• February 2009
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Getting rid of the rut!

I read all the time that 21st century Americans are delaying traditional rites of passage.  Thanks to the rising costs of college, the increasing uselessness of a mere Bachelor’s degree and the disinterest that many educated Americans have with being tied down to one company for longer than 5 years, adolescence has been extended until the mid -to-late twenties.  A woman marrying and having children before age thirty is becoming such a rare occurrence that we question those few who do shamelessly flash their rock while still 20-something babies.  “Wow, she’s only 24 and she’s getting married? Weird.”  And as for retiring…well, do people still do that?  Can they afford to?  And for those who do manage to save enough to retire comfortably, are they willing to go silently into that good night?  Or do they simply leave the job they only tolerated for the security (and pension) and jump right into the job they really wanted to do all along, relieved to finally have the luxury of pursuing their passion?

50 is the new 40. 40 is the new 30.  30 is the new 20.  Despite all of this reported Benjamin Buttoning of society, I, somehow, have managed to fall into the dull routine of a cranky, middle aged woman during this, my “new 20s.”

Okay, some might simply call it a rut.  I go to work.  I go to the gym (sometimes).  I eat.  I write.  I have brunch/dinner with friends.  The same friends at the same restaurants.  I see a movie with those same friends.   I have the same drink (mimosa/mojita) at a lounge and talk about the same damn topics with the same damn people over and over and over again.  When I break from my routine, I have a late night snack at a jazz lounge with the same damn people, drinking the same damn drink and then reflecting on what we have just done in great detail.

Yeah…it’s a rut.  And while I understand how most people get stuck in them, I do not understand how 30 somethings who live in mega cities like New York find themselves in ruts?  

There’s a lot of shit happening in this city.  Right now as I type this, there are cool, courageous people out there doing totally outrageous, totally new stuff with diverse, original people.  When I first moved here, wasn’t I one of those people?  

I could commiserate on my rut and how easy it becomes to rely on it, justify it, even.  But, commiserating on ruts rarely results in climbing out of them.


For the past few weeks I have been engaging in this experiment.  I call it the “George Castanza stance.”  For all those fellow Seinfeld feins, you know where I’m going with this.  Whenever my mind tells me, “That’s so not you; don’t do it,” I pretend what my inner voice has really said is: “Whoa…girl, that sounds like something totally friggin’ awesome” and I do it!

It has been interesting so far.  

I traveled to Miami to see a former co-worker who I had always assumed was more of an acquaintance than a friend.  Furthermore, making the effort to get to know her and make her a friend seemed too bold and required too much weird vulnerability that I hesitated to make the trip, assuming, of course, it would make me look corny.  I took this trip with a co-worker who I liked, but again assumed that making an effort to get to know out of work was too uncool and dorky. And required a lot of effort with little pay off.  (What if, after all, she liked to have dinner BEFORE the movie?) 

In Miami, in the middle of winter…I wore a tank top (day and night) and got a tan in 70 degree weather!  

Rut be damned!

I stopped in a local Starbucks to get a drink and catch up on my beloved New Yorker.  A random guy strikes up a conversation.  When I hear “Damn, I don’t feel like engaging this dude/there’s a great article on Mumbai slums in this magazine that I have yet to read/while I love men, dating them is becoming increasingly tiresome, etc. etc. etc,” I force myself to think, “Hey, a respectful, well-mannered greeting from a relatively attractive and seemingly sane man…FRIGGIN AWESOME!”  So, I save the saga of the real-life “slumdog” for later and I engage the Starbucks gentleman in conversation.

For about an hour, I have the most interesting and informative chat I’ve had all week.  There were chuckles and full-fledged laughs involved.

When it is time for me to leave the Starbucks and return to my rut, the charming gentleman asks me to brunch the next day.

I immediately hear: “But, tomorrow is Sunday/you’ve got rewrites to do and the gym/you don’t like doing things on Sundays because well, work happens on Mondays/ damn, you haven’t even started your lesson plans yet/you have to cook the lamb chops before they rot, etc. etc. etc.”  I force myself to think: Food!  With a really cool dude who doesn’t appear to be a serial killer.  FRIGGIN’ AWESOME!!!!!

I tell the gentleman that I would love to break bread with him.  Even throw in: “It sounds like fun.”

And…here is the kicker:

It was fun.  There was some damn good french toast and some hilarious insights on child-rearing, overly dramatic females and men who do stupid stuff (repeatedly).  I had a BELLINI with my french toast.  It was friggin’ awesome.

Rut be damned!

I will be continuing my George Castanza stance.  While it has not turned me into a wild and crazy real 20 something who actually travels to Brooklyn after 9 just to go to a hot party, it has slightly altered my dependance on the familiar, the easy, the safe.  Taking a mini-vacation to visit a friend and making last minute plans with a relative stranger are not terribly imaginative, I admit.  But, I will say they have put me steps closer to being the woman I fantasized about when I was in high school. A woman who enjoys and actually LIVES life instead of a woman who observes and then writes about life.

Rut. Be. Damned.

4 Responses

  1. Yay, Keturah… rut be damned!!!! The Landmark version of that is: Be a yes, unless you are a no. We have an automatic knee-jerk no, no, no, to everything. If you aren’t really a no, be a yes! Love it. Love reading about it and experiencing it through you.

    I’m just waking up from dullness. I won’t call it a rut what I went through, I had a rut pre-Ua… look where that took me!

    Anyway, I enjoyed hearing about you moving past your rut.

  2. As you know from yesterday’s chat–I’m so there! Ugh! Ruts. Suck. So, yes, damn them. Have you considered a rut-be-damned hotline so that people in need…friends…okay, me…can call you when they’re feeling rut-ish and you can talk them out? I think that would be friggin awesome.

  3. NOT CRAZY ABOUT RUTS, but am a big fan of Habit. (Get brought up by unpredictable people and as a grownup, you begin to like habits a lot…) How else could I find half the people I know? So capitulate while you habituate– that’s my motto.

  4. I LOVE this entry. Keturah. Rut be damned indeed!!! That should be the new catch phrase..

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