I Am F-ing 44

February 23, 2013

Hi Readers! Okay, forget that (!) because while I love y’all to the marrow of your collective bones, I am not perky and am wicked pissed that I am 44 today. Not only am I 44, but I contracted pinkeye from Miss D., which is why I am awake at 12:32 am on my birthday, eye screaming for mercy.

Sometimes, you just have to wave the white flag and admit that this is your life. Good News? Nobody is awake to witness my late-night snacking behavior. Guacamole, here I come.

I’m sharing an old favorite today, because fuckityfuck  *swear jar* I am 44 today and will be spending the day hunkering in the closet in the fetal position.

I jest. Sorta.

But the best birthday gift is you, Dear Readers. You have no idea.


 The summer before first grade, I jumped off the diving board. This was nothing less than the second coming.

Because that entire summer? I sat on the sidelines, my butt itchy from the grass and my eyes squinty from sun and my heart shrunken and black with envy as I watched my sister jump, arms flying,  into blue.

I could swim, sure. But always,  I sought the shallow water,  stomach wrenching in terror whenever my toes drifted even an inch off concrete.

Kids much smaller than I took  leaps off that diving board. I saw them. I wasn’t blind. I saw them pop to the surface, eyes wide and teeth flashing; not one of them died or called out for the lifeguard or (worst in my book) threw up in the water.

Once or twice, I made it as far as the stairs leading up to the board. I waited my turn in line,  feeling like a normal kid. But I wasn’t a normal kid, and I knew it in every inch of my skinny little limbs… limbs that ran like a startled goat the minute they touched the warm metal stairs.

Mama was kind about it. “You’ll jump when you’re ready,” she assured me, eyes shadowed by cat-eye sunglasses. “Nothing to be ashamed about.”

But I was ashamed. That board screamed, in green neon, what I already knew: Dana is not a brave girl.

My sister didn’t understand the drama. “Jeez, there’s little babies jumping off that thing,” she said casually. “What, you think there’s sharks in the water or something?”

Actually, I had my doubts about that last item. I mean, have you seen that dark metal grate at the bottom of the deep end? My butt remained on the grass.

One day, near the end of the summer, I watched a neighbor girl who had Down’s Syndrome jump off the diving board. For some reason, that undid me. “I’m going to jump off that board,” I announced to Mama, and marched to the end of the line.

When it was my turn, I tromped up the four rough, metal stairs and walked rapidly to the end of the diving board. And looked down.

I didn’t turn tail and run back. Instead, I froze.

Legs threatening to give, I stood there, staring at the water.  I heard a strange roaring in my brain and couldn’t even discern whether kids were laughing or jeering or shouting with impatience, which actually was a blessing.  Mama got up from her chair and stood close to me, raising her cat-eye glasses. Wordlessly, the blond lifeguard got down from his high perch, dove into the water, and swam to the end of the board. He winked and treaded water. “I’ll catch you,” he said.

I saw his lips move, registered the blue of his eyes, but I didn’t budge. Another lifeguard dove into the pool, flanked the other side of the board. Then the older brother of  Down’s Syndrome girl, a boy named Greg, got into the water as well. “There’s three of us now,” he said, and held out his arms.

His beautiful face turned to blur, and sobbing, I turned my back on all three of them, returning to the safety of concrete. My sister wouldn’t look at me, and I didn’t blame her. I parked my butt back on the grass next to Mama, who handed me a cup of Hi-C and scanned a magazine with Elizabeth Taylor on the cover. Nobody spoke to me the rest of the afternoon, and for that I was grateful.

A few minutes before the pool closed, Mama started packing up our things. The kaleidoscope of children and kickboards and inner tubes had dissipated, and as I rolled my towel up with brisk efficiency, I said, “I feel like I could jump off that board right now,” knowing that it was too late. Knowing I was a liar.

Mama took off her sunglasses and looked me in the eye. “Well, then,” she said measuredly, “I guess you’d best go do it.”

