Can You Ever Be Too Old To Celebrate Halloween?

Can you ever be too old to celebrate Halloween?

Have you looked at your Facebook feed today?? Obviously you can never be too old for Halloween. Just look at all your friends dressed as cats and soccer players. Wait, is that grandma dressed as Rosie the Riveter?

I was never a big Halloween fan in my twenties. But what I’m realizing about the holiday is that it unites all ages in a ‘be a kid again’ style of bonding that’s actually pretty cool. It doesn’t matter how old you are when you dress up for Halloween and head out to a party or a bar. It’s one of those weird holidays where if you’re dying to be younger, you can dress up as someone younger… or you can just hide your face.

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You can even hide your whole body if you like…

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Anyway, Halloween is an ageless holiday that some people love because they can be young again- free to be anybody at any age, but some people hate because it can get wild and kind of annoying when others are being anybody at any age. I used to be the latter- the person annoyed at Halloween- but mainly because I was always too frugal to buy a costume, and never came up with anything to make on my own. And sometimes people are crazy and rowdy and noisy and frustratingly drunk as all hell when they’re being themselves.

But that’s just my opinion. I’m also usually out of town for work on Halloween, so I can have an excuse to pretend I’m too old for it. Which isn’t true, and can’t be true anyway, because as we’ve established, you’re never too old for Halloween.

So this year, I’m in New York and I’m finally embracing Halloween after spending my twenties avoiding it. I’m even going to a friend’s Halloween party later tonight. I figured out a costume I can make myself (perhaps I’ll even put up photos in the next post), and am getting into the fun of the day.

Most holidays other than Halloween come with so much more stress than making a costume. Valentines day comes to mind, as do the December holidays…between spending lots of money and/or worrying about where to go and/or worrying about upsetting someone’s family and/or worrying about being lonely, the December and February holidays make Halloween seem positively carefree.

And I guess Halloween is a pretty equalizing, carefree holiday, if you’re able to kick back and let yourself go. It’s one of those times where who you are right now and how old you are right now doesn’t have to matter. On Halloween, you can simply choose who you want to be today.

One of the last Halloweens I celebrated before this one! Devil in a Blue Dress. I was in college!

One of the last Halloweens I celebrated before this one! Devil in a Blue Dress. I was in college!

Origin of the Expression “Dirty Thirty”

When you turned 30, did you or people you know make reference to “dirty thirty”? Maybe you hosted or attended a ‘dirty thirty’ birthday party, or maybe someone just said “Ooooh, the dirty thirty” when you told them you were turning 30. I always wondered the origin of the expression. Is it a time when people let loose and go wild? I assumed it involved drinking and questionable behavior. Kind of like bachelorette party style fun.

I never bothered to look it up – until yesterday, when I saw that a comedy film titled “Dirty Thirty” was green lit (the film industry term for a film getting made), and that it would star YouTube celebrities Grace Helbig, Mamrie Hart, and Hannah Hart. I was immediately intrigued and decided it was finally time I researched this expression.

So, I did a little googling and found out that the origin of the expression is far more upsetting than I suspected.images

The top definition on Urban Dictionary is:

The age at which single women without children realise that their biological clock is ticking, As a consequence they may lower their standards and increase their willingness to perform sexual acts as a matter of desperation in order to find a mate/sexual partner. They may also attempt to hook up with younger males as an attempt to elongate their youth.

AAH! That is not what I thought it would be at all. Yuck. I hate it.

I’ve decided that I will officially ban myself from using that expression. Granted, that’s only the Urban Dictionary definition, but still. I don’t like it one bit.

Thankfully, the film “Dirty Thirty” doesn’t sound like it’s anything about women lowering their standards, so that’s good.

Budgeting in Your 30’s When You Hate Budgeting

For all the writing I do about finance and money goals, I really hate to budget. I just can’t stand it.

Perhaps this is because I’m already a big saver, so when I want something, I usually REALLY want it, and not much is going to stand in my way. I hate not listening to my own written budget, but I wouldn’t listen if I really wanted something badly, so I feel like I’d probably go over budget lot of the time, and then I’d kick myself. Ok, so this is actually a self-control issue. :/

I walked around forever with budget hatred burning a hole in the pit of my stomach until recently, when I read an article and realized I’d been kind of following an unofficial budget strategy all along. I googled the info in that article and came upon even more articles that outlined alternative budgeting strategies. Turns out, I naturally follow a common budget strategy called the 80/20 budget, though my version is actually a 70/30 budget.

