Once you turn 40…

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Jenna was having coffee with her friend Mary.  They were noticing, as the years were passing, that the frequency of conversation related to medical issues was rising.  Aches and pains.  So and so’s recent diagnosis.  Incontinence.  Tummy troubles. Headaches.  Hormones.  Impotence. It was all being discussed at dinner, birthday parties, coffee shops and the like.  Starting off slowly, it happened at an almost imperceptible pace.  But, Mary noted, it almost always was preceded by the words, “once you turn 40.” Is this what they are headed for?  The clutch of white-hairs huddled around in wheelchairs, all complaining about their doctors and upcoming surgeries?   Jenna said, “I refuse to go down without a fight.  Fuck once you turn 40.

Jenna’s various doctors and friends had told her that once you turn 40, your libido declines, your waistline increases, you are more prone to fractures, you snore more and your ability to conceive takes a nosedive.  What Mary had heard was far worse.  Reduction in ability to recover from injuries, increased incidence of heart disease and cancer, weakened muscles, saggy boobs, slowed metabolism and low energy. When Jenna’s mom turned 40, Jenna was out of the house and nearly on her own.  But now, at age 45, she had a pre-teen and a teenager under her roof.  It seemed the ultimate bullshit that at the time when her body and mind began to break down, she had to deal with a teenager whose body and mind were, well, taking over.  It used to be that once you turned 40, your kids weren’t as high maintenance.  Thanks to delaying childbirth, we are now in the dubious position of reaping what we’ve sown at the precise time we want to be rolling out the red carpet for our golden years.

So Jenna and Mary decided it was time to make their own list.  Their very own once you turn 40 list.  Some of it they decided to make up for the hell of it.  Some of it really is a thing.  Here goes.

The Once You Turn 40 List…

  • you can tell when people are lying way, way faster.
  • you appreciate the small things more.
  • you celebrate magazine articles telling you that you should cut back on coffee by drinking a cup of coffee.
  • you do your kegels and maybe do the thing where you are spontaneous and meet your husband in a bar and pretend you don’t know him then go home and have great sex.  Then, after a long week, you decide to just ask for what you want. And have great sex.
  • you have to make lists all the time, but you love lists.
  • your creativity soars.
  • your need to nurture and take care of everyone all the time drops precipitously.
  • you want more.
  • your boobs look amazing!
  • you realize that people are characters and you see them sculpting themselves into old people who are set in their ways.  You vow not to do that shit.
  • you notice who looks old and who looks young, but you always feel younger than you are.
  • you know what needs to be done.
  • you know a good book, a real conversation, a deep friendship or a chance encounter can change the world.
  • your ass looks amazing!
  • you light up when talking about your kids.
  • you can be relied on to do things that you only inconsistently did in your twenties:  pay your bills, use birth control, fix something that is broken, and get gas in your car.
  • you know yourself better, or at least, you know you could if you really tried.
  • your skin is radiant!
  • you laugh without asking yourself if your laugh sounds silly.  You just laugh.
  • you think about retiring.
  • you tinker.
  • you think more deeply and profoundly, even if you can’t ever find your fucking keys.
  • you eat whatever you want!
  • you never get sore or hurt!
  • your jokes are better because you know who to tell them to.
  • you have more fun because you know who to have it with.
  • you are loved beyond measure because you know who to love.
  • your worth is not measured in a mirror or on a scale.
  • you value your grandparents, even though it’s too late to tell them.
  • your memory is perfect!
  • your vacations get better.
  • you can’t remember how old you are to key into the treadmill at the gym, but hell, you’re at the gym
  • you are insightful and thoughtful about things you once could give a shit about.
  • you could give a shit about things you were once insightful and thoughful about.

And then, Jenna and Mary resolve never to start the sentence once you turn 40 to anyone younger than 39.  Because that is just wrong. Let them figure it out on their own.  Which is what you did.  When you turned 40.

 

photo by Barbara Paulsen at tandemechoes.com.

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50 is the new 40. And other bullshit.

