a slight change of plans…

Sometimes life throws a curveball. And sometimes that curveball means staying in paradise one more day.

It isn’t always this way. Three years ago I was stranded in Copenhagen for four days longer than my return ticket specified. I loved Copenhagen – don’t get me wrong – but after more than a week, so close to Christmas, after your friends have mostly left town, you kind of just want to get home. It was stressful. There were tears. And thankfully, there was aquavit.

There were tears this time too. And I can hear you all… “this is the world’s smallest violin playing my heart bleeds for you.” But while it doesn’t suck to get stranded in Hawaii for one more day, it was difficult to tell Jack (who has missed me desperately) that I’m an extra day away from seeing him. It was hard to return to our amazing house in Kailua after coming to terms with saying goodbye. And mostly, it was hard to cough up the $500 to change my ticket for tomorrow’s flight because, oh, today’s journey was just to get to the mainland. Tomorrow I had a flight from SFO to DCA. To change that leg to Friday cost more than the original ticket had.

And I’m still just on standby tomorrow, though the Hawaiian Airlines people who would not check me in with 43 minutes til takeoff because I should have been there three hours in advance have told me there are 29 available seats on tomorrow’s flight. So I should make it.

And I will be at the airport three hours early so that I am number one on the standby list. Because while I’ve had an awesome vacation, I’m ready to sleep in my own bed, hug my kids tight and wear something other than a bathing suit to dinner.

43 by 43

Celebrating the big 4-0 in Copenhagen in December 2009.

Thursday at Biker Barre, one of my new spin sisters mentioned that she had created a list of 40 things to do by her 40th birthday. I like a good challenge (as we all know) and I like birthdays even more (as we also all know) so while my birthday is a mere 140 days away, I have spent a great deal of time coming up with items to put on my own 43 by 43 list.

Here are the first five goals:

1. Spend my birthday not in DC. This one should be easy since I have tentative plans to be in Hawaii, but you never know what shenanigans by a lame duck Congress might tether me to my desk. I haven’t managed to be out of town on my birthday since the epic 4-0 celebration in Copenhagen, so I think it’s about time to make a December beltway escape.

2. Roast a duck. For years I have been saying that I’m going to cook a duck. This fall, I’m doing it. And I’m going to serve it with a nice Chateauneuf du Pape. Inquire within if you would like to come over for dinner that night (or shoot me the honored duck).

3. E-publish at least one short story. The one have been working on is essentially finished and its sequel is half done. I just have to have the courage to turn it over to my editor, Caitlin. (You know I have been dying to say that.)

4. Launch in an official capacity¬†Cloakroom Style, my new side business that I am finally positioned to get off the ground. It won’t replace my day job, but if I can beautify Capitol Hill, and in the process, earn extra shoe money, I will consider myself a huge success.

5. Take the boys to a city they have never visited. The obvious choice is New York City, so Colin and Jack (but Colin, especially) can finally see all 1250 feet of the Empire State Building.

Those are five rather significant goals, so the remaining 38 will have to include such pledges as don’t overreact as frequently, pick up items from the dry cleaners on time, and think before speaking (or emailing). Not that those challenges aren’t as meaningful, but they are easily (i.e. subjectively) measurable (by me) and do not require as much planning, cash or creative energy.

Except the think before speaking/emailing part. That’s going to require some serious concentration.

birthday suit

In pursuit of a birthday dress

My birthday has been fortuitously timed for the last several years. On the day that marked 40-minus-one, my dad happened to be in town. And since his birthday is the day after mine, it was never a question that we would go out to dinner for a joint celebration. Beforehand, my friends all met up with us for happy hour so he got to meet my people prior to going to dinner.

On the birthday known affectionately as the big one, I happened to be at the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. There I turned 40 under the lights and icicles of Tivoli Gardens surrounded by scores of climate-beaten friends. It was 20 degrees. It sleeted. We drank glugg. It snowed. We drank more glugg. We danced to bad 80s music at an Irish bar late-night. There might have been tequilla shots.

It was perfect.

Last year I was feeling a little less festive, but rallied nonetheless for happy hour and dinner. After all, who wouldn’t go out when their birthday falls on a Friday night?

Which brings us to 39 + 3. This year, one week from today as a matter of fact, my birthday falls on a Saturday.

In the continued spirit of serendipitous timing, my friends Tim and Sarah are having a black tie optional party that night. (I don’t know who actually opts for the “optional” given those parameters). So if my last official birthday in my “early” 40s weren’t reason enough, I they provide the perfect excuse to don sequins.

Of course, I am a horrible procrastinator so here it is one week away and I don’t yet have a dress. But here are a few I have my eye on.

Some quick thoughts:

I love the champagne color in theory, but I’m not sure whether it will camouflage with my skin tone too much. The sheath dress in the middle of her two sequined sisters I actually own in a slightly more stony shade, NWT, the victim of last year’s failure to make my office Christmas party due to a horrible stomach flu. I should wear this dress, as technically it is new. But one only turns 42 once. (Well, until next year and the year after that, as I plan to hit the age pause button for awhile.) There is so much fiscal responsibility in Washington right now though that I feel it is my duty to break the miserly mold that is de rigueur.

The plum dress is my perfect shade, but I am afraid it could be a little matronly looking. A definite must-try-before-buy. The blue sequined dress with dolman sleeves is gorgeous, but is the shape right for me? I love the cut out detail on the arms to show off my hard work in the gym, but the body of the dress will either work spectacularly or fail miserably.

The silver is hands down my e-window shopping favorite. I love the combination of long sleeves and a short skirt. But I have to make sure my new Twitter BFF DCCeline isn’t planning on this one for an event we will both be at later in the month, when I intend to get a second wear out of the birthday dress. Black Champagne will be my NYE, and sequins are mandatory.

And last year’s Christmas party dress? Well, I am eager awaiting birthday lunch with my friend Chris. He never fails to take me to the best suburban Virginia has to offer.

Black tie definitely optional.