Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Birthday Came and Went, But I'm Still Blogging

The birthday came and went, but I still have a few things I want to say, so I'm going to keep up My Fabulous 40th Birthday until the end of the year.

40 turned out to be my best birthday yet. The work surprise party, cards and calls, flowers, presents, and a wonderful birthday dinner at our local favorite, Peri Ela, with family and a few friends made me feel great. All the attention made me feel like a celebrity for a day, and got me wondering how celebrities can stand all that attention day in and day out. Seriously, one day is fantastic for your ego; any more than that and I think it would explode.

I was really touched by the generosity and thoughtfulness bestowed upon me and made me re-commit to doing a better job of paying that forward. I also learned that you should really tape your card on a present, or write your name right on the wrapping paper, because like they say on the airplane, "items may shift" during the trip from the restaurant to home.

My parents gave me some great gifts: first of all, they sang me a funny, sweet, and very well-harmonized duet at dinner; a beautiful gold bracelet with an inscription; and a Shutterfly photo album of "my first 40 years" including great old photos that my mother painstakingly (believe me)scanned onto the computer. My husband gave me a wonderful toast and the kids made cards and gave me a pack of mini playing cards and a book of stickers that all personalized with "Kristen."

And the first week of being 40 has been off to a great start. Today, was another 40th -- the 40th Anniversary of the New York City Marathon. Our friend, Michael O'Brien, was running, so we headed over to 5th Avenue to see if we could cheer him on. Unlike other major sporting events, it's remarkable just how close to the action you can get. We stood on the sidelines with the kids, cheering on everyone who went by, yelling out names if people had written them on their shirts. The sheer volume of runners was incredible (over 43,000 people), but their individuality shined through.

New York Road Runners has an advertising campaign running right now - the gist of it is that "everyone has a story," and as I stood cheering, clapping, and keeping an eye out for Mike, I wondered, What's bald, courageous-looking Julie's story? What's the father-son MMRF team's story? What's the story behind the good-looking young man with two prosthetic legs, now walking slowly at mile 23, with two friends or maybe brothers at either side of him? What's the story with the guy dressed up in the KISS outfit? Or the matador outfit?

None of us saw Mike, but thankfully he saw us! He ran over and we all cheered and hollered and then he was off! Mike's story? His wife had their third little girl just over a week ago...and he's turning 40 this month.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Big 4-Oh! is Finally Here!

And so the big day arrives...not with a bang, but with a whimper. I woke up at 4 a.m. feeling not fabulous as much as fatigued, flu-ish, and fatter.

Despite all my best efforts to see the fab side of forty, I have to admit the depression rolled in earlier this week, compounded by the fact that I haven't been able to breathe through my nose since Sunday and the post nasal drip is making me feel perpetually nauseous. On Tuesday, I made the depression worse when retail therapy backfired in the form of the dreaded dressing room three way mirror and the fact that in that entire giant department store, all I could walk away with was one dress that kind-of fit. And they don't do alterations.

But you know me, I believe that you are in charge of your own happiness, so let's look at the bright side -- all the really great things that have already happened for my 40th birthday (and it's only 5 a.m.!)

#1. My Boss and Co-Workers Threw a Surprise Party for Me Last Week. Last Wednesday, my boss asked me to have drinks with her and a rather important person. Imagine my surprise when we walked to the back of the lounge and 10 co-workers yelled...what else? "Surprise!" Not only were there drinks, a table was set for dinner, and there were fun T-shirts for everyone, riffing on this blog. (The rather important person, by the way, was not there.) The piece de resistance was THE JAR. A beautiful etched jar from Anthropologie was filled with envelopes in fall shades of burgundy, crimson, orange, silver, and gold. Inside each envelope was a memory of me shared by a colleague - a funny moment at a sales meeting, a serious one at a memorial service, dancing in the back of a conference trying to make the speaker laugh, an outrageous flight across country. They went around the table, reading each other's entries -- I couldn't have been more touched.

Then, after most of the group departed, a small late night crew remained and I drank ridiculous amounts of white wine, hiccupped my way home, and woke up the next morning feeling greatly appreciated yet physically ill.

#2. Bobbi Brown.
After the discouraging three-way mirror experience on Tuesday, I made my way back to the main floor and went directly to the Bobbi Brown counter and said to the woman there, "Would you please do my makeup and I promise I'll buy something?" So, she did a fantastic job, glamming me up and by the end, I felt better. In fact, I felt better than better, I felt pretty. And I bought $100 worth of makeup.

#3. Nice Drycleaner Lady.
I couldn't bring the "it kind-of fits" dress to the cleaners until last night (and of course, I want to wear it on Friday night), but the nice lady at the drycleaners, said "No problem. You're my longtime customer and I do it for you." She declared the dress elegant and said I looked pretty, which is very kind to say to someone with a runny nose.

#4. Afrin.
What would I do without it? It has propped me up all week, through work meetings, a benefit, Mom's Night Out, homework, school interviews, Curriculum Night, and it will get me through my 40th Birthday today.

#5. Flowers From My Godmother.
Last night, beautiful flowers arrived from Ilene, Pattie, and Dusty the dog. Besides my parents, and depending on the day, the kids, nobody loves me as much as my godmother...and she always lets me know.

#6. Facebook Message from 6th Grade Crush.
No kidding. The hottie of the 1981 Sixth Grade sent me a message on Facebook wishing me a Happy Birthday. And you want to know how much cooler I am now than I was then? I haven't even written him back yet.

So...that's where we are, and still the rest of the day ahead of me! Happy Fabulous 40th Birthday!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Back-to-Back 40ths Make Me Feel 80

We went to two 40th Birthday parties over the weekend and the cumulative effect of back-to-back celebrations left me feeling about 80.

