Is that a pear in your pocket?

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Age moves on stealth feet. Except that tip-toeing is getting noisier with each passing year. In a few years I imagine it’ll be like Gene Simmons, in full Kiss regalia, stomping all the juice out of my youth.

It’s getting harder to hide the signs, such as the under-eye circles (Just how much of that caulk they sell at Sephora can you cake under each eye?) and that flotation device permanently attached to my waist.

Years of smoking and tanning have etched lines on my once-perfect skin. Yes, I once had perfect skin. No makeup needed. Ever. I quit smoking 17 years ago. More than anything I hope my lungs have somewhat regenerated. But my skin, well, the damage is done. I wish every young person lighting up and buying a tanning club membership would consider this. I know I didn’t.

If anyone is guilty of thinking youth would last forever, it’s me. I had it so easy for so long. I always looked far younger than my years. I was carded for alcohol well into my 30s. (I was carded at Target last week for buying NyQuil but that’s something different entirely.) But now? My knees ache and throb after I run on the treadmill. They require ointments to feel better.

I’m getting the hereditary veiny, twisted hands of my mother and grandmother. I don’t sleep well at night anymore. I no longer feel sexy. My body cannot produce a baby. My silhouette no longer forms the hourglass figure of youth.

I am a pear.

I am the pear-shaped princess of perimenopause.

Inside I feel young. I have good energy. I am strong. I have will and fight. Most of the time. I still swing on the swings at the playground and laugh at poop jokes and The Three Stooges.

I don’t want to fight  gravity with shots and creams and endless slices under the knife. Yet, if the money were available, I’d probably submit to “just one” procedure. I’d have my eyes fixed. They are aging me faster than a carton of Marlboro Reds. But, I know one procedure begets another and another. Younger eyes would beg for a smoother forehead and taut cheeks and a tight neck. On and on it goes until you are a cartoon character named Joan Rivers.

So, what’s gotten the pear-shaped princess singing the blues lately? I’m surrounded most days by much younger women. Women at the starting end of the fertility curve.  Women who are worried about getting pregnant while they are pregnant. One day I did the math. Some of these mothers were flying out of their mother’s uterus as I was peeling rubber out of the high school parking lot on commencement night.  I am — gasp — the old mom.  I don’t even know where everyone my age is hanging out anymore. Are they all dead?

God knows, I try to go out and party like it’s 1989. I’m almost always the first to check out. I was called on it at the last girls’ night out. I’d been up since 5 a.m., had one too many glasses of red wine, and had a date with my pillow.

“Lame, lame, lame,” said one of the young moms as she slapped my drooping shoulders.  She had the fiery intensity of a woman determined to get her way.  ”You are coming this time.”

So I did. If only to save face, to prove them wrong about being the old mom. I found a second wind and together we christened the newest wine bar in town. I’m glad I did. Even if it meant I had to wear dark glasses to school drop-off the next morning and go home and put an ice pack on my face before taking a three-day nap. The rest of those young things? They looked fresh as morning dew on an Easter lily.

Damned youth.

 

If you aren’t already a fan, check out Bossy’s take on a wishy-washy friend named Peri.

Face(book)

By chidorian

It started out quite innocently.

He wrote: “You look like the spitting image of my ex-fiancee. Could you be one of her daughters?”

He was a stranger who contacted me through private message. We have a Facebook friend in common, he explained, and my face jumped out at him because it looked so familiar.

Daughter? Ex-fiancee? Am I talking to one of my mother’s old boyfriends? My curiosity was piqued.

“Who is your ex-fiancee?” I wrote back.

Within moments, he wrote back. Based on the ex-fiancee’s current hometown and back story, there’s no connection. The thing is, my father’s extended family tree has many long limbs. Once in a while I meet a stranger who turns out to be a second cousin twice removed. We trace our branches along the tree until we reach a familiar intersection. We nod, ask a few questions, then part ways.

I thought this was one of those times.

Several hours later, he wrote me again. He’d found some stuff of mine online. He commented on it, then added: “I can’t believe how much you look like her.” 

Suddenly, I’m reminded of an odd moment in the mid-’90s when a man old enough to be my father — who’d been flirting with me at the coffee shop next to the paper — turned out to be the guy my mom was dating. I started to get an itchy, oily feeling. This isn’t going to end, is it?

I clicked over to his profile, poked around, saw class pictures, graduation dates. I did the math. He and I are about the same age. There is no way I could be the adult daughter of a woman only a few years my senior.

I wrote: We are close in age.

He wrote: Your profile picture makes you look much younger.  Is it recent?

I wrote: Thank you very much, but it is a recent, non-Photoshopped picture.

He wrote: It doesn’t look like your other pictures.

