Beginning again

So let me back up a sec.

I have known for nearly my entire life that I wanted to be a writer. I started writing my own short stories when I was in second grade, and graduated to horrifically bad novels by the age of 10. I have both undergraduate and graduate degrees in creative writing, even though I was made well aware by both my parents and literally everyone over the age of 25 that there were no job openings listed in the newspaper reading WANTED: SOMEONE TO WRITE DEEPLY EMBARRASSING AND REVEALING PERSONAL ESSAYS ABOUT THEIR OWN SHORTCOMINGS. I was committed to it. I enjoyed it. And I was– I like to think– good at it, or at least good at surrounding myself with people who were willing to lie about it being good.

And now I am an executive at an insurance company. And I don’t write at all. And I want to know why.

There is, of course, the obvious hipster argument about how working for The Man destroyed my creativity and my drive to succeed in the arts. First of all, I was never much of a hipster. While I enjoy their glasses and their ironic tattoos, their music makes me sad, and I look terrible in beanies. And I’ve always kind of enjoyed The Man. I like the smell of copier paper and the fact that I get to sit a lot. And the money. I do enjoy the money.

But I think that having a full-time job sitting in front of a computer does kind of cap that desire, a little. And I think the break I took after graduating from my MFA program– the relief of not needing to record every detail of my life and rearrange it until it met a certain theme, the simple joy of just living something without writing it– developed a sense of permanence after a year or so, and by then it started to feel too late.

That was ten years ago.

But it’s not too late. Right?

That’s what I’m here to find out.

 

37

Today, I am 37 years old.

Yesterday, I was 36, and that didn’t seem so bad. 36 is worldly and street smart, but still kicky and fun. 37 is sudden back spasms and irrational fear of teenagers and the cut-off point for even attempting to understand today’s music.

Although I have always been afraid of teenagers. Even when I was a teenager.

Point is, when I was a teenager, I felt with absolute certainty that 37 was the age at which a person became middle-aged, and entered the realm of the full-fledged adult. In fact, when I was 13 I wrote a terrible novel in which the main character, who was also a 13-year-old girl because, you know, write what you know, went to live for a short time with a virtual stranger, a washed up actor who happened to be 37 years old. Because 37-year-olds HAVE THEIR SHIT TOGETHER.

Now, with the wisdom that comes with being 37, and with two small children of my own, I know that I would never, ever allow a 37-year-old man watch my child for any length of time, regardless of how many Oscars he had won, because you know what, you guys?

There is no such thing as a full-fledged adult. The adults have all been faking it this whole time. None of us should even be allowed out in public.

But this opens a whole new can of worms– if everyone is faking, does that mean, like, everyone everyone? Or just most of us? Is the President faking? Is the Pope? Because the Pope seems kind of badass, and I would hate to think of him getting ready for bed at night, setting his giant Pope hat on his bedside table, sitting gingerly on the edge of the mattress and thinking I have no fucking idea what I’m doing.

But if not everyone is faking, how can I tell the real adults from my own tribe, those of us who were just too polite to call attention to the fact that were were not really to be trusted with houses and children and actual jobs with ergonomic wrist rests? Is there a test? If I make a fart noise really loud in a public place, can I trust that only those who laughed are like me?

Would the Pope laugh at a fart noise?

I guess these are the kinds of deep questions you’re forced to ponder upon entering middle-age.

IMG_3634 (1)

The author at 37, taking a full-on selfie that she was going to claim her five-year-old daughter took because adults don’t take selfies, but fuck it, they obviously do.