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Archive for the ‘Aging’ Category

Longevity

Just looking at it on a hanger, you might not realize exactly what you’re looking at.  So I will tell you.  This is the coolest jeans jacket ever. If I had a dollar for every time a stranger asked me where I got it over the years, I’d be rich.  The thing I love about it is that it’s a feminine-looking jeans jacket, not a miniature man’s jacket.  Another great thing about it is that it nicely covers your derriere, which can be a plus in the looks and the warmth departments.  This jacket has class and personality.  If it had a voice, it would be saying, “you wish!”

When I think of all the places and the situations this jacket has shared with me, it’s easy to understand how attached I am to it.  It’s been with me longer than any one man…or woman for that matter!  It has been washed so many times that it’s finally starting to show its age.  I mean, this jacket was bought at a store that doesn’t even exist anymore!  Last year I noticed that it was beginning to look a little shabby, especially at a couple of the seams.  That made me feel so sad.  My sweet friend, Iris, who happens to be a great seamstress, did something on one of her good sewing machines to make sure those seams didn’t fray anymore, which sort of holds off the inevitable a little longer.  I wonder if a day will ever come when I’ll finally stop wearing it. Right now, I refer to it as “vintage.”  Kinda like me.

And then there are my  tables.  There are two end tables, two parsons tables and a six-sided one. When my ex-husband and I first got married, we were so poor that we had bargain basement furniture in our first apartment.  Back then they had these stores (maybe they still do) where you could go in and buy an entire room of furniture, including lamps, for like $100.  We also had odds and ends that were hand-me-downs from relatives who had gotten better stuff. That was the best we could do.

We had a couple we socialized with who were older and more established than we were.  The husband was a history teacher like mine, but the wife had a great paying job working in the front office of the Kansas City Royals.  Whenever we went over to their house, we were very impressed by the quality of their furnishings.  Their home was like a showcase.  Well, it turns out that the wife’s brother was an interior decorator who had gotten all their furniture for them at a place that sold exclusively to decorators.  This came as no surprise to us because the stuff was really classy.

What did come as a surprise was that the wife got us a private pass to this decorator store (as if we could afford anything!)  Nonetheless, my ex-husband said “we can at least go and look.”  So we did.  The place was as awe-inspiring as we expected it to be, with a bunch of snooty salespeople gliding around, pretending not to see us.  We must have looked like Jethro and Ellie Mae Clampett, wandering through, eyes as big as saucers.  But then Max saw these tables – rustic, yet still quality and very, very heavy.  The cost was way out of our league.  But, the more we looked at them and imagined them as ours, the more we wanted them.  We finally figured out a way to swing it, using money he made by painting in the summers and on the weekends.  And I must admit they brought a touch of class to every place we lived.

The funny thing is, when we got divorced and were taking turns splitting things up, my ex-husband chose the pool table, leaving me the tables by default.  And so I’ve hauled these heavy, sturdy tables with me every time I’ve moved (which has been quite a few times!)  A couple of them have scratches and maybe a nick here and there but they are still strong and look fine.  There have been times when I’ve thought of replacing them just for a change and because they’re so old, but I couldn’t justify getting rid of something so substantial that was still good.

It’s nice to know that some things in this world were made to last.  Maybe I’ve been pondering longevity because I have a birthday coming up next week and I always get philosophical as I take another step down that hill.  Like the jacket, some of my seams are fraying just a little bit.  And like the tables, I have my share of nicks and scars.

But, also, like both of them – I’m still here.  🙂

 

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I know these kinds of lists are floating all over the Internet, but I recently received one I think has some pretty funny (and true!) points.  If I knew who wrote it, I would be glad to give them credit.  Meanwhile, enjoy!

You know you’re getting older when:

