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.
This past Monday was the feast of Saint Sabas. He spent his life just pretty much wanting to be alone and never quite pulling it off. A bunch of the faithful even followed him out to his hermit cave wanting to be hermits with him. Although denying him his solitude and obviously missing the point, the presence of these supplicants credits our saint with founding the oldest monastery on the planet. And much more popular and well known – this past Tuesday was the feast of Saint Nicholas. Hailing from Smyrna, he was a friendly bishop who once tossed some gold coins down the chimney of a family in need. And the rest, as they say, is…well…”history”. I wonder what he’d think about all the kooky customs that have evolved since that act of kindness. I wonder what the present day bishop of Smyrna thinks, for that matter. I think we may have strayed a bit off track. But then again, the holidays do bring us together and I guess that’s a good thing whether or not we feel compelled to decorate like crazy and spend money we don’t really have on gifts for people who may or may not be in need.
As I’ve said before, if it weren’t for the holidays I might not ever see my family at all. Like Saint Sabas, I think I’d rather be alone. But of course I won’t be and though I’m 99.9% sure my family and I won’t be credited with starting a monastery, I’m equally sure I won’t regret so much as one minute I spend with the people I love this holiday season.
The other night, my daughter and I were discussing fake hair pieces which reminded us of the hair piece that came with her American Girl doll’s Irish ensemble. This was a “my twin” doll, who she named Siobahn. I said, “Gosh – has anyone seen Siobahn lately?” and we immediately thought of the song “Siobahn” by the Tossers. From this little exchange, my daughter came up with what might be a fabulous idea: outfits and sets for the American Girl dolls of teenagers who don’t want to get rid of them but have, of course, outgrown them. But these outfits will have a dark twist. For example: a groupie set, a drug and alcohol experimentation set, a pregnancy scare set. They could come with all sorts of fun accessories like tattoos, piercings, trashy outfits. And for the historical themes, maybe the Salem witch trials? The Manson family? I think it’s a smashing idea, and just like our little girls couldn’t really be historical heroines like their dolls were, maybe they’ll be satisfied living out these teenage fantasies on plastic replicas, too.
Speaking of hair, yesterday marked four years of sobriety for me. And you know what that means? Time for my annual haircut! Yes – once a year I actually get a haircut and use my sobriety date to mark it. I like that this special day comes right as the holidays begin in earnest. (The sobriety part – not the hair cut – although who doesn’t want pretty hair for the holidays?) There’s so much to look forward to as the year winds down and I am so ready for new opportunities and attitudes! I’m excited to end the year with celebrations and food and gifts and begin 2012 with a clean slate and healthy hair!
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?”
I may have mentioned Pandora before, and how I put time and energy into training it not to disappoint me. I’m happy to say I’ve got it pretty well bent to my will and can go days and days without hearing any Journey or that horrible song about just laying here. On the positive side, I’ve “liked” so many songs I like that hardly any time can go by without hearing one and no matter how tense I find myself at work, a song of which I’m fond can always calm me right down. This is a good thing. If you had any idea how tense I get out in the real world, you’d understand. And some kooky station I have as part of my mix plays “Sugar, Sugar” by the Archies. That is a song that always cheers me up, no matter how frantic my day is. I first heard it as a child when I cut a forty-five out of the back of some cereal box and played it on my close’n’play. Super sweet!
The other night, I had to fix a home haircut administered by my daughter to her own head. It was nice, and reminiscent of a sweeter time. In her defense I haven’t had to do this in years and years, and the fixing was light years less necessary than it was then. And as I said, it was nice. I was surprised she trusted me. Anyhow, we listened to her Pandora stations while I snipped away and although I don’t claim to love all her music, there were some cross overs. It was pleasant. The stuff good moods are made of.
Last weekend, my daughter and my friend Kerry and the world’s cutest dog went on a road trip. This weekend I am working and getting ready for a visit from the landlord. Last weekend was fun and full of laughs. This one, not so much. But – there’s a lot going on at work, at least, and I’m feeling sort of proud of myself because I’m not letting the landlord’s home invasion send me into a frenzy of fear and anxiety. That may not sound like a big deal, but everything sends me into frenzies of fear and anxiety, so this is real progress. Or – just a big fat load of denial. I mean, there may actually be something to fear in this one. It’s her house and she can through us out if she wants to. But I’ve decided that all the anxious fear I can muster won’t change the situation, so let’s just tidy up and rock it like grown ups. Grown ups with messy children.
I used to be a homeowner but now my ex is and I just get to nomadically move from rental to rental at the whim and misfortune of others. My life, at least the physical manifestation of it, is in the hands of yet another power greater than myself. But – as usual – that just pushes me to find a deeper, more spiritual life for which only I’m responsible. Me and the good old universe. What’s the opposite of fear and anxiety? Comfort and balance, maybe. And if I’ve learned anything at all in life, it’s that those only come from the inside. Homes and jobs and things like that certainly help, but I can be a wreck with all of that – quite frequently am. So – no hilarious road trip this weekend, but there’s still plenty to enjoy. I’m going to go enjoy house work and try to remember that anywhere I go, there I am so I better be glad to see me.
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.