40 and Fired had a better ring to it than 39 and Layed Off--thus the title and impetus for a blog. I'm a freelance writer living in the mountains of Colorado with my husband, children and high maintenace pets. I'm over the whole turning 40 thing, so this is now more about my humorous/sarcastic take on life, excercise and our daily adventures.

Monday, January 25, 2010

No Olympics?

My husband and I are enthusiastic, recreational athletes. We've had bursts of competition, good finishes and completed big races, but that is the extent of our athletic prowess.

As kids, I was heartily encouraged in one specific sport (which I quit) and John played lots of sports well, but not at a pro or scholarship level. When we had children we were well aware of our competitive natures and wanted to stay in the gray zone, of not pushing to hard versus not hard enough, when it came to our children and athletic endeavors. But we were both certain that one of our offspring would be an Olympic ski racer.

Evidently we didn't give them enough direction and presented them with too many options. Plus, they now have ideas of their own. I'll admit that neither child was as excited about the prospect of Olympic competition as us, but they humored our dreams to a point.

That all changed when I took them to the 2010 Winter Outdoor Retailer trade show.

It was sensory overload as usual, but the girls thought it was amazing. Between powering blenders with bikes, playing ping pong, slacklining, going to parties, meeting people, skiing and getting swag, they jointly decided to work in the outdoor industry.

"Taylor, you know what you do here?" said Adair. "You pick out the gear you need for your adventure and ask people to sponsor you--let's come up with our ideas!"

And they did.

Adair wants to become an ultrarunner and run around the world, while carrying a Gibbon slackline in her backpack. She thinks all children should know how to do tree pose on a slackline. Upon completion of her round the world odyssey, she wants to be a sponsored Ironman triathlete and work as a Cirque du Soleil performer. She can already unicycle, juggle, do acrobatics on hanging silks and recently landed her first back flip--I just never envisioned this as a career path.

Taylor is jumping onto the Keen Hybrid Life bandwagon with plans to sail around the world (no fossil fuels for this idealist) so she can swim with and document endangered aquatic animals. Once she finishes her adventure and, of course, sells the movie and music rights to a socially responsible indie film company, she's going to med school and become a doctor for Doctor's Without Borders.

Here's my favorite piece. When they are ready for a more relaxed lifestyle, they are kicking us to the curb, and turning our humble abode into a xc ski day lodge and restaurant. They were kind enough to offer us jobs at their skiing establishment--John gets to groom the trails and I can run the store.

I'm completely serious. This is what they discussed and planned the entire drive home from Salt Lake.

I know I should be proud of their ingenuity and creativeness, and I am--truly. But their proposed adventures are getting us no closer to front row seats at the Olympics or a Today Show interview with Matt Lauer.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Save Me From Myself

I absolutely love to travel. Road trips, plane trips, overnights, a month, standard or exotic--it all makes me happy. Both my grandfathers loved to travel and that proclivity was fostered in me from an early age. And it worked. All trips seem to begin with a car ride of some sort, and once I'm in the car, I give myself over to the adventures to come.

But the 12 - 24 hours before I get in the car are an absolute nightmare of feverish activity. Packing is a given, but its always pushed to the very end of a ridiculously long and impossible to-do list.

Case in point, I'm leaving tomorrow for a trade show, and here's my list:

-finish work projects
-pack briefcase
-clean house
-groom pets
-water plants
-finish and put away all laundry
-clean out refrigerator
-take out trash
-change beds
-go to post office
-go to bank
-run misc. errands
-write thank you notes
-pay bills
-read and reply to all backlogged emails

Mind you, I leave in 20 hours and really should sleep for at least 4.

I rationalize the sudden need for housework by having to clean the house for the pet sitters. Plus, it's just common sense to take out the trash and clean the fridge before you go out of town--right? Work stuff is actually finished for now, so that's a relief. As for the rest of it, I have no idea. I suppose I don't want someone to have to sort through a filthy, disorganized house if we all perish on our trip, and I think pre-trip bill paying and thank you note writing began years ago as a self-imposed deadline--and it stuck. The pets will still need to be groomed upon our return, so I suppose they can wait, thank-you notes are already late so a few more days won't make much of a difference. Two things off the list.