Friday evening's soiree was the epitome of downtown cool, with about 30 people at Shorty's 32 in the heart of SoHo. The birthday girl, Stafford, looked fabulous in a black leather trimmed sheath and killer heels, and every single one of her girlfriends made 40 look fantastic. It was fun talking to friends of hers that I'd heard about for years, but never met.

After several terrific toasts at the end of the night, it was time for clubbing! Yes, me, clubbing. We all loaded into a waiting coach where we chatted and sipped plastic flutes of champagne until we arrived at the meatpacking district, where we descended into the dark, basement-level club en masse. I stumbled in - was it the high heels? the darkness? the Champagne? -- and took it all in. I can't say it was my scene, but the birthday girl was there to dance and dance she did!

We got home at 2 a.m.! I can't tell you the last time that happened. Needless to say, Saturday morning was not my finest hour, but after a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich and the kids wanting to know why I got to drink Coca Cola in the morning, I enjoyed the beautiful sunny day...and at 6 o'clock, we geared up for round 2.

Out we went to New Jersey, to the next birthday girl's (Suzanne's) bash. Aside from a girl with the same birthday (October 8), the other thing this party had in common with the one the night before was a doting husband who had attended to every detail. There was a DJ who had been carefully instructed to play all the birthday girl's favorite tunes, a bartender, a tent, terrific caterers with really tasty food, and TONS of friends and family.

Suzanne's kids were there for the beginning of the party, "We're only staying for a little while," her son told me. I also learned that his favorite movie is Alvin and the Chipmunks the Squeaquel, his favorite baseball team is the Yankees, and he told me the names of all of his best friends. I was so glad to see him. I also caught up with Suzanne's mom, who reminisced about dropping her daughter off at college and feeling that I was a nice girl to leave her with...I was sort of glowing in that until she added, "Can you believe that was 20 years ago?" Ugh. Way to rub it in, Mrs. D.

Suzanne - who always looks fabulous - didn't disappoint in a pretty dress with ruffled shoulders. She is one of my funniest friends and as usual, she had me in stitches. She was making fun of me (and my Boggle habit)at the time - all the better.

I was honored to be included in both celebrations. Honored, but EXHAUSTED. I capped off the weekend by hitting the hay at 8 p.m. and sleeping for 10 hours straight. By morning, I no longer looked 80, just a good almost-40.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Married for 1/4 of My Life

This month I celebrated my 10th Wedding Anniversary - which means I've been married for a quarter of my lifetime. I can't believe our wedding day - blessedly breezy and sunny after a near disastrous Nor'Easter threatened to wash out our outdoor reception - was ten years ago. And what has happened since we said our "I do's" at St. Mary's by the Sea?

- Two beautiful daughters
- Great careers
- A warm, happy home
- Countless fun times with family and friends

It's intriguing to think what the next ten years will bring - teenagers, travels, and surely trials and tribulations, but it is certainly an adventure I'm looking forward to!

Happy Tenth Anniversary, Brooke!

Monday, August 16, 2010

40th Birthday at "The End"






Is your 40th Birthday the end? The beginning? Or maybe it's the end of the beginning and the beginning of the end? At any rate, it struck me as apropos that this weekend's 40th birthday bash was held at "The End" of Long Island: Montauk.

The party was in celebration of two friends turning 40 and with the small exception of a pre-party debate about what "casual summer cocktail attire" meant, it was a whole lot of fun. The guys could not have had a better night or a more spectacular spot. The weather was gorgeous -- blue skies giving way to a stripey sunset, a warm day turning into a cool, but not cold, night. And "The End" it was -- we were perched high above the ocean on a jagged cliff.

I need not have worried about the dress code - once we were there, it was all about connecting with old friends. Four bars were set up, the hors d'ouevres never stopped, and a fantastic Rolling Stones cover band played all night. With maybe 300 people in attendance, there were surprises around every corner - and a few people I saw from a distance and never had the chance to talk to.

We carpooled there with six other people; 20 people chartered a bus to drive them from their neighborhood; it was an adventure. The party was loaded with style - chandeliers twinkling from the trees, a roaring outdoor fireplace, but it also felt utterly casual and super-relaxed.

The party was a great reminder of beginnings that began a long time ago -- namely decades-long friendships -- but also of all the new beginnings -- kids, jobs, moves, friendships -- starting right now.

The End.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Little Things That Bug Me



After 40 years on the planet, I've come to realize what bugs me. And even more so, I've come to realize what bugs me consistently -- not the one-time annoyances, the full-fledged pet peeves. Here they are:

1. Words spelled wrong on purpose. This would include stores like "Kids Korner" or even better, "Kidz Korner." (I wrote this first, then took a stab in the dark that there might actually be an image for Kidz Korner and sure enough, this one is from www.kidzkorner.ca)

2. Phone numbers that include words in them. It may seem like an easy way to remember a phone number, but I recently found myself trying to dial 82-HORSE, and it wasn't easy. Worse still is when you're trying to call from a BlackBerry - it doesn't work that way. I've been stymied more than once when I'm prompted to "please enter the first three letters of the last name of the party you are calling." Hmmm...maybe there's potential for an app there.

3. Mommy. I don't want to be called Mommy by anyone other than my children, who are under 10, and even they rarely call me Mommy. Examples of this include, "Mommy & Me," "Mommy-time," "She's very happy doing the Mommy-thing."

4. Sales associates who stick to you like Glue. You are making me uncomfortable! I'm not going to steal anything and I'm far less likely to buy anything if you're on top of me. And I do not believe you when you say that the pants that are two sizes too tight look cute on me.

5. Cute. Not big on this word; must be used with great restraint.

6. Whining.
But you all already know that. And for the record, this does not count as whining.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Re-Invention




It's about this time in life when some people's (I'm not naming any names) thoughts start drifting towards re-inventions, what-if's. "What if we left the city and moved to the country?" "What if I quit the law firm and became a teacher?" "How about if I go to cooking school and open a restaurant?"

