INCH BY INCH

physical

 

For some stupid reason, when I turned 50, I decided that I should get an official physical. Not only had I lived half a century, I felt super-duper! The doctor poked everywhere, made me pee in a cup and sucked the marrow of my veins with waspy-looking hypodermics. The nurse measured and weighed me. I was certain I’d be found the absolute picture of health.

Well, not exactly. Two hours later I was told I had, “advanced degenerative arthritis in both knees.” In addition, I had “scoliosis of the spine,” which, “could be corrected by surgery,” but there would be, “a risk of paralysis.” During the EKG, a heart murmur was discovered, along with “mitral valve regurgitation,” meaning the heart flap didn’t completely close with each beat. Oh, and my cholesterol was 281, with absolutely NO good cholesterol and lots of super bad. Finally, an echocardiogram determined that my left carotid artery was 60% blocked.

In all, a stellar report? Well, not so much. But know what ticked me off the most? My chart said that I was 5 foot 6 inches!!! THAT made me mad. I had been 5 foot 7 for as long as I could remember. In fact, I made the nurse measure me a second time just to be sure. “5’ 6”” she announced in a snippy, starched voice.

So, after the doctor droned on about what meds I needed to take and how I should consider surgery, all I could think about was, ‘Where did that INCH go?’ When he finally shut up, he asked: “Now, is there anything else I can do for you?”

“Yes,” I replied. “You need to measure me again. I think there is something wrong with your nurse’s eyesight. She said I was 5’ 6” and I know for a fact that I am 5’7.” He was not pleased. Reluctantly, he stood me on the scale and raised the metal bar. I stretched as high as I could with my physical body and then stretched even higher in my mind

“Five foot six,” he confirmed. “We get shorter as we age.”

So, here’s MY diagnosis as to where that inch went: work, travel, marriage, childbirth, mothering and a lifetime of memory-making. Know what?  I am a medical marvel!!:  Think of me as a 115-pound bundle of valuable assets: all 5’ 6” of them.

THE FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH

fountain of youth

I found the fountain of youth this week!  Nope, not in Florida.  Sorry Ponce de Leon.  Nope.  Not in my tube of Oil of Olay.  I found it right here in this cute, little head of mine.  It was there all along!  Who knew?  But that’s where it’s been the whole time, just waiting for me to enjoy the splash of its’ youthful waters.  It’s what I think.  Plain and simple.  My thoughts are me.  No getting around that.

My brain, paltry as it may sometimes appear is the source of all, good things.  If I think I am old, I am.  If I feel young and exuberant, I am that, too.  The trick is to keep it hopeful despite all outward appearances.  And trust me, the ‘outward appearances’ are failing.  Good news is:  so is my eyesight!  So, this morning, when I caught sight of myself in the locker room mirror at the gym, you may have noticed my sagging skin.  But what did I see?  A drop-dead, gorgeous, young thing with long hair in a bikini!!  Yup.

Illusion is everything.  Reality, not so much.  Ask any artist about the importance of illusion.  They’ll tell you it is in the ‘eye of the beholder.’  And YOUR eye is YOUR beholder.  So see what is beautiful and hopeful.  Think what is possible and wonderful and you, too, will enjoy this little fountain of youth with me.  We have only so much time to live. . . let alone think.  So, when you read this, close your eyes and think every good thing you can imagine.  It will make you smile.  And if you smile, that will make me feel even better. :)

GET ON MY LAWN!!!

torn up lawn

 

Okay, so I called the cops—but hey it was late and dark and I was alone in the house when I spotted an old, beat up van with tinted windows parked well into the grass at the edge of my lawn. At first I thought it might be the girl who had contacted me on Craig’s list to buy my fire pit. Surely, though, she would have come into the driveway and knocked on the door?

So, I leashed the dog and boldly walked out onto the lawn under a lone pool of light. I stared hard at the van but all was dark and quiet. I figured the car had run out of gas and been abandoned. As I turned back towards the house, though, there was the sudden rev of a motor. The van began to move forward, stalled, then stopped again. Quickly, I headed into the house and called the police. Four minutes later, a patrol car pulled up behind the van. He talked to the driver then headed towards me.

“This guy says he’s supposed to pick up a fire pit at your house. He was afraid to come in your driveway until his friend arrived. Unfortunately, he’s now stuck in your lawn and can’t get out.”

