In our family, the girls get their ears pierced on their 12th birthdays (that is, when they are old enough to take care of the piercings themselves). When Anna came by on my birthday last week, she reminded me that, when I took her to get her ears pierced 8 long years ago, I had told her she could return the favor when I turned 50.
"Really?" I asked. "I said that?"
"Yup!" she said, as she handed me a gift bag that contained, among other things, a pair of earrings.
I promise you, I will NOT be doing this.
Well! Consider the gauntlet thrown. My jubilee year has, apparently, become my year of living dangerously. Think about it - so far I have done a 30-mile bike-a-thon (absurd!), plus a walk/run 5K (unheard of!). And this weekend my very squeamish self accompanied Anna to the mall, where, sitting in the special chair in which Anna had sat 8 years before, I let a perfect stranger PUNCH HOLES IN MY EARS.
Yes, actually, Anna did have to hold my hand. Do you have a problem with that?
Soothing puppy picture instead...
So now here I am, trying to get used to having these lumpy things in my earlobes. I confess, it's sort of weirding me out. Because I'm old and set in my ways, for sure.
I had a really nice day today, for no reason. I mean, nothing special happened. I'm thinking that maybe the endorphins from exercise really can make a person happier. My healthy friend took me on a 4 1/2-mile forced hike this morning, and the rest of the day felt quite pleasant. But maybe it's just the contrast. After all, if you are banging your head on the wall, it feels pretty good to stop, right?
So I took Susie and Rachel to the pool for Susie's swim lesson, and I swam 4 laps myself (MORE EXERCISE) and then I lay in the sun and read a book and felt content. After that, I took the girls out to lunch, just because, and we picked up a few groceries, and no one whined and nothing was stressful. JUST LIKE OTHER PEOPLE'S LIVES. I even made the girls weed for 15 minutes with me, and it wasn't the end of the world. I don't know, the whole day went like that. It was weird. I mean, what the heck am I supposed to blog about?
David comes home tomorrow; so maybe then, with his technical expertise handy, I will be able to show you my Amazon birthday purchases and talk about the books. I know! The excitement is just overwhelming, right? Contented people are pretty darn boring.
It's a good thing I stayed up late blogging last night, or I wouldn't have noticed that our AC was no longer working and that our thermostat was registering in the 80's. We could have suffocated. Or not. Larry thinks I exaggerate. But HE doesn't get hot flashes, so what the heck does he know?
Anyhow, I managed to prevent our collective demise by flinging open windows (the humidity had dropped, by some miracle) and installing window fans. Because that's what I like to do at midnight, instead of going to bed....
This is me in the humidity.
The AC guy arrived today - early enough to prevent our dying of heat stroke, but not soon enough to keep my floors from getting so sticky from the humidity that the Swiffer wouldn't work on them. He said lots of complicated things about burned-out capacitors and power surges and tried to sell me some sort of whole-house surge protector for "only" $150.
Seeing as how we pay for a maintenance contract that (among other things) requires the company to replace burned-out capacitors for free, I have no incentive to surge-protect my house. In fact, I told him the company should just install it for free so they don't have to come out again for this same problem. But he refused. Imagine that!
And I strongly suspect that, next time I need a repair, the service guy is not going to show up quite so quickly. I'd better buy more fans, don't you think?
I had a lovely blog post all set to go last night, about the books I received from Amazon, etc. But my camera broke and so I took a picture of them with Larry's IPod Touch, and then I couldn't figure out how to get that picture onto the computer so I could use it on my blog. So I went to bed.
Can you tell David's away? Without him, Larry and I are apparently helpless babes in the big, bad technology woods. To make things worse, a staff person from Civil Air Patrol encampment emailed me yesterday, asking me to download certain documents David had forgotten to bring with him. I needed to fill out the forms and then scan them into the computer, so that I could email them back to her.
All of which would have been fine, except that the ONLY person who knows how to make the scanner talk to the computer happened to be away. At Civil Air Patrol encampment, to be precise. Surrounded by gadgets that should have made the entire process simple and efficient, I ended up taking pictures of the completed docs with my (very) dumb flip phone and texting them to the (very patient) administrator.
