Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Woman in her Thirties is her Mother, Part II

We have already established that my Mom rules. The following story only solidifies this fact.

Last week, while on the way home from the airport for a weekend of early Thanksgiving and debauchery, I sat in the back seat of my brother's sedan with my nephew and my Mom. We were talking about all sorts of things-- Sarah Palin, house painting, etc.-- when my nephew covered his mouth and said:

'I'm sick'.

We had just crossed a bridge, and there was no place to pull over, but one look at my nephew even whiter than he normally is on a daily basis and I knew this was one of those no-good kind of situations.

What did this woman in her thirties do? I moved my purse out of the way. I prayed that he wouldn't barf on my coat. I yelled at my brother to pull over.

What did my mother do? She pulled off the beanie she had on her head, held it under my nephew's mouth, and let him spew the M&M's he'd been snacking on during his plane ride right into it.

'Always a Mom,' she said, rubbing his little back. She didn't need to say that. We were all thinking it.

The poor little guy had a couple more rounds in him, and by the time we were almost home he was covered in yuck and exhausted from it all. My Mom held out her hands so he could rest his head in them, and before we knew it he was asleep.

Will I ever be that Mom? I asked myself, watching the pair of them next to me, one asleep and one with her palms open with a safe place to rest. It is for these things that a woman in her thirties prays. Until then, she captures the moment:


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Woman in her Thirties Blogs Hard for her Money

If you'd asked me in my early twenties what my dream job was, I would have replied 'professional sunbather'. I have changed my tune, however, due to my naked photography debacle.

When I first turned thirty, I thought my dream job would be a paid book reviewer. The thought of reading books all day and writing about all the ways the author could have done better still sounds appealing to me on a certain level, but since completing a manuscript myself I realize just how much a person's heart and soul goes in to writing. Like dancing, when writing is done well it just looks easy. I spend enough time berating my own writing; I'm not sure I have it in me to spend my days berating the writing of others.

I started this blog almost exactly a year ago, and this combined with the spring I spent in Beijing watching every single episode of Sex and the City have made me come to the conclusion that my dream job is to blog-- like this-- for millions of dollars. I don't want to change the format; I don't want to plug any products. I want to be like Carrie Bradshaw, writing in my NYC (Pleasantville) home about all the ways in which a woman in her thirties can spend all her not-so-hard earned cash.

I am pleased to report that I am well on my way to making this dream a reality. Yesterday I received a note from Google saying that I had a check they wanted to mail to me for the advertisements I've allowed to automatically post after each of my entries. They have ranged from the ridiculous ("Interracial Dating Central" is the latest addition to my page) to the philanthropic ("Give to Catholic Charities"). Giddy, I logged into my account to see what the total of my earnings was.

Are you ready for this? Wait for it....

$8.64!


My head is still spinning. What does a woman in her thirties do with this kind of money? Does she buy not one but TWO Grande nonfat Chai Lattes? Or does she put it in her savings account, content with the knowledge that she only has to blog for another 60,000 years before she makes it to a half a million dollars?

A woman in her thirties foregoes the chai for now. She even holds off on the deposit slip. She puts such funds in a special place in her head, where they are safe. They serve to remind her that a woman in her thirties makes what she wants happen, $8.64 at a time.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

A Woman in her Thirties is Home

I've been asked many times over the last few months whether or not our new house feels like home.

'Not yet,' I usually say, my voice echoing in the receiver and revealing our still-empty living room. 'But we're working on it.' Translation: We've still got some stuff to buy yet before our house feels like home. This is the superficial answer, of course, because as every woman in her thirties knows (or should know), to be full and to be fulfilled are two very different things.

Yesterday T came over with her family, and I'd been stressing for a week about making our house comfortable for them. If our house still didn't feel like home to me, how could I make it feel like home to them? There is something that happens when friends from your old place come to visit you in a new place, something underlined by a desire for their approval and a need for affirmation that you made the right decision to move.

After dinner we took Mason upstairs for his bath. It was the first time I'd used the tub, and it took a few tries for me to figure out which knobs were the right ones. He played while T and I talked about woman-in-her-thirties type things, and L and T were downstairs talking about whatever it is men in their thirties talk about.

And it occurred to me as I took these photos that I felt more comfortable in my new surroundings than I'd felt before. My house had suddenly become home; not with a delivery from Pottery Barn, but with the sounds of my friends' laughter echoing in it.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A Woman in her Thirties Wears Comfortable Shoes

Disclaimer: This is likely to be my most controversial post to date, but it has been a long time coming.

The other day, while running on the treadmill, I tuned in to the last half hour of Oprah. She was having a 'shoe intervention'. In true Oprah style, unsuspecting women in practical (though unattractive) shoes were pulled off the street, taken into a dressing room with a bunch of male fashion designers, and told that their choice of footwear was 'hideous', 'embarrassing', and etcetera. The women were treated to a new pair of 3-inch heels and pranced around the stage saying things like, 'Gee golly, I didn't know I could be attractive and comfortable at the same time!'