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Turning 50 had put Shelley in a pensive mood.  She found herself staring often, caught up in thoughts.  Thinking.  Pondering.

There were the obvious thoughts.  My life is half over.  I don’t feel 50.  How did this happen so fast?  How did I get here?  (Talking Heads, people.  Look it up).

In her mood of  contemplation, Shelley told her husband she wanted to go to New York for a visit.  She hadn’t seen her cousin in a while, and it had been too long since they had spent time in her beloved city.  She hadn’t lived in New York for a long time, but her deep connection to the place had never faded.  After all, it was where she and Tom had met.  It was where her business had taken off.  Yes, eventually she sold the business so she could take care of her boys.  But this time, her sister would take care of them. They booked a long weekend.

What a fabulous trip!  Swanky hotel!  Beautiful crisp New York weather!  Familiar and new sights!  Hot sex! Shelley and Tom dreamed and planned incessantly.  The boys would love it here!  The culture is unequaled.  Think of all the things to do every single weekend!  Everywhere they walked, the shops were vibrant, the food impeccable. The corner where they had their first kiss?  Well, of course they repeated the memory.  All the warm feelings of falling-in-love days simmered inside them.  New York was it.  They had to move.

After the flight home, Shelley woke up ragged.  She poured a strong cup of brew and looked around her kitchen.  Tom had remodeled it 5 years before. Her cookbooks were just where she liked them.  The boys were reading in the breakfast nook.  Behind them, the sun had just begun to bathe the apple orchard in morning light.  Their dog Hank was chasing a crow around the backyard.  Pulling her thick robe around her, she thought for the millionth time how cold it was in the house.  The 1920’s era heater had kicked last month.  And yet…her coffee had never tasted so good.  And she had never felt so warm.

Tom came home after work, tired and achy.  As she rubbed his shoulders, she told him what she’d been thinking all day.  She wanted to stay.  They’d be working like slaves if they moved just to afford a nice place and of course a private school.  They would have to abandon their dreams of traveling the world.  She would miss her friends dearly, and the boys couldn’t live without the treehouse. As she stated her case, she looked down at his head and inhaled the sweet smells of wood, grease, hard work and the country.  When she finished talking, she paused and waited for his response.  He turned around to look up at her, and slowly, knowingly, he smiled.

Nowadays Shelley has been busy readying the apple orchard, chasing the occasional mole and hauling wood.  The heater’s not fixed but it’s not that cold, really.  It’ll keep.  And she tells herself maybe 50 isn’t the new 40.  (There’s not a 40 year old out there that would say that anyway).  Of course she doesn’t feel 50, but what’s 50 supposed to feel like?  There’s no going back to a life that’s already been lived.  The best life to live, she concludes, is the one that’s ahead of you.  And there’s still plenty of time for that.  At 50, you know things that you didn’t know at 20, 30 or even 40.  Lots of things.  Like where home is.  And where you belong.

 

photo by Barbara Paulsen at tandemechoes.com.

 

She’s Got the Astroturf Blues

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A few years back, Linda and her husband Evan taught their son to pee on the grass.  At the time, it was funny.  And functional.  Landon was 3 at the time so he had to pee often, and urgently.  It was easier to find a patch of grass than a bathroom.  Who wants to go driving around looking for a bathroom with a toddler in the backseat screaming, “It’s coming out, Mommy!”  after all?  He was so cute, that little view of his backside as he was peeing against a tree.  Grass-peeing occurred when hiking, camping, on road trip pit-stops, and occasionally in the backyard-when going inside proved to be too long a disruption in his play.

Soon enough, his little brother Alex came along and learned the skill, which offered the same advantages as it did for his older brother.  Landon often gave sage advice such as, “keep breathing,” or “don’t look around” to put his novice brother at ease.  In chillier weather, Landon offered, “sometimes it takes a little longer when it’s cold” to an impatient Alex.  Both brothers delighted in the yellow art they created when there was snow on the ground.  Such frolicking and boyish play continued as the boys grew.

