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This coming year I turn 40.  It’s kind of terrifying and unhappy-making, even while older friends point and laugh and tell me I’m young yet.  I don’t feel 40.  In my heart I feel maybe 32.  I keep forgetting it’s the whole four-oh, and have to pointedly remind myself.  Reminding myself is what’s freaking me out, man, that I didn’t realize all the years gone by.

But anyway, I’m a-gonna turn 40.  When I was about to turn 30 I felt like I couldn’t wait.  My 20s felt weird, I wasn’t suited to them somehow. 30s seemed more established, like I wouldn’t be kidding myself if thought of myself as an adult.  Perception is such a weird thing.

Obviously, in retrospect this is all ridiculous (thank you, weird perception).  I felt weird in my 20s because I was largely wasting that time.  I had more energy, a faster metabolism, better health, to say nothing of holding down a steady job for most of that time.  I look back in chagrin thinking of the things I could have done – worked harder to get back into acting, studied Japanese, or even taken financial investment classes.  I try not to get caught up in regret or what-ifs because it’s completely pointless, but for all that I may feel young now, my body constantly reminds me that I’m not.  You don’t really need the gory details, suffice to say my health isn’t the product of misadventure or really bad luck so much anymore.

Still, one’s 20s are for banging around in the world and not fretting too much about bruises.  And I know this for I am old and wise now. So if you’re under 30 quit reading this and go have an adventure – before it’s too late!

I couldn’t see my future when I looked so hopefully at my 30s.  I was such an idiot.  I couldn’t see what would come either from my misfortunes or the misfortunes of the world that twined with mine (see banking collapse & Great Recession).  I couldn’t see how my forward movement would disappear, swallowed whole by depression that would take years to even think of escaping.

Maybe I want to be 32 so I can get those years back, goddammit.

But now, I’m headed into 40 and time and tide are not known for their patience.

I hope for 40 what I’ve always wanted from years previous – satisfying, lucrative work that I can be proud of.  Some other things too, I guess.  Good health, physical & mental, getting fit, not feeling like it’s extra complicated for me to get healthy thanks to being flat broke.  Getting to see friends regularly, not having to exhaust myself constantly just to see a few people once in a while.  Traveling would be extra nice.  Unlikely, but still.  But it really is all about the work, the career.  I have so little to speak of in that direction and regardless of what I “should” do with “shoulds”, DUDE, I should have a career by now.

You know, one nice thing that happened in 2016, though, was that I got a really nice voice over project over the summer. It was for a Spanish language video project that few people will see, but it was a nice payday (given the amount of work the pay was probably low, but no matter).  I got to attend a couple of classes with people I look up to in VO and they complimented me nicely, so that’s always really cool.

Finances got a little rocky though and I couldn’t get one major ticket item off my list, which was a Spanish language commercial demo.  I know I’m leery of it.  I know I drag my feet when I consider the tasks necessary for it, but it’s honestly a big deal.  If I can get it done I’ll open up a whole new area of work I can do.

So 2016 was looking pretty good for career stuff and at least by the end of October I had a lot to look forward to there.  It gave me the nerve to get into a theatre project and see it through to the point that now I’m part of an ensemble cast, and we’ll be putting on our show at the end of next month!  Now that is a big deal.  While voice acting IS acting, stage acting uses different muscles.  And I haven’t taken these muscles out for spin since I was in college.  Thanks to VO and thanks to working with generous artists I’ve come to a point where I’m more confident in my acting ability and have the nerve to think I can do a whole show outside of the protective confines of school.

For work that I love doing, 39 was not too bad.  Wasn’t great financially, all told, but there was forward movement.

I’d like to hope I’ll see more of it at 40 and beyond.  I keep hedging because there’s a lot of turmoil around me and I can feel the nervousness in the air.  Trying to get a job in a tense environment is *tough* to say the very least.  I’ve never been able to.  And other people’s nerves make me second guess myself.  All in all, one of the worst things that happened this year is casting a long, deep shadow over next year (and years to come).

What I fear for 40, I guess, is that I’ll have to push out harder and more persistently than I ever have.  In fact, I’ll have to get up with the conviction that I can meet my goals leading me there. And that is far harder than it sounds.  Not only am I prone to depression, but I can’t begin to figure out how to have a positive attitude and be upbeat about my opportunities when people around me are feeling morose, if not in a panic.  I can do steady, cover the basics, make sure the i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed.  But I can’t do hopeful. Not while everyone is telling me to worry about eroding rights, cut offs in access to medical care, runaway environmental destruction, and urban neglect.  I can’t disconnect what I do from what goes on in the world, or at least my country.

And that leads me to think that at 40 I’ll have to work on both levels, both for myself and for my society.  And here again, I wish I had the energy I had when I was 20.

I turn 40. In 2017.  Good Lord.