How I Felt

I was in the elevator of my building recently. I began a conversation with some random neighbor and I said that my daughter went to X University. he replied, “Oh, someone else in the building has a kid that goes there.” I looked at him quizzically, because there aren’t that many college age kids, and I know them all. He said- “He’s the guy on the board. Maybe you know him”. And I laughed and said- “yeah- that’s my Husband. We both have a kid at that school, or something like that.” The guy looked at me quizzically and said OK.

It was the OK that got me.

And, I know that I am totally reading into the situation, but I felt like the guy was trying to figure out how that guy was my Husband.

My Husband is four years younger than me, and in annoyingly good shape. If we had an attic I would assume that there was an aging painting in there. He has all his hair, he’s slim, and he has limited wrinkles. He doesn’t even look his age at all…

This is when I hate men.

Alas, I am a post menopausal woman who likes to eat and cook and I have the stomach to prove it. I know that I am not as physically attractive as I once was, and I’m normally OK with that…

All right, I’m really never ok with the fact that I’m not as attractive as I once was…

And this day I felt it.

There was no consolation in the fact that I was in the laundry room in my gym clothes, because I’d been to the gym and wanted to get the laundry up while I showered. My hair was in a pony, I had not a drop of anything but residual sweat on my face, and seriously, I looked like I needed to be put in the wash cycle. I’m sure I didn’t smell so great either…I was definitely not wearing perfume…

I felt old and dingy and washed up.

Amazing what the mind does to you…

And then I wanted to go make a high calorie cake for my husband and hide my moisturizer that I let him use. Let him get dry skin…let him look his age…

But that’s being petty.

I should be better than that…

I should be…but I’m not…

What is it about aging and beauty, or lack there of, that gets me every time? Why is it so hard to accept that looks change as you get older? How do we learn to accept ourselves as we get older?

It’s funny because I thought I was OK with my body, my face, my drier skin and grey hair. But I guess I’m not as emotionally and mentally strong about this as I’d like to be. It’s another thing to work on, one more task for my to do list…I just wish it was easier to plot out the goal, for me to say- to become more tolerant of my aging, I just need to do steps 1, 2 and 3…

Alas…it’s not that easy…

But I’ll try.

First, I’ll have a little pity party, and then I’ll remind myself that I am healthy and can still hold my own in a Spin class, and that I really don’t have that many wrinkles around my eyes, and I don’t yet need reading glasses…

And I’ll just get on with it a day at a time.

I need to remember that aging is a gift, a gift that many do not receive.

Leave them Laughing

The secret to a happy ending, Mom used to tell us, is knowing when to walk away.

Jennifer Egan Candy House

I’m guessing you all know what my question is today:

Is the secret to a happy ending knowing when to walk away?

I think it is YES in the particular frame of one’s own personal perspective- if you call the shots, you can control your happiness. But if someone else is calling the shots…like…Person A breaks up with Person B because they don’t see a future. Person A gets their happy ending- they left a relationship when they were ready- but Person B is crying over their latte…

I don’t know if I’ve ever had a happy ending. Most endings end up with me in tears, or banging a wall, or binge eating something. I think of endings as necessary evils- you push through the bad to eventually get to the good. So my next question is :

do happy endings actually exist?

There’s your thought exercise for the day. What say you about happy endings?

Trust

"Do you trust him?"
She hesitates. "Yes and no."
"That means no. Trust is all or nothing."

Jennifer Egan The Candy House

I think about my own experiences- I tend to be a distrustful person with people that I don’t know… I assume the email is SPAM, I assume that the deal is too good to be true, I don’t think the check is in the mail, I know that I’ve already blocked the Prince of Nigeria…

You get the idea…

I operate in a world where I don’t normally trust.

But…

I do give my friends and family the benefit of the doubt. I trust them until they show/prove that they can’t be trusted. I’ve had a few people in my life do me wrong- I admit that I cut most of them from my life- not so much because I couldn’t trust them, but because of the drama that they bring. I think I can forgive- but I don’t like things that add stress to my life. There’s already enough stress just living day to day- why add more?

