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Happy birthday to me! Thirty trips around the sun and not done spinning yet

Thirty

I dashed to the room where my smartphone was blaring a sitar ringtone, and pressed the red button, happy that I’d managed to locate the device before voice mail picked up. Well, I was happy until I realized I’d hung up on the caller, which is what the red button does, which you’d think I would know after having had the phone for three months.

So I opened the call log and returned the call to hear my brother’s voice on the line saying, “Hello?…..Hello?…..Is anyone there?” as I filled in the ellipsis with my own responses that he couldn’t hear with my mute button on. I figured out how to unmute the phone, but only after he hung up. So I tried calling him back again only to get a confused, Spanish-speaking person on the other end of the line, who I knew was not my brother because my brother took German in high school, not Spanish.

Then, finally, I managed to call my brother back at the proper number with the mute setting off, and started to have a conversation with him. But the first words out of my mouth were, “Oh God, this is what it’s like to be Mom.” I love my mother dearly (Hi, Mom!), and she’s the first person I’d ask to sew a hem or bake a lasagna, but she is also the first person who’d acknowledge that her skills with electronics are nothing to envy. I usually take on the role as her tech support, hooking up her TiVo and configuring her wireless phones. I speak gadget and she does not.

Until now. Because I must admit that I still screw up many basic operations on my smartphone, usually when I’m under the pressure of an incoming call, ring, ring, RINGING, away. I don’t do well under a time limit. I am not as fluent in smartphone as I am in DVR or HTML (and now they’re developing HTML5, so I can be not as fluent in that too).

So, less than a week before my birthday today, I realized it—I really am turning 30. As if by official decree, now is the moment when I start to lose my ability to operate electronics and slowly slip into the persona of an old person who wouldn’t be able to stop the VCR clock from flashing if VCRs still existed.

I am thirty years old today, and I’m not old, but I’m not young.

I remember when music came on cassette tapes. I remember when the phrase “world wide web” would have referred to an alien invasion of gigantic spider monsters, not this Internet thingamajig. I remember when a familiar actor appeared on a television show and I’d have to rack my brain for weeks until I spontaneously recalled a part he’d played, instead of just going to the IMDB. I remember when my elementary school teachers would ask me what I was going to be when I grew up, and the correct answer did not yet exist because neither did the Internet. I remember slap bracelets, and jelly shoes, and She-Ra. I remember when the year 2000 seemed far off and was a possible harbinger of the apocalypse.

I am thirty years old today, and I live in the future.

If I were to stand on my personal timeline and wave back at the person I used to be, she would be amazed by everything we have now. My smartphone is more complex than Captain Kirk’s communicator which didn’t do video. I have talked to people in France and Chile on the Internet for free. I can order almost anything I want online without leaving my apartment. I can work without leaving my apartment. I think it’s so strange that kids born today will take all these things for granted, just like I can’t imagine a world without microwaves, televisions, and telephones. A kid born today will view me in the same way as I view someone who was born in 1950. I remember when I thought someone who was born in the 60′s was from a distant era of time where whites and coloreds didn’t drink from the same water fountains, but in retrospect wasn’t that much earlier from when I was born. I remember feeling left out because I didn’t have a story for where I was when Kennedy was shot, and I remember wishing I still felt left out after September 11, 2001.

I remember hearing someone say, “Never trust someone over the age of thirty.” I’m not entirely sure what they meant, but I remember thinking that thirty was the age where people stopped trying to change to world to suit themselves and started changing themselves to suit the world instead. I don’t know if that’s true or not. I do know that 30 is the first birthday when you start getting cards joking about how old you are.

The reality of aging is that more and more of your life exists in the past, and less of it in the future. You convert all your potential tomorrows into a string of yesterdays. You have to concede that eventually your life will consist of only yesterdays and no tomorrows. I can’t say for sure how far along I am on my personal timeline, but hopefully I’m less than halfway done, and even more hopefully less than a third of the way to the end. (Mental note: Exercise more! Eat healthier! Wear sunscreen!)

There are lots of landmarks on my personal timeline. May 1998 was when I graduated from high school. October 2002 was when my dad left. November 2003 was when I had my gallbladder removed. I suppose thirty is just another landmark on my timeline that’s only given significance because of our base-10 numbering system. Sort of random and determined by the speed of the earth’s journey around the sun.

It’s a time to look to the past I’ve had and then look to the future I want and try to figure out how to join those points together. Regardless of what it was or wasn’t, I look back on the past 30 years and think, I’m good with that. Sure, I could have been more outgoing in college, or lost more weight before I got so fat, or parked my brother’s car in a space where it wouldn’t get hit by a drunken, hit-and-run driver while my bro was studying abroad in Italy. But all in all, it’s been pretty sweet, even with my never-ending headache. I don’t have many complaints.

