Almost 40: A Retrospective

It’s funny to think that as a teenager the thought of turning 40 sounded so old and yet here I am, weeks away from it, and I only feel slightly old. I’m reminded of my age at work sometimes as I eat lunch with friends who are in their 20’s who don’t get my pop culture references and me, theirs. As I hear about their late night adventures or group trips with pals, I nostalgically recall the time in my life when that was my reality. They share their dating stories and I’ll chime in with one of my old tales, “I once went on a date with a guy who unhinged his jaw as we ate sushi.” There’s entertainment in having lived a life. I’ve got the stories to prove it.

I can look in the mirror now and see what time has done to age my face. I can feel the creakiness in my knees and my hips as I take the stairs. After a few cocktails, I wake up with a slight headache and severely dehydrated after a night of fitful sleep. I prefer to go to bed at 10 because I will inevitably wake up before 7am whether I want to or not and I somehow need 8+ hours of sleep now to function. I don’t want to go to a concert if the main act starts at 10pm or if I am forced to stand in a crowded room of drunk people vying for a good position to see the performer. I don’t want to wait an hour for a table at a popular restaurant. I don’t care about having a lot of friends but rather, a small crew of A List friends suits me just fine. I live in suburbia and prefer it. I have a husband, a house, a career, a 403b, and a savings account.  I’m kind of a grown up even though I often feel like it’s still the 90’s and I’m still in my 20’s.

My teens were tumultuous: Alcoholic dad in a dysfunctional home. All girls Catholic high school education. Driving around in cars with friends with nothing to do but hang out, sing along to the radio, and dream. Delaying a four-year college for a two-year to stay closer to home. And then on the cusp of turning 20, my dad passing away.

My 20’s were marked by grief. I was angry and wrote a lot of mediocre poetry. I spent my free time in thrift and record stores, palling around with Jenny Two Times and Tomato and other friends, hanging out around the pool at my mom’s house, drinking wine coolers and sneaking smokes of clove cigarettes. I’d wear thrifted housecoats with Converse or mailman pants with bowling shoes. We were called “alternative” just like the music we listened to.  I lost a bunch of weight and spent a few years that way then gained it all back. I moved to Santa Cruz and eventually graduated from UC Santa Cruz with a degree in Women’s Studies & a minor in Literature. I went there with the intention of studying creative writing but the most I’ve ever done with that dream is become a blogger. I dated a series of guys who taught me a lot about love and heartbreak- they are a post or two unto themselves. I made friends and lost friends and smoked a bunch of weed. I became a women’s self-defense instructor which was probably one of the most pivotal experiences in my life. I worked a bunch of jobs: Michael’s Arts & Crafts, a pottery painting place, housing and admissions offices at UCSC, read books aloud for a blind girl, office administrator for a group home, volunteer coordinator for a youth empowerment organization, community educator for a sexual assault/domestic violence non-profit, and a development director for an AIDS organization. I had roommates, good and bad, and for the first time in my life, lived all alone.

In my 30’s I felt dissatisfied. Wasn’t I supposed to know what the fuck I was doing with my life already? I moved to Seattle and in doing so, everything changed. I learned to be an urbanite and a Pacific Northwesterner. I got lost a lot but now I know my way around pretty well. I came here with no job, just enough savings to get me through 5 weeks. I went on many interviews and turned down a bunch of jobs until I was offered the one I still have, almost 7 years later. I dated some guys, some good, some bad, and even had a few boyfriends. I lived in apartment for the first time in my life. I became an apartment manager which taught me a lot and helped me pay off my debt and save money for the first time ever. I met Mr. Darcy and our first seven hour date turned into moving into together, to getting married, to where we are today. I got through cervical cancer. I paid off my student loan debt and my car. I did a lot of grown up things, some of which sucked. My adorable nephew whose impending birth was the impetus for my big move, is going on 7. He likes to play Mario Brothers, and soccer, and have nerf gun fights, and would live on cheese and nut crackers if he could. I am forever indebted to him for being born and giving me the gumption to change my entire life. Seattle has been good to me and my 30’s allowed me to finally settle into myself. It’s where I found home, and love, and ultimately, the life I dreamed of.

What will my 40’s bring? I’m hopeful it will just keep getting better.

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Our Wedding Photos Are Here!

Our long-awaited professional photos have arrived. Woo! It was so fun to relive that magical day as we picked through these awesome shots. We can’t thank Heather and Jon from One Love Photo enough for being so wonderful to work with. If you are in Seattle and looking for photographers, we highly recommend them.