I damn near peed myself.

Gauntlet thrown, I approached the diving board, walked to the edge, threw my eyes to the sky for a quick prayer to Jesus, and jumped.

I gasped to the surface, rabbity-hearted, and waited for applause.

I never got any.  But I did get a chlorine-soaked towel and a soft hand on my back, leading me back to my beloved concrete and the shallow water. Back to home.



{ 41 comments… read them below or add one }

Lindsey February 23, 2013 at 5:31 am

Happy, happy birthday!! xoxo


Katybeth February 23, 2013 at 7:17 am

Happy Happy Birthday! And age matters why? ♥


ayala February 23, 2013 at 7:20 am

Happy Birthday! xoxo
I hope your day is filled with happiness!


Alexandra February 23, 2013 at 7:52 am

Happy Birthday, KitchWitch.

I love having you in my life. SO MUCH.


TKW February 26, 2013 at 8:24 pm


Back at you, wonderful girl.


Rudri Bhatt Patel @ Being Rudri February 23, 2013 at 9:20 am

Happy Birthday, Dana! May the day be filled with love, light and plenty of good unexpected surprises. Snark-free, I hope!



TKW February 26, 2013 at 8:25 pm


A day without snark? Alors! But thank you for the warm wishes. xo


Shannon February 23, 2013 at 9:30 am

Happy Birthday. 44 years of you – Applause all around!


Contemporary Troubadour February 23, 2013 at 2:07 pm

Happy you-day. May it truly be a day all about you, and may that eye give up the cruddiness quickly. What do they have you do these days? I remember getting swabbed with Vaseline when I was a kid so that the lids would come unglued in the morning.

Also, I am with you on that dark metal grate. I have an aversion to grates/drains after observing the toe-curling nastiness that collects around them in public showers. Yes, that is my memory of childhood pool trauma.


TKW February 26, 2013 at 8:32 pm


They now have these eye drops that sting like a *swear jar* but they are amazingly effective.

As for metal grates/showers, my husband contracted a foot fungus in the gym showers (Hello! Wear flip-flops in those things!) And now I have it. My feet smell like I’m baking a frickin’ sourdough loaf.

ps: What’s up with our b.b.?


Robin February 23, 2013 at 5:32 pm

Happy Birthday, Dana! I was always the one who was afraid to dive off the high board, use the gymnastics equipment like the balance bar and uneven bars, etc. Good for you for trying it! You can walk on your hands in the shallow end :)


TKW February 26, 2013 at 8:34 pm


I got an “F” on the balance beam in Jr. High. No wonder I never could ride a bicycle, eh? I have zero balance. My ass *swear jar* is firmly on my couch.


Arnebya February 23, 2013 at 6:00 pm

Happy birthday, you beautiful kitchen voodooess.


TKW February 26, 2013 at 8:36 pm


Come over to cook. The world would cringe at our voodooness. Plus, the swear jar would be happy.


jacquie February 23, 2013 at 8:13 pm

Happy birthday. and a heartfelt congratulations for that little 1st grader inside of you had found the courage to jump off the board – well done.

hope that pink-eye clears up soon.


TKW February 26, 2013 at 8:39 pm


I’d be proud of myself, but Miss M. jumped of the (%$#@!) *avoiding swear jar* high dive at that age.

Dang, I’m a sissy.


Wendi @ Bon Appetit Hon February 23, 2013 at 9:24 pm

Happy Frigging Birthday to you my friend.


The Dang Yankee February 23, 2013 at 9:47 pm

I’m double nickels now, and I’m still trying to ignore that aspect of myself. Just remember that line from the Little Feat song– “You know that you’re over the hill when your mind makes a promise that your body can’t fill.”


TKW February 26, 2013 at 8:10 pm

Dang Yankee,

My Daddy-o always said that his worst birthday was “the double nickels.” He is almost 80 now and strong as a bull.