So now I’m looking ahead to the next thirty years and trying to decide what I want to do next. What do I want to achieve? Who do I want to meet? Where do I want to go? And I think I should probably spend less time thinking and thinking myself in circles in my head and just try something whether I succeed or fail. Just do it. Go! Live!

So, I am thirty today and here I am, traveling somewhere between the future and the past, exchanging one for the other like dollars to euros. I’ve still got my She-ra action figures even if I lost my slap bracelet. I’m keeping my smartphone even if I accidentally call back the pizza delivery guy again. But it’s good to take a break, look around and appreciate the journey, to see where I’ve been and look forward to where I’ve still yet to go.

I just hope that when I’m 60, you youngins will teach Granny PastaQueen how to answer the phone.

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JenFul » Happy birthday to me! · October 27, 2012 at 6:37 am

[...] off like a shameless grab for attention, particularly since 32 isn’t a monumental birthday like 30 was. But I figured, it’s my birthday, I’ll blog about it if I want to! And if we all had [...]

47 Comments

Lindsay • October 27, 2010 at 9:03 am

Happy Birthday! I turned 30 last year…a strange age indeed, somehow passing from young to old in one number. I, too, lost my slap bracelet, but luckily I can replace it with sill bandz.

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Kimberly • October 27, 2010 at 9:03 am

Happy Birthday! It is hard to believe that you are only just now 30. You’ve already done so much. And I have smartphone freakout syndrome too. I’m a technogeek, but have my phone ring and my brain shuts down immediately. Weird.

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Pat Elst • October 27, 2010 at 9:34 am

What only 30? Not saying you look older, it’s just that I’m 64 and 30 looks pretty great from here. Happy birthday, youngin’.

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Debbie • October 27, 2010 at 9:37 am

Happy Birthday to you! You’re an old soul, and that’s the only thing old about you. Wise beyond your years. Cheers to your next 30 years!

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Gina • October 27, 2010 at 9:50 am

As someone who has been 30 for all of 2 days now, it makes me sad that today’s kids don’t know who She-Ra is.

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Anna • October 27, 2010 at 9:59 am

Happy 30th! I turned 30 last week and realised that I was entering uncharted territory…I had never thought about what my life would be like post-30.

I clearly remember as a child, thinking where I would be at the dawn of the new millennium, where I wanted my life to be throughout my 20′s; uni, a home, a husband, a baby???? But strangely enough I have never given my 30′s much of a thought until now.

I like the idea of a new decade to embrace and explore – I just hope it contains slapbands (why oh why haven’t they had a comeback yet?).

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Helen • October 27, 2010 at 10:17 am

My thirties were my favorite decade, so far. Happy Birthday!

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Tracy • October 27, 2010 at 10:18 am

Happy birthday to you! :)

I’m glad 30 doesn’t look too bad from where you’re standing – I’ve got just over 2 years to go, and it’s a terrifying prospect.

Hope you enjoy your day!

p.s. I’m glad you know who She-Ra is. She and He-Man were my heroes when I was a kid.

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Claudia • October 27, 2010 at 10:26 am

Happy Birthday! I turned thirty three weeks ago and reading your post made me realize that I am RELIEVED to have hit the point where I can lose my ability to operate electronics — guilt free!

Cheers to a great year!

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Elaine • October 27, 2010 at 10:29 am

Happy birthday, Pasta Queen. Think of it as the first anniversary of your 29th birthday.

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lindsay • October 27, 2010 at 10:39 am

Happy Birthday!

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fd • October 27, 2010 at 11:02 am

Happy Birthday! i hope there’s cake and some sort of celebration involved. Here’s to 30 more!

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Sarah Caron • October 27, 2010 at 11:03 am

Happy birthday! I turned 30 earlier this year, and went through a period of retrospectively looking at my first 30 years. Ultimately, I am happy with where I am too.

And the awesome thing about this future world? We can stream Voltron on Netflix and be back in the 80s … if only for a little bit.

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JudithNYC • October 27, 2010 at 11:11 am

Happy Birthday, dear girl. Hope when you are 60 I am still reading Pasta Queen. (I will be 61 in two weeks! and do have some brain-fog issues around electronics. Love my Macs/Apple, though.)

