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41

Close-up of a chocolate-frosted cake with three lit candles.

Didn’t find a cake with 41 candles. Didn’t want to set my blog on fire. Photo: Wikipedia Commons http://bit.ly/1IDy3Hu

What a year. Now firmly ensconced in middle age, I found myself living the life of a 25-year-old, as I traipsed across the continent to start a new life as a graduate student in Fairbanks, Alaska. Many times, both before and during, I doubted my ability to pull it off. But so far, so good.

I’ve seen my writing career grow as publishing credits accumulate. It’s really a humbling sort of thing, to know that people want to read about you and learn from you. It gives me hope as I work through the beginning stages of my thesis, my first earnest attempt at writing a book. Writing gives me meaning in life.

The early forties are an odd time. Some of your peers are having babies while others are becoming grandparents for the first time. It’s always been a great regret that I could never get my life situated so that I could raise children. It was the one thing I wanted most out of life. But writing helps me to pass on what I’ve learnt to others, just as I would if I had children.

Despite the regret, I like my life. Sometimes I don’t feel like I do. Sometimes the conjoined twins of depression and anxiety knock me flat on my feet. Sometimes they do it literally, keeping me bedfast.

But I know I am loved. I know that I have people who care about me. I know that I ended up in the graduate program best suited for me. I know that I’m on a positive trajectory, even if that trajectory has speed bumps and pitfalls along the way.

 

40

At this time ten years ago, when I turned 30, I had just moved to a new city. In the city I’d moved from, most of my friendships were pretty new. I moved very suddenly because I had to; my opportunities had completely closed up. So I settled into a big city to start a new life. The world was so big and fresh and wonderful. Life begins at 30, I declared.

Today I turn 40. I’m about to move to a new city. In the city I’m leaving, many of my friendships are pretty new (at least judging from my party RSVP’s). I am moving with plenty of advance notice because I get to. The city I have been living has opened up possibilities to move on. So soon I will be settling into a little town to start a new life. The world is so big and fresh and wonderful.

Life begins at 40.

39

Tomorrow I turn 39. The celebration has already begun. Yesterday, I treated myself to Glam Doll Donuts. Someone once gave me half of a maple-bacon doughnut from Glam Doll, and it was so tasty I vowed to go to the actual bakery. I had the très leches doughnut and the cherry cheesecake doughnut. Their doughnuts are dense and hearty–very tasty, but two easily filled me up. These are much more like full-blown desserts than something you scarf down at breakfast–definitely a knife-and-fork affair. I’m going back again sometime.

This morning I had a surprise: I was treated to the Taco Taxi food truck on Lake Street, just a few blocks from the brick-and-mortar location. Two tacos al pastor and a lime Jarritos–a very tasty surprise indeed. And tonight my friends and I are meeting at a local creamery for some lovely ice cream. I scheduled my party for tonight because someone else had scheduled another, completely unrelated party for tomorrow, and I honestly would rather have gone to that party than anything I would have been able to throw.

So with a birthday I can’t help but be reflective over the past year. This past year, I really hunkered down in the life of a student and a writer. I picked up a few publishing credits, and I started taking this blog more seriously. I also decided that I would go on to graduate school. This fall, I will be preparing my applications for an MFA in Creative Writing. With any luck, I’ll get into one of them.

It was a year largely devoid of romance. I wish it were otherwise, but you can’t have everything you want.

I made a number of new friends, especially at school, yet I’m socializing less than I have in years. Again, something I would rather see change for the coming year. Fortunately, unlike romance, I have a little more say in the issue. I know of places to plug in socially; I’m just not making the effort. So I need to make the effort this coming year.

Ah, the coming year. It’s going to be very busy with the applications. There’s a chance that upon my 40th birthday, I will be at or en route to a much different location. Whilst I’m applying to the University of Minnesota (honestly, I’d be daft not to), I’m also applying to locations across the map, as far off as Fairbanks, Alaska, and even to two schools outside the United States. After I’ve submitted my applications, it’s completely out of my hands where I end up, or even if I end up anywhere. In the meantime, I just have to keep doing what I’m doing, the best I know how.