Although my list is unrealistic, it's a perfect demonstration of working hard to play hard. I think you have to earn it to enjoy it--whatever it may be. I've known people with a staff to clean their houses, run their errands, do their laundry and make sure their favorite things were waiting for them at their travel destination. Granted, on many levels, I'm envious. But what's the point of relaxing if you don't have a need to relax?

And returning from a trip is sometimes bittersweet because I don't want the fun to end. So its all the better to come home to a clean house, non-existent to-do list and semblance of an organized life.

Sure this is a business trip, but there is fun to be had and new people to meet. I know I will stay up too late tonight, but the important pieces will happen and I'll leave at 6 am ready for the adventures to come.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

"You have a face for newspapers"

Its been a week rife with mind blowing highs and spiraling towards the abyss lows, due mostly to the fact that I forgot to refill my hormone prescriptions, my doctor--who I adore, but has the attention span of a three-year old at FAO Schwarz--forgot to call in my new prescription and the only way I could get them here before my family exiled me to the tent was to pay exorbitant next- day shipping fees. But I now have a hefty dose of custom compounded pharmaceuticals coursing through my veins and my world is surprisingly manageable.

The damage report:

Monday was good. My internal bitch bomb didn't detonate until Tuesday. And the day began with such promise. I finally mustered the nerve to pick up the phone and call a magazine editor I had previously emailed with no luck. Turns out she is amazing, loved my pitch and gave me some more topics to cover. Thrilled doesn't begin to explain the way I was feeling. 

However, about half and hour later, I heard from another editor regarding a story I turned in three months ago--and they just decided that they hated it. As in, I missed the audience and completely have to re-do it. After rereading it, I disagree and realize some politics are at play. But I will give it another go-eventually.

Then, I completely forgot how to spell/type/proof read and turned in a horrendous press release. Luckily all errors were caught before publication, but it was BAD--I spelled one word four different ways! I also missed my self-imposed deadline for a gear review and screwed up a few other projects. 

To work it all out of my system I went on a punishing/awesome four mile skin to the top of Snowmass ski area with friends. The flat-out exhaustion felt great until I skied down with my boots in walk mode. There goes another toe nail.

This evening provided the appropriate ending to my week, when I freaked out about my laugh lines/crows feet (I'm not seeing the humor) and approached John for some reassurance. 

He seriously said:

-"Your lines show your experience."
-"At least your pimples make you look younger."
-"There are truly unattractive people in this world, but you're not, so get over it."
-"You know the line - 'you have a face for radio?', well you have a face for newspapers." This one was a joke, but once again, the humor was lost on me.
-Then, while I was roasting a marshmallow on a chopstick over the gas stove, "is that really going to help?". 

Yes. And it did. I'm debating whether or not to exile him to the tent.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

What Do You Do When You Get What You've ALWAYS Wanted?

Smile like a fool!

I don't mean things like a happy marriage, well-adjusted kids, good health and a rewarding career. But something frivolous and fun. Like a pony or a Barbie Dream house or life-sized replica of Chewbaca--or a 1985, candy-apple red Jeep CJ7!   

I'll save you from doing the math--I was fifteen and taking driver's ed in 1985. All I wanted, besides my license, was a CJ7. I recall Mom having a hydroplane happy Thunderbird and Dad driving a pimped out gray Ford Granada complete with  a burgundy pleather interior. Being a mid-80's Prepster snot, I wasn't anxious to car share with either of them. 

I turned 16, passed the test and received a Matchbox Jeep from my parents. Although I now wish I still had it, I'm fairly certain I chucked it in the trash during my less than pleasant teen-age years. My parents caved after a few months and bought me an awesome Volkswagen Rabbit convertible. It was old, but it was mine and it was a convertible. I shut up about the Jeep.

