November 9, 2007
Yoga, Anyone? (Or, On the Eve of Turning 34)
My birthday is tomorrow. And while I’d like to post pictures of a year of champagne tomfoolery and caviar afterparties, I am decidedly not in the mood. Thirty three was a year of growing pains – sadly, without Kirk Cameron by my side, before he went all Jesus on me – and growing up. Thirty three wasn’t about gently stretching my muscles before the anticipated varsity Olympics of a third date, but instead about pulling myself up over the precipice while yelling to my companions to leave me behind. Thirty three was much fun, yes, but was more about getting stronger by being pulled on the emotional rack. When I thought my time was up and I could enjoy another 8 dollar beer at the hockey game, a puck would fly into the stands, missing the ugly, boisterous children of Row F, instead smacking me right in my orthodontia-ed kisser.

I cannot stress to you enough just how traumatic it was to pay thousands of dollars to have a surgeon intentionally remove my kid’s leg. As long as I live, I will never forget coming home to see his swaying lower belly, the golf ball of malignancy poking through his tan tummy hair. I recall thinking I was overreacting when I canceled a Nats date with Kim that night to rush him to the vet, but a week or so later, when I lay on the couch and saw him sprawled on the kitchen floor, unable to lift his head fully from the tile, I wished I too had a Fentanyl patch. “He has a cancer with tentacles,” they said. Tentacles, like calamari, only chewier and more resilient. It was a process that lasted months and guilt that has lasted much longer. I hug them both more than ever because of it. All seven legs.

I dated a good bit this year and was kissed by an awful Match.com date, both with matching levels of what experts have termed Absolutely No Success. One boy reunited with an ex-girlfriend, one didn’t make another date, one wanted to stay friends, two fell but weren’t ready for me given a certain something or someone or whatever felt good for them to toss out at that moment, another felt like he deserved only a high five, and the others didn’t register on the radar. I was smooched a good bit. Under a streetlight on Connecticut Avenue, in a bathroom line in Chinatown, by Lincoln Park on Capitol Hill, at the Metro at Gallery Place, in a car parked on the verge of H Street. Yes, Cricket, mommy is a whore. But I loved every unsuccessful minute of each of them. Even the one who kissed like a mason jar.

I also was reminded of what it is to be on the verge of falling in love. Of reaching the edge of Niagara Falls in a barrel, only your barrel has windows, allowing you to see the beauty of the water and air as you fly over the edge accompanied only by your own joyful squeals. Nothing feels as good. Nothing feels like waking up with that someone on your mind, or next to you, a groggy warm voice in your ear wishing you a good morning. Nothing compares to not just wanting, but actually doing the things you think about – whether it’s pulling your best summer skirts from the back of the closet or gently kissing his neck in front of his friends. I shiver just thinking about his hand around my waist. It’s more glorious than being bathed in M&Ms, more freeing than releasing the clasp of your bra on the ride home from work. Nothing compares. And I still cannot wait.

Over the year, this site became like a second job to me, consuming much of my thought process and my time. She also became a little like a third child to me, one I fiercely wanted to protect. Wino used to represent to me that bespectacled bee in the Blind Melon video, looking for a home in the blogosphere and some recognition for her validity. It’s why I jumped on Stacy’s back and chewed on her hair until she allowed me to be a part of Indie Bloggers. It’s why I fought the urge to consume all available Illinois wine and forced my anxious self to speak on the panel in Chicago. I’m so fucking proud of this site, of the fact that I no longer cringe when I read most of my posts, that I no longer edit out the things that will make me look freakish and unacceptable and undesirable. What you see is what you get, party people, old woman chin hairs and all. Buy me a glass of wine; if you’re lucky, I’ll pluck ‘em tableside.

And Dad. It began much like the anti-fairy tale, not so long ago but in a land far, far away, also known as the wonderland that is Atlanta Hartsfield International Airport. I’ve only been consumed by crying once before, the kind of tears that freeze a moment and may or may not shoot horizontally from your eyes. I called my mother, frustrated that she hadn’t answered a message from hospice and that I’d have to remind her yet again to place a simple call. She didn’t pick up. An hour into my layover, a cold piece of Sbarro cheese pizza and I learned that my father was in the intensive care unit 700 miles away with two lungs full of pneumonia. Because apparently his emphysema got lonely and needed a companion.

