I know I’m getting old

2013.11 spinster-156097_1280It happens to the best of us. One day you become a “ma’am.” You go from being the youngest in the group, to “normal,” to being the oldest. And, suddenly, you are the grown up in the room.

Yes, it’s even happened to me… though “grown up” might be a stretch. Here’s a list of ways you may know that you, too, are getting old:

The men in the “most eligible bachelors” list all look like children — and much too young to date. (Notice that I didn’t write “women.” Somehow, this doesn’t seem to happen to men — to them the 18-25 year olds always look old enough to date.)

You no longer qualify for any of the “under” awards (ie., 40 under 40, etc.). I got one like that just a month or so before I turned 40. And that was the last one of that, ever.

You only get invited to the “Young Professionals” groups as a speaker or mentor. And when you do get invited you look at the people in attendance wondering if you were ever that young.

The weather decides how you feel. I have an ankle that hurts when it’s cold, allergies that act up when it’s humid, and a head that hurts if the weather changes too fast.

The doctor has used the “a” word… “arthritis.” I have arthritis in my shoulders, and my back. So far, I’ve been lucky that I’m not in chronic pain, but it’s in my future.

You start having conversations about bodily functions. Yeah. This one is a little bit disconcerting. I never thought I would be one of those people who discussed… well, let’s leave some mystery here. Suffice it to say that I’ve entertained many a friend and family member with more information than they ever wanted to know about what keeps my body relatively healthy.

Your friends have started discussing plastic surgery as something they are actually going to do. I remember having conversations about cosmetic surgery like it was this silly thing other people did. Now I’m having to keep track of which friend got what done. And I’m wondering, in the privacy of this blog (with the dozen or so readers), whether I would want to have something done as well.

You never ask “am I too young for this?” Unless, of course, it’s about retirement or yearly checkups. And every once in a while you ask, “Am I too old for this?” (The answer to that should always be “no.”)

What would you add to the list?

Countdown to 40

I turn 40 years old in approximately 50 days.

I am depressed. (that’s a non-clinical comment; my personal opinion)

I do not believe one is caused by the other; that is, my depression only has a little to do with my upcoming birthday. It’s a little, but still an influence.

Do men get freaked out by birthdays? Many of my girlfriends do, but I never used to. My 30th came and went with very little fuss. My 35th gave me about three minutes of hearing my biological clock ticking (thanks to my sister being pregnant that year and saying, over and over, that you couldn’t really have a healthy baby after your 35th birthday). But it seems that this year, the closer my 40th birthday gets to becoming reality, the worse I feel about it.

All I think about is where I thought I’d be by now, and all the ways that my life is different from what I’d expected. I never had very grandiose plans; my list of things to accomplish was not impressive. I guess that makes my inability to make them a reality even worse.

I’m feeling down, sad, irritated, out of patience with myself.

And I’m focusing on the ways that I’ve changed in the past 10 years, 20 years, 25 years. I’m fearful, comfortable, isolated. I built a semi-adequate hole (personally and professionally) and stayed in it.

I’m not achieving anything exceptional in my various roles.

What I want to do, what I need to do is to force myself out of my comfort zone. I need to create a goal and actually reach it.

So here’s my goal for the next 50 days or so: post in this blog every single day. I will write about the preparations for my birthday, the decisions I make, and the things that influence them.

And if I actually make that goal, then I will create another one.

Wish me luck!


{{“You’re so ridiculous, but in a nice way,” Arianna says to me after I’d sang “Happy birthday to me!” for the dozenth time of the day. She says it with a smile, I suppose that’s so I don’t take it to heart.

Even her comment doesn’t dim my enthusiasm for my day. I’ve been humming, skipping, literally hopping throughout the day. I’ve been in a goofy mood today, the likes of which I haven’t had in a long time.

Today I have allowed myself to be myself and have let go of all the baggage I usually have with me. I’m happy. It’s nice.}}

This is it! Today is my birthday. And it’s not just any birthday, it’s my 30th birthday. Am I a grownup now? Am I just getting old? Who knows the answers to these questions? Not me.

I’ve been looking forward to my birthday for months, like a child waiting for Christmas. Counting off the days, anticipating the presents and the fuss.

I don’t usually do this, I don’t usually make a big deal over myself, especially my birthday. This year is different. This year I need the fuss.

Cake at home. Cupcakes at work. Lunch with my family. Dinner with friends. Lunch with coworkers. Birthday cards. Big gifts. Small presents. Well wishes by phone, email and in person. I even got a birthday note from the big man himself.


