Tag Archives: middleage

Why my 55th Isn’t About Senior Discounts

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Depending on how long it takes me to complete this missive, I will either be 55 in a few days

55.

55. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

or last week. Unlike most people, who get sick and then after a few days, recover, I feel the need to prolong the process to wring every bit of attention out of looking and feeling like hell with the added bonus that I don’t have to work or cook dinner. So, I may be writing this between naps, which take up most of my time these days.

So. 55. If you’re under 30, you’re thinking, Wow! That’s really old! What century were you born in?

Well, kids. I was born before The Beatles invented color. I was born before the previous statement could be countered by the annual showing of The Wizard of Oz on our televisions. You know, when Dorothy steps into Munchkin Land? Aside from the height challenged population, and the large, plastic vegetation Munchkin Land could be Downtown USA if DT, USA decorated itself in shades of grey (Not that kind. No one behaved like that before color was invented.) and determined it’s leadership by dropping houses on the opposition, which might be, in some cases, a model worth considering.

So, 55. If you’re over 40, and not yet 50, you’re probably thinking, good thing I’m not that old. You may also think 15 years is a long time. Keep telling yourself that, no need to become despondent as the sands in the hour-glass race past before you can even turn the damn thing over again.

Once you have a child, of course, time goes by in triple speed. Enough has been said about this phenomenon and I don’t need to delve into it here, but suffice to say, Sunrise, Sunset is a terrible song to play at your wedding. If you hate your parents and hope that they remember your wedding day as the day they wept into the rental tablecloths, gagging on tears, go ahead, be that person. Otherwise, have a heart. Karma is a bitch and all that.  Also, if you have any aged child, do not click on the above link; not unless you have hours to throw down the weeping uncontrollably well.

It’s not that my life at 54 is a living hell. The problem, as Doris Day (ask your grandparents) put it is, you grow out of it. Hence, 55.

At this point I have a husband whom I love and respect, who has put up with me for 35 years and that’s nothing to sneeze at. (Has anyone ever sneezed at less than impressive facts? Does anyone still use this expression besides Doris Day and me?) Putting up with me is quite an accomplishment because I am, after all, me, which is something no one else has even tried to be and for good reason.

I have the best son possible and made him myself from materials I had around the house, which, as anyone can tell you, is quite unique. Despite the fact that he has cruelly abandoned me to attend college and have a life of his own which doesn’t revolve around being available for movies and lunch dates, I love and respect him as well. (Next time he comes home I’m going to perform some sort of evil deed which will make it impossible for him to leave my home of his own volition. Please, don’t tell him this.)

I have lovely friends, some of which knew me before I met my husband and son and still like me, or so they say when their birthdays roll around. Most of them are older than me so, I like them too. Those that are younger, make up for it by speaking up when we’re talking so I don’t have to say, Eh?

There are many members of my family that I don’t want to shoot and who feel less than violent toward me, which anyone with a family knows, is quite an accomplishment.

Yet, 55. 55? That means in less than a decade, I will be 60 and then who knows what will happen next? (I do. I’m just hoping someone will come up with a time travel device before I hit the sixes. It could happen.)

And while, we’re at it, 25. That’s how old my son will be the day after I weep into my hands until I need them to eat cake. How can I be 32 if my son is 25? It defies logic.

Something tells me that my grandparents were happy to see 55 as their fore bearers considered 40 a ripe, old, age and thereby spent very little time wondering if wearing Spanx under your jeans will cut off the circulation to your legs. When my darling Mother-in-Law was 55, by golly, she looked how I feel and, I can only guess by what I know about her now, spent very little time wondering how to meet the lead singer of her favorite band.

So, 55 is on the horizon and I can live by their example and attempt to act my age or I can avoid mirrors and get slapped with a restraining order by Chris Martin (and wouldn’t that be a nice birthday present since he lives in Santa Monica these days?)

It occurs to me, as I became well enough to this project, on the final day of my 54…ism, that it might be about balance; the inner me and the outer me, but anyone who had seen a my dinner menu since I’ve been ill knows balance is not always my forte.

But, I can have a go. Inner me, which has seen enough life to know what is and isn’t important, meet outer me, who doesn’t recognize the surface me and fears the long-term process of disappearing until nothing about the outer me is recognizable. Shake hands. Make peace. Work together. Happy Birthday.