But I didn't forget. I remembered it when I graduated from college, when I turned 25, had kids, turned 30 and got the hankering once again just a few months ago. I decided to forget about it due to more pressing life matters in accordance with my Capricorn frugality and practicality. 

Luckily, I married someone with very few practical sensibilities and a 1985, candy-apple red Jeep CJ7 is on a cross-country transport at this very moment!

Turns out, even a Capricorn likes a little frivolity. 

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Don't Open my Dresser Drawer

We have several loved and revered gnomes and fairies that frequent our home. These guests and their supporting magic have been fostered by John and me and the girls' Waldorf school. Before you jump to conclusions, I refer to magic in the sense of awe and wonder--not Harry Potter. The intent has been to preserve the magic of childhood as long as possible because, while there is plenty of good in the world, there are also plenty of wankers trying to blow up planes and shoot people in the work place.

We've succeeded in our desires, but perhaps a bit too well.

A partial list, in order of appearance throughout the year:
-Old Befana
-Easter Bunny
-Tooth Fairy
-Garden Gnomes
-Birthday Fairy
-Magic Advent Calendar Fairy
-St. Nickolas

Most of them, I really like. Old Befana brings pastries and sweeps the rooms of all children on 12th Night; the Easter bunny is standard issue, but he is not allowed in the house; the tooth fairy brings crystals and notes, which are typed because her writing was amazingly similar to mine; the Garden gnomes are pesky little buggers requiring near daily correspondence (this too is typed), snacks and their own home; the Birthday Fairy threw me for a loop--evidently, if you place the last candle you blew out on your cake under your pillow, a fairy takes it away and gives you another present (not if you tell Mom and Dad about this one at 9pm on your birthday!); the magic Advent Calendar was a present from the girls' Godmother, and it has 24 little doors and spaces for presents so the fairy brings two presents every night during advent; St. Nick brings nuts and oranges, but this year he was out and gave the girls books instead and then our Santa is pretty normal, although he drops white feathers in the girls' rooms in case they see him, gets credit for the best presents and prefers Knob Creek bourbon with just a splash of egg nog instead of cookies.

I've truly hoped we would age out of these fairies, just like it happens to most jaded kids with the Polar Express bell, without the need for conversations, elaboration, inadvertent discovery and tears. I found out that's not going to happen.

Today my youngest reported, with absolute disgust, that a classmate found her and her brother's baby teeth, along with a bag of tooth fairy presents in her Mom's top dresser drawer. I tried to act indifferent, but Taylor continued by asking me what I thought. I said her friend shouldn't be poking in her mom's dresser. 

"Maybe so, but I'm glad our fairies are real." Taylor continued, "I know you and Dad would never pretend to be the fairies or do their work for them."

Really? Just don't open my dresser drawer.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

On Being a Goat

I've enjoyed being a Capricorn. Due to my sign's inherent traits, I've embraced and even nurtured my ambition, discipline, practicality and stubbornness. That all changed when I read a piece in the Scuttlebutt of last week's Sopris Sun newspaper--really just a local gossip rag, but it stung all the same.

This is a direct quote from the paper, "You goats are ambitious, disciplined, patient, reserved and careful. You're independent, confident and well organized. You are also pessimistic and miserly and go through horrible mood swings and tend to have knee and digestive problems. You are also prone toward skin breakouts (more commonly known as acne), and your lucky color, well...it's brown. So happy birthday to all of you miserly, pessimistic, moody goats with bad skin..."

Who in the hell asked the Sopris Sun to weigh in on the matter? I can say with conviction that I am not reserved or organized in the least. Otherwise, as I sit here with a clay mask on a new zit and ice pack on my knee, while sipping peppermint tea to sooth my gluten sensitive stomach, the characteristics are a bit too spot on for my liking.

And for the real rub--they list "all" the local Capricorns and I'm not included! My husband pointed out that for that to happen, I would first have to tell people its my birthday. Well, this was in a newspaper run by reporters, so they should look it up--if they really cared.

