45 > 25. By a lot more than 20.

Last week Pamela Druckerman had a column titled How to Survive Your 40s. I like Druckerman. In fact, one of my favorite columns was a similar topic titled, What you learn in your 40s. But while the latter column mostly celebrated 40something, the former was much more of a lament.

I’m going to turn 47 next Wednesday. I have absolutely loved this stage of my life. When I turned 43 I remember thinking “This is the age I was born to be. I’ve just been waiting 43 years to get here.”

I’m not immune to bouts of vanity — my hair, which is nearly all gray underneath the dye I used to beat it into submission, is a perpetual torture for me. But I have not loved aspects of my appearance throughout my life, so this isn’t unique about 40s. And on balance I feel like the advantages of 40 far outweigh the disadvantages.

I’m more comfortable in my body than ever before. Yeah, sure, there are things that hurt that never used to. But I’ve never felt more comfortable with my physical being.

I more comfortable with my overall being, too. Self-awareness is never perfect, but I feel like I have a better understanding of who I am, what I’m good at, what I’m not good at, even what I like and what I don’t. And I’m more comfortable with who I really am, as opposed to who I think I’m supposed to be.

For me, 45 is greater than 25 by a factor of far more than 20. As I near 50 I’m not filled with dread. In fact, I’m excited. If 50 is even better — and I have good reason to expect it will be — I feel like I have so much to look forward to.


Inventing Abstraction

I spent my visit at MoMA exploring the exhibition Inventing Abstraction, 1910-1925. It was really interesting. While it was about the invention of abstraction, hence the title, it was really about the power of networks. In fact, the wall leading into the exhibit has this illustration that shows the connections between the various artists involved in abstraction. As you move through the exhibit you see, both in the text and through the work, how these connections played out and how the artists influenced each other, both directly and indirectly.

A fascinating reminder that the internet didn’t invent the idea of networks, it has just created new ways for us to connect. I was amused to see a notation that one artist sailed off to a new land with a “letter of introduction” from another artist to present to yet another artist upon his arrival in the new land. Today you would do this through LinkedIN. Same result, of course. Just a new technology.

6 Lessons Learned from Willem de Kooning

I went to MoMA today to see the de Kooning retrospective. I’m not going to try and review the show, I’m sure you can find a way more literate view if you want one. But I did learn six life lessons from a remarkable, prolific career:

1. Erasing and reworking is part of the process: de Kooning often erased and reworked parts of the drawings that eventually became paintings. The evidence of this editing is visible in some works.

2. Recycling elements from one work to another is perfectly acceptable: de Kooning would take parts of one painting and then use them again in a completely new painting. Why re-create from scratch every time?

3. Being “influenced” by others is fine as long as you make it your own: Even a complete art novice like me could see where de Kooning was influenced by masters like Picasso. But it was equally clear to me that his style was completely his own, not a mere copy of earlier works.

4. Test: de Kooning often pinned vellum drawings to paintings to see how certain elements would work before committing to the canvas.

5. Sometimes you need to take a break: In the late 60s de Kooning took a break from painting to explore sculpture. When he returned to painting in the mid-70s he had a renewed focus and vigor.

6. Don’t be afraid to change how you work to accommodate changes in your life: Late in his life de Kooning didn’t have the physical ability to work in the same ways he had previously. His paintings changed dramatically and he did less reworking than he had previously. The late paintings are sparer, with big, sweeping strokes instead of the detailed brushwork of his earlier work. They are no less wonderful, but they are different.

Among the many reasons I love Tina Fey

From the March issue of Vogue:

“I don’t weigh myself. I just go by if my clothes fit. I try not to participate too much in the incredible amount of wasted energy that women have around dealing with food. I just feel like being healthy is sort of a job requirement to be on TV, and being a writer is so much coping with fatigue and stress, and you just eat. You eat to stay awake.” [Emphasis added.]

Yes.  THIS.  This is it.  Refuse to participate.

Truth v. Beauty

First, there was Googlism, which turns  any search term into a weird free verse.

Now, there is Googlefight.  Enter two search terms and see which one "wins"

Go try it.  Seriously.  It’s loads of fun.

My husband, lovely little narcisst that he is, staged a Googlefight between his name and mine.  He won one round, but I was able to eek out a win with the clever use of quotation marks.

I also had fun with Britney Spears v. Jessica Simpson (Give it up for our girl Brit).

As for the title of the post, Truth v. Beauty, three guesses which one won.  Cause it’s about what’s inside that counts.  Uh-huh.

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Barbie Says, Math is Hard

JupiterResearch recently released a study about teens online.  Among it’s many findings: teen girls go online younger than boys, and spend more time online.  This was reported in Direct magazine as surprising.

Really?  What is the assumption here that makes this news so surprising?  Today’s teenage girls didn’t get the memo that computers are supposed to be for boys.  No, they aren’t interested in gaming to nearly the extent that boys are (Jupiter reports that boys spend 150% more time gaming).  But are there people who still think computers are only good for games and spreadsheets?  What are some of the top uses of the Internet?  Email, chat, IM, and shopping.  Have the people at Direct met a teenage girl?  Personally, if the Internet had been around when I was in my teens I would have been in HEAVEN. 

I will concede that Google’s engineering offices are probably not heady with estrogen.  Yes, the interesting technology is still being built by boys and men, predominantly.  But the technology isn’t what’s interesting.  It’s what happens to the that technology in the real world. 

The average teenage girl in the real world likes to talk to her friends, buy pretty things, and read about what Hollywood stars eat, drink, wear, and buy.  When I was 16 I spent the majority of my waking hours talking on the phone, cruising the mall, or reading magazines.  If I were 16 today (perish the thought), I would be doing all those things, plus IM’ing and emailing my friends, checking out Delias.com, and reading gURL.com and Alloy.  The more things change …

So anyone who is surprised by this news has definitely missed a few meetings.  Yes, the engineers are still primarly men.  Yes, the CEOs are still mostly men.  But it is increasingly clear that these guys are working to benefit two big groups: teenage girls and the Moms who love them.

Frankly, I’m fine with you guys doing the heavy lifting.  Now where’s my Gold card?

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Why Americans Are Fat

I was recently in a supermarket in Florida and I noticed the Tic Tac display.  Tic Tacs, I learned, are now 30% larger, for "More Enjoyable Freshness."  (No, I don’t know what that means either.)

Like most Gen Xers, I grew up with Cherly Tiegs extolling the virtues of the "1 1/2 calorie breath mint."  So, of course, the first thing I did was flip the box over to scrutinize the nutrition information.  These new, bigger mints now have 1.9 calories.  Doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, eh?

Ok, sure, no one is getting fat from an extra .4 calorie per Tic Tac.  (Has anyone ever eaten fewer than a handful anyway?)  But it’s part of an overall super-sizing trend that simply isn’t good for us.  I keep thinking the pendulum is going to swing in the opposite direction — micro-portions or something.  Instead, every few months I see a new, and frankly more absurd, example of the "if some is good, lots is great" ethos.  But bigger Tic Tacs might just take the cake (which we undoubtedly will have and eat.)

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