Lately I’ve been referring to what’s happening with my life as a mid-youth crisis. Quarter-life crisis doesn’t feel appropriate–not because I’m not yet 25 (which I’m not) but because I’m not convinced I’ll make it to 96, or 100. I also may or may not have stolen the term “mid-youth crisis” from my favorite Hozier song. Anyway, people tend to ask what I mean by it: “Does that mean you have the desire to do fun and exciting things while you’re still young?”
I’m not an optimist. The word “crisis” is in there for a reason.
But what do I mean?
Well, this is what my mid-youth crisis has involved so far:
1. Moving for the third time in just under a year and a half. The first place was a house in Bellevue, WA that was already home to six other people. I moved out five months later when I became convinced that my middle-aged Japanese roommate was a hoarder (as evidenced by the stacks upon stacks of boxes I could see when she opened the door to her garage-converted-room) and a rat took up residence in our (my) upstairs bathroom.
Next, I moved into a studio apartment in downtown Seattle, which, aside from questionable residents I shared many an uncomfortable elevator ride with and the shouting matches I could hear taking place outside my window on any given night, I very much liked. It was nestled in between Pioneer Square and the International District: great for people watching, cafes, and Asian cuisine.
Then, while I was away on a 9-day road trip, the friend I’d enlisted to watch my cat broke up with her live-in boyfriend. My cat became a child of divorce, and my friend became a viable roommate. Due to the 20 days’ notice rule, I gave up my apartment before we found a place together. I wasn’t quite risking homelessness, but a sense of desperation sank in when we kept meeting disappointment in the form of scams and near misses. But we did eventually find a place in Fremont, my favorite Seattle ‘hood. I called and set up a same day viewing for a time I couldn’t make but my roommate-to-be could.
“So, how was it?” I asked her afterwards.
“It’s small and dirty and we’re taking it!”
What do you call a place that requires no application fee, no pet deposit, and no pet rent? Well, if it isn’t a scam, you call it home.
2. My grandma’s unexpected death in October. I flew home for her funeral, which fell on what would’ve been her 83rd birthday. I packed up her collection of tea cups to keep at my parents’ house, and brought home with me framed pictures, a scrapbook, and puzzles we used to put together.
3. Grieving. My grief so far has mostly consisted of crying while watching Big Fish via Netflix on the couch and going to sleep wearing make-up (what hasn’t been cried off) and work clothes I haven’t bothered to change out of.
4. Looking at my cat and thinking, “I’m going to have you for the rest of your life.” I knew when I adopted him I’d be his forever home (assuming his Stockholm Syndrome is developed enough he doesn’t try and succeed in escaping), but it’s daunting to consider he may very well be a constant in my life for a decade or longer–’til death do us part.
5. Drinking wine and eating hot pockets in my clawfoot bathtub.
6. A. Deciding to do NaNoWriMo last minute even though I should know by now that I’m a plotter (someone who plots out her stories), not a panster (someone who writes by the seat of her pants).
6. B. Quitting NaNoWriMo after approximately 10 days and 15,600 words.
7. Getting a tattoo. I like to buy myself things, and birthdays are an excellent excuse reason to do just that! I’ve had ideas for tattoos over the years: quotations marks on my shoulder blades, a line of poetry underneath my boobs. Small, simple. But when it came to actually getting inked, I decided, Go big or go home! Let’s do a thigh piece of watercolor poppies instead. Use my flesh as canvas! Make me art! My tattoo artist drew out two possibilities–one “littler guy” as he called it, and a bigger guy. “Let’s go big!” I told him. Then I scream-moaned/cursed throughout the entire three-and-a-half hour procedure. My roommate who frequents the shop said she’s never seen anyone handle getting inked so poorly, but I didn’t cry, vomit, pass out, or quit, so I’m calling it a win!
8. Quitting Facebook. While Facebook can be a good tool for staying in touch with people–particularly via the messenger function–I feel like it mostly just gives the illusion of connection. Like, “Hey, I haven’t seen this person in three years, but I know she just bought eight new house plants, got a new haircut, and participated in a drag show!” And I’d think, God, she’s cool. I’m so glad we’re friends. But are we really?
