TBBT: WTF?

When The Big Bang Theory came out in the seemingly halcyon year of 2007, it was immediately shunned in my household.  It was clearly mocking nerds who worked at CalTech spinoffs and lived in Pasadena.  This was NOT ACCEPTABLE.  And that was before the nerds actually went to Bar Sinister to pick up goth girls:

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Paul would like everyone to know he finds this personally insulting to imply that nerds would go to a goth club only for the hot goth girls!  He would like everyone to know that as a nerd, he also went for the music!  Furthermore, he never degraded himself with fake tattoos, eyeliner, or studded belt accessories and finds this entire scenario ridiculous. A nerd should be capable of forming a relationship with a goth girl without having to look like a Hot Topic threw up on him.  (Side note: when I met Paul at the aforementioned Bar Sinister, he was wearing a black shirt and black pants and zero accessories and he still managed to successfully ask me to dance despite his minimal wardrobe pretension.  Then I made fun of him for being a nerd living in Pasadena.  Then he got his job at a CalTech spinoff in summer 2006)

And yet, despite the show’s initial ridiculous premise, here we are twelve years later with the show on it’s deathbed, but still the top sitcom by no small margin.  I read the recaps rather than watch the show, with no small amount of schadenfreude.  There is something about TBBT that irritates me when I binge-watch it on airplanes, the way the writers try to portray female nerds and yet rely heavily on female tropes.  I wrote about my issues with the funny/straight girl dichotomy in a past post on gender equality in sitcoms:

It’s the shows where a character can behave based on who they are, regardless of their gender role, and have it be accepted in that universe that I’m fascinated by.  Otherwise, having a “cute” girl who’s programmed to react in socially appropriate ways just makes the “funny girl” seem like she’s there for comic relief.

That is a part of what irritates me about TBBT: that when the female nerds act in non-“traditional” ways, they are still being compared and contrasted to a “normal” female role in the form of Penny, the original female character.  And Penny’s response to everything seems to be “I’m gonna drink some wine!  Because women love wine!”  Despite plays at depicting equal female characters, the show ultimately continues to remind those women that they are, well, women, and therefore are required to:

  • laugh off lazy male behavior
  • over-coddle their men
  • DRINK A LOT OF WINE

And yet, I feel I should credit the show for its depiction of female scientists who are just as committed to knowledge, curiosity, learning and their careers as their male counterparts, making being a nerd a gender-equal proposition.  The best balanced character is undoubtedly Mayim Bialik’s Dr Amy Farrah Fowler, whose enabling of her romantic partner is less about tolerating lazy male behavior and more about working with a neuro-atypical partner’s brain.  I think a lot of this is the real-life passion for knowledge that the actor herself brings to the role, but the character herself is remarkably balanced in her work and personal interactions.  This is a step forward in sitcom culture, but, like all acknowledgements of females as equal, it just isn’t enough.

Also to the show’s detriment, with the exception of the somewhat brownface Apu-esque depiction of a South Asian astrophysicist, there are no scientists of color on this show, even outside the core cast.  If the show wasn’t so lazy about this, they could use this glaring omission in the last season  to deliberately highlight the lack of diversity in tech and sciences.  However, that would require CBS to acknowledge the problem and then find a way to cleverly and compassionately write in characters of color who could serve to make some meta-level awareness about the show’s universe being strangely devoid of all non-white people (with the exception of Neil DeGrasse Tyson, of course).  I find it strange that more writers and critics don’t call this out: for a successful show, it could have done a better job depicting people in science from less white privileged backgrounds.

There are plenty of reasons this show has been successful despite its flaws though: Vulture nicely sums up the more tangible, quantifiable reasons.  What I genuinely cannot figure out though, and the reason I have to actually give Chuck Lorre & Co more credit for this sitcom, is that this show has been successful given the culture of stupidity and anti-science that we’ve cultivated in America since before it debuted.  The show came out in an era where being an “anti-intellectual” was becoming a valued quality thanks to the then-president; it is still running and still popular in an era when half the country literally does not believe in science.  Who are these viewers watching this show?  Are they wannabe geeks?  Real nerds who are happy to be acknowledged?  Middle Americans who just really like hearing the same familiar jokes over and over again?  How is this show still popular in the post-truth era and why can’t we use it as a vehicle to convince the population of this country that science is real and climate change isn’t something you can choose to believe in or not?

