Monday, December 28, 2009

A Woman in her Thirties

In honor of my thirtieth follower on 'A Woman in her Thirties', I've decided to make a list of thirty things a woman in her thirties does and does not do. (By the way, are you reading and not following? I mean seriously, how am I supposed to get rich and famous off this blog without a million+ followers?)

Here goes. Feel free to add or comment as needed. As we all know, a woman in her thirties can take constructive criticism.

1. A woman in her thirties drinks good coffee. And good beer.
2. A woman in her thirties appreciates all things Patrick Swayze.
3. A woman in her thirties wears moisturizer on her face (with SPF during the day).
4. A woman in her thirties calls her mother at least once a week, just to ask how she's doing.
5. A woman in her thirties does not eat cheap sushi.
6. A woman in her thirties must have at least one educated opinion on the current state of politics.
7. A woman in her thirties remembers curling, brushing out, and spraying her bangs every day of junior high.
8. And on that note, a woman in her thirties does not share embarrassing pictures of other women in their thirties without their expressed permission.
9. A woman in her thirties understands how her girlie parts work.
10. A woman in her thirties is allowed to be snobby about jeans.
11. And on that note, a woman in her thirties stops taking advantage of Nordstrom's excessively liberal return policy.
12. A woman in her thirties doesn't have a job-- she has a career. She treats it as such, even if it's not the career of her dreams.
13. A woman in her thirties feels lucky if she still has grandparents.
14. A woman in her thirties can spell out all kinds of words on a pager.
15. A woman in her thirties does not rely on her significant other for all of the happiness in her life.
16. A woman in her thirties does not go to a restaurant to fill up on free bread.
17. A woman in her thirties supports the decisions of her friends, even if she doesn't agree with them.
18. A woman in her thirties can still answer this question: Brandon or Dylan? (Brandon)
19. A woman in her thirties is perfectly content without plans on a Friday night.
20. A woman in her thirties does not make instant mashed potatoes.
21. A woman in her thirties flosses her teeth, and not just in the days before going to the dentist.
22. A woman in her thirties does not waste her time with losers.
23. A woman in her thirties feels guilty when she sleeps past 8:00am (unfortunately).
24. A woman in her thirties withholds her judgment of the homeless.
25. A woman in her thirties does not use her credit card like it's 'free money'.
26. A woman in her thirties does not eat breakfast cereal that turns the milk pink.
27. A woman in her thirties knows her neighbors.
28. A woman in her thirties has a Costco card and uses it.
29. A woman in her thirties shops for art.
30. A woman in her thirties identifies completely with at least one character from Sex and the City. (Carrie-- minus the fashion sense and the book deal. I'm working on it.)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Woman in her Thirties is Pink Jesus

It's no secret that I've been cold lately. I am willing to complain to pretty much anyone who will listen about how my lips freeze off every morning when I take Daniel for walks. I just didn't realize how far my whining had really reached until last Friday.

My department did a secret Santa deal last week, and my secret Santa had heard through the grapevine and from my own big mouth that I was freezing my tail off in my classroom lately. When it came time to reveal herself, she gave me two gifts:

1. Mittens (awesome)
2. A hot pink Snuggie (double awesome)

In case you've been living in a cave, a Snuggie is a blanket with arm holes. You're supposed to wear it when reading on the couch or watching a football game and it gets chilly, at least that's what it suggests in the commercials. But when you're me, working every day in a cold classroom (cold by my standards, anyway), you wear the Snuggie when teaching.

That's right, people. For the last two days I have been teaching in a Snuggie.

My 2nd period class cannot get enough of this. 'You look like pink Jesus,' one of my students said today as I lifted my arms to adjust the volume on the TV. It was the most confusing of compliments, at first.

'Oh my GOD,' a co-worker said later during a meeting when he realized I was taking notes in my Snuggie. 'You know you're a true Minnesotan when you're so cold you stop caring what you look like.'

Now that was not a confusing compliment. That was downright rude. But do you think I care? Nope. A woman in her thirties chooses to be warm and cozy in a not-so-warm-and-cozy world. She is secure in her Snuggie. She is pink. She is Jesus.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

A Woman in her Thirties Learns

I can remember a time, probably in my early teens, when thirty sounded equally as old as eighty. Somehow I'd rationalized that, by thirty, all the questions of life would have been answered. All the knowledge that was to be imparted to me would be... imparted. Sometimes I find myself thinking back to that time when I need a laugh.

This week, in the advent of my first real snowstorm, I came to accept what I've known for over a year now, writing in this blog.

A woman in in her thirties learns

1. The difference between mittens and gloves.
I mean, I know the difference. But the California girl in me always thought that mittens were for little kids, and gloves were for adults. I honestly thought that until a couple of days ago. But when complaining to my friends about how I almost lost my pinky finger to hypothermia while taking Daniel for a walk on Wednesday, they said quite simply, 'Everyone knows that if you want your hands to stay warm, wear mittens.' I nodded and pretended that I was 'everyone'.

2. To keep books on CD in her car at all times.
I am usually very good about this, but I was ill-prepared for the 1 and a half hour drive home I had on Tuesday while the snow came down. I think I heard the same NPR broadcast about Tiger Woods twenty times. Lesson learned.

3. Snow Days are Awesome.
My fellow teacher friends, there is nothing like waking up at 5:00am, turning on the news, and seeing that your district has canceled school due to severe weather. It is the magic of Santa, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy, all rolled into one. And on that note...

4. No one knows ANYTHING (except my father-in-law).
L's Dad was the only one to predict that I would get a snow day. 'Be prepared', he told me. Everyone else I talked to, particularly my students, said, 'No way, they NEVER cancel school here! You're dreaming!' Well, sometimes dreams come true for a woman in her thirties.

5. Everything is better with Daniel.
I'll admit, my first snow storm was scary. Right now it is 11 degrees, which I still feel should be considered illegal. However, there's one member of our family who's loving every minute of this weather, and he reminds me of silver linings, of lemons and lemonade:

Sunday, December 6, 2009

A Woman in her Thirties Takes a Day

Sorry for not posting in awhile, all ye women in your thirties, but between parent teacher conferences, Tiger's infidelity, lesson planning, and the mini mental breakdown I had on Tuesday, I just haven't had the time for blogging.

My stress level confuses me. I don't understand exactly why I'm so stressed. I could use the move as an excuse, but I lived in China for three years for Pete's sake. It's not like Pleasantville is more difficult to adjust to. Teaching is a stressful job, sure, but I've been doing this for six years. You'd think I would have figured out how to handle the pressure by now. I like my job. I love my friends. And the men in my life, L and D, continue to wag their tails in happiness when they see me.

So what's up?

Friday, at a meeting, someone asked me what I was doing this weekend. I got that tightness in my chest that I get when I visualize my to-do list (which is very real, kept in my planner) and realize that there's no way I'm going to get through what I need to this weekend and have an hour or so of downtime to... oh, I don't know... sleep. She sensed it.

'You need to block off Sunday,' she said after I listed all I had going on this weekend. 'For you.'

A woman in her thirties takes a day off from herself. (Isn't that rule #1 once we enter this decade?) Today I'm doing laundry, getting my fat butt to the gym, making a nice dinner, and catching up on So You Think You Can Dance. I will not think about the lessons I have yet to plan, the Christmas cards I can't decide to whether or not to mail, or the poop that Daniel just ate while on a walk. There's only so much a woman in her thirties can do.


Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Woman in her Thirties is her Mother, Part II

We have already established that my Mom rules. The following story only solidifies this fact.

Last week, while on the way home from the airport for a weekend of early Thanksgiving and debauchery, I sat in the back seat of my brother's sedan with my nephew and my Mom. We were talking about all sorts of things-- Sarah Palin, house painting, etc.-- when my nephew covered his mouth and said:

'I'm sick'.

