There was an idea for this year’s post in my annual birthday series that wasn’t what this post is now. Try as I might to write that original idea, it just didn’t feel right.
Much like the arrival of 27.
This birthday felt weird. Weird because every other age has felt, in some way, anticipated. They’ve all been defined by impatient countdowns to shakily defined milestones. In fact, when I started these annual age posts at 23 it felt like the most exciting year of my life was upon me and, at that point in time, I suppose it was. Then 24 arrived with many lessons learned to prepare me for it, with 25 fast on its heels and hyped to impossible heights by just about everyone I came into contact with, thereby making me hellbent on spending the time leading up to 26 keeping things as low to the ground as physically possible.
27, on the other hand, just seems to have strolled its way into my life with a quick passing wave, taking a seat over on the wooden bench at the far side of my inner consciousness’s train station. Stubbing out its cigarette on the back of its own hand and settling back with crossed arms to watch what the hell I plan to make out of it. I know, I’m scared to meet it too.
Every time I sat down to write that other post I was pushing and pulling myself through it. There was an element of research and information gathering to it that I just couldn’t find any interest in. One of the super fun personal traits that I’m trying to work on is distrust. And there is a scale of, let’s face it, insanity as to what I don’t trust. On one side we’ve got microwaves and central air systems, on the other side we’ve got myself. One of those rightfully deserves to be targeted and I’ll give you a hint – I’m not super concerned about learning to enjoy microwaved food. I am super concerned about being able to listen to myself and follow those instincts. See that I’m just not into something and not do it.
So I did that. I stopped writing that other post. Then I got a little down because as the weeks kept going up to, then at, then past, then really past my birthday it seemed like maybe I just wouldn’t write anything about 27 at all. But I really enjoy writing these annual musings, knowing that they’ll be here for me to look back on in my later years. I can still write something, I thought, it’ll just be a little delayed.
Talk about a thought that resonates. Everything feels a little delayed these days. My own birthday felt like I was late to the proverbial and also literal party! So I asked myself, what caused that? What delayed you, my Cass?
And then I came up with these.
I was learning to golf. That’s right. Finally something on those bucket lists got crossed off. Don’t get too excited though, it’s a strong work in progress. Still haven’t actually worked up the courage to go out on the course, but wow oh wow do I love me some hot coffee drinking on a Sunday morning at the driving range.
My changing body. The changes have always come in phases. I hit the usual year-over-year growth track until about 12 or 13, suddenly shooting up to full height and living an awkward gangly few years waiting for everyone else to catch up. Then some time around my Middler (Northeasterners, what’s up) or Junior year of college things changed again and there they’ve remained until this past year. But this time things are moving slowly, giving me a better chance at noticing the change. My body communicates with me now. It tells me that we’re getting older. Sometimes we move the wrong ways and things tweak out for no good reason at all. High time to take care.
Aliens arrived. My view count of ‘Arrival’ is potentially disturbing but also not at all because it’s become so integral to me and my spirit and my soul and everything about me, et cetera and so forth. A lot of time has been spent watching this film, thinking about this film, embodying this film in past, present, and also future. For that, I treasure.
I work a lot. God, do I work a lot. And not really in the ways that I think people should work a lot. I have many not great feelings about it, and I’m pushing myself to mull on that. Mull in that. Mull all around that. There have been one too many times where I’ve been called a ‘machine’ these past few years and at one point I disturbingly took that as a compliment. Now it’s in my top ten list of insults. Work can be a passion, can be fulfilling, can be time well spent. ‘Can’ being the operative word. Glad we got this one out of the way up top.
Blame my cell phone… and the internet. We’re all in this mode of technological absorption. We will continue to be in that mode from now until the day that we perish. I cling to my personal brand as a late stage millennial but also a grandmother. My phone does not have many apps on it, and the few that it does I’m actively trying to claw myself away from. My response times to text messages or phone calls are atrocious and downright insulting for most people, but I dig the independency of it. Consider it conditioning. I’m fine, you’re fine, go do something. On your phone or off it, who cares, this is our world now.
