Yes, my loyal readers, it’s almost that time. True, it’s a month away. And I might decide closer to the day that most of what I’ve written is crap and start all over. But what the Hell. Imma start with basics. I’m in Starbucks and they’re playing the Hamilton soundtrack. Sorry, digressing. Went back to WW. (Can’t call it a weight watcher’s meeting anymore. It’s a WW workshop. WW. Wellness Wins. Reboots goin’ on all over the place.). Lost 6 pounds. Bought a stationary bike. Actually used it once or twice. Meditating every night. Although I’m having a smidge of trouble finding a guided meditation that doesn’t make me want to reach into my phone and snatch the instructor bald. The course I’m doing now is geared towards quieting the mind, breaking the cycle of monkey chatter and anxiety. Right up my crooked little alley. And I’ve committed to my therapy. So, good stuff, no? I’m working hard to become the wiser, happier, stronger person that so many my age claim they are. Are they all telling the truth? I’m sure some are and I’m as sure some aren’t. But truthfully, that’s really the issue right there. My real goal while becoming stronger, wiser, and happier is to not give a S$&^*% what anyone else’s life looks life and be happy with mine. That’s it. All of it. That’s all I want. Oh, and to be able to sit on the floor and get up again. Being the impatient little critter I am, I want this all yesterday. And I refuse to call them New Year’s Resolutions because, well that’s just BS. It’s unfortunate that a little health issue has finally kicked me in the head enough to make some really necessary changes. That I couldn’t seem to care enough about myself until now, but whatever gets us where we need to be, right? Now, all of this is great. I’m proud of myself for committing to take care of myself and certainly all of these changes make me feel…hmmm. I wish I could say, I feel great, better every day! But the reality is, it didn’t take 5 minutes to get here and it’s gonna take a little time to get there. And I don’t feel great. Yet. But I’m working on it. And that feels just a little bit great.
Copper and Beads. The Mother of Invention series.
It’s a beautiful Fall day. The Sun is shining and there’s a cool breeze. I’ve just stepped off a frigid subway, and I’m sitting in an air-conditioned Starbucks drinking a giant iced tea. And I’m hot. No, not hot. Sweating. No, not sweating. Dripping. I’m looking around, catching the eye of coffee-drinkers around me and fanning myself. “Heh heh. Boy, it’s hot in here, innit? Heh heh” I get various responses from complete dismissal to looks of horror at my red, sweaty face and state of undress. Several just pull their sweaters closer and shake their heads. Truly, I have turned into one of those menopausal cartoons of sleep-deprived, psychopathic women undressing in public and drowning in their own sweat. I suppose there is a kind of justice here. I spent my peri-menopausal years smugly watching contemporaries with bags of frozen peas on their heads, delighting in the fact I was sailing through this. No hot flashes. No dryness. Nothing. I was kicking. Menopause. Ass. And then somewhere between my last period and gleefully tossing out the condoms, I took a wrong turn. I must have shunned the road that leads to serenity, wisdom and “whee, we can have sex whenever we want!”, and taken the road leading to insomnia, hot flashes, and “if you never touch me again, I’m good with that”. Clearly, the roles have been reversed, and I am the one getting my ass kicked. Now, I have a very patient and understanding husband, but this was causing some friction. And not the good kind. Everyone knows that relationships take work and compromise. And above and beyond the simple acquiescences, where to go for dinner, what color to paint the living room, who knew that there would come a time when sex would be one of them. WTF? So, lemme get this straight. I can’t sleep. I’m hot all of the time, (and not the good kind), my lady bits are like sandpaper, I am not remotely interested in sex, and I live in a body that once belonged to the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. I ask you, in any of the hundreds of commercials for joint pain, erectile dysfunction, or AFib not caused by heart valve, have you seen the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man? No. No you have not. So, imagine my shock and dismay when I discover that I don’t see Christie Brinkley or Susan Lucci when I look in the mirror. Just me. Stay Puft Marshmallow Man with Karl Malden’s nose. I will have to accept that there is no one way to navigate the road as we get older. We can’t all be Christie Brinkley. But if we’re lucky, we have a very patient and understanding partner who thinks we’re still hot. The good kind.
Here Comes the Sun
Did you know that you can buy both an Inspirational Floral Wall Cross and the Lover’s Guide to Sexual Intimacy on the Publisher’s Clearing House website? True. Did you also know that Costco is not just the go-to-place for sacks of produce, giant boxes of cereal and gallons of barbecue sauce, but that you can get a mammogram, buy a house, and pick out a casket? Also true. Humans like variety. And they tend to have short attention spans. They’re likely to pass up a shop that sells nothing but exquisite socks for a giant warehouse that sells socks by the gross AND lawn furniture. The thing is, it’s not always easy to be everything to everybody. And quantity is not always the same thing as quality…..I am seriously contemplating scratching out that last sentence. It’s so trite and overused. But, I’ll leave it in. For now. It’s not untrue. Doesn’t everyone long to be the someone that everybody loves? We color our hair, we cover our freckles. We buy our affections, we bury our feelings. We go through life trying to be what we believe someone else wants us to be, instead of being who we are. We try to do everything perfectly, instead of finding the perfection in doing. I’m still not nuts about that quantity/quality nonsense, but Imma let it be. Go. Do. Be. I’ll wait.