We had just crossed a bridge, and there was no place to pull over, but one look at my nephew even whiter than he normally is on a daily basis and I knew this was one of those no-good kind of situations.

What did this woman in her thirties do? I moved my purse out of the way. I prayed that he wouldn't barf on my coat. I yelled at my brother to pull over.

What did my mother do? She pulled off the beanie she had on her head, held it under my nephew's mouth, and let him spew the M&M's he'd been snacking on during his plane ride right into it.

'Always a Mom,' she said, rubbing his little back. She didn't need to say that. We were all thinking it.

The poor little guy had a couple more rounds in him, and by the time we were almost home he was covered in yuck and exhausted from it all. My Mom held out her hands so he could rest his head in them, and before we knew it he was asleep.

Will I ever be that Mom? I asked myself, watching the pair of them next to me, one asleep and one with her palms open with a safe place to rest. It is for these things that a woman in her thirties prays. Until then, she captures the moment:

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Woman in her Thirties Blogs Hard for her Money

If you'd asked me in my early twenties what my dream job was, I would have replied 'professional sunbather'. I have changed my tune, however, due to my naked photography debacle.

When I first turned thirty, I thought my dream job would be a paid book reviewer. The thought of reading books all day and writing about all the ways the author could have done better still sounds appealing to me on a certain level, but since completing a manuscript myself I realize just how much a person's heart and soul goes in to writing. Like dancing, when writing is done well it just looks easy. I spend enough time berating my own writing; I'm not sure I have it in me to spend my days berating the writing of others.

I started this blog almost exactly a year ago, and this combined with the spring I spent in Beijing watching every single episode of Sex and the City have made me come to the conclusion that my dream job is to blog-- like this-- for millions of dollars. I don't want to change the format; I don't want to plug any products. I want to be like Carrie Bradshaw, writing in my NYC (Pleasantville) home about all the ways in which a woman in her thirties can spend all her not-so-hard earned cash.

I am pleased to report that I am well on my way to making this dream a reality. Yesterday I received a note from Google saying that I had a check they wanted to mail to me for the advertisements I've allowed to automatically post after each of my entries. They have ranged from the ridiculous ("Interracial Dating Central" is the latest addition to my page) to the philanthropic ("Give to Catholic Charities"). Giddy, I logged into my account to see what the total of my earnings was.

Are you ready for this? Wait for it....


My head is still spinning. What does a woman in her thirties do with this kind of money? Does she buy not one but TWO Grande nonfat Chai Lattes? Or does she put it in her savings account, content with the knowledge that she only has to blog for another 60,000 years before she makes it to a half a million dollars?

A woman in her thirties foregoes the chai for now. She even holds off on the deposit slip. She puts such funds in a special place in her head, where they are safe. They serve to remind her that a woman in her thirties makes what she wants happen, $8.64 at a time.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

A Woman in her Thirties is Home

I've been asked many times over the last few months whether or not our new house feels like home.

'Not yet,' I usually say, my voice echoing in the receiver and revealing our still-empty living room. 'But we're working on it.' Translation: We've still got some stuff to buy yet before our house feels like home. This is the superficial answer, of course, because as every woman in her thirties knows (or should know), to be full and to be fulfilled are two very different things.

Yesterday T came over with her family, and I'd been stressing for a week about making our house comfortable for them. If our house still didn't feel like home to me, how could I make it feel like home to them? There is something that happens when friends from your old place come to visit you in a new place, something underlined by a desire for their approval and a need for affirmation that you made the right decision to move.

After dinner we took Mason upstairs for his bath. It was the first time I'd used the tub, and it took a few tries for me to figure out which knobs were the right ones. He played while T and I talked about woman-in-her-thirties type things, and L and T were downstairs talking about whatever it is men in their thirties talk about.

And it occurred to me as I took these photos that I felt more comfortable in my new surroundings than I'd felt before. My house had suddenly become home; not with a delivery from Pottery Barn, but with the sounds of my friends' laughter echoing in it.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A Woman in her Thirties Wears Comfortable Shoes

Disclaimer: This is likely to be my most controversial post to date, but it has been a long time coming.

The other day, while running on the treadmill, I tuned in to the last half hour of Oprah. She was having a 'shoe intervention'. In true Oprah style, unsuspecting women in practical (though unattractive) shoes were pulled off the street, taken into a dressing room with a bunch of male fashion designers, and told that their choice of footwear was 'hideous', 'embarrassing', and etcetera. The women were treated to a new pair of 3-inch heels and pranced around the stage saying things like, 'Gee golly, I didn't know I could be attractive and comfortable at the same time!'

Oprah, while sitting down in her Christian Louboutan's, laughed. The designers laughed. The women laughed at the silliness of their ugly, practical shoes. Everyone in the audience laughed.

Everyone except me.

My proclivity toward comfortable shoes started somewhere in my mid-twenties. I was working at a high tech company and sat down for the majority of the day. Among the many poor decisions I made during this time of my life, wearing heels to work most days was one of them. Was it motivated by a desire to look less ridiculous next to my good friend who was (seemed) eight inches taller than me? Did I think that my 4-inch wedge sandals would make my job seem less mundane? These are questions that haunt the woman in her thirties I've become.

My first pair of comfortable shoes was a pair of black pleather slip-ons from Aerosoles. 'They're like bedroom slippers!' my friend J said, and they were. I slipped them on and off under my desk, I took walks to the cafeteria just because it was comfortable to do so, and they were hidden well under my boot-cut jeans. As long as everything else I had on was cute, there was no need for anyone to know my plushy little secret.

As time went on and I moved into a career that required that I actually get off my fat butt multiple times during the day, I became less concerned about hiding my foot apparel. I wore my Naturalizers proudly during the day, willing to take on anyone who scoffed at my fashion choice.

'You don't like my shoes?' I said more than once. 'Well you know what I don't like? Your face.'

Yes, I have become extremely sensitive in this matter. It is not just a matter of pride. It's a matter of hygiene. When I see women walking around at weddings in bare feet because they have abandoned their stilettos under their table I can feel the bile churning in my stomach. Is there not another woman in the world who understands just how gross that is? And please, spare me the 'These heels are sooo comfortable' nonsense. Just admit your feet hurt and get on with it.

I am the first to admit that my comfort shoes are not what one would call... attractive. If I could bottle up the looks L, H, and K have given me over the years when it comes to my choice in shoes in a bottle of perfume, I would call it Eau de Snotface. But there is something I seek more than their approval, something I value even more than their affection, and that is the ability to walk.

High heels have their place. Places like symphonies, birthday parties where ample seating is provided, and the occasional bridal shower. Even I will be a slave to fashion once in awhile. But if you expect to see me walking Daniel in anything other than my $30 Costco brand Uggs (thanks again, L's Mom), and if you (L) are hoping that I will not be purchasing my new Dansko clogs in every color and pattern they make, then I'm sorry to say you are bound to be disappointed.

A woman in her thirties follows the golden rule of life: pick your battles. My battle with high heels is over, the white flag has been raised, and I remain the happiest (and most comfortable) loser you've ever seen.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

A Woman in her Thirties Clips Coupons

My Mom always had (and still has) a coupon drawer. It was where she stashes any coupon she might find in her Valu-pak, any and all coupons attached to a box of pizza, scissors, birthday candles, and the one book of matches in our home, circa 1972.

To call my Mom a bargain shopper would be an understatement. I think she has spent her whole life carefully calculating the tricks and habits of our local Safeway, and thus has become somewhat of a silent-but-deadly lion when it comes to getting in and out of the grocery store without paying full price for a single item. But here's the thing: I don't think I've ever seen her use any of the coupons she painstakingly collects. They just sit in her drawer, expiring one by one. It's one of the many enigmas about her.

