I mentioned earlier that I turned 40. This has a different effect on people online than it does in the real world. While there are pictures of me on this blog, there's no way for people who meet me exclusively in this realm to really see me, how I dress, talk, behave (or misbehave) so there's no surprise factor. When I say I'm 40, you have no reason to think otherwise. In the real world, however, people are utterly amazed when I tell them. Many of them don't believe me. They think it's some kind of joke. Thirty seems to them the more logical scenario. This has always been kind of fun. It's why I don't mind telling people. The fact that I didn't get married until I was 27 and my kids are all very young reinforces the whole thing. It's all made turning 40 a tad more bearable but I'm waiting for the big switch to my appearance like when I turned 30. Around six months after my birthday I noticed I was 50 lbs heavier. I'd been 135-140 lbs all my life but six months after turning thirty and ever since, I've hovered between 190 and 195. And then there's my hairline. Every day the top of my head is just a little more visible. It looks like the stubbly field in back of my parents' house where I grew up. This concerns me because I swore that my full head of hair would not suffer the same fate as my dad's which, except for a long combover, was completely gone from the top of his head by his late twenties. I have no plans for a combover myself, nor to repeat his disastrous attempt to hide the barren scalp with a wig which was such a drastic change for him that those who recognized him just laughed in disbelief. (Mom, if you're reading this, there's no need to let him know what I've written.)
So I guess what I'm trying to say is you don't know what getting older is until you experience it yourself, and I suppose if I asked my parents or someone in the twilight years, I still don't know. As I said before, 40 hit me broadside but I recovered quickly with the help of an author friend of mind. I was feeling like 40 was the end of the line because I hadn't realized my goal of writing a novel before then. I told her this and she had some very encouraging words to say. For one thing, she told me she was going to check up on me periodically to see if I've been writing everyday. And she gave me a book, Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamont. After reading that and writing nearly everyday for the last few weeks, I feel reborn. 40 is the beginning. And I'm learning more about writing by writing everyday than I ever did in school or from all those books and magazines that I bought. In the trenches is where it's learned. You read other books and other writers' advice but you don't learn it until you write for yourself. It took me 40 years to learn that.