Saturday, December 31, 2011
As we await the dawning of the new year, 2012, I am quite certain that landmark preparations have begun in distant lands all over the globe. For example, in Micronesia tribes are fattening goats and awaiting the ripening of luscious tree fruits. Preserves are being prepared and small children are learning to weave elaborate tapestries from leaves and vines all in my honor. In Turkmenistan, puppets are being carved from ancient wood in my likeness and somewhere in the deep recesses of Syberia, elderly women are sewing frilly garments to don on the Day of Marg-nificance – March 16.
How do I know these things are underway? Well, if I were to share that privileged information, I would most likely have to terminate our relationship however superficial and cyber-like it may be. Suffice it to say, I just know.
While the actual thought of turning 40 in a mere 77 days has filled me with angst and often times angina, I’ve resolve that for the new year I shall begin to embrace the onset of old age rather than fighting it. In theory, and according to the New Year’s Resolutions I’ve scribbled down on the back of a Phineas and Ferb coloring book page, I resolve to love my wrinkles, adore my receding gums and not sweat the fact that many portions of my body creak and crackle all the way up the stairs each morning.
So as we enter 2012, I say to the people of the world – “Prepare. For the grand Day of Marg-nificance is approaching and I want hoopla!” Just not too much, you know, I am getting old and I’ll need to get to bed early.
Thursday, December 22, 2011
Today is my son’s last day of pre-school before Christmas Break. Thankfully, my last day of school was last Friday so I got a jump on him and was awarded four glorious days of vacation –sans child to do all those fun things like visit the dentist and the gyno. Aside from the bulk of these unpleasant tasks that are always put off until break and then suck up large chunks of the initial glory days, I simply adore school breaks. Any of them. I’ve long stayed in the education field not because I enjoy the process of developing the brilliant young minds of tomorrow, ah hells no, I'm there purely for these glorious breaks – Christmas Break, Spring Break, Summer Vacation – they make the low pay and ridiculous daily tasks – wiping boogers, stopping catfights, and worst of all dealing with helicopter parents, all worthwhile. The best thing about taking a job in a boarding school is the marvelous way in which breaks suddenly turn into multi-week events to allow students time to travel home. The joy that fills one on that last afternoon before the big dismissal is something that grows with age. If you were excited for break as a 4th grader, by the time you’re 39, you are freakin’ delirious with joy.
But this break is a bit different, as this time around, I no longer have a child who enjoys an afternoon nap or is content to play alone. No, now I have a child who is as surly as I ever dreaming of being, is incapable of going more than 30 seconds without conversation, has a hilarious dark side that is often used against me and under no circumstances will be caught snoozing the afternoon away . This break is going to hurt. Instead of a break like so very many in the past, where I lounge the days away enjoying coffee while surfing Martha Stewart episodes, sipping afternoon wine with Oprah, and catching up on sleep whilst my little devil naps, I will be involved in marathon games of Memory, countless trips around the cul-de-sac following a bike with monster-training wheels and hours of “play with me!” Yes, I realize it’s a “joyful time to remember and cherish,” though did you ever notice, those words seldom come out of the mouths of anyone in the trenches unless he or she is heavily medicated or imbibing in the good stuff?
Thank god for afternoon Moscato and my son’s love of Dr. Oz! But more than that- thank god he goes back to school a week before Mommy!
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Old people check the obituaries. Every day. This fact can be confirmed with a quick visit to any Rest Home or Adult Village the world over. It’s a widely known fact that each morning, while sipping half-caf and knocking back some bran, old people take a fine-tooth comb to the obituaries page of the local paper. But this practice is not limited to just the local paper – it’s any paper. Why? Because it’s not about seeing if a distant friend or acquaintance is the topic of page 8, rather it is all about checking the ages on each of the deceased and then comparing that against your own. How can I be certain? Because now as I hear 40 knocking (nay, banging violently) upon my door, I’ve caught myself perpetrating the same act.
Once upon a time, I would point, laugh and make old people jokes as I happened across dear aging family members and friends taking part in this ritual. Now I realize the error of my young foolheartedness. It started a few months ago, each time the paper comes, I complete the cycle – start to finish -the half-caf, the bran, the whole she-bang. Initially, I mistook my grim check-in as compassion but soon I realized while scanning the Press-Citizen Obit section, that I didn’t know a freakin’ soul in Iowa City,- it was clear – I was just an old person searching for validation.