Facebook is full of People Who Aren’t Me Doing Cool Shit. Instead of comparing my day-to-day life to their highlight reel–because I’ve been told doing so hinders happiness–I’d set about stalking myself on Facebook. Then I’d get jealous because Facebook me is so much cooler than day-to-day me! I know I’m not the only one!
A friend of mine texted me last week, “Anika, did you know that I used to be hot?”
And I asked, “Were you stalking yourself on Facebook?” He was! Of course he was.
On the other hand, Facebook made me dislike people I actually like in real life. (I had fewer than 200 friends on Facebook, making my friends list a fairly selective one.) My newsfeed filled with not only babies and engagements (which I don’t like but can tolerate, mostly, with one exception on the baby front) and non-sarcastic posts in support of Donald Trump, as well as racist Charlie Brown memes, including a comments section full of middle-aged white people complaining about reverse racism (which would inevitably pull me into one of those heinous online arguments no one ever wins).
9. Joining OkCupid. I used to joke about joining an online dating site just to see how many hits I could get. Call me vain! Whatever. But I actually decided to join in order to meet interesting people who live near me since meeting people organically hasn’t worked out all that well. I joined Meetup.com when I first moved out here, but I don’t do great in group settings with strangers. So far it’s been a lot overwhelming (turns out a lot of singles live in Seattle; who knew?) and only a little creepy. It’s proven to be a good screening system–the sort of system I can’t utilize in real life. Real life doesn’t come with match percentages, and I can’t tell by looking at someone across a crowded room whether they’re the type of person who posts shirtless pictures, pridefully doesn’t read, misspells 1st-grade level words, and starts conversations with, “Don’t message me back :)” in a pitiful attempt at reverse psychology, an unoriginal “Hey,” or my personal favorite, “Are you still full from Thanksgiving?” And then something unrepeatable about stuffing.
OkCupid actually emailed me the other day to let me know that I’m “now among the most attractive people” on the site based on “clicks to [my] profile and reactions to [me] in Quickmatch.”
I’m less than thrilled that this is the corner of the Internet where I thrive.
If only my blogs were so popular . . .
10. Rewriting my first novel manuscript. Again. On a forum I cannot now for the life of me relocate, someone stated that Stephen King has detailed seven stages of rejection (although the seventh stage listed was acceptance). The sixth stage is an invitation to revise and resubmit. I haven’t gotten that far yet. I’m stuck at a solid stage five rejection: a positive, personal rejection. The kind of rejection in which a literary agent says, “You’re clearly a talented writer” and also, “There’s much to like about your approach” and describes the story as “unique and arresting” and “important” and “admirable” but for whatever reason ultimately says no.
After a handful of these, I decided to sit myself down and have a serious self-talk. And what I decided is that the manuscript is good, but it isn’t great. It isn’t the best book that it can be, and it isn’t the best book that I can make it.
This means it’s time to take a break from querying agents.
Lucky for me, rewriting is my favorite part.
11. Adding books to my reading list like, “The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter–And How to Make the Most of Them.”
12. Impulse buying things on the Internet. This mostly consists of buying books and things for my apartment, like art and wall tapestries. I’m very good at persuading myself. “You’ll be supporting other artists,” I say! That’s basically all it takes. And then there are clothes. I never used to buy clothes online, because I have enough trouble finding clothes that fit at physical stores where I can try them on. But then I discovered reviews! Does the reviewer complain about the size small dress being too snug? Does the reviewer insist that fellow buyers order a size or two up? Yes? Gimme! (This hasn’t failed me yet, because I’m built like a child.)
13. Impulse buying things in real life. It’s the holiday season, and I love nothing more than walking into a store only to have an item grab my attention by hollering out one of my beloved friend’s names. Last year a set of cat butt magnets called out to me, “Christine!” The other week a pair of corgi-patterned socks yelled, “Lauren!” No matter that Lauren and I haven’t seen each other in person since 2011; I bought ‘em for her anyway. The problem comes in when the inanimate objects shout my own name, and the equally loud voice inside my head screams, “TREAT YO’SELF!”
There’s a Tumblr post that lists the pros and cons of being an adult.
Pros: You can buy whatever you want and no one can stop you
Cons: You can buy whatever you want and no one can stop you
And there you have it, in semi-convenient list form: my young life, and my crises.