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 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!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

If You Know This TV Show, You Must Be Almost 40

A few weeks ago, a good friend of ours visited and brought along a little present for our girls: a DVD of the Magic Garden.

Do you remember the Magic Garden? Carole and Paula, pigtailed and bell-bottomed in early 70s splendor, sitting and singing in a magic garden where the daisies told jokes (the Chuckle Patch), a pink squirrel named Sherlock talked, and the tree bore gifts?

(Side note: freshman year, my friends and I dressed up as the Chuckle Patch for Halloween. Green sweaters with jokes pinned on them, daisy headdresses. I don't think freshman girls do that anymore - I think it's all about being sexy rather than clever, funny, or nostalgic...but I digress.)

My girls, with a little prodding, said the requisite thanks, but honestly I wasn't thinking they'd like it much, with things like Sponge Bob, Jimmy Neutron, Saddle Club, and Flight 29 Down (sort of a LOST for the Tween set) as competition. But lo and behold, the girls (4 and almost 8) are both mesmerized, proving that calmer, simpler, and nicer still have their allure in this world (I just looked at the tagline on the DVD box and it says, "Classic Television for Today's Children.")

Either that or Carole and Paula are hypnotizing them with their psychedelic folk-songs. Whatever works.

photo from

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Celebrate Tara!

On Saturday night, the whole family assembled in Westchester for my cousin Tara's 40th birthday party: it was a wonderful celebration of a thoughtful, generous, inclusive, fun person.

Put succinctly, Tara is good company. A big party, camping out, a wedding, dinner and a movie, hanging out with the kids, taking a trip - Tara's there and she's really there. Unlike some people I know, myself included, she's always really present, in the moment, and in tune with the people around her. So it was fun on Saturday night to see so many people present for her.

The party was at her sister and brother-in-law's house, which looked like a home from a Nancy Meyers movie (It's Complicated, Something's Gotta Give). When we pulled up, the house was simply glowing - fireplaces beckoned from the inside and a path of luminarias led to the double doors. (I took a picture, but it does not do it justice at all.)

Food was abundant and delicious - passed hors d'ouevres and a great buffet in the dining room. Her youngest sister did a great job of snapping photos all night and had put together a video celebrating four decades of Tara! I always complain to Tara that I never make it into any of her Facebook photo albums, so I wasn't expecting much - but lo and behold, I made it into two photos! See me here in the background...

After the video, Tara's mom organized the group toast. Guests had been asked in advance to contribute an anecdote or single line to "Forty Reasons We Love Tara." Each quote, numbered 1 through 40, was put on an index card and sprinkled among the party guests, who took turns reading them aloud. Everyone crowded into the movie set kitchen to hear and applaud each toast.

I didn't know it then, but if I had, I would have added to the birthday quotes that there is actually a Goddess Tara, the goddess of Peace and Protection, known for her compassion,which seems so fitting for our Tara.

At the end, a few words from the birthday girl, and the party really got going! We had an early morning the next day, so we headed out, but not before taking these photos of the birthday gal. If this is what 40 looks like, I'll take it!

Friday, March 5, 2010

More Things I Don't Want for My 40th Birthday Party: A Roast

Roast Pig

Toast me, yes. Roast me, please no!

On my 40th Birthday, or really any day of my life, I really only want to hear the good things you have to say about me. I'm well-aware of my shortcomings, I don't need them handed to me, gift-wrapped in jokes.

But comedians seem to be a different breed - take Bill Chott (pronounced cot) of Wizards of Waverly Place fame, who actually HOSTED his own 40th birthday roast last summer and then invited the general public to come witness his beating by the comedic community.(Hopefully he made a couple of bucks.) The press release promises the event to be "raunchy."

Again, different strokes...

Bill seems like a nice enough guy - one of his roasters was kind enough to point out that "his heart, like his ass, is a triple XL." But I'll take my compliments without the comedy, thanks.

What about you? Would you want to be roasted or toasted?



PR Log (Press Release) – Jun 18, 2009 – PRESS RELEASE June 18, 2009

Disney Celebrity Hosts XXX Rated Roast!

Bill Chott, a St. Louis Native Celebrity presents his 40th Birthday Roast, an adults-only event.

St. Louis, MO Thursday, June 18, 2009 –

Bill Chott, one of the stars of the Disney Channel’s Wizards of Waverly place will hold his 40th Birthday Party Roast on Saturday, June 27th at The Improv Trick Comedy Underground at 2715 Cherokee Street. Doors will open at 9pm.

He’s known for his work in Disney film and TV, as well as family films like the top ten film The Ringer where he played Thomas, the Special Olympian who brings home the bronze. But just like Bob Saget, he has a dark side and so do his funniest comedy friends.

