On Being an Aging Carbon-Based Wonder

Posted: March 25, 2018 in Blog
Tags: , , ,

When last we parted company, starfish supporters, we were chatting about my dubious status as an athletic carbon-based wonder and my adventures in the marine world that left me with seaweed down my Tweedle Dum pants and arguing with the control panel of a nervy lap pool that had just blown my board shorts off. My aquatic prowess  is impressive. I move like a manatee with a hangover. The fact that I also move like that on land is worthy of its own post sometime later. In the meantime, there was another topic that occurred to me to explore with y’all.

Today’s post won’t apply to all readers.  Please take what you wish and leave the rest here.

This whole aging process is a kick, turning into an adventure in and of itself, wondering what my body will (or won’t) do next. I’m fascinated by the fact that no one really tells us what to expect as we move up in age. I think we’re supposed to absorb that information by observing folks around us who lead the way.

I became suspicious that aging was sneaking up on me one morning when I peeked in the mirror and noticed that the lines I’d seen on my sister’s neck  had mysteriously crept into my house overnight and attached themselves to MY neck. Alarmed, I called her to ask if hers were missing and did she want these back. Always the colorful character, she responded with, “Up yours!” and hung up on me.

The day I glanced down at the steering wheel and saw my father’s hands instead of my own almost caused a five car pile-up.  At first, I thought I was stuck in A Tale from the Crypt, but then realized A) I probably read way too much Stephen King and B) it was just my new friend, the aging process, making itself known in another way.

Now, gardening season is almost upon us. There’s nothing I like better than gardening season. I’m ready. Tiny green things? Put me in, Coach!  Oh wait. I’m going to need a nap first. Until August.  That should do it. It will also make for the shortest gardening season in history. But true to my South Philly roots, if I have to participate in this whole aging thing, I plan to channel the old Italian man who lived down the street from me as a kid. It will require growing roses and then yelling Italian swear words at anyone who gets close to them. “Youse bleeping kids! Get away from my bleeping roses! Bleeping move! Now, bleep it! BLEEEEEEP!”

This messes with your hearing, for sure. People I used to speak to regularly now mumble. To get even with them, I’ve just stopped speaking to them. That’ll learn ‘em. My sister used to accuse ME of mumbling. Now I know what she meant.  Now that we really can’t hear each other, we talk much more often! No, I have no idea about what. Was that a requirement?

It messes with your sleep too. I have all the energy in the world at 3 am and then look and feel like something the dogs dragged in out of the rain at 3 pm. I noticed that as my sleep changed, everything got on my nerves. On my last nerve. In fact, my last nerve was writing advance directives, it was so bad.

A couple of years ago during a conversation with one of the Youth Outlook staff, I found myself thinking, “Go ahead. Keep talking to me and I’ll rip your lips off your face.” I didn’t SAY it. Just the fact that I was thinking it, though, struck me as odd. Who talks that way to that staff person? She’s one the kindest people on the planet. Wow, that sleep disturbance thing can wreck your whole decade. I mean, day. Day. Yeah. Day!

I did eventually mention these odd occurrences to my doc. She laughed. I was not in a laughing mood, given that last nerve writing its advance directives mess. When she stopped laughing…and I do wonder about so many of my health providers having to stop what they’re doing because they’re laughing too hard to continue…she announced, “Oh honey, you don’t have to put up with THAT. I can help you.” That was when I started taking a sleep aid which has created a subplot of adventures all by itself. In the truest sense, yes, it does help me sleep. It’s what I do WHILE I’m sleeping that is of some concern.

Last summer, I went to bed one night and awoke about two hours later. Or at least I thought I was awake. Apparently I also thought it was a good idea to go on Facebook. I don’t know exactly what I was trying to do but I ended up going on to the page of a new acquaintance, capturing one of her photos, reposting it on my page and giving it a status update of “Feeling Fabulous!” Mind you, we were not Facebook friends at the time and I have never in my life used the words “Feeling Fabulous!” as a complete sentence.  The next morning, my phone blew up with texts from friends all over the country. “Who is that?” “Why have you been holding out on us?”  “Who’s the chick?”  I had no idea what they were talking about. Who is who? Holding out on what? What chick?  Because knowing  the photos I normally post on Facebook, we were probably talking about an actual chick. Yellow. Fuzzy. Cheep cheep. You get the picture.

