Monday, March 16, 2015

Today...I turn 30


So, today I turn 30.  That’s a big deal, right?  It feels like a big deal, even though I’ve felt possibly even older than 30 for quite some time.  That’s what children (multiple children) will do to you.  I tell all my friends, you age about 5 years with the first kid, and it doubles with each one you add on, so this would make me 55 (do the math).  30 is a benchmark though, right?  I mean, most people have all these goals of things they want to accomplish before they hit these big benchmark numbers and so I find myself wondering…what the hell have I done with my life?  I guess I have this false sense of urgency when it comes to aging because I’ve always told myself I’m going to live forever and so instead of making goals I just live each day for what it is, which isn’t always the greatest way to handle things, but looking over my past 30 years, I can’t say that I regret anything.  Well, I take that back…there are things I regret, but in the wide scope of things, they brought me to here, and here is a very comfortable and happy place for me.  I have a wife of nearly 12 years, I have 3 beautiful, healthy children, I have a secure job, I have a nice home, I have the best friends I could ask for, I may not be able to travel and just goof off because, like, money is pretty tight, but I have traveled, I have seen other parts of the world and I have the pictures to bring me back, so I’m good…for now.  And yet, looking over that list of things that should make me really happy and appreciative for where I am in my life (and don’t get me wrong, I am appreciative and happy), I do see that something feels amiss, something very clear is just not there.


What some of you may be aware of, but most of you probably are not, is that my one aspiration in life was to be a published author.  When I was a kid, while all my friends were dreaming of being astronauts or explorers or sports stars, I was the practical one who realized that the only shot I’d ever have to be any of those things would be if I wrote that story myself.

And so I wrote.

I wrote and I wrote and I wrote.  By the time I was 15 I had written at least six complete novels and a slew of short stories.  They cluttered my parent’s old Apple computer (you know, the one with the monitor that was the size of a television), and they even got me in some trouble when my mother read a sex scene I’d written at age 12.  The point was, I knew what I wanted to be, and I was going to work my ass off to get there.

And then I got married and had kids and had to work, a lot, and pretty much had no time to do anything for myself and so, here I am, 30 years old with a novel that I’ve been writing and rewriting and editing and second guessing for the past 10 years (yes, I started it when I was 20) just sitting on my computer and this idea of seeing my name on a shelf at Barnes and Nobel is slowly drifting away to the point where I’m just focusing on seeing my name on MY shelf when I print this thing out and bind it myself.

You know, for the novelty of it all.

Anyways, it’s this realization that has me thinking…maybe it’s time that I actually make a goal.  Like, I told myself that I wanted to be a published author by the time I was 30, but it wasn’t a goal in that I never really set out to make that happen…I just told myself that would be nice.  But maybe, just maybe, today is the day that I say, “35 will be your year” and I actually MAKE THAT HAPPEN!  Maybe this will be the day when my view of life changes and my ability to be something I really want to be actually transpires into something I’m really proud of.

Or maybe not. 

Maybe today will be like every other day.  If you’re reading this as it is posted, be aware that I actually wrote this on Friday and scheduled it to post at midnight on my birthday, so I’m still sleeping right now.  When I wake up on this beautiful Monday morning (weather forecast for the day is 73 and sunny) it will still be dark.  I will make myself a pot of coffee and turn on my computer to get work started.  Before I have a chance to drink half of my first cup of coffee, my son will probably be awake.  He will be screaming from his crib for “DADA” and I will have to race up the stairs to grab him before he wakes up anyone else, because my wife needs her sleep and the minute my daughter’s wake up, my day really starts.  I’ll get him breakfast and then retreat back to my office.  By this time, my coffee is lukewarm.  I will respond to an email or two before I hear footsteps coming down the stairs.  They’ll be softer steps, which means it’s my eldest.  My beautiful 7-year-old daughter will come into my office, give me a kiss and then plop herself on the couch and turn on the TV.  The sound will fill the house, and since my office doesn’t have a door, it will make it hard for me to concentrate on work or anything else for that matter.  The sound will also wake up her younger sister, who will let out a cry for “DADDY” and then will pound down the stairs, her steps like miniature jumps from step to step.

BANG.

BANG.

BANG.

She’ll whine for a second before climbing into the leather recliner she has claimed for her own (she literally will not let anyone else sit in it, despite the fact that it was originally purchased for my wife when she was pregnant with our son) and then demand that I get her a pillow and a blanket.  My initial thought is to tell her to get it herself, since the blanket and pillow are both at her feet, but I know she’ll refuse and just whine and she’s only 4 once so I might as well baby her now, and so I get up, ice cold coffee now in my cup, and tuck her in.  Now that I’m up, I take the opportunity to dump out the cold coffee (which is about half the cup) and refill it from the pot before slipping back into my office to actually get something done.