There are some people in my life that I don’t trust at all- but you can’t always cut those people out. What I’ve learned is that I take everything they say with a grain of salt- I assume that they’re lying, and behave/act accordingly. If I give them money I assume that it’s not coming back to me…when people believe their own lies there is really nothing that you can do. I have NO TRUST in certain people.

Last week my word for the week was TRUST, and I had a lot of great comments from people about the word, the idea and the topic. Though I know the answers of many of you, I will ask the simple question:

Is trust all or nothing?

What are we doing?

I wonder if it’s shyness- whether Sasha and I should be asking him more about what he’s doing. But Mile’s history makes those questions feel loaded, or patronizing, and anyway, we’re in our fifties- do people even ask what we’re “doing” anymore? Hasn’t that already been decided?

Jennifer Egan Candy House

For my friends who are in their 50’s or beyond: Do we know what we are doing?

Ok- loaded question. But do we tend to write-off people who are older, and assume they have nothing going on in their lives? Or that everything is same old, same old?

While I admit I don’t lead the most exciting life, I like to think that I have a life– that I do things, that I try new things, that I still have lots of innings left in the ball game. I hope that people want to ask what I am “doing” because I hope that I am still “doing”.

But do we stop trying as we get older?

Do we stick to the same patterns and routines?

Do you not ask your friends and acquaintances what they are doing because you already know the answer?

Discuss:

When It Doesn’t Work

I always make my new dentist appointment when I’m checking out of the present appointment, which means I made my new appointment six months ago. The problem with that is that sometimes you have an unavoidable conflict when the appointment rolls around.

Case in point- I had no idea that the day that I booked my appointment would be the day that my daughter was moving into her dorm room.

When I realized this was the case, I called the dentist office and left a message that I had to reschedule.

They didn’t call back.

Then I got a text that said “To confirm, type CONFIRM. To cancel type CANCEL. I typed cancel, assumed that I was done, and tried to log into the system to make a new appointment.

When I went on their website, I dutifully entered all the info that they asked for, but really, the things they needed… I gave up when I couldn’t find the six digit code behind the Holy Grail…

And I called again and left a message.

Next, I got an email asking me to confirm my appointment. Of course, there was only one option: CONFIRM. There was no option to cancel. But there was a phone number, different than the one I’d previously called- so I left another message.

No one called me back.

The next day, I got another text- but this text there was no option to cancel either- just a CONFIRM button. I ignored the text, but I did call again…

No one called me back.

To keep you up to date: I called FOUR times to TWO different phone numbers belonging to my dentist office. I received two texts and a email- which did not work properly.

About five business days before the scheduled appointment, I got a phone call (from a third different number if you’re counting) but it came up MEDICAL- so I answered it assuming it was either my Doctor or my parents (my parents had an appointment that day so I knew there was a possibility)

The scheduler said:

I’m confirming your dental appointment for next Monday

And I just said- “Ah…No.” I explained to him in excruciatingly slow and vivid detail how I have been trying to cancel and rebook for the better part of two weeks… I asked him if they listened to the voicemail messages. He skirted the answer but said they did most things through the online system. I told him there was no option for the type of dental insurance that I have- the sub sub group that the form was asking for, even though they have all my insurance info, including a copy of the card, on file. He stammered just a little bit and I could feel the beads of sweat seeping through the phone…

But I did finally rebook my appointment…

So with all the online and the automation and that whatever…is anything really better? Or did I need to rely on a phone call to fix my issue?

Sometimes new and improved really isn’t what it’s cracked up to be.

Anything Can Happen Friday: Makeup

I wear eye shadow- part of my daily routine is sitting at my vanity and applying my makeup. This is fun for me.

My favorite eye shadow palette is the one pictured: Naked 2- Urban Decay Basics.

