40th

This has been a really weird year.

Looking back, it seems a reasonable conclusion. I reflect on the year I’ve had on my birthday, November 19th, as opposed to New Year’s Eve (and Day) which is typically just another day for me only sprinkled with reminders to write the date correctly.

I initially wrote a 10-year timeline “looking back” post and deleted it. This year, and the prior ten, collectively speaking, consist of peaks and valleys. Those peaks and valleys amaze me. I concluded I could never be accused of living in the “meh.” Current social dilemmas and pandemics aside, days passing in one’s personal sense of ordinary seems a crime.

Whatever else is said of my life, I will never be accused of filling in the blanks via the time-blurring morphine drip that is a couch and television.

People keep asking me what my plans are for my 40th birthday. I reply, “I don’t know.” Nearly two years ago the plan was a family vacation in Hawaii. A lot has changed since then. And I’ve learned, that’s okay. Much like the day in question, I’m keeping my 40th open.

Instead of reflecting on those highs and lows over the past year, I thought it a better use of my time (and frankly, more fun) to answer those one-off questions that didn’t make it into the video Q&A’s and update you on favorite quotes as well.

UNANSWERED QUESTIONS FROM PREVIOUS Q&A SESSIONS

  1. What’s your favorite everyday coffee? I’ve put this question off from the beginning of my Q&A’s because I didn’t want to get a ribbing. I’m turning 40 and my need to avoid this question now seems stupid. My day-to-day, standard drip coffee is Dunkin’ Donuts Hazelnut or French Vanilla roast. There, I said it. When I go out for coffee it’s either plain black, or when I’m feeling fancy then it’s some ridiculous flair coffee that costs roughly $8. As for the DD roast…it’s a medium blend with a low acidity profile. I went from dark roasts and espresso shots of my 20s and 30s to a more neutralized medium blend as my sensitivity to acidity increased. And you know what? I fucking love DD coffee.
  2. Do you have a scent or cologne that you do like a man to wear? No. Whatever favorite soap or shampoo he uses is probably best. That lingering fresh-out-of-the-shower scent will always be my favorite, it suggests clean without being overbearing. Although I have gotten whiffs of the cologne, Drakkar Noir. I admit I found it intriguing (I daresay sexy), like the dark counterpart to my preferred perfume, Hypnotic Poison by Christian Dior, but an easy going, clean scent will always be a winner.
  3. Your skin looks great, what’s your skin care routine? My skin hyper reacts to allergens, as such my skin care routine is kept to a minimal. I only use two products on my face. My cleanser is Aveeno’s Ultra Calming, Foaming Cleanser and my moisturizer is Gold Bond’s Ultimate Healing (Aloe). Gold Bond’s classic formula is hypoallergenic and not greasy with fantastic stay power. It’s good for all over, not just the face.
  4. Is there a song that makes you feel good every time you hear it?Hey Jude” by The Beatles and “Dream On” by Aerosmith.
  5. Is there a song that makes you cry? Up until this past year it was always “Runaway Train” by Soul Asylum and then someone introduced me to the band, The National and their album, I Am Easy To Find. Something in me wished I never heard that album. I Am Easy To Find is an open wound. It’s real, raw authentic poetry in sound. I had never been so single-handedly emotionally dismantled by an album before. I am not a proper poet or I would otherwise revel in these feelings. I do not casually listen to The National or else I’d be a blubbering mess. However, if “The Pull Of You” or “Oblivions” comes up on shuffle mode then I’m going to listen to it because it’s still fucking beautiful. Painful and beautiful.
  6. What’s your favorite song of all time? I know I addressed this at some point in a post but I’ll go ahead and reconfirm that to be, “Life On Mars?” by David Bowie. The reasons as to why are in the lyrics. I’ll provide those lyrics, here.
  7. Some of your poems are gone, where did they go? Sometimes I withdraw poems for publication reasons. Some publishing houses have a zero pre-publication rule, including independent self-authored websites like armedwithcoffee. If I want those poems considered for publication, I have to remove their online visibility. Sometimes it’s just an “at will” decision.
  8. What’s your biggest regret? My greatest regrets are not for things I have done but for the things I did not do, because I lacked the nerve or I talked myself out of it. This includes truths left unspoken. Present day, I’d rather cause myself embarrassment by declaring my hard truths rather than carry the pain of not expressing them at all. Poetry and writing has helped in this regard.
  9. Since you exercise a lot, what do you do for regular back pain? Preventing back pain is the best method if you exercise regularly. The more you train your lower back muscles, the less prone to injury you’ll be post workout. My best prevention technique is to use a yoga pose called, halasana pose, or the less articulated term, “plow pose.” Yes, it takes work to learn but once you’ve mastered the pose, the general aches and pains associated after a workout reduce dramatically, no pills required. Practicing halasana for a few minutes a day really helps strengthen those back muscles. I do, however, take Aleve for swelling due to excess muscle strain.