One rainy spring, Linda signed the boys up for indoor soccer.  Having spent the winter watching two little guys playing “Wipeout” using her new sofa, her tennis racket, a bucket of water and other assorted breakable items, she decided it was time for the boys to blow off some steam…under someone else’s watch.  The boys loved it, the running, the action, the competition.  One sweat soaked-practice after another, it was time well spent.  Linda congratulated herself silently, daring not rub it in Evan’s face, who had deemed it too expensive.

One practice, as she quietly tapped on her phone like 20 other moms seated on the cold, ass-flattening bleachers, she heard some out-of-the-ordinary screaming and laughing.  She looked up and saw a familiar sight, in an unwelcome venue.  Landon, standing beside Alex, was peeing in the corner.  On the astroturf.  Linda’s thoughts swirled from Should I run? to Does anyone notice? to Is this happening?  Finally, without her knowledge or permission, she felt her body lurching up toward her boys.  Alex, sensing the need to pee as well, began to unzip his fly, sending Linda into a full-on run.   Words began pouring out of her mouth as she entered the field.  She had no control of them, they were flying out too quickly.  She recognized “Stop” and their names, but other than that they were barely recognizable as language.  By midfield she feared she heard curse words coming from her lips but was unable to stem the tide.  Streams from both boys had stopped by the time she had reached them.  Teammates were abuzz with laughter, rolling around on the ground (away from the warm yellow puddle congealing in front of her boys) and pointing.  Alex looked at her and asked, “Mommy, why isn’t the grass sucking it up?” 

The rest is a “blur” as Linda recounts it.  A mom carrying two crying boys.  A befuddled coach.  A howling team of boys.  A pungent scent.  Linda threw $10 at the reception desk for “cleaning.”  And she went home and thought.  A lot.

If they don’t know the difference between grass and astroturf, how will they know the difference between right and wrong?  A nice girl and one who will break their hearts?   Fully cooked chicken nuggets and pink-inside ones which will make them sick?  Sighing, she decided she wasn’t a bad mom.  So she overreacted a little.  So what?  But she feels frustrated that she can’t always pave their way.  Sometimes they have to make decisions based on the information they have.  And sometimes they will make the wrong choice.  Maybe even learn a lesson.  That’s all any parent can do.

And so, Linda made her own choice.

Evan can take the boys to practice from now on.

 

photo courtesy of Barbara Paulsen at tandemechoes.com

 

My Flat Tire- A Fairy Tale

A Daily Post prompt to write something that happened in the past week in the style of a fairy tale.

And the wheels go 'round...

And the wheels go ’round…

Once Upon a Time, a king and queen indeed had a wonderful dream:  a day of family fun and frolic!  Complete with never-ending smiles, a cascade of sweet and meaningful memories made with the entire royal family!  It would be great fun: an afternoon bike ride, complete with a stop at the kingdom’s favorite coffee shop.  Treats of gooey, sugary deliciousness would be the destination after a day spent in the saddle and beneath the sun’s warm rays.  Oh how the princesses would enthuse to embark upon such a day!

Alas, the dream was not meant to be.  Both sisters displaying a whiney wickedness, the king and queen cajoled them with the allure of sunshine and sweets.  The sun, however,  proved to be a difficult ally, trying desperately to poke through but succeeding only in drowning the kingdom in fog.  Not even a royal invocation for sunlight was heeded.  The family rode on, however, despite the cold.  The sisterly squabbles began in earnest, whilst the king and queen beseeched them for peace.  The day’s winds whipped about, created an uphill feeling to a flat countryside.

And then, lo, a misery stopped them cold!  It was the flat tire of the queen’s bike.  It hissed and spat in a display of contempt for the family outing.  The only option, lest the king’s army be summoned, was to pedal back despite the destination of the journey having not been reached.  A mild argument ensued, of what to do next.  And in the end, the queen walked to the coffee shop, damaged tire and bike in tow.  Spirits dragged much as did the queen’s dirt-soaked finery.  As the family met her, they agreed to make the best of the royal outing, and order up some sugary tidbits to soothe their weary bodies.

