So it’s been quite a while since I’ve blogged…I took the summer off since working on the computer for school all year takes it’s toll.
But I wanted…or maybe needed…to tell my sweetie peeps that ma died this morning. She was such an active, vibrant, beautiful woman and only began deteriorating in July. It was a fast downhill slide and sissy and I are in shock. I’ve written so much about her over the last couple of years and I know some of you have laughed at her antics. She always got a kick out of me apologizing to her whenever I fucking cussed (sorry, ma).
I’ve contemplated the word ‘love’ lately and realized, as I was watching her fight for breath yesterday in the hospital, that the word just isn’t big enough to describe what I felt for her. She was my light. My best friend. And the most amazing mom I could have ever ever asked for.
Ma was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver in 2006…she was an alcoholic but didn’t drink a drop after this diagnosis. Most people live about 5-6 years with the severity of damage she had…she lived 16. My sissy and I didn’t know that these last 10 years were the miracle we had been praying for these last couple of weeks. Our extra time with her had already happened.
This last decade was the happiest of her life. She was safe and healthy and happy and had so many friends that loved her. She did so much traveling and activities and at the age of 65 started a quilting business that was incredibly successful. She got to see her great grandkids grow up to their teenage years and took so much pride in sissy earning her LPN and working with special needs kids, and me being a prof. She told us so many times these past few days how proud she was of us.
I spent these last couple of days just rubbing her arms and hair…laying beside her in her hospital bed to cuddle…and telling her over and over again how much she meant to me. I think she understood.
I can’t say goodbye to her yet…I haven’t processed everything and know it’s going to hit me hard. All I know is that the times I thought my heart was broken were nothing compared to this. Nothing. My heart isn’t broken…that can be fixed. Instead, my heart has a piece now missing that can never…ever…be replaced.
Rest in peace, ma. You deserve that more than anyone else I know.
So, we are talking about ageism in my Intro classes which has to be my favorite topic we cover. In fact, talking about age is my favorite activity ever…just below putting a hot fireplace poker in my eye. 😳
Anyhoot, here’s a question that came up today when we were talking about our life expectancy: “Would you want to know what day you were going to die?” Half of the class nodded while the other half shook their head vigorously. The ones that said yes talked about how they would get things done…travel…be with family, etc. The ones that said no stated that the anxiety of knowing this would put a damper on the rest of your life.
I’ve been thinking about this today and don’t know which I’d choose…both sides have valid arguments. One student said “If I knew when I was going to die, I’d write out a bucket list and work to cross everything off.”
Did you know the term ‘bucket list’ didn’t come about until the 2007 film with Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson, and did you also know I’d give my left arm to hear Morgan Freeman read to me in person. Just sayin’.
I think I might be one of the few people I know that doesn’t have a bucket list and I actually have felt bad about that…like I have no goals or aspirations. Anyhoot, according to howtoadult.com, the most commonly found items on bucket lists from around the world are:
See the Northern Lights – OK, I’m going to admit this: I had no freaking idea where these were but now that I know they’re in Iceland, the chance of me moseying up there is slim. However, my son really wants to go to Iceland even though he hates the cold to the point if it’s under 60, he bitches about it. Go figure.
Run a Marathon – DONE! I’ve run 5 marathons in my life: 2 in Chicago, the St. Louis, the Green Bay, and Disney from which I have a gold Mickey Mouse medal! Yea!
Take an African Safari – my friend travels to Africa twice a year to spend time at the By Grace Orphanage in Kayole, Kenya. She created a non-profit, Stand up for Grace, and I’ve helped her with it since it’s inception 15 years ago. Unbeknownst to ma, I am planning to go next winter. It’s in a fairly dangerous place but I want to meet these kids so badly and work to make where they live better. Ma is totally against this…she’s convinced I won’t come back for whatever reason: getting run over by a rhino, getting held up (this has happened to my friend), saying or doing something unacceptable in the area and being jailed (yes, I have a big mouth and am impulsive…but yes, my friend would be there reeling me in), and the list goes on. So ma…if you’re reading this: I’ll be fine! OK?
Write a Story – I’ve written lots of kids books that I’ve mentioned before and really want to get them published badly…this is my goal. I’m also writing a book on being bipolar…it’s something I know a tad bit about and I hope to finish it during Christmas break. If, I’m not too busy shoving ma’s roasted pecans down my gullet the entire time. 😐
Walk Along the Great Wall of China – I’m gonna be honest here but I have absolutely no desire to go to China. The wall looks amazing and the history behind it is fascinating, but seeing it on Google earth has pretty much been enough for me.
