Brothers and Sisters, I don’t need to tell you but I’m going to anyway: aging sucks. It sucks hard – Lovelace hard. It creeps up on you like a stealthy bitch and hits you like a ton of bricks, usually around the age of 40-45.
You’re just going along, screwing up your 20s and then getting things together in your 30s when you notice it: the subtle yet sure march to the grave is starting to rear its ugly head on your soon to be ugly head and in parts of your body you had long deemed dependable but which now are labeled with an asterisk in your medical charts. For example, your doctor takes notes when you come in for your annual physical and writes:
Your name here:
What that means is your doctor is pretty sure at some point you will need to have this body part replaced. In my case, my chart looks like this:
Pre-frontal cortex* (Often called the executive control center, these lobes deal with planning and thinking. They comprise the rational and executive control center of the brain, monitoring higher-order thinking, directing problem solving, and regulating the excesses of the emotional system. So yeah, I could definitely do with some improvement there).
I like to break down my aging experience into two subgroups: physical and aesthetic. I’ll start with aesthetic because I’m super shallow and looks mean everything to people like me.
It is important to note that I was never a pretty young thing, especially in high school and college. I had too much “baby” fat (otherwise known as “fat”) and a three-inch wide unibrow that went from my left ear to my right with nary a break between until I stole my brother’s razor circa 1986 and starting hacking at the center of the Eyebrow Superhighway. Results were decidedly mixed.
I also was a victim of the 1980s perm craze and I didn’t understand that women like me with baby-fine hair should not grow it long. Overall, I was a complete mess. Don’t believe me?
(Nice side pony)
Around 1995, my sister convinced me to discover the joys of waxing, and imagine my surprise when I realized there were supposed to be two of those little caterpillars above the eyes, not one! Awesome!
In the same year, another family member turned me on to the short haircut I sport today, also known as the “stupid dyke haircut” as noted last week here Sunday Rant: Fake Service Dogs and Fakers in General
Finally, 1995 was the year I began exercising, so I shed some of the “baby fat” (that’s one really old baby right there) and developed self-esteem for the first time in my life.
I felt like I had finally blossomed into a good version of myself: the person I always hoped to find but who kept hiding behind McDonald’s binges and bad hair decisions. In my 30s and for the first time in my life, I felt like Stacy’s mom. I had it going on.
That lasted for about five minutes. The following is a list of my aesthetic complaints related to aging.
1. I am 44 years old and though I never got a gray hair until after I turned 40, now these persistant little fuckers have taken over my forehead. Oh yeah, you can get your hair colored, but these assholes are as stubborn as Netanyahu before his coffee (sugar and the milk of nursing Palentinian mothers, please).
“You milk them like this, just like a goat. Now hurry up and get my coffee!”
If I color the gray hairs on Monday, they pop back out like babies from Nadya Suleman’s uterus by Friday: there’s another! And another! They just keep coming and I can’t afford to take care of them all!
And wrinkles? WTF is going on with my face? Why do I look so angry all the time and why does the area above my eyes resemble an accordian? And who in Goddess’ name allowed those MF-ing crows to stomp all over my face while I was sleeping?
Botox can work wonders on wrinkles, but it’s expensive and it HURTS! In addition, I have spent 40 + years being in love with sunshine. Growing up in Oregon has conditioned me to worship the sun with the fanaticism of Tom Cruise vis a vis Scientology.
When Ra makes her annual three week visit to Oregon or when I go on vacation to the sunnier climes, I spend all the time I possibly can outside and I have never worn sunscreen. For this, and for other “lifestyle choices” which can impact the appearance of your skin, I am paying.
Another aesthetic annoyance is related to gravity, as in: why is that down there when it used to be up here? This could apply to many different areas of the body so I’ll just leave that up to your own imagination and experience.
Now the physical problems with aging. I’m going to list them numerically to keep track because my mind is starting to wander:
1. My mind is starting to wander.
2. My mind is starting to wander. I’m honestly getting a little worried about this. I often forget what I am doing WHILE I AM DOING IT. For example, I will get up from writing to go get something, usually a glass of water or a hammer (don’t ask). By the time I take three steps out of my office, I’ve already forgotten what I’m doing. I have to go back to where I was when the urge to get up hit me, recall why I am up and about and then concentrate so I can accomplish the task. I wish I was exaggerating but I’m really not. Maybe it’s a brain tumor, but don’t get your hopes up.
