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Jen Selk, Nathan Kalman-Lamb and a Smeetch. Jen Selk is 38, birthday post.

Family selfie!

And to this website!

Have you noticed it looks a little different these days?

Yep. A mere 13 years after launching, I have finally gotten around to getting myself some real hosting, and redesigning using something a teensy bit better than the WYSIWYG services of the past.

It’s been a grind.

There’s so much old content, and it turns out that it wasn’t as easy as I hoped to just migrate it all over. So instead, I’ve been repopulating the site, post-by-post and page-by-page, one little bit at a time. It’s exhausting. Truly. But it’s also sort of fun. Revisiting everything, from my very first baby writer pieces for the Vancouver Sun, to my horrifically cringe-worthy time at Doseto my earliest blog posts … amazing. Deeply embarrassing, but amazing.

I usually find it difficult to read my old writing.

Particularly my old, bad writing. Revisiting an angsty teen diary entry, for example, would make me want to shrivel and die. That is not an exaggeration. The feeling that usually overtakes me as I read my old work is like the birth of a tiny, radioactive worm in the centre of my belly – a worm that then explodes into a writhing star of hot tentacles that take over my insides. Horrific.

Not so this time, for some reason. I don’t know what’s changed, but as cringe-worthy as my own professional writing is, I feel a distance from it now. It makes me laugh. I still cringe, sure, but it’s not devastating. I don’t shrivel up. The worm is there, but it remains a worm.

Jen Selk is 38.

Photo by Masaaki Komori on Unsplash

I don’t know if this means I’m maturing or what. It must mean something.

Take, for example, this op-ed about “The Internet”. From a contemporary perspective, this may be the funniest thing I’ve ever written.

My thinly-veiled, passive-aggressive, lyrics-ridden early blogs are pretty awful. Like this one. *

And what about this piece of utter trash about “Big screen kitties”? I mean… it’s HORRID, isn’t it? I should be devastated, but somehow, I’m not.

I was very very young when I started writing professionally. And I had a lot going in my life. And it was a different time. There are so many reasons why embarrassment isn’t necessary. And it’s nice to be able to see my young self with a little more perspective and a little less immediacy.

Sometimes, revisiting the past is hard.

I think I captured this difficulty fairly well in the piece I wrote for MMA a couple of years ago about rewatching My So-Called Life. But it is always illuminating, so the last couple months have been fun.

Initially, as I began rebuilding the site, I started at the beginning and worked my way forward in time in a linear fashion, but over the last couple of weeks I jumped forward to put up several more recent pieces. It just looked so strange to have work from 2005 dominating the home page of the site. As the weeks go on, I’ll be laying things in willy-nilly, but I expect I’ll alternate between moving back from the recent present, and forward from the distant past until I finish somewhere in the middle, perhaps around 2012 or so, and everything is finally up. I’ll post when the entire project is complete, but of course, if you’d like to keep poking around as I go along, feel free. Just know the whole thing is a work-in-progress and will likely remain so for some time.

So.

Today I turn 38.
Jen Selk is 38.

Photo by Zoltan Tasi on Unsplash

I don’t think I ever fully believed I’d get to be this old. My life has always felt strangely ephemeral. Tenuous. I won’t go into why. It’s just something that was. In recent years, that’s changed a bit. With a small child anchoring my days it is easier than ever to see into the distant future, and to expect to have a future.

A child, not a spouse, is the true ball-and-chain of relationship life.

And not in a bad way. I love my little iron ball. I love her sturdy, stubborn little self and I am grateful to her, every day, for cementing me to the world.**

We both thought we’d have a second child by now. There are many good reasons why we haven’t tried for one. Living in the USA makes things difficult. My first, “high-risk” pregnancy makes things difficult. And The Smeetch makes things difficult. She is all-consuming and occupies our every moment. Never an easy baby, she is neither an easy toddler. She doesn’t need a lot of sleep, and when she does sleep, she often calls out, has nightmares. I think she got that from me. Stress dreams are my jam.

On the other hand, there is a sense of ease that comes from having just one. Our family unit feels, at the moment, right. Our little triangle, perfectly formed. The thought of bringing another person into the mix is hard to fathom. We both know that it will mean having less energy and attention to devote to The Smeetch, and also, having less capacity to raise the new one with the same attention that we’ve devoted to the first. A second child means a lot of sacrifices, and the thought of upsetting the balance for Smeetchy feels sad to me. Unfair. I don’t want to hurt her.

On the third hand, Nathan, who loves his brother like life, feels like it’s good to give a kid a sibling – a built-in team member, partner-in-crime, and friend. I understand that, too.

And then, on the fourth hand (I guess? I’m losing track of the hands here), there’s my age to consider, and my crumbling wreck of a body, which never fully recovered from my first full-term (again, high-risk, super-fun) pregnancy.

I wish people would stop asking about it. The short answer is I don’t know, okay. I don’t know if we’ll have another kid.

I don’t know what the future holds. Does anyone?

Barring some unexpected accident, act-of-god, Trump-incited nuclear disaster, I think I’ll be here for awhile. That’s the best I can do.

Happy birthday to me. Thanks for being here. A reward for you, for managing to read this far, is this absolutely priceless family selfie outtake. We. Are. Gorgeous. You’re welcome.

ETA: Jump down for a video update! Daddy and Smeetch made me a burfday video. It’s cute.

Jen Selk is 38, hilarious family selfie attempt outtake.

Best outtake.

 

*BTW, for old-times’ sake I used a song lyric to title this very blog post. No prizes if you guess it. It’s pretty obvious.

**I don’t think it is necessary to have children to give a life meaning. I want to be clear on that. And in fact, I think there are many people who should never have children, who should never have had children. It is wrong to bring small, new, vulnerable humans into the world for countless reasons and I wish more people would consider it fully, particularly selfish, narcissistic people, before choosing to become parents, but that’s a whole ‘nother thing, as they say.

 

 

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