Sobriquet 38.26

Well, it's nearly one in the morning and I have been writing all evening, so I will keep this entry shorter than perhaps I might otherwise have liked it to be. Today was an exceptionally productive day, actually. Despite a somewhat slow start (I napped a bit after school), I managed not only to write a few more pages but to rearrange and rework a few of the passages I wasn't as satisfied with as well. I'm still not 100% comfortable with what I have written, but as I mover further down the road, I am able to look back at what I have done and see that some of it is more than satisfactory, which is a really invigorating feeling.

I would also like to thank the Chronicle of Higher Education for providing a link to Sobriquet Magazine and welcome any new readers to the site.

On a personal note, several folks have asked me what it feels like to hit thirty. My response, perhaps not surprisingly, has been the standard "it feels the same to be as old as I am today as it felt to be as old as I was yesterday," but I am beginning to think that quite a bit of the significance we place on these so-called "milestone birthdays" is really necessary in an odd way. Basically, it occurred to me that when I tell someone "I am thirty," he or she will think of the various connotations being in one's thirties generally implies in our culture. And being in one's thirties, of course, carries a vastly different set of assumptions for others than being in one's twenties. An element of youth, whether rightfully dismissed or not, that had been integral to the conception of the twenty-something is conspicuously absent in the image of the thirty-something. For better or for worse, we associate settling down (in all its various meanings), finding a career, and, essentially, adulthood with the thirties while it seems the twenties are frequently viewed as free-spirited, exciting years of exploration and personal growth. Now, obviously, most of us know that these stereotypes are just that, a set of assumptions, but there remains a certain regard for those assumptions that is not nearly as fluid as many of us would like. Otherwise we would not pay attention to these supposed milestones. Playfully calling someone "over the hill" at forty, even in its implicit mocking of the concept, still reinforces the stereotypes to an extent. This is what I imagine will be the difference, and it may well be subtle, but it is a difference nonetheless: when I say how old I am, people will no longer think of me as a twenty-something, whatever their conception of a twenty-something is and, perhaps, I will respond to this by acting thirty-something, whatever that may mean. Perhaps subtle shifts in perception will work their way into my being and, accordingly, inspire changes in me. Who knows? I don't feel any different now, having never really thought very much of the celebration of birthdays or the marking of holidays, but something's there.

When we hear the words "pre-teen," "teenager," "twenty-something" and "thirty-something," we do carry different images in mind. The signifiers, quite obviously, correspond to our individual signifieds and our perception of those signifieds, in turn, will influence our behavior. 'Tis only human. So, do we fight against arbitrary markers of age or do we embrace them? I mean, just with the above nomenclature in mind, I have heard people stereotype pre-teens as going to bed early, teenagers as having braces and pimples, twenty-somethings as heavy drinkers, and thirty-somethings as going bald or falling victim to the tug of the prejudices exist whether we want to acknowledge them or not, whether or not we even believe them. Sure, there are people in their fifties with braces and people balding at fifteen, but I think most folks would regard those as exceptional cases. But who would be surprised by a kid of thirteen tugging on a retainer or a man of thirty-five staring at his hairline in a mirror? The prejudices are there. And that, at thirty, is what comes to mind: ageism. Just how difficult will it be not to internalize the ideas of others?

All I can say, though, is thank you to my family and to Torgeir, Elizabeth, Trang, Minxy, Literary Chica, Nathalie, Jon, Manny, Josh, Ed, Beth, Evan, Eric, Christina, Murray, Naomi, Grace, Sima, Jo-Jo, Nicki, and Luis for making today special. I am tremendously lucky to have such wonderful people in my life. If this is what thirty is, I'm not complaining one bit.

For tomorrow: Perhaps a bit of transcription or reading. Keep it light.


minxy said…
Seven more months and I'm with you in the thirty decade. I find that sometimes ages feel differently, though in my case it was a little backwards. I felt like 27 seemed younger than 26, and even though I dread turning 30, I have a feeling it will somehow feel younger to me than 29...perhaps because it's the beginning of a decade rather than the end of it. Or I'm just a crazy lady, who knows. :)

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