As weird as Dad is, he's pretty straight-forward, with very few hang ups and not one neurosis that I can identify. So when the subject of middle age came up years ago I was surprised to learn that Dad felt he had experienced a midlife crisis. Never mind that at its apex he bought himself a modest sports car (used) and that when the crisis was over the car was traded in (perhaps only six months later; long enough for brother Bocci to spin the car out on Highway 299 to the redwoods and for friend Kit to hit a raccoon, but those are stories for other days).
But that's not what I called you here to tell you about. What I really want to talk about is the concept of the midlife crisis, because I am totally having one.
It didn't happen at 4o. Most people dread 40, or they think of the 40th birthday as a milestone to achieve and quickly get past. "50 is the New 40" say the magazine headers. Somewhere along the way we decided that to have significance a birthday must end in zero.
The really big ones end in 7 or 8.
I turned 48 last week, so I know. I already had the warning from Dad. "47 was a tough year for me," he had said all those years ago. I thought he was crazy. Why 47? I don't know if he had any answer, but I think I might have one now. You're either 47 or 48 when your 30-year high school reunion rolls around. 30 years -- wow. What will you look like when your 30-year reunion rears its ugly head? What sort of walking and eating assistance will you require? I know, the thought is not pretty. I'm here to tell you young people that it is survivable, but also that the psychic toll of getting to age 47 or 48 can be substantial. It has been for me.
Dad may not have known why 47 hit him so hard, but here's a guess: suddenly you realize the trap you have built for yourself. If you've never married and had kids those possibilities seem suddenly unattainable when you are faced with the 30th reunion, and the accompanying photos of other people's kids. If you're married it suddenly dawns on you that you'll never again have a first date, first kiss, first awkward morning together. The likelihood of a new career or exciting adventure becomes more remote with each passing year. And it's these damned zero-ending anniversaries, the class reunions, that bring all of this up for us.
I would have been fine never internalizing this stuff. Why should this bother me now of all times, when I am happily married and at peace, generally? But there have been moments in the last month when I have felt the panic rise, just like the time during my scuba certification when I was being dragged across the sea floor in 20 feet of water, unable to stay in the spot designated by my instructor, and I desperately wanted to bolter for the surface, to get my bearings, to reset. I did not, but it took every ounce of strength in me not to do so. And in the last month it has been just as challenging not to claw toward an imagined surface. I have a person or two to thank for helping me to keep my head on straight. I'm still desperately fighting the instinct. Please, if we cross paths, be understanding and bear with me.
I do not fear 50. I have no clear understanding of death in a personal sense, and no belief in any afterlife to soften the concept. What I fear is that I have attained a place in life at which there can be no surprises. I like the uncertain, I embrace multiple possibilities. And yet capital L Life is just as sure and certain for me at age 48 as death is for those at 98.
I crave uncertainty, imbalance and possibilities. Instead I find myself now facing the certainty of a gentle downhill slope and sports on TV in the evenings.
I think the worst start to a day would be rushing about grabbing clothes in a huge hurry and accidentally grabbing the pair of undies that should have been tossed out when the dog chewed through the crotch but not having enough time to find better ones in the clean laundry pile that looms in the corner of the bedroom and having to wear those largely crotchless undies anyway
Oh this No Punctuation Wednesday has been coming a long long long time even though it IS technically a Monday but who would argue with a woman on a rant
Not you thats for sure
Anyway the thing that has been driving me nuts wait a correction please ONE of the things that has been driving me nuts for just ages and ages now is that I am very good at a small number of things PERIOD you have to imagine the period PERIOD next sentence please I am very good at a small number of things and very bad at a middling number of things and very average at an incalculable number of things And this bothers you WHY you ask clever as you are you asked without punctuation at least you did in my head
It bothers me because most of the things on my list of things that I am very good at are imaginary and the rest are useless and while my favorite things in the world are useful things such as machines and manufacturing and plants and animal husbandry and tools and paper supplies and small appliances and also probably cooking skills and balloon animals and high technology WHEW pant pant pant while those useful things draw me in like a moth to a flame they have not seen fit to make themselves understandable to me sort of like languages and math I can fake it really well but I stink at some crucial part for instance VOCABULARY RETENTION if you are talking about languages and I was or EVERYTHING if you are talking about higher math and I was trying not to
so while I crave crave crave to be good enough at something that I could speak about it write about it learn enough to get really good at it maybe make money at it or just polish it into an avocation the way that elegant Ladies of a Certain Age become painters or photographers or paper makers while I want to be really good at something even just one thing I have no idea where to start and no particular skills to hone and as far as I know being really good at Facebook is nothing more than an annoyance and a cheap one at that
I didn't follow the Casey Anthony case or subsequent trial at all except for the past week, when it couldn't be avoided. Seems to me that she and O.J. Simpson and Joran van der Sloot should be consigned to the same jail cell, and made to clean steak knives for the duration of their sentences.