There was YouTube content to consume. Speaking of the internet, have you ever heard of a little something called Bon Appétit? What about the popular British television “programmes” Taskmaster, Would I Lie To You, QI, 8 Out Of 10 Cats Does Countdown… ever heard of those? I don’t pay for cable television here in America because I think it’s a complete rip off, mostly trash, and also, oh yeah, because I’m never home to watch it (see above re: working a lot and also below re: travel). I used to feel sheepish about telling people that I watch YouTube but I don’t have the capacity to keep that feeling around anymore so, yeah, I watch YouTube. And there’s a lot of quality content out there. Too much. I’m actively working on reining in my consumption because also, like, hobbies, my girl.
Families, am I right? There’s love, there’s stress, there’s obligation, there’s missing them. There’s a lot of inroads to this topic and all of those roads go in totally different directions so I’ll just say that families are a lot. I love and miss mine, but there are reasons humans are meant to grow up and leave to go find their own lives too.
I was reading out loud. I love doing this. I’ve always loved doing this. I used to read books to our Christmas tree as a kid, ornaments included. It was my favorite part of English classes, my favorite activity when babysitting. It made me finally understand and like, and in some cases love, poetry. I struggled so hard with the silent reading and analysis assignments of Dickinson or Frost in high school. Nothing clicked. Then Obvious State came along and inspired me to try reading it aloud. There’s something intimate about speaking the written word. A habit I hope to never lose.
My memory and attention span have fallen to tatters. My shoddy memory used to be something of a joke with friends but it just makes me kind of sad now. There are a lot of wonderings as to why my brain works the way it does. Why I can’t remember conversations and interactions with people, and not in the total verbatim recall kind of way, in the we conversed or interacted at all? kind of way. Friends I continuously prompt to tell me things that we cherish about our relationships. Already that grandmotherly figure reliving stories over and over again because each time means that I haven’t lost them yet. Certain books avoided because I really want to retain the information but know that I never will. Note taking and journaling tried but in mere milliseconds the moments lived flutter right on out of my mind. Scary to wonder how it’ll continue as I age on.
I’ve been thinking about a move. It’s been quite a few years in Charlotte. About as long as I ever expected to stay. The cravings are coming for something else and my eyes have settled on an albeit chillier prize. More soon.
Books required reading. There are so many of them. The past few years have seen my pace of reading drop off monumentally and I’m desperately trying to resurrect it. There have been those weekends where I bury myself beneath pages and pages and I’d like to blame my time spent on those but there haven’t been enough. No, the blame instead goes to agony over weakening.
I was working out. HA. This is new. Again, my body is in desperate need of some care. I’ve found that those people who eat well and exercise regularly, who never shut up about how good and happy it makes them, are actually on to something? We’ll all be waiting to see if this is just a phase, but here’s hoping it’s a true blue lifestyle change. I’m late for hot yoga.
I was spending time with my car. Oh Linus, my Linus. A favorite pastime of mine is finding any and all excuses to get behind the wheel of my little blue bug. We cruise around the city, music far too loud, sometimes steered by knees when changing radio stations while sipping coffee. But, like me, my boy is getting old. And with thoughts of moving, it comes more and more to my mind that maybe it’s time we part. I’m not kidding whatsoever when I say that that thought makes my heart drop and tears flood my eyes. He’s seen me through so much. Some day I’ll write a Ode to him and tell you all of the whats and the whys.
Women. There isn’t enough WordPress word count space to handle me on this one. The past few years I’ve grown so much deeper into understanding and feeling and learning and reading all about women. Women professionally, women politically, women personally. The things we go through day in and day out. At home and afar. Together and alone. So much of my time is spent lost in the things that I’m seeing and hearing and reading and thinking. Not enough of my time is spent fixing and helping and changing and being.
My kitchen was making me dance. Another favorite pastime. I have a whole playlist dedicated to the cause. This part of the home is used solely to dance around in and store vino. Odd occasions occur here and there where we fire up the stove tops while getting our groove on. It is all that it is, and nothing less.
