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Sat, March 23

Middle-aged Musings: ‘Adulting’ we must go

We’re going to chat about “adulting” today … no, no, not adultery … adulting.

Although, one is probably a much more fascinating topic than the other. However, I need my job at this family-oriented paper, so I’ll behave today.

Adulting is the act of being an adult … working, paying bills and being responsible. The term is more “urban-dictionary” than Oxford English Dictionary, of course. Facebook has certainly helped out its popularity.

One of my favorite Facebook memes is a living room fort made from blankets and chairs that says, “I’m not adulting today. If anyone needs me, I’ll be in my fort, coloring.”

Most days, I can handle all the responsibility of being (way) over 40. Other days, not so much.

I have plenty of stress-relieving activities like jewelry making, cross stitching, romance reading, movies, good food, hiking, biking, etc. But sometimes, I just want to be that lump in the bed.

I know I’m probably carrying it too far when my husband pokes at the comforter, asking if I intend on being a bed burrito the entire day. Yeah, yeah, I’m getting up.

My early career saw me surrounded by grumpy old men (they were all at least over 50!) – just like you see in old newspaper movies. One of them had a killer sarcastic streak I loved and I often hung out with him back at his desk. It was buried under newsprint, sandwich wrappers and overflowing ashtrays, in the “good old days” of smoking in the office. I told him his desk reminded me of the typical Hollywood version of an editor — gruff, chain smoking, buried under work. I laughed as I said, “At least you don’t swig vodka out of a bottle in your desk.” Without looking up from his work, a hand shot out to open his bottom desk drawer and pointed. “Sorry to smack off those rose-colored glasses of yours, honey.” Sure enough, there was a bottle of clear liquid with a foreign label in there. Oh my.

Over the years we worked together, he told me on a daily basis that life stank, ex-wives were the devil and he welcomed death. I was 22 when I met him. Life was awesome to me then and I didn’t get this bitter old dude.

Now I realize he probably wasn’t much older than I am now. And I totally get that bitterness. I haven’t given into it because I’m not built that way, but I get it.

Adulting does stink. Long before adult coloring books became a rage, (I missed my opportunity to make serious money here), I bought coloring books, usually Winnie the Pooh, and kept colored pencils nearby. When I needed a quick break, I colored. My husband used to stare at me like I’d lost my mind. I still do it and I don’t care what anyone thinks. It keeps me from using my desk drawers to store clear liquid.

You can tell I’m definitely a newsroom adult by the contents of my bottom drawer, though. I looked at it the other day and started giggling. Rolaids, Tums, Vitamin C tablets, too many sporks, Altoids and emergency chocolate (which I seem to need to replenish almost daily). There’s also a packet of tea labeled “soothing.” My assistant thinks she’s helping me out by providing that. She’s quite delusional, but a real sweetheart for trying.

Another favorite Facebook meme of mine is a picture of Calvin (the insane little boy from the Calvin and Hobbes comic strip). Adult Calvin is trudging to work, carrying a briefcase, eyes downcast, wearing a suit. His shadow on the wall behind him shows Hobbes, his tiger friend, jumping out from behind a bush, landing on Calvin, as they fall down, laughing hysterically. My friend shared that with me and said, “I can’t even explain the depth of emotion this brings on — I don’t like it.”

Just because we are all adults doesn’t mean we always have to act like adults. My husband and I are the silliest people I know. We quote “Spongebob Squarepants” episodes, we still giggle when the other one farts and we just try to find the stupid humor in everything. The bills will always be there, the jobs will always be there, the responsibilities will always be there. No reason we can’t have a little bit of fun in between those adulting necessities, right?

— Until next time, Robin

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