Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Forty seven and happy (AF)

I am 47 today.


Definitely an age I used to think of as "old." Didn't we all? I mean, my parents were 47. My aunts and teachers (gasp)...they were in their forties. Forties were old.

When I turned 40, I didn't really have an issue with it. I was distracted with fabulous birthday plans and stilettos and cocktails. Besides, Gwen Stefani and Sarah Jessica Parker were already 40, and they were awesomely cool and soooo not-old.

Then 41 and 42 and 43 got a little weird. I was like, "Waaaaait a minute...40-SOMETHING is not quite as fun as 40 was...I'm not going to Vegas and it's really not quite a novelty anymore and holy shit...I just realized I'm closer to mid-forties than 39...WTF?!?"

It was at about the 45 mark that I started to notice that there wasn't much of a difference in how I looked in pictures between, say, 32 and 41, but there seemed to be a sudden (and sometimes shocking) difference in the pictures between 41 and 45. It was as if all those years of sleepless nights due to early parenting had suddenly caught up with me. (Yes, I am sure that my obsession with the sun and booze has absolutely nothing to do with it.)

So let's just say there was a bit of an adjustment period somewhere in there. For the first time in my life, I started trying expensive skin creams. I looked into those crazy expensive laser treatments at the dermatologist. I upped the SPF. When I'd enter a nightclub I never, ever got carded anymore. (The worst was when we'd go with our still-in-their-30s-friends and they'd get carded ahead of us and as Hubby and I started looking for our IDs, the bouncer would just wave us in.)

Fast forward to now.

I don't know what happened. I'm not exactly sure when it happened. It just did, and I've realized it pretty recently.

I'm happy. Like, really, really, really, contentedly, unapologetically happy.

Let me clarify: Technically, I've been happy for a very long time. I've been married to my absolute favorite person for 17 years. I have two ridiculously awesome boys. I love where I live. I (usually) really like what I do for a living. I am surrounded by amazing friends. My family is healthy and nearby.

But I mean I am happy with myself...having nothing to do with all these amazingly lucky blessings. I feel like I woke up one day, looked around, and realized I am completely happy with Me. Don't get me wrong: I am still (and always will be) working on self-improvement in some area. But overall, I feel like for the first time--ever--I am no longer pining to be skinnier/cooler/better dressed/richer/ calmer/fitter/prettier/fill-in-the-blank-with-pretty-much-any-word. I know what I like now. I won't apologize for my music or drink of choice. I know I have waaaay too many ripped jean shorts that would never pass the "What Not To Wear" test, and I use the words "dude" and "fuck" way too often.

I'd love to tell you how I got here. I am well aware that I sound like one of those essays you'd find in a "Forties" book or in the Oprah magazine: "Oh, now that I'm in my forties I have arrived!" Puhleeze. I would be totally eye-rolling too. Truth is, I'm not sure. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that my kids are a little older and more independent, so I can spend more time on myself without feeling guilty. Maybe some of it is that I have put so much effort into my eating and exercise choices over the last few years, that I finally feel like I'm good with what my body's doing. Maybe the two knee surgeries I had to have over the last couple of years taught me how truly disciplined and bad-ass I can be when I need to.  Maybe it's the meditating. Maybe it's the big life move we made a few years ago that freed up so much of our money and time so we could go to the beach any damn time we please.

I am sure it's some of that and some of this. The point is I'm here now, and it's an incredibly peaceful feeling.

It took me nearly 47 years. It's a good thing I didn't know that going in, because that's a long ass time. So, today I'll celebrate, because...dude, I'm happy as fuck.

Friday, November 29, 2019

...but then her kids became people

I fell in love with the power of a perfectly-crafted sentence when I was in second grade.

Ms. Davis was one of my least favorite teachers ever. She rarely smiled, had a raspy, nicotine voice, and had some sort of scarring on her neck that scared the hell out of my 7-year-old little self. But every day after lunch, she would perch herself upon a wooden stool and read aloud a chapter from Ramona Quimby, Age 8. I fell completely in love with mischievous little Ramona. When Beverly Cleary wrote about the pink eraser Ramona's father gave her as a little gift, I felt like I, too, could feel its rubbery smoothness in my palm and smell that perfect new-eraser smell. I didn't know that I could fall into a book in this way simply because a writer could write a good story. (Remember, I'm kindergarten reading memories consist mostly of sitting in front of a giant chart and reading sentences about a girl named Meg, her dog, Spot, and all those Dick and Jane bores.) After Ms. Davis finished Ramona, and I found out there were more books about Ramona and her sister, I made my dad take me to the public library, where I had the librarian teach me where I could find the rest of the them. I then proceeded to methodically check out, read, return, repeat until I had read all of the Cleary books (yes, even the ones about the mouse and that Henry Huggins kid). 