1. You find yourself beginning to like accordion music.

2. You’re sitting on a park bench and a Boy Scout comes up and helps you cross your legs.

3. Lawn care has become a big highlight of your life.

4. Your underwear starts creeping up on you … and you enjoy it.

5. You tune into the easy listening station on purpose.

6. You take notes during commercials for laxatives and motorized wheelchairs.

7. When you light the candles on your birthday cake, people form circles and sing “Kumbaya.”

8. Someone compliments you on your layered look … and you’re wearing a bikini.

9. You keep repeating yourself.

10. You start recording daytime game shows … if you can figure out how to operate the DVR.

11. At the airport, they ask to check your bags…and you’re not carrying any luggage.

12. You wonder why you waited so long to take up macrame.

13. Your insurance company has started sending you their free calendar a month at a time.

14. At cafeterias, you complain that the gelatin is too tough.

15. Your new motorized chair has more options than your car.

16. When you do the “Hokey Pokey” and put your left hip out, it stays out.

17. One of the throw pillows on your bed is a hot water bottle.

18. Conversations with people your own age often turn into ailment one-upmanship.

19. You keep repeating yourself.

20. It takes a couple of tries to get over a speed bump.

21. You discover the words whippersnapper, scalawag, and by-cracky creeping into your vocabulary.

22. You’re on a TV game show and you decide to risk it all and go for the rocker.

23. You begin every other sentence with, “Nowadays…”

24. You run out of breath walking down a flight of stairs.

25. You look both ways before crossing a room.

26. Your social security number only has three digits.

27. You keep repeating yourself.

28. You come to the conclusion that your worst enemy is gravity.

29. It takes you all night to do what you used to do all night.

30. You go to a Garden Party and you’re mainly interested in the garden.

31. You find your mouth making promises your body can’t keep.

32. The waiter asks how you’d like your steak … and you say “pureed.”

33. At parties you attend, regularity is a popular conversational ice-breaker.

34. You start beating everyone else at trivia games.

35. You frequently find yourself telling people what things used to cost.

36. Your back goes out more than you do.

37. You keep repeating yourself.

38. Cafeteria food starts tasting good.

39. You refer to your $2500 stereo system as “The Hi-Fi.”

40. You attend all the RV shows that come to town.

41. You realize that a stamp today costs more than a picture show did when you were growing up.

42. You actually call movies “picture shows.”

43. Your grandchildren don’t know what stamps are.

44. Your childhood toys are now museum pieces.

45. Many of your co-workers were born the same year that you got your last promotion (as it happens, the last time I was in a traffic accident, the woman who ran into the back of my car was born the year I got my first driver’s license).

46. The clothes you put away until they come back in style … are back in style.

47. All of your favorite movies have been reissued in color.

48. The car that you bought brand new becomes an antique.

49. You keep repeating yourself.

50. You find this list tasteless and insensitive.

Number 16 is my favorite.  What’s yours?

 

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Well, it’s official!  I am now an old person.  You know how I know?  This week I bought a pill-splitter. Yes, you heard me right.  The doctor changed the dose of one of my medicines from two a day to one and a half.

Now, when I was young and my life was one mad adventure after another, I’d often try to split a Valium (which were rare as hen’s teeth) in two with a knife and would always end up smashing them to smithereens.  So, when I went to the pharmacy to pick up my prescription, I actually asked if they sold something to split the pills.  They did, and pointed me toward a little gizmo that cost $5.00.  And you know what’s really sad?  I love this thing!  It works like gangbusters!  It cuts pills exactly in two with a sharp little blade.  It was so neat to use that I had to stop myself before I split all the pills in the bottle!

And that’s when I knew.  “Star, old girl,” I said, “do you realize that you’re actually getting excited about a pill-splitter?  That’s something your grandma would have done.”  I hung my head in shame for a few minutes and then snapped out of it.  After all, grandma also made vases out of liquor bottles with a machine that would cut the tops off.  Then she painted them with a kind of frosted paint and everyone would receive vases for Christmas.  I’m not there yet, thank goodness.  But, hey, the month is young…

The truth is, age for me represents an appreciation for the best, most efficient way of doing things.  Maybe there’s something about having a limited time left on this earth that makes me loathe to waste any.

These days, when I’m about to run upstairs, I always look around to see if there’s anything else that might need to go up at the same time.  When I’m ordering a book for my Kindle, I shop around while I’m in the Kindle store on-line and pick up several books at the same time.  That way I don’t  have to do it so often.  And I’m never far from my Franklin planner, in which I write down everything I plan to accomplish each day.  Not only does that help me remember everything I want to do, but on days when I feel that I’ve been a lazy slob, I can always point to my list of checked-off things and say, “See?  You did a lot today!  You’re a human dynamo!”

Outwardly, age seems to be winning the battle.  Gravity is having a heyday with my body, especially my face.  And what with the random age spots, wayward gray hairs and whiskers in places they have no business being, I can pretty much guarantee you that no one is going to mistake me for a twenty year old.

But inwardly, it’s a different story.  The me inside still has pigtails, freckles across her nose and scabs on her knees.  The me inside still loves puppets, a good story and finding new and interesting toys and gimmicks, especially robots.  I love pulling tricks,  making people laugh and laughing myself until tears come to my eyes.  I love being totally silly and am drawn to people who accept that about me.  The me inside is the me that I love. And that me will never grow old.

So, back to the pill-splitter.  I guess that, alone, doesn’t totally categorize me.  I mean, seriously, if you could see this thing and try it, you’d see it really is a neat invention.  What does worry me, however, is that I just noticed that I actually used the phrase “as rare as hen’s teeth” earlier.  Whoops.  Where did THAT come from?  Who says that anymore?  And what the hell are hen’s teeth anyway?  Oh well, I give up.  I think I’ll just bring this to a close and go split some more pills.

