This is 39

Welcome to my annual birthday time capsule!

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Tomorrow is my 39th birthday, and I couldn’t be more thrilled.

I love my birthday, and I harbor zero anxiety about getting older. Why would I, when each year comes bearing new experiences and unexpected adventures (pandemics notwithstanding, of course)? For me, growing older means learning new things, embracing who I am, understanding what I want, and pursuing it unapologetically. Also, after the last 18 months, after so much sickness and loss, it would be downright shameful to reject a birthday. How lucky I am for the gift of another year.

My birthday means it’s also time for my favorite tradition, which is to write a literary time capsule that preserves this particular moment. Thanks for indulging me, and for being here to celebrate. You’re a gift, too.

💛 This is 39 💛

Thirty-nine is waking up at 5:30 a.m. to work on yet another novel. It’s being grateful for the lessons of the first two, and for the epiphany that when it comes to creative work, time is never wasted. Thirty-nine is a cozy writing group, the precious gift of thoughtful feedback and steady support. It’s not identifying solely as a writer, or needing to prove anything through publication, or panicking about getting on an “Best New Authors Under 40” list. It’s writing for pleasure and honoring it as a lifelong pursuit, which feels like a revelation.

Thirty-nine is corporate America, which would appall Chrissy-at-19, but which Chrissy-at-39 has learned to appreciate. It’s developing new skills, mentoring others, forging a fulfilling path, and using way too much business jargon. (I regret to inform you that we really do circle back and sync up often.) It’s actual work-life balance, which outranks every other perk (even the free snacks!), and protecting that balance at all costs.

Speaking of balance, thirty-nine is truly enjoying my own company, but realizing I need other people, too. It’s working from home, a long distance relationship, family in other states, and good friends who are willing to drag me out of my house. (Thank you, friends.) Thirty-nine is still thrilled to be childfree by choice. It’s embracing the role of aunt to the world’s most perfect nephew, and to a dozen of so other awesome kids. Thirty-nine is the knowledge that community comes in all sizes.

Thirty-nine is nine years of marriage and nineteen together—next year will be a big one for many reasons! It’s making the most of our weekends together, dreaming about the next stage of our lives, and reminding each other that we’re doing this work for a reason. Thirty-nine is building something better together, even when we’re apart.

Thirty-nine is a mind and body I love and appreciate and for which I feel incredibly grateful. It’s weight lifting and yoga and endless walks with the dog, strength and flexibility and a dash of straight-up vanity. (I’m a Leo, after all.) It’s delighting in this home I’ve been given, this home I’ve built, this body through which I experience the world.

Thirty-nine is protein smoothies and Perfect Bars, happy hour yoga and YouTube workouts, library books and kombucha. It’s getting better at baking, budgeting, boundaries, and building community. It’s feeling sure-footed, deep-rooted, and constantly curious. In so many ways thirty-nine is the best year yet, and also the faith that it will keep getting better.

PS: This was 38, and this was 37.

Snack of the Week

I threw myself a small birthday party yesterday, which is one of my many talents. The main event was pizza, it wouldn’t be a true party without a respectable snack spread. Here we’ve got sweet and salty, a good dip, a bowl of pickles (required), and dueling cupcakes. (My chocolate cupcakes were good but fell apart; my friend Katie’s funfetti cupcakes were the clear winner. I devoured a good sample size just to be sure.) Not pictured: copious amounts of rosé, but not so much that I couldn’t wake up at 6:30 a.m. to finish this newsletter. I am pleased to report that thirty-nine is amazing.

Relatable Reads

  • The Day the Good Internet Died, The Ringer. I, too, still mourn the death of Google Reader, but this essay explores so much more than RSS. It’s about nostalgia, community, discovery, and the sheer magic (perhaps unearned, but probably not) of the early internet. As an elder—excuse me, geriatric—millennial who was once an obsessive blog writer and reader, it’s an especially poignant and perfect read. 💾

  • Hundreds of Ways to Get S#!+ Done—And We Still Don’t, Wired. “Every single time you write down a task for yourself, you are deciding how to spend a few crucial moments of the most nonrenewable resource you possess: your life. Every to-do list is, ultimately, about death.” Oh no. OH NO. (But seriously, this is a great take on to-do lists I found extremely relevant and relatable!) ✅

  • A Brief History of Summer Reading, New York Times. “Publishers saw an opportunity in this new wave of summer travel to bolster what had traditionally been a lackluster season for book sales, and to promote novels, which up until that point had largely been seen as an inferior literary subgenre and a dangerous corrupting influence, particularly for young women.” (Gift article.) ☀️

  • Recalibrating What’s Good, Agents & Books. If you’re a writer interested in publishing, Kate McKean’s Substsack is a must-read. I loved this recent issue, which is a great reminder that stunning prose is only one part of what makes a book “good.” 📚

Coffee Club

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