The Bitch Slap: Hello, 38

bitch slap birthday

38? WTF. (image via CreativeCommons.org)

Today, I turn 38-years-old. I begin working on my 39th year on this spinning blue sphere.

Screw that – I’m going to stick with calling it “I’m 38.” Beginning 39 sounds like I’m a tanker filled with kerosene rolling downhill into Burning Man.

If I told you that life was where I’d imagined it’d be, I’d be lying. I started the year in love with everything – a man, my job, the year ahead. I’m ending it having ended many things, having a love ripped away from me and staring at 2011 like it’s a pygmy marmoset on crack.

So today, I’m issuing a Bitch Slap to 38, pre-emptive though it might be.

I’m not going to let you get away with the same shit this year. And let’s be honest: some of the shit you pulled during 37 was pretty pathetic. I’ll make a list just so we’re clear:

  • Sport drinking (We are now 38 – we don’t metabolize alcohol like a 23-year-old)
  • The “I still have checks, so I must have cash” mentality
  • Hiding when you could be visible
  • Being visible because you’re more concerned with what others think than what you need
  • Valuing things over friends (we both know what matters – one takes time away from making memories and the other creates them…put on your Smart Girl hat and figure out which is which)
  • Apologizing because you don’t know what else to say
  • Missing an opportunity to say thank you
  • Making excuses instead of conjuring solutions
  • Skipping yoga because you’re tired
  • Descending on your bike like you’re a pansy (yeah, those brakes are *really* going to help)
  • Not randomly paying for the person behind you in line’s coffee…because it was easier not to
  • Being afraid to cry because people are looking
  • Feeling like you have to justify how you’re feeling
  • Not understanding the difference between friends and frienemies
  • Using “things” to replace time well-spent
  • Not calling your dad because you don’t know what to say
  • Not telling your mom you love her even more than you already do
  • Forgetting how Jason lived his life and remembering that we could all do a bit better to be like him
  • Honoring yourself, because you’re the most important person in any relationship
  • Not saying what you think and feel, because as reality proves, you might never get a second chance.

We’re going to slip up every now and then, I know. But I’m telling you now: excuses are bullshit. We know that 37 delivered gifts and pain beyond compare and that life is forever changed, but why not take the best parts into 38? Let’s make new mistakes instead of the same ones. We’ll embark on new adventures instead of staying where we’re comfortable. And while we will never (ever) eat olives, we can take our upcoming trip across Asia and taste something new.

And there’s a reason I’ve been using we and our and us – and it’s because 37 is coming along for the ride. I’m not leaving it behind – it’s an acquisition. Each year adds on to the next, and this time, I’m going to make sure that 38 knows it has 37 right behind it to hold it accountable. So I’m now a “we.” And today, we’re thankful for friends, family, opportunity and love. We’re sad because we have memories where there was supposed to be a very special person. We’re anxious because life is ambiguous with a great deal hanging in the balance.

But we wouldn’t have it any other way, would we? For the most part, we’re delighted. Ambiguity. What fun would anything be if we always knew how things would turn out? I’m the first person to tell you that when they get that Doc Brown/Delorian time machine shit working, I’ll be in line to have a handful of things put in proper order because the universe’s sense of reason is fucked. Yet I’ve enjoyed the journey so far, tears, heartache and all. Because what remains and what lies ahead…

It all means I have a chance to make all the heartache mean something.

Soooooo…38. You’ve been slapped. Get used to it. We’re holding you accountable.

40 comments
Shelly
Shelly

I'm way behind - so missed your actual birthday- hope it was a great one!!! Here's hoping 38 listens and takes what 0-37 learned to heart ;)

PJ Mullen
PJ Mullen

I once had a very good friend - Seamus Macallan of the Highland Macallans. A fine fellow, very mature for his age. We were nearly inseparable. Alas he betrayed me on my birthday one year and I haven't spoken with him since. Most a pity. :) A very belated Happy Birthday. I hope you had a great one.

Judy Martin
Judy Martin

Erika, Happy Birthday! You're the only person I know who can entertain and bring us to our knees of conscience at the same time. Your post was inspirational and also a much-needed bitch slap to wake up and be grateful. We don't know what tomorrow brings, we can only love the moment - and everyone in that moment. A defining moment in your post: "And today, we’re thankful for friends, family, opportunity and love. We’re sad because we have memories where there was supposed to be a very special person. We’re anxious because life is ambiguous with a great deal hanging in the balance." So true... enjoy your birthday weekend. Peace.

The Redhead
The Redhead

I've had one helluva birthday weekend...what a gift. And trust me - the Bitch Slaps will continue until morale improves!

Zohar
Zohar

My sister is your age, she keeps telling everyone she's 50 so people will tell her how great she looks all the time, LOL Happy birthday, many more happy & healthy ones. http://www.ManOfLaBook.com

JosephRatliff
JosephRatliff

Happy Birthday Erika :) Time to kick it into gear for another 60 years eh? Enjoy the ride.