    [At this point, I would like to point out that I get a lot of questions about men from the ladies. I am not a relationship expert or mans-pert…and yet, I get questions. I assume this stems from my own comfort level regarding sensuality and sexuality. I offer my own experiences, lessons, and reflections such as they are.]
  10. Do men hit on you all the time? Yes. The worst is when I’m with my daughter and that’s inexcusable. Where my response is concerned, this particular type of man-hole is going to get what he’s got coming to him. For some reason this kind of guy seems to think I won’t react negatively because I’m with my kid? On the contrary, I will let them know exactly what’s up and when he scurries off like the scared, little ignorant squirrel he is, I take a moment to explain to my daughter why I said what I said and why that guy’s behavior was not acceptable. I’m teaching her valuable skills. When she’s older, my kid is not going to clutch her purse, walking away afraid or ashamed because some man-hole came onto her inappropriately. No ma’am. Obviously, this is not all men. Man-hole is a special class of asshole. The online come-ons are the most frequent but the easiest to ignore.
  11. What’s the same mistake men make with you? If we’re talking early stages of a new connection, underestimating my intelligence. Women are associated with communication so how is a woman perceived when she’s naturally internal or introverted? By the way, introversion does not equal shy, it’s an energy process. As an introvert, I get energy from my alone time and I’m very comfortable inside my own head. In other words, I’m an internal person. I don’t feel the need to express myself through constant conversation, nor do I feel the need to outline my thinking or feeling to everyone I meet. I’m very self-contained that way. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, ‘I didn’t know you knew all that,’ or ‘I had no idea you were thinking all that…’ uh-huh, but that didn’t keep you from assuming an absent of thought either, did it?

    On the flip side to that, sometimes there’s a competition element that I absolutely despise. I enjoy conversation and an exchange of ideas, not a pissing competition regarding who has the bigger brain. To this day, I’m attracted to the man who listens and, equally important, knows the difference between imposing knowledge versus sharing experiences. One is equal and respectful, the other is a common-variety asshole. Just to be clear, women can be common-variety assholes too. I’ve met plenty of the, ‘Oh my god, let me tell you everything I know,’ types; two-hours-of-your-life-have-gone-by-and-you-can’t-get-them-back, vacuums.

    If we’re talking later stages of a connection, where two people are more comfortable with each other, then, hands down, taking my independence and energy for granted. I get things done. I make decisions. I take actions to meet my obligations. I don’t feel the need to constantly “check-in” regarding life’s most basic decisions and obligations. I just get things done. So much so that I often take on too much, and past partners have often let me do so without offers for help. But this is two-fold. I know I am prone to overworking therefore it is as much my responsibility to ask for help as much as it their responsibility to ask if I need help.
  12. What’s a deal breaker for you? Dismissiveness. I dated someone once who dismissed anyone and everything that didn’t personally affect him. Today we call that narcissism but back then I attributed his dismissive attitude as having a strong personality. Good god, that was a naive period in my life. Also, someone who does not respect time. I am someone who goes into the world understanding time is valuable, it’s a resource that I don’t spend lightly. I once went on a date where the guy was 30 minutes late. I knew there wouldn’t be a second date at the 15 minute mark (no call or text to explain the situation either). I stayed because I wanted to see his face as he sat down while I stood up and said, “Have a great night,” and with perfect timing the drink I ordered for him arrived as I exited. This guy offered no apology or explanation, simply sat down with an arrogant smirk on his face. I knew what he was doing even if he didn’t. Refer to #11.

