Failing Toward 40: The Conclusion of the Rhapsody Failure Memoirs (Part III)

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Good morning, kittens, and welcome to what people of good taste can only hope is the final installment of the Rhapsody Failure Memoirs. It seemed an auspicious day for it because it happens to be—I shit you not—my 40th birthday.

But first… I want to speak about something rather delicate, my friends.

Can we bring the house lights up for a second? (Not that bright. Thank you.)

Before I begin, I thought you might like an explanation as to why I went away for six months, leaving no note about where I was going, or when I’d return? Or maybe you don’t, and that’s fine. As I’ve said before, blog abandonment is hard to talk about, but we must, since nearly every American woman I know has a blog that she is actively Not Writing.

Look, the point is that there were some serious matters of life and loss going on in the House of Rhapsody, and that’s why I accidentally-on-purpose went out for another bottle of chardonnay and forgot to come back. I know that while I was out, you’ve all waited faithfully for me, doing nothing else, just draped like a bunch of Victorian consumptives across your chaise lounges, hysterical with concern.

That’s so sweet of you. But now, your worry is over. Rhapsody is back, and this New Zealand savvie I’ve just opened is as crisp as the summer morn.

Also, to be honest, a trusted friend told me I need “a more robust on-line platform” from which to launch other projects into orbit. That’s why there’s a big pile of fiberglass and bolts in the corner over there. After today’s post, you can all help me get the high dive installed and test it out for bounciness.

Now then: let’s pull on our flowered bathing caps and begin, shall we? It’s so good to be back.

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I did a little stroll through the Rhapsody Lending Library of past posts getting ready for today’s final installment of the Failure Memoirs, and I must say I am impressed. Whether cleaning out my closet with Tim Gunn (“Mistakes Were Made”), cooking up a promiscuous mess of pasta with Nigella (“Nigella and the Mackerel-Colored Sea“), or just boring you with embarrassing personal disclosures (“All My Favorites“), Rhapsody in Cool has spent nearly a year and a half now being quite interesting.

Mostly silent, but also interesting.

I like to think that I have also sometimes served some fresh and useful insights to my readers, as in my award-winning post, “The Worrier’s Life.“, recipient of the Rhapsody in Cool Post of the Year on This Blog medal. (Yes, this entire post is a forced march down memory lane, but the friend who told me I needed a springier “platform” also pointed out that I don’t milk my own work enough. I hope you won’t mind.)

And now that I’m two score, I am peering through the opera glasses of an older woman and letting my eyes adjust, for your benefit, dear reader, as much as my own. You’re welcome.

I’ve seen the changes coming for some time, of course. Advertisers are wooing me quote differently than they did a few short years ago (see, “Rhapsody Sings the Body Electric“). No longer are they trying to sell me cranberry flavored vodka and birth control. Instead, they assume I’m spending my days swathed in the limp envelope of an Eileen Fisher sweater, pondering how to diversify my investments in ways that support my active lifestyle.

It was not so long ago that Fifth Avenue wanted me to take risks, like cinnamon-infused whiskey (responsibly), but now, the mere fact that I have a pulse seems to be cause for celebration. And an all-new 2015 Acura TLX. They’re right, of course. I do live in that liberal suburban utopia where thoughts like “It’s really terrible what’s happening in Sudan!” jostle right up next to, “Perhaps I should get my teeth whitened again….”

But Rhapsody is not going to let anyone tell her how to live. Yes, I will undertake a few self improvements, under the on-going tutelage of Tim Gunn and other friends who have gotten their can-can acts together for the Real Writing Life. I am, I am happy to tell you, writing just as I boldly and obnoxiously as I declared I would last winter in my exhausting New Year’s post (“We Have Reached the Jump Zone“).

Please do not hold your breath for any publication dates as this will crimp the garden hose of creative “flow” for me and be very, very fatal for you.

For the most part, readers, I am charging into the next decade under the existing, and unbeatable Rhapsody brand—a potent blend of vanity and crippling insecurity. If I need anyone to explain the 21st century to me, I have my children, Brioche and Tannery, to help me, and Mr. Roboto, who is right this very moment building a new world-saving robot of some kind and is still as screw-ball adorable as he was when I dedicated “A Meditation on Love and Engineering” to him and all his nerd kin.


It occurred to me yesterday, while driving the children to school, that I can no longer understand pop music. Well—hang on—that’s not quite it. I can understand it, I just can’t pretend anymore for a second that it is addressing itself to me. And that saps some of the life away, readers. There is a certain kind of pop euphoria that you can only truly feel when your own heart is still made of bubble gum. In the previous century, when I sat in my room listening to Madonna on KRSP (go back and relive the magic here – we’ll wait) I wondered what it would be like to be as worldly as the gum-snapping protagonist of “Lucky Star.” Now I have to try to remember.

Example: Brioche and Tannery enjoy a wonderful tune called “Chocolate” by a band of toddlers calling themselves The 1975. It took me a moment to work out that this was an homage to the world of antiquities, not a reference to a year in which any band member was actually alive.

I like the song but in order to enjoy it I have to imagine myself 20 years younger and enjoying it, or there’s something creepy and sad about singing along. And I don’t sing along because Brioche said this would force her to jump from the moving car.

For a short while, I was the interpreter of pop culture for Brioche and Tannery, but that’s vanishing. Brioche now operates her own Apple products in ways that would have warmed the heart of Steve Jobs and I find myself telling Tannery that it is really not all right to address one’s mother as “Heeeeeeeeeeeeeey, sexy laaadddy!”

I must seem to them like an irritable old tortoise—a role for which the skin on my neck is already preparing. Oh, I do get crabby from it all, readers. It’s because I don’t sleep as well as I used to. But for once, I’m not going to take out my frustrations on Gwyneth Paltrow.

In fact, I think I have decided that this will be the last mention of poor GP at Rhapsody in Cool. We got our start back in 2013 taking cheap shots at the poor girl (“Of Gwyneth and Oysters“) but GP bating is an Olympic level sport now and I am only a devoted amateur. Also, I read a great book about internet shaming this week and realized with what ease I might (have?) become an incredible jerk.

Better that I get back to my roots, the origins of true Rhapsody, which are best exemplified by the soundtrack of Zorba the Greek (recounted winningly in “Things I Feel Bad About, To Make You Feel Better“).

I’m sorry to say the pure joy has been dimmed a bit by YouTube, where I learned that “Chorus Tou Zorba” is now the compulsory schtick of waiters in Greek restaurants the world over. You don’t know resentment until you’ve seen a middle aged man obliged to stop busing tables in the middle of his shift to shuffle through Zorba’s dance and then smash a bunch of plates—plates which he then has to sweep up himself.

So, if by dancing a Zorba Birthday Dance today I perpetuate any offensive myths about Greece, the debt crisis, or the innocent bromance of Anthony Quinn and Alan Bates, I’m sorry. But I hope you’ll join me, anyway. The steps are simple.

Everyone form a line and I’ll lead us right out of the salon, with my red kerchief waving.

Because it’s my birthday, dear readers! And really, would it kill you?




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