On Friday I’ll be fifty years old. Sounds a bit extreme, doesn’t it? I know. Show off. But – there it is. And you know what? I really can’t even think of anything interesting to say about it, other than that. I mean – I’m certainly feeling proud of myself for hitting it clean and sober. Oh and guess what – I quit smoking at the start of this month so I’m starting this new decade a non smoker. I haven’t been able to say that since I turned ten. And I figured out that I’ve lived a third of these fifty years within listening distance of the Pacific Ocean. That’s kind of cool. I have teenaged children now. That’s also cool and my favorite age so far by far. Favorite age to parent, not be. Anyhow – basically all’s well. I am moving from mother to crone with a smile.
So – what am I going to do to mark this milestone? On the social end, I’m going to have dinner with friends on my birthday and I’m taking a trip to Monterey with my family the weekend after. And I always make a big ass deal about my birthday so my poor co-workers have no choice but to take notice. But on a personal note, I’m going to get up early and run down to the beach and find a nice spot and just sit and connect with the universe – rain or shine. I’m also going to try and come up with some sort of list of reasonable goals. There’ll be some big stuff like buying a home and lots of little stuff like reading more and cleaning out my shoe closet. But mainly – I want to stay close to the people that matter most to me. If I have any regrets from maiden and motherhood, (and I mean real regrets, not little ones like forgetting to get out the St. Patrick’s day decorations that one year….) they are centered on people I miss. I let a lot of sweet, dear people fade out of my life for no reason other than being too self-centered. I’m feeling so much more able to love now. I’m not willing to let that happen so frequently anymore.
I’m definitely excited to see what the next fifty years are going to bring. And that alone is a happy thing. Meaning – I’m not looking forward with fear or frustration or ennui or dread or anything negative. I feel like I have choices, if not right this instant, then in the not too distant future. At least, I feel like I can go ahead and set goals for myself and dream up fun things to do. I think I’m going to like being a crone.
Monday was United Nations day. I really should write an informative little essay on the United Nations, its history and relevance today. But that, dear reader, wouldn’t be my style. How would I get my whiny complaints in if I just informed you about the United Nations? Impossible. So – happy United Nations day! Now, let’s move on.
I guess unity and connection would be remotely related to United Nations day. How are you at maintaining connections? I’m not exactly batting a thousand right now, but that’s given me an opportunity to focus on the people and things in my life which are really important to keep. Relationships, whether they be friendly, romantic, organized or professional, take work and consciousness. I am truly trying to be present for as many moments as possible during the day. The longer I’m sober, the more I find that if I really try and live in reality with all its emotions and chores, the better off I am. As I try to maintain some sort of balance, the useless weights become more apparent and I can lighten my load. In other words, “Focus, Mary Elizabeth!”
So – I’ve taken some time off from personal blogging because I got sick of the sound of my own voice. But – it’s not bothering me so much today, so I thought I’d reel one out on the beloved subject of gratitude. I know, I know – super boring. Lately, I’ve tried to boil it down, though. For what, exactly, am I grateful? I mean, some of the things I try and list to the universe on a daily basis really belong on a “I wish I felt more grateful for:” list. Like, seriously, who’s truly grateful for your boyfriend every day?How about your job? You get the point. Knowing the things for which we ought to be grateful is a far cry from being grateful. So – I’ve decided to list five things for which I am TRULY GRATEFUL.
my children’s’ health, intellect and good looks
the CD player in my car
For those of you wondering. I left cigarettes off the list not because I don’t love them more than anything else in the world and have found them to be the only reliable constant in my life time and time again, but because I’m actually aware that they’ll eventually kill me. So – off the list. Then, of course, there’s home facial wax without which I couldn’t live either, but it’s expensive and messy and endless. Off the list! Those things listed are the ones I can feel grateful for all the time without any catches. So, I’m curious. In the words of my friends at Café Gratitude, “What are you grateful for?”
