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Friday, July 14, 2006

My Bad Taste In Music (The Y2K Period)

This week I turned 26 years old.

Have you ever noticed how woman always ponder what their mother's were doing, what stage of life they were in, when they were their age? I catch myself thinking, "when my mother was 26, she was married with a toddler." **COMMENCE VIOLENT SHUDDERING NOW**

There is nothing very exciting about turning 26 to me. At 25, atleast there was the roundness of it being the quarter-century mark, the square of 5 (if that statement doesn't close the case on my mathematic OCD, I don't know what does), and the perfect mid-point between raging hormonal college student and working-stiff adult. At 25, my friend Gem and I got together, rented a lake house for a weekend, hired a DJ, threw down 5 kegs and a margarita machine and invited 150 of our closest buds (50% of whom I'd never met) to party like porn-stars all night. It was shamelessly recapturing our youthful drinking days in the most blatantly obvious way. I spent a large portion of that evening vomiting in the sand and rolling in it, but that is a whole different set of lessons learned by my newly-matured self. There was craziness and memory lapses and glow sticks and customized party koozies!

This year is the first year I can say I was a little sad it was my birthday. I know, how selfish is that? But it's the first time I've really FELT my age. I've always felt younger, especially in an office surrounded by middle-age men, but as new hires and interns come in, a new fun generation of college grads, I have been forced to come face to face with the idea that maybe I'm not the gloriously naive spring chicken I was once. I mean that in the best way possible - innocence was bliss! I feel like 26 is the slow descent to 30, which I think for most women sounds like a daunting age. Thirty seems like there should be grand accomplishments attached to that number, along with life progress, and drinking scotch straight. I am definitely in a funk right now in the sense that I'm happy, but it seems like so much around me is changing, amongst friends, family and myself, that I'm trying to slow down and come to grips with it. Each decision I encounter seems to hold a sense of enormity and urgency in it.

More often than not, the decisions also carry a financial element. In my family, I was always the "spender." It was common to throw pointed jokes about my shopping addiction around, usually in contrast to my mother's UNBELIEVABLE efforts towards thriftiness and frugality. The guilt trips my mother used on me about spending money were herculean in nature, and based on the fact that her family is from Poland and lived through THE WAR, I was given the Siberia story more than once in my lifetime. Don't even THINK about just sitting and watching TV; if you're not clipping coupons, you're committing crimes of a wasteful nature, and THAT will not be tolerated. My natural reaction to this behavior as a newly independent woman of 22 with newly acquired job, was to head straight for Neiman Marcus and buy THE purse, the Louis Vuitton I had secretly lusted over for years from a far. What better way to prove my financial independence and worth to the world, right?

I can't help but sadly laugh at myself, only 4 short years ago. I think I wore that purse a handful of times before I sold it 2 years later on ebay. It was too small for daily use (I prefer to travel like a bag lady) and for some reason, it just wasn't as fun as I thought it would be, once the purse was actually in my possession. It boggles my mind that I spent money like that, when now, I have to write a pros-cons list in order to justify a new pair of $80 running shoes. And maybe that is why I feel my age now. This year I took on more responsibilities, and I'm slowly coming to grips with what those responsibilities mean and how they impact my future. It's overwhelming sometimes, and I find myself having fits of anxiety over it. If I'm looking at 22 and laughing at my carefree attitude now, when I'm 30, think how much harder it will be, because I just KNOW I'm going to be looking at 26 the same way.
In an effort to combat the funk, I am trying to look at aging in a more positive way. Even if I can't relive the unburdened days of my early twenties, I can be content with the fact that I no longer listen to music like Hanson, and I still have to drink my scotch with a little water in it.


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