“Happy Bir– Oh, Hell, Whatever”

(photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/38626538@N00/401568720/)

I’m turning forty on Sunday. My dad would have been seventy-two that same day, had he not passed away four years ago. Suddenly, four years ago, I stopped enjoying a shared birthday and now face a lifetime of solo celebration. Since 2003, even as I greet a new year for myself, I have mostly been thinking, “Dad would have been 68, 69, 70, 71, 7- today.”

In ten years, I’ll turn fifty, thinking, “Dad would have turned 82 today.”

But as much as I miss him, I’m also okay with the fact that he died. His body was exhausted, and it was time. I’ll not take on the circle of life. Loss is going to happen.

And as much as I feel like I should have a freak-out about reaching such a seminal age, the “Big 4-0,” I’m pretty much okay with that too. Thank The Goddess of Wishes Fulfilled, but I don’t feel any internal panic about my life; I’m immensely content.

Certainly, if I’d never met Groom, had his kids, moved to a city I love, found a career that allows me flexiblity and autonomy, well then I’d be a gooey, blubbering heap on the sidewalk right now. If I’d ever felt babe-alicious, I’m sure I’d be feeling some loss of my powers right about now, too, yearning for those days when I could put on stilettos and my tightest jeans and head out to pull at the bar. However, once I hit eleven years old, I pretty much had the body of a mother of three, so now, if I would just give birth to one more kid, my figure would actually make sense. In short, I’ve never experienced the heady thrill of being “hot,” so continuing my lifelong simmer seems doable.

All of this said, I do have to admit that I’m feeling this ageing thing. I still run everyday, but now my hamstrings ache around the clock. I just don’t recover like I used to. As well, I sit here, typing at my keyboard, and when I look down, I see my mother’s hands at work. When did that happen? Even more, I just don’t crave Mad Dog 20/20, Jagermeister, and Thunderbird like I used to. It’s all “Where’s my Riesling?” nowadays.

I know I’m growing older because I’m sore, wrinkled, and finicky.

If there were one thing I could change, it’d be the wrinkles. They’re just so present, everywhere, creating runways down my neck for French Onion soup to course to my chest; providing crevices for dirt to take up residence; causing all my tighter t-shirts to bunch up most unattractively. Wrinkles make me a mess.

But then.

But. Then. If I start to stare at them, at the cross-linked mountain of lines on each knuckle of my hand, I find myself fascinated. There’s a certain beauty to this emerging topography. I realize, as I continue to stare, that I would love looking at someone else who had my skin. I may dislike my own crow’s feet, as they signal a kind of breakdown or diminishment, but if I love them on others and note their

(photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/papernapkin/332067639/)



(photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sylvialiu/247422633/)



(photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/gentletrouble/189118393/)



(photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sengster/45837327/)



(photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/12241598@N00/33152877/)

ACK! creepiness

…well, you get the point. If I can love these crinkles on others–in fact, I don’t trust people over a certain age who are wrinkle-free (yes, I’m talking to you, Susan Lucci)–then maybe I can learn to love them on myself.

Hahahahahaha. Right.

But maybe I can take a carefully-lit black-and-white photo of myself and learn to look at it objectively, as though I am not me but rather some complex, enigmatic slice of beauty that can be hung on the wall. In a wonderful moment of irony, I’ve realized perhaps the key to self-love is to objectify myself.

Most of all, what I know, as my brain creaks forward–lubricated by Omega-3 gel caps everyday–covered by my crow’s feet (FedEX me anything with the word “Retinoid” on the label, woncha?) is this:

I’d give away all the pills, ungents, and facial peels in the world just to watch my dad’s mottled, veiny, wrinkled hand stroking the hair of one of my children. Funny how I never questioned his beauty.

(photo: mine)





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43 responses to “”

  1. Voyager Avatar

    Beautiful, Jocelyn. Happy Birthday.
    I have 9 years on you, and my crows feet are so deep they wear gumboots. That makes no sense does it. In your 40’s the brain starts to go.

