Today I turn 40


And I’m so excited. It’s weird. I feel like I’m 9 3/4 going on 10. I know it’s just a number, a day like any other day, a random point in time that looks nice in our base-10 number system.

But here’s what turning 40 as a symbol means to me: That I can do whatever I want. That I’ve arrived to a place in my life where I’ve done about half my learning and have capacity for so much more. That I have nothing to fear.

I’m writing this blog mostly because I’m a writer and I felt like my old blog about moving to LA had outgrown itself once I stopped needing a map to get all over town. This blog is important to me because I want to voice what it’s like being 40, especially in an age-adverse culture and city. 40. It’s not what you think.

My friend Stephanie, who also turned 40 this week and who has excellent taste, gave me a great idea and I will now share 40 of the things I’ve learned.

1. I will do anything once. Twice if I liked it and you ask nicely.
2. Money is more like a river that flows than a box of apples that’s all gone when you dump it out.
3. Take the high road. Even when it sucks and the high road is way the hell over there.
4. Love. Love. Love.
5. In corporate America, it is not OK to take a nap under your desk, even if it’s only for 10 minutes. People freak out.
6. Dang, I’m only up to 6?
7. You can’t date history or potential. You get someone as-is.
8. Yoga saves lives and makes people happier.
9. I’m a sucker for an Irish or English accent.
10. Wear glasses when you’re negotiating. Also, clothing, but add glasses. Or not.
11. If that little nagging voice says don’t do it, the one BEHIND the filter, you probably shouldn’t.
12. Now that I’m 40, I can appreciate Yoko Ono. I see where she’s coming from.
13. If you have a presentation for muckety-mucks, add a cute dog into the mix. It gets even the mucketiest of them.
14. The earth really doesn’t need us. We are the most useless species on the planet. We should be really nice in case she decides to kick our collective ass.
15. Listening to Barry Manilow, drinking red wine and sending emails is a dumb and deadly combination. I know you’ll do it anyway, but I warned you.
16. Add a little baking soda to a tomato-based sauce or soup and it will neutralize the acidity.
17. The person who mentions a number first loses.
18. If you speak from your heart, you can’t be wrong. That’s verbatim from my friend Pat de Vol Nadon.
19. There will always, always be another job.
20. Baking soda is an excellent, non-toxic alternative to other scrubbing cleaners, such as Comet.
21. A little vitamin E oil under your eyes every day will make you look young forever.
22. Better to eat one piece of really good chocolate than 10 pieces of crap.
23. If you’re nice about it when someone screws up, it works out better in the end. That’s why I am now the proud owner of a card entitling me to two free carpet shampoos and one free car wash.
24. Diana Ross’ “Love Hangover” is one of the greatest songs of all time and it will instantly make you feel like a sexy diva when you play it a bit too loud. I don’t care who you are or who you kiss. Seriously. Try it.
25. No matter how good your camera, you will never, ever be able to re-create that sunset, so don’t even try.
26. When in doubt, be still. Be very, very still.
27. If you wrap something in Filo dough and bake it to a golden brown, even potted meat, people will think you are an amzaing cook.
28. ADDICT ITEM #1: If someone’s an addict, and you decide to fall in love with him or her anyway, you’re in for a world of hurt. Addicts shut down.
29. ADDICT ITEM #2: An addict, no matter how far into recovery, will reach for the object of desire if things get bad enough.
30. If someone is old, sick or dying and you think you should go see them, go. Go. Go.
31. Tell people you love them because it might be your last conversation ever. I know this is morbid, but it might. But also, my Aunt Corinne does this every time we talk on the phone and I always think of her saying that and it makes me happy.
32. If sunglasses are on sale at Target, get, like five pair.
33. ADDICT ITEM #3: Addicts are fun and gregarious and charming and we love, love, love them. It’s just hard to remember the other stuff when you’re in their personal spotlight.
34. If you quit sugar for three days, you kind of lose your taste for it.
35. If they tell you to evacuate the building, and then tell you to go back in, don’t. Wait a loooooong time until you go back. This is how a lot of people died at 9/11.
36. Marriage might not be what I think it might be.
37. I’m happiest when I’m making something, or have just made it, or when people are enjoying whatever it is I’ve made, such as a play or film.
38. When somebody dies, you get one good surprise and one bad one in the aftermath.
39. If you’re still reading this far, let me know with the key word “seamonkey” in the comment function.
40. You can rock pretty much any outfit — you just have to have the aplomb. Think Lucy and Ethel in Paris.

Thanks for reading and I hope you come back.




Vanessa McGradyToday I turn 40

Comments 6

  1. stef

    Happy Birthday! Hope you celebrate like crazy, and really enjoy it! I think Barry, wine, and emails go together brilliantly. Just beware: seamonkeys and baking soda are highly addictive…. Have a great one! –Stef

  2. Don Cummings

    Happy Birthday. I am so happy, my gorgeous seamonkey, to have spent the last evening of your thirties in your home, eating Pan-Asian.
    I agree with all your addict stuff in the list. But the Barry Manilow…not so sure.
    Welcome to the Forties. It’s a great time to really settle in. By 45, though, you start forgetting stuff. It’s weird.

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