who do we call at the OED to get “adult” updated?

For numerous reasons over numerous years, I have often stopped and thought:

“whoa.  i’m an adult.” 

Clearly anyone meeting me would wonder what it is causing me to wonder.  I’ve got a serious job and a serious title, have been taking care of myself since I was 15 (and had the honors of watching out for a few others over the years), pay my bills, wear suits to work….

here are the things I have taken care of- planning and execution, without consulting a single other human being for advice:

– took care of my very sick mother for two years while in high school, including forcing the woman into her own car (like putting a cat in a kennel), driving her to the hospital and signing her in to the neurosurgery desk, fighting her all the while,

– deciding on, applying to, paying for, etc. university,

– sold a house,

– paid taxes for fifteen years,

– settled a major court case,

– left college,

– moved to another country,

– made several drastic career changes,

– closed deals worth hundreds of thousands of dollars,

– gone to over 30 countries alone, including several on the state department’s no-no list,

– endured several surgeries and medical procedures,

– buried a parent, a sibling and most of my immediate family.


the point of all this is not “oh wow, i’m awesome” (that’s incidental.  har har)  the point of this is, here is what I CANNOT do without someone holding my hand:

– figure out which hair dye to buy when simply trying to replicate what is already on my head,

– pick out a dress for a night out,

– decide if i should go out to coffee with a guy,

– use finishing glaze conditioner,

– decide what to cook for dinner,

– figure out what color to paint my own room,

– sign up for yoga classes,

– etc.

when people ask me how old i am, i honestly have to think about it.  when i say 32 (the truth), i feel like i’m lying.  i wrote 1997 on a check, in the last few months. 

in a way, now i know what people were talking about on donohue about expecting to see that 18 year old in the mirror that they were forty years ago.  why is that?  why do we never feel like we’ve reached a level- an age- a “status,” even if it doesn’t perfectly align with our chronology?

the definition of adult- not the entertainment, neither is:


1. having attained full size and strength; grown up; mature: an adult person, animal, or plant.
2. of, pertaining to, or befitting adults.
3. intended for adults; not suitable for children: adult entertainment.


4. a person who is fully grown or developed or of age.
5. a full-grown animal or plant.
6. a person who has attained the age of maturity as specified by law.

physical or legal benchmarks.  how we look, physiological milestones, dates crossed and chronological thresholds met.  the most superficial, and easiest, way to define maturity.  but what about the real stuff?  what matters?  who you are, how you feel, and how you deal with events and people in your life- joyous, tragic, momentous and mundane?  there’s no quantifying or qualifying that- not in an imperical sense (a scientific constant like the speed of light, or a unit of time or density or whatever) nor in a generally accepted emotional sense. 

as a people- american, western, progressive, we LIVE to define, categorize, diagnose, standardize.  we’ve managed to slice and contain the facets of our personalities, our anima,  we can determine that there are 8 different types of octopi personalities, we can manage to differentiate between thousands of tiny permutations of tofu, but this one’s got us licked.

no maturity points along the x-axis against which to measure ourselves, to understand where we are vis-a-vis imperical emotional development or our peers or our age.  no way to know that we should trust ourselves to make little decision a or big leap B. 

i’m not advocating the dissection of our thoughts or classifying and licensing us by any government or professional bodies, i’m just saying it’s a big thing,  and, it’s a matter of faith and confidence, really.

now if only i could figure out what either of those meant…


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“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”


Upon common theatres, indeed, the applause of the audience is of more importance to the actors than their own approbation. But upon the stage of life, while conscience claps, let the world hiss! On the contrary if conscience disapproves, the loudest applauses of the world are of little value - john adams
August 2008
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from the man who taught me everything:

“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.”



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