As I've been trying to organize my life here in Pleasantville, I began my own coupon drawer. I thought that I would be the one to master its organization as I tried and tested the grocery stores in close proximity for their deals, but a last-minute trip to Pottery Barn a couple of weeks ago because the 20% off coupon I'd forgotten about was going to expire in less than an hour was proof that I needed a new strategy.

For this, I turned to L's Mom, whose ability to organize is, without question, a God-given talent. Her kitchen has the cleanliness and order of a model home. She sits in that kitchen every Sunday, and, like a hawk on the look-out for prey, searches out coupons to use for the week. Last week, while watching football and trying to follow what was going on (a woman in her thirties should know the rules to football, I know. It's on my list.) she and I went through the Sunday paper and collected coupons for the week.

Her strategy is simple: Onsie coupons go in an envelope that is slipped into the purse, so they can be easily referenced. Coupons in a book get clipped just on one or two sides-- they flap like flags when you take them out of your purse, silently calling, 'Don't forget about me!' Genius, I'm telling you.

This week, I saved $3 on olive oil and $2 on two boxes of Multi-Grain Chex. I saved a total of about $20 at Costco (a euphoric feeling, I must say). I saved 20% and got a free lotion at Bath and Body Works. And it was through my shopping this week that I did some real mental comparisons between stores to see who truly has the best deals. Now that I've got the idea down it's starting to look like Christmas is going to be an exercise in clipping and buying, stalking and saving.

I remember being a woman in my twenties and worrying that I would look cheap looking for deals and clipping coupons, but all of that has changed. A woman in her thirties saves proudly. She brags to her friends about the deals she gets on rotisserie chicken, because she knows exactly when her local grocery store has it on sale. She wears her coupons like girl scout merit badges.

And when it comes to learning, she is one part lion and one part hawk. A lawk. Or a hion. A proud one.

Monday, October 19, 2009

A Woman in her Thirties is Kreativ

Thank you, Teegie, for the bloggie shout out! You know when a woman in her thirties is called 'Kreativ' by someone who does this (and enjoys it!), then you're doing something right. I'm copying and pasting the directions from her blog, so as not to miss out on anything important:

1. Thank the person who nominated you for this award. Xie Xie, Teegie!

2. Copy the logo and place it on your blog. It took a few awkward messages to brother bear, but I finally figured out how to do that.

3. Link to the person who nominated you for this award. I've only got two of her blogs linked to mine, but the last I checked there are about a dozen more. Keep searching.

4. Name 7 things about yourself that people may not know.

Why Seven? A woman in her thirites is inquisitive. Okay, here goes:
  • If I ever tell you something I made was a 'secret family recipe', I am lying.
  • I always dreamed of being a TV news anchor as a kid, but journalism was offered at the same time as drama when I went into high school. Drama won.
  • And speaking of drama... I've been in a lot of plays. Won some stuff for them, too. That seems like a billion years ago.
  • I used to be pretty good at French. In fact, I was so good that I skipped a year in high school and was able to test out of the language requirement in college. Now, if I try to speak French, only Chinese comes out.
  • I have written two book-length... books. One is a fiction story, and one is a collection of essays about my time in China. Sometimes I read parts of them and say, 'Hey, this doesn't suck half as much as you thought it did!'. But most of the time I read parts of it and think, 'No, this sucks a million times worse than you thought it did.' Ah, writing.
  • I see myself living in Europe someday. Italy, specifically. And I knew this even before reading Eat, Pray, Love.
  • I went to Catholic school for ten years. It took me almost thirty to recognize the sacrifices my parents made to send me there. Thanks, Mommy. I still know 'Lovely Lady' by heart.
5. Nominate Kreativ Bloggers.

Foodie is the New Forty (for the tummy)
Shadowplay (for the mind)
The Adventures of ALS Boy (for the soul)

6. Post links to the blogs you nominate.

Um... didn't I just do that?

7. Leave a comment on each of the blogs letting them know they’ve been nominated.

A woman in her thirties is off to commenting.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

A Woman in her Thirties Exits Denial

I have been living in Denial, Minnesota, for a little over two months now. Denial is a wonderful place, truly. The housing prices are much better than in California. The schools are fantastic. Family is close by (or just a phone call away). And the weather? It's just plain beautiful.

Reality has the strangest way of hitting a woman in her thirties. It's never a slow or gradual thing. It's more like a freight train to the face. My reality check came yesterday morning, when I woke up to this outside my window:

For my warm-weather friends, that is SNOW. ON THE GROUND. IN EARLY OCTOBER.

The look on L's face did most of the talking. It said something like, 'But the schools! And we could never afford this place in California! And have I mentioned today how much I love you?'

When I announced that we were moving to the Midwest, I can't tell you how many people asked if I was prepared for the snow. It was like when I announced I was moving to China and people asked if I realized I would have to learn Chinese. 'YES,' I said, often unable to mask my annoyance at being taken for an idiot. 'I GET THAT.' And yet, while I've known that snow is going to be a part of my life for some time now, it was the actual seeing it that caused my heart to skip a beat.

Could it be, I thought, that a woman in her thirties is never truly ready for anything?

As I reflected upon my week, all the signs were there. People were wearing scarves. Boots were being purchased. Car washes were looking desolate. And my Senior boys, the ones who laugh heartily at the idea of their California-girl teacher's first Minnesota winter, had taken it upon themselves to show me the weather report for the weekend.

'No!' I remember saying to them. 'Put it away! I'm not looking! I don't want to know!'

The snow from yesterday has melted, but there's no more denying that it's upon us. Upon me. No more turning my head; no more distractions. It is time, as many of my new friends here have suggested, to embrace the coming winter. With any luck, when the shock of my new climate wears off, the decision to move here will remain a good one.

A woman in her thirties bundles up and... um... yeah... just give me a minute... okay, fine... embraces.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

A Woman in her Thirties is Ready

A vicious rumor began about me when I was in my early twenties: that I hate animals. The story told about me is not untrue-- that I left a bowl of milk in the laundry room at my apartment for an abandoned kitten that I refused to take in. However, the detail about K's cat Carlos, who lived with us at the time, almost scratching this poor kitten's face off is often omitted from the telling. (Thanks, M).

The truth is that while I have memories of wanting a dog when I was a kid, once I was eighteen and on my own I was not ready for the commitment I know that an animal is. I lived with animals, begrudgingly, in my twenties. It always felt mean to me that they would know to run and hide when the keg was being rolled in from someone's car to our bathtub. And then there's the shedding. I had all I could do to control my own shedding, let alone that of another animal. In my selfish twenties, an animal did not fit anywhere in the picture.

In China, L and I played around with the idea of getting a dog. L has always wanted one, and we talked about it seriously, but again, life kept getting in the way. What was the point of getting a dog when we were never home? When we lived on the twelfth floor of a gigantic high rise? When we knew we'd eventually have to find a way to get it back to the US anyway?

With the events of the last year and our recent 'settling down' in Pleasantville, L and I came to a realization: we were finally ready for a dog. While both of us were happy that it was time, we both approached it with extreme caution, as we both often do when considering major decisions (one of us more than the other).

Fortunately, the gods were smiling upon us over the last few weeks, and yesterday we got this little guy. Daniel is (and I have absolutely zero experience to quantify this, keep in mind) the best dog that ever existed on the planet. We adopted him from a wonderful local organization that thinks he's some sort of Collie/Beagle mix, and about a year old. Last night, he slept all night in his bed. He loves treats, is already housebroken, and is always open for a belly rub. Today when I went out for an hour, I felt the sting in my heart when I was without him that is often associated with a woman who's fallen in love.

