I remember when I turned 30. I felt old, but at least I felt I had worked out a lot of my shit. Then I turned 35. I felt significantly older (somehow, being smack in the middle of my 30s meant more on an existential level than I had anticipated), but at least I had worked out way more than I thought I’d worked out at 30 – that 30-year-old me, she was NUTS for thinking she knew stuff. 40: the same, but even more so, because it was 40.
Now, at 44, officially in my mid-40s, I have to face the fact that I officially don’t know anything about my life or where it’s headed. So I get to feel both stupider and older – and less cute, or at least that’s the general opinion of the world at large, trust me, I feel you all checking me out less than you used to. Not everything attached to me works the way it’s supposed to any more either, I’ve got these knees and this back and this repetitive-stress-fucked neck and shoulder from spending too much of the past 20 years on my laptop and, now, my phone. And some things, apparently, like my ovaries, don’t really work at all any more.
TMI? Well, welcome to midlife, or at least my midlife. I’m not sure how yours is going (if it is going yet, perhaps you’re just oh so excitedly anticipating it), but it seems as if I’m going through a perfect storm of the type of crap a woman my age can go through – the perfect shit storm, as it were. Now, I’m not about to go get a fancy car or some young blond arm candy or eye tucks and cheek implants in the interest of trying to somehow wrestle back the hands of time. I am feeling a little worn and in need of refurbishing, but I’m not an investment banker or Madonna, and more importantly, I just refuse to go there. The central hard part for me is that I’ve stuck with this road I’m on in terms of my career and life choices just long enough that I don’t know if I can change now, but I’m still not ready to say THIS IS IT, the big IT, what my life will look like from now on. Hell no.
It’s not like this is a big revelation to me or anyone else. I’ve become steadily more disillusioned with the business that I’m in, the film business, for the past 20-odd years that I’ve been in it. Okay, that’s not really true, I think I kind of knew it sucked from the very beginning, because I considered dropping out of film school at least three times before my career even officially started, then I considered taking a real job when I got out of film school (my part time office job in financial management offered me $30K a year plus a full business wardrobe to come work for them), then I tried a couple of alternate careers along the way to now. But ultimately, I chose to be a freelancer and work in film production, doing location sound for a pittance (at first – it’s not entirely pitiable now, and as a union member I do have health insurance) in order to stay in, or close to, the work that I loved, or told myself I did. When you almost give up something that many times and don’t, it starts to feel almost providential that you’re still with it – like that man you just can’t quit, or the bad penny that keeps turning up, or the monkey’s paw…are you getting the sense that I have some negative associations with my chosen line of work? But anyway, I don’t believe in that fate nonsense any more. The only thing being stuck where I am means to me is that I opted, time and again, not to change things. I can’t really regret the experiences I’ve had because of my choice to be a filmmaker and have this peripatetic freelance lifestyle, many of which have been fantastic – or at least enjoyable when they weren’t fantastic, and at least blog-worthy when they weren’t enjoyable – but I can still wonder if it’s ultimately led me to a dead end.
Look, I know it could be worse. I’m not dying – at least, not any faster than your average 44-year-old – and I do basically have my health, aside from the occasional bike accident, and persistent acid reflux, and all that other stuff I mentioned above. I’m not about to be evicted or in horrible debt, and I’m absolutely not alone, because I have a great boyfriend and family and friends. So I haven’t been placed on the curb, at least not yet. Maybe I should just shake this off and be happy instead of reflecting on everything and turning it into dark, navel-gazing commentary as I am wont to do.
Naaaaaah, where’s the fun in that? Have a seat and I’ll tell you all about it.