Z is for Zigging and Zagging

Eldering — the new word I made up because it sounds more “Lord of the Rings” (think of the LotR term for 111:”eleventy-one”, because that’s cute, cute, cute) and less “Getting Old and Crusty” and is therefore a more interesting and less cripplingly depressing word — involves dodging left when crap is coming at you, and juking right when it’s coming from behind, pun not intended and yet hilarious.
Ya gotta zig and zag or you’ll get plowed, that’s my point. Life is not a straight shot. To be upright and moving forward sometimes seems a monumental task, yet we do it, dodging obstacles all the way to the end.
And whew, the end of a long stretch of Crapola on a Cracker, that terminal moment when the worst is behind you and hey, it’s sunshine and roses from here on out, is the best. It’s rest, a long sigh, a heavy breath of relief. It’s the Corpse Pose after any-amount-of-time-in-Yoga-at-all. The BEST.
And before we know it, BOOM, there’s another thing to dodge, whether it’s an enormous life event or a tiny dramatic thorn that threads its way through your psyche and shreds all sanity and reason.
I may be dramatic, yet you get my point because we’ve all had these Events, these Changes, and we’ve been through our own enormous share of all of that.
We Zigged. We Zagged. We survived.
Therefore we can wear socks with sandals and use words like Whippersnapper if we want, because we’re survivors.
We Aged, We  Conquered. We Rock!!
And thus I end the A To Z of Aging, with the words, “We Rock!”
I mean, how cool is that?

T is for Touch

I don’t know if the internet is to blame, yet it is what I blame.
People have forgotten how to interact except by way of invisible carrier pigeons entwined within the ethernet.
Could this be true, and how sad if it is.
But it certainly feels accurate.
And thus, human touch is lost. All day I sit at a keyboard, typing away, feeling little, saying much, until the work bell rings, I head to the house, and hop on social media.
Really? That’s my life?
No, I refuse.
There’s no communication there, no true feeling, no sincere interaction, because on the society pages of today, I’m a rock star. We all are, aren’t we? How much of that stream is life,. or fact, or in the ballpark?
Aside from baby sloth videos, what is the benefit to the internet?
Who needs it? We still have the good old USPS — and in ten short days, I’ll have answers to my burning questions, whatever they be, from whatever sage I’ve entrusted with my inquiries.
Yeah, okay, I get it, the need for immediate feedback. I have a pen pal, so that I may write letters and see handwriting, but if I have a time-sensitive knowledge-need, I text. Yeah. It’s cheating, but she doesn’t share my need for almost immediate response, barely leaving the proximity of the mailbox before responding.
So okay, I get the lack of interface as the new intra-face, but it still stinks.
That’s my point: while immediate, tech lacks the true stuff I need, especially as I age: Humanity.
A handshake, a hug — oh, I know the best huggers in my life; I relish hugs from them (you know you have favorites, too, admit it) — a quick touch on the arm, whatever. I’m not choosy. I simply enjoy favorable moments with people.
It sounds so simple but like the Yeti, it is seldom seen. Note I’m not saying it doesn’t exist out of hand, it’s just elusive.
I might get a reputation for being the creepy old lady that runs her index finger across the back of people’s hands for seemingly no reason. If asked, I hope I’m still clear thinking enough to come up with a palpable lie. “You need lotion, I have some in my handbag.” (Because I’ll have a giant purse in my lap, just where nutty old broads keep their life’s accumulation.” I’m optimistic that I won’t be batty enough to grab someone’s hand and slap Jergen’s across it without permission…because it wouldn’t be weird if I had permission…
All I know is, even my Kindle Fire feels cold in my hands, no matter who I’m typing toward.

