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WINDS OF CHANGE
I don't know what's wrong with me. Nothing seems to be interesting enough or funny enough to share or write about. If this is a mid-life crisis, where is my Alfa Romeo and cabana boy?

I kept forgetting to get the jack-o-lanterns bagged up and thrown away, and now they're sitting in front of the house, sunken in on themselves, exuding the most godawful stench. I nearly threw up this morning getting the kids to into the car. How am I going to deal with them? I don't think my husband is going to be very happy with me this afternoon. :(

I bought 2 more Christmas presents yesterday. I'm nearly halfway finished. Next up: Christmas letter and cards.

****
Conversations That Made Me Pause

Karin: *at dinner, out of the blue* Mama, is daddy going to die before you?
Me: I hope not.
Karin: Why do you say that?
Me:: Because I wouldn't want to live without him.
Karin: *thoughtful pause* You can live with one of us. *points at Martin*

Me: *in the car* ...and I'm tired, and it's late, and it wasn't fun, and I forgot to ask you to tape West Wing for me.
Anders: You should have more faith in your husband.
Me: You remembered without me asking you? You taped it for me? I'm going to cry now.
Anders: Don't drive off the road.

****

After college, I moved to Chicago with my roommate, who had just gotten a job at the advertising agency that her father's business used. After working at a bookstore (like Christmas every day! only O MY BARKING DOGS!) for about 4 months, I managed to finagle my way into a job there as well. The owner was a dynamo of a woman, in her late 30s, 2 daughters, and a husband who worked with her. She was a powerhouse of sorts in the automobile advertising circles around Chicago, and had started her own agency only a few years before. She was funny, generous, a control freak, and a lot of fun to hang around with for us. She sort of adopted my roommate and I, made us feel part of her family, gave us things, treated us to trips and dinners and all kinds of things, and worked us mercilessly. Phone calls at midnight asking for the exact wording of car dealership disclaimer text weren't uncommon.

I worked for her for 3.5 years. In the middle of that time period, she turned 40 and it was as if she drank the magic potion that turned her from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde. Things stopped being fun, and got serious. Small mistakes became the stuff of misery. She became increasingly freaky and controlling, to the point of insanity. Due to another crisis in my life going on at the same time, my life was a nightmare for nearly a year, and I was desperate to get out. I STILL, after 16 years, have nightmares once in a while about her, that's how bad it was. Thankfully, I DID get out, to the best job I've ever had, which led to my moving downtown to the throbbing heart of Chicago and eventually to meeting Anders.

The reason why I've been thinking about her a lot lately is because I always associated the change in her with her turning 40. I don't want to be like her. I don't want to think that my sense of fun and spontaneity is twisting inside of me due to my AGE. Anders says it's not, that I shouldn't be so worried. I know that it's normal to seek new interests and to get tired of old responsibilities that have become wearing and are no longer fun, and that it's probably just coincidence that it happens to be NOW that I'm looking to shed some of the responsibilities that I've been shouldering without problem for so long. Mid-life crises have always been the stuff of jokes, but I don't find them so amusing these days.

I suppose it could be a lot worse. I really COULD be looking to trade in for an Alfa Romeo and a cabana boy. I'm grateful every day to the anchors of home, husband, and family for keeping things in perspective.
 contemplative
mood: contemplative
music: Rebecca Törnqvist—Wander Where You Wander


Comments

Have you considered that perhaps she was hitting early menopause in a time before there were lots of good ways to deal with it? My mother was stark raving insane for a whole year while she was going through the change - no estrogen for her and the poor woman also had 4 teenagers in the house at the time as well. I, on the other hand, am dealing with it quite well, other than the occasional middle of the night hot flashes and a crying jag or two. 40 was a glorious time for me, as was 50 and everything in between.

Could be. I don't know. I know lots of people who sailed through their 40s and 50s with none of that freakiness. I don't know why her particular mid-life crisis struck me so, other than that it happened at a particularly vulnerable time in my life.

(Anonymous)

oh wow-- I am SO in sinc with you. You have no idea. I am so glad you wrote this post. It's really where I am right now (although I never had the cool, exciting jobs in Chicago--damn! even though I should've seeing as I went to college in Wisconsin, but whatever)

I think it takes a lot to grow old and stay young. Not "young" like women who dress as if they are teenagers and it hurts the eyes. But young, as you described, not harsh, not pointed, always keeping the light and the fun going on.

