Friday, March 26, 2010

"The Clock Struck Midnight, and My Every Dream Came True.  For, Like, a Day."

You know how it's impossible to guess Susan Lucci's age--unless you look at her neck?

And then you gasp and declare, "Why look at those deep grooves!  Say there, you well-preserved soap sprite, you're holding up nicely--but maybe wear a scarf, eh?"

This is not a judgment.  Personally, I've not only got some grooves but also have the start of a wattle; I'll be the one hiding behind the rain barrel come November, when it's slaughtering time for the national day of belching.

Unlike La Lucci, my wattle isn't the only giveaway of age.  Unlike La Lucci, I need to wrap my entire head in a scarf to preserve the illusion of youth. ('cause, er, all the 19-year-olds these days are waaaay into wrapping their heads in scarves)

I mention my age because I turned 43 yesterday.

Even though I didn't jump from a plane or hop a junket to Cancun or get a pony, it was pretty awesome.

We went to parent/teacher conferences at the elementary school, for one thing, and if that's not your idea of a great birthday celebration, Scroogey McHatesKids, then try factoring in the Scholastic Book Fair we browsed after the conferences, and if you're still not convinced that looking at books is a fun way to pass the time on a Day of Significance, consider this:  Scholastic is offering Star Wars book that pits characters against each other in hypothetical battles, and readers of said book are then asked to predict the winner.

I KNOW.  What could be more fun? (typed the indulgent mother of a 7-year-old boy)

Thus, I spent my birthday dinner in a restaurant, eating charcoal grilled tenderloin tidbits in a Bearnaise sauce and shouting out "General Grievous would totally dominate Emporer Palpatine!" and "Droideka clearly would trounce Bossk!" (wrong on both counts, incidentally)

Other highlights of my day were being awakened by Paco at 7:30 when he busted in for his usual cuddles but, in honor of my big day, gave me the huggles while warbling "Happy Birthday."  Then the whole family gathered 'round while Paco disappeared under the bed, coming out completely dust-bunny-ridden but with presents in hand.

Poodles, I got a Webkinz.

Okay, to be honest, the kids have given me one each of the last three years.  They wanted me to be able to decorate my Webkinz' own apartment instead of trying to micromanage where they placed the sofas and coffee tables in their own pets' little rooms.

Two years ago, I got an elephant, which I named Cornucopia.
Last year, I got a manatee, which I named Sassafrass.
Yesterday, I got a gecko, which I named Mucca (the Italian word for "cow").

I was not either still up at 2 a.m., decorating Mucca's room in a chic Japanese theme, replete with bamboo floors, hanging scrolls, and a bonsai tree.

My other gifts were a gyro (a few years back, I started asking for toys for my birthday--things we all can enjoy):

and a Kindle.  Yes, a KINDLE!  We'd talked about getting one before our upcoming adventures next year, knowing that we couldn't tote along enough books to feed four voracious readers and being uncertain of the availability of books in English once we get onto the island of Sicily, but I hadn't expected the Kindle purchase until summer.  Part of me hasn't been terribly enthusiastic about the idea of reading off a handheld screen; I do so love the tactile experience of reading a book and the opportunity to leave Triscuit crumbs between pages, but I figured I'd rather read off a screen than not at all.

However, one day into the Kindle, and I can tell you it's cooler than I expected.  I like that it makes no noises, and I like that it's so intuitive that a semi-Luddite like myself is able to use it easily.  Plus, Amazon provides the first few chapters of new books for free, as a tantalizer that will, ideally, lead to purchase.  So last night I downloaded and tasted the first bits of a few books I've been curious about.  Even better:  any book over a hundred years old that doesn't fall under anyone's current copyright is free.

Which means all of Jane Austen's works, so now I can carry around in my hand--or bra--Austenian nuggets like "A woman, especially, if she have the misfortune of knowing anything, should conceal it as well as she can."  Well, I could do the latter if the Kindle fit into my bra.  Which is kind of today's project, if you really need to press the point.

Which kind of shows you how well I'm doing at concealing the anything I know.

Anyhow, lots of older books are free, so we've loaded the thing with The Secret Garden and Little Women (a little light reading for Groom) and also some free chapters of the latest Magic Tree House and Elizabeth Gilbert's Committed and Julie Powell's Cleaving..and..and...and, in the spirit of Jane Eyre, I need, at this juncture, to announce of my Kindle:

Reader, I married it.

Clearly, the Kindle was a birthday highlight.  Another highlight was the cake Groomeo made me--a little something from a Gourmet cookbook involving chocolate devil's food cake and brown sugar buttercream.


However, the biggest highlight of all grew not out of reading or baking but out of mania.

The backstory here involves Facebook.

I'm sorry.

You see, in the last few months, I've been playing a lot of Scrabble on Facebook. Then my sister challenged me to the game called Scramble, which is, essentially, Boggle on the computer. Scramble occupied me for a few days, but eventually clicking on the same three-letter word combinations, with a few longer ones like "dashing" thrown in, got old.