Early or late Capricorns have their traits softened by the optimistic and jovial Sagittarius or the friendly and humanitarian Aquarius. But those of us smack in the middle are full-on, grudge holding goats.

See if I read the Sopris Sun again. Maaaaa.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

January 1 Revisited

After yesterday's post, and while maniacally cleaning the crevices of my house with a shop vac, I had a brain trust moment.

Our house has concrete floors with big expansion joints. Due to our dogs, cats and children the gunge residing in the expansion joints is truly beyond compare. Once a week or so, I lug the shop vac around sucking up the crack detritus and anything else that crosses my path. I've also discovered it's wickedly efficient for cleaning out the fireplace.


This is just common sense. You hear of moronic people sucking burning embers, with disasterous consequences. Plus, there was even a label on our former vacuum warning not to use it for that very purpose.

So, as I was vacuuming away like a gerbil on it's wheel, I happened to notice the fire place was rather full of ash. I could fix that in a snap.

Hmm, the girls are outside and John isn't here, so no one can stop/tell on me. How about just a quick go around the edges of the firebox to tidy things up a bit. Lots of old white ash, until, uh-oh, still seems hot from this morning and that's a red ember, but I'm good--it fell out. Oh shit, flames shooting out the hose nozzle indicate a small problem! Vacuum off, bang the nozzle on the fireplace, watch burning embers come out--no worries.

Then for my second brain trust moment of the day--I kept vacuuming! Until I smelled smoke and turned around to see black clouds billowing out of the vacuum. Turned it off again, even unplugged it and took it apart. Upon lifting the vacuum bag, the bottom fell out and the piece I was holding bursts into flames. So that's why the vacuum was so hot! I carried the entire mess outside and dumped it in the snow. John came home just in time to inquire why it smelled like we had a bonfire in the living room ('cause we did genius) and to find me stoking the remains of the shop vac and it's contents with a snow shovel.

Chances are slim I will ever live this one down. But the fireplace looks great and the girls found several of their missing toys in the charred remains of the vacuum bag. Maybe I'll add a shop vac to my birthday wish list.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year

There are those who believe you need to do a sampling of everything you want to do in the new year on Jan 1, or at least in the first week of the new year. The formation of this belief is most likely a hodge podge of various superstitious practices I've heard throughout the years. However, I participate--to an extent. The extent being, I fit all I can into Jan 1 and then forget about it the rest of the year.

So far today, I've:
-Overslept and missed the first sunrise of the new year.
-Eaten good luck food (hoppin' john from the Lee Brothers cookbook and a spinach souffle from Mastering the Art of French Cooking)
-Eaten chocolate
-Shaved my legs, nicked myself twice
-Cleaned the house, done laundry. Intend to clean fish tank and brush dogs, but it won't happen
-Going to a friend's house for dinner
-Snowshoed with the girls
-Had my 89 year old grandmom tell me I should use different skin care products so I don't look so old
-Mediated a soap fight between the girls, which resulted in one with bloodshot soap-filled eyes and staining tub finger paints all over their white shower curtain
-Gotten along, fought and made up with my husband
-Ditto with my kids
-Put off writing thank-you notes for another day,

Sounds about right.

We did have an awesome family night in Aspen on New Year's Eve, with ice skating, fireworks and hot chocolate. We made it home in time to watch the ball drop on the East Coast, but forgot about it until 10:08. Evidently, it happened just the same.

At 10:30 I realized we had yet to spread the ashes of our dog who passed away in 2009, and we absolutely had to do it that minute because it was the last day of 2009, a blue moon and a lunar eclipse--thus very auspicious. It was also 2 degrees outside. John pointed that Harley was dead and cremated, thus probably wouldn't mind if we waited until it was warm and daylight. After which, he went to bed. His case had merit, so I called it a night too.

Today's feeling regarding my rapidly approaching 40th: it's just another day, so get over it.