"I heard it as a promise. And anyway what were you planing to do at 4:30a.m. anyway? Certainly not SLEEP."
"Yeah, well, I'm trying. I'm too hot."
"So let's go outside where it's cool and watch the Perseid meteor shower. Like you promised we would."
"Oh, all right. But only because my back hurts. Can't lie here anymore."
"God, you're whiny. When did you get this whiny?"
So my argumentative self and I got up at 4:45 and trudged through a dark house to the front door. We opted to turn on the porch light to check for spiders because if we had walked into a web it would be all over and the screaming would wake the neighbors two towns over.
No spiders. Hit the lights and the dark came flooding back.
An article I read about the meteor shower the other day in the Huffington Post offered what I considered to be a ludicrous suggestion -- see if you agree with me:
Bill Cooke, head of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office, recommends that viewers go outside and look at the sky at least 30 minutes beforehand in order to let their eyes adjust to the dark.
Wait, did he just say that eyes take half an hour to fully adjust to the dark? I doubt it. I was out there arguing with myself for only ten minutes and counted ten meteors in that time, which comports with the 60 per hour average Mr. Cooke said we could see during peak viewing hours. I was certainly watching during peak viewing hours.
I wasn't the only one arguing. A dog a couple of roads over was having a heated exchange with some dogs a half mile to the north of me. Not sure what they were bickering about but I stayed out of it. And two owls carried on from barn rafters across the road. I named them Declarative and Interrogative.
"Yeahh," said Declarative.
"What?" asked Interrogative.
"YEAHHHH," Declarative answered testily.
"What?" asked Interrogative again, oblivious.
Meanwhile, lookit that!
I saw one or two that were truly spectacular, but I wasn't trying to photograph anything. I was trying not to lose the argument with myself.
"Well, you were complaining about being too hot a few minutes ago; make up our mind."
I don't think it took my eyes longer than about three minutes to adjust to the dark, Mr. Cooke, with respect. They were, after all, shut tight and trying to sleep before I dragged them outside into more dark.
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.
We are long overdue for a No Punctuation Wednesday even though today is Tuesday and you know we dont stand on ceremony here in Fooleryland
So lets begin because frankly we already did and please start paying attention This is exactly how it sounds in my head most of the time and sometimes when it gets really bad I have to do some brain emptying which results in a No Punctuation Wednesday and I have no idea if other people have brains that sound like this because Ive lived only in this one but this is mine
And its is rarely quiet in here
But it has been especially bad lately and I need to vent in a way Venting without actually saying anything useful or specific gets me out of my head for a few minutes and no names are revealed to protect the innocent and the process confuses the crap out of most people reading these but I feel better
I have so much going on and so much to write about and not one thing I can actually write about out in the harsh light of day and my muse has been on an extended tour of shantytowns of the midwest or something and I havent seen her for months so I wait for inspiration and it doesnt show and I read the writings of people whose words I greatly admire and it doesnt help so this blog and the other one sit here and languish and I do nothing except spin in a circle in my head wishing I could find the words
I want to feel better I do I want to go back to Before before a raft of recent events that have spun me in a circle and kept me continually off balance again Im sure pretty sure that its only in my head and all my warped perception and nothing more but I am well and truly spun and having a hard time concentrating and finding myself looking out the window all the time or staring at the wall talking to myself no radio no TV no sound just the noise raging in my unquiet brain which will all be fine eventually until the next time I get spun in a circle which will likely be Thursday
Those women who put stuff in their bras? I'm not one of them. It's a club I have never been able to join. When I put something into my bra it's usually followed immediately by this sound:
Well, today I found something I could put into my bra and IT DIDN'T FALL OUT!
My cell phone.
If you find yourself, as I did today, dressed in a swimming suit and a tank top and sweat shorts -- yes, I have taken a page from the Britney Spears fashion playbook, apparently -- then there isn't a pocket for your phone. I realize this is a problem that every single one of you solved years ago, but frankly? I'm wayyyy behind the cell phone curve. I pretty much don't care if I get any phone call ever.
Except today. We threw Sparky a belated birthday party, and since it was held away from our house, I needed to be accessible to the parents by phone.
Hence the accidental bra solution. What a revelation! Here I was, a grown woman, discovering that I, too, could stick stuff into my shirt AND IT WOULD STAY THERE! I even received a call and answered it successfully, using BoobPhone. Life was good.
Until I forgot and decided to go swimming.
Yeah. Phone is now optimistically parked in a Zip-Loc bag of rice. So I probably won't be answering any of your texts for a few days, folks. Sorry.
Do you know how embarrassing it is to buy three quarts of Miller High Life? I made sure to buy $56 of other groceries, including fruit, vegetables, two boxes of lasagna noodles, three cartons of sugar cubes, and ice cream. Oh, and a bottle of Malbec and two bottles of tonic. I swear it's the first time a store employee in the produce aisle has ever walked up to my cart, looked into it, and then looked at me. True story. I should have told him, "Weirdest party EVER," but I didn't think of it until just now.
As for the Miller High Life? It IS the Champagne of Beers, you know. Believe it or not, I need it for a project I'm doing, and I can't say more in case someone I know is reading this. Oh wait, that won't happen -- okay, I'm making party invitations for an organization I belong to, and I need three flattened beer cans, the taller the better. I had forgotten they even made quart-sized cans (we're a bottled beer household) so imagine my glee at discovering these! Then I remembered the lyrics of every rap song I've ever sat through, and my heart sank as I realized I was buying big-ass beers -- AND STILL HAD TO TAKE THEM THROUGH THE CHECK STAND. In my local grocery store. On a Sunday. On which I did not attend church. Sigh.
As for the Red Herring Groceries, if you've ever been the parent of a 4th grader, and you live in California, you know why I needed three cartons of sugar cubes and a metric ton of lasagna noodles: it's time for Sparky to make a huge mess in the kitchenher mother cry her model of the San Rafael Mission out of glue, sugar cube bricks and tears as much floral greenery as we can get away with. Oh, crap, I forgot the glue.
Should have rounded out the weirdness and bought two jars of black shoe polish and a hair net, just to confuse nosy clerks.
CHAS: "I gained TWO POUNDS from all that junk I ate Saturday."
ME: "Do we have any cookies?"
CHAS: "I've been so good this week: other than that piece of birthday cake I've had no sweets . . . no ice cream or cookies . . . I didn't eat Smedley's birthday cupcake . . . no bread, no leftover pizza . . . scrambled eggs for breakfast and tuna in a cup for lunch . . ."
ME: "Oh, I know, we have ice cream, don't we?"
CHAS: "Because my pants were riding up and I thought, "NO MORE of this.'"
ME, MOUTH FULL OF ICE CREAM: "Yep, you saved all those carb calories for a beer sandwich, didn't you?"
The winter television mid-season is here, and already the replacement shows are being canceled. This spin-off was canned before it even started, although the pilot was awesome -- little Mahmoud is the victim of bullying at his school imprisons everyone in his treehouse in revenge.
This is what happens when you type in "sledge hammer" at Wikimedia Commons. I swear this sculpture is called "Hammerschwinger," which is my new favorite name for a child. Hello, Gwynneth Paltrow? Yeah, I have a great name for your next son. Or daughter.