Tangent Manifesto

I am turning 30 soon.

I hear that this is an age at which we begin to measure years against



pay rates.


My consciousness has recently become littered with photographs of unfamiliar sunsets,

partially obscured by

BOLD WHITE TYPEFACE shouting motivational imperatives to

rid myself of people who bring me down,

take the first small steps toward my goals,

and allow myself a weekly “cheat day” in the quest for self-optimization.


The clock is ticking.

The plot is thickening.

The clutch is sticking.

My bell is ringing.

The death knell of my 20s is

the tea kettle of my senses, as it

boils and whistles,

spitting spits of water,

212 degrees, 100 C,

over the edge,

where they hit the burner and sizzle...

and I become acutely aware that I am getting older.


My generation has a reputation for being

one of unwritten songs, unfinished thoughts, and unfinished

We have more aphorisms than hobbies, more goals than plans, and more plans than actions.


But my only true fear is to look back and lament that

things just didn't turn out how I'd envisioned them.


I refuse to hold others' definitions of failure against myself.

I refuse to hold my own definition of failure against myself.


I have forgiven myself for

all the books I'll never finish

and renewed my library card.


I have issued myself a pardon for all the glasses of cheap wine

I have poured and abandoned

in moments of distraction.


I have recognized the absurdity of so many razor blades dulled out of fear that if I were to shave less, people would assume I was trying to make a statement.


I have come to terms with the fact that I am

the type of person who writes things like “Learn Swedish” on a to-do list,

and that I will probably never learn Swedish,

and that I will probably keep putting it on the list.


I have looked at my life, cut holes in the pockets, and let things that don't work for me fall out.


Cable TV, Complacency

 Meat, Dairy, and Monogamy

 High-waisted bathing suit bottoms

 and no more Coconut Rum: we all know how that ended the last time.


No regrets.

Each tattoo is a litmus test to see if it's worth opening my mouth,

or if I've already been dismissed.

Saving my breath for old age.


No regrets.

Spanish One Night Stand didn't call the next morning, and I would not have answered.

Saving my breath for old age.


No regrets.

I'm not picking out baby names and I'm not playing mind games.

Saving your breath.


I am neither business nor casual: still comfortable around

blown glass, ashtrays, and blasphemy

shaky knees, lost keys, and idolatry


A refusal to be bored is all it takes to hold on to yourself:

an awareness of how unaware you have the potential to become.


Little kid in Mom's shoes, the 11th hour, happy birthday.



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life_used_to_be_lifelike's picture

Told you I'd read more. This

Told you I'd read more. This poem really hit home for me, I am also turning 30 sooner then I'd like. You are quite brilliant. I especially liked the bit about cutting holes in pockets. 

"It is a terrible thing to be so open. It is as if my heart put on a face and walked into the world" -- Sylvia Plath.

Rainy_Maple_Sugar_Candy's picture

Thanks again! It's funny,

Thanks again! It's funny, typically I'm not interested in sharing my work for comment (positive or negative) but I am quite enjoying the interaction on this site so far. It's not that I don't appreciate when people like my poems or that I can't take constructive criticism; quite the opposite on both! But I'm more of the type who writes a poem, reads it at an open mic, lets it pop like a bubble, and moves on. I'm rarely interested in revising things much after I consider them "done" enough to perform. But I'm glad I started sharing here.


For me, I'm totally comfortable turning 30. This poem was inspired by the idea that it seems we're expected to feel bad about ourselves, or be afraid of growing up. I made a very conscious decision, particularly within this past year, to avoid having that happen to me. At 29 I said okay... what do I want to be able to say I accomplished, REALISTICALLY, or began to work on before I turned 30? One of those things was getting into the grad program I wanted. Of course no one can control every variable in his or her own life, but we should be living in a way that lets us feel that we weren't wasting time. At the same time, we're not all going to climb Mount Everest, and being able to let go of the feeling of HAVING to do certain things is just as valid. That was the forgiveness part in there. What's important is coming to terms with what your REAL goals are, and what's actually important to you. Fuck expectations and fuck being made to feel bad about getting older. I wouldn't change a thing.

life_used_to_be_lifelike's picture

You have a valid point. It's

You have a valid point. It's amazing that you can look at it that way. 29 has the the harshest year for me, so I should welcome 30 with arms wide open. Maybe I am afraid. I don't know. Maybe I have regrets? That must be it. I understand the whole critism thing, but I am glad you decided to share. You definitely have what it takes to grip someome. That's what I look for anyhow. 

"It is a terrible thing to be so open. It is as if my heart put on a face and walked into the world" -- Sylvia Plath.

Rainy_Maple_Sugar_Candy's picture

Regrets can be hard to let go

Regrets can be hard to let go of. Like I said, a very conscious decision... it's like a clean slate I guess.


I have friends who are really into writers' workshops and live for feedback. For them it's a very interactive and ongoing process. I just look at it sort of how I look at writing songs: I'll listen to feedback and maybe consider it, but to me it's kinda like "Well, this is how I think it should sound, so that's how it goes, maybe you'll like it, maybe not." Poetry is just a very "me-centric" activity in my mind, where on the other hand I have friends who consider it more "performance art to be tailored" in a way. But anyway, it's always great when someone likes a poem!