Midlife Crisis 

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Now that I am married, I get asked if I feel any different.

No, there's really no difference except in other people's perceptions. For example, people keep insisting on changing my name, to which I always explain that I kept my name because I am not some patriarchy-loving mercenary wuss who ditches her family and throws away her ethnic background. That usually puts a stop to those conversations.

There's no stopping being called "Mrs." or "Doamna." Yes, there is "Ms." in English (though not in Romanian), which I've always used and I will continue using. However, there is a substrate of women who are virulently oppose anything that might suggest females can actually be their own people. I get letters addressed to Mrs. Maktaaq or Mrs. Maktaaq-Matt or - implying that I have completely disappeared as my own entity - Mrs. Matt. No sign of my name, because my life before marriage doesn't count. Of course, I should be grateful that I have a man and that I won't be a homeless bag lady spinster when I am 70.* Most annoyingly has been my now-former travel agent who, upon hearing why I was booking a trip for two, started cracking boss jokes. As in:

Travel Agent: Does the boss know you're the one booking the honeymoon?

Maktaaq: Fuck you, he doesn't care.

Travel Agent: Maybe you better check with the boss before you decide on the details all by yourself.

Maktaaq: Just sell me the damn tickets.

Travel Agent: I don't know if I can do that without permission from your boss.

Maktaaq: Look, here's my credit card number, bitch.

Travel Agent: Can I just call the boss to make sure you're allowed to spend money when he's not around?

Yeah, she got the last laugh. She put "Mrs." on all the tickets.

Almost as bad as having my life obliterated with the disappearance of my name, "Mrs." makes me feel old.

Even before the marriage, I did the calculations. Thirty-two, an average Canadian female life-span of 75, plus 5 years owing to my two grandmothers, this gives me another 48 years, 47 now that I am 33. The death clock gives me, more exactly, until Wednesday, August 27, 2053. That's less than 46 years.

I once read somewhere that time until about a human's twenties, takes a long time to unfold. After that, as humans age, time seems to speed up. Taking my life up until 25 (when things suddenly sped up), I felt that I lived, say, double my years. So at 25, I felt like I'd lived through 50 years. With time left over, if it goes twice as fast, my 46 years will feel like only 23 years.

My life as I had known it changed drastically at 23. I got my first professional job, I met my first fiance, I stopped drawing, and my traveling days dwindled. Before that, I was something of a jet-setter; to be very cliche, Europe was my playground. I wrote books, drew illustrations for others' books, sketched in gardens, painted, and shocked with bombastic political speeches.

Now? I am lucky if I vacuum the whole house in a day. Ok, I also play more boardgames. But any real accomplishments? I managed to be in Africa twice, though I hardly roughed it. Even when I accidentally drank Ethiopian water, my diarrheal urges kindly waited until I was within 3 feet of a working toilet to strike.

And from here on it looks worse. I have a house, so I am a slave to my mortgage for the next 25 years. That's more than half of my alloted remaining time. That's time I should be working two jobs to ensure that I can pay the bills. Luckily I won't be having kids, so that time is freed up. For the second job. What can I possibly accomplish to make these remaining years count for something?

Travel, that's what. Not just continental, boring North American travel, where New York is not really all that different from Port Coquitlam, British Columbia. Travel to countries where the language barrier leaves you petrified that you just ordered roast guinea pig for breakfast. Travel to countries where their toothpaste is your butt plug.

Buttplug Toothpaste

The problem is traveling to new places. Sure, the Scandinavian countries and a few tidbits in Africa are still on my list. But Russia? Sorry, you got demoted. Better luck next lifetime. I can't waste my precious leftover years on new places. I've got probably fewer than twenty travels left this lifetime.**

Romania is obviously good for another 2 trips at least, before my parents leave it for good and the last of my Romanian friends pass away. That leaves me with eighteen.

I want to see Ethiopia, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Austria, France, Germany, Hungary, and Italy at least one more time before I die. That's leaving me down to less than ten travels.