Learn to Play an Instrument – I would love to learn to play the ukulele. I know I know…it sounds silly but I love the sound of it! I first wanted one when I saw the Andy Griffith show episode where the ‘Fun Girls’ have one and are playing it for Barney in the jail. What more can I say? (Ma…remember when you said you need Christmas ideas…well…here you go…😐).
Snorkel at the Great Barrier Reef – I know this would be fucking amazing and I love love love the water. However, the thought of a 22 hour plane ride makes me want to puke. Literally. Ma and pop would draw straws to see who had to sit by me on planes when the family went on vacation. The loser got to watch me puke in bags for the duration of the trip. Charmed I’m sure. 🤢
Skydiving – O has done this and he loved it! The video of him is so cute but it scared the shit out of me when he left to go do this with his dad. My favorite part of his video is when the guy filming asks if there’s anything he wants to say before jumping and he says: “I love you, Mom!” This is all while his dad was sitting by him and rolling his eyes. I love it. However, me jump out of a plane? I have as much a chance of that as dating Taron Egerton. So the answer is no way. Unless…Taron asks me to do it with him. Strapped to his chest. Hmmmm…
Own a Dog – DONE! I’ve had 7 dogs in my life: Scooter (my first mutt), Tessie (my white German Shepherd), Lizzie (another Shepherd), Squirty (my Toy Poodle I had for 3 years before B and I got divorced…he wouldn’t let me take him and I cried for weeks), Dottie (the one who will always stand out the most in my heart…I cry for her everyday and miss her so so much), Edward (my mutt who is the most loving dog ever), and Mally (who is doing so well)! I will never be without a dog; even when they’re at the groomers, I don’t know what to do with myself in the empty house!
See the Pyramids in Egypt – actually, Pop and my step-ma are going there with my sissy and her hubby in July. I can’t wait to see their pics and actually did a report on Egypt in the 6th grade which they can all use as a tour guide. I’m sure it’s very comprehensive.
Learn another Language – I took 2 years of French in high school and can say 4 things in the language: hi, yes, bye and where’s the toilet. Why would I need to learn anything else? 🙄
Ride a Venetian Gondola – I would LOVE to do this…I want to visit Italy so badly some day so this is definitely one I need to jot down on my list.
Drive across the Country – Another one I really really want to do! J and I always talked about buying an RV and spending a year traveling all across the country and I still have dreams of doing this. I guess I’ll have to with Taron now. Darn. 😏
View Paris from the top of the Eiffel Tower – O has done this too (my son is very well traveled) and his pics are amazing. And, because of my fluency in French, I think I would do great in this country.
Hike the Pacific Crest Trail – hmmmm…I’ve actually always wanted to hike parts of the Appalachian trail but am up for this too. Just so I look like Reese Witherspoon did in the movie “Wild” while doing so. All I need is to take 10 years off my life, be a blonde, have a rockin’ bod, and look good while sweaty. Yep…that’ll happen.
Take an Alaskan Cruise – Yes! Ma took one years ago and loved it and the pics of what she saw are absolutely gorgeous. Plus, I hear there are a lot of single men in Alaska…who really want to move to Central Illinois 😉.
See your Favorite Band – I’ve actually seen my all time favorite singer: Elton John; it was in 1989 in Chicago and amazing and I’d love to see him again! BTW, it was the first time I smelled pot. But not the last. Don’t tell ma. Or pop. 🤨
Go Glamping – No, I’ve never heard of this but it’s glamour camping…right up my alley. In fact, I think I have a better idea: hotelamping. Staying in a luxury hotel that has a spa, pool and cabana boys at your beck and call. T…let’s do this!
Visit Stonehenge – O has also done this (crappy kid has done everything) but said this about Stonehenge: “It was a pile of rocks, ma. You aren’t missing much.” I’ll take his word for it.
Hike Mt. Kilimanjaro – OK, I had to look up where this is and saw it’s in Tanzania which I also had to look up until I realized it is in Africa. The hike is 55 miles over the course of a week and I’d actually like to do this…I love to hike!
Now, anything else I want to add to a proposed bucket list? Hmmm…white water rafting on the Colorado river, opening a plant shop, convincing my son it’s time to give me a grandbaby before I get too old to see the little fart, and singing on stage where everyone claps and cheers even though it sucked balls. I have huge aspirations…huh?
