Monday, December 16, 2013

Christmas Fingers

Something is happening.  Or something has broken.  Because my filter which once seemed to be firmly in place is slipping.  I find myself filling with righteous irritability at small things.   And instead of shrugging these small things off, I am, at times, guilty of doing or saying something which would be better left unsaid or ‘undid’.  To date, the following are just a few examples of things which have slipped through my once un-bustable filter :
  1. tailgaters (not the parking lot kind, at least not yet)
  2. people who make stupid, one-sided, small-minded statements which get picked up by the news cycle or posted on Facebook
  3. packages intended to arrive on a Friday because you paid high dollar for it but get inexplicably delayed until Monday
  4. the Sound of Music live television event - I mean, you have an amazing voice Carrie and Vampire Bill is so sexy as the undead, but together, it was just, well, uncomfortable 
  5. Philip Rivers 
I'm only going to address the first one today - tailgaters.  Because this incident directly affected my children's everlasting perception of me.  And Philip Rivers gets a mention here too, but it's really nothing personal, Rivers.  You just play against the Broncos and announcers really love to talk about you.  And you are directly responsible (kinda) for further aggravating an already tender image of me held by my oldest. 

‘Twas the day after Thanksgiving and we headed deep into the forest of Colorado to hunt down the Most Perfect Christmas Tree Ever.  While that was certainly an unattainable goal, we did have cheery cold and snowy fun finding a tree with enough branches to hang ornaments.  It was a good day.

And then we headed home.

To get home, we have to travel along 285 -  a highway best known for fast traffic, windswept, icy roads, accidents and a high frequency of closure.  But on this day we drove under a huge, beautiful, deep blue sky and watched as the low sun turned the highest mountain peaks into pink frosted tips.  Seriously a postcard moment.


I casually glance in the passenger side mirror only to see every, single, itty-bitty, gritty, detail of the bug-smattered grill on a semi.  Desperately hoping that Objects In Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear, I turn around to get an accurate depth perception view.  

But no.  Objects In Mirror Were Completely Accurate.   The back windshield of Sean's beloved 220,000 mile Toyota 4Runner is filled with the semi's front end.  Not even the fading daylight of our lovely afternoon can filter in around the truck.  The truck which appears to be prepared to eat us.

I drag my eyes away from the semi and focus on the red-cheeked smiles of my three kids as they sit in various states of tree-success contentment.  

And my blood begins to boil.  

Now, I have the ability within me to channel patience.  It may not be my own patience I channel, but I can dig it up somewhere and use it when I most need it.   But not, apparently, with stupid, careless drivers of ginormous semis.  

Blood boiling, I look at Sean's speed.  Perhaps he is driving 30 miles under the speed limit.  Because surely, this semi driver cannot be so completely ignorant of the danger he is putting our kids in with his proximity to our 4Runner's rear end.  Like, mortal danger.  Duh.

But no, Sean is going the 65 mph speed limit on this two lane highway.  The driver obviously wants to pass but with a long line of cars shooting by us on the other side, he doesn't have an opportunity yet. Instead of backing off like a normal person until he has his shot, he rides us like a big jerk.  For 1.5 miles.  At 65 miles an hour.  In vanishing daylight.

I am not channeling patience.  I am channeling pure, unadulterated, righteous, anger.  I can feel it in the tips of my ears and the ends of my hair.  This anger is fueled by thoughts and images of my kids if Sean has to step on the brake for any reason at all.  Even a light tap will surely injure the kids but if we have to slam on the brakes...the entire Payne family will be moving on up.

Can the guy not see this inevitability in his haste to pass us?  Or is he on a super secret mission to save the planet and we just happen to be the Yeoman Johnsons in the way? 

All I know is that my mama bear instinct is fueling this boiling, hot rage.  I'm pretty sure my eyes have turned red and I've developed claws.  Finally, there is a break in the oncoming cars and the semi driver jumps on his chance to pass.  

First I feel the briefest sense of relief.  My kids are out of danger.  But next I feel an opportunity.  I sense it as the rig fills our left-side windows.  A chance to make a difference.  To perhaps influence the guy to do the right thing in his future travels.  I could use words to persuade.  But I don't have words right now.  All I have are gestures.  And two of them.

