Happy Birthday

In a few days I am going to turn 48. Good god. I was just 12, like, two seconds ago. It is also my blog’s second birthday. Heavens. It was just two posts old a few seconds ago.

I would like to tell you today how to enjoy your birthday. It really comes down to one thing: you must realize that being your new, older, age is much, much better than being any age you’ve been before, mostly because it is different and new and thus has to be better. It is helpful if you subscribe, as I do, to the school of thought that older = better. I’d recommend that everyone mail in their subscription forms to that school, because it is way, way better than the school of older = disaster and much cheaper, because you don’t have to pay for the botox supplement, older being, you know, better.

You have a choice in this matter of how you look at your maturation. I say, go ahead and let yourself enjoy all the things you know now that you didn’t before, things you wouldn’t ever have discovered if you hadn’t grown older.Β  If you are younger than I am (and my sense is that 95% of the people who read my blog are), I will give you a list of those things so you know what you have to look forward to:

  • I no longer feel like I have to change anybody’s mind about anything. I have discovered that minds don’t change when you try to change them. They change only, and rarely, through example. So you can shut up about smoking/voting/watching too much tv/eating crap food/and the fact that somebody never spells your name right. And now you will have time to read more books and maybe volunteer at a soup kitchen.
  • I don’t write about my relationships with people anymore. My sad, sad journals — journals I kept religiously for years and years — are full of moaning about relationships with people I don’t even remember anymore. Today, I realized to my dismay when I was thinking about writing a coming of age novel that they are NOT full of things like (1) my first winter in New England (or my first fall, for that matter), (2) what is was like being a poor-ish kid from the Pacific Northwest at Yale — including, what clothes I wore and what clothes they wore, how they talked, how I talked, what on earth I was learning — all things, I’d like to add, that might come in handy were I to ever write a novel about this interesting time and place in my life except I can’t, because I can’t remember any of it, because I was spending so much writing time moaning about a guy who, as it turned out, didn’t even like me. What I know now? Write down how things smell, what people say, how they look, what their noses do when they get the wrong coffee at Peet’s, what the interior of their car is like. If you are keeping a journal that moans about relationships STOP NOW. Put that stuff in a story, one that describes how water beads on the window of the car driven by your mean boyfriend and then trickles down the pane of glass as he tells you why you are stupid and wrong.Β  And then think of some even better details about that car ride in which you move beyond this horrible moment.Β 
  • I have stopped sewing Halloween costumes and cutting lunchbox food for my children in geometric shapes. You who are just beginning this journey: don’t even start down that road. Your children, honestly, will not really care. They’d rather have small packs of doritos.
  • Keep all your pictures on snapfish. Don’t clutter up your hard drive.
  • Buy new underwear every year. And when you do? Throw all the old underwear away. If you keep it around, it will make you sad, on a day when you need to be cheerful.
  • And, for heaven’s sakes, tell people how much you like them, and appreciate them. Tell them more than once, in fact. And be sure to include strangers, particularly people who work in restaurants and at the post office.

And that brings me to you, dear readers. I am so grateful to all of you for being such good readers — both those who leave comments, and those who read and send me mental comments (I know who you are!). You have made this a very fun couple of years.

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34 thoughts on “Happy Birthday

  1. Happy (Almost) Birthday! With each passing year, I find I have a little less figured out than I thought. Fortunately I’m worried a little less about that fact than I once was, so it works out regardless.

  2. Happy Birthday. I just celebrated mine. I’m younger than you, yes. But not far behind. And you’re so right about old underwear. I get peevish when I look at my old knickers.

  3. In a few days I will be 52, and it truly cannot have been more than five minutes ago that I was young and foolish enough to (1) keep diaries full of moanings about people and (2) cut my child’s lunch sandwiches into very cute shapes.

    Thank you so much for the delightful advice – it’s a very timely gift, particularly in regard to the photo storage, undie disposal, and most especially, appreciation of people. I must take action on all fronts.

    Have a wonderful birthday yourself πŸ™‚

  4. Inverted-belated birthday wishes going out to you. I do not comment very often here, but you are right, I do send a lot of positive mental thoughts your way. I do very much enjoy reading your blog. I like you too.

  5. Charlotte, Don’t forget the cute nightie…

    Lilalia, I knew it! Thank you for the positive mental thoughts.

    My dear RR, Happy birthday to you too.

    Mari, Best birthday wishes to you. (by the way, lots of people compliment me on my beautiful mari-tote)

    dear s-pine– I’m glad to hear it. If I thought some about it, I’m sure there would be more such suggestions, and quite possibly way better ones, but this was off the top of my head. And I do believe in that underwear thing!

    Thanks Dorothy. You know, it’s true, there is something liberating about not trying to do something that can’t actually be done.

    Sylvia, You’re most welcome!

    Dear Scott, Ah, the economy of aging. You have arrived, dude.

