40 is Not the New 30

Hey kids.

So I’m a little bit skittish in Bloglandia today. For those of you that don’t know, I got two tough rejection emails from places that were really important to me. Both places got pieces that I wrote on immigration. They were very different, but both based on my personal story/views on immigration in the U.S. One turn-down came on Monday morning, the next on Tuesday morning. A sharp one-two punch.

Now on the one hand, if I’m getting rejections, I’m in the game. Which is a good thing. On the other hand, I’m getting rejections. Which  sucks.

It’s funny – when I get turned down for a performance of my show, The Deportee’s Wife, I usually don’t miss a beat. Sure, I would’ve loved the gig and all that, but the no doesn’t make me want to eat comfort food asap and sleep the day away. When I get turned down for other types of writing, the kind that I have no emotional connection with, I usually shake myself off and push on.

But while I was OK Monday and soldiering on, the second notice yesterday just did me in. And it was a post by my friend B that made me realize what’s underneath:

And G, I hope you don’t take this personally, but you and I are about the same age. When you hit this particular point in life (no I’m not saying “cuantos años”), you begin a process of introspection in which you become very hard on yourself– some might call it a “mid-life crisis.” Believe me, I understand how you feel, having dumped a successful career in ——– years ago to pursue what was dear to my heart, and now sometimes having the same inner questioning erupt in my mind.

He’s right on the proverbial money that I don’t have right now. I couldn’t even respond to him yesterday. I just cried on the roof while doing our laundry.

B is in a similar situation immigration-wise. My close friends know that since I turned 40 this past January, I’ve been in this extended remix of a mid-life crisis. It comes and goes. But the whole, “I’m 40” thing comes up a lot in my conversations with them. And not happily. I in no way whatsoever have embraced entering my 40s.

Yesterday I caught myself thinking, “What if I never moved to Mexico? What would my life be like right now at 40? My thoughts turned to some of my U.S.-born exes out there – what if I had married one of you?

I’m not proud of where my thoughts took me yesterday. But I think that if you make life decisions based on your spouse’s immigration situation, those questions come up in one way or another. I think that they come up when you’re in a committed relationship with a person, period. Yet those questions do cut in a specific way for those of who flail around in U.S. immigration’s quicksand.

And apart from my moldy mid-life crisis, (I mean, my birthday was nine months ago,) what shook me to the core yesterday was that if two very different writing opportunities turned down my immigration writing,  then why the hell am I writing about immigration? Who is really listening? After yesterday’s DREAM Act vote, that’s especially ringing true for me. In a crazy moment yesterday, I thought, “Hey – maybe the universe is telling me to go back to teaching English.”

I know that the two rejections aren’t the only places in the world to be published. I know that I have a grouchy yet necessary voice as an immigration activist. I generally have come to trust my voice as a writer. And the blog readers that I have here I deeply appreciate.

But part of my Dream for the Deportee’s Wife campaign involved talking to you Activators about how I need to be more visible in the public conversation. Those two places would have been key in the next steps.

So whatever.

Today, I’m most definitely a poster child for, “40 and not feeling fabulous.”

Let me rephrase that:

“Fucking 40 years old and not feeling fabulous in any fucking way whatsoever.”


15 thoughts on “40 is Not the New 30

  1. Being 40..
    old enough to relax a little inside, young enough to feel the fire of whats to come tomorrow
    hit 40 reached 50, keep reaching, lots of road to come…


  2. Dear Giselle,
    I found your blog through CGE. I studied at CEMAL for two semesters and am in the process of finishing a novel I wrote about an american girl spending her junior year abroad in Mexico. I relate to the rejection blues. A few things that help me are 1) reading anything by Julia Cameron, 2)doing something nice for myself 3)continuing to write.

    I hope you keep writing, because now that I found your blog I intend to read it. I just returned from a visit to Cuernavaca in August, and man, was it an eye-opener for someone who hadn’t been there in three years. I hope Mexico gets back on its feet soon too.

    With hope, Julie


  3. Timing is everything.. I turned 40 a little over a month ago and like you, even though I am rocking out health wise,I am not feeling it AT ALL! If I get to live to be 80, there is half my life lived, right there… now what? Even funnier, this morning I hosted a surprise 40th brunch for my pastor’s wife and when I finally took the lightness out of the affair by asking what her thoughts were about her milestone, I think I helped all the ladies into a lovely silence and awkward conversation right after…she had not much to say..I live with a husband who is always looking back and way too forward for me.. I try to stay in the moment because that is really all I have and when the moment stinks, let it be, when the moment is great I savor in it, too! So look at this week as not a great one and do keep on moving on because the alternative of stagnation/depression, etc, is SO not worth it either! Keep on keeping on!


  4. Yesterday, a coworker told me that it was his girlfriend’s 50th birthday. He had tried to do everything right and make her happy, but she was still grumpy as hell about turning 50. Obvs I don’t know what it’s like to be 40 or 50 (or even 30–go ahead and slap me now 😉 ), but I know what it’s like to feel like I “should” be in a different place in my life. It’s all arbitrary, but letting go of that attachment is HARD! You’re exactly where you need to be. So go ahead and feel un-fucking-fabulous for a while, but your fabulousness will be waiting for you when you’re ready.


  5. Aww, don’t give up Giselle! You are doing extraordinary things and you inspire a lot of people. Advocating for immigration justice is probably the most controversial and up-hill battle fight around. Heck, sometimes I can’t even convince friends and families of my views and they know first hand what immigration disaster can cause.


  6. I was in your same shoes a few years ago only I was turning 30 years old. I was in Iraq at that time, separated from my family, finally isolated and alone among thousands of other soldiers, and really questioning what in the hell I was doing. The age is different for everyone but the important thing to remember is that you are the only one who controls your attitude. I chose to feel like “God” was after me and it went downhill for several months. In hindsight, I should have focused on the positive aspects of my life and maybe it would have turned around a lot sooner. I would suggest the good ol’ list of pros vs cons and see if it helps. I’m a big list writer!


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