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.

 

 

 

 

123 days

There are 123 days left until 40.

1 – 2 – 3

and like that I will be

Over the Hill.

Which hill?

The hill there

footsteps away?

The Tel?

Tell me.

Tel Hannaton through fence, by Jen Maidenberg

Tel Hannaton through fence, by Jen Maidenberg

It’s a curious time.

This tick tocking of clock

measured quietly

uncertain

alone

without labels I’ve grown accustomed to

a “Jean Val Jean” moment in time, says my husband.

“Who am I?”

1-2-3 and I will be 40.

Over the Hill.

Not Under it.

A blessing

Not dead becomes a blessing when

1-2-3

one is 40.

Remember when dead was unimaginable, unthinkable?

When youth was a fortress of solitude with its fangs sunk into the taut skin of our necks?

Sure, there was always AIDS hanging over our upper middle class halos.

And a little bit of cancer.

But now there is cancer

of everything.

It ate away at the fangs of youth — replaced them

Sunk into Breast. Stomach. Skin.

Now, there is the echo of anomaly

Brain. Lung. Ovary.

“What’s that?”

A tag. A growth. A lump.

1-2-3 and you become

Much too aware.

Too much care taken in the shower

soaping up lathering up the sides of once-breasts

Too much care taken in the reflection

smoothing sprouting silver down

Too much care taken in front of a lens

facing right, facing left, facing the side with less shadows.

Filter me.

1 – 2 -3 until 40.

Over Under but what about

On the Other Side

Kibbutz House by Jen Maidenberg

Kibbutz House by Jen Maidenberg

I hold out hope

that walking through the door of 40

is like opening the front door of the Gale farm

after a wicked storm.

1-2-3

technicolor works its magic

and life becomes more richly lived

in never before seen hues of

yellow green and blue.

* * *

 

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Cookie cutter approach to food activism

As we enter the period before Passover, I’m thinking about how eat, what we what, with whom we eat and why. I am meditating on freedom and gratitude.

No, actually, I am not.

I’m thinking about the store-bought chocolate chip cookie I just ate.

For breakfast. (Actually, I had a vegetable wrap first. The cookie was for dessert. Breakfast dessert.)

As I ate the cookie with deep pleasure, I thought to myself.

This is happiness.

Of course, there are chemical reasons why the cookie made me so happy; the main one being white sugar in abundance.

This I know.

And this I shrugged off.

Instead of acknowledging the sugar and the wheat and the likelihood that both would incite the candida surely camping out in my gut or inflame the inner lining of my intestines, I ate another cookie.

I think it was even better than the first.

I’m thinking about eating another one.

But first I’m blogging: To clear my proverbial throat because what I want to say is unclear right now.

What I want to say is that I spent the last two decades a bit too food-focused.

Not without good reason.

I believe, firmly, that food can be harmful. I believe that food is a direct or indirect cause of chronic illness. I believe food is addictive. Food is a commodity that corporations use to control people. Food has been made an idol that we in the #firstworld worship.

I believe food may be used to heal if used properly, but has become deified also by wellness professionals (especially those with books or vitamins to sell) in the guise of healthy living. So many of us are self medicating with chia and gobi and wheatgrass in the same way people are self medicating with xanax and marijuana and vodka on frozen lemon juice ice cubes with mitz petel (I call it “the Hannaton.” It’s amazing and totally gets me through the homework to bedtime madness.)

I consider myself a food activist, and yet I question my focused attention on food.

I question my focus.

I question it.

It’s important to question our obsessions.

For even those of us with good intentions, food has become an obsession.

And I question that.

This is what I want to say.

It’s important to have passion.

It’s important to be mindful about our behavior and

conscious about the consequences.

It’s important to support causes.

And it’s important to share ideas — loudly and powerfully.

But it’s equally important to question our motives.

And the returns on our investment.

I spent three years dairy free. I didn’t eat a drop of cow product. I read labels religiously. My motive, at first, was to nurse my son so he wouldn’t have bloody poop. After I weaned him, I kept it up because I noticed I didn’t have as much mucus in my life. And as anyone who has a lot of mucus in their life knows, mucus-free lives are happier lives. And probably less-likely-to-have-stomach-cancer lives.