A woman in her thirties is ready when she's ready. And when she's ready, contentment looks something like this:

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A Woman in her Thirties Enjoys the Process

One day, while on a break at the bank I worked at in college, I stopped at a local Goodwill to do some book shopping. At this time in my life I was in the middle of an entire course focused on the works of John Milton and was about twelve credits shy of my English degree. To say that I was tired of reading would be an understatement. I was tired of books, of school, and of anything having to do with a quad. My stop at Goodwill was more of a way to kill time than anything else.

(On that note, Goodwill is hands-down the greatest place on the planet to shop for books. More on this later.)

The book I picked up was called The Book of Ruth, by Jane Hamilton. It changed my life. I remember sitting in my room, dripping wet tears from my chin to the pages, and forcing myself to read slower so I could enjoy the book longer. Since then, I have never walked into a bookstore without thinking of Ruth. Every book I have bought since then has been with the hope that it would move me in such a profound way. (Many have, thankfully).

Tonight I went to a speaking event featuring Jane Hamilton. When I first heard she was coming to town I had a moment that I think many tweens had this summer when they heard Miley Cyrus was coming though. I had been looking forward to it for weeks and was nervous all day today.

I worried that Jane Hamilton was going to be strange and inaccessible, like so many writers tend to be. She wasn't. She read a brilliant essay about re-reading Heart of Darkness in adulthood and admitted that she has met many writers who themselves can't answer the discussion questions at the back of their novels inserted by the publishers. At one point she took off her jacket and slipped a Golden Girls era dress on over her slacks to show us just how far she's come since being a writing teacher on a cruise line.

I was in book nerd heaven.

When she opened the floor up for questions I asked her what any woman in her thirties who dreams someday of writing for life might ask. I asked her, voice wavering, what the writing process is like for her, and how she goes about starting her work.

She talked awhile about voice and character, and then she added, 'But the thing is that I try to enjoy the writing part. The publishing is great, but that's not what I love about writing. What I love is the process. I take the time to enjoy the process.'

A woman in her thirties enjoys the process, I thought to myself. I like it. Now get to enjoying.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A Woman in her Thirties Lights the Way

Today, on my way home from the post office, I noticed people setting out luminaries in our neighborhood. Luminaries remind me of Christmas. They also remind me of death. I was hoping for Christmas.

When I went for a walk tonight I was told by a neighbor that the luminaries are for an eight year old boy a couple of blocks down the road who just lost a battle to brain cancer.

What does a woman in her thirties say to that, I wondered? But it was the lights in every direction that did all the talking.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

A Woman in her Thirties Laughs Last

It is easy for a woman in her thirties to be overwhelmed by the complexities of modern life. Immigration. Gentrification. Transfiguration. These, like so many things, are subjects that become more complicated the more you know.

It is the same for me when I think about health care. Here's how the story went down: A few weeks ago I received word that I was provided health care by my new employer. If I were a single woman in her thirties, this would be great news. As it is, I am covered under L's insurance. I tried to explain that I simply didn't need the health insurance, but apparently I am contractually obligated to take the health insurance provided to me.

'You'll just be double-covered!' the HR employee told me, which I found out later is an outrageous misnomer.

'But I don't want to be double-covered,' I said, thinking of the 20/20 special I'd just seen recently about the health care crisis in America. 'Can't I donate it to someone who needs it?'

The HR employee laughed. 'It doesn't work that way!' she said, smiling. I frowned.

The end result of my 'double coverage' is a small amount of money leftover from what is provided by my employer every month that I get to invest in any way I choose. And when I say 'any way I choose', I mean into a retirement account through any one of four preferred vendors through my school district.

After some tedious research and a few conversations with people in my school, I came to know that the difference between these 'preferred vendors' was nil in terms of profit. They offer the same rates, the same options, and the same cautiously optimistic view of our economic future. The difference is simply a matter of customer service.

Customer service-- now there's a term I have some background in. I met with several people last week, all of whom wanted my business. They were all nice enough, especially the first one, who told me in a way not unlike my idol, Suze Orman, what the difference is between a bond and a bond fund. I felt the most comfortable with that guy, but I struggled with making my decision.

My final appointment this week was with a man who was much younger than the others. He had an expensive watch on and nice teeth. He told me all about the funds I knew he offered, and said he had a complicated way of breaking up my monthly contributions into high, medium, and low risk investments to 'help me reach my retirement goals' (whatever those are).

'Oh,' he said while packing his things. 'We offer one other investment option. It's extremely conservative. It's guaranteed at 3%.'

Hmm. My savings account currently gives me less than 1%. In the last year, I've heard heart-wrenching stories about families losing their entire life savings in the stock market. I asked what I thought was a logical question.

'Wouldn't it make sense to just invest everything into that one account and be guaranteed to make 3%?'

He laughed. This was the second time someone had laughed in my face in two weeks, and I was beginning to resent it.

'Sure,' he said sarcastically. 'But I wouldn't recommend it if you actually wanted to enjoy your retirement someday.'

That was it. I wasn't going to put up with Mr. Straight Teeth and his condescending tone. Did I balk at his use of the word 'Irregardless'? Did I judge him based on his use of the term 'nitty gritty'? (Check out the etymology here and you will never use that phrase again). No. If laughing at me is his idea of customer service, then I don't want to trust him with my money. Needless to say, my next phone call was to my Suze Orman-like investor.

A woman in her thirties is too old
To give her business to a huge asshole

That's a couplet. In iambic pentameter. HA.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A Woman in her Thirties Holds On To That Feeling

It's the first week of school.
I have 140 new names of students to memorize.
Not to mention the faculty.
And then there's Shakespeare.
Missing family and friends.
Wishing I had prioritized different things this last summer.
Overwhelmed and sleep deprived.

I'm sure no one else out there can relate.

And then this appears, not two blocks from our new house:

Coincidence? I think not.
A woman in her thirties pays careful attention to the signs.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

A Woman in her Thirties is a Connoisseur

I was a woman in my mid-twenties the last time I went to a state fair. In fact, the last time I went to a state fair I was teased by L (who lived on the East Coast at the time) about how the California State Fair was not legitimate.

'What do you have at the California State Fair? Salad eating contests?'

This stung, as comments that result from untrue stereotypes often do. But I will tell you that I ate a deep fried Twinkie, saw the state's (world's?) largest and smallest horses, and rode a mechanical bull, all at the Golden State Fair. Put that in your wheatgrass and shoot it.

What I love about the State Fair is that everyone is an expert. People have specific and unwavering opinions about everything from the animal exhibits to the parking. They can speak at length about the Sham-Wow, the varying types of salsa makers for sale, and the Go-Girl. But when it comes to food, we are all connoisseurs.

I tend to fast before the state fair-- not in a Ghandi kind of way, but more in a Dr. Oz kind of way. I eat as much spinach and take as many vitamins as I can in the days before going, because everyone knows rule number one at the fair is that one must consume (without guilt) as much junk as possible. Watching a baby lamb being born just hours before the Butter-Carve-o-Rama is fun and all, but if you're not going to enjoy the food you may as well stay home.

As a teacher going back to school next week, I have decided to dust off my grade book and give some assessments of the food I ate (or watched other people eat) yesterday. Warning: Not for the weak of stomach.

1. Nachos
I normally will not eat food at the fair that I could find at my local gas station, but nachos are the exception. They are in a food group of their very own in terms of deliciousness. For $3.50, this is what I got:Where are the jalepenos, you ask? Where is the extra cheese? The nachos were an epic disappointment. Grade: D-

2. Hot Dog
This was L's choice, and here is a picture:
I'm no expert on hot dogs, but I thought relish the color of green apple Jelly Bellies would take off significant points. However, L confessed this morning that he thought it was pretty good. I guess it takes all kinds. Grade: B

2. Cheese Curds
In my research, this was the only food unanimously agreed upon as a must-have for the State Fair. Now I know why. Fried cheese is proof that God exists, and she is good.