We're fueled by success stories -- Ina Garten quitting her energy policy job at the White House to open a specialty food store in the Hamptons, followed by books and TV fame. Martha Stewart leaving a trading firm to become the goddess of domesticity. Even in the movie I went to see with the girls last night, Ramona & Beezus, when Mr. Quimby (John Corbett) loses his job, he realizes he'd sold his soul to his corporate job years ago, and jumps at the chance to reinvent himself as an elementary school art teacher.

And sometimes re-invention is about your body and soul. Changing the eating habits, getting off the couch and onto the treadmill, gaining control over a chaotic household, saying no to obligations that distract you from what matters, finding time for yourself by getting up earlier, changing your hairstyle, getting your teeth whitened, recovering the sofa, quitting the BlackBerry after-hours, repairing a relationship.

(That's what happened at the end of City Slickers, by the way -- Billy Crystal says he's not quitting his job, he's just going to do it better, he's going to do everything better.)


The idea of re-invention seems to be emerging as a new rite of passage -- it's not as drastic as a mid-life crisis, which could involve expensive convertibles and reckless behavior. Re-invention is the opposite -- seeing mid-life not as a crisis, but an opportunity.

From the Reinvention Institute to the More Reinvention Convention, an entire industry is forming around people's desire to live the second halves of their lives passionately, maybe even more passionately than ever before.

I'm all for Re-invention. What about you?



images from http://unemployedandfabulous.wordpress.com/2010/02/05/reinvent-yourself/

Monday, August 2, 2010

Must-See Turning 40 Movie: City Slickers



I re-watched City Slickers last night and must recommend it to everyone who's turning 40. Billy Crystal is the everyman - he has a nice life, but is in a bit of a rut: he's not satisfied at work and he's feeling the pressures of family life (funding tuitions and visiting the in-laws) more than the enjoyment. Bruno Kirby is the ladies' man who just married a much-younger lingerie model and Daniel Stern is going through a contentious divorce. As they approach 40, they're all looking for answers in their lives.

And so they go on a cattle drive and as the back of the DVD probably says, hilarity ensues. City Slickers may be the little seed that set all these Fabulous 40th Birthdays in motion -- the cultural image that suggested this is what you should do when you're approaching 40: round up your best friends and do something big!!

The movie is filled with great quotes and a few "before they were stars" moments, like a young Jake Gyllenhal playing Crystal's son.

But the moral of the whole movie is about figuring out what you want out of life. And as we approach 40, I think a lot of us think about it -- what is it? This was the exchange between Billy Crystal's character, Mitch, and Jack Palance's leathered cowboy character, Curly:

Curly: Do you know what the secret of life is?
[holds up one finger]
Curly: This.
Mitch: Your finger?
Curly: One thing. Just one thing. You stick to that and the rest don't mean shit.
Mitch: But, what is the "one thing?"
Curly: [smiles] That's what *you* have to find out.

City Slickers shows us that the answer is sometimes a lot less complicated than we think...but getting away from it all can help you figure it out.





image #1: www.theage.com.au/.../10/12/1160246252383.html

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Happy Fab 40th, Kit!



Happy Fab 40th to one of my newest good friends, Kit. Kit and I met on a work project two summers ago that had us commuting weekly between Los Angeles and New York. The 16 hour days were long and the Red Eyes on Jet Blue were less than glamorous, but we also had a lot of fun.

At first glance, you might think that Kit and I aren't very much alike. For starters, I'm like a foot taller than her (Kit, if you're reading this, I actually have a bag of nice clothes of mine that shrunk that I'm planning to send to you). She's a Southern girl; I'm a Northern girl. She's brunette; I'm blonde. She calls herself a Jackass in jest; I try to avoid using any variation of the word "ass." She talks a mile a minute, to everybody, while some people might describe me as a bit reserved, calm. But on the inside, my inner monologue sounds a lot like Kit does on the outside - and that's what I like about her so much: she says so many of the things I think, but might not say out loud.

A big success in her own right, she's also a huge champion of others. She relates to people immediately, nodding as she soaks in all of their biographical information, gets the big picture fast, and sees things in them that others might not see. For that reason, she gives great advice and encourages and helps friends with gusto.

The Avis rental car lady at the Long Beach airport loved her when she asked the perfunctory "was everything satisfactory," and Kit, who doesn't do perfunctory, peered into the little booth, read her name tag and sang, "Di-ane, we've been C-ruisin' in the Mini." "C-ruisin!" Only Kit could make the mini-van seem kind of cool and make the Avis lady laugh too.

Kit was the first person I told about my idea for "My Fabulous 40th Birthday" and of course, she thinks it could be HUGE! Big TV Show! And I love her for that. She's also probably the one friend who hasn't even read this blog -- "I can't get the damn address right." -- and I love her for that too.

Happy Fabulous 40th, Kit!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Turning 40 - Wordle Style

Lots of different thoughts about turning 40 swirling in my head...here are some:

(After half-an-hour of trying to make this bigger, I give up. You can see it big by clicking this link.)

Wordle: MyFabulous40thBirthday

Friday, June 25, 2010

_APPY _ORTIETH _IRTHDAY, LANCE!


I'm sorry it has been a while...time got away from me, but I couldn't let the week wrap up without acknowledging that my friend Lance turned 40 last weekend.

I first met Lance when we were both the new college grads working at a PR agency in Los Angeles. We weren't in the same department, so I didn't know him well until we were both summoned as a last resort to fix a client situation. Apparently someone had rubbed a client the wrong way (possibly literally...we never got all the details), and they needed new reps to patch things up. So, they sent the kids.

Part one of the assignment was a road trip - my very first business trip. As we stood on line at the airport, I told Lance I liked his luggage. "Thank you, I won it when I was Teen Week Champion on Wheel of Fortune." I spent the rest of the trip hearing the blow-by-blow of Lance's 30 minutes with Pat Sajak, and was thrilled when several years later, I actually got to see the video tape. It is still the best half-hour of television I've seen in my life.

