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.
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.
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.
As my very dear and also very wise friend Kate said, you can’t wish your self thinner. Evidently the law af attraction works on all sorts of things like money and matrimony and success – but if you want to lose a few pounds, you actually have to exercise and put that cookie down. I mean – believe it or not – ever since I put that “cash” in my wallet, we’ve been the happy recipients of all sorts of unexpected money. So, I actually thought if I just wished hard enough, I could lose a few pounds. Evidently not.
Body image is a weird thing. It takes a really balanced person to see themselves as they are, let alone accept what they see. I mean – let’s face it – if you can’t button your jeans anymore you’ve obviously put on some weight. But is that always a bad thing? I don’t think so. I’ve been pretty obsessed with my weight lately,though, whipping up a real midlife eating disorder. But of course, the issue isn’t the extra pounds. It’s my old friend self-esteem. And here in midlife, I know if I wake up twenty pounds lighter tomorrow I won’t actually feel any happier until I get myself back to a place of confidence, gratitude and inner peace. If I felt better about myself, I wouldn’t be all that concerned about a few pounds, and now that I think about it – would probably lose them, too. So – wait a minute – maybe I can wish those pounds away…
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.
Here’s a funny story. My co-worker and I were walking to the grocery store the other evening. It was delightful! The weather was a little rainy, but not too cold or windy. We saw a seal frolicking in the river as we crossed the bridge. There was a beautiful sunny spot way out near the horizon on the majestic Pacific. The conversation was fun and intelligent. Just lovely. Anyhow – I was carrying the bluest, most Wal-Marty bag in the world as I’d recently been extorted into buying it and insist upon using it whenever I can. You can probably see it from space. Anyhow – after shopping we decided, rather impulsively, to stop at McDonald’s for fries. Keep in mind that we not only don’t spend a whole lot of time in either Wal-Mart or McDonald’s, we work for a company that promotes a significantly different lifestyle, to say the least. So, as we exited McDonald’s – salty grease on our lips, highly visible bags in hand – my friend commented on how awkward it would be if the owners of the company for which we work were to drive by just then. And then they did.
Typical, huh. And funny. I’d like to say, “Gee I just can’t get away with anything!” but that’s not what’s funny about this situation. What’s funny is that a grown woman A) thinks she has to sneak in and out of McDonald’s B) still views people like her employers as the authority figures from whom to hide such activity and C) feels the need to flaunt a Wal-Mart bag around town because she felt forced into paying twenty seven cents for it. Every once in while, I feel like I’m providing my children with a decent example of what it means to grow up – what maturity and adulthood are supposed to look like. But most of the time, I don’t. Oh well. At least we’re having some fun along the way. Maybe this weekend we’ll fill the Wal-Mart bag with homemade popcorn and generic sodas and try and sneak it into the movies.