You know when you’re at a party or a school function with women you don’t know well, and something happens that strikes you as absurd or annoying or worthy of an eye-roll. You scan the crowd, looking for a comrade in ridiculousness, someone else who you just know feels as you do. Often, there’s no one, and you just have to giggle inwardly and wait until you can leave so you can share the abject oy of the moment with a friend or maybe a husband.

But once in awhile, you lock eyes with a complete stranger across the room, and you just know you’re on the same page. One of you lifts an eyebrow or maybe covers her mouth to keep from guffawing, and instantly you feel validated and a smidge less alone in an uncomfortable situation. It’s the grumpy Formerly’s version of a warm fuzzy.

Well, that’s how I felt when I saw this:

So of course I had to track her down and get her on the phone so we could have our little raised eyebrow interaction. Her name is Marija (pron. Mar-eye-ah) Thomas, and she’s a 35-year-old actress/photographer/videographer/blogger in Los Angeles (where you’re a Formerly way younger than anywhere else in the country). Marija was asked to test out a video camera for a photo equipment website and used it to do this Lady Gaga parody of Poker Face. The site had 9000 hits in one day!

(Don’t feel bad if you need to Google the actual Poker Face video to completely get the joke–it doesn’t mean you’re a loser so much as a crazybusy Formerly. And maybe a loser too, but whatev–I only saw it for three seconds of it one time before I threw my body in front of the TV to prevent my 7-year-olds from watching).

But enough about me: Marija confirms what I suspected, that being a Formerly in LA is hella harder than anywhere else. “Every prom queen from all over the country when they reach escape velocity comes out here, and they’re 18, 19, 20,” she explains. “Most don’t last that long, but then there’s a new batch. The density of young beautiful women is tremendous.”

Even after they go back to where they came from, a new bunch replaces them, and since they all look the same (mostly blond, with boobs up on their clavicles and skinny) you don’t realize they’re different people and maybe assume they’ve found some fabulous secret to staying fabulous that has eluded you. Marija speculated that maybe that’s what happened to Meg Ryan, and how she wound up with the little face situation she has going on. “She was the young cute one, and now Gwyneth has taken her place. The pressure must have been tremendous.”

What she was saying could have been titrated out of my brain, and so it was really hard for me to let her get a word in edgewise, but I put some food in my mouth so she could speak.

We talked about what I write about in my book (coming August 17th, in case you haven’t been beaten over the head with that date enough) which is that women who are no longer young are in a crappy spot: You’re either young or you’re old, and there’s no happy place that’s not either a frumpy mom stereotype of a shrill Sex and the City caricature. When there’s no place for you to exist happily (without being accused of “letting yourself go” if you start to look a little slack) you essentially vanish. Hence the feeling of invisibility, I, for one, have had in recent years.

I had to know: How does a Formerly resist the dumbass pressure to look 21 forever, in LA of all places? “The truth is, I don’t,” says Marija. “I have a supportive husband who still thinks I’m hot, and a very supportive mom who taught me how to have self-confidence. Also I’m too lazy to do too much in the way of self preservation. But man oh man, when I look at the skin on my chest I MOURN for my youth!” she says. “I always say to my husband that I just want a little “spackle” here and there. He’d kill me if I had anything done, and frankly, I haven’t really thought about it seriously. But the thought is there every morning when I put on my make-up. Maybe? Someday? I’m fighting the good fight. For now.”

Well done, you!

Here’s the real Marija and her son, in case you were curious.

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