(Thank you! It was a lovely, lovely birthday.)
Because I am now 30 and therefore Old and Wise, let me share some advice with you. It is excellent advice, you see, because it comes from THIRTY YEARS of lifetime experience, so sit down and listen. And then let me watch my program.
First of all - and this is coming straight from my Father-in-Law - enjoy life while you can. See, once you are 30 (like me!), it is all downhill, and life passes you by very quickly, and you should be thankful for your health and try to make the most out of the time you have in this lifetime, because it GOES SO FAST. Even if you have done the math and know that at 30, you likely have many, many more years ahead of you, ENJOY IT WHILE YOU STILL CAN. If you have your health, you should be thankful because do you know who doesn’t? All of my husband’s family in Ohio. If you don't have your health, well then, you should only travel by car and watch as many Seinfeld re-runs as possible and you should spend significant amounts of time sitting in one place and/or complaining. Because after 30, there is not much else to do. If you think otherwise, give my Father-in-Law a call because he was pretty clear that I need to make the most out of the time I have left. Tick-tock and all that jazz. It is an excellent birthday wish to pass on to loved ones who may be turning 25 or 30. If you know anyone who is still alive and active at the age of 40, then please pass this message on to him or her, because his or her days are clearly numbered. Also, nothing is funnier than Seinfeld reruns - NOTHING! - not even Meet the Parents. If you think otherwise, then again I would recommend giving my Father-in-Law a call. He has some strong feelings about these subjects.
Next, do not take more than one Benadryl in any given day, even if you are ready to scratch your eyes out and even if you are wheezing and EVEN IF you think it is impossible to sneeze one more time but then you go and sneeze a million more times and have pollen-induced twitches. Still, do not take that second Benadryl because when you finally do wake up (and you WILL sleep, oh how you will sleep), you will barely know your own name and you will be cranky and your mouth will taste funny and you will fear that your heart is pounding so quickly that perhaps your Father-in-Law was right and your days are numbered and that number is maybe 4. If you do not heed this advice and DO take two Benadryl in one day, for the love of all things holy, skip that glass of wine. Trust me on this.
If you do take more than one Benadryl in a day, and find yourself desperately in need of a nap, do not take it at the movies. Especially if you are at a matinee of Star Wars and your husband is next to you and a billion noisy kids are on the other side, because when the movie is over and you have woken up, there will be hell to pay. And also, lots of time in which to pay it, because the matinee (Hello! I am 30! Cannot stay up late enough for night showing!) ended at 4:30, leaving eight hours for your husband to alternate between anger at you for falling asleep and anger at The World for making Yoda into a punch line instead of a spiritual guide.
As much as I may sound like your 7th Grade gym teacher, always remember to stretch after exercising. Touching your toes, hopping in the shower and then washing down chocolate chip cookies with a glass of Syrah does not count as stretching. Even if you are sitting on the floor with legs outstretched while you drink the wine, it really, really doesn't count. In all seriousness, take care of your poor ankles and knees and hips and shoulders because perhaps right at the pinnacle moment in your fitness life - like, say...the day after you ran for an hour on the treadmill and two weeks before your first 10K run, and the DAY OF spending $36,279 on running shoes, clothes, gear et al., you may wake up suddenly unable to walk. I am not quite unable to walk, but my ankle...my ankle is BAD. It is swollen and sore and I cannot run on it at all, and the only good thing to come out of this injury is that the medical profession agrees that part of my recovery is wearing heels. If I had been stretching properly, rather than worrying about getting home in time for the Lost finale, then perhaps my ankle would not resemble a pale slab of ham. But it does. So stretch - frequently - and thank me later.
Let's focus again on the feet for a minute. Because while it may be true that until you have walked a mile in someone else's shoes you cannot fully appreciate where they are coming from, it is also true that regardless of where you are coming from, you should never walk more than a mile in flip-flops, yours or otherwise. Aside from general blister-and-dirt issues, people are dirty, filthy pigs and drop bad, bad bits of "garbage" on the street, and you do not ever want to be thankful that you stepped in dog shit with your flip-flops because while the poo is gross, it is better than the used condom and/or broken glass you almost stepped on, just before lurching to the safety of the poo. Walking over the Brooklyn Bridge in flip-flops is a bad idea, although the very badness of the idea won't hit you until you have reached the other side of the [crowded with tourists in town for long weekend] bridge and the blister on the top of your foot has burst and is oozing fire and goo on your foot and home is a long way away. If, however, this does happen, I have a solution: Walk the few blocks to Duane Street, cross to your favorite restaurant and have a drink, a burger, and also? A scone. Just because.
Get rubber tips put on the soles of all your good shoes.
Oh! And if it is the first beautiful weekend of the year, know that if you choose to walk over the Brooklyn Bridge, you will hate all of the 7 million other people doing the same. So my advice is this: If you are in Brooklyn, stay in Brooklyn. Walk to DUMBO and get sandwiches at Almondine and then walk to the park's edge and sit between the bridges and play with the cute bulldog puppy that waddles over to you. Look up at the Brooklyn Bridge and be glad you are not among the hordes. Go back to Almondine for dessert and coffee. Walk home on quiet streets. If you are in Manhattan, take the subway to High Street and join the Brooklynites. Then, as dusk approaches and the crowds on the bridge have thinned a bit, walk back to your borough and stop for a glass of wine at My Friend Tim's Restaurant. Order some pasta and cheese and maybe some dessert and split with a loved one. Be nice to the bartenders because they are good guys.