So, would I want to know when I was going to die? I don’t think so. I wouldn’t want that in my head but I do want to get some things checked off in my life. I mean face it, at the age of 54 that time frame is apparently shrinking…at least according to my young sweetie students who think 30 is old. Blech. 😳
So, let’s just get this out of the way first: when I was a teenager, I wanted to be you! Seriously! Here you were starring in my favorite show with Michael J. Fox (who I had planned to marry but I decided to step aside and let Tracy have a shot at him 😐) and I just knew we would be besties if we ever met. And to be honest, I think that still applies.
Anyhoot, I bought your book yesterday…FACE. I had read about it online and couldn’t wait to take a look-see at it myself. I was literally only a paragraph into it when I started highlighting passages; after a while, there was more highlighting than not and I gave up and just enjoyed. It may not have looked that way to my neighbors though since I was in the backyard and every few seconds I would yell “YES” and “NO SHIT”; and I actually cried through much of it because you showed me a different way of being.
I had already started a blawg post about the unreality of instagram (I hate social media…hate it! Why in the fuck do they call it ‘social’ media when it’s really an individual love fest with yourself? 🤔 And, sorry for the cussing, ma…but Justine cusses too so there! ) but knew I had to finish that one later because this took precedent.
Here’s what pulled me completely in:
“I was elated when creases emerged across the top of my cheeks when I smiled, when I saw the promising beginnings of small bags under my eyes, when the skin loosened on my neck. One summer, I even noticed a real bonus of cleavage creases on my upper chest from the sun. I was finally beginning to look like the kinds of women I thought were the most interesting, and the most attractive.”
Then later: “I hated the idea that half the population (*women) was perhaps spending the entire second half of their lives ashamed and apologetic that their faces had aged naturally.”
Wow. Then, through the various stories you told, you were able to get me inside other older women’s heads to see how they had been berated, humiliated, vilified, and scorned because…GASP…they had the audacity to grow old.
And here’s the conundrum: if a woman tries to ‘grow old gracefully’, she is made to feel horrible about herself for having wrinkles and thinner skin. BUT, if she gets any work done (and you are right…that’s a rabbit hole for sure), she’s made to feel horrible about herself for being plastic. So basically, women can’t win no matter what they do. Is that the point?
I had never really thought about how all young women are looking the same. But they are! When your face is made up to the point you can’t smile and you have now got the perfect nose, filled lips, manicured eye-brows, and creaseless skin you look like ‘everyone’ else. There’s no uniqueness. No individuality. As Julia Bruccilieri writes in her Huffington Post article “Between make-up and Facetune, we’re creating a homogenized expression of beauty.” Look at this from Seventeen magazine…these are 3 different women who all want to be Kyle Jenner (🙄)…you can’t tell one apart from another!
You are so so right when you say that being called ‘pretty’ is the ultimate in female praise. Someone calls you smart? That just means you’re not pretty. Someone says you have a nice personality? That just means you’re not pretty. Someone says you look good for your ‘age’? That just means you’re not pretty. Blech.
But here’s the bad thing…I’ve bought into it! Hook, line and sinker. I am smart (shutty the mouthies, peeps 😐)…have an OK personality (I’m bipolar…not always the most charming 🤨)…look OK for 54 (more about that in a bit). But, call me pretty and I’m elated! After all, isn’t that what women have been striving for since the beginning of time? Isn’t that the end all and be all?
I have to say my favorite story was about Denise who was sitting at the kitchen table while her hubby was looking at a pic of an aging movie star saying how ‘he wouldn’t do her for anything.’ OK. Right. Because, as Denise points out, what woman WOULDN’T want a thinning hair, drooped eyes, potbelly man offering to boink her. She should be grateful since he’s such a catch. Rrrriiiigggghhhhttt? 🙄
And that’s what pisses me off so much! How men CAN age and look it and not be ashamed of it. In fact, they still think they are God’s gift. Another rrrrriiiiiggggghhhhhtttt. But a thinning haired, potbellied, droopy eyed woman needs to hide herself away from the world because she’s so hideous she shouldn’t be out. And people say men and women are treated equally. Hmmm…
It’s like the worst thing you can say to a woman is: “You look as old as fuck.” And that’s the ultimate put-down, huh? To be told that because you’ve been on this earth for a few decades, your value is nil. Zip. Zero. Yes, we can try to turn back the hands of time, but who are we really fooling? Us? ‘Them’? As Tara says in your book: “You’re people pleasing the group that cares the least about you.” Like in high school…all you wanted was for the popular bitches girls to notice you…compliment you. But you hated them. Why in the name of all that’s holy did you want their acceptance so badly?
