Published 2:11 pm Thursday, February 4, 2010

Jessica Sieff: Don’t look back in anger

Tuesday, Jan. 26 I turned 30. And I’d like to say that I am not the sort of person to get all worked up over tedious things like birthdays, but sadly I am not that person.

And I thought I would write about my reflection over this milestone, what I think it means, or is it even worthy of the idea of milestone at all.

Then, after my older brother told me the only thing he noticed as being slightly different since hitting the same benchmark three years ago was a change in music tastes, my heart rose into my throat and I thought maybe I should put together a playlist of the songs so vital to my being that when I close my eyes as they play I can see a quilted blanket of memories, of New York City and my grandfather, the vast landscape of Arizona and oil paints, that stale almost suffocating smell of Lake Michigan’s beaches and the heavenly scent of street vendors on the Upper West Side.

But that was before. Before all 31 candles (one to grow on … I guess) were lit on my cake and it looked as though the entire cake was on fire. And before, from the looks of the pictures, the heavily candled cake came this close to sending my hair up in flames as well.

It’s not like I feel I’ve lost all the time in the world and tomorrow it’s all over and I’ll never get to do all the things that I’ve yet to do and want to – like join a roller derby team, go to medical school, become a world class surgeon, get a gig as presidential speech writer, get a gig as press secretary, rule my own planet, learn not to be afraid of large bodies of water, birds or frogs, get fluent in three or four different languages and live a double life as a international double agent for the CIA.

I have time for all of that.

Coupled with my dark and twisty tendencies when it comes to life I’m not so shallow as sentimentality and I’m a bit deeper than nostalgic.

I’m a mental hoarder.

Inside my mind are snapshot images and audio files, short home movies and scraps of thought and observation.

They’re stacked on top of future goals and ambitions and things that lay in waiting.
It’s arbitrary, maybe.

In preceding weeks, I’d seen it come and go in Facebook posts and photo uploads with numbered candles on other people’s cakes, candles in the shape of a three and a zero. A nonchalant recognition of its existence.

Familiar faces I used to pass in fluorescent lit hallways, the bodies filling the stools at the bar – all of them getting it, like a bad case of H1N1.

Maybe it’s not supposed to feel like a big deal.

But it is to me.

And I make no apologies for that.

So instead of spitting out all the deep introspection into what I think it means to be 30, I think I’m going to keep that for me. Because, likely, I’ll get a lot of people telling me it’s not a big deal anyway. Most of those people will be well into their 30s, 40s or 50s or 29.
Throughout it all, I will say, I’ve questioned my own accomplishments and my own insecurities.

And there are plenty of questions and insecurities to come.

Especially when just a few days before, as I thought heavily on my career and my ambitions and goals and beat myself up over my own sense of feeling wholly unaccomplished, I received a delightful phone call from a reader who chalked up my difference in perspective to rage.

Kinda like how all those Republicans at last night’s (Jan. 27) State of the Union address refused to clap or stand or even crack a smile, thinking it made them look serious when it really just made them look childish.

Sorry, I just couldn’t resist.

Call it age rage.

Jessica Sieff