Becoming a Lady

Unknown-1Lady is relative, I suppose.  But as I think of age, I think about those milestones along the way.  Rites of passage.  Make up was a big one for me.  I wanted to wear make up since I was about, well, since I could stand on my tip toes and watch my mom put on her lipstick in her dressing table’s mirror.  But the first time I bought any cosmetics, I mean real cosmetics, not the blue eyeshadow from Wal-Mart, was when I was 17.  My girlfriend and I had been shopping in downtown Bartlesville, OK (the days before malls) and wandered by the Mary Kay store.  The flashy pink interior with its black accents enthralled me from the moment the first glare-free bulb around the vanity mirror caught my eye.  Makeover?!  Sure.

images-2We were guided to the comfy chairs, and set up in front of big three way mirrors.  My makeup artist began by rubbing astringent across my face with a cotton ball, asking me how often I got makeovers.  When I replied “Never before,” she must have thought “Sucker!” She flattered me with comments like, “Did you know you have a double set of eyelashes?” I didn’t, and I still am not sure what that is.  And, “You have a heart-shaped face,” which my insecure side thought she meant I had fat cheeks.  But when she said I had “high cheek bones” I knew that phrase.  I’d read about it in Seventeen magazine, the resource for all teenage girls in 1980.  Cheryl Tiegs, the CoverGirl model had “high cheek bones”.  I had never noticed mine before and figured that was due to the pudgy heart shape.

make-up-bag1At the end of the session, I had been so flattered that I bought almost everything the makeup artist said I needed in order to maintain the stripper look she’d applied to my face.  I spent nearly $19 on the supplies.  Nineteen dollars was a fortune to me.  I went home and cried (luckily I was wearing expensive water-proof mascara).  I couldn’t afford this kind of make up.  I would never be able to be a lady, I thought.

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Another About Time

images-3My yoga instructor tells me to “be present”.  Sure, at that moment, when I’m twisting my left leg behind my right and balancing on my ear, I attempt to “be present”.  But present is a hard place to stay, especially since time keeps moving forward, keeps moving toward the future.  Just once, it would be fun to have a yoga teacher say, “be future.”

A good writing friend of mine, who is also past the fifty mark, and I were discussing our books, how many we have in us and want to get written.  She said something that I thought was brilliant and has stuck with me.  “Time doesn’t so much seem shorter at this age, but it definitely seems narrower.”

flush_hallwayI took that to heart, and I’m relinquishing my role as responsible human being this month and focusing only on my writing.  This blog is a nice and fun respite, but it may be neglected just like my cats.  Occasional feedings, and some water, but for the present I have a narrow passage I need to navigate.

Stereotypes

UnknownI’m still pissed about the Facebook quiz apologizing to me for suggesting I shouldn’t have kids.  I want an apology for the apology.

One of my favorite things about growing older is the constant learning.  I’m aware imagesthat I will be learning forever.  It’s one of the reasons I looked forward to being 50 and why I look forward to being 70.  I’ll know even more when I’m 70 than I do now.

One of the most powerful things I’ve learned in my 50 years as a human being is that we are all different.  That everyone’s reality is theirs alone.  In essence, there is no reality.  But there are individuals.  When I was younger, much younger, I thought we all wanted the same things, that we all had the same core goals.  But really, other than that shelter, food and love stuff, we have individual needs. And no matter how you look at it, we are as different as you and me.

s-ELIZABETH-ADENEY-largeDoes society (Facebook), in this day and age, assume that because I’m female I want or need children?  I’m mulling this.  Society’s misdirected assumptions, not the having kids part.  Why can’t I just be me? What makes it wrong to not have kids?  Why would that choice ever deserve a “Sorry!”?

 

 

Facebook Schmacebook

I took one of those Facebook quizzes today. Usually I don’t.  I think I took the one that told me what literary character I would be, and maybe the one that told me what color I would be.  But otherwise, I avoid them.  I don’t remember the results to either one of those previous quizzes.  But today’s quiz seemed safe.  It was “How Many Children Should You Have?” I’m over fifty (by 30 days), child-bearing out of the question, so why not. But I worried as I started to answer the questions that it would tell me I should have 1 or 2 kids, or maybe more.  Would I feel bad if it did? I don’t have any kids, so would I suddenly start going through some sort of maternal regret? Would that biological clock that never ticked for me suddenly start up?  TICK TOCK! making me run out and adopt 5 starving African children?  Then, the results were tallied: “You should not have any children. Sorry.”  Whew.  But then I had to start resenting that the quiz felt the need to apologize.  I was happy with my decision.  There was nothing wrong with my decision. And obviously, it was the right one.  For me.  No need to apologize.

Below the results, it did say, (and I sensed a sigh and jealousy), “You will have more money and sex than your parent-friends.”

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Ms. Magoo

A weird week to say the least.  My partner got laid off from his job. While disruptive, it is a good thing in the long run for many reasons. But that’s another post. From the moment he came home, it seemed crazy things kept happening around me.  When I stopped at 7-11 to get gas a woman started raging and calling me a slew of bad words. Okay, this isn’t a PG blog.  Here’s what she did, she leaned over like she was constipated, double flipped me off, then screamed “Fucking bitch whore slut!!” Now, I’ve been called almost all of those things, but never all of them in a row.  “Someone’s having a bad day,” I said and I got in my car. She pulled away, then stopped her car and screamed the lovely epithets again, flipping me off some more, in case I didn’t get the message the first time.

images-1Meth much?  Then while I drove down a side street that afternoon, I crossed a main thoroughfare and just as I passed to the other side I heard a loud screech of brakes and then saw two cars hit each other with such tremendous impact that they bounced off one another, then spun back toward opposite corners of the intersection. A wreck out of a Quentin Tarantino film. In my rearview mirror, I spotted one driver walking to the other car, then stepping back aghast. I kept driving onward, as a crowd had gathered and 911 had been called. But it was pretty clear someone didn’t make their next appointment.images

The next day, I went for a peaceful hike in the countryside with a friend. The trail empty of other hikers, the air quiet and many trees stood like skeletons dead from the drought. When the mountain lion growled at us to get out of his territory, that’s when I knew my adrenalin had reached its peak for the week.