But wait, how I can I live knowing that I will only see Venice or Budapest only once more in this lifetime? What if Venice and Rome and Padova are behind me, I've just blown my last chance at seeing these cities, and I will die without ever saying goodbye? Will I lie on my deathbed, aghast that I didn't eschew my life of leisure in Canada for a chance at homelessness in the alleys of Venice? Won't the pigeons of San Marco starve without me?

Unfortunately, the travel agent won't sell me any more tickets.

*Mind you, this blog post might ensure that I will be a homeless bag lady spinster sooner than that. I think, with all my friends changing their names, Matt might feel he's getting short-changed.

**Calculated at about one trip every two years.


I wanted to laugh and cry when I read this! Because it's exactly what I've been thinking for the past year or so (I hit the big three-zero this year, and that's not making things easier). I feel exactly what you feel about being married -- nothing changed with us per se, but people's expectations (especially his family's) changed quite dramatically. I got some grief over not changing my name, but I'm sticking with my decision. I get all sorts of stupid questions -- "what will you do when you have children? You will not share a last name with your children!" Gah! You notice the implicit assumption that children take the father's name. As for traveling, that is very important for me as well. We just came back from Greece, and I'm already dreaming of our next trip to Peru (I've been wanting to do the Inca trail for a long time). I recently realized that I've only seen 9% of all the countries in the world. 9% and time is running out!
Sorry for hijacking your blog with this long comment, but when I read your post I felt that you so eloquently spelled out all my thoughts and fears of late. Good to know I’m not the only one who feels this way!
Your post is extremely true, of course, but I think you'll feel much differently when you go back and re-read it at age 52 -- if you feel old now (and who doesn't!) you'll see in twenty years that you were still in the prime of your life.

B has been fighting a running battle against the rest of the universe about her name.

I'll bet on her, thank you! Universe, watch out.

I still can't get my head around the people who told me high school was the best time I'd ever have in my life. Then college. I feel kinda sorry for people like that.
Congrats on getting hitched. I knew it was coming up, but time has flown by and I missed the date. How cool! Don't worry about the Ms. vs. Mrs. thing, it takes a while to get used to. But whenever anyone calls me Mrs. Mugwhump I think they're talking about my mother-in-law. I did choose to take the hubby's name, but only because I didn't want my maiden name anymore and was happy to exchange it. But that's just me. Congratulations, once again.
Our plan to see the world - have our company post us oversea's. That way we get to work and play.

As for the Mrs vs Ms. I'm a staunch Ms. was before I added his last as my 2nd middle. Which confuses people to no end.

My favorite question - the husband doesn't mind? I respond with "I wouldn't of married him it was an issue."
Don't worry. To me, you two will always be Mr. & Mrs. F H Maktaaq :P
The death clock scares the bejeezus out of me. I refuse to fill in the blanks!

All good what you write about marriage. I became a homicidal lunatic after taking my vows, a fairly good sign that I had made a grave error.

As a complete stranger, and having read both your blogs, I can only say that you appear to be a purrrfect pair.
D: I'm glad I'm not the only one. We're definitely in the minority. One of my friends said she wanted everyone in her new family to be named the same, another friend said she wanted to sacrifice something for the marriage so she gave up her name.

As for hijacking the blog, no worries, I enjoyed reading your comment!

Nep: I agree, but for now I feel like I am wasting time! That if I don't do anything, I'll regret my life even more at 52.

Moofie: Those high school/university yaysayers...what a bunch of weinies. They must've been jocks or something and can't stand it now that they're not the centre of the universe.

LJ: I think that's a good reason for changing your name. And you didn't hassle me about it.

rhcd: Getting relocated: my worst fears are that Matt gets relocated to Hyder, Alaska.

Ryan: Check out the Dramatic Chipmunk.

Lyn: A homicidal maniac? Our vows, which we didn't hear prior to the date, had something about me producing some 1000 babies. Ha!
It's nuts when people assume your Mrs. So-and-So. Glad you are pissed about that.
Thanks, Rhea. I looked over your blog and enjoyed reading it!
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