  6. At least I won’t be too late: happy birthday! And good tips. Let me add a line to the underwear tip: buy all your socks the same. It will save lots of sorting time and when one has a hole you don’t need to throw away a pair.

  7. Happy, happy Birthday, Bloglily! I loved your advice and am going to print up poster size and stick around the house the sentence about not being able to change anybody’s mind – about anything, and particularly about me. I’ve always hated that, but it’s time to let it go. Oh and have I told you lately how much I like you?

  8. As a reader who is actually ten years older than you, I’m seconding everything you said, especially about telling people, like you, how much I like and appreciate you. Happy Birthday.

  9. Happy Birthday. Will be sure to take your underwear tips!

    And, yup, love the thing about not needing to change folk’s minds. I still love a good argument, but I gave up trying to convert folk (to any number of things!) years back!

  10. I hope you enjoyed your Birthday.Mine is on the 12th,and I can’t believe it but it seems I will be 65.
    I’ll definately be taking your advice,and I hope following that which I have given myself over the years.

  11. ‘api bursdeh blogleelee
    My wife does buy new underwear every year. For me, it is socks. And for the both of us, it is a new set of linen, at each anniversary. But we don’t throw away the old ones.

  12. Happy birthday! My favorite is the relationships journal. Boy, have I been there! I’m in the same boat with you as to my teen and young adult journals being filled with the minutia about people I have no clue (or care) about now. And not enough about my world and surroundings.

    (I’m having to look up BOOKS now to find out what it was like to grow up in 1970’w-80’s L.A. Which I DID! But I have no memory of it!)

  13. Many happy returns, Bloglily! I celebrated my 46th at the end of January and it is definitely the best age to be at the moment. I agree totally with the not converting people thing; I am trying to develop the art of nodding sagely. Next step = actively planning an eccentric old age.

  14. Happy Birthday, Lily!

    But I dunno about the knickers bit–I find it ever so comforting to have old underwear hanging around, just in case I haven’t had a chance to go to the laundromat in a month–you can never have too many knickers, whatever their condition.

    Though my husband totally agrees with you. But he’s 53…

  15. Well, I’m late in wishing you a happy 48th.

    Your advice is to turn the drama of our own lives into fiction instead? Cool.

    I agree with you on the underwear. One should always give the wardrobe an overhaul every year. It welcomes in good energy. That’s why I have more sports bars than I have breasts.

  16. What an awesome, AWESOME list. I will keep it in mind when my birthday rolls around this year. Look at you, spreading the positivity! Thank you for sharing.

    And most of all: Happy Birthday!!!!!!

  17. Happy birthday.
    The Doritos bit made me laugh. That’s what every kid wants isn’t it?
    And photos on Snapfish is wonderful advice, I did it last year, and a monumental pain in the backside it was to upload 2 years’ worth of photos, but I’m so glad I did!

  18. Happy, happy birthday, dear bloglily! What good advice you give…the underwear, the little sandwiches, the Halloween costumes…all of it! Bless you for writing this wonderful blog that keeps all of us so aware of the beauty of life and the necessity of not changing other people’s minds. I am older than you, and I vow THIS YEAR that I will absolutely stop trying to get my point across. May this year bring you much happiness!

  19. Dear All, Thank you for the many kind birthday wishes. This morning, I was informed that, in fact, I am not 48, but 40 and a half, because I can subtract 7.5 years from my chronological age simply because I am a happy person. (Let’s not examine too closely that particular assumption. I’m happy enough.) The child who told me this was justly proud of his gift, partly because he plans to use it when his brother turns 9, and is having a happy day, at least until he breaks the news to him that he’s not actually 9, but one and a half and NOT EVEN POTTY TRAINED.

  20. Happy Birthday Bloglily, to you and your blog both! And thank you for your wise and witty advice. I’m very much with you on the relationship journals. Though I have to say that, as painfully embarrassing as it was to return to my adolescent journals, I did find them a useful source when writing stories from a teenage perspective. They were a good reminder of how overwhelmingly important some things were then that no longer seem so now.

  21. Happy Birthday Lily! I am so glad YOU were born, and that your blog was born. It brings great pleasure. Have you broken the sugar cereal barrier yet, to go with the Doritos? I have Frosted Mini Wheats, Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Honey Combs in my cupboard, alongside the granola and fresh twigs. Now that is liberation, and not trying to change other people’s minds! or is it low standards? 48 seems like a fine age to be, right now! Happy Birthday and lots of love.

  22. I’m totally late in saying this–but Happy Birthday Bloglily! If it helps–I’ve had this post marked in bloglines, so every time I log in I see this post and think of you and think I really must go wish her happy birthday! πŸ™‚ Hope you had a wonderful day and have a wonderful year!

  23. Danielle, that is just so sweet. Thank you! It was a wonderful day and I have high hopes for the year.

    Oh Lucy, thank you. xoxox, lily

    Dear Kate, I will not burn them quite so quickly. Maybe there’s something to be salvaged.

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