Adults are Just Children Who Owe Money

Ramen is not a Food Group...although Nutella is.

My birthday is coming round again in a few weeks (offerings of gifts, cash, and gift cards are welcome, or better yet, go buy copies of QoS for all your friends…kids love it!)** and I am in the midst of a traditional, if extremely difficult, period of self-analysis that started last week with the anniversary of an Unfortunate Event in the Life of Sylvan.  For the past few days I’ve been reviewing my natal chart, searching my soul, and trying to make sense of where the hell I’m at right now, still in my early 30s but firmly in my 30s.

I was thinking about all the things I’ve learned, either by happy accident or hard-won effort, and thought I’d share a few, in an effort to make those lessons earlier for those who come after me.

Thing the First:

I cannot hold myself responsible for other people’s happiness, and no one else is responsible for mine. I can do my best not to hurt people, but how they react to my behavior, whether commendable or reprehensible, is not under my control.  Of course I want to be kind and I want to be liked; I can act with integrity and try to earn the respect of others, but in the end, they’re the ones who decide whether or not to respect me.  I try to live according to the values I have chosen as my personal code, not just because I believe in having a positive effect on society, but for my own self-worth, and sometimes things are going to be misconstrued, people are going to tell lies, and sometimes people just hate each other on sight.  Lucky for all of us, we’re adults who get to choose where we spend our time and energy; if we don’t like each other, we don’t have to do a book report together or anything.

In That Same Vein:

I have no control over what people think of my writing. People will love it and people will hate it and all shades of in-between, and that’s just how it is.  Opinions are like assholes, as they say, and both are all over the internet.

Speaking of the Internet:

There is no such thing as privacy online.  Crank your Facebook privacy settings up to maximum, do the best you can, but stuff is going to get out.  You can’t stop the signal. Once it’s out there, it’s out there, and there’s no retrieving it.  If you can’t accept that, don’t post it.

And one Other Related Thing:

It’s best for my own mental health not to read the comments on articles, blogs, or anything at all. I read the ones here because I’m not famous and therefore don’t attract the caliber of trolls bigger blogs do, but one day, I’ll end up having to limit my participation in that too, because it’s just not good for me to surround myself with petty arguments and mindless hate.

Six Things An Adult Single Female Needs to Have:

1 ~ A savings account containing enough money for an emergency root canal, car service, or blocked feline urinary tract.  It’s amazing to me what a grand in the bank does for my sense of security and ability to respond to life’s shitstorms with aplomb.

2 ~ Renter’s insurance.

3 ~ An electric drill and an assortment of bits. Better yet a tookit including a hammer, level, a

Hitachi - for all your power tool needs.

screwdriver with multiple heads, yardstick, and pliers, preferably needlenose.

4 ~ A good bag. I’m not talking fifty tiny little useless clutches, here, I’m talking a good bag that holds everything you need to get through your average day.  In my case I require a messenger-style bag with room for my Macbook, wallet, phone, iPod and earbuds, keys, at least one book, notebook, pens, menstrual pad, stamps, mints, and antibacterial wipeys.

5 ~A voter’s registration card.

6 ~ A vibrator or other reliable sex toy. I don’t care if you’re in a relationship, married, or swinging with every single in the city, being able to take care of business with your own two hands – or your hands and a nearby power strip – is an important part of being an independent woman.  Your sexual fulfillment, like your bank account, should be firmly in your grasp, and having a dependable source of satisfaction can help you refrain from making dreadful impulse decisions that lead to questions like “Who are you again?” and “Why am I wearing this Lederhosen? It’s not even Oktoberfest!”

Things Every Adult Female Should Know How to Do

1 ~ Change a flat tire without help.

2 ~ File a basic 1040 income tax return (now, when they get complicated, obviously bring in the experts, but the point is to understand the basic idea of what’s going on).

3 ~ Change her own AC filter.

4 ~ Check the oil in her car.  I believe strongly in paying professionals to do jobs that I lack the skill or inclination to do myself, such as changing my oil, but basic maintenance checks like using a dipstick and airing up your tires are very important for the longevity of your vehicle.

5 ~Plot out a trip on a map, with or without Google’s help.  Basic navigational skills are a must, and your GPS does not replace being able to figure out a city’s layout and how to get from point A to point B.  Learning how to research where I’m doing before I get there has saved thousands of headaches, and as long as you’re flexible enough to deviate from the plan here and there, you can find all sorts of side adventures and then make it safely back to bed.

6 ~ Buy contraceptives. In fact, add “know your reproductive options” to this one. Have backup plans for your backup plans in the unlikely event of alien parasite infestation.  The best way to avoid thorny abortion questions is to get over yourself and buy a damn box of condoms.  Don’t rely on men to do this for you.  It’s your uterus you’re defending.

These are just a few of the things I’ve learned in the last few years, some of which I hope to share with you in the weeks leading up to my 33rd birthday.  Some lessons have been infinitely harder than others, and some have happened almost by default (I really didn’t need anyone to tell me I function better living alone than with a roommate, for example, though a lot of people are just the opposite).

So what would you add here, especially to the last two lists?  What do big girls need, and need to know how to do?  Or big boys, for that matter?  I say “women” because I am one, and my attempts to speak for menfolk usually sound kind of lame.  What do you consider an indispensable item or skill as an adult that you might not have bothered with when you were 19?

** – Yeah, um, don’t buy QoS for your kids unless they’re older teens at least. Otherwise I don’t envy you having to read the sex scenes aloud.

Also, if you can name the movie the post title came from, you get a gold star.

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4 thoughts on “Adults are Just Children Who Owe Money

  1. I completely agree – most especially with the car maintenance, the navigation, and the toolkit. Having made a couple dozen cross-country roadtrips, usually alone, I am amazed by the number of people who cannot function in their own towns without their GPSes. And this entire list applies to either gender, really.

    I would add “job-hunt efficiently” to the list. Being able to look for a job, whether to get out of a shitty one or get one when you’re lacking, is important – doing so without panicking or despairing is even better.

    Perhaps the most important thing I could add to that list is how to take care of yourself, specifically in the sense of how to deal with your own freak-outs and issues. Knowing that you can calm down if you listen to music, or go to town on a punching bag, or write a graphically honest letter – these self-care things are incredibly important to being able to thrive. Not saying one can always take care of oneself with no outside help, but knowing where to start to make things a little better really helps.

    The bits about not being responsible for others’ happiness and not being in control of others’ opinions of you/your stuff – yes, yes, a thousand times yes. Such a good thing to know.

    Happy birthday, as well. 🙂

  2. I’d add “write a coherent letter”, “know how to cook one good meal” and “mix a passable cocktail” to the last list. They seem a bit more basic than the skills you listed, but they’re incredibly important to getting along by yourself and can translate easily into a you-plus-other(s) situation.

    Also, your points about being responsible for your own happiness and not having control over what people think of your writing really speak to me. I’m having a lot of trouble coming to terms with both of them in my own life, although in very different ways. It gives me hope for myself that you’ve got these lessons firmly under your belt already – maybe I’ll get them under mine soon, too.

  3. Excellant blog, as always! I love your blog title… seriously, do we ever truly grow up? I mean… REALLY? Gads, I hope not, how boring life would be! 😉

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