Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Connection: My Theme for My Forties






OK. So, I'm 40 already. But I think I may still reserve the right to blog when I have a thing or two on my mind.

One thing I forgot to tell you about is something I announced at my birthday dinner back in October: my theme for my forties. That's right, this next decade of mine is going to have a theme. And it is...CONNECTION.

I started thinking about it last spring, when the word "connection" seemed to be in front of me wherever I went. At my job at a media company, we questioned who was king these days - was it content? Consumers? Or maybe it was all about connection. On Facebook, I was making new connections daily. My youngest listened to "Barbie's Diamond Castle" song "Connected" over and over. Two friends who tried online dating services seemed to be making connections that were going to go the distance (two weddings to go to this summer!) And one day, when I wandered into an old church down in the financial district, I found a piece of paper in the back of the pew - it was called a "connection card."

As human beings we seem to long to connect -- with friends, with job contacts, with pets, with a soulmate, with God. You hear about the importance of touch in human development - that babies who live in orphanages with bottles propped in the crib rails and no one to cradle them experience a host of psychological consequences. We need to connect physically - a hug, a pat on the head, a kiss -- but we long for emotional connection too.

As I enter my fifth decade, I'm craving connection. I don't know about you, but over the past decade, I've been so busy - ya'know, creating life and all, changing diapers, getting kids into school, traveling for work, buying Ikea furniture, cursing broken Ikea furniture, helping with homework, selling a home, buying a home, moving, going to dentist appointments that beget more dentist appointments (admitting that I don't floss my kids' teeth - I can barely get to my own), going to meeting after meeting, rushing to school, etc. -- that there really hasn't been a lot of time leftover for nurturing relationships.

What I really miss is the presence of female friends.

Gone are the days of the best friend that I met on my bike at the corner, and played with all day, and stayed for dinner, and begged our moms for a sleepover.

There's no girl next-door to string a tin can across the driveway and see if it really works as a telephone...eventually just talking loud enough to span the twelve feet of gravel in between.

There are no college roommates - five girls and five closets full of clothes in one house -- ready with a shoulder to cry on and a pint of ice cream or a bottle of Jim Beam, whichever the occasion warrants.

I know my friends are out there - I've recently emailed or talked on the phone with all three camps above: the play-all-day friend, the girl-next-door, the college roommates. And I've been fortunate to make new friends along the way. But still...

I feel lonely sometimes.

Everybody's still there. And more have popped up. At school. At work. In the neighborhood. And it's nice knowing they're there - but it's kind of like it's nice knowing New York City is there when you live in the suburbs and rarely make the trek in.

I want to do more than have friends, I want to be a friend. I want to enjoy wine together, bond over chaperoning kids' activities, laugh at the absurdities of life, help each other out, hang out in a house not fit for company, and generally be there in good times and bad.

Connection.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Birthday Came and Went, But I'm Still Blogging

The birthday came and went, but I still have a few things I want to say, so I'm going to keep up My Fabulous 40th Birthday until the end of the year.

40 turned out to be my best birthday yet. The work surprise party, cards and calls, flowers, presents, and a wonderful birthday dinner at our local favorite, Peri Ela, with family and a few friends made me feel great. All the attention made me feel like a celebrity for a day, and got me wondering how celebrities can stand all that attention day in and day out. Seriously, one day is fantastic for your ego; any more than that and I think it would explode.

I was really touched by the generosity and thoughtfulness bestowed upon me and made me re-commit to doing a better job of paying that forward. I also learned that you should really tape your card on a present, or write your name right on the wrapping paper, because like they say on the airplane, "items may shift" during the trip from the restaurant to home.

My parents gave me some great gifts: first of all, they sang me a funny, sweet, and very well-harmonized duet at dinner; a beautiful gold bracelet with an inscription; and a Shutterfly photo album of "my first 40 years" including great old photos that my mother painstakingly (believe me)scanned onto the computer. My husband gave me a wonderful toast and the kids made cards and gave me a pack of mini playing cards and a book of stickers that all personalized with "Kristen."

And the first week of being 40 has been off to a great start. Today, was another 40th -- the 40th Anniversary of the New York City Marathon. Our friend, Michael O'Brien, was running, so we headed over to 5th Avenue to see if we could cheer him on. Unlike other major sporting events, it's remarkable just how close to the action you can get. We stood on the sidelines with the kids, cheering on everyone who went by, yelling out names if people had written them on their shirts. The sheer volume of runners was incredible (over 43,000 people), but their individuality shined through.

