Driving 55

Today is my 55th birthday. The Sammy Hagar tune “I Can’t Drive 55” keeps running through my head. It occurs to me that someday my kids will take my car keys away from me. After all, I am creeping closer to that golden age. I just hope to God that when they do, it’s the result of a high speed chase across multiple counties and not because of some embarrassing fender bender in a Costco parking lot.

But back to the birthday, it’s a weird one for me. I suppose it’s a milestone. I can’t even believe I’m here. Some would say it “beats the alternative.” I always counter that with “we don’t know that for sure.” At any rate, to celebrate the occasion, I’d like to offer up 55 truths, opinions and observations culled from the trip so far:

  1. Kindness works really well. It’s a great place to start and to finish.
  2. Everything does not happen for a reason. Let’s get square on that one right off the bat. It’s a platitude people grab as a buffer to ambiguity. There’s not a reason for children getting blown up in landmines. Life is just cruel sometimes. Enough said.
  3. We can all learn a lot from dogs. They’re loyal, friendly and enthusiastic.
  4. Happiness is not always a bold banner unfurling in the sunshine. Sometimes it’s a tiny trinket, a brief glance or a nanosecond of absolute clarity.
  5. While I suppose it would be great to have a big explanation for all of this, I’m not sure if I believe in God. I can tell you this much though; I worship regularly at the altar of the Almighty Get Down. I’m never freer than when I dance. It’s as close to God as it gets for me.
  6. I’ve never traveled abroad. This pains me. I sometimes wonder how world travel might have influenced my decisions and by extension, my life.
  7. I believe that inside each of us, sometimes buried deeply, is a tiny silver Buddha with thumbs up, cheering us on, no matter what.
  8. We’re living in surreal and grave times. Trump is the darkest of blights on American history. I don’t know how we find our way back from this.
  9. Black lives fucking matter.
  10. I am blessed to live in a wonderful apartment. As I write this, I’m gazing out the window, watching the ferries move across Elliott Bay, with the Olympic Mountains as a backdrop. After living for over 16 years in the house I owned with my ex-husband, I didn’t think it was possible to find home again. I was wrong.
  11. I rarely brush my hair.
  12. Before I die, I want to live with a pack of bulldogs. The mere thought of all that grunting and snuffling makes me deliriously happy.
  13. If I could do it all over again, I’d be a dancer/choreographer or a sports journalist.
  14. I had the coolest dad on the planet. He was smart, funny, compassionate and weird–everything I want to be. Everybody loved him.
  15. My favorite quote is from the novel “You Shall Know Our Velocity” by Dave Eggers: “Love is implicit in every connection. It should be. Thus when absent it makes us insane. It breaks our equilibrium and we have to flounder for reasons. When we pass by another person without telling them we love them it’s cruel and wrong and we all know this. We live in a constant state of denial and imbalance.”
  16. Depression never goes away completely. There’s not a cure. You just learn to manage it. But being afflicted is not a deal breaker for a good life. It’s just a different path to grace.
  17. Perfection is jumping into Lake Washington on a hot summer day.
  18. I have an inexplicable love of football. It’s exciting, complex and fascinating. I could watch games, listen to analyses and talk football all day long.
  19. Thanks to my mother, my grandmother and various cultural influences, I’ll never have an accurate perception of my body. This is a drag, but it’s helpful to remember the distorted lens I’m looking through.
  20. Dogs are the best equalizers. No matter what kind of mood I’m in, when I encounter a dog, I am instantaneously happy. Those are good doggies what go for a walkie in the park!
  21. It’s okay to be alone. In fact, it can be advantageous. It’s a great position for observation. And in the event of martial law or the zombie apocalypse, you can move unencumbered, quickly and stealthily while you make your escape.
  22. One in five families in Washington State use a food bank as their primary source for groceries. One in fucking five.
  23. Parenting is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
  24. I’m grateful for my 30 years of sobriety. Still, I regret all the time I wasted feeding my addiction. While I was getting drunk and taking drugs, I could have been doing so many other things, basically discovering life and getting to know myself.
  25. Mitch McConnell is a pus-filled ass blister.
  26. New Mexico is magical. There’s no place quite like it.
  27. Sometimes life steals from you. Things happen that you never get over. You just learn to live with whatever it is. I think about Zeppo every day. Still. Losing him changed me irrevocably.
  28. Buddhism suits me. It’s the only spiritual tradition that makes sense out of suffering.
  29. One of my guilty pleasures is taking pictures of buildings. I love the juxtaposition of lines, angles and sky.
  30. I swing wildly between blissful delusion and bleak realism.
  31. My happiest experiences were the births of Emmett and Enzo and the Seahawks winning the Super Bowl.
  32. Yoga is moving meditation. It eases the wear and tear.
  33. Fuck heroin. It trashes beautiful people, wastes lives and creates heartache and grief all around.
  34. That thing about how you don’t know what burden someone else might be carrying? It’s true.
  35. I believe in science.
  36. Favorite snack foods: popcorn, peanut M & M’s and ice cream.
  37. One word to describe me: resilient.
  38. There are some people with whom it is impossible to establish a normal relationship. No amount of cognitive therapy, self-help books or wishful thinking will change that.
  39. Boxing is extremely difficult. There are so many things to keep track of at once–your feet, your hands, what you’re throwing and how, what’s coming at you and how you’re going to get away from it, what you’re going to come back with, etc. It takes finesse, strength, speed and focus. After training for just over a year, I’ve got mad respect for the greats.
  40. In my opinion, sanctimony never advances a position.
  41. Sometimes when someone is aloof, it’s easy to assume that he or she is an asshole. But that’s frequently not the case at all. A lot of the time, people are simply shy.
  42. Gretchen Rubin says “the days are long but the years are short.” I’ve found this to be true, especially the past ten years or so. Life seems to be accelerating. I’m not exactly old just yet. However, I’d say I’m closer to the finish line than the starting gate at this point.
  43. I’ve made many, many, many mistakes over the years. I’ve forgiven myself for about half of them.
  44. With one notable exception, drummers have always come through for me.  
  45. Narcissists will cut you. Steer clear.
  46. Overthinking is a bad habit and a heavy burden.
  47. I am blessed to have several strong women in my life. They hold and sustain me.
  48. As my friend’s mother once said, “Divorce is just a different set of problems.”
  49. If you live in Seattle and have not yet tried the cactus salsa at El Quetzal, there’s something wrong with you.
  50. If death is nothing but music, I’m good with that.
  51. I am fascinated by people who make major changes late in life. I’m thinking of 93 year-olds who graduate law school or become rodeo clowns. I sometimes wonder if such things might be possible for me. If so, see number 13 on this list.
  52. Traffic stuff I loathe: people who make left turns over double-yellow lines, people who drive 10 miles an hour on an on-ramp, tailgaters and drivers with tinted windows. Appropriate karmic comeuppance would involve an infinite and slow-moving line at the DMV.
  53. I think a lot of us are way too hard on ourselves. We need to lighten up.
  54. One way or another, we’ll get through this. The human ability to endure is profound.
  55. Love is why we’re here. It can’t solve every problem. But it can help us go the distance.

So this is what I’ve got for now people. I’m sure I’ve forgotten a few things, maybe many. If I make it to 65, I’ll add to the list then. For now, I guess I’ve got a birthday to celebrate. Rock on.