First of all, in the video, seventeen-year-old Lance is a soprano. Next, like a true publicist in the making, he squeezes a personal plug into every on-screen moment. For every letter he chooses, he mentions a friend or relative, "I'll take a 'K' as in Kelly, Pat." But the big moment comes when he's up big in dollars, and the puzzle is so easy to solve: "_oney Island _ot _og." Any New Yorker knows exactly what this is, but a kid from a small town in Northern California? Not so much. So he guesses a "Z" or something. But in typical, uniquely Lance-like luck, the next person loses a turn, the next is equally clueless, he gets a second chance and he figures it out! In the end, he wins a car and nearly suffocates Pat Sajak in a bear hug.

Back to the business trip - the clients loved us and the next week they were back in LA and we took them to the Dodgers game. Again, we knew nothing about entertaining clients, but we had a great time. We used all the money the company gave us to buy not only us and them beer and hot dogs, but everyone in our entire section. It was like spending the day with Ferris Bueller, without the snark and sarcasm.

Cut to 17 or 18 years later, and Lance still has that same joie de vivre. He reports that his wife, "J as in Jennifer," (for whom I believe he bought a necklace during his Wheel appearance - it was back when you still went shopping in their showcase vs. getting cash), had a great celebration for him that truly surprised and touched him.

So, Lance, _APPY _ORTIETH _IRTHDAY!! And many more!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Happy Fabulous 40th Birthday to My Oldest Friend

Just like The Simpsons is the longest primetime entertainment show on TV, and Phantom of the Opera is the longest running show on Broadway, Marianne is the longest running show in my life -- we've been friends since kindergarten -- and today is her fabulous 40th birthday.

Marianne and I were the best of friends growing up. We spent hours together doing a lot of typical 1970s stuff, mostly playing Barbies and rollerskating up and down the street. We had two pairs of roller skates that we'd take turns wearing - one was a set of sneaker roller skates and the other was the metal kind that went over your shoes and you needed a key to adjust. Clearly the sneaker set was superior, but we'd always take turns wearing both.

We also did a lot of oddball stuff, which was probably why we were friends. What defines oddball? Clown School.

I loved being with Marianne's family as much as I liked being with Marianne, and they liked me too. So much so that one time when Marianne was sick, they invited me to take her place at a John Denver concert.

I spent many June Thirteenths at some pretty great parties. Marianne's birthday parties were always wonderfully old-fashioned, with creative party games, relay races, and cakes with special dolls baked into them.

I'm not sure what Marianne is up to on this June 13th, but I hope it is a fabulous 40th birthday!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Silly List (a registered trademark of My Fabulous 40th Birthday)

Other than the fact that these are observations I've made over the past four decades (or possibly just the last four years), this blog post has nothing to do with turning 40. Please allow me the detour to share...THE SILLY LIST.

The Silly List
began a number of years ago, when my parents attended the opera for the first time and deemed it...well, silly. They weren't saying it was bad, just a little silly (to them). Thus began an ongoing mental compilation of The Silly List. Over the years, I've added to it - here are five of my top ten items on The Silly List. Again, silly's not bad, it's just silly; I have no feelings of ill will towards these inductees. Five more to come in a future installment, if you like these:

THE SILLY LIST

1. Pre-school Graduations. Four year-olds in caps and gowns - how could this not make the list?

(image: Sterni.net)

2. Twitter. Yes, there are practical uses (finding out when the cupcake truck is outside our office building) and at times it has emerged as a real news medium (the Iranian protests), but 95% of it just seems silly. I know, I'll be eating my words in the future...


3. Fruit Cozies. I know people love to knit, but does an apple really need its own sweater?


4. Paying Famous People a Lot of Money to Do Voiceovers for Animated Films. The kids have no clue, and there are so few kids' movies, we're going to go no matter who does the voices. Ray Romano isn't getting me into the theater.

(image: allmoviephoto.com)

5. Lamb Chop Ruffles. They're cute (I always want to save them to be Barbie toques) but what do they really bring to the party? At least their cousins, corn-on-the-cob holders and wine glass tags, have a function. Ruffles are pure frill. (As it turns out, after writing this, I looked it up and that's what they're actually called "frills.")


(image: tasteofhome.com)

More to come...

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

You Know...the Whatdaya-Call it...Part 2

I heard from a lot of you that you related to my issues with word retrieval (if you recall, my memory lapses included the words "cutting board," "counter-intuitive," and "iPhone.") I recently read this article by Cathleen Schine from the April issue of More, and thought you might get a chuckle out of it too.

This excerpt is the best part and explains it all, especially the utter surprise I always feel when I can't readily produce the word I have in mind...

"“That book . . . the one about . . . you know . . . ” I say.

“By what’s his name?” Sarah says.

“No, the other one, the other one . . . ” Molly says.

“Oh, that book!” Sarah cries.

“That one, yes, that one!” I say.

“By her!” Molly says, and we all nod happily.

This conversation took place in a publisher’s office a year or so ago: a writer, an editor and an agent, all of us the same age, all of us waving our arms and nodding vigorous encouragement to the others, as if we were hunting dogs, huge-pawed puppies in the woods of middle-aged memory just learning to retrieve dead ducks, gingerly, in our big slobbery jaws. Scientists call this inability to recall a name “TOT,” or tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon. It has something to do with the anterior cingulate and prefrontal cortices. I’m sure there are scientific names for many of the varieties of memory challenges I live with, though few, I suspect, with such a jolly, colloquial ring as TOT."
(MORE, April 2010, Cathleen Schine)

Monday, May 17, 2010

ROLL WITH IT: SARBJIT'S 40th BIRTHDAY BOWLING BASH


As I've said before, My Fabulous 40th Birthday isn't a monologue, it's a collective celebration of turning 40. And at least in my world, people are turning 40 every day in every which way. Just this week, I received an invitation from a new acquaintance to "party like it's 1970," heard from an old high school friend celebrating his 40th on the beach in Bali, and received this email from my college buddy, Sarbjit.

