I turned thirty-five this week. Tuesday the 19th, to be exact. It was a pretty low-key birthday: a couple of friends took me out for lunch and then we went to see the Chihuly show. My boss only called me once to ask me where I was. “I’m at my birthday lunch,” I said curtly. I wasn’t happy about my birthday, and I wasn’t happy about being hunted down on my birthday, either.
When asked what I wanted to do that evening, I said I just wanted to get in my pajamas and watch television. So we did just that–after picking up a half baked Zachary’s stuffed spinach and mushroom pizza.
While I was zoning out on the couch that evening, the smell of warm pizza crust in the air and the taste of tomatoes still lingering in my mouth, my mom called me and said, “You don’t sound too happy.” Nope. I wasn’t happy to turn thirty-five. Despite common perception, I do not have a fear of aging. I have a fear of thirty-five. The year when doctors say fertility decreases in a woman (yes, I know it’s not EXACTLY thirty-five, but they have chosen the age thirty-five). I can imagine my body now–going OFF.A.CLIFF. She giggled, but in a way that didn’t offend me.
Men come up to me and say, “It’s a great age!” I nod and smile and say, “Thank you for wishing me happy birthday.” But a part of me stares blankly at them, wondering what would happen if men experienced a fertility cliff at the age of thirty-five. What if they had a significant decrease in sperm count/production at the age of thirty-five? (Same thing goes for menopause, I’m sure–what if they actually become infertile at one point in their lives).
My husband replied, “The world would be a significantly different place if that were to occur.”
(BTW, the best remark I got was from a man who when I said I wasn’t happy about turning thirty-five, responded, “I had a friend who hit menopause at 28. She ran out of eggs! So you never know!” UGGGGGGGGH. I *think* he meant to say that age is arbitrary. I THINNNK).
It’s hard for me to describe what I’m feeling to the general public when it comes to thirty-five/The Cliff. Ten years I’ve tried having a kid–and now it’s going to be…MORE difficult. I don’t want to hear about the miracle cases where women have succeeded in having kids. Because the reality is that they are the minority of outcomes. There is a large number of women who suffer silently, or at the very least, do not share their stories–the ones who did try but never did have their own biological children.
So the door has closed a bit further. It is not all the way shut, of course, but it has closed just enough to discourage me.
And so I also struggle with writing my novel–because in a way, my novel is my child. And it sure has a gestational period that lasts much longer than nine months (oh, if only a novel’s gestational period WERE nine months!). I’m trying to realize my dreams. Maybe I’m not trying enough, though. I often wonder about that.
I am exhausted this week–there was a trip to L.A. and back, and then a trip to the mountains–most of it executed while following a U-Haul truck full of my mother-in-law’s things. I saw a couple of friends in L.A.–the best part about the trip, really. But mostly, it was an exhausting journey. Punctuated by the arrival of thirty-five, one of my “scary ages.” (Oh yes, there are MORE to come).
I came home and have tried to write–but my brain is mush. I’ve recovered from my stroke–but the one thing that remains is that once I get tired, my brain turns OFF. I mean all the way off–my memory deteriorates. The only solution to all of this is rest and sleep.
That’s kind of why I’m writing a blog post now: I got up and tried to write my novel, but I was just too damn tired. So whatever, I figured I’d blog, at least get all this off my chest.
Oh and speaking of writing–I still have that sublet at the “Writing Place.” I got up early each morning last week and got myself over to San Francisco to write. I’d write (or stare at the wall) for three hours each morning before heading into work. Some mornings I’d take the BART in and just revel in the walk. Some mornings I’d drive. It was entirely pleasant. And I discovered that writers like to take summer vacations and also do not wake up early in the morning. Because the place was deserted until about 10am when a couple of people would trickle in.
I didn’t get a ton of writing done, but I got words on the page.
This week, not so much writing–between all that traveling and my exhaustion. I decided to experiment this morning and try to write from home in the morning instead of going in to the office. I’m writing now–in the office upstairs, the room I’d originally set aside to write. So I’m hopeful that this will be possible, go forward (after all, the sublet isn’t for all eternity–it ends at the end of the month). But I can’t write if anyone else is home. And miraculously, my dogs are quiet right now–usually they’re howling at me to come downstairs if they know I’m home.
And it’s hard to write with howling critters.
I’m keeping my fingers crossed–I really need time and space. I feel like things are just creeping up on me and I can’t take enough of a stand to carve out my own time and space. What does this say about how much I value my life?
Anyway. Boring post. Just a lot of rambling. That’s the junk that’s in my head, crowding my thoughts.
It’s a beautiful day outside–the fog is burning off, revealing azure skies. The tomatoes are ripening in my garden. I’m sure the day will turn. I just need a lot more sleep. And then I can write some more, try to make that goal of finishing a complete draft of my novel by the end of the year.
p.s. some not awful news…I got a rejection letter from the Cimarron Review. It was handwritten (and on an entire 8.5 x 11 piece of paper!) and said, “Dear ———- Our Senior Fiction Editor admired your work; sorry it didn’t work out this time. Please do try us again.” So on that front, the door didn’t open all the way, but it did open a crack.