A Journal of My Mid-Life Crisis
7 September 1997 - Turning 39
Thursday, 4 September 1997, was my 39th birthday. I find it hard to believe that I'm just a year short of 40. There's a folktale I wish I could remember about ages of mankind. The gist of it is that man has borrowed years from various animals that didn't desire a long hard life. For some reason, I remember 40 as being the natural age of man in that story, then he lives the life of the dog, the ass and at least one other animal. It's probably a Brothers Grimm tale so would be easy enough to look up, but I am convinced I will remember it on my own. At any rate, if after 40 one is into dog years, I suppose I can claim it's just one more year before I'm a total bitch.
So what did I do this momentous week of my birthday? Monday, at least, was Labor Day so I did damn little. I had a lot of household paperwork to catch up on and alternated that with reading more of Solzhenitsyn's Gulag Archipelago, Volume II . I've gotten a bit further on my book database - I've got over 500 books entered now, which is maybe 10% of my library. One aspect of extended travel that I am really dreading is putting everything into storage. I will be happy to move out of this apartment, but I own way too much stuff, none of which I really feel willing to part with. Compared to most of my family I am not a horrible packrat, but that's not a very good standard since my great aunt Frieda never threw anything out for roughly 60 years, my mother has the largest collection of half-used rolls of contact paper in the greater New York metropolitan area and my brother still has every piece of paper from as far back as elementary school.
I spent the rest of the week in Boulder, observing software tests. It wasn't nearly as bad as it might have been, with just one very early morning and no particularly late nights. The tedium is helped a lot by having a congenial atmosphere. One of the ways I think I've been smart about my career is recognizing that the people I knew who were unhappy with their jobs were usually unhappy because of people issues, rather than the nature of the work itself. So I've always put a heavy emphasis on working for people I like. Of course, I don't really have a lot of control over contractor (or Air Force / government) personnel, but I think being sensitive to the people factor makes me appreciate it more when I can work with people I like.
I tried to treat myself to a nice birthday dinner, but it was not entirely successful. I had wanted to try Trios for a while, since their menu in their ads looked pretty interesting. The place is a bit weird, with furniture store downstairs and restaurant and wine bar upstairs. One plus is they have parking so one needn't brave the chaos of downtown Boulder parking spots. Their lot uses a rather clever system where you exchange the ticket you get when entering for a token from the server. If you don't have a token you need a huge number of quarters to get out of the lot. Anyway, the food was just okay. I had a pasta dish with summer vegetables that was slightly overcooked and a bit bland. And the bread pudding with blackberries for dessert sounded wonderful, but was too sweet and I could barely taste the berries. It wasn't awful and I would probably be willing to try eating there again, but it wasn't the perfection I had hoped for.
I had better meals Tuesday and Wednesday nights, actually. I finally had dinner at The Walnut Cafe, a place I often have breakfast at. The southwestern pasta was a bit weird and not as spicy as I'd hoped, but the coconut pie for dessert was delicious - a crust with coconut, as well as the coconut cream filling. Then, on Wednesday, Carl (one of my colleagues) mentioned that he was going to go up to Chatauqua so I said I'd go along. We both had their 3 course dinner special of the evening, which consisted of a salad (wild greens, sundried tomatoes and a delicious dressing), grilled tuna steak with couscous and snow peas (but a sauce that was a bit odd, a little on the sweet side), and pecan pie for dessert. Pecan pie is usually something I am not too crazy about - it is usually mostly that sticky sweet filling and not many pecans. This was dense with pecans and had raspberries accompanying it.
When I got home Friday night I caught up on email and played on the Foundation for a while. I spent the weekend unpacking, doing laundry, going through the mail, etc.. I got Mom's annual check (my age in dollars, in accordance with family tradition) with a very weird card from her. At first, it looked like a sappy sentimental card, something that is entirely unknown in my family. As I read on though, it turned out to be pretty funny - all "I'm so glad you were born even though you always take the good cookies and talk about yourself when I want to talk about me, etc." so Mom was in her usual form. Saturday's mail actually held a gift from Robert - a copy of Claudia Roden's A Book of Jewish Food which was a very nicely welcome gift. I am always a bit apprehensive when people get me books as gifts, as I have so many already and I am afraid of getting duplicates. I called him to thank him, especially as he had left me a message on my birthday, but I missed him and he called back on Sunday. Overseas phone calls always astonish me. I don't think I've every really gotten used to being able to make long distance phone calls so casually and the idea that I can punch in a bunch of numbers and be talking to someone in London is just mindboggling. Anyway, I thanked him for the book and he said he felt he was taking a chance getting it as I had never mentioned much about cooking to him. And here I've collected cookbooks for longer than I've known him! I also had birthday greetings from a couple of folks from Storytell. My brother is the one who didn't bother to acknowledge the occassion. Ah, family!
Copyright 1997 Miriam H. Nadel
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