UM- You mean me?

It’s about 11 pm on a temperate evening in NYC.  A family exits a Broadway show and the daughter goes to the stage door to try to get autographs of the amazing cast.  A weary mother walks across the street and stands in front of the Scientology Center.  As she scrolls through her emails, a young man approaches.  He is not there to harm her- he is there to chat her up……

Yes.  I got hit on last night.  By a man probably 25 years my junior.

Of course my first thought was “Whaaaat?”

I was dressed rather plainly- simple black dress (think Breakfast at Target, not Tiffany), black flats, grey beaded necklace.  I was not overly made up, and this was not Times Square of the 70’s, so I’m assuming he knew I wasn’t for hire.  I’m attractive, but I look my age-   So whaaat?

I’ve had men approach me with more amorous intentions, but they are men of my age.  OK- not my age, but older.  Much older.  To a 70 year old guy at the gym, or Barnes and Noble, I am a vixen.  But younger guys….whaaat?

Part of getting older has a lot of challenges.  The hardest one for most people is the physical signs of aging- the loss of youthful beauty.  Skin is not as bright, hair is a little greyer, lines creep up around your face.  Gravity takes its toll on your body.  I take care of myself- drink water, exercise, eat reasonably healthy, moisturize every part of my body- but I don’t do these things to look younger- I do them simply to maintain what I have.  And I don’t look 25 anymore.  I don’t look 45.  I look like I’m 53.

So why was this guy asking me out for tea?  What made him stop and talk to a woman standing on the sidewalk scrolling through her smartphone?

He was nice looking, dressed neatly.  He was able to hold a conversation and seemed semi literate.  He was not crass or vulgar.  So what was wrong with him?  Why was he talking to me?

Notice how I think something is wrong with him, not how something was right with me?   That’s what age has done to my mind set.  When I was younger I didn’t question why a man was asking me out.  I assumed he was attracted to the exterior, and then after conversing, was intrigued by my intelligence and wit.  But I always assumed the physical attraction came first.  My mind can not conceive a man in his twenties being physically attracted to me.

I’ve come to this conclusion:  my inner beauty shines brightly.  The confidence that only comes from life experience radiates through every pore and wrinkle on my face.  I am a force to be reckoned with.  It’s a good thing I’m married or watch out……Maybe maturity tops youth.

Or maybe he wasn’t wearing his glasses.

 

 

 

 

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Nothing Stays the Same

wakinguponthewrongsideoffifty

I recently spent the day with a close friend.  In the past year CF has watched her oldest head off to college, her husband retire, the sale of her present house, the purchase of a new one, and in a few short months her youngest will head off to college.  Come September, her entire landscape is going to be different.  I worry that she is about to unravel.

She currently lives in a large, rambling old house.  She loves the location as she can walk into town and doesn’t have to rely on a car.  Her home is filled with family heirlooms and things she has collected over the years.  Her new home does not have the room to house the furniture that her parents left her.  It does not have the room for the shoe collection that she has never been able to part with (and rarely wear).  She is having trouble coping with this change.  Rationally, she knows that keeping this house is not a wise financial decision- her property taxes are tremendous, a large house is expensive to heat and cool, an old house requires constant maintenance.  She knows that 6 bedrooms is too many for a house with no children.

She is not thrilled with her new house though.  I think the only reason they are buying it is because it has a living room large enough to house a large piano, the one family heirloom she refuses to part with.  She complained about its distance from civilization (which is hard to fathom because it’s in a suburb of NYC that is rather densely populated and you can clearly read the newspaper that your next door neighbor is reading)  It’s a thirty minute (dreaded) car ride to her old neighborhood.  As she relayed this information I could see the color draining from her face.

But her biggest worry- the one consuming her- is what will her children do in this new neighborhood?  Of course I reminded her that her kids would both be away at college.  The conversation went something like this:

CF: But they’ll be home in December and the summer.  That’s a long time.

Me: Just because your son is home this summer doesn’t mean he’ll be home next summer.  You don’t know what they’re going to do during their breaks.

