I just finished reading it. Thoughts:
1. I’m glad I read it. Wow.
2. I didn’t read any reviews of it or anything like that but there were many parts when I was thinking, “A man wrote this. This is not how a woman would think or describe things. Even an emotionally repressed woman like Eileen Leary.” I don’t mean it was insensitive, just that it wasn’t 100% credible to me. But it’s fiction so that’s fine. Besides …
3. The world and the ethos were eerily credible. Blunt force credible. My God, it was like the story of my family and those of my fellow second and third generation Irish Catholic American immigrants in NYC brethren, all wrapped into one familiar tragicomic tale. The feelings of love, dread and poetry.
4. And then you get to this point where you’re like …. SHIT! Is this it? Is it all misery? A tale told by an idiot signifying nothing? Like reading the obits as a twisted form of entertainment (Irish sports pages)?
5. But then you read the letter from Ed to Colin … and all is understood.
6. And you feel for Eileen and the fact that she could never fully love or appreciate what she had while she had it. That was her hamartia.
7. And you are reminded to hug your loved ones and treasure the moments… And read more.
I just finished reading it. Thoughts:
your husband has early morning meetings in the city today so you are doing the dropoffs before heading in to the city yourself. you are already bleary eyed because the baby would not/could not sleep last night. she finally fell asleep on your bed and is sleeping past 7 am — which she NEVER does. so getting the kids ready for school isn’t easy, because you can’t leave her (she might fall out)!. your 10 year old sliced a bagel in half for your 8 year old to bring in for lunch. except she did a butch job and her little brother is disappointed by the breaddy nubs, and you feel badly for not doing it yourself. and well fuck it the dog won’t get walked today — he’d better do his business out back. somehow you get yourself dressed, maybe a brush through the hair but no makeup. the kids off to school, the baby to daycare, the par parked and caught the train in. check your email to learn of a powerpoint 911. and nobody is in the office yet to correct it. it is you … and some miserable schmoe sitting next to you on NJ Transit… and it’s only 9 a.m.
It’s been about a month now and I’ve gotta say, I like being 40. Not that it’s so different from 39 or the preceding years, but the perception shift is enjoyable. I was raised to be one of those “nice girls,” but with each year that passes I care less about whether people like me. Am I sloppy, careless, bitchy? Dunno, maybe a little depending on the day and the context. But overall I’m good with myself and if you don’t like it, bite me.
Also liberating is not caring what I look like as much as I once did. If I manage to get make up on, I’m pleased. But if not, oh well. Society is so dumb for valuing women based on their appearance. If only I could have back all the energy, time and dollars wasted on vain attempts to fix things about myself that weren’t wrong to begin with.
Now that I’m no longer a spring chicken, I don’t even have to pretend to live up to the beauty ideal. And when I do get dolled up, it’s for myself because I deserve to feel good (and my husband … he deserves it too).
Also, it’s not the end of the world if I’m carrying around a few extra pounds. Hubbs and kids couldn’t love me more than they already do, and I like how I look in clothes. There are much more important things to worry about right now than my waistline. So that’s that.
Worry: it still lords over me like a sword of Damocles but, less so than it once did. Years of experience have shown me that worry is a waste of time. 99% of the time the worst case scenario does not materialize. And when it does I have the fortitude and support to deal with whatever comes.
I have friends who complain about being old which is absurd. 40 is young. I’m planning to be around for at least another 40. The way I see it everything up to now has just been training for what’s to come. Maybe I’m foolishly optimistic. Maybe I’ll just be going sideways for the remainder of my days on Earth … catering to my kids and having no personal growth and nothing of my own to look forward to. But I don’t think so.
There is always something new to learn. A new challenge. No matter the age. What I like about this time is that I realize that … and I still have a relatively young and functional body … no aches or pains or conditions to deal with. I am so very grateful for my health and the health of my family. I know what I want and how to pursue it. So yeah, this is 40 and I dig it.
I decided to start blogging again. Very two thousand and three of me, I know. And if you’re reading this now it means that for one day at least I’ve found a way – the focus – to write on the train. New Jersey Transit, where I spend three or more hours a day, Monday through Friday, sitting, schlepping. Waiting impatiently to either get to my office in Manhattan or my home in suburban NJ.
I aspire to be a positive person and to see “problems” as opportunities. But I have a very strong Larry David streak in me. I get hung up on the inane, exasperating, slow witted behaviors of strangers and kvetch about it. Riding the train everyday, one can’t escape the banality of her own existence. We like to think we’re special, but we’re all just coming and going, in both the macro and micro sense.
Part of why I am blogging again is simply to get my brain working again. It’s been a bit dead over the past two years as I’ve been busy making a massive life overhaul. Before all of this, I used to read, I used to write, I used to challenge my own intellect. For all my complaining about having no time I can certainly spend less of my attention on stupid social media and endlessly checking my work email. I can read real books and thought pieces instead of crappy Buzzfeed listicles. And occasionally, I can write!
“ Forget all rules, forget all restrictions, as to taste, as to what ought to be said, write for the pleasure of it…” – William Carlos Williams
Three years ago at this time I lived with my dog and cat in the East Village, went to Yoga 4 times a week and was an inveterate New Yorker. If you told me that by age 40, I’d be a married, Mom to three, home-owning suburban commuter I’d ask you what you were smoking (and could I perhaps have some of that?). But, here I am, living my dream alongside my perfect partner, raising a family that I cherish. #ThisIs40