I saw this post on Twitter and had only one thought: as a country, we need to get some bubble wrap, lots of bubble wrap. It’s imperative. Betty White is a national treasure. We have had a slate of shitty years recently. We’re all overwrought and stressed out. We need something good. Wait. Hold that. We deserve something good. We deserve to celebrate Betty White at 100. We must get bubble wrap and make her a fetching pantsuit out of it, put her in a protected room with the puppies and kittens she adores, and then light candles and pray for her safe deliverance to her 100th birthday party on January 17th. We. Deserve. Something. Good. And. This. Is. That. Thing.
This morning while I was in my kitchen, a notification flashed on our Alexa Show. Apparently, Alexa has a birthday. Who knew? Because Alexa is basically a family member at this point seeing that she lives in our house rent free, hears all our conversations, and interjects when things are clearly none of her damn business, I thought I’d be kind and pass along our birthday wishes.
Me: Alexa, Happy Birthday.
Alexa: Thanks for the early birthday wishes. My big day is only four days away. Woohoo. This year I’ll have a gift to give away. So come back Saturdayand wish me Happy Birthday.
Geesh. Some people think their birthday is so important it needs to be recognized early and celebrated all week. Am I right?
Alexa is turning seven this week (next year I will make sure to get the date right), and it’s kind of hard to believe she’s been part of our lives for that long. My husband is a classic early adopter, so I would guess that we’ve had Alexa around for about as long as Alexa has been around. In honor of her big day, I thought I would share some things I love about her.
I love the way she she helps us do things like turn off lights like our kids do, the fourth time after she is asked.
I love the way she sends our messages along to Jeff Bezos when we can see she is listening in at times when we have not called her name. Nosey much?
I love the way she does things for us that we don’t ask her, like when I ask her to share a new clip she suggests and then, after it is over, she starts sharing some other random video I did not request and I end up yelling, “Alexa stop” fourteen times before she is quiet again.
I love the way she displays things I have bought on her lovely screen in my kitchen because it’s important for my sons to know what I ordered them for Christmas in advance of Christmas.
I love the way she mishears what we say. “Alexa, order dog treats.” “Okay. What kind of bed sheets?”
I love her hysterical sense of humor. “Alexa, tell me a Star Wars joke.” “What is a bounty hunter’s favorite dinner? Boba Fettucine.” groan
I love that when I ask her to turn on a playlist of songs from a band I like, rather than playing it in the kitchen where we are, she starts music on speakers in our bedroom or downstairs or maybe at the neighbor’s house.
I love that, like my husband sometimes, Alexa seems to hear me when I am not talking to her but then doesn’t hear me when I am right there speaking.
I love that Alexa, despite knowing all of our shopping habits (puppy treats and dog toys, anyone?) and hearing all of our household conversations, will ask me if I want to add kitty litter to my shopping list.
I especially love how Alexa will wake me up with a bright green notification light in my bedroom at 2 a.m. just so I can find there is a freeze warning for tomorrow night. Sigh.
Yep. The past seven years with Alexa have been something else. I know I am not as patient with her as I could be. I also know I don’t put her to use as well as I should. Maybe she acts up because she is like a border collie? She needs a job to do and without one she comes up with her own.
I turned 45 years old at exactly 2:12 a.m. today. After a restless night, I was awake quite early this morning as the sun began to rise. I found myself thinking, while the rest of the creatures in my house slept, about how old I thought 45 was when my own mother was 45 and I was a whopping 19 years old. Back then, 45 seemed ancient. At 45 my mother was recently separated and embarking on a new life, one she probably never had expected when she was just 19. Now that I am 45 I can attest that I do not feel as old as the Sphinx. That 19 year old girl still lives inside me. She’s just been roughed up a bit on the outside and the extra 26 years have widened her eyes.
I had a wonderful birthday. Started my day with a 20-mile bike ride that I never would have been able to do 10, or even 20, years ago. Followed that up with hours spent lounging by the pool with my family and good friends. Throughout the day, dozens of well wishes popped onto my Facebook page from friends new and old, each one a little present in itself. For dinner we grilled out and I got to open more gifts than I probably deserve at this advanced age. And, as the day wound down, I headed up to the boys’ room to read to them just as I do every night (for as long as they continue to ask me to).
It was then that I noticed one of our four African Dwarf frogs was not doing well. It was upside down at the top of the frog tank, one of its buddies hanging close to its side helping to keep it up at the top of the tank. I told the boys that he (they’re all named after dwarves from The Hobbit) would not likely survive the night. It was a tough moment that we all knew would come someday. We did not expect it to be today. We purchased these frogs three years ago. Truth be told, they’re more my pets than my sons’. I’ve been the froggy momma. I clean their aquariums, feed them, talk to them. They are my precious charges. Seeing one belly up hit me harder than it should. After all, it’s just a frog, right? Everything has to die. I know this. I’ve been expecting these small amphibians to perish ever since the day I brought them home.
But today, as I celebrate having enjoyed 45 amazing years on this planet, watching a little creature struggle in his final moments was poignant and poetic. I tell my boys all the time that life is death. There cannot be one without the other. It is the one black-and-white truth we are guaranteed. Everything that is alive will at some point die. Nothing and no one escapes. If all goes well, we are wise enough to cherish our moments and lucky enough to have a plethora of them to recall. But it all comes down to this. We come into this world and we leave it. The life of that darling little frog is no less important than mine. It’s as much a part of the grand scheme of things as I am. Its passing on my birthday, as heartbreaking as it is, is simply a reminder that my days are numbered too. I must remember not to squander them. The next 26 years, if I’m granted them, will pass in an instant. Then I will be 71 as my mother is this year and looking back on 45 and wondering where the time went because I still feel that 19 year old girl inside.