What I appreciate about this compact is that the colors are matte, go on somewhat smoothly, and the colors are muted and natural. The only problem I have is that I am always left with the very dark contour shade…

I know that I need a new palette, but I hate that I am wasting that whole color. I know that I can’t save it because makeup really does go bad- and you should be very careful as to what you put near your eyes. But the frugal part of me…

So many eye shadows only come in sets- this is the new order of makeup. And for my aging dry skin and eyelids, finding shadow that goes on reasonably well is important…but I sort of wish I could go back to the days of single color packaging- where I only need to replace one color at a time.

Sinners?

Holding my phone, looking out at Lake Michigan, I understood with sudden clarity that doing the right thing- being right- gets you nothing in this world. It’s the sinners everyone loves: the flailers, the scramblers, the bumblers. There was nothing sexy about getting it right the first time. Jennifer Egan The Candy House

I’ve been thinking about this since I read the book…

Do we idolize sinners?

Do we love to glorify the people who do bad, as opposed to those who do good?

On job interviews, do we ask when was the biggest screw-up, and how did you overcome that?

Do we think that people who never screw up don’t take enough risk, and therefore don’t deserve our time?

I admit, this quote made me STOP when I read the book: I reread the quote at least three times. In a world where I have tried to teach my daughter that she should do the “right” thing, have I been steering her wrong this entire time? While I’ve given her the latitude to make mistakes, and gave her tiny pushes outside her comfort zone…I’ve tried to make sure she followed the path that was lined with good intentions…that she was a “good” person, not quite a “sinner”…

Was I wrong?

Do we really admire those who don’t follow the “rules”?

So what do you think about the quote, about “sinners”, about anything I touched on:

Discuss:

The Fighting

My parents have never had the greatest of marriages: at best they had reached a sort of d├ętente that allowed them to coexist in the same unit. What kept them together was a strange mix of Catholic guilt, shared political ideology and fear of not having enough money if they were to operate two separate households.

Neither of my parents is without fault- my Father is stubborn and spiteful, my mother is pushy and a know it all who will harp on you until you submit to her thoughts because you just can’t take it anymore. She is also not so great at adapting. Add in to this the inevitable aging process, where sometimes your worst traits get amplified, and you have a situation set to explode.

My parents are not getting along. They fight constantly. Neither one of them is rational or willing to listen. And I am getting to the point where I just want to close my eyes and pretend that none of this is happening.

I do not know what to do about my parents, their aging and their fighting.

I have tried babying them. I have tried tough love. I have tried coddling. I’ve tried ignoring (which is my favorite method but probably least effective). I’m running out of ideas. I have talked to their Doctor. I have suggested therapy and anti depressants and anti anxiety meds.

I realize that my Father is ill, and his body has been through a lot. I realize that my Mother is annoying. I know that pandemic was not good for their mental health. I know all the big facts.

Yet, I have no clear path on how to help them.

It’s really starting to fray at my nerves. While I am coping, and making sure I take time our for myself, I still feel helpless. Part of me doesn’t want to even try to help anymore, because everything I try is futile. And for a can-do woman of action, who is the persona I am most likely to take on, this is not a look I want to wear. I am meant to solve problems, not to ignore them. I see a problem, I figure out what to do, and I act. The way I normally am is just not working right now. Part of me, a really big part, just wants to give up…to pass the buck to my sister and let her figure it out…But there’s that little piece inside of me that still thinks she has to protect her sister…and her parents… I’m really starting to hate that little responsible gremlin living inside me. Who knew being responsible would be such a travail?

After I end this post, I will look at my to do list and get on with my day. But there’s that nagging feeling that I should be doing something, doing more than I am to help out my parents, a nagging little bit of guilt and a nagging little bit of adulting…the unwritten to do that I just can’t shake…

Adding the Spice

I’ve been on a rather circuitous route towards mindfulness. I’m actively trying to become more mindful, more present in the journey, but sometimes life manages to sneak in and I have to get all pragmatic. But yet, I try.