I first met Sarbjit when we were college freshmen. He asked if I'd come to his dorm room to help braid his long hair so he could tuck it into a turban, or more likely, a baseball cap. His mom had always done it up until then and he didn't know how. I bet he asked all the girls to do that. Nice try, Sab!

Anyhow, braiding led to friendship - one that has lasted 22 years to-date. Sab, a blogger in his own right, Sports Doing Good, offered up this lovely contribution to our collective 40th Birthday Celebration. I give you:

The New Becomes Old Which Becomes New Which Becomes Old…
by Sab Singh

April 11. My 40th birthday. Not something I was especially excited about but neither was it something I dreaded. Birthday are old hat at this point. I don’t think about my age much. Just sort of have a feeling about it.

But over the past 2 to 3 years, my birthday has taken on a new meaning because it is now another time for me to “party” with my nieces. Well, how do you party with the pre-5 year old set? You do what they like to do (what they consider “new school”, even if they don’t know what that term means). And if you are lucky, it is what you liked to do when you were that young. (old school baby!). And for my 40th, we found common ground…we went bowling.

My old school birthday entailed hitting the bowling alley in my hometown of Rockville Centre, NY. The bowling alley has been around for more than 30 years, which I find really comforting living in a world in which so much is new, with so much turnover that is not always for the best.

The bowling party entailed my parents (the older set), me, my brother and his wife (the not-so old set), and the girls (the newbies). We all took a shot at the old game of bowling, which has a decidedly new feel to it, with electronic scoring, fancy graphics, and a more polished environment.

The older sets laughed about how long it has been since we were in a bowling alley, how much fun it was, and then rejoiced in the wide smiles we saw on the girls’ faces after each new ball was rolled.

We had a great day, this celebration of the 40th year since my birth. April 11, 1970 launched a period of newness. And while some of the “new” has become (relatively) old, I am thrilled that the two newest people in my life who I love very much see that “old” as being new. And that feeling will never get old.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

My Fabulous 40th Fiesta


In honor of Cinco de Mayo...okay, I know it's now almost Diez de Mayo, but I got busy...how about a Fabulous 40th Fiesta?

A Fabulous 40th Fiesta is a guaranteed good time that you can pull off on any budget, any time of year. My friend Aileen tells me she had a Fabulous 40th Fiesta in October - I'm still waiting for the pictures, so I'm conjuring my own vision of what I think it could look like.

I think for a lot of people, it starts with the Margaritas.


Margaritas are not my favorite, I prefer Mexican beer. I even like it in a can. A lot.





I love guacamole.


Empanadas are a filling option if you want to make this a cocktail party only.


And tequila shots are always an option. One that I opt out of ALWAYS. I assure you, if I opted in, it would not end well.



Why not get a Mariachi band?
Baby Looney Tunes & Dra. Aliza Partnership Launch


And decorate with Papel Picados...


And a great Pinata...


Now that's a Fabulous 40th Fiesta!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

In Search of the Perfect 10



No...not that Perfect 10.

After nearly 40 years of pounding the pavement, my feet are a little bigger than they used to be, which means they are no longer a perfect size 10. This has made my multi-year search for the perfect flat shoe a difficult challenge indeed. Really - for years I've been searching. I love all the cute ballet flats in the J.Crew catalog, but they're too small. Spent an hour trying on Nike/Cole Haan combos...to no avail. They're too narrow across the top and too big in the heel. And for those of you who think, just get a size 10 1/2, guess what? They rarely make them. It's really common for companies to offer half sizes to 10 and then it jumps to 11.

As a working girl, I needed a comfortable flat shoe that could take me the seven blocks to drop off my daughter at school, but still look appropriate with a dress. I was this close to giving up and single-handedly trying to bring back the horrendous-but-comfortable 1980s suit-with-sneakers look, until the day that this ugly stepsister finally turned into a Cinderella. I slipped into a size 10 Geox Respira Lola ballet flat and it fit!





I don't know if the guys can relate to this - because it looks like they're wearing fairly comfortable shoes every day all day, but these shoes - with their soft leather uppers and flexible rubber soles - have changed my life. I'm comfortable, I'm getting places faster, I don't have any blisters, I feel pulled-together, I'm not as tired, I'm in a better mood.

Finally, a perfect 10. Do you think I could braid that little bow into cornrows?


(Bo Derek - www.strangeoldpictures.com; beloved Geox - shopgeox.com)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Half Way There!


Today marks the half-way point in my year-long journey from 39 to 40. And how do I feel? Well, not young.

It's also my sixth consecutive day of exercise - a real first for me. I've been running, swimming, (brisk) walking, and yoga-ing. And so far, I don't feel better. I feel worse. My head feels like it weighs 40 pounds and I think I might have arthritis. And I might be fatter.

But if I stick with it, I'll be fit by 40. Right?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

You Know....Whatdaya Call it...

I've been thinking that if I had to take the SATs all over again, 22 years later, my MATH score would undoubtedly be lower than the original, but my VERBAL score would likely be much higher. But as of very recently, I'm worried that I'm starting to slip in this department too. Do you ever have word retrieval issues?

In the past week or so, I've struggled (and in the last two cases, failed) to come up with the following words: "counter-intuitive," "TMJ," (that jaw problem that I think I have, but that's a whole other post), and "cutting board."

Is this the sign of a busy week or an aging brain?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

My Fabulous 40th Earth Day


A lot of good things happened in 1970, among them the creation of Earth Day, which marks its own fabulous 40th birthday today.

