I have been out of my thirties for two weeks now. I think I wear forty well, it certainly fits, almost as well as the black shirt- which I have been wearing to work on a regular basis. Forty, like the shirt, is snug in one spot and loose around so many others, with surprising rise ups and manageable buttons.
It is time to say goodbye to this chapter in my life, to let go of all the good and the challenging aspects this project brought about. Originally, there was to be a celebration of some sort with cake that had been frozen on the day this project was started. That cake was thrown away unceremoniously, much like this ending, at least in terms of fanfare. Just me, alone, in a living room that is not mine with the sound of the dryer running as I blink away tears. Who knew there would be tears?
I am awash with possibilities. Some obvious, some new, some surprising and many scary. Change always has the promise of fear, or at the least- uncomfortableness. Yet, change is the only way to keep going, to strive for what’s new and what’s needed and, ironically, how to hold on to the best of the past. I am not certain what the future will hold. My mom keeps assuring me that this is going to be a great year for me. A co-worker sweetly made me a spice cake for my birthday. I received an edible bouquet, a lamp, many messages and calls, and one Pussycat Doll Workout- which just really tickles me. I was also treated to a wonderful sushi dinner that preceded an engaging conversation in a park. And a kiss, a lovely kiss. All of these possibilities and celebrations bode well for the first year of my forties, so I will most definitely keep focused and open my heart to the adventure.
F. Scott Fitzgerald said, “It is in the thirties that we want friends. In the forties we know they won’t save us any more than love did.” It may sound a bit bleak, yet it resonates with me. It helps affirm that we have only ourselves to save ourselves. Friends and love are magical, true and needed- though at the core it is up to us to bring these things in, embrace them, and most importantly, to be ready for them when they appear. Look at me, already so wise in my old age! I have begun to chart a new course for honoring this sentiment. If I weren’t such a Luddite and gone and fu-barred my website, I would have a link for you now, alas, I do not. Perhaps I will come back in and add one, just know- it is a good project. One I was tempted to call- The First Year of My Forties! In the end I went with something altogether different, yet perfect for the project, my frame of mind, and the path I am about to embark upon.
Thank you- The Last Year of My Thirties. I honor you, I respect you, I am grateful for you. I am ready to say goodbye for you gave me the strength to do so.
–I will leave this blog up for one more week, after that, even the internet will have to say goodbye ;) — With Love, Shawn Marie
Well, here it is. The time reads a few minutes after midnight on March 19th, it is officially the day of my birth. I spent the day (yesterday) reeling in it being the last day of my thirties, and technically it still is as I was not born until 4:48 pm. I love that, makes me feel like I have all the time in the world.
I don’t want to go to sleep even though I am sleepy. I don’t want to miss anything. I feel a little bit like a kid waiting up for Santa or the Tooth Fairy. Strange to feel so whimsical and nostalgically young when in so many eyes I have officially become old. I will admit that in the past several months, I have felt old. Older than I should have ever felt, to be truthful, way older than my chronology. I even came to this blog and tried to express some of that and for a rogue portion of my audience, that did not go well which, ironically, made me feel even older. Then I remembered the spirit of this blog and this project and I slowly peeled away the feelings of old, and eschewed the trappings of bitterness and age.
The project, The Last Year of MY Thirties, and this past year have taught me so much. I have values and outlooks I never would have unearthed had it not been for this past year and this experience. It is an interesting to thing to embrace and look back upon. I can safely say that this blog, like its creator, truly became a Pisces. It started out swimming strong and assured in one direction, and then it stopped midstream, looked back, and couldn’t quite manage to swim in either direction. Sometimes when I think of this blog, as the transparent proof of the project, I think of it as a split personality, or quite simply as: Before and After.