The 80/20 budget is basically the simplest and least detailed way to budget ever. And I love it, because the details of budgeting make me nuts. Here’s how it works: when you get a paycheck, 20 percent goes to savings. The rest is fair game to divide between needs and wants. That’s it.

This is kind of amazing if you’re never sure how much you’re going to spend in any given month- no matter what, you’ll still be saving. I do a 70/30 budget, or actually a 70/10/10/10 budget, which is only slightly different than the 80/20. The way it works is:

  1. I get a paycheck
  2. I put 10 percent in my retirement account immediately
  3. I put 10 percent in my savings account immediately
  4. I put 10 percent towards my student loan immediately (this is always in addition to the minimum monthly fee I pay)
  5. Then the other 70 percent is divided as best I can among EVERYTHING else without making a budget.
  6. Within the 70 percent, my NEEDS include: Rent, utilities, and student loan minimums (definite needs), as well as food, metrocards (transit), laundry money, and toiletries.
  7. Also within the 70 percent are WANTS including: eating out and or/drinking with friends, food and coffee and green juice splurges, new shoes or clothes, tickets to theater, subscriptions to Spotify and Hulu.

Don’t get me wrong- it’s probably best to actually budget everything out little by little with a food budget, a clothing budget, and an eating out with friends budget. But I’ve never done this, and I don’t know if I’d stick to it if I did. So I think it’s better to at least have SOME sort of budget! And with the 80/20 (or 70/30, or even 60/40) budget, you’re at least still saving. If you don’t have students loans, I’d recommend putting at least 10-15 percent of your paycheck immediately into your retirement account, and then 10-15 percent immediately into a savings account.

What’s funny about taking a certain percentage out of your paycheck right away and paying down a debt and/or putting it into savings is how little you notice that the money is gone. It’s a strange phenomenon! Try it if you don’t believe me. Take 10 percent out of your paycheck immediately each month and put it into savings…you probably won’t even miss it! And if you do, you can always take it back. I wouldn’t recommend it…but the whole point is that your savings account belongs to you! 🙂

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Evolving Friendships in Our 30s

How have your friendships changed in your 30s? Because I’m certain they have. I’m sure lots of your friends have settled down, gotten married and had children. Many of mine have. Or, maybe your friends aren’t married but they’re spending most of their time with their serious significant other. Which means they don’t have as much time for friends. Friends are compartmentalized in a different way. And look, I get it. That was me. For six years, I wanted to be with my boyfriend most of the time. I relished our nights of take-out and Netflix, and while I did see friends, I didn’t make as much of an effort to make new friends when I moved to LA – because I already had a close confidante to spend most nights with.

And that plan worked. Until it didn’t work anymore. Because we broke up. And I realized that I was alone in a city where I didn’t have a strong enough support system to sustain me. I am lucky because I did go to graduate school here, and did make a few wonderful friends (thank you!), but the geography of the city, me not being a driver, and the newness of my friendships has made it challenging. I don’t want to burden my new friends with my depression and heartache. In fact, most of the people I talk regularly are from home…NYC. Be it via phone, text or on g-chat. I don’t know if that’s entirely healthy, but it works. Friends are friends, right?

I’m kind of obsessed with friendship (being an only child and all) and this recent article in The Atlantic resonated with me, How Friendships Change In Adulthood. The article is fascinating and worth the read. Here are some fun factoids I took away from the read:

There are three main expectations of a close friend that most of us have:

  • Somebody to talk to
  • Someone to depend on
  • Someone to enjoy

The author writes that by middle age, we have three different types of friendships.

These friendships fall into three categories: active, dormant, and commemorative. Friendships are active if you are in touch regularly, you could call on them for emotional support and it wouldn’t be weird, if you pretty much know what’s going on with their lives at this moment. A dormant friendship has history, maybe you haven’t talked in a while, but you still think of that person as a friend. You’d be happy to hear from them and if you were in their city, you’d definitely meet up. A commemorative friend is not someone you expect to hear from, or see, maybe ever again. But they were important to you at an earlier time in your life, and you think of them fondly for that reason, and still consider them a friend.

-Julie Beck

It’s an interesting way to characterize friendships. Do you feel these are accurate buckets for friendships? I think there’s a lot of overlap between active and dormant friendships.

Personally, I know I need to work to gain more active friendships. A lot of that is on me.  I get nervous initiating plans, and over-think asking someone to hang out. But it’s something I’m aware of and can work on.

How do you feel your friendships have changed in your 30s?

Is Dating In Your Thirties A Zero Sum Game?

It’s funny- I didn’t even know what a zero sum game was until recently…and now I’m obsessed with the term and how it can apply to life.

The definition of a zero sum game can be found all over the internet, but it took me awhile to really GET the phrase. I put a definition link above and you can also find official and very thorough definitions here and here and here.

But if you don’t feel like clicking those links, here’s my definition: A zero sum game basically means that in order for one person to win, the other MUST lose. Tennis is a great example of a zero sum game. If Federer won a match against Djokovoch, Djokovich HAS TO lose. If Djokovich won a game against Federer, Federer MUST lose.

But can the zero sum game definition be used in the dating world? If I’m dating you, and I really like you, and you decide not to date me anymore and ghost after 4 dates (remind me to one day write another post all about ghosting), it seems possible that I have lost this round of dating you, and you have won. If I start dating a new person and he falls for me, but I suddenly feel that he and I are not working well together, so I stop seeing him and make him sad, then it seems I have won this dating round, and he has lost.

In a zero sum game, there are a finite number of prizes. So if there is only one prize and two players, only one person can win the prize. The other person, therefore loses the prize. My prize win (+1) plus your prize loss (-1) equals zero.

+1 + -1 = 0  And that is where the phrase ZERO sum game comes from.

If dating was a zero sum game, we can maybe define the winner’s prize as walking away with an uncracked heart, plus a moderately peaceful (perhaps even relieved), mental state. The loser, therefore,  CANNOT get the uncracked heart and peaceful outlook- the winner already took that. In a zero sum dating game, the loser ends up with no prize, or a negative prize: broken heart and saddened mental state.

I think dating CAN be zero sum, but it actually never has to be.Interestingly enough, though I’ve gone on what seems like an inordinate amount of dates in the past few months, with possibly enough material for my own comedy show, I don’t think that dating has to ever be a zero sum game. And the trick to stopping that loser/winner zero sum game from playing out in the dating world is simple:

  1. Change the prize

Perhaps your prizes from dating are:

a) Getting a relationship  ….or

b) Meeting someone who will fulfill your every dream    ….or

c) Getting out of dating someone you don’t like in the most peaceful, easy way possible, YAY!

I think the prizes can instead be something like

a) Getting to know and understand a new person better  ….or

b) Getting to know and understand yourself better  …..or

c) Getting to know about new things and places you never knew about before

…and you will always automatically win.

In this way, even if and when you stop dating someone, and even if your heart is breaking and you can’t stop eating ice cream iand crying in front of your television, you still win. Even if you just ran away and hope to never see your date again as long as you live, you still win. You learned about yourself, you learned about another person (good or bad, it still counts as knowledge). Hopefully you even discovered a new place.

And if the other person had the same prizes, defined above, as you, they will also win! That means there will suddenly be more than one prize to go around in the dating game, thus turning dating into a positive sum game!

Much of life isn’t a zero sum game. We don’t need others to lose in order for us to win. In dating, as in finding happiness, as in friendship, as in love, multiple people can win at the same time. It can all become a multiplier game instead.

Just make sure you choose the right prizes.

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Wanting to Settle Down vs. Wanting to Explore

I’m a big reader, and escaping into other worlds is one of my favorite ways to relax and disengage my brain from the pressures of daily life. Despite the fact that I’m often looking to escape, I’m drawn to books about people struggling with the same things I am. The latest book I’m reading is no different. It’s Sarah Butler’s “Ten Things I’ve Learnt About Love,” and it’s about a woman who is about to turn 30, and all the various things she’s struggling with, including where her “home” really is.