The Curious Cat February 24, 2013 at 2:32 am

Happy Birthday lovely! Good story as always! Hope you have a lovely day with your family xxx


SuziCate February 24, 2013 at 7:11 am

Happy Birthday! Just remember there’s wisdom with every year we gain and since we can’t get younger the only other alternative sucks!


TKW February 26, 2013 at 8:11 pm


‘Tis true. Waking up older is better than The Dirt Nap. :)


Pamela February 24, 2013 at 10:01 am

Happy birthday!! I loved this post the first time I read it and I love it again. Hope your eye gets better!! Xoxo


Sherri February 24, 2013 at 1:05 pm

Happy Birthday. Make it ALL about you – please. To help you feel better – I woke the other night in an “OMG – I’m 40-something” panic, and… then just said f**k it – and got all dressed up – super hipster cool the next day and made my list of fun things to do now that I’m not lugging babies around – dealing with weird hormonal sh*t in my thirties, etc. Let’s see- professional chef or politician or tatoo artist? Have your day. Don’t worry. You’re so freakin’ young – will be sorry you didn’t relish in someday :).


TKW February 26, 2013 at 8:14 pm


Please choose something other than politician. You’ll be so covered in oily stuff that you’ll suffocate.

If you choose tattoo artist, I’d love to see your work! ;)


Lisa @ The Meaning of Me February 24, 2013 at 1:10 pm

Happy happy birthday! Spend your day however you damn well like. Hope the pinkeye leaves quickly.


Dawn February 24, 2013 at 5:48 pm

44 is nothing sweetie….it’s just a really good solid number. Hope you’re back on your feet from the fetal position closet thing by now and enjoying yourself. Happy birthday!


TKW February 26, 2013 at 8:15 pm


Dangit! You know me too well. How did you know how I spent my birthday?


Samantha Angela February 24, 2013 at 7:13 pm

Happy Birthday Kitchy Witchy.


TKW February 26, 2013 at 8:15 pm

Thanks, Samantha. More like Bitchy Witchy lately.


Heather February 24, 2013 at 9:02 pm

I missed out on your birthday wishes so I’m sending them now!!! I hope your day was amazing.
I’m keeping this short so that I don’t catch your pink eye too. I swear if I’m within a mile of someone with it I get it!!! I go through more contacts that way! Itchy eyes be gone for you!


Privilege of Parenting February 24, 2013 at 9:41 pm

All Best Wishes for a great year!


TKW February 26, 2013 at 8:16 pm

Thank you, Bruce. You know I love you!


Glenn February 25, 2013 at 11:45 am

Happy Happy B-Day! Hey 44 ain’t so bad, I just turned 54, and it really sucks! Enjoy the next 10 years.


TKW February 26, 2013 at 8:17 pm


I will be calling you up in ten years, bawling in the fetal position, begging you to talk me down. Fun date night, eh?


Kate February 25, 2013 at 5:49 pm

Being sick on your birthday seems like a double insult! I once woke, hours from (age garbled) to a horrid tummy bug. Best birthday ever. Hope those good drops are taking the pink right out.

Seriously, happy birthday! Whatever number you are, you’re awesome.


TKW February 26, 2013 at 8:19 pm


I am now officially on team “age garbled.” Oh yeah.


elizabeth February 26, 2013 at 7:35 am

I hope your birthday was absolutely wonderful! :)


TKW February 26, 2013 at 8:22 pm


It would have been better if you and hubs had been here to cook for me in a blizzard. You two celebrate the blizzard and cook awesome tapas; I cook ramen.


Papa Guy February 26, 2013 at 10:26 pm

I’ll trade with ya??? I can be 44 and you can be 61. Happy belated. Hope all are better.


Jennifer March 16, 2013 at 7:45 am

I can’t believe I missed your birthday. Have you come out of the closet yet? I hope it was a great one, and this? One of my favorite things you’ve ever written.


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: