Wednesday, February 27, 2008

2008 State of the Self Address

It is my birthday today and my second annual State of the Self address. I began this last year, on my birthday, to declare who I am, what I am, where, and why I am to the world. Last year, I delivered it to a living room full of loved ones who cheered and applauded me. This year, I write it only my Self and for the 29 years of ballooning experiences I stash under my raincoat.

I am 29 years old.

This world I have grown up in, the country of the United States has brainwashed me to grow and cultivate an addictive dependency on numbers. Compasses, equations, menus, percentages, age, numbers, numbers, numbers everywhere exist to provide direction, comfort, reason, and a measuring stick. Nearly everyone comments on this being my last year of the 20s, a year away from 30. As if there is some pattern of life that I am destined to follow because of 29 being a step before 30. Ech. What if I’m not 1 before 30 and I’m just 29, a life complete as is without wondering what 30 will bring or what 28 left unsigned.

There is nothing “-un” about my life. Everything is finished, everything has closure. A sliver of an opening in a ring is not incomplete, it’s in the state of its destined permanency. The moon is full every night, regardless of what the sun reflects.

John making out with my friend sophomore year in high school while he was my homecoming date.

That reimbursement check in 2002 that my employer was delayed in processing which dented my personal savings.

The package that the mail deliverer said he lost contained irreplaceable photos and videos of childhood moments and priceless pieces of my family and life are gone.

1996 scarred me with a thoughtlessness that would overflow a river.

What we think “should” happen often leaves us in a psychological limbo. What we mark as the hinge that allows the door to swing close is nothing more than an illusion, a helpless, relentless, frantic irrationality that wants control over the ending; the dark side of us that need for it to end the way we need it to end.

There is no control over the ending, only the role we are given in the unfolding. That’s the warped beauty of numbers, of my 10, 592 days. It lets us measure what we think should happen, what shouldn’t happen, and what should have happened. Age is the common pebble to throw in this pond game.

How wasteful are we when we become fixated on what we thought our lives were supposed to be? It was supposed to end with his explanation and my telling him off. I was supposed to receive my check in the mail. The sweaty but smiling mailman was supposed to at my door, offering a shoebox wrapped in brown grocery bags.

The full moon, whether I saw it or not, was that John made out with Tara because he was a horny bastard and I was a shy 15 year old. Evelyn was a motivated but disorganized supervisor who forgot to process my check. That package is never arriving. Ever. Not every wrong finds a humble apologetic.

At 29, I’m supposed to live out one last hoorah, try to find closure with my 20s, sink into my skin before I lean back into the 30s and prepare for a February 2009 trip to Vegas where I’ll wear glittery tank tops and nuzzle my way into a VIP table at a red-lit, red-painted wall bar on the main strip. At 29, I’m supposed to have one more go around the world, steal a kiss from a 21 year old body builder, and learn how to cook a flourless chocolate cake from scratch. The classic novels need my bent elbow, my sex life is to be at full throttle, and my shoe collection is due for a shot of ipecac so I can justify a refreshed podiatric wardrobe.

At 29, I am to be lamenting the gravity and reality of my boobs and hips and spend more time perusing rugs and perfume counters. 29 is the time to cash in my frequent flier miles, find cheap hostels, drain tablets of Dramamine to go whale watching, and connect with old ruins of Europe, kneel on mats in Bali, or kiss the sands of Fiji. Better do it now before kids come.

Ah yes, children.

29 - the dangerously close age to passing primo childbearing years. Enthusiasts for Children talk to me like my organs have their own personalities and minds. Like my ovaries are going to take in a collective sigh and grumble why they haven’t seen the womb fruits of their monthly labor and then just decide to die. The ever competing for attention Uterus will begin talking smack with the ovaries, wondering approximately when Uterus will ever be of use, if at all! As usual, the Fallopian tubes are the peacemakers, the liaison, calming the Ovaries and Uterus, “The time is coming soon, friends. We’re almost past childbearing years! She must know that. No worries!”