So as the semi pulls up alongside, there is a moment where he and I lock eyes.  My filter disintegrates, a sense of righteous anger fuels me on, and with a tunnel-like focus on the beady eyes of the driver, I find myself lifting both of my hands and valiantly extending my two gloriously middle fingers into the age-old gesture meant for situations just like this

And I don't just lift them once.  I accompany my fingers with a nah-nah-nah-nah sound and pump my fists repeatedly at the driver.  Point made.  Semi finally passes us and now moves speedily ahead.  My anger rapidly fades.  My heart beat slows.  My head falls back, I sigh and say, "Whew. That felt good."

In my quest to make a point, I have forgotten one very important detail. 

My.  Kids.  Are.  In.  The.  Car.

Groaning, abashed and utterly unsure of what I will find when I turn around, I pause for just a minute.  Then with a smile plastered to my face I look behind me.  Gone are the victory grins from finding our Christmas tree.  Instead, each little face mirrors back the horror that I now feel.  Mouths hang open in astonishment at what little eyes just witnessed.  They look at me differently.  Unsure of who their mother has become.

Ella is the first to speak.

"Mommy, why did you just flip that guy the birds?"

"Well, honey, uhm.  Mommy lost her patience and I..."

Keira interrupted with an accusing, "And you said it made you feel good."

"Oh, that, well, I just acted on anger and it was a terrible example.  Your father was very patient and did the right thing by keeping his cool..." I trail off, unsure of how to move forward.  Their eyes reflect their disappointment.  

Sawyer points his index fingers at me and says, "Is this what you were doing, Mommy?"

Ella's hand flies across and slaps Sawyer's fingers down.  "Sawyer!  No!  Don't do it!  It's bad!  Bad!"

They all look back at me.  Waiting.

"Okay, kids.  What Mommy just did is a terrible example.  I should not have done that.  I just got really angry because that man was putting you guys in danger with his bad driving.  But I shouldn't have done that.  I am really sorry."

With a smirk, Sean reminds me about the sermon in church two weeks ago on forgiveness.  "That's right, I should have prayed for him instead." I tell the kids.   "After all, Christmas is about love and forgiveness." I stumble on, "So, uhm, let's pray for him.  'Dear God, please help that man to see how his driving could hurt someone.  Help him to drive safer.  And if it's in your will, maybe have a policeman pull him over so we can all drive by and see your justice and will be done.  Amen.' "

"But you still gave him the fingers, Mommy." Ella reminds me in her most adult voice.  

Finally, home.  We set-up our tree and my blunder is left in the past as we jump into the Christmas season.  Or so I think.

It's a Thursday night Bronco game.  We are playing against the San Diego Chargers.  At this point in the game, the Chargers look great and the Broncos haven't shown up yet.  Football is a family affair so the kids are piled on the couch - some paying more attention than others.  Every time the Chargers do something close to great, I usually say, "Ack!  That Philip Rivers."  or "Good grief, it's Philip Rivers."  I'm not sure how this started, but we use his name a lot.  Sometimes even when we aren't playing against Philip Rivers.  It has become a household name for frustration.   

So after a particularly beautiful touchdown by none other than...Philip Rivers...I make my usual, "Oohh, that Philip Rivers!!"

Ella, who loves football, puts her hand on my shoulder, looks me in the eye and says, "Mommy, are you going to give him the fingers, too?"

I am quickly becoming my family's inside joke.  Ella is convinced that at any moment I might explode yet again in a fit of rage and give someone the fingers.  And these are how childhood memories are made.  Through collective moments that make up our perception of our upbringing, events that stick-out and become the stories we tell, the memories we keep.  

And I have just made a big one.  

If I could, would I go back and be a better example for my kids?  Would I have used that moment to demonstrate superhuman control, patience and love?  It certainly wouldn't have hurt to show them how someone could rock a moment like that with good thoughts for the truck driver instead of surrendering to the primal urge to give him back what he was so thoughtlessly giving us.  

But I am not a time traveler.  I cannot change the past.  I think that instead I will try to use that moment to show my children that parents make mistakes, too.  To give them an example of how everyone can make mistakes, sometimes even big ones.  Most especially, how we can learn from those so that when a situation like that comes around again, we will have learned how to handle it better.  

Sounds like a good plan.  Sounds like a memory making lesson.  My reputation with my kids will be restored.

So, I say to Ella, "No, I am not going to give Phillip Rivers the fingers, kiddo. I don't really want him to win, but I do wish him the best." I like the way I sound.  Pretty grown up and in control.  Then I kid her, "Come on now, is that the only thing you are going to remember about me when you are all grown up?"