Before- I was high on the idea and full of enthusiasm. I was so ready to make this project the answer to all that ailed me, it was the solution for things that had become symbols in my life. It had a lot to live up to, probably too much, yet that is how I operate sometimes. I like to make my sandwiches big and paint pictures with words that are broad reaching and grandiose. My projects sometimes get overwhelmed by my motives, though my intent is always pure. I was married, missing my friends, and head been back in Vegas for a few months with prospects that looked pretty slim. I set out what I wanted, I came up with catchy framework, and I set to accomplishing an attitude adjustment on a grand scale. I gathered a community and each week and every day was something to look forward to.
After- Life completely tilted on an axis. Life as I knew it and was working devotedly to maintain and better, changed. It happens, life changes and we face life changes everyday. Some of them are little and some of them are big. Some of them make you smile and some of them break your heart. All of them are worthwhile, if we are going to be zen about the whole thing. And a good portion of them suck, if we are going to be honest about the whole thing. Some members of this little community found other interests beyond this project, I felt like a clown (and not the good kind I wanted to be in the circus when I was young), and I got divorced. Suddenly there were so many other things I needed to look at and deal with beyond my simply turning forty.
I have a dichotomous personality. (Pisces, remember) Though I can be verbose and passionate for my beliefs and when an injustice has been done to someone else- when I am sad I become very quiet and introspective. Though I am excellent on a stage or behind a podium- I am not one who goes in for drama of any kind in real life. I am a processor, and when I process- I process alone. This isn’t to say that I didn’t cry on many a shoulder, and for any of you who may be reading let me say how amazing grateful I am to each and every one of you. This isn’t to say that I didn’t find support in unusual places, for I did, and for that I am equally grateful. It is just to say that I shut down and tuned out in order to reopen my eyes to life and reopen my heart to a new open road.
I did not finish my goal of Casting 39 times. I made it to twenty, had a fabulous Cast planned for the 21st, and then it got too painful to even think about. Though I did and I tried to rekindle that verve and, well, it just didn’t make it to fruition. I did not accomplish two of the goals on my List. One was not practical and the other will be a goal of mine until I leave this earth, I imagine. I read 60 books and watched 50 movies. I did a show, gave a talk and submitted three times. I even managed to get kissed one last time in my thirties! I am proud of the paper chain I completed. I am proud of this past year, with all of its ups and downs. I am proud of this project, for without it as the backbone and check in, I may not have delved as deep as I have. It wasn’t always joyful, there were tears, yet there was also laughter and learning and living, above all else, life was accomplished.
A friend once said to me in deference to my believing I might be too old for something, “You’ll be that age anyway.” She was right. You cannot stop your age, any more than you can stop An Age in the grand scheme of society or the universe. We may as well embrace each age, especially the milestones, for look how far we have come and by golly we made it! I will admit that it helps to have a stranger tell me that I am beautiful, that I look hot and that I am going to stop traffic- how is that for the swan song on my thirties?! Yet, I wonder- did that help- or have I actually learned some important lessons and embraced my value along with my age? Goodness, if that is indeed the truth- why then, she couldn’t help but comment on the outward expression of such a worthwhile journey. Apparently I wear my life, and my age, well.
Hello Forty, I’ll check in with you after I have worn you for a few hours…
Paper Chain- complete!
Check out The List for a recap on how I feel about my accomplished goals. How wonderful to see all of those asterisks and how truly rewarding to type the italicized words. There were only two goals that did not earn an asterisk of completion: One that was not sound to put on the list in the first place, the other will be carried over and accomplished this year for certain. What better way to start a new decade of life than with a long term goal that had eluded me? None- I say.
Putting an asterisk next to the submissions goal has filled me with such pride. It has been a long year and somewhat of a fight internally to check off this goal. I have had a life long fear of submitting and I stared that fear down. ho knows if they will be accepted, I can hope they will. Yet, the worst that can happen is they are rejected, and I can face that, I have and will many more times in my life. Getting over this particular hump and facing this specific fear makes me feel this project has been worth its weight.
Thank You, Thank You, Thank You.