But I won’t.  I can’t.  Give it about 3 minutes and that little stair pounder will say, “I’m hungry” and I’ll be up again, getting her breakfast.  Because none of my kids can make things easy, we’ll fight about what she’s going to eat.  She’ll demand chocolate and I’ll tell her “no” probably about 10 times before she finally settles for a pop tart that I will have to cut the crust off of.  Unfortunately, my eldest, who is glued to an episode of Lab Rats, will tell me that she’s “not hungry right now” and I’ll head back to the office.  I haven’t even had a sip of my second cup of coffee yet, mind you.  At this point I’ll probably be checking my blog, scanning the new posts from my blogging friends and setting them aside to read and comment on later and this is the point where my eldest will declare her hunger and I’ll be in the kitchen, fighting with her about food. 

Then my boss starts calling.

The sun is up now and I have the choice to either work and make money to provide for the kids that I created or cast work aside for a dream I had when I was their age and just hope they understand that being broke and having nothing is worth it as long as you are doing what you love.

I’ll work.  By this point my wife will be up and so I will work.

I’ll work and then I’ll homeschool my daughter and then I’ll make dinner (yes, I insist on making dinner myself because it calms me) and then I’ll get those kids ready for bed, read them stories and sing them songs and tuck them in and then I’ll drink a bottle of wine and watch a movie or read a book and tell myself, “I could have written this” and I might cry, or take another anxiety pill because at this point my heart is starting to hurt, and then I’ll walk up the stairs and look in on their sleeping faces and I’ll know that I did what I needed to do for the day.  It may not be what I wanted to do, but it’s what I needed to do.

But maybe today will be different.

34 comments:

  1. So true to life, this post.As a guy with three kids himself, I won't say the demands on your time lessen because they might be into other things that require to become a taxi cab, but when you're actually trying to work should be better because they'll be more self-sufficient. Then, maybe, you can get that novel up to snuff and...gasp...published. Regardless of what happens between now and then, though, just know that you'll probably have another day like this when you turn 40. Hope you finish that coffee before it's cold!

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    1. Thanks Wendell, I knew you'd get this post. It's so weird because I did not intend this to be a 'downer' type post...in fact, I was headed in another direction with it when I started...and then thoughts started flooding and I just kept writing and this is what happened.

      So far, I'm halfway through coffee cup #1 and it's still hot, so maybe things are looking up :-D

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  2. Happy Birthday! Don't know why, I always imagined you were older than I am(I'm 34). Turning the big 3-0 is tough, there's always things you could have done, but didn't get round to. There's still time to be a published author, good luck with that.

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    1. Thanks Chris! I know there is time...it's just one of those things that hit me as I was thinking about it. I guess because most of my friends have already hit 30, and I remember that shuffle they did about 6 months prior to knock stuff off a list, and I've never been like that...and then I thought...GOD, maybe I should have been :-P

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  3. Happy Birthday!

    I really enjoyed your reverie and while it's important to have goals playing the numbers game can be more frustrating and in the end defeating than just letting things progress at their natural pace. If you HAVE to achieve something by the time you're 35 but it takes until you're 36 what's the difference except it's lost some of its flavor because somehow you feel you've missed some arbitrary timeline diminishing the pleasure of it unnecessarily.

    Birthdays can be fun and because of the society we live in necessary for various reasons but really you're just a day older then you were yesterday and a day younger then you'll be tomorrow. The novel will get there and that's the achievement not when it's published.

    Enjoy you day, it sounds like a good one.

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    1. Yes, as much as it isn't always what I 'had in mind' for my day, I really can't complain.

      And you seem to have the same line of thinking that I generally have as well...a day is a day, and when you look at things that way it never really feels as heavy as it could.

      Thanks!

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  4. Happy birthday bro!

    Life is a funny thing. Goals are even funnier. I think sometimes we can get down because we don't attain those goals within a certain period of time. But during that time our lives take different turns that open up an entire new avenue of blessings. My two kids have taken my life into a different direction than I anticipated but I wouldn't change it for the world. They are amazing. And when I weigh them against what I once had in mind, well, there is no comparison. And besides, who says those other goals still won't be reached, right? ;)

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    1. Yup! Like I said, I appreciate and am so happy with where I am in my life, so like you said...I wouldn't change it for the world, regardless of how different it has turned out.

      And one day, maybe one day...I'll get there.

      Thanks :-)

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  5. Wow, I really did think you were in your late 30s! I also tend to struggle with goals but I agree with the philosophy of living each day at a time. I'm sure you'll get around to achieving your writing ambitions, just stay positive and don't lose the faith. Happy Birthday!

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    1. Thanks Shane! I'm taking all of these "I thought you were older" comments as a big compliment.

