Ten Things I Did This Week That Prove I Have Learned Nothing in 50 Years

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1. Forgot to move my car and got a street cleaning ticket.

I know, those of you who don’t live in New York may not know what this is or why it’s embarrassing, but here we have something called alternate side of the street parking, and it’s how car owners organize their lives. You know that you’ll have to move your car once or twice a week, depending where you park it, and so you must plan for this every time you take your car out – or don’t. Because there have been times I chose not to drive somewhere because I knew I’d have a hell of a time parking when I got home from work at midnight on a Monday — Monday night being the worst in my neighborhood of Tuesday, Wednesday, Tuesday-Thursday, and Monday-Thursday spots — so I decided, instead, to take the subway, even thought it added an hour to my commute (I know I’m lucky to have a decent public transportation option when a lot of people don’t, and I do try to use it whenever possible. It’s just that when getting to Greenpoint at 5 am can be either a 20 minute car ride or a 1.5-hour odyssey on the train if everything goes according to plan, and these days it rarely does, one does tend to opt for using the fossil fuels. I’m sorry). You also become obsessed with spots. Even when you’re walking around like a normal New Yorker, you’ll just notice a really juicy one and think, “Ooh, that’s a good spot!” After all those nights of driving in circles and scanning the streets while having to keep your eyes propped open because you’ve already been awake for 16 hours, is it any wonder that your mind becomes trained in this way?

Which is why it’s so ridiculous that I was fifteen minutes late to move my car on Wednesday. I mean, I know all the moves — the temporary double park, the fifteen minute car sit (I actually know people who plan to sit in their cars for the full 1.5 hours of street cleaning twice a week), I even have all the technology, deploying the Best Parking app for both lots and spots, setting alerts for this shit on my calendar, texting my husband to ask/remind him to move it when I’m not there (he finds it funny when I say I’m “reminding” him and it’s the first time he’s heard of it), and the fact that I managed to forget to ask him on this particular Tuesday, but then actually remembered when we got home at 10 pm, despite having had two beet martinis, then made the critical decision to get up at 8 am to move the car before the 9:30 am street clean, instead of doing the desperate night crawl, then completely forgot when I woke up the next day, is just not something that should happen. It’s been a few years since I got a ticket for this, which I guess means I’m doing something right, but as someone who’s lived in NYC for going on 29 years, and had a car for about half that time, it’s still sad.

2. Ate a lot of cheese and ice cream, even though I’m lactose intolerant.

Because turning 50 sucks, and they are delicious. And because I’m lucky to have a spouse who is very understanding.

3. Forgot to bring my mouse to work at my editing job, then bought a mouse and returned it the same day.

Part one – being that forgetful – sounds like something I shouldn’t really be doing for another ten or 15 years. Part two sounds like something I should have stopped doing in my teens, around the time when I learned how dumb it was to try calling the high school office claiming to be my mother to get back my confiscated Walkman (they didn’t buy it for a second). 

For the record, I took very good care of the mouse. I didn’t even eat while working the way I usually do.

4. Walked into one of those huge maps encased in metal and glass on the subway platform while reading my phone. Again.

I first did this some time in 2018, hitting myself squarely in the forehead. This time, I looked up just as I was about to hit the thing, so I hit it with my hand instead. It still hurt. It still felt stupid. 

I can say for a fact that this isn’t just about phone addiction, because I was reading the New Yorker on my phone at the time, and as a kid, I used to try and read books while walking to and from school. So this is really more about love of reading, or perhaps the use of reading as a means of escape, which I absolutely still do. I feel like maybe that’s somehow less immature than walking into something stationary while checking my Instagram for likes or taking a selfie. (For the record, I never take selfies, unless they’re of me reflected in something interesting, where my reflection is just one element of an attempt at being artsy. So there’s that.)

Yesterday, my hand was hurting and I couldn’t remember why. This is the great thing about being old and immature at the same time.

5. Lost to my husband at ping pong and Asteroids, but I did beat him at foosball.

My degree of skill at playing games that require good reflexes is pretty much the same as always: completely random. I often start off doing surprisingly well, then my opponent gets better as playing goes on, because that’s what’s supposed to happen when you remember how to do something, while, if anything, I get worse, because I lose focus and get distracted. If anything, my attention span has gotten shorter as I’ve gotten older, like most of us, because of how technology encourages that. I can’t get through writing this piece without checking my email and text messages and oh look that’s a notification that it’s my turn in Carcassonne…None of this applies to strategy games, oddly enough, which I do seem to improve at over time. Maybe it’s because I don’t have to use my brain and my body at the same time.

