Today – July 25, 2017 – is the final day that I will be in my thirties. At 11:48 PM EDT, I will have completed 40 trips around that giant flaming ball of hydrogen gas. That is 480 months. Or 14,610 days. 350,640 hours. 21,038,400 minutes. 1,262,304,021 seconds.
You are probably wondering where the number of seconds came from. The Bureau International de l’Heure (BIH) and the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service (IERS) added 8 and 13 leap seconds respectively since the day I was born. Yes “leap seconds” are a thing. I remembered reading about them a few years back and spent five minutes looking it up just so I could have the right number of seconds for this post.
Don’t give me that look. That’s not even the most useless piece of information I know.
According to Mom, her regular physician was out on vacation, so his partner was supposed to deliver me. Keep in mind that this was her fourth pregnancy, so she probably already knew how everything was supposed to go. The doctor insisted on using anesthesia for the delivery, which Mom was completely against after a bad reaction during my sister’s birth. There was an argument where he refused to deliver me without it and things left at a stalemate. (Apparently the dynamic between doctor and patient was WAY different in the 1970’s.) The anesthesiologist arrived to do his prep work only to find out Mom wasn’t having it. I guess I was in a rush to make it before midnight, so the nurse asked the old man if he’d like to deliver the baby. His answer? “I’d be delighted.”
That’s right. I was brought into this world by a drug-pusher.
Just kidding. I think. Maybe. I hope. (I preemptively apologize to any anesthesiologists, particularly since I will probably need your services some day.)
The anesthesiologist also told Mom there would be no charge for the delivery, because he would enjoy rubbing it in the doctor’s face. Word is that situation also led to the breakup of that medical partnership.
Yep. That’s right. I was barely born and I was already starting $#!+.
The “theme” for the past few posts has been about various “transitions” going on. I know the age “forty” is supposed to mark something, but I’ll be damned if I know what it is. My original plan – when I was about half my age – was to earn a PhD in music, land a tenure track position at some university, gig on the side, pay off my student loans, sock away a nest egg, start recording, retire early, and work on the projects that interest me most. (I was woefully naïve in the old days before the internet took off. You young-uns don’t know anything about that. Did I just use the word “young-un”?) I wanted to get married and have a large family much like the one I grew up in, with enough members to form our own baseball team. (Yeah… Don’t ask me how I thought I was going to accomplish all that stuff AND have seven kids.)
It didn’t happen. None of it happened. I could give any number of reasons why, though they all come back to choices I made. Do I regret them? Honestly… No. I regret the consequences, sure, but I don’t regret my decisions. I might have picked a few better options if I had to do it all over again, but most of them would probably be the same.
I love my family. Had I followed through with my original plan and been studying for my PhD when my brother died in the house fire in 2002, I would have dropped out and probably never gone back. If I had been elsewhere when my father’s health started declining, I’d have dropped everything and come back home. Don’t ask me how that would have played out if I were married with children or settled with a tenure track position. I don’t know. Don’t ask me how music would have turned out. Giving it up was never an option. I should know; people have been telling me to do exactly that since I was 16.
Don’t get me wrong. My decisions have come at a pretty hefty cost: financially… socially… professionally. Probably medically, too. I have endured hours of non-academic lectures from “well-meaning people” to the point where I don’t ever want to answer the question “What’s my day job?” If someone does not see the value in what you do, no answer will ever suffice. It doesn’t matter if you juggle three jobs and a contract gig and spend your “off” day shuttling your parents around. There were many times I didn’t even want to step out of my house specifically because I didn’t want to talk to anyone.
Social anxiety has always been there. The anti-social part developed over time.
As for what forty really means, I’m not even sure. Many of the things I planned to do when in my twenties don’t even interest me anymore. I’m also facing the reality that many of the dreams I have will remain dreams. Can I really call it a mid-life crisis if it has been brewing since I was 24? Sounds pretty much like “life” to me.
I could compile a list of all the various age-based fears, but there is little point; I’ve already been there. “Dying a laughing stock.” Meh… I’ve lived as one. It’s not that bad once you get used to it and recognize it for what it is. “Never accomplishing anything or making a name for myself.” I’m already a failure by most generally-accepted social standards, so this would make me an overachiever. “Being broke.” HAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHA!!!! “Dying alone and forgotten.” I’m petty. If you forget me, I will haunt your @$$.
“My time has come and gone.” Okay… I’ll admit that one is a real fear, even if I don’t believe it at all. (For the most part, fears aren’t rational.) It may not be too obvious given the tone of the rest of this entry, but I actually feel like the best has yet to come. Exactly what that is, I don’t know. There are projects I sidelined earlier this year that I’m looking forward to picking back up. There are new things I’m pretty excited to try and a few challenges I might take on just to see what happens. (Yeah… I do that sometimes. It either inspires or pisses off the people around me.)
As for what the next year or even the next few years will bring… Well… Your guess is as good as mine.