middle-aging is tougher than you think. it’s a time of tinylittlechanges and some prettybigchanges. your body starts to betray you, despite your best efforts to keep it going. the messages all around us are dedicated to making us feel that Youthful is the only worthy look, that fit and slim and silky is the only worthy body. our body image begins to slowly sink, just as our blue jean waistline begins to rise. it’s all one big test – and it’s prettydamndifficult sometimes to stay centered and grounded.
lingerie is one of those testing devices. just at the time you may be leaning a little less two-by-four-pancake-flat and you suddenly have a tad bit of – whoa – cleavage, and those sweet and sexy b-cup (wow! b-cup? seriously?) brassieres might be an option, your upper arms begin doing the whinga-whinga thing. i mean, really? there is no justice there. and here – raised in these body-conscious-united-states – it all becomes a disappointment.
try starting a new relationship in middle age. there are many challenges – people become more and more engrossed and invested in their own “way” of doing things – so that is obvious. but then, there’s the thing…you pull out old photographs and say, “this is what i used to look like in hiphuggers, in a bathing suit, in silk. i just wanted you to know.”
we were watching something on television the other night. the skims commercial came on. kim kardashian was the model. suffice it to say this is most-definitely-not dedicated to the older-middle-age gal watching. their other iconic top fashion models are no less fetching. though, truth-be-told, this is no different than other sexualizing advertising campaigns – like kate hudson’s fabletics or victoria’s secret. sigh.
in the meanwhile, i’m grateful to have fallen for a guy who is steeped in reality-based bodies, whose approving glance i see time and again, and who, clearly, loves burlap.
somehow i’d like to think of myself as anything but wilty. only i’d know it wasn’t so. i am. wilty. so is he. we are both wilty. not quite the same as the wilty kale we put out next to the garage for the mama bunny and bunbun, but most definitely wilty.
and so, as we drove away, with our cut-in-half halos for the off-trail “ammals” (thank you, jaxon, for this most-adorable non-wilty pronunciation), d said – in his i’m-enlightened-now-and-want-to-share-it voice, “that’s it!! they’d hire us if we weren’t so wilty!!!”
we laughed and he guffawed at his wit and utter sidesplitting jocularity and then we looked at each other – we neeeed to write that down!! so i grabbed my iphone and summoned siri, the great goddess of handless note-taking.
“what would you like it to say?” she politely asked. i answered and she dutifully jotted our note.
and then we looked at it.
“they’d hire us if we weren’t so wealthy,” she transcribed.
goddess-schmoddess. siri has her own unique wilty sense of humor.
i wear one contact. in my left eye. though i can actually see distance, it helps me see cleeearly – you know, defines the lines a little bit more, makes all the signs crisp. my right eye – sans contact – sees up close. and somehow, for the most part, my brain figures this out.
so i can usually see. most stuff.
but there are times. and – even with the great squint – the greatest squinty squint – i can’t read. like the ingredients on the bbq sauce at the grocery store or the directions for use on the new cleaning product. or the dang menu. in the tiniest font ever is printed all the potential meals we could ever desire…if only we could read them.
there’s always a pair of readers – the cheap kind that came from the dollar-and-a-quarter-store-that-used-to-be-the-dollar-store (does ANYthing EVER stay the same???). but they could be 1.25s. or maybe 1.5s. and there are fonts out there in the world that require flippin’ 2.5s. i know you can relate.
we have this clay bowl in our sunroom. in it are about thirteen pairs of readers. a baker’s dozen. and we have readers tucked into the side doors of littlebabyscion and big red. and we have readers right outside the kitchen hanging on the same hook as the key basket. and we have readers upstairs on the drafting table in the office. and there are readers – yes, yes – next to the bed.
we went into a newly revamped shop in our town a few days ago. lovely. so many nice products. and the proverbial rounder – the one with all the fancypants readers. they are cute-cute-cute!! i was tempted to try some on. but instead, i passed by. $24.99 was pricier than readers-to-add-to-the-bowl can be for me.
besides, i kind of think menus should come with readers attached. or maybe a magnifying glass. a little less ego-bruising.
with plates spinning, spinning, spinning – all up in the air at once – women carry on, living in many parallel planes, doing life. i had an email conversation with a young woman yesterday who has a 15 year old, a 5 year old and a 1 year old. she was taking them to school – high school, elementary school, daycare – meeting many distinctly different needs, not to mention her own getting-ready and go-to-work necessities. she wrote that by the time she gets them all where they are supposed to be – first thing in the morning – she is already exhausted. she also wrote that she requires little sleep.
