5 Things to Know About Turning 40

group Jen's bday

I celebrated another friend turning the big 40 this week.  We went out on a  Duffy boat, danced in the Newport harbour and laughed and loved and affirmed our girl Jen. 

And it made me think about what I really wanted to tell her (if I was honest) about hitting this big milestone -now that I’m an expert nine months in.

Dear Jen, and all my peeps nearing 40,

Things happen to you when you age –sneaky things, weird things, and terrible awful surprises.  And when you are in your thirties NO ONE TELLS YOU the whole truth.

There was a movie out recently –This is 40.  And while funny, it wasn’t honest.  Because 40 in all reality and not Hollywood land doesn’t look like that.  In fact, I would suggest Hollywood makes us all feel MORE OLD because without a team of surgeons and trainers and LASIK, the rest of us look –well…40.  The real 40.

Jen

So, I’m letting the cat out of the bag. 

Here are the top five surprises to hitting middle age.

1. Spots.  Are you scared yet?  It’s true.  Red spots, brown spots, more freckles, random dots.  In fact if your kids are bored give them a pen and let them connect them for a fun car game.  It’s like your dermal layer checks the time map, notes that you crested over the hill and BAM, a little age fairy tip-toes into your room at night and get’s out the markers.  When I asked my dermatologist about it he claimed it was due to hormones, genetics and sun damage.  He also mentioned he would be glad to laser them all off for a small fee comparable to my mortgage.  (I’m guessing the tanning bed in my late teens was a very BAD idea)

2. Your metabolism hits the Sh*tter.  Those cupcakes on the weekend –straight to your ass-ter-kosher.   Margaritas’ and chips?  You will pay.  All of those years when you could indulge over the weekend and then be good on Monday are now OVER.  Your vehicle is burning fewer calories and the high-speed octane days of the 2:00am Del Taco run are a distant memory.  Unless you are eating A LOT less and training more, your body will change.  Depending on your fortitude and state of mind you may want to fight this inevitable battle of the bulge or embrace the middle age spread.  Good luck!

3. You become a SANDWICH.  Did I throw you off on that one?  By sandwich, I mean you get to deal with aging parents, teenagers and because so many of you waited to have kids until your late thirties –diapers too.  You are hitting hospitals, prom and play dates all in the same week.  You get to fight with your teen about innapropriate parties, search for the lost pacifier and manage your parent’s finances and healthcare all in the same day. 

And the stress coming from every angle will make you a little CRAZY, which is why you will…

4. Adopt bizarre coping mechanisms.  Like floating underwater in the bath and pretending you are in the Caribbean (until you get repetitive ear infections and your doctor confronts you), or you notice your husband disappearing to the mancave/bathroom for long stretches of time –and you know he’s not pooping that long and must be playing an online poker game. Maybe you become obsessed with a drink at Starbucks, indulge in the mommy sippy cup of wine or a nice meal out on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  Maybe you pull your hair out, dress your kids in matching outfits to self soothe through image management or sit on the floor and cry because your house is a mess.  However you deal, avoid or succumb to the overwhelming feelings of chaos –life just seems to get more complicated as we age.  

5. Your uterus tanks.  I’m aware this is a female issue but this affects the dudes too.  All of a sudden, instead of being so careful to not get pregnant and using birth control, you are forking over hard-earned cash for IVF and Chlomid to get one last shot at a baby.  You used to buy condoms now you buy ovulation predictors.  Your OBGYN is on a first name basis and you know all the ladies on the pregnancy forums and chat rooms –even if you never officially log in.  And when did sex become so stressful?  (Because when it’s go time –it’s go time)

(I also want to give a shout out to laugh lines, well-loved but sagging breasts, and random whiskers that appear on your chin.  I don’t want to forget the beer gut, thinning hair, bald patch, and lowered levels of Testosterone for the guys.  But, I couldn’t cover it all and it’s too freaking depressing anyway. )

So here’s to 40!  It’s messy and challenging and wonderful.  And there is no better way to celebrate than with your friends! 

card

–Sam

Cold Feet

cold feet

Image by MayaEvening via Flickr

 

My feet are cold. Bone cold. 

Will work for socks cold!

It’s one of those days where I have been warm, truly warm, for only a few minutes.  At the end of my run this morning, I started to break a sweat, despite the chilly 38 degree temp and maybe, just maybe my feet thawed.

Then in the shower, I defrosted momentarily, but upon exiting, returned to afore-mentioned frozen status.

It’s my own fault.  My favorite socks were dirty so I went without. 

Decided to stink up my loafers and go foot commando.

I thought I would be so bold and cheeky in my sockless state, a brazen message to the world that I can handle adversity. 

But I was wrong.  I am a whiner.  A sniveler. 

