Clementine looks at life at 30

My little “Clementine” is a fantastic writer in at least three languages (that is, three languages that I know of). I loved her wit and “storylined” view of the world even before I read her honest appraisal of her “accomplishments and failures in life so far,” I begged to put it up on this humble blog. She agreed! So, lucky readers, you get to share in her reflections. I think many a single lady at 30, or someone lost on their ambitious career path at this ripe young age, or anyone who has experienced some of the many struggles facing beautiful intelligent women trying to fit the pieces of their disparate worlds together can relate. Enjoy it.

My life at 30: failures and achievements

By: Clementine

Since it’s my 30th birthday this Sunday I’m making a list of my life so far, not just this past year. And, I’m dividing it in two parts. First, failures and shortcomings, and five blessings and achievements.

So, on with Failures and Shortcomings:

1. Sex

Sex has been a BIG disappointment so far. I never knew what all the fuss is about. There is something very inadequate with the whole concept, can’t seem to shake a lingering suspicion that I’m being cheated, by whom I’m not sure. The system.

This morning I had to go and do a regular check-up at the gynecologist, and the nurse was very considerate, saying things like “this might feel a bit uncomfortable” and so on, and I felt like telling her that it wasn’t worse than some of the sex I’ve had. For one she was doing something that was actually good for me, also she took her time, and we had a nice chat before hand (we talked about China), and afterwards she told me exactly when she was going to call and give results, plus all I needed to know about the following procedure, and when I would see her again (in three years).

2. Taking care of my little ones

I’ve had two cats, both which I’ve abandoned in one way or another. Even when we were together, I wasn’t loving enough and they both turned out a bit crazy. The last one I called Tintin (like the journalist, which can be a girl’s name in my country) and I had her put to sleep a few weeks back… Had her in my lap when she slowly succumbed to heavy sedatives…

My other little one, my little brother, doesn’t seem to realize that I genuinely want what is best for him. He has some kind of competitive complex towards me. I see myself as nothing less than his biggest fan, but he can’t seem to see that. (As a 22-year-old I chose to move to a place not far from the polar circle – a place where the only inhabitants are the ones involuntarily left behind, not a fun place when you’re 22 – just to be near him when he was a baby.). So, I have to do a much better job as a sister.

3. Subsistence

Moving in with my father as a 29-year-old was a “low water mark” (as we say in my language, I’m not sure it works in English). Coming home and finding that every single one of my old class mates, ex-colleagues and friends makes more than I do was another one. Not to mention not being successful in any of my work or university applications for the last three years. I’m not exaggerating, the only job I got (writing) turned out to not to be a real job at all, and a real job I did get as a purchasing manager at a foreign jewelry company in China I was fired from after getting too friendly with the factory girls. (It’s true! But not as interesting as it sounds).

4. … (How depressing, I think I won’t write a number four, but do let me know if you think of something)

5. Persistence

I feel I’ve never really persisted in doing anything professionally, personally or …physically I guess you could say (like a sport or perfecting a skill or such). That goes for yoga, running, Chinese, living in one place, staying with a job, or in a relationship. I’m so fickle.

Enough about that. Now, here’s to things I’ve done well, instead. Blessings and Achievements:

1. Friends

Holding on to a handful of perfect friends. I seem to have been able to choose exactly the ones I knew would make my life wonderful, and they’ve both changed and stayed the same and I love
them and feel so grateful I can count on them, talk to them and see them (some of them far too seldomly!). I have always been lucky with friends, and it’s such a blessing.

2. Writing

I have written professionally for all the major media outlets in my country that I could have hoped for starting out as a journalist, both the cool magazines and the serious dailies. And I’ve actually done a few reports that I’m genuinely proud of.

3. Boyfriends

I’ve had a few really good ones! I listen to my friends complaining about men, and I realize I have been lucky so far. I’ve met kind, reasonable people, whom I still love and respect, and when any
of them call me it’s a nice surprise. Not that there’s been that many, but still.

No one has ever cheated on me (that I know of), or even broken up with me in a bad way, or messed me up with strange behavior, or made me feel useless, or desert me or… or any of those things that seem to go on around me.

And my hook-ups haven’t been too bad either. Like that guy in the leopard morning-gown, apart from doing an awful job of faking an orgasm (I think he was gay), he was really very decent and helped me with an article later.

Or the pizza-man I picked up in XYZ once, even if he never called me as he said he would it was probably just because I send him home all the way to ABC in a cab – that must have cost him a fortune – and I don’t know what he could have made in a month. Not a lot probably. He wasn’t even a citizen – it can’t have been easy.

Or the TV anchor man who habitually told me to “manage my expectations” when reproached for being hours late, or even excused himself that whatever he had done instead of being on time was “serving the people,” still there’s no denying he made an effort to make me happy. Maybe more than anyone else has ever done, before or after. He just happened to have the most complicated life I’ve ever come in contact with. The man is like an ecosystem, with people depending on him and him relying on other people, doing favors, setting off reactions, trying to manage effects, while you get the feeling the whole process is already so messed up there’s just no way of stopping the race towards imminent catastrophe. (Though in his case it was more of an “egosystem.” Sorry, I couldn’t resist a pun).

One guy I’m glad I never did get involved with (there you go, probably my lucky star stopping me) was that rock-singer “Big Brother Six” in Wudaokou. Apart from being detrimental to my image (not that I have one – but foreign women with Chinese rock musicians are so Beijing in late-90’s, I would have been at least ten years too late), the financial burden would have been severe: for our first date he suggested having pijiu by the (dirty) river, asking me for 5 kuai for 2 bottles of Qingdao (what a scrub!). Besides, I already got all the benefits of his company, after me deciding to end it sooner rather than later he would send me these haiku-poems of unhappy love, such as: “The rain is falling. I want to wait for you in the rain, but where can I go?”

And there you have it, Clementine’s “life at 30.” I love it!


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