How is it that in an era when 40% of the country believes in creationism over evolution, and a similar number do not believe that climate change is caused by humans, has a show about a bunch of actual working scientists, featuring actual working science, been the #1 sitcom hit for as long as it’s reigned?

I supposed despite my mixed feelings, the missed opportunities to do good, and general resentment of its use of gender cliches, I should accept TBBT as being an overall positive in society for its depiction of female nerds, and autism.  Still, at this point in the show’s arc, I agree with the deathbed metaphors: this show, much like The Simpsons, has been phoned in for years.  It’s like someone set up the plot arc, yelled SEE YA and peaced out, leaving a combinations of interns and AI to write the scripts.   It’s extremely formulaic, with what I suspect ratio of 3:2:1 jokes: three Sheldon Behavior jokes for every two Gender Trope jokes for every one single genuinely funny nerd reference joke.  And most egregious of all, it still has that goddamn laugh track, which is the second biggest reason my nerd husband won’t watch it.  One wonders if, without a laugh track, the show would become an existential commentary on the futility of being overeducated similar to Garfield Minus Garfield.

Still.  This show insults nerds who live in Pasadena and work at Cal-Tech spinoffs!   I’m contractually obligated to mildly resent it in the same way I obligate my husband to mildly resent shows about quirky girls who move in with multiple guy roommates.  In the land of general TV it’s the least of many evils.  It’s not a CW groundbreaking sitcom, but one can hope that it’s a very small step forward in depicting difference in characters in future television.

 

stranded in stamford

Thanks to tonight’s MEGA WINTER STORM (#avery #winterstormavery #whydowenamethestorms) I am stranded at a Sheraton in Stamford.  Because, obviously, when a storm hits, one wants to go for as much alliteration as possible when seeking shelter.

I had to go on my last ever trip to my Connecticut based bank client today.  This required driving, because I had to go to “Real America”, aka Not NYC.  And despite my best efforts to leave sooner, I found myself on I-95 right as the storm hit the area around 4pm.  I watched as my time to home on Google Maps went up…and then refused to go down again.  Despite two hours of driving, the time to home stubbornly stayed at over three hours, just with a continuously later arrival time.

Eventually traffic just…stopped.  I sat there watching the snow get heavier, and realized: I was equipped to drive in the worsening conditions in the SUV I was upgraded to this morning at the rental car location.   The other vehicles around me might not be as well equipped, and my SUV would not be immune to other cars or trucks sliding into it.   That was when I gave up, pulled off the highway, and sought a hotel.

It is not lost on me how fortunate I am to be able to do this.  First of all, I can likely expense this back to the client since I was asked drive to them on the day of a major storm.  Second of all, if the client is not amenable to the expense, I can afford a $200 hotel room.  My time getting home also isn’t critical: I have my husband to take care of our son so I’m not needed at home until I can get back tomorrow, and even if Paul also got stuck in the storm, Ben could go to any of a half-dozen neighbors or friends locally as part of our Brooklyn child raising village.  I have the sheer luxury of being able to put my own safety and wellbeing first and procure a hotel room instead of slugging through the storm.  I’m grateful that my path in life put me in a position to be able to make a night like this a little easier on myself.

Also: I left the house yesterday!  I did a bunch of things that reminded me of what it was like to have kinetic energy, instead of being dragged down by inertia working at home.  I even managed to socialize a bit, seeing a dear friend for a quick catch-up and then going to a Canadian college alumni event to say hi to the two or three people I knew from other Canadian gatherings,  and pick up the latest UBC Alumni swag:

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I’m not sure when my alma mater started handing out swag notebooks and pins for an alumni association, but I’m happy to have it as a conversation starter in work meetings.  Why yes, it’s a real school!  

Sadly when I go to a college alumni event, it’s difficult to share memories of university.  UBC is huge, and the experiences differ radically.  I have yet to meet anyone who has even a Venn diagram overlap with my memories: most of the alumni I meet at expat events are younger than I am, and many are Business school graduates, not Arts majors.  I  also graduated in 2003, and the defining event of my last two years was my participation in the Arts Undergrad Society and Arts County Fair.  With that major annual event having been defunct for (yikes) eleven years (shut down in 2007), I haven’t met a lot of fellow alumns who share memories of it.