"No."  She says with a smile.  "I also remember the time we were late to my kindergarten play.  You were pulling out of our driveway too fast and took the rear view mirror off with a tree."

So maybe I should look into time traveling, after all.  



Monday, November 11, 2013

The Gap

Do you know about The Gap?

Not the store.  The modern day phenomenon affecting women all over the world?

No?  Are you sure?  It doesn't surprise me.  

There was not a single lecture about The Gap in college.  Or upon graduation.  Someone may have mentioned it to me, but when you are knee deep in education, bright-eyed, youthful, and ready to step out into the world armed with a hard-earned degree...sometimes you just don't listen.  Especially about something like The Gap.  Something that won't affect you until you are, ugh, old.

I've been living in The Gap for a few years now.  But living in it is not the same as when you climb out of it.  Then you finally understand The Gap.  So, here are the four main events which have brought about my current state of Gap Clarity.    

1. Martinis on the deck
2. My 20 year high school reunion
3. Lunch with my parents
4. A bunch of men

Back in the day, I had plans for myself.  Big plans.  I wanted to make a difference in somebody's life, somewhere, somehow.

But I was prepared to start slow.  After Sean and I moved out West, I scoured the newspaper looking for just the right job to sink my Master of Public Administration (yawn, I know) teeth into.  I woke up each morning, highlighter in hand circling the hell out of every inspiring entry level but with potential to change the world job I could find.

I did not find many with that title.

But I did find one.  I began my post-college career at a home for abused and neglected children as the Development Associate.  Over the next four years, I learned the ropes and even managed to work my way up a bit.  The job was challenging but rewarding, the mission inspiring, and the people I worked with determined to use our combined talents and energies to make a difference in kids' lives.

I was chug chug chugging down the right path.  Then I had a martini on the deck with my new husband.  And that conversation changed everything.

It went a little something like this:

Me    "I love being married to you."
Sean  "I love being married to you, too." (Hang in there, this doesn't last long.)
Me    "I can just picture us way, way down the road surrounded by our kids." (Said dreamily, between martini sips.)
Sean  "Me too." (Here it comes.)
Sean  "You plan on staying home with the kids, right?"
Me    "Huh?"
Sean  "It's just that, it's really important to me that one of us stay home to raise the kids.  You'll do that, right?"
Me    "Huh?"
Sean  "Or I could stay home with the kids if you'd rather work."  Smiles and sighs like he's just wrapped up a present all nice and neat.  Claps his hands and says, "Want another round?"
Me     "Huh?"

Somehow the idea of one of us staying home with our future children had never, ever occurred to me.  The era of women's rights had afforded me the notion that I could have a family AND keep my career.  End of story.

Life is not that simple.  

So while I never envisioned myself rocking the domestic look, that is precisely what happened.  After just a half a decade of working and with Baby #1 on the way, I ventured into The Gap.

"A few more steps and we'll be safe in the The Gap."
"We'll never survive!"
"Nonsense!  You only say that because no one ever has!"**

But survive we did.  Now, my youngest is 5 and my oldest is 9.  I am alone almost as much as I am not.  I sleep at night.  My house is pretty clean.  And I haven't wiped a butt other than my own in a long time.

Present day.

Last month I went to my 20 year high school reunion.  I was excited to go.  Until a lady in line at Starbucks quipped, "I heard the only people who go back to their 20 year reunions are people who have nothing to show for it."

I almost pumpkin spice latted her face.  But it had me thinking.  What would I tell my schoolmates I'd been doing for the past 20 years?  My many, many years ago was, well, so many, many years ago.

Then I went to the reunion and pretty much everyone I spoke to was doing so well - successful, good-looking, happy.  It was impressive.  In a slight panic, I tried to skillfully direct conversations towards everyone else's brilliant careers and beautiful families.  Or to high school memories. Or hilarious re-tellings of Modern Family episodes.  Anything to keep from being asked the dreaded question, "So what do you do?"

Then, somewhere between talking to the woman who went from teacher to under cover agent to the guy whose career includes working with the Rockettes - that's right I said the legendary flippin' Rockettes - someone dropped the question directly to me.

I blinked rapidly.  Scattered images of my kids flew through my head.  Memories of chubby baby cheeks, slobbery kisses, shape sorting, duckles, bedtime books, snuggles after nightmares, trips to the Zoo, slides and swings, Alphabet soup, Play-Doh, and all the activities and moments which have consumed my time in The Gap.  Sweet, sweet memories.  But how do I condense what I "do" or have done over the past 10 years into one sentence?

