Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Staying Home

Young folks love adventure. They love going somewhere: for a walk,
into town for shopping, to Grandma's, to Boise, to Timbuktu.
Anywhere. They bubble with energy and can't sit still. Teens go to
classes all day and party all night, then get up and join friends for
a movie and a rally the next day. Pack a bedroll and a change of
underwear and they will hike all day, eat a can of beans heated over
a smoldering fire, and sleep on rocks while trying not to slide off a
mountain. Then get up and do it again. I remember being like that.

For a good part of my life as an adult I was willing to spend days
planning excursions and vacations, and hours driving to and from
schools, malls, and theme parks. As a parent it was Pack 'em Up and
move 'em out! Picnic lunches, bathing suits, paraphernalia for two
weeks of road travel for the whole family. Meetings? Classes? Bring
them on! Parties? Sure, love to attend! Art shows? Plays? Gotta see
'em! Recreate! Participate! Go forth and do!

In my fifties a lessening of enthusiasm set in. Parties and public
events always sounded like such a good idea in the beginning. My
enthusiasm was high. But as the time approached enthusiasm retreated
and I found all sorts of reasons not to put forth the effort. Work
all day and party this evening? How about work all day and fall
asleep in front of the television? PTA? City Council? I'll go next
month. Camping in Yellowstone? What if we spent a week at a resort in
Waikiki?

Now that I have passed sixty, my resistance has become
logarithmically enhanced. Going out holds very little interest and
Staying Home has become a religion. Admittedly, meetings and theatre
occasionally catch me for a moment and I agree to attend. But as the
time arrives, I don't. Getting me out of the house is like getting an
overweight scuba diver out of his wet suit. The spirit may be willing
but the flesh is staying put. Even the spirit lacks oomph. Instead of
tacking those meeting notices on the calendar I toss them straight
into the trash. Even the pretense of going out is gone. Hooray for
those tough seniors who retired to their motorhomes to travel. My
house lacks wheels and remains in one place. With me inside.
Adventure comes from the library, and is experienced in a comfortable
chair before 8:00PM. I like it that way.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Youth Culture

Have you seen the television commercial for (unnamed skin product)
where the satin-skinned 33 year old blonde worries about those
horrible signs of aging: crow's feet and wrinkles? If she was in the
room with me I'd bitch-slap the woman! If you are sixty-plus and thus
older than society's youth-at-all-costs mental aberration you might
remember when such epidermal ornamentation indicated laughter and
wisdom. Faces with lines were seen as belonging to people who were
survivors and who were worthy of respect. Those lines showed
individuality and character.

Today character receives little honor. Children still having baby
powder behind their ears can be considered over the hill. The admired
face is akin to a plastic mask devoid of age and signs of life. Along
with the veneration of that bland smooth exterior is a belief that
the wearer has something of interest inside. Sorry to tell you kiddo,
but anybody under the age of forty is hardly hatched, and only a few
have two ideas to rub together. Youth merely indicates a span of
time. The abilities to run, jump... or reproduce, are common to most
of the animal kingdom. Those who can do them are not that special.

The poor women who buy into the fuss over aging will discover soon
enough that age comes no matter how long you fight it. And for those
who fight, and those who do not appreciate the beauty of it, its
arrival will be more painful.

(You, too, can look like Michael Jackson or Joan Rivers!)

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Question

"Hello. How are you?"

When I was twenty, or thirty, or even forty, the question was
answered with a quickly rendered "Fine, and you?" with both sides
understanding the social and surface nature of the interchange. At
fifty my response became slower before it was begun and I'd stop to
think "Okay, how the heck AM I?" before the "Fine, thanks."

Being over sixty has created a definite pause before any answer is
formulated. There is a tallying of symptoms, accompanied by a varying
and complex series of calculations. The source of the query is
considered as well as the place and time it is made. Is this a social
nicety or does this person really want to know? If they really want
to know how much detail shall I offer? Is the appropriate response
"Well, the arthritis is kicking up a little." Or "Remember that
nasty episode I had where my knee seemed to lock up at odd moments?
It's back." Or for those very hardy questioners , "My knees hurt so
bad I barely make it to the bathroom in the middle of the night, and
last night my back wouldn't let me sleep and I had to take Tylenol PM
with the usual Advil and I still couldn't get comfortable so..." If
the discussion is with an over sixty woman friend, that last one
leads to a mutual discussion of the pros and cons of OTC and
prescription pain relievers and segues into a mutual exchange of the
woes of aging, from sagging underarms to creaking joints, and from
carpal tunnel to bifocals.

I'm leading the way for many of my friends. I'm older by a few years
and have been way too cavalier about health in general. Having been
blessed with a robust system and an inability to learn from the
warnings of my elders, I ignored much needed general upkeep along the
way. The body I inhabit has done a marvelous job of coping with
continued abuse and chugged away, but the bad spark plugs and
overused oil have begun to tax the engine, the tires are lacking
tread and the shocks are kaput. I'm past due for a rebuild and
getting close to a tow to the junkyard.

"How are you?" is a question that no longer gets a quick answer. My
mind considers, summarizes, faces regrets, ponders eternity and that
done, tries to return the favor with my own "And you?"

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Benefits

One of the benefits of getting older is the joy of looking at my
friends and seeing what a wonderful and diverse bounty of riches
surround me. They are some of the finest people on the planet:
intelligent, caring and spiritual in the best ways. Funny too. Well,
yeah - odd funny, as well as silly and humorous. I'm sure there was
some sort of celestial paperwork error that gifted me with this
bunch. Or maybe it was a winning heavenly lottery ticket. Either way.
I'm holding on tight and thanking the universe for the luck.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Oh Poop!

Here I am, entering that second phase of life in which POOP becomes
an issue of interest. It hadn't occurred to me that the movement
(heh!) into that age had happened until this past week when on
grandmother duty (heh!) grandson#2 brought a book for me to read to
him: Everybody Poops.

Little kids are fascinated by poop. So are senior citizens. We note
the size, volume, consistency, availability, frequency, and
difficulty. We give scientific study to what produces or inhibits
quality, from intake to factory ambiance. We mentally tally
schedules, and give attention to the details that create optimal
output. Interruptions in production are causes for concern whereupon
we read the manual, consult the technicians, and proceed to
inspection and system maintenance. Check the oil! Adjust the valves!
Give it a tune-up! From totally relying on the basic reliability of
the machine I've begun to notice when it falters, listen for changes
in the engine and take proactive measures. Slow down! Top off the
water! Check the transmission!

At last I understand why my grandmother always had an open package of
Chocolate-flavored Exlax on her dresser. And I've seen my life circle
from Children's Castoria to Metamucil. Oh Pooh. (heh!)