Three of the people very closest to my heart just hate it here: my daughter, my boyfriend and my dear friend Kerry. I don’t really blame them and all three of them make valid points. It is a very small town and there’s absolutely nothing to do if you’re between the ages of 12 and 72. You can’t swing a dead cat without hitting someone you wish you didn’t know. Everything’s always closed. On those rare occasions when the sun comes out, it’s too windy to enjoy it. Anything that goes wrong, they blame on poor old Fort Bragg. And you know what? I’d like nothing better than to jump on that crabby little band wagon with them.
But that wouldn’t help my “bloom where you’re planted” philosophy at all. Mainly because this philosophy is a relatively new one and I am clinging to it most tenuously. Dissatisfaction with the hand I’ve been dealt is a hard habit to break. For one thing, you can’t feel sorry for yourself anymore. I mean, you can’t be the victim of circumstances you embrace. You can’t cry over milk you’re happy you spilt. I have to tell you, though, thinking this way has made my life so much more bearable for the forty to forty-five minutes a day I’m actually able to master it. Try it! My three little nay-sayers are beyond help, but that’s okay. Not only do I love them anyway, they make me look so spirtually superior! Life is good.
I’m pretty sure aliens abducted my boyfriend. I didn’t see it happen or anything, but the evidence is strong! Just like in the movies, I keep asking whatever it is they left in his place test questions and it keeps failing.
Me: My company picnic is on Sunday. Should I get you a ticket?
“Boyfriend”: Of course! I’ll make sure I’m off work in time.
Or how about this:
Me: I have to work on the 4th of July. Would you be willing to take the kids to the parade and then to the park for the fair?
See? Clearly not him. My actual boyfriend hates picnics and parades and fun. He hates doing anything that’s community spirited. Evidently, the aliens based my boyfriend’s replacement on some amalgam of the “typical American boyfriend” and not him specifically. But – I’m thinking I may adjust to life with this replicant. I may even grow to love it in time. I kind of miss my angry little rock star, though.
Okay – who watched South Park last night? I did. And I’ve been feeling kind of sad ever since. Lame, I know, but there it is. Why did they do that to us? Or to me, anyway. I guess it’s because I just hope that my kids can hang on to some innocent joy even into adulthood, despite the eighty four million reasons to be cynical with which they’re presented every day. Not to mention the cynical role models with whom they’re living. I try my best to find things to love and enjoy and laugh about, and i hope it’s sincere. I hope my good moods aren’t just painfully obvious masks for an underlying weariness with everything around me. Ugh – poor Marshes!
You know what? They aren’t masks. I do find joy and humor around me all the time. I believe that new and exciting things I haven’t even imagined yet are right around the corner. I love food and flowers and music and netflix. Just the fact that I have kids is an amazingly creative act I can be proud of, let alone that they’re growing into such interesting, creative individuals themselves . I have a wildly talented boyfriend with whom I’m honored to share this chapter of my life. Thanks, South Park, for reminding me to not let cynicism infect my entire world view. Life is good, so long as you don’t give up and stop looking at it that way.
We are just twenty days away from the summer solstice. The days are getting really long and the weather should be getting nicer. The kids will be out of school making mornings peaceful again. But lately I’ve been feeling kind of restless. There’s absolutely nothing going on in my life that warrants complaining, but I sure feel like doing it. I want a more glamorous job. I want my boyfriend to worship me. I want to turn my kids back into babies so all they want from me is milk and a smile. I want to lose twenty pounds but I don’t want to exercise or cut down on sweets. I hate all my clothes. I can’t get comfortable. Do I have to be everywhere I go?
I don’t know why some periods in life are comfortable and some aren’t. That’s just the way it goes, I guess. There’s probably some huge unresolved issue in my life that I need to face. Gross. But – while I’m waiting for it to surface, I’m going to try to welcome summer with an open heart. I’m going to ponder sweet summer memories from my childhood and try to create some for my kids. I’m going to try to remember to be grateful. And – I’m going to start exercising.