    Also, passive-aggressive types. PA-types would make it the responsibilities of others to coax their thoughts and feelings out of them. I refuse to form attachments with people who need someone else to pull or even “trigger” their thoughts and feelings. Life is too short to live like this, not to mention passive-aggressive types, by default, cannot truly be happy if they are always making someone else responsible for their happiness. It’s a sticky-icky, co-dependency situation that never succeeds, you just get better at enabling it but never actually satisfying it.

    And a big deal breaker for me is messiness. If you’re a capable adult, there’s no excuse for living like a slob. How you respect your living environment directly correlates to how you respect yourself. This applies to men and women.
  13. What’s your biggest turn on? Seizing the moment. It’s very hard for me to get outside of my head (the downside to introversion) so when I’m with someone and my thoughts turn off it’s an amazing experience. And I’m also turned on by a man who is turned on by a strong woman, not just physically but psychologically and emotionally too. Just as some women believe they ought to be taken care of (and make their partner attachments accordingly) some men believe they are nothing without someone in constant need of them and their resources (making their attachments accordingly) so my question is: What happens when the need stops? How much are you going to actually want that partner then? Men who are truly into strong women know these fierce creatures don’t choose them out of need but out of want, ‘I can take care of myself but I choose you, because I want you.’ Very hot.
  14. What’s your biggest turn off? Lack of passion, inspiration, personal goals, an inability to speak personal truths, etc. For one’s self and in partnership. Even if your partner is living their best goals already…cheer that shit on too.
  15. What’s the best thing you’ve ever done in love? Take a risk.
  16. What’s the worst thing you’ve ever done in love? Same.

FAVORITE LIFE QUOTES

“I don’t believe in many things, but if the full moon really does remind you of her, you are almost certainly quite fucked.” J. Warren Welch

“She lost herself in the trees among the ever-changing leaves. She wept beneath the wild sky as stars told stories of ancient times…She could not live an ordinary life with the mysteries of the universe hidden in her eyes.” Christy Ann Martine

“Fairy tales are more than true — not because they tell us dragons exist, but because they tell us dragons can be beaten.” Neil Gaiman

“Being a good mother while my world fell apart was the hardest role I’ve ever played.” Unknown

“What you think of me means nothing. You have no understanding of my scars, and even less of how I got them.” JmStorm

“In your life, you meet people. Some you never think about again. Some, you wonder what happened to them. There are some that you wonder if they ever think about you. And then there are some you wish you never had to think about again. But you do.” C.S Lewis

“The idea that appreciating what you’ve got is the antidote for the pain of what you’re missing, that is a central fallacy. Gratitude and grief don’t cancel each other out. They exist side by side.” Megan Devine

“Danger does not intimidate me. What frightens me most is feeling dead while having a pulse.” Melody Lee

“Her skin smells of vintage books and pale moonlight. Exotic things. Forbidden loves and rainy nights.” Melody Lee

“Normal is an illusion. What is normal for the spider, is chaos for the fly.” Morticia Addams

“Never grow a wishbone, daughter, where your backbone ought to be.” Clementine Paddleford

“Thank god for books as an alternative to conversation.” W. H. Auden

“The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances; if there is any reaction, both are transformed.” Carl Gustav Jung

“She never looked nice. She looked like art, and art wasn’t supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something.” Eleanor & Park, Rainbow Rowell

“If it is true that there are as many minds as there are heads, then there are as many kinds of love as there are hearts.” Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

40TH PICS

[Some of you have asked about my workout goals. I exercise to build physical competence, not for goals concerning weight (other than maintenance). This is about as “thin” as I get. I am 5’9 with a naturally wide frame (hips/shoulders)…thin does not look good on me. My resting weight is 165 lbs and I look very gaunt and unhealthy if I dip below that.

I rolled out of bed and into my workout clothes, it’s still dark outside. Also, I have no idea why I’m standing like that. I was too lazy to retry them or glam the shots up.]

My nearly 40-year old self.

Christina Schmidt, MA
armedwithcoffee