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Why a Lack of Vulgarity Can Be Amusing. (Rated PG-13) (R For My Mother)

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Because my mother was uncomfortable with the human body and its functions as I grew up, she came up with unusual names for urination and defecation, (and everything else). The urination euphemism wasn’t as bad as the defecation word, and really didn’t stick with me, otherwise the following question might have inadvertently offended me: Is it wet where you’re sitting?ifwt-grandma-surprised

That’s right, my mother called urination wetting. Therefore the above question would insinuate that I don’t have control of my bladder, which I usually do; less so since my son trounced around on the poor organ before his birth, but still, “Hey!”, might have been my answer, but I speak Normal Person now.

The bigger problem for me has been her name for a bowel movement: Something Special. Yes, you read right. My mother would ask me, upon exiting the bathroom; Did you do something special or wet?

Needless to say, but I will anyway, Delta Airline’s former slogan, spoken majestically by Oprah Winfrey at the end of every show as a thank you to the airline which transported her guests to Chicago, never failed to amuse me: “Delta Airlines, Something special in the air.”

I’m a little embarrassed to say, this still makes me laugh. Even as I typed, alone on my couch, I giggled. This isn’t a rare event, as anyone who has lived with me for any amount of time will tell you.

I amuse myself. My son recently pointed out that I am probably my best friend. I responded in the same way that I would if someone would tell me that they brought me something special, but he’s right. I silently entertain myself and laugh out loud. That’s neither here nor there, but as a trait, it really is something special. (Take that as you will.)

I have evolved or deteriorated linguistically, depending on your outlook, from my mother, who was horrified when I told her that she had been mispronouncing the word Volvo, a car company, after hearing my sister-in-law, an immigrant from China, mispronouncing the word as the anatomical name for a part of a woman’s nether regions.

“Look!” She’d announce, as we drove along. “There goes a vulva! Sue has one of those!’

That was a real head swinger the first time I heard it. She saw this where? On the expressway?

Once, I understood, of course, I laughed until I wet. See, how that sounds more lady-like?

Being perceived as lady-like is a number one priority for my mother. For me, not so much.

When she still held the reigns of my life, she sent me to charm school, hoping a magical transformation would result and I would exit, wearing lovely frocks and using euphemisms for private parts, or at least stop me from flopping down the street like David Cassidy, (her words) The experience didn’t suck as hard as it sounds.

I’m sorry. It was not as uncomfortable as I had previously anticipated.

My friend and I attended together and, as a result I learned that “shitting bricks” referred to a person’s level of unhappiness and had nothing to do with something special.

At 12 this elicited a shocked response which I muffled so as not to be detected as young and naïve. Soon after, however, I mimicked this phrase as it applied, even slightly, to every situation and that’s what I learned in Charm School. That and the fact that girls who seemed lady-like were often less so when it came to inter-personal social situations.

I’ve moved on to words that would cause my mother to have the vapors at least, if she understood what I was saying or gesturing.

For years, my mother thought giving someone the finger had an entirely different meaning from what it means on the freeways where all the vulvas are.

Once, as I was visiting her in her current home of Georgia, we were driving along and my mother marveled at how many people from her native Pennsylvania lived in the south.

I asked how she recognized Pennsylvanians and-I kid you not- she gave me the finger. I wondered what I had said to elicit this vulgarity from my mother.

Turns out, flipping people the bird was some sort of Pennsylvania thing in my mother’s mind and meant, “Hello and how do you do, Fellow Pennsylvanian!” when, as we all know, it’s more of an invitation.

All of this information may make the casual reader consider my mother’s sanity as something less than attainable for her and they would be right to an extent, but mostly my mother’s behavior stems from a complete naïvete which arose from living her first 19 years in a town which was apparently run by the Disney Corporation and her expectation that the rest of the world complied with Uncle Walt’s rules for behavior (pre-1970s or so.)

Luckily, she considers me less of a vulgar excuse for a lady and more of a curiosity, so if anyone tells her about this blog, I’d be less than pleased…if she understood the meaning of the word blogs, or online or Internet or DVR or !@#$%^!

Just let her live, happily saluting her fellow Pennsylvanians, who, seemed less likely to signal their Pennsylvania roots while I lived among them briefly, than my fellow Chicagoans, who must make up the largest population of former Quaker Staters in all of the 50 states, including Pennsylvania.

