Friday, August 17, 2012 • 8:10 AM Comments (15)

Forty-Nine Random(ish) Things About Me on My Forty-Ninth Birthday

posted by Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser


If you know me or read my blog, this is mostly not new news. But this idea popped into my head, seemed fun—and boom, ping—here I go.

  1. I work most of the time standing up at my kitchen counter. The windows in front of me are the best, most favorite view I could want, a sliver of my street, my neighbor’s front yard, and a pie wedge piece of sky.
  2. Some days I can ignore the clutter on the dining table, also in my purview from the counter where I work. Some days, I can’t—and the clutter overwhelms me.
  3. Much as I love to make jam, it’s not my favorite thing to eat
  4. My domestic ambitions are far greater than my accomplishments. I wouldn’t have thought even a decade ago that I even had domestic ambitions.
  5. It’s possible the Internet is to blame for my domestic ambitions.
  6. All the stuffed animals were quarantined during the lice crisis of July. I would like about half of those animals to return. The other half… not so much.
  7. There are about ten stuffed animals I’d be inclined to keep even if no one ever played with them, because they are so cute.
  8. I often bring nursing mums some sort of cow for inspiration and solidarity.
  9. My favorite wedding present to give is a wooden spoon. A good marriage is like soup, a process dependent on time and melding, but not necessarily merging.
  10. Near the top of my wish list is to print a lot of photographs. To have photos in hand is the thing I miss about my film camera the most.
  11. I’d like to read more than I do.
  12. I applaud Twitter for its role (#Fridayreads) in my reading more than I did.
  13. I write book reviews as a way to ensure I read.
  14. Before I had kids and even when they were smaller—even when they weren’t that small—I thought I believed in homework. Now, I really don’t.
  15. The most embarrassing three items together ever on my checkout conveyor were white grape juice, jellybeans and a doughnut. I was nauseated and that one day, I didn’t eat much else. An anorexic woman gave me the evil eye. I thought unkind thoughts in return.
  16. That happened at Serios, our local market I prefer to State Street, but even years later, I feel like a State Street defector.
  17. Guilt is a driving force in my life.
  18. One of the most helpful things my dear husband ever said to me is: “It’s not easy being you.”
  19. He’s right.
  20. I’m still glad I’m me.
  21. My favorite item of clothing at the moment—well, I have two—Cailtin Bosco skirt.
  22. I love to say, “Sisterhood is Powerful.” It is, powerful.
  23. Brotherhood is much sweeter than I ever understood. I always wanted a brother. I’m glad I parent three of them.
  24. I mean to visit people at their houses but I fall down on the job to actually do it. I am pretty sure this has reached the level of character flaw.
  25. I pretty much still know the words to all the John Denver songs and the Partridge Family songs.
  26. I play Carole King, James Taylor and Simon and Garfunkel though. Phew.
  27. Pandora speaks to me. The generation gap is evident in that my son swears by Spotify. Spotify seems like too much responsibility. I love how Pandora knows me. I like the word genome, too.
  28. Other words I like include opaque, confluence, and mobile (for the phone, not cell phone).
  29. When people write comments on my blog—especially because it’s a pain in the a*& to do so—I am truly grateful.
  30. Once I stopped coloring my hair, I started to cut my own hair. I couldn’t face a salon for this purpose any longer. Like becoming a vegetarian after a childhood of carnivorousness, I was just done with the salon hair thing.
  31. I’ve had two pedicures. I love pedicures. This is one of the most surprising developments of my 48th year.
  32. Yoga made me want painted toenails.
  33. Saskia made me want purple painted toenails.
  34. Another surprising development of this past year is my rediscovered love of necklaces.
  35. Parenting adolescents is nothing like I expected. Harder, more humbling and more awe-filled than I imagined. Still hoping to get better at it.
  36. Pretty sure that for all the ways parenthood has worn us down like stones in the river, I love my husband way more now than I ever would have without the shared scars of parenthood to bond us in adversity, joy, ridiculousness and exhaustion. I feel entirely lucky to be spending my life with him.
  37. When in doubt, a picture book, a Mary Oliver poem or a baby in your lap can cure many ailments.
  38. Jamming is meditative. I had no idea.
  39. One of the best decisions I ever made was to stop running. I’m sure it’s saved my joints and neck, but more so, it made me into a walker. Walking is one of my greatest pleasures.
  40. Starting to run a teeny tiny bit completely rocks, too.
  41. The only way to describe what happened over the past couple of months with yoga and me is that I fell down the rabbit hole.
  42. Over the past nearly 25 years I’ve lived in two houses—save for 18 months in a London flat—and in both houses, I’ve had early rising next-door neighbors. Being an early riser, that company has been surprisingly grounding.
  43. The sound of my teenager’s alarm clocks (plural to the alarms) may invoke dread, if not PTSD, for years to come. I did just tell him that happy birthday to me would be not hearing the alarm continue to go off this morning.
  44. Words I’d use to describe myself: warm, caring, thoughtful as in full of thoughts, and ultimately hopeful.
  45. There’s little about time I would freeze, but the four year-old’s first drawn portraits, that’s the golden age of drawing and I could look at her creations from this moment in time pretty much forever.
  46. The apples returned—Zestars, my favorite—and reminded me why apples are one of the best, most favorite things in my life. My friendship with Sarah at Apex Orchards is another favorite thing.
  47. This list looks nothing like I expected. I’m not sure what I expected. I haven’t yet confessed my love of Teen Mom (I want happiness for Catelynn and Tyler; they so deserve it) nor the fact that I just finished the last episode of Rescue Me last week and I didn’t get to the ER finale for months, either. I loved the ER ending and still think about that last image. No less than ten people—in England and the States—worried that I’d seen the birth gone awry episode. That episode aired when my baby bump with first babe was quite round.
  48. Although Molly and Alex didn’t know me, I am pretty sure GoBerry came to town especially for me.
  49. A thing I meant to do yesterday was look up prime number to remind myself all the reasons they are prime. Math is not my best thing. I know 49 is prime and I sincerely hope I will be at my prime this year. I also hope to sleep more than I did at 48. I am certain sleep helps almost everything.