Grade: A. No, A+.

3. Deep Fried Pickles
I wouldn't have tried these if not for the friends we met up with. What you are seeing is two dill pickle slices with cream cheese in the middle, deep fried. Oh, the dipping sauce? That's ranch dressing.
The actual consumption of these wasn't as bad as you might think, but the moments after were worse than you think. It kind of felt like that scene in Alien. You know which one I'm talking about. Grade: B+

4. Roasted Corn
I have to admit that the sweet corn in this area of the country is pretty stinkin' good. In fact, we met a guy on the bus ride over who's friend owns the roasted corn stand where this was purchased. He works the state fair for a week and a half, and then takes the rest of the year off. I guess that's what happens when you can sell corn on the cob to suckers like me for $3 each.

Totally delicious, but at this point I was starting to see stars. Grade: A. I think.

5. Deep Fried Candy Bar
This was not my idea. Everyone who goes to the state fair has a food that they must try-- an indulgence they must give in to. This was my friend K's:
If you're going to deep fry a candy bar, a Milky Way would not be my first choice. I took two bites of this, and if you're wondering what it tastes like I can only liken it to a piece of Halloween candy that has been wrapped in bread and sitting in your jean's pocket all day. Not bad... but not cheese-curd great. Grade: C+

6. Cookies and All-You-Can-Drink Milk
Again, cookies are not State Fair food in my opinion. I made an exception for these, considering the line ALL DAY to get them looked like a mob scene. I was not disappointed. They were hot when I got them, resulting in the following assessment. Grade: A-
From the cookies, we made our way to the all-you-can-drink milk stand. This woman in her thirties loves milk, and I can drink a whole lot of it. This milk was cold and fresh. Let's just say I got my dollar's worth. Grade: A

After this, the food coma began to set in. I think we said goodbye to our friends, but I can't remember. There is no place to go after eating this much food other than to bed.

So that was my experience. A woman in her thirties is not much for comparisons, but if I must choose an overall winner I'm going to have to admit that the midwest knows what's what when it comes to a good time at the State Fair. There, I said it. It was the milk that did me in.

Now, if you'll excuse me. I'm late for my 10:00 colonics.

Monday, August 31, 2009

A Woman in her Thirties is Above the Line (mostly)

Today I went to a training/workshop at my new school that centered around the power of positive thinking. I have to admit I was skeptical at first, seeing how I'm not very good at touchy-feely stuff (especially when it comes to teaching it) and when I looked at the agenda I realized I had about a million things on my mind that could have easily taken priority. But I listened, as a woman in her thirties is wont to do.

One of the ideas we talked about was the concept of 'the line'. It's complicated, but the gist is that if you are 'above the line' you are positive, you are energized, and you recognize when you are starting to think negatively and stop it before it starts. People who operate 'above the line' live more fulfilling and happy lives. Being below the line, the place where you focus only on the negative in any situation and tend to bitch and moan about anything at all that doesn't go your way, is a place for unhappy and unfulfilled people.

A woman in her thirties, I thought, should live her life above the line.

There was a lot of time for reflection in today's training, and so I reflected on how much time I actually spend below the line: gossiping, complaining, and taking part in what was called 'thought circles'. These are the thoughts that begin in our heads with how bad our hair looks on a certain day and end with us feeling as though we are ugly and useless-- all within a span of thirty seconds. When I thought about my own life, and my own line, I think I average somewhere between below and far below on any given day. I made a decision to be conscious of my 'line' from now on, and left training feeling energized and Pollyanna-positive.

I was actually thinking about this newfound positivity as I drove down the street to get to my 5:00 NIA class. I thought about it as I looked at the three young boys playing football in the street in front of me. As I slowed down passing through them in my car, I thought to myself what a wonderful....

BOOM! It was the sound of a football that had been thrown from one side of the street to the other, one that hit the side of my brand new car that I just got on Saturday.

I slammed on the breaks and hopped out as though it was on fire.

'Do you have any idea how dangerous it is to be throwing footballs over passing cars?' I yelled in my teacher voice that I hadn't heard in a few months. 'I could have swerved and hit you and your friends! NOT TO MENTION THIS IS A BRAND NEW CAR!'

'I'm sorry!' the boy said. 'I thought I'd make it. I didn't mean to. I'm sorry!'

I got back into the car and drove away when I saw that no damage had been done, but I was fuming. In case you were still unclear about Thought Circles, mine went something like this:

1. Those punks!
2. Kids are such jerks!
3. Where are their parents?
4. This is exactly what is wrong with society today!
5. I can't believe I have to teach kids like this next week!
6. Why did I ever go into such a thankless profession?
7. This year is going to be terrible!
8. My life sucks!

Before I could fall further below the line, I stopped myself. That was not positive thinking. It wasn't even logical thinking. It was an opportunity for me to put into practice what I was just taught.

So I let it go. I went to NIA, danced like a fool, and made enchiladas for dinner. And tomorrow, when I drive by the house of the boys threw the football at my car, I will slow down and smile. I might even laugh maniacally. That is me, letting it go. And if they happen to see me out the window, and happen to be afraid that they messed with the wrong woman in her thirties, then so be it.

Now that's positive thinking.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Woman in her Thirties Works her 'Spirit Body'

As a general rule, I avoid hippies. It's not that I have anything against them, it's just that I have an affinity for designer jeans and Kiehls products, and based on that and so many other things we don't have much in common. But I do have my moments of clarity, moments where the smell of patchouli and a lifetime of yoga retreats sounds enticing. Yesterday I had one of those moments.

It was about 4:00 and I was desperate to get to the gym. The thing is that while I play the part of a woman in her thirties, I have the back of a woman in her eighties, and if I don't go to the gym regularly the vertebrae that make up my spine glue themselves together, my neck freezes in one place, and I spend most of my time praying for a swift death. So I looked and found a class called NIA, which stands for Neuromuscular Integrated Action, which meant nothing to me.

When I called the gym to ask what it was about, I heard something along these lines:

'Yeah, it's like yoga. Like, holistic and stuff. Like that.'

When I looked it up online, I found something more along these lines:

'Depending on your goals, Nia is everything from a fun class experience to a philosophy, lifestyle and personal/professional study. While often practiced in a group-fitness format, the true depth of Nia lies in a richly layered bodymind education, which for many becomes a personal lifestyle and/or professional practice.'

Which sounded a lot like hippie yoga to me. But my back was beginning the slow whimper it does before it gives out on me completely, and a woman in her thirties takes risks. So I went.

As I stood in the center of the room, the teacher turned to us and said something like:

'Thank you for taking this journey with me. Let's release the negative energy in our spirit bodies and begin.'

Uh... spirit bodies? A woman in her thirties does not have a spirit body. Does she?

Here is how I can describe my NIA experience: It was a combination of yoga, tai chi, African dance, Balinese finger-pointing (without the crazy eye movements), several minutes of jazz, a sprinkling of an Irish jig, and lots of flailing about. It was like a long audition of So You Think You Can Dance, minus the judgement.

And with the exception of punching an elderly woman in the head (yes it really happened, and no I don't want to talk about it), I LOVED IT.

When I left, I had that sensation that I have now come to equate with being a woman in her thirties. I felt happy that I'd tried something new. My back is happy, my thighs are sore, and I'm ready to take on the week. Just my spirit body and me.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A Woman in her Thirties Keeps a Safe Distance

A couple of months ago I took a CPR and emergency training course in order to clear my teaching credential. I learned a lot of great things in this class, including just how hard you have to pound on someone's chest in order to resuscitate them and just how silly it is to put butter on a burn. One of the last things the instructor said to us before the class was over was, 'If you're in an accident and someone is hurt, don't move them, whatever you do. Keep them still and call the paramedics.'

