Thing #32 – I Turned 40

Remember when your parents turned 40? Didn’t that seem old? I remember being in middle school when my dad had a surprise party for his fortieth. I recall black decorations featuring the grim reaper and “over the hill” balloons.

Forty was adult. Forty-year-olds had their shit together. They had tax accountants and garages full of power tools. Also, my dad had a middle-school-aged daughter when he turned forty. I have a Meyer Lemon tree that might be dying and a dog that barfed unidentifiable blue pieces of plastic this morning. 

Regardless of whether you’re responsible for a fruit tree or a human, turning forty is an achievement. A good portion of my 30s was spent dreading the fact I was aging. And now I’m just thrilled to be here. To be healthy and strong. To have a smile lines. To turn a year older.

You only turn forty once and I wanted to be flashy, flossy and over the top. This is not my style. I’m more of a “save your pennies” kind of girl. … Read the rest

Thing #13 – Hallmark Friendship

“Gosh Jenna, you must LOVE Christmas if you’re watching these incredible Hallmark films so much!” Meh, it’s quite the opposite. I don’t really consider myself a Christmas person. Decking the halls feels like an obligation, parties trigger my social anxiety and shopping is my most hated chore (other than putting gas in my car).

I do, however, love tradition and family. I love coziness and warm drinks. And when I immerse myself in these Hallmark characters who are SO into Christmas, I become a Christmas person by proxy. They’re doing the heavy lifting while sit back and live vicariously through them.

My friend Gina has a love of Christmas so immense and pure that she is basically a Hallmark character. In her home you’ll find more than one tree showcasing her collection of ornaments. She twinkles when she talks about her decorating routine and her Christmas traditions. It only seemed fitting that we spend the day together like two Hallmark characters might.

Scene: Two 30-something nonprofit executives in large Midwest city sitting on bench lacing Read the rest

Thing #6 – Beer

There are some taste memories you can never escape…like, Busch Light by a bonfire. I assume you share a similar memory. In my early party days, I’d work on one beer the whole night, incapable of finishing it. Not because it was shitty beer, but because it was beer.

You’re probably saying, “Nope, it’s because you were drinking shitty beer. Maybe if you’d tried good beer you’d change your mind.” It’s like when I tell people I don’t like olives and they’re all, “But have you tried good olives?” Ugh, shut up, you pretentious assface. I always tried beer (like I always try olives) to see if my tastes changed. No luck.

I became a pretentious assface in Berlin. I was closing out my solo 30th birthday trip in Germany’s capital, and had a rough day. Loneliness set it. As much as I love traveling alone, I reach a point where crave simple companionship. I went on a four-hour bike tour in the rain. I tumbled off my bike in a busy intersection and sustained … Read the rest

Thing #3 – Museums

We were “museum incompatible.” Years after our break-up, that’s the breezy reason Sean and I decided was the key contributor to our relationship’s demise. His penchant for reading every god-damn placard in a museum, and my corresponding annoyance, was easier to explain than the true reasons.

It took five years after our uncoupling before we could even sit across from each other and have an honest conversation about those reasons. But after we did, I watched any stale anger and resentment that was hidden in me quickly evaporate.

That conversation wasn’t an effort to dig up the past or rekindle something. It wasn’t even so much a post mortem, as an opportunity to listen and understand – something neither of us were capable of at the end of our relationship. Our conversation was about unearthing a lost friendship and honoring it. And it reinforced the important lesson that forgiveness requires way less emotional energy than holding a grudge.

Maybe I cling too tightly, but I’ve never been good at entwining my life with someone – Read the rest