A fair-haired Popsicle whiling away the day dreaming of a roaring fire, a cuppa tea, an enthralling read, and oh yes…

 deliciously, decadently, toasty warm toes.

 

 

Shock and Awe

Items taken from Bundy's Volkswagen, August 16...

Image via Wikipedia

I am a big scaredy cat. I get squirrelly in dark parking lots, check my back seat for Ted Bundy, and keep every door and window locked despite the sweltering heat of summer.   The Night Stalker killings and rampage of the 1980’s terrorized my childhood dreams and sleep for years, even after he was incarcerated and even when my fear was more detrimental than reality.  Admittedly, if ADT offered a personalized alarm system, one that monitored my body’s perimeter for criminals, sex offenders and violent youth, I would be the first to sign up.

I know I am not alone in this irrational attachment to fear.  Women, in general, seem far more prone to insecurity than men when it comes to feeling safe and the media only plays into our anxiety.  Watching the eleven-o-clock news requires a black belt in karate or at minimum, a proficient knowledge in the use of handguns and weaponry. At least the Today show filters down the evil antics of the night before to a few newsworthy stories. The media’s fascination with shock value has given the general public an overload of information, much of it detrimental to our sense of well-being.

 In an effort to “enlighten us,” it has not come without a great cost.  We have sacrificed of our sense of peace and perceived security on the altar of “shock and awe news.” Jack Nicholson said it best, “You can’t handle the truth.” I both agree and simultaneously disagree with him. I would argue that a little truth goes a long way, and in some cases, I would actually prefer to be sheltered from every single murder and drive-by incident. On the flip side, deep down my spirit pushes me to cry out for the oppressed in direct opposition to my inner wuss who wants to live in denial.

That’s not to say violence hasn’t touched my own life. I don’t live in a bubble.  As a small child, an intruder broke into our home and assaulted my own mother at knife-point.   I’ve had my share of attempted break-ins, altercations, and even a bounty-hunter who terrorized my family one night due to a mistaken identity.  And maybe that’s the reason why my heart breaks every time I see another story of devastation and abuse.  Isn’t life hard enough without a play by-play rerun of its atrocities? 

As a story–teller, I too am at a conundrum. I aim to evoke emotion from my writing.  I want to expose the injustice in the world and bring it to light.  Conversely, as a woman and a mother, my deepest desire is for security and a sense of well-being. It is a duality that confronts all of us.  This is where faith in God and our deepest trust issues collide.  The Scriptures say to “fear not” while my flesh trembles and panics.  Maybe that’s why, “Don’t be afraid,” is repeated more often than any verse in the Bible.  God knew the torment we would encounter and suggests only He, can provide us with the peace and security we long for.

So until the day I will meet Jesus face to face, I will continue to lock my doors, skip the late news and press into the truth, even when I would rather shut my eyes and even when the façade of safety seems more appealing than the violence of reality.

 

The big bad yellow bus…

Front of a yellow school bus.

Image via Wikipedia

In another initiative to over protect our kids and alleviate any modicum of self-reliance, a suburban Chicago school district has outfitted their students backpacks with a luggage tag size GPS that monitors when the student gets on and off the bus.  While I can appreciate the concern of parent’s for their child’s welfare, this whole concept of micro-chipping our pets and kids has an ominous big brother tone that is eerily playing out before our very eyes.  But more importantly, from a developmental perspective, navigating the bus, with all its relational drama and intensity, is a rite of passage for a child. This is where we learn to stand on our two feet, set good boundaries and survive in a world without mom and dad. It’s where both good and bad decisions are made, and kids actually learn from natural consequences.

 This takes me back to my own bus story as kid, a defining moment in the spectrum of childhood adventure. It also makes me wonder how many kids will we emotionally handicap by never letting them screw up, get lost and find their way back home.

The year was 1977; I was seven-year old 2nd grader, taking the big yellow school bus home for the first time.  Apprehensive all day, the momentous occasion had finally arrived.  There I stood, in my rainbow knee socks and straggly pig-tails, taking in what seemed like an endless row of busses.  My parents had told me to take the bus that went to South Huntington Beach but I could only see black numbers on the side of the yellow behemoths.  Starting to panic, I asked one of the drivers where they were going.  He looked down at me, scratched his scraggly chin, and said, “Honey this bus is going to Huntington Beach.”

Well…that seemed close enough, so I skipped on up the stairs, and settled down into a seat near one of my classmates that I recognized.  We drove off and I settled in to what seemed like an awfully long ride to South Huntington Beach.  After all the kids but one had gotten off the bus, it started to dawn on me that something was terribly wrong.  Timidly I approached the driver, “Sir, I thought you said we were going to Huntington Beach?”

The old driver cackled, “I just drove through the whole damn town.  You lost kid?”

“Yes sir,” I warbled, my eyes filling with tears.