However, there are still plenty of things I’m sure I could talk about with UBC alumni.  Memories of the old SUB, for example!  The many drinking establishments on campus!  The wide range of actual academics!  Vancouver in general!  I mean, how lucky were we to go to school in such a beautiful setting, attached to such an incredible city?  But last night I was just so tired after a day of being outside of the house, from having taken Ben on a school tour, gone to the office, gone to the dentist, met a friend for coffee, done a spin class and walked the ten blocks from the gym to the event…now that I think about it, no wonder I lacked enthusiasm for reminiscing about UBC.  I’ll have to try again at the next expat event on Monday.

Meanwhile, I’m rapidly running out of energy, here in my now cozy hotel room in Stamford.  Being warm.  Having unlimited access to heat.  Also something I’m thankful for.  May all people be so fortunate on a night like tonight.

a slightly shorter commute

Back in June, my commute was chopped in half.  My employer had been leasing a floor  in the Random House building at 56th and Broadway, but due to general agency growth (and our landlord evicting us) we ended up moving to the Parent Holding Company building downtown in TriBeCa, at 6th and Canal.  This reduced my commute by five of the ten miles that I had been biking on the rare occasions I still rode into work.

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Apparently though, that wasn’t short enough.  On November 30th, I’ll start working at a different agency: one that is 0.8mi closer still to home, reducing my commute even further to 4.2mi by bike (albeit a slightly longer time on a less speedy subway).

Obviously, shortening my commute by a further 20% isn’t an incentive to change jobs though.  I’ve been at my current agency for over four years, a long time in my industry.  And at some point this year, I realized my career growth had flattened into stagnation.  I haven’t had the right circumstances to actually move forward into the next level of account management, to get better at what it is I do for a living, for almost two years.  I joke a lot that my job is “glorified project manager crossed with Liz Lemon” but the reality is, I have not had the opportunity to do my best work in the last year and a half, nor have I had the right path to grow and become a better leader.

There is also a certain element of fear at play as well.  The digital marketing industry feels like Logans Run sometimes, a youth focused culture where the only people over forty are senior management.  If I’m not moving forward in my career, I worry that my age will become a liability.    Perhaps this is fear of aging more than an actual perception, but it’s one I’ve offset by getting promoted on a regular basis every two to three years. (It should be noted I also wear makeup, but refuse to dye my hair or consider any sort of Botox or Juvederm because why should I have to pump poison into my body to create an image of youth?  This entire society is messed up but that’s a whole other story.)

Mostly though, I’ve just been lacking in job satisfaction.  I don’t have challenges I can solve; I have challenges that become quagmires.   I don’t bounce into work and settle into a flow state where I use my experience and expertise all day to produce any sort of meaningful work.  Instead, I drag myself in and spend the day competing for scraps of an overstretched team, feeling like there is no progress to be made, which in turn, makes me feel like I’m not even good at my job anymore.  And I know I’m good at my job.  So when a recruiter from an even bigger media agency came knocking, I answered, hoping it would be the proverbial window opening to returning to a more positive situation.  And as I went through round after round of interviews, I actually got excited about moving to a new agency, and, by contrast, realized how unhappy I was at my current one.

As Paul says, this is why we moved to New York City, so if I am not happy in my job, I can literally walk down the street for a new one.  I will now have the opportunity to apply my endless curiosity to a new client, build relationships with a new team, take on new challenges, learn from new people.  I’m psyched.  And I’m lucky.  I have the extreme luxury of having “job satisfaction” be a factor in my life, something I have control over.  Only in NYC do I have this, only at the center of the media buying universe can I have this many options, and only here can I work with the top talent of my craft.

My last day at my current employer is November 21st.  My first day at my new job is November 30th.  Change is always terrifying and exciting, but I look forward to it anyways.

disappointment

Last night, I stayed home instead of going to House of Yes with my friends  There was no doubt that this was the smartest decision I could make.  I’ve been struggling with a cold the last few days that migrated from my allergy-weakened sinuses down to my throat and chest.  I need to rest and keep my defenses up.

This was me on Tuesday, until I realized…nope, sick.

Ever since the Great Walking Pneumonia episode of 2015, I have been extra careful when sick.  That episode cost me the summer of 2015 (much like my broken ankle ligament cost me the summer of 2018).  I had reduced capacity in my lungs due to the fluid in them and had asthma on top of that.  So now, when I don’t feel well, I stop moving.  I work from home.  I try to get extra sleep.  It may make me stir crazy, but at least I know I’m not making it worse than it has to be.