Later,

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Some Lessons Learned

It often happens that when I have things on my mind, (like my recent vision problem,) I find myself  wide awake in the middle of the night thinking…just thinking.

I’m at an age now when I no longer believe in a lot of my younger idealistic notions.  Life can be a cruel mistress and every hard lesson leaves a scar.  Unfortunately I’m sometimes so naive and trusting that I have to be slapped down several times before I really “get” the lesson. And I’m really building up a lot of scar tissue.

For example, when a friend says to me, “I’ll always be here for you.  You’re the sister I always wished for,” that doesn’t really mean she’ll really always be there for me.  I’ve learned that, as wonderful as that sounds and feels and as much as I’d love to believe it, that same person can, without any warning, disappear from my life without a qualm.  It hurts a lot, but it is a lesson learned…the hard way.

I also learned that when my baby sister said, “Don’t worry.  I’ve got your back,” that didn’t mean she truly did.  It meant that she had my back until her other sisters applied pressure, and then she threw me to the dogs.  It was so easy for her to “forget” everything we had meant to each other, all the memories we shared.  I didn’t think that was possible.  I really didn’t!  Lesson learned…again.

And then there were my “happy ever after” dreams, the ones in which I’d be surrounded by loved ones in my later years.  They, too, got sidetracked, leaving me with no lover, no children, no family.  It wasn’t supposed to be this way, but you can’t always control fate.

But that lesson cuts both ways.  You can’t foretell the future.  Thus, a man who used to be my boss at work retired and, over many, many years has become one of my best, most trusted friends.  Another person I worked with but never knew that well, retired about the same time I did and ended up being the kind of cherished friend who has stood by me time and time again when I needed her the most.  Another friend I had hurt in the past, forgave me immediately when I sought her out and came back into my life, bringing me much joy and laughter.  And A feisty woman I moved next door to somehow magically morphed from being a neighbor into a dear friend.

So…lessons learned.  And not all of them bad.  But I guess the most important one is:  You never really know what will happen next. I guess that’s what makes life an adventure.

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I’ve mentioned Iris in this blog numerous times.  She was my neighbor when I moved into my house five years ago.  As we got to know each other, the relationship morphed into a friendship and we had a lot of fun until she moved about a year ago.  We’ve stayed in close touch though, and when I realized that she would be turning 71 on Tuesday, I insisted on taking her out for a birthday lunch.  As I drove to her house, I got the idea that it might be interesting to interview her.  I mean, reaching the age of 71 and still being full of “piss and vinegar,” is no small accomplishment!  Iris is a remarkable woman.  She has been married and divorced and has two wonderful sons.  She can side a house, carpet a bathroom, fix a computer, do your taxes, wire a light and sew a suit of clothes, and that just scratches the surface of her accomplishments.  She doesn’t take herself too seriously and has a contagious laugh, which I love.

So, as we sat down for lunch, she consented to be interviewed.  My questions are in black, her answers in red.

So, Iris, what was your first thought upon waking up today and realizing it was your 71st birthday?

Well, I was glad to have survived another day!

You appear full of vim and vigor.  To what do you attribute your good health?

I was a postal worker for 31 years and I think my job and working outside every day played a large part.  My doctor is keeping an eye on my kidneys, but, personally I feel fine.

Looking back on your life so far, do you have any regrets?

Well, I should have made better choices in men, definitely!  And I would have gone to college before I got married.  The thing was, very few people in my high school went to college.  It was hard times back then and few of us could afford it.

What advice would you give young women today?

Get an education and make yourself independent!

You worked for the post office for thirty-one years.  If you could turn back time to when you were eighteen and could choose ANY career, what would you have liked to do?

Oh, back then I wanted to be an airline hostess because it looked like such a glamorous job.  I looked into it but, back then they had height and weight restrictions and at 5’2″ I was too short.

What do you consider to be the biggest problem in the world today?

Corrupt government.  We put people in office and then they get seduced by the power and money and forget all about the common people.  And I’m not just talking about the United States.  I’m talking about governments around the world.  We need to kick all the bums out and start over fresh.

What one word best describes your whole life up to now?

BUSY!

Whoa!  I didn’t see that coming!

Well, I’ve always been busy, all of my life, but that’s okay.  I’ve also had a lot of fun!

Well, it looks like our lunch is coming.  Any final thoughts you’d like to add?

Just that I’ve had an awful lot of good luck in my life.  When I remember all of the crazy stuff I’ve done in the past, I shake my head and think, “How did I survive that?”

Well, thank you, Iris.  I hope your birthday is a very good one.

It’s already a special day.  I get to have lunch with Star!

Aw shucks!  That seems a good place to end.  What a woman!  If I’m even half as amazing as she is when I turn 71, I’ll consider myself extremely lucky.

Happy Birthday, Iris!









