Category Archives: Thirtysomething Angst

Two new pairs

For the couple of years that my husband was in business school in Boston, I suffered from an off-and-on inferiority complex. (Warning: #firstworldproblems ahead.)

It didn’t really have anything to do with the fact that I was a mere “partner” in a social set of highly intelligent and ambitious people, most of whom scored about a zillion points on on their GMAT and had probably made more money in their pre-MBA working years than I’d make in a decade.  Nor did it bother me to be – as I was, having moved to Boston from Cleveland – an odd-out midwesterner in a sea of New England pedigrees.

Nope…my husband’s classmates were charming and delightful people, and although I kind of wanted to hate them for being so smart and attractive and successful, I just couldn’t. I made fast friends with many of them.

(It probably helped that I could totally hang when it came to drinking. When there’s a race to the bottom, I’m usually a frontrunner.)

Anyway, no, my occasional bouts of insecurity stemmed from the silly fact that my jeans were all…bootcut and shit.

Come back to 2007 with me, please. Bootcut jeans and pointy pumps. That’s what the cool kids were wearing in Ohio. (Well, actually, in Ohio it was considered perfectly acceptable to wear a hoodie and sneakers out on the town…a sentiment with which I still don’t entirely disagree.)

But in Bahhhhston, it was all skinny jeans and ballet flats and leggings and tunics and other trendy things that I did not, at the time, own. In my shorter fitted shirts and flare-leg pants, I felt like kind of a relic.

“You look great,” my husband would tell me, as we got ready to head out to any one of the countless social functions we attended each week.

“I look like a fucking antique,” I’d moan. And then I’d give up and slip into a good old hoodie and sneakers. If I was going to look like crap anyway, I might as well be comfy.

Looking back, I kind of roll my eyes at myself. Obviously, I wasn’t as comfortable with myself back then. Now, five years later, I’ve owned the fact that I’m just not a fashionista; on most days you’ll find me in a sports bra and running shoes. It’s fine. It’s sporty…or something. It’s me.

But occasionally, the complex returns.

This weekend, I’m headed to Vegas for a reunion weekend with my husband…and fifty of this MBA classmates.

Today, I thought about starting to pack. I stared at the small clump of dresses hanging among the hoodies and sweaters in my closet; I eyed the dusty little pile of scuffed-up “fancy” shoes, pretty much abandoned these days, but for the occasional wedding.

It was time for a little something new.

Nude pumps. Shiny nude pumps. With just a little bit of that stripper-platform thing going. Apparently this is what the cool kids are wearing now. Hopefully they are also wearing Ace bandages, because that it what I’m going to be sporting after I sprain my ankle.

So just in case, I’m also packing these…

New Brooks PureFlow colors! Now, you can’t tell me that’s not a hell of a pretty shoe. And functional, too!

Remind me…what’s so wrong with hoodies and sneakers?

In an effort to do something slightly more productive with my life…

A few weeks ago, I was chatting with my friend Newt, catching up on what’s new in our respective lives. I don’t chat with my friends often enough…probably because I am horrible at picking up the phone. But that’s another story.

Anyway. As her (very well written) blog documents, she’s a super-busy mom-doctor with another kiddo on the way. I flopped on my bed and sipped a class of wine, pressing my phone to my ear, as she recounted the various challenges of juggling child care, pregnancy, a demanding career, a husband whose work sends him on international travel on a regular basis…

and then my head started spinning. Stressing about getting your toddler picked up from day-care on time while trying to, oh, you know, save your patients’ lives?

I just can’t. Even imagine.

Talking to my college friends is always a reminder of the fact that my life hasn’t exactly gone the way I always expected it to. Perhaps, if I’m being totally honest with myself here, that’s one of the reason my calls are sparser than they should be.

I mean…what, exactly, have I done with my life?

I’m pretty sure that I wouldn’t have been voted “Most Likely to Work Retail” in either my high school or college graduating classes. I’m a smart chick. So maybe that’s why I feel a little weird about the fact that, at this point, nearly all of my friends from way-back-when have letters after their names or spawn to care for or both.

In fairness to myself, it’s not like I didn’t at least start to go down that path. I did several years in financial consulting: constant travel, long and unpredictable hours, intense all-night report-writing caffeine benders. And I didn’t totally hate it. It just…I don’t know. When my husband’s schooling and/or career ambitions moved us for the umpteenth time, I just decided to just try something else.

When I asked myself what I’m good at, the answer was obvious to me. I’m good at writing.

That was a little over two years ago. So here I am.

I’m a writer. Not in the sense of this blog (because I don’t make a cent off of this blog) but in that…that’s the career I identify with. What I set out to be. What I’ve, frankly, failed at being over the last two years, by my own standards, anyway. Aside from a few freelance projects of varying levels of prestige.

Mostly, though, I work at a specialty running store (which I actually love!) and do a little writing on the side. If I added up all of the money I’ve made as a writer over these two years, it probably wouldn’t equal a month of the salary I used to make in consulting.

Is that pathetic? Maybe. Does it make me feel like a total douchebag when I talk to my more-successful friends? Yeah, kinda.

But this much I do know: My life really isn’t that difficult at the moment. And I’m not challenging myself in the way that I should.

Enter: National Novel Writing Month. Starting: November 1.  The challenge: to write 50,000 words (the length of a short novel or novella).  That’s it.

(For perspective, this blog post, to this point, is 539 words.)

I actually attempted this NaNoWriMo thing last year, too. But I didn’t say anything about it on the blog. And I wouldn’t say it was all that successful. Fiction writing is…different. Different, and hard.

I’m going to try again though. I put a NaNoWriMo badge over on the right sidebar and everything. And I’m going to post my word counts alongside my weekly running stats. Maybe I’ll share some reflections and snippets here and there, too.

It’s entirely possible that the whole thing will totally suck. And I’m OK with that. At least I will have tried.

ANYWAY. You all don’t come here to hear me whine about my phantom career and my underachiever status. So here’s some running stuff:

I have to work all weekend, so I knocked my long run out this morning. Two out-and-back jaunts on the Reedy Creek Bike & Bridle at Umstead.

Dare I say that this has been one of the best long runs I’ve had in recent years? Things just sort of came together. Even though I was running solo on a monotonous route, somehow I was never really bored. I was shooting for an average mile pace somewhere around 9:00, and managed to nail it without even really thinking about it. And had some gas left in the tank to crank it up a little at the end.

A pack of Gu Chumps and one Gu (split up between three feedings – one at 7 miles, one at 12 miles, one at 17 miles) kept my belly happy.

Everything just worked on this run. I even managed to keep my shit together on the hills.

Five weeks until CIM!