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42

[ed note: kind of long, very self indulgent. if you make it to the end, you're more intrepid than i give you credit for] There have been few birthdays in my semi-long life that bothered me to the point of angst. imag from http://www.indianhillpress.com/cardbd5r.htmlThere was my eighth birthday. We had a party the day before. Well, my aunts threw a party for me because my parents had to be out of town. At one point during the festivities (which basically came down to a bunch of cousins running wild through the yard, which was no different than any other day except this time we were wearing birthday hats. At least I was) my older cousins informed me that I couldn't play any birthday games because it wouldn't be fair for me to win. The odds of me winning were rather slim, though. I was a clumsy, uncoordinated kid and I wouldn't have been able to pin the tail on the donkey if he shoved his ass right in my face. When I cried to one of my aunts about this birthday game injustice, she told me to stop acting like a little kid. Huh? Stop acting like a kid? But...but I am a kid! Then the light bulb came on. I would be turning eight the next day. What if eight meant you weren't a kid anymore? Did they give more chores at eight? More homework? Would I suddenly have to worry about taxes and war instead of spending my time watching cartoons and playing with my Easy Bake Oven? I spent a very restless night imagining that I would wake up old and crippled. Never mind that I had eight year old cousins who were still as youthful and worry-free as ever. Once an idea like that entered my mind, there wasn't a reasonable fact you could throw at me that would get me to stop worrying. Of course, the next day dawned and I was still a kid. My skin was still smooth, my pajamas still had teddy bears on them. Just to test things out, I watched some cartoons and was relieved to hear myself laughing. Well, at eight I assumed that only kids laughed at cartoons. 34 years later, I'm still laughing. At the same cartoons. So that was my first bout with birthday angst. I was relatively birthday-worry free for the next 17 years. Then came the big 2-5 and crisis of major proportions. All my friends were following the proper life time line set forth by generations before them. Some say there are four stages to life, but in between the Birth, School, Work, Death phases was Get Married, Have Kids. It's what us suburbanites did. Or maybe it was just an Italian thing. I find it laughable now that at 25 I was having what essentially boiled down to a mid-life crisis. Where was I going? What had I done with my life? I was going to be A QUARTER OF A CENTURY OLD! For weeks leading up to my birthday, I refused to entertain any ideas of a party, not even the traditional bar crawl. To make matters worse, my cousin got engaged the day before my birthday. If I knew then what I know now.....eh, you know how that one goes. That was the last birthday crisis I had. The milestones of 30, 35 and 40 came and went without a care. It was easy enough to combat the creeping-of-age poltergeists that were threatening to possess me at 40. I got married that day. Yes, it was my bright idea to combat another life crisis by hijacking my birthday with my own wedding. It worked, oh yes, it worked. But now I'm doomed to a lifetime of combined anniversary/wedding presents, which always translates to "something for the house." So here I am two years later and already I'm faced with another birthday crisis. I thought I was off the hook until 50. I mean, who has nightmares over a 42nd birthday? 42? I should be thrilled to be celebrating the age that represents the answer to life, the universe and everything. Let's take stock of things here, to give this questionable fear of 42 some context: I love my life. I really like my job and all the people I work with. The thought that I'll be there the rest of my working days does not depress me at all. We just became first time homeowners. In short time, I will be a business owner. My marriage is great. My kids are wonderful. My entire immediate family is healthy. Sure, money is tight, but I've already accepted that will always be the case. I already have everything I need and most things I want. I have wonderful friends. I'm satisfied with what I have done with my life and what I'm doing now. The future looks good. So, what gives? If I'm so damn happy with life, why would 42 pose such a challenge? In a word: time. See, now that I'm fully enjoying life and all it has to offer, it occurs to me that I already reached that half-way mark. I waited too long to become self-satisfied! And honestly, I wouldn't really notice the passage of time if it weren't for those two daily reminders that the clock is ticking. That is, my children. You know that Bugs Bunny episode where he's on a desert island with those two guys who keep eyeing each other as hamburgers and hot dogs? It's kind of like that. Every time DJ says something about starting middle school next month or Natalie say something about starting high school next month, my children disappear and are replaced by images of Father Time. And he's laughing at me. I have a kid in high school? How the hell did that happen? Wasn't I in high school just a few years ago? Sure, if you can call 24 years a few. What doesn't help is this "everything old is new again" culture. I took the kids to Kohl's the other day for some back to school shopping. And lo and behold, the demon ponchos I've been writing about were front and center in the junior department. Every mannequin looked like it stepped out of my junior high school yearbook. It's as if a time machine exploded in space and puked the 1970's all over America. How soon before I'm sitting in a high school auditorium wringing my hands over the rebellious youth taking over the town? Yea, went off on a tangent there. But it's all related, somehow. The prevalence of 70's nostalgia here in 2004 has opened some kind of age wound. Seeing all these fringed skirts and ringer tees (with ironic 70's era logos on them) is making me face the fact that I'm old enough to have the accouterments of my childhood worshiped by the kids of today. I'm a dinosaur, a fossilized relic of a time when Earth Shoes were fashionable and 8-tracks were cool. So how do I combat the onset of 42? How do I counter attack the feeling that time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping into the future, that I'm shorter of breath and one day closer to death? I buy myself a lava lamp, listen to some Led Zeppelin and play a game of Pong. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. But I draw the line at ponchos. Ok, 42. I'm ready for you. [Update: In light of the email I'm getting, I really should note that my birthday is not today, it's next week. I like to agonize in advance. But, thanks for the pre-birthday wishes!]