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When I look into the mirror these days, I don’t recognize the person staring back at me.  It’s an eerie feeling.  Where is the woman I was so used to seeing all these years?  I remember there were days when she, too, would look into the mirror and be unhappy with her face.  But, a couple of days later, she would bounce back and feel pretty damned good about the way she looked.

I don’t bounce back anymore.

No, when I look into the mirror now, what I see is what I get.  And what I see is a brow starting to droop over one eyelid,  smile lines engraved into the sides of my mouth, (even when I’m not smiling,) and the undeniable pull of gravity on what used to be tight skin.  I HATE IT!   I really do.  And yet, I’m too cowardly to have my face cut into by a plastic surgeon.  Despite their high opinions of themselves, doctors make mistakes, too, just like the rest of us.  Muscles can get nicked, causing paralysis and worse.  I don’t want to become one of their mistakes.  That would leave me worse off than I am now.

One of my escapes from reality is science fiction.  I particularly love futuristic stories in which medical technology is so advanced that people can turn in their aging bodies in exchange for youthful beautiful ones.  Or they’re put into a machine where their cells are reorganized and they emerge transformed.  So I was thinking – what if I lived in that future and could pick out any face in the world.  Whose face would I choose?

This decision isn’t as easy as it appears.  Some faces, such as Angelina Jolie’s, are beautiful but I don’t think fit with my personality.  I paid close attention for a few days to women I saw in movies, the news and on TV.  Finally, I chose this face, belonging to Olivia Wilde who plays Thirteen on “House.”

Not bad, huh?  I mean, my theory is, if you’re living a fantasy, go for broke!  I could definitely live with this face.  Yeah, it may be silly to have such outlandish fantasies, but really, who does it hurt?  What harm does it do?  It’s fun to live in your imagination once in a while.

Back in reality, I know that everyone grows older.  And I think that many of my peers accept the inevitable more easily than I do.  Good for them.  I was perusing Facebook and ran across pictures of two women I used to work with.  I hadn’t seen them for five years, and my jaw dropped to the floor.  They looked so much older and worse for wear.  It was then that I realized that that old bitch, Age, hasn’t been messing with me, alone.  Oh no, darlin’!  She has been having a time with those two as well!  A bad time.  A very bad time!  So, did that make me feel better?  Of course not!   What?  You don’t believe me?  Well, okay, maybe I felt a teensy, teensy bit better.  But in the nicest way of course….

So, conclusion?  Everyone ages.  And everyone starts to look their age sooner or later.  But it’s not good to dwell on it.  Take it from someone who knows.  So instead, tell me this:  If you could wake up tomorrow morning with any new face you choose, with no pain at all, would you?  And, if so, whose face would you pick?

Think about it.  And let me know in the comments!

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My Big Fat Birthday

Yes, some things are inevitable.  And it’s not just “a birthday,” but rather a BIG, FAT, SIGNIFICANT BIRTHDAY!  I know you’re probably wondering why I’m not saying which one, and I’m really not sure why I’m not.  But I think it might be because, the minute I tell you how old I am, I fear you will pigeonhole me.  You know, if I said I was ninety, (I’m not!) you’d think, “Poor old gal!  You gotta hand it to her, that old and still writing her blog!”  Or, if I said I was ten, it would be, “Wow.  Just ten years old and she’s so articulate!”  I don’t want to be labeled. I want to be thought of as me, and not a number.

(But, suffice it to say, I’m not ten, and I haven’t been for a long, long time!)

When I was a little girl, I thought birthdays were the best!  It was like my own personal holiday.  I’d wake up and everyone was nice to me (even my wicked step-mother.) I’d get to choose an activity, whether it would be a party with my friends, going horseback riding or taking in a movie.  Then we had all my favorite foods for dinner.  After dinner, the golden time – presents!  Ah, those were the days…

But now I’m a grown up and I don’t make a big deal of it anymore.  I do have dear friends who will remember and Francie’s taking me out for a birthday lunch (bless her heart!) I’m perfectly capable of buying myself some birthday presents, and, thanks to my tax refund, I’ve done just that.  So, it’s going to be a good day.

And I intend it to be a good year, too.  I’m intent on accepting the fact that I’m getting older and that I’ll never again be that cute little twenty year old I once was.  After all, there are many “mature” women in the movies these days like Helen Mirren and Meryl Streep who are holding their own nicely, thank you very much!  So I’m going to try hard to cultivate a little more grace about this aging business.

But I did think that I should do something significant to mark this milestone, but what?  I thought of taking a trip, but there was nowhere I want to go at this very moment.  I also thought of buying a classy piece of jewelry, but in truth, I like cheap jewelry better.  Then I thought of getting a small tattoo on my ankle.  That is the kind of thing no one in my family has ever done.  But then, I’m a sophisticated classy woman and I would NEVER do something like that…

Or would I?

Bring this new year on!

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