Water, water, everywhere, and not a drop to drink.
Maybe - just maybe - I need to stop making fun of all the nice older people who throw money at David when he shows them how to find their digital photos and sets up their printers. We have met the technologically incompetent, and he is us.
Well! After I dropped the girls at band camp today, I decided to celebrate my first day of freedom by taking an 8-mile bike ride. Then I came home, showered, and cleaned the bathrooms.
Naturally, I spent the rest of the day sitting around and feeling virtuous. After all, there is only so much productivity one gal can handle. But I'm thinking I won't have much of a problem adjusting to an empty nest when the time comes. In case any of you were wondering...
Did I mention that Susie woke up at 5:45 this morning, from sheer excitement? I could have wept. Larry took one for the team by getting up and giving both girls (yes, Rachel was also up by 6) a ridiculously early breakfast . I can't believe I used to be a morning person.
Books! How old-fashioned of me...
That's all I've got, folks. Apparently, a life of childless leisure does not lend itself to interesting blog posts. I'll spend tomorrow eagerly awaiting my birthday Amazon order -- essentially, EVERYTHING (except hardcovers) that's been sitting on my wish list since approximately forever. It was my jubilee year birthday present to myself. With the threat of age-related dementia looming on the horizon, I feel the need to prime my brain by reading something a tad more challenging than blog posts and magazines.
No comments on my spiffy new blog template? Really? You folks are a tough crowd.
The kids start band camp tomorrow, and it is Susie's first year. Meaning (drum roll please), for the first time in over 2 decades, I will have 4 hours each day when I am not in chargeof any children. I find this to be a very exciting prospect. Suggestions for my unaccustomed free time are welcome.
This is what freedom looks like.
By the way, I have discovered that the sight of my 8-year-old "baby" carrying a half-size violin in a very business-like fashion is enough to melt even my heart, hardened though it may be by mealtime whining, sibling bickering, and teenage surliness. The challenge, of course, is to maintain that sentimental feeling through 4 weeks of beginning violin practice...
I woke up early this morning and realized that, hey, I'm STILL 50 and I'm not getting any younger and time marches on and this was the first day of the rest of my life and I only live once.
So, apparently, one worrisome side effect of reaching the half-century mark is that one starts to think in cliches.
I wasn't smiling like this. Also? I wore a shirt.
Anyway, the reason that I woke up early is that my sadistically healthy friend had convinced me to sign up for an all-women's walk/run 5K. "You can walk the whole thing," she said. "We walk 3 miles together all the time." Let me point out here that I have no idea why she takes such an interest in my physical conditioning. Maybe because we discuss teenager woes together and she doesn't want to lose her support group.
"Okay," I said. "But NO RUNNING." Because I'm sort of allergic to that. Also, I hate the way my butt bounces up and down when I try to run. I need a bra for my butt.
What she and I didn't count on, however, was the effect of peer pressure on my susceptible self. Hey, I thought as we trudged along the race course, the runners are getting done faster. This walking sure does seem inefficient. And I hear there's food at the end.
"Let's jog until I'm tired," I told my friend, who does marathons, for heaven's sake, and was probably sick of walking anyway. So we did that. Back to walking, I noticed people fatter than me getting ahead of us. Oh, no. Can't deal with that.No way I'm less fit than that chick up there. "Let's jog again," I said. And so it went. At one point, my primary motivation was to pass the 6-year-old in front of us, because there is only so much humiliation I can stomach at my age.
The upshot was that we finished in only 40 minutes. I know! I'm practically...um...whatever the running equivalent of Tiger Woods is. We trotted past the Designated Hugger at the finish line (I told you - it's a girly-girl race) and then we ate bananas and drank water and waited to hear if we had won any door prizes (we didn't). So we called it a day and headed to the parking lot, resplendent in our pink race T-shirts and our pink finisher baseball caps.