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» Fear strikes out from dustbury.com
People, usually well-meaning, will tell you to your face "it's just a number," but every time the Odometer of Life rolls over another digit I feel something of a twinge.... [Read More]

» Michele Turns 42 from dave's not here
Michele, from A Small Victory, turns 42 next week. From her post it looks like she's got a traumatic moment coming. Surf on over and wish her a happy birthday. [Read More]

» Happy Birthday! from Late Final
Happy Birthday to Don King! But Don King doesn't have a blog. Michele Catalano does and it's her birthday too... Happy Birthday to Michele!... [Read More]

Comments

Intrepid?No,it was good to the last drop.Happy B'day Michele.

Goodness... my birthday's the 18th. Happy birthday, Michele!

(and thank goodness we aren't seeing leisure suits making a comeback...)

I turned 40 in March ... I am still trying to recover from that trauma. I just sent my eldest off to college. Number 2 son is 16 and wanting to drive. My baby girl just started high school.

I can relate.

Happy birthday. Remember ... growing old is mandatory, growing UP is optional.

You're just celebrating the 13th anniversary of your 29th Birthday.
Have a wonderful one!

Happy Birthday!

I am now 46. I have 4 grandkids. I didn't have a problem with birthdays until my 40th when, first thing in the morning, my oldest grandson called me and told me, "Happy birfday gamma, you foorty."
That's when I realized, not only am I forty, but I have a grandson old enough to call me and tell me, you foorty. Granted he was only 2, but still.
On the other hand, I'm glad I had my kids young, at 46, the grandkids tire me out, I couldn't have done what some of my friends are doing and having kids now, I'd be exhausted. Although I wouldn't mind being a surrogate mom. I'd use the money for a facelift, and tummy tuck. And I figure that I am just now middle aged, hell, everyone in my family has lived well into their 90's. I've just gotta figure out what I want to be now that I am grown up! And I only have 6 years to retire and then find a new career, so I am back in school, looking at medical professions, not high stress ones, but well paying ones, that have national certifications so I can take them anywhere. And by the time I retire, my motorhome will almost be paid off so I can live in it and travel. It will all be good. And I can be the disneyland gramma, and the kids can come visit me while I am parked right next to it! It will all be good. I have me a plan.

My best wishes in advance for a wonderful 42nd Birthday.

Michele,

As it turns out, I turned 42 years, 42 days, 42 hours old early this morning... Carl Spackler was wrong! You don't have to do a loop with the 'Lama and wait for your death bed for total consciousness. It happened to me this morning.

Of course, bloggers are a different breed; I wouldn't be surprised if this doesn't happen to you ON your birthday...

So you got that going for you, which is nice.

I'm 47, a year older than my father ever lived to be. This year, both of my stepsons became parents, so I'm now a grandfather twice over. Fact is, I couldn't be happier.

The only alternative to growing older is to die. When you look at life that way, birthdays really aren't so bad.

Enjoy your birthday. Celebrate living. Enjoy the changes that life gives you (just hold on through your daughter's teen years - believe it or not, most kids make it to the other side intact).

”Age is a question of mind over matter. If you don’t mind it doesn’t matter” – Satchel Paige

As Joe Walsh sang,
"Lucky I'm sane after all I've been through
Everybody says I'm cool (He's cool)
I can't complain but sometimes I still do
Life's been good to me so far."

When I turned thirty-four, I thought "Hey, that's Walter Payton's number."

Walter's dead, and I don't feel so good myself.

Just turned 40 - no problem. I did tell folks that 42 worried me - double 21. You always remember waiting to turn 21 - well, then it'll happen twice! Thanks for showing me that I should start worrying now... ;)

Don't think of yourself as 42. Think of yourself as 21 with 21 years seniority........

