Tag Archives: 50

It’s Birthday Month

Hello

Wow – we’re really getting close. Bet you can’t wait until I write about something else.

17. Well, it’s June. And, like every June for the last 49 – OK, probably only the last 45 – years, I started the month with butterflies in my stomach. It’s probably something I should have gotten over long ago, but I just didn’t.

It’s my birthday month, dammit. It’s special.

I didn’t realize just how much I’ve always enjoyed June until I was at a wedding reception on Memorial Day weekend and a cousin I only get to see once every few years made a comment something to the effect of, “I know how you love June.”

And I do. I really, really do.

That’s not to say I – usually – make a big deal about my birthday or really want anyone else to, either. A group of friends got together for dinner for my 40th, and I’ve had a small gathering with just a few friends a couple years since then, but I can’t even remember the last time I had a party to celebrate getting another year older. My birthday comes, I usually have lunch or dinner with the kids, and then my birthday goes. No biggie.

But not this year.

To be honest, I do feel a little goofy talking about my birthday party, asking people if they’re going to come, blah blah blah. As extroverted as I am, and as much as I may joke otherwise, I really don’t like to make things all about me.

No, really. I don’t.

Except this is 50. Fifty. Fif. Tee.

It’s kind of a big deal.

So I’m all about the birthday party, and the plans, and hoping a lot of people can make it. Not because I want them to focus on me, but because I want to have a big party, for whatever reason. An afternoon (we’re doing a happy hour party – great idea, eh?) where a bunch of friends – and some strangers – get together and eat and drink and laugh and have a good time. THAT is what I want for my birthday this year. Fun and frivolity, food and friends, laughter and libations.

That doesn’t seem too much to ask. 🙂

 

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Life is good

20170507_103358

Life is good, folks.

Still counting down to 50.

42. I was downstairs talking to a now-former neighbor about a month ago, telling her about my pending move to a condo a little up the street. I’d been in the apartment above hers for seven years, and she and her extended family had just moved in within the last year.

My excitement about the new place was evident, and I’d invited her to stop in some time and sit out on my deck. Then she said something that caught me completely off-guard.

“Molly, I’m so envious of you. You really have it all together.”

Tears welled in my eyes almost instantly. I was touched by her honesty, but also by the fact that since my divorce 15 years prior, I’d hardly lived the life anyone would envy.

“It’s been a long time coming, that’s for sure,” I told her. “It hasn’t been easy.”

We talked a little more, then I retreated to my apartment and continued packing.

50 for molly3I’ve thought a lot about that conversation since. This woman isn’t much older than me, but lives with her 30-year-old son, his girlfriend and their two small children. The younger woman is expecting a third child in the fall. In the six or so months I’ve known them, the three adults have been in various stages of employment, sharing one car. I’ve given rides and been asked for small “loans” I know will never be repaid. They struggle, but they’re decent people (aside from the constant pot smoking by the son – which is only annoying because the smell is rank and filtered into my apartment).

I think that conversation best illustrates why I’m so looking forward to 50.

Life is good.

I’ve always tried to be positive and enjoy the life I have – no matter what the situation was at the time. But in the 15 years since my divorce, it’s been tough. I’ve filed for bankruptcy twice – the first time because my soon-to-be-ex-husband was going to file and my attorney said it would be in my best interest, the second because a new bank had taken over my mortgage and was threatening an impossible refinance and I had to walk away.

For the first 10 years post-divorce, the kids and I lived on what I made, day-to-day. No credit cards to help in a pinch, if we didn’t have the money we didn’t get whatever was wanted. It meant the kids were on reduced-price lunches for a couple years in elementary school. It meant our gas was shut off one summer because I fell behind in the payments – then earned a real estate commission check big enough to catch up, just in time for fall. It meant being upside-down in cars I didn’t like because my credit score was horrible and I allowed myself to be bullied by a salesperson who convinced me “this is the only car you qualify for.”

It meant we didn’t do vacations, seldom went out to eat or to the movies. New clothes were a luxury saved mostly for back-to-school, holidays and special occasions.

But it was still good. I said – often – that I loved my 40s, it was the best decade ever. And, really, it was. I had great people in my life, and things always seemed to work out – mostly because of the great people I had in my life. We were never homeless, there was always food to eat, my relationship with my kids has always been strong.

For the last three or four years, though, things have slowly started turning around. Life was still good, but life was getting good, too. My credit score was improving and I was able to get a credit card. My daughter and I went on a Colorado vacation with my then-boyfriend and some of his family. I could go out with friends more.

In the last year, things have really turned around. I was able to get rid of the car I didn’t like and get the car I really wanted. I went on vacation to Phoenix to visit a cousin/friend. I’ve realized what I really want in a relationship and have stopped accepting less – which led to my telling a man who’s been in and out of my life for several years how I really felt about him (it didn’t end like it does in the movies – sigh).

And now the move. I have my first “me” place, a grown-up apartment/condo with all of the amenities I’d want.

This is why I’m looking forward to my 50s. I’m a more grounded “me” than I’ve ever been, and I’m excited to see where it goes.

