Unexpected Numbers

 

31 2

“31” by Flickr user “duncan c.”

When I was a kid, I thought thirty sounded like a magical age. I liked the number, because it was round and crisp and seemed very grown up. Precocious little thing that I was, I would tell people I couldn’t wait to turn thirty.

Well, last year I did. And thirty wasn’t exactly what I expected it to be.

When I was little, I thought that by the age of thirty, I’d be married, have two kids, and be on the New York Times Bestseller’s List (yes, I had stretch goals). I think the word to describe the picture that was once in my head is “settled.” Little did I know, a more apropos word would turn out to be “transition.”

A day after my thirtieth birthday, my fiancé (who was only my boyfriend at the time) and I got into a car and drove to San Diego. We were ready to build a whole new life together in California. There, we had a hip new downtown apartment, greater proximity to family, and the promise of salty sea air. Two days later, I started a new job in a new industry in which I’d need to learn new skill sets.

Quite frankly, nothing was settled. Everything was just beginning at thirty.

Okay, thirty isn’t the age I was thinking of as a kid, I thought. I was off a year, which makes sense. Let’s face it, you’re no good at math.

I knew thirty was going to be a rollercoaster, so I strapped myself in and tried not to hold my breath.

Now, a week away from my thirty-first birthday, I’m experiencing some Twilight Zone sort of déjà vu, because nothing has slowed down, and the adventure is continuing at a breakneck speed. My man and I got engaged on Christmas morning thanks to a Nancy Drew book and a Victorian ring, so wedding planning is a thing now.

A week and a half ago, we moved into a new apartment in a neighborhood that we love. Our new place has hardwood floors, ample space for my writing desk (hooray!), and is walking distance from … I believe we’ve counted nine breweries so far?

This past Monday, I began my dream job with a small, independent academic publisher. I’m creating content like a madwoman, they trust my writing and marketing expertise, and I have agency for days. This company offers intramural sports every day of the week (yoga, volleyball, bocce ball, basketball, and bootcamp) and encourage you to work hard, then play hard. I had to buy new jeans to fit their casual dress code (score!). They have a monthly book club. I’m completely in love.

Me and my fiancé, yeah, we’re anything but settled right now. Rather, we’re standing on the precipice of uncertainty again, throwing rocks, trying to gauge just how deep that big expanse of unknowing is.

But there are a few things I do know. This year, I’ll be thirty-one. I’ll be planning a wedding. I’ll be working my ass off in an industry I’m passionate about. I’m going to fail, and I’m going to win. I’ll be inviting friends over to dine al fresco on our fabulous, second-story outdoor patio. I’ll be making more effort to build friendships and find my people in this dynamic, gorgeous city. I’ll battle anxiety and depression. I’ll also enjoy unbridled happiness and buckets of excitement.

I’ll breathe—even though I’m airborne. Upside down. Taking curves at unnatural speeds. Screaming. Laughing. Crying. My belly will drop. My head will spin. I’ll beg to go again and again.

Thirty was a magical age. Thirty-one will be, too.

Let’s ride.

 

Advertisements

I Finished Something!

Photo by flickr user "Drew Coffman."

Photo by flickr user “Drew Coffman.”

My good friend and now cross-country writing soulmate, Sara Dobie Bauer, posted this little gem on Facebook earlier last week:

Scully snip

And I simply went, “Yep.”

Sara and I tend to write and publish serendipitously. It’s like when you hear about girl friends who get their periods the same week each month because they spend so much time together. Sara and I have graced the same publications without telling the other we’d sent in a submission. When one of us finishes a new piece and sends it on to the other for a little first reader love, it’s usually followed with constructive criticism and something like, “Hey, I’m almost done with this new story. I’ll send it your way soon.” And when writer’s block hits or depression takes over or life proves truly crazy and gets in the way of imagination, yeah, we’re usually in synch with that, too.

I sincerely hope that right now Sara isn’t experiencing what I have been the past few months. Although she did post the Scully meme. I wonder how in synch we are at the moment.

Ever since I published Spin: A Novelette on June 5th, my 30th birthday, my inkwell has run dry. Kind of anyway. For the past almost three months, I have been writing. But I’ve also been second guessing my every word. I’ve started a number of projects only to dismiss them less than ten pages in. Usually, when I start a new piece, I’m excited and I can’t wait to write, write, write, but lately it’s felt like a chore. And my work has seemed very blah, very uninspired.

It doesn’t help that I’ve been receiving rejection letter after rejection letter.

I’ve analyzed the situation, and perhaps I should give myself a break. I turned 30, self-published a novelette, left a job, started a new one, moved to California, and threw my back out–all since June 5th. And those are just the highlights. It’s been a lot of change, a lot of adjustment. And I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I felt a ton of pressure after publishing Spin. I mean, the reviews were really good. I feel like I broke into an audience with that piece. How could I keep that going? I didn’t want to fall prey to the sophomore slump. I had to keep creating fiction that was on par with my latest success.

