Category Archives: relationships

The Stealth Rate at Which Things Change

feet in the air I hung out with an old friend tonight. This month is her one-year wedding anniversary. When she started dating her now husband, I saw less of her than usual. It’s kind of an unspoken rule among single girls of a certain age that once there’s a significant other in the picture, that “other” will take your place at the movies, at restaurants, on trips, and on the couch — at least temporarily.

They moved in together, bought a car, and purchased a dog all within that first year. It all moved so fast, at least for me. (Who was this person that was taking away my girlfriend? I have lots of friends, but each one offers something unique and special in my life that I deem irreplaceable; I get weary of outsiders.) Then they were engaged and then there was a wedding to plan and with each new chapter  in her story, I told myself it was only temporary — this friend had just lost her mind; she was experiencing an interlude of insanity. Happens to the best of us, I rationalized, especially as we approach the ZOMG30s when pressure is on and clocks are ticking. She would be back at the singles table next to me in no time.

But then when I did see her, it always involved the new dog and the new man — we rarely got to spend a minute alone together. And then we drifted apart. The sacred conversations we once had during which secrets were exchanged and shame turned into something to laugh about, would now include a third person, or not happen at all. And tonight, on the anniversary of their marriage, I bought them a bottle of wine, toasted to their milestone, asked them about the moments in which they knew the other person was “the one,” and wished them love. This is what it means to no longer be a girl.

My friend and I met at 19 and now we’re on the verge of 32. Somehow her life has accelerated in a direction that mine has not and that I’m not sure I want to follow.  I’ve lost something and she’s gained something. But still I worry: Did she choose the right person? Did she make the right decision? Is he the best thing to happen to her? The truth is I may never really know because I can’t even make these decisions for myself in my own relationships; and because we don’t share secrets anymore.

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Who Moved My Cheese?

who moved my cheese book cover I’ve never read the damn book but it poses an important question: Who the fuck moved my shit? My “shit” is not cheese, but it is a solid reason to get out of bed in the morning–job security, relationships, skinny jeans.

Anyone who told me my thirties are going to be the best years of my life deserves to be punched in the face. The day I turned 30, I went into a deep depressive state where the only thing that gave me solace was sitting on my bathroom floor listening to Billy Joel’s “Captain Jack” and “Allentown” on repeat. From there, I went on to break up with my boyfriend of two years–the one I thought was the one (we named our future children for christ’s sake)–and go back out into the dating world, which today consists of being “matched” by a computer with men by the names of Aruyn and LoveBoat69 and heights ranging from 5’4″ to 5’8″. I was 5’4″ in third grade!

But all of this was ok. Equipped with 50 milligrams of Prozac and a job that I loved going to each day, I was treading like an Olympian in the unknown tides of 30. I was so proud of myself (and thankful for a doc who realized after 30 minutes of meeting with me that my dosage needed to be upped); I was feeling happy despite the loss of a long-term relationship.  And then like Lot, who unlike me believed in a loving God, the universe decided to strike again. My boss at my beloved job decided to leave to pursue her next chapter. One loss is doable, but two? Is this supposed to make me believe in a loving God or in a god at all? Is Ashton Kutcher going to come out and say “you’ve been punked!”?

The one religion I’ve always been able to get down with is Buddhism and there’s a passage that always helps me get through transitional periods in my life: It’s about a man who uses a raft to cross a river–the foolish man carries the raft with him wherever he goes in case he needs to use it again. The wise man appreciates that the raft got him across the river but leaves it behind so as not to be burdened with it. After all, who says the same raft can get you across another river? I’m trying to use that quote right now but it’s not working. When change is sudden and unexpected it lets the air out of your tires. I’m driving around at half the speed I was a week ago. How do I fix that? I need more shit!

If I’m going to lose things like a boyfriend, a good boss, and jeans that I fit into, then I need to gain other things, good things. Right now I just feel like I’m being toyed with–just how much can I get through and still keep my head above water, stay away from the bottom?

I compare taking meds to being buoyed; I can see the beautiful sunny sky above and I can see the cold, dark depth below and stay in the middle of both. What I really want though, is to be anchored. I want a place where I can always dock, a place that will always be there–protection from the unpredictable sea that I know now is life.

