Tuesday, December 31, 2013

On Getting Married at 41

I have something shocking to tell you.  It will go against most of what you have seen on TV.  Read in books.  Watched in films.  Ladies, I am here to tell you...it's okay to get married for the first time...at age 41.

How do I know this?  Well...that 41-year-old, first time bride is none other than myself.  In four days I will be walking down the aisle behind my bridesmaids who are now closing in on their 20-year wedding anniversaries.  My father has long since passed away, and none of my grandparents survived to see this day.  But the day is finally upon me.  And I couldn't be happier.

The best part of waiting to get married is that you have a better sense of who you are...at least that is the case with me. I was recently asked if my future husband completes me.  I said, "No.  He enhances who I have already become."  I don't think that anyone should complete you (sorry, Jerry Maguire).  I think you need to be in space where your life is complete with or without a man.  Now, don't get me wrong.  It took me years to learn this lesson.  I bought into all of the Disney and Hollywood myths (and I'm here to tell you that women still do, which is a big problem...but, hey, they're making millions, so why change now?).

Now I do know couples who are still happily married straight out of college, and I've dated some good men in my life (okay, maybe two or three).   I even came close to being engaged twice.  But I wasn't comfortable in my own skin.  My self-esteem took years to solidify especially when it came to who I dated.  My father was a very dominant man, and our home was the stereotypical 50's household, but there was violent behavior and there was a lesson in female submission that needed to be unlearned.  I'm not proud of some of the decisions I made when it came to men, or some of my behavior, but I didn't know better.  And then I learned better.  And it took years of my time.

But the time was not wasted.  I didn't sit in the corner and cry (okay, sometimes, but my friends eventually pulled me up and took me out for ice cream). I knew that I could not control if or when someone would come into my life.  But what I could control was how I lived it.  So I decided to go to graduate school.  To spend time with my father's family after his death.  Seven years passed in Acadiana, and I wouldn't trade one minute of that experience.  I wrote, I met lifelong friends, I earned my Ph.D., I leaped over barricades to catch Mardi Gras beads...well, that's a story for another post.

And when I graduated I got a job at TCU (where I am still teaching to this day), and I love every minute of my job (well, sometimes when the papers pile above my head, you will hear me grumble from behind them).  It was around that time that I started to have friends buzz in my ear, "Have you tried online dating?  Try online dating!"  Lord.  Really?  That's for desperate people.  What if I end up with some creepy dude in cyberspace who stalks my apartment past midnight?  But after about a year of that buzz, I took the plunge.  And four creepy guys later, I met Kevin...one week before my subscription would expire on eHarmony...on my birthday.

Three years later, two beautiful step-kids, and one amazing man later, here we are...four days before our wedding.

I'm here to tell you that the number of days it takes you to get married is trivial.  Live your life.  Don't waste it wondering why it's not turning out one way or another.  That's not something that you can control.  What you can control is your own happiness.  And if the right person comes along, whatever age that happens at, you will be ready.  And if he doesn't, that's okay, too...despite what your mother says.

So if you see a 41-year-old bride on the road this weekend, her veil blowing in the Texas breeze, don't be afraid.  It's just me.  It's taken me some time, I took the long way around, but I'm finally getting to the chapel.

And it's my turn to say, "I do."

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

And Then There Was 40

If someone would have told me 10 or 20 years ago that 40 would be on of my best years, I would have laughed...relentlessly.  I mean, isn't there a reason why they sell stuffed vultures and black crepe paper for those middle-aged parties?  Give out diapers and Geritol as party favors?  And, yes, I do see the effects of my years slowly creeping in.  The gray hair is starting to sprout from the top of my head.  My bedtime is now well before midnight (you're talking to the person who used to stay up until 3AM and then sleep until noon).  My knees are starting to click when I go up the stairs.  I do laundry on Friday nights...and enjoy it.

But what people fail to tell you about 40 is that you've come to a point in your life where you have settled more and more into who you are, where you stand, and what you will not stand for.  That's not to say I have it all figured out.  I don't.  And I'm not sure I want to.  My life, for me, should have constant room for growth, development, and pushing myself into new directions. 

And 40 was certainly a year for just that.

This past year I signed up for two photography classes (thanks, Dwight!) and began to explore life beyond the lens.

This year I submitted my play for publication (after seven years of having it sit idly on my computer).  My fingers are crossed that good news will soon come my way.  

This year my boyfriend proposed to me after three years of dating, and yes, this is my first time being married.  I will be the first to admit that I made some poor choices when it came to the guys I dated.  But, the older I got, the more confident I grew.  And with that confidence came an understanding of who I was, what I wanted, and what I would not settle for.  Just when I had reached the point where I had made that discovery, my fiancee entered into it.  The timing was finally right.  And I said yes.

This year we are building a home together, just as we will begin building our lives together...a brick at a time, a step at a time, with a solid foundation to hold us up.

So, yeah, I might be over-the-hill to some...but I'm flying down that hill and looking for the next one to climb.  And I'm the happiest I've been in a long time.

41...I'm ready...let's see what you got.


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Professor Wants to Know...

I was playing around on my computer tonight researching female playwrights for my upcoming drama course this fall when I found myself reading through articles about new plays, new terms (such as the "angry young woman" borrowing from John Osbourne's "angry young man" of the late 50s), and new faces.  And, once again, I was reminded that it has been some time since I have sat down and written a full-length play.

Poetry has always been my "go to" place when I write, but lately, writing has taken a backseat to my photography.  To remedy that, I'm starting up a new project this summer with some friends, and I am excited about the possibilities that can arise out of it.

I've always loved working collaboratively with fellow artists, and in fact, tonight I stumbled across an old photograph from grad school:

Every Thursday night there was a reading for graduate students to feature their work, and on this night, a few of us decided to experiment with our reading.  Two of us read poetry, one of us composed music to accompany the words, and the other created a visual image as the reading transpired.

As busy as we all were writing our dissertations, juggling teaching, grading papers, meeting with students, meeting with our committees, we still found time to create.  And I loved every minute of it.  There was no impending pressure to publish, to write, to perform.  We just did.  And it was magical.

Seven years later, I am struggling to find that same balance, and what I thought was an individual issue turns out to be a recurring theme among some of these very people that I once collaborated with.  I'd actually like to explore this further with some of you.

I'm curious...for those of you who have been an adjunct or instructor, do you find yourself more or less prolific since your graduate school days?   Do you think that there is a difference between non-tenured and tenured track in this regard?  Are there gender issues at play, or is it common across the board?  If you are recently graduating, will you move away from academia or seek it out?  Why?