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hula1i just got back from hawaii. jealous? of course you are. but please temper your jealous rage with the fact that it was a hard won vacation. first i had to:

complete a draft of my dissertation (which also explains why i haven’t blogged in about a billion light years)
mark a billion papers
and turn thirty

well the turning thirty thing was actually the impetus for going to the islands. t-bone, in all of his magnificence, surprised me with the trip on my birthday. yes. my 30 birthday. not a spring chicken any more folks. nope. i’m practically a cougar. speaking of cougars – here are some of my hawaiian thoughts. as in, i had these thoughts on my hawaiian vacation. and no. none of them actually have anything to do with cougars. but a segue is a segue folks. deal with it.

thought #1: are japanese people from japan MUCH cooler than white north americans? the answer my friends is yes. so very, very much cooler. AND more stylish. poor us.

thought #2: why is visiting the united states of america the equivalent of a food assault? the restaurant nearest to us (a twenty-four hour diner) served so much food to us that i almost started crying. i saved my tears however for the food pounding i got at red lobster. i am still not sure if it was because of how much my distended stomach hurt or because the pina colada sauce they serve with the coconut shrimp will bring you to f-ing tears.

thought #3: why wasn’t i born on one of the polynesian islands? huh? i was BORN to fast hip shake dance (i actually think i patented that on the dance floors of o-town in my youth), hula dance, and eat coconut. f-ing BORN for it.

thought #4: is buying and wearing 4 spf sunscreen bad?

thought #5: i am AWESOME at surfing. why the f do i live in canada?

thought #6: mai tais are like a meal. booze. cherry. pineapple. booze. i will have one a day from now on. forever.

thought #7: mai tais make me wanna take mai top off.

thought #8: t-bone is really cute. especially with his hawt tan. how do i get him to take his top off? i know! another round of mai tais!

thought #9: my ty is the best kind of mai tai.

thought #10: how long have i been in the sun with top off? why is my glass empty? where the f is t-bone?

and basically it just deteriorated from there.

i f-ing love hawaii and i can’t wait to go back next year. hear that t-bone? i will be turning thirty again. and again. and again…

(p.s. i didn’t see dog. or leland. but not for lack of trying).

big-white-09-0511hi – it’s me! your favoritest blogger returned from the land of big white and mini skis (pictured left).  so i haven’t blogged in a while, so what? you also don’t do stuff your supposed to so get off my back. okay – i might be a little bitter because i am still getting over fuzzybrain that plagued me at the extact same time as it did last year. creepy? yes. methinks so. (please suggest possible reasons for this recurring cottonbrain conundrum in the comments section. especially if you are a doctor specializing in hypochondria and/or germaphobia. many thanks). anyhoo – a couple of days – in the deepest depths of my fuzzybrainness – i was going to regale you with all the minutiae of my life but then i began to have interesting conversations about a particular topic that kept coming up. and no, it wasn’t because of what t-bone suggests – that i have to tell the same story over and over again in his presence just to test the limits of his capacity for unconditional love and tolerance (okay the latter half of that was my inclusion but the first part – that i endlessly tell the same stories is all his – just ask him about it – he’ll rant for a good hour). i am going to call this topic ‘failure,’ although as we’ll see, this kind of failure is the new fantasticness. stay with me.

so i am turning 30 this year (and this will be one of my repetitive stories so brace yourselves and don’t bring it up to t-bone or he might have an aneurysm. oh – if your the doctor that is diagnosing my hypochondria could you tell me what an aneurysm is because i use it all the time and have no idea. many thanks.) and it has made me realize that if 40 is the new 30, then 30 is the new 20. by this i mean that myself and many of my friends are currently experiencing the thirties as a renewed moment of indecision, not unlike that moment you had just out of high school (pre-20s) when you begged your parents to let you live free and die young. or any other approximation of not-going-to-university. or was that just me? anyway, the thirties seem like this moment – when we have enough education, maybe have made enough money, and are perhaps pre- or post-marriage but definitely pre-children – were we step back and say wtf? what do we want out of life and how are we going to get it. it is like realizing anything is possible which we didn’t when we were begging our parents for travel funds to europe or a year off to ‘find ourselves’ (i.e., working at denny’s and then running for the nearest educational institution). see, we were dumb in our twenties. we figured everything would work out and that life wasn’t something to be worked at. instead it would just happen to us just like everything else had happened to us since birth. and it was gonna be good times.

so some of my friends have been working in interesting and challenging careers since before i started grad school. and while i kinda hate them for making the wise decision to start making money light years before me, i empathize with their concerns about if what they are doing is what they always want to be doing. their questioning about if this is ‘it’. since i am the cusp of finishing something that has kept me busy since 2001 when i started my m.a., i am asking the same questions – what do i want out of life, what is possible, what isn’t, what do i deserve out of life, what do i never, ever want? an interesting aspect of this questioning and decision-making is the diversity of what constitutes both achievements and failures for those of us making these decisions. over some sausage and eggs recently, my friend N. and i discussed our visions of the ‘failures’ of so-called social achievement. we questioned the social pressure to marry and procreate as ‘whose’ values – our own or more appropriately classified under the rubric of ‘social expectation?’ we wondered where social expectation ends and our own desires begin while trying to acknowledge the impossibility of somehow ‘living outside’ such expectation (and its inevitable impact on the shaping of our desires).

after too much coffee and a walk to air out the nauseating diner smell, i continued to think about how one person’s achievement is another person’s personal failure and how different valuations of values can result in both feelings of inadequacy and superiority. and i wondered if it wasn’t the people who engage in the flouting and touting of their so-called social achievements who really suffer. the ones who measure their worth against the perceived ‘successes’ and ‘failures’ of others that perpetuate the expected outcomes of social expectation. this is not meant to be self-righteous, but rather a consideration of the multitudes of valuation that exist but are ignored. that persist but are disrespected. deciding that marriage and children as ‘success’ is not only the privileged domain of a heteronormative value system (by and large) but it is necessarily exclusionary and intolerant. however, even those who live in difference need to heed the value systems of others as equal as long as they are not oppressive. my point – if i have one – is to suggest that we must acknowledge that our lives are a culmination of the values we privilege. and what is most interesting about those values is that, despite the notion or appearance that they are universal and uniform, are easily in/subverted by desires that move outside the realm of the expected. suburban dreams as failures. and achievement measured by how comfortably you can live in your skin and accept others regardless of how closely they fit what we were all once told to want.