The Blogger’s Guide To Breakups

Recall the Marvelous Moods of Meg? Sometimes they are chemical. Sometimes they are triggered by breaking up with a nice guy who loves you but does not inspire in you the passion you would really, really like to experience again in your lifetime (although it seems increasingly less likely as you approach your 40th birthday).

Say you wake up with a terrific backache on the day you intend to execute this break-up and your beau, fresh from the chiropractor himself, lovingly applies the tens unit he just purchased to your lower back, because that’s just what kind of guy he is.

Say you still do the deed, because you’re feeling increasingly guilty about playing along with the girlfriend routine when you can’t possibly imagine a future with this guy.

Say he takes it like a gentleman, but reminds you before he leaves that although you may find someone you love more than him, you could never find anyone who loves you back as much as he does.

Say you believe him, but you take the gamble anyway.

Most likely, you are left with a backache and one hell of a bleak mood. Here is what I recommend.

  1. Cry for a while.
  2. Take a lot of Advil.
  3. Numbly browse the For Sale ads on Craigslist.
  4. Try to imagine what you would have done with this day had it not been hijacked by your stupid love life.
  5. Oh yeah, painting.
  6. Return to Craigslist and find cheap canvasses, an easel and a long-handled brush set, just the kind you’ve been wanting, posted by a seller who lives a mere 10 minutes from your apartment. (This step could be tricky, but you’re due for some decent Karma by now, aren’t you?)
  7. Meet the artist-girl seller in the Santa Ana Artist Village for the deal. Wait for her in the warm afternoon and be inspired by the ornate façade of the Santora Building. Reflect on the fact that this same face has overlooked this sunny plaza since 1926.
  8. Be inspired by the artist-girl herself, with her Amelie haircut and bright-orange vintage bicycle. Ponder the possibility that your life might actually be some kind of movie and not real, kind of like The Truman Show.
  9. Be inspired by the fact that your art needs have all been met within a half hour for less than $60 via Craigslist. (Now you can forgive Craigslist for introducing you to your [ex] boyfriend.)
  10. Stop on the way home for tequila. Painting alone might not be quite enough to handle this mood.
  11. Mix a margarita and set up the easel on your tiny, neglected patio.
  12. Choose yellow, red and white paint: guaranteed to make a happy outcome.
  13. Don’t think. Just paint.
  14. Be inspired by the orange and pink swirls.
  15. Be soothed by the dog sleeping in the sunshine.
  16. Mix another margarita.
  17. Blog.

Staring down 40

I’m an intelligent, liberated woman, so why should that number faze me so?

It does.  I’m turning 40 in just a few months, and I vacillate between avoiding and obsessing about that birthday. Turns out, those two behaviors are almost the same thing. I’m wasting mindspace on it either way, so I figure I better address it.

What is it that scares me about turning 40?

Well, there’s the admittedly shallow yet very real terror that once I turn 40, I will no longer be hot, and no one will ever want me again. I will become old and frumpy and die alone. Dramatic, I know, and nevermind the presumption that I’m already hot. (I am, dammit.) But I think lots of women fear that after a certain age, they won’t be sexy anymore. And I’m one of them.

So here’s my one-line rebuttal to that screaming fear:

I am younger than Jennifer Aniston.

It’s pure logic. If A=B and B=C, then A=C, right? If younger equals hotter, and I am younger than Jennifer Aniston, then logically, I must also be hotter than Jennifer Aniston.

That’s right folks—you heard it here first! Meg Faulkner is hotter than Jennifer Aniston!

You can’t argue with logic, right? Unless there is a flaw in the argument.  Maybe younger does not equal hotter. That would throw the argument right out the window. But it also counters the irrational terror that I won’t be sexy after age 40. Either way, I win.  I can believe that I am sexier than Ms. Aniston, or I can recognize that young does not equal hot.  There are plenty of sexy women over age 40 and I can choose to be one of them.

So that helps a little bit on the vanity front, but there is a bigger fear in play when we think about aging. It’s quieter but uglier than the fear of losing our looks:  the fear that we are running out of time. That our horizons are shrinking. We won’t be able to do what we wanted to—we’re too old, we’re not fit enough or we’re stretched too thin or we’ve squandered our potential on other things—and now it’s too late.

This is where I bring the logic a little closer to home.

I am also younger than my sister, Sandy. Sandy is an accomplished business woman, a social dynamo, and the most fun ever.  She realized a dream of going to culinary school at age 41 and graduated with honors.  When I think of myself just a little bit older, I’ll be her age—no matter how old we get.  But when I think of being like Sandy, it’s something to look forward to. It’s something to aspire to.

This trick works with my sister Theresa, too. Theresa got her master’s degree at age 48, while working full-time with two kids still at home.  Oh, and she married a younger man right after that. Age schmage.

Don’t even get me started on my mother, the one-woman-community-service-brigade.  I’m thirty years younger than her.  She gave birth to my brother when she was my age and she has moved several mountains since then.

The point is NOT, “be the youngest in your crowd.”  I’m not suggesting that you go hang out with some old girls so you can feel younger.

I’m saying that the antidote for the fear of aging is to surround yourself with people who keep you grounded in possibility. Find women of all ages who inspire you, who keep you motivated and mindful of your best, fearless self.  Make sure to include women who have moved past whatever age you’re scared of, who will show you how much fun can be found on the other side.