I never realized how ashamed I was of my age and looks until I dated a much younger man. After just a few months together, he told me how old my neck looked and I instantly became obsessed with it and humiliated by it’s wrinkly skin. This was also around the time he started being mean to me…so…I had a face lift. I was promised by the doc that this would not only ‘fix’ my neck (which it didn’t…thanks for the extra pain and price-tag, doc 😳) but would make my face ‘fresher’. After all, I was 50 at the time and ALL 50 year old women need to start ‘maintaining’ themselves. This, Justine, was one of the worse decisions I’ve ever made. I thought that if I looked younger, J would treat me better. Actually, I looked a bit younger and J escalated his emotional abuse and serial cheating. So…looking younger is obviously not the panacea for all our troubles.
Here’s the thing: even as I write this, I’m crying. I KNOW age ‘shouldn’t’ matter…but I also know age ‘does’ matter. I’ve been conditioned for 54 years to strive, among anything else, to be pretty…which means at my age, to be young. The media has made me ‘believe’ aging is ugly…if they didn’t make us believe this, we wouldn’t spend billions of dollars on their fucking products. Like the story you told about Faith and her experience as a former advertising exec: “…people will accept what you tell them to accept. You tell them they have a flaw and you sell them your remedy.” So we’re pawns in a game. A game of money that preys on a culturally determined ‘flaw’ that is lucrative for so many, but emotionally detrimental for more.
You know, I could talk forever about this and if you ever want too, I suppose I could make it to L.A. where we could pal around and yack. Just sayin’. But I want you to know that you have started the process of freeing me from these bonds of youth. You said something in your introduction that I have been reading over and over again: “Because, in the end, there’s nothing wrong with your face.” I needed to hear that. Most women need to hear that. This is MY face. My 54 year old, experienced, educated, mentally ill, professoring face. It’s been through a lot and I hate the diatribes I’ve directed towards it. It’s mine. All mine. And I’m going to love it for that.
So, I was perusing amazon the other day and came across a book called “How Not to Act Old” by Pamela Satran and it really interested me for a couple of reasons. First, what the fuck (sorry ma, I’m already cussing 😳)? Do we really need lessons on how not to ‘act old’ in this day and age? What is ‘acting old’ anyway and why must we shy away from it? Why is ‘acting young’ so much better? Second, why in the name of all that is holy do we fear aging so much in our society that we have to learn to ‘act younger’? Does that seem right to you? Grrrrrrrr.
Actually, this book is really funny and the author is excellent at satire. Plus, if I must be brutally honest with myself, I think I need a few of these ‘lessons’ myself. Let’s take a look see at the ones I apparently need to work on…I may need to leave a few out for the sake of brevity (look up that word, youngsters…it’s not used much anymore 🙄).
One of the tips is to not talk to strangers which is something us old folks do. My son is probably cheering right now because he absolutely hates it when I do this, but what can I say? I’m a talker and baby, this bird likes to chirp! No one is a stranger to me…literally. I’ll talk to anybody and everybody anytime and anywhere. And, while that makes my son very very nervous, ma will laugh after she realizes the person isn’t going to spit in my face.
The other day we were at Wally Farts and I was in the make-up aisle looking for the only lipstick that looks decent on me (Maybelline 24 hour matte…#50 🤨 ) and there was another gal yacking on her phone which kinda pisses me off. Is there anywhere we can go where we can get away from those damn things (I wanted to say ‘fucking’ instead of ‘damn’ but ma might get mad so I resisted 😬)? Anyhoot, she said the word ‘Aunt Linda’ and after she hung up I said: “Was that Linda?” And she tentatively said it was. I said: “Aunt Linda…from Decatur?” And she said YES! Do you actually know her? I said of course I did…I was trying to get some lipstick for her and this gal actually said: “She sent me to do that too!” Then ma and I started cracking up and the gal did too! I could hear her continuing to laugh through the body lotions aisle (note: I need to put that on my shopping list) and it made me happy. If my son had been there? He would have left the store and called an Uber for me. I guarantee it.
