Thursday, July 21, 2005

How to anesthesize turning 30

I'm about one week into being thirty. It has the damndest way of sneaking up on me: I could be at a shopping mall looking for a good Wagner CD (or Vanilla Ice, whatever), and I see myself through some kind of objective third eyeball: "There's a thirty-year-old homeowner in ragged jean shorts, needs a haircut, glasses are dirty, and he's hanging out at a mall. Ugh." Or "Look at that thirty-year-old homeowner pausing to glance at new Batman Begins action figures. How old does he think he is?"

Then, there's also, "Look at that thirty-year-old homeowner lurching down the back alley. You'd think he'd be able to tell that diluting whiskey with vodka isn't really dilution at all." Okay, that one I'm more comfortable with.

So, summer is dwindling, and as always, I'm clutching on to it like a drowning man onto a floating plank of wood. And one of the things I swore to accomplish: some kind of memorandum on July 16.

The party was awesome. Originally, I had a more comprehensive, column-type story to tell about it, but truth be told, some of my memories of that evening are a bit hazy, so this will have to do. I remember I drank nothing but Black and Tans.

I remember someone commenting, "It's his party--it's been ten years since the last one and it'll probably be twenty until the next one, so he can do what he wants." Cool! I thought, a total excuse for anarchic debauchery! but I don't remember if that led to anything illegal.

I remember finishing my first cigar in years with my brother. I remember a lot of old friends showing up. I remember a lot of people calling my name in a way that suggested comraderie ("Hey! Hey get over here!") instead of how they usually call it at work ("Hey you! Get the fuck over here! You messed up again").

I remember that, for an Irish pub, they played a lot of eighties rock. I wonder if that was by request.

I remember getting a floating candle in a pitcher of beer. (Kim would later complain that the staff treated her request akin to one for a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow--apparently, at this pub, they don't do pitchers, and it's uncouth to ask.)

I remember I had a speech (of sorts) planned, which would have entailed digging up a list of things an old health teacher told us to write down that we'd want accomplished by the age of 30. My list ran like this:
Be a full-time novelist. (Nope.)
Be well-adjusted and stable. (Nope.)
Be surrounded by people who love me. (I guess...)
Be healthy. (Oy, my back is killing me.)
Be confident. (Hey, we're having some time now...aren't we?)
Be athletic. (Oy, my beer gut is killing me.)
I remember signing an outrageous bar tab, having trouble keeping the pen steady in my hand, thinking, I'm lovin' this.

I remember getting back to my place, and eventually seeing five or six complete strangers in my living room. I remember one of them (and he must have been a stranger--no friend would do this) suggesting that they all apply makeup while I was passed out. I remember the other strangers (again--no way they were friends) laughing and looking for lipstick and mascara. I remember staggering to the second bedroom and pulling a blanket over my head.

I also remember the furtive wakeup the next morning. That, for those of you with livers healthier than mine, is when you come to consciousness, afraid to move for fear of discovering a hangover, afraid to get up for fear of learning of bad behavior. I came outside, looked around cautiously. Kim was at the breakfast table, eating cereal, looking a little haggard herself but not exactly brimming over with wrath. Little by little, I relaxed. Everything's fine, I got away clean, is more or less what I'm thinking, when the trash is dropped off outside. Trash cans clang, engines grind, brakes squeal, and all I can think of is, Oh shit, my head is about to explode. I regained poise a minute later, to see Kim regarding me with a look that was three parts concern mixed with two parts weary exasperation. "Do you even know how many you had last night?"

"It was worth it," I said. "I regret nothing." And then we were off to breakfast.

So that's that, another milestone in the life of yours truly. The rest of my time has been more or less spent straightening out this place, catching up on my reading, watching crappy movies, seeing more friends and family, and mourning Bush's appointment to the Supreme Court (as are we all). You wouldn't think picking up a new bed, grilling material, nightstands, bathroom necessities and what not would occupy so much time, but listen, when you make a trip to even Bed Bath & Beyond, it takes a minimum of ten minutes just to find a parking space, let alone purchasing anything. So while I can't complain for lack of relaxation, it's still good to be done with all that crap.

Friday, July 15, 2005

It's official: I'm in my thirties. My twenties are far behind me, and from now on, when someone asks me, "What did you do in your twenties," I'll actually have to answer. Damnation. The following things are older than me (nothing new, but entering a new decade gives one pause):

Seventies music
the term "mojo"
transformational grammar and syntax

The following things are younger than me:

grunge rock
GWBasic programming and DOS operating systems
cellular phones
Dallas' surprise series finale
Remedial level secondary classroom Socratic seminars

Ugh. Ugh ugh ugh.

And yet, it doesn't feel that bad. My aunt and uncle told me: "Being thirty doesn't hurt." Dewey tells me, "It gets easier. Or so I've heard. Because we'll be dead soon."

Still, when you reach a milestone like this, the answer to the question "Who's the man" becomes even more evident, does it not?

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Settling in...

This must be a first in the annals of geek history: blogging from my balcony. It's a sunny, breezy day, and the Janesville, WI trip is a few hours away. Last night, while what few friends I have were out partying, attending the Tom Petty concert or lighting fireworks in their front yards, yours truly was grunting and swearing while filling a cheap waterbed so I wouldn't have to sleep on the floor for a record-breaking third night in a row. Of course, now that I'm about to go camping, the whole task seems sort of pointless, unless, if for no other reason, I'll now have a bed to actually come home to.

I can feel elements of every nagging parent, grandparent, friend's parent(s), aunt and uncle struggling to break free. Certain waspish accents are creeping into remonstrations towards any company I've had lately: "Don't carry that over the carpet!" "Wipe the counter down!" "Wipe your feet on the mat, asswipe!" and "It's a six pack and a twenty dollar cover to get in the door." Amazing what home ownership can do to you in a scant seventy-two hours. Like turning to the dark side, I would imagine. Years ago, we made fun of people who felt tne need to clean up during a party. Years ago, we swore we'd never be so anal as to try and make vaccuum marks symmetrical on the carpet. Now, look at me. I made my bed right when I got up thie morning. Ugh.

Then again, there are still boxes and crap all over the place. A responsible homeowner wouldn't blow it all off for a day to camp, fish and drink in Wisconsin, right? Damn right. Just call me Peter Pan.