We all knew this was coming.
My rant on turning thirty. The big three-zero. The end of my figuring-out-my-life twenties and the beginning-of-my-career-and-settling-down-to-a-family thirties. . . . what?
I don’t know what 30 holds and I’m not going to pretend that I do. Whenever I play the “Five years from now I see myself. . .” game it nearly always leads to being wrong.
So rather than write on all the hopes and dreams I feel 30 may bring, I will write on what I know.
And that is 29.
1. I started wearing rouge. I always thoughts that red lipstick was either for old people or hookers. I was wrong. It is for awesome people. All people. There is something about sporting bright red lips that makes you feel on top of the world—even if you can’t wear heels. It is like an automatic, instant beautifier/sex appeal the moment it goes on. I highly recommend it.
2. I conquered dating anxiety. I am what one may term a “serial monogamous.” I date one man at a time, for a very long time. What I don’t do—is go on dates. All my serious, long-term relationships have begun with a friendship and bloomed into a relationship and then and only then would I go on one-on-one dates. As for going out on a date with a man whom I am not yet dating or have just met, it does not happen. Ever. . . Not until 29. I successfully went on four actual dates, with actual men, whom I actually had just met. And yes, I had anxiety attacks prior to most of them. But I went. And on the last of the four the anxiety was severely less than usual and in fact—it was fun.
3. I cut fringe bangs. I haven’t had bangs in years. And when I did they were thin and wispy. To cut bangs, as all women know too well, is a dangerous and sometimes fatal risk. Some people can pull them off, and some people can’t. And once you take the plunge, you are stuck with them for a very, very long time. But I watched “New Girl” just enough times that I was convinced, as substitute teacher, that it only made sense I should look as much like Zooey Deschanel as possible.
4. I got my moxie back. There is something deep inside every woman that crumbles when a breakup happens. We lose our moxie. We lose our power. We feel weak. We feel vulnerable. We feel broken. Most times. . . we feel infuriated. But we lose a part of ourselves. The brave part. The courageous part. The part that knows we are something without someone. But then? Then we get it back. It may take a while, but we almost always do. This time around, I wasn’t sure I would. The crumble was brutal. But when I did? Mmmmmmm when I did it was good. So much better than ever before. Because you see—the most brutal of heartbreaks means the most powerful of healings and produces the most tenacious of single women J
5. I discovered Netflix. This meant “180 degrees South.” And “Black Fish.” And “Happy.” And “Prince Avalanche.” And endless other documentaries and indie films that I highly recommend.
6. I took a class through Harvard. My brother convinced me to do it. And at the time, it seemed like a good idea. We were guaranteed to secure jobs at $50,000 starting salary if we completed the course successfully. Me? A Harvard student!?!? Yes. Done.
7. I quit my Harvard class. The class was pure insanity. I am not cut out to be a computer programmer. I’ll take my $12,000/year conservation corps job any day over that load of crock.
8. I became friends with my brother. Although our classmate status lasted only about three weeks, it was a time during which we were guaranteed a weekly hangout, which led to me realizing how much I enjoy his company and appreciate our siblinghood. My brother and I were BFFs when we were younger—I being the tomboy of the family and all—somewhere along the line, that BFF status died out. But it was nice to get a chance to re-kindle that during my year in St. Louis and I hope to continue the trend.
9. I made my bed. Let me be more specific: I made my bed every single day, for an entire YEAR. This, for me, is huge. I don’t make my bed. I am the type that says, “It’s going to be unmade again anyway in a matter of hours, so why make it?” But—it was that time in life when it became vital to start to habits. To make an effort. To be slightly organized in my everyday life in hopes that my long-term life have a bit of ebb and flow.
10. I made a website. It was a $12.99/year .com site and it is far from fantastic—but it I did it. It was something I had wanted to do for years and hadn’t made the time to do. www.artybyamyrose.com
11. I puked into my purse. It was exactly as bad and as literal as it sounds. I had a purse, and I puked into it. I was headed out on a date (this was before conquering date anxiety) and had been fighting some sort of flu virus for a week. I had just chugged a bottle of vita-c water and the combination of vitamin chugging and anxiety resulted in immediate vomit . . . into my purse. I laughed. I had no choice.
12. I survived on a $7,500 annual income. Granted, I was living with my parents and mostly eating large amounts of their food, but still. Seven thousand dollars?!?! Until I filed my taxes and punched the numbers I had no idea surviving on an income so low was even possible. Welcome to returning from Korea to work part-time jobs for minimum wage.