i remember writing albums and talking to retail outlets and concert venues and packing boxes of cds and practicing and doing laundry and reading golden books on the rug and playing barbies or matchbox cars and making grilled cheese sandwiches and grocery shopping and planning birthday parties and holiday shopping and overseeing homework and whipping up paper mache and washing the floor and running children to lessons or soccer or baseball or cross country or ballet and….
d is singularly focused. he pokes fun at me being “circular”. uh-huh. it’s called multi-tasking, my dear.
it would not surprise me in the least to leave him drawing at his drafting table for several hours and to come back to find him still there with little to no awareness that i had left. it must be a guy thing.
“i won the lottery,” i tease him, this artist poised over his work. “the big one. zillions.”
though not quite as at-home as the cranes walking the edges, we know this pond. we knew it as a marsh. we knew it as dry dirt. we knew it with mulch strewn throughout as they eradicated invasive species. we watched as the rains began to fill it. we listened to the quiet wind ripple across its surface. and then, one day, we heard the first frogs. though we cannot see them, the orchestra pit is filled with frogs in chorus. the static becomes a symphony.
such is the way of a choir. for well over three decades, i conducted groups of people who chose to sing – in choir. they gathered, sitting in folding chairs cold with mid-week evening thermostat dips. they gathered, weary from their days at work or home, filled with activities of responsibility, of life. they gathered, to become a symphony.
the thing about choir rehearsals is that – with good leadership – they go from a meeting of a group of individuals to a collaboration of musicians, from quiet chatter to boisterous song, from people who possibly feel ill-at-ease to people whose voices are heard, whose hearts are seen. choir rehearsals are community events and – led with joy – become places that are generative, places that are accepting not competitive, places of great learnings and tremendous laughter, places that are spaces filled with concern for the other, lifting up of each other, a place with a mission of goodness, a mission of symphony.
i’ve missed being a choir director. it’s been over two years now and the lack of vocal choirs, ukuleles, handbells, worship bands is palpable for me. directing was always about the community – building it, reinforcing it – life-giving, loving. my resume shows seven churches along the way. seven communities in which i offered all i could give, responding to their individual needs, their particular circumstances, their strengths and their weaknesses. seven fluid rivers of music-making.
it’s a no-win. the classic rock-and-a-hard-place. a lose-lose. a pickle. a crunch. a conundrum. a double-bind. a dilemma.
yup. there is no truly right response here for that man.
i have learned to preface things i talk about – for instance, “i just want to tell you this. i want to go on and on. i want to _________ (choose: rant/think/ponder/ruminate) aloud. please do not try to solve this. please just listen.”
but sometimes, yes, indeedy, sometimes i just talk. with no preface. and then, in the way of conversation, especially in the middle of the night pillow-talking, he talks after i talk. and – whammo! – that’s where he makes his mistake.
so…we didn’t go to nearly enough places and i am sort of stuck in buyer’s-remorse, retail-regret, choice-underload.
i, eventually, chose frames – they resemble john denver’s and john lennon’s. a little bit bohemian. a little bit retro.
it had been a long, drawn-out affair. i tried every frame on at the vision center – well, not the really expensive ones because – though we had vision insurance at the time, my portion only covered contact lenses and no back-up glasses. we went to costco and i went up and down the optical wall, trying on, taking off, trying on, taking off. it was exhausting. we went back to the place where i had my eye exam – there would be a discount for buying glasses in addition to contacts.
nearly everyone at the vision center got involved. i had gotten it down to five different frames and – standing in front of the mirror trying them on over and over and over again – finally resorted to asking lovely sarah, the my-age vision assistant. i tried each pair on for her while david watched. we eliminated two frames. one made me look exactly like harry caray, which is not a good look for me. i loved the anderson cooper look, but all those frames were too wide and extended well beyond my face. apparently, i do not have a big face. or – women don’t mind frames that extend into their widest peripheral vision, making their hair stick out. there are many, many, many large frames out there. even bigger than the ones i had in 1985.
i had tried tortoise shell and red, maroon and clear. i had tried hexagonal and cat-eyes, square and rectangular. i had tried my-little-pony and under armour, karen kane and bebe and vera bradley. and now there were these five.
