Live your life in such a way that when your feet hit the floor in the morning, Satan shudders and says "Oh shit, she's awake."

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

It's not middle age. It's my "happy place"...

It’s difficult to make someone younger than 40 understand how really great life is after 40. I was thinking about this as I lay in bed, waiting for my slightly arthritic hips to wake up as well so I could move. I didn’t say everything was great about life after 40. On the shortlist of "unfavorite things" is deteriorating eyesight, thinning gray hair (thank God for my very talented colorist Tirrani), memory loss, and my personal favorite, incontinence. Sleep has taken on a greater role in my life. Before 40, I stayed awake as much as possible, constantly fearful I would miss something fabulous. After 40, my biggest fear is missing my Sunday afternoon nap.

After 40, watching reruns of “Sex in the City” have become nostalgic for me. I loved those years in my life, but at this point, I really don’t have any desire to relive them. It was an exhausting time, filled with working crazy hours, staying up so late that I saw the sun rise on too many occasions, and trying to keep track of a social life that required an event planner. Did I have fun? More than I had ever hoped for, but now, while Bill and I still have a pretty busy social calendar, it is filled with casual, happy moments with friends instead of bouncing around to as many nightclubs as possible in one evening, and handing out my phone number like it was a winning lottery ticket. It was a blast, but those days are behind me and I am glad. In all honesty, I have no complaints about my life before 40. I had more fun than allowed by law, filled with crazy friends, passionate loves, and that breezy lifestyle that allows you to thumb your nose at responsibility, at least to a point, and do whatever you damn well please. Of course, having my daughter at 34 changed all that quite a bit, but more so, I can look back and admit that even with a child, I was much more carefree pre-middle age. Now, I worry about the big things, like retirement, paying off the house, getting my kid through college, and napping (always a concern.) I also have to worry about my health, which is a new one for me. After a visit to the doctor last week, I discovered I have slightly elevated blood pressure. I was in shock, considering my blood pressure has always been so low that giving blood was not an option for me. Really? Hypertension? Holy crap, I started to wonder if all of those episodes of tremors and pounding headaches were mini-strokes killing me off slowly. Then I realized they were hangovers, and only occurred on Sundays, which by the way, is why the Sunday afternoon nap has become a critical part of my week. I was immediately relieved. The doc put me on water pills that also lower blood pressure. So I filled the prescription and am going to just chalk it up to “getting older.” The bonus? I’ll probably lose five pounds in a week without even trying. I was giddy when the doctor mentioned that part. I asked if he had a pill to get rid of nose hairs and wrinkles. I’m not sure he got my joke.

So many things in life that used to pass by me unnoticed now seem almost poignant at times. Before 40, being still for any given amount of time was nearly impossible. After 40, some of my favorite moments are simply sitting with Bill, in near silence, as we watch the news or comb through our emails. We don’t need to be constantly moving, constantly chasing some new “thing” that requires our attention. I’m thankful for those quiet moments when I can simply breathe and be content with my life. We talk about the future and what we want to do when we reach the next chapter. Do we live on a boat somewhere down south? Do we become snowbirds? If we travel the winters in an RV, we can simply park it in my daughter’s driveway for the summer months and drive her crazy. She’s really not on board with that idea, by the way. We’ve had the discussion. She’s threatening to leave the country and not tell us where she is. I think she is kidding…maybe.

A friend posted on their facebook page today “happiness will never come to those who fail to appreciate what they already have.” No wonder I am so happy about where I am at this moment in my life, post-40. I have so much to be happy about now, so many happy memories about where I have been, and so much to look forward to in the future.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Prepare for the worst, hope for the best…and always have vodka on hand...

So, after our earlier “earthquake event” this week, we are now officially moving onto a “category 3 hurricane event.” Get out your ark and your paddles folks. Load up the animals, and batton down the hatches. It’s supposed to be a frog-strangler.