Unfortunately, this time, the cold hit right before Halloween, meaning that I had to make a difficult choice for a Friday morning.  I could keep my plans to go out with a half-dozen of my good friends, or I could hand off my Halloween party ticket and my costume to a friend who missed buying hers, stay home and rest.

I chose the latter and then was disappointed all day.  I didn’t regret the choice, I resented the choice.  Therefore, I allowed myself to wallow in a certain amount of less-than-adult resentful pouting.  I was supposed to go out with my friends!  With my best friends!  In a group costume! And we were going out in Brooklyn, which I love doing with my friends because they all live in Manhattan and I like showing off how cool my borough is!  And we were going to the House of Yes which I am probably too old for but is super inclusive of everyone and always has the best costumes.  (the David Bowie x House of Yes party at the Brooklyn Museum had amazing costumes).  I love my friends, I love costumes, I love going out in Brooklyn.  And I had to miss all of this because of a stupid cold.

Of course this was the right choice for me for my health.  But still, as I sat on the couch at 8pm, combing Ben for lice while watching Parks and Rec with him, I still resented it.  And I realize, there isn’t going to be some sort of epiphany to this tale that reduces that resentment.  As adult women, we’re told that our best place is as wives and mothers, so if this was a piece of popular culture, then this story would end with me combing my son for lice and sharing a beloved TV series with him and then getting in bed with my husband and realizing that my place was with my men all along.  If this was a show on Lifetime, it would end with me feeling like my cold was truly a blessing to make me stay home and realize that I belong here – not in a converted warehouse in Bushwick with my child-free friends.

Nope.  Not here.  I’m still disappointed that I couldn’t go out last night in a wig and horn and sparkles to a converted warehouse in Bushwick.  Perhaps that makes me less sanguine than I should be at forty.  Perhaps that makes me slightly immature even, to have that response to missing a night out with my friends.  And if so, that’s okay.  This is the response I have to missing Halloween and I accept that.

Oh, and the cold?  It’s drying up.  Much less coughing today, and the goopiness is receding from my chest.  Paul and I even made it to Pilates this morning so I’m back on to my top priority of fitness goals.  I got nine hours of rest.  Taking care of myself by staying home was the right thing to do.  It just wasn’t the easy thing to do.

 

we built this city on inside jokes

I was chatting on Google Hangouts a few  weeks ago with my two best friends and revisiting last month’s BBQ birthday party.  It’s not often I have people in the same space from all my  social worlds.  I have my “non-parent” friends, the friends that I made a decade and a half ago when I moved to L.A., and then I have my “parent friends”, the friends I’ve made since moving to Brooklyn.  Of those two sources, the latter are overwhelmingly “Scout people”: the community built through what was original “5th Brooklyn Scouts” and is now the “718 Rovers”.  My two besties, who pre-date all my parent status, therefore find some amusement in watching me interact with the other Rovers, because they knew me before this round of Scout nerdiness entered my life.

It was in recanting this Hangouts anecdote that I quoted the use of inside jokes as part of this new village we’ve built in Brooklyn.  There are a lot of inside jokes with the rest of the Rovers; you don’t work together for five years without building up a lot of shared references.  At my birthday event, I was describing my experience volunteering at the Bed-Stuy YMCA and how the most popular skit I taught was Invisible Bench, and everyone yelled “INVISIBLE BENCH!” and immediately attempted to call their kids over to demonstrate it even though we were laughing too hard to call effectively.  “Invisible Bench” is a running gag in our group, along with a couple other popular skits, just for being the skit that our kids irrationally love to perform every single camp.  It’s one of many inside jokes, but it was one of the strongest moments of nerdy hilarity I remember from the party.

Realizing that we have these kind of shared references, inside jokes and a common language of anecdote though made me suddenly see my Scout people community in a way I hadn’t before.  In college, I was part of the Arts Undergrad Society, the council of students that volunteered to run the Faculty of Arts.  It was where I made my friends.  It was where I spent my time.  It was how I identified myself, I am part of the AUS.  We ran not only the Faculty but also spent the year building up to Arts County Fair, the end of year charity one-day music festival, which, by the time I graduated, was a 16,000 attendee event with two stages, rock and dance.  Because we spent so much time working together on ACF, we all shared a set of inside jokes and references in addition to our common working goals and status as students at UBC.  (In fact, as I recall, we documented those inside jokes in a running list of quotes throughout the school year.)

