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40 observations on the eve before my 40th birthday

Indulge me! In no particular order:

1. I love making pinatas. I've made a pinata for Jack's birthday for the last five years. The Death Star, a jellyfish from Spongebob, Patrick Star from Spongebob, Plankton from Spongebob, and just this year King Pig from Angry Birds. I've been commissioned by a friend to produce another Angry Birds Pig pinata for her son's birthday. I'm gonna do it.

2. Right now three of my ten fingers hurt when I type. I don't bite my nails (unless one is already broken) but I do pick and pull at my cuticles. I've developed acute paronychia, a bacterial infection, at those three finger tips. The one that hurts the most is my right thumb. Space bar hell. I've done this to myself since childhood. When I'm pulling and nipping at a hangnail, I know it's going to hurt but I go ahead and do it anyway.

3. I consider myself substantial: in body and in mind. I am robust. I have zeal. I just don't have any confidence.

4. My brain stops working after 8:00 pm. If there's productive work to be done, I better be sure to get it done in the morning. I didn't do that today. Now I'm struggling.

5. I want to sing and accompany myself on an instrument: piano, guitar, or autoharp. I never learned how to play music that way. I learned to read staff and interpret dynamics woodenly. Sometimes on the way to school I sing whatever I want with the windows down. Today I sang White Winter Hymnal by Fleet Foxes. (I was following the pack / all swallowed in their coats / with scarves of red tied round their throats...)

6. Religious iconography calls me. I have a collection of Jesus and Mary, with a special bent toward the Sacred Heart and the Virgin of Guadalupe. I'm also drawn to crosses and religious candles. If I get creative this afternoon I'll post pictures of my collections.

7. Clutter intrigues me but I want to live austerely. My favorite thrift stores are the ones with jumbled back rooms or yards. You never know what treasures you might find there! But I don't want to drag too many treasures home: my dream is to one day have enough space or paucity of belongings to keep one room entirely empty.

8. It's ridiculous how much I love commuting by bicycle. Now that I live in a more bike-friendly part of town and Jack is sometimes with DH, I ride the 7.4 miles to work. I'm gradually outfitting my bike to make this commute friendlier: I've now got lights if it's dark but I'm hoping to outfit myself with panniers so I don't have to carry a backpack, which severely inhibits the wind's ability to dry the sweat generated on an afternoon ride home in August, when the mercury levels out at 108 degrees.

9. I haven't yet abandoned my childhood desire to become a writer but I admit the desire fades over time. Sadly writing has become one of those things I should do. I feel better balanced when I write but taking the time to do so is not priority for me.

10. A triad of ginger kitties sprawls on my living room floor. Kismet, Thor, and Chestnut lie on their sides with their front paws toward the middle of a triangle formed by the points of their back paws. It didn't last long, because the boys are still playful, but it was worth noting while it lasted.

11. Today while sitting in the drive thru at McDonald's procuring a snack for Jack (a reward because he ate a stalk of celery, a carrot, and a radish. I know. So inappropriate) a woman walked by the car on the sidewalk beside us. She peered in through Jack's window. I looked levelly at her, a bit curious, as I jawed my own stalk of celery. She looked somewhat careworn and bedraggled. I did not expect her to say to me, "Yep. Just like a cow chewing her cud." After uttering this observation she took a massive pull on her fountain soda and walked along. In my past I would have been devastated by such a comment, but today I realized it had less to do with me and everything to do with her and her place in this world.

12. When I talk too much the sound of my own voice makes me feel imperious. So I shut up. I've learned to just not talk as much as I once did, unless I'm with my family and close friends. They know me as I'd wish them to.

13. I don't wear makeup and haven't for a long time. I just don't see the point in covering up or enhancing what I've got. It is what it is. Last time I was at Noggins for a haircut, I told Shelley what I envisioned for my hair: "Something totally easy, wash and go. You know me. I don't want to mess with my hair. I don't even wear makeup." Shelley's in her mid twenties and cute as anything. In response she said, "Honey, did you wear makeup when you were younger?" That cracked me up. "Sometimes," I said. "But it doesn't really matter."

14. I bought an oak computer desk at Miracle Center for $10 and carried it from the car to my apartment all by myself. I am freakishly strong.

15. If I could have a superpower it would be teleportation. Then it wouldn't matter where you lived, I could come over for dinner or pop in for drinks and a round of Catchphrase or attend the Fleet Foxes/Bon Iver concert in Phoenix on Thursday without having to factor in the 4 hour round trip. I could go to estate auctions in the Midwest, run on the beach every morning, travel anywhere. It would really rock if I could share my superpower just by holding your hand.

16. If I could have any job in the world, I would hire on as a reader with Recorded Books.

17. I can't sleep without taking a shower before bed.

18. Self-reflection is not my forte. I'm better at self-criticism. Let's try a question prompting self-reflection, chosen at random: What are my top 3 goals for the next 3 years? Well, that's not too hard. 1) Survive bankruptcy. 2) Survive divorce. 3) Establish a sustainable budget on my current income. OK. Let's try another, harder one: If you had to describe yourself as a child in one word, what would it be? Seriously, how do you answer a question like that? I guess I'd say compliant.

19. Jack doesn't eat fruits and vegetables and I feel it's totally my fault. I've never forced good food choices on him, and in an effort to make sure he eats I go ahead and let him eat all the garbage he wants. It's why he's an enormous child. I didn't buy organic and he drank BGH milk.