Here is the really interesting part. I just read that Virginia has already declared a “state of emergency”. My overriding thought? I wonder how late the liquor store is open? We are completely out of vodka, and there is no way in hell I am going to weather a hurricane without some hooch. While the rest of the world is laying in supplies of non-perishables and toilet paper, all I can think of is “what would be an appropriate cocktail for a Force 3 hurricane named Irene??? (By the way, have you NOTICED how many hurricane names start with the letter I – Irene, Ike, Isabelle, Igor…and those are just the ones at the top of my head. Maybe we should start at “Z” next year, and work our way backwards through the alphabet, just for a change of pace. We can call the first one Zazu, or Zippy.)

It’s always such fun to watch the masses scramble to clean out every item known to man from the grocery store shelves. Hell, a half inch of snow in the metro DC area, and chaos reigns supreme. I challenge you to find anything worth eating, drinking or wiping your butt with when there is an approaching snowstorm around here. I guarantee if you don’t head out at the first sign of a disaster, you will be cleaning your posterior with toilet paper the consistency of sandpaper. (Everyone knows the Charmin and AngelSoft are the first to go.)

So as I sit here at the office contemplating the impending doom headed straight for the East Coast, I am making out my list – vodka, bourbon (for Bill), club soda and pepsi for mixers, a couple of limes, maybe some champagne for mimosas, and of course, Charmin. I can’t be bothered cooking on the weekends (Irene is making her appearance on Saturday) so we will be reduced to whatever is easy and handy. I see hotdogs and pb&j’s in my future, because as everyone knows, nothing goes with a vodka tonic quite like a good peanut butter & jelly sammich. Domino’s will probably still be delivering, so pizza is always an option. They will deliver in ANY kind of weather, I swear. Hmmmm...what else do I need to put on my list of “hurricane essentials?” Movies, of course, and hell, there will be pre-season football on the telly so we should have plenty to watch. With any amount of luck, maybe a “Criminal Minds” or “Law & Order SVU” marathon??? You know, on second thought this whole hurricane thing isn’t sounding so bad. We have booze, entertainment, potty paper, and pizza. What else could a person need? Certainly it could be worse.

I know I am good at poking fun at just about everything, but on a more serious note…to our many friends in Hatteras, NC…you are in our thoughts and prayers. Be smart and be safe. WE LOVE YOU ALL!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A whole lot of shaking goin' on...

Earthquakes are funny things. Having lived through only a couple aftershocks (long ago during a trip to California), and a very small one here last year (certainly nothing as strong as what I felt today) I was humbled by the experience. I was also terrified, and found myself wishing I kept a bottle of vodka in my desk drawer.

It is good to be reminded of how insignificant we really are in the grand scheme of life. I spend an inordinate amount of my day worrying about all kinds of things including, but not limited to, how white the grout is in my bathroom, whether or not my daughter remembered to close her dresser drawers before leaving for the day, and whether either or both of the dogs will pee on the floor while I am gone. I spend countless hours obsessing about work, making it to the gym, if my jeans are fitting a little more snugly, or if the neighbors really do hate us because we have lousy landscaping. It is truly amazing the amount of senseless junk we clutter our minds with on any given day. I’m guilty, you are guilty, we are all guilty. Sometimes it takes an event to “shake things up” and give you some perspective.

From now on, I believe I will spend my time filling my pint-sized brain with more pleasing, and lovelier thoughts. I will spend more time marvelling at the color of my daughter’s eyes, and how she has the most magnificent head of hair that she doesn’t appreciate, or brush. I will remember to always say “please” and “thank you” and “how can I help?”. I will spend more time laughing and less time bitching about things that really just don’t matter, like the condition of the basement, or how many lights are on in the house. I am thankful for my life, as well as everything and everyone in it. I have all that I require, and I am blessed in so many ways I cannot even count them all.

In the end, its fifteen minutes at a time, and that is exactly what we have the right to expect any given moment. It’s good to be reminded that the world is fragile, and so are we. Hug your kids, remember to tell your spouse and your family members that you love them, and that they count. The worst feeling in the world is knowing you should have, but you didn’t.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The price and the payoff of a good laugh...

Laughing at yourself is fun…laughing at others is even better...