Welcome to the "The Answer" club. It's not altogether too bad here.

Hmm. Now that I think about it, I do have a lava lamp sitting on my desk, but I can stop using it any time I want. Really.

heh. i'll be 29 on monday. i feel your pain.

Age does itself. You don't have to worry about it. Enjoy what you have, but remember clearly that all we have is only on loan to us, like library books.

The past is but memory, the future but hope or dread. But the present, now, that's something worth spending some time with. Happy Birthday.

Stop acting like a middle-aged woman!

42 isn't so bad! As a matter of fact, it's the answer to life, the universe and everything! At least, 42 will do.

42 isn't so bad! As a matter of fact, it's the answer to life, the universe and everything! At least, 42 will do.

Sorry for the duplicate post, Michele. Please remove one of them, and this post, as well.

In light of the 42 and all, I felt it was appropriate for me to stop by and wish you a happy birthday.

I got 10 years on ya. 42 is one of those ages that trigger something...it's the age that Dudley Moore's character in "10" was turning that caused him his middle-aged crisis...and we all know what happened to old Dudley, don't we?

Happiest of Birthdays Michele!!!!

I'm 42 and love just being able to say that I'm the answer to life, the universe and everything. So congrats and best wishes to you, next week, on your 42nd.

Waaah! (I'll be 43 at the end of the month.)

JK. Happy Birthday, Michele (belated).

I got the same timewarp reaction last week in Target. Only it was my KIDS jr high clothes I was looking at. When I look in the mirror and I see this "older person" gray hair, flabby upper arms, etc. I think "WHAT HAPPENED? It's all a blur, where have I gone, how did I get here," really sometimes comical, sometimes sad. But interesting, and I'm pretty sure my experience entitles me to be right all the time. Problem is Rosemary E took the title before I could claim it, aw shucks. Anyway, Happy Birthday, hope they don't stop coming.

Oh it's today! First thing to go is the mind. (Well not the first thing.)

Happy birthday (for next week). Love the HHGTTG reference. I thought I was the only one who got that..

I turned 42 on Jan 2 of this year and found it marvelous. Of course, I usually celebrate my birthday by drowning the hangover left from New Years Eve.

Honestly, though, stand up straight and tall, embrace your age and flip off the return of the '70s fashion. You are older and wiser, and better than all of that. Wear your standard NY issue black-on-black. And remember: age & treachery will ALWAYS overcome youth and skill.

Ah Michele, I know what you mean about the kids getting older (my son just turned 20, how did that happen? I'm only 27! At least, that's how I feel!).

But it's YOUR birthday, YOUR New Year...so do what you want to do, be who you want to be, and enjoy every moment of your day, and every day after it.

What's the point of life if you're not really living it?

Birthday Hugs to you!

Hey, cool. I had that Godfathers album!

You? Like to agonize in advance? Never would have guessed it...

But seriously, a man says to his wife on her 40th birthday, "Gee, 40. Maybe I should trade you in for two 20 year olds..."

She looks at him, smiles sweetly, and says "But dear, you aren't wired for 220."

OK, that wasn't so serious but this is. Have a good one, and lots more.

Many happy returns, Michele. Mine is a week or so after yours, 45 on 9/2.

I am proud to say I never had a poncho. Sears or otherwise.

I'm 23, and I've been having a midlife crisis for the past two years.
My mom is five years younger than my dad, and to tease me, she'd sometimes calculate how old my future husband was right then, based on that.
Well, this year my future freaking husband is 28. For some reason I find this rather alarming.

Oh well, Michele, you're much younger than my mom, and I think of my mom as quite young. She plays video games too!

By the way, Lileks wrote his Sunday column about the 70s fashion grippe: http://www.startribune.com/stories/804/4936864.html

You and I were born on the same day - we could be twins!

However, I am much wiser and more accomplished.

That is the most depressing thing I've heard all day.

Geez, michele.

Shotgun a beer and have fun.

Ohj, and I promise to shoot you of I ever see you wearing a velour track suit and a fanny-pack.

Michele: Turned 43 on the 15th, daughter starts High School the 26th. She'll be wearing stuff I refused to wear 25 years ago. I'm with ya honey.

Okay, okay, who stole the painting for the old lady?

I'll be 51 the 3rd of September. My oldest turned 30 August 12. That's what blows my mind. She's 30. However, I'll always be 18 in my mind, no matter how wrinkled the package gets. That's what keeps me going.

Happy Birthday, Michele. I hope you have many more, and much happiness.

Elizabeth
Imperial Keeper

So YOU stole the "Scream" painting!

I was once given a surprise party and wow was i surprised i dont real know how old i was(8,9)but my mom said i turned white well i alway was a nervous kid