Alas.  Sometimes I am not very good on my feet.  Instead of coming up with a simple answer which elegantly described my dedicated time as a stay-at-home mom, I panicked, and before I could clap my hand over my mouth I blurted out,

"Um, I kinda have a blog.  So...I like to write, sometimes, but not often, maybe once a year, and uh, also, I really want to do something big, something that will change the I guess I'm kinda trying to figure out what I want to do when I, um, you know, grow up, or older, or whatever."  My eyes slowly roll up to the ceiling as I speak and I desperately hope that when I look back down everyone will be gone.

Instead I find them all staring back at me.  So I say, "Did you see that Modern Family episode when Phil takes the family on a trip in an RV?"

A few weeks later I am at Le Peep having lunch with my parents.  Sitting across the table from me they listen to my incessant chattering about the kids, Sean, and the funny thing my dog did the other day.  They smile supportively, radiating absolute love for me.  They are the kind of parents who inspire Hallmark cards.

Eventually, I bring up the reunion and my growing feelings of inadequacy, declining self-worth, and my desperate need to contribute back to society in some way.  With elbows on the table, hands gripping my coffee cup, and the remains of my Le Peep scramble staring back at me, I realize I have had this conversation before.  More than once.  And almost exclusively with my parents. The big "what do I want to be when I grow up" conversation we had when I was 5, 10 and 20.  It was expected then.

I just never saw myself having this same conversation at 39 something.  But this time, the question is, "What do I want to be when the kids grow up?"

Recently, my friend told me of an application review process she had been a part of.  As a bunch of men sat around reviewing a particular applicant's resume one of them asked, "Huh.  What's with the gap here between these two jobs?  That's a pretty large gap in her resume."

Another guy nodded while studying her gap-ridden resume, "Yeah.  Hmm.  That is a big gap between jobs.  I wonder if she really even needs to work."

And that's just it.  Because the work experience of a stay-at-home mom is not a sought-after or welcomed addition to a resume, our career path tends to look crooked and unkempt.  The Gap becomes an ominous foreshadowing of commitment and ability.

Yet, now that I begin my long climb out of The Gap, I do have some clarity.  On paper, the large black hole left from my gap years, seems to be a red flag, warning prospective employers, "Don't hire this one!  She can't keep a job for long.  She's probably crazy!"  And while that last part may be true, The Gap on my resume does show something.

It shows that for 10 years, I dedicated my social, personal, work and exercise time to one job.  In those early years, I did not have lunch breaks or happy hours or NPR on the way to work.  I may not have known how social media would so drastically change the face of business, but I could find the mouse on every single page in Goodnight Moon.  I may not have managerial experience, but I can talk a kid down from a candy high while simultaneously assisting my 4th grader with a hot glue gun.  And I may not have much teamwork experience, but I can calmly walk a 3 year old through the unbuckling process of a 5-point harness and unlocking the door of the running car using nothing but hand gestures and small words.  

So as the kids continue along their inevitable paths of growing up and leaving me, I reach the top of The Gap and peek over.  I still don't know what my next move is, but I look forward to finding out.  I do know that I climb out of The Gap and back into the workforce armed not with another degree or critical resume-building work experience.  Instead, I move forward haltingly, but with the growing confidence that comes from hugs and kisses, snuggles, giggles, sweet encouragement, and lots and lots of little heart love.

**Kudos to you if you knew these lines are mostly from The Princess Bride.  If you did not, watch the movie. It's a classic.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Back to the past

I'm time traveling this weekend.  I've hopped in the Delorean, turned on the flux capacitor and set the year to 1993.  By Saturday night I will be in the throes of my 20 year high school reunion.  What did you say?  How can I possibly be old enough to say that my last day of high school was 20 years ago?  Thank you.  I completely agree with you.

But old enough I am.

And oddly enough I am choosing to go back to this time when I was 16,17,18 and 19.  When my crowning achievements were my mediocre softball career and a pretty okay grade in writing.  A time when I was inwardly funny and fun and strong, but outwardly quiet, awkward and full of self-doubt.

High school.  Four short years.  Teenage years.  No matter the substance of those years, it is still a part of who we become.  I look back to that time with a mixture of longing and regret.  Regret at the girl I almost could have been.  Longing to tell that girl to lighten up and enjoy her youth.  Hindsight makes us sound so wise.  It makes me wonder what my 80 year old self would like to say to me right now.

