The Cube Dweller's Manifesto
I might choose to have my breasts removed

Choose Your Own Adventure

I used to write for a friend's web mag, Clark Schpiell Productions. This piece was published there November 3, 2003, when I was 29.

I recently stumbled onto a web site that was a spoof of those Choose Your Own Adventure  books that were popular when we were kids. In addition to the slightly nerdy sci-fi books, there was also a series of books for adolescent girls. As a slightly nerdy adolescent girl, I read a few of both.

I loved those books, but they also made me a little tense, which could explain quite a bit about why I am the way that I am. What if I made the wrong decision? I hesitated slightly before turning to the designated page. Once the decision had been made, however, the giddy excitement would build as I rushed to read my fate. (In case you are not familiar with these books, they are written in the second person: you are the protagonist.) The idea that I could go back and change my mind if I did not like the outcome of my decision, or if I simply wanted to see what happened if I made a different choice, was the most thrilling possibility I could imagine. It was easy not to have regrets when none of my decisions were final.

It is so much harder in real life. That is the struggle with 29. From this perspective, the paths that I have chosen are clearer than they have been in the past, and so are the paths that I have not chosen.

I do not have many regrets -- perhaps over unnecessary meanness and a few lies here and there -- but I do wonder what would have happened if I had made different choices. I have a fantastic life right now that I never could have imagined for myself and, because of that, it is hard for me to believe that any of the other choices I could have made would not have led to equally fantastic, if different, lives. I feel like I am being cheated out of living those other lives.

There is nothing in Catholic doctrine that leads me to believe that after I live this life I get to go back to a particular point in time and choose a different adventure. How cool would that be? Flip back through the pages and live my life again, with a twist.

I would start by choosing to attend an Ivy League school instead of the University of Alaska. Choosing to go to Alaska for four years was one of the most daring things I have ever done, but I am fairly sure that had I gone to Stanford and stuck with my writing major, I would have a different life right now.

After I lived that life, I want to try out the one where I stay in graduate school instead of dropping out and moving back to California. All this CSI on television lately makes me wonder what my life would have been like if I had earned my Ph.D. in Forensic Anthropology and gone on to work for the FBI as I had planned.

Since I returned to California, my career has taken so many twists and turns that I would not even know where to begin with choosing an alternate route. I would probably start in on the men in my next adventure. Now that I know what it is like to be married (great, but with more farting than I expected), I wonder what it would have been like to be married to some of the ones who got away (or were thrown back). Would I trade my husband for any of them now? God no, but what would it be like to go back and not break up with the firefighter or to hook up with that friend who wanted more?

Almost-30 is messing with my mind. I did not think I was going to have any issues with this number but, lately, it has been creeping up on me, tapping on my shoulder and laughing in my face. This is the one life I get. As happy as I am with it, I am greedy enough to want all the other lives I could have lived. I am sure that there is one that leads to an Academy Award. (I could have said a cure for cancer, but who I am kidding?)


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