40th birthday weekend

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I love this time of year. Summer is turning to fall, kids are going back to school, the fashion magazines are full of brown leather boots and chunky turtlenecks, Ohio State football is starting, and the US Open Grand Slam tennis tournament will run over Labor Day weekend. Barrak and I also both celebrate our birthdays in the latter half of August.

I go first. This Sunday, I’ll turn 40.

Barrak and I are headed to the Cincinnati tennis tournament this weekend — it’s part of my present. This weekend trip has become a tradition. The first time we went, we drove down in my Cabrio. It was so hot, we fried and smoked like vampires in the sun. By the end of the two hour drive, our clothes were soaked with sweat. It was even hotter inside the stadium. We went again the year I was pregnant with Greta. I had to keep dropping ice cubes down my shirt. Key West, FL and Mason, OH are the two hottest places on earth.

It’s such a small tournament and small town that you can get pretty close to the players. One year, we saw Nadal eating dinner at a local restaurant after his match. Another year, we passed Andy Murray on the freeway and saw Mary Jo Fernandez at a deserted Panera with her family.

Claddagh is the only decent place to eat. But we don’t really go to Mason for the food. This will be the first year we see the ladies play; I’m hoping to see Serena.

I’ll blog about it — live from Mason!

So about that turning 40 thing. For me, it’s not a time to wail about getting old or looking old or whatever. But it is a milestone and you’ve got to give it some respect. It’s a time to pause and let the best memories of my life surface, so I can roll them around in my mind.

Memories like — I feel a list coming on — carving out a corner of my own in L.A.; working at figlio and my great little apartment in the heart of Grandview; my first date with Barrak; buying an adorable 1914 Craftsman bungalow together in Clintonville; visiting Key West with Barrak for the first time; going back to Key West to marry him; being very pregnant with Greta in the dog days of summer; bringing her home from the hospital on a sunny, windy October day and putting her in her new crib while Barrak ran out to get us Jersey Mike’s subs and a case of Stella Artois for the OSU game; finding out #2 was a boy, again on a sunny, dramatic October day; breaking hospital rules and laying newborn Magnus, swaddled like a burrito, in my bed next to me while Barrak and I watched Justified on the TV in the corner of the room.

Tonight, Barrak took the kids to the mall so they could pick out a birthday present for me. I also zipped over and bought a pair of jeans at Express. It was an emergency once I caught sight of myself in my baggy, frumpy-looking work pants AND they were 40% off. Then we met up at Marcella’s across the street. Man, I love this place. For starters, they give the kids little pans of dough to play with. Love it. Second, they serve pasta. Perfect. Third, they serve grapes and cantaloupe with the pasta. Thank you!

Marcella’s also makes one of my favorite cocktails: the whiskey rosso. Served in a martini glass, it’s chilled and sweet and plummy and yummy, and goes really well with the platter of salty calamari and zucchini fritto we usually get. We also shared one of their giant, melt-in-your-mouth meatballs, a spicy shrimp and pesto pizza, and carpaccio served with crostini, capers, lemon aioli and arugula. A great start to the weekend.

Earlier today at work, my team very sweetly and legitimately surprised me with balloons, cards, fancy cupcakes from The Suisse Shop, and some lovely gifts, including a Vera Bradley journal and a Sephora gift card.

Tell me: what beauty product would you suggest I buy with it?

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