I felt like a dope. Turns out he was a doctoral student in biomedical engineering working in gene therapy. Just then his friend swung into my driveway.  She is studying pharmacology which treats mental illness.  They called AAA and were told there was ‘at least an hour and a half wait.’ Well, I couldn’t leave them outside in the cold that long, so I invited them in for dinner.  There was laughter and intelligent conversation at my table and I loved every minute.

By the time AAA arrived and hauled his van off our lawn, there was a 15-foot trench of mud where grass used to be. It did not bother me one bit. What’s a little grass loss compared to the company of two spectacular, young people? As they left, the young man said again, “I am so, so sorry about your lawn.” I replied: “And I am so, so thankful you happened by.” He looked surprised. “You see, what you are sorry for at your age is something that I am grateful for at mine.” Someday, he will know exactly what I meant.

 

 

“SENIORS ONLY!”

SeniorParking

When I looked in the mirror this morning I could not believe that I actually looked older than I thought I looked last night when I went to bed. So much for 8 hours of “Beauty Sleep.” However, there are still a few upsides to this graying chapter of life as I discovered a few hours later.

I arrived at the gym in a torrential downpour. (Of course, my umbrella was still drying by the front door from yesterday’s rain). Unfortunately, all the “senior” spots were taken so I had to park farther away. By the time I walked by the “senior” parking, completely soaked, a 20-something guy casually hopped out of his white, Toyota Camry, right in front of me.

“Young, man,” I barked. “You certainly don’t look like a ‘senior’ to me, unless you thought this spot was for college students.”

He froze. Looked at the sign then said sheepishly, “Well, I didn’t wanna get wet.”

“Neither did this senior,” I replied continuing on.

“Oh! I’ll move my car right now,” he said moving back towards it.

“Don’t you dare!” I commanded. “We’re already parked, already sopped and that’s that. Moving it would just be a waste of gas.”

“Are you sure?” he continued, still lagging behind my quick, don’t-want-to-get-wetter pace.

“Yup. The way I look at it, I let you borrow my spot today because I certainly wouldn’t want you to get those biceps wet. However, if I had a cane and was limping I might well whack you with it.”

As we walked in together, I asked him what his workout would be today.

“Well, I’m going to do my quads then focus on my lower back,” he replied.

“Oh,” I replied. “Well what about the rest of you?”

“I did my upper body yesterday,” he said as if to reassure me he had not neglected a single, body part. “You know, lats, biceps, flys and stuff. What about you?”

“Oh, me? Well… I’m working on my Esther Williams, while I swim back and forth to nowhere.’ For some reason, he thought this was hilarious and chuckled all the way to his weight machine. (But I’ll bet you a hundred bucks he has no clue who she is).

As I left the gym, I noticed his car was gone. Nope. That rascal came back out and re-parked his Toyota… smack next to me!

OLD BROAD’S THANKSGIVING PRAYER

old woman praying

Dear God, here and everywhere

Thank you for this meal we’ll share.

In this house that’s toasty warm

Although the roof leaks every storm.

I’m grateful that I still can eat

With all of my original teeth.

Although I bite most on the left

Because the right’s been chewed to death.

I’m grateful that I still can hear

Although it’s less in this one ear.

I strain to catch each grown kid’s tale…

So far, not one has gone to jail!

I’m thankful for their energy

How come they now have more than me?

The boy I wed is right here, too

My failing eyes still think he’s cute.

Guess what? I have the body parts

You gave me at the very start.

Although there’s been some wear and tear

And many less strands in my hair,

I’m grateful all my friends aren’t dead

And hope I have some years ahead

But should I grow both deaf and blind

I hope you’ll let me keep my mind.

So I can say this thankful grace

With friends & family ‘round the place.

Oh, one more thing before we sup,

Lord, thank you for my little pup!

PUSH “PLAY”

1338058963_mj-moonwalking

 

Noted neurologist, Oliver Sacks, says that music “utilizes more parts of the brain,” than any other activity we engage in. In the documentary, “Alive Inside,” he also notes that music is “one of the last things” to leave a memory destroyed by Alzheimer’s. https://www.google.com/search?client=safari&rls=en&q=alive+inside&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8#kpevlbx=1

After watching the film myself, I decided to put together my own playlist on my iPod. I wanted songs that I liked to sing along with, like Don Henly’s, “The Boys of Summer.” I also wanted songs I listened to on my transistor radio when I was a kid, like Del Shannon’s, “Runaround Sue.” Then I added songs that make me nostalgic, like Karla Bonoff’s, “Wild Heart of the Young.” Couldn’t forget my husband’s and my dating song, Roger Voudoris’s, “Get Used To It.” I threw in some Barbra Streisand and lots of Chopin for good measure. No play list is complete without “In a Gada da Vida,” by Led Zeplin, which I added simply so I could impress the other nursing home residents with my mastery of the drum solo. Lastly, I added lots of Michael Jackson songs, because he just makes me want to dance!

