X is for X

“No” is a bad word. I like to be jovial, accommodating, thoughtful, needed.
Plus, I don’t want to be the grumpy aging lady, and “No” denotes grumpiness, my young eyes having heard it waft often from my grandmother. (I later learned she had bunions, and upon reflection, those will make anyone grumpy.)
It’s a delicate dance: “No, and I mean that sincerely, but I am in no way exuding a  ‘grumpy’ vibe. Do not take my rejection as anything but an act of love, certainly more for myself than for you, as you see it, and now as I see it, which means your tears are changing my mind, and of course yes, yes, is what I mean.”
I try to couch the “No” amidst apology and hand waves and moving feet. Don’t stop. Halting in place allows for coercion and waves of disappointment across my accoster/accuser/neighbor child until “No” has flipped into a Yes and then where am I? “Yes” is suddenly out there, on the table, and I’m committed to whatever I’ve agreed, and now I’m mad at myself, running my play: where did I go wrong, what could I have done differently, is there an escape clause to whatever I agreed to?
Sigh.
Aging is hard, exhausting, and mentally stimulating to the negative. It keeps me young, all this bickering amongst my selves.
Plus, it has the benefit of hindsight: I know now why I avoided my grandmother after her grumpiness: I was giving her the gift of solitude. Her plan worked. And Grandma, you are welcome.
X means No. The big red X, or hash line in a red circle, but the meaning is the same: Keep out, Danger, No smoking, No dogs, you know the signs I mean.
I’ve simplified to the one letter: X. X means no. And I mean it this time, at least on occasion.
I refuse to believe I’ve become my grandmother, because I will say Yes on occasion.
So there.

W is for Weight…Loss, Gain, and Reality Check

Weird blobs show up when you age. I’m giving you a heads-up that you’ll forget, until one day your belly button disappears and bathing is more like spelunking. Then, and only then, will the gravity of my warning reach your ears.
Enjoy your slim days, that’s what I’m begging.
Now, “weight” is a funny word. Literally, it makes me laugh. Weight. Ha! Whatever.
Lose it? Gain it? Who cares, at this point? It’s a number and I’ve never done well with math. Therefore, I chucked the scale and measuring tape and guilt over not exercising six days a week because I don’t care about those things any more.
Is this healthy? No. No, it’s not.
I’m not vegan, or all-organic, or even-a-little-interested in liquid breakfasts.
Occasionally I check my choices: unsweet tea or Dr Pepper? On an Atta Girl day, I go with the sugar-free…but who am I kidding? Tea makes me thirsty. And what do I reach for then? You see my struggle.
I could be healthier, I could Yoga more, and I truly enjoy it when I do.
But most days, I’m more proud of the fact that I didn’t need a nap at 3pm, in the middle of my work shift, and that I stood from my chair and walked the stacks to wake up. Boom. Eighth of a mile in the books.
That’s a good day.
PS This is not advice, and if it is, then it’s bad.
PPS I’m going to try to YouTube a ten-minute workout today, in the spirit of guilt and thighs that bark when I walk. Followed by a smoothie, whatever that is.

V is for Vein Vanity

I stopped wearing shorts after my son was born. No real reason, other than shorts felt icky. That’s really all I have, because my legs were fine, if I remember properly. Aside from being loath to shave, they weren’t unsightly.
My point is, because my skin doesn’t see the light except that of the shower, I don’t know what it looks like.
Recently, though, I found my winter tights. And my body found out that the summer was not the diet fest it might should have been. Those two constants were suddenly in play: tights are tight and when the body is tight, pants are tight, or not fitting at all, or “shrunk in the wash.”
I had to shave my legs. Eek! No winter coat?? But in order to wear my comfy winter tights, the leg tresses had to go.
I shaved, with a new razor — because I couldn’t find the old one — and a shaving cream, because a girl likes a little pampering on occasion instead of the bar of Ivory scraping over her delicate skin.
Lo, and behold, beneath the follicles: veins! What the…
Aging brings about road maps, blue highways — plump and healthy — gleaming so delicately from beneath the dermis. Topography is next, I’m sure, making future shaving deadly. Sliding a razor across fresh moguls around my already weirdly shaped knees? Blood loss with the flick of a Bic. Or Atra. GIllette? I don’t know. Whatever brand is embedded within the plastic handle of my throwaway razor. The logical solution: give up on this shaving thing from now on. I’m devastated by the loss.
Back to the natural, more-on-my-legs-than-my-head winter coat, buy bigger tights, find elastic waistband slacks.
All is well.