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  6. Happy Birthday, and welcome to the wonderful world of the 30s. I crossed that totally arbitrary milestone last year, accompanied with all manner of hand-wringing worries, and realized 24 hours later that it really was just another day - I didn't feel any different, or older, or anything like that. Through cultural conditioning we're led to believe in these age markers (21, 30, 40, etc.) as some indication of something larger, but in the end, age really ain't nothing but a number.

    That song lyric "life is what happens when you're busy making other plans" is so fucking true it hurts. Like you with your longing to be a writer, I longed to be a performer when I was younger. Still do. But life moves on at a relentless pace, and it's all too easy to get caught up in the daily struggle to just survive. And this economic climate certainly hasn't made it any easier to take up artistic/creative careers (as if it was easy to begin with)!

    For what it's worth, 30 did light some sort of fire under my ass, and in the past year and a quarter I have done lots of little things that have opened up my life in previously unimagined ways. I'm finding myself far more in (what little I've experienced of) my thirties than I ever did in my twenties. Life experiences don't happen on a predetermined timetable; they can happen anytime, anywhere. Living in the moment is all you can do.

    Okay, that's enough platitudes for one day. Enjoy your day - may it be filled with joy and sweet baked goods!

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    1. Love this comment so much, and thank you! I'm ready to be 'in' my 30's, as you so eloquently put it!

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  7. Happy Birthday friend! I hope your day is wonderful. I hope you publish a novel one day so I can read it, but don't worry about a goal. I was always very leery of doing that. I didn't want to say I want "xx" when I'm 25 or 30. I just want to be happy at the end, that's my only goal.

    I'm also glad to hear my kid is not the only one that demands someone give him a blanket when it's literally at his feet.

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    1. LOL, kids are unreal, but they are my life so I can't help but be ok with it all, you know. And thanks, I have always had that mindset of just 'live it' and 'be happy' because at the end of the day, happiness is really the only thing we can hope to truly achieve, and so that should be the end goal.

      So, like I said, despite having this weight of a goal never truly made or achieved, I'm truly happy with where I am.

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  8. Happy, happy Birthday Drew! Love this heartfelt post of yours and I can relate.

    I'm a decade older but our lives are so different as I have no kids, but it's interesting how we have a similar dream of being a published author! Y'see my late dad was a screenwriter so when other kids wanted to be doctors, lawyers, astronauts, etc. I wanted to be a screenwriter for as long as I could remember. Hey, props to you for having finished several novels! I hope you will save those, you never know where those may lead. I'm still stuck with a novel I started about 5 yrs ago and I don't know if I'll ever finish it. Don't give up your dream, Drew. Hey, some people didn't get to realize what they wanted until later in life. Think about it, Christoph Waltz was an unknown until he won an Oscar when he was 53 for Inglourious Basterds, and there are numerous other examples. So keep the dream alive, we all know you're a terrific writer!

    In any case, I think you lead a charmed life... and you're sooo talented and prolific, it's been inspiring to visit your blog daily and you always have something insightful to say. Keep up the great work my friend, and enjoy your Birthday!!

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    1. Awww, thank you so much! Everyone has been so sweet and inspiring today! I will keep the dream alive...you do the same!

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  9. Happy Birthday!!! I read some of the posts who thought you were much older and had to giggle because I would be pissed:) In a fun way mind you. I celebrated my 20th anniversary of my 30th birthday last year. Don't cast big "I dreamt I would have done "Blank" but instead I am "blank". You are young and full of life even when you don't feel it and life gets in the way. You should take a look at Alex J. Cavanaugh's blog. He is a writer and he started the Insecure Writer's Support group. There are many authors out there who have written, are beginning to write or who have stalled for numerous reasons. Even if you don't write that book this year because of young children, work and other duties, you WILL get it done and realize this dream. They even put out a book to help people get started. This book was done last year to help people out. You may not be able to write this book right now but you will, just have faith in yourself and stop making deadlines in your mind.....that never helps. I have been meaning to write a bio on my mom for years and still have not started...so look at me:) I will do it but I am not there yet and that is how it is to be at this moment. My friend had 3 young kids and it was hard for her to take a pee since they were literally hanging off her legs at one point. Now they are teenagers, one is gone to university and she is working at a time consuming job but we have been able to do things together we couldn't 10 years ago. 30 is fun! Enjoy and relish the moments

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    1. Thanks Birgit! I plan to. This will be a good year :-D

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  10. Happy Birthday, man! Great to get a glimpse into your life. I don't have kids yet, but how demanding and rewarding. Nothing else quite like it, I'm sure. Best of luck to you and your writing. It may be a slow process, but don't let the dream die, man.

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    1. It is the most rewarding and most challenging experience of my life!