"Next year?" I told my stunned friend as we parted ways, "I'm running that entire course."
Yeah, that music is sort of what I felt like. Also? Hot. As in sweltering, not sexy...
My birthday is tomorrow (gosh, have I mentioned that enough yet?), so I'll be taking the day off while Larry holds down the fort around here. I've already had my birthday luncheon with some close friends, so tomorrow I can gad about and act generally irresponsible: you know, shop for clothes that fit, lie around and read, take a nice long walk somewhere different, and maybe even decide to buy all those books that have been languishing on my Amazon wish list.
Wild and crazy! I know.
When I turned 40 (a decade ago, for heaven's sake, I just can't believe it), I had planned to celebrate my 50th birthday (which seemed aeons away, of course) by going on a week-long NON-CAMPING bicycle trip in some scenic area of the country with girlfriends who would also be turning 50 or older. Somehow, that hasn't happened (having another baby at age 42 may have had something to do with it); so now I find myself reassigning that scheme to my 55th birthday. I'll have 2 teen girls in the house by then, so the good Lord knows I'm really going to need an escape plan at that point, anyway.
On a completely unrelated note, I have never seen any episodes of "The Sopranos," even though it was filmed in my own hometown. Opinions on that show? Is it worth my sitting down and watching it now?
Larry's Father's Day presents? They are residing, unopened, on our living room coffee table, waiting for that magical moment when all 6 of us can be in the same place at the same time to watch Larry unwrap them. So, yes, in case you were wondering, I would say things are still a tad hectic around here...
Has anyone else noticed how June (which USED to be my favorite month, and not just because it has MY BIRTHDAY in it) is becoming almost as over-scheduled and over-celebrated as December? Every time I turn around, there is another end-of-school-year event that I need to
a) organize b) bring something to c) arrange rides for d) all of the above
The emails! Good Lord, the emails!
And we homeschool! If the kids were actually IN school, I might just have to wave the white flag and hide under my bed for the month.
So we've been running the gauntlet here - David's birthday, Father's Day, Boy Scout Court of Honor BBQ and pool party (that's right, just pile it on), Civil Air Patrol awards banquet, just to name a few. At some point, things should settle down this week, just in time for (have I mentioned this enough yet, Larry?) MY BIRTHDAY.
Am I supposed to WANT to be foxy at fifty?Why?
50. I'm turning 50.
I'm torn - I could plan a few fun (but inexpensive) things to do with my friends to celebrate. OR I could simply make guest reservations for a private room/cell this weekend at a nearby monastery (ah, the quiet! The blessed quiet!) to give myself time to reflect on what half a century means and what my plans are for the 20 good years I might have left. Also? Just to get away (have I mentioned the quiet?).
Actually, this is probably the phone he was looking for.
Just a quick note tonight, because driving over 10 hours in one weekend makes me too tired to write a real post:
I spent this weekend visiting my dad and checking up on his care; while there, I had to reassure one of his (very concerned) neighbors that my brother was NOT, in fact, stealing all my father's money and taking away his phone so he couldn't call for help.
In other words, if you are going to let an elderly parent suffering from dementia take a walk around the block by himself? You might want to find out what he is saying to people while he's out there.
Remember the Bike-a-Thon? Well, we rode, we saw, we kicked its a**...and at the end a nice person took a photo of my friend and I smiling at the Finish Line. My friend posted this photo to Facebook as soon as she got home. "Gah," I thought when I saw it. "Why did I wear that shirt? It makes me look even MORE busty than I already am. I look like a freak."
In an attempt to act like a normal person (that is, someone who can stand to see a photo of her own self), I shared it to my Facebook timeline; but all day I had to restrain myself from taking it down. "Stop being so vain," I told myself. "What the heck is wrong with you, anyway? Who cares if the camera hates you? Stop it."
Fast forward 5 days, to the weekly walk I take with this same friend. At some point, she mentioned the photo. Oh, no, I thought. Don't talk about it. I don't want to relive the self-loathing.