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Rachel • October 27, 2010 at 11:14 am

That was really well written. I think only those similar in age or older than you can really appreciate what you said. Enjoy your birthday! :)

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Beth • October 27, 2010 at 11:28 am

Happy Birthday! Speaking from the ripe old age of 32 I’m here to tell you the 30′s rock! Enjoy!!

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Rachel • October 27, 2010 at 11:32 am

Happy Birthday! I turn 30 in 10 months. I’m not sure how I feel about it. And, by the way, we’ll be in DC this weekend to for a different reason but I hope you enjoy it. You’ll know us by the bald man and four kids I’m with. I’m not looking forward to taking two strollers on the metro. :)

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Shannon • October 27, 2010 at 11:42 am

Happy Birthday!! Have a groovy day!!! :-)

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Keri • October 27, 2010 at 11:49 am

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!

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Merry • October 27, 2010 at 11:52 am

Happy 3rd birthday!

Hey, I took a math class once. (Once.) They explained to me that a 0 meant nothing. Therefore, I don’t think it counts.

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Carbzilla • October 27, 2010 at 11:53 am

Happy Happy Birthday!!! I think the 30′s are the best actually. It’s alllll downhill after 40. LOL

(My hubby just got back from an HTML5 conference. He can tell you everything you wanna know. Sounded like some small tweaks and features)

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Amy • October 27, 2010 at 12:34 pm

Happy Birthday, fellow October baby! (I turned 28 on October 12th.) I remember all of those things you’ve mentioned, and it saddens me how little kids these days know about our generation. (Wow, did that sound really parental or what?)

I wish you the best of luck, best of experiences, best of everything for your next 30 years and beyond. :)

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Emma • October 27, 2010 at 1:12 pm

Happy Birthday! Loved this entry, made me laugh and smile :-) Have a great day!

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Caroline Calcote • October 27, 2010 at 1:22 pm

Wonderful post Jennette! 30 was such a milestone for me. I fretted about it for the whole year I was 29. Now I’m 41. I seriously gave less thought to 40 than I did to 30. Eh, it’s just a number. My 30′s were awesome and totally life-altering. I hope yours are awesome too! Happy Birthday!

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Lanie • October 27, 2010 at 1:29 pm

I’m getting ready to turn 41.

You’ll have to change your description in the sidebar now ‘Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a twenty-something smartass . . . .”

I think you can still claim the smartass part, not a curmdgeon yet :)

Have a great birthday.

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Kyle • October 27, 2010 at 1:43 pm

Happy birthday! Don’t worry, no matter how old you get, you’ll always be younger than Seba (but still older than me, naaahaa!)!

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Christina • October 27, 2010 at 2:07 pm

Happy Birthday to you!!!

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Karen • October 27, 2010 at 3:33 pm

Happy birthday young’un.

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Lydia C • October 27, 2010 at 4:15 pm

. . . and this type of post is what reminds your readers of why you are the author of two books! Many more to come, we hope.

I remember turning 30. I was in Bulgaria in a teaching job, and one of my students, trying to make me feel better (while I did not feel particularly bad), told me, “I remember when my mother turned 30, and you don’t look THAT bad!” And from that point on, I felt kind of bad about turning 30!

Now I’m 43 . . . or 44 or something like that, and I look back at 30 and think how YOUNG that was!

Your 30s are GREAT!!!! Enjoy them to their fullest.

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Laura • October 27, 2010 at 4:15 pm

Happy birthday to you and happy birthday to me. I’ve been reading you for years and never knew we share a birthday. Today is my 36th rotation around the sun and I am glad I am not the only one feeling a bit introspective and wondering what else I am going to do in my life. First, cake! I hope you have a great day and celebrate the same way.

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Marie • October 27, 2010 at 5:07 pm

Happy B-Day! As Laura I turned 36 today and I was actually remembering how weird I felt when I turned 30. I had the mid-life crisis like 10 years ahead of schedule.

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Jules • October 27, 2010 at 5:49 pm

Happy Birthday! Wonderful post. I’ve made a lot of memories in my 30′s, some good, some bad. But all a part of sculpting who I am today, and I love her!

I know you will make some wonderful memories yourself, and I look forward to reading about them. :)

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Debby • October 27, 2010 at 7:24 pm

Happy Birthday to you! I wish you many more. Have a great day!

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Chrissy • October 27, 2010 at 7:25 pm

Happy Birthday dearie, to you, Laura, & Marie!

I enjoyed reading this post. Was this one of the few bdays you didn’t see your Mum?

