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

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


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

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: