I walked into my office this morning to find this gentle reflection of the week, one lone bud that was too heavy to bloom. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect symbol.
Welcome back to Life Crisis Week here on Middle Name Brain. It’s me again, Sarah, your muddled, sometimes confused, host. As I mentioned yesterday, my lens color is tinted stepmother, and you can further deduce from yesterday’s middle-riddled theme that I do not have biological children. There is a moniker for my breed, the ever elusive “childless stepmother”. This time of year is a little touch and go, and perhaps a large contributor to the general feeling of lethargy that seems to be plaguing me lately. My least favorite day of the year is arguably Mother’s Day, and then of course we barrel right into Father’s Day. If you are neither a mother nor a father, it’s possible that you will want to fast forward through these pronatalistic festivities, opting instead to sit in a dark room, hugging yourself, and rocking back and forth. Too dramatic? Okay, maybe you’ll want to avoid all media (social and otherwise), go for a hike instead, then lay in the grass, imagining you are a meerkat and that your situation is a simply a result of cooperative breeding.
Hello, I’m Sarah. I’m 35, which is halfway between 30 and 40, also arguably between the end of my twenties, a first attempt at adulthood, and the beginning of an age that sounds much more mature. I’ve always considered myself to be somewhat bookish, and if you had asked me what I liked to read a few years ago I probably would have said something like “contemporary lit”, mostly meaning books/writers I plucked off the Booker Prize’s long list. These days, however, I seem to have a much shorter fuse with fiction. Unreliable narrator? Been there, done that. National identity mirrored by one tragic underdog? That’s so 2003. Similarly, if you had asked me what music I liked to listen to I could have rattled off a list of go tos: Beck, Cake, New Pornographers, Jenny Lewis. Now my musical curiosity seems to be limited to the stadium anthems that power me through my runs. In my professional life, I have always held positions that involve many facets and a random toolbox of skills, which really just means I sort of know a lot of things, but would have trouble specializing in any of the individual pieces. I am also a stepparent, which makes me a kind of, sort of, a parent, i.e. not a parent, but also not not a parent. Hell, at 5’4” I’m even in some middle zone of short and tall.
It’s Friday, and I’ve spent much more time pondering this week than writing, but sitting here with my cup of tea this afternoon I figured I’d type at you in the nonsensical way you can get away with when blaming your waning attention span on Friday afternoon and mild exhaustion. Friday is, after all, mostly a state of mind, much more than New York, if I do say so myself.
This is a true story, and I’m outing myself for the greater good. Facebook heard me fart.
I have long suspected that Facebook’s advertising was intrusive, going beyond the usual Internet goings-on of search histories, and products perused. I mean, I’ve long acquiesced to the idea of cookies and re-targeting, but lately I’d started to notice that ads were popping up on my phone for things I had only talked about. I chalked it up to coincidence. Maybe it was just a fluke that I had talked about sore muscles after a run and seen an ad for a foam roller. My Facebook page likes alone would have outed me as a running crazy long ago. But then the ads seemed to get a little too targeted for comfort, until finally the writing was literally on my wall.
Last weekend, Mr. Brain and I went to see The King Lear Project, a “new” world premiere of King Lear presented in its original pronunciation. I managed to make it through reading the first three acts of the play before making it to the performance, vowing to go into it with some basic understanding of its plot just in case the language made it more difficult to follow. As it turns out, the original pronunciation wasn’t so strange sounding. Mostly I felt like I was listening to an Irish production, with a little more oomph than you might want conversationally; I noticed genuine spit sprays coming from actors’ mouths and was happy to be safely nested a few rows back.
The other day I was engaged in something like water cooler chatter with co-workers (minus the water cooler). We were gathered around a basket of goodies someone had sent my boss as a thank you, and included in said basket was a bag of lemon drops. One of my fellow scavengers commented that she had to have them because they reminded her of her grandmother, who always carried an infinite supply of them in her purse. There was a brief round robin exchange of everything we could mentally pluck out of our grandmother’s purses (Tums and hand wipes for me), before we moved onto something more meaty: weird ass food that always made its way to family gathering spreads. You know what I’m talking about, that dish that no one likes, but for some reason has became mandatory, and let’s be honest, we’d be disappointed on some level if it ceased to make an appearance. I think these dishes are actually designed to be terrible to create a shared sense of loathing and heightened camaraderie.