So then I tried Word Twist.
It's an anagramming game.
I'm not a natural at anagramming.
But I've wanted to get better.
Because I am all about expanding my repertoire of useless skills. Sure, it's great that I can quote episodes of "Three's Company" and stand on one foot for a respectable amount of time, but the repertoire has been ripe for new additions.

Word Twist has done the job. Basically, in the game, the player is given six or seven letters and then has two minutes to spell out as many words as possible. Longer words get bigger points.

The first round I played, I think I got a 17. This would have been fine...unless you factor in Facebook's evil strategy, which is that a "ladder" of one's friends' names and their scores runs up the righthand side of the screen, so you know how you rate compared to everyone else you know who's played the game.

And eff all if fellow blogger, Lime, didn't perch triumphantly at the top of the ladder with a score of 166.

The thing about Lime is that she comes across as jovial and interested and fun.

What malarkey.

I'm going take a risk here and holler that Lime is some sort of freakish Word Twist savant crazy beyotch creature from the depths of verbal hell. Because 166?

It hurt me many muches.

In my healthier moments, I'd view her score as a goal.

When I'd get tired, and the screen would start to waver in front of my bleary eyes, I'd cry a little and realize I could never match her. I readjusted my expectations and challenged mortals.

Groom and I had comparable scores for a bit, until he scored a 100. At that point, I was entrenched with a 92. Day after day, the score held.

I also was taking on my pal Kirsten. We were worthy adversaries.

Until she scored a 122.

As is no doubt apparent, I'd gone to a very dark place with the Word Twist. In fact, I actually had to cut myself off from it for a day or two.

Then, in an effort to allow myself to play--but for myself! as a personal challenge!--I decided my birthday goal was to break a damn 100.

In the days leading up to March 25th, I twisted and worded and shimmied and rubbed my eyes, getting scores like 23, 47, 75, 88. Finally, in one frantic round, I got a 99.

But still not a 100.

Then, the other night, as I was chatting with Kirsten and playing The Twist simultaneously, I hit a game and immediately deciphered the longest word of "testers" which of course leads easily to "testes" and "tsetse," not to mention about 27 others.

At the end of the two minutes, at exactly midnight, marking the start of my birthday, I got a 164, still short of Lime ("Argggghhhhhhhhhhhhh," me bellows, shaking fist to sky), but putting me in 2nd place on The Ladder.

The jubilation that filled me carried me all the way through the next day, puffing me up as I opened the Kindle, as I stretched my hamstrings in yoga class, as I sat next to Groom at a matinee, as we heard good things about our kids in the parent/teacher conferences, as I guessed Yoda would drop Darth Vader in a one-on-one (wrong again!) over dinner, as I ate cake and admired a birthday bouquet...

and then, when everyone had gone to bed, and the house was quiet,

I logged on to Facebook,

only to discover Kirsten had pulled a 201 in Word Twist earlier in the day.

------------------
It appears, then, that 43 is not only the age at which I'll start wrapping my entire head in a scarf.

It's also the year when I'll need to take a long, mandatory hiatus at a "recovery spa."

21 comments:

Jazz said...

Re your Birthday -

1. At 43 you're still a child. Trust me. Happy birthday.
2. Webkinz?
3. Maybe we sould play wordtwist against each other - that way you could always feel good about yourself.
4. A KINDLE!!! Damn, the whole world is going to have one of those things before I do.

Jocelyn said...

Jazz:

Thanks, Toots. Yea, Webkinz. I like to play a game called Goober's Lab, which is pretty much FB's "Bejeweled Blitz." For some reason, I like playing it better in a word of six year olds.

I'll totally play you in Word Twist. Game on?

Deborah said...

I don't know whether to blame my age (...(jeez that first parenthesis started out as a 9!) which is 55), my cultural background (Canadian-nil) or my non-exposure to children's television shows, but I have no idea what a Webkinz is. I don't actually care either, but Word Twist sounds like something I would like. Not that I'd be good at it, but because when you're a few years older than 43, Jocelyn, you start to lose your words and anything that sends your neurological hunters and gatherers in all directions is a good thing.

However, the last thing I need is another reason to avoid doing what I've (regrettably) already announced to the world as my principal activity, which is writing a novel. Maybe I'll just take a little peek, though...you make it sound so inviting, in a compulsive, addictive sort of way.

Enjoyed this post just as much as always, but realizing that the excessive language of adoration needs to be tempered from time to time, I'll only say that you made me laugh.

secret agent woman said...

Happy Birthday! Although it always makes me a little grumpy to say that to people younger than me who are complaining about age.

kmkat said...

1. With four readers in your family, whatever makes you think one Kindle is enough? I foresee fistfights in Sicily...
B. I love Wordtwist but didn't know it was available on FB. Must check that out...
iii. Happy birthday, youngster!

lime said...