Turns out I needn't have worried. "You know," she said, "I put it on my Wall because it got both of our faces really well. But then, when I was looking at it, I realized that the shirt I was wearing made me look flat as a board. I look like a boy. It's humiliating. I couldn't stop thinking how bad I looked."
Apparently, self-loathing - like biking - can be a team sport.
Me, talking to a friend at the pool this afternoon: I feel bad because I didn't have presents ready for my 16-year-old's birthday today. And no birthday cake! All I did this morning was bake 72 cupcakes for him to bring to his meeting tonight.
Friend: Well, I think baking 72 cupcakes counts for something, doesn't it?
Today, it is David's 16th birthday. Susie is walking around saying, "Sweet 16 and never been kissed," even though she has NO IDEA what that means and I have NO IDEA where she heard that.
I've been so busy pretending to be an athlete and preparing the house for Bunko (last night, and yes, as a matter of fact, I DID win), that I have no gifts for David to open tomorrow morning. Nothing. In desperation, I promised him I'd make 72 cupcakes for his Civil Air Patrol unit, since the meeting falls on his birthday this year.
72 cupcakes. So, that's what I will be doing today, when I'm not reminiscing about what a cute 3-year-old David was. 72 cupcakes.
Ladies and gentlemen, look. Just...look. See that? Adjustable straps? Check. DDD cup? Check. Lots o' spandex? Check.
It's a summertime miracle, folks. For the first time since I've been 12, I'm going to go to the swimming pool without feeling self-conscious about the fit of my swim top. The thought brings tears to my eyes. Even Larry seems a bit choked up by the momentous nature of the occasion, although it may be the cost of my swimwear that is making him emotional. Hey, all this spandex and advanced engineering doesn't come cheap, you know.
So thank you, Lands' End. Now if you could get around to inventing a swimsuit that camouflages the veins on my legs, I would never shop anywhere else.
Well, whaddaya know? It appears that designing swimsuits for women with a short torso and big boobs still lies outside the reach of human achievement. While I found a skirted bottom fairly easily last year, I failed magnificently in my attempt to find a top that would even begin to fit my particular proportions. What this means is that I am starting out the pool season here with a halter tankini top that I purchased from Lands End back in 2006, one that - in its original, pristine state - marginally did the job but still left a lot to be desired.
Dear swimsuit designers, I sort of hate you.
Me, in a few years...
Let's just say that the spandex in that thing (of which there was PLENTY to begin with) has simply given up the ghost. This year I've had to put safety pins in the straps, in a pathetically unsuccessfully attempt to lift my boobs to the proper height (as in, anywhere near armpit level). Let me tell you, nothing looks more chic at the neighborhood swimming hole than a saggy swimsuit with safety pins in it. Ooh, la, la! Desperate, I ordered 4 different tankini tops from Lands End a few days ago and have prayed for rain until they should manage to arrive. But there is actually a fairly good chance that none of them will fit. NONE.
Dear swimsuit designers, I really hate you.
Seriously, is it that difficult to take nylon and spandex (lots of it) and fit them around a DDD underwire bra? Oh, and to add adjustable straps so that the altitudinally challenged among us have some chance of hoisting the girls above our belly buttons? Is that TOO MUCH TO ASK?
No swimsuit required
Or maybe it's just our society that is to blame. I mean, here we are, busy sending astronauts to the International Space Station while we studiously ignore the deleterious effects of gravity right here on Earth. Why aren't our best minds looking for an answer to the bathing suit support problem, anyway? One would think that, while chasing after the Higgs-Boson particle or whatever, scientists could at least keep an eye out for a decent swimsuit top for the well-endowed. But, no - it's cancer cure this and God-particle that, with nary a thought for the under-served demographic of short, top-heavy bathing suit shoppers. What sort of a world do we live in, anyway?
Dear society, I hate you almost as much as I hate the swimsuit designers.
"Who was that?" asked Rachel, as I hung up the phone yesterday.
"That was Cindy's mommy," I said. "She wanted to know if we were meeting them at the pool today. I told her no, because we have tennis try-outs later."