I felt like I’d been walking over land mines, like Mr. Magoo walking along oblivious to narrowly missed dangers along my way.  Only I wasn’t oblivious.

What does this have to do with getting older, to living the better half of my life?  I found it was a reminder that survival continues day-t0-day.  I know I handled each situation with much more patience than I ever would in, say, my 20s or 30s.  That’s not to say I wasn’t scared to death each time.

It’s a new week.  Whew.

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Friends

I had a couple of “younger” friends tell me they were excited about turning 50 since they’ve watched me have so much fun. That made me happy to hear.

This week I went to all my doctors in one swell foop, just to get all those tests over with.  I’m not a procrastinator so I made all the appointments on the same day.  By 10am I got an A+ on my teeth (still fooling the hygienist on how much I (don’t) floss), by 1pm my eyes passed muster, and by 4pm my physical exam was complete with flying colors.  Except one thing.  Now I just have the colonoscopy left.  We’ll see how excited those “younger” friends are after I share that experience.  I’m more worried about the milkshake I have to drink the night before, than I am the exam itself.

Today is my 50.11 birthday!

Time

I think I made a promise to do this blog daily when I started. Well, that’s the beauty of being Over 50, I can do what I want and not feel guilty about it.  I could say I was busy, and I was, but that’s not really why I haven’t been here.  It’s just that my super ego has shrunk and my guilt has subsided.

UnknownThis morning I heard that freshmen entering college right now were just starting kindergarten when the 9/11 attacks happened.  When I first thought about it, I thought “Man, I’m old.” But then I realized, I’m not old, it’s Time that moves too fast.  I certainly don’t feel old. And many things in the past don’t seem that far away, while others feel like eons. It’s perspective, I suppose.  Take black lacquer furniture from the 80s.  That’s what was going on when I started college.  And yet, it doesn’t seem that long ago.  I suspect someone somewhere still has Patrick Nagel print hanging on their wall.  Probably some therapist’s office.

Four Letter Word: Diet

My mom put me on a diet when I was in the 3rd grade.  I wasn’t fat, she said, I was just plump.  My gym instructor put me on a diet last week.  After a week of counting carbs and fat, I realized I’m not any better off than I was in 3rd grade.   I struggle with the same things: I still cringe at the word, “plump”, and I still fight cravings and resent deprivation.  By deprivation, I don’t mean starvation.  I can pretty much state with complete honesty that I’ve never missed a meal.  By deprivation, I mean I want something and I tell myself I can’t have it.  On the one hand, this is probably a good thing.  On the other, I get pretty pissy about it.  It’s not like the 42 years that I’ve been dieting have turned me into the svelte bikini-clad girl I thought it would. And yet, I keep saying, “If I just try harder.” It suddenly dawned on me that this is the body I showed up with and it’s apparently the body I’m going out with.  Now I need to work on being nicer to myself without going hog wild on the M&Ms I’ve kept from myself for the past 42 years.  

My Body, Myself

All last week, besides trying to remember the password to this damn blog, I also kept coming up with blog entries about my body. Probably because I was going through that up and down, or should I say in and out (tummy) phase. Body image. Pooey. I heard someone say once that they wished they’d appreciated their body when they were younger. But my body was just as up, down and all around then too. It comes down to not my body, but my mind.  I’m fifty, it’s time to quit looking in the mirror and wishing for a flat stomach, time to quit grabbing my stomach roll and berating myself for the bread pudding I had last night. If I don’t like my body now, how am I ever going to like myself later when all those other gravity issues are really showing off their talent?  That’s not to say I’m going to start liking my body as of this moment.  And I doubt my behavior is going to change overnight, if ever, either.  But I think I might keep thinking about this blog entry instead of what I had for dinner.  Or dessert.  

Anybody else obsess about this stuff?

Mental Vitality

On Facebook there’s a game going around right now where you pick up the book closest to you and turn to page 45 and the first sentence describes your sex life.  Oh hell, after seeing it go around the newsfeed about 3,000 times, I thought, I’ll try it.  So, I turned to see what was the closest book on my desk.  Turned out it was  a book given to me on my 50th birthday by a good and funny friend.  The book is titled Growing Lovely, Growing Old, by Douglass Scarborough McDaniel, published in 1941.  It’s pages are yellowed, the pink paper sleeve surrounding the hardbound cover is delicate and the edges lacy with wear.  The cover has a photo of Whistler’s Mother across the front.  Not sure how that crabby old lady got to represent “lovely”, but maybe in 1941 she didn’t seem so grouchy. Anyway, I turn to page 45 and this is what I get:

“…the more mental vitality a person has, the more varied are his interests.”

Maybe it’s the chia seeds I had in my green vitamin drink this morning, but I’m feeling rather lovely, both mentally and physically.  Happy 50.055th!

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