The girls sat on my bed while I tried to figure out what to wear to the "cocktail attire" evening.  I confidently put on a tried and true black dress I've had for years and wait for my daughters to shower me with compliments.  Ella tilted her head to one side thoughtfully and gave me a sad kind of look.  Keira looked at me shrewdly and said, "That's too long."

"Yeah Mommy," Ella adds helpfully, "you should wear something that makes you look younger."


Keira then runs to my closet and pulls out a sequined top, shorts and what can only be described as "hooker" heels. She worries me.

We finally all agree upon a dress and I finish packing.  As Ella walks out of the bathroom, she looks back at me and asks, "Why can't we go with you?"

"It's just for adults, babe."

She squints at me and with a flip of her hair says, "That is totes unfair."  And walks out of the room.

Sometimes I wish I could be 9 years old again.  It looks like a super carefree age.

But no matter how much I wish I could make my teenage self be different, stronger, confident, kinder, better....I can't change who I was then.  She is a part of me today.  And my teenage memory is what I keep close as my kids prepare to navigate their own teenage years.  Maybe they will do it better than I did.  Or maybe they will make their own mistakes.  Mistakes, missed opportunities, mediocrity they bring with them to their future selves.  Our past is important.  But it doesn't have to define who we become.  That part is up to us.

So this Saturday I will step back into the past.  And in the words of my 9 year old is going to be totes awesome.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Moving On

We are moving.  The last time this happened was 9 1/2 years ago.  I was 8 months pregnant with Ella and we moved cross-country with a dog, a cat, and one house plant.

I was a different person back then.  At that point my life was pretty much my own to command - or so I thought.  My twenties were filled with college, work, and a new husband.  Our income needed to be just enough to feed our pets, buy food and wine for two, and pay the mortgage.

Life was simple.  We worked.  We played.  We were happy.

And then a new little life entered our world and things were forever changed.

Let me rephrase...a pooping, vomiting, crying, cooing, laundry-making baby was yanked out of my body, thrown into my arms, and sent home with us while I fumbled around trying to make breast-feeding the most natural motherly act in the world.  Instead I spent the first few days shedding many, many tears as baby hormones rapidly fled from my body and my breasts, now the size and shape of a porn star, ached and seeped wet, watery milk onto everything.

Then we did it all over again, twice.

But, it all happened in this house.  Well, everything but the baby being yanked out of my body part.

This house, which we leave forever on Saturday, has seen us grow up.  And I don't mean the kids.  Sean and I have learned more in the last 9 1/2 years about ourselves and about each other than in the 30 years preceding.  As our little world expanded from two to five, so did our worries and fears.  Gone were the days of careless spending, happy hours after work and vacations on a whim.  What had arrived was a house full of noise and little hearts with complete trust in Mommy and Daddy.

This house has witnessed our ups, downs, successes, failures, hopes and dreams.  It has been filled with too many firsts to count...first giggles, first steps, first fights, first nights of sleep, first broken bones....

We watched home movies with our kids a few weeks ago.  Halfway through,  7 year-old Keira starts to sob.  "Why are you crying?" we all ask.  "Look at how young we were!"  She says.  "We are growing up so quickly!"

Tell me about it, girl.

We showed the kids pictures of our new house.  Ella asked, "Is this our house, Mommy?"  She has asked that question of every house we have looked at.  

I said, "I think so.  What do you think?"  Ella looked through the pictures of the house thoughtfully, then said, "Yes.  I think this really is our house.  We would be happy there, too."

Then Keira bursts out crying, again.  "What now, babe?"  We ask.  "How can you even think of moving away from this house?"  She pleads, tears streaming down her face...and then reminds us (as if we have forgotten),  "Your children grew up here.  We learned to walk here.  We were babies here."

She has guilt dialed in.  

But she's right.  We are leaving the house where it all started - the laundry room where I cried many tears over matchless socks and dirty underwear, bathrooms I failed to clean, a kitchen floor which bore well under the weight of mashed baby food, dog saliva, muddy feet, melting snow and spilled milk (the literal kind).  I am saying goodbye to the kitchen I painted a rusty orange while perched atop the counters in the 9th month of my second pregnancy.   A color I still love today.  A kitchen where we played the music loud and had family dance parties with toddlers and babies screaming in delight.  

