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You can know people and not know them.

At any given moment, things can turn a corner.

I know this is true.

Last week I had a birthday. Most birthdays are ho-hum affairs. A little extra attention from the family and a close friend but otherwise, meh.

This birthday came at me like a sudden summer cloudburst, raining down shock and awe in the form of a surprise birthday party.

On a weeknight. At a friend’s house. It was festive and fancy.

There was a Pinterest page devoted to the planning and execution of it.

Seriously, this is not the status quo for me. This, along with a few other surprise developments, are the exhibits to make the case that my life has changed dramatically in the last year. I’ve engaged with the real world one hundred fold in the last year. I’ve opened myself up to any possibility. I’ve allowed vulnerability into my life and acquiesed to offers outside my comfort zone. I’ve tried to put others before myself to be part of the “village” that we all like to talk about so much.

The results stun me at times. I’m still a fawn on wobbly legs most days, making the mistake of expecting from others what they cannot give. Some days I expect too much from the universe. On those days I see how my ego is still running the show.

The other side of this is that 100 percent engagement in real life means a major drawback in the online world. And it’s not just me. I scrolled through my blogroll (I know, that’s so 2005.) and many of my favorite, longtime blogging friends have vanished. They’ve moved on, vaporized, left behind polite but vague messages, given up, or reinvented their online persona.

While I doubt I’ll close this site, I’ve certainly scaled back. That’s fine with me. I never had the big numbers. I’ve made some amazing connections and that’s just bonus material. I need a place to write and this is it. If someone, or two, comes around and likes what they see, thank you. If not, I’m OK with that, too. I’ve learned that online engagement is an enhancement, a side dish, to the entrée of life.

And last week that entrée was a bizarre tribute to me and the community that holds me up. As bizarre as it is to even write that sentence, I accept it as the new normal.

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This tree is real

Fake Plastic Trees

Her green plastic watering can
For her fake Chinese rubber plant
In the fake plastic earth
That she bought from a rubber man
In a town full of rubber plans
To get rid of itself

It wears her out, it wears her out
It wears her out, it wears her out

She lives with a broken man
A cracked polystyrene man
Who just crumbles and burns
He used to do surgery
For girls in the eighties
But gravity always wins

It wears him out, it wears him out
It wears him out, it wears him out

She looks like the real thing
She tastes like the real thing
My fake plastic love
But I can’t help the feeling
I could blow through the ceiling
If I just turn and run

It wears me out, it wears me out
It wears me out, it wears me out

If I could be who you wanted
If I could be who you wanted all the time

–Radiohead

Today is my 45th birthday.

There. I said it.

I can’t believe it, but it’s true.

This song ran through my mind all day today, particularly the line: “Gravity always wins” because it is so true.

And there’s nothing like your mid-40s to make you see physics in action.

This is what I do a lot: I look at my face in the mirror and I pull back my cheeks and eyes to bring it all back to what it used to be. This is what a face lift would look like, I tell myself. This is why all the Hollywood actresses my age look like they are in wind tunnels, like their faces are carved stone. This is why they still look the same and I do not. What have they traded for this look?

Fake plastic trees.

I let go of my cheeks and the skin falls back into place. I wonder: How did I not like the face I once had? How did I not realize how fleeting my youth would be? I think that I’d rather have that face than this one, this 45-year-old face. But that face was traded in for experience and wisdom and all that I have today. To get that face back would be to lose all that I have earned.

That’s real.

'I Can't Quit You Baby'

ledzep

I’m tearing down the highway, heading home after playing long-distance chaperon and chauffeur to my 15-year-old daughter’s  birthday night out. The car is empty except for me. I’m listening to Led Zeppelin’s first album on CD. The volume is at 11.
OK. Time to rewind.

  • First of all, I am freaking out just a tiny bit about the 15-year-old thing. All I have to do is think about what the hell I was doing at 15 and let’s just say most of it was illegal is not publishable. Fifteen was a watershed year for me in many ways. What I did then affected much of the next decade of my life. So I think of all that when I think of my Girl from the West. If she isn’t doing any of the stuff I was doing, then she will be OK.
  • Second, playing long-distance chaperon means picking up and driving six girls (in my three-seats-available car) to and from a nice little restaurant for dinner, going to nearby coffee house to while away time until I get the call to put on my chauffeur hat again. I did this a few times until my duties were done for the evening.

As I drive home, my thoughts drift as I listen to Robert Plant’s voice wail over Jimmy Page’s guitar.  I think: This was part of the soundtrack of my 15th year. I’m flooded with memories. It’s not often I listen to this music anymore. Tonight’s choice is both random and coincidental.

The window onto my older girl’s world grows smaller with each passing birthday. Gone are the hands-on experiences with colorful cakes, bouquets of balloons and parties with themes and goody bags. Even this chauffeur gig has an expiration date. Someday in the future, when she’s  on her way in the world, we’ll met up for lunch, go on a trip, who knows? We’ll reconnect.

Baby, I know you’ve got to leave me, you’ve got to ramble.

But, I can’t quit you.

Best question ever

Me, with the "under 40" blur filter

 

There was an all-day snowstorm.

Our babysitter canceled.

One of the main party helpers came down with food poisoning.

Yet — husband’s big 40th birthday party went off without any further hitches. Everyone had fun.

It was not my night, not my moment. I was deep background. Still, I had a fleeting exchange that made the night for me. This night that was not my night.

Amid all the black tablecloths, balloons and “over the hill” signs, one of the party guests sidled up to me and asked: “So, when do you turn 40?”

Maybe it was the lighting.

Maybe it was the wine.

Doesn’t matter.

Thank you, sir.

Thank you.

Welcome aboard, matey

My husband — my younger husband — turns 40 today. 

He seems to be handling it OK. We have a big party planned for the weekend.

But it wouldn’t be a milestone birthday without some good-natured ribbing.

So, here goes:

WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU ARE 40

First, buy these:

Soon enough what you are reading will begin to look like this:

Then stock up on this stuff:

 

 

 

To help prevent the eventual onset of this:

Prepare to trade this look:

for this:

Remember, after all these years we are still together, happy and in one piece. There may be some tape involved but we are together.  You have a touch of gray, maybe not quite the jackrabbit 29-year-old I started dating in the 1990s. As for me, I’ll bet you didn’t know I was hiding a spare tire and so much junk in the trunk when you asked me out.

credit: www.wingsfortheheart.com

credit: www.wingsfortheheart.com

Thanks 40, for that gift.

Remember: we were happy we married young enough for me to still be thin and not look obviously like an “older wife” and for you “to have all your hair.” We pledged to love one another no matter what Father Time and Mother Nature doled out.

But let me tell you Mister Mister, don’t make me buy one of these:

Because I’ve been practicing my crazy bitch act for a while now.

Oh, c’mon, you knew what you were getting into when you married me. Happy Birthday!