Saskia's portrait of me, Sunday.

Sisterhood is Powerful, Lucy.

Me with Ione.

Even though this list is nothing like I expected, writing it has been a very amusing way to start my birthday off. I could have put on the list that I enjoy the process of forging this blog much more than I’d ever imagined. And now, I’m off to an early morning yoga class: Happy birthday to me.

Comments (15)
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Um, 49 isn't a prime, dear - it's 7 x 7. Your last prime year was 47; your next one will be 53.

That being said, you're still in your prime. And other than that, the list is flawless.

Posted by Hosie on 8.17.12 at 8:52

Yes, this list is flawless. Though I don't know your life, really, I now feels as if I have a personal peek into you as a truly human being being human. Happy Birthday.

Posted by Heidi Ehrenreich on 8.17.12 at 9:15

I love this list, Sarah. Thanks for sharing these parts of yourself with us and for being a warm and committed presence in the community. Happy birthday! xo

Posted by Corinna on 8.17.12 at 9:19

Happiest of birthdays, Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser. You completely rock. :)

Posted by Tracy Trial on 8.17.12 at 9:24

Haha Hosie....I haunt my fiance with this type thing all the time. Since doing personality tests and finding that I'm an INTP "Architect" he does a very good job pointing out my unavoidable habit of correcting every....single....detail....regardless of importance haha (So thank you for saying it...instead, I just get to enjoy the list)

This is fantastic, Sarah. I wonder if it's too late to do one for 29 this year. I feel like there will be a number of things pre-30 that won't seem as important after. Kind of like my own little list time capsule. And I'm not sure when Spotify crosses the age boundary, but I, too, enjoy Pandora and the word genome. Spotify mostly stresses me out. A very happy birthday week to you :)

Posted by jcurrier517 on 8.17.12 at 10:18

Giggling over here with jcurrier517... thank you, Hosie, for pointing it out. I was going to NOT say anything, but now I don't have to bite down on the pencil in order to do so. Happy happy 49th to you, Sarah. I can especially relate to #18 - 20, but they all speak to me! :-)

Posted by Hannia on 8.17.12 at 11:24

Happy Birthday Sarah, we adore you!!! Annie, Liz and Ione xoxo

Posted by annie on 8.17.12 at 13:54

What I meant of course (well, not really of course, I did think prime but I MEANT) square number. What is mostly true is I'm blessed by amazing people in my life. Grateful.

Posted by SarahButtenwieser on 8.17.12 at 18:11

I am so happy to know you and know many of these beautiful qualities. Happy, happy birthday.

Posted by susan rees on 8.17.12 at 18:36

Happy birthday Sarah! I love the list! Especially the goberry and the most embarrassing three items on your check out list. I once ended up with a piece of chocolate cake, a chocolate bar and a cup of tea at a check out and tried to convince the guy they weren't all for immediate consumption.

Posted by SarahH on 8.18.12 at 0:11

Love this! Hope you had the best of days, and so happy we got to connect. From the tallest of us to the smallest, we heart you.

Posted by Molly Feinstein on 8.18.12 at 12:35

Sarah: ancient Jews recognized this year as the Jubilee Year...a great time to take stock and celebrate.... xo from all of us

Posted by Sig Roos on 8.19.12 at 5:11

Primo list of a primo friend...nothing's ever quite as we expect, and yet is, in the end, just what it is/where we are anyway...and something nicely round in that square number...they're all worth celebrating roundly! Wishing you that sleep (which does, indeed, help just about everything) and oh, so much more on this birthday that launches your half-century year (REALLY something to celebrate!). xoxoxox

Posted by randiek on 8.19.12 at 8:59

Happy Birthday Sarah!

Posted by Emily Marbach on 8.19.12 at 12:22

Happy Birthday, belatedly, Sarah. This was a lovely piece, not surprisingly! And I so wish for more sleep for you - a wish that I hope gets fulfilled!

Posted by Beth Grams Haxby on 8.22.12 at 6:43



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