AJ: Is it your birthday? / Me: Yep. / Lila: How many are you? / Me: 42. / AJ: Happy Birthday, Mommy! / Me: Thank you! / Lila: [placing her hand on my wrist, serious expression. Pausing.]: That is not a lot. That is good. You are pretty and you are always crazy. This is good.
I haven't written in awhile. I miss it, but each time I've tried to write this past month, I've found I don't have anything exciting to say. Or at least, so says Outer Jen, who tries constantly not to waste your time. In my head, there are verses and chapters and stories. My mind travels to different countries, humming along to Indian music, shopping in Italy, dining in Manhattan... And then my body travels to Target. I have conversations with Ellen Degeneres that are both humorous and witty. I've pranced around to bongo drums with Matthew McConnoughey. I've written a best-selling novel, finished a screenplay picked up by Greenlight, and created a perfume that actually does smell like an outdoor firepit by the ocean.

I, myself, have unspoken conversations involving my appreciation for chiaroscuro, and think of ways it could be artistically used in congruence with believable, unposed photography. I have no clue what to think about what's going on in Egypt, but I know that I want desperately to know one hell of a lot more than I do right now. I want to have knowledge that's not just from my daily newspaper. I imagine what it would be like to be a next-door neighbor of Tom Robbins'. I wax on about waxing. (Seriously, never done it. Scared. Ingrigued.) I'm a Realtor, but I wonder what it's like to kick serious ass at being a really good one. And what job will be the one I do eventually kick serious ass at.

Soo, anyway... I've been thinking.

We've been to a bunch of kiddo birthday shindigs in the past month. One each Saturday, to be exact, for four weeks in a row. And through all of the treasure box painting, balloon twisting, picture frame decorating, and jungle gym climbing, I'm constantly surprised with AJ and Lila in these differing social settings. Not, perhaps, because their behaviour is in any way surprising, but maybe because I'm surprising myself. I never knew parenting could be this tough. I never knew it could be this freaking great. And I never knew how early on we all are who we are...

AJ is going to be cautious, overzealous, and shy. It's who he already is. Lila will be pensive, positive, and will take things personally. It's who she already is. She'll tell stories, AJ will act some of them out.They're both sweet, talkative, goofy, love music, test patience, and are extremely affectionate. That's who they are. And I've got ZERO to do with it. But, I can embrace all of it, squander it, ignore it, balance it, flaunt it, hate it, love it, join it, share it... So much I can do, it's overwhelming the choices I have... I can also guide them to be the best "them" they can be. Lots to do, with little time. If I plan on being 100, I only have 58 years left.

What I can do (today) is be honest with my thoughts, at the very, very least...
  • I was going to base this post on "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy's" view that 42 is the answer to the universe. 42 = My New Age. It could have been clever. But, aside from the fact that I dug Physics in high school and never missed an episode of the X-Files, well... I would have been acting as a Sci-Fi poser, which would not be genuine, which can never be good.
  • The 16-year-old me would have been INSANE for Justin Bieber. I'm already a Belieber at 42, so...
  • Talking about celebrities, Jen Aniston and I share the same birthday and I adore her. Being 42 with her is just plain cool, so. Take that, younger peeps. (Forget the fact she spent her birthday in NYC and the following week somewhere on an island with friends. Vicarious, people. That's where I went...)
  • And again with the celebrities, why is it that adult heterosexual men don't like Lady Gaga, but everyone else does? It's just a question... Heard it on NPR today that it's something like the Madonna complex. Not sure what it's all about, but interesting to consider... when you're bored...
  • My husband is in Barcelona Spain "as we speak" and my jealousy is eating a hole through these computer keys right now. I have another life that includes world travel. Except now, three other really cool people are involved. I'm OK with that. Let's all go. We're a family. But, let's really get on that plane and go... How on earth can we all know if the hokey pokey really is what it's all about if we don't travel and find out for ourselves? I need to show my monkeys, and me, how to be globally thoughtful and knowledgeable. It's starting to upset me when my kids think we can get whatever we need at Target.
  • Religion (should)= not judging
  • I need to stop thinking blog posts need to be long to be engaging.

    Lila being free (Not sure why, but God do I love this pic...)
    Buzz looks on at princesses...
    This one makes me laugh.
    Such a gorgeous guy...

"Time is always now." ~ Peter Beard


Happy birthday lady. I haven't been around in a while but so glad I stumbled in tonight. U really need to keep writing here b/c I personally think Everything u say it funny and witty and never a waste of time. I relate to SO much of how u feel and what u express - it's ridiculous. LOVE ellen degen and matthew mccon - of course. I'm on a nickname last name basis with them :) in my head :) have a great one!
SwedishJenn said…
This is just so wonderful. Every time I think I couldn't love another post more than the last one, you kick my ass!

The part about travel really got me. Europeans really get it and that's because they got it. What they have is a quality of life that is "work to live" not "live to work". With an average of 4 paid weeks vacation a year, they just "go". To Thailand and NYC, to Canary Islands to Berlin. Their governments afford them that luxury and they afford it focusing less on owning the big, beautiful house and more on seeing the world. For all my moping about being so far away from family and having to move 5x in 5 years (which are valid complaints in my own little world), I am fortunate. Blessed to have lived in a breathtaking part of the world for two and a half years and blessed to now live in a country where I pay for daycare in one month what Americans pay in less than a week. We have seen some of Eastern Europe, marvelled at the Colliseum on a surprise weekend trip to Rome, took the little man with us to walk the Red Square. And we're not rich. Very far from it. But we're "here", on a continent that makes country hopping easy and relatively affordable. And when I pushed hubby to say that no, we really can't afford to spend 4 days in Moscow, he pushed back with the simple, but effective argument that we couldn't afford not to.

There's always a give and take, always a sacrifice, always a price. Ours is hefty. Five whole years away from our loved ones and going on 1.5 without a visit home. Our son knowing his grandparents only through a computer screen and as time goes on, he believes in them less and less. Like Santa Claus.

But still, I would not trade these five years in. What does that say about me? I'm not sure. Of course I'd have it all if I could but that's an impossibility in my world. Or maybe that's just what I tell myself. But life is meant to be lived. Sorry, entering "hokey" territory here.

Strap on the Dora and Buzz backpacks, rent out the house for a year and go. Sounds simple doesn't it? It's not. It never is. But if you truly want "it" to happen, you gotta make it happen. I still struggle with this thought process so this response to your post is also therapy for me.

Off to get a dose of Gaga/Madonna/Ellen/Bieber now.

Thank you Jenny. xo
ps. For the record, this line of prose will be a forever favorite of mine: "My mind travels to different countries, humming along to Indian music, shopping in Italy, dining in Manhattan... And then my body travels to Target."
Claire Patty said…
Your pictures are truly beautiful!! I love seeing happy faces, and the innocence of children. It's so cheerful! Thanks for posting!

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