CF: The new house is across the street from a pool club.  I asked about summer jobs for them next year.

Insert a quizzical look from me as to why SHE’S asking about summer employment for her 18 and 20 year old children

CF: I went on the message board of my new town and asked where the teenagers hang out

Insert picture of me as my mouth opens wide and I have to refrain from saying WTF

Unraveling.  I started to think that it’s called empty nest syndrome because one of the parents becomes a looney bird- but that would be a disservice to birds.  She clearly did not listen to my advice about preparing for children to fly the coop.

So what, as a friend, do I do when I start to see my friend go a little off kilter?  We’ve been friends for over twenty years- we met and bonded during a tenure at a high stress job.  I’ve walked her through her infertility issues- she helped me through a divorce from my first husband.  The boundaries are blurry because we have shared so many life moments.  But how do I tell her to get over her kids?  Because there is nothing wrong with loving your children and wanting the best for them- but…….

I know change is difficult.  I know we often have trouble adapting to new situations.  But I’m not quite sure how to help her navigate this new terrain.  I still have two more years till my daughter heads off to college- I have no actual experience at complete empty nesthood.  For all I know, I may be worse than her.  I might move to whatever college town my daughter decides to call her temporary home.

For now, I’ll listen to her complain.  I’ll make sympathetic noises when need be.  I’ll give her little nuggets of advice when I can.  I’ll yell at her if she keeps doing things that her very capable children can handle by themselves.  I’ll suggest a new hobby.  I’ll just be her friend.

 

 

Letting Go

I decided it’s time for a mid-year resolution.  I tend to get a little crazy about the small stuff- like irrationally crazy. Like,  I have a hard time letting go and it ruins the rest of my day crazy.  So last Friday, I decided when something irks me, I would take a deep breath, say “Pins and needles, needles and pins…”(extra points to anyone who gets that reference) and let it go.

Here is a list of all the times I took deep breaths in the past three days:

  1. My husband left wet towels on the bed.  Wet towels only belong on drying rack or in the washing machine
  2. My husband put the peaches purchased at the supermarket in the fridge.  I realize the fresh fruit situation is tough in our house because I have rules for every type of fruit and vegetable, and peaches have two.  If peaches are bought at farmers market they are ripe and can be refrigerated.  But he was putting away groceries…
  3. Husband put vegetables in fruit bin and fruit in vegetable bin (I know- I’m a joy to live with)
  4. Daughter used my credit card to buy three small items.  I got three separate emails stating that the items were not in stock and now I have to look for three credits to charge card- (really- how could she purchase something if it was out of stock)
  5. Went to store to pick up light bulbs and hand soap and left store with everything except light bulbs and hand soap
  6. I put in a load of dark laundry and forgot a to put in two items
  7. I forgot to plug in my laptop yesterday, and I didn’t want to write at my desk, but here I am at my desk….

OK- obviously these things are still annoying me.  I rationally know that they are small, insignificant parts of my day.  But the older I get, the more annoyed I get at trivialities.  I have less tolerance and I know  that this is not healthy for my heart or my mind or relationship with family.  I know that life really is too short to obsess about things not being perfect.  Or done exactly my way.

That’s the problem.  It’s becoming set in my ways.  It goes against my own first rule of aging (flexibility).  I am that stereotypical grouchy old person.

But not for long.

From now on, I’m going to be footloose and fancy free.  If someone puts and unused bag in the garbage can I’m not going to ask who did it and give a lecture.  If someone doesn’t throw out garbage when the bag is obviously so full you can’t fit anything in it, I am not going to stomp my feet in disgust.  (technically, these things should have been on the list, but I’m letting it go…..)

I’ll keep you informed as to my progress….

Fakebooking

I heard this term, fakebooking, for the first time the other day.  I know- I live under a rock.  And I was a little annoyed that I had not come up with this phrase, because it’s sort of perfect.  For the uninitiated, fakebooking refers to when you post online so many wonderful things, when the life you lead is so perfect, you make others feel inferior.