A bit later, cheesy pre-teen paperbacks came into my life. Whenever we visited the cousins, I spent as much time as possible in my older cousin's room, admiring all her uber-cool, teenage paraphernalia. She had a closet door covered with posters and high school football ribbons and a book shelf filled with paperbacks that had pouty, preppy-looking girls looking wistfully towards mannequin-handsome football player types. I was fascinated. She would lend me any book she deemed not too racy and I could never wait to go back. It was like my own little teenage-themed public library. I still have the book she lent me that made me want to write. I can't, for the life of me, remember what, exactly, it was about, but I remember finishing it and feeling something really important that I could not name. It sits on my bookshelf, still, among Hemingway, Outlander, Tuesdays with Morrie, and my poetry books. Every time I do one of those house purges, I pick it up, look at it, feel a bit sheepish for keeping it, think about putting it in the "donate" pile, and then put it back on the shelf. I am pretty sure it was right after finishing that book that I really started to try my hand at "chapter books." I still have a huge box in my guest room filled with rubber-banded, typed chapters of unfinished "novels." My ages when I started them probably range from 11 to 17. I have not read them in years. They take up a ton of space in my nearly-tiny house. I still can't get rid of them.

I started this blog because early parenting made me feel stifled and overwhelmed. I had a hard time figuring out how the life I had before I had kids would transform into the life I was living now. Don't get me wrong; I always wanted kids. In fact, Hubby and I had quite a few struggles having Ben, so I was quite grateful we managed to have 2 healthy boys. This, however, just contributed to my feelings of guilt and confusion in those early years: I wanted this, so why am I not feeling like those "happy-happy-joy-joy" women who came before me and told me things like "Becoming a mother was the most fulfilling thing I've ever done" or "I knew the moment they put my newborn son on my chest that I loved him more than anything."

The boys grew up on these pages, and really, so did I. I suspect if I look back and count, I wrote more posts venting about the bad stuff with a bit of humor mixed in than gloriously gushing. I was totally, completely honest. And the response was overwhelmingly positive. Suddenly, I was hearing lots of "Me too!" and "Ohmigod, this parenting thing sucks!" and "I didn't know it would be this hard!" One of my most statistically popular posts was called "Sometimes I don't like my kid." I never felt like I was betraying them. Really, they were barely people then. Ben was 3 1/2 and Kai was a few months old. I complained about potty training and preschool playground drama and my toddler flipping me the bird. My readers either related to it or they didn't, but if they judged, they were judging my parenting and perception of it, not my kids.

It's different now.

Over the last few years, they've turned into actual human beings with opinions and passions and their own mini struggles. Almost every time I thought "I gotta write about this..." I stopped myself. If I wrote about my teen's social struggles, there was a really good chance someone who knew someone who knew him was going to read about it. I knew my son did not want his pre-teen dramas unfolding on my pages, because no matter how insignificant or typical they were in reality, they were neither of these to him. My 11-year-old is just now entering those years of social trial-and-error and trying out different personas and becoming interested in girls. Although he does not have the intensity of his older brother, I know he is easily embarrassed and hates it when I talk about nearly anything that is even slightly-possibly-maybe-personal in front of just about anyone else.

So. This blog sat here silently and I tried repeatedly to silence my words inside my own head. I told myself I was done and that it had served its purpose and that really, who the hell even uses the word blog anymore and they weren't babies anymore and there was no need. But here's the problem: the theme of this blog might have been my kids, but what it really always has been is a space for my words.. And now that my kids are (almost) their own people and I am (almost) feeling like an actual person who is way more than just a mom in survival mode, I still have (almost) perfectly-crafted sentences left to write. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

I am a writer

I am a writer

always have been

I remember
when I was little
I did not covet
my sister's clothes
so much

it was 
her typewriter

I could not
get to it


it lies dormant
for whatever the reason
I can not
tend to it

and I think
It is done
I am good
that part of me
I've had enough
I've done enough
I'm good


it comes back
it gnaws at me

I ignore it
push it away
eye roll
it will recede
that feeling

but then the feeling
becomes a need
and I am
irritated and relieved

it's there
it won't go away


I have to write again
I am a writer
always have been

and so
I am back
here I am 
you can only ignore
who you are
for so long