One mindfulness exercise that I have come across is about making daily activities more mindful- to actually find peace, and daresay enjoyment out of something that is quite banal.

Hmmm

When I am doing household stuff, I tend to have on music or a TV show in the background. This is my way of making things better, but singing along to the Doobies or watching a house go from fixer to fabulous isn’t exactly being mindful…

So how do you make the tiresome details of your life more mindful?

Here’s what I tried:

I started with cooking: I already like cooking, so you would think it would be easy to throw in some mindful moments. However, stopping to smell the aromas of cooking went from being a pleasant, heady experience to an moment that felt sort of false- I ended up looking like Pepe Le Pew holding his nose aloft and being haughty…

Fail

I tried it when changing the litter. Yeah…there is nothing mindful about dumping litter from the box to the waiting bag in the garbage. As much as I tried, I could not focus on making my cat’s environment better: I could only focus on getting the task done as quickly as possible.

Fail

Laundry? From wheeling my cart down the hall, waiting for the elevator, hoping the big machine is free and in working order- this was not a mindful moment. This was a bit of wishing, hoping and not quite dreaming but a whole lot of wait and see…

Fail

Cleaning the bathroom? Seriously- can wiping under the rim of the toilet ever be a joyful experience?

Fail

Mopping?

Fail

Dusting

Sneezy fail

You get the idea. Try as I might I can’t find the moment of solace in doing everyday household chores. I can’t focus on thinking that the meal I make will nourish my family or the shelf I dust will make the surface sparkle. I live in NYC- there’s dust ten seconds after I’ve dusted. I don’t even get a moment to savor the dust free surface… I can’t help but think that trying to feel mindful about the day to day is really what a fool believes…

While I can try to be more mindful of my moments, I’m going to have to choose which moments to savor, and which moments to endure. I don’t think I’m cut out to be in the moment every moment.

Drop In

When I was in college, a friend and I drove down to DC to visit a friend who was working there that summer. On the way home, we saw a sigh that said JHTYG 90 (for clarity sake, JHTYG is a town that I made up because I didn’t want to use the real town name. I think 90 might be the correct amount of miles away). JHTYG was the town where one of our friends lived. It was also 90 miles opposite the direction we were headed. So of course we went to drop by… I think it was the only time I ever dropped in on someone without their prior knowledge. 1985.

I do not like the drop in. With the exception of one of my best friends dropping in to see me as a surprise because they were passing through NYC, I’m not a big fan. We have a neighbor who sometimes lets her dog out of her apartment- the dog then sits outside of our place and barks. Theoretically, the neighbor wants company…my husband will go out and talk for a few minutes, but I pretend I can’t hear the 30 pound dog barking…If I am lucky enough to be home alone, I’m staying that way… So unless you are M, G or A, (I would also allow any of the S’s, and M and C but M and C are less likely to drop in than I am) please call before coming by…

But that’s me.

What do you think about the drop in visitor? Are you excited for the company? Are you mortified that your house isn’t “clean”? Do you gleefully open a bottle of wine or put up a K cup of coffee, or do you consider hiding when the doorbell rings? Is not answering the door for an unexpected visit the main reason that people get those special camera doorbells?

In a post pandemic world (sorry to inform those of you clinging to masks and self tests case numbers, but we are how in the AC era) is there even such a thing as a drop in visitor? Is our busy world too jam packed with TO DO’s that drop in’s are a TO DON’T ? Booty calls are prearranged on Tinder. My daughters playdates were scheduled months in advance because you know how crazy the life of a three year old is…

Will people ever really go back to the world of come on knock on my door, we’ve been waiting for you. Did we ever want to be there in the first place?

Past: Did you like the drop in?

Present: Do you answer the door for an unexpected visitor?

Future: Are you going to drop in on someone you know?

Discuss