Let the summer of 40 begin

When I was a younger girl, I never imagined I’d marry a guy my own age.

It’s not that I was into older guys.

Mamash, LO, as we say in Hebrew. Definitely NOT.

Older guys scared me. I typically dated guys who were maximum two years older.  This was my boyfriend demographic for many years.

Guys my own age were my friends; little brothers. Guys older than me by more than two years also landed in the friend zone; as the older brother type.

An older guy liked me once. He was in his late twenties. I was still in college. The difference between 28 and 20 at the time seemed immeasurable. He was also British. He drank premium beer from a bottle because he liked the taste. I was still a 25 cent pitcher, chug it to get drunk sorta girl. When I was drunk, I didn’t understand what he was saying. Something about football, something that rhymed.

A younger guy liked me once. I went on one date with him. I was worried about kissing him because I had eaten garlic pizza earlier in the day and the taste would not leave my mouth. But kissing him was the closest I ever came to kissing my brother. It was like that scene in Back to the Future where Marty kisses his mom in the car. We did not go on a second date. But we’re Facebook friends.

Once, just after I graduated college a much older guy liked me. He was a television reporter. Even though that held significant appeal to me, I was still too afraid of the age difference to do anything but flirt and giggle, flirt and giggle. When he called me on the phone to ask me out the next day, I screened his call on my answering machine. Multiple times.  Later, it came out that I was just one of many young co-eds this reporter asked out over many, many years of being married and on the news.

All that happened many years ago and is really the long way of getting to the fact that in the end I married a guy born less than two months before I was. And this summer, we both turn 40.

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And while I never imagined I’d marry a guy my age, I have to say there’s something comfortably fun about reaching this milestone together. And definitely about celebrating it — slowly and extended over an entire summer.  We kick it off in June with his (I’ve already planned a birthday weekend spectacular in Tel Aviv at the Dan Panorama hotel) and finish it at the end of August with mine (still a surprise hanging over my husband’s head).

In the middle? A summer of celebrating the unexpected pleasures and surprises 40 brings … because I am determined to manifest a magical summer. Let’s consider it an advance on my birthday candle wish.

Stay tuned and so will I.

 

 

 

 

While we’re at it, let’s blame menopause and extramarital affairs on Gwyneth

“Ever since Gwyneth Paltrow became famous in her early 20s, she has made women feel bad about themselves…” begins Jessica Grose’s article in Slate this week.

Ouch.

This makes me want to write something along the lines of how ever since Jessica Grose starting writing articles in Slate she’s made celebrities feel bad about themselves.

Except I don’t know Jessica Grose.

I don’t know anything about her.

In fact, while I may have read her articles on Slate before, I don’t remember any in particular.

It’s not a jab. It’s just to illustrate how little I know her.

Which is why I can’t imagine laying blame on her for feeling bad about myself.

What has Jessica Grose done to make me feel like an unattentive mother, unaffectionate wife, less-than-compelling blogger?

(Oops. Did I just overshare?)

It’s not that I don’t get the point — how the media, let’s say, perpetuates an unattainable image of women or mothers. But blaming the media is very different from pinpointing one particular celebrity, especially one who actually has made it a point to do GOOD in the world.

It’s mind boggling to me. I feel compelled to defend Gwyneth, except I don’t know her.

But what I do know is that Grose’s article didn’t inspire in me a feeling of comraderie.

It made me feel sad for Grose. And for women who truly ascribe their feelings of inadequacy to female celebrities.

The accusations against Gwyneth, in particular, continue throughout Grose’s entire piece, which was sparked by the recent announcement of Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin’s split. Grose shames Gwyneth (not Martin, by the way, but Gwyneth) for how she chose to announce her separation. The language she chose to use. The means by which she communicated it.

As if getting a divorce and having to actually ANNOUNCE it wasn’t bad enough.

“Underneath that psychobabble,” Grose writes, taking issue with the phrasing “Conscious Uncoupling,” “is the message that goes along with all Goop productions: Even Gwyneth’s separation is better than yours…”

Is that what’s underneath the “psychobabble?” Really?

I didn’t get that at all. Perhaps if I was in the middle of a messy divorce, I’d be envious of couples who seem outwardly to be approaching separation maturely.

My response? I actually considered for a minute or two that Paltrus mag cheatingow and Martin might be trailblazers.  Better coverage of “conscious” uncoupling than the ugly divorces we normally expect from Hollywood.

Unless, of course, we want celebrities to feel heartbreak and pain because it makes us feel a little better about our own.

The truth is finally spoken out loud at the end of the article when Grose writes of Gwyneth and another celebrity mother, “Their stories are meant to make mere mortals feel inadequate.”

Huh?

I may be susceptible to the “new-agey psychobabble” Grose mocks (I used to be on Goop’s mailing list), but I am under the impression that Gwyneth Paltrow is as mortal as the rest of us are. Maybe even moreso, since she is living her life on a worldwide stage.

Could be that I was won over by the restaurant scene in Notting Hill

but I operate on the assumption that even famous actresses feel shame, anxiety, humiliation, fear. I don’t see any reason to perpetuate the stereotype that they don’t.

My takeaway from Grose’s article is not an urge to join a rallying cry for honesty in media. It’s not a desire to band together as “normal moms” with limited budgets to spread rage about the injustice of personal trainers or nannies or vegan chefs.

I just feel sad.

For women who feel so disconnected from themselves that they have to look to others as perpetrators of their unhappiness.

Women who feel compelled to publicly shame other women, through blogs or through gossip.

And for this reason, I almost didn’t write this blog. I worried that by writing this post I was doing the exact same thing Grose was with her piece on Paltrow.

And then I remembered intention.

And how intention, God willing, often shines through, even when the language we are using may be misconstrued as branding, marketing, or public relations spin.

Gwyneth’s intention — even though I don’t know her personally — came through loud and clear to me in the quotes attributed to her yesterday.

She’s not looking to hurt or attack anyone. She’s not looking to rebrand marriage or divorce or motherhood.

She just thinks before she speaks.

Before she acts.

That’s what came through to me.

She thinks before she speaks.

And this is a brand I’m happy to be an early adopter of.