  2. Hammer Avatar

    Happy birthday. I’ll be reaching the big 4-0 soon enough myself.

    Luckily we don’t wrinkle in my family. It’s the only good genetics
    I inherited.

    I do know what you mean about not recovering as fast.

    Glad your life is going good for you and hope you have a nice celebration,

  3. Claire Avatar

    Just celebrated the big 4-9 and I’m not at all happy about it. wah! wah! I hate getting old, but what can you do? I put sunscreen on everyday, eat the fish oil and calcium. I’m moving on. I wish I knew then what I know now, but life is about lessons learned, right?

  4. Balou Avatar

    What a great tribute to wrinkles. I will look at mine differently from now on. I know exactly how you feel about the hands aging overnight. I remember looking down one day and saying “when did that happen?”

    I’m liking my forties so far. They’ve been full of new discoveries. Have a wonderful birthday!

  5. Undercover Angel Avatar
    Undercover Angel

    Happy Birthday! I turn 38 this year, and while I don’t have crows feet as of yet, I do have a couple of really deep wrinkles on my forehead (I prefer to call them expression lines)…

  6. Dorky Dad Avatar
    Dorky Dad

    Yeah, I remember the day when 40 was old. Now 40 is young. But I won’t say it’s the “new 30.” No, it’s 40. It has always been 40 and will always be 40.

    So has anyone changed “lordy, lordy, Jocelyn is 40!” yet?

  7. Glamourpuss Avatar

    Beautiful post – very moving – and two exceptional pearls of wisdom:

    1. “Thank The Goddess of Wishes Fulfilled, but I don’t feel any internal panic about my life; I’m immensely content.”

    How wonderful to find someone actually satisfied with their lot – grateful for what’s good, and not afraid to say it.

    2. “In a wonderful moment of irony, I’ve realized perhaps the key to self-love is to objectify myself.”

    Absolutely – I remember seeing the pictures of myself on stage and being flabbergasted by how beautiful my figure was – I honestly had no idea what other people saw until that moment.


  8. Fresh Hell Avatar
    Fresh Hell

    Happy Birthday Senorita!

    You make me smile on the inside. Mostly on the inside because I’m too bitter in the middle of my own mid-life crisis on the outside. Plus, showing external emotions promotes wrinkles on the face, so forget it! I’m taking the Susan Lucci approach… wait… you mean that’s not natural… Fuckit! I just smiled on the outside.

  9. lime Avatar

    you’ve summed up perfectly my own feelings…only i am more bothered by the expansion of girth and attendant sagging of skin. somehow the wrinkles and grey hair don’t bother me as much. i think you are quite lovely. your zest for life shows in the pictures you’ve shared. it oozes out of every pore.

    i do wish you a very happy birthday and many more. i am sure your dad is proud of his beautiful and bright girl.

  10. Jazz Avatar

    CRAP! Blogger ate my comment! And of course it was a long one.

    So let me just say: Happy Birthday Jocelyn and welcome to the club. I’m loving my 40s.

  11. furiousBall Avatar

    I remember being at a friend of the family’s 40th birthday party when I was in high school. The birthday boy gave this teary speech that has always stuck with me. He had survived a near divorce, major health problems, loss of a job, both of his parents died in a car crash. And here he was giving a speech about how proud he was of his wrinkles and grays. He said, wake up and expect nothing tomorrow, witness all you really have, because it can leave faster than you think it can. It was an amazing speech from a great guy that had some bad stuff happen and it almost rang of a funeral type speech that makes you want to go home and hug your Mom, tell your spouse you love them, and read an extra story at night for your kid.

  12. Infinitesimal Avatar

    Happy upcoming birthday
    mine is on the way too (35)
    you don’t look 40 at all in the photo you have posted!

    here is a good secret:


    it works.

    also, a little perspective for ya:
    you won’t REALLY feel old until your children hit 40!

    am I right?

    Oh and PS:
    that mederma skincare for scars? yeah, it takes away wrinkles….
    i know cause i still get acne
    ACNE!! and it leaves scars and so i put it on (read slathers) and then? I have a face like a baby’s ass.

  13. oreneta Avatar

    I hope to be good and wrinkled someday…a sure sign of a life well lived.

    Oh, and I just tagged you, think of it as a birthday gift…?

    Happy Birthday.
    I’ll be hitting 40 in May, so it was a great read.

  14. Dave Avatar

    Age… I know what you mean but I just figure that if I act young I look young! Ain’t working! I think you are going to be okay! I also believe that beauty comes with age unless you look at beauty they way the TV world looks at it… I do not. Susan Lucci huh? Well, though she may be beautiful, I am sure she has had her share of massive makeup and photo airbrushing over the years! 40 years ain’t old! 🙂 Have a great Birthday!

  15. Diesel Avatar

    Happy Birthday! I’m inching closer to 40 myself. Of course, men get “dignified.” In fact, you can see a very dignified picture of me in my caption contest today!

  16. frannie Avatar

    just beautiful— I am teary eyed and speechless.

  17. Mother of Invention Avatar
    Mother of Invention

    I’m with you..the wrinkles give us more character and are a kind of diary account of our lives. They are who we are, so we should embrace them…celebrate them even!
    Age is relative..40 seems young to me….I’m 53 and I used to think 30 was old.

  18. Mother of Invention Avatar
    Mother of Invention

    Happy B-day! Life begins at 40!

  19. steve Avatar

    I’ve got nothing to say but Happy Birthday, but I think it’s enough. Happy Birthday. In person, I could say it in my Tigger voice.

  20. Patience Avatar

    Some time back a very dear friend died on my birthday. Suddenly, unexpectedly, she was gone, felled by a massive coronary. I did not celebrate a birthday that year.

    The following year, the day before my birthday, as I was feeling particularly pained thinking of my friend, another very dear friend had a baby girl, three weeks early. That year I did indeed celebrate my birthday with a beautiful child who was celebrating her very first birthday!

    This little girl & I continue to celebrate our birthdays, but I will always remember my friend, who left this world on that same day a year before.

  21. Logophile Avatar

    Happy Birthday!
    I don’t mind the crow’s feet so much either.
    36 feels ok so far and I have lots of good company in the 40s.

  22. yerdoingitwrong Avatar

    I hope that you have the happiest of birthdays tomorrow! Reading about your dad made me smile. Enjoy your day and I hope the happy memories you shared with him only add to it!!!

    And wrinkles schprinkles. You look fabulous!!

  23. Lone Grey Squirrel Avatar
    Lone Grey Squirrel

    Happy Birthday. I’m just ahead of you…..well by a few years. I think you’re having too much fun to notice the years go by. Yet it’s also good to be reminded of our own mortality to keep the right course.

  24. Dayngr Avatar

    Beautiful, thought provoking post. Thank you! Happy Birthday.

  25. That Chick Over There Avatar
    That Chick Over There

    Happy Birthday! Beautiful post!

  26. Diana Avatar


    OK. You got me with that last paragraph and I’ll have to wish you a very hippo birdie through the sniffs and tears.

    I’m now ankle-deep in the 40s (on the back 1/2 of 41) and must say that I’m liking them just fine. I’m good with my wrinkles. I’m accepting the sagging. Sometimes my runs contain walks. My ‘mother’s hands’ have come with my mother’s thumb arthritis, but at least they still mostly work.

    I’m still neurotic but only have the neuroses of 10 women and not 20, so I’ve lost some baggage there. And I find even more stuff funny than I did 10 years ago. I’ll toast your reisling with a nice pinot noir, tonight.

    A very happy birthday, indeed.

  27. WanderingGirl Avatar

    Happy birthday! You look waaaay younger than those crinkly people… except for the baby.

  28. paintergirl Avatar

    Happy Birthday dear! I’ll be joining you in that special club in about a week. Your post is so sweet and sad. Hope you are having a lovely day!

  29. choochoo Avatar

    Fourty, eh? You know, that calls for a really, really big cake. I know, I’m obsessed with cake. But I can live with that.


  30. ldbug Avatar

    Happy birthday! After reading this post, I’m suddenly looking forward to turning 40…and I’ve got a little ways to go. Hopefully I’ll be as happy with life as you!

    So sorry about your dad. My dad has had many heart surgeries, and I sometimes wonder how long we’ll get to have him around. I hope for a very long time. I know I have to cherish every moment now, though.

  31. Princess Pointful Avatar
    Princess Pointful

    Happy belated birthday. This was a lovely post for me to be introduced to your blog by… the last few lines were touching!

  32. actonbell Avatar

    Such a beautiful post! Happy belated birthday:)
    I’m in my early forties, and I identify with the longer-to-recover part about running. And sometimes I see myself, unexpectantly, in some shop mirror, and I can’t believe that’s me! Look at those lines around my mouth–and those forehead wrinkles–when did that happen? I looked young for a long time, but that couldn’t last forever, and I knew it.

    Anyway, before I get too silly, I must add that I’m happier at 43 than I was at 23.

    And that was a lovely remembrance of your father.

  33. susan Avatar

    I have to say the Big 3-0 was to be dreaded. The 4-0 was something to embrace. This is where you come into your own and can be comfortable in your own skin…no matter how baggy it has become.

    I hope you had a great day, and drank a toast to your dad. It sounds as though he was a great guy.

  34. lushgurl Avatar

    Happy Birthday Jocelyn! Have I told you that I love you? With the wisdom of a fifty year old, the looks of a thirty year old…oh yeah, the sense of humour is ageless !!!
    Today I am going to objectify myself… Oh Yeah, I’m HOTT (ROFLAO). I will be forty-six this year, my daghter calls me “oldie”, I think someone forgot to tell her about the “goodie” part!
    My “baby” will be sixteen this year (sweet sixteen and never been kissed? do I REALLY want to know??). My dear, sweet mother will be 71! and the most touching thing she said to me recently, while watching me with MY daughter, was “I can hardly believe you are the mom of a teenager!”
    So enjoy a glass of that Reisling for me (you know I don’t drink) and have THE BEST BIRTHDAY EVER!!!

  35. CSL Avatar

    Ah, 40 – forces you to confront yourself, doesn’t it? But I’m 4 years past that and I can honestly say I’m more comfortable in my own skin than I ever have been, imperfections and all. Happy Birthday!!

  36. urban-urchin Avatar

    Happy (belated) Birthday Jocelyn.

    How wonderful it is that you are content. That is truly marvelous.

  37. Spider Girl Avatar
    Spider Girl

    I think old people can be very beautiful to look at.

    I once took a photo of a very proud-looking old woman in a bazaar in Morocco–a picture I love because she is so wrinkled yet regal.

    Hmmm….I ALMOST shared a birthday with my grandmother. My gran (now deceased) asked my mom to hold off my birth for ONE more day (I was induced so my mom chose my birthday), but my momma said NO WAY. I was almost a month late as it was!

    Happy Birthday!

  38. velvet girl Avatar
    velvet girl

    Happy Birthday, Woman!!!

    I’m glad that it was pretty painless. I figured that you would come through it with the right perspective and you didn’t disappoint. 🙂

  39. sweatpantsmom Avatar

    Happy Belated Birthday!

    I was born on my dad’s birthday, too. He passed away almost seventeen years ago.

  40. Em Avatar

    You’ve been tagged with an award.

  41. Pendullum Avatar

    Happy Belated Birthday to you…
    I turned 40this year but am so grateful to do so…
    I have lost so many of my friends to cancer before the age of 40 and their children have lost their mothers…
    I have wrinkles and crows feet and I have earned eachone…from laughter and from tears, from playing in the sun to toboganning in the winter…
    I have earned each and every one…
    I could notagree more with your pictorial…
    Seize the day!
    Happy Happy Birthday to you!

  42. Lee Avatar

    Gorgeous post Jocelyn…and happy b-day. I think I will forgo the “aging gracefuly” and skip right over to “kicking and screaming.”

  43. Top cat Avatar
    Top cat

    Funny and touching post.
    Happy 40 jocelyn.:)

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