20. I can't just sit and watch a movie. I always have to be doing something else, like knitting, crocheting, or some other crafting. I love movies but feel guilty about it. When I think of how much we pay actors per film and how much we pay teachers per child, I'm horrified that I watch movies at all.

21. I drink water from the tap, sometimes hot. It tastes fine to me.

22. Forty observations is a lot to come up with.

23. When I browse a magazine or catalog I just turn the pages and barely see anything on the pages. I like to think my brain will zoom in on something of interest to it, but really I realize I'm just zoning out. It's like channel surfing magazine pages. It's a good thing I don't subscribe to any magazines and I don't get any catalogs. What magazines I do surf come from the free magazine exchange at church.

24. I don't read comic books. My brain can't integrate the action in the illustrations with the printed words. I believe its a higher brain function I haven't yet honed. Same goes for watching subtitled foreign films: I can't attend to both stimuli at the same time.

25. Can't trust myself around a bag of Cheetos, crunchy or puff. Typically I steer clear of fake food, but Cheetos and nondairy powdered creamer are two exceptions.

26. I hope to make an effort to invite more people into my home. Right now I'm severely limited spatially but hope to move to a 2 bedroom apartment in January. I'd like to host a monthly Stitch-n-Bitch and I'd like to have people over to play games or watch movies. It would be particularly nice to have a certain someone over to watch a movie in quiet companionship.

27. I used to be uncomfortable in my birthday suit, even when I was alone. Now on occasions when I'm by myself for a whole night in a tiny apartment (with window coverings) I find I take my time getting dressed after my evening shower.

28. My sister and I are really twins who were born 4 years apart. We don't vocalize in Twinspeak but we definitely know each other's thoughts. I love that.

29. I dream of living in a compound shared with my parents and my sister's family. We'd share responsibility for the children and, sadly, drive my dad crazy. We crave closeness with him but it's not in his nature.

30. The little girls at school wear tutus and sparkly cat t-shirts with knee socks and cowboy boots. I want to dress like that. But I'm 40 now.

31. The poetry of Stephen Crane intrigues me, especially
In the desert
I saw a creature, naked, bestial,
Who, squatting upon the ground,
Held his heart in his hands,
And ate of it.
I said: "Is it good, friend?"
"It is bitter-bitter," he answered;
"But I like it
Because it is bitter,
And because it is my heart."

32. I've vowed to live more in my right mind. The right hemisphere of your brain is responsible for your in-the-moment consciousness, while your left hemisphere keeps up a constant chatter of chronology that anchors you in your timeline, thinking of past and future. I suspect my left brain doesn't work all that well because I don't have a very good memory for things that have happened, and I often struggle to articulate my dreams. So I like to think that I live mostly in my right mind anyway.

33. Using up a jar, bottle, or package of something gives me a little thrill. I like to be finished with something. This does not apply to projects. I find it much easier to start a project than to finish one.

34. In the past I've thought I prefer my solitude to the company of others, but more recently I discover that's not true. Yesterday I was running a little late to an evening appointment but on my way to the car I passed my neighbor on the end. I stopped to chat with him and his wife and I'm glad I did. They're from one of the Carolinas and I could listen to them talk forever. He's in chemo. They complimented me on Jack's comportment and told me they're flying home to see their grandbaby early next year. I admire Paul's attitude in the face of cancer. He's gracious and grateful and positive. Talking with them boosted my perspective immeasurably.

35. It's past my birthday so I didn't get this done in time but I don't think it matters because I intend to finish it anyway. I spent Saturday celebrating my birthday with women (and a man or two) who really fuel me with good energy. I had 27 people join me at Son's for my birthday lunch. It's like a switch has flipped and three days over 40 I feel more confident and comfortable in my skin. Let's see how long that lasts.

36. I'm learning to view men as humans, just like women except for a teenyweenie difference. See, for the previous 40 years I assumed all men were more like my dad. I'm beginning to realize that my dad is a human classification all his own. Really, each of us is a classification all our own but by and large men are more like women than I've acknowledged. For many years I've felt uncomfortable around men, unable to converse freely, assuming men need women only for cooking, cleaning, and fucking. I'm learning that men need women because women are valuable humans, too.

37. I thought I'd be ready to run that half marathon on November 6 but now that it's less than a month away I'm facing the reality that I will not be ready to run it. I'll be ready to walk/run it.

38. I'm more than ready for the bankruptcy and divorce to be over. We have an appointment with the bankruptcy attorney next week; we'll be filing by the end of October. I should be free and clear by this time next year. I haven't stopped living my life but the B&D follow me around like my own personal storm cloud.

39. I don't get out enough. I went to a 40th birthday party with costumes and dancing and it was a lot of fun. I want to do that again.

40. Most of the time I love to be on my own, but last night when J stayed with D but I was expecting him to stay with me, I got lonely and I couldn't sleep.


auntie m said…
Most of my fingers used to hurt but I gave up the biting for good about ten years ago. My dream was to be a singer but I can't sing and I'm not sure that it can be learned. I can't play anything without music in front of me. I think you might have to be born to it. And I completely agree with #7but can't seen to relinquish my clutter. Looking forward to the next 10 observations.
auntie m said…
I think I get it. I like it. Because it is bitter and because it is my heart.
Miss Linder said…
I keep looking for #37 to #40. I like your honesty and and observations.
Miss Linder said…
...and and and I wonder if I will ever learn to proof read before I publish my comments.

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