Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Manual for the Middle Aged


Cartoon by Ron Plath


This weekend I was in White Birch Books in North Conway, looking for a book even though I don't need a book (I'm always buying new books; I'll be on my deathbed ordering from Chronicle). I like to support bookstores because its one of the few areas in my life where my actions are in line with my beliefs (for areas in my life where I suffer from cognitive dissonance, see: loves animals but always orders red meat in restaurants). I refuse to shop on Amazon unless it's the villain of last resort. If I could conjure up new brick-and-mortar bookstores, I'd put one in every inner-city and in every medium-sized town. Who would support them? If you build it, the readers will come...

Anyway, I was excited about my first find--an advanced reading copy of The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth for $3. I'm a terrible hypocrite because part of my job is sending out ARCs to potential book reviewers and I'm careful to only send them to people who I think will actually REVIEW them. But then I buy someone else's ARCs for half-price at The Strand or at White Birch Books, thereby supporting reviewers who sell their ARCs and pocket the money (also see: eBay). At least White Birch uses the profits from ARC sales to fund author events.

But $3 isn't going to keep the store open through another summer, so I looked around for something else. I spotted a book of essays called 40 Things To Do When You Turn 40. I almost didn't pick it up. There was something embarrassing about it, like finding your parents' old copy of The Joy of Sex and seeing all those pencil drawings of naked couples with hippie hair and mustaches. This was the kind of book I thought I'd never buy because I was never going to be that old.

There is something compelling about lists, though (see: this blog post). And at least it wasn't titled 40 Things You Should Have Done By the Time You Turn 40, You Loser. 40 Things to Do When You Turn 40 sounds more like a wise instruction manual, a test prep for the future self, a view into those uncertain years I never fantasized about when I was a kid because my imagination only went as far as age 32. Would any of these 40 things make me happier than I am now (see: signs of Dysthymia include low energy, oversleeping, increased appetite--especially for cold cereal and 2nd Street Creamery Vanilla #148 , which is heaven in a pint)?

Reader, I bought the book. The woman who sold it to me looked like she might be in her 40's so I didn't have to slip the book under a copy of Fifty Shades of Grey.

I'll share some of the ideas in the book on here since I know a handful of people who are turning 40 along with me next year (see: most of my friends from high school). I may even do some of the things and talk about it. Unless it involves affirmations or letting your hair go grey.




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