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mardi 19 mai 2009

Middle age

I turned 40 today. I can hardly believe it, actually. It seems so unbelievably old, yet I really don't feel particularly old (well, not all the time, anyway).

That said, I was much more miserable the day I turned 30. My life was a mess back then, and I was sure that it wasn't going to get any better (and, with regard the pretty immediate future, I was right).

When I turned 30, my "career" was doing OK, and we were on the brink of moving from a large city in central France down here to the south coast to what turned out to be a pretty grotty and nasty flat - our first owned home.

But we'd been trying to have a baby for over 18 months without any success and despite a whole battery of tests and exams and treatments. I was feeling really low and despondent, and totally sure it would never work. I wanted a baby more than anything, and not being a mother at 30 struck me as real failure.

In the end, I did fall pregnant, exactly 9 months later. But that all went horribly, horribly wrong (but that's another story). The last 3 months of being 30 were great (that's when I was pregnant and oh, so happy), but the first 9 were heart-breaking.

In comparison, turning 40 is a piece of cake. My career isn't really any further forward, but I'm pretty satisfied with it. We live in a much nicer flat in a much nicer part of the city. And we have two beautiful, bright, affectionate, funny, lovable little girls.

And I feel blessed.

I had a good day (nothing special, mainly because I got up so late) and was once again spoiled with lovely gifts and I even started on my "improvement" programme - I washed my hair, painted my nails (very discreet, pale pink), took some pills (skin preparation, fat burning, energy enhancing, allergy reducing) and am about to go to bed around 2 hours earlier than usual. And I also intend to get up tomorrow morning and actually work during the day and go out in the afternoon.

One of the cards I got today gave the old cliché, "Life begins at 40". And maybe, just maybe, it's true.

dimanche 17 mai 2009

On the verge...

...of a new decade.

Technically, it's going to be my birthday in precisely one minute (oops, no, the clock on my computer's just changed... Happy Birthday to me!), though in real terms the "main event" was actually today.

D tried to organise a surprise "party", and succeeded up to a point, except that today is Sunday (which means that just about everything's shut here in France) so he had to admit yesterday that a couple of friends and their son would be coming to lunch. Which was true. But what he did manage to keep secret was the various other friends and neighbours who popped in in the course of the afternoon.

I was thoroughly spoiled (two (very different) bouquets of flowers, a plant, a little bag, a wooden cat, a pair of pearl earrings), D. put together a lovely lunch and bought a fabulous cake, the girls had fun (even though they had to go to another party half way through) and I was delighted to have so many people come to wish me well for my birthday. I feel very lucky!

Of course, I'm pretty behind in my challenge, but just in case you've all been losing sleep, here are the last 4 anyway:
Day 37: Very boringly, sort out my (hundreds) of credit card receipts.
Day 38: Put our crockery and cutlery in order (so many different sets, all free gifts from mail order catalogues, some nice, some not...).
Day 39: Take more photos, document our life a little more, a little better. For the girls' future.
Day 40: Try and enjoy myself more, let myself go a little, go out, have fun, see friends, go to the cinema. Live my life!

That's it for now, but I'll try and be back later today with more thoughts on turning 40, leaving my 30s behind and what have you.

jeudi 14 mai 2009


16 days behind! Holy crap.

On the plus side, I have tidied my desk and quite a lot of my papers, I haven't eaten very much crap food out and about on my own (just once or twice, not bad in over a month) and I've remembered birthdays and stuff.

But I still get the feeling this challenge is, overall, a FAIL.

Plus, I turn 40 on MONDAY. That's 5 days, people. And I'm feeling OOOOOLLLLDDDDD.

But to catch up a little:
Day 21: tidy the bathroom.
Day 22: tidy the kitchen and get it sorted once and for all.
Day 23: try and stop moaning and complaining quite so much.
Day 24: try and tell my daughters sometime soon about their big sister and how important she is to me.
Day 25: try and make real, meaningful contact with C's schoolfriends' parents so she can have some chance of seeing them during the holidays. We've pretty much got it sussed for L, but for C it's proving much harder.
Day 26: organise a good summer holiday for the girls - rest time, activities, outings, friends...
Day 27: start wearing more jewellery and perhaps a little make-up (or am I going too far?!).
Day 28: make sure that I go to one professional conference or some such thing every year, just to get me some real "me time", like when I went to Lisbon last October.
Day 29: write down my memories as a souvenir for the girls - I have little close family, few photos, so I'll need to get things down in writing if they're to have any idea about my childhood, my family.
Day 30: try and put my creative urges to use, usefully (that's nice and vague, isn't it?!). I know I have it in me to "do" things, I just have to find that special thing...
Day 31: really start listening to music again (D can't work with music playing and I can't put music on when I work at night in case it wakes L up), as there must be times when I can start going through my CD collection again, instead of always listening to the same four or five (Madonna's "Confessions", U2 greatest hits, Neil Diamond (no, I'm not embarrassed AT ALL), Eric Satie and Lloyd Cole and the Commotions "Rattlesnake").
Day 32: book myself on to some kind of "sport" class (to replace my tai chi, so nothing too demanding, obviously).
Day 33: maybe even (very discreetly) take up driving again (now that I've found my driver's licence, lost since Feb 2006) and really surprise D, assuming we ever have a car that works again.
Day 34: go to the fabulous art museum here more often - I have a yearly subscription which is only valid if I go at least 5 times. I got my renewal today and have been once, so I now have 12 months for at least 4 visits. That should be doable, even by me...
Day 35: read at least one book in French every month (probably haven't read French lit since I tried Zola again way back in '99...).
Day 36: try and write on my blog more often (hmmmm...).

I feel like I'm setting myself an impossibly daunting challenge, but deep down, I know I could be happier, less frustrated, if I actually stuck to this.

To be fair, I haven't been doing so badly, and I've failed in less than I thought. But that said, I haven't lost a gram in weight, haven't had my hair cut, haven't been to bed before 4 am this week (and it's already 2 am as I type this)...

I'm trying. I really am. And I do so want to get stuff done. The office part of our main room is looking better because I have done a lot of work (even if it's far from finished) and it is, as a consequence, nicer to live in.

I'm hoping to build on this, continue the good work, keep going and make 40 the year I change into a grown-up, a real one, not just someone pretending.

Only 5 days to go, guys!