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  11. happy birthday, drew! hope you have a fantastic day! and welcome to your 30s - they're not so bad...

    and thank you for such a personal insight into your life. it's been a pleasure getting to know you over the past year and no matter where your life takes you, i wish you continued success and happiness!

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    1. You're too kind, my friend. It's been a real pleasure getting to know you too!

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  12. I just turned 34 this past December.

    I don't have much to say about what happened when I turned 30 other than the fact that I spent much of the year before that day just unraveling as it led to me succumbing to depression. I just think of it as a number now.

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    1. I'm glad that you were able to get through that and look at it for what it is now. My wife is in a similar boat to you were in, for she's been struggling with depression over aging for a while now. I'm hoping she can get through it and see it for what it really is and what it is not.

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  13. Happy Birthday! Thank you for sharing a part of your life; all that really matters is that at the end of the day you're happy, and you're bringing happiness to those that really matter to you. I hope you had a wonderful day and don't give up on the writing!

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    1. "at the end of the day you're happy, and you're bringing happiness to those that really matter to you"

      Hit the nail on the head. Thank you!

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  14. I know I'm late but happy birthday! hope you had a great day but your usual sounds kind of wonderful to me (well it would, if I had patience for children) - you may not have much time to yourself, but hey, you have so many people to love in your life!

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    1. It is rather wonderful. It's not what I pictured and yet it's everything I need and I really wouldn't change it at all! Thank you, Sati :-)

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  15. Happy Birthday, man! I am fairly new to this blog but have enjoyed your wide range of movies. I can relate to the whole goal thing to an extent. I'm not married or have kids, but I do get the whole feeling of wanting to create something. I am 28 and have ambitions to do something in film (thinking director).

    I hope you finally get your novel published. Just remember that 30 isn't the end of the creativity. There are authors out there who didn't have a novel published until their 40s. Just keep on writing for this blog. It's something I can tell you enjoy and you bring other people joy who read their reviews. I am one of them.

    Happy birthday.

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    1. You're too kind, Luke! Thank you for all the kind words regarding my blog. I do love writing here, and I love the interaction with other bloggers, discovering their blogs as well, so I thank you for coming around.

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  16. Great post, Andrew! I love the chance to get to know blog-friends a bit better. Apologies in advance for a gratuitously long comment.

    For what it's worth, when I was your age I had a conversation with a co-worker about my feelings about turning 30 and my stagnant aspirations to be a writer. She was a frustrated artist with 3 kids. She told me "to everything there is a season." We hadn't "failed"or ditched our creative aspirations. With small children in tow, and loads of bills to pay, this just wasn't the time for that part of our lives to flourish.

    Now I'm 48 (!!) and am still in the aspiring writer category. I'm actually O.K. with this, because life has thrown us some insanely difficult stuff in recent years, plus I am happy about the extra time we've spend homeschooling during the past 11 years. As the kids get older, I can really see the benefits -- y'know?

    I'm not suggesting that you should defer your dream as long as I have or that you shouldn't make this a goal. But maybe put a little less pressure on yourself? You sound like an amazing father, and balancing a job, kids, and homeschooling is not easy for anyone, male or female. :-)

    And be sure to give yourself credit for your continuing development as a writer. Blogging is real writing. Your reviews and other posts are brilliant. This is, hands down, one of my favorite blogs on the internet (and I read way too many of them.)

    Similarly, I always found some way to write even though I never published anything or made a career of it. This is partly because it's important to my sense of self. Between that, ongoing life experience, and continuing to read and watch movies, I am a much better writer now than I was at 30 (and I still have a long way to go). Even when your writing career isn't moving forward in an obvious way, you're still growing as a writer. I hope that makes sense.

    I've been trying to follow Stephen King's advice to write just 1000 words a day, which usually requires getting up earlier than the kids. ;-) It's nice to have a little bit of a life of my own that doesn't involve parenting, earning income for the family, or chauffeuring the kids around. *LOL* It does make a difference.

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    1. Thank you so much! I have no issues with 'gratuitously long comments' :-D

      I get what you're saying. I try and remind myself that doing what you love doesn't have to be so rigid and one sided, and that while it is hard, they can live within the same realm as each other, and so while I have to 'set aside' what I love to do, work wise, in order to do what I love, life wise (you know, being a dad), it's ok.

      And thank you so much for your kind words on my blog. I really do love keeping this blog going, and I take a lot of pleasure in writing for it.

      I need to try and adopt the '1,000 words a day' mantra. That may serve me well!

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  17. Happy belated birthday man! (Sorry, I'm always late to these things.)

    Given your schedule, I'm amazed you find time for a movie, blogging, or writing in general. Keep up the awesome work, and don't let go of that dream! I'll get back to you soon on that thing you sent me, by the way. ;)

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    1. Thanks bro. Can't wait to hear what you think :-D

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