“Well this bus is going back to the yard and I got plans. You gotta get off at the next stop cuz I don’t have time to deal with you.  Go with that other kid and call your mom.”

“Ok,” I said, more scared of the bus yard than being abandoned.  I envisioned a field of empty yellow buses with no mommies for miles.

I followed the sole little girl off the bus and asked her if I could call my mom from her house. She agreed and off we trotted to her home.  Her mother fussed over me like a hen, until my own mom arrived, distraught over the mishap.  I heard my mother telling the girl’s mom; “you would think a kid going to a gifted and talented magnet school could figure out how to take a bus.”

Embarrassed and yet exhilarated that I had survived a dangerous journey all by myself, I stood up a little taller and I didn’t hold my mom’s hand on the way out like I usually did.  Strangely enough, some lessons of self-reliance can only be learned by getting on the wrong bus.

Jr. High Boys and the I Love Boobies Campaign

Article first published as Jr. High Boys and the I Love Boobies Campaign on Technorati.

My twelve year old son has recently become an advocate for breast cancer awareness.  Who knew he was so compassionate about fighting cancer? He even wore a pink armband in his last football game.  And though I am excited that I can actually find him on the football field in a dog pile, his obsession with NFL.com/pink raises some big red flags for this mama.  Now call me naive….but I wonder if his sudden interest has any connection to do with the “I Love Boobies” campaign?
In a brilliant marketing scheme, capitalizing on our hyper sexualized culture, the keep a Breast Foundation folks have certainly generated publicity, but at what cost? Is an adolescent boy with raging hormones their intended audience?  Because, quite frankly, his parents hold the checkbook and it’s only pissing me off, not helping their cause.  There are plenty of non-profits legitimately raising funds for breast cancer research that I am more apt to support versus the ones exploiting boobs for cash. 
Why this campaign smells like a rat:

 
• It’s Offensive

 
First of all, our national obsession with artificially enhanced breasts has absolutely nothing to do with a cancer victim fighting to save her life.  While Heidi Montag may be the epitome of the Girls Gone Wild mentality, having boobs the size of a beach ball doesn’t evoke a lot of sympathy to a woman facing death and a double mastectomy.  If anything, it trivializes the devastation to both her breasts and the disease itself.  If I saw an infant wearing an I Love Boobies t-shirt, I might be more prone to levity, but on a pimply teen, it’s just plain offensive. This campaign objectifies a woman as a sexual object instead of a human being battling a serious illness.
Tracy Clark-Flory put it this way. “When death is truly knocking at your door — and I’m not talking about early, uncertain cases — most aren’t thinking about how much they love their breasts, they’re thinking about how much they love not being dead. They’re thinking: Chop those things off, now.”
• What’s the real message?

 
I also have two daughters at home and I can only speculate what this message conveys to them?  Do we love hurting women or just their mammary offering to society? What is the worth of a woman… her contribution to society or her bra size? And, what’s next? Do we allow our girls to run around in Juicy sweats with “I Love Colons” plastered on their little bottoms? How about an “I Love Balls” t-shirt?  Does this really heighten awareness or advance perversity masquerading as a worthy cause?
• What are the Consequences?

 
And for those that minimize this, I would argue that the battle for our sons to protect them from a lifetime addiction to pornography starts here. During the most impressionable age of sexual identification, this is another area of compromise alluring to our children.
Ron Hogan at PopFi stated, “Maybe some kids are just wearing these bands because they say “boobies” on them. But “who cares?” The bracelets are getting out an important message. Besides, students are exposed to “much worse things than breast-themed bracelets” at school every day.
Who Cares?  I do!  And while we can’t protect our children from everything, schools do try and limit their exposure to harmful behaviors. I would argue that the very same reasons why schools outlaw guns, sexual harassment, bullying, and gay bashing also motivate them to ban these bracelets from the playground.  Why would it ever be beneficial to degrade a woman fighting cancer?
Breast cancer is destructive in its own right.  Exploiting our kids in the interest of propagating an ad campaign doesn’t further the cause.So, even though I love breasts, particurally cancer free ones…I won’t be buying any of their bracelets for my pree-teen son to show my support

Read more: http://technorati.com/lifestyle/family/article/jr-high-boys-and-the-i/page-2/#ixzz132PETejm

Nonsense

I was a journalism major in college, and then a theatre major, moved to political science, and  finally graduated with a degree in history.  My BA should have an MA in ADD.  Summing up all my skills, I think this qualifies me to write a little about a lot or maybe a lot of nonsense.  I found out the other day nonsense is actually a language and you don’t need Rosetta Stone to become proficient at it.  My daughter and her friend were in the back of the car arguing about whether it was a real language or not.  So we looked it up on  Wikipedia.  Turns out my daughter was right.  Nonsense is  real as much as reality sometimes seems like nonsense.

