In September I’ll be turning thirty for the first time in my life. People tell me that thirty just isn’t what it used to be. My friends say that They are saying (who is saying?) that thirty is the new twenty. To test Their wisdom (They are so smug), I begin a highly scientific evaluation of this trendy hypothesis and translate it into layman’s terms.

Reasons why thirty might be the new twenty:

1. I’m older than my parents were when they got married, but I live in a big house with several friends with whom I throw parties, drink beer and procrastinate.

2. I wake up more or less when I want to, spend my weekdays around a university, and see my mom most days of the week.

3. I don’t floss.

4. I take whopping chunks of summer vacation. I laugh my best, most carefree you-must-be-confusing-me-with-someone-who-cares laugh when encouraged to start thinking about retirement savings.

5. My girlfriend and I are going to live abroad for a year.

Photo analysis:

Me at 17 vs me at 29.

These photos were taken at about 17 and 29, close enough for this scientist. Note the same single raised eyebrow, same weird curly hair, same vaguely smug expression. There are even 2 youthful pierced ears now instead of one. In fact, evidence shows my style has clearly regressed. Very interesting . . .

Reasons why thirty might NOT be the new twenty:

1. I think my joints actually are starting to ache more right before it rains.

2. When I sleep less than seven hours in a night I spend the next day wondering if I’m getting sick.

3. I am in charge of my own work schedule. I regularly write up proposals and invoices. I pay estimated taxes.

4. I have had two surgeries, one near-fatal illness, and my first cholesterol test.

5. My girlfriend and I are going to live abroad for a year. Gulp.


In other news, longtime reader Carrie Fletcher seems to have identified the mystery object from the Museum of Natural History in my most recent “Photos” post. Fletch, going to the Museum of Natural History is definitely not cheating, it’s total dedication! Just identify the object in a comment on this post and I will sing your praises as promised.

9 thoughts on “Is Thirty the New Twenty? – Part I

  • February 18, 2007 at 9:36 pm

    57 is the new 75.

    I didn’t think I’d feel like this until I was at least 75! I walk upstairs sloooooooooooooooooowly. I drive 60 on the freeway. I think about my bowels. I’m desparetely trying to save for retirement, which I think about every day. I don’t spell as good as I did in fourth grade. I understand what my parents went through now, which is too bad, because they’re dead. I take considerable satisfaction in standing around parks, looking at birds, not guys.

    And my nephews are OLD!

    E and L: leave the country while you still can.


  • February 19, 2007 at 1:01 pm

    Sandstone concretion! Sandstone concretion!

  • February 19, 2007 at 4:19 pm

    Having been in my 30’s for over a year I’ve seen several similar behaviors of my 20’s.

    Prime example:

    21 year old behavior –
    Last Friday (2/16/07) I discovered black cherry martinis. Just when I thought I had left the world of fu-fu drinks, I realized this was just not true – of course this discovery occurred when trying to remember the night before and the scene with me dancing on a platform (5 black cherry martinis in) entered my mind. The delightful dancing was followed by losing my $120 per person dinner at 80 miles an hour outside the window of my car as the wind whipped it back into me and my car seat.

    31 year behavior –
    Paying for my fiancée’s and my in dinner cash.

    For women (at least in my group) we are getting married older. Friends are partying harder than anything I’ve seen in my 20’s, mainly because in our 30’s we have the money to do so. In my 20’s when the wallet was empty – the party ended.

    Of my 6 closest girlfriends, none have gotten engaged before 29. I will be 32 at my wedding and if it weren’t for the difficulties that come across with having children when a women hits 40, I would wait until my 40’s. This is where nature wins over the mind. As much as I workout and eat healthy, my body will still age. And because of that we’ve decided to start trying to have kids 4-6 months after the wedding.

    21 year old behavior –
    Staying up until 2:00 am on a Wednesday night with friends, fully aware that I’m leading a status meeting at 6:00 am Thursday morning.

    31 year behavior –
    Prepping my mind, body and soul to have children

    I think the paradigm is what is different – our previous generation frowned upon “young behavior” always labeled as “irresponsible”. Our current generation now celebrating this “young behavior” – if you can pull it off, do so!

    I’m happy to say I regret nothing. (Even waking up the next Saturday after black cherry martini Friday with a wicked hangover.) So if doing what you did in your 20’s continues onto your 30’s and you can honestly say, “I regret nothing” then cheers to you!

  • February 21, 2007 at 3:09 pm

    I like the thoughtful comments here! Especially the opposite ends of the spectrum: thinking about bowels vs. black cherry martinis.

    And Fletch, please see the sidebar for your promised accolade. Nice work, detective!