It's quite possible that nothing makes me feel guiltier than my own non-Earth friendly ways. I'm appalled at how much garbage our little family of four generates, I tend to light up the whole house even if I'm just in one room, I sometimes forget to unplug the cell phone charger, and I let the shower run way too long.

But my latest obsession is the food that we throw away every week. I don't think I knew before that it wouldn't naturally decompose, but was more likely to sit in a landfill and release potent methane gas. Sometimes I put it down the disposal, but I'm not sure if that's much better. So, in honor of Earth Day, I'm buying myself a present today - a kitchen counter composter.

Now, one reviewer astutely noted that this should really be called the kitchen counter composter keeper, as it does not really do the job of composting, just keeps it contained and odor-free until you can get it to your compost heap. Which means I have to build an outdoor composter...

I guess I know what I'm doing this weekend. Happy Earth Day.

Monday, April 19, 2010

My Fabulous 40th Fashion: The Perfect T Shirt





There comes a time in a woman's life when pant waistlines seem to be dipping increasingly lower just as shirt lengths become increasingly shorter...leaving exposed an area that, to put it kindly, has seen better days.

Of course, this exposure often coincides with the raising of young children, a job that requires frequent bending over (hello "Whale Tail") and lifting (causing the shirt to rise even higher, showing "Muffin Top"), leaving us almost-fabulous-40 year-olds constantly tugging down the shirt or pulling up the pants to make ends meet...until now.

Drumroll please.

Meet the J.Crew Perfect Fit Tee. Perfect in every way, but especially because of the forgiving four-plus inches it extends past the natural waist, completely covering the top of the pants, creating a firm seal to prevent thong exposure. It comes in henley, cascade, scoopneck, crew neck, long sleeved, short sleeved...but could it possibly stay in fashion forever? I fear not, which is why I'm maniacally stocking up for the next two decades...thought I'd share the secret.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Eyes and Ears

When we were about 18, my best friend and I agreed that when we got old and our hypothetical husbands were long gone (sorry guys, it was easier to be so cavalier when you were just hypothetical), we'd live together and we'd each serve an important function: she'd be the eyes and I'd be the ears.

We've discussed my failing vision before (here and here) and my b.f.'s hearing has been middle-aged since we were kids. Last week I was at her house (a rare and wonderful occasion for just the two of us to hang out) and after about half an hour of regular intervals of a high pitched beep followed by a scanning sound, I finally said "is that a fax machine?" "Oh no, it must be my de-humidifier in the basement - let me go empty it!" As she headed for the basement, she said, "You have really good hearing! (she always has nice things to say to me)"

"Just living up to my end of the deal!" I shouted after her. I don't think she heard me.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

40th Birthday Gift Idea: 40 Reasons Why I Love You


Remember my cousin Tara's party? Or how about my friend Doug's party, 40 Years of Television? Both birthday persons were treated to a toast, 40 Reasons Why I/We Love You. It's a great idea and here's a beautiful way to capture all those reasons for posterity...

This comes from Quotes and Notes on Etsy. It's a 3 inch by 2 inch mini notepad with a basswood cover, held together with a binder ring and it's $22. If you haven't discovered Etsy yet, I highly recommend it. Etsy is a collection of independent shops run by artisans of every ilk - knitters, dressmakers, painters, crafters, pursemakers, vintage collectors - you name it. It's the perfect antidote for the commercial sameness that seems to be sweeping across the world. You know the feeling - plunk into any city and you're sure to see the same stores you have back home. Everything on Etsy is unique and limited to how many the shopkeeper has or can make, ensuring that every find is really a find. I can't say enough good things.

Anyhow -- I thought this was a perfect and perfectly affordable 40th Birthday gift. All you need to add are those forty reasons...

Monday, April 12, 2010

40th Birthday: Simple Gestures




These photos are tiny, but I spotted them on a friend's Facebook page, with the text "40th Surprise - This is What I Came Home to." In it is a happy little boy who is up to his eyeballs in balloons, gleefully surprising his Dad.

I don't even know this guy - it's my friend's friend, but the photos reminded me that there are lots of little ways to make a person feel special on his or her birthday and how important it is to do just that.

Balloons. Cards. Breakfast in bed. A day off to go to the movies or check out a different part of town. A gift certificate for a manicure. A phone call. A cupcake. Dinner at home...simple can be fabulous too. What are your ideas?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

What Scares You?





Put me on live TV and I'm calm as can be. Stick a needle in my arm and I won't look away. Need a giant bug removed from your bathtub? I'm your gal.

But put me behind the wheel headed to a never-before navigated destination and I am a wreck. Today I had to go to Westchester for work and while I was looking forward to a change of pace, I was, to say the least, anxious about the drive.

After a bad night's sleep, I spent a half-hour before the departure studying the directions on Google Maps, taking advantage of the photo feature to try to memorize what all the key turns looked like. There were things that didn't make sense - slight right towards 9A North, then slight left to 9A south for 354 feet, then right again to 9A. FDR, Harlem River Drive, Henry Hudson, Saw Mill, Hutch,684, 22...so many names, so many numbers. The over-preparation threw me into an even more nervous state.

I can't pinpoint what it is that freaks me out the most - fear of getting lost? crashing? wasting time? finding myself in a bad neighborhood? I think it's a general sense of being out of control - on a ride (did I mention I really don't like roller coasters) that's going too fast that you can't get off.

I got myself organized before taking off - seat nice and high (I marvel at people who drive with the seat reclined - driving is definitely a lean-forward activity for me), mirrors adjusted, water available, A/C at comfortable temperature, sandals off and sensible shoes on, directions to my right. Buzz Aldrin wasn't this prepared.

But despite of or because of it all - I was about five minutes into the trip when the heart pounding got really loud, my forearms felt tingly, and my grip was loosening on the steering wheel due to my sweaty palms. I felt a Tony Soprano moment coming on...the panic attack.