New York Road Runners has an advertising campaign running right now - the gist of it is that "everyone has a story," and as I stood cheering, clapping, and keeping an eye out for Mike, I wondered, What's bald, courageous-looking Julie's story? What's the father-son MMRF team's story? What's the story behind the good-looking young man with two prosthetic legs, now walking slowly at mile 23, with two friends or maybe brothers at either side of him? What's the story with the guy dressed up in the KISS outfit? Or the matador outfit?

None of us saw Mike, but thankfully he saw us! He ran over and we all cheered and hollered and then he was off! Mike's story? His wife had their third little girl just over a week ago...and he's turning 40 this month.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Big 4-Oh! is Finally Here!

And so the big day arrives...not with a bang, but with a whimper. I woke up at 4 a.m. feeling not fabulous as much as fatigued, flu-ish, and fatter.

Despite all my best efforts to see the fab side of forty, I have to admit the depression rolled in earlier this week, compounded by the fact that I haven't been able to breathe through my nose since Sunday and the post nasal drip is making me feel perpetually nauseous. On Tuesday, I made the depression worse when retail therapy backfired in the form of the dreaded dressing room three way mirror and the fact that in that entire giant department store, all I could walk away with was one dress that kind-of fit. And they don't do alterations.

But you know me, I believe that you are in charge of your own happiness, so let's look at the bright side -- all the really great things that have already happened for my 40th birthday (and it's only 5 a.m.!)

#1. My Boss and Co-Workers Threw a Surprise Party for Me Last Week. Last Wednesday, my boss asked me to have drinks with her and a rather important person. Imagine my surprise when we walked to the back of the lounge and 10 co-workers yelled...what else? "Surprise!" Not only were there drinks, a table was set for dinner, and there were fun T-shirts for everyone, riffing on this blog. (The rather important person, by the way, was not there.) The piece de resistance was THE JAR. A beautiful etched jar from Anthropologie was filled with envelopes in fall shades of burgundy, crimson, orange, silver, and gold. Inside each envelope was a memory of me shared by a colleague - a funny moment at a sales meeting, a serious one at a memorial service, dancing in the back of a conference trying to make the speaker laugh, an outrageous flight across country. They went around the table, reading each other's entries -- I couldn't have been more touched.

Then, after most of the group departed, a small late night crew remained and I drank ridiculous amounts of white wine, hiccupped my way home, and woke up the next morning feeling greatly appreciated yet physically ill.

#2. Bobbi Brown.
After the discouraging three-way mirror experience on Tuesday, I made my way back to the main floor and went directly to the Bobbi Brown counter and said to the woman there, "Would you please do my makeup and I promise I'll buy something?" So, she did a fantastic job, glamming me up and by the end, I felt better. In fact, I felt better than better, I felt pretty. And I bought $100 worth of makeup.

#3. Nice Drycleaner Lady.
I couldn't bring the "it kind-of fits" dress to the cleaners until last night (and of course, I want to wear it on Friday night), but the nice lady at the drycleaners, said "No problem. You're my longtime customer and I do it for you." She declared the dress elegant and said I looked pretty, which is very kind to say to someone with a runny nose.

#4. Afrin.
What would I do without it? It has propped me up all week, through work meetings, a benefit, Mom's Night Out, homework, school interviews, Curriculum Night, and it will get me through my 40th Birthday today.

#5. Flowers From My Godmother.
Last night, beautiful flowers arrived from Ilene, Pattie, and Dusty the dog. Besides my parents, and depending on the day, the kids, nobody loves me as much as my godmother...and she always lets me know.

#6. Facebook Message from 6th Grade Crush.
No kidding. The hottie of the 1981 Sixth Grade sent me a message on Facebook wishing me a Happy Birthday. And you want to know how much cooler I am now than I was then? I haven't even written him back yet.

So...that's where we are, and still the rest of the day ahead of me! Happy Fabulous 40th Birthday!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Back-to-Back 40ths Make Me Feel 80

We went to two 40th Birthday parties over the weekend and the cumulative effect of back-to-back celebrations left me feeling about 80.

