Saturday in CinCity. The Pour Yourself a Drink, Put on Some Lipstick, and Pull Yourself Together Edition.

Well, I celebrated another birthday this week. In a little over a year I've lost some things: memory, a kidney stone I was apparently quite fond of, multiple phone chargers. One daughter has moved to the Big Easy and another to her first student apartment, neighbors have moved for various job transfers, and a best friend is gone, though the pain of her death has lessened a little.

I've gained. My cholesterol numbers should be my bowling score. Or, my IQ. Lots more aches in the mornings, but I'm going to blame the Lipitor and not my new Zumba class. More shoes. Two rooms on the attic floor to remodel. More time with my hubby. We walk a lot more. We argue a lot less.

A birthday around this time of year makes it easy to want to start a "new year" since autumn still feels like a time of beginnings with fresh pens and notebooks. My husband likes to announce that "this is the last roof we're ever going to replace" or "this is the last winter coat I'm going to buy so it has to last" as though the Grim Reaper is only blocks away from our front door. He means well and I love him for it. He wants to remind me to appreciate every day since the days ahead may be different. Emptier.


I'm reminded most days of the fragility of life and then again of the tenacity of the life source. The hardiness of the human spirit. The miracle and the tragedy that "life goes on." But, you know what they say. That's life.


by Dorothea Tanning

On one of those birthdays of which I've had so many

I was walking home through the park from a party,

pleased that I'd resisted mentioning the birthday—

why hear congratulations for doing nothing but live?

The birthday was my secret with myself and gave me,

walking under all those trees, such a strong feeling of

satisfaction that everything else fell away: party sounds,

the hostess who stared and as suddenly disappeared

on seeing her husband walk in with a young(er ) friend;

another guest examining garment labels in the room

where I went to leave my jacket; one of two waiters

balancing a trayful of foot-high champagne glasses;

a bee-like buzz of voices I ought to have enjoyed

but heard as foreign babble, so remote it was from

a birthday, so empty of import nothing would remain.

I got my jacket, waved from the hall, pressed Down.

In summer the park, for an hour or so before night,

is at its greenest, a whole implicit proposition

of green leaves, a triumph of leaves enfolding me

that day in a green intimacy so trustworthy I told

them my secret: "It's my birthday," I said out loud

before turning away to cross the avenue.

please note: title is courtesy of Elizabeth Taylor


  1. Happy Birthday, Magpie. Although your nest has emptied it is still full of potential. Take a breath and inspiration will surely fill the vacuum.

  2. Happy birthday! I have no chicks to leave the nest, but I do imagine what it will be like someday when my better half is gone (he's 4 1/2 years older than I am, odds are...). I don't much like it.

  3. Happy birthday. You always make me smile.

  4. Happy Birthday! I've heard New Orleans is a great place to visit. I hope your daughter stayed relatively dry this week. Perhaps you should go check for yourself!

  5. What a achingly lovely post on an important day in your special season of new beginnings, my Distracted friend. Although my wishes to you for a happy birthday are belated, they are no less sincere.

    I love Dorothea Tanning and it is nice to reread her birthday poem, "Secret" here in this new context, given great emotive force by the subjects you broached in your own life. I also love the title of your post, so thank you to both you and Elizabeth Taylor!

    The year before last's birthday for me marked the end of a year--my 58th--deliberately driven through in first gear, as 58 was the age at which the lives of each of my parents had ended. At 59, I shifted gears and commenced to surprise myself with some thoughts and behaviors that I did not expect.

    Hovering now on the verge of 60, with a husband who will turn 76 in November, having birthed no children of my own, and being in a continuing transition between two countries, cultures, languages, and daily lives I can safely say that you never know what will happen--good or bad. So, I wish you post-birthday surprises of your own that will amaze, delight, and fill you with gratification.

    And as Emmy Lou sings:

    They had a hi-fi phono
    Boy, did they let it blast!
    Seven hundred little records
    All rockin' rhythm and jazz
    But when the sun went down
    The rapid tempo of the music fell
    "C'est la vie", say the old folks
    It goes to show you never can tell

  6. Happy Birthday and enjoy the serenity of couplehood again.

  7. I'm continuously thrilled with your blogs... thanks so much for sharing!

  8. My Distracted friend,

    I came upon something in facebook that I believe would be right up your alley and thought that I would bring it to your attention in case you had not heard about it. An academic who teaches Spanish at West Point and was a grad student in the academic department where I toiled for 12 long years has a link on for it on her fb page:

    Looks extremely interesting. I hope that you already know about it or take a look at it ASAP.


  9. More on the free online poetry course:


  10. Happy Birthday. I am quite fond of my kidney stones too, that is why after passing one, I just make another!!! Beautiful poem. Life moves on even if we don't want it to. sigh.

  11. Aging is a rough pebble in my hand that I am trying to rub smooth.

    I can't deny it but I can't embrace it either. So I hang on.

  12. Happy (belated) Birthday. I loved your post...chuckled, even had a tear come. You are a gift to us, you know? :)


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