Panic attack sounds so dramatic though, and I'm always a minimizer versus a maximizer. Even when she screamed all day, I'd only describe the baby as fussy, never colicky. If my head feels like it's in a vise and I can't open one eye, that's a bad headache, not a migraine.

So, we'll just call it High Anxiety, but the older I get, the higher the anxiety about this. I had to talk myself down - "you're doing great, deep breaths, oooh...it's Mariah Carey, sing along, distract yourself." And I was doing great - I am actually a very good driver with an excellent driving record (to the three shell-shocked people in the backseat during my Highway Driving Class from Driver's Ed 1987 who experienced the emergency use of the passenger side brake, I assure you I have gotten much better over the last 23 years).

I thought of nothing other than the next step in my directions and calming myself down until I hit the Saw Mill Parkway and saw the cell phone tower about which I once remarked to my husband, "what an unusual tree," and have never lived it down. (If you will recall from a previous post, I am extremely near-sighted.) That made me laugh, which made me relax, and it was smooth sailing from that point on. Ride home was a breeze too - New York City is hard to miss, it's getting out of it that I find so daunting.

I don't want to become one of those older women with self-imposed driving restrictions - "I don't do Expressways - the trucks," "I don't do bridges," "I can't go through a tunnel," "I don't drive at night," but for my own mental health, I may have to.

Photo credits: ManiacWorld.com, Funonthenet.in, TechGuy.com

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Cleaning Out the Hard Drive

At one point in my life, I remembered everything. Everyone's birthday, every word uttered over recess, every injustice and embarrassing moment to come my way, all the books I'd read, what I did on my summer vacation, what my parents had served for Christmas dinner three years prior...it was all right there in my mind.

At a certain point - definitely by 40 - there's just too much to remember. Too many years have been lived to recall every moment. And so, your brain - mine at least - starts to selectively clean out the hard drive, seemingly without consulting you first.

I can't tell you how many books I've read 30 pages of before saying, "I think I read this already." Last month, I remembered an idea I had to invent a board game. I was in Barnes & Noble, and lo and behold, the game had already been invented (by Darryl Hannah, no less.) But the sad part is that years ago when I originally had the board game idea, I was greatly disappointed when the Darryl Hannah version came out soon after. So not only did I forget the idea, I forgot that it had already been squashed.

Yesterday I read an old journal entry that references a date with someone named Endre. I would have sworn to you that I had never even met anyone by that name, but my diaries don't lie. (Apologies if the so-called Endre is reading this. Doubtful.)

At 40, it's probably time to clean out the old hard drive and make room for some new memories. I wonder what's happening in my life now that is utterly forgettable and what's memorable...only time will tell.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Almost 40 Realization # 5: Yoga Isn't Easy

Earlier in the year, I "won" something at my younger daughter's school auction. I say "won" in quotation marks, because when I excitedly say "look what we won in the silent auction," my husband always corrects me saying, "you didn't really win it, you just paid the most for it." "There's a difference."

Anyhow, I "won" three personal training sessions with a yoga instructor and tonight was the first session.

As you may recall, getting heart healthy and somewhat in shape is one of the things I want to accomplish before I'm 40. (Secretly, while I'm looking out for my heart, I'd be thrilled to see the cellulite disappear in the process.) Running was the first try, with a stint with The New York Road Runners club, in a beginners class with a goal of running 20 minutes straight. But as fall turned to winter it was really cold and dark, I had a bad cough for weeks, I always had a stitch in my side, and to top it all off, I get this weird unbearable extreme itchiness when I run. So with all these excuses, I never finished the class, never got past running 10 minutes straight.

While it would be pretty awesome to be really good at yoga - and have the body to match - I'm not sure it's going to happen. First of all, it's hard. I discovered that I am weak (weaker than I thought), my balance isn't great, and when I tried to do this(reverse prayer pose) I got a massive Charley Horse in my arm/shoulder, making me feel immediately dizzy and nauseous and rendering my arm limp and useless for about 5minutes. I'd be embarrassed, but ever since I developed "forty-tude," it takes a lot for me to get bent out shape (a little yoga humor.) I'd gotten a Charley Horse in my foot before, usually from pointing my toe on the bottom of a pool, and in my neck, most recently after clocking my head on the way out of the attic, but never in my arm.

The instructor was great and extremely patient with me, but it will require a lot of motivation to keep this up. We'll see. Namaste.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Almost 40 Realization # 3: I'm Not Going to be on Any "40 Under 40" Lists

The Crain's New York "40 Under 40" list came across my desk today and not that it was a lifelong dream or anything, but it was a reminder that my chances of being recognized for youthful success are...over.

We never seem to want to recognize people's accomplishments for just happening whenever they came together for that particular person. Made CEO at 35? Great. It should be just as great at 55. But instead, we need to create the story out of it - "Reading at age 3!" "Running the Today Show at 25!"

So, if I wasn't destined to be a young prodigy, I have to go the other route, where people do things at a surprisingly old age. Like "Twins at 50!" "Over-40 Olympian!" "Sky-diving Grandma!" and other exclamation point-worthy feats, although to be clear, none of those are things I will EVER, EVER do.

I say, do whatever it is you want to do, whenever it's right for you. Who's counting?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Happy Fabulous 40th Birthday Jim!

Today's Fabulous 40th Birthday shout-out goes to another Jim from college, but we had most of our adventures together post-college, when we re-connected at 25/26 (note, I was 25 to his 26, just as I am 39 to his 40 :))to become NYC roommates.

Jim was the perfect roommate. 1.) His male presence made my parents feel slightly better about their daughter living in a third-floor walk-up next to an abandoned lot, with a front door covered in graffiti and crow-bar marks. 2.) He was a young lawyer who worked long hours, giving me space when I wanted it. 3.) And he offered to pay more rent than I did (very appreciated as this was around the same time that I once went to dinner with friends, not with bills in my wallet, but with a large bag of loose change in my purse).