Friday evening's soiree was the epitome of downtown cool, with about 30 people at Shorty's 32 in the heart of SoHo. The birthday girl, Stafford, looked fabulous in a black leather trimmed sheath and killer heels, and every single one of her girlfriends made 40 look fantastic. It was fun talking to friends of hers that I'd heard about for years, but never met.

After several terrific toasts at the end of the night, it was time for clubbing! Yes, me, clubbing. We all loaded into a waiting coach where we chatted and sipped plastic flutes of champagne until we arrived at the meatpacking district, where we descended into the dark, basement-level club en masse. I stumbled in - was it the high heels? the darkness? the Champagne? -- and took it all in. I can't say it was my scene, but the birthday girl was there to dance and dance she did!

We got home at 2 a.m.! I can't tell you the last time that happened. Needless to say, Saturday morning was not my finest hour, but after a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich and the kids wanting to know why I got to drink Coca Cola in the morning, I enjoyed the beautiful sunny day...and at 6 o'clock, we geared up for round 2.

Out we went to New Jersey, to the next birthday girl's (Suzanne's) bash. Aside from a girl with the same birthday (October 8), the other thing this party had in common with the one the night before was a doting husband who had attended to every detail. There was a DJ who had been carefully instructed to play all the birthday girl's favorite tunes, a bartender, a tent, terrific caterers with really tasty food, and TONS of friends and family.

Suzanne's kids were there for the beginning of the party, "We're only staying for a little while," her son told me. I also learned that his favorite movie is Alvin and the Chipmunks the Squeaquel, his favorite baseball team is the Yankees, and he told me the names of all of his best friends. I was so glad to see him. I also caught up with Suzanne's mom, who reminisced about dropping her daughter off at college and feeling that I was a nice girl to leave her with...I was sort of glowing in that until she added, "Can you believe that was 20 years ago?" Ugh. Way to rub it in, Mrs. D.

Suzanne - who always looks fabulous - didn't disappoint in a pretty dress with ruffled shoulders. She is one of my funniest friends and as usual, she had me in stitches. She was making fun of me (and my Boggle habit)at the time - all the better.

I was honored to be included in both celebrations. Honored, but EXHAUSTED. I capped off the weekend by hitting the hay at 8 p.m. and sleeping for 10 hours straight. By morning, I no longer looked 80, just a good almost-40.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Married for 1/4 of My Life

This month I celebrated my 10th Wedding Anniversary - which means I've been married for a quarter of my lifetime. I can't believe our wedding day - blessedly breezy and sunny after a near disastrous Nor'Easter threatened to wash out our outdoor reception - was ten years ago. And what has happened since we said our "I do's" at St. Mary's by the Sea?

- Two beautiful daughters
- Great careers
- A warm, happy home
- Countless fun times with family and friends

It's intriguing to think what the next ten years will bring - teenagers, travels, and surely trials and tribulations, but it is certainly an adventure I'm looking forward to!

Happy Tenth Anniversary, Brooke!

Monday, August 16, 2010

40th Birthday at "The End"






Is your 40th Birthday the end? The beginning? Or maybe it's the end of the beginning and the beginning of the end? At any rate, it struck me as apropos that this weekend's 40th birthday bash was held at "The End" of Long Island: Montauk.

The party was in celebration of two friends turning 40 and with the small exception of a pre-party debate about what "casual summer cocktail attire" meant, it was a whole lot of fun. The guys could not have had a better night or a more spectacular spot. The weather was gorgeous -- blue skies giving way to a stripey sunset, a warm day turning into a cool, but not cold, night. And "The End" it was -- we were perched high above the ocean on a jagged cliff.

I need not have worried about the dress code - once we were there, it was all about connecting with old friends. Four bars were set up, the hors d'ouevres never stopped, and a fantastic Rolling Stones cover band played all night. With maybe 300 people in attendance, there were surprises around every corner - and a few people I saw from a distance and never had the chance to talk to.

We carpooled there with six other people; 20 people chartered a bus to drive them from their neighborhood; it was an adventure. The party was loaded with style - chandeliers twinkling from the trees, a roaring outdoor fireplace, but it also felt utterly casual and super-relaxed.

The party was a great reminder of beginnings that began a long time ago -- namely decades-long friendships -- but also of all the new beginnings -- kids, jobs, moves, friendships -- starting right now.

The End.