Nonsense is a verbal communication or written text that is spoken or written in a human language or other symbolic system but lacks any coherent meaning. Many poets, novelists and songwriters have used nonsense in their works, often creating entire works using it.

An example of nonsense: when you are just on the verge of falling asleep and you say random things to your spouse with absolutely no context for the current conversation. Our subconscious mind on the edge of slumber can turn the most articulate person into a babbling fool.  Oh, if only we had tape recorders in those moments. I love it when my husband snuggles into the pillow, then blurts out, “What did the guy in green the car say?”

I think he said, “You’re out of gas, Mr. Over-tired!”

Literary nonsense takes it one step further and for a writer is a cornucopia of delicious words to play with.  In its essence, literary nonsense is contradiction using correct grammar that results in any lack of meaning. The saying, “Colorless green ideas sleep furiously”  penned by Noam Chomsky is an example of nonsense.

So in honor of fall, autumn and the pure love of spooky words , here is a stab at some Jabberwocky(a poem of nonsense).

The jack-o-lanterns menacing grin lulled the small child into a state of tranquility.

The sweet comfort of terror filling the night with peace.

Snickers and candy corn creating a cacophony of song

And blackest  midnight dancing a jig with dawn.

Wisdom from the Gabba’s

Yo Gabba Gabba Live! @ the Wang

Image by bradsearles via Flickr

 

  

The Top 10… from Yo Gabba Gabba

  1. Sometimes it rains on our parade.  Stuff happens.  Life is hard.  Disappointments are inevitable.  Tears fall like raindrops.  But, when Muno is sad, his Gabba friends find him an umbrella and teach him how to dance in the rain.
  2. Don’t bite your friends!  Biting hurts our friends.  Take out your aggression on some watermelon. 
  3. I have never seen a chubby guy in orange tights rock it like Jack Black!  Who knew a sexy jig could make it on Nick Jr.?  Take note Katy Perry.  Time to switch networks.
  4. There is an inside voice and an outside voice.  Our job is to figure out when it’s ok to be obnoxiously loud and when we need to whisper our snide comments. 
  5. When in doubt, make a funny face!  Laugh like a hyena.  Giggle uncontrollably.  Pee your pants and fall down.  If you need help on this…go back to lesson #3 and watch Jack Black.  Hysterical
  6. Don’t be afraid.  Don’t be afraid.  Don’t be afraid!  Nuff said!
  7. Team work is good.  If you and your Duck buddies work together, you too could steal the University of Washington Helmut Golf Cart and light it on fire.  I’m not saying you should…I’m just saying.
  8. Just dance. My name is Sam and I like to dance!  Show off your moves in a t-shirt with your favorite Gabba.  I like Roby.  He is the little green one with the long arms. 
  9. Drawing is fun.  Find your inner artist.  Create.  Be fully alive.  Use crayons.
  10. There is a DJ who controls the music.  He pushes the buttons, teaches the lessons, and eventually puts all the characters back in the box.  Smart Gabba’s get to know the DJ!

The Unicorn

1107_unicorn_head_mask_inuse

I have a large mole on my head.  My son calls it the unicorn.  It’s not too obvious because my bangs cover it.  It sits dead center on my head at my hairline.  Like a hairy mole on a witch, individual follicles have actually begun to sprout through it.

At best, this puppy is ugly and at worst possibly cancerous.  I do my best to hide it and maintain a façade of attractiveness, but I know if the wind blows the wrong way or I am having a bad hair day, the repugnant sucker will make an appearance.  Generally, I am confident about the way I look, so I like to think of it as an anomaly.

This mole is the yin to my yang.  It’s like my dirty little secret. I have mixed feelings about it.  I hate it and yet I love it.

Today I have a momentous appointment at the dermatologist.  The unicorn is going to be biopsied and will be removed.  Now I will just have a large hole in my head and possibly less hair.  I am happy to not have an eraser sized object to catch my comb on.  I am sad that my outer ugly will be leaving me.  As a teen or even in my twenties, this mole would have derailed me.  I was so self-conscious and bent on image management.  It’s a good thing it appeared in my thirties.

Now approaching 40 (38 to be exact), it represents a massive paradigm shift.  It is the embracement of my entire self, the good, the bad and the hideous.  Alas, my vanity has begun to fade with the acceptance of age, gravity and the scars of a life well lived.

So goodbye Mr. Unicorn!  I will miss you.  But, I am confident that the large crater in my head will be a good replacement for you. Come to think of it, now I will have a secret place to store my loose change and skittles!

Note***  (Three years later)  It actually healed very well.  No crater, no gaping hole, and I like my being able to pull my hair back.  Why didn’t I do it earlier?

%d bloggers like this: