The End of the Beginning


Em Carpenter

Em was one of those argumentative children who was sarcastically encouraged to become a lawyer, so she did. She is a proud life-long West Virginian, and, paradoxically, a liberal. In addition to writing about society, politics and culture, she enjoys cooking, podcasts, reading, and pretending to be a runner. She will correct your grammar. You can find her on Twitter.

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18 Responses

  1. Avatar North says:

    Happy birthday! I turned 40 myself a couple of days ago. I think the most disconcerting part of 40 for me is enumerating the relatives I have who are older than me and then feeling uneasy and sad at how few there seem to be. All the grand-whatevers mostly gone; gorget about the great-grand-anyone’s and a lot of simple title holders without any grand prefixes starting to become absent.Report

  2. Avatar Doctor Jay says:

    Happy Birthday!Report

  3. Happy birthday! A lovely piece, thanks for writing it!Report

  4. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Happy birthday! (You won’t believe how much better it gets.)Report

  5. Avatar greginak says:

    Happy B Day. Just wait, there will be the day when 40 feels like being young.Report

  6. Avatar Aaron David says:

    Happy B-day! (& to North also)Report

  7. Avatar Anne says:

    Happy Birthday! My 40’s were great! 50 mumble, mumble is pretty great tooReport

  8. Avatar George Turner says:

    Happy birthday!Report

  9. Avatar Stillwater says:

    Forty is also the beginning of not *caring* so much. Getting older is a blessing. Our culture is an outlier. 🙂Report

  10. Avatar JoeSal says:

    Happy birthday, it helps to stop countin’, and those aren’t gray hairs, they’re just really blonde highlightsReport

  11. Happy birthday, too. I’m 45 now, and most of what you write resonates with me. (I have no kids, so that’s a big difference.) However, the fact that I’m middle aged still hasn’t hit me. I mean, I know I am middle aged (or hope I am–knock on wood–…’s always possible my next hour is my last), but I don’t *feel* it. But maybe that’s what it’s like to feel middle aged. One thing I’ve noticed is that the music that gets played in stores, etc., tend to be from my youth, in a similar way that music that got played when I was young tended to be my older siblings’ youth, or even my parents’. One day, I’ll stop recognizing the music.

    One weird thing is that my 9 nieces and nephews range in age from about 30 to 39, and my oldest will be 40 next February. (I have much older siblings and they had kids in their early 20s). Many of them have kids of their own (I’ve actually lost count and haven’t met about half of them). My point is, many of them are quite more mature than I am even though I’m older.Report

  12. Avatar Aaron David says:

    The wife and I were talking around the subject of age not long ago. One of the things we realize is that our internal age, that mental picture you have of yourself as you go and do all the things that occur in life, is much younger than our actual ages. I mentally picture myself as about 30, and she as probably 25. This affects how we perceive people looking at us, what clothes we think are appropriate, how much physical work we can do around the house, etc.

    This plays out in many ways; how long is appropriate for her to dye her hair? Is she driving a “mom” car (she has no kids), do I have any chance at being cool with my music choices or do the instantly become uncool when I listen to them, and so on. I’m 48 and my wife is 45. When did we get old? It seems to have been a binary switch.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Aaron David says:

      Yeah, I have something similar going on. But I also am around a tempering mechanism… I think “yeah, inside, I’m 25…” and then I talk to one of the 25 year olds we have littered around the building and, after about 3 minutes, I remember “oh, yeah… I’m one million years old.”Report

    • My mental age is probably a lot younger than my numerical age. (However, if most 45 year olds have the same mental age as I do, then maybe my mental age is the correct mental age for my numerical age? There’s something like an infinite regress going on.)

      Even so, I’m occasionally reminded that I’m getting older. So far, the reminders have been mostly benign or things I can take with stride. And for the most part, they’re reminders that so far I’ve been very fortunate and haven’t had to face many of the challenges others have. My first visit to an emergency room (for myself…I’d been there other times for other people) was only this year, and the cause turned out not to be what the doctor feared. But it was still a wake up call of sorts. And of course, I know many others who have had much worse, and earlier in their lives.Report

      • Little things that remind you you’re old… My wife has been binge-watching the original Twilight Zone, and I occasionally watch an episode with her. There were a staggering number of actors and actresses on the show that went on to be stars/regulars on highly successful TV series — and we recognize most of them and know the shows. “Oh, look, it’s Samantha from Bewitched.”Report

        • I had a couple of direct reports, who are in their late 20’s/early 30s, and I made a casual reference to Dire Straits’ “Money for Nothing” and they didn’t know what I was talking about.* Not that it’s necessarily a good song, but still….

          *On the other hand, it might be one of those songs they’d recognize, or find familiar, if they heard it.Report