We are leaving the stairs our kids would race down in delight each Christmas morning.  And the family room which played host to the hard-sought Colorado tree with more heart than branches.  We leave the driveway where each kid learned to ride a bike.  And our mountain yard where Ella, Keira and Sawyer built many forts and snowmen.

It's not like the kids are all grown up.  But we are moving in a different direction. This next house will witness a different family.  A family with children growing into tweens, then teens, then young adults.  Young adults with worries, fears, hopes and dreams of their own.      

And it will all happen so quickly.  

But in the end, it is just a house.  And while our hearts have lived here for years, we get to take them with us when we leave - and make our next house a home.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Well Put Together

I don't think of myself as a vain person.  Or, I should say, I don't want you to think I'm vain.  I would like for you to think I move effortlessly through life without a second thought to my hair, skin, clothes, or butt.  I don't want to invite you into the hour or so before I leave the house.  The time when I scrutinize a new line by my eyes, or give my stomach the stink eye as it tries to escape the confines of my mid-rise jeans, or play hide, seek and destroy with a stray gray hair.

I want you to think that at 38 (almost 39) I care not a bit for the number of years that make up my age.  I want you to think that I remember to be grateful every day for each of those years.  But sometimes I forget.  And I usually forget right before I leave to go somewhere - a meeting, lunch date, girl's night, a date.  I look in the mirror.  Or accidentally look at a supermodel.  Or look at my wedding picture - all chubby cheeked and bright-eyed.

And the realization that I am almost forty comes crashing down.

Sally: AND, I'm gonna be forty. 
Harry: When? 
Sally: Someday. 
Harry: In eight years. 
Sally: But it's there. It's just sitting there, like some big dead end. 

When Harry Met Sally was released, this particular scene made me laugh.  And the idea of Sally turning 40, ridiculous.  It seemed so old, so far, far away.

Now here I am.  A slowly returning to work stay-at-home mom, great husband, lovely kids, family dog.

And I'm gonna be forty.  


In 1 year and 98 days, to be exact.

And so, as the years transform my features into that of say, a hmm, a more mature woman, I have grown a wee bit vain.  I'm trying moisturizers that promise my skin a chance to reclaim the elasticity of its youth, make-up convinced it will hide age spots, wrinkles and sun damage, tweezers on a combat mission to seek and destroy a rogue chin hair, and bras that keep the girls north of the equator.

So when I leave the house, I have done everything in my power to battle the wisdom of the years that stubbornly insist on showing themselves on my face.  I leave the house content that I am moisturized to the point where my fine lines are perhaps blending in with the rest of my skin, and the age spots have been bleached enough to look like alluring beauty marks.  

Why am I telling you all this?  Because honesty is good for the soul and humble pie is good for fine lines.  

And also because on a cold night in December I was reminded that while I may feel as though I am a woman who cares not for appearances, I in fact, do.  

On this particular evening I had taken great care to dress for a dinner out with my sister and a couple of friends at a wine bar in Denver.  We took the Light Rail down and had a great evening, telling stories, sampling wine and laughing.  On our return trip, a couple of Light Rail employees jumped on, standing opposite from us.  

As the train approached our stop, Jen and I stood up preparing to leave.  As we did, one of the Light Rail guys steps forward and says, 

"Ladies, I hope this isn't inappropriate to say...."

My ears perk up.  Inappropriate, huh?  Well, I did work out that morning.  And Jen, well she looks beautiful all the time.  I'm married, of course, and it would be inappropriate if he found me sexy, or alluring or younger than I am, or something like that.  That would be so inappropriate.  But at the same time, all those beauty products are really expensive.  Maybe with this inappropriate comment I'll finally get my money's worth.    

Jen and I glance warily at each other then turn back to the guy who is about to say such an inappropriate comment that he had to preface it by indicating how inappropriate it is.  We wait expectantly.

"I just wanted to tell you ladies that you look well put together." 

Oh.  Wow.  Okay.  Well.  Put.  Together.  Like when you match your shoes to your purse kinda well put together?  Or when your couch pillows bring out a subtle color in the floor rug well put together?  Or when you make a sandwich with the most perfect ingredients well put together?

I am so vain.  

Jen and I smiled, said thanks, then quickly left the light rail before he could say any more inappropriate comments.  We walked to the car arm in arm, laughing, smile lines and all, enjoying every bite of our humble pie.   

And so, I'm gonna be 40.  Soon.  But damn it, I'm charging into my 40's as a well put together lady.