Now before you skewer me and throw me over an open flame as punishment for that statement, let me explain…

I am not talking about the kind of laughter that comes from watching another suffer at the hands of cruelty or mean-spiritedness. I am talking about watching your dearest friend, who is clearly overserved, try to do the bump and grind on the dance floor with someone who is also overserved. I am referring to watching someone you adore emerge from the ladies room…with her skirt tucked neatly in the back of her tights. I live for those moments, I really do. And I have been the subject of such moments many times in my life. I have laughed at many, and been laughed at by many. In the end, I was always able to laugh right along with the rest of them, noting to myself that someday…someday, it would be their turn. It pays to have a sense of humor and a long memory. You never know when opportunity will present itself.

I remember such an occasion in 1988 or so. I was about 24 years old living in downtown DC, and running around with the world in my back pocket. My best friends and I spent many a night hitting the club scene, dressed to kill and drinking cheap champagne for as long as we could before we poured ourselves into a cab and headed home. Our favorite hangout was an upscale spot along the Georgetown waterfront called the River Club. We owned that joint. We were STARS.

I can remember leaving work, planning my fabulous wardrobe choice for the evening in my mind as I walked the two blocks back to my teeny studio apartment. I was going to look HOT, I just knew it. I walked in the door, poured a glass of wine and jumped in the shower.

Now I know not all of you will remember the miracle of shoulder pads and remember them with quite the fondness that I do, but believe me, I thought they were THE BOMB. No outfit of mine was ever complete without big hair, a short skirt and the biggest shoulder pads I could find (wow, seems not much has changed in my style since then...gotta work on that.) That evening I chose a micro mini skirt, a silk camisole, a pair of stilt heels, and an oversided blazer. My hair was fresh with a spiral perm, so big it needed its own zip code. Oh, I was going to be the envy of every woman, and the object of every man’s desires. As I put on the blazer, I realized that the shoulder pads included inside said blazer were nowhere NEAR as big as was required. I pulled out my bag (yes, bag) of extra shoulder pads, and found a pair of squared off babies that were no less than two inches thick, with Velcro straps, of course, to secure them. I fastened over my bra and camisole straps, and put on the blazer. Another fluff of the hair, followed by a shellacing of Aquanet and I was good to go. Look out world, the Redhead has arrived.

I hailed a cab to my friend Nancy’s apartment, where we met our other two friends. Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda had nothing on us, let me tell you. We gave ourselves a standing ovation for our stunning appearance and shared a cab to the River Club, where we simply walked to the front of the line and went in. I always loved those contemptuous looks from the other women forced to stand in line. Full of myself back then? You betcha. I knew everyone. Where is the champagne? We need a few shots…

As the evening progressed, and the bottles of less than vintage champagne were downed, we hit the dance floor. By this point, I was in my element and living the dream. I remember it was warm, really really warm. I took off my blazer and hung it over a railing. I kept dancing – God, this is a great song! Dancing, dancing…what the hell, no one else is dancing now. The music is still playing. Why is Nancy laughing? Wait, people are staring…at me. Wow, I must really be shaking my moneymaker because they look like they may start applauding. Oh, if they only had a pole…then it hit me…

THE DAMN SHOULDER PADS!!!!! I’m out there like Denny Terrio on Dance Fever, without the blazer, and the shoulder pads are bouncing around like freaking waterwings for the entire room to see. All three friends, and several others who were at the bar, are now doubled over laughing so hard I’m pretty sure a couple of them peed just a little. For a moment, I was flushed with embarrassment. I even momentarily thought about just leaving. Damn them for letting me go on like that. I’m mortified, completely humiliated…eh, I would have done exactly the same thing to them, so who am I to point fingers? I grabbed my blazer, took a bow, and headed back to the bar. I was sure a bottle of champagne with my name on it was waiting for me. It did take months to live down that moment. It has never been equalled, but hope springs eternal.

Since then I have had my share of finger-pointing moments at the expense of a friend who was forced to suffer as I did. All in good fun. No one was hurt, no one had to go into therapy, no one committed a felony as revenge. Life should be full of laughter and memorable times. In the end, those are the moments we will remember with great fondness, and chances are we will wonder why didn’t put ourselves out there more, and laugh even louder.

Because the fact is, if you can't laugh at yourself, then how can you laugh at others with any honesty or conviction?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Princess Tweenie, and The Bitchy Witchy Mommy

Once upon a time you would have thought it was a fairy tale. I assure you, it is closer to my daily nightmare.