Check, I thought. Now let's just hope I never have to use any of this.

Fast forward to yesterday.

For the last few days L's Dad has been kind enough to let me use his car (his rental car at that) while I've been without my own wheels. Yesterday afternoon, while I was sitting at a stoplight singing along to Britney Spears (don't judge me), I felt that oh-so-familiar slam from behind that a woman in her thirties has probably felt before while minding her own business on the road. I was rear-ended.

Murphy, of Murphy's Law, must have gotten a great laugh at my expense. I can just picture him saying, 'You know what would be awesome? See that woman in her thirties who just moved to a new state, is up to her eyeballs in prep work for the new school year, and driving her father-in-law's rental car while his is in the shop? Yeah, watch this.' I hope you liked it, Murphy. P.S. I hate you.

After the first five seconds of thinking to myself, 'Am I dreaming? Did that happen? Please tell me that didn't happen,' I looked in my rear view mirror and saw that the woman who'd hit me was hurt. I jumped out of the car and ran to her door, where the person who hit her was already standing with his head in his hands looking as though he had just totaled his parents' brand new Honda Civic. The woman was trying to move, but couldn't.

'Are you hurt?' I asked her. She said yes, her neck was hurting. And her knee, which had just been replaced a few months ago, had hit the undercolumn of the steering wheel when she had been hit from behind, causing her to hit me.

'Don't move,' I said in my most assertive Dr. McDreamy voice. 'I'm calling the paramedics. Stay as still as you can until they arrive, okay?' She did.

And that, my friends, is how a woman in her thirties handles an emergency situation.

The good news is that I'm fine. The better news is that neither L's Dad nor I are responsible for the damages to the car. The best news is that it takes a lot more than Murphy's Law to get a woman in her thirties down. In fact, Murphy tends to set me up with some pretty great stories. Until next time, I'll be keeping a safe distance.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

A Woman in her Thirties Talks Careful Smack

I have two stories about bowling, both of which involve a huge upset on the part of the players taking it seriously, and result in me winning. These stories both took place about ten years ago, but since then bowling has always held a special place in my heart as a sport that I have actually had some success in. I have also taken it upon myself to exaggerate these stories as often as possible, pretending on more than one occasion to be the Tiger Woods of the bowling alley.

Today was one of those days. L's parents invited us to go bowling with them tonight, and I might have used the words 'natural talent' on the car ride over. It was supposed to be funny.

When we got to the bowling alley, L's Dad ran into a friend. Who he has bowled with. For many years. And when it came time for L and I to get our rented shoes, L's Mom went to her locker. Where she has her own shoes. I started to get that sinking feeling a woman in her thirties gets when she knows she's been had.

'Oh, I didn't tell you?' L asked. 'My parents play on a league. They're going to mop the floor with us.'

Here are two photos of said floor mopping:

I learned two valuable lessons today. One: A woman in her thirties should be careful before talking a big game. She never knows the hidden talents of the people around her. And two: Bowling is hard. Especially when you're not winning. However, as in so many situations in life, it's all about how you spin it.

'I am awesome at the gutterball,' I told L's Dad on the way out. 'I mean, I've got it down.'

Finally, an exaggeration not far off the mark.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A Woman in her Thirties Makes the Best of a Roadtrip

I've always wanted to drive across country, and our recent move to Pleasantville finally afforded me that opportunity. I think somewhere in the back of my mind I thought it would be like the millions of trips to Southern California I've taken over the years, complete with drive-through BK and writing notes to boys in passing cars (why did we think that was a good idea again??). But, as all women in their thirties know, things tend not to work out the way you expect them.

Part I: Reno
I've watched enough Reno 911 to be fascinated with the biggest little city in the world. L and I had planned on spending the night there, maybe try our luck at a couple of craps tables, and have a good Japanese dinner. Upon rolling up to the hotel I'd picked from the AAA guide, we began to rethink our choice.

Here is a picture of L talking to a cop. The cop told us he thought it would be a better idea to continue heading east because, well, Reno sucks. So we did.

Part II: Lovelock
A few years ago I went on a school field trip to Guilin, China. Guilin is arguably the most beautiful part of China I have ever seen, minus the Great Wall. As part of that field trip, I climbed to the top of a hill that has a long, rusty chain with about a billion locks on it (Amazing Race fans will remember when this was part of one of the challenges in China). The locks were left as a symbol of unbreakable love between two people.

As we drove through Nevada, we came across a town called Lovelock. My AAA book told me that they had a similar chain like the one I'd seen in Guilin. You can imagine my excitement. And if you know L, you can imagine his.

'Let's go lock our love! Oh please, please! Come on, please!' (A woman in her thirties should not have to beg to lock her love with her husband, but I'll give L a pass on this one and assume his refusal to get excited as I was had to be due to exhaustion).

One of us more reluctant than the other, we pulled over. These signs lined the street:

I walked into a general store to buy a lock, ready to hear some sort of ghost story about how the town was named after the mysterious chain that was found in the area, and how the symbols of love go back thousands (I would have even taken hundreds) of years. Sadly, when I told the cashier that I'd been to a place in China that has something similar, she simply replied, 'Yeah, we took the idea from China a few years ago'.

The chain of love in Lovelock is small. It's new, but someday it will be old. Here is us making our contribution:

Part III: Winnemucca
By this point in the drive, I'm fairly certain L was regretting letting me have the AAA book. I discovered that the town of Winnemucca, Nevada has a huge Spanish Basque population, due to an influx in immigration of sheep herders from the area about 100 years ago. When it came time to making dinner plans, we had our choice of an array of fast food establishments, or a traditional Basque dinner.

A woman in her thirties chooses Basque.

The food was served family style, and not in the lazy susan kind of way. In the Basque country, you eat at a table with whoever else pops up in around the same time, and you share as much salad, beans, and giant corn as you can eat.

When our neighbors sat down next to us, the man who took his place next to L said, 'Well, guess I have to sober up now.' (He did not). I knew it was going to be an excellent night, and it was.

Part IV: Salt Lake City
I didn't start watching Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives until very recently. I am not a foodie, unfortunately for L. But I did hear of a place called The Red Iguana from that show, so we made a stop in Salt Lake City. Allow me to share some highlights:

Chicken Tacos-- oh Lord....

Carnitas Burrito-- oh my...

Red Iguana= Awesome

Part V: Wyoming
Wyoming is a simply beautiful state, with lots of this: And this:

We drove through Wyoming as the sun set behind us, and I thought long and hard about life, and love, and all kinds of things that weight heavily on the mind of a woman in her thirties. For that reason, I will always equate Wyoming with solitude, deep thinking, and a desperate need for a glass of wine.

Part VI: Nebraska and Iowa


Part VII: Pleasantville
We pulled up to our new house last Thursday. L carried me over the threshold (and didn't break his back-- my hero!) It hasn't hit me that I have a real kitchen to cook in, a real lawn that needs to be mowed, and a real neighborhood I am now a part of. But a woman in her thirties has time to let that sink in, all the time in the world. Her journey is just beginning when she's found a place to stop for awhile and make a home.

Friday, August 7, 2009

A Woman in her Thirties is a 9.999... Easy

It's been strange not to blog for the last week or so, but trust me, the wait will be worth it. My next post promises to include dragging my husband to the middle of nowhere to 'lock' our love, two drunk Winnemuccans at a Basque restaurant, and the long, straight drive through Nebraska that served as my teaching epiphany.