Being from a diff decade, some of your childhood memories go over my head. I think it is great that you have readers from all eras. Mine would be the era of Skipper [Barbie's sister], Liddle Kiddles, Avon’s Sweet Honesty perfume, Bonne Bell lip smacker was new…Oh, and pq, technology, yes! Pocket calculators!! And video games — Pong! See, I can speak your language..haha
TV shows such as Starsky & Hutch & Dukes of Hazzard were popular.

There, now I hope I have succeeded in making you feel YOUNG again. haha. Or else you are wishing I was speaking English.
Happy, happy Day to you.
(Steelers6)

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scone • October 27, 2010 at 8:06 pm

Many Happy Returns of the Day! Go PastaQueen! Rah, rah, rah! :)

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Deb • October 27, 2010 at 11:48 pm

Happy Birthday, PQ. Awesome post! My b-day present to you is that I’ve been re-reading Half Assed and anxiously awaiting my chance to buy C&V.

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Diane • October 28, 2010 at 1:55 am

My daughter’s birthday is tomorrow and she will be 28. I can relate to your mom’s being electronically challenged. I also can remember my daughter’s slap bracelets and She-ra action figures. The years do fly by. As a 51 year old woman, I marvel at how far we have come. I do feel that there is still progress to be made. I hope you enjoy Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert on Saturday. They are on the right track. I do wish I could be there. Happy Birthday!

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Kristen • October 28, 2010 at 5:56 am

Happy birthday, PQ!

I love everything about this post. You really are an amazingly gifted writer. I pre-ordered Chocolate and Vicodin yesterday and can’t wait to finally get to read it soon!

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Boilergrad93 • October 28, 2010 at 7:19 am

Happy Birthday!! Enjoy your day!! I turned 40 last year and I’ll tell you, wait til you get here…it’s AMAZING!!

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Leigh ann • October 28, 2010 at 12:43 pm

I have trouble with my smart phone, too. I’m usually acceptably proficient with things like this (for an old person–I’m in my 40s), but when I first got my new phone, I kept calling people by mistake by touching the screen slightly above the name I wanted. This included a hunky business contact whom I dialed, after hours, on two separate occasions. I apologized, but he probably thinks I’m some kind of stalker.

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Leigh ann • October 28, 2010 at 12:43 pm

Oh, I meant to say, Happy Birthday!

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Quix • October 28, 2010 at 5:20 pm

Happy 30th from someone who’s had about a year and a half more practice at it. It’s not so bad. This however, made me sad – “thirty was the age where people stopped trying to change to world to suit themselves and started changing themselves to suit the world instead.” But I guess it’s kinda true. People start giving up their dreams and just becoming complacent.

I think since I’ve been 30 I’ve been trying less to change the world, and started changing myself to who I really want to be instead of trying to be what other people want me to be or what’s easy/comes natural. So somewhere in the middle I guess.

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Angela • October 31, 2010 at 3:35 am

Happy Birthday! I was fine with turning 30, but will turn 35 in April!! I enjoyed your post and also remember cassette tapes. I was just thinking about that the other day when playing music from iTunes. You can now search for and play songs immediately, create playlists, and even repeat or shuffle. My kids will never experience the frustration of waiting for a cassette to rewind. :)

I put your new book on my wish list for Christmas. Congratulations on all of your accomplishments! Also, how are you adapting to life in NC now? I live in IL and would love to move somewhere warmer. Are you happy that you made the leap to a whole new state?

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jenny • October 31, 2010 at 7:49 pm

when my son was little, he called birthdays “the day you change your number” well happy changing number day to you! I am looking at 60 next year, but feel pretty current with technology. The key is to work with college kids. Keeps one thinking young. But your comment about aging and feeling that most of one’s life is in the past, and not a whole lot left for the furture- got me thinking..hmmm.

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kicking_k • November 1, 2010 at 9:10 pm

Happy birthday!

I’m 31 and still hoping to change the world a bit. I also remember slap bracelets, and I had a She-Ra kite (why?)

But I first got a card mocking my elderliness when I was 17. It was from my then 12-year-old brother. See, it’s all relative!

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MB • November 3, 2010 at 7:48 pm

Happy Belated 30th Birthday! Funny how I can think of someone who’s 30 as YOUNG! That’s what happens when you cross over to the 40s! I could still use someone to show me how to stop that blinking light on my VCR.

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Comments are now closed on all PastaQueen entries. The blog is an archive only so I don't have to deal with spammers. For fresh discussions please visit my new blog JenFul.

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Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, weight-loss inspiration, chronic headache sufferer, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She does this at JenFul now, but you can still have fun perusing her past here.

Disclaimer: I am not responsible for keyboards ruined by coffee spit-takes or forehead wrinkles caused by deep thought.

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