When I went on Facebook to find out what people were talking about, my hair caught fire. Aaaaagggghhhhhh!!! No! No! No! Abort! Abort! I couldn’t message the acquaintance fast enough and fall over myself trying to explain that I was asleep when I did it. Thankfully, the new acquaintance had a good sense of humor and no harm, no foul. The phone needed to sleep in the kitchen after that.

I can’t say the same for that morning at the conference. Last fall, a group of Youth Outlook folks went to a training that was to last two days. Halfway through the first day, the facilitators informed us that there would be a meeting for all executive directors at 7:30 am on Day 2. Oh no. No no no. That’s not do-able. My job is mostly afternoons and evenings and has been for twenty years. I don’t do 7:30 am meetings. No coherently, anyway. I looked around the room and all of the other EDs were nodding yes, of course they’d be there. It seemed a normal request for them.

Not wanting to be the odd man out and very much wanting to do what I could to support my team in this training, I decided I’d have to take the hit and go to the morning meeting. I’d have to time when to ingest my sleep aid so that it would be cleared out and I would be coherent. Coherent is so encouraged in these jobs. Go figure.

So I did. I timed it, got in bed early enough for it to wear off before I needed to get to that meeting. The next morning, I woke up early, knowing I need at least one hour with my feet on the floor before I feel fully alert. I showered, made some in-room coffee, and got dressed. I even managed to dress myself like an executive director. I was on target to get to that meeting on time. The last stop was to pop into the bathroom and brush my teeth before exiting the room. And I promptly brushed my teeth with the estrogen cream in my shower kit.

I guarantee you, it does not taste like mint.

I did still get to the meeting on time, but the entire time I sat there, I wanted to turn to the man from Ohio sitting next to me and drag my tongue up his sleeve to get the estrogen cream taste out of my mouth.

I’ll have you know that at NO time did my doc call that day and tell me, “Oh honey, you don’t have to put up with THAT!”

Unruly neck lines. Tales from the Crypt hands on the steering wheel. Sleep Facebooking. Estrogen toothpaste. There is a LOT to put up with as we age and so few of us see it coming.

What did I come in this room for? BLEEEP!

Probably the most unfortunate thing of all is what my new friend, the aging process, has done to my hair. No, I don’t mean just that it has gone grey. I can live with that. My brother, The Major, had gone entirely white in his late 40s and he looked like a testy Santa Claus. (And he never had the chance to brush his teeth with estrogen cream, dammit!) It’s the OTHER things that this has done to my hair that I hadn’t counted on. For instance, I’ve always had the father’s hairline. Too bad I got the mother’s hair to fill it in, but there’s nothing to do about THAT now. His hairline shifted as he aged, invading lower on his temples until it started to fill in, which is the reverse of how I’ve understood that hair is supposed to behave. I’ve noticed mine doing the same thing, but sadly, it’s doing that at the same time that my eyebrows are greying out and getting harder to see, while the lowering hairline is more pronounced. Yes. It is unusual. It looks like a small stampede of confused fuzzy brown caterpillars fleeing up my temples with one albino caterpillar with alopecia bringing up the rear on either side.

A friend introduced me to one of those neat “color in your eyebrows” magic sticks last year.  I think I got it right. I had to blend the whole front of my head, and that took about two hours so I missed the engagement I was getting ready for, but when it was done, my caterpillars were even and in the right places and I looked smashing…as I spent what was left of the evening feeding popcorn to the dogs and watching Netflix. But my eyebrows were fabulous.

Older friends have teased me for a while about if I was to grow a beard or not. I waited for this alleged beard to arrive and finally came to the conclusion that it might be the only factor of my new friend, the aging process, that I might not have to deal with.  Until that memorable night I was driving home from work and a tractor trailer fell in behind me with its blare-y white lights. I happened to look in the mirror at him but where HE was suddenly was of no interest. I had never had a reason to have such glaring light behind me. Now that it was there, I realized I wasn’t growing a beard—I was growing fine, blonde muttonchops, and when backlit, I could pass for Ambrose Bernside. Or a bleeping Founding Father.

There are a lot of things I’ve aspired to in life. A Founding Father hair-do was never on the list. Actually that’s more like a hair-don’t. For now I will just marvel at it. I have to. I am an aging carbon-based wonder.

geritol

 

 

 

 

 

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