Right now I am definitely feeling the age thing-- I think it always happens as the weather turns. These New England winters (and I imagine Swedish ones, too) really age a person. But I'm going to think about what you wrote here and hopefully do better today. ~bluepoppy

Maybe it IS just the weather. Although, we had sun all weekend so I wouldn't think so. I still have mixed feelings about turning 40, even though I'm more reconciled than I was before it happened.

"Me: *in the car* ...and I'm tired, and it's late, and it wasn't fun, and I forgot to ask you to tape West Wing for me.
Anders: You should have more faith in your husband.
Me: You remembered without me asking you? You taped it for me? I'm going to cry now.
Anders: Don't drive off the road."

Wow. Now that is a one in a million husband.

He IS pretty great, I have to say. :)

I'm gonna hold out for an Aston-Martin for my midlife crisis. Don't need or want a pool-boy, though.

This post just makes me so sad. I guess beccause I know exactly where you are coming from - and I know I joke about cabana boys a lot - but I to,o like you, AM thankful for those same anchors.

So, nothing helpful from me. Obviously. Just sad that you're thinking these things too.

(I had a waitressing nightmare last night - where the restaurant is full and I'm the only one on ... always indicative of these moods/modes/times of thinking/life)

(Anonymous)

I so relate to this post, you have no idea. I'm currently squiriming with the urge to do something, something different, something mraculous and wonderful and creative, to the point where i feel like I'm busting at the seams... but I sit down to do this amazing thing and nothing happens! The cogs in my brain keep spinning relentlessly, but alas... uselessly. I keep telling myself it (whatever it is) will come and I'll erupt like this spectacularly interesting volcano and creativity will pour from me like lava. But we're going on Day 6 of the pent-uppity-ness and nothing's managed to manifest yet. Eeek.

And about the insane boss: I imagine it was the job and NOT her age which turned her into a freak. At least I hope so! That said, 40 scares the shit out of me and it's not all that far away!! Ayayyyayyy. Hold me. xo Wee

Psst. If you ever need a copy of The West Wing, I hypothetically might know where to download a copy. You didn't hear it from me though :)

Wheee! I'll file that away for future reference!

We actually have the saying that life begins at 40.

I think there is a tendency to focus too much on "magic numbers" like 40. I think in our parent's generation, by 40 most women were facing the empty nest syndrome as they tended to have kids much younger then. Life does change quite a bit at that stage, so the rethinking of prioities and role in life is very common at that point.

You sound more like you are facing burn-out from taking on superhuman loads. When you have a schedule as full as yours, it's common to feel stressed. Believe me, I've not only been there myself, I wrote the book! What is wonderful with you is that you realised it and are taking steps to lighten the load. That makes you a WINNER in my book. I had to go over the precipice, like the clueless idiot I was.

Losing your sense of fun? No way!

I wonder how much the scaling back of the superhuman loads has to do with the way I feel, though. A combo of guilt, the weather, SAD (at least a little), stress from new job, etc. I'm glad you don't think I'm losing my sense of fun!

Just as a counterpoint to your experience of a close woman going berserk at 40, I'd like to put in that although I had a tough and uncomfortable time (ending relationship) in my 42nd year (I think)..my mid forties were wonderful. I truly came into myself. I picked up where I'd left some things off for childrearing. I did things I'd never done before. I was creative and innovative. I had the time of my life.
I'm just here to say to you that 40 can be great. You can do it. And if anything, that experience can turn to good now. If you see something in your life trying to unconsciously push you in the type of direction that woman went, you have a guiding image to say a resounding NO to it.
Take a deep breath down in your belly. There are a lot of dips in life. You may be going through a tiny dip. You'll get through it. Maybe you just need a little rest or some quiet pampering. Or a rousing dance night. Or a weekend alone with Anders.
My gawd woman, you are a powerhouse, usually on the go, etc, etc. You've just been through a major change with the job thing. That affects us. Even good change can have a stress or depress burden to it for awhile.
And as far as creativity, might I remind you that a mere couple of weeks ago you gifted many of us with awe.
Funny and interesting can not be every day. Just breath. It'll come back.
(and I sincerely hope that I am not invalidating your depth of feeling in the least. I hope to reassure you that blah is OK and passing, as you often assure me...and that life definitely doesn't sour at forty. On the contrary.)

