31 today

birthdays are weird. i wonder if this is more a cultural, upper-middle class american thing sometimes (call it Prettiest Princess Syndrome) where the very fact of it being that certain day fills us with a heightened sensitivity to what would normally bounce off us as the thousand little imperfections and unpleasantries of everyday life. the chilly, oppressive wind on your way to work, the residual stink from someone smoking. it all becomes personal. how dare these things be on my special day‽

also inevitable is that old feeling of goddammit i am now 31 and just what in the hell have i done with my life‽ (apparently the interrobang is the universal birthday symbol). you flash on people years your junior who are established in careers, long set into habits you wish you had; imagining them progressing in an intentional, unbroken line to their current stations, while you flailed around from one version of yourself to the next (who was I all those years ago – I literally do not know). with all the changes we go through it seems almost wrong that we should inhabit the same body after all this time; that pictures from years past should bear any resemblance to the people we’ve become.

i remember last year, when i turned 30, how keen i was to make a fresh start on life, and how the start of a new decade would usher in all these new things blah blah blah. looking back on the past year, it was mostly a record of experiences that started with full enthusiasm and excitement that mostly didn’t turn out as i expected them to (of course) and whatever grand plans i had were sidetracked by real life (of course) and now here i am, having (technically) completed the 31st year of my existence, and i can’t help but feel reaching for grand resolves to be a little bit silly and unnecessary.

here is where i would usually wax all reflective. i decided, in the spirit of wil wheaton, that sometimes you just gotta write 500 words about a thing, and that it doesn’t mean there has to be any big meaning. i want to write more things that are small in scope – i’ve been working on and off on a story for the second volume of machine of death, and found that my tendency is towards making big, wide-angle observations instead of getting into specifics and telling small, real stories. with the deadline looming i’ve come to face this tendency a bit more directly – to practice getting into the meat of small, human situations rather than floating in the ether of cultural observations and faux-wisdom. there are parallels here, but i don’t really want to make them.

i do want to enjoy this day, and enjoy other days when they happen, and get better at just being in the small, specific places.

a year from today we’ll see how well that went. same time same place?

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