Can someone please explain to me why it is so much harder to drop dirty clothes into a clothes hamper than it is to drop them on the floor next to the clothes hamper? I am asking myself this I contemplate what cocktail I will be having this evening. It’s not 9am yet. I don’t care.

Such is the life with a “tween” daughter. It is no mystery to me why I drink. Maybe it is because from the moment my feet hit the ground in the morning, I am speaking in a tone of voice that does not evoke thoughts of calm and peacefulness. Mostly, I am yelling. It could be any number of things that has caused me angst, but generally speaking it revolves around “the dirty clothes” issue, the “clean up your room” issue, or the “I’m not your maid so take your own dishes to the kitchen” issue. There are others, but those are the ones that pop into my mind with alarming frequency.

Admittedly, I am a neat freak. I like things to have a place, and it is my fervent wish that if any particular item is removed from it’s designated spot, it is returned to said spot when it is done with its little field trip. I do not want to find said item under a piece of furniture, shoved in an inappropriate drawer, or (my personal favorite) lying in the middle of the floor as if it were the latest in teen d├ęcor. Now, before you give me the “she’s a kid, they are all that way” speech, it should be noted that I have already given up on my requests to her about making her bed. I got her a loft bed, so now I can’t even see what is in her "bedroom stratosphere", so problem solved – outta sight, outta mind. If she wants to sleep on the same sheets for a month, well, then so be it. I do routinely take her bedding down to the basement for fumigation and a brisk washing, but generally speaking, if it’s a mess “up there”, it’s not my problem. I have also let go of the fact that unless I dust her room, it will never be dusted. Sometimes her room is so dust-laden, you’d swear her roommate was Miss Haversham. There could be dust bunnies rolling around in there so large that she could easily give them cute little names, but she’d go to hell with gasoline britches on before she’d ever get rid of them. I am more about “neat” than “spotlessly sanitary.” What annoys me to the point of wanting to send her to military school is the fact that “mess” just seems to grow...everywhere and in every corner. Really, is it so difficult to throw away a piece of paper? What makes dropping it on the floor soooo much easier? Please, enlighten me because I am DYING to know. In my mind, now, in addition to the original act of dropping whatever piece of trash on the floor, you get the added benefit of listening to me scream about it, followed by actually STILL having to pick it up and throw it in the trash can...not many timesaving steps in that exercise, is there? I try to drive that home with my beloved offspring. I have now come to the conclusion that she is deaf, or at least unable to hear anything that is on the same decibel level as my voice.

The beauty of all of this screaming, yelling, drinking, and banging my head against whatever wall is handy is that someday, in the not soooo distant future, she will be an actual teenager, followed by adulthood. With those years comes dating, friends, and some semblance of a social life. That is where my fun truly begins. If she thinks I’m a loon now, wait. I will have no mercy. I will talk about every embarrassing moment of her life...loudly. I will fart and or burp unashamedly in front of her boyfriends and I will make sure the statement she hears most frequently from her friends is “Dear God, your mother really is batshit crazy, isn’t she?” She has no idea how truly creative I can be in plotting my revenge. She’ll learn though...she’ll learn. And then, she will wish she had dropped those clothes in her hamper, and not on the floor.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Name that tune...

So I’m on the elliptical machine today – not my favorite activity, mind you, but a necessary step towards my overall well-being, as well as keeping my ass from needing its own zip code. As a general rule, I go to the gym four days a week, three days during my lunch hour. My time is very limited so it is a matter of cramming in as much sweaty activity into one hour as I can, aerobic or otherwise. At any rate, I always have my earphones with me so I can listen to music and watch videos circa 1984 (I like the 80s music channel.) Music gives me a rhythm, helps me keep up a pace, something Fox News, MSNBC or CNN is never going to do. Imagine my absolute pleasure in flipping to Channel 52 and seeing none other than Michael Jackson shaking his groove thing and singing “Rock With You” in all his sequined glory. It was like being transported back to my twenties. My pace picked up, I was mesmerized, captivated by his hip-swiveling and crotch grabbing moves. God I loved the old Michael Jackson…he made us all believe we could moonwalk...and own a chimpanzee.