You can view the fantastic slideshow they put together- complete with two songs we used in our ceremony- and it’s almost like you were there except you don’t get any pie or ice cream. You can click here to watch it (will need Flash). Seriously, go watch it and come back and tell me what you think!

Otherwise, here are some highlights:

Other wedding sharing posts- – –

Sharing our vows
Sharing our When Harry Met Sally-esque reception video
On being wed
Our decor details

__________________________

Shout outs- – –
Hair: D’Arcy Harrison at Emerson Salon
Make Up: Sarah Swanberg
Bride’s Dress: David’s Bridal
Tuxes: Men’s Wearhouse
Maid of Honor and Officiant Dresses: eShakti
Venue: 1927 Events
Caterers: Skillet
Dessert: A La Mode Pies, Bluebird Microcreamery
Band: The Local Strangers
Day of Coordination: Amy Faulkner at Social Things
Photographers: One Love Photo
Hotel: Sheraton Seattle (groom), Hotel Andra (bride)

Honoring My Dad

Last Friday would have been my father’s 85th birthday. It sounds so odd saying that. EIGHTY-FIVE? Where has the time gone? He’ll forever be stamped in my memory as younger – a boney man with an unsteady gait, soft brown skin creased by time, gray eyes behind glasses that became unnecessary when blindness struck, weathered hands that smelled of cigarettes, and a surprisingly deep voice for a man who was under 5′ 10″.

I’ve been wanting to get a tattoo to honor him for a while now and have been ruminating on one in particular- his name in Braille dots. After pondering placement (I wanted to avoid a freckled area which on me is hard to do) and talking it over with friends, I decided to finally get it on his birthday. I like symbolism and symmetry and all that jazz. My sister came with me for support and to photo document it.

Happy birthday, Dad. You’re always with me.

Home Is Wherever I’m With You

It’s been sneaking up on me.

I’m walking out the door and as I turn to lock it, I stop to watch how the light comes in and floods the rose-colored carpet.  I turn the key and walk down the halls, out through the stained glass door with the big rose etched on it. I step down the marbled entrance stairs where there is a triangular piece out of place from where it broke a few years back. I turn the corner to the driveway and see the tow signs on the side of building where someone crossed out and added letters so it says Los Manos. I back out and drive away into my day.

Every day is closer to the last.

I’m headed home from the office and the drive is automatic for me. I think about how I will have to learn a new route, that my timing will be off for a while not knowing the way like I do now. I’ll find a new grocery store and get lost in the aisles. It’ll be harder for me to get to as many dance classes. We’ll have to make a point of going to our favorite restaurants instead of just, on the spur of the moment, walking to one of them from our apartment. I’ll miss the familiarity of my neighborhood which only six years ago was a complete mystery to me.

This neighborhood is where I became a Seattleite.

The cats are confused as the boxes pile up. Are these our new toys? They wonder and climb. Soon we’ll be up to eyeballs in boxes. The shelves will be empty. The walls bare. And we’ll be sleeping in our bed, in our first apartment together, for the last night. Typing that makes me tear up.

I’ve been avoiding feeling sad because I don’t like good-byes or endings.

Mr. Darcy is often the one who can access his emotions easiest in this relationship. As we were packing a box the other night he stopped and said, “I need a hug.” I tried to brush it off as him being a sap (he’s frequently a sap) but I envy that he can feel sad and ask for comfort. Me? I make a plan. A list. I forge ahead. No time for feeling! Let’s get this done! It’s a ruse. You knew that though. And so does he. Especially when I tell him I’ve scheduled my tears for around noon on June 8th (when we’ll likely be leaving this place for the last time).

I’m trying to make room amidst the feelings of excitement and joy while I feel the fear and sadness because they are all here and they are true even in their contradictions.

I’ve loved this apartment. As Mr. Darcy aptly tweeted the other night, “I’m going to miss this apartment. This is where I found love. The BIG one.” (See the sap level I am dealing with?) It’s true – this is the place where we had our first kiss, where he first told me he loved me, where we fought and made up and have chosen each other every day. This place is the beginning of our love story. I pack up our belongings and tuck away the many memories of this well-loved place so I can have them with me always.

Home isn’t necessarily just a place but it’s also the life and people that inhabit it. With Mr. Darcy, Dot, and Dash, I’ll always be home no matter where we are.