Hold on a minute, Mister. My other pictures? What the hell? So, you’ve been Googling me. You’ve been comparing pictures. My, how very stalker-ish of you. I double-check my Facebook privacy settings. They’re as tight as a nun’s drawers.

As much as I’m tempted to say something, anything, I decide the best move is to ignore him.

Hours later, he wrote again: Sorry to bother you again. Have I jumped to a conclusion? Is this even your picture at all? Sorry, I just have to ask.

I’m speechless at this point. What will he say next? “I’m sorry, your picture is simply inaccurate. You have deceived me. I’m going to have to kill you.”

I do the online equivalent of hiding behind the curtains. I maintain my silence. So far, I’ve not heard back.

Still feeling a little itchy from the experience, the next day I open an e-mail request from a former co-worker who is trying to connect with me on LinkedIn.

She wrote: “I think I worked with your mom years ago at (Newspaper XYZ). Tell her I said ‘hi.’”

I wrote back as politely as possible, even tossing in a joke that maybe I need to update my profile picture, that we worked together, not she and my mother.

She wrote: You look way too young in your profile picture to have worked with me.

Again, speechless.

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simplify

Learn to Do Less

Too often we mistakenly believe that doing less makes us lazy and results in a lack of productivity. Instead, doing less helps us savor what we do accomplish. We learn to do less of what is extraneous and engage in fewer self-defeating behaviors, so we craft a productive life that we truly feel good about.

- Marc Lesser, “Do Less, Accomplish More

On my nightstand are five books in progress: one is a book I’ve been dying to read for a long time; another is required reading for a class I am taking; two more are great big novels that will take me months to get through; and the last is a recent acquisition, gifted to me by the author.

On my desk are paper-clipped clusters of material: kindergarten school enrollment; Chinese school applications; upcoming fund-raisers and programs; photocopied articles to be read at some undetermined date; catalogs with Post-it notes poking out, suggesting a wish list of sorts:, magazines; and at least three to-do lists in progress.

I have a family calendar on the pantry door in the kitchen. I have a planner in book form on my desk. I have an iCalendar on my computer desktop; our family shares a Google calendar. Just yesterday I synchronized the Google calendar on my new phone.

I have four schedules to coordinate: my teenager’s school and work schedule, which is wrapped around a custody schedule; my husband’s work, teaching, and travel schedules; my preschooler’s school, extracurriculars, and playdate schedule; and I have my own freelance and volunteer schedules to squeeze into the remaining 30 minutes of each day.

I have a basement full of junk (most of it not mine, but that is beside the point) that I wish to be rid of. Most of it is old furniture we are saving for the teenager when she goes off to college or whatever; but also there are boxes of newspaper clippings from my writer days (OK, that’s mine; I just don’t have the heart to shred or torch it.) and enough paint cans to build a formidable pyramid in my back yard.

My car trunk as well as my garage are brimming with stuff that needs to go to the recycling center.

I yearn for a streamlined day, a less-cluttered space. The problem is, no matter how much I attempt to organize my time, to dole it all out in bite-sized pieces, life has a way of rigging explosives to my planner and laughing as I scramble to rescue all the airborne pieces.

You know what’s so great about vacations and travel? The simplicity of it. Your life in a bag. Details like unmade beds, dirty glasses, and hair in the tub are not really your concern. Meals are a no-brainer. Your day is set up how you wish, and luckily with stretches of time to just appreciate the blue of the sky, the chirping of the native birds, and the crackle of gravel under your soles.  How, oh, how to maintain that feeling at home?

Daily life can become a blur of details, most of which are lost, along with the car keys, that bag of groceries, and the last sliver of my inner calm.

One book on the nightstand.

One calendar to direct my days.

One goal for each day.

Time to breathe.

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I am …

This is written in response to San Diego Momma’s PrompTuesday NO. 140, Where I am:

I am a flower of harmony who starts wars on occasion.

I am a cup of hot coffee with extra cream.

I am a snow drift and a hot beach.

I am wind in my hair and wheels on the road.

I am a Chinese girl on the inside.

I am a mountain view in my mind’s eye.

I am a sleeping bag on the forest floor, a pillow made of whatever’s available.

I am aiming for the center line, the middle way, bouncing off the left and right.

I am a loud voice and a cheap shot to protect a vulnerable core.

I am a nurturer of all things and a mourner of the smallest of deaths.

I am bright red wrapped in black.

I am a reader of maps, a plotter of paths.

I am an untethered mind attached to an anchor of a body.

I am a mother of two daughters.

I am a daughter who wants to be mothered.

I am brave because I lack the courage to be weak.

I am an imperfect partner; I hoard love.

I am convinced I have art inside of me, buried under all the excuses.

I am convinced I have a heart inside of me, buried under all the ice.

I am an unfinished painting.