Celebrating a Birthday While on Pause

I turn 41 today. Exactly one year ago, I woke up next to Lake Thunderbird on a beautiful sunny morning in Oklahoma, had a wonderful brunch, then drove to Amarillo, Texas while dancing in my seat to Lizzo, my birthday twin. That day overflowed with joy and sunshine and roadtrip tunes, capped up with a night of ice-cold Shiner Bock and jukebox deejaying at a zombie-themed bar. Late into the night, Kurt and I sat on the front porch of our Airbnb, drinking local beers and watching heat lightning zig-zap across the vast Texas sky. The next day, we’d be back on the road to Roswell, New Mexico. This year, I’m  grounded.

Cheers!

We always travel in the spring, due to the convergence of my birthday and our anniversary. It feels strange to be sitting at home right now, scrolling past Facebook memories and knowing exactly what place we were visiting on this day last year, two years ago, five years ago.

I’m someone that likes living in the shoulder seasons. I’m trying to appreciate the quiet, lean into the pause. I find a lot of contentment in burrowing into my home life and surrounding myself with books and hot coffee and dog nuzzles. Days turn into nights, nights turn into a wine blur. All time feels like airplane time, when you’re passing through time zones, warping ahead or falling behind, and you watch dumb movies during this weird slippery gap in time because it’s not really real life. It feels especially strange to celebrate a concrete mile marker like a birthday right now. Sometimes I daydream about catching a wormhole out of this weird, seemingly never-ending flight and traveling back in time to the beginning of 40, waking up the camper and peeking beneath the window shade to see the sunlight glittering on the surface of the lake.

I got to experience so many incredible things in my 40th year. I visited three new states and a new country. I stood inside the ruins of an ancient village that was last inhabited in 1000 A.D., and in the last few months, I witnessed the rapid escalation of a global pandemic that has affected the daily lives of nearly every person on this planet. If there’s one thing I feel confident in saying, it’s that I have absolutely no idea what to expect in my 41st year. I am so grateful for every moment, every place I visited, every person with whom I shared every minute of my year of 40. I feel grateful and lucky to be here now, however weird and precarious this stretch of time may be.

 

The Last Year of My 30’s

Today, I turn 39 and enter the last year of my 30’s. I’ve enjoyed this past decade so much, and I ain’t scurred to enter the next one. Here’s a random list of things I did in my 38th year:

  • toured my old high school for our twentieth reunion
  • bought an old Chevy Astrovan and turned it into a camper
  • went on writing retreats in Indianapolis and Milwaukee with great friends and writers
  • cried watching Wonder Woman in the theater
  • saw U2 perform Joshua Tree at Soldier Field, recreating one of my first high school concert experiences
  • became obsessed with Twin Peaks: the Return all summer
  • swam in Lake Michigan and Waupaca’s Chain O’ Lakes
  • had a sibling karaoke reunion at Sidekicks, my fave divey bar
  • saw Arcade Fire play a Lollopalooza aftershow at the Metro and Winn Butler ran into me when he jumped into the crowd
  • SAW A TOTAL SOLAR ECLIPSE
  • sang karaoke at a pirate bar in Delavan, WI
  • road tripped to Maine with my husband and our dog, checking off 4 new states
  • hiked to the top of Cadillac Mountain then ate an ice cream bar
  • saw Stephen King driving in his Jeep Liberty
  • hosted our first Thanksgiving in our house
  • added a Loch Ness monster to my early aught’s tramp stamp (it’s now a Triassic stamp!)
  • started meditating every morning
  • saw Magic Mike Live in Las Vegas
  • took a train ride in a sleeper car and sang karaoke in New Orleans
  • said goodbye to my beloved cat, Ginger Spice
  • practiced yoga 27 out of 31 days in March
  • visited two new countries, Denmark and Sweden

Looking at this list, I feel so hashtag-blessed to live my life. Who knows how many years we all get to share with each other, so I hope to cram each and every year of life as balls-to-the-wall as this one. OH HAI 39!

Another Year

I turn 37 today. Here’s some things I did in my 36th year:

  • went from being a non-coffee drinker to a coffee addict #blackasmidnightonamoonlessnight
  • saw Britney Spears perform (again!) the same weekend as Mariah Carey in a 36-hour Las Vegas diva-thon
  • got my tenth tattoo
  • saw a Star Wars movie in the theater that I actually enjoyed and cried when I saw the female lead take the light saber
  • had my first 2 pieces of short fiction published
  • was a cheerleader at a roller derby bout (it’s never too late to make your eighth grade dreams come true!)
  • saw Yosemite Valley for the first time
  • got my motorcycle permit
  • ran into a black bear while camping in the backcountry
  • rode a mechanical bull and a mechanical rooster in the same night
  • got addicted to Neko Atsume: Kitty Collector on my iPhone
  • shot at tin cans with a pellet gun at my sister’s wedding

I started this morning at 5:30 a.m. by working out to the fierceness that is Beyonce’s new album Lemonade. Hopefully this will set the trend for my 37th year to be pretty badass.

A Big Year

I turn 36 today. Here’s some of the things I did during my 35th year:

  • got married!
  • bought a house!
  • visited three new states: South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana
  • got into yoga
  • started forcing myself to eat kale, like, all the time, mostly because:
  • got addicted to Oreos
  • got hit by a car while crossing the street
  • coordinated an office build-out and move
  • started performing again (storytelling)
  • left a job at a famous tech company to try out the small business world
  • saw both Katy Perry and Britney Spears in concert
  • rode a mechanical bull in Las Vegas
  • Margaret Cho started following me on Twitter for some reason
  • saw three Broadway plays in one weekend
  • got my ninth tattoo
  • I decided that my favorite Christmas movie is Batman Returns
  • lost the Halloween costume contest at a dog park
  • finished a novel-length manuscript
  • took singing classes at Old Town School of Folk Music
  • started a karaoke club
  • found way more gray hair than ever before
  • used the phrase “YOLO” ironically so often that it stopped being ironic
  • cried over the Star Wars trailer
  • experimented with growing my eyebrows in thicker. Turned out less Cara Delavingne and more Peter Falk.