Last night I discovered that I had two fingers completely impaled by open tweezers and I couldn’t figure out if I needed to go to the doctor to get them out – if there would be too much blood or if I could even bring myself to remove them and I wanted some kind of anesthetic to make it easier but suddenly I found myself pulling them out painfully slowly – and painfully. I didn’t have time to rejoice because I had to go to the school auditorium to see a performance but I couldn’t find a seat I could stand to sit in – I needed to be able to see everyone coming and going – and I couldn’t find anyone I knew. Which is just as well because I had to leave early anyway to attend a meeting in my crisp white prim fifties dress and heels and red lipstick which I immediately regretted when I realized who the meeting was with.
A total snake oil salesman trying to convince me and another male teacher to engage in some nefarious scheme. We watched his presenting with gathering outrage that he would think we would be involved in such a scheme. We were especially horrified when he wouldn’t stop trying to convince us to get on board even after we realized that zombies were headed for the building. Other people took shelter in the big room and some of us were trying to close windows and lock them and I was having difficulty with some of them and those who weren’t helping at all were criticizing how I was trying to jimmy the locks shut and the blinds down and I was getting angry and telling them they should get off their asses and help because THE ZOMBIES ARE COMING YOU GODDAMN SIMPLETONS!
The two doors to the room weren’t working properly either and no one would help me figure out how to secure them so the room would be safe at least for a while and then things were a blur and the zombies came and everyone was terrified and I stopped caring if the idiots who didn’t help were killed or not and then I was outside down the hill because I’d managed to get out to help someone else and now I had to come back but I couldn’t see any zombies even though I knew they had to be there somewhere and I couldn’t figure out where to take cover and my attire was ridiculous and I wondered if anyone had been left alive.
I counted my change at the bus stop. I couldn’t find the right change. I dug in my bag, in my pockets, in my coin purse. I couldn’t find enough dollars and I could see the bus turning onto the street…
That’s how I spent the first several hours of being 43. I woke up looking a bit haggard but I managed to get a couple extra hours of dreamless sleep between 8am and 10:30am. It’s my birthday today and I have been married for 20 years!
It is the custom, once you get this far in both life and (happy) marriages to have accumulated some wisdom and to think everyone wants to hear it. I’m no fool and I figure you all have your own hard-won wisdom and don’t need mine, but this is MY blog so I’m going to list whatever wisdom I can scrape from the cranial cave today.
Wisdom that I am now old enough to share:
- No matter how far you fall from your own expectations, never give up on yourself.
- Don’t let other people’s expectations of you influence you more than your own.
- Don’t measure your success by anyone else’s yardstick. Develop your own yardstick for what success means and stick to it come hell or high fucking water.
- Be kind to yourself. It’s the only way you’ll encourage yourself to become even better. I have to work on this one every single day.
- No matter what kind of relationships you have in your life – you always share the responsibility for their quality and nature and outcome.
- If you are in a relationship that is destructive – you have the power to get out. It might be the hardest thing you ever do, it might be the scariest thing you ever do – but if you’re an adult you have the POWER. Use it.
- Staying married “for the sake of the kid(s)” is never good for the kids.
- Don’t marry someone you don’t respect. Don’t marry someone you don’t LIKE. Sex is such a small part of partnership. Romance is insignificant compared to good companionship and shared interests.
- If you hate your life – change it.
- Wear the best shoes you can afford.
- Accept help and support from others when you need it and it is offered. You will have plenty of opportunity to repay the kindness.
- Don’t keep score. Only assholes keep score. The need to keep score is almost always a sign of a heart grown small through calcification. The more you keep score the more unhappy you’ll become, the smaller your heart will get.
- Learn to let go: of expectations, of stuff, of bitterness, of the past, of ideas, of garbage, of fear, of unhealthy relationships (friends, family, partners, any unhealthy relationship), of places, of ideals, of prejudices, of broken chairs, of hurt, of self doubt, of habit, of weight on your shoulders, of need, of desire, of dreams, of fabric, of hate, of hesitation.
- Learn to set boundaries even when it makes you uncomfortable to do it. You’ll become a lot less uncomfortable once you have good boundaries set up.
- Always keep fun in your life – whatever that means to you. You don’t have to like games, balloons, limericks, dirty jokes, parlour games, clowns, or confetti – but if those things are fun to you – ENJOY THEM OFTEN!*
- Laugh. Do it often. From the gut. If your life is no laughing matter right now – I suggest you find shows or music that makes you laugh. Saturday Night Live and Mob music does it for me. My kid also makes me laugh often.
- Learn to listen to others.
- If you have emotional or mental challenges – get help. You get to decide how to manage your own mental and emotional health but it will be infinitely easier to discover what tools will work for you if you know what you’re dealing with. Getting a diagnosis and getting help doesn’t diminish you as a person: it empowers you.
- If you hate where you live: MOVE.
- Wear your favorite color often.
- Always be honest with yourself. Even if you can’t be honest with everyone else – always be honest with yourself. It will simplify your life and help you make better decisions.
- Have a Pippa in your life.
- Don’t evangelize any aspect of your life. Inspire people by example, don’t preach.
- It’s okay not to read or listen to any news.
- Cultivate forgiveness. Of yourself and of others.
- Be awake to possibilities.
- Live in the present as much as possible. Unpack your boxes and hang your pictures. Plant your garden and make friends as though you’re never going to move.
- Don’t worry about enjoying EVERY MINUTE of parenting, or work, or vacations, or adventures. No one needs that kind of pressure. Enjoy the enjoyable and complain about the dismal. It’s your right as a human being to experience whatever you experience honestly. You don’t owe it to anyone to be happy all the time.
- It’s okay to enjoy dressing up or owning diamonds. No amount of frivolous fun can diminish the quality of your spirit. Loving frills doesn’t mean you can’t be a feminist or a scientist or an athlete or a businessperson or anything you want to be.
- Conversely – not liking frills or jewels doesn’t make you any less of a woman.
- Don’t take yourself too seriously.
- If zombies are headed for your house – don’t argue about how to properly shut the windows – just nail those fuckers closed!
It’s 2pm and I’m still in my pyjamas. It’s time to get dressed, get made up, and open some champagne to celebrate!
Cheers to 43!!
*Those things are my personal definition of MISERY, but not everyone can hate games like I do.