...and now I am thinking about food. Thanks a lot, My Friend Tim's Restaurant - now I want the sardines over poached egg. But while we are talking about food, please, please PLEASE learn how to properly cut an onion. Once you know how to chop, bone, slice, dice efficiently and safely, cooking becomes so much more enjoyable. Invest in a good knife (and it doesn't have to cost $100), take a knife skills class, keep the edge of your blade sharp, and force yourself to cook at home at least once a week. If it helps, imagine that a hot guy (or girl) is in the kitchen with you and that you are dazzling them with your culinary abilities. I also like to imagine that I am on a cooking show, and enjoy coming up with pithy little asides as I am whisking. And finally, regarding cooking, I have three words: mise en place.
My next bit of advice is kind of abstract, so bear with me. But you know how people like to divide everyone into categories, and say things like "There are two kinds of people in the world, the ones who blank and the ones who bleebity bop"...? Well, I have my own categories, and I do kind of think that there are two kinds of people, which are the ones who regret doing things and the ones who regret NOT doing things. Does that make sense? No, probably not, due to alarmingly frequent use of 'ones.' But, some people will make themselves crazy second guessing a decision and other people will make themselves crazy wondering "what if" about a decision. I think that you should sit down and think very, very hard about what I am trying to say and decide which type of person you are. I promise I am going somewhere with this. I am the kind of person who would rather regret doing something than regret not doing it...and I have finally realized this about myself and now am more likely to act decisively because I know that making a mistake is still preferable to not knowing the outcome. Is that vague enough for you? No, not quite vague enough? How about this: there are blaze of glory people and there are thoughtful, careful people. Both are good. But last night Kent and I were watching Shattered Glass and he said, "If I ever screw up really badly, I hope it's not bad enough to warrant a movie," and I said, "If I screw up really badly I hope it's bad enough to make a really good movie." Different types of people. If you realize which type you are, then you can know that when you're wondering whether or not to call a guy you just spent the night with or ask your boss about your compensation, it's better to call the guy and find out he's not as interested as you hoped than it is to wonder about it. And conversely, maybe it's better to leave well enough alone and know that at least, you never played the fool. Um, I think I'm done with this point, because I no longer know what I am even saying.
Do not let your dog eat unagi when a piece drops on the floor. Do not. Let the dog. Eat broiled eel. Ever. Oh my gosh, you guys, the MESS that ensued after Tuesday scarfed down a piece of eel sushi was biblical. And stinky. And very, very unpleasant. Give the dogs the kibble and the people the broiled eel. But for a brief period of time, I had the happiest dog in the world. She was begging for sushi, just like her mama. (Usually she just sits underneath Kent's legs, because we can get a little Federline-y sometimes and often eat at the coffee table, hunched over food like the trash we try desperately not to be. And my husband spills food like it is his job, which makes the dog very, very happy. She lies on the floor and basically waits for food to land on her head. We ordered BBQ one time and she stood up and had actual globs of BBQ sauce on her head. So the unagi was not unforeseen, just unfortunate.)
Yes, my husband can be slovenly, but he is a good, good man. How do I know this? Well, there are many moments that grab at my heart, but I know Kent is a good man because he is always nice to the wait staff. Girls, I advise you to marry a man who is nice to wait staff. And (or?) old people. Men, I don't know what the best indicator of character is when meeting women, but I would not pursue a relationship with anyone who claims to not have girlfriends because women are too "difficult." That is just a little warning from me to you, but on choosing a partner, I strongly believe that restaurant behavior provides invaluable data. No matter what may or may not have gone down between me and my husband, I can watch him with a waitress and know that he is a good, good person and that I am lucky to have him. Even if she is ugly (no, I didn't really say that, and I don't really mean it). A man who tips well and is kind to the busboys is a man you can count on to bring you the big salad bowl when you are sick in bed and need to barf. Nice to wait staff, worth dating. Mean to wait staff, dump the bastard. And, on Easter Sunday, Kent and I went to church with Brit's husband (she herself was recovering from an appendectomy) and her husband HELPED TWO OLD BLIND PEOPLE TO COMMUNION. At that point I knew even when Brit is furious with him, or when she is at her saddest, she is with a good man. My own husband LOVES old people and looks forward to the day when he has nothing better to do than sit on a porch somewhere and watch. At that point, I may leave him for a hot young waiter, but for the time being, I have found a good, good man who makes me happy and I wish the same for everyone reading this. Except for the straight men. There are probably only three of you, but for you I wish lots of boobies and football and gadgets.
I will leave you with one final bit of advice, and then I am going to ice my ankle, pour a glass of wine, and order a pizza. But, before I go, please first listen to this: Buy clothes that fit. I implore you, BUY CLOTHES THAT FIT. Do not come home with shoes that pinch and pants that sag in the ass and shirts that pull across the chest. Clothes that fit make you look a million times better than clothes that do not. Too big is just as bad as too small, so no one is exempt from this one. Even if you only have three outfits that fit you well, wear those three outfits ALL THE TIME. Because clothes should FIT. And I do not want to spend my commute trying to restrain myself from hiking up your pants/ fixing your collar/ tugging down your hem/ cuffing your pants. And, as proof that we ALL eventually turn into our parents (especially after turning 30), I am telling you one more time…stand up straight. No one looks good when they are slouching.