13. I got a job at Starbucks. I could tell you of the incredible ways in which I justified this decision. But I am attempting (poorly) to keep this post shortish and concisish. So I will keep it simple: desperate, unemployed, uninsured = Starbucks.
14. I quit my job at Starbucks. Up at three o’ clock in the morning to work for minimum wage and feeling as though I was selling my soul to the corporate monster every waking moment? Not. Worth it.
15. I pretended to be 22 again. This is what happens when you move back to your hometown to wait tables downtown and your besties are also waitresses who happen to be fresh out of college. Endless grape bombs. ENDLESS.
16. I realized (yet again) that I don’t want to be a teacher. I went to Korea to learn that I don’t want to be a teacher. I actually enjoy teaching, just not in a traditional classroom setting. But somehow, even after an entire year of teaching overseas, I convinced myself that just maybe I would actually enjoy teaching in the States. Then substitute teaching all over metropolitan St. Louis happened. Turns out—I don’t want to be a teacher.
17. I pretended to want to go to grad school. This happens once every couple of years. Mostly when I get tired of everyone asking me, “So when are you going to go back to school?” So, I pretend. I think about it. I get pamphlets and send emails to admissions counselors setting up appointments. And then I cancel them and get real.
18. I accepted that I will probably not ever go to grad school.
19. I moved back to St. Louis, and in with my parents. This was on my list of “things I’ll NEVER do.” Note to self: Never make a list of things you’ll never do.
20. I discovered Roo Panes. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qCkzG0sr7qM
21. I ran a 5k. By “ran” I mean jogged . . . slowly jogged. In fact at one point I specifically and regretfully remember a young mom zipping by me while pushing a stroller with a small child in it. Nevertheless, I completed a 5k without giving in to walking even for a second. This was a life goal. #winning
22. I produced an indie-film in Chicago with A-list actors. It was probably the most random thing I’ve ever done. A road trip to Chicago with a fellow wandering soul and a connection with a film student led me to be a Production Assistant for the upcoming feature film, Killing Poe. #killingpoe
23. I helped to rebuild Moore, Oklahoma. It was a couple weeks of humidity, heat, rummaging through ruins, collecting and writing project reports, living on black coffee and gluten free crackers, data entry, finding a $10,000 safe, and learning how to build a house. Oh—and best of all—staying in a mega-church and being serenaded by a Mennonite acapella mens’ choir every night.
24. I rediscovered a best friend in my sister. I am usually not homesick. In fact, I can probably count on one hand the number of times I crave being back in St. Louis. But I do miss not being around family. And for the first time in eleven years, my sister was just a car ride away. Downton Dinners 4LIFE!!!
25. I watched an ungodly amount of International House Hunters. What happens when you haven’t owned a TV or had access to cable in seven years? Endless International Househunter, that’s what.
26. I healed.
27. I shot still photography for a documentary in exchange for free live music and endless sazeracs. Shooting for a independent documentary film on America’s Blues music meant going to shows every weekend for free, meeting the artists, hanging at Moonshine Blues Bar (the bartenders are by far the best I’ve ever seen), and finally getting back in touch with my camera.
28. I gave up on the idea of a career. And guess what? It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. 152 failed resumes later, I realized that perhaps working for the development sector of a nonprofit organization was in fact not for me. Nor was an office. A 9 to 5 job. A 401K. A house on the edge of town. . . Maybe one day a house on the edge of town . . . The point is I quit trying to be something that I’m not. And that’s a career woman, in a big city, with a lease. Not yet.
29. I moved to Vermont. I got in my car and I drove for twenty-two hours to New England. To the north. To a place I swore I’d never move. The bitter-cold north. And what I found was the most wonderful place I’ve ever lived. Two-lane highways and zero billboards and Green Mountain coffee and maple syrup and Cabot cheese and pines and paper birch and maple as far as the eye can see. Contra dancing and trail building and fire circle chatting and Burlington people-watching. I found community and I found a subculture that I never knew existed. And even though the entirety of my 30th birthday was spent in a twelve-passenger van pulling a trailer to North Carolina with my co-lead whom at the time I barely knew—it was worth it. To come to Vermont. To turn thirty in a beautiful place I felt at home. To learn that outside is where I need to be.