Just before the carnage of last week, I turned 38.
At work, they baked me a cake. Someone got me like a million things of Pop Rocks. I celebrated with my family, there was more cake, and Sadie blew out the candles and opened my presents for me. I realized that somewhere along the way, I’ve grown up. At least a little bit.
So I’ve been pretty calm so far about aging. There are things that have been happening to my body, that I would rather not be happening to my body. But I keep telling myself when I’m 70, I’ll look back and think what a hot piece I was right now. So I’m trying to just be a dish now, celebrate the moment. But as I was stepping into the shower the other day, I saw something winking from my lady patch. Something that stopped me cold. A single strand of silver in my formerly youthful pubes.
I am getting fucking OLD. And it’s not fair. I feel like I’m just getting started. My life is a series of spectacular starts and limp finishes. Failure and I are old friends. But just lately, I’ve been feeling something I haven’t felt in a long time. Ambition.
Real-life me is as big and brash as writer me. But both are things I’ve constructed to protect me from the world. I have a ravenous vulnerability and a tendency to daydream. My personality keeps me tethered to my body like a balloon on a string.
Friday night at closing time, an old man yelled at me for not making his martini fast enough. He was being ornery in that gleeful way the elderly have, and normally I can empathize with that whole almost being dead thing, but I got so, so mad. So mad that when I left shortly afterwards, I stalked the rainy streets for blocks, my mittened hand curled around my switchblade, looking for some kind of nebulous trouble.
I realized I need to chill the fuck out.
Life felt really real this week. When you live in your head like I do, sometimes real life feels almost like set dressing. The extras are milling about. The lighting is never quite right. I feel like I’m always waiting for SOMETHING TO HAPPEN. Sometimes I need to hold my daughter in my lap, and feel the small but solid weight of her, an actual living thing, and remember.
This is real life. This is what is happening.
Over 2000 people want to hear what I have to say. For some reason I keep picturing you guys hanging out on my front lawn. I’m making huge pots of spaghetti, but I keep burning the sauce. I feel bad that I haven’t answered all the comments and read all the emails. I’m kind of a shitty friend in real life too. The one who will ignore your phone calls and then write you a ten page missive in the middle of the night.
I have a hard time connecting with people. But I’ve gotten messages from total strangers this week that were so hilarious, so perfectly worded, so amazing. You get me.
That is so fucking cool. But it’s dangerous, too. The computer has become a humming honey pot, and I crave that dirty euphoria. Just because I’m not wanking to porn doesn’t mean I’m not getting off. My dreams have turned jerky, pixelated, stop-motion.
Back in reality, I’m kind of a mess.
I owe my dogs a walking, my Sadie a cuddling, and my husband a good no-frills fucking. I need to clean my house. I’ve always had a sort of nihilistic approach to housework. It always gets messy again. But I find, when I give myself over to it, there is a satisfaction in the struggle. A simple task completed makes me feel good.
Today, I dedicated myself to pleasure. I painted Sadie’s toes blue. I ate dinner in my mom and dad’s kitchen, and I told them some stories, and we laughed. I drank a beer. I ate a cupcake. I remembered how much I love marijuana, and “It’s Always Sunny”. And since the weather broke, I took the dogs for that walk, out in the night.
I like remembering my night-self.
And now it’s time to write. I’ve been worrying too much about the direction this whole thing is taking. I don’t want to be a one trick pony. I look around at the things around me and I notice things. I have a voice, and I’m not sure what I want to say, and there are things inside me that scare me. But overriding that fear, there is the cold delicious pleasure of writing words that someone is actually reading.
So I’m writing you tonight purely for pleasure. Because if I’m not enjoying this, I’m just jerking us both off. And I want this to be a slow jam. I don’t need to figure it all out right now. I think we can figure it out together. I’m sitting here, 38 years old, with my gray pube, my mouth filled with fizzing Pop Rocks, my brain filled with fizzing thoughts, my spirit bubbling over, and I want you to know me.
I want to know me.
I’m not ready to give up just yet. I’m just getting started.