Another suggestion is not to wear a watch. Heh?? I grew up wearing watches and since my phone isn’t connected to me via an umbilical cord like I know others have, I need to know the time. My first ‘fancy’ watch was a gold number from a store named “Venture” and it had the red numbers that lit up when you pushed a button. It was awesome and I loved it…very ‘tech’. I actually have a lot of watches I’ve collected over the years: Tweety bird, Hoops and YoYo, Mickey Mouse, various Timex’es and I wear them according to my mood. When O was a little guy, I had an Elmo watch and I’d say: “Elmo says it’s time for a nap!” Worked like a charm.
Another suggestion is to not talk about menopause. Yeah. Right. Look, when I was sweating like a dog every freaking day of the month for 2 years straight, wanted to kick anyone that got in my way, had mood swings far above and beyond anything bipolar can be responsible for, and saw my belly grow day by day because my metabolism was getting shot to hell…I’m going to bitch about it. To everyone. Hello??!! If I’m miserable, I want others to be too. It’s just a quirk of mine.
(NOTE: skip this part, ma). In another part of the book, the author says that although men continue to be randy throughout their lives (tell me about it 😐), women don’t want to really have ‘it’ anymore. OK. Here’s another area where I must be an anomoly because good Lord above, I still like ‘it’. Why is it assumed that older women don’t like to have sex? I hate to blame anyone for this situation but I tend to think that if our men (I’m leaving out women as a partner because I think we’re already OK at this) romanced us like they did when we were young…quit wearing sweatpants around the house all day while carrying a beer…stopped watching the boob tube for hours on end…stopped assuming that going out to dinner is just too much trouble…and not ogle young ladies that are barely old enough to vote then guess what folks? Women might really like it ‘again.’ Hello, men. Ever hear of foreplay? Sweeties, take it from me…that never gets too old for us. K?
And tattoos? Not for the old? I disagree. What the hell? I’m getting older and fewer and fewer people are going to want to see my bod so why not get it covered in ink? I’ve actually got 6 tattoos and am getting a sun/moon on my right upper arm this fall. Ma doesn’t know about this and she is going to be calling me in 5-4-3-2-1…hold on, I’d better take this. 🙄
And, this brings me to something else ma has told sissy and I since were were 4. Long hair isn’t for older women. In other words, having 2 inch hair is the ONLY style acceptable for ‘cough cough’ women of a certain age. With no disrespect to ma, and I know I speak for sissy as well, bullshit! My longer hair can be used to cover up my face when my wrinkles are a bit more pronounced, look really great when nothing else does, and makes me feel like I’m at least a year younger than I really am. Win win win.
The author also talks about what you shouldn’t wear as an older woman and I agree with them…particularly the bright blue eye shadow which every single 80 year old I know wears (and yes, I live in a very old neighborhood where I’m the youngest resident by about 50 years so I know a lot of 80 year old women 👵). I don’t want to dress in ‘Jr.’ clothes…for fuck (sorry, ma 🙄) sakes, the day I show my midriff in public is the day you need to commit me, but I’m not going to wear these ‘new’ high waist ‘vintage’ jeans either. No way in hell. Look, maybe the ‘young folk’ think having the 80’s back is fun, but these are the jeans that us older people look at in our school pics and laugh at. No way are those boobie-touchers going on this bod. I will continue to wear my boring old Levi’s with the button fronts so when I eat too much dessert, I can unfasten a couple of ’em and shove more cake in. Seriously…what could be better than that?
Last one that made me think a bit? ‘Don’t fear the thong.’ Oh…I don’t know about y’all, but I fear them…a lot. Look, underwear is supposed to cover your underarea and keep you…well…contained. Free from drippies. Protected from chafing jeans. There is no way on God’s green earth I’m going to wear a 3″ swatch of fabric with dental floss holding it together in the back. I tried them. Once. And I spent hours with my hand picking the floss out of my butt crack which I’m sure looked very sexy. Regular panties it is.
So, getting older may not be cool, and yes, there are suggestions on how not to act too old, but here’s how I see it: I’ve gotten to 53 and I’ll be damned if I’m not going to take advantage of it. There are just some things us old folk can take advantage of and be OK…like staring at handsome firefighters while saying something naughty. “I can’t help it…I’m old.” That sort of thing. Pros to getting older? You can act about anyway you want and blame it on age. Cons? Well my sweet peeps…that’s a whole other post.