It was the phrase “inside jokes” that made me suddenly see the parallels between my college community and my Brooklyn one.  In both cases, it is a community of overachievers who have wholeheartedly committed to a goal in a way that is very pure of heart.  In both cases, these are communities of people who simply wish to do good, while also prioritizing the building of friendships and a social experience in the process.  In both cases, there are a lot of liberal arts nerds involved.

Basically, I identify strongly with anything where a montage set to “We Built This City (On Rock And Roll)” can be created, whether that’s an ACF setup or the 2018 Moot.  If there’s several hours of literally building something with actual labour to be done, then it needs a montage like the Muppets:

I feel it’s important for me to realize this.  I gravitate to communities of nerdy overachievers!  These are my people!  This is also who I am!  I am an over-committed do-gooder at heart, but I am happiest to do so if I can throw in a certain amount of goofiness with my earnestness.  It is a very Muppet approach, but it also means I approach my work and my effort in Scouting with a certain amount of open-heartedness that keeps it joyful.

a meditation on meditation

A few years ago, I somehow “picked up” (read: “it was $0.99 on Kindle Store) 10% Happier, Dan Harris’ tale of “How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works.”  That is a lengthy title, but obviously one I can relate to.  (His follow up, Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics is an even better title.  This man can sell).  I did not take 10% particularly seriously on the first read, as it comes across at the beginning of his story as another dudebro memoir.  I realized later on this was intentional to convey the sense of arrogance the author had at the beginning of his journey, and I’ve attended meditation sessions led by Harris twice now at MoMA Quiet Mornings, so I know he’s not actually coming from a place of arrogance now, it just took a while for me to take the book seriously.

While I struggled initially with 10%, I did, however, like the idea of being 10% happier.  10% is a needle mover, as we say in pitches.  It’s a significant bump in results.  If any client got a 10% lift in conversion rates, they’d be thrilled.  So I read the memoir all the way through, and realized Harris had some  valuable experience to share, on how he conquered his own doubts and engaged on his own path to gain value from his practice.  I downloaded the Headspace app, and started trying to follow my own version of that path.  After all, what did I have to lose?

It took me about a week to start feeling some effects of meditation.  The way it felt when I started, I compare to applying a soothing substance to my inflamed brain.  You know how it feels when you eat too hot a pepper and then drink milk or eat yogurt to try and reduce inflammation caused by the capsaicin?  That’s what it feels like in my brain: like aloe on a sunburn.  Meditation seems to soothe the constant irritation of thoughts on my brain.

WHEN YOU'RE TRYING TO BE ZEN BUT YOU'RE METAL AF | image tagged in death meditation | made w/ Imgflip meme maker

There is also a certain amount of self-image to get past in starting a meditation practice.

This was enough to motivate me to look into other meditation practice channels.  I started going to M N D F L, NYC’s super-bougie meditation studio.  I bought my own meditation cushions so I could practice at home using the Insight Timer app (which is $2.99 a month vs. the $15/class at M N D F L or the $10/month for Headspace).  I have kept this non-academic and agnostic and have not sought to go down the meditation study path into Buddhism, as some practitioners do.  I have kept this simply to the minimal level where I get benefits from the practice.

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Meditation cushions on our new matching living room rug.

For a while, I actually had a fairly good habit going.  Then problem is, like all habits, a habit has to be maintained.  It’s too easy to fall off the bandwagon and then allow the “days off” to pile up.    I have a bad mindset around broken habits as well, and I will tell myself those habits don’t matter, that they do not make a difference. The problem is that those habits do matter, they do help my poor brain, and a positive habit like meditation is what helps break that cycle of lassitude and apathy in which I find myself unable to take action on the right priorities.

However, today, I sat myself right back down and meditated for ten minutes.  That was it.  I got out my cushions, sat cross-legged for the first time since I tore my ATFL, and put on the Insight Timer with the chirpy birds in the background.  Done.  And, as expected, I feel so much better now.

This doesn’t mean that it wasn’t a struggle to return to the habit today.  My brain was ping ponging all over the place.  My internal monologue does not cease just because I have applied the triggers (sound effects, seated pose) to cue up a positive habit.  And regaining a state of quiet in my mind will be a muscle I have to rebuild, just like how I have to re-build all my physical muscles after not going to the gym for months.  I do have a mental trick for this: I visualize an icon for the thought inside a red balloon and let that drift up to the ceiling of my brain.  However, that only works for thoughts that are small and containable.  When I am really out of practice, my mind focuses on thoughts and goes off on tangents, without the discipline to push those thoughts up and out of the way for ten minutes.  So I emerged with a small sense of calm, but also fully thought out plans for multiple Things I Need To Do.