Now, as I scan the Obituaries, making certain that the majority of ages listed on these final biographies are significantly higher than my own, I don't try to pretend - I own the freakish task. Like complaining about the lyrics of popular music and being horrified by teenage fashion, The Obit Crusie is a rite of passage and that I have passed into full on.
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
A few months ago we decided to flee the charm and refinement of beautiful urban Philadelphia for a stint at a Quaker Boarding school in rural Iowa. We had three weeks to pack up one life, drive half-way across the country to start a new one, and find a rental in a town of 2000 where rentals on homes that couldn’t be hitched to a truck and moved when needed were relatively slim. Ultimately, the school found us a hidden gem from 1975, on a cul-de-sac near the edge of town. We signed a lease having seen nothing more than a handful of fuzzy photos and with the hope that it was both livable and surrounded neither by corn stalks nor rednecks.
After 20 hours of driving in a small Hyundai with a sassy 3 year-old we affectionately call, The Midget, we couldn’t wait to see our cul-de-sac hide-a-away. I think it’s important to note here that we do not have the best luck and our last job that came with a housing stipend involved living at a water treatment plant in Turkey. But I digress. Upon entering the split-level charmer, my initial reservations were not about the red shag carpet or wrought iron stair railings. I could live with those by choosing to call them retro. But the glowing, brown and orange oven highlighting the kitchen was nearly a deal breaker. I finally had enough counter-space in which I could exercise my Martha Stewart Skills to their fullest potential and in the midst of my vast- ok, not vast by most standards but way more vast-er than any city kitchen I’d had in the past 16 years – sat the same “Coppertone Brown” stove we’d had in our family kitchen back in 1977. A Coppertone Brown eyesore.
Being a life-long renter, I am aware that any ugly appliance can usually be camouflaged by some magnets and kid art. But not ‘Ol Coppertone Brown, as we quickly learned that within seconds of turning her on, ‘Ol Coppertone Brown would heat up like a menopausal madam in a sweat lodge. As an added bonus, if you stirred too vigorously, the burners would disconnect and you’d lose all power. I surmised if I just worked her hard enough and neglected my microwave at any cost, I’d beat her into the scrap yard. Unfortunately, Mr. Roper –our thrifty landlord had other ideas and tried to breathe new life into Coppertone Brown at every turn. That is, until the other day when Mrs. Roper finally talked some sense into him and he let the old girl go…Coppertone Brown that is, not Mrs. Roper.
On the glorious Monday before Thanksgiving, a brand-new love appeared under my carport, Alabaster Blanche – a comfortably middle of the line, Whirlpool, Freestanding Electric Range in bisque. Blanche was a long-time coming and her appearance signaled a step forward in my life, as well as my aging process. As I stood atop the stairs giggling while the men wheeled Blanche in, my husband simply nodded his head in disbelief. “You act like my mother. She would get excited about a stove like this.” While I would normally be offended by this offhand comparison to his conservative Turkish mother, I had to agree with him. There comes a time in life when a new stove is far more exciting for a woman than a shopping spree where low-slung pants will only accentuate one’s muffin-top, trendy tops will show off arm flab and heels will all be too high for one’s bad knee. I guess that time in one’s life is 117 days before her 40th birthday. Say what you will, but I see a long and beautiful ahead for Blanche and I this fine holiday season.
Monday, November 21, 2011
There are 117 days remaining until The Rapture, The Great Reckoning, The End of Days, The End, or as I’m sure many will refer to it, my 40th birthday. Until recently, I hadn’t really given much thought to the big 4-0. I looked on and laughed mockingly as my childhood friends passed the threshold into old age. Of course, my mocking was not lacking in smart-ass comments about devices used for better hearing and removable teeth. Being the proud recipient of an early spring birthday, I was given a few extra months of youth that, while difficult when awaiting the legal drinking age, had been quite welcome in birthdays since then. It is only recently that I finally realized, time is running out.
What brought this realization to light? Was it my new found inability to stay awake until 11:00? Perhaps it was my need to add fiber to my diet at any given opportunity. Could it have been my sudden and unexpected shock at the whorish fashion choices appearing on girls under 25? Or was it the day my dentist uttered the words, “We’ll be making you a Partial”? I’m not completely sure, but I think each of these combined with the death of Andy Rooney leaving an opening for a grouchy, embittered, senior citizen, columnist that have driven me to start this blog. So join me on my journey into old age, as I try to balance growing old while still being mother to a 3 year old ?Midget.