I’m Forty

So here it is, 3 am, a week into the 40th year of my life and I’m wide awake.  I’m awake for a myriad of reasons, the main one being that I’m not asleep.  My mind races about everything. What needs to be done, what I haven’t done, what I should have done, regrets, grudges, shame, what will I do and when the hell am I going back to sleep?  Perhaps firing up the old computer and writing at 3am is not the fastest way to get some zzzzs, but I’ve also been reading for the past hour and that shit ain’t helping either.

The past few weeks leading up to the official marking of me as a, horror or horrors, middle aged woman, I received a lot of unsolicited advice from friends of mine in their fifties.  All of them seemed to be trying to reassure me that this was not in fact the end of my life.  Geez a monetti, if you keep telling me its not that bad- well then it certainly is THAT bad.  Lots of the advice sounded like it came straight from a motivational Pinterest pin.  “You’ll love your forties”. “You’ll look the best you’ve ever looked”. And my personal favorite, “Forty is the new 20”. Really, 40 is the new 20? I really must take issue with this one- because honestly 40 is not anything like 20.

At 20, I was in college, taking naps in the middle of the day, staying out all night, drinking copious amounts of alcohol, chain smoking cigarettes and well, ahem, other items.  I swore I would never work with computers.  I would live my life as a performing artist. I did not understand why my college was forcing me to have an e-mail address that consisted of just a bunch of letters and numbers that no one, except maybe Rain Man, could remember- and I was never going to check anyway.  I despised the idea of these new fangled cellular phones, because I did not want people to be able to track me down anytime of day.  And quite honestly, even though I live and breathe by my phone now- I still don’t like idea that people can track me down anytime.  I know I can put it on silent- its permanently on silent- but I’m going to have to check it eventually.  If I left the house, I’d simply leave a note for someone telling them where I’d gone- or maybe I wouldn’t and they would just have to wonder- but they certainly couldn’t just call me and find my ass.  I am wistful for the days when I just had a phone plugged into the wall and no answering machine.  If you called and I wasn’t there than too damn bad for both of us- or perhaps just too damn bad for you…I didn’t want to talk to you anyway.  I know this is a cliche attitude we’ve all heard a million times- but we’ve heard it a million times because its fucking true!  We’re all too god damned connected.

At 40, I cannot stay out drinking all night long and show up for work at 8 am as if I’ve just had a good 8 hours of beauty rest. I cannot smoke cigarettes- because they’re going to kill me.  I’m ten pounds heavier than I was back then (ok, we all know that’s a lie, but that’s the most I’m admitting to).  I’m married with two kids, a mortgage, a pile of debt, mental illness (don’t act surprised, we all already know I’m fucking crazy), two email addresses, a plethora of social media accounts, a full time job, and volunteering for WAY too many things all because I’m an idiot who can’t seem to say no to anything. Except PTA…I can’t stand PTA- I know that makes me a terrible parent….but…well sorry- get off my back already.  I can’t do everything….and those bitches are downright judgmental (sorry to my wonderful friends who are active in the PTA and make my childens’ school fucking awesome- but all your cute snack making, carnival coordinating and shit just makes me feel like a big fat loser).

Speaking of school, when have we, as a nation, decided that a leprechaun must visit every kindergarten room each St. Patrick’s day and tear shit up, pee green in the toilet and leave coins all over the place??  As if the fucking Elf on the Shelf isn’t bad enough? (see my hilariously funny post about that asshole- you’ll love it). That green bastard didn’t visit anyone when I was a kid.  They’re supposed to be sitting at the end of the rainbow guarding their god damned pot of gold- not knocking over chairs and tearing up perfectly good paper in kindergarten class rooms.  I love my children’s kindergarten teacher and I know this was not her idea- she’s forced into it because she can’t not do it when every other K class (I’m just going with K now because I’m tired of writing out the whole word) in the world is doing it.  Then my child comes home wondering why the hell the leprechaun didn’t stop by our house?  And we’re freaking Irish!! We invented this crap and no where in my “how to be Irish handbook” does it say the leprechaun makes visits to your house to spread cheer and glee to children.  Isn’t that Santa, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy’s jobs?  In fact, St. Patrick’s day really has nothing to do with leprechauns at all.  The truth is, according to religious theologians, and as cited in the Bible, and according to a myriad of Vatican resources, it is a high holy feast day that should be celebrated with reverence by knocking off work early and getting shitfaced.  And as a good Irish Catholic girl (okay, middle aged woman), I abide by these rules stridently and with my head fully immersed in Guinness.