Until then, I leave you with this post by my friend Jason (otherwise known as ALS Boy), who is married to my very good friend Fehmeen, who oftentimes writes a post that is so relevant and so important that a woman in her thirties is forced to reevaluate her very attitude about life.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A Woman in her Thirties Hires Movers

Moving is like childbirth, or at least what I've heard about childbirth. It's painful, but the memories of it fade away when the thought of another house (or another child) comes to mind. That's why lots of people have more than one kid, and that's why lots of people look at their apartments and say, 'You know what would be a great idea? Moving.' They've forgotten the pain in the ass it actually is.

By the time a woman is in her thirties, she has moved fourteen times on average. Okay, I made that statistic up. But if she's anything like this woman in her thirties, she's given and not gotten back her fair share of security deposits. To be fair, my last move was quite easy, logistically speaking (if you don't count the three months our stuff spent on a boat in the Pacific Ocean). Because the move was paid for by L's company, we were not allowed to pack anything ourselves. Earlier this spring L and I decided to move yet again, this time on our own dime. I knew this move was going to be harder, I just wasn't prepared for how much harder.

Here's what the last week has been like: Packing. Repacking. Stealing boxes from beside dumpsters. Packing again. Wrapping. Running out of bubble wrap. Trying to figure out the tape dispenser. Crying. Cursing. Walking around the block to steal newspapers. Packing again. Arguing with U-Haul's return policy. Repacking. Turns out I'm really, really, really bad at packing.

In my twenties, this was part of the adventure. Who really cared if I broke a couple of Walmart dishes on the way to my new apartment? But a woman in her thirties has stuff that means stuff to her, important stuff. And stuff.

People have asked me if it was hard to leave my apartment yesterday. The answer is NO. It was not. Will I miss the city I lived in? Yes, especially in October. But I think my friend T said it best yesterday when I sent her the following text message:

What sucks worse: Childbirth or moving?

Her answer was: Moving, hand's down.

A woman in her thirties doesn't always need first hand experience to agree.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

A Woman in her Thirties Has No Time for Modesty

Warning: This entry is not suitable for boys or people who can't say the word 'vagina' with a straight face.

The series of events leading up to the miscarriage last month revealed a friendly fibroid tumor that has been living in my uterus. Apparently he'd been there for awhile thinking he'd found a great place to settle down, and when I got pregnant he was like, 'Oh, what? I thought this place was mine...' So not only am I in the miscarriage club, I'm also in the non-cancerous tumor club. There's a bouncer and everything.

The wonderfully thorough doctors I have suggested I do a procedure called an HSG, which is short for Hysterosalpingogram, and yes, I had to look up how to spell that. An HSG is usually done when women have trouble getting pregnant, to make sure there is no blockage in the fallopian tubes, but in my case it was done to analyze my intruder and make sure he didn't need to be kicked out of my uterus before his lease was up. I was to follow that up with another ultrasound, which would bring me to a total of five in the last four months. If my uterus could talk, it would demand some privacy from what it must see as some annoying paparazzi.

Today was my day for both procedures. The HSG was done in a small room like what you see on 'A Baby Story', and as I lay there three pairs of eyes glared at my nether parts and barked orders.

'Bring your feet closer to your hips. Now let your knees fall outward. And relax!'

How do you not laugh when your MALE doctor says that? If I wasn't in such a compromising position, one that made me appreciate all the yoga I've been doing lately, I might have done just that.

I thought about explaining the procedures in this entry, and then realized that would be incredibly boring. Instead, I would like to make a list of all the foreign objects that have been inserted into my vagina today:

One clamp
One catheder
Lots of purple dye
A small blue balloon
Something that looked like a string
Something that looked like a mini turkey baster
A large white probe
Enough lube to keep a car engine running for weeks

Look, I know this isn't the pretty woman in her thirties picture I thought I'd be painting when I began this blog. I always thought a woman in her thirties should avoid talking about such things. But I'm too busy with the mountain of craziness going on around me to worry about such embarassement. A woman in her thirties figures out that discomfort, like love, is better when shared.

Monday, July 20, 2009

A Woman in her Thirties is her own Generation

There is a long list of things I've never done. Here is a sample:

1. I've never been to Africa
2. I've never been arrested
3. I've never eaten at Olive Garden without puking my guts out

And, up until today:

4. I had never seen, in real life, a baby being born

H called last night as I was putting my earplugs in to go to sleep. 'My water just broke,' she said. I don't know much about these things, but I remember hearing once that water breaking + second child = get to the hospital quick. So off I went. Quick.

In the waiting room, two J's, L, and I spent the majority of the time discussing the varying degrees of hilarity of 'that's what she said'. We made a security badge (simply called 'BADGE') out of a piece of paper in my purse, in an attempt to gain an all-access pass to the hospital. But nothing was happening in the baby delivery department. By the time the morning rolled around we were all delirious with fatigue and anticipation, and out of embarrassing stories.

At about 10:00am, it was time to go. We surrounded the bed like it was a Thanksgiving buffet, all waiting for the moment when H could push and we would have a baby. I say 'we' because that's how you talk when you're in the delivery room, like each and every person in there is in the exact same position and in the exact same amount of discomfort. H, along with every other woman who has ever had a baby, must find this very funny.

'There will be four generations of women in this room in a few minutes,' H's mom said, and it suddenly hit me, the enormity of coming into this world. Four generations. That's an awful lot of incredible stories. 'The miracle of life' takes on a new perspective when surrounded by the women who have come before us, and the women who have yet to arrive.

I held a leg. Can we all stop and think about this for a minute? I held a leg and watched one of my best friends bring a new life into this world. It was nothing like they make it out to be on TV. I can only oversimplify what it was like by saying that it was the closest I've ever come to seeing time stand still and move in fast forward at the same time. The only dry eye was Madeline's, as she looked up at her mother for the first time and thought, 'Oh, so that's what you look like.'

As the cameras clicked around me, I thought about how we are defined by the women before us and after us. A woman in her thirties can't look at a newborn and think, 'I know it all. Do it just like me.' Just like her mother and her grandmother before her couldn't do. We are our own generations and our own stories. All she can do when surrounded by her past, her present, and her future is promise all the love she's been given, and be amazed at the miracle.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

A Woman in her Thirties Dresses for the Symphony

Last week I went to the SF Symphony to see a night of 'Classic Beethoven'. I took my Mom for her birthday but our girls' night out was a gift to both of us. Going to the symphony is about as high as you can go on the WIHT meter, so I've decided to let this make up for the boxed brownie incident.

I admit I have an affinity for classical music. Growing up, we listened to Brahms much more often than Led Zeppelin (much to L's dismay). My father could play the piano by ear, one of those ridiculously unfair talents that I usually curse people for. Thinking I might have gotten even a smidgen of his gift, I took piano lessons in my twenties. Things did not go well. My brother told me once that I play the most depressing 'Entertainer' he's ever heard. The one thing I did get from piano lessons is that I have the deepest admiration (and jealousy) for anyone who can play a musical instrument.

I am usually one to frown upon dressing up, but symphony night is different. At the symphony, people wear black and gold and shawls and Chanel perfume, sometimes all at once. Glasses are totally acceptable. Men wear suits and women bring clutches, and they talk about the French restaurant they ate at for dinner and the view of City Hall from the lobby . It's oh-so posh and sophisticated.

My night with my Mom started off fulfilling all these exceptions, that is until the group in front of us took their seats. Obviously, not everyone in the family had gotten the memo about proper symphony attire. One of them, and I'm not joking here, was wearing flip-flops.

Gasp! I thought to myself. A woman in her thirties does not-

But the symphony was starting, and they played my absolute favorite Beethoven concerto, and for two hours I was thinking about the piano and all the ways that classical music makes life better. Throughout the performance I was in a space I used to think all women in their thirties were in at all times, a space of complete relaxation and contentment (little did I know). By the end, my arms were sore from clapping.