The bright side of all this, is that I came up with this entire blog post, which my brain wrote when it was supposed to be silent and drifting in a state of rest.  I also planned out a picnic for Saturday when my brother and sister in law are here, and remembered to schedule time for piano practice into my daily calendar again.  Unfortunately, none of the development of these thoughts belonged in my meditation practice.  I realize it is fine to have thoughts, that even the most experienced of practitioners will not be able to keep their minds still for meditation sessions.  The challenge and the discipline of the practice is being able to resist following those thoughts and instead putting them up into those imaginary balloons to be collected later.

It is very likely time to revisit some of my original materials: Sharon Salzberg’s Real Happiness series (including Real Happiness at Work, which I have on loan from BPL right now), the guided meditations in Insight Timer, maybe go back to a class or two at M N D F L just to get back in the habit (I have a free birthday class!  It just requires me to actually go to the studio).  There is no reason to not take 20 minutes a day to soothe my poor beleaguered brain, after all.  It is just a matter of, well, mind over matter sometimes, which is hard.

40 snuck up on me

Well, that went fast.

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Life moves pretty fast: on the Q train last Tuesday evening looking out at New York Harbow

When I recant the story of my thirties, the sheer amount of memories made, of events that took place, makes it feel like I had more than a decade’s worth of experiences.  I started my fourth decade with a new baby and new husband, in Los Angeles.  I ended the decade with a tween in Brooklyn.  In between, I made new friends, built a new community, said goodbye to my homeland, changed jobs a couple times, and tried to figure out who I am, how my brain works, and what really matters to me.

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Obviously, the answer to the last question is THIS GUY.

In all the fast movement of my thirties though, I didn’t adjust what 40 would mean to me.  In my mind, it meant that I would have to look like a Respectable Adult.  I think, in my subconscious, I expected some switch would click over yesterday, and I would no longer want to wear such things as my gold metallic 80s sneakers or my morning rave style gold fanny pack

Never gonna give you up, gold sneakers!

Beyond the occasional fashion item however, 40 seemed to be a cultural line in the sand, the difference between a decade that, in coastal cities, is treated as an extension of one’s early adulthood, and the entrance to a decade that means actual classic adulthood.  40 seems to be the age at which one wears classics and moves to the suburbs; it is an age at which one should be well on track with a career.  It always struck me as an age at which one should be established.  40 smacks of a sedate livelihood, of no longer being so much on a path as being at one’s destination in life.

The idea of being sedate, of being sedentary in my experiences and development, of being held within lines and within societal expectations, is horrifying to me.  Of course to do so would be a choice, but I don’t want to have to make such choices.  40 always seemed so far-off that it seemed respectable.  I appreciate being respected, but respectable sounds like the sort of thing that happens to other people.

It has taken a few months to re-frame the expectation of 40.  It was another Rover who said something to me back in April in Seattle that kicked it off.  She told me she had done so much in her 40s, and that it had been a meaningful decade to her.  That was when I realized that I had a false impression of my 40s as a static or even stagnant time of  one’s life.  One’s 40s can be a time of development, of change, of growth.  It is just another section of the journey.  Life has no destination point, so the idea that I had to be at that point by 40 is not logical.

So here I am at 40.  And I had a lovely birthday yesterday to celebrate it, with many of my dear friends and family spending their afternoons schlepping out to Governors Island with us for a BBQ.  My husband worked tirelessly all weekend to make it a special day with an organized party.  My best friend spent the first hour of the party making sure it looked festive with balloons and streamers and a sparkly crown for me.  I spent the first day of my fifth decade in a beautiful setting, in the heart of my adopted and ancestral hometown, with a mix of the people that I am lucky to have built a village with in Brooklyn, the friends I’ve been blessed to have had since L.A., and the family I am fortunate to have in the area.

It’s time to re-focus, as I always do at my birthday, on the journey I’m on, and the paths that matter, and where they lead.  40 does not mean slowing down because I’m reaching a mythical life goal.  It is just another number, and one I can choose to use as an impetus to re-evaluate, or one I can discard as meaningless.  That’s my choice, and that choice is still what matters at every age.