You might think the bigger question is, Why were you playing ping pong, Asteroids and foosball on your birthday (because that’s when we played these games)? But at this point you might not, since it kind of fits in with the whole narrative I’m building here.

6. Drank too much.

When I was younger, drinking too much meant getting sick or getting a hangover (rarely, because I was one of those lucky people who had to drink a lot to get either hungover or throw up. I’ve only been sick from drinking or hungover maybe twice each in my life), or, more likely, making an idiot out of myself. That was pretty much the worst thing that happened to me in my younger drinking years, because while I liked being relieved of my inhibitions, of which I have many because I’m a control freak, I very much don’t enjoy the idea of people noticing that I am relieved of my inhibitions, because I’m a control freak. But I can’t even get to any of those points these days, because now, drinking too much means just getting to the point of my acid reflux acting up, which, sadly, or not, happens after far fewer drinks than any of that other stuff. It’s also cumulative: if I drink four days during the week, I can probably get away with feeling okay on the first or second day, but by the fourth day, the jig is definitely up. Of course, this being the week of my 50th birthday, I went out four nights and drank on all of them, and now I feel pretty crappy. Maybe this doesn’t really count for this list, though, since I’ve only had the acid reflux thing for about five years. My body keeps changing as I get older and I’m constantly having to learn new rules about how it’s going to react to stuff. So it’s not 50 years, but five also does seem long enough to have figured this shit out by now.

7. Spent way too much time applying for something I know I’m not going to get (and may not actually want).

When I was younger, I applied to big writing and screenwriting competitions, the kind that everyone applies to, like the Nicholl Fellowship. I never won anything. Then I started getting more scientific about it, and started at what specific contests looked for, and looking for smaller competitions, like at smaller literary magazines, or competitions only for women, or only for women over 40, and started applying for those. I made it to one quarterfinal, and got a couple of nice rejection letters, and I did get some of my essays published in online magazines. I didn’t stop writing (blogging in particular did give me a small amount of instant gratification so I wasn’t going to quit doing that), but when it came to sending my writing out, I felt like I had better ways to spend my time. One of them was making documentaries — but that, of course, meant applying for grants and festivals. I got a few, and, more importantly, got some finished films out of that process that I was proud of, whereas the screenplays never got made, and so that seemed like progress. Then in the past few years I started trying to change careers and applying for editing and teaching jobs. Out of countless applications over several years, I’ve gotten maybe six interviews, but I’ve learned to streamline the process and only do applications that aren’t crazy complicated — especially because it seems like all of the editing jobs want recent college grads who are willing to work stupid hours for $40K a year and don’t care if they have health insurance.

For some reason, recently, I started adding the screenwriting applications back in. I don’t really know why. Maybe I’m hoping the world is actually changing and that people are now going to be more interested in the stuff I write, which is mostly about women, and I do see more women with writing and directing jobs in TV. But you can’t streamline an application that has 42 questions and requires you to upload a completed screenplay and a video of yourself (those of you who are aspiring screenwriters probably know the application I’m talking about because you also spent an absurd amount of time on it). And the worst part is that I probably spent as much time trying to decide whether or not to apply as I did on the actual application. Because I’m just that good at wasting time. And if I did by some miracle get this thing, I’d have to stand up and pitch my project in front of a room full of people, which is basically my worst nightmare — especially now that I’ve experienced a preview of that in the 12 takes I did of the video, and seen every little thing wrong with my word choice, and that annoying thing I do with my chin, and oh my God why can’t I stop blinking?

8. Repeatedly replayed several conversations I’ve had in the past week in my head, thinking about the stupid things I said and what I should have said instead.

I will point out that I did not do this with every conversation I’ve had in the past week, so, again, progress! But since one of those conversations was a Facebook argument about something political, I’m breaking even on this one at best.

9. Decided to write a blog called “Ten Things I Did This Week That Prove I Have Learned Nothing in 50 Years,” and then only came up with eight.

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