About eight weeks ago, we celebrated my “early 40th birthday” in Australia. I drank cocktails and jetted around the Great Barrier Reef. I was able to snorkel with tropical fish, swim with sea turtles, and then head down to Sydney for more sightseeing and tourist fun.

Thank god I had that wonderful experience. When my birthday finally arrived, last week, I celebrated turning 40 by traveling for business. I bundled up in a goddamn parka and walked the cold and snowy streets of Chicago. Then I came home and finally had a birthday dinner with my husband.

He said, “I’m so glad you didn’t write a blog post that is a letter to your younger self or 40 lessons on turning 40. Those posts are so cliche.”

I said, “I almost wrote both posts, but I hate it when women try to teach other women in obvious and sententious ways.”

And I don’t have 40 lessons about turning 40. I just turned 40. I maybe have four lessons, if that.

“What are they?” my husband asked.

Here we go.

  1. You can tell if dinner at a restaurant is going to be great by the bread service. My birthday dinner was awful. For our first course, we were served cold, hard cornbread with one pat of butter. I channeled my inner Auntie Helen and was like — What injustice is this? Is this Guantanamo Bay? The rest of the meal was crap. So hear me now and feel me later, readers. The bread was an omen.
  2. Every girl over the age of 10 should be able to run a mile to outrun her attacker. Most men have us on weight and upper body strength, but most sketchy dudes who attack women can’t run for shit. Give yourself a fighting chance. Learn to run a mile. Anybody can do it. Well, not rapists.
  3. People who hate animals are to be avoided. Listen, nothing against ferrets, but I don’t want one. Pretty sure a ferret would chew my face off if given a half a chance. Nevertheless, I don’t hate ferrets. Obviously, they exist for some reason. The concept of “hate” should be reserved for important things like genocide, rape and racism. People who hate cats, squirrels or even pit bulls should be avoided. (Although, between you and me, I don’t really care for PitBull.)
  4. When you need to do show up in life, be sober. Hey now. I think the war on drugs is hypocritical and racist. And you can drink a bottle of champagne and do more damage than someone who smokes weed. But nothing good or productive ever comes from someone who is drunk or high. Art? Music? Amazing literature? The first draft — created while fucked up — often benefits from a sober editor. I would also argue that the final piece of art gains prominence through the sober execution of smart PR and marketing plans. Do what you need to do, of course, but when you need to show up in life, be sober.

Those are my lessons on turning 40. My husband agrees with me on the bread, but everything else is up for debate. I know those aren’t amazing insights, but let’s be honest, this is the best I could do. And I would never write a letter to my younger self. I like my younger self too much to be a condescending 40-year-old bitch.

Like I know things because I’m suddenly 40? Please.


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