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 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 -; beloved Geox -

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, 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,'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:,,

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 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.