I have never felt like more of an adult – of a daughter – than I did the first night in the ICU, sending my mother home to sleep, guarding my father so he wouldn’t try to remove the array of cords the degreed ones had inserted into his every pore. There was no doubt in my mind that he would die in a matter of days. That I’d be left to figure out whether one sends such news in an email when she doesn’t want to talk about it. A tacky text message? Maybe a series of strained phone calls via a cell she already despises. I’d never felt so purposeful, so devoted, as I did attempting sleep on the floor of his room, raising my head every 30 seconds or so into his line of sight, just so he could see that I was still there. I’m still here, Dad. And I love you so very much.

I am more than ready to close the book on 33. I’m ready to stop the Pilates in favor of a milder form of life exercise, perhaps floating with a glass of chilled Pinot Grigio within reach. Full sunblock applied long before entering the water. I’ll be 34, after all.


46 Comments:

Blogger Kim said...

It's been a tough year but also a good year. I'm glad I got to share it with you and look forward to your 34th. It's going to be kickass!

Blogger Heather said...

What a year...

Here's to 34 being better. I wish you happiness, love and lots of wine!

Blogger The Hotfessional said...

Happy Birthday Kris. At the risk of sounding cliche'd and shit, "What doesn't kill us makes us stronger." - it's true.

Enjoy 34. I hope it's as exciting as 33. Better for the health of your loved ones, to be sure, but I truly believe that there's nothing worse than a boring life.

Blogger Beth said...

Happy birthday, indeed. Several blogging pals are Scorps. No wonder I like you so much. (Being a fellow Scorp!)

It's a lovely post, but you get many, many points for this line, the best I'll read all day, I'm sure: "Even the one who kissed like a mason jar."

Blogger kristen said...

Happy Birthday...thanks for sharing all that was so painful, happy and challenging with us.

You should be proud of the site...it is a remarkable reflection of you.

XOXO

Blogger wearingthepants said...

Happy Birthday. Thanks for the moving, beautifully written post.

Blogger Gwen said...

Happy Birthday, Kris! I loved this post. Loved, loved, loved.

And healthy healthy healthy vibes to your father.

Blogger brookem said...

This was such a wonderful post. I enjoyed every line of it. You're so flipping talented.

Best wishes to you in your 34th year!

Blogger Ripe for Reading said...

Happy Birthday, Kris. Keep on telling us your stories. May there be many great ones to share in the year to come!

Blogger Paige Jennifer said...

Well Muffin, it has indeed been a roller coaster of a year. But the past is what makes the future so fucking bright. And to quote a Corey from the 80's - that's why 'I wear my sunglasses at night.'

May 34 kick 33's ass!

Love and kisses,
P

Blogger Nicole said...

Take a deep breath and start anew. I had a really rocky 24 (including issues with my dad's health) and when I turned 25 last month it was a huge relief because this year can be different and it's going to bring so much that I don't know about and can't even begin to imagine.

34 is going to be wonderful.

Blogger Valerie said...

I hope your 34th is wonderful :)

Blogger Tilly said...

Happy birthday, happy year, happy life! I wish it all for you.

Blogger Chantel said...

Hang in there sweets, the ride ain't over yet.

Blogger Heather said...

Happy Birthday, from your fellow 34-year-old. I hope this year brings amazing things and all the joy and happiness you deserve.

Loved this post to pieces. You're making me cry all over the place these days.

-Nabbalicious

Blogger Keith said...

Happy birthday, presumptive. Go out and have a good time, stop ruminating on the past. And thank you for sharing yourself with all of us creepy internet stalker type people. ;)

Blogger Ryane said...

Bravissima...34 is a wonderful year. And I know from experience...;-) Happy Freaking Birthday, babe!!

Blogger Randy said...

How bizarre that in September I turned FIFTY-four, and I could've written this post (well, minus the vet bills). Don't wanna scare you, but maybe nothing changes? BTW, my favorite line: If you're lucky, I'll pluck 'em tableside. (Tip: If you grow your nails long enough, you don't even need tweezers)

Blogger Skyzi said...

