a Mythical Age. Doubly mythical, as I’d be thirty years old in the Year 2000. I could picture myself clearly at this seasoned age, with children of my own, living in a nice house (like one of those newer tract homes near State College). For my birthday, I’d have a party with friends like my mom’s pals, and my husband would BBQ something and I’d sprawl in my patio chair and drink beer and laugh loudly and proclaim in a boisterous voice that it was my "best damned birthday ever!" and be the center of attention….

Okay, so, thankfully it didn’t quite work out like that. But it still seems like a Mythical Age. Being thirty means I’m unquestionably An Adult. It means there’s a stranger in the mirror, a dumpy, bespectacled, matronly looking thing with chin hairs and spongy thighs and saggy upper arms and, God help me, varicose veins! It means that the music I favor is often met with "Oh, I remember that from kindergarten!" from some of my co-workers. It means the cold realization that, when I was falling in love with Simon LeBon, my brother’s girlfriend was barely toilet-trained! It means my knees get sore when I walk a lot, and I’ve felt the premonitory twinges that herald an "I just threw my back out!" in my near future. It means I have to think about breast cancer and cervical check-ups and calcium and Alpha-Hydroxy. It means that I can’t indefinitely put off the decision whether or not to have children with the same flippant carelessness of only a year or so ago. And based on this, I’m afraid turning thirty also means that I morph, out of my control, into some sort of vapid Bridget Jones clone.

Today, the day before my birthday, I got kind of Cranky about this pending rollover in decades. I wrote an e-mail to The Husband-Type Man listing the aforementioned litany of Complaints and Revelations about Being Thirty before stomping off to a meeting at work. When I got back to my desk, he’d called my voice mail and left me a sweet and sincere message reminding me that instead I should be thinking about all I’d accomplished in just the last year and being proud of it instead of being all grumpy. Perspective check.

So I did. I thought about the fact that I faced a lot of Big, Scary Things in the last year, like moving to New York and getting a job in the city at a huge publisher’s. I learned to feel comfortable and confident on the subways and streets. I met people and even made several (I’d like to think) good new friends. I did writing that I’m proud of. I regularly try new and unusual restaurants and foods. I go to shows and museums and galleries and unusual stores. All this from me, Dwanollah, Creature of Habit!

I reflected on the last year during the whole subway ride home, and, when I got back here, I continued on my Reflective bent: I dug out The List.

The List is something I compiled with a friend when I was 24; we each made Lists of stuff we wanted to do and try and see in our lifetimes. Most of the stuff I put down on my List seemed impossible… or at least pretty exotic and unlikely to happen. Certainly "Have my own apartment" seems as out-of-reach as "Go to Greece." But without listening to my Critical Inner Voice, I listed 112 different things. As of my thirtieth birthday, I’ve done almost 33 of them… and some of them were the things I thought most impossible. Check it out….