Guess you could say I’m prepared. Now, I might be lucky and never lose my memory, but if I do? I hope someone puts those headphones on me and pushes, “PLAY.” Then look out, because in all modesty, I still do a pretty darn good, “moonwalk.” Just ask the passengers on that Southwest flight from San Francisco to Nashville last week. Oh yeah…. And if you have any song ideas of your own that I should add, post them here. I’m still a work in progress.

 

CALL ME. . .MAYBE

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Ah…the good old days of telephone booths. We had one on every corner when I lived in New York City in the 60’s. You hopped in, closed the folding glass door behind you and put in your quarter. They were particularly great in winter when you were waiting for the crosstown bus because they shut out the cold. Sure, the floor was sticky from urine and gum and they smelled gross but the few minutes of warmth were worth it.

But they’re all gone now. We walk with our own phones in hand. But I miss that sense of privacy. I really don’t want to hear everyone else’s conversations when I’m in line at the movies or sitting in a restaurant. Frankly, I’m not interested in how bad Sherry’s new haircut looks, or what Judy is going to say if David calls. Don’t care what time Joe’s dental appointment is or how much food to leave for the cat. Nor am I interested to hear you tell whoever’s on the other end what you are “going to do” to her when you, “get home.” Geez. Get a phone booth, will ya?

I miss them. Yeah, sometimes you had to wait forever while some guy argued with his girl. Sure, you had to bang on the door when you had a real emergency and that dope wouldn’t hang up the phone. Okay, so a lot of the doors were broken and had their lights busted out, but still they were a little safe haven. Best of all, when you deposited your quarter, a real, live operator would answer.

Maybe what we really need is a folding, glass door that shuts around our mouths when we’re talking into the phone; an invisible device that closes when we start to say something that we shouldn’t. Or a brain censor that monitors our thoughts and seals them off just before they come slap dashing out into words. Now there’s an invention!

Texting is handy for trivial stuff but there’s nothing like hearing a real, live voice. It just says so much more—even in the pauses. And for Heaven’s sake don’t EVER call and put me on speakerphone! Talk about a violation of privacy. The only time that’s appropriate is if you’d like me to belt out the national anthem to anyone within earshot.  If so, you’ll have to provide the popcorn first. Play ball!!

 

 

TO 75 AND BEYOND!!!

plant a tree 3 old man young girl

If you have not yet read, “Why I hope to die at 75,” by Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel in this month’s Atlantic, don’t bother. He may be a distinguished scientist, head the Department of Medical Ethics at U Penn and be a primary architect of Obamacare, but frankly he’s not too swift.

At first I thought he was humorously flipping the numbers of his own age, 57, around. Nope. He is dead serious. Not only does he list the various reasons why 75, “is a good place to stop” including physical, mental and creative decline. He also spends a good many pages telling us exactly what he WILL have accomplished by that age: “will have loved and been loved,” will have “contributed his best work” to his field and will have “seen his children grown.” Is he a fortune-teller, too? He may or may not live long enough to see any of those things happen!

The single worst part is his wanting to be remembered, “as vibrant and engaged, not feeble, ineffectual, even pathetic.” Wow. Does narcissism come to mind? Look, getting wrinkled, frail and whatever else is part of the journey. If you can do it with an eye open for what magic lies beyond the bend, hooray! And if some young idiot thinks you’re ‘pathetic,’ shame on them.

It’s good for the young to be around the old. It’s even better they learn to take care of them, so they can truly understand their own aging one day. Emanuel says, “Our living too long places emotional weights on our progeny.” Yes, partially, but it also builds strength, character and teaches valuable lessons otherwise lost. He thinks the young need more time, “out of our shadows.” To do what? Indulge in their own self interests so they, too, can leave behind a ‘youthful’ legacy?

Garbage like this makes my blood boil. And to think the Atlantic actually prides itself on over 150 years of exhibiting a, “moderate world view.” Moderate? The bottom line is that despite his Harvard Ph.D., Emanuel is a sad victim of the “fixed mind set.” If you don’t know what that is, get a copy of “Mindset” by Carol Dweck right now and start reading.

Geez, the ancient Greeks were wiser than our present day intellectuals. They said: “Society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.”  To that, I say “AMEN.”