About Me

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Los Angeles, California
I am 47 and thriving in Southern California. One day at a time.
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Sunday, October 27, 2013

they say it's your birthday

i'm not a fan of birthdays.

there's a brief period as a child when the hole inside you is still small. it can be filled with presents and balloons and cake. of course, nowadays it's gone beyond filling. we stuff our children. gone are the days of one "big" present and a few little gifts - oh, and the token present thrown at your sibling to keep him in his place. if your teenager's birthday party doesn't end up as an episode of something on MTV, you've failed as a parent.

i am not a parent, so i don't have to worry about this. but filling that hole has been a shopping trip of constant browsing, looking to acquire a lifetime-supply-of-something that would keep me satisfied.

the truth is, it's never been THINGS. i've never subscribed to the idea that material things would satisfy anything. i've been perfectly content to be a thrift store junkie, giddily digging for hidden treasures hanging somewhere between the polyester muumuus and "Poison" t-shirts.

"I love the smell of mothballs in the morning!"

not unlike a little girl with lipstick smears of joy, i happily and heartily accept hand-me-downs for my dress-up box.

i really don't know what to do with myself in a mall. the blitz of franchised names feels like a light show at the planetarium -it's supposed to be galvanizing, but it just throws me into an epileptic seizure; it makes me want to hang out behind the Orange Julius and shake in my leatherette boots. fake or fabulous finds, i've known for a while now that spending big piles of money gives me an intense case of buyer's remorse. almost immediately, i break out into anxiety, spreading like a rash as i scratch my head in confusion. i arrive home, the conquering heroine busting through the front door with my bursting bags of bargains. i unpack, try everything on and strut in front of my husband, parading with the secret knowledge that 5' 3", 40 year-olds are now all the rage in Paris. i then meticulously fold and pile everything away into my closet.

twenty minutes later, the rush is gone and i am limp with said remorse.

retail therapy is like eating Chinese. you pick and choose, graze and gorge on eighteen different items, but after half an hour, you're suddenly hungry again.

when my husband asks me, "What do you want for your birthday?", it's not an easy question to answer. when a husband gives a wife a kidney, the wife ain't in much of a bargaining position anymore. ah, gone are the days of my endless Trump.

"at least you have 2 kidneys..."

not only does he no longer have two kidneys, but he gave one of them to his wife.


[although, i'm still a girl, dammit! i concede! the robin's egg blue box still makes my heart flip like a freakishly-fit, stunted teenage-girl on the balance beam.]

"i didn't ASK to be born!"

this is a standard complaint voiced by children preparing to run away and bitter old people who never win the lottery. it's also a great attention seeking device.

another great attention seeking device is being a teenager. hair mousse was not the only trend to take off in the 80's. full-frontal drama began to expose itself during my '83-'87 birthdays. i LOVED to tell the tales of the crises my beleaguered self had to endure upon the date of my birth.

when i turned 15, i awoke in my closet - no, not because of some sexual identity crisis - i had slept there overnight, flagellating myself with extra-help math notes and shoe boxes full of "Dear Diary" over my behavior the night before. and...scene. my mother had dared - DARED! - to now restrict the length of my phone conversations after a moon fest with my bf went into overtime. and i had dared - DARED! - to tell her what i thought about that.

never challenge a Viking.

[ah, the 80's. a time of neon shoelaces, skyscraping shoulder pads and the single-phone household. the time it took to dial a number on the rotary! the time it took to find a pay phone and feed it a dime! the time you wasted answering the phone and taking a message! you kids have it so good today. you save so much time. you must get so much more done, like, have entire conversations by phone without talking to anyone.]

when i turned 16, i cut class and spent the day walking up and down Yonge St., Toronto's main drag of head shoppes and record stores. i purchased a glamorous pair of "gold" earrings - long, thin strands of metal, two on each side that hung all the way down to my shoulders. they were stylin', but completely impractical, dangerous even. one false move, and i would've pulled a Van Gogh. but i felt empowered enough to tell the vendor that it was my birthday and how old did he think i was??? "17?" he guessed. oh, the heart-pounding excitement!!! like front row seats at a Duran Duran concert!!! he thought i was an entire year older!!!

