Last week, a list Glamour Magazine originally published in 1997, “30 Things Every Woman Should Have And Should Know by the Time She Turns 30,” made the Internet rounds thanks to Glamour’s April 24th release of a book by the same name.
I’m as many years past 30 as you can be and still be in your thirties, so naturally I was thinking more of that next milestone. I’ve been contemplating writing something “significant” regarding this countdown through the end of my thirties, my version of a (barf) bucket list, something reflective and motivating that, while acknowledging the only thing I could possible do by 40 that would be shockingly advanced would be, I don’t know, have a million dollars saved for retirement (which I don’t) or have a prepaid cremation plan and custom urn waiting or something morbid and gross like that.
Humor columnist Jenny Isenman published a response post on Huffington Post, “40 Things Every Mom Should Have and Should Know by 40.” I confess I didn’t notice the “mom” part when I first read it. I know, it’s in the title, the whole point is it’s for moms, but I was interested in what Isenman had to say as a fellow writing person about to turn 40. (I will be 40 in February 2013, by the way).
She and I are looking at very different forties.
Her list of Should Haves started out strong for me. “Have a great therapist,” I couldn’t agree more enthusiastically. Then the mom stuff really kicks in. I won’t be a mom by 40. Creepily, that possibility passed last month. Michelle Tea has this area covered, but I’m also trying to get knocked up, and am too good at math to have not noticed that while I may get impregnated before my next birthday, I can’t pop one out by then. Officially. That feels weird.
Isenman suggests one expensive handbag and good make-up and alludes to fighting other like-mindeds for ill-fitting Missoni/Jason Wu/whatever at Target as a right of passage. Medicine cabinets. I recognize these, but every last one makes me wonder who I am and what I’m doing, like a good humor post should (you’re sweet and charming, Jennifer Isenman, this is all my breakdown, not your lists which I think are awesome).
The Should Know list makes a very relatable point, that “Forty is nowhere near as old as it seemed when you were twenty.”
It’s not old. Sure, It’s old for my ovaries. And it’s old when I think Courtney Stodden could be my daughter and I wouldn’t have even been a teen mom. What if Doug Hutchinson was my son-in-law right now? It’s old when you can’t enjoy a show called "Girls" because of a legit generation gap and you shouldn’t be allowed to say words like “legit.” Or “generation gap.”
What is turning 40 going to mean to me? Right now I have two separate pairs of glasses with two separate prescriptions because you know what the alternative is? BIFOCALS. What do you think of that, 25-30-year-olds who never believe I am my age? “OH! DAMN. Your bifocals are ka-YUTE, girl!”
Let’s get down to business. Here’s a little of what I’d like to do before that-number-that-shouldn’t-mean-anything-but-does:
1. Get a ham radio. Get a ham radio girl gang
2. Attend Lynda Barry writing workshop (which I am this month).
3. 3. Write a book proposal, without fear and with neutral expectations
4. 4. Get knocked up, preferably in a car like a teenager (in the 50s?)
5. 5. Conquer my fear of pedicures, commit to one per month
6. 6. Start a craft posse
7. 7. Get rigorous about being strong and healthy, trying new activities.
8. 8. Save money for these custom roller skates made from the shoes of my choice
9. Read a book per week, especially books suggested to me
10. Revisit the Pinball Hall of Fame in Asbury, NJ/get a pinball-related tattoo.
Add to my list, please! What do you think I should do before I’m 40? Broaden my horizons. Help me grow up. Challenge me to challenge myself. And I’ll tell you all about it as it happens.
Follow Rachel on Twitter @RachelMcPadden