P is for Perspective

When I was 8 years old, I graduated from a Brownie to a Girl Scout.
In order to do that, I had to cross a bridge. A literal bridge. It was about four foot long, fresh from the scout leader’s garden — dirt collected around its feet, staining them a reddish brown.
And I was asked to cross the bridge.
Repeatedly.
Asked repeatedly; they only wanted me to cross the bridge the one time.
And why must their pleas be unanswered? Because I didn’t want to cross wearing galoshes.
I had galoshes. I don’t believe they are created anymore. And if they are, they’re called Wellies, or something cute, because 8-year-old girls know that galoshes are not cool.
Especially when they’re bright red.
With Big Bird’s visage stamped across the top.
Alongside the L and R, etched across the appropriate boot; L for Left, R for Right.
I shudder still when I think of those boots.
And how I could not get them off.
Nope. Practically glued to my shoes, those galoshes, and oh, oh, oh, how I was mortified.
Especially since one of my fellow Scout’s Big Sister was going to watch the ceremony…and she was 21! Gasp! That’s SO OLD! How can I allow someone SO OLD and SO COOL to watch me tromp across a questionably formed garden accoutrements in bright stinkin’ red Big Bird Left/Right galoshes! She’ll think I don’t know what boot goes where! And worse yet, What If I Had Them On the Wrong Foot??!!
(I double-checked, triple-checked, even as I valiantly failed repeatedly to somehow wriggle out of the world’s tightest-fitting footwear, that indeed I had at least attached them to the appropriate foot!)
And why did I wear them to the ceremony? Because I forgot. About the Girl Scouts, about the ceremony, about everything except getting out of there and getting home to my dog Muffin and the biggest bowl of ice cream I could scoop.
That was my goal: ice cream. Not Scouts. Not graduating. None of that.
I wanted home and a dog and sweets.
Now, I’ve aged a bit.
I no longer have those galoshes, nor do I know what happened to them except that they were not in my life for long after that fateful day.
I probably hid them in a bush somewhere along the trail home. I may have done that with another article or two. Sorry, Mom.
My point is: things look different on this side of the bridge. I’m not eight any more, and I’m cool with that. And there have been a lot of other things to cross, to endure, to swim or sink when floating wasn’t an option.
A lot.
And 21-year-olds don’t look quite so old. In fact, they look 12. They just do.
Part of me thinks, don’t you wish you had those galoshes?
And the other part of me sighs, shakes her head, and says, “Uh uh. No way. They were hideous.”
Not one for sentimentality, I guess.
I would tell my little self that it’s okay on the other side. It’s different, and that’s okay, too, and on this side, I can buy whatever boots I want, which is kind of nice, though gifts are great, too…all so confusing, isn’t it? We want one thing, then another, then the first thing again and maybe didn’t save the receipt for the second thing.
PS. I didn’t go across that Girl Scout bridge. The leader just gave me my patch or sash or whatever and a firm pat on the shoulder with a regretful, “Sorry you can’t get your boots off. Maybe your mom can help?”
Then she turned away, on to the next Scout.
I’d crossed metaphorically.
I’m okay with that.

On Timeliness

If I’m not five minutes early, I’m late.
At least, in my brain I am.
“I’m sorry I’m late, traffic was a bear…” I always apologize, shoulders up, head turtling into my neck. Even though it’s the prairie and “traffic” consists of the occasional harvester or a snake in the road.
“You’re not late! Not at all!” says my gracious host, eyes wide with disbelief.
But I hate to not be prompt. Even in college, I’d rather not go at all than squeeze in through a doorway a minute or so after the bell. because hey, I didn’t want a gazillion eyes upon me. School is hard enough without judgment from strangers.
Thus…I missed a lot of classes…sorry, Mom.
So when I shout with near apoplexy at my Bubs, supine in slumber, “Get up! We’re late,” it’s shocking, he doesn’t really listen.
Normally, we are not late to school. I might be taking that last curb on only two tires, and teachers certainly wake up when they hear the chirping of my too-quick tread across that last speed bump, but we aren’t late to school.
Last Wednesday, I may have possibly quite likely mistakenly erroneously not set an alarm to waken me at the normal pre-dawn hour. And perhaps the only cue for sunrise was the snout of my giant moose dog snuffling lovingly into the middle of my face, thus causing me to notice I could see his face in the sunshine, startling me enough to bolt out of bed at 7:33 am, a full 53 minutes past my normal bedside departure.
“We’re late,” I warble as I thump upon my sweet child’s delicate blanket-encased body. “Get up now, please, we’relatewe’relatewe’relate…”
And as I hurriedly don flip-flops and a hat and dub whatever-else-I’m-wearing as appropriate for Office Attire to Drop Off the Late Student, my beautiful boy ignores me.
Wholeheartedly and with no contrition, he ignores me.
“We’re late!” I scream, hurriedly grabbing his coverings and sweeping them back in a flourishing arc. “Throw on clothes, we’re late!”
Finally — finally! — the boy senses urgency in my tone and arises. (Who am I kidding? The stand-off ended in, “If you don’t get up NOW, you get no tech for a year!”)
With a last look at the house, I back the truck and race across the potholed prairie expediently, assuredly, and not-at-all over the traditional speed limits, and chauffeur the boy to the school’s front door.
“What time is it?” he at last asks when I open the front door and shoo him inside.
“7:53,” I remark, with the told-you-so writ large across my derision. I picked up a pen and signed the boy in on the office desk tablet, noting with a blue Wildcats pen to the world about my Mommy Fail for the day.
“Oh. Weird,” he answers while I wait impatiently for elucidation. “We really are late, not just your late.”
“Yes! Yes, we are!” I answer, all patience gone. I turned to face him full on and finished, “And it was the dog’s fault, so now I have to go home and kill him. Have a good day!” And with a pat on the head, he was off to class.
I turned to leave and find clothing suitable for public perusal before work. And coffee.
Unfortunately, while my child may have understood my humor when I’m impatient, homelessly dressed, and under-caffeinated, the proximal office attendants were a bit wary.
They look at me funny now.
I tell myself it is because they admired my hat and rakish insouciance for morning style.