Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Cooking Class

Thirty-six is probably a meaningless birthday to most people but it's had a little circle around it on my calendar for a very long time.  I discovered somewhere in my mid-twenties that Julia Child didn't go to culinary school until she was 36. Julia. Child. Julia Child who basically brought french cooking to America, revolutionized cook books and pioneered televised cooking shows, did not discover what she really wanted to do with her life until she was 36! That knowledge has simmered in the back of my head as a comfort and an inspiration whenever I feel panicked about the state of my own life's purpose. One Christmas visit to Washington D.C. I even dragged my sister-in-law to the Smithsonian so we could go look at Julia's kitchen. 

Well. I turn 36 on Sunday. And I think I have as many questions about "what I want to be when I grow up" as I did when I was 26. I turned 30 with a big party, a whirlwind work trip to New York, a college girlfriend reunion in San Francisco and a half marathon that ended in fire fighters in tuxedos giving us Tiffany necklaces. And guys-it's been uphill since then. But to be perfectly candid, I'm struggling a bit with this particular birthday. 

Some of it is science. The baby years are closing. And I know-I have heard ALLLLLL the stories about your aunt or cousin or lady in your ward who managed to have a baby IN HER FORTIES. I know. It can be done. Old maids get married. Elderly women have kids. And I know that people tell you those things to make you feel better. They are great stories. They do not make single women feel better. 

Some of it is career. And again-I know. The Olympics. Remember how they were insane and amazing? Nobody wants to peak at 35. It's way, way exciting to think that I have to come up with some entirely new dreams but it's also way, way scary. "Summer Games" have been on the list for just about as long as "Eiffel Tower with sister" and I knocked them both out in a six week span this year. The problem with big goals is that as you meet them, you discover you have developed something of an appetite for crossing things off. I don't want to get stuck, I don't want to stop growing, I don't want to get left behind. 

All of that said-I can't let this birthday kill the nice "2012 is awesome" buzz I have going and I owe it to the 27 and 32 and 34 year old versions of me who were so comforted not to freak out just because we hit the Julia year and we don't have the Cordon Bleu lined up. So for the first time in my whole life, I'm swallowing my discomfort about making a big deal over my birthday and I'm kind of not shutting up about it. I decided to celebrate Birthday Week this year. I even started a hashtag on Twitter so I can be annoying about it there too. 

Last night I went to a concert. On a Monday. Today I ate ice cream THREE TIMES and donated money to a charity. Tomorrow I have a date with a hot 27 year old who is likely not marriage material but he's got beautiful eyes and has a way of calling me "woman" that makes me forget I'm a feminist. And thursday I fly to Utah to spend the rest of birthday week chasing nephews, riding bikes with my brother, going to hot yoga and drinking gigantic sodas with my sister-in-law, and eating a lot of things I will have to sweat way too hard to work off because I am getting old. 

And then. Thirty-six. I'm going to channel Julia every day and let this be a year of trying new things and hanging onto the right old things and being brave and being generous and remembering the advice I gave an anxious friend tonight which is this...Find your happy right now, whatever your circumstance and life will be hard pressed to take it from you.


Kelly said...

I turned 36 today. Thank you for this post. Somehow I never caught that 36 was Julia Child's magic age. It makes me feel like this is the year to really ruminate on my future and what I want that to look like.

Happy early birthday, Libra friend! You go rock that 27 year-old's world!

Mary said...

Katie, it would take way too long to comment on every single point you make in this post and tell you just how much I want to high-five and "amen" it. Instead, I'll just say how great it is that there are women like you. The world is better for it, and I'm not being superlative. May the joy of your birthday week continue, and keep your spirits high throughout your magic year.

And I agree with Kelly. Knock Mr. 27 on his arse.

Jayne said...

Just remember, at 36 Julia discovered what she wanted to do, began to learn her craft and then to write about it. But the book wasn't published until she was 49 and her pop culture status till after that! Someday you may say it's too late for this dream or another - but that day has has not yet arrived.

Jayne said...

And exactly how many robots post on your blog anyway? It took me three tries to get past the guards! And I'm your mother!

Cristin said...

This post of yours made me tear up. Even when you do have the babies, like I do, it still doesn't hurt any less to grow older. I am turning 35 in a few months. Just thinking about it, makes me cringe. I'll think of Julia Child and be happy.

Have a great birthday week! You deserve it.

Jamie said...

I was feeling a bit sad - after all I hit 39 last month and I still don't know what to do with my life. Then I read this post - and your mom's comment and suddenly I'm feeling better. Some things may be behind us, but I'm still convinced the best is yet to come. Happy Birthday this week - I'll be sending positive thoughts your way.

jojopig.com said...

thanks for the posts. good stuff.