Titles by Kij Johnson are available for purchase online

(This image was graffito from Nantes a couple of years ago.)

Next January is a big birthday for me, insofar as any specific number of years alive is more relevant to who we are more than is, say, a divorce, or one’s parent dying, or menopause. A bit back, I decided that I wanted to have certain things sorted by then. We’re all walking on the edge of an abyss, but certain birthdays and certain states of existence make that clearer. So I decided: by the time I turn sixty, I want to know that my life is in order, and more specifically, that I will not leave chaos for my poor brother to sort out. Wills will be written; 401(k)s will be documented; safe-deposit boxes will have their keys findable (for a change). And I will find a reason for being here for the endgame, for the final years or decades of my life.

I’m fortunately quite healthy (except for some thisses and thats), so I didn’t really think working out would be a part of that, but I hurt my foot walking a month ago, and realized, (1) I had to stop wearing Keds for five-mile walks, which meant (2) I needed new shoes, and, since I was going to have to buy ugly shoes for walking, (3) I might as well use them to lift some weights.

It wasn’t that many years ago that I was (occasionally) climbing V-4s, and it was fewer years ago that I was in Crossfit until I fucked up my feet (running in Keds. No, you’re an idiot). I was always surprised at how much I enjoyed lifting weights, which is where I transitioned when I moved away from my climbing gym, and my much-loved climbing partner (I still think of him all the time: too embarrassed to text and say, I love you, guy, how are you? That’s a different post.) I treated weightlifting and Crossfit the way I treated climbing: do it because you can’t not do it, because any damage is worth this — even though I didn’t love them and thus they weren’t worth it. So, part of going to the gym currently is trying to identify when I need to slack off, or even to acknowledge that it is now my duty to my body and my future self to do so.

So here’s what I want for my 60th birthday: all that other stuff and also three months of learning not to injure myself.

But this does bring up a question. On January 20, I turn 60. For my 50th birthday, I was in Seattle, and Elizabeth and my other Seattle friends hosted a tea party. It was the best party of my life — so many people I loved in a room together — but things have changed: I’m not in Seattle; my friends are scattered or in the midst of their own things. I can’t really go far in any case since I am teaching the first class of semester the next day, but: what should I do? Some options: have a party here, drive to Columbia and hang out with friends, buy something lavish, ignore the whole thing, go to a museum or a town or an art exhibit or a nature trail I would never otherwise get to, buy a very expensive tequila and drink a shot at bedtime. Ideas? Post ’em at Facebook, where this post is about to go live.