Thursday, June 22, 2017

Things About Being 40

Everyone kept telling me that it wasn't a big deal and that I wouldn't feel any different once I turned 40. Everyone is a liar. My parents sent me an Amazon gift card for my birthday and do you know what I got? Dental floss and a LAP DESK. A lap desk like the ones that bedridden geriatrics have for their crossword puzzles. And DENTAL FLOSS. No different my left foot. This is what being 40 is. It's lap desks and dental floss and doctor's referrals for MRIs of old lady hips and taking fiber supplements. Being 40 is going to bed at a Reasonable Hour and getting up even earlier because all of a sudden, when you are 40, the consequences of Netflix binges until 2 AM become Very Real.

Being 40 is mopping my floors three times in one week and folding all of the laundry and even putting it away, something that never, ever happened in my 30s. Being 40 is sadly packing the micro-mini skirt into a box of donations and wondering why you thought it was acceptable way back when you were 39. Being 40 is one and a half beers because two is just a little too much. Being 40 is the sudden realization that you are halfway to 80 and your only retirement plan is a tortilla stand in Mexico but you don't even know how to make tortillas.

But being 40 isn't all bad. Especially if the people who love you help you know what your particular 40 looks like.  When I turned 40, one of my offspring gave me a clay launcher so I would have something to do with my shotgun other than chase zombies, and another one of my offspring gave me a superhero balloon, because somehow, even though I am her mom, and 40, and a lot of beautiful mess, she thinks I am a superhero. My Christy friend gave me leather pants, and we all know old people can't wear leather pants. And Someone I Love gave me Paul Bunyan socks - complete with Babe the Blue Ox. Nothing says Forever Young (other than Alphaville) like Babe the Blue Ox on your socks. I might be 40, but I am not dead yet. In fact, I know that there are so many things I haven't even started yet - other than just my retirement plan. (for your viewing pleasure and a break from my prattling - one of the weirdest music videos to come out of the 80s - which is saying A LOT. Also, if I could get an orange jumpsuit like this for my 41st, that would be great.)

Maybe 40 is just the beginning of the Next Era of Liv. The clay-shooting, practical-shoe-wearing, tortilla-making, bionic-hip Liv. Maybe 40 is discovering new loves like running on trails and writing about things other than kids and dogs and toilet floods. Maybe 40 is the new 20, since my 20 was kind of a train-wreck anyway. I don't feel a day over 18, to be honest, which is why it's hard for me to tell people I am 40. But the compelling urge to wash the dishes in the sink rather than leave them reminds me that I am not 18. Or 20. Or even 30. I am 40. I can still do All The Things, but I can do them with a clean house and a clear mind and wearing Paul Bunyan socks. Maybe this is what growing up feels like. But not growing ALL the way up, because in addition to the lap desk and dental floss I also got a Broncos snapback with my birthday giftcard. #notoldyet

Broncos Birthday Snapback! Thanks Mom and Dad!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Things About Frank

This morning I decided to start a juice cleanse. The explanation for this is a long and boring story with outcomes that nobody wants to read about so I am just going to skip ahead, except I think it's important to note that THIS MORNING I decided I was going to live on nothing except purple juice that tastes exactly like what I imagine a cat's butt tastes like. But I can only imagine.

At 8:36 AM I decided to go on a run. This was probably ill advised for several reasons which vary from a torn labrum in my hip to the way my leggings fit. But the real problem was Frank. One of the big reasons I got Frank, another dog (which was questionable decision regardless of outlying circumstances) was to be my running partner. Out on remote country roads, so he could like, take on cougars and bears and stuff. And my lack of motivation, which is a more ferocious adversary than either of the aforementioned. Frank was a good running partner. He always wanted to go just a TEENSY bit faster than me and just a TINSY bit farther than me. He was good on his leash and didn't argue with me about running music or complain when I sang along to Beastie Boys.

I tried to take Frank on a run with me this morning, but he wouldn't even go around the block. He couldn't run. I knew he hadn't been feeling well lately since he hadn't been eating his food, let alone everyone else's food in a three mile radius. But I though maybe it was just a funk and he'd do better after a run to his favorite spot in the whole world, The River. But he couldn't run. He couldn't even walk. I called the vet.