3. Running has become almost impossible. In my 30s I could run 7 miles at a pretty good clip. Today, I’m lucky to do 4, slowly, and I often come up lame as Barbaro. This happened Friday: I was running along the trails by my house and suddenly it felt like someone stuck an ice pick in my right kneecap, which caused me to hop up in the air and hurl an expletive that I don’t think was appreciated by the mother of the toddler I almost fell on top of.
4. Everything above my waist hurts all the time. Lower, mid and upper back pain is a daily annoyance and sometimes a serious hindrance to my daily activities (blogging, exercise and being the House Bitch).
5. FOR LADIES ONLY: what in the holy mother of god hell is happening “down there?” Is this the menopause I have heard of? Why is Aunt Flo so fucking grumpy and aggressive for the past few years? And what is with these night sweats? I change our sheets more often than the janitor at the Bunny Ranch – I do not like this!
FULL STOP. BREAKING NEWS:
As I was writing this rant earlier today, I looked out the window and realized I had a nice window of dry weather to run (or in my case hobble with) the dog. I don’t usually go on the route I took today but something was pulling me in this particular direction. I took some photos.
Skyline Boulevard, Portland Oregon. I am so lucky to reside here.
Skyline Memorial Cemetery. I am so lucky to not reside here.
Someone’s flowers blew over. It’s been pretty blustery today.
This got me thinking…
Here’s a kid who didn’t even make it to 20.
Here’s a couple who were close in age, but she outlived him by 24 years. I wonder if she was really lonely after he died? Hopefully not – hopefully she was a mad cougar and took a young lover.
This guy is what we call “prepared.”
And this family I’m sure was not prepared. In fact, this little girl has been gone for three years and yet she doesn’t have a permanent grave marker. There is an obvious rising in the ground that indicates a coffin was buried here, but no stone. Maybe they just can’t face it yet, or maybe it’s too expensive.
This is where you go if you are not into being cremated but you are squeamish about worms…
…and this is where you go if you are cool with being burned up but nobody wants you on their mantle.
It’s beautiful, isn’t it? But it was getting late, I had a rant to finish, and it was time to head home. As I jogged back, I was passed by this man:
For about a mile, I managed to keep pace with him. Something about the cemetery had inspired me to kick up my run a notch. Alas, the icepick cometh and once again, I came up lame and had to slow down.
…and there he goes. But that’s OK.
I don’t want to get all deep and sappy on you guys, because I know you depend on me to be solitary, poor, nasty brutish and short. I really wanted to end today’s rant with a fundraising drive to help me purchase a gift certificate to the Petroff Center and a general “fuck you” to the aging process. But here’s the thing (actually, there are a few):
1. I am alive. Alive!
2. My son is healthy.
3. I am loved. Not by many, but by the ones who count. The rest of ’em can bugger off.
4. The ones I love are healthy.
5. I have never been happier than I am at this moment, nor is there any age I would choose to be except the age I am now. I’ve earned these wrinkles, damn it.
6. Every day above ground is a good one, even if you are feeling bad. I say this today especially because I have two friends who are really struggling right now. When you are in the middle of the shit storm, this can be hard to remember, but this is a lesson taught to me by an otherwise crazy man I dated for about ten minutes a few years ago.
This man was a Green Beret in Vietnam (unless he was full of shit, but I don’t think he was). He was in a helicopter crash in which every single other person on board was killed, except for him. I think there were at least 12 men on the craft.
I was bitching to him about some stupid problem with my boss and he was being relentlessly optimistic, as he often was. Man, that was annoying. So I said, “doesn’t anything ever get to you?”
“Not really,” he said, and then he told me the story about the helicopter crash, and watching his friends die in agony.
“Every day above ground is a good one, ever since that day,” he told me. Boy, did I feel like an asshole.
So yeah, aging sucks. But I’ll take it.
“Enough of this deep thinking, I’ve got a squirrel to chase.”