U is for Unique

drawing of pug puppy with a hornmEvery life is different; there are no two alike. No matter the effort, no one can live exactly the same path as another.
This applies to all life, isn’t that fascinating? I can squash three spiders, and they’ve all lived a different path. They may have the same mother, same clutch of eggs, and hopefully I’ve killed them all with spray, but no two paths to death were the same.
I may have just encountered my arachnophobia, thus it’s prevalent in my mind.
So as I age, I’ve noticed all my stupid mistakes, mis-steps, weird choices, wins or losses, were uniquely mine.
Plus, I’ve been in a unicorn mood. A friend needed illustrations for a card game he’s creating and I found myself within a world I had no knowledge of: fantasy gaming. This week the subject is unicorns and surprisingly, it isn’t easy to make `12 unique ‘corns.
I should Google it, but the words Unique and Unicorn are derivatives. Sure “uni” means one — “uni” means one! — which validates my point that we are all here on separate paths, whether they merge or don’t. We’re all walking together..
What a gift! An ambulatory way all our own!
Plus, unicorns found! Each of us is one, all unto ourselves, and we can share our lightness as we wish, as we hopefully will, as it is our gift to do so.
That’s pretty cool.

R is for Reality

Aging brings reality.
For instance, nowadays, pants must have pockets. I didn’t see it before, when I was young and unpocketed. I’d put my keys in a friend’s pocket, or I’d hide the keys under the car floormat, to uncover later, or I’d walk.
Just kidding. I didn’t walk.
But now, I can not rely on friends with pockets. Mostly because I’m unsocial and friendless.
No, not really.
But I’m alone a lot, or I’m with my son, who may have pockets but manages to lose things anyway.
And I refuse to carry a wristlet; I’m not Girl enough for a “wristlet.” It’s a wallet on a strap that Girls who don’t have pants-witti-pockets or friends-with-pockets use for their keys. And probably a lipstick; that’s a Girl thing, too.
But my new Aged Reality recognizes that Lipsticks are cakey, gloppy, weird bits of Girldom when Chap Stick will do. Chap Stick rocks. The lip color — which is transparents, of course — goes with anything; it doesn’t glop. It’s a tiny tube; unobtrusive. And if I lose one, because of the no-pocket issue, well…it’s a buck, while true lip sticks are expensive.
Like a Twinkie, my middle layer of squooshy-ness is here to stay.
Oh, and Budgets are a good thing. They seemed confining in the Ago. Now, though, in the new Reality, budgets are helpful…and reliable…and I don’t need as much stuff as I seemed to in my youth, so money stretches further.
Because, hello, the new Reality is less-stuff-y. Who needs acquisition? I feel claustrophobic in department stores; I certainly can’t handle Stuff in my living space. I watch “Hoarders” and immediately toss things out, so Stuff is not my friend.
Now that I’m again, I allow my clothes to wear out, because I don’t feel compelled to buy the latest and cutest thing. (Also, it helps that I’ve never had a fashion sense. I wouldn’t know what’s latest or cutest; I might already own the latest and cutest…though I doubt it…) And shoes! If I ever found shoes I liked — I don’t think that’s the Aging element; finding shoes I like has always been a problem, but if I did find some, I would let them wear out. My couch is ancient and I like it; my sheets are incredibly soft, because I just wash them instead of insisting on buying new ones.
Towels, however…well…I always like new fluffy towels. It’s a weakness.
New to my Aged self: I never get carded.
I can’t use a short skirt to get out of speeding tickets.
I can’t rebound from yardwork like I once could.
“Weight lifting” in this new Reality equates to getting up from a chair.
All these new revelations, they’re all new stuff that’s been attached to me, tagging along, settling in unnoticed for years, I simply hadn’t acknowledged their existence.
Now, here they are, the new elements of the new Now.
I’d best write them down. I need to write everything down anymore, which is also my new Reality. I find notes all over the place that I swear I didn’t write, but doggone it, I recognize my handwriting, so it must be mine. The notes are like a little treasure hunt, leading me from one thought to another. And THAT is how stuff gets done nowadays: I follow the trail of To Do’s I leave myself.
I’m weird.
I’m going to write that down.