Life is good.

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Stairs, schmairs

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Part of a sporadic countdown to 50.

58. (OK, I don’t know why, exactly, but seeing that there are just 58 days left of my 40s just made my heart skip a beat. Fortunately, it was just one beat – or there might be a lot fewer days of my 40s.)

I’m moving.

I made a list of a lot of things I wanted to do this year, my “year of 50.” Take a vacation. Check. Spend more time with friends. Check (so far). Lose some weight. Check (so far). Do things I’ve always found excuses not to do in the past. In progress.

But moving? Moving wasn’t on my list.

50 for molly3It certainly could have been. The longest I’ve ever lived in any one residence is eight years, and that was the house I bought right after my divorce. Almost eight years to the day we moved in, the kids and I moved out and into what is my apartment now. On June 1, I’d have been there seven years – making it the second-longest address I’ve had in my lifetime.

So, really, moving could have been a possibility. It just wasn’t at the time of my list.

Sure, I’ve often looked to see what was available in the area. My current building isn’t secure, my mailbox is out in the open and I worry about freelance and royalties checks “disappearing.” There’s no garage, no deck, and I’m convinced one of my neighbors is dealing drugs.

But I have always decided to stay. It’s a nice enough apartment, and really, for the price and the location – you can’t get an apartment that big anywhere close.

But the first week of April I announced I was going to get serious about finding a new place, and less than two weeks later I had a place and had given notice to my landlord. The new apartment is in a secured building, with a locked mailbox, and there’s a garage, deck and fireplace. I’m excited.

Then yesterday it hit me: It’s on the third floor.

I knew it was on the third floor – I mean, I had to climb the stairs to see it, right? But it didn’t really hit me that it’s on the third floor.

 

Why does this matter? Because I’m almost 50. My knees and my ankles and my legs are Almost Fifty. Who gets older and thinks, “Wow, I should move somewhere that makes me climb even more stairs that I do right now.”

Who does it? Well, me, apparently. I do. Apparently the thought of lugging groceries up to the third floor didn’t cross my mind, or carrying the 20-pound bag of dog food – or being dragged by the leashed 45-pound Lab, for that matter.

I just did as I do – I fell in love with the apartment, the deck, the view, the garage, the fireplace … and signed on the dotted line.

I guess that’s one way to get my 10,000 steps in every day.

 

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It’s not all sunshine and rainbows

50 for molly3

Part of a sporadic countdown to 50

67. (It’s only fitting that I end the brief break from the countdown with 67 days to go – as in, ’67 was the year that really got this countdown started …)

There have only been a few times I’ve let my age bother me.

I was fairly traumatized by 25 because I was a whole quarter-of-a-century old. As a kid you don’t really think of your age in relation to a century, but 25 – that’s a different story. That’s a common fraction and you are that common fraction of a birthday most people never see. You’re 25 percent of your way to 100.

Thirty bothered me only temporarily before the actually birthday – but once it arrived I realized 30 wasn’t so bad. It’s like once you lost that “I’m 20-something” attitude, people started taking you more seriously.

Then the 40s came, and I wasn’t too disheartened at all. A co-worker was once amazed when I wrote a blog for work about having had to go to driver’s school – not because I shared my penchant for speeding tickets with the public, but because I included my age. But as I neared 45 – and my first mammogram – I suddenly started wishing I was younger. Or that they’d moved the recommended age of the first mammogram to 75.

Tools to Get You Through Your Colonoscopy.pngA new fear has replaced the mammogram fear, and I’ve made the irrational decision to talk to friends and relatives who have been through it.

At 50, it’s highly recommended that you have a colonoscopy.

Yuck.

From what I’ve been told, the procedure itself is simple. You’re given anesthesia, and you wake up an hour later and it’s over. But the 36 hours before it?

No. Just … no.

I was the recovery buddy for a friend, and saw how loopy she was when the procedure was over. Both she and another friend have offered to give me a ride to the hospital and be my recovery buddy after, but have both assured me they won’t be with me during the prep period.

“Trust me,” says my friend who just had hers in January, “you won’t want anyone there for that. You won’t even want your dog there.”

Oh. Goody.

Wanting to get a more medical explanation of what to expect the night before, I turned to WebMD (yes, I know I work in a hospital …), where I was cautioned to “stay in the bathroom — bring something to entertain yourself, like a book, television, or laptop.”

Ummm …

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Some things get better – right?

50 for molly3

Part of an ongoing-but-irregular countdown to 50.

75. Everyone talks about how things start to get more difficult as you age: losing weight, exercising, reading without glasses, finding your car keys, remembering just why it is you walked into a room or opened a closet door. I get all those – and fully agree with all of them.

But there are a few things I really hope get easier as we age.

