40, y'all. 40. 40. I remember when it was just a theoretical age. And I remember being like 33 and realizing that I would one day be 40 and, for the first time, it seemed real. But I didn't have a single drop of anxiety about my actual big birthday. I just hoped people would show up to my party and have fun, and they did, they did! My sisters threw the party for me and my dad tended the bar and so many people that I wasn't expecting to see showed up and stayed! They brought wine and unnecessary gifties and their moneymakers, which some of them shook, and we sang karaoke, and I finally got to do "The Winner Takes it All" and, more significantly, "Wuthering Heights" (while lying on the couch at about 3:30 in the morning, for an audience of two).
I'd been waiting for several years to say "I spit on the grave of my thirties," to be honest (I thought I was misquoting Dorothy Parker, but it might have been H.L. Mencken who said "I spit on the grave of my twenties"--we share a birthday, coincidentally--and I also see it attributed to T.S. Eliot, which made me laugh out loud). Let's say it was a learning decade. It was full of rich, deep relationships and was often extremely fun. It was also emotionally painful and difficult. I got married and divorced. I worked for 6 years in a job that slurped up my will to do anything artistic and productive. I finished my doctorate. I paid off my student loans. I had a fair amount of adventures. I started blogging, back on rickety old Diaryland, 10 years ago! and also pretty much finished blogging, I suppose. I gathered a community around me through blogging that I would never have gained otherwise, though. Some of you are even still reading!
I never knew what the fuck I was doing. I still don't really.
Here are some things I know now, though. Lifting weights makes you feel as awesome as everyone always says. I've been doing it for about 6 months, after literal years of thinking about how I would probably like it and should really do it. (This is how I make decisions: I simmer on it forever, and then one day I snap.) I'm trying to be slow and steady with it, but even so, the nice thing about starting from like zero with strength training is that you make noticeable progress pretty quickly, and progress is a very good motivator. And so now I have little goals in my head, like "next time I do this workout I'm going to use the next dumbbell up." I have never loved my thighs more than when I get to the top of a squat, and let me tell you, that is a huge gift, because I have lamented the aesthetics of my legs my entire life. When I'm at the gym I am constantly yelling "HELL YEAH GET IT GET IT" to myself, silently. Let it be known that in my 40th year I saw, for the first time, muscles rippling in my arms. Don't get me wrong, you'd have to look closely and my arms still jiggle like whoa, but now they jiggle with both fat and MUSCLES that can LIFT THINGS. I also made friends with the power rack and stopped being intimidated by barbells. I like them now. I still feel like a big dummy when I try something new but that's good for me.
Another thing I know is that my mattress had to go. A new mattress wasn't exactly in the budget but again, I've been thinking about it for ages and about 10 days ago I finally snapped. I went to exactly one place and said "show me stuff" and I publicly laid on mattresses for 45 minutes and then I bought one and financed it at 0% for 12 months like a good American. My previous mattress--which I somehow already managed to sell off to a friend of a friend, hallelujah--had been wrecking my back every night for like a year. Just major mid-back stiffness that sometimes wraps around to the front of my ribs. Early in the summer it was bad enough that I'd wake up at 6 and just move to the couch for the rest of my sleep cycle. Or I'd hit my back with some Icy Hot before bed! I'm sure you'll agree that this is totally bogus. I AM A GROWN-ASS LADY. I am a grown-ass single internet-dependent cat lady and I need my sleep, god damn it. This is an investment in my well-being. My new mattress is being delivered on Friday and I can't wait. I hope it fits up the stairs, though, hahaha, gulp.
I know that mung bean pasta is filling my noodle hole. 25 grams of protein per serving, no weird noodle crash 20 minutes after eating it! You can make the whole bag at the beginning of the week and the leftovers do not suffer from sitting in the fridge! They cook up al dente and taste neutrally delicious! Oh naturally it looks like they're being discontinued, or just changed to include edamame, but I bet they will still be good! This has mixed up my culinary life a bit without complicating it at all, since hardly anything could be easier to prepare than NOODLES.
I know that I'm a thousand percent happier freelancing than I ever was in my office job, even though I now live with constant low-level anxiety about money, and I have to be making like 10 grand more a year, minimum, than I am currently, and I need students to take lessons every week, but I can't crack down on that right now because I will lose people I really like working with. Related: so far I've done one wedding and one funeral accompanying myself on the ukulele, which is not something that would've happened if I were still working that job, I'm guessing.
I know that right on cue, as I headed into 40, my skin started doing weird shit, because of general oldness, I'm assuming. I get dry, irritated patches on my face, which I've never had before. Cool.
I know that I'm finally wearing the correct bra size. I know that I'm not going to stop wearing hammer pants. I know that I need to use today to initiate the Great Wardrobe Switchout, which can be a melancholy process.
I know that Gilmore Girls streaming on Netflix for the first time means that my ass is going to be welded to the couch every chance I get.
It's not exactly Wisdom of the Ages stuff, is it? I'm guessing this next decade will offer a bit more of that.