It made me start to think about how much music has shaped my life, from the time I was very small. For many years, before I destroyed my vocal chords, I spent all of my time pretty much buried in my music…saving my pennies for the latest 45’s and trying to record songs off the radio with my sad little tape recorder. My musical tastes were all over the map then, and still are, from Sinatra and Ella to Led Zeppelin and CCR. But the truth is certain songs just get to me. It’s like closing your eyes and waking up in a different part of your life. I still feel that way when I hear Gary Wright singing “I Really Wanna Know You” or Carole King singing “Jazz Man”. I can’t explain it, but nearly every important moment I can remember is somehow connected to a song – some sad, some angry, some just remind me of a moment filled with great friends and wonderful times. There are few recent songs that bring me to any of those places, but plenty of old ones do in an instant. “Unchained Melody” always makes me think of my mom and dad, dancing really slowly, my dad trying hard not to step on Mom’s toes. They looked so beautiful, so happy…probably the one song that is marked by my most poignant memory. Maybe it is my way of tying the memories to something real so the memory is not lost. I worry about losing those moments.

Some songs aren’t really tied to a particular memory, they just put me in a mood. Nine Inch Nails or Jamiroquai always makes me want to turn up the bass and drive really fast. When I hear the Eagles sing “Best of My Love” or “One of These Nights” I pretty much would like to hit the dance floor for some fully-clothed vertical naughtiness. I can’t tell you why certain songs bring me to a very specific frame of mind. They just do. If Bill wanted to get lucky more often, he’d have those two particular Eagles songs on a constant loop…just sayin…

Music is like breathing for me. I’m pretty sure that if the music ever stops, I will just blow away like “Dust in the Wind”. (Yep, love that one too.) So for now, I’ll just keep the volume turned up, whether I’m on that stupid elliptical machine or driving aimlessly down the road to God knows where. I’ll happily go wherever my music takes me.

Friday, August 5, 2011

The power of forgiveness…

Forgiveness...I have not always been good at it, especially when it comes to forgiving myself. Indeed, there have been decades where I have punished myself, even long after I can no longer really remember what my mistake was. I try to be forgiving to others. In fact, I forgive my mother for making that horrible hossenpheffer stew with those cute furry little bunnies that Dad shot during rabbit season when I was a teenager. I know it was many years ago, but I thought the taste would never leave my mouth. I wouldn’t say I’m emotionally scarred over the experience, but let's just say anything made with "bunny" is not at the top of my favorite dishes.

My cross to bear in this life is a very hot temper. Thank goodness I also have a very long fuse, and it takes me some time to get to the point of no return, but when I do, the results can be catastrophic and my response can be pointedly mean-spirited and ugly. I try to dial it back when it comes to my anger, but I’m not always successful. Most often, the best course of action for me would be to step back, breathe deeply, and forgive. Setting someone’s hair on fire, or hiding explosives under their car is generally not an appropriate response, and usually a bit overkill. I must admit, I have never actually planted explosives or set someone ablaze (although I have dreamed about it), but the damage I have done with my words is often just as effective, maybe even more so. Words cut, they open wounds and make people bleed on the inside, where it counts the most. Words can last a lifetime, long after the outward damage seems to have disappeared.

I have also found that it is also just as hard to ask for forgiveness. We all screw up – sometimes in very big ways. It is a monumental task for most people, because we know that while we can apologize in the most heartfelt way, it does not guarantee that our apology will be accepted. No one likes rejection, and no one likes to think that somehow their transgression is completely and unequivocally unforgivable. Yes, it may be natural for us to personally forgive others but we live in a very unforgiving world - one that has a very long memory, and a tendency to want to punish others in the worst of ways for a lifetime.

Arguments happen, feelings are hurt, and tears fall. People inflict pain on each other, sometimes even when they don’t mean to do it. My point is that it is much easier and more personally satisfying to grant forgiveness and move on in a positive way. Simply learn from the experience. It is equally important to ask for forgiveness. Even if your apology is cast aside, at least you know that you were “man” enough to admit your fault, and strong enough to show the rest of the world that you fear nothing, not even your own weakness.

Just some food for thought…I was feeling very philosophical today.