  • Budgeting money – I’ve never been a financial whiz, to be sure, but learning to live on a budget – and to say “no” to myself – has become a priority to me since my divorce 15 years ago. Part of it comes from the fact that until three years ago, I didn’t have any credit cards – we gave them up as part of the divorce proceeding (never mind) and I never got another one until recently. Truly living on what you have is an eye-opening experience. I’ll admit to splurging a bit when I finally did break down and get a card, but I’ve tempered that part of my brain with the, “but if we save we can go places!” philosophy (Ireland, here I come!). So far, so good. It’s still tight, I still cut things out of my budget to make room for other things, but, as they say, “You’ve come a long way, baby.”
  • Budgeting time – This one comes a bit harder to me. It’s no secret that I tend to spread myself a bit too thin (that came up twice in my performance review at work) and – more times than I’d like – I run late to personal events and outings. I think one of the reasons I don’t go to a lot of movies is because I worry about being late. Mostly because I usually am.
  • Dating – While this will certainly make a best-selling book someday, dating in my 40s was … interesting. There were a few relationships and an awful lot of awful lines from potential suitors (“I’m getting tired of the five-knuckle shuffle” or “Like most redheads I bet your [sic] built like a brick house”) or from those who I actually went out with (remember the gross, “I’d like to put my skin boat in your tuna chute”? Still makes my skin crawl.). I swear I’m hearing more bad come-ons now than I did before I was married.
  • Living – This one definitely gets better with age, at least I think so. I gave up home ownership seven years ago and really, really like renting – the idea of someone else picking up the tab when the water heater dies, or the air conditioning goes out is quite appealing. And right now I’m in the middle of another transition – moving from a building where I’m kind of embarrassed to have first-time guests visit – the smell of marijuana is overpowering, litter in the yard is off-putting, the broken front door and burned-out hall lights slum-looking – to a secure building where, theoretically, “shit gets done.” Living better to me also means enjoying life, being happy – you never know when you won’t get another tomorrow, so enjoy today. That’s what I try to do. Live with no regrets.
  • Finally figuring out why I really did go into that room – Yeah, I doubt I’ll figure that one out, either.

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I’m a crazy dog lady

IMG_20161118_173613Part of a countdown to 50.

80. One of the things that worried my daughter most about moving out of our apartment was leaving me alone with the animals.

She wasn’t afraid that I’d neglect them, or that they’d overtake the palace. She was more concerned that I’d turn into a crazy dog or cat lady, talking to the animals, having conversations, neglecting human friends in favor of my canine or feline furbabies.

At the time, I thought the concern was sweet but needless. I understood its base: I did (do) often talk to my dog and cat, and sometimes think I know what they’re trying to tell me. Mattie, my cat, will wrap herself around my feet every morning when we get up and every evening when I get home, meowing and looking up at me the whole time. I look down at her and say, “I know, I know.” (I really don’t know. I don’t have a freaking clue.)

Ceili, my 2-year-old Lab, and I often communicate through the morning and night, too – often with her trying to get me to play and me trying to get her to understand, “In a minute.” And then, equally as often, with me ending up throwing the ball or the rope or the squeaky toy until she’s worn out.

But that’s all normal stuff, that’s what all pet owners do.

Then yesterday happened. I had an argument with Ceili. What’s worse – she won.

We were in the hall between the living room and the bedrooms and she was barking at the spare bedroom/storage room, which is closed to her via baby gate. I knew she was trying to tell me her tennis ball was in there, and I didn’t see it. The conversation went like this:

Ceili: woof

Me: It’s not in there.

Ceili: Woof

Me: I don’t see it, it’s not there.

Ceili: Woof!

Me: It’s. Not. In. There.

Ceili: WOOF!!

Me: Oh, for the love of … (moves small box) Shit. There it is.

I threw the ball, she gave me an indignant, “I told you so!” look and off she went. And I was left there, both wondering what the hell just happened and concerned that my daughter might just have been right.

I might need a roommate. Or more human friends.

 

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50 isn’t all that old – is it?

50 for molly3

Part of a daily countdown to 50.

86. Migraines are the devil. That’s my post for 86 days out. They’re evil.

85. I got a text this week from a high school friend who said she’d been reading these posts and they were making her feel old, that it “doesn’t seem possible” that we should be this old.

I totally agree. I certainly don’t feel the way my younger self perceived 50 would feel, I don’t think I look like I’m nearing 50 – at least, others seem surprised to hear that I’m close to that milestone.

Actually, I still kind of think of myself in my late 30s-early 40s. You know, not a kid anymore but nowhere near retirement age, either.

And then I think of my kids. And their friends.

How is it that I can have kids that are going to be 25 and 22 this year? (When I was 25, I had been married for two years and had just given birth to my first child.) How is it possible that several of my kids’ friends have kids of their own? Or are buying houses?

How has it been 30 years since U2 released “The Joshua Tree”? I remember several of my friends from college were going to see them in their concert stop in Kansas City that year and I begged and begged my parents to loan/give me money to buy a ticket. The concert came and went I didn’t get to go – only to learn a week later that my parents had, in fact, given me the money for the tickets. (We didn’t have ATMs then, and forget about online banking.)

How has it been 34 years since I first got my driver’s license in Missouri, or 32 years since I cast my first vote? How has it been 36 years since I first started paying into Social Security with a non-babysitting job? I should be 36, not have 36-year-old memories.

Now, suddenly, I feel old. I need a nap.

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