Oprah, while sitting down in her Christian Louboutan's, laughed. The designers laughed. The women laughed at the silliness of their ugly, practical shoes. Everyone in the audience laughed.

Everyone except me.

My proclivity toward comfortable shoes started somewhere in my mid-twenties. I was working at a high tech company and sat down for the majority of the day. Among the many poor decisions I made during this time of my life, wearing heels to work most days was one of them. Was it motivated by a desire to look less ridiculous next to my good friend who was (seemed) eight inches taller than me? Did I think that my 4-inch wedge sandals would make my job seem less mundane? These are questions that haunt the woman in her thirties I've become.

My first pair of comfortable shoes was a pair of black pleather slip-ons from Aerosoles. 'They're like bedroom slippers!' my friend J said, and they were. I slipped them on and off under my desk, I took walks to the cafeteria just because it was comfortable to do so, and they were hidden well under my boot-cut jeans. As long as everything else I had on was cute, there was no need for anyone to know my plushy little secret.

As time went on and I moved into a career that required that I actually get off my fat butt multiple times during the day, I became less concerned about hiding my foot apparel. I wore my Naturalizers proudly during the day, willing to take on anyone who scoffed at my fashion choice.

'You don't like my shoes?' I said more than once. 'Well you know what I don't like? Your face.'

Yes, I have become extremely sensitive in this matter. It is not just a matter of pride. It's a matter of hygiene. When I see women walking around at weddings in bare feet because they have abandoned their stilettos under their table I can feel the bile churning in my stomach. Is there not another woman in the world who understands just how gross that is? And please, spare me the 'These heels are sooo comfortable' nonsense. Just admit your feet hurt and get on with it.

I am the first to admit that my comfort shoes are not what one would call... attractive. If I could bottle up the looks L, H, and K have given me over the years when it comes to my choice in shoes in a bottle of perfume, I would call it Eau de Snotface. But there is something I seek more than their approval, something I value even more than their affection, and that is the ability to walk.

High heels have their place. Places like symphonies, birthday parties where ample seating is provided, and the occasional bridal shower. Even I will be a slave to fashion once in awhile. But if you expect to see me walking Daniel in anything other than my $30 Costco brand Uggs (thanks again, L's Mom), and if you (L) are hoping that I will not be purchasing my new Dansko clogs in every color and pattern they make, then I'm sorry to say you are bound to be disappointed.

A woman in her thirties follows the golden rule of life: pick your battles. My battle with high heels is over, the white flag has been raised, and I remain the happiest (and most comfortable) loser you've ever seen.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

A Woman in her Thirties Clips Coupons

My Mom always had (and still has) a coupon drawer. It was where she stashes any coupon she might find in her Valu-pak, any and all coupons attached to a box of pizza, scissors, birthday candles, and the one book of matches in our home, circa 1972.

To call my Mom a bargain shopper would be an understatement. I think she has spent her whole life carefully calculating the tricks and habits of our local Safeway, and thus has become somewhat of a silent-but-deadly lion when it comes to getting in and out of the grocery store without paying full price for a single item. But here's the thing: I don't think I've ever seen her use any of the coupons she painstakingly collects. They just sit in her drawer, expiring one by one. It's one of the many enigmas about her.

As I've been trying to organize my life here in Pleasantville, I began my own coupon drawer. I thought that I would be the one to master its organization as I tried and tested the grocery stores in close proximity for their deals, but a last-minute trip to Pottery Barn a couple of weeks ago because the 20% off coupon I'd forgotten about was going to expire in less than an hour was proof that I needed a new strategy.

For this, I turned to L's Mom, whose ability to organize is, without question, a God-given talent. Her kitchen has the cleanliness and order of a model home. She sits in that kitchen every Sunday, and, like a hawk on the look-out for prey, searches out coupons to use for the week. Last week, while watching football and trying to follow what was going on (a woman in her thirties should know the rules to football, I know. It's on my list.) she and I went through the Sunday paper and collected coupons for the week.

Her strategy is simple: Onsie coupons go in an envelope that is slipped into the purse, so they can be easily referenced. Coupons in a book get clipped just on one or two sides-- they flap like flags when you take them out of your purse, silently calling, 'Don't forget about me!' Genius, I'm telling you.

This week, I saved $3 on olive oil and $2 on two boxes of Multi-Grain Chex. I saved a total of about $20 at Costco (a euphoric feeling, I must say). I saved 20% and got a free lotion at Bath and Body Works. And it was through my shopping this week that I did some real mental comparisons between stores to see who truly has the best deals. Now that I've got the idea down it's starting to look like Christmas is going to be an exercise in clipping and buying, stalking and saving.

I remember being a woman in my twenties and worrying that I would look cheap looking for deals and clipping coupons, but all of that has changed. A woman in her thirties saves proudly. She brags to her friends about the deals she gets on rotisserie chicken, because she knows exactly when her local grocery store has it on sale. She wears her coupons like girl scout merit badges.

And when it comes to learning, she is one part lion and one part hawk. A lawk. Or a hion. A proud one.