(Side note: Don’t think for a moment that I don’t realize timing and planning, in many ways, is a privilege. It stains the asses of those like me who can choose from a variety of lives to lead. I have been afforded choice. Momentarily putting aside the political meaning of the term, my life is one billboard for Pro-Choice, there’s nothing in my life where I did not have at least 3 other options to consider.)

Back to my point:

Yes, at 29, I’m supposed to be “trying” for a baby.

29 has been presented to me as a giant farewell; an act, a year motivated by good-byes. 29 is one giant frill, a forced pep rally for 30. A convincing performance that leaves little doubt that I am ready for maternal responsibility now that I have left no stone unturned in my journey. I am to convince the world (and my Self) that doing these things, pursuing such feats, potteries and achievements, I am bidding adieu to something that has inevitably run its course. The finale, the greatest inaugural sign of the dirty thirties – a baby – is the red exit sign at the door of the decade, symbolizing woman. A belly bump is the most graceful exiting of my 20s. “Expecting” takes the lead from “exploring.”

Once again, the Ought To Theory surfaces with scores of alleys, boulevards and avenues. I do not deny that I want a few of those things; I’m not a wallflower in an abandoned warehouse of society. I seek adventure, travel, love, orgasms, freedom, rarity, and children in my life, too. The difference is how I want them to arrive. I resent the artificial notions of what it means to mathematically mature, to gain one more year, to live life in reaction to an arbitrary number.

The question of time and numbers haunts my 29th birthday. There is a particular verse in the bible that spiritually chases me. I often run in fear of its searing truths. “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven…A time to be born, a time to die…”

“To everything there is a season.” Everything has a season – jobs, lovers, CD players. Everything has a destined timelines of function and meaning and I am the receiver, observer of these fates. Every relationship, conversation, and moment is temporary; a resounding laugh that eventually fades. Its lasting effect is only as profound as my ability to recognize the significance of its brevity.

I am left to ponder the lesson of time, purpose, agenda, should, and expectation. Who am I after I acknowledge that I do not want Europe or ruins or tea? What is left of me after I proclaim that my perfect partner is all the love I could ever need or dream and no other kiss could steal my heart? Today, I recognize that I am the 29 year old resplendent freak who hates everything 30 minus 1 stands for. I refuse to believe in ridiculous notions of valor and experientially based milestones. I remember the moon is always full whether I see it or not. It’s complete. As is.

There is no shame in me anymore or any regret that would fuel a series of contrived expeditions. Whatever the 20s did, it has stripped it from me. In its place, a phoenix Venus, a trembling certainty, a stirring smoky volcano keeps repeating, “I am enough.”

There will be no Vegas (I don’t think) or alcoholic mosh pits of emotional destruction. There is no “one last” anything or systematic charting my progression.

There is only canvas and color. Aperture and camera. Skin and blankets. Soothe and wind. Resignation and redemption. Acceptance and altruism. Light and forgiveness.

I refute everything I was taught and embrace everything I have learned.

This is my life at 29.


  1. I have last year's state of self address hanging on my wall. You again have managed to figure out what I am/was thinking and didn't realize it yet on my birthday only weeks before yours...You rock my socks. (Oh, and HAPPY BIRTHDAY!)

  2. My heart soars and wants to scream YES, YES, YES, aloud at the top of my lungs in response to your words. 29 is glorious, brutally honest, voracious, and indentured to no idea. Let YES burst through your year...I so wish I was there to hear your voice articulate this State of the Self. Happy Birtday.

  3. Anonymous10:42 PM

    That was beautiful and true. Thank you so much for sharing it.

    Happy Birthday!

  4. "There is only canvas and color. Aperture and camera. Skin and blankets. Soothe and wind. Resignation and redemption. Acceptance and altruism. Light and forgiveness.

    I refute everything I was taught and embrace everything I have learned.

    This is my life at 29."

    I love this.


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