It was handed to me from my mother’s extended hand while she wore a mischievous smile. I wasn’t sure what it could be as I had already opened a wonderful present from my mom- so this was an additional gift I knew nothing about except a few hints that I wouldn’t want to leave home without it. I unwrapped it with uncertainty. When I saw what it was I cried, not just a simple cry but a lasting deep cry. I tried to give it back, to not accept it, it was too much for me, too much to handle, to hold, to grasp, to figure out. My mom hugged me as she and her husband laughed at my tears. They were not mocking me, they were being understanding and compassionate. They also remained firm that the present was indeed for me and they would not take it back. It is a Kindle. It represents my embracing a technology I have often feared while combining my love for all things green and eco-friendly. I wanted one as I love to read and having books delivered to me within seconds- well swoon! I cried because I had not felt so understood and seen for a long time. The kindness in the act of selecting this gift for me and extended the gift to me also found me overwhelmed.
The months leading up to the holidays, and the holidays themselves, were a difficult time for me. So many things that I thought I knew for certain unraveled at a speed that kept my head spinning. I processed and questioned and sought answers to questions I had not previously ever wanted, or thought, to ask. I expanded my world. I put theories into practice. In short, I am divorced. I started this project completely secure as a wife and as it turns out I will finish it as a single woman of forty. I will always love Alicia (my ex), I will always believe that we had something real, I refuse to allow others opinions to cloud what I know to be the truth. I will not cave to insecure bullying, I have no need to rewrite the past, my memory is long and strong and I can look myself in the mirror without pause of any kind. Maybe we weren’t meant for forever together, but we were meant for what we thought we had found in each other and I believe we both deserve that, wherever and however we find it.
Forgive my alienation. I retreated and did my best to sort it all out. It may not have been the best plan of action. It was, however, all I could do. In the days to come I plan on combing through The List and coagulating. I will honor this commitment, even if it takes a new direction, form or shape. I have chosen me. I do so hope you will all stay the course. I promise to remain transparent, even when it hurts. I promise to find the light and embrace the journey. I promise to keep the Kindle charged and all that it has come to stand for alive and well.
One of the items on The List was that I wanted to watch more movies. I specifically was hoping to boost the viewing of classic films, which I have a done a little bit and will continue to endeavor to improve. However, my viewing as of late has been mostly fun reminiscent movie watching via streaming films on Netflix. It is a feature I wasn’t sure I would enjoy, yet can safely say now that I love it! In fact it has become somewhat addictive.
In the true spirit of transparency, for which this blog was founded upon, I have kept a list of my guilty pleasure viewing on the Movies Seen page. Go ahead, click on over, prepare yourself for how much of a silly romantic I truly am! It is also amazing what I will give a shot when it feels like it is free. It isn’t, but at ten bucks a month it feels fairly free. In keeping the list and counting the number of movies I have seen, I couldn’t help but take a break to post about the 39th! And it just so happens to be one of my favorite film adaptations to boot!
Frankie and Johnny was the lucky recipient of the number 39 award. I was scrolling through the newly arrived options to watch instantly and when I spotted Frankie and Johnny, I couldn’t click play fast enough. It is a touching coming together story that allows the truth and reality to play a big part. It is for those elements I am truly grateful, as they help make it such a lovely film. I was excited about the existence of this film before it was finished being made as it is an adaptation of Terrence McNally’s play, Frankie and Johnny in the Clair De Lune. I may have been excited to get to see it, for I had only read it and not gotten a chance to see a live performance of the play (which is still, sadly, true), yet I was angry about the casting. On the stage the role of Frankie was originated by Kathy Bates and in the movie it went to Michelle Pfeiffer. I am sure you can imagine my outrage. After seeing it, I embraced Ms. Pfeiffer’s performance, though to have been able to see Kathy Bates embody that role would have been amazing, I am sure.