Behind the Curtain, A little Bit of Everything
The thing I’m finding about getting older, is that I don’t feel older inside. For a moment let’s put aside the obvious. The arthritis in my knees, the bunions, the humps, the bumps, the odd little lumps. The spare tire, the grey hair, the batwings under my arms. Let’s ignore the fact that although, according to those who feel the need to give an opinion, I don’t look nearly 60, not one of those people have said I look like I’m in my 30’s or even my 40’s. Inside, in my head, I feel exactly the same as I did in high school. This is a double-edged sword. While I’m sure the fact that I’m embracing my inner child is great, the inability to let that child put on a pair of big-girl panties once in a while, not so much. I remember sitting in my bedroom in Syosset when I was in high school, listening to The Beach Boys, daydreaming about all the boys I had crushes on, creating elaborate fantasies about how they would finally see how gorgeous I was and drop their girlfriends to ask me out. (Spoiler alert: Didn’t happen). Now, I’ve grown up enough to look back and see that I was as cute as anyone else, but I couldn’t see it. Still can’t. It was and is as much a fantasy as the ones I created in my head. The ones I still create. They’re a little different 40 years later, but they still live only in my head. I am a great actress, I am rich, I am thin, I have the best hair ever, celebs are wearing my jewelry, I travel all over the world, I am going to live forever. Ok, no one lives forever. That really is just a fantasy. The others? Doable. But only if I let them out of my head. There is no dream that can survive locked up in one’s brain. It’s dark and cramped and windowless. Dreams and goals need air, and light, and life. Dreams are what keep us young. Dig ’em up, brush ’em off. Let them see the sun, and dance under the moon. Live forever.
Red-Headed Woman with Beehive Howls at the Moon. From the Red-Headed Woman Series
I was on the E train coming home yesterday, and standing a few feet away from me was a young woman of perhaps East Indian descent. I noticed her hair first, because my bad hair days seem to have turned into bad hair years, and her hair was long, dark, perfectly straight, really enviable hair. Then I noticed her face. It was perfect. Not just, “oh what a pretty girl” perfect. Disney Princess perfect. Seriously. I could not stop looking at this perfect face. She probably thought I was a stalker. I just couldn’t imagine what it would be like to live behind that perfect face. Now, let me just say, This was my first day back at work after a weeklong bout of vertigo, and although I’m feeling better, I still can’t blow dry my hair properly and my balance is a little goofy, so I do not look my best. But even my best is not as perfect as that face. The real question here is, why does that matter? Do the people who love me, love me less because I don’t look like a Disney princess? Do I have less fun? Less to say? Less to offer? Do I laugh less? Love less? Create less? Why does my self-esteem hinge on what the world sees on the outside? Why is it so hard to look at my face and smile, because I look like my dad? To laugh with my mom because we share the same hair, the same spare tire, the slope of our back that she calls her dowager hump? The fact is, I am not going to wake up tomorrow with that young woman’s perfect face, no matter how much I wish for it. How nice would it be to live my life behind my dad’s nose and goofy eyebrows, underneath my mom’s hair and dowager’s hump, and not waste another minute wishing I was someone else.
I had a mammogram this morning and my radiologist was this very nice woman I’ve had before. She is very chatty and somehow we got to talking about the impending LIRR strike. So she says to me, “these people make almost as much as I do and I have a bachelor’s degree! They make, like, $80,000 a year!” It’s not bad enough she’s squeezing my boobs within an inch of their lives, she has to remind me she makes a hell of a lot more money than I do while she’s doing it! Now, I don’t want to appear, oh I don’t know, devastated, or anything, so I har-har a little and reply, “they make twice what I do, and I have an MFA!” She says, “are you a teacher?” And I say, “no, I work in the billing department of a taxi and limousine service. ” and she laughs. She thinks this is hysterical. So then I have to qualify…”well, I changed careers completely, and I’m actually a jewelry designer…” See, now she’s impressed! “Ooh. Aahh. I love jewelry. Do you have a card? ” Whew! Thank Goodness, I just narrowly escaped feeling inferior to someone! The truth is, we don’t walk in someone else’s shoes. We live the life we choose, as much as we’d like to blame everyone and everything else. There is always someone who has it better, and there are those that have it worse. Some will be lucky enough to live their dreams and some will find it hard to remember what their dreams were. Some will strive and sweat, and others will get out of breath reaching for the bag of M & M’s we know are hidden at the top of the pantry. Why is it so hard to not be defined by what we do? To look at ourselves and like who we are just because we are, and to not resent ourselves just because we do or don’t do. Just writing these words feels like marbles in my mouth. Foreign, unfamiliar, and a little stupid. The trick is to spit out the marbles and not replace them with the M & M’s.
Life, interrupted carynjune