The Amazon synopsis reads:

“About to turn thirty, Alice is the youngest of three daughters, and the black sheep of her family. Drawn to traveling in far-flung and often dangerous countries, she has never enjoyed the closeness with her father that her two older sisters have and has eschewed their more conventional career paths. She has left behind a failed relationship in London with the man she thought she might marry and is late to hear the news that her father is dying. She returns to the family home only just in time to say good-bye.”

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I’ve just started the book, but already I’m captivated by the world Butler has drawn. I can relate to Alice already, especially her conflicting desires to explore the world and also settle down. That seems to be a huge question looming over a lot of thirtysomethings I know, especially the artists among us. We want to create – be it writing, filmmaking, acting, etc. but we also feel the internal tug to settle down and create more of a home base. It’s hard to merge the two, especially because having a creative career can mean financial instability and uncertainty for a long time. It’s hard to imagine having a family when you’re working a day job where you’re barely saving money. On top of that, I think a lot of us are afraid of giving up our own personal time to create and explore our passions, when we barely have enough time as it is. It’s hard to imagine carving out time to write if I had a job, children and a husband. It’s an interesting dilemma I know a lot of us are facing these days.

So, I’m excited to keep reading this book, and see how a fictional character handles all the challenges thrown her way as she creates her own definition of home.

I’ll keep you posted on how it is!

What’s a “Real” Job In Your Thirties?

Continuing along Jane’s career topic from the last post, I have a “what the heck is a “real” job anyway?” story from this weekend.

So I was working in Vegas for the past few days- doing my “real job” of being a self-employed presenter and product specialist at tradeshows, conventions, events and autoshows. For the past three years or so, I’ve thought of this as my ‘real job.’ There are three reasons for this:

  1. I do this job full time.
  2. I enjoy doing this job
  3. I make money from doing this job- in fact, I make just about all of my full time income from this job.

The reason I’ve only considered this my real job prior to the last 3 years, even though I’ve been doing the same thing for more than 9 years, is because I used to consider my real job:

1.PASSIONATE THEATRE DIRECTOR EXTRAORDINAIRE. OCCASIONAL VERY PASSIONATE ACTOR EXTRAORDINAIRE.

I stopped considering theater jobs as my “real job” for one very simple reason:

  1. I don’t make money from doing those jobs.

*At least not close to enough money to support myself and my formerly six figure student loan (now down to an impressive 5 figures! Woot!)

However, while working the convention this weekend, an attendee said to me in a confidential whisper, “so, what’s your ‘real’ job?

I informed him that this was, in fact, my real job. That I do this full time in differing aspects.

He wouldn’t accept my answer. He kept pushing for what my ‘real job’ really was. I attempted to explain to him that I’m building up my current job to do even more in the field of presenting. He wasn’t satisfied. He didn’t believe me. He was sure I was holding back.

I mentioned that I’m entrepreneurial and have multiple side projects, some of which are online. I even attempted to explain some of the side projects. None of this information satisfied him.

Now, at this point, I was looking for an escape route, or at least a way to get back to work and end the conversation.

Finally, I said, “Ok, I direct theater. I’m an actor. I have a theater company”

THIS answer he accepted. “I ‘KNEW IT!” he shouted. “You have a real job after all!”

And after talking my ear off for a few more minutes, and attempting to get my card, he finally went on his merry way, leaving me slightly more annoyed than before he arrived.

I guess some people just have an idea in their head of what a ‘real’ job is.  Being an ‘Actor,’ whether it makes you any money or not, is a ‘job’ that people understand. I always thought acting was the thing people kind of made fun of because a lot of the time ‘actors ‘ end up serving you in restaurants. But I guess the “real job” title of “Actor” is glamorous in it’s own way, even when it’s not.

I could’ve said “pursuing acting left me in abject poverty. Directing theater took up so much of my time that I couldn’t make money working other jobs that actually paid. I made such little money as a theater director that there was no way I could buy a weekly Metrocard, never mind pay my rent from the sad stipends I received. This “real job” that you don’t consider a real job saved my financial life.”

But I feel like he would’ve just said some platitude like, “Keep smiling, kid. Live your dreams. ”

So I simply let him walk away in ignorant bliss. Sometimes it’s just not worth it.

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