I was drinking. Not in a clinical kind of way, don’t worry. Relax. My taste in scotch and wine has grown quite beautifully over the past year or so, if I do say so myself. Considering the first time I ever had Laphroaig I burst into tears from the pain and now it’s my scotch of choice (Lore me all the way up, take me to that altar to die) says quite a few things, methinks. The palate developments, and my quest to become a whiskelier, live on.
I wasn’t drinking. Another new super fun thing, another trial decided by my body. And in the time before that, mostly attributable to nights that made me cool my jets for a few days. Again, I get why people kick alcohol. I’m not going to be one of those people, but I’ve done my time walking that mile and Everlast was on to something.
Travel was taking up my time. My little brother thinks my airline status makes me cool but my fellow road warriors know it for what it is. A life lived too often 30,000+ feet above the rest of the world. And not in a jet-setting, vacation travel kind of way. My career means I need to travel a lot, which I honestly don’t mind at this stage in my life. It makes it that much important to me to have a perfect home base. I did almost two years of weekly cross-country travel and at the start of that I was having full meltdowns on every takeoff and landing. Now I’m well attuned to the sights and sounds of flying so that the meltdowns only really occur in times of heavy turbulence. Even that’s starting to go down. Now to add in more of that travel for fun stuff that everybody’s talking about these days.
Thinking about Papa. Too much but mostly not enough. Missing and hurting. Coping.
Hill House was being haunted (again). Scroll up to Aliens arrived then replace ‘Arrival’ with ‘The Haunting of Hill House’ and ‘film’ with ‘show.’ My everythings.
I was trying to find my power. Another relatively new thing. Something I didn’t even realize I needed, but when I did realize it I felt like I was bowled over by one of those giant cylindrical haystacks. It came at a time of struggle and confusion, of feeling generally lost about what to do with myself and feeling afraid of why I felt like there was something to be done in the first place. This is something I hope to keep exploring and thinking on, maybe to share some day when I settle more on and around it.
There was chocolate to be eaten. A fiend, am I.
I was in the bath. I took myself on a birthday vacation this year explicitly to revel in doing absolutely nothing. Said vacation involved a hotel with a standing tub, excellent eucalyptus bath products, and the best chocolate chip cookies I’ve ever had. Daily routine, don’t mind if I do. I take a decent amount of baths at home too and wholeheartedly recommend. Pour a beverage, run that hot water, bubble city, put on a podcast or an album, even get old fashioned with it and grab a book. Get in there, kid.
My muse left me. Writing was such a passion. I found any and all excuses to type or scribble away. Took English class assignments too seriously and undoubtedly pissed off all of my teachers, crammed up to and sometimes past the page and / or word limits. Sank into stories big and small as they danced in and out of my head. Now I’ve fallen into a state of negative conditioning, responding Pavlovian style. I think of writing and fill with sudden exhaustion and dread. Too much of myself has been given and taken elsewhere, I haven’t been trying hard enough to get it and grow it back.
My energy needed protecting. Time and effort goes into protecting against feeling drained and fed on. There’s a lot of ongoing study with this one.
Stitches were waiting to be crossed. I was in college when I learned that drawing with the grid method helped my anxiety. It was the only thing I had ever known that captured my full attention. I’m not a great artist but I didn’t have to be to copy a reference image one square at a time, hyper focused on the details so that my brain didn’t have any free capacity to think about anything else. I found the same thing in cross-stitching. Concentration fully devoted to counting the squares and decoding the colors to produce the full image from the pattern. There’s something mathematical about it. The closest I’ve come to meditation.
Uber drivers were being nice to me. There is a whole Evernote on my phone where I keep track of the kind, considerate, and uplifting things that a select very few Uber drivers have said to me over the years. Thanks to my job and lifestyle, strangers’ cars are places where I spend a lot of time (second, of course, to airplanes). It doesn’t always go well, but when it does it really does. A fan favorite of mine, spoken and then immediately left to silence for the rest of the ride: “Ready to start another day? Everything will go exactly the way you want it to.”
Also, for anyone who cares, when I got the idea for this post I sat down and wrote it in one go… Trust yourself.