Perfectly written.

I hope you are truly able to leave 33 in the past and have a kick ass new year of life!

Blogger Amber said...

Happy Birthday darling - here's to 34 being everything that 33 should have been - learning experiences but now! With 75% less pain! Because a little pain is good for learning, but I think you had more than your share this year.
xoxo

Blogger Jennifer said...

Happy birthday, and the very best of luck to your dad.

Blogger t2ed said...

Happy Birthday Eve. We will never tire of reading about your kitties, Mee Maw.

What is this "editing out things" that make you look freakish? Never heard of it.

Blogger Ulysses said...

Happy Birthday.
I hope the year treats you good.

Blogger mysterygirl! said...

Happy birthday, pea. I hope that this next year is full of all kinds of joy.

Blogger Alli said...

Happy Birthday from a fellow 30-Something!!! Hope your next year gets better!

Have a glass of wine for me!

Blogger BabsieD said...

You're all grown up, dear Kris. Happy 34.

Blogger Prettylyf said...

What a year...

You write beautifully :) Happy 34th.

Blogger janet said...

happy birthday!

This post was beautiful. One of my many faves, really.

Blogger Lawyer Mama said...

Well, I would say happy birthday but, well, it doesn't seem appropriate. How about I just wish you a better 34 than 33? And I'll buy you a glass of wine. You can keep the chin hairs.

Blogger Wicked H said...

Wishing you happiness on your Birthday and ALL days!!!!!

Blogger playfulinnc said...

happy birthday!

I would say (after just turning 33) that I hope my year doesn't look like yours, but where's the delicious journey in that?

I hope something magical happens this year, and I hope you're ready for the ride.

Blogger Zandria said...

The past year has certainly been a full one for you. I wish you an equally full year to come, but hopefully in a much more positive light. :)

Blogger Gecko Rock said...

34 is just like 33, only different.

Blogger Bridget Jones said...

God bless, sweetie. May your next year be light years better than this one.

Blogger kerrianne.org said...

Happy! birthday (today, wee!).

I hope it was awesome, and full of extra cake.

Blogger Christina said...

Happy Birthday.

Blogger Juliness said...

Trust me when I say that it only gets better from here. I promise. You will still have crap to deal with, but you'll be much more prepared for it all, since by 34 the rose-colored glasses are off and you've invested in a decent wine opener.

Blogger Kelly said...

A now belated Happy Birthday wish goes out to you! Actually, many happy wishes are going out to you!

(How does someone kiss like a mason jar?)

Love you, Mama!

Blogger AlwaysArousedGirl said...

Happy birthday. It was a pleasure to sweat it out on the panel with you in Chi. Many many more.

Hope you had a wonderful birthday - and cheers to a great year ahead.

Blogger Maliavale said...

Happy birthday. You are an inspiration.

Blogger Nettie said...

Turning 30 was my bad year. Now facing 40 I have discovered that without that year, I would not be the woman I am today. I look forward to turning 40 and all it has to offer. Pino Grigio while curled up on my couch sounds wonderful. Hope your birthday was a happy one.

Blogger Jessica said...

I too just had another birthday in my 3rd decade...amazing how much differently we reflect now than when we were teens...

Blogger Laurie said...

I hit 37 next month, and feel similar things about 36. Birthday posts are some of my favorites...I'm glad you wrote this one.

I'm also glad you're proud of this site, because you so should be. As much help as it's been for you, it also is for me every time I read and relate.

Happy new year!

Blogger tallglassofvino said...

all niceties aside - welcome to adulthood. It ain't pretty, it ain't nice. It's what it is, though.

I, quite honestly, transitioned roughly into adulthood. Not even really sure I AM there, but the documents prove otherwise. Guess it's true.

Advise from the 'other side' - RELAX. it's really NOT that big of a deal. Well, it IS, but it's much less of a big deal to let every creature within a mile radius KNOW what's a big deal to youl. Because honestly? It typically ISN'T.

Life is harsh, you know?

Blogger yo said...

Beautifully written post.

I catch up on reading them every so often and this was great... no, really.

Best wishes on year 34

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