A Severe Case of the 30-Somethings

26 03 2010

When the show Thirtysomething was popular, I was drooling over Fred Savage in The Wonder Years and Neil Patrick Harris in Doogie Howser.  But now I can watch the first season of Thirtysomething available on the ever-addictive Hulu. But shows that were good in the past are never quite as good later on. The clothes are all wrong and no one has a cell phone attached to their brain stem and there’s just a huge cheese factor. And you ask yourself—did people really talk that way in the 80’s?  Didn’t they know how to write good dialogue?  I started to watch it, but I couldn’t even finish one episode. Seriously boring. The big issues were being a stay at home mom, the woman wanting to go back to work, finding a baby sitter that was good enough and the distance between the friends with kids and the friends without kids. Okay so?

I’ve been watching this new Canadian show Being Erica–another show obsessed about the never-ending melodramatic effects of being 30. Erica is seeing a therapist that sends her back in time to learn from and even fix past regrets. It always has a happy philosophical message at the end. I don’t think the show will last very long, because it’s just too damn happy. Her life doesn’t seem messed up enough to deserve traveling back in time to fix things. It’s not like she was a heroin addict or joined a cult or anything.

How many shows or stories are about characters struggling in their 30’s? It’s not that 30 is old. But it’s where you start to notice gravity and time. Maybe the problem is that we’re coping with 30 with a 25 year old mentality.

Thirty-something should be an official medical diagnosis.

DSM IV Thirty-Somethings

8 (or more) of the following symptoms have been present during the same 2-week period and represent a change from previous functioning; at least two of the symptoms must be   9,10,11, or 14. Must be between age 30-39.

1. Frequent traveling body aches

2. Generalized varied vague complaints that are unverifiable by any testing

3. Feelings of inadequacy

4. Sensation that time is racing past

5. Generalize fatigue, not relieved by sleep

6. Inability to sleep in due back pain and/or internal body clock

7. Inability to consume the same quantity of alcohol as in previous years

8. Lack of motivation to party beyond 9pm

9. Appearance of looking like someone’s parent

10. Denial that you look as old as your friends who are exactly the same age

11. Anxiety about being carded less frequently for alcohol

12. Intense need to accomplish or nurture something (pet, project, child)

13. Disgust with current fashion trends (clothes, music), because they’re not what they  used to be

14. Feeling that you can’t wear something because it’s not age appropriate

15. A strange sense of nostalgia for the past

16. Realization that you’ll never be rich or famous

17. Manifestation of real disease processes (arthritis, hypertension, elevated cholesterol etc.)

If 30-something was a legitimate diagnosis, I could call into work, and they would know that it was highly contagious to other people the same age. They would insist that I stay home for a least 2 weeks—take an extended vacation. It would be obvious I was really sick and not just making it up.

And it would hold up as a legitimate defense in court. Not-guilty by reason of the 30-Somethings. Isn’t that really why some people drown their children or murder their spouse? Or start smoking crack? Maybe.


Remembering a Rainbow Wedding in a Parking lot

9 02 2010

My friend was having a rainbow wedding under a circus tent in the Holland Civic Center Parking lot. The couple smiled even though there wasn’t enough chocolate covered strawberries and cake to go around. The person in charge of the food had actually been eating it. Nadia with the eyes had started to eat their wedding cake.  But it couldn’t have been now. The vending area for the farmer’s market hadn’t been built yet. And I was wearing some purple sailor style dress from 1992—which I had owned then, but has long ceased to exist in my wardrobe. God, I wish I could get into that dress. So we were all younger and thinner with some anachronisms and distortions. I brought Eva as my date. Eva, a coworker of mine. I  think maybe it was really Sylvia wearing Eva’s skin so that I wouldn’t get too scared.

When I woke up, I called my friend. Okay, so I Facebooked her first, because I’m lame like that. And she said she was moving. Someone else asked if it was Wisconsin. And she said yes. Then I browsed her most recent pictures. She had spent Christmas with a strange new woman from Wisconsin. The last thing I had committed to memory was a possible woman of interest in Arizona. But that might be me just remembering wrong or making shit up or just not paying attention.

Did you know there’s a place called Onalaska? Not InAlaska. Or ThruAlaska. But OnAlaska. That’s where she’s going at the end of July. She’s fallen in love. They camp and hike and play WorldWar Craft. I’m happy for her. A little sad that she’s leaving Michigan, but I only see her twice a year now, so how can I really be that sad. Maybe I’m sad that I’m not really that sad.

Seems like I called her at least once a week or maybe more when Emery died. Then when Sylvia and I were fighting. There were many potlucks and Cranium game nights at her house. But I broke up with my girlfriend. She broke up with hers. Then when I met Jacks, I had to be up Jacks butt 24/7, and the world disappeared. She moved. I moved. The whole space time continuum stretches and evolves.

Sometimes when you meet a person, you hold them in your memory as when you first met them. You forget that 10 years passes and that people get older, kids grow up. You don’t look for a really long time. Or you don’t pay attention. You expect people to be where you left them. But you’re not where they left you either.

Her birthday is coming up in at the end of February. She told me she was going to be 46 this year. What?  I counted on my fingers. I must have lost a few years. Her daughter that I met when she was 10 is now 20. I stopped counting when she was in high school. So when I see her in my mind walking through her life–being accepted into a Medical PhD program and contemplating marriage—she’s still 16. I know she owes me another ice skating date, and I never sent her a care package her freshman year.

People aren’t where we leave them. We’re constantly moving, changing, growing.

Last week Mom was cleaning the basement and found a picture of me tucked between the school files. It’s a rapidly deteriorating Polaroid. I’m wearing a wrinkled bridesmaids dress with puffy sleeves and a beret that clearly does not go with the dress. I’m holding a little purse. Beneath the dress, you can see my regular everyday shoes. It’s 1980-something. But other than that. I don’t know where. I don’t know when. My parents never owned a Polaroid.

 “See,” Mom said. “You don’t remember everything.”

She handed the photo to Dad.

“She could easily be 14 there,” he said.

“She’s not 14! She doesn’t have any boobs. Do you see boobs in that picture?” Mom pointed.

 I think Dad is one of those people who sees a person only once, and that’s what he remembers forever. He sees me at one age. I’ll be the same age, no matter what. Clearly, I was not 14 in the picture. I was still wearing my hair in the ever-so-unpopular bowl cut—definitely the humiliation of grade school.