  1. Get more holes in my ears (This was the first Big Thing I did… I had one ear double-pierced and the other triple-pierced, Spring, 1994)
  2. Feed a deer (Wild Animal Park, Oct. 7, 1995)
  3. Have my own apartment (Upland, 1995-96, while I was in college. I’d lived with roommates before, but this was mine all mine.)
  4. See a foreign film (Il Postino, April 2, 1996)
  5. Have a traditional romantic picnic (With Dan on our 6mo. anniversary, 6/95. . . and actually countless times since. This is an active part of our lives together.)
  6. Meet Simon LeBon (April 10, 1995 LA Warehouse Signing; LA Tribute Show, Oct 1998; EB Tour, backstage in San Jose and LA, Dec. 1998, CBS Studios NY, 2000)
  7. Bake bread (Thanksgiving, 1995, with Dan… and many times since with the help of a bread machine we got as a wedding gift)
  8. Hear John Williams conduct Star Wars in person (August, 1996, Hollywood Bowl)
  9. See k.d. lang in concert (March 1996, Universal Amphitheater.)
  10. Own a sapphire (Engagement ring, Spring, 1996)
  11. Make homemade pizza (New Year’s Eve, 1997, and several times since.)
  12. Learn to waltz, and waltz in a formal gown (Wedding, July 26, 1997)
  13. Go to Europe (England, 7-8/98, for our honeymoon; London, 3/99)
  14. Walk across London Bridge (in London, NOT Lake Havasu!) (On our honeymoon, 8/97 and again in spring of 1999)
  15. Graduate from college (May 17, 1998, The Claremont Colleges)
  16. Get a Master’s in Lit. (May, 1999, the University of Pennsylvania)
  17. Study @ an Ivy League school (Penn, Master’s, 1998-99 school year)
  18. See a Woody Allen film (I’ve seen Annie Hall, which was good, but lacked punch since I’d already heard many of the jokes. My first WA film was Deconstructing Henry, which was one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen.)
  19. See New England in the Fall (In 1999, Dan and I drove from New York to SE Connecticut, but most of the leaves were gone. Pennsylvania and New Jersey don’t technically count as "New England," but we experienced our first real Fall there in 1998… and have some beautiful pictures to prove it.)
  20. See snow fall (There were about four or five snowstorms in Philly when we lived there from 1998-99. The first time, Dan and I took all sorts of blurry pictures of snow falling. This was December 23, 1998, right before we went to the airport to pick my brother up. We had a White Christmas.)
  21. Give up something for Lent (March-April, 1998. Chocolate. Yes, I did it.)
  22. See The Smithsonian (as of 6/2000, I’ve been to DC – and The Smithsonian – twice!)
  23. Take a carriage ride (as of 6/2000, I’ve been on several: in Philly, DC and New York, when my family came out for my graduation)
  24. Visit New York (Try living in New York... we moved here 9/99!)
  25. Make Beef Wellington (For Christmas dinner 1999, I made Beoff en Croute, which is sort of like Beef Wellington without the sauce. But I used pre-made puff pastry….)
  26. Study world history (Does working on US and World History/Western Civ textbooks count? Since early this year, I’ve been working for a college textbook publisher, and regularly study the new texts.)
  27. Go to the Lourve, the Met, and the National Gallery (Two out of three ain’t bad… plus I’ve been to the Tate, MoMA and the Guggenheim)
  28. See a musical (Our first was "Ain’t Nothin’ But the Blues" on Broadway in the fall of 1999.)
  29. See a play (4/2000, we saw Patrick Stewart in Arthur Miller’s "A Ride Down Mt. Morgan"… surprisingly excellent!)
  30. See a Shakespeare play (June 21, 2000, Kelsey Grammer in Macbeth. Not bad for a First Shakespeare Play, huh?)
  31. Eat passion fruit (I’ve had pomegranates and blood oranges as of the year 2000, but no passion fruit yet. Want to try a fig, too.)
  32. Drink café au lait in a sidewalk café in France (I’ve had mochas at the supposedly oldest coffeehouse in America, here in New York. That counts for something doesn’t it?)
  33. Live in a bungalow with bougainvillea (This very week, we signed papers for The Dollhouse, a tiny two-bedroom Santa Monica cottage circa 1910. Look at the back patio….)

What are some other things on The List…? In no particular order….

  • Do the Laura Ingalls Wilder Grand Tour
  • Learn Latin or Greek
  • See Alaska
  • Learn to play the guitar
  • Learn to play the piano
  • See Les Sylphides
  • See Paul McCartney live
  • Study in Greece
  • Study/live in England
  • Write a thesis
  • Build a dollhouse
  • Live in San Francisco
  • Learn to tap dance
  • Bake an apple-pie
  • Live in a loft
  • See Simon&Garfunkle in concert
  • Have a garden with a waterfall
  • Drive across the country
  • Publish something
  • Sculpt something
  • Paint something
  • Get a Ph.D. in Lit.
  • Visit Italy
  • Visit Switzerland
  • Build an igloo
  • Teach
  • Stay at the Hotel Del Coronado
  • Pet a lion or tiger
  • Stay in an English cottage
  • See Monet’s Water Lilies in Givernay, France
  • Visit France/Paris
  • See Mesopotamia
  • Dip my feet in the Mediterranean
  • Dip my feet in the River Jordan
  • Have a bathroom with a sunken and/or old-fashioned tub
  • Sunbathe on a nude beach
  • See the Seven Wonders
  • See Olympic Ice Skating in person
  • Skate with Someone
  • See a revival film
  • Learn sign language
  • Learn mime
  • Ride a horse
  • Drive up the [West] coast
  • See the Alps
  • See the Northern Lights
  • Visit Sweden and Norway
  • Learn the words to Ave Maria
  • Play the harp/flute
  • Own a Vionet-styled dress
  • Take the Eurail
  • Taste Dom Perignon
  • Own a mosquito-net bed frame
  • Own silk sheets
  • Attend a Catholic Midnight Mass
  • Test drive a foreign sports car

So, after all this, Iím feeling pretty proud of what Iíve done in 30 years, and anticipating what I can do in the next 30.

And, of course, isn’t this about the age at which women hit their sexual peak….?

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