Maybe it’s the impending divorce (just gotta get the money and paperwork together at the same time) or maybe it’s that, for the first time ever, I actually used the phrase, “Dear gods, child, I’m almost 40.”
Holy crap. “Almost 40.” Really? Am I old enough to be “almost 40”?
Don’t get me wrong. I do not have that “aaah gettin auld iz zo offul!” thing going on. I love aging, I love gaining experience, I love watching the world around me change and grow, but I kinda feel like I should pay a little more attention to these last few years before The Big Four Oh. I’m not even sure why.
Being the odd duck that I am, I don’t really live with regrets. I find them tedious and a waste of time. Have I made mistakes? Ohdeargodsyes – multitudes of them in varying degrees and configurations. And I’ll make more, mark my words. That’s part of the beautiful, precious glory of Life: screwing up, apologizing for it, fixing it, learning from it and moving on. So, this impulse doesn’t come from the place of wanting to make up for the things I never did. (If I didn’t do them before, there’s probably a really good reason.)
No, I think this is a new level of self-assessment where I look at my list of possibilities and I determine what kinds of adventures I’m ready for.
Take this college thing, for instance. I had a chance to go fresh out of high school (like most of us), but circumstance shot that one in the femoral region on the right side. I’d thought about it a few times since then and even filled out the FAFSA paperwork twice, but something consistently got in the way – usually the overwhelming need to do things like work to feed kids and pay rent. (That whole “you’re a single mom, you’ll get plenty of money from the government” thing only goes so far. You have to take into account things like “time for homework” and “still having to work a job”.)
At this moment, I’m re-inspired to pursue a degree in anthropology because it is the most fascinating subject to me that also has the greatest potential of being a useful thing. As much as I’d love to pursue a more academic degree in physics, it’s not a practical thing outside of the academic world, unless I also get into engineering, which is a slightly different discipline… But then there’s also sociology, which is like anthropology but with fewer folk tales, and then there’s economics (which is a different story entirely on why it’s fascinating to me) and botany and fine arts and linguistics and computer science and neurology and… and… and…
(This is, incidentally, the problem with being a DaVinci. Trying to pick even just two things that I want to do out of the dozens that fascinate me and that I have an aptitude for is nearly impossible, both in terms of being solid with the choice and with paying for all of it. You know about me and my allergy to interest-accruing debt…)
And yet… there’s still the pickle of the whole supporting kids thing, so I may have to put that off for a while.
But that doesn’t mean that I can’t pursue this bi-score-year change in other ways. The front-runners are:
- Getting another tattoo
- Changing my name to something completely different through the divorce (chicks are so lucky that way)
- Shift from fiction to non-fiction as my primary writing focus
- Start planning for a bigger move than I’ve ever pondered before: leaving the country
- Start a periodic web comic
It may not seem like some of these are significant, but they are. In… oh… about eight months, two weeks, one day, and some change, I’m getting another tattoo that’s not really related to this “almost 40” event, so the tattoo idea is not “a tattoo to end all tattoos”. (I only bring that up because I overheard someone suggest that anyone over 40 was too old to get tattoos. I tried really hard not to snarf my drink out of my nose. I was not successful.) Tattoos for me represent axiomatic ideas, vital moments in time. They do not have to be sad even though they mostly have been up to this point, and maybe that’s why it’s such an important thing, to balance out the tattoos of celebration and warning/sorrow.
Changing my name is a different story as well. The idea for this actually came from one of my midwives, Vicki Patdauter. She had wanted to change her name away from her ex-husbands moniker, and she wanted to honor her mother in this. However, her mother’s maiden name – Clark – just didn’t really seem to fit, so she went with something that was far more important to her: her mother’s personal identity. You see, Vicki’s mom’s name was Pat, and that made Vicki Pat’s daughter.
(So what she did there?)
Yes, I’ve been Ellis for… oh… 23 years now? That’s how long I’ve used it as a pen-name, and, of course, I had it legally changed when I divorced seven or so years ago. I still love the name, but it doesn’t fit me quite as well as it used to, and it does make the rest of my name a little redundant. (My middle name is Elizabeth, which was an elbow-feminization of “Ellis”, which is my dad’s middle name.) I think I can massage it to do it better.
I have some ideas, not to worry. 😉
Making the switch from primarily fiction and science fiction and horror into non-fiction may be the hardest transition of all, only because of the enormous amount of research that my chosen fields of study will require. However, t’were I to pursue that range of projects, it would have to be done with some research grants in hand ahead of time. It’s a long-term transition, but one that could be pretty awesome.
Moving, too, is a major yet long-term transition, but one that would not be permanent. I like the idea of “living abroad” for a while, seeing as how I’ve been “living as a broad” for my whole life – it would be a nice change. I like the idea of Great Britain or New Zealand probably more than Central America or Canuckistan, but I also like not having to swim home if something goes on with the core family that requires my attention and/or intervention. I’m not sure I’d give up citizenship (I’m a little weird that way), but it’s not about nonsensical national identity – it’s about experiencing culture from a different point of view. I’m even overcoming my self-imposed limitation in learning other languages.
This last one requires a few things that I don’t have at this exact moment – or rather, one big thing, and that would be viable inspiration. When there’s nothing on the line and I’m laying awake at night staring at the sealing, I can come up with dozens of ideas – right up until I go to write them down. During the day or when I’m trying to come up with a decent script, forget it. I can’t do it. I’ve gotten over the other self-imposed limitation about my artistic talent, and I know I could probably turn some stuff out. Maybe I need someone to work with…
I will probably continue exploring these ideas in literary fashion later. Now, I’m going to take a short break and maybe a little nap before working the other job tonight.
What do you think? I’m going to pick out some potential last names and maybe put it to a vote or something.
P.S. You’ll notice that there are two things missing from this blog entry today: Osama bin Laden and the Royal Wedding. That is not an accident. It’s not that I don’t care, it’s that…. no, wait. It is that I don’t care. I truly wish Will and Kate the best for their future, and they make a cute couple. Awesome. Osama? Yeah, that’s totally going to help now that he can’t testify in court.
But I’m not bitter.