The Grateful 40

“For years I wanted to be older, and now I am.” Margaret Atwood, Cat’s Eye

Okay, I admit it. I turn the big 4-0 today, and I’m not thrilled about it. I can pretend to be positive and cheerful, and say, “Forty is the new 30!” or call myself Forty and Fabulous, but that’s not me. My parents sent me a birthday card that while lovely might as well have been a sympathy card. “Our condolences for turning 40!”

Until I was about 28, I had always wanted to be older. As a kid, as a teenager, those years seem to pass so slowly. I seemed to take forever to reach the double digits, the teenaged years, then 16, 18, 21. Now the years pass entirely too quickly.

From 28 till about 33 or even 34, I felt the right age. Twenty-five was too young. I was unsure and didn’t know enough about life. At 30 and over, I was wiser and more confident, but I still felt young. Part of me wishes I could stay 33 forever, at least until I do the things I want to do, and accomplish what I had hoped to accomplish.

But this isn’t to say I haven’t accomplished anything, and that no good things have happened in my life. They have.


I’m glad I no longer work at the Big Blue Pill Company. While it paid well, every day I felt like any minute someone was going to say, “You have no idea what you’re doing, do you?” and I’d have to say, “No, I don’t! I’m winging it!”

I’m glad I had the opportunity to jump-start my writing career. If MB hadn’t gotten this job out here, I don’t know if I’d have quit my job and pursued writing full-time. Probably not. I needed those six months of writing full-time to get clips, become part of an online writing community, and build up an audience.

I’m happy that I get to write for my job. I. . .LOVE. . .MY. ..JOB. I get to tweet all day and write about fun word-nerd stuff. In fact, it’s sometimes more fun than my own writing. Plus I get paid for it.


I’m grateful for my parents. It’s true that I had and have a lot of conflict with my mom, but when I hear stories about abused and neglected kids, I’m so grateful for the parents that I have. I’m also glad they’re relatively healthy and still active. In fact, I just learned they’re taking off for China and Taiwan for two weeks this fall. Lucky ducks!

I’m grateful that I have a brother who is also one of my best friends. By the way, if you have a story about how you scared yourself, Greg wants to hear about it!

Friends and Loved Ones

I’m grateful to have at least half a dozen people I can call my good friends. I’m glad I was lucky enough to meet MB, and that he’s been so supportive of my writing and other pursuits, and has pushed me not to be lazy and procrastinate. For instance, we’ve struck a deal where I have to give him $10 if I don’t work on my novel at least six days a week (even for just a few minutes) or if I don’t go to krav maga at least twice a week. I haven’t owed him any money for not writing, but I’ve given him about $30 for not going to krav maga enough.

Past Accomplishments

I’m happy I had the chance to travel to some cool places, namely:

  • Beijing
  • Tianjin
  • Dalian
  • Xi’An
  • Hong Kong
  • Amsterdam
  • Brussels
  • Paris
  • Prague
  • Tokyo
  • London

And of course a bunch of places in the States. I’m grateful that I got to live abroad (China for six months), and that nowadays I can pretty much pick up and go anywhere, almost anytime.

I’m grateful that I was able to pursue two graduate degrees, mostly free of charge. I guess the Big Blue Pill Company was good for something!

I’m Still Learning

I’m glad that I realize I still have a lot to learn. I know I worry unnecessarily and sometimes incessantly, that worries and negative feelings don’t change the past, won’t change the future, and only ruin the present. I know this and still I do it. I worry about my parents getting older; I worry about having kids and selling a book. I worry that I’m not where I’m “supposed” to be, that I’m “behind.” But as Zen Habits says, when I compare myself to others, I only create my own suffering. All of these worries are my own creation.

So it’s my birthday, just me and Sizzle and Conan O’Brien and Hayley Mills. James Woods, Rick Moranis, and Eric Roberts. Melissa Joan Hart, America Ferrera, and let’s not forget Kourtney Kardashian. It’s my birthday and I’m glad for all the good stuff.

But between you and me, I’ll be 39. At least for another year.


  1. Happy Birthday Angela! The 4-0 came and went for me without a peep really. In my head I’m still 27 and foolish enough to believe I can do anything – and that’s a good thing.

    • That’s great Tom! And thanks for the birthday wish. In this book I’m reading now the author described a 42-year old as “still young.” And I cheered. I cheered for a long time.