Butts ‘n Boobs ‘n Bags, Oh My!

Like every morning, I showered and dressed. After pouring what’s left of my once healthy B’s into my underwire bra, I glanced in the mirror. “Hey, Mom!” I said- as my mother was staring back at me. “Whoa!” was my next thought.

What a way to start a morning. When did this age thing happen? When did I turn into someone my mother’s age? Yesterday, I was full and perky, and today saggy and droopy.

After dressing, I did the “face ritual.” Wash with exfoliating stuff, wipe with toner, then dot “anti-age” wrinkle cream around my eyes, and moisturize the rest of my face with salicylic acid for my pre-menopausal outbreaks. I don’t remember having dark circles and bags under my eyes as a teen (they were only red from lack of sleep, but that’s another story….)or acne either. But, hey, I’ve got them now! Great!

Then, my 13 year old daughter, Anna, came in to use my brush, wearing MY JEANS! And, you know what, her butt looked better in them than mine did. Have you seen my butt? I’ve lost it somewhere and would like it back… I thought women’s butts just got lower as we aged; mine seems to have gone directly from me to my daughter!

I have officially entered Oz, and I’ve become the Wicked Witch of the West (minus the green skin…unless I have one too many glasses of wine….). My body has gone somewhere over that rainbow, and my kids think I’m the meanest mom in the world (they don’t understand why they have to unload the dishwasher….). How did this happen?

Time. Although my body isn’t anything like what I think it once was, my brain and soul are firmly in Kansas, okay, NY, but you knew what I meant. I like who I’ve become, body and all, and I wouldn’t trade my life for a 20-something. What, go through bad marriages again? Learn how to take the hard knocks of life and turn them into “learning experiences” all over again? No, thanks.

As I head into the next forest singing “butts ‘n boobs ‘n bags, oh my!” I will be dancing and following that yellow brick road into the unknown, happy to be on the road with friends and love.

PS- I wrote this ten years ago when I was in my 40s. I’m now in my 50s, post-menopausal (thank the universe, that phase really, I mean, really sucked) and ya know what? I’m still dancing and following that yellow brick road that I laid myself brick by brick. Oh, and my butt came back, bigger than ever. Mama’s got back. Life is good.

Crabbiness is underrated

This morning, on the Today Show, Harry Smith interviewed a 99 year old happy artist named Carmen Herrara. Throughout the interview, she smiled and laughed and painted, and said lovely little quips like, “Anyone can have what I have” when she responded to the question, “How are you so happy?”.  When asked what she wanted to do on her 100th birthday, she said, “I want to dance.  Why not?”  How inspiring!  So, today, I decided I was going to be happy.  If some 99 year old can do it, why not me?

Why not? Well, because …life. I’m having one of those days. I tripped going up the stairs. I wanted to work on a piece of writing I had started a few years ago, well, “Cannot open file. Restore previous format” error stopped that from happening- four times, with four different files. Bag that idea. I was chilly, so I tried to turn on the fireplace. Batteries were dead in the remote. No extra batteries. I found the fireplace switch, and manually turned it on. And then a picture randomly fell off my living room wall. Time to change my perspective and come up with a new day plan.

So, go to plan B: go on a walk with the dog. I wanted to take my crazy German Shepherd for a walk. Found some earbuds, but they were broken. No music on my walk. Not the end of the world. I get Atlas (my dog), and put on her harness and grab the leash. She jumps at the door to go outside. We make it to the end of the driveway and turn the corner and, lo and behold, another dog is walking our way. Cue barking. I turn around to walk the other way, and …yap! yap! yap! the neighbor’s dog across the street is out. Great! My dog wanted to eat the other dogs, or at least bark them to death, and wouldn’t listen to any commands, so back inside we went.

I am human. I’m having a bad day, and there is no way in hell I’m as happy as that 99 year old artist. Sure, I have moments of happiness, but, overall, things bother me. Loud chewing drives me nuts. Someone being rude makes me angry. Not putting dirty dishes in a dirty dishwasher drives me to the edge. Superfluous, empty conversation annoys the crap outta me. And I wonder, am I the only one who feels this way, because it sure seems so.

So, I’m on plan C. Write- write in my blog about how overrated happiness is. In my bathroom, I have a sign “Choose happiness” all in pretty flowing font. Sitting on a throne having a good bm can certainly induce happiness for lots of folks. And, yes, I can choose happiness in moments, in minutes, but, overall, I think fluidity of emotion is more of a realistic approach.