LOL, i haven't even THOUGHT about word twist in months because i got hooked on scramble (in which i had a similar reaction to someone else's high ladder score as you had to my word twist score). then i got bitten by the bejeweled bug. the totally frustrating thing about that is they wipe out high scores and start fresh every week so my triumphant 329,000 was erased and i've been chasing myself ever since. maddening i tell you. but you know i may need to get back into word twist just to try to keep ahead of you.

happy birthday dahlink. it was ever so good for my ego to know one so literate and wordy as you was chasing after me for a little while.

Lisa @ Boondock Ramblings said...

Happy belated birthday. 43? You don't look a day over 21, my dear. I was going to say "You don't look a day over 50" but then I thought you might virtually slap me and that would hurt.

I love that Paco still cuddles with you. Are you sure he's only 7...he seems so much older and wiser.

Pam said...

Happy Birthday Jocelyn. Apart from the technicalities of i book, I have no idea what you've written about but then I'm older than you and it hurts.Carry on without me. Along with my jowels, my spelling has gone.Get in while you can before your abilities faid, fayd,...that'd be fade, dam it. Damn?!@#... 43? Try 53 and then some.

christopher said...

Happy Birthday!

I haven't purchased a Kindle myself, but like your review, I've heard mostly good comments.

Good luck with the Word Twist. I'm afraid to try...can't afford adding another addiction to my repertoire.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

Happy Birthday from one March baby to another.

I have forbidden myself from even thinking about FB word games after a rather obsessive experience with Scramble. It was not pretty.

I don't have a Kindle yet, but one day . . .

ds said...

Ah, youth...so long as you have Webkinz, facebook word games, dustbunny covered children who can out Star Wars you, and a husband who willingly bakes you a multi-layered chocolate fudge cake with brown sugar icing (sorry about the drool), thou shalt never be old.
All that and a Kindle to take to Sicily. Not bad! Happy Birthday.

Midlife Jobhunter said...

Your Word Twist score reminds me of my bowling scores (I bowl once every 5 years - when we absolutely can't think of anything else to do.) I've broken 100 once in my life.

My neck - I look at the picture on my blog and keep thinking I should load up some photo software and take out those clumps in my neck. I keep looking in the mirror and don't see them. Not sure why they showed up on that photo - or why I use it.

The Scholastic Book Fair? Always a place I enoyed lingering among the carts.

Happy Birthday.

Middle Aged Woman said...

I was totally with you on General Grievous. That book must have been designed by a reading teacher! Reading? Predicting? Excellent skills, and a what a great way to get boys into it! Happy Birthday!

Middle Aged Woman said...

Also? Susan Lucci and Yoda in one post? I am in awe of your mad skillz.

jess said...

Whattt?!?!??! You are on FB??? I am sending you a request. If you don't befrenz me I am going to follow you to Italy and "accidentally" spill limoncello on your Kindle. You've been warned. >:O)

Jeni said...

No Kindle, no Webkinz, no Word Twist here either for me. I have enough problems with my tongue twisting words and my brain scrambling them in a way that I forget the train of thought of a conversation or a word I'm searching for in my mind refuses to surface. See what goodies you have to look forward to in oh, 22 years from now? I do, however, have the wattle and quite a large, handsome one it is too -if one is a turkey I suppose. Know any good exercises (non-painful, of course) that would reduce or eliminate this curse?
Happy Birthday too -glad you mentioned that occasion in your life (and your age too) as it reminded me that on April 6th, my older daughter too will reach the 43rd plateau in her life. Sheesh, I am getting old, old, old, aren't I?

Chantal said...

Happy Birthday Jocelyn! I need to get my hands on that Star Wars book!

Dim Sum, Bagels, and Crawfish said...

Happy Birthday! Susan Lucci, Star Wars, Webkinz,...you had me laughing at so many points in this post. Glad you had a good day. I just recently started using the Kindle app on my my I-touch and as much as I was dreading it, I am also now a convert! It is so perfect for traveling and I love that I can highlight and take notes...that's the geeky side of me that has ruined way too many library books before realizing it was a library book...oops.

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

Many happy returns!
I have to stay the hell away from online Mahjong--nowadays I get my kicks sorting socks instead of tiles. Damn addictive personalities!
Your Kindle picks are just what I'd put on one if I had one. That pleases me.
Necks--makes me think of Diane Keaton in that movie where she wears all the turtlenecks...she's beautiful as she ages and I bet you are too.

Logophile said...

ok, first,
Happy birthday!!
Thing Two and I enjoy playing with his UB Funkees, similar idea. I love some of the games on there.
Gyros are fabulously awesome toys.
I like the Kindle, but Im not ready to transfer over, although free Austen is powerful incentive.

Dory said...

I looked at the Kindle seriously for a couple months. I'm holding out for an iPad.

I try to stay away from any Facebook apps at all, because I know I have an addictive personality. If I even so much as glanced at Word Twist, I would probably end up needing an intervention!

Dory at Can't Remember Diddly