Em oi! #398: Happy Birthday, Your Majesty


Pretend I got this up on Saturday for my birthday and not four days late. Thank you.

The idea that you shouldn’t care about your age is about as deeply ingrained in our culture as the idea that you should–check out the phrase “age ain’t nothin’ but a number” next to Nicole Kidman getting botox. I think it was my mother’s particular defiance of age-related stereotypes that rubbed off on me most of all. When she turned 50, someone sent her some black balloons, and she called up the flower shop that delivered them and gave them a stern talking to.

I can’t claim the idea of the princess/queen dichotomy in American womanhood is entirely something I came up with–I believe it was in one of the books I read before I got married, like One Perfect Day, where the author remarked that it is a very particular fantasy to want to be a princess (a childish position of little responsibility) rather than the queen (an adult position with lots of associated power). Of course, I never wanted to be a princess…but I’ll be queen, sure.

Anyway, here’s a picture of me cross thing the finish line at a 20km race on Saturday. I don’t have a picture of myself at 21 doing the same because at 21 my idea of a big day was one where I walked to the library a mile away. Whew. (I’m exaggerating a little, but I wasn’t a runner at the time.) I’ve come a long way since then.

I’ll file the comic under PA3015.B48 L86 2014, for Classical literature–Literary history–Knowledge, treatment, and conception of special subjects, A-Z–Birthdays.

Em oi! #379: “Intellect is in itself a mode of exaggeration…”


Sometimes when I don’t draw for a while, the art comes out looking like I’ve had some kind of weird neurological event. Nothing of the sort here, just lack of ability.

My mom really does say that getting older beats the hell out of the alternatives, by the way, and has for years.

So I turned thirty last week. And, you know, I wondered if I was going to freak out about it. I actually felt like society wanted me to freak out about it. After all, we live during a time in which youth and vitality are valued so highly that there are actresses who haven’t moved their eyebrows in DECADES in an effort to prevent wrinkling. Not being able to look cross or confused is a high price to pay to maintain an unrealistic standard of beauty, isn’t it?

Anyway, I decided after a while that I feel pretty good about myself. Part of it is that, unlike five years ago when the majority of my friends were single twenty-somethings, I now run (literally) with a circle that stretches from twenty-two to mid-sixties. Some of my friends have kids who are my age (or a few years younger, I guess. College age.). That gives one a sense of perspective that isn’t available when all of the people one speaks with have the same anxieties (not finding a job/not getting into grad school, being single forever, dying and getting eaten by wild dogs…). I do see people I know who have kids and just become…I don’t know, the kind of boring grown ups I remember from my childhood, who spend all their time looking stern and shouting and dealing with Serious Things and who have jowls. Ok, basically I am describing the nosy next door neighbor from Bewitched (Gladys was her name?). Poor Gladys, no one would ever believe what she saw going on over at the Steven’s house.

My larger point is that I get to decide who I am and what it means to be the age I am. If I want to keep running marathons when I’m 65, I’m allowed. I don’t have to “act my age,” whatever that means. To paraphrase one of my mother’s other sayings, “I may be getting older, but I refuse to grow up.”

File this under PR830.A394 L86 2013 for English literature–History of English literature–Prose–By form–Prose fiction. The novel–Special topics–Other special topics, A-Z–Aging.

I will get to my race reports for the last two races (a 50k and a 20k) plus my discussion of free will a bit later in the week, I hope. Now that I have a job demanding 40 hours/week of my attention, PLUS my thesis, I have a bit less time than I’d like for blogging. But that will get better eventually. I hope.