Happiness is not a constant, as much as social media perpetuates the idea that happiness is the only way to go through life. It’s not. Crabbiness is underrated. We all get crabby sometimes, and as long as we don’t take it out on others, as long as no one else is affected, I say, acknowledge the crab, and let it out. Let it play for awhile.

I know how to be me and how to be human. When I am having a bad day, I go with it. I cry, I take a nap if my emotions get the best of me, I get annoyed or angry, and then I refocus my energy. I let the bad happen, so later I can move on and enjoy the good that life has in store- when the batteries work, when the dog sleeps, when pictures stay on the walls, and when technology works. As bad as I feel now, I know that it’s temporary. And that’s okay.

A Saturday Night

Bertrand Russell said there were three passions that ruled his life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and the unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind. How right that man was about all of humanity, and me, and the price of my knowledge? $6.48 plus the tip, and a hangover.

It was 5:30 on a Saturday night. I packed my notebook and pen in my purse and headed to a local restaurant. I walked, knowing that I was going for a drink, and because the evening was perfect for a walk. It was warm, sunny, and I wanted to spend an evening without technology. I know, crazy, right? But how else can I experience life- others’ lives- if I have my nose in a phone or laptop?

I found a spot at the end of the bar, took out my notebook and pen, and looked at the others seated at the bar while I waited for the bartender to bring me a house margarita on the rocks, with salt (as a single mom, I cannot afford the good stuff). At the other end of the bar, sat a young married couple, perhaps married less than three years. Next to them sat another couple , possibly in their mid-thirties; then a forty-ish woman with long, curly burnt-oatmeal colored hair; next to her was a couple in their 20’s , not married, and then, me. A relatively good sampling of human life out-and-about on a Saturday night. Ah, and here’s my drink. Mmmm… just the right amount of tequila and lime.

I take a sip and begin observing the first couple. The husband’s right arm is in a sling and his wedding ring caught the light blinding me for a moment. His wife , an Asian woman with long black hair and a cellphone attached to her right hand, acknowledges his presence every once in awhile with a smile and nod in his direction when he speaks to her, then takes a bite of food, and goes back to her phone. Ahh, young love, in the stage of taking love for granted. Good luck, and I wish you well in your future suffering. I see the signs.

Next to them is the couple in their thirties. They talk together, laugh, and occasionally the man brushes a strand of hair out of her face. She takes a bite of food, a big bite, and then brushes his thigh with her hand.   Then I see her take her phone out of her purse , do a quick glance at the time, and then bury the phone back in her purse. Yep. They have young kids who are with a baby-sitter. They probably have an hour or two left to pretend they are carefree, before they go home and pass out instead of making love. They found more love than they know what to do with. I smile , and suck deeply at my straw-filled word-making liquid.

The woman is next. I notice her arms. They are long and sinewy, like over-grown roots to a hedge bush outside an abandoned, foreclosed four-bedroom home. She’s not from the area as she’s asking the bartender where the “happening” place is in Plattsburgh. Ha. The bartender, a short, sweaty bald man, looks helplessly around, and vaguely points in two directions at once. For a moment, he reminds me of The Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz talking with a lost Dorothy, except Dorothy isn’t fourteen, she’s forty, and not cute anymore. She doesn’t smile either. I pity her hunger. Eventually, she addresses the young woman next to her. I take another drink of my now watered- down margarita.

The two people between us are in their mid-twenties. I think they’ve been dating awhile . I’ve noticed that she has been giving him little bites of food throughout their meal. He dismissively takes the food from her proffered fork. He then chews, smiles at her, glances at his shoes, and then wipes his mouth with his napkin. Yeah, he’s bored, and he’s trying to find a way to break up with her, but he doesn’t know how. He chugs his beer, and asks the bartender for a refill. Sam Adams. Hipster. I take his cue, and take another sip. Then I hear laughter. Wait. He’s smiling at the wall, and laughing, and she’s looking at his face. He wants to get laid. Get laid, and then break up.

Those people have left the bar, and have been replaced by other people, with other stories. Three new people sit down next to me, a couple in their early 50’s with their newly 21-year-old daughter. I know them . We exchange pleasantries, and they look at my pen and notebook, and my singledom is obviously apparent. “Oh, she teaches English, and she’s working on a short story” is what she says to her daughter and husband. I smile, suck down the rest of my watery margarita, pack up my belongings, and leave.

Of course, I stop elsewhere on my way home, and I know I will get a hangover, but I like observing people because they, as well as I, want love, knowledge, and they pity suffering. All those people in that restaurant will find love, and knowledge, and they will find suffering. It’s part of life, and it’s sometimes unbearably and beautifully painful. And, as life would have it, I walked home alone, with my pen and notebook, in the rain.