Romantic Gestures

This post is inspired by my friend’s blog post about surprise gifts from would-be suitors. Her teenage son received a heart shaped pizza with an invitation that read, “I know this is cheesy but will you go to Sweetheart with me?” I mean COME ON! How adorable is that? Pizza and an invitation to a dance? I sincerely hope he said yes.  She also shares a couple of romantic moments from her past (Please go read the whole post!) and it got me thinking about some from mine.

I was dating The Tomato in high school. There was a TV show we watched called Anything But Love that starred Richard Lewis and Jamie Lee Curtis (yes, it was the late 80’s). There was one episode where Richard’s character stands out in the rain to fill up a bottle with rain water. There was some romantic symbolism to this gesture that went along with the plot but I don’t exactly remember it now. What I do recall is that Tomato had collected a small jar of rain water for me soon after that, probably after we had a fight (we argued a lot- two drama queens should not date). Tomato left it for me with a long note and we were back on good terms again.

It was my birthday and James Dean and I were dating. He took me out for a nice dinner and then drove us to the ocean.  He left the headlights on and as a Frank Sinatra song played, he asked me to dance. And we did, caught between the beams from the car and the ocean tide as people walked by.

This is the same guy who would frequently call my answering machine just to leave snippets of songs or would drive over to leave love notes on my car.

In college I had a good friend, Jeremiah, who worked with me at The Wherehouse. We were great pals for a long time until I was suddenly single and he finally asked me out to go see Mighty Aphorodity (he knew I loved Woody Allen films). We started dating and my birthday came along. He called me up to wish me a happy birthday and asked if I’d been outside. I had not so he said, go outside on your porch and then call me back. Okayyyyy. I did and there hanging from our porch awning was a hand made wind chime. He’d twisted fishing line around glass blown marbles that hung down from little puppeteers made out of wire. It was beautiful and thoughtful. Weeks prior I had mentioned in passing how I loved wind chimes.

Once he drew a comic strip depicting himself coming across a French man who asked him to carry out a mysterious plan that required him (Jeremiah) to fly to France on this man’s behalf. At the end of it he asked, “Care to go to France with me tonight?” When he picked me up later that night he walked me down through our neighborhood where he’d hung signs in French that we had to translate with a pocket French to English dictionary. When we got to the spot, he laid out a blanket from his backpack and pulled our French food from a local restaurant plus a disposable camera and a small bottle of wine.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! How is that for overture? He was a sweetie. I hope he is happy wherever he is.

When Dumpling and I were an item he once invited me over to his place. When I showed up, I was greeted by a sign at the front door that told me to come in. There were rose petals strewn along the floor making a path to his room. He had Etta James playing, candles lit, and my favorite movie cued up (When Harry Met Sally for those not paying attention).  Later when we were no longer dating but were friends we had a standing Friday date. We’d usually go grab sushi and watch What Not To Wear with James Dean and Natalie Wood (we were wild, I tell ya!). He’d always bring me flowers “just because”. I’ve never forgotten that kindness.

When Mr. Darcy and I were first dating, I took him to the Central Cinema to see Jaws (his favorite movie). I bought tickets in advance and when I checked in at the counter and said my real name, the guy looked very confused. Apparently he thought I was asking for the movie by MY NAME. I joked, “My life hasn’t been made into a movie yet.” We all had a good laugh about it. A few weeks later it was Valentine’s Day. Mr. Darcy came over bearing this:

My life as a movie poster.

Not the best photo but if you click on it I think you can see that at the bottom it even lists characters. And there you go, now you know my real name.

Since it’s almost Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d share these and see if you had any to share. Let’s inspire each other. Please feel free to share your romantic stories in the comments!

Sister of My Heart

I first met her at the awkward age of 14 at Westmont High School. We had English class together. I would transfer to an all girls prep school while she stayed on to make friends with the boy who would eventually be my first boyfriend (the one and only Tomato). She has been an ever-present influence and presence in my life for over 23 years, if you can believe it.

Jenny Two Times, sister of my heart.

Yes, I am sticking out my tongue. And wearing a shirt I stole from her closet.