Since moving to Israel three years ago, however, I’ve found it increasingly difficult to not eat dairy. Let’s put it this way. Dairy has re-entered my life with a passion. And the passion is called “bulgarit.”

We had to make an adjustment to our lifestyle. No longer was there a Whole Foods nearby to offer us 15 different varieties of gluten free bread. No longer did we have the budget to spend on those items even if there was one nearby. No longer could I find grass-fed beef. No longer could I feed myself and my kids turkey bacon for breakfast anymore. (Ironically, there is pork bacon in Israel but no turkey bacon.) Nut and seed butters are not an option for us. Therefore, the dairy. Oh, the dairy.

My point is: As my life changed, so did my diet. And so did my relationship to food. At first, this created enormous upset in me. For a good year living here, I lived with anger, resentment, and disappointment — all related to food.

I still carry some of that. I carry it on Shabbat when I go to kiddush at our community synagogue and my nut allergic son always ALWAYS hides on the playground because kiddush is not safe for him. I carry it with me in restaurants, on the rare occasion we go out, and realize there is nothing on the menu for my kids because everything comes with sesame or nuts. I carry it with me when I see the planes flying overhead spraying the beautiful vegetable fields with pesticide. I carry it with me when I hear about childhood cancer and in the back of my mind I know it’s because of the water pollution and the air pollution and the planes that fly by.

The activist in me is not dead.

She lives … but a little more quietly.

A little less all-consuming.

She allows chocolate chip cookies…for breakfast.

* * *

When I started to give up my commitment to food a little, I started to notice some things.

There is something inside activism that is closely connected to anger.

There is something inside healthy that is closely connected to unhealthy.

And there is something inside not eating that is closely connected to desperately needing to be full.

For a big part of food activism — if we look deeply and honestly — is about controlling a life that is terrifying. It’s about trying to be certain in a world that is only certain in its uncertainty.

I still believe in activism. And I believe in sharing information.

But sometimes all we have is what makes us happy in this very moment.

And that is enough.

 

 

I’m no Katie Couric — but I really don’t want cancer

In order to be adequately prepared for a colonoscopy, you need to get to a point at which your poop looks like pee.

It’s the one time in your life when yellow liquid shooting out forcefully from your butt is a WIN!

I share this with you not to gross you out to the point of leaving my blog never to return, but in order to do my part towards colon cancer awareness and, like Katie Couric (although not as gracefully) to show that colonoscopies are not as bad as they sound.

I’ll let you know on Saturday if that’s true or not since I’m heading in for my first one tomorrow.

Sure — colonoscopies involve your butt, or as Dave Barry so appropriately coined it, your “behindular zone.”

And yes, the prep towards colonoscopy involves a lot — yes, a lot — of poop.

And no, poop blogs are not as popular as mommy blogs or political blogs, but since this is a personal blog, I decided I couldn’t receive full penetration by a camera attached to a long tube without sharing the experience with all of you.

I won’t be instagramming my IV insertion (since it’s usually a long and painful process for a nurse to find my veins), or tweeting my ease into sedative-induced slumber (because if the IV found its way in, it means it’s time to finally relax), but I do hope to encourage a few folks who have been putting off their recommended colonoscopy appointments by detailing how “not-so-bad” my experience was.

Here’s why:

My grandmother died of stomach cancer.

I was 12 when she died, but I vividly remember her wasting away in the months prior.

I remember what my grandmother looked like before — alive, full-busted and round. And what my grandmother looked like after — suffering, yellow and skeletal.

All my life, I have been troubled by a sensitive stomach and by these images of my grandmother, and if a colonoscopy can somehow alert me to pre-cancerous polyps, I think it’s well-worth the poop.

Wish me luck.

  • EDITOR’S NOTE

I completed the procedure this morning after the moderately challenging prep and happy to report clean results. I will say this — reading message boards about the prep before doing actual prep (drinking a laxative mix that makes you go for 24 hours straight) scared me into thinking the prep would be much worse than it was. It wasn’t that bad. Of course, this coming from a lifelong sufferer of IBS who is not stranger to spending 24 hours on the toilet.

Bottom line: Colonscopy is a lot scarier in your mind than in reality. Get it done. I’m not scheduled for another one for 10 more years. Woohoo!