Turning 50 in 2017: A mid-life Constitutional Crisis

In just over a month, I’ll be 50 years old. I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately, trying to decide how I feel about it, and whether or not I even need to feel anything about it.

Obviously I don’t want to stand in the middle of my life (more or less), turn around and look at all the mistakes I’ve made, and get hung up on my “failures” as a human being. I’m putting “failures” in quotation marks because (with an exception or two) they really aren’t failures. It’s just me following my own weird little path that looks different from the path a lot of other people follow. When I get hung up on being a failure I end up paralyzed and unable to do anything, so what’s the point of that?

Instead, I stand in the middle of my life and look forward. What do I want the rest of it to be? (Assuming I have some say in the matter.)

I decided that I wanted this year to be meaningful, but honestly that wasn’t a decision that I needed to make — that was taken care of for me on November 8th, 2016. It’s already shaping up to be a terrifying and momentous time for the country (and by extension the world) and I have to do my part to keep the nightmare at bay. The actions required are way outside my comfort zone, and will be a nice separate layer of anxiety on top of the layers of anxiety and horror and despair over what is already happening. But I have to get over it and do my best or I won’t be able to look myself in the mirror for whatever years of life I have left. My discomfort is small potatoes right now. I participated in the Chicago Women’s March, which was a really extraordinary experience. It would be great if we never had to do it again, but we will. I’ve made many phone calls to my Senators & Rep (who are solid Dems, so don’t need persuasion as much as thanks and support.) I’m still figuring out how best to proceed with this ongoing situation. One thing I did was create this design, which I’m selling on RedBubble, and donating all proceeds to the ACLU and Planned Parenthood. I use the skills I have.

But I also want this year to be fun. It will be essential to surviving the other garbage that fills 98.9% of my life. I’ve been to two concerts already this year (Tortoise and Mogwai) and have tickets for Sigur Ròs, U2, and Lady Gaga in the books. Ticket purchases for Tortoise (again) and The Revolution are coming soon. I was supposed to see Adam Ant last week, but for the first time in over 30 years of concerts, I was denied entry to a show because I had a camera. A non-professional, non-fancy camera. I’m still kind of boggled by it, but as problems go, it’s obviously a great one. Two weeks ago I spent the night at Quimby’s Bookstore for their annual Zlumber Party, where I got a good chunk of writing done on my Barney Miller zine. Two weeks from now, I’ll be attending Ladies’ Rock Camp which will result in me standing on a stage and playing a song in a band that will have only existed for 3 days, which terrifies me to my core. I’ll be there with two friends, which will alleviate some fear, but definitely not all of it. I have plans to visit a friend in Colorado in March and do some hot-springs-soaking. I’m contemplating a new tattoo. The calendar is filling with exciting adventures to combat the daily shitshow.

I had a vague dream last year that I was going to be able to do a backbend by the time I turned 50. Well, I didn’t do anything about it so that’s not going to happen. Maybe it will happen before I turn 51. I need to make a concrete plan. I’ve been working extra hard on the self-love-trying-not-to-hate-my-body-anymore & surprisingly it’s working more often than it doesn’t. I have some middle-aged aches and pains, and I’d like to lose another 30-ish pounds. It might happen, it might not. I’ve kept 30 pounds off for going on three years and that’s not nothing. After Election Day I decided that getting in better shape was essential. I might have to run from a Nazi, or punch a Nazi, or walk for a really long time across a dystopian hellscape, or loot supplies from the abandoned Costco. So I started going to a circuit/crossfit-style exercise class. It’s awful, but I keep going back. The best thing about it is while I’m doing it I literally CANNOT think about anything else, so it’s a good distraction, also endorphins are fun. I’m five days away from finishing Yoga With Adriene’s 31-Day Yoga Revolution. If I was a better person I would’ve finished it on January 31st like I was supposed to, but I was sick for a few days and also life happens. Regardless, I’ve done yoga more consistently so far this year than I ever have before. I’m definitely stronger now than I was on January 1st. I have a weight goal I want to hit by my birthday. It’s very possible.

But — I don’t take anything for granted. There are always those lingering worries that my health will take a turn again. It’s been seven years since my surgery and *knocks on all available sources of wood* things have been very stable since then. However if the repeal of the ACA goes through as soon as the Republicans would like it too, I’ll have the scarlet letter of “pre-existing condition” slapped on me and might be stuck at this job for longer than I want to be, because I without insurance I would be in deep trouble very soon.

But really, all of this is speculative fiction, because all there is is today. I might not even make it home from work tonight, let alone to 50. Here’s hoping.

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Turning 50 in 2017: A mid-life Constitutional Crisis

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