Lisa Kern

Lisa Kern
Pennsylvania, US
March 28
I'm a mom of three boys, a needy dog, and an insolent cat. When I'm not writing, vacuuming up pet hair, or cleaning pee off the toilet seat, I like to fantasize about jeans that actually fit and an all-you-can-eat-chocolate-and-cheese diet. Welcome to my party.


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MARCH 28, 2011 9:13AM

Of Birthdays, Badgers, and Brand New Dreams

Rate: 24 Flag

Today is my birthday.  Number 48.  That’s 336 in dog years.


Every year, as I celebrate one more trip around the sun, I like to reflect about what the previous year has given me.  Sometimes, those gifts aren’t so welcome (did I really need a swarm of termites in my apartment when I turned 21 or a raging case of pink eye when I turned 36?)  Other times, the gift that greets me as I begin a new year is precisely what I needed (I am still rejoicing over my Forty-Year-Old Balls.) 


The older I get, the more I’m able to recognize that even seemingly unpleasant gifts can hold great treasures.


Take my vision, for example.  The past few years have been an ongoing quest for ways to combat the increasing difficulty of reading words that seem to require a microscope to decipher. 


Initially I thought it must be some kind of trend:  just as computers have gotten smaller, so, too, must the printed word be decreasing in size.  After confusing 6’s, 8’, and 9’s on company financial reports at work too many times, I finally admitted it was time for the big guns:  progressive lens eyeglasses. 


Progressive lenses are made of several different prescription strengths arranged horizontally from top to bottom on each eyeglass lens.  The idea is that the eye learns to look through different areas of the lens depending upon the current vision need.  The bottom of the lens is for reading, the middle is for looking at a computer screen, and the top is for distance vision.  


Wearing these lenses takes some getting used to while your brain figures out the best area of vision for each activity.  If you move your head too quickly through all of the various prescriptions, you have the unsettling sensation of seeing stationery objects move.  In fact, one day at work, I moved my head too quickly and swore I saw a badger run under my desk. 


You don’t know the meaning of awkward until you’ve had to explain to coworkers why you suddenly jumped on top of your desk and screamed.  This sort of conversation is supposed to happen only when you’re stoned or insane, not when you’re trying to figure out the vision sweet spot on your new glasses.


Badger hallucinations aside, middle-aged vision isn’t all bad.  Because of it, I rarely notice spiders in the house any more, and the dust on the coffee table no longer catches my attention.  This is such a welcome side effect that hopefully by age 50, I’ll no longer see those chin hairs that seem to multiply like bunnies or the actual size of my thighs.


These days, I feel as if I forget more than I remember.  So many things compete for my memory that some of them simply never make it onto the hard drive of my Commodore 64 brain. 


The bad news is that I may not remember to reply to your email or pick up a gallon of milk after work.  The good part of this gift is that I’ll probably forget any wrong you’ve done to me.  Holding a grudge takes up too much room in my brain, space that’s critical for remembering those 8,457 internet passwords and where I’ve hidden my chocolate stash. 


Yes, it’s all about priorities, folks. 


Perhaps the most unexpected gift of aging is that the limited nature of our time here makes itself known to us.  With that knowledge comes an overwhelming desire to get the second half of our lives exactly right. 


After decades of existing solely to care for others, I’ve finally found the courage to take steps toward my own dreams.  At nearly 50 years of age, I’ve figured out what I want to be when I grow up and I’m unwilling to let anyone take that aspiration from me.  Each new line that appears on my face seems to accompany an increased determination to live the sort of life I’ve always wished for (well, minus the size six figure.  Even progressive lenses aren’t quite that magical.)


So here I am, a newly minted 48-year-old.  I’m looking forward to all of the surprises and insights that this year will reveal to me. 


Hopefully, one of those will be where I put my car keys. 



**artwork by Evan Kern.  Photo by Lisa Kern.


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Happy birthday, young 'un. Your best years are ahead of you. Or behind. I'm not sure which.
I came to all of these things a few years later Lisa, so in that sense I guess I had a reprieve of sorts. I would be 48 for at least another 10 years if I could. I certainly wouldn't say I was close to 50 ~ Back off that girl! It will catch you soon enough.

Ever thought about vision surgery? It's worth saving the pennies. Every little one. I still enjoy the blur that magically removes dust and fine wrinkles, but it's a blessing to watch TV and enjoy a vista without glasses on my nose.
Oh! happy birthday! You'll still be 40-something at the end of the year, and that's a great gift. I hope it's wonderful!
Happy Birthday, Lisa Kern! I hope your dream involves more writing - you do funny so well.
Hi Lisa,

How nice of you to give US a gift on YOUR day.

I hope it's a wonderful one, full of contentment and joy.

Happy birthday. I like that you see this time as a time for *your* dreams and goals. ~r
Lisa, may you have a Axe free birthday and a dinner out .
Happy, happy birthday!

