Thursday, March 5, 2015

Go-to-Gay: With a Blink and a Smile

Introduction by Melissa Amster

My grandmother and I used to read V.C. Andrews novels together. (Well, not out loud to each other but I got her all into them.) My mother can read a book a day and she and I are always sharing books with each other. My sons stay up in bed reading and get all excited to go to the library. (I hope my daughter shares this enthusiasm when she's able to read. She does like books though.) I can only imagine my future grandchildren will share this love for books and will pass it along to future generations. While I'm ready for my daughter to grow up so I can share Amelia Bedelia, Ramona Quimby, The Babysitters Club, Sweet Valley High, etc. with her, I also don't want it to go too fast. 

Our Go-to-Gay, Wade Rouse, talks about how life moves so fast and  we just have to cherish the memories. It makes me think of the song "Don't Blink" by Kenny Chesney (I dare you to watch the video without crying). Enjoy!

A Blink of An Eye

My husband, Gary, wants to live to be 114. That's the age, for some reason, that he has chosen and is working hard to reach.

"I want to live well past 100," Gary always says, very seriously. "I want to be a centaurian."
"So you want to be live until you become half-man, half-horse?" I ask.
"It's centenarian. Not centaurian."

I admire his tenacity and his joy for life. I love his spirit. Gary wants to leave his mark on this world. He lives. Fully, freely, fearlessly every single day. It is an admirable thing to witness. It is a gift to be around.
I turn the big 5-0 the end of March, and – of course – it's a birthday filled with celebration and reflection, nostalgia and excitement for what lies ahead. It's also made me juxtapose the way I view aging versus the way Gary does.

I am in the midst of writing a memoir about turning "middle age" (which, I joke, isn't really middle age unless the average life expectancy has suddenly been pushed back to 100). It is a funny book (I hope) but one that is also filled with sentimentality, introspection, ferocity and fabulousness.

The memoir – tentatively titled The Picture of Dorian Gay: Essays on Aging (un)Gracefully in A Youth-Obsessed Culture – is mostly about how all of us got here – right here, no matter our age: With great failures and successes, copious amounts of love and forgiveness, too much anger and fear, and with the help of family, friends and faith. In the end, it's a book that celebrates our strengths and fragilities while acknowledging that life is really a blink of an eye and that we all best enjoy this short ride and leave our mark on this world.

At 50, I blink and can remember my grandmother reading the Bible to me at our log cabin. I blink and can see my mother holding my hand on the first day of school. I blink and can remember my father cutting down a Christmas tree in our woods. I blink and can remember my fraternity days, graduate school, my first job, meeting Gary nearly two decades ago. I blink and can remember burying my brother, my aunt, my grandparents, my mother.

I blink and can see myself at 100.

But those tiny blinks create an exquisite Viewfinder on my life and all our lives. Each blink – like each tiny step – moves us forward in some way from our past.

My grandmothers and mother always urged me to write. I never dreamed I would be a writer. But, in a blink of an eye, I have become one.

I recently completed my first novel, which sold to St. Martin's and will publish in hardcover in 2016. I'm sorry that I can't say too much more at this point, save for the fact that it took a lot of blinks to finish it. And, in looking back on my life, I was able to write a book that honors my grandmothers and our elders, while celebrating the exquisite journeys we all take to get right here, to this very point today.

The overriding messages of both books? Get out there and celebrate, have fun, love big, make your mark. Otherwise, you will blink, and it'll all be over.

So, here's to 50! And, as Gary would add, 50 more!

The writings of bestselling humorist Wade Rouse – called “wise, witty and wicked” by USA Today and the lovechild of Erma Bombeck and David Sedaris – have been featured multiple times on NBC’s  Today Show as well as on Chelsea Lately on E! and His latest memoir, It’s All Relative: Two Families, Three Dogs, 34 Holidays and 50 Boxes of Wine (reviewed here) launched in paperback February 1st from Broadway, and he is creator and editor of the humorous dog anthology, I’m Not the Biggest Bitch in This Relationship: Hilarious, Heartwarming Tales about Man’s Best from America’s Favorite Humorists (NAL). The book features a Foreword by Chelsea Handler’s dog, Chunk, essays by such beloved chick lit authors as Jane Green, and 50 percent of the book’s net royalties go to the Humane Society of the United States. His first memoir, America's Boy, has been re-published by Magnus Books for paperback and Kindle. For more, visit his website, or friend him on Facebook or Twitter.


Janine said...

Congratulations on selling your book! I just turned 50 last month. I didn't get a celebration. My family doesn't do anything for birthdays. I'm lucky if I get a card. But I have several very good friends who made my day special for me. Unfortunately I had the flu this year for my birthday, so my husband got out of taking me out to eat too.

Mary Koppel said...

I decided when I turned 40 and for no good reason that decade birthdays require monthly celebrations to keep the excitement going for a year..that way, I don't forget to use that new digit before my age.
It can be a weekend with friends, a trip to New Orleans and its jazz scene, it can be an opera you've always wanted to see. What's important is to tell everyone you run into that, yes, you're celebrating your 50th. Try it out, and we'll celebrate with you in June. I've learned that the fifties are a period filled with fiery and flaming freedom.

Janine said...

I think it would be fun to celebrate for a month. My husband wouldn't let me get away with it. His response when I asked if we could do something special was it's just a number. He's such a dud at times. He promised he would take me out for a nice dinner but that hasn't happened yet either.