Tell me this isn't the cutest hat you've ever seen?
My friend Jane (known elsewhere as Cactus Petunia) makes these and sells them at her Etsy site. Now, I can't promise you there's enough time to order between now and Christmas, but it's worth a shot if you've got a cute kid who likes owls.
And what cute kid doesn't like owls?
While you're looking at the owl hats, look at Jane's fairy series. She's an artist, extremely creative, and she makes beautiful things. But for now, I'm just waiting for my three owl hats.
Come back later this week for at least one more FOOLHOGG* recommendation.
If you're looking for a new Christmas book to share with a young child, this is a beautiful choice. The story is true but very simple, written by James Doti about a visit to his grandmother as a child in Chicago's Little Italy. My girls are a little bit old for the story, but not for the heart of Mr. Doti's tale. Who could not love a story about a grandma who bakes cookies, and a pet dog and snow and big city life? They love it.
I had the privilege of meeting Lisa Mertins, whose delightful illustrations give the book life, at an event last month. Though I've known her through the internutz and admired her painting skills, I was thrilled to find out that she's just as nice and interesting and funny as she is talented.
I ordered A Christmas Adventure in Little Italy directly from Lisa, but you can order it from the web site or from your favorite bookseller.
From the web site:
A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this book will be donated to the Kathleen Muth Reading Center at Chapman University. For more information, please visit www.chapman.edu.
Stay tuned for tomorrow's FOOLHOGG -- another good gift under $15!
Do you have a summer mix -- songs for or about summer,
or songs that instantly recall a summer memory? I do. But I realized the
other day that there wouldn't be a single Beach Boys song on my summer
play list. Too obvious. And I left John Fogerty's great "110 in the Shade" off the list
because it's just too close to reality around Fooleryland, and that's
depressing. But here it is just because:
Here's my list of ten, in no particular order, each for their own
Rock the Boat -- the Hues Corporation
I'm Not in Love -- 10CC
What Have You Done For Me Lately? -- Janet
The Girl From Ipanema -- Stan Getz
& Astrud Gilberto
White Lines --Grandmaster Flash
September -- Earth, Wind &
Bust a Move -- Young MC
I Looked at You -- The Doors
Fun in the Summertime -- Sly & the Family Stone
Oh, goody, lookie
what fell out of my inbox today:
Oh super, Jeggings! I
get it --
jeans + leggings = JEGGINGS. And you just know
you're gonna see
these on some person in the harsh light of some gigantic box store, only
won't be looking nearly this pretty, no sir.
me all the
nasty e-mails you want -- you know I'm right. The women who SHOULDN'T
are the first ones who WILL wear these. And the women who CAN wear these
probably still SHOULDN'T. I am 100% certain I WON'T. You're welcome.
Reporting live from Fooleryland, where we keep the
sausages on the grill, the muffins in the breadbox, and the camel's toes
squarely on the ground.
images stolen from HerRoom.com, which I love, but COME ON)
my solution to the question of legalizing same-sex marriage. Are you
ready? Are you sure? I'm not, but I really believe this.
problem all started when Uncle Sam stuck his nose into what ought to be a
religious institution. Okay, I get the need for making parents
financially and legally accountable for their offspring, as well as
other questions of spousal responsibility. But otherwise, I think
marriage ought to be up to religious institutions.
So here's what I propose: revert all current marriages to
civil unions in the eyes of the law. All of them. This includes my own marriage,
y'all, so don't think I'm being high and mighty here. (Chas and I were
married by a judge.)
(Photos used by permission of Susan Robertsand Wiki edit Jonny at WikimediaCommonsand stolen from
these guys as well) Same-sex civil unions would be equal to man-woman civil unions in the
eyes of the law. The government gets what it wants and goes its merry
would no longer be a legal institution.
The rest is left to institutions of faith and to the couples themselves.
All civil unions --
man-woman couples and same-sex partners alike
-- would be free to sanctify their unions under the religion of their
choice. This is key, however: no religious institution would HAVE to
perform a marriage ceremony for ANYBODY. The churches would be free
to define marriage according to their interpretation and faith. Anyone
who had already been married by a priest, rabbi or minister would be
both legally united and married in the eyes of their faith.
Also, while this is entirely my own original thinking, I can't say for a
minute that it's new. I have no clue how many other people may have
already committed these ideas to paper because honestly, I haven't
researched. I've just been turning it over and over in my brain for a
The postcard inviting me to
the Uppercase Living home decor open house read "give any room in
your house a style and personality that reflects you and your family."
Here are some examples of their wall typography from their web site:
Pretty, right? But this is
Fooleryland, and I think we might blow some minds in the custom
department . . .