[the irony is seriously painful.]

when i arrived home with my bff, N., i was dressed head-to-toe in the day's score. black leatherette pants, a white, angular, New Wave shirt, and a cocksure attitude that skipping school was totally tubular when you were 16. oh, my god, it was not even tubular! not at all. my mother went narly on my bitchen ass, i'm sure. i went upstairs, bagged my face, and had a full on meltdown.

[where is your "Relax" shirt when you need it?]

when i turned 17, our basement flooded. 'nuff said.

when i was 18, i decided i HAD to have lobster for dinner when my mother asked what my stomach's desire might be. despite a heritage high in herring, being Danish and all, i don't ever recall having HAD lobster before, but i knew i HAD to have it. cut to my poor, relentlessly appeasing mother, who'd plattered what looked to me to be a gigantic orange spider. "I CAN'T EAT THIS!, wailed the arachnophob, and the evening was flushed down the garbage disposal to the sounds of crunching claws and babyish blubbering.

so much for fine dining.

and when i was 19, my kidney function was at 8%.

i could go through the years. but the kidney-transplanted-Hollywood-cliche-alcoholic-addict thread is getting old.

like me.

when you celebrate your age, you are actually marking the END of that current year. when you turn 21, you are actually marking the end of 21 years and moving into your 22nd year of life. it's an unfortunate anecdote often overlooked. no-one is born and gets a "Happy "Zero" years!" party. so technically, i'm moving-on-up into my 46th year of life. admittedly, there's a part of me that's freaked about moving up into a new box - leaving the age 39-44 box, for the age 45-49 box - boxes you see on shopping surveys, job interviews and government census forms.

it begs the question. do i care about growing older?

i look at it two ways. from the outside in. and from the inside out.

from the outside in, i check off, not unlike the surveys found at the bottom of receipts, the following hot mess:

Unemployed. [Successful Hollywood Cliche.]
Kidney Transplanted. [Does Not Qualify For Life Insurance.]
Alcoholic. [Talk To My Husband.]
Addict. [See above.]
Discovers New Pockets Of Cellulite Every Day. [Can See From Space.]
Cannot Get Rid Of Relapse Belly A.K.A. The Minus-Six Pack. [Bring On The Spanx.]
Should I Get Botox? [All The Housewives Are Doing It.]
Must Dispose Of All Concert And Ironic Catchphrase T-Shirts. [What Not To Wear.]
Called Ma'am Over Miss At A 10:1 Ratio. [Youth Is Wasted On The Young.]
Must Retire All Selfie-Taking Activity [For The Young And The Desperate.]

but, when i look from the inside out:

Unemployed. [Unblocked Writer At Last!]
Kidney Transplanted. [Not On Dialysis.]
Alcoholic. [Sober.]
Addict [See above.]
Discovers New Pockets Of Cellulite Every Day. [More Of Me To Love.]
Cannot Get Rid Of Relapse Belly A.K.A. The Minus-Six Pack. [Makes For Lovely Hound Pillow.]
Should I Get Botox? [Bacterial Toxins Found In Spoiled Beef? SO Not My Drug Of Choice.] 
Must Dispose Of All Concert And Ironic Catchphrase T-Shirts. [Opportunity To Transition Into Wrap Dresses and Chanel Suits Like Madonna.]
Called Ma'am Over Miss At A 10:1 Ratio. [Am Officially A Cougar. Can Now Flirt With Starbucks Baristas and College Freshmen.]
Must Retire All Selfie-Taking Activity [Unless It's My Birthday :-)]

today, all my needs are met. i have a working kidney. i am sober. i am married to a wonderful man. we have the sweetest hound. i have family and friends. i have a roof over my head, food in my fridge, gas in my car and a dream in my heart.

but, best of all, today the hole is filled. i spent most of my life feeling adrift, unmoored from a place where you all seemed to frolic and thrive.

today, i know that place isn't out there, it's been inside me all along.

and that's worth celebrating.

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