"Oh, we can't go to the pool, too?"
"Sadly, no - I'm not ambitious enough to do two major outings in one day. Now, Cindy's mommy is different - she's going straight from the pool to a soccer tournament. She's way more energetic than I am."
"Well," said Rachel, sympathetically, "that's because she is so much younger than you."
How my daughter sees me, apparently...
"Um, no - no, she's not," I said. "I'm only one year older than she is."
"Really?" asked Rachel, not even attempting to hide her astonishment. "Are you sure? She looks so much younger."
"Yes! Yes, I'm sure," I said, just a little too loudly.
Realizing her mistake (girls are perspicacious, even at age 10), Rachel backpedaled. "Oh, I guess it's just...just that she is so much TALLER than you. Yeah, that's it - she's taller."
Thanks, honey - I'll take that. At my age, any face-saving lie will do.
I spent most of my day today taking care of all those administrative odds and ends - registrations, permission forms, medical forms, school forms - that have been haunting my dreams most nights. In addition to that, I made a decent dinner, caught up on the kids' math, and made sure to get my exercise. In other words, I was feeling pretty damn good about myself this afternoon -- that is, until a neighbor reminded me that I had completely forgotten to organize the spring gutter cleaning this year.
Okay, I told myself, no one's perfect. I'll get to it. I can do anything. I'm superwoman. LOOK at all that stuff I got done today. LOOK how organized I am. I'm on a roll - nothing can stop me now!
And then Larry came home from Boy Scouts this evening and informed me that, as hospitality chair, I was in charge of procuring comestibles for the Boy Scout BBQ/pool party that NO ONE TOLD ME ABOUT, a party that is scheduled for the 10th. Which, uh, just so happens to be the same day that I am hosting Bunko.
And my son's 16th birthday is the next day.
So my head pretty much exploded, whereupon Larry tried to justify male incompetence by saying, "We just have to get some hamburgers and 'brats, no big deal," and he is lucky we are too broke to afford divorce lawyers.
I can't imagine how desperate my healthy (as in marathon-running, MD-holding) friend must have been to have asked me to do this MS Bike-a-thon with her. Maybe she needed someone along who would make her look fast? What's more, there are going to be all these intimidating-looking people in real bicycle clothes and special bicycle shoes and with specially streamlined bikes at this thing. I know this is true, because I saw them at the packet pick-up yesterday.
Fit Friend: We need to go to the packet pick-up this weekend. Me: Okay. What's that? Fit Friend: It's where you pick up your number and your free T-shirt and such. Me: I get a number? AND a shirt? Awesome! Fit Friend: Look, I'll do the talking there, okay?
So I walked around all day Friday, seizing on any chance to say, "Oh, I have to go to the PACKET PICK-UP tomorrow" and reveling in how athletic that sounded. As it turned out, I was suffering from heat exhaustion after the morning training ride (20 MILES, people) that Fit Friend inflicted on me; so I couldn't really formulate any complete sentences by the time we did pick up our numbers. They were handing out water bottles instead of T-shirts, but I played it pretty cool.
Training ride - I like how that sounds, too.
There were all these cyclists there, fresh back from a different (meaning, more difficult) training ride sponsored by the bike shop that was hosting the PACKET PICK-UP; they were milling around in their spandex and their funny shoes as I willed my heat-exhausted fingers to hold a pen firmly enough to sign a 2-page waiver form. "Do I need to read it?" I asked Fit Friend.
"Essentially, by signing, we're saying it's okay if we drop dead on the ride," she told me.
That didn't sound quite as good to me as packet pick-up and training ride, but I really wanted that water bottle, so I signed anyway. Then they gave us numbers for our helmets AND our backs AND our bicycles -- I guess so they can identify the bodies more easily at the end. And that was that - I am now officially a person who does bike-a-thons and does training rides and goes to packet pick-ups. Who knows? I may even end up wearing one of those spandex shirts with the pockets on the back. Peer pressure, you know...