Happy Mirthday!

13 Dec


My reaction to turning 30

“How does it feel now that you’re 30?”

I’ve gotten this question a number of times since turning the big 3-0 two weeks ago. I think everyone expected (and some hoped) that I’d have a nervous breakdown over this milestone birthday. Sorry to disappoint, but I care more about what’s happening between Sam and Ronnie on “Jersey Shore” than I do my own age.

It could have something to do with the fact that I’ve never gone beyond the maturity level of a 5th grader. Perhaps it’s because I grew up with a mother who aged very gracefully, and didn’t freak out over each passing year. The most likely cause of my jubilation is that, like a fine wine, I get better with age…and when paired with a kickass cheese.

My 20’s were kind of legendary

I see the 20’s as the only time in a person’s life when they’ll have the resources and energy to do all of the things their heart desires. I lived this period of my life staying up too late, sleeping in too late, partying on weeknights, having random last-minute adventures, and since I never had children, was able to take a pee without someone asking me what I’m “doing in there.” I once lit my jacket on fire during a failed crème brulee experiment , and the only thing I remember about my 25th birthday was that I was drinking beer straight from the pitcher by the end of the night. I’m ready for this next phase because I’ve calmed down, and have figured out the things I need to take with me into my 30’s, and the things I should definitely leave behind in my 20’s.

I’m turning into my parents

This will come as no surprise to them if they read this, but I thought my parents were constantly blowing smoke when I was younger. I was pretty sure that every single piece of advice they dispensed was only meant to make my life harder despite their insistence otherwise. Did they really expect me to believe in the importance of a tidy room, or saving my money instead of spending it on useless garbage at the mall? If 1997Jen was here she’d say, “As if!” Fast forward to present day when I work hard, use my manners, don’t get behind the wheel if I’ve been drinking and no longer call my sister a buttface. None of that is by accident. While I still maintain that they were way off about certain things (sorry mom and dad!) most of it was solid advice that makes a lot of sense now that I’m older.

I’m a cougar

Okay, so technically I’m not a sexually charged middle-aged woman who likes to hook up with young men, but I am in a committed relationship with someone who is still in his 20’s. He’s intelligent, athletic, thoughtful, and respectful. He has a great sense of humor, is a good listener, gives me massages, cooks, cleans and buys me chocolate when I’m menstrual. The fact is, I’m 30 and I have a hot piece who will be in his 20’s for another couple of years. So yeah, I’m proudly displaying my cougar badge. RAWR!

Uncool is the new cool

There was a period of my life when I had a fierce unibrow, a mustache, braces, acne, a bad haircut, an even worse fashion sense, and possibly a hump on my back. There were also a few years in there when people thought I was either a small lesbian, or a really effeminate young man. Point being, I was beyond uncool growing up. In 5th grade there was a new girl who ate pencil shavings and picked her nose, and even she didn’t want to be my friend. While some things have changed since then (I’ve learned that you’re supposed to have twoeyebrows) there are so many things which haven’t. What once was gauche is now in vogue; basically, I was a loser and now I’m less of a loser! My serious love of Chuck Taylors and t-shirts? HOW VINTAGE. Loving music that is older than I am and/or really crappy? HOW UNDERGROUND. Wearing glasses? HOW ARTSY. As you get older you don’t have to play by the rules, and what once would have forced you to go to prom with your cousin, or eat your lunch in the bathroom, now makes you cool. Did you hear that, Desiree? I bet you wish you had taken a break from being a pencil sharpening booger eater so you could get to know me.

Nobody is the boss of me

Aside from my work boss and the government, I get to call the shots in my life these days. I can stay up late, eat dessert before dinner, and leave the house without a coat on. I can buy frivolous junk, skip my nap and watch scary television shows close to bedtime. I can smoke, drink alcohol, and gamble. I can leave my clothes on the floor, jump on the bed, or pick on my sisters. The irony is, after all the years of longing to get out from the oppressive regime of Mama and Papa Tonic, I don’t actually do a lot of these things. Still, the feeling of freedom that adulthood has afforded me is worth more than being able to make it rain at a seedy strip club.

I don’t have a life plan

I used to freak out over not being the person I thought I’d be at 20, and then 23, and then 25. I wanted to be a psychologist. I wanted to be taller, thinner and better looking. I wanted to own a home.  I wanted to teach myself another language. I wanted to visit Ireland. I haven’t accomplished any of those things, and I couldn’t care less. At some point between that Jen and this one, I decided life was too short to beat myself over missed benchmarks. Sure, the life I planned for is not the life I have, but so what? I’ve found that going where the proverbial wind blows me always leads me to exactly where I need to be.

So what is in a number?

Your age is merely an accumulation of minutes which turn into days which turn into weeks which turn into years. If someone asked me to describe myself I wouldn’t tell them I’m 10,974 days old. I would tell them I’m obsessed with Polaroid pictures, love doing horrible impersonations, and social situations freak me out. I would tell them that my favorite scent is a newborn baby’s head, autumn is my favorite season, and my sisters mean more to me than life itself. I would tell them I am a sum of my parts, and not a sum of days on a calendar.

