HOW TO (NEVER) TURN 30

I have long feared this day, but alas, here I am: 30 years old!  (How did that happen?)  I’ve dreaded this day as an end to many things, mainly my wild and carefree twenties, and I’ve long viewed it as the beginning of the end – waking up becoming harder, back pain becoming more and more imminent, and unapologetic fun coming to a screeching halt.  But upon reflection of the last 30 years of my life, and more specifically, just the last 10, it’s pretty evident I have nothing to fear, because I am never going to “grow up!”

The Beginning of a Creative Era

My fascination with kitchen gadgets and tools often got me into trouble as a kid, I might add.  Being caught playing with the ‘Mix Master’ without adult supervision, shredding a potted plant into a “salad” and pouring bottles of dried spices into dishes were regular offenses.  But what can I say?  I love cooking!  As with other art forms, presenting a completed dish is its own journey of idea and discovery.  And the showmanship of it all, from table side flambés to sprinkles of fleur de sel, has always captivated me.
As I grew up, there were many opportunities for me to explore the kitchen at home.  Through cookbooks, Food Network, dear friends (Linda, Annabel, and Heidi!) and with many, many epicurean disasters along the way,  I now consider myself what Ina Garten would call “a home cook with maybe a little more experience than most.”  On the subject, the Barefoot Contessaherself is perhaps the most significant of celebrity influences on my current culinary point of view.  Her books of meticulously tested recipes, her effortlessly casual presentations and her endearing affection for her friends and husband have all helped shape my own style and purpose for entertaining – to show my friends and family I love them.  (Emphasis on show, as I’m all about the showmanship!)

“All children, except one, grow up.”

— J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

I identify with Peter Pan so much.  I fear adulthood, aging, and losing a sense of adventure.  I regularly escape to my “Never Land” (better known as Walt Disney World).  I look to the stars.  I dream of flying.  I’m unapologetically me.  My best friends all channel Tinker Bell realness (sorry girls!)  And I sprinkle my own version of sparkly “pixie dust” into just about everything I create.

Peter Pan is a play and a musical, and of course it’s a classic animated Disney film.  I think its ethos of fearing one’s coming of age, its innocence, its perpetuation of playing make believe and its nostalgia resonate across the entire Disney film canon.  And the lyrics to two of its songs, I believe, are quintessential “Claymaker.”

“The second star to the right
Shines in the night for you
To tell you that the dreams you plan
Really can come true
The second star to the right
Shines with a light that’s rare
And if it’s Never Land you need
Its light will lead you there”

“Up you go with a height and ho
To the stars beyond the blue
There’s a Never Land waiting for you
Where all your happy dreams come true
Every dream that you dream will come true
When there’s a smile in your heart
There’s no better time to start
Think of all the joy you’ll find
When you leave the world behind
And bid your cares goodbye
You can fly! You can fly! You can fly!”

While I had my run in the corporate world for the better part of a decade, and while I now own and operate a creative consultancy, I still don’t consider myself “a grownup”.  Somehow, every day feels like playing make believe.  The bills still get paid, work still happens, life still feels like a daydream fantasy – and for that I could not be more grateful and I could not be happier.

I guess what I intend this post to say, as I channel the spirit of youth, is that age really is just a number.  I think if I actually “felt” 30, Claymaker would not be a reality.  I think that my constant channeling of awestruck wonder and my wild imagination are what make my job so fun, prevent my life from being boring, and make my craft a spectacle.  If I approached every project through the lens of a textbook “grown up” – actually, no, I’m not even going to speculate about that.

One (of many!) Disney World scrapbooks that my mom made for me has an inscription that no matter how old I get, I’ll always be that little boy that wants to meet Mickey Mouse.  And that’s so true.

“And Never Land will always be
The home of beauty and joy
And neverty
I’ll never grow up, never grow up, never grow up
Not me!”