Sometime this week, I will celebrate my thirty-fifth trip around the sun. It’s strange; I’m not sure what thirty-five is supposed to look like for me. Part of me still thinks I’m somewhere in my late twenties, and my kids are just getting older. Part of me counts the years that I spend at the dayjob, or the years I’ve spent podcasting, or even wedding anniversaries. I count other birthdays but my own feels more and more bizarre each year I celebrate it.
Some things I’ve realized about turning thirty-five are strange, but in a cool-strange kind of way. I’ve now celebrated more birthdays with my husband than without him. For two of those birthdays, I celebrated in a post-pregnancy haze of sleep deprivation and hormones. For two others, I spent them in the Caribbean with salt, sea, and sun. I’ve definitely been sick for some of them, with allergies or sinus infections condemning me to birthday dinners of soup and herbal tea. I’ve spent some of them recording, teaching, writing, or all three. I know I’ve had exams on some of them, or on the day after.
I’d promised myself that I would finish one book by my thirty-fifth birthday. Broken, written by me and Cedric Johnson, went live on September 3rd. Other titles have gone live in the past few years; Fear of Thought and The Keepers hit Smashwords, with Fear of Thought over at Amazon, too. There’s also the Secret World Chronicles series, where I’ve spent time writing with Misty, Dennis, and Cody for one book (and soon to be two). So, I can say that I’ve published more than a few before thirty-five. Not bad, especially when I think of all of the great writers I know and idolize. For many of them, their best stuff begins around forty and only gets better with time and experience, so I’d like to think that I’ve got a really good starting point.
I don’t have my doctorate yet, but I’m well on my way. By the time I begin my thirty-sixth trip around the sun, I’ll be one semester away from my comprehensive exam and three classes (two in progress) away from beginning my doctoral dissertation. I’ll have spent thirteen of the last eighteen birthdays engaged in classes. It will probably take me two or three more birthdays until I manage to defend my dissertation and push on to graduation.
On my eighteenth birthday, I got a “Kermit the Frog wore khakis” shirt from my mother and a fluffy grey teddy bear from my then-boyfriend (now husband). On my twenty-first birthday, my theatre friends knew I wasn’t much of a drinker, so I got a two-liter of Diet Coke, ice, and lemons. I spent my twenty-second birthday in Mississippi… and that was the only birthday spent in Mississippi. I spent my thirtieth birthday in a hospital room with my newest baby, and my doctor let me go home early as a pleasant surprise. On my thirty-fourth, I scared myself silly with zombies and chainsaw girls and bought awesome boots.
So, what happens now, on the occasion of turning thirty-five? To be honest, I’m not sure. I’d love for people to go and grab a copy of Broken if they feel the need to do something for my birthday or maybe leave a review for one of the podcasts I voice. Maybe treat a friend to an awesome cup of coffee or tea, because buying a friend a coffee is a beautiful thing. Encourage another writer, watch a silly movie, sing out loud like the world is waiting for your personal musical number. Watch the Branaugh and Thompson version of Much Ado, and say all of Keanu’s lines to end with, “Dude.” (“If I had my liberty, I would do my liking… dude.”)
Be open and generous. Listen. Enjoy others for the diversity and uniqueness they bring.
Sprinkles. Ponies. Something, y’know? But I can promise that I’m not going to use turning thirty-five as a reason to suddenly act serious and grown-up. Where’s the fun in that?