And then, just like that, almost as if the queen’s wand had deemed it so, the family began laughing.  Enjoying the company.  Forgetting the vexing problems that the day had so meanly presented them.  The sugar proved a salve to the family, and in due time the king fetched his noble mini-van.  Procuring the sickly bike in it’s wretched condition,  he took the family back to it’s kingdom, where they are all now in pleasant company within the castle.

And they lived happily ever after.

The End.

Gratitude Story

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The party was going on without her.  She sniffled loudly and added another tissue to the overflowing trash bucket.  She wondered what they were talking about, wishing she was there.  Her husband had decided to go to the party without her.  After all, why should he stay home and listen to her cough and sneeze?  But she felt left out anyway, and jealous of the fun time she was sure she was missing.  She watched a sappy love story, one she knew her husband wouldn’t have wanted to watch.  The choice of movie was a regretful one, producing more mucus and tissues as she cried her way through it.  As the movie ended, she heard the door and her husband walked in.  He handed her a brown bag.  Her friends had sent home a bottle of wine with him and the note read; “It’s not as fun without you.  This is for when you are better…”  She closed her eyes, hugged the bottle and smiled.  Thankful for her friends.  Thankful to be missed.

***

We all deserve a little recognition now and then and I feel honored to be nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award from the wonderful Good Woman blog.  Her posts reflect what she feels in her daily life of being a woman from grieving for her husband to stitching to discovering the blogging world.  It’s really really good.  Go check it out! Now!

versatile blogger award

I am proudly accepting the award to give notice to other blogs I love as well as some eyes on my own.

The rules are:

Show the award on your blog.

Thank the person who nominated you.

Share seven facts about yourself.

Nominate 15 blogs.

Link your nominees’ blogs, and let them know.

My seven facts:

1. I have two beautiful daughters in 4th and 7th grades.

2.  I met my husband on a blind date.

3.  I live in the suburbs, and have grown to love it here.

4.  My dad died when I was 25 and I hate that my husband and kids never met him.

5.  I hate unloading the dishwasher.

6.  My dream vacation would be to go to Bali.

7.  I love my dog so much, but she eats her own shit, and that really bums me out.

My 15 blogs:

It’s Just a Box of Rain

Views from the Podium

60While60

Beautiful Words

Dear Suburbia

Doodlemum

Giving Daily

Keeping my Eyes open

Ninaoneillpoetry

Bralowski

DoubleU

SilverLiningMama

13th of May

TJ’s blog

The Sunny C

Now get reading!

 

Being Eleven

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Jackie ran around the playground with her friends until someone named Eddie stepped into her path and stopped her with a raised hand.  “Carl likes you,” he said.  Feeling the call of maturity, she looked at her friends and suddenly felt like she was acting childish.  She looked down at her foot and twisted it side to side, her thinking pose.  “Well I guess you can tell him I like him too.”  She started to run, then walked, back to join her friends.  They fired questions at her.  What did he say?  What did he say?  She couldn’t help but smile.  “Carl likes me.”

Eddie and Carl were the most popular boys at school.  They knew all the coolest music before it even became a hit.  Their longish hair.  Their sporty clothes.  Their athletic prowess.  They ruled the school without benefit of thrones, crowns or titles of distinction.  They were cool.

For over a week, Eddie talked to Jackie about Carl.  How much he liked her.  How he talked of her all the time.  Jackie felt confused; he’d never so much as talked to her or glanced in her direction.  Except once.  In first grade, he’d knocked over her milk as he was playing around with a friend in the cafeteria.  “Sorry,” he’d said.  She wondered why he liked her.  Was it the way her mom curled her hair for picture day?  No matter what, she felt…elated.  Carl.  He liked her.  What could be better?

