XX Year Anniversary of XXIX

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I woke up to that awesome “wall of guitars” this morning.  I was intrigued, yet slightly annoyed, that someone was in my bedroom playing a hauntingly echoing version of Metallica‘s “Enter Sandman” while I slept.  Then I remembered that I had changed my ringtone on my cellphone the other day.  So I pulled my phone out of the trash can by my bed where it had fallen last night when I tried to put it on the night table and attempted to say hello.  I heard my brother-in-law’s cheerful voice saying, “Happy birthday.”  I tried to say,  “Thanks.” It sounded more like a grunt, but he interpreted it as “Congratulations! You won the ‘I got to say Happy Birthday first’ game.”  His linguistic skills were spot on.

After he handed the phone of to my sister to claim her second-place finish, and I checked my text message from my brother who technically was first since he texted at 12:18 a.m., I reflected on some things.  Today  is the twentieth anniversary of my twenty-ninth birthday. That’s a lot of 29s.  And I am nowhere close to the goals I’d set for myself when I was a young teenager.  But that’s good. At this point, my career as a “medical examiner who moonlights as a hot bathing suit model” would probably be washed up.  I’ve got a mom-body, complete with extra padding for warm, sincere hugs and my cooking skills are A+ since my food doesn’t taste like medical hand soap and formaldehyde.  I’m good.

Unlike me at the original 29 year mark, I have built my patience up to tolerate early morning phone calls with honest laughter.  I left my not-so lucrative career of seventeen years to become a broke, stay-at-home-mom who blogs and over-volunteers at the school and with a favorite non-profit organization.  On the “How Tidy is My Home” scale, I still only rank about a 6 on average, maybe a 7.5 if I have more than 15 minutes notice that someone is en route to see us.  But as long as we’re not wallowing in filth (read: I’ve mopped once this month but forced the kids to vacuum a few times) and we aren’t qualified to be featured on “Hoarders,” I’m okay with it.

And while I complain about the little things that annoy the crap out of me, like being the chauffeur of shame hauling young adults to and from work, college, high school, and various volunteer and social engagements, I know that I have a great life.  I genuinely LOVE my family and my friends.  (Thanks, Venetia, Sara, and Cindy, by the way.  The three of you have been my first truly best friends (who don’t share a mom with me) in many years and you have no idea how great that feels or how much I appreciate it.)  I have a home that is large enough to house us all comfortably.  My husband works a job where he is home every evening around the same time and no longer has to travel for extended periods.  And we sit down to dinner every single night together. Yes, we eat as a family every day. I have a great life. And I’m so grateful to Allah for providing this.

I have decided to carpe the crap out of this diem.  I’m going to make a B.A.B.B. (that’s Big Ass Birthday Brisket) for dinner and maybe let my daughter help me choose a birthday cake. (It’ll be chocolate so the masses will be happy. I may get myself a lime popsicle or something, so that I will be happy.)  And I will sit back and allow them to do all of the chores for my big, fat celebration of ME.

**The dirty little garden gnome? No. He has no real significance to this story. I just like him and decided he’d make a lovely thumbnail for this blog post.

 

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Fifty

He turned 50 yesterday. He was working out of town and didn’t get home until really late. The children were all asleep as they had final exams today and needed the rest. I sat with him for a little while, fighting to keep my eyelids open. Five o’clock in the morning comes so fast. I wished him a happy birthday and went to bed.

And I left to take care of paperwork in the counselor’s office at the school this morning, just after he poured his first cup of coffee. The kids got out early after exams, so the girls and I talked it over and decided that we’d have a surprise party for him tonight when he got home. The boys all agreed it was a good idea. The kids blew up over 60 balloons and hung a banner and we got him a cake. And a card. And a 5 and 0 candles so that we didn’t have to disconnect the smoke alarm before singing “Happy Birthday” to him.

And I looked at the 5 and the 0 candles and thought, “50? That’s half a century! Where did the time go?” And I looked at my “children” ages 15-20 and see exactly where the time went and how much fun it has been along the way. And I asked myself if I’ll ever willingly admit that he’s only two years older than I am and that I will soon be half a century old…..Nah.

And then I smiled. His AARP membership card should arrive any day now and just think of the discounts we’ll be eligible for not that he turned 50 yesterday!

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Setting Down the Baggage

A few weeks ago I was invited to participate in a surprise birthday party for a friend. I am perpetually broke, so I suggested that we do this as a pot luck lunch rather than going out to eat. The idea was liked by the others in the group. I said that I’d bring some sort of chicken dish and then I didn’t hear boo about it until the day before.

One of the ladies was in a bit of a panic because the room reserved to hold our small event had  not been reserved. She’d been asked to jump through seventeen different hoops, which she did. But the person who’d asked her to do all that jumping hadn’t bothered to even open the email that contained all of the hoops she’d required. Then one of the ladies who’d said she would make chicken flautas was sort of “off the grid” and it seemed that things were falling apart. My panicked friend handed me a $20 bill and asked if I could pick up some red tablecloths and some salsa and rice from a popular Tex-Mex restaurant on the other side of town. I told her I would. Then she asked what I was planning to make and I told her that I had intended to make a curry chicken dish but that she and the birthday girl were so picky about food that I figured I’d just go with the Tex-Mex theme and also make
Mexican rice.

Later that night, I got a call and my friend was even crankier and more stressed. She told me that she’d finally gotten in touch with the lady who was making flautas and that someone else said that she’d make rice and that I should just “shred some lettuce and maybe buy some guacamole. Can you handle that?”

Now here’s where things got a little prickly for me. I lived in Egypt for 12 years very near my in-laws. My sister-in-law ate shrimp that I’d made Cajun style before my husband and I had even married. She didn’t like the seasoning and then immediately went around the rest of the family swearing I didn’t know how to cook. She doomed me to being the “salad maker” for the next 15 years and it just pissed me off. I’m a foodie. I LOVE to cook and try new things. My brother-in-law’s wife knows this and she used to try all sorts of new things with me and we would always eat each other’s cooking. It was always fantastic. But any large gatherings, the others in the family would tell me, “Why don’t you just make a salad.”

So, my Salad Baggage got really heavy all of a sudden when my friend, who was really just stressed out and actually trying to alleviate some of my stress by getting me out of having to cook, suggested this to me. She didn’t know about my Salad Baggage. She was actually trying to help me. But because she was stressed out with her own baggage and because she doesn’t really seem to enjoy cooking, it came out a little snarky. And then I went and tossed that snark and stress into my Salad Baggage and just tossed the hell out of it…making it a full Salad Baggage Bar.

And even though I was kind of shitty to my friend, I realized later that she wasn’t actually being snarky or mean or anything at all to me, other than considerate. I apologized to her because I realized that there was no way she could have known about my Salad Baggage and that I really should just set that stuff down. Our birthday girl friend was completely surprised, by the way. And she had a wonderful time and enjoyed all of the food and the cake and the present and cards. And I’m walking away from this entire thing having learned that I still have some growing up to do….and I need to stay the hell away from the baggage claim area.