(breathing) :) thank you for that!

I had a boss like that too. She would never reveal her age but she was definitely well past 40. Nightmare. Total nightmare. At the end of my time there, working for her was like being a battered wife. We cowered at our desks, we knew it was bad for us, but we were so afraid of any backlash if we reported her. When I finally quit, I had called a "friend" of hers (one of our vendors) the night before and she made me promise to have someone standing right outside the door in case she became violent. It took the advice of this woman who had known my boss for 15+ years and luckily it wasn't necessary but phew, those were rough days.

For my boss, her insanity was not tied to age so much as it was tied to loss. She had lost her stature at the company in the course of a buyout, she had lost her influence over who our vendors were, which in turn meant a loss to her own pocketbook as it turned out they had a little scheme going so she was no doubt afraid she was going to lose her job (which she eventually did) and her best friend was dying from cancer. Who can say why your boss flipped out, maybe the stress of having her own company had begun to take its toll, but you are not her anyway. I'm with Anders, don't be so worried.

yikes! what a story. She sounds way more freaky than my boss was, by far!

I bought 2 more Christmas presents yesterday. I'm nearly halfway finished.

Ohhh, can you see me turning green with envy, here?

Conversations That Made Me Pause

Those were both wonderful. ;-)

I'm teetering on 40 myself (six months or so to go). Strangely (or perhaps not), this does not bother me as I once thought it would. Perhaps it's because my two best friends and my significant other are all 10+ years older than I am, and persist in referring to me as a "Spring chicken". (They may be right: Morfar lived to be 98 1/2, so theoretically, I haven't gotten to Life's midpoint yet. ::grin::)

The prospect of turning 25 was actually much more daunting for me, than gathering up my courage to look 40 in the face...

25? really? I don't remember even thinking about that one, and 30 was the best year of my life. I think it's idiotic of me that I've had such a hard time with 40, but I can't seem to really stop, even when I think I have it conquered. argh.

Anders: You should have more faith in your husband.
Me: You remembered without me asking you? You taped it for me? I'm going to cry now.


I love thoughtful surprises like that. It shows you that someone really is listening. *smile*

I loves that man o' mine! :D

what a wonderful response you've wrought, my thoughtful friend! I've never thought about the whole huge life change of 40, I'm too busy readying for turning 30...and really looking forward to it, by the way. There's just so much to accomplish before I get there. Please don't hate me, just thinking out loud.

All that to say, honey, I think you will be fine. You have creativity oozing out of your pores, you're fun, you're have a thoughtful and giving heart. Those qualities never age. It's so wonderful that you follow the steady rhythm of family and home, rotting pumpkins notwithstanding, and that you realize that they are the true treasure, not some silly boy with fancy schmacy car. (Not that he wouldn't be nice for some smooching. But he probably wouldn't tape West Wing for you, and that simply will not DO.)

sending you a smackety kiss, and a big hug, to sail across the sea...

True, and he'd probably want a Ferrari instead of a sweet, sweet Alfa Romeo.

(Anonymous)

I couldn't WAIT to turn 40...mainly because my 30's were so turbulent! :) But I didn't meet the love of my life until I was 40, so my 40's have been anything but dull...on a personal level. (Love convinced me to move sight unseen to a little rock in the middle of the ocean 4,000 miles away!) But as I near the end of my 40's--and find myself feeling TRAPPED on my little rock--I feel like NOTHING fun or exciting is happening in my life. Thank god I discovered blogging, or I'd truly go mad. (If nothing else, I can delight in everyone else's interesting lives.) Personally, I don't think chronological age has much to do with these episdoes of feeling like everything's sort of dull. I think sometimes we just hit those moments...due to circumstances...or hormonal changes...or a lack of professional stimulation...or whatever. Even though it might not feel that interesting to you right now, I delight in reading about your sweet life there...and wish you well. --Marilyn, http://islandfever.blogspot.com

Whee! A new friend! I love new friends :) Where did you find me from?

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