OK. OK. I’m milking this for all it’s worth.

{{“I want Thai food,” I had told my family when asked where I wanted to go for my birthday. Mother wanted to barbecue, which I didn’t want to test, since we’ve never ended a barbecue in a good mood. Arianna wanted to do something very fancy, which I wanted to veto since I knew that they had spent quite a deal of money on my presents and the cake already. Thai food sounded like an affordable, safe choice, since we all like the restaurant I selected but hadn’t been there in a long while.

“Let’s go to Kim Son,” I opted when we found out that Nit Noi was closed. Choosing Vietnamese food ended up being a really good idea, especially since we’re all more familiar with it than Thai. Other than the kids deciding to test their lung capacity, the meal went off really well.}}

I checked my father out of the nursing home in the morning, about 10 a.m. He wasn’t really feeling well, but I couldn’t see a way to not take him home for a visit on my birthday. Of course, I spent loads of money on brunch, since he wanted barbacoa and tamales. Do you know how much it costs to feed barbacoa and tamales to a family like mine? Well, more than the average lunch. Anyway, it made him happy, which was a good thing. He was tired long before the restaurant outing, but we cut the cake while we was there.

{{“Sing Happy Birthday to your tía,” Linda coaxes my nephew with a smile. Not that he needs much coaxing, since birthdays are among his favorite things. Where else do you get cake, presents and plenty of noise? He claps and sings and squeals with delight. If it were up to him, we’d have birthdays all of the time.}}

As for presents, I got some really good ones this year. My family gave me one big present, a pearl necklace and a matching ring in white gold. I’ve always wanted a pearl necklace but never got around to buying myself one. Mother says that she and Arianna had several arguments over the necklace. Arianna, of course, thinks that she actually knows me and wanted to buy me a single solid strand of white pearls. Uh uh. My mother argued for gray-toned pearls, spaced about an inch from each other, set on a short strand, which is exactly what I would have chosen for myself. Arianna was slightly peeved that, not only did they not buy the ones she wanted, but I liked these better. Anyway, I love them, which is the important thing.

Linda gave me money. Actually, she gave me enough money that I could afford to go out and buy myself a PDA – which I’ve wanted forever. I can’t wait to go out and spend this. I think I actually know which one I want, since I’ve been window-shopping for so long. In addition, she bought the birthday cake and paid for the restaurant. Considering that she’s arguing with her husband at the moment, that’s really nice of her.

Of course, I got lots of smaller presents from other people. Some nice frames from my assistant. Taken out to lunch various times. Flowers. A few decorations for my house and my office. Nice touches, good thoughts.

Birthdays are fun.

feeling loved

I had a very good birthday. I got some nice presents. My boss got me a cake. My family got me a cake. My Mom actually cooked. I got chocolates (heaven for a chocoholic). I got money to go shopping – which I’ve already spent. I got some costume jewelry. I got a couple of birthday cards. I got lots and lots of Happy Birthdays from the cyberspace community as well as some from people I know in real life. Everyone was nice to me.

All that was good. All that was . . . well, nice.

Now, ask me what blew me away. Ask me what impressed me. Asked me what really made me feel loved.

Go ahead. Ask.

Breakfast in bed.

Pancakes. Sausage, extra crispy. Toast. Butter. Syrup, heated in the microwave. Orange juice.

This delicious aroma was the first thing I noticed as my consciousness tried to surface through layers of sleep. I am not a morning person. I am a grumpy, drowsy, cranky night owl who looks at sunshine accusingly and tries to hide under the covers. It usually takes me hours to wake up completely.

As a rule, noise wakes me. And my house, full of people from sunrise to well past sunset, is anything but quiet. So I try to ignore the noise, try to scavenge a few more minutes of sleep. And I stay in bed until I absolutely can’t help it.

On this particular Saturday, yesterday, a day in my sacrosanct weekend, what woke me up was breakfast in bed. And what a pleasant wake-up that was.

I must point out that this wasn’t a boyfriend or husband or significant other bringing me a surprise token of his affection. This wasn’t a lover bringing me nourishment after a night together. This wasn’t someone trying to quedar bien. This wasn’t someone who had to do this.

What wonderful person brought me homemade pancakes? Okay, they were instant, but still homemade. Baby brother.

I call him baby brother when I talk about him but he is a baby brother who is 13 years old, two inches taller and 20 pounds heavier than I am. When my friends or coworkers meet him they cannot reconcile this minimonster with the baby brother I talk about all the time.