My first experience with this movie, aside from my anticipation of its existence, may also lend to my love for the film. I was living off of Hollywood Boulevard at the time, in an old house that had been converted into apartments that butted up against Stephen J. Canal’s Production building. I felt terribly grown up. It was my first all on my own place and even though it didn’t have a kitchen- I was in heaven! I had the day off, I was waiting tables at the time, and decided to walk down to Mann’s Chinese and see if anything was showing that held my interest. Once I got there and took some time to stand in Fred Astaire’s shoe prints (we are the same size by the way) I marched up to the box office and was pleasantly surprised to see Frankie and Johnny playing. I bought a ticket for the first show of the day at 11:30 and had a few minutes to get a snack and sit down.
I made it into the theater and found an excellent seat smack dab in the middle of the theater. It wasn’t hard to find a seat as I was the only one in the entire place, save for the workers. I vaguely remembered two of the ushers standing at the entrance to the theater and grinning at me as I walked past them. I figured they were bored and that is what warranted their tremendously friendly and solicitous greeting of a complete nobody such as me. Then the lights started to fade and a feeling came over me, a feeling that something incredibly special was about to happen. And I was right. Gotta love the gut when the feelings materialize in grand positive ways!
The lights went to black and I heard the rustling of a curtain closing. As the low murmur of introductory music began to escalate its volume, spotlights were illuminated and shone across the closed red plush velvet curtains in a delicate dance that one can only dream about or catch glimpses of in old-time movies. The music continued to swell as more lights flashed in an elaborate routine. The curtain began to open in the most beautiful ceremonious way to reveal the words Mann Chinese Presents. The fanfare faded as the reel picked up to show the opening credits for the film. As the first scene began, the curtain was nestled securely at the sides of the screen, the lights had gone to sleep, and I couldn’t remember when the music stopped as it was all so smooth and seamless and magical. I let out a gasp of breath, heard a slight spurt of laughter all the way from the projection room high above, and settled in to watch Frankie and Johnny all by myself feeling like the most welcomed and celebrated celebrity in town.
If this is what happens at those fancy movie premieres it would be worth it to become a film star. It was a surreal magical experience and I am so thankful for those ushers who decided to give me such a gift. Perhaps they need to test the pre-show extravaganza from time to time and I just happened to be the lucky recipient, or it was Thursday morning that needed to go down in history- either way I am happy and so very pleased to have gotten to relive it with all of you.
Who knew how magical 39 could be?
Yes, today is Thanksgiving, and I have been thinking of all the things I am thankful for. In truth, this topic has been on my mind for quite some time. I am not the type of person to be hard pressed to find things I am thankful for, at least once or twice a day I think about something and I say a silent little gratitude expression for that appreciation. Heck, I am a firm believer in giving credit where credit is due, which is why I watch the credits for the movies- it takes a lot of people to bring that art form to life and the least I can do is watch the credits to honor them and thank them!
Today, the specific day to give thanks, even more specifically for the Harvest, I find myself a bit of a traditionalist. I am thinking of the things that brought me to the point I am currently at in my life. The actions, the people, the decisions, the obstacles, the things that planted the seeds of thought that have become my habits, my ambitions, my motivations. I am cultivating my thanks from way deep inside. This isn’t easy, and if you’ve a queasy stomach you should stay away from this soul searching task. For to be truly thankful in the present, we must thank the hardships and the ugly truths, as well as the beauty and the romance, as they all play a part in how we live and what we need and what we have overcome to simply survive and maintain, and therefore, to be thankful.
I have been thinking about this project, this Last Year of My Thirties campaign, and at the heart of it all I am thankful for it. I believe in what it was started to do. I believe in how it has helped me uncover things and to see some things more clearly. I am thankful for it as an entity and I am thankful for the community of friends who have shown up to support me in the process of this project. I have not been giving this project the full attention it deserves, though in a round about way, as I have been giving attention to the life this project supports, I have been completely devoted to this project! Only not so much in the record keeping of my accomplishments, i.e. this blog and the casts that support it. My thoughts concerning this project are at best varied. I have thought about pulling the plug. I have thought about completely ignoring it. I have thought about taking it to another level. My thoughts keep coming back to the fact that I committed to this, so I will see it through, but then my energy and time do not seem to agree as I have not been present in this project for a fair gap of time.
