Just 20 days until I hit the big four-oh. I’m halfway through my 40 new things in 40 days.
At least twice a week for the past few months, someone — usually with a grimace affixed to their face — asks me how I feel about turning 40.
My answer is always the same: it’s nothing compared to 25. For whatever reason, that birthday was the hardest for me. And 9 times out of 10, the person responds quickly with their own quarter-life horror story. It seems many of us are united by memories of spending that day curled up in the fetal position wondering how it is that we’re not already crushed by a combination of student loan debt and the realization that adult life was not what we imagined.
But 40? Whatever. As I remember my dad saying when he reached this age, turning 40 as an adult is the equivalent of turning 18 as a child. You’ve finally made it. And if you make it such, it can be the beginning of a new exciting chapter.
And, at the very least, consider that turning 40 is a whole lot better than the alternative.
(Read a report on days 40-29 here.)
Day 28: Garden of the Gods.
It’s appalling that I never made the trip here when I was a Colorado resident. It’s beautiful!
Day 27: Bundaberg Ginger Ale.
I was introduced to Bundaberg rum while I was studying abroad in Australia. I don’t even know if it’s considered good rum — it might be bottom shelf and nasty. But I was 20 (of legal age in Australia), it was summer, and Bundaberg and Ginger Ale was my go-to beverage. To me, just the name “Bundaberg” represents youth, freedom, exploration, and fun. SO IMAGINE MY EXCITEMENT to find Bundaberg Ginger Ale at the grocery store in Colorado!
Verdict? Meh. I like my ginger ales to burn going down, and this was a little mild for me. But the taste wasn’t the point anyway — just as it wasn’t in 1997.
Day 26: Seaweed Snacks.
This was a travel day, and it’s hard to find something new to do in airports. So I went with these absolutely disgusting seaweed snacks. (For the record, roasted seaweed can be delightful — maybe it was the teriyaki flavor that didn’t work for me here.)
Day 25: Paint my toes different colors.
This little ridiculousness also allowed me the opportunity to test some polishes I haven’t used in years. Some were so clumpy I could finally dispose of them. So a win-win.
Interestingly enough, as I’ve been walking around with my multi-colored toes, I notice that people my age give me weird looks, while kids under 15 stop to tell me they look awesome.
Depending on how you view that, I’m either a loser or a winner.
Day 24: Ice cream for dinner.
I consider the decision to eat ice cream for dinner one of the greatest perks of being an adult. I do it at least two or three times a year, and I never regret it.
After a circus class last Wednesday, I stopped at a little ice cream stand that opened in our tiny town for a few weeks last fall, and then for real this summer. They sell generic, mass-produced hard ice cream, so I went with the soft serve (which is probably also mass-produced, but at least is something I can’t buy at the local gas station) and was not disappointed.
Day 23: Made a gift to help fund Parkinson’s research.
My grandfather passed away 8 years ago after a battle with Parkinson’s, and I made a gift in his memory to the Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.
Day 22: Paint a sunset scene.
My department celebrated the end of a difficult fiscal year by spending the afternoon at one of those painting studios where you drink wine and try to create something that you’re not too embarrassed to hang on a wall. I think we did ok!
Day 21: Civil War Re-enactment.
For months, our town has been advertising a Civil War Re-Enactment scheduled to be held in our little rural town. Here’s the description from the newsletter we got just a few days ago — keep in mind that this is just an except from what was a two page article:
“Step back in time on Saturday and Sunday, June 25 and 26, when a Civil War Encampment settles in to Dotson Park. A company street of tents, campfire smoke, period attire, and the unmistakable thunder of musket and cannon fire, will envelop you in the sights, the sounds, and the smells of the America’s Civil War. It will transport you back 150 years. The soldiers will be sleeping on straw in their tents and cooking Civil War fare over campfires. Musket tripods will adorn the fields. The clamor of black powder fired from musket and cannon will mark the hours.
The encampment will be open to the public. You’ll have the opportunity to observe the period dress of soldiers, cooks, chaplains, cavalrymen, and women. You can examine a variety of muskets and medals and learn what a gum blanket is—and which well-known company got its start making them.”
Now, you read that, and what do you imagine? I assumed it would be a bustling scene — dozens of campsites and soldiers and whatnot. As the weekend drew closer, I decided to attend the “Drum and Fife” presentation, and the 21 gun salute. Of everything planned for the weekend, this sounded the most entertaining.
I arrived at Danby Town Hall, across from the park where the soldiers were camping for the weekend. And this is the entire cast of Civil War characters assembled for the drum and fife/21 gun salute presentation:
That is it. That is everyone.
What’s more? There were no drummers. Just one fife. And only four men were there with guns. They reloaded three times, so the 21 gun salute became a 12 gun salute.
It was so unbelievably awesome, and so very “Danby.” I love it.
This was the “company street of tents”:
It felt less like a Civil War Re-Enactment, and more like an excuse for 14 people to play dress up. That said, those 14 people were very knowledgable and entertaining. It made me sad that more people were not there to see it.
And here’s a video of my new thing for the day (if you’re reading this as an email, you’ll need to click into the actual website to see the video):
Day 20: Capsize a boat.
Steve, Elizabeth and I spent this hot Sunday at one of our favorite state parks, on the edge of Cayuga Lake. After a picnic and a bit of swimming, I mentioned that I needed to do something new for my list. I vetoed a few of the first suggestions (“How about you catch rocks in your mouth?”) before Elizabeth asked, “Have you ever jumped out of your kayak in the middle of the lake and then gotten back in?” I have never done that, I responded. And off we went.
After kayaking across the lake (about a mile) and then halfway back, we prepared ourselves for our dip in the lake. I zipped our sunglasses and a few other belongings into a pocket on my kayak seat, and then started to maneuver my legs to get out of the boat. And with that slight movement, I tipped over and was underwater.
It’s important to note here that I have a recreational racing kayak, so it’s designed for speed and therefore pretty tippy. So tippy, in fact, that my brother borrowed it once and then refuses to ever use it again. I don’t actually find it unstable or hard to maneuver when I’m in it — but getting in and out of it can be a little comical. And perhaps that would have been something to consider before ditching in the middle of the lake, half a mile from either shoreline. But no, it never even crossed my mind.
It took both Elizabeth and I (which meant no one was left to hold onto her boat, and it kept floating away, which required a few frantic swims to retrieve it) to stabilize my boat while I attempted to rocket myself onto it. I was able to get on top of the kayak fine, but when I would start to climb onto the seat, I would lose balance and flip back over. Then there would be a few minutes of uncontrollable laughter. We’d try again; I’d flip again. Repeat, repeat.
When I FINALLY got into the boat, the entire cockpit was full — and I mean full — of water. Totally swamped. Which meant two things: 1) the small amount of stability I had was completely gone, and 2) I had to haul an extra 100 pounds or so of water back to shore. My abs (for stabilty) and arms (for paddling) got a very intense workout.
In retrospect, it would have been easier to catch rocks in my mouth.
A photo before the adventure began.