sarah turned to her colleague and asked for her help. the colleague had me try on the three frames – over and over – and then she turned to another colleague and asked for her opinion. the customer who was being served by that vision-center-person piped up. eventually, there was a vote. and everyone in the store voted. the black metal round frames won. i placed an order, laughing, and was relieved it was finally over – the stress of choosing a frame that fit my face – which, i might add, turned out to be a child’s frame. we left.
but i still think about the frame in my mind. also round, but plastic and black and just exactly right – making my forehead look smaller, the indent of my face less indented, the wrinkles around my eyes disappearing, the dark circles lighter, my eyelashes longer and my eyes more expressive.
david picked out his frame in about two minutes. so it was hard for him to understand the hissy fit i had over finding the right frames. a dedicated contact lens wearer, i have never really liked any of the glasses i have owned. i wanted this time to be different. so i tried to explain to him all the parameters the new – perfect – no, no – quixotic – glasses must fall within. purple stuff came out of his exploding head. but my hissy fit helped.
we picked up the finished glasses and, putting them on, they seemed a little blurry. i sighed. i haven’t tried them again. but i will. i’m hoping they will be ok. and i guess i’m still wondering if that truly perfect frame exists out there somewhere.
i can still locate my 1985-ish glasses. they are huge tortoise shell frames – bigger than my face – that sit way above my eyebrows and way down on my cheeks. i have no idea what i was thinking, but i suppose they were all the rage at the time.
well, guess what?
they are again.
giant frames, wide frames, frames that cover all expanse of your visage. yikes!
i look – decidedly – like a bug wearing any of these. like a fly – with big eyes – or an ant or – adding to my list of lookalikes – a meerkat or a spectral tarsier.
these are not good looks for me, i have decided. it didn’t even take pondering. it’s quite obvious.
so, re-using the 1985 glasses doesn’t work. i can’t find my glasses from the mid-90s but i know – i remember distinctly – that those do not sit low enough on my cheeks to cover the sometimes-dark-circles i have inherited from my poppo. somewhere in there i sort of remember a pair of big clear glasses. fortunately, they have gone the way of one of the charities that collects eyeglasses. i, in addition to ordering new lenses, was stuck having to look for a new frame.
but that’s a whole ‘nother story.
mostly, the experience of deciding what kind of lenses – lenses! – you want is complex.
i am a contact lens wearer and only need glasses when my eyes are tired at night and maybe we’re driving and i’m behind the wheel. in that case, i want the lenses that specifically deal with darkness and oncoming headlights and the possibility of rainy wet streets and glare off puddles and asphalt, orange barrels that populate every road in our vicinity and on every highway we choose to travel, equipped with deer-alerting alarms.
so – the anti-dark, anti-glare, anti-highbeam, anti-barrel, anti-deer, anti-sleepy lenses, please.
we each have our strengths. and, on the flip side, we each have our weaknesses. i am a detail person. he is a big picture person. sometimes that equates to a lovely full-length view of the world. sometimes it’s a total pain in the ass.
most of the time david is kind of mushy, endearingly compassionate and not all male-blustery-like. this is a good thing. we tend to be on the same page a lot – until we are not. and then, those are the moments the dog senses that his best laying-down-spot is in the bathroom. we aren’t really yellers, but, since our dog is as empathic as we are, he just knows that our tone is changing and someone is miffed and he is going to get out of the way. soon, he checks back in to see how things are going and is generally relieved when – even before leaving – we turn to him in miff-middle and reassure him, “it’s ok, dogga,” anticipating his departure.
there have been a few times that d has done the guy thing…you know, the well-it’s-not-working-for-you-so-let-me-do-it. i wouldn’t be honest if i didn’t say that it is royally annoying. i also wouldn’t be honest if i didn’t say that i feel total vindication when the whatever-it-was-that-wasn’t-working doesn’t work for him either. empowering. somehow i think you know what i’m talking about.
it’s in those exact moments – either way – on either side of the miffmobile – we all need to remember it’s good to laugh.
yep. that makes us pretty analog, i’d say. there is nothing in our vw superbeetle, big red or littlebabyscion that even resembles the digital world.
so when we got in my niece’s volvo or my sister’s nautilus we felt a taaad bit lost. my niece said, “hey, while we’re gone feel free to use the car!” as she walked out the door. we looked at each other, laughing. there was no way we would use her car. sheesh. we don’t even know how to start those cars. we would need a littlebitta instruction – remedial help – before taking to the road.
i guess we have some catching-up to do.
in the meanwhile, we will languish in not-knowing.