I am a cheerleader by nature, a supporter, a fixer, a lover, a giver, and I need to find a way to be that for myself in order for this project to not only thrive, but merely survive. I am thankful for this blog, I truly am, its conception was a shining idea and its coming to life was exactly what I needed and I have learned so much about myself and garnered strength and truth from that. However, this blog has also turned into a symbol of something I cannot quite name. It has been held over my head, used as a platform for drama, it unwittingly became a conduit for insincerity which in turn caused strife and loss, it has been misunderstood and thought of as a weapon. None of these off shoots have anything to do with the intent, or content, of this project, they are from outside reactions that did not take it the step further to reach out and communicate. They are reflections of mirrors that internalized inappropriately. I know I have no control over any of that, how something is perceived and/or received is completely out of my control. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t have the power to hurt me. And yes, grasshopper, it is up to me to not give it power, yet all the same, I have been hurt.
There is also the matter of where I am at and where I thought I might be at the end of this grand endeavor. I find myself in a precarious position, one that believes there should have been items on the list to protect or propel me through this period of time. Yet, I wouldn’t have had a clue that these items needed to be included on the list! How does one set the goal to remain in tact within a hurricane of life that no one could have predicted? There isn’t even a way to phrase what I need to concentrate on, or work on, so that I may add it to the list now. Do you see the conundrum I find myself within?
I am thankful for the words on paper, and for finally putting some down. I am thankful that this project exists. I am thankful for any and all of you who have embraced the true spirit of The Last Year of My Thirties. And I am thankful that it continues, in whatever shape and form that may take.
Several months ago, right after I got my job and discovered the uniform was a black shirt, we found one in a thrift store. It didn’t fit. It was close to fitting, save for the fact that I couldn’t button the last few buttons. Yet, the shirt was a dollar and the material was lightweight and I thought I would mend it by simply adding some material where it didn’t fit. Which, in truth would have been a simple mend job ( and one I have done in the past very simply and successfully ) had I not tucked the shirt away in a cabinet and forgotten about it almost entirely. I have a polo shirt that I wear as my uniform and it works just fine, so why would I think about this spur of the moment purchase that needed work in order to be worn?
Then today, while working on some miniatures for Alicia and her Stormies, I opened the cabinet in search of embroidery floss and happened upon the aforementioned black shirt. I thought to myself that I should fix that shirt so that I could wear it, it might be nice to have some variety in my work attire, right? I may have even asked Murphy that last question out loud. I draped over the chair and went about my search for the supplies I needed to finish the “mini” project I was currently working on.
A few hours later, the miniature project installment number one complete, a few thousand words written for my current writing piece, and I decided to take a shower. I walked back toward the bathroom and spied the shirt draped over the chair. Since I was already removing my top, I thought it wouldn’t hurt to try on the black shirt and see how much would need to be done.
It buttoned. It buttoned all the way! Okay, the last button still pulls a bit in a tightness sort of way, yet it buttoned without popping and because I wear an apron, I could technically wear this shirt to work right now, with no mending needed! This feels good. In a way that someone telling you, you may have lost cannot. Physical proof of a weight loss by way of clothes fitting that didn’t before is a confirmation that you may be doing something right.
I am not going to wear this shirt to work however. I am not going to wear it until it doesn’t pull at all, until I can button all the buttons freely and easily and not feel self-conscious about one of them being a bit snug. Hence the title of this post- I hereby declare this Operation Black Shirt! I pledge to continue to slim down so that I may wear said black shirt and I promise to keep you all posted about my progress.
Thank you for listening. Over and to be continued…