336 in dog years is like 20 in tortoise years - go with the tortoise.
Happy 39th and holding, honey!
Ah, but you are nothin' but a wee babe...Happy Birthday!!
Yes. that's all - oh, and my progressives just got ordered. :)
Happy birthday, Lisa. I can add that my best years started around 48...
Happy Birthday Lisa!

How is your hearing?
It's Rita's birthday too...
As someone who just turned 50, I found this interesting. I particularly liked this: "Every year, as I celebrate one more trip around the sun...."

That's very good. For some reason I had never thought of it that way. What I like best about this analogy (is it even an analogy, as it's factually and literally correct?) is that it helps point out that getting a year older is actually a kind of an accomplishment and something to take pride in.
Happy Birthday Lisa. I'm sure the badgers underneath your desk will drink a toast in your honor...
Happy Birthday Lisa! I'm a year ahead of you and here to tell you that I'm too spastic to use the progressive lenses and have your basic lined bifocals :) although I think I might enjoy having imaginary badgers under my desk...
Happy Birthday, Lisa.
Happy Birthday, Lisa.
When you get to be my age, youngster, you will find that even though you know not to hit "post this comment," again when it doesn't click in right away, you will do it anyway because, well, because you are truly old.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY LISA~ my Birthday compatriot! yeah for the Aries woman of the 28th!
Happy birthday Lisa! Tha badger story is hilarious :-) The vision thing is unavoidable,hmmm? 48 and knowing what you want with the ability to go over it is perfect!
What a treat to come home today and find so many nice birthday wishes.

Bonnie - Thank you.

Surly - Thank you for not bringing a ham loaf.

Kathy - Thanks! I'll take those best years wherever they show up!

Gabby - I dream of laser eye surgery! Someday...I'm not dead yet. Thanks for the nice wishes.

Lucy - Indeed it does. :) Thanks for coming to my birthday party.

Elijah - Thank you!

Diana - It's always nice to see an old friend in my comments. Thanks for the wishes!

Joan H. - I'm sure you understand how hard it is to follow a dream when you're a mom. Thanks for stopping by.

Sheepy - Thankfully, I did!

Marcelle - I am SO using tortoise-years from now on.

Belinda T - Bwahaha! I've been holding that 39 for a while, but I love the way you think.

Susie - No way are you older than me. You have such a youthful writing style. :)

Ann - Watch out for the badgers!

Larry - I'm probably going to jinx it by saying something about it, but my hearing seems to still be fine. :)

And yes, isn't it way cool that Rita and I share a birthday?

Retablo - I like the expression "another trip around the sun," too, but unfortunately, I can't take credit for coining the phrase. I heard it from a friend of mine. I agree that it's such a perfect image for a birthday and that it does feel like a major accomplishment. Thank you so much for stopping by.

Gratefuldan - Your comment totally made me smile. :)

bluesurly - I'm not completely convinced that me and the progressives are going to have a lasting relationship. I love them when I'm working on the computer, but today they really bothered me when I was in a store that I'm not familiar with. It felt difficult to focus. We'll see. I have another few weeks on the trial period.

Jimmy - What a treat to see you here! Thank you so much for taking time to stop by. I hope you don't mind if I leave the extra comment in. Your explanation made me chuckle (of course I am laughing WITH you, not AT you.)

Rita - My kindred birthday spirit! I hope you had a fabulous birthday.

Kelly - Thank you! Hopefully the badgers will stay away and I will get used to these glasses.
Hello Lisa! Happy Birthday!
may all your birthday wishes come true, may all your co-workers have short memories, and may you continue to write such happy funny wise stories.
Happy Birthday, and congrats on the EP. :)

Happy Birthday, Lisa. And please, watch out for those badgers!
Sorry I'm late but I'm glad I came. Your badger hallucination made me laugh and I'm glad you found the brighter side of not so perfect vision. I foolishly got Monovision Lasik so I no longer need reading glasses but the shock of seeing my face "as is"...well, let's just say I want my money back! I really believe that the 50's is a Renaissance time for women and I'm thrilled to see you on that adventure. As for losing your car keys...blame it on hormones (or rather the lack of them). Great post. Happy Birthday once again.
Gary - It wouldn't be a party without you. XOXO

dianaani - Thanks! I'm hopeful about the short-coworker-memory part, too. :)

merwoman - Thank you!

Jeanette - It's so nice to see you here.

Mary - Seeing badgers isn't nearly as fun as it sounds. Given a choice, I'd opt for lasik. Thank you for stopping by my birthday party. XOXO
Before 50 it's all rehearsal, honey. Happy Late Birthday.
I meant to comment and then got distracted... quel supris! This post is just spectacular. As is Evan's sculpture. You and yours just freakin rock.
Thats so funny how many dog years .