The last time she visited me we stood like we had countless nights in our past- waiting between acts, sipping a cocktail and people watching- at one of our favorite past times. Seeing live music. Martin Sexton to be exact. When Jenny got up and spoke at my good-bye party before I took my leap into a new life in Washington, she spoke out our connection, our sisterly bond, and how the thread that bound us through all those years was our mutual love and appreciation of music. And that night, on her last visit here, we made a list of all the shows we had seen together. Here’s a smattering:

  • Tori Amos (4 times)
  • Edie Brickell
  • Live
  • Pearl Jam
  • Liz Phair
  • Tracy Chapman
  • Blind Pilot
  • Martin Sexton (3 times)
  • Sara Bareilles (2 times)
  • Sweet Virginia
  • Vic Chestnut
  • Asylum Street Spankers
  • The Weepies
  • Stone Temple Pilots
  • Lenny Kravitz
  • Arrested Development
  • Blind Melon
  • Neil Young
  • Counting Crows
  • Dave Matthews Band
  • Peter Stuart
  • The Black Crowes
  • Howie Day
  • The Steve Miller Band
  • Morrissey
  • Garbage
  • Black Flag
  • Van Morrison
  • Social Distortion
  • Beastie Boys
  • Janes Addiction
  • Rage Against the Machine
  • Smashing Pumpkins
  • Poi Dog Pondering (3 times)

Can you tell we went to a lot of shows in the early 90s? We spent countless hours driving around, the windows rolled down, letting our worries be carried out by the wind, singing at the top of our lungs. No matter what we were going through- family dysfunction, heartbreak, teen angst or twenty-something growth spurts, we always had music and each other.

Sometimes a song will come blaring out my speakers and my first thought  is of Jenny Two Times. And I love that about her, about our friendship. She is that song that comforts me, lifts me up, makes me smile and dance and feel the most like myself.

Today is her birthday and we are not together so I am sending this one out to her.

Love you sisterfriend. So much. Happy Birthday!

Honoring

Carving his place in the world. (Picture courtesy of Weiss Eubanks Photography)

Dear Tomato,

When you asked for gratitude letters* I had, quite literally, just stepped out of a therapy session wherein I realized something quite profound about you. Right timing, indeed.

What I realized is this: Besides my father, you are the most significant man in my life.

When I think about all the big moments since meeting you at 17, you are there. You’ve seen me through: My high school graduation. Prom. Countless birthdays. Losing our virginity together. Moving away from home. Finding love. Losing love. Lather, rinse, repeat. Mini-breakdowns. College graduation. My sister’s wedding. My mom moving out of my childhood home. My grandmother’s passing. Moving out of state.

I remember you reading me “Freddy the Leaf” while we waited for the call about my Dad. I hold that memory dear to me- your kindness and friendship through my grief was a testament to your heart. There were three people in the room when I got the news my Dad had died and yours were the arms I fell into.

You are always catching me.

Thank you for that and for being in my life through all the highs and lows, the belly laughs and tears. For truly seeing me even when I could not. For always being my lighthouse, my mirror, and my best friend.

Go with happiness,

Sizzle

****

*I am sharing this letter I wrote to Tomato with all of you in honor of his birthday (which is on Sunday!). Tomato does a really fantastic weekly show called The Baub Show. It focuses on what’s right in the world rather than what’s wrong. He rotates guests and co-hosts (sometimes I’m one of them!) and lately has been sharing letters of gratitude on the air. This letter was one I sent in even though he was definitely not requesting letters written to him. I couldn’t help it though. I had something to say. It’s hard for me to keep my trap shut.

Do yourself a favor and if you’re not already a listener, check it out on Mondays at 7pm PST or download previous podcasts. You won’t be sorry!

Hey Tomato- Here’s hoping this year is your best one yet. I’m so damn proud of you for so many reasons and love you to the moon and back. Happy birthday!

What Was

I wish I could remember more good stuff. The truth is, I’d have to push back years of painful memories to get to when my Dad was. . . well, my Dad. Back when I was small and he loomed large and heroic. Back when he would read “The Jungle Book” with different character voices. Back when we would wash the cars together or when our family would take picnics to the beach or when we’d go to Disneyland. Back when there were Sunday breakfasts out on the patio and then days spent in the pool. Back when we were a family and things felt safe and good.

I woke up in the sadness of missing him. What is it now? Seventeen years of him being gone. But I can still recall the brown of his hands, his surprisingly deep voice for a man so slight of stature, his big ears and his laugh. So today I choose to remember him, strong and loving, leading me around the kitchen perched precariously on the tops of his feet as we danced.

I miss you Dad. Every day.

Dapper Young Dad (Do you see a resemblance?I think I got his forehead and smile.)