Robots Fumbling for Scrambled Eggs


If you were around here for about an hour yesterday, you got to see a post that started out as a little ramble about why turning 40 doesn't bother me, and by the way, let me tell you about the Shirley Jackson hardback first edition I scored on eBay for, like, three bucks.

By the end of the post, it was a one-person flash mob of recounted dialogue and all the "tell me about your mother" a shrink would accept good money to hear, covered in "laughter through tears" Steel Magnolia sauce. All because decades ago my mom told me that turning 40 is much easier than turning 30, and I guess I had a lot to say about that.

Then I took the post down because, dang, I worry whenever I start discussing my mother and her Alzheimer's, worry that what's light will come off as disrespectful and what's dark will come off as pathos and, hey, better quiet than sorry.

And by "whenever I start discussing," I mean "whenever I mention it in a post that I'll just end up saving to draft mode, never to publish," because I don't talk about my mother's condition with anyone other than my Dad or Mike or, rarely, this hazy space. Not because it's too hard to discuss - it's not - but because too many people never met my mother before, and this is not how I want to introduce her.

Let's get back to the subject - writing long blog posts that don't get published hasn't been helping my sleep in a week that started with a bad cold and two days off work and has become weirder every day since.

Turning 40. My parents always made a point of saying I wasn't X-age until we hit 10:06 p.m. CST, when I was born (almost) 40 years ago. So! Right now, I am still 39. Technically. Traditionally. Bullshittingly. It's my birthday and (let's face it) I am 40 and yesterday I totally agreed with Mom - 40? Piece of Cake! Overdue, Even! - but today I'm not at all convinced.

I have no idea why. Vanity? Lack of imagination? Cultural indoctrination? It came from nowhere.

I've been to bed about six times. Back up again. First I ate nothing all day. Too tired. Too overwhelmed. Then I ate too much. Nice: my first meal as a maybe-40-year-old was some 3 a.m. Kraft Mac 'n Cheese. It was the white cheddar variety, but still. Who is this mad woman who will never be able to pin anything on her thirties again? Damn you, Pacific time! If I were in Japan, there would still be time to buy hours. This is what I get for criticizing anime and underwear vending machines and for taking Bill and Scarlett's side in Lost in Translation.

Mike is asleep (again, having been woken every time by my attempts to lie in bed and try once more to buckle down to this fiendish work that is sleep). Eventually, going on statistical data and previous experiences (40 years worth of research!), I too will be zonked out. And everything will look better after some sleep. I know this. No spring chicken squawking behind the turnip truck here.

(Time out: I was so excited to read Susan Orlean's article in this week's New Yorker. The one about raising chickens in your backyard. See, I'm not nuts - chicken wrangling totally belongs on my Oprah-style Vision Board (tm). Alas, no backyard in sight, but we did finally get a Rooster Squishable and it's terrific, as snuggleable and soft and magical as I hoped. So wonderful, in fact, that Mike let it slip that another Squishable is on its way for my birthday. Maybe this is all we'll get each other now for presents? There are about three dozen different kinds of traditional Squishables, so I'll probably live long enough to see them all. I'm kinda 40 now, so I have to consider these things when making plans.)

Counting all of the Squishables just now has helped me transition a little from "ZOMG FORTY WTF?!!1!" to "I'm forty and no one is the boss of me and if I want to be anxious all night and eat powdered-cheese noodle product and type crap at 5:30 a.m., then RAWR!" A little.

Looping this video over and over has helped a little, too. Just enough indulgent melancholy, just enough sing-songy subliminal anthem:

Okay, I'm going to try to get back to Tap and Gown on the Kindle, flopped out here in my self-imposed sofaland exile. (It may be my birthday, but my gift to Mike is that at least one of us will sleep.) Hopefully now I'm worn out enough to stop thinking "FORTY?", like I can't believe I chose this, not that there's anything wrong with it, but why? Don't I still have thirtyish stuff to do? Most of my friends are past 40, so it's not like there's a shortage of representation. If someone needs heavy 40-style lifting, I can make a few introductions, set you up.

Meanwhile, I will tie up these loose ends back here in the 30s, like becoming a professional figure skater or learning how to make dill pickles. Things that would be astonishing (skating) or funny-kooky (pickles) and therefore interesting in my thirties. Otherwise, I have to put them off until the fifties, when they will be plucky (skating) or reassuringly normal (pickles). To put on a Dorothy Hamill skirt now, in the 40s, or set up some cucumber brine in a jar? Embarrassing for everyone (skating) or Too Dull Too Soon (pickles).

Oh, I know life is what you make it and it's never too late to start leaping tall buildings and you're as young as you feel and there's a metaphorical Bud Cort for every actual Ruth Gordon... just like I know that when your go-to skating reference is Dorothy Hamill this means FORTY?! is inevitable and said inevitability is coming right quick.

But not until 10:06 p.m.

26 September 2009 |






Carnival Elation (2009)
Carnival Splendor (2009)
Carnival Spirit (2010)
Carnival Spirit (2011)
Carnival Splendor (2011)
Norwegian Pearl to Alaska (2012)