My favorite Jim memories from that era include New Year's Eve 1995 or really the wee hours of New Year's Day 1996, Yorkville Brewery: Jim peeling me away from someone not quite worthy of my company, saying politely to the much bigger guy, "she has to leave now." Jim accidentally kicking my leg out from under me while dancing at a wedding, leaving me with a broken elbow, although he did cut my meat for me for the next week. And my other favorite, Jim returning to the apartment one Sunday saying he'd just run the NY Marathon - he hadn't trained for it, but had volunteered to run a couple of miles with a blind Japanese runner (he speaks Japanese). By mile 13 he felt pretty good, so he just kept on going.

So, Happy Fabulous 40th Birthday to Jim...may he always just keep on going!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Turning 40 Quote #3: Go confidently in the direction of your dreams


I can’t get enough of this quote and thanks to quotable, the company (co-founded by the talented Gillian Simon) that pairs meaningful quotes with inspired graphic design, I have it everywhere. It’s on my office bulletin board, it’s on a magnet in my kitchen, and on the cover of my journal.

It’s a constant reminder, at almost 40, that I must not settle for living anything less than the life I’ve imagined. If I didn’t have these words around me, I think I’d get really far off course – they pull me in whenever I stray.

Did I imagine that my evenings would center around watching LOST while eating leftovers on my lap, and then falling into bed? Not entirely – while it’s okay every now and then, I did not imagine a life as a couch potato. Those words get me to turn off the TV, light a candle, set the table.

Did I imagine that on Christmas morning in my late thirties, I’d be dressed in the same outfit as my children -- a red union suit from Red Envelope with my name embroidered on it? God, no. And while my mother gave it to me with love and I wore it once, those words tell me I cannot wear it again.

Did I imagine I’d be a writer? Well, start writing. Did I imagine a warm and inviting home? Start decorating. Did I imagine a life filled with family and friends? Start making more plans. Did I imagine being 40? Not really, but I’m imagining it’s going to be pretty good.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Almost-40 Realization #2: What Am I Saving it For?




(Don't jump to any conclusions by the photo above...)

I have always been a saver, which I'm hoping is a bit better than being a hoarder. I've seen those hoarder episodes on Oprah, and they're not pretty. In my mind, a saver is to a hoarder what chubby is to morbidly obese.

This rainy weekend has given me the opportunity to clean up and take a hard look at all the stuff I've been saving...here are a few things I found:

1. Expired Cans of Soup and Beans. Why didn't we eat these? Maybe it was overly ambitious to think our family would whip up something with pinto beans after work one night? We've never eaten pinto beans before. Hasta la vista, pintos.

2. Bag of Kettle Chips that expired in 2007. We moved here in mid-2008. Does that mean I packed the already expired Kettle Chips and brought them here? Or worse yet, that I paid a mover to pack and carry them? Chucked 'em.

3. Convertible Victoria's Secret Bra Straps - Never Used. I don't even know what bra they go with. I certainly don't wear it. Throw them away.

OK...along with the three items above, you'll be happy to hear I also tossed "IBS for Dummies," a lot of magazines (which I donate to children's ICU waiting areas, which illustrates one of my obstacles with getting rid of things, I need to find a good home for my old stuff. If I do, it's much easier to give away), way-too-many shopping bags, and handfuls of broken kids' toys. These items were just the warm-up. Here's where I start getting in trouble...In some cases, I'm not entirely sure why I'm saving these things, but I don't seem to be able to let go.

4. Used Pregnancy Tests. This seems weird - what am I saving these for? I have the children to show as proof positive that yes, I really was pregnant. Do I need to save these (once urine-soaked) sticks? Am I going to put them in a Martha Stewart-style scrapbox and hang it on the living room wall? I don't think so. But yet, I stash them in a bag under the sink. What's wrong with me?

5. Leftover Christmas Cards. We seem to have about 50 left. If you didn't get one, let me know, I'll send it to you. I contemplated throwing them away, I really did...but it's hard to throw away pictures of your kids, right? I have decided that I will use the back of them to write notes to school - like when my daughter has permission to go to someone's house after school. Weak? Maybe?

6. Remote Control to Air Conditioner in Our Old Apartment. It seems lazy and a bit mean to just toss this, when I could mail it to the new owners who would get some use out of it. I've been saying this for eight months.

7. Domino Magazines. Anyone who knows me knows I mourned the closing of this magazine. I've heard of single copies fetching $50 on eBay - not that I'd sell even one. These are collectors' items now - can't get rid of these.

8. Bag of Colorful Lipsticks. All I wear is a light lipgloss. But you never know...

9. Gift Closet Gone Crazy. A long time ago, I started a gift closet in order to be stocked up on presents in advance, so I wouldn't be making a mad dash to the toy store before every children's birthday party or would have a bottle of Champagne in a nice bag ready to go as a hostess gift. But we live in New York City -2 toy stores and 3 liquor stores are within a few blocks; how hard is that? Now, the gift closet has stagnated - it's desperate for a clearance sale. Time to get rid of it all and start over, yet instead of tossing, I'm adding to it.

10. Old Knives. I am saving these simply because I don't know how one throws away knives without becoming accidently linked to a homocide.


Above all, I've been saving gift cards and store credits...what for? It's time to use them or lose them (as I did with the Tower Records and Fortunoff cards.) So this week, I'll be booking three free Yoga sessions, dinner at Nobu, massages at Bliss, finding something to buy at Banana Republic, Burberry, and Bloomingdale's, buying a large clam shell (odd, but I liked it) from Crate & Barrel, and using $10 off at Shutterfly (the old me would want to save it to over-order cards next Christmas).

I think I am to crap what black pants are to cat hair - I attract it. But I'm entering my 40s with a cleaner slate. No more saving it all!