Eddie told her that Carl would be asking her out on Friday.  Jackie walked on air from Tuesday through Thursday.  But on Friday morning, she asked her mom if she could stay home from school.  A feeling of dread enveloped her as she slung her backpack on her shoulder.  At recess, Eddie approached her.  He said the time was right.  Then a couple friends pushed Carl toward Jackie with a look of surprise and irritation on his face.  Eddie was giggling.  Carl was stonefaced.  Carl said, “Her?  No way, dude,” and walked away.

Jackie walked home with her head down.  Her stomach pitched inward.  Her head spun.  Carl didn’t like her, his friends had played a joke on him.  A dare.  To see if they could get even the shyest and quietest girl in the class to like Carl.

It worked.

She put down her backpack, turned on the tv and watched the Brady Bunch.  Twice.

Thanks to Itchy Quill for the idea.  This story is about me, straight from my journal.

 I am Jackie.

https://itchyquill.wordpress.com/2015/01/09/want-to-live-forever-easy-keep-a-journal/

That First Kiss

Melissa was just thinking about how seventh grade really sucks. And then it arrived in her mailbox.  The validation she needed.  An invitation to Amy’s party! Amy, of course, was the most popular girl in the seventh grade.  Her boobs arrived on time and in precisely the right proportion.  Her hair was the perfect level of blonde, not too platinum nor too mousey.  Her legs long and shapely, her nails nicely shaded.  Rumor had it that despite her parent’s obvious wealth, there were affairs and other shady dealings.  Anyway, the invitation was pink and Melissa replied via email:  “yes, can’t wait!”

On the night of the party, Melissa was thinking dreamily about Joey, hoping that the bottle would spin in his direction.  His curly hair, the way he joked with his friends, the way he ran across the blacktop clutching a football.  As all sat in a circle, the bottle spun.  As it was a plastic bottle, the spinning action was limited.  A frantic search for a glass bottle began, finally yielding an empty beer bottle, procured from the recycling bin while Amy’s parents were upstairs watching tv.

It was Melissa’s turn. Someone requested the lights be dimmed.  Another complied with the request.  Melissa leaned forward onto her hands. She spun the bottle.  She leaned back onto her feet and tried to tuck her freshly curled hair behind her ear in a way that made her seem relaxed.  She thought “Joey, Joey…” but the bottle had other ideas.  The bottle said “William.”

William wasn’t so bad, certainly not as bad as Thomas, who wasn’t invited anyway.  Melissa leaned forward again, took a two step crawl toward William.  At the last moment, Melissa realized William was lunging toward her in the center of the large circle of seventh grade prying eyes.  Too late to slow down, their teeth clanked together, then a swift groping of tongues, extremely sloppy but thank goodness not drippy.  Melissa and William parted, sat down in their respective spots in the circle.

It was over, but really, it had just begun.

The Proverbial Fly on the Wall

As she twisted her hair, he looked at her and thought she didn’t look as pretty as she used to.

“Well?”  She asked, finally looking up.

“I don’t know,” he answered, playing with something under his shoe.  “It’s not easy to explain.  I just, you just…It’s better if I go.”

“Says who, you?  I guess  you are the master of the hit and run.”

“What the hell is that supposed to mean?” Something inside him turned.

“Just that you know how to leave.  And leave a mess.” The comparison was apt, she thought.

She was right.  She was able to see the pattern.  See the skid marks.  The road ahead, and the one behind.

“I can’t be who you want me to be.  I thought we, um, I, could do it.  But it’s not in me Deb.  I am not good for you.”

“No, you are damn well not.” Twisting her hair again.

“Do you want the key back?”

“What?”

“I have a key to your apartment.  Do you want it back?”  She stared at him as he said this, leaving him wondering if he had misspoke.

“Of all the meaningless shit you could say to me right now, that about tops the list.  The least of everything I gave to you was my key.”

“I’m sorry.”  Digging his hands in his pockets.  Finding the key.  Placing it on the table.  Turning to leave.  “I have always been a bad bet.”

He left.  She curled up next to the window and watched him drive away, her fist tight against her mouth.  Inside her chest, without her direct knowledge, almost imperceptibly, something happened in a tiny part of her heart.  It closed.