Lisa Kogan's 40-Something Manifesto
I didn't need a baby aspirin every night or a Lipitor every morning. And I swear to God (that's another thing, God was still around when I was in my 20s), the closest anybody seemed to come to a genuine eating disorder was picking at a mixed green salad on a blind date until it was okay to go home and scarf down the contents of your refrigerator.
But before I start turning into my great-uncle Saul, who never fails to tell me how he could've bought the entire Upper East Side of Manhattan for $225 back in 1936 ("when an ear of corn still tasted like an ear of corn"), let me say this: As much as I miss those days, I'm delighted and relieved to be done with being young.
One quick glance in the mirror is all I need to know that time is most definitely a thief. Wait, strike that: One glance and I usually think I'm holding up pretty well—it's upon closer inspection, that moment when I take a deep breath, put on my glasses, and turn up the dimmer switch, that I'm reminded gravity is not my friend. But if time has robbed me of a little elasticity and a lot of naïveté, it's left a few things in their place.
Thanks to nearly 48 years at the big dance, a million mistakes, and one extraordinary psychiatrist, I've finally achieved the occasional touch of clarity. I'm getting to be resourceful. I'm getting to be resilient, and I hope that on my better days, I'm getting to be a little more calm, a little more contemplative, a little more compassionate.
Sometimes I think being middle-aged isn't about learning a lot of new lessons so much as learning the same old ones again and again. Here are a few of the lessons I keep learning:
- It is never a good thing when a shrinking portion of the population controls a growing portion of the money. It tends to make incredibly decent, hardworking, middle-class people sort of jumpy, and the next thing you know Kirsten Dunst is playing Marie Antoinette in a Sofia Coppola extravaganza.
- Anyone who looks okay in ochre will look even better not in ochre.
- War and famine bad, James Franco and spaghetti carbonara good.
- What doesn't kill me does not make me stronger. It makes me anxious, bitchy, and vulnerable...but nobody wants to see that embroidered on a pillow.
- This isn't exactly an old lesson I keep learning, but given that I'm lucky enough to have my own column, I'd like to use it to set right an unfortunate mistake. Remember a few years ago when we all got together and decided that sleep was the new sex? I've come to believe that we were dead wrong. What do you say we make actual ouch-you're-on-my-hair, did-you-hear-the-baby, jeez-that-was-my-eye, messy, intimate, life-affirming, really, really fun sex the new sex?! Because here's the thing: Between the economy, the environment, and the powder keg that is Pakistan, nobody's getting any sleep anyway—so as long as we're all lying there wide awake...
- Dorothy Parker was a genius. She wrote a gem of a poem called "Indian Summer." It's very short, but I'm low on space, so I'll just cut to the end:
But now I know the things I know,
And do the things I do;
And if you do not like me so,
To hell, my love, with you!
Bravo, Ms. Parker. And, finally, deep into my 40s, I couldn't agree with you more.
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