The problem is, I can lose weight, I can run to the people I love and ask them never to leave, for things to never change and to stay good until I’m ready, but someone or something is always going to be moved.

*(I think today’s bookstore purchase will be Who Moved My Cheese?, after I finish Tina Fey’s Bossypants, of course.)

“Love lost, such a cost/Give me things that don’t get lost/Like a coin that won’t get tossed/Rolling home to you.”


30 Going on 13

“13 Going on 30” is one of my favorite girly movies. It’s a story about an awkward 13 year-old who wants nothing more than to be a grown up where everything is perfect. It’s kind of like the girl version of the movie “Big” in which Tom Hanks’ character makes a wish to be big and then has to figure out how to survive in the adult world when his wish comes true. Tomorrow, I turn 30 and I can’t help but feel like I’m still 13, trying to figure this all out.

The problem with turning 30 is that everyone, including myself, expects that you’ll have it all. In “13 Going on 30,” Jennifer Garner’s character hates being a kid so much that on her 13th birthday, she wishes she’ll turn 30 instead–the age when everything magically falls into place. At 30, she’ll have a man, a great job, cool friends, a wonderful closet and so on. And this is what I expected too.

My entire life I’ve always wanted to be older. I wanted the next big thing. As a kid, I, too looked up to women in their 20s and 30s thinking they had it all and I was bursting to get there. Then throughout my 20s, I worked my ass off to acquire all the must-haves: money, a good job, fashionable looks, and a man to get married to. Most of my 20s were so awful, I missed being a teenager.

Now, on the eve of my 30th birthday, I feel like I’m late for a very important deadline. My time to search for all the perfect puzzle pieces is up. At 30, I must already have the puzzle put together and ready for display. I look at other friends my age on Facebook–people I went to high school with, even grade school, and of course college, and a lot of them are married with children. I don’t have that. I hate nothing more than being behind. (Isn’t that why I always dreamt of being older?)

It doesn’t help that my job as a parenting editor reminds me every day of what I don’t have–optimum fertility and a family. These are the missing puzzle pieces and without them I feel like a failure. A few years ago, when I asked my sister-in-law what it felt like to be 30, she said, “well, I’m married and I have a baby, so I’m okay.” Thirty is the only birthday in which a woman goes down a mental checklist of a job accomplished. Christ, at 13, I was so freakin’ happy to finally be a teenager, I didn’t need to have met certain requirements to feel okay about it. (Well, other than accepting the hard truth that playing with dolls was no longer “cool.”)

So far, turning 30 has sucked. I threw a pricey party–the kind you send out expensive, handwritten invitations for–thinking that making a big deal about it would help me embrace it. Wrong. I just got mad at myself for spending so much money for a couple of hours with friends. I expected my boyfriend would make it all okay by getting down on one knee just so that I could enter 30 without feeling so bad. (And the more friends and family and associates push the expectation that he will, just makes it worse. So much worse.) The poor guy has been working around the clock and actually fell asleep toward the end of my fancy party. So many expectations unmet. Whether they’re fair or not doesn’t matter. What matters is that I’m 30 and I can’t check off everything on the master list. If my sister-in-law asked me how I feel turning 30, I would say to her, “well, I’m not married and I don’t have a baby, so you tell me, how should I feel?”

Is it the fault of movies and pop culture? Why do women feel the need to have it all together by 30? I cannot be the only one who feels this impending doom and pressure. The pressure to deliver on things I have no control over is enough to make me snap. Luckily, I have an appointment with my therapist on my birthday. Part of me just wants to curl up in a ball, finish all the bottles of wine in my apartment and swallow a whole bunch of pills. I don’t want to die, but maybe a nice little overdose and a trip the hospital will make me feel like I’ve taken some action and act like some sort of public acknowledgment that I know I’ve missed my deadline and I’m not happy about it.

Those of you over 30 tell me: Where were you at 30? What did you wish you had had by then?

Those of you under 30, tell me: What do you hope you’ll have by then?