seeing 40 in the near distance, it’s much scarier than 30. i embraced 30. 30 felt like i was incontrovertibly grown-up. as a single woman of 20, i could be dismissed, but at 30, at least i had age in my corner.
i mean, in my experience, you still get dismissed, by men; interrupted, by men; and mansplained to, but you roll your eyes a lot more and end conversations more quickly. when i don’t actually argue, because i already feel like i am always hacking at the underbrush but never clearing a path, then i am able to just walk away, especially from men my age: how can someone can be 40 years old and so lacking in self-awareness?
but 40 feels like a deadline. i thought it would be nice to be published for my short stories or personal essays or travel pieces and paid to write at 30. then 35. now i feel like there’s a deadline: i don’t want to tell people i am 40 and i half-ass maintain my blog and half-ass write stories and know 8 guitar chords. i have less than four years now to make something coherent out of this mess of a life.
not really, but still.
what i think i know:
- if you have problems with more than a few people, the problem is you
- you don’t “not get along with most women”–you’re a jerk, you don’t value your relationships with women, and i will put money on you pandering to men even when they don’t value you. also “i’ve just always gotten along with guys better. there’s less drama” is a stage like bad skin, but if you’re there for more than a little while in your adolescence, you’re just perpetuating the patriarchy that wants to keep women fractured and competitive and values stereotypically masculine traits and contributions over the feminine.
- sometimes i am not eating meat and sometimes i am saving money but if you see me with a hamburger or new clothes and you have any questions for me besides how is it? or what’d you get?, keep them to yourself. what goes into my mouth or out of my wallet is only my business and my husband’s
- on wednesday i did want to go out on friday but now that it’s friday all i want to do is practice finger-picking killing me softly and finish season 4 of daria so please have other friends
- i rarely cook for myself or my husband so going to your potluck feels like more work than you know and it’s not even a holiday. i’m either not coming or i’m picking something on the way. you can count on me for a bottle of something red and cheap because that’s what we drink at home.
- not feeling like the state of my house reflects on my worth as a woman and a human being and not allowing a cluttered living room to be a source of frustration has freed up loads of time and mental space, but some of that space has been reallocated to worrying about how my deciding not to cook something from scratch for your party makes me a beneficiary of women’s work but not a participant
- the amount of anxiety you might feel running behind schedule in a foreign and unfamiliar airport is the level at which i start my day so don’t feel so special if i flake or freak out because it’s not you, it’s definitely me
- i have opted out of having kids and buying a house and even going into debt for grad school because i like to have time to read books, write, and explore other hobbies. your assuming that i’m not doing anything important because i’m not being paid nt$600 (us$20) to do it is insulting
- what you don’t know if you don’t get out of the house: the water gets warmer after a few minutes. your breath comes easier after the first mile.
sometimes i feel like men think i am pretending to be younger than i am, because they ask how old i am and i tell them and i don’t lie and they recoil i’ve dropped the mask and they can see what was hidden–the crow’s feet, the droopy lips, the saggy tits, the dry and uncompromising cunt, the expectations, the demands, the ability to walk away knowing i am self-repairing and self-reliant. it must be terrifying to them. but i never lied about my age–i just have genes that age well, long hair, and i go to the bar in my t-shirts and jeans same as i did when i was 23, so if anybody’s mask is removed when i say i’m 36, it’s theirs because they projected their ideas about women in their 20s and women in their 30s onto me. fuck em.
i used to think women lied about their age because they were embarrassed. but it’s not because they are embarrassed to be that age, it’s because other people think they should embarrassed. or because other people have ideas about what a woman in her 30s, 40s, 50s, etc. can and should do, and they know they can do more and are more than a generic, off-the-dusty-shelf middle-aged woman. so they say they’re 27, 28, 29 because they have all the verse and energy of a woman in her 20s and don’t want to have to fight to prove it all the time.
my mother-in-law went ziplining with us in thailand two weeks after her 70th birthday so that’s all i have to say about that. i’d post a picture of her but i don’t think she’d want to be featured in a post where i talked about my “dry and uncompromising cunt”.