a woman of a particular age

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I never knew what that meant, a particular age.

Then I got there, to that particular age. I’m not sure that it connotes an actual number, but more a state of being.

All my life I’ve looked 35. Not just any 35, but a 35 year old school teacher. It sucked when I was 11, but  became advantageous when I was still underaged and wanting to buy booze. It didn’t make me big bucks when I worked in the Naked for Money business, because I looked, well, I looked solid & reliable. Which is what you’re looking for in your accountant, but not in your hoochie cooch girl. It was, however, helpful when I switched to the Sitting in a Cubicle for Money business where they’re actually looking for solid and reliable. Finally, I’d found a place where my look matched what was expected of me.

I stayed looking 35 well into my late 40s, which was just lovely. Then I got sick, really sick and two bouts in the hospital and extended steroid treatments really took their toll and suddenly, I was ten years older, or more. I used to love to tell people my real age because they never believed me. When I was 45, there was no way you could imagine me being older than…you guessed it, 35. Those surprised looks have since gone away.

Now I look my age. I am a woman of a particular age. And that particular age is an age that want’s to look ten years younger again.

And this my friends, is why God invented Photoshop (expensive). Or Gimp (free). And any number of online tutorials on how to manipulate images, soften edges, gentle the ravages of time. Do it. Learn it. It’s cheaper and healthier than a face lift. You can change your mind at any time, and your hair color, your eye color, the size and shape of your breasts.

Let me stop talking – the evidence speaks for itself, so you be the judge.

Now if someone could just invent a Photoshop suit one could wear out and about….

loss & love

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Tommy died of old age, and that’s the way it’s supposed to be. We’re supposed to be okay with that.

The problem with old age is that you’ve been around long enough to really affect people when you leave. If one of the newborn bunnies had died, it would be sad, but I had a relationship with Tommy. The bunnies don’t even have names yet.

Tommy was loud, tired, gentle and very attached to Hazel. You remember Hazel? The sheep that the little boy who grew up to be a med student called about? That’s what happens when you stick around. You touch people. You affect them. And they miss you when you leave.

Tommy was my inspiration for volunteering at Green Chimneys’. He was the sheep that sealed the deal. I wanted to be there for the seniors, to make their lives a little easier. It was an honor to be take special care of that old guy.

jodi sh doff : onlythejodi : loss and love : phoebe He left behind a stall full of grieving old lady sheeps. Hazel and Phoebe walk over and placing their heads in my hands for me to do that voodoo that I do so well. Laverne keeps her distance. There’s something about accepting one’s frailties that allows you to open your heart to comfort from others. Laverne is just not there yet. Me neither. We’re both working on that.

A friend, a human friend, was diagnosed with inoperable cancer recently and I’ve been watching myself avoid visiting. My friend is dying of old age, and that’s the way it’s supposed to be, except I want to fix him. If I can’t, I don’t want to be there.  I’m in training to be an end-of-life companion, a doula for the dying.  It’s one thing to think about starting that work with someone I’ve never met. Or working with animals that are passing, but a friend?  A friend is a horse of a different color entirely.

relative aging

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jodi sh. doff : onlythejodi : relative aging : boy

It is entirely within the realm of possibility that a person would, at 53, have a 3 year old grandchild.

However, it was much funnier when my 3 year old godson referred to my friend Marilyn (five years older than me) as Grandma, than it was when he turned around five minutes later, after I’d stopped laughing and called me Grandma as well.

I spent two days teaching him my name. We practiced. We even practiced M’s name. By the time I left, after spending two full days with him, playing cars, monsters, jumping jacks, going for car rides, to a wedding and a full blown temper tantrum, he got it. I was Joey, she was Maradin and for a brief and shining moment, really, I was ‘enry ‘iggins and he was Eliza Doolittle.

I spoke to his mom briefly today. “He loves his toys,” she said. “He held up the stuffed monster you got him and said ‘Granma gave this to me.’”

Yeah. It’s all good. Humbling. But it’s good. So for today, if only for him, I am OnlytheGranma.