Then the flip-flop wearing man in front of me stood up to begin a standing ovation. His pants were halfway down his behind, the crack in his rear end large enough to cover my entire view of the strings.

I know now that in situations like these, a woman in her thirties can't lose her cool. Symphonies and other such happy things don't last forever, so we must revel in them as long as possible. I wasn't ready to be smacked back to reality by the ample behind of the man in front of me. I did what any other self-respecting woman in her thirties would do-- I simply stood up taller and did my best to out-clap him.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A Woman in her Thirties Misses College (but not really)

I remember hearing on many occasions in high school that those were 'the best years of my life'. That confused me at the time, seeing as how I was busy being a hostess at a local restaurant, staying at school until 11:00pm for play rehearsals, and struggling through Algebra II. I was sure when I graduated that if those were 'the best years of my life', I'd been completely ripped off.

It was the same in college. 'These are the best years of our lives!' we shouted over beer bongs and other questionable activities. While that might have been an acceptable justification for my first two years, by my last two years of college I was both working and going to school full time. Best years of my life? Please.

My rose-colored glasses have adjusted quite nicely to fit my woman-in-her-thirties face. Today, when I had to go to the swanky university down the street to get my fingerprints done for teaching, I looked toward the ivory tower and thought, 'Ah, college. Those were the days.'

Within thirty seconds, however, my mood changed. I had forgotten how maze-like college campuses are. I am convinced that all universities are planned and designed by people who understand just how much macaroni and cheese is consumed on the premises, and feel personally responsible for keeping the students walking as much as possible.

And then there is parking. I've gone to three different universities, and each one required a painful deposit for a parking pass every semester. What they never tell you is that your parking pass grants you access to the parking lot, but not a parking spot. Especially when you need one. Today, pass-less, I was forced to park in front of a meter. So on top of the $55 I just spent to clear my credential, the $85 I just spent to apply to be credentialed in another state, and the $30 I spent to get my fingerprints done, I spent my last two dollars in quarters to park for thirty minutes.

During my long walk to and from my car today, my mind wandered to rollerblading in my dorm parking lot my freshman year. I thought about my crazy writing teacher who actually believed I was good at what I want to do. I wondered if my mean British Lit teacher ever got over her hatred of males. I remembered going grocery shopping with my equally poor roommates and seeing how much money we could save with our Safeway Club Card. College was a lot of up and a lot of down. Like everything in life.

I suppose a woman in her thirties has to take time to reflect realistically on her past. High school was great-- parts of it. College was great too-- at times. My twenties were really fun-- for the most part. You get what I'm saying. The syllabus for Perspective 101 is custom-made, and apparently we are our own teachers. And our own students.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

A Woman in her Thirties Does Not Take Advice from Homeless People

I currently am in a transitional point in my life, which is basically a nice way of saying things are crazy as a wedge (thanks, JS). You'd think that after thirty-one years of moving, changing, and uncertainty, I'd be used to it by now. I'm not. I do not know how to fly by the seat of my Paige Jeans, and this whole 'trust that there's a plan for you' business only makes me grind my teeth at night harder. Whatever the plan is for me, the only thing I know for sure is that it had better include dental.

Tonight while on a walk (on a busy, crowded street, please don't worry), a man approached me. He had that crazy homeless guy look about him, but I could tell he didn't mean me any harm.

'You should study civil law,' he said, wiped some drool from his chin, and then walked away.

Civil law. I walked in to a frozen yogurt shop and considered it. What exactly is civil law? Civil as in 'civilization'? Civil as in 'be civil to your sister when your Grandmother is around'? And law? Me? I love 'Cold Case Files' as much as the next woman in her thirties, but isn't it a little late in my life to throw myself into a new profession? I actually thought this while dumping chocolate sprinkles into my cup.

You know you're confused about the direction your life is going when a homeless man's ramblings get you thinking about changing careers, even for a moment. I couldn't help but laugh at myself. It's not that there has ever been a time when I might have taken him seriously, but by the time I left the yogurt shop I began to think about a more spontaneous point in my life, a time where I could change professions easily (I did), and move countries (did that, too), on a whim. Not so much anymore.

It made me feel sad, but only for a minute. I realized that even in the most selfish and spontaneous time in my life I felt the same way back then as I do now-- uncertain. And yet now, older and wiser, I could fill a best-selling book with all the stories I never would have believed would be mine (plus or minus a few salacious chapters).

A woman in her thirties gives up on trying to control everything all the time. If there's one thing I've learned, it's that it's not going to do me much good in the transitional time ahead. I have to unclench my teeth, smile, and let life happen. Change is coming, and it's going to keep on coming for a long, long time. We may as well get as many frozen yogurts as possible on the way.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

A Woman in her Thirties Accepts a Challenge

I have never been a competitive person. Maybe it's from coming from a family of three siblings--I am both the youngest girl and a middle child. Maybe it's from ten years being the slowest swimmer in my age group on my swim team. Either way, I think I accepted early on that I was probably not going to win anything ever, so don't bother getting bent out of shape about it.

Yesterday I was ready to take a tap dancing class at my gym. That's right. Cardio tap dancing. One of my 'bet you didn't know this about me' anecdotes is that I actually learned a few tap dancing moves from my friend L in high school. I figured since I am currently a lady of leisure, why not? So I went.

You can imagine my surprise when, standing with the crowd of people outside the door to the cardio room waiting for the doors to open, I heard the tip-tap-tap of people who were just finishing the class.

'I thought tap dancing was a 9:30!' I said to the group of women standing next to me.

'No,' they answered. 'Tap is at 8:30. Sculpt is a 9:30.'

'Sculpt' is one of those words used by fitness instructors and massage therapists that is actually a euphemism for serious pain. 'What we're doing is sculpting your muscles,' they say during your seventy fifth reverse sit up.

'You should try it. It's a great class,' one of the women said. The look on my face must have given away my hesitation and she quickly added, 'You could always leave early if it's too hard.'

Now, if that isn't a challenge from one woman in her thirties to another, I don't know what is.

'Okay, I'll give it a shot,' I said. I knew there wasn't going to be any winner in this situation. The woman was legitimately trying to make me feel like I had an 'out' if the class was too hard. But something stirred inside me, that latent desire to feel like I could do something even if the people around me were dubious. It was on.

The class was hard. Really hard. Thanks to a refresher course on L's Dad's Wii, I was at least recently re-aquainted with the basic step moves. It was the weights that did me in; my spaghetti arms were crying in protest within fifteen minutes. But to end with push-ups? That was almost too much.


A woman in her thirties might have outgrown her weekly swim meets, but even the least competitive among us feels the need to push herself when faced with a challenge. Even an unintentional one. Our challenges are harder now than completing fifty meters of breaststroke in under a minute, but they are no less deserving of a ribbon in the end.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A Woman in her Thirties Makes Dessert

Yesterday, S told me that the 'theme' for dinner tonight at her place was Italian, and I was to bring dessert. The word 'theme' was a bit daunting, especially coming from S, but since she was the catalyst for this blog I figured I'd better turn on my WIHT radar and figure something out, pronto.

I told myself that a woman in her thirties makes dessert when she goes to a dinner party, and had every intention of making something that would somehow awaken my inner Martha and wow my college friends with how far I've come since Pasta Roni.

Then stuff happened, and I got really into the book I'm reading, and between this, that, and the other, it was suddenly time to leave and I was stuck with a very woman in her twenties box of brownie mix.

Sigh. I maintain that a woman in her thirties does make dessert, but today's attempt was an epic fail.

To make herself feel better, she checks out Foodie is the New Forty, votes for her sister-in-law for 'Tastiest Blog', and thinks, 'With family like this, there's hope for me yet...'