Chott worked at The Second City with such comedy luminaries as Tina Fey, Steve Carrell and Stephen Colbert. They can’t make it in for this event on Cherokee, but his funniest St. Louis friends, performers and local celebrities will be ripping him a new one for his 40th birthday. This event will be every bit as raunchy as a Friar’s Club or Comedy Central roast and it’s open to the public for only $8.

"I moved from St. Louis originally in 1992, and I knew I was saying goodbye to some of the funniest undiscovered talent here in St. Louis” said Chott. “When I decided to move back and split my time between St. Louis and LA, I discovered some great new talent as well. Some of the best comics in town will be out on this night to rake me over the coals, and I’m shaking in my boots!

Roastmasters will include an international comedy pioneer and MTV's Spring Break host. Marc Pruter, founder of The Big Stinkin' International Comedy Festival will serve as The Roastmaster, MTV Spring Break's BJ "Honkey" Lange will be Assistant Roastmaster.

Donny Blake, famous in St. Louis for his quirky Southwest Bank commercials will be on hand to shield Chott from misfired jokes, comedy jabs and F&@ing insults.

For Ticket Resservations, call 314-922-1998 or visit

About The Improv Trick:

The Improv Trick was founded by Bill Chott, star of The Ringer, Disney's Wizards of Waverly Place, Saturday Night Live and countless cartoons and television shows. Improv Trick improvisers perform and teach improv to individuals, corporations and groups all over St. Louis including weekly shows at both The Stable and The Improv Trick Comedy Underground

Chott is a 1987 Ritenour Graduate.


Marc Pruter, producer and Chief Scapegoat
The Improv Trick

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Guest Blogger: The Runaway 40 Year-Old

My Fabulous 40th Birthday isn't meant to be a monologue. It's a collective conversation among all of us turning 40, which is why I am so thrilled that my friend Ana has agreed to share her story with us today.

Ana is one of my college roommates and most treasured friends. She started writing this on Friday night, the eve of her 40th birthday, and finished it up over the weekend. Thanks for sharing and Happy Fabulous 40th Birthday. xo

Views of Madrid
eiffel tower
The Gastronomic Secrets Of  Madrid
Views of Madrid

I am perhaps one of the most technically unsavvy 39 year-olds on this planet and never thought I would be blogging, but then again, there are many things I never thought I would do. For instance, I never thought I would be the kind of person to have a mid-life crisis (affectionately referred to among my inner circle as MLC) but here I am on the eve of my 40th birthday in the midst of doing exactly that.

Unlike KC who seems to be embracing her 40th, I have been edging slowly forward, kicking and screaming. Partly because, as has already been pointed out on this blog, I don't feel forty inside. I have been known to wail at my children, "I can be a lot of fun!" I can't possibly be forty. There is no way I have spent five decades on this planet. I refuse to believe it. That denial is what fuels the MLC. How can my life be half over when I haven't even done anything worthwhile yet?

And so, I ran away.

I packed up my husband and four children (ages 4-11), sent our dog to live with my in-laws and moved to Europe. That was six months ago. We are still here. My friends and family congratulate me on giving my children a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity but the truth is, I did it for me. After spending more than a decade putting everyone else first I did something just because I wanted to, and I made everyone else come along for the ride. I thought it would be fun. Besides, 40 year-olds don't do selfish, spontaneous things like move to Europe so that couldn't possibly be me, right?

We have been on quite an adventure...we've been learning Spanish in Madrid. We've been to Marrakesh and spent time trekking in the Atlas mountains. We've been to the village of Valbonne in the south of France and celebrated Halloween with a friend of mine from high school and her family. We've been skiing in the Austrian alps in the tiny village of Lech. We've been to Salzburg, Vienna and Linz. We've been to Prague and the Nazi camp at Terezin. We've been to Rome and daughter and I are going to Paris next week.

Will my children remember all of this? I'm not sure. If they remember the magnitude of the Coliseum or the opera we saw in Vienna or the taste of the Linzer torte or the Velasquez paintings at the Prado or how cold we were at Terezin even with our North Face parkas or the view from the amphitheater in Taormina or the smell of the spices we bought in the souk during our cooking class in Marrakesh then perhaps that will be enough to lead them back when they are older and encourage them to seek out new places to visit.

Even though I did it for me, I hope they have gotten more out of my MLC than if I had bought myself a Ferrari. What have I gotten out of it? Time away from my "real" life to figure out what is worthwhile and what it is I want to spend my next 40 years doing so I don't look back at 80 and not have an answer to that same question.

SURPRISE! In the midst of writing this three of my friends from home and their husbands have flown over and surprised me for my birthday. What an amazing birthday present.

Yes, I do plan on going home but in the meantime we have a few more things to do before we leave. I think I'll start by going dancing with my girlfriends until 4am just like I did when I was in my twenties.