My Half Birthday and a Life of International Intrigue


October 13, 2012 by Mandi Harris

First of all, you should know this about me: I am deep enough to know how shallow I sound most of the time. Got that? Very good. And so it begins…
September 17th was rather significant for me. It was my half birthday and officially marked my downward slide to 28. I am now 27-and-a-half and feel the cold, clammy hand of 30 sneaking up on me (in two-and-a-half years). I am now firmly in my late twenties. Just so you know, I am aware of how ridiculous I sound. My mom and dad are 60 and 70 and really don’t like to hear me piss and moan about my age. My sisters are all in their forties (and I relish taunting them with the relative perkiness of my boobs). The fact that I feel old underscores just how young I really am. Yet, I can’t shake the feeling that I have wasted my twenties and haven’t accomplished anything of significance yet. Wasn’t that what they promised us Millenials? That we would be successful early and often? That we are all special snowflakes? Well, I haven’t Zuckerberged my way to Millenial prodigy success yet, and I am getting too old to ever be called a wunderkind.
So, I have decided to harness my panic about aging; I will use it to force myself to take advantage of what’s left of my twenties. I am one of those people who believes your twenties (and every other decade of your life) are about making mistakes, having adventures, and breaking your own heart. (That’s right- in most instances we are responsible for breaking our own hearts. Whether or not we admit it to ourselves, we enter romantic encounters with our eyes wide open, and it’s our own choice if we ignore what we see out of infatuation or a fear of being alone.)
Most of my twenties were spent finishing college, battling a chronic illness, and working 60 hours a week at multiple jobs just to support myself. I had some adventures, but they were few and far between. Because of this lack of escapades, I am not quite ready for day-to-day regularity (I totally just laughed at that because the word “regularity” always makes me think of pooping). I don’t want to settle down, don’t want to get married, not ready for each day to be exactly like the day before, not ready to get knocked up, unless that knocking up happens as the result of a torrid affair with a vampire/reclusive millionaire/bearded man in plaid who builds cabins with his bare hands.
You know how in movies, tango music starts playing and everyone in the room knows how to tango, but in real life no one actually knows how to tango except for those orangely-tan, half-dressed people on Dancing with the Stars? Well, I want to be one of those people, one of those people who knows how to tango, who is fluent in five different languages, who can speak authoritatively on cold fusion. What’s more, all of these things I want to know and do are perfectly attainable. My goal is to be awesome by the time I’m thirty, and I will accomplish this goal. I think a lot of these goals have to do with the fact that I have a sneaking suspicion my thirties will involve a lot of international intrigue.
In anticipation of my internationally intriguing thirties, I need to practice at adventure in my twenties. For example, at some point soon, I want to take the Indian Pacific Railroad from Sydney to Perth, then drive up the west coast of Australia to Broome where I’ll meet a handsome man, and we’ll make love on a sailboat as the sun sets over turquoise seas. I realize there’s a fifty/fifty chance my handsome Australian man will actually murder me and then dump my body overboard where I’ll be eaten by sharks. Then Lester Holt will investigate and my story will wind up on Dateline, and they’ll make a Lifetime movie of the week called Seduced by Sexily Accented Danger: The Mandi Harris Story. Which would be ok because hey! I’ll be on television.
There’s the notion that writers are all excellent diary keepers. This is not true for me. I am a terrible diary keeper. However, I am a glutton for attention. I love having an audience, so a public place to chronicle my journey towards awesomeness (Awesomehood? Awesometivity?) will keep me honest about my successes, failures, and laziness. I’m also hoping it will make me less fearful about love. For all my bravado about love and how we break our own hearts, I am the most scared about getting my heart truly broken again (and again and again and again).
So here are a few of my shallow goals, which are subject to change at any time. I will share the deeper goals (yada yada yada being a better sister/daughter/friend…blah blah blah making the world a better place) with you later:

  • Learn how to tango, obviously. Also, learn how to tap dance.
  • Sleep with an Australian man. Travel to Australia.
  • Get over my habit of falling for men who are 1) Inappropriate 2) In love with someone else 3) Assholes 4) Fictitious 5) Celebrities 6) Completely different from the personality I have made up for them in my head. 7) Dead 8) A combination of 6 of the previous 7 qualities…Yes, I’m talking about you, Nikola Tesla.
  • Stop saying “awesome” so much.

In conclusion, I am aware that the idea of setting a bunch of goals in anticipation of turning thirty is nothing new. In fact, it’s the exact plot of the movie Lola Versus, but I promise you I was thinking about this before I heard of that movie. Plus, I haven’t seen Lola Versus, although I plan to as soon as it hits Netflix. (Ooohhh, I just checked, and it’s at the gas station Redbox down the street. Thank God I have nothing better to do tonight than rent it! Ahhh, spinsterhood is good for many things, especially being able to watch movies whenever I want.)


3 thoughts on “My Half Birthday and a Life of International Intrigue

  1. cat baldwin says:

    tap dancing = A+
    ps. no need to seek out heartbreak. the notion that heartbreak legitimizes experience confounds me. there is enough naturally occurring heartbreak in our existences to never have to seek it out…

    • Mandi Harris says:

      Thanks, Cat. Regarding heartbreak, I will clarify this more later. The heartbreak I’m referring to is along the lines of those shallow heartbreaks I consistently seek out. Those situations I know will end in failure and tears and the Ingrid Michaelson Pandora station, but I go ahead anyway because it allows for a certain controlled, guaranteed failure. There is much unpredictability in life, so much for tragedy, so much potential for important failure in risks that really matter that I like to enjoy those moments of controlled, silly, melodramatic heartbreak.

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