The vet turned out to be super busy today. I think the entire chihuahua-mix population of northern Stevens County was on hand for their 6 month check ups, including one pug cross that actually had earrings. Blue sparkly ones. I think they were stick ons, but still. They did work Frank in, and after some waiting, and some temperature taking and some concerned looks and HMMMS and HUHHHS from the vet assistant and the vet, they took him back to get an X-Ray of his chest.

Frank's lungs, according to the X-ray, were completely filled with fluid. So full that the vet was unable to see his heart, which was not beating correctly, at all. "A pretty serious arrhythmia," the vet called it. The fluid in his lungs was putting so much pressure on his heart that it couldn't even beat right. He lay there, panting, struggling to breathe. Struggling to keep his heart beating. The vet said the prognosis with lungs like that wasn't good. It could be a tumor on his heart, it could be a genetic valve weakness that ruptured. It could be a trauma like he got tagged by a car on one of his walkabouts. Or it could be rat poison. The only way to tell would be a trip to Spokane and a massive vet bill to try to find out and the slim chance of a fix.

Frank is the young one. He's the big, tough, healthy hound. Truck was the one that was supposed to go to be with Jesus any minute. He's dying of cancer. Frank is fine. Now my house feels like a dog hospice center. The Doghouse. The place where All the Dogs come to have All The Fun. Not come to die. This is a hard one. I drove home, ugly crying, of course, and trying to sort through what I did wrong, what I was supposed to get out of this, how I could have prevented it, what I should do next, with one hand on the steering wheel and one hand on the panting back of a Very Large Bloodhound.

I don't know the end of this story yet. We will go back to the vet tomorrow to follow up. But Frank The Bloodhound could use your prayers. And me too, I guess. ❤️

Friday, June 9, 2017

Things About Time

"The trouble is, you think you have time..." 


Once, they were all baby monsters...

It's not just that I am T-minus four minutes from being forty. OK, maybe it is mostly that. But I can't shake this sense of time lately. How brief it is. How fast it goes. How quickly it's over. Even the hard times. Tomorrow I get to go watch one of 'my kids' graduate. He isn't really mine but I can claim him by the amount of cookies and English homework we have done together. He's all grown up and graduating now. I remember when he was born. I remember when he was shorter than me. I remember when he was a gangly, awkward 6th grader and not a 6'4" MVP All-Star everything. I remember shaking my head and wondering how "Spock" and his pragmatic look at life would ever survive the real world. But here he is, practicing his Valedictorian speech for me and eating my Jelly Beans, just like he was still 14. Tomorrow I will cry.

It's not as noticeable with my own kids, maybe, because there they are, Every Single Day, getting older and bigger and smarter and more beautiful so INMYFACE that I can't even see it. But with this one, the leaps and spurts and bounds over the very short 18 years of his life have sped by like his breakaway on the basketball court.

Time is funny that way. The time that is happening to us is so much less noticeable than the time that is happening around us. I don't see the gradual changes in my old Truck Hound, but when the girls come back to visit they are shocked by how crusty he's gotten. It's part of life. The gradual changes that sweep from the lows of pooping our pants and the slobbering incoherence of infancy to the highs of valedictorian, MVP and Taking Over The World, and then back down again to the slobbering incoherence of senility. It's the time that makes us ready for the next step. The discomfort of time makes us eager for the changes, but its comfortable rhythms create fear of the unknown beyond. These high school graduates, with every choice and every chance and every hope and every fear are all of us in every moment, it's just never so crystal clear as when they are standing nervously on a paper-covered stage with their mortarboards at an awkward tilt, wondering if they have the tassels and cords on the right way, balancing on the precipice of Real Life.

Some days, like All of The Ones before I turn forty, I want desperately to stop the passing of time with a big emergency brake, screeching my disapproval across the runway of life in big black rubber marks. Other days, I can't WAIT to get to the next moment, because surely it holds more promise than the last one (except maybe when I turn forty). Time is scary. But Scary is exciting, if you have things to believe in. And we all do. Especially all of you under-forties tottering on the brink of forever and hope. Go get it, while you still have time.