Q is for Quiet

drawing of shushing womanSomewhere in the past, I lost the beauty of Silence.
School, work, relationships, pets, money money money, all drowned out an appreciation of Peace.
Then I started working at a library and found it again.
And though I work in the loudest library known to man, the threat of Silence exists around every stack of books.
It’s a library.
And as such, the need for Quiet, which has been drilled into us all since our first encounter with story hour and the idea of “check out,” is housed within, looming large even amid the chaos.
Aging has brought the Quiet, which descends at night.
As much as I love it during daylight hours, I loathe it’s existence in the deep dark sky.
It’s not Peace. It’s a virtual presence of a Something Frightening I can’t quite pinpoint.
Now I have panic attacks and wars within myself to meditate, find my breath, all that.
I say a little prayer and fall asleep to reluctantly greet the dawn.
(I’m not a morning person and too particular about a certain hour-span of daylight. I’m a mess.)
Every year it worsens, this fear within unsettled air.
Aside from lamps blazing all night, and prayer, I have no tools for combat.
I feel like I’m in the middle of youthful rest and elder forgetfulness, so that fear is only a companion; a constant, whether it’s feared or not.
A conundrum for which I have no solution.
So if you’re driving by and see the light on in my window, it’s just me, combating an unseen villain, probably scrolling the Netflix queue and waiting for dawn.

O is for Onus

Aging stinks, it’s no fun, it seems to be a changing river every day, such as, “Gee, yesterday (insert any body part) was fine; today it hurts.”
So I take an Aleve and keep going. I don’t have time for hypochondria today.
Or do I?
Because I’ve noticed that lately, the Onus of everyday is, ironically, to say Yes.
For a couple of decades, my mantra was “No” because good heavens, I only had so many hours in the day/I don’t have the energy for one more thing/is there really no one else on the planet who can do that?
Now, seemingly the next day, I feel the burden to say Yes to just about everything: to see, to do, to go, to share, to visit, to plumb the depths, to examine the sparkle, to make that wish. There’s only so much time — a thing I’ve known always — and now when I’m closer to the end than to the start, I’m striving to make the most of the proverbial ticking clock.
(Digital doesn’t tick, but I’ll bet there’s an app that would make it do so.)
As far as going/seeing/doing, I draw the line at airplanes, either getting aboard or jumping from. Airplanes are creepy. And the pilot won’t let me take the wheel — probably for good reason — but I have control issues when it comes to travel.
(Oh, and spelunking. Because, ew. Small spaces, small rodents, whiffs of guano; no thank you.)
Now back to my regularly scheduled rant…
Irony! Only so much time passed and I couldn’t cram it all in when I was full of vim and vigor, but now that I’m rattling from too much Aleve and cranky to boot, I notice that yes! I can cram one more thing into the day!
Irony is a cruel mistress.