I’m not dead yet

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trinity church nyc -jshd 08-

She was only 42 when she started missing her period and at first we thought she was pregnant. It turned out to be an end to possibilities rather than a beginning. In the middle of dinner, Mom tore her clothes off and sat there, in just a bra and panties, glistening with sweat. Then the clothes went back on. Then off. Clothes on/Clothes off. It’s how we still refer to that period of her life. At 79, she still gets the hot flashes. Have I thanked you for that little genetic tidbit Moms?

And now it’s my turn.  I thought I was past this. I thought I was tougher than this, tougher than she was. But here I am. Clothes on. Clothes off. I work with twentysomethings who must think I have malaria. I’m in the middle of a meeting or a presentation and it hits and sweat is pouring. (pouring. do you hear me?), down my face.  I have no sad thoughts about the loss of reproductive possibilities. I made a surgical decision at 30 and really, with the life I had at that time, it was the only choice.  And I knew menopause was coming, I knew about the hot flashes, but Mom, you didn’t prepare me for the rest of it.

I’d been coloring my hair since I was 13, just to break up the monotony of looking at the same face every day. It’s been blonde, brown, red, black & several hues not found in nature. So, I didn’t really notice when it started, but now the whole front is white (with the exception of a recently added turquoise curl) and I like it. It’s lower maintainence, I tell myself. And it got me a senior citizens discount. I hate the assumption, the presumption and I didn’t ask, but the pubescent cashier at C-Town takes 10% off my total on Wednesdays.  I’ve been known to drop a hint and ask anyone, anywhere, “Isn’t today senior citizens discount day?”. I asked at the gym the other day. I have no shame when it comes to getting 10% off. 10%, that’s not nothing.

My white hair has gotten me seats on the subway. I was deeply offended the first time someone younger offered me her seat. I am a rock n’ roll chicklet I wanted to scream at her. I ran wild in the streets I want to say, I don’t need your damned seat missy. But fuck it, I do want to sit down, so I say thank you and take it.

The list of “additives” to my day used to consist of things you had to buy in dark alleys, from disreputable doctors or through holes in the doors of abandoned buildings. Now I gorge myself on Black Cohosh, Magnesium Glycinate, Melatonin, Calcium Glucarate, L-Theanine, Red Clover, Red Raspberry, the list is endless and none of them is one bit of fun let me tell you that.

Along with the steamy moments and the white hair, menopause smacked me upside the head with the weight gain and the weepy. I hate weepy women. Now I am one. I’m a weepy, sweaty white-haired woman with a faux-beer gut.

Sometimes on the street, I feel Invisible. Particularly when passing one of the pretty girls. I realized recently, it’s not so much that they’re pretty, but that they’re young. I look at pictures of me in my twenties and see that I was pretty. I had no idea.

I have a new brother, Mark, my first sibling. We adopted each other a few years ago. He tells me the truth even when I don’t really want to hear it, he said I’ve started referring to myself as old. I’m 50 fer chrissakes. Okay, fiddy-one, but still.

It’s true. I’ve been doing that. I’ve been letting that slide like it was all okay.

My 79 year old Moms has an 87 year old boyfriend. Often when I call she’s either out of breath from doing the jitterbug and the lindy with him around the apartment, or I hear Frank Sinatra in the background and I know he’s got the lights down low and he’s making his move. Have I thanked you for that bit of genetic flotsam Moms? Because, really, I mean it, thank you for that one, for the wake up call.

Not for one more second will I go gently into that good night.  I’m more cougar than crone. No amount of goddess enlightenment crapola is ever going to get me to embrace “crone”. Pet Shop Boy (so named for where I found him, stocking cans of cat food at my local pet food store.  when he started working at the butchers, I refrained from renaming him Sausage Boy, though, considering our relationship, it would have been perfectly appropriate) called this week and told me he missed me. He will be 23 this week.  In this last month  Sable Starr, Marilyn Chambers and Bea Arthur have all passed away. That pubescent cashier may not know who they were, but I do. I have a bit of each of them inside me, and Maude is spending way too mucg time picking my wardrobe.

I’m taking control back. Yesterday, on the subway, a very loud, rather annoying teenage girl  – and yes I’ve reached that age where pretty much all teenagers are annoying – she looked at me and said to her friend “Oh, I like that lady bag” pointing at my faux leopard print tote. I suppressed the urge to correct her English and smiled to myself.

How’m I doin? I’m not jitterbugging, but I ain’t dead yet, baby, I ain’t dead yet.