'Twas the Night Before 40 Introduction

The song "Que Sera, Sera" had been playing inside of her head all day. That night, after feeding her two young children organic macaroni and cheese, she loaded the dishwasher (being careful not to put plastic inside of it) and began to sing the song aloud. She liked the sound of her own voice. Did anyone know that? Her grandmother, mother, and even her young daughter often secretly hummed a tune in the kitchen. It was in their DNA.

She wondered if "Que Sera, Sera" was the first hit song to come out of an Alfred Hitchcock movie? She wanted to know if Doris Day had been sexually harassed on "The Man Who Knew Too Much" set the way Tippi Hedren had been while filming "The Birds." They were both blondes, but Day was a girl next door with a matronly figure, whereas Tippi Hedron smoldered on the screen and could certainly have set fire to the film reel with just one look. Both her daughter, Melanie Griffith, and granddaughter had great sex appeal, too. Must be in their DNA, she thought.

She was curious if America's Sweetheart, Jimmy Stewart, had ever cheated on his wife? Her great-uncle had been a bombardier with Jimmy Stewart in WWII. Bombardiers made her think of Joseph Heller's "Catch 22" and also the actor Alan Arkin. She wondered how old Arkin was now and how he and British actress Judi Dench felt about winning best supporting Oscars for such short screen times. She slammed the dishwasher shut and quickly dried her hands so she could get these burning questions answered via a Google search on her Iphone.

She was getting drowsy. The two Melatonin plus the herbal anti-anxiety pill Ashwaganda that she bought from Whole Paycheck were starting to kick in. She remembered the six months of her life when she was on real anti-depressants (Zoloft) and anti-anxiety medicine (Xanax). She was just 23 years old. How could she have been so scared at such a young age?

She turned off the houselights and grabbed her cup of Celestial Seasons "Extra" Sleepytime tea with an obligatory shot of whisky in it. She started drinking it when she was on the anti-depressants which felt like speed inside of her 23 year old body and caused her to have trouble sleeping at night. She thought about how "Clerks" filmmaker Kevin Smith took a supporting role as someone who worked for Celestial Seasons in a film starring Jennifer Garner and Timothy Olyphant. The movie name escapes me, she thought, another Google search. Her father used to watch Olyphant's TV show "Justified" before he died. He loved Hillbilly culture. "Rebels" he called them. She thought her father was so brave. He loved danger, and lived a life without regrets. He rebelled against the ordinary and the comfortable. He lived his life with purpose. Life, to him, was a great adventure. She yearned for her own, adventures, and to have a purpose. She wanted to be a writer when she was younger but gave up that idea because of lack of money and had been sidetracked. She knew she wasn't the first, nor the last, to claim this defense.

The shot of whisky in the tea in order to calm the nerves or the tummy was a trick she learned from her grandmother, the same lady who sang aloud, and alone in the kitchen, and had old English heritage. She wondered if non-organic tea was really bad for you. She drank a lot of tea and felt close to her grandmother when she held the hot cup in both of her hands. She often thought about dead people as if they were still alive, in the same room with her. She had conversations with them - in her head.

She walked down the hall to her bedroom, which was dark except for the reading light beside her side of the King size bed. Her daughter, dressed in Alice in Wonderland pajamas, slept on the far right side of the bed. Her toddler son slept on long pillows and a blanket on the floor beside her side of the bed, thumb in his mouth.

Her husband was out of town for work that week and the kids often slept in her room while he was gone. She was lonely most of the time and their warm bodies and warm love made her feel less lonely.

The radio was on and the volume was set to a low, white noise. She loved talk radio. She loved falling asleep listening to the radio. Sometimes, she was surprised how it impacted her dreams at night. She could have multiple dreams in a single night and then wake up either emotionally exhausted or exhilarated. The best dreams were the ones where she let go and admitted what she liked, what she wanted, and pushed to get what she wanted. Dreams where she was sexy, sometimes having sex. Dreams where she was a female James Bond and her super ego was saving the world and saving herself. Dreams where she felt powerful and important and making her mark on the world.

Tomorrow was her fortieth birthday. Remembering this caused a sharp pain in her tummy and she went into her bedside drawer and popped another Melatonin in her mouth which she swallowed down with red wine remnants from a crystal goblet from her wedding registry that had been sitting there souring since the night before.

She felt regret.
She felt guilt.
She missed her father. There would be no call from him first thing in the morning.
She missed her youth.
She missed creating.
She missed having fun.

Why had she always been so afraid...of life? Of saying and acting without needing the approval of others or a bright green go light to turn on? How had playing it safe actually...kept her safe?

Tears streamed down her face, and, trying to muffle her sobs from her sleeping children, she turned up the sound on her alarm clock radio, a relic from college, from a time when she was on the verge of coming out of her shell but...didn't. Not entirely, at least. She played it safe. She had always been too scared. A scaredy cat. Wah, wah, wah, she said aloud, mocking herself. Debbie Downer over here, she thought.

Ira Glass began to introduce the guest on his radio show, "This American Life." She turned off her lamp light and asked God, her father, Buddha, any and all holy spirits - the universe - for a second chance. She wanted to wake up tomorrow and say yes.

There were so many things, so many...at least ten...that she had wanted to do...before she turned forty...

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