To be fair- fakebooking has been going on a lot longer than the internet.  Back in the 60’s there was the infamous vacation slide show.  You would go to someone’s house for fondue, and treated to not only bread cubes on flaming hot skewers, but 4000 pictures of the grand canyon.  From the same spot.  All to make you feel bad that you didn’t drive cross country with no air conditioning and three kids in the back of a station wagon screaming “he touched me”, “are we there yet?” “I have to go to the bathroom”.  Oh wait- they didn’t tell you that part.  They didn’t take a pic the litter strewn across the back seat, the flat tire in Des Moines, or the horrendously bad roadside motel.  No, they showed you the glory- not the guts.

I remember my first Christmas as a working adult.  December 26 was a very showy day around the office.  Women sporting jewels and fancy coats (this was the very ostentatious, go go 80’s)  Except one woman.  Her husband bought her a briefcase (for those of you born after the 80’s, a briefcase was a leather messenger bag with a handle not a cross body strap).  It was evident that a lot of money was spent.  What wasn’t evident was the cheating, drinking, lying and gambling that provoked those husbands/boyfriends/married lovers to purchase those gifts.  Now it’s been years since I’ve seen any of those women, but even at that time, the only one still married was the owner of the briefcase.

Now, thanks to social media, we have all sorts of new ways to shame those around us.  People post everything.  There are pictures of food so meticulously prepared it doesn’t seem real. Pictures of crafting exploits that look machine made.  Photos from exclusive events or out of the way destinations.  Expensive clothes and toys.  Little tidbits about lifestyles that belong in a romance novel, not a twitter line.   They don’t tell you about the 150 sugar roses they made before they got the perfect one on the cake.  Or the horrible storm that destroyed 90% of their vacation. Or that the toddler son is seated behind a table in the family portrait because you couldn’t get him to put on pants.  Or a diaper.

One of my friends recently posted the following on Facebook:

“We saw all the pictures of your relationship.  We heard how he was your boo bear and how much he loved you.  And then you broke up.  Well, we put up with all the other stuff.  Give us the dirty details of the break up.  You owe us.”

Why do people fakebook?  I don’t have an actual, verified answer, but I’m guessing lack of confidence.   They need the approval of others or, that someone is a little jealous, to make them feel better about themselves.  “I have what you want, so I’m better than you.” They need the reinforcement of “likes” – an internet seal of approval.  “This person posted 6 vacation shots, 10 proposal videos and 3 posts with celebrities waiting to congratulate her on engagement.  She is rated A1 on the scale of awesomeness.  See- it’s right here on the internet.”

Confidence doesn’t come from external sources.  It doesn’t come from likes, or making other people feel bad about themselves.  Confidence comes from inside.  A confident person is the person who shows up every day, and gives their all at whatever task they’re doing.  A confident person admits when they are wrong.  A confident person realizes that sometimes they are going to fail at things, but they know they have to pick up the pieces and get on with life again.  A confident person doesn’t blame others, they don’t blame their tools.  They take responsibility for their actions: the good and the bad.  A confident person doesn’t need accolades (though they probably like awards and gifts).

There is nothing wrong with posting things on social media- that’s the point of it.  I enjoy shots of graduations and award ceremonies and sports victories.  Seeing the happy moments in other peoples lives makes me happy.   But  social media posts are not supposed to make others feel bad, or shame them into doing things they can’t afford.  Its just supposed to be an easy way of sharing information with the people you care about.

The point?

If you ever feel bad about yourself because of something on social media- don’t- because that’s only one side of the story.

 

 

 

You Can’t Remake Your Youth

Apparently, a remake of “Dirty Dancing” was made.  I saw a commercial.  I saw some of the stars being interviewed.  What I did not see was the actual remake.  I refused on the grounds of….I just don’t want to.

I remember when the original came out.  I loved that movie.  I thought it was an amazing coming of age story.  You watched Baby learn how to navigate an adult world, toeing the line between being a teen age daughter and becoming an independent adult.  It also gave the viewer a glimpse into the historic cultural changes that were about to hit in the 1960s.

Debra Messing portrays the Mother in the remake.  I saw her interviewed.  I love Debra Messing as an actress.  She is funny and warm and intelligent, and she starred in on of my favorite all time sitcoms.  But when she talked about how you were going to see much more of the mothers story…….stop.  Stop right there.  This isn’t about the mother.  It’s about Baby becoming Francis.  That was the beauty of it.

So watching the remake was never going to happen.

I couldn’t help but wonder: why remake this movie?  This movie that people adore?

Can something become more iconic?

Or are we just trying to recreate a perfect experience?

Sometimes things need to remain a memory.  Sometimes things need to remain in the past.  There are no do overs.

When life gets tough, we often think back to “the good old days”.  We look at old pictures, watch video, reread journals…..anything to bring us to a better place.  We want to recreate the good feelings that we had.  But you can’t recreate an exact moment, an exact feeling.  A unique set of circumstances happened in a unique order to create a singular experience.  A guy walks into a room exactly when you turn your head…..Love at first sight.  You can never remake that specific moment.  That specific feeling.

You can’t remake your innocence.

The reason past experiences seem so much better is because we viewed them with less mature eyes.  Getting older is simply adding more life experience to our bodies, to our minds, to our hearts.  As each day passes we may suddenly understand something better, form a new hypothesis.  Conversely, things could get a little more confusing, add new questions to our already overloaded circuits.

We can’t remake our memories because we are no longer the people we were.

So:

Remember the past

Plan for the future

Live in the present

 

 

 

 

 

Lessons I Learned at a Day Spa

For my most recent birthday, my family gifted me with a spa certificate.  The aesthetic of this particular spa is soothing water based relaxation, featuring steam, sauna, plunge pool and jetted pool. The goal of an experience such as this is pure relaxation.  Pure relaxation can lead to thinking about varying things, both deep and shallow…..So, in no particular order, are the things that pure relaxation brought to mind.

1) There is no reason to post a “Maximum Occupancy 2” sign above an ice cold plunge pool.  I didn’t see one person go in past their ankles.

2) The locker room made me self conscious.  I am not thin, nor am I heavy.  But my body has changed with age.  Since Voldemort (I’m using this word because I don’t want to use the dreaded “M” word) I have gone up a few sizes.  My body has shifted uncomfortably south.  Changing into my bathing suit in a locker room of extremely fit 20 somethings was a little intimidating.  I felt judged (and honestly, I probably was) and I wanted to scream ” talk to me in 30 years…after you’ve had a kid”) For the first time in my life I changed out of my bathing suit in the stall( to be fair, the location was practical).

3) Two cups of chamomile tea, three glasses of lemon water and the sounds of a waterfall  are not great on a post childbirth bladder.

4) The smell of eucalyptus in a a steamroom is intoxicating.  I am going to buy a dram of eucalyptus oil to sniff whenever I want to get to my Happy place.

5) Mothers and daughters visit the spa together.  I could never do that with my Mom.  First off, she would hate the spa experience.  She would not find water therapy relaxing.  She would not enjoy a massage.   But more importantly, my Mom is not my friend yet- she is still clearly trying to control any situation we are both involved in.  This wasn’t a new thing I learned at the spa- it just highlighted my relationship issue with her.  After 53 years the relationship between my mother and I is still in the rough stages.  My goal is for my relationship with my daughter will be better.  I don’t know how to fix my relationship with my Mother.

6) I don’t understand why people want you to be quiet in a loud coffee shop, but have no problem being loud in a whirlpool tub with only classical music and rushing water sounds as backdrop.

7) I found the steam room to be a little claustrophobic at first.  I almost didn’t want to shut the door because I had this insane fear that I wouldn’t be able to open the door again.  (I think I saw that scene in a horror movie) But it was also about how steamy the room was (duh)- I couldn’t see in front of me.

8) I found myself in the sauna with two men.  No, I didn’t feel self-conscious about my body (that special privilege is reserved to when I’m around women).  But I had to laugh, because I think men just always talk about sports.  I learned way more than I ever wanted to about the basketball playoffs.

9) Warm towels are spectacular.  I can think of no other word to describe drying off with a big, fluffy warm towel.

10) When the masseuse asks if there is any part of your body that is particularly tense, it’s easier to list the parts that aren’t tense.

Alas, my spa day ended way too soon.  When I returned home I found to my dismay that I was not exempt from:

1) walking the dog

2) baking brownies for a bake sale

3) laundry

4) buying peaches and eggs

5) accompanying my daughter to her annual check up

and so on……

But while it lasted, my day was perfect, for body and soul.

 

We All Get Older

Every day, we get a little bit older.  Every day, the people around us get a little older.  There’s a young woman who lives in my building. I remember the day she came home from the hospitol.  In a month, she’ll be graduating high school.  She got older.

There’s another woman in my building.  I met her when she formed the building book club.  She was 55 then, not much older than I am now.  She was a practicing therapist and an avid bird watcher,- divorced  by choice, with absolutely no interest in remarriage.  She was living a rich fulfilling life.

She retired as a therapist five years later, age 60.  And at age 60, she wrote a book.  Over the next few years she became an active fund raiser for causes she believed in.  Her secret dream was to be a stand up comedian- and she began performing at amateur nights.  To watch her onstage was mesmerizing- she was having so much fun.  Her behavior post 60 was what my teenage daughter would refer to as goals.

A few years later, things began to change.   It was a small thing at first- she had always brought fruit to club meetings, and suddenly she stopped.  I like fruit as a snack, so I began bringing fruit.  And she yelled at me- told me fruit was her thing.  Normally I’m a huge fan of conflict, but this particular issue wasn’t worth my ire.  I just brought something else and book club went fruitless.

A few months later she  quit the book club she lovingly formed and cultivated.  The woman who once embraced all genres suddenly only wanted to read novels of espionage-which was odd in that she had always abhorred books like that.

Fast forward a year.  I saw her in the lobby of my building.  She pulled me aside and said:

“Someone has been taking things from my apartment.  I’m missing things.”

I asked her if she told the super, and she replied that it was the super who was taking things.

What do I do?  Part of me is thinking, she’s a little older, she could be misplacing things.   I knew that her family had recently hired a companion to help her during the day and I certainly didn’t want anyone taking advantage of her.  I knew her son came by weekly to check on her, so I left a note with my doorman.

Her son called.  He was happy that I was watching out for his Mother’s well being.  He explained that he did a weekly inventory of his Mom’s belongings, and everything was accounted for.  The only thing missing were little bits of her memory.

I’ve watched this amazing woman for years.  She lived her life and did the things she wanted.  Her bucket list is all crossed off. So why am I a little bit heartbroken?

Maybe it’s harder to watch someone else get older.  Maybe I worry that this is my fate 15 years from now.  Maybe I worry that one day my daughter will be taking inventory of the things in my apartment.  It’s probably a compilation of all of the above.

So what’s the message?  Live, love, enjoy.  Eat, drink, dance, sing.  Thats all I’ve got.  Perhaps, that’s all we need.

 

The End (of a theater)

One of my favorite movie theaters will be closing in January.  The building is going to be torn down and supposedly will be replaced by a retail establishment (as yet to be determined).  There is no historical ot cultural significance to this theater.  It is not a landmark, nor do I have specific memories tied to it.  So why is this seemingly benign event bothering me?  Let me count the ways:

1) They feature under the radar movies.  Critically acclaimed, foreign, documentaries- movies that I love to see but are not shown in a traditional cineplex.

2) The seats are large and comfy, with decent legroom, and most importantly, stadium seating.  As I’m short, I appreciate being able to see the screen instead of someone’s head.

3) They serve hot tea.  My beverage of choice is tea.  Very few theaters serve tea.  The combination of tea and a movie is intoxicating.

4) An usher comes out before the film starts and welcomes us to the theater.  The usher tells us that they will come back into the theater 15 minutes after the film has started in case we have issues with volume, picture quality or temperature.  I like this.  It makes me feel cared for in an often uncaring world.

5) The theater is easily accessed by public transportation.  This is important during bad weather when movie viewing is highly desirable.  It is also a nice walk on a pleasant day.

But most importantly:

6) The theater is in the middle of a virtual food Mecca.  All types of cuisine, all price ranges, casual to trendy to fancy.  It’s perfect.

So why is this the most important reason?

I love quirky movies.  I embrace sub titles.  I look forward to learning about something new.  The husband though…..not so much.  His passion is not film, it’s food.

So I approach my husband as follows:

Me: There’s an awesome documentary about cats in Istanbul out in the theater.

The Husband:  That’s nice.

Me: I read about an awesome Sri Lankan place.  They have this dish called roti, which is where they take the roti, cut it up, and sauté it with this marinated chicken.  It’s right around the block from the cat theater.

The Husband: What times the movie and do we need reservations?

And everyone is happy.

Until now.  Cause this perfect theater is closing.  But until the credits roll in January, I’ll take advantage and savor the moments.  And start looking for theaters with good restaurants around them.

Happy Monday!

 

Fill in the Blank: _________ can wait

No, this is not one of those dreaded tests you took a kid.  This is just a little exercise in mindfulness.

I went to see the movie “Paris Can Wait” yesterday.  (Side note- starring Diane Lane.  When there is a movie about my life, I want Diane Lane to play me.  I think she’s perfect.  And look at my optimism- I’m sure I’m going to do something notorious enough to warrant my life on screen)

But anyway.  The literal plot of the movie is that it takes 2 1/2 days to make a 7 hour car journey to Paris. The figurative plot is that sometimes we have to slow down and savor life and remember what’s important.  The figurative plot is the winner here.

On their journey from Cannes to Paris, they stop at museums and old churches.  They buy gorgeous fruit from vendors, indulge in luxurious wines, order every chocolate dessert on the menu.  They try.  They experience.  They slow down.  They live.

How often do we actually live life?  Savor the taste of food?  Sit and actually listen to music, paying attention to its subtle nuances?  Sit at a dinner table without a phone or electronic device?  Sometimes we need to slow down.  Sometimes we need to live in the moment.

So- I said it wasn’t a test, but I didn’t say there wouldn’t be homework.  Here’s your assignment:

1) Figure out something that can wait, a chore, an obligation, anything.   (Mine would be shredding.  There is no timeline on when routine household shredding needs to be accomplished)

2) Engage in an activity you love

3) Stretch out the time you engage in this activity- pay attention to each step of the process

4) Live in the moment

5) Enjoy

Couples Night: Paint and Sip

As I’ve gotten older, my style of socializing has changed.  Back in the day, double dating, or going out with other couples usually meany hanging out at a bar. As we got a little greyer, we went to dinner.  Now that we’re a lot greyer, we started planning activities.  Last night we tried a painting class.

Forgive me if I’m momsplaining, but paint parties consist of you, a bunch of other people, a painting guru, a small palette of paint, a canvas, three brushes and an apron.  And wine.  You bring your own wine.  The guru gives you step by step directions, (literally, mix red and white paint to create pink), and explains things in a clear and easy format (paint a grey line that extends 3/4 of the way down your canvas).  You joke around with your friends.  You talk about how your own work looks like a Picasso but is supposed to be more realist….and you have fun.

You have fun because your relaxed.  You’re relaxed because your out of your comfort zone and you don’t care.  (Unless you’re actually an artist, which one of my friends is, and you’re freaking out because you own a very expensive MFA and you think your work is the worst.)

What’s the take away?

1) Socialize- its important to listen to other opinions and points of view.  It’s fun to share experiences with people.

2) Be creative- especially if you usually aren’t.  It allows you to look at things from a different perspective.  It helps keep your brain active.

3) Go out of your comfort zone.  Change and new can be good. You might find something you really enjoy.

4) Don’t worry that you’re not very good at something.  Relish your imperfections.

5) Don’t do a paint night on the same day as you tried a new exercise routine.  My shoulders were killing me.

Happy Saturday!

ps

the painting is not for sale!