Alright, I know that as usual I’ve gotten way off topic here- so let’s get back on track.  Forty is NOT twenty.  It is TWENTY + TWENTY.  My ass is tired.  I work a full time job and take care of my children.  And I don’t want this to turn into a big old fight between working mothers and stay home moms- because yes I’ve seen the bumper sticker, “Every mom is a working mom”.  And its true, every mom is a working mom and it is a full time job.  But, if you’re a mom with a job outside the home- well then you’re a person working TWO full time jobs.  And that’s fucking exhausting. And I don’t like to hear about how women who “choose” to stay home do so because they value their children more than a career or some such bullshit.  I would love to have the “choice” to stay home.  I cannot count the number of times I’ve dropped my children off at day care and sat in the parking lot crying my eyes out because I DO NOT HAVE THE LUXURY OF CHOICE.  I do love my children more than my career- but staying home ain’t the hand I’ve been played.  So, if I want to bitch about having too much to fucking do and can’t make cutesy snacks and come to every goddamned PTA meeting- its because I’m working TWO FULL TIMES JOBS!!!! (motherfuckers) Again, sorry to my wonderful friends who are stay-at-home moms- you’re total rock stars and I’m jealous as hell.

Okay- again back to being 40.  It is definitely not the new 20. But, I do find I am much more comfortable with who I am and care less about what people think of me.  That’s part of why I started writing this blog.  I was tired of hiding what I really thought for the sake of someone else.  Here I can write about my life, insult, cuss, and be my true self (who apparently has a major potty mouth). Who am I kidding?  I still give a giant shit about what people think.  I’m still crushed with every rejection.  I’m still scared every time I publish a blog post at what people will think, if they’ll hate me, if they’ll decide I’m unworthy- you know, the regular.  I still am unhappy with my 125 pound frame (shut the fuck up right now…its true, it says so on my driver’s license). I still cry when someone I thought was a friend turns their back on me.  A friend of mine was just telling me that if people do that then they’re not good enough to be my friend in the first place- but it still fucking hurts.  But, I’m striving to love myself more and appreciate each moment.  (Alright, now I’m starting to cry- fuck, why the hell am I awake??).  I love my stretch marks and scars and see them as proof of a life where I’ve taken risks- lots of them- and I’ve survived.

And hopefully, my stay-home mom friends and PTA rock stars will not hate me.  I’m 40, I’m tired and I can’t sleep.  Cut me some fucking slack.

Diving In

Ok…deep breath…hold my nose…and jump!  My first blog post into the deep end; we’ll see if I sink or swim.  I’ve been babbling away (like a flipping brook) on social media for years about anything and everything:  the aggravations of parenthood, my bad cooking, running, and not running, Catholic guilt, my secret desire to be Jewish, my acting career and the lack thereof, middle-aged acne, my television addiction and just about anything that pops into my head.  So now its time to start laying it all out there.

I’ve titled the blog “Swimming Upstream” because that’s how I feel about my life.  Always swimming against the tide in hopes of something better just over the next waterfall.  Sometimes I make it and sometimes that damn water just pushes me back into the pool.  But either way, I figure I end up where I’m supposed to be.  (Wow- that sounds so deep and whatnot).  But, mostly its because I’m a Pisces and I just thought it would be neat.  I’m pretty much a nerd at the end of the day.

Today is a great day, one where the planets are aligned, I’m feeling rested and super creative.  Not all days are like this- but you’ve got to grab hold when you can.  Thus, the start of this blog!  My energy has been super charged lately, ran a 10k on Saturday, I’m rehearsing for a show, starting a new job I created from scratch, raising a family, raising a husband, raising my voice….well you get the picture.

I was born a poor black child….wait no…that’s the start of my favorite movie (The Jerk with Steve Martin- you really should see it).  I was born a middle class white girl in the suburbs of DC.  There we were, my two sisters, an alcoholic father, a depressed mother, chain smoking grandparents and me all in one big fucking mess of a house!  A perfect Norman Rockwell painting, if he were smoking crack, that is.   Don’t get me wrong, we all loved each other, in that crazy, “you get on my fucking nerves and I’d like to kill you” kind of way.  But it was normal to me and taught me to laugh at the world around me, inside me, above me, below me, next to me…”if you can’t go under it, you’ve gotta go over it.”

You’ll find this blog full of random references to pop culture and other trivial things that make sense to me, to others but maybe not to everyone.   You’ll have to forgive me, but I’m a bastion of trivial knowledge and it comes out in the most unusual times.  Not always appropriate or opportune…but usually hilarious.  So I look forward to sharing them with you.

So, put on your swimmies and come wading in the pool with me.   Your beer goggles may help too.