N is for New, and Namaste

Aging brought boredom, a bit.
Routine, a general glum feeling, a hatred of the night.
It’s fun being me.
So I switched it up, changed the ol’ mind set, decided to try new things.
Woot! New! It’s the way to the future!
“New” led me to an art project that scared the poo out of me but has turned into a thing I kind of love.
And “New” led me to take exercise classes I would have given a hard “No” not long ago. I like the exercise; it’s the “class” part — the inclusion of other people and not just a workout video streaming through my tv — that I eschewed. Turns out: I like people! They motivate, they peer-pressure, they accidentally guilt me into staying and actually exercising. (Funny, because the tv never frowned when I turned off the videos after three minutes.)
“New” made me write…a lot…and though none of the projects are actually complete, they exist. So there’s that: a whole lot of words, sitting in a document, waiting around for me to re-visit them.
I feel a bit like sliding back into routine, though. A year or two of New, that’s enough, I thought. So I’m fighting the sliding and riding it out, writing and gliding into righting myself, upright back into New.
New is good. New is necessary.
Namaste.

 

M is for Middling…and Maternity Pants…and They Aren’t the Same Thing

Mid-life, middle-of-the-road, mid-journey, middle-age…so much interior-ness, with shoulders on both sides. Room for growth. Room for error.
Just room, on all sides, while I’m here in the middle.
Wishing for maternity pants.
I loved being pregnant, and a lot of why leads to the pants. You could get the wide banded kind that slides up and over, creating a sack for your burgeoning belly, or you could get the wide banded kind that stuck like scaffolding, directly under and around the bottom rim of the belly, supportive yet non-intrusive.
Delightful either way.
And now, in my mid-years, my Middle Earth, my stuck-in-the-middle-with-me days, I want those pants.
Because everything upon my person seems to have suffered during travel. Banged up, moved around, seemingly viscous…yup, things are just…lower…
(Except my boobs! Yay me for having the chest of a pre-adolescent my whole life!)
And because my abundant weight, my new inability to eat junk food — because it just doesn’t go away (burgers on my thighs from ten years ago, I’d swear) — and my increasing possessive spirit towards chocolate all bely my youthful interior, I crave the pants.
They comforted; they supported; they indulged my self-pity. I appreciated their efforts.
They were good pants, which, sadly-for-me but with gratitude and good riddance because I was “gonna lose the baby weight,” have gone to Goodwill to assist future new mothers of the planet.
My overalls, however, might have survived the postpartum cut…
Wait…would it look weird, at my age, to stroll into Target and buy a brand new pair of maternity pants? I’d have to lie to anyone gawking and say I was going to be grand-ternal.
And I assure you the new pair would get much more use…years and years of it…like, “Nope, can’t donate those when I’m gone from this orb” kind of use…

L is for Lag Time

You know my favorite household accessory is the fire pit, but my very most favoritest household appliance is…the gas-powered lawn trimmer.
It slices, it dices, it can cut your meat. It’s fabulous.
It’s really a stick with a motor. Literally, a motor-on-a-stick. There’s just no other phrase for it. Then, you add whatever business end item you need.
Got some high weeds? Add the brush hog head thing.
Need some alignment to your driveway? Take off the brush hod head thing and snap in the dealie that has metal blades that spin super fast and spark when they hit concrete. (I really love that one.)
It’s so versatile!
But here’s the rub: at however many RMP that head/blade/spinny thing rotates, whatever that actual number may be, it’s stupid fast. And it vibrates. And it makes my whole body tense up just trying to keep the thing in control because I do love a neat line to my driveway.
Truly, only a few years ago, I was not as aware of this shaking/controlling/using-all-my-strength thing as I was just yesterday when I pulled the cord and let ‘er rip to edge the back acres.
Oh my stars.
Two Aleve, eleven hours of sleep, and I still hesitate to even consider joining the yard for anything more than a hearty hello.
Grow, grass, grow. Do your worst. This chick needs to rest.
That’s the thing about aging: the Lag Time. I don’t remember needing to rest between acres before, or stopping for things like water breaks and catch-my-breath moments. Who needed breath? Who needed water? I had a whirligig on a stick and I was vanquishing hidden corners and I was happy doing that for hours!
Today? Not so much with the vanquishing and a whole lot more with the resting.
Sigh.
This aging thing is really eroding my love of high powered lawn accoutrements And that’s must mean.