Bionicrn
Bionicrn

Well said, as always Erika......HAPPY BIRTHDAY GIRL! Thx for always putting a smile on my face when things seem their darkest....after two funerals back to back this week and lifes 'little slaps' I can always rely on you....DONT EVER CHANGE! .....and Happy Holidays if I don't see you on Twitter

Robyn Bryant
Robyn Bryant

"You say it's your birthday / We're gonna have a good time / I'm glad it's your birthday / Happy birthday to you!" From moi to vous via The Beatles

Deb
Deb

Hi Erika - just six words to say. "Happy Birthday! Glad you were born." I've lost several dear friends this year and it is so very tough. Makes you really take a new look at life. This is a beautiful, and such an on target post. Thank you.

@keithprivette
@keithprivette

Happy Birthday...there I hit the trifecta! Where we are going we don't need roads, thats because we gunna make them! I have to tell you since I have become an avid reader of the bitch slap, I have gettin a whole lot slappier! Which is a good thing! So thank you for all the things you have done this year and I can not wait for 38! Have a great holiday season Erika!

Danielle Smith
Danielle Smith

From one 37 year old about to turn 38 to another.... wishing you the happiest of 'New Years' - I always consider my birthday my personal 'new year' - when I get to decide, to modify and to enjoy. Seems as though you might subscribe to the same thought process.... Sending hugs!

chicsinger simone
chicsinger simone

I started to say "I hope you will enoy your day" but I *know* you will enjoy the hell out of it! Looking forward to another year of wisdom and bitch slaps from you. xo

Gary Olson
Gary Olson

Happy Birthday, Erika! As a relatively new reader, it sounds like you've had quite the year. I'm not sure I can offer much help with the loss in your life, I've lost some special people in my life too over the years and even having gone through it, no words or advice come to mind to make it any easier to bear. Now, as far as the descending on the bike, I too am a big wuss when it comes to descending, but this helped me - Whenever I felt a need to brake I would put my fingers on the little shift levers (only works on Campy) under the brake levers and squeeze them. It has a placebo effect in that it eases some of the speed-anxiety without actually slowing you down. Give it a try some time and let me know if it helps! DISCLAIMER: Do not attempt while drowsy, medicated, or inebriated. Technique should be attempted on dry, straight surfaces. Not to be used in traffic situations.

Leon
Leon

G'Day Erika, I'm already in my 72nd year . I'm approaching that time of life when I can say almost anything I like to anyone. They'll either think me very wise or a stupid old fool. To prove my point here are three little messages for you: From Mark Twain... "Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example." From Graham Greene... "Heresy is just another word for independent thought." From Groucho Marx.... "Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend: inside of a dog, it's too dark to read." One final thing. I've always reckoned that Louis Armstrong's best solo was on "Alligator Crawl" not "Potato Head Blues" as all the pundits say. And remember: it's not called Down Under for nothing. As I write ,Oprah's actually here! Best Wishes Leon

Anthony Matesi
Anthony Matesi

Happy birthday! We all have to have our rough years, but usually I have found they are followed by better years, though sometimes there is a gap between. 23 was horrible, 24 was decent but nothing extravagant, I just turned 25 but I'm being optimistic that this will be a great year. Best wishes to you and 38, you definitely don't look it =)

Karen Bice
Karen Bice

Happy Birthday, Erika! Sounds like you had a rough year and wish you all the best for the next year. Just wanted to tell you that I've discovered that the older you get, the easier it is to forget how old you are. :)

The Redhead
The Redhead

Brilliant idea, gorgeous. Pleasure to make your acquaintance this year, Zoe :)

The Redhead
The Redhead

Anti-olive folks of the world, unite! And thank you for being my house guest during my birthday weekend. Love you.

The Redhead
The Redhead

I think I'll also be 27 today :) Thank you for the brilliant idea!

Zobear
Zobear

Give yourself a hug. Then find someone you care for and give them at least a 1 minute hug. Do this at least once a day. You'll be surprised.

Robert Slaughter
Robert Slaughter

I don't always know what to say about your writing, but it always makes me think, and in good ways about tough subjects, so THANK YOU VERY MUCH! Oh, and happy birthday.

Robin Gerhart
Robin Gerhart

Just think of the whole new meaning you will give to 38!

The Redhead
The Redhead

I might try this starting at 38 1/2 :)

The Redhead
The Redhead

If I live another 60 years, please shoot me at the halfway mark ;)

The Redhead
The Redhead

Awww...no one's given me a Beatles Birthday till you! Thanks!

The Redhead
The Redhead

Thank you, Deb. Always great to see you, especially knowing how trying your year has been. Thank you for always making time to stop by my neighborhood.

The Redhead
The Redhead

Thankfully, I'm Campy-equipped! Great tip :)

The Redhead
The Redhead

Leon, you always brighten my day. Always!

The Redhead
The Redhead

Thanks for the birthday wishes, Karen :)

The Redhead
The Redhead

Thank you, dearest...we will meet during 38, of this I'm sure!

JosephRatliff
JosephRatliff

ROFLMAO... Wh...Whaaaat ? You'll only be ninety-eig...wait, maybe I'd better not. :)

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