My D-Day.

My actual birthday, the day I turned 40, was a two-show day. My mom had been in town helping take care of the kids so I got to see her on my birthday for the first time since I don’t remember when. Both CC and I were working a lot of overtime so I wasn’t expecting a big to-do from anyone.

I was holding out a hope that at some point in the day, there would be cake. It was really all I wanted.

Right before I left for work I was presented with this cake, made for me by #1:

She also got me a gift certificate to MAC cosmetics which I plan on trading in for something extravagant.

So my day was already pretty great before I even left for work.

At the theater, we were programming the console, making changes, and all of a sudden some friends from my old show (across the street) came in.

Then some more showed up.

With cake.

And then more friends.

With gifts.

And I was in the middle of working but my bosses made me stop and open gifts and have cake while they kept working.

Now, nothing can truly compare to a dark chocolate box cake made by your eldest child topped with your age in bacon. But the cake that my friend Michelle made me is a close second.

She’s made this cake for me before and it’s nothing short of divine. I should also point out that Michelle is the one friend I will never bake for. That would just be embarrassing.

The cake:

Cinnamon cake, with  ancho chile chocolate butter cream frosting. You don’t notice it at first, but gradually you become aware that the piece of cake you’re eating is totally kicking your ass, and you want nothing more than to eat the entire rest of the cake and then roll around naked in the leftover frosting.

Well, maybe that’s just me.

Michelle also strong-armed our friends into chipping in on a gift.

 A really big, outrageously generous gift that I totally don’t deserve but happily accepted anyway.

So big, I was rendered speechless.

I’ll give you a little hint:

No?

How about this:

Still no?

Okay.

The Marlene Deitrich Mont Blanc.

!!!!!

I have really good friends. Who are afraid of Michelle.

So we shared cake and my amazed expression.

I look confused in the picture, but actually I was asking if I could stab somebody with the pen.

As a parting gift, I got a list of instructions from Michelle:

The list of what I was to bring continued:

Advil

Toilet Paper

Metro Card

1 can of tuna

Bus/train pass to get you back to New Jersey

An open mind

I was further informed that my husband was aware and in full support of these plans.

Any time someone is telling me to bring an open mind, that’s an automatic red flag. The whole Advil/can of tuna/toilet paper thing was especially disconcerting. I truly had no idea what I was in for. That’ll be my next post.

Oh, I nearly forgot the other big gift I got. When #1 had dropped me off at the train station that morning she was returning home to pick up my mom to take her to the airport. She got about a mile from home and the transmission on our twelve-year-old minivan went out.

Sweet. Sweat!

Anyway, it all got me thinking about birthday gifts. For #1’s thirteenth birthday, we wrapped up our shovel very elaborately and gave it to her. Then after she unwrapped it we made her put it away, where her real gift was waiting for her: a guitar. This year in December I called the school and told them that #3 had a dentist appointment that I forgot about, and asked them to tell her and get her ready for me to pick up. It was especially mean because she’d just been to the dentist like two weeks prior to this. When I got her out to the car I gave her a hot chocolate and then we went and got mani/pedi’s, followed by the eye doctor to get fitted for contacts, the ONLY thing on her Christmas list.

I have a couple months left to plan for a unique gift with clever presentation for #5’s birthday. Any thoughts?

40. Bring it.

So I turned 40 in March. I knew it was coming. Something like that doesn’t exactly sneak up on you. You’re aware.

I’ve heard people get all philosophical about “age is just a number” and “you’re only as old as you feel”. I know many, many people who lie about their age, or just pick one that they like and stick with that forever.

I’m not all that philosophical and I don’t go in for pithy sayings or Stuart Smalley-esque affirmations. But I’m here to tell you something:

40 ROCKS.

I totally would not lie to you. Not about this.

See, I have a theory. I developed this theory ten years ago when I turned 30. Somehow the turning of a new decade in my age gave me a lot of freedom that I wasn’t expecting. It meant starting anew, at the beginning of a new set of numbers. I no longer had to fit into my idea of what the previous set of numbers had been- I’d outgrown them and passed them by. The new numbers were unwritten. A vast, empty space, waiting to be filled with whatever I chose.

Blank, clear, free. Up to me.

Here’s my Top Ten List of what rocks about 40:

10) I have 40 years of experience in screwing up. It’s no big deal anymore.

9) I have 40 years of experience in figuring out what I like. That’s awesome! Do you have any idea what a time-saver that is?

8) I give a shit about my health. More than a shit, actually, I care a great deal. I eat on the healthy side, have little interest in chemically preserved/highly processed anything, do not actively put toxins (including chemical recreation) into my body anymore, take those damn supplements the doc had been suggesting the past five years, and I exercise. Very little gives me greater pleasure than standing in a Bikram yoga class next to some perky co-ed who was out partying all night and watching her go green down on the mat while I’m solid, holding standing bow. Take that, size zero.

7) I’m not above being petty when it amuses me (see above).

6) I don’t spend much time trying to figure out how everything’s going to work out anymore. My god, I used to make myself crazy with that. It’s far more interesting to just do the next right thing in front of me and let it all unfold as it will. All my worrying and trying to guess what comes next never affected the rising of the sun or the pull of the tides.

5) Less drama. He said/she said, I’m gonna do this to make him/her jealous, I’m gonna do that to make so and so think such and such. . . I have no interest anymore.

4) I’m finally good at my job. God knows I’ve been doing it long enough.

3) I know the value of a good cry and a day in bed with a bag of cookies.

2) I appreciate and can accept my family of origin just as they are. By this point, I don’t expect them to change much. They would probably say the same about me. But they’ll have to get their own blog.

1) I’m still not as old as my car, nor will I ever be.

Disclaimer: I am not 40 in the pictures below, I’m. . .32? But those are the only pictures of me and Miss Lucy.

 

Here’s a picture of me being 40. I’m pretty much the same, just. . . forty-er.

 

I’m looking forward to testing my theory with each new decade I reach. But I’m in no rush.

I’d love to hear the number one thing that rocks about the age you are right now.

I was lucky enough to have multiple birthday celebrations, which I’ll be writing about this week (yes, I’m totally milking it).