If you read my little sister tale, you know that I am very close to baby brother. He is the only son, the youngest in a family of temperamental, strong women. He has a weird sense of humor, is easily amused and has a short attention span. He has an incredible imagination and a musical talent that comes from God-knows-where. He was born when I was 13 and I didn’t bond with him until he was four or five and started to follow me around whether I liked it or not.

Baby brother is the first to notice when I’m upset. He knows what kind of books I like and what kind of television I watch. I am the tutor when he needs help with his homework. I am the stepmom when we sneak him into rated R movies. I am the one who gives him money when needs something.

Two years ago baby brother bought me a camera for my birthday. Granted, it was a cheap little K-Mart camera. But he knew that my camera had broken and that I needed one, so he saved his allowance and bought me one. Last year he got me a Minnie Mouse pen. This year he has bugged me for a little bit last month, wanting to know what I wanted for my birthday. Keeping in mind that he doesn’t really have any money and that he would go out of his way to get whatever I asked for, I asked him to take me to a movie or to lunch.

My birthday came and went; it was on a Wednesday. I didn’t give his intended birthday present a second thought and he didn’t say anything. Apparently, he was out of money and trying to figure out a suitable substitution. In a moment of clarity he came up with breakfast in bed. It was thoughtful. It was sweet. It was heartfelt. It was the best birthday gift I got because it made special. Loved. And if you’ve ever met a 13-year-old boy, then you’ll understand how truly remarkable this kind of display of affection is. (Did that make sense?)

Anyway, since the breakfast I have decided to upgrade baby brother to younger brother. And now that I think about it, it kind of has a nice sound to it. Doesn’t it?

happy birthday to me

As you can see, this isn’t the continuation of my little sister tale. Although I had promised myself that I wouldn’t deviate from it until it was done, I have to make an exception today. Today, is after all, my one special day a year.

This is my shameless little birthday plug. August 19 is, of course, my birthday. That means that I was born during the summer, six months after my parents eloped. Of course, that’s not something my parents talk about. And I guess it’s not the point anyway. The point is that it’s my birthday.

Happy birthday to me! Happy birthday to me! Haaaappy biiirthdaaay deeeaaar meeeeeeee! Happy birthday to me!

For those of you interested in such useless information, I am now 27. I know, I know, I’m still technically part of the genXers but too old to get away with the stereotype. I will state right here and right now that I never fit the stereotype — angst and indecision were never my style. And I hate the label “generation X,” that makes me sound so meaningless, so disposable. I particularly hate the fact that I never had the opportunity or the luxury of being able to laze around and let my hair get all dirty and do nothing for days and days. How dare life be so unfair, so freakin’ unfair that I didn’t get the opportunity to be a bum.

In case you’ve missed it, that’s sarcasm dripping from those words.

So here I am, in my late twenties, and I haven’t accomplished one single thing I had intended as a teenager. As much as I hate to admit it now, I expected to be married by now. Married with children. (And I cringe at the thought of it now.) I definitely thought I’d have my master’s degree by now. And let’s not forget the fabulous job I envisioned.

Oh those teenage rose-colored fantasies!

Things happened. Life happened. And my oh-so-perfect plan for the rest of my life took several detours. Several very long, very important detours. Detours that have landed me where I am now. And where I am is somewhere that is very far from where I expected to be.

And there’s a part of me that’s disappointed.

But then again, I’m a much better person than I ever expected to be. It’s odd, really, but I never gave any thought to the sort of person I would be. I thought long and hard on the things I would have. What kind of car, what kind of job, what kind of husband (go ahead, laugh, you know you want to), what sort of decorations would adorn my perfect little life. But I never thought about what kind of person I would turn out to be. I never thought about whether or not I would be strong or independent or submissive or open-minded or stupid or tame. It never occurred to me that I would need to develop character and self-esteem and strength and a backbone. I never thought that I would one day think that a social conscience was more important than a successful career. I never thought that one day I would learn to like myself, truly like myself enough that being alone does not mean being lonely.

I think I turned out okay. All things considered, I think that my life has turned out okay. I am very happy with a great many things. My life isn’t perfect, but perfection would be boring. And if I lived a perfect life I would be a less interesting person surrounded by dull people leading equally dull lives.

So celebrate with me on my birthday. FYI, my favorite drinks are raspberry margaritas and banana daiquiris, but any flavor margarita will do. Take a drink and toast to my less-than-perfect life that has helped me create these sites, among other things. Wish me a happy birthday, a good 27th year on Earth, and lots and lots of luck.