  • February 21, 2007 at 4:05 pm

    All I can say is that any 29 year-old who sees their Mom and Dad somewhat frequently is really smart and mature! Love, Demie

  • February 21, 2007 at 10:30 pm

    Interesting. Here’s comparative data from the 60’s (however you want to interpret that word):

    Soon after I turned 26 in 1971 I began living in a big house with a bunch of friends, drank modest amounts of beer, but never procrastinated about anything. Got married in the same house (a Quaker meetinghouse with living space upstairs) shortly before turning 27 to the woman I shared a room with. It’s very handy getting married in a Quaker meeting house where a bunch of your friends live. And cheap–total cost of wedding and dinner and party was approximately $400. But we didn’t call it a “marriage” or a “wedding,” because those words carried a lot of traditional connotations we weren’t easy with–we just called it “our celebration.” No rings, no wedding gown, no tux, no best man or whatever the comparable female version is (best woman?!). And every other word in our self-written marriage vows was a version of “equal.” Which I later learned didn’t apply when it came to repairing the car, but I hadn’t thought to specify that in our vows. We tried it once, on the 1966 VW bug, and she said, “But it gets me all greasy and dirty.” Like yeh.

    I took (and still take) lots of vacations, almost always with this woman who figured out that being equal didn’t necessarily apply to doing car repairs, but who hikes and canoes and skis wonderfully…IF she also gets time to read.

    We did not start saving for retirement until, well, when did we start saving for it? I guess about ten years ago. But we have had jobs with pension plans for 30 or so years. I must admit, now I appreciate all that.

    Sixteen months after our “celebration” we took all our savings and headed overland for India. We traveled together from Luxembourg through Germany, Austria, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan to India, and eventually on to Nepal, Burma, Thailand, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Korea and Japan, 12 months in all, on $5k. So one important life skill is you want to enjoy live it is living inexpensively. It’s much more interesting and fulfilling than working at jobs you don’t really like to earn lots of money in order to take occasional expensive vacations (or have expensive weddings)!

    I didn’t floss then, but yes, I do now.

    And I still want to live abroad again with my girlfriend (dare I call her now “my wife”?)

    Hey, it sounds like we’re all wanting to be younger than our chronological age. Thirty is the new twenty, and sixty (I hope) is the new fifty. Carpe diem.

    One final note: having children is so incredibly cool and wonderful–the biggest adventure, really–and being there as they journey through their 20’s and 30’s (or whatever they call them) is so interesting and important, that I’m thankful we didn’t put that step off too long.

  • February 24, 2007 at 1:52 am

    21 is the new….?

    First off I would like to venture that the picture is of Marshmallow man and Michelen Woman.

    Lets see, my vocabulary was better when I was 17 and writing English essays every month.
    I had my cholesterol checked for the first time when I was 19 but I asked my doctor to do it. I haven’t gotten it done sense.
    I sleep better than I did when I was 16 thanks to a quiet heater and no roommate (she snored almost as bad as my Dad).
    I think its fair to say that I had more money in my bank account on February 24th (2002) when I was 16. But I get to take myself out to dinner and even order a fu-fu drink if I want to.
    Ive taken lots of vacations and exotic trips in my 21years. I hope there is more to come.
    I too think about my bowels however I learned in the past 2 years that coffee helps.
    In the past few weeks Ive started to get a hang on my 17 times tables as a T ride is now 1.70 on the rechargeable card. How are your 17 times tables?
    So 21 is the new…what, part of being a “young adult”? I still live in a dorm and my dad pays my taxes. Am I really an adult?
    I do eat ice cream more than my parents would ever allow and somtimes I eat white bread… just because I can. Maybe 21, is the new grownup with benefits.
    ps Ethan I’m glad to see you are brining back the curly bang. Rock On!

  • February 28, 2007 at 8:43 am

    One comment, Ethan: start flossing! That’s one small thing you can do to insure that when you turn 60, you’ll still have a few of your own teeth. When I was about 30 a very savvy dental hygenist explained to me the importance of disrupting those plaque-forming bacterial populations at least once a day. She spoke in terms that I could relate to as a population ecologist, so I took her advice to heart. But by that time many of my teeth were so full of fillings that in the last three decades I’ve made frequent contributions to dentists’ retirement funds! I’m glad I started when I did, but wish someone had persuaded me to start flossing much earlier.

  • June 12, 2007 at 2:36 am

    When I was 20, I would go out and not worry about tomorrows hangover, never got em. Now I drink a liter of water before I go out and one when I get home and still feel like crap the next day.
    I buy better booze now and drink less, friends now tell me things I did and i don’t remember clearly what they are talking about. Although they might be messing with me

    When I was 20, I could hike 20 miles, go swimming for two hours, and stay up late all in one day with no after effects the next day.
    Now 29, I get all achy and bitchy after a 2 mile run and I need a nap.

    Ethan I’ve really enjoyed your blogging! I think you have great humor and wit in your writing style. I look forward to future posts.

    Maybe I’ll see you august in Xela, as I will be there at quetzaltrekkers guiding the tourists.


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