Age is all about perspective. Instead of focusing on losing your youth, focus on the collection of memories you hold in your mind and heart. Instead of lamenting over missed opportunities, be appreciative to have been given another day to accomplish them.  Instead of being disgusted by the newly formed lines on your face, be delighted by living a life full of expression. And, if you’re my sister, instead of wishing you got to spend your youth as an only child, be grateful I’m not calling you a buttface anymore.

16 Responses to “Happy Mirthday!”

  1. Lafemmeroar 12/16/2011 at 11:19 am #

    From one crazy chick to another I totally love this post! When I turned 30 my friends as a gag put a candled tombstone on my cake … I now long for those salad days … 30s is a great decade. Then again as you said it’s just a number. I’m thinking that I’ll still be crazy at 100 and an uber cougar 🙂

    • Jen and Tonic 12/16/2011 at 3:06 pm #

      I fully expect you to document your uber cougarness when you’re 100. By then you’ll be able to upload blog posts only using your mind.

      • Lafemmeroar 12/17/2011 at 9:06 am #

        lol there’s plenty of room for a little computer chip in my noodle 🙂

  2. countsneakysjournalC 12/15/2011 at 1:10 pm #

    A brilliant little essay on growing wiser each year. Happy birthday and may you have many more and continue to write and reflect on your (and our ) lives. Fear not age; fear not aging; fear seeing it as a challenge; live well! My best.

    • Jen and Tonic 12/15/2011 at 1:41 pm #

      “Fear not age; fear not aging; fear seeing it as a challenge; live well!” Love that! Life is indeed a series of challenges…

  3. Janene 12/14/2011 at 6:25 am #

    No wonder I like you. I have the maturity of a 5th grader, too. And you’re right, had I realized my parents knew what they were talking about life would have been so much easier. Gotta say, though, my thirties were a lot of fun, even though that’s when I had my children (Did I say that out loud? Sorry, kids.) Trust me, you’re going to have lots of fun. Happy birthday, my dear!

    • Jen and Tonic 12/15/2011 at 12:26 am #

      You have the maturity of a 5th grader too? Do you still write Jonathan Taylor Thomas’s name all over your Lisa Frank trapper keeper?

      Thanks for the birthday wishes 🙂

  4. Main Street Musings Blog 12/14/2011 at 3:45 am #

    Enjoy it now, because come 40’s, it all changes. Glancing in the mirror means pulling your face back with your hands and “remembering when . . . ” Saturday nights are spent with blogs, not beer. Morning coffee is the highlight of your day, only you can’t remember where you left your cup. There is one good thing though. You embrace your cynicism. 🙂

    • Jen and Tonic 12/15/2011 at 12:23 am #

      I am SO ready to embrace my cynicism!

      I remember making fun of my cousin when he turned 30 years back (I was 20 at the time.) He and his buddies stayed out until the wee hours of 11PM. They were all married with children and had full-time jobs– it was hard(er) to party like they used to.

      So how much of a party animal was I on my 30th? I think my first yawn came around 8:30. HA!

  5. Julian Gallo 12/14/2011 at 2:32 am #

    Great piece, Jen. I remembered when I turned 30, waaaay back in 1996. It isn’t the “big deal” most people will try to make it out to be. Yeah, you’ll hear from those a little younger than you how “old” you are, etc etc but you’ll come to see that it’s all good. And a decade from now, when you turn 40, you’re going to see it’s not the “traumatic” experience either. Embrace it. Enjoy it. I know it’s a cliche, but it really IS how “old” you feel and it really IS “just a number.” I know it’s harder for women being that our society tends to treat older women as if aging is a curse or something. Men seem to get a pass when they get older, right? For women it’s seen as something horrible and for men it’s “dignifying” but believe me there’s a huge difference between being a girl and being a woman (just as there is a huge difference between being a boy and being a man but society hasn’t yet figured that one out.) So the hell with “conventional wisdom” and just enjoy it. You’ll see, it’s actually going to be a great thing and what lies ahead is going to make “youth” pale by comparison, believe me. 🙂

    • Jen and Tonic 12/15/2011 at 12:21 am #

      I think women have the ability to take control of the “burden” of getting older nowadays. We have so many options: wait longer to get married, not have children, focus on our careers. I’d like to think that if I was born generations earlier I would still be as okay with getting older as I am now. I’d like to think I’d be, but who knows. What I do know is that I feel good about it now.

      Thanks for the thoughtful response!

  6. Paul Chapman 12/14/2011 at 2:27 am #

    Fantastic Jen. I fretted far too much about getting older, and I still do to an extent, but I absolutely adore the last two parapgraphs. There’s a lot of wisdom there. I’m really glad you’re back, and belated birthday wishes 🙂

    • Jen and Tonic 12/15/2011 at 12:20 am #

      I’m glad you don’t worry about it anymore. Knowing what I know about all of the things going on in your life….it really is an exciting time for you! I’m excited to see what’s in store for both of us in the upcoming years.

  7. Dan LaFollette (@DanLaFollette) 12/13/2011 at 9:17 pm #

    Jenn, that was a wonder reflective piece. It’s funny how these milestones make us reflect on our lives. I think around 30 is really the age of entering adulthood. I think the 20s is just how you described it. I remember my dad calling me middle aged when I was 35, I really protested that label. 🙂

    • Jen and Tonic 12/13/2011 at 10:31 pm #

      Thanks, Dan! I really am looking forward to *remembering* my 30’s.


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