Harriet: Age 32

Today I turn thirty two years old, an age that seems both impossibly mature and still only the beginning of my adult life. I’ve been thinking about how I could commemorate my birthday every year, a kind of State of my Blog Union (Blogunion?) for the events of last year and the hopes and dreams for the next. So, in that vein, I am re-purposing one of those popular end-of-the-year recap formats and I hope to update this once a year to celebrate making it another rotation around the sun.

How will you spend your birthday?
I am going to work, probably taking myself out for a sort-of fancy lunch, taking part of the afternoon off for a pedicure, then picking Mr. Blue Eyes up at the airport so we can spend the weekend together. He is taking me to my very favorite seafood restaurant so I can splurge on crab cakes. Mmmmmm, crab cakes! The rest of the weekend will be spent cuddling and ordering take out and loving on each other.

Compared to this time last year, are you: a) happier or sadder? b) thinner or fatter? c) richer or poorer?
Happier; thinner; richer (thank you, work promotion and raise!).

What did you do last year that you’ve never done before?
I was quoted in the newspaper on a new work-related program that I implemented this fall to wild, state-wide success.

What was your favorite discovery last year?
Audio books. I am still kind of floored that I can download a real life human who patiently READS ME A BOOK, they do all the voices and never need a break, and I can listen while I drive, work out, or hang out at home. I mean, talk about on-demand luxury! No one has read aloud to me in 20 years, and now I can have this over-the-top experience every single day. Give me ALL THE AUDIO BOOKS!!!

What do you hope to learn this coming year?
I want to continue to improve my oil painting skills, and learn how to make ice cream. Really good ice cream.

What would you like to have this year that you didn’t have last year?
A dishwasher.

What was your biggest achievement of this year?
For almost 18 months I had been consistently working towards a promotion at work, the funding for said promotion was approved by the legislature last March and in June I was offered a fantastic new job in my department. I am so proud of myself for working towards this for so long and putting in the time, effort, and energy to ensure I was the most qualified candidate for the position. (Also, yes, I’m a state employee, all funding must go through the legislature…yes, it’s a freaking hassle, but whatever, tax payer dollars and checks-and-balances, and all that jazz.)

What was your biggest failure?
I spent a lot of the year angry, hurt, and full of anxiety. Now, I understand that part of this is due to some chemical imbalances in my brain that I cannot blame myself for, but I also think there are some ways I could have been more proactive in reducing those scary and hurtful feelings and move forward in a better place. Baby steps, folks. Baby steps.

Where did you travel this year?
Multiple trips to Arizona and Montana (experiencing a nearly 130 degree (F) temperature differential); Chicago; Denver; as well as several in-state trips both for work and for fun.

Do you have a destination in mind for next year?
I would love to go to Turkey, Spain, Greece, or Paris for Thanksgiving…it’s kind of a pipe dream right now, but I can’t stop thinking about the idea.

What did you get really excited about?
I geeked out this year about Charles Darwin, big time. Seriously, if you had more then 3 conversations with me in the last 12 months it is more than likely that I brought up Darwin at some point.

What do you wish you’d done more of?
Traveling, particularly short weekend trips. I miss having an almost-always packed weekend bag and a constantly increasing pile of travel photos and memories.

What do you wish you’d done less of?
Fighting. Fighting with myself; fighting with Blue Eyes; fighting (on Blue Eyes’ team) against his crazy-ass ex-wife; fighting anxiety and irrational fears; fighting to be understood.

What was the best book you read?
Ooooh, how do I even answer this question!?! I re-read East of Eden again and am still completely in-love with those characters, stories, and language; but as for new reads, I think the one that has stuck with me the longest is Madam Secretary by Madeline Albright. Recommended!

What did you want and get?
A new-to-me, adorable, surprise car. Miss Persimini makes me smile every time I see her. And she’s SUPER fast…not that I have ever gone even one mile above the posted legal speed limit….Ahem.

What did you want and not get?
Besides a pony? A pair of knee-height cognac-colored flat-ish boots. I’m still hunting for the perfect pair.

What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
A judge standing up to Blue Eyes’ ex-wife’s illegal, irrational, and hurtful behavior and possibly handing down massive fines and a permanent record of her crazy bullshit. She is seriously a bad person and I wish someone with authority to force her to change or improve would recognize it. The system surrounding child custody, visitation, and preventing crazy, jealous, vindictive parents from unleashing their anger on their ex-spouse (and thereby hurting the children) is so, so, broken. And expensive. And just, it’s a mess.

What kept you sane?
Painting until all hours of the night; losing myself in books; lots of lengthy conversations with dear friends; soothing snuggles and hair pats from Blue Eyes; and, quite literally, anti-anxiety medication.

What political issue stirred you the most?
This one continues to grow for me, I am so annoyed and irritated by the lack of true gender equality in all its forms. I can get riled up about feminism and why more people should care more about it in about 2 seconds flat. I want more people to understand the actual definitions of patriarchy, benevolent sexism, and feminism. Hint: “feminism” does not mean “man hating.” It is really just the radical notion that women are people too and deserve the same full range of rights and benefits as their male counterparts. If you think feminism = man-hating you really need to educate yourself and examine why you think that, i.e. what person or institution is trying to convince you that championing the rights of women is somehow a negative thing.

Did you fall in love?
Yes. After a pretty rough patch, I fell in love again with Mr. Blue Eyes. And I think we are finally back to a really good place. And that’s all I’m going to say about that right now. Wink.

Who did you miss?
My sweetheart. Blue Eyes moved 700 miles away more than 4 months ago for work and to be closer to his tweenage kids. We have some long-term plans in place for me joining him, but that doesn’t help reduce the hole in my heart.

Did you learn a valuable life lesson this year?
Ages ago Amber posted this on her blog, and I’ve had it on a post-it note on my wall ever since:

My hackles are raised. I want to give them hell. Buy maybe I need to get over it and realize that this is simply the world nudging me toward something better.

My lesson for this year? Maybe this is simply the world nudging me toward something better. If I can just stop ranting about it long enough to get out of my own way great things are bound to happen. And if not “great” then at least “marginally better.” Hell, I’ll take a year full of “marginally better” anytime if the alternative is “same old crapshoot.” So, onwards and upwards and older…oldwards…olderwards….whatever, you get the idea. It’s my birthday and I’ll make up words if I want to. So there.

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11 thoughts on “Harriet: Age 32

  1. Happy birthday! It sounds like you need the following book: Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home. Best homemade ice cream ever. If you haven’t bought an ice cream maker yet, Cuisinart makes some really good ones.

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  2. Happy Birthday to my dear, darling, “internet” friend. You are one of my faves. And 32! It shall be good to YOU!
    “Maybe this is simply the world nudging me toward something better.” – this? This hit home. Right in the gut. Here’s to it.
    Happy, Happy 32.
    xoxo

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  3. You’re celebrating your birthday for a month, right? So, I can say happy birthday and not feel like I’m almost a month late saying it, right??? =)

    This post was great, because I learned some basic things about you that I don’t think I knew before. A dear friend of mine is also married to a man who has a crazy ex and poorly influences their young kids. It’s one thing to distance yourself from crazy. It’s an entirely different beast when that crazy affects young minds. And even more so when our system that’s meant to protect the kids, mostly just lets mom have them unless she’s dead. Really sad. And I can see how it riles you up.

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