It was exhausting and disheartening to sit down with a tumbler of whiskey, a dedicated Pandora station, and great idea…and no desire to hit the keys.

And here’s the thing. When a writer can’t write, it’s hell. Writing isn’t just something we do, it’s a lifestyle. So when that lovely little thing called writer’s block comes knocking, it’s followed by a touch of good old-fashioned identity crisis. Like the meme Sara posted says, we go a little crazy.

So you’ll understand why I’m so excited to say…I FINISHED SOMETHING TODAY! I really did! It’s a new story and I followed through with it and it’s almost 6,000 words and I feel like I’m getting rid of that funk that made my greatest passion close to unbearable.

The new story is a lovely little Christmas-themed horror piece I plan to submit to a charity anthology. And I feel really good about it. Really good. The way I used to.

I’m not sure what changed, but quite frankly, I don’t really care. I feel like I fit in my skin again. I feel like I can call myself a writer again. My muse is back and I can’t wait to keep writing.

 

Photo licenseWriter’s Block II on flickr

A Little Bleach and a Lot of Perspective

Hair transformation

After a decade as a redhead, I made the decision about, oh, a few hours before my scheduled hair appointment a few nights ago to go blond—very blond. And the way I’ve been explaining the change the past few days has been, “Uh, what’s the fun of being a girl if you can’t change your appearance drastically at the drop of a hat? Life’s too short to stick to one color. The blond is fun, right?”

But I’ve started to realize that my change in hair color goes a bit deeper than that. It’s indicative of an inward change, too.

I’ll put it right out there. 2013 was a rough year—medically, financially, emotionally. Don’t get me wrong, there were high points and I’m very aware that I live a charmed life, but on New Year’s Eve, I was far from nostalgic. I was ready for a new year, a fresh start, to move forward.

According to Chinese culture, this year is the Year of the Horse, and that seems pretty fitting for where I’m at personally. Horses are wild and have to be tamed or broken to play nice with humans (Do you see the metaphor with 2013 here? I do. I definitely felt a little tamed and broken last year.) But horses are also smart, emotional creatures who can still let go and run. I feel like that’s 2014 for me. I’m learning how to run again. And in order to do that, there’s a lot of change a-brewin’. Good change, change that I am stupidly happy is taking place.

I’ve accepted my breakup with dance. I will always love to move, but I’m finally respecting the constraints of my body. I had to stop abusing it, breaking it down, justifying something I knew was unhealthy.

I’m learning how to accept the changes in my body composition. I’ve lost muscle. I’ve gained some weight. It’s a challenge, but I’m learning to accept it. I’m still beautiful; I’m just not a professional athlete anymore. With retirement comes a new body—and it’s mine. And it’s glorious. Just in a different way.

I’m stupidly in love. And that doesn’t need any further explanation!

I’m relocating. I’m getting really serious about moving. My house is a shell at the moment—very little furniture, lots of packing tape, lots of boxes. It’s time for me to go where I feel at home—Central Phoenix.

I’m starting to pray regularly. And it’s been a real long time since I’ve done any of that. I’m still navigating my connection to faith, but there’s something there.

I’m investing my time and energies into new projects. I have to pinch myself sometimes, because I’m in a band, which is something I’ve always dreamed of. And not just any band, but a band that’s going places. I have so much more confidence in my voice and my craft. I’m surrounded by the most amazing people in this endeavor and it enriches my life in a way I haven’t experienced in a long time. I’m also leading a women’s group for my church, which has been such a cool experience. I’m exercising my leadership skills. I’m creating connections. I’m building sisterhoods. And I’m making a difference. My feminist self is pretty satiated.

I’m kicking ass at my job—and it’s not that I didn’t before, but I more and more competent in my position each day. I’m starting to feel confident not only as a communicator but as a consultant, which I never pictured for myself. My writing has improved tenfold. My intra-personal skills are pretty polished. The end of this month marks six years at my current company and I will happily celebrate that date when it rolls around.

I have a personal goal to get published at least twice this year. I don’t need more than that, although it would be very welcome. But I know that I’m good enough. I’m ready to really put myself out there as a writer. Rejection letters? Bring it. Won’t stop me. My writing just needs to find a good home out there.

Change. Change. Change. New perspective. New goals. New me.

So, for me, the hair color change isn’t just aesthetic; it’s a reflection of me feeling like I’m going through a pretty life-altering transition. Blond just felt right. Maybe it’s blond ambition. Maybe it’s me seeing if blonds really do have more fun. Maybe it’s a tinge of a quarter life crisis (hey, at least it’s hair and not a Porsche!).

Regardless, I’m ready. Blond hair and all.

PS – Lydia at Salon D’Shayn Phoenix performed the miraculous hair transformation in the picture at the top of this post. She’s the shit. Call her today.