She lives in a nicer place and she’s happy there.

Why 32?

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Side mirror with warning legend

Side mirror with warning legend (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The older I get, the less likely it is that I will reach my target age of 32. 32 is not only in my rear view mirror, it is dozens of mile markers back and I can’t find a turn around on this stupid highway.

Sometimes, in my dreams, someone asks my age-usually Chris Martin of Coldplay- and I answer-not even coquettishly, because the reality, in my dream is-32.

At some point however, in my dreams- which should be exempt from reality- I realize that, although I feel like I have all the earmarks of 32-a lack of gravity induced sag and a smooth glossy surface, that 32 is laughably off target and when I say laughably I mean ludicrously. (I hate that guy That was for those of you with some knowledge of rap music. We will discuss if speaking rhythmically over someone else’s music qualifies as music at a later date. Maybe when I’m nostalgically wishing I was 34.)

There are many logical and scientific reasons I can no longer be 32, but logic can be defeated by mental disturbances and science? I got a D minus and a defeated shrug from every one who ever tried to instruct me in that bastard of a subject. (In full disclosure, I received that grade in a great deal of my high school classes, not because I’m unteachable, but because I preferred not to leave my bed in the middle of the night. Admittedly, I’ve always maintained that night ends when I wake up and that tends to be more in the brunch-like area of the day, still, it was too damn early and sometimes Hard Days Night was on the morning movie. Remember that? They used to cut out so much of a movie in order to sell stuff to housewives, who had a legitimate reason to be home, that by the time it ended you sometimes came away with the idea that John Lennon was singing love songs to Madge, the manicure lady, who soaked people’s hands in dishwashing detergent. How weird was she?)

Where was I and does Guinness have an award for people who stuffed the most words into a parenthetical remark?

Oh, yeah. My son. Sort of.

My son is 24 and is coming perilously close to become 25, which as many of you know, is a quarter of a century. Now, you may be asking yourself, just how old is this lady? And the answer is 32. Shut up. I’m not fully awake, so until the dogs bark at the mailman, I’m 32.

Sometimes I wonder, but mostly I don’t because I know the answer, why 32? Why, out of all the ages, 32? How about 17 when nothing was physically impossible and I was completely clueless about what constituted a fat stomach? Meh. Seems bland to me or maybe my mind has wiped the year off of my wet board of a memory, leaving a slick white surface, which, by all accounts is dull.

Why not 23 when going out dancing 4 nights a week along with regular Jazzercise proved that stamina is the answer to weight loss, a point that would become irrelevant in my late 40s? Well, 23 had its merits, but I was forced to wear a frizzy perm and large shouldered blouses, plus my normal hearing was replaced with a ringing in my ears as a result of standing in front of amps in small bars and expecting that my hearing would not be affected. None of which seems appealing.

My forties were OK, but I spent most of the decade worrying that I would turn fifty, not considering the fact that not turning fifty was a much worse predicament.

Now, just as I suspected would happen, I’m 54. Fifty-freakin’-four! And I expect to reach 55 a day before my son turns the big 2-5.

So, why 32? I was the mother of a small person who thought the sun listened to me when I rebuked it in the car. (The visor actually did the muscle work in that situation, but I took the credit, because, as we know visors are inanimate objects.)

I was the mother of a person so small that he was portable and happy to be so.

I was the mother of a person who wore what I put on him without complaint. (Actually this is still the case as my son is happy to get free clothes as long as I do not attempt to put them on him myself.)

I was the mother of a little person who sang songs to me in the grocery cart, who told me all the things which are important to three-year-olds and attempted to slip out of his crib without disturbing me because he thought I should sleep as long as I felt the need to. I’m serious. He actually operated like that.

I was still wearing the frizzy perm, but, on the whole, all was right with the world. Except when I spent time worrying that he would outgrow this age and I’d be less than happy with the next, which goes to show that cluelessness is not limited to any certain age in my life.

Anyway, as usual, I’ve lost my point, (as Groucho Marx would say, if you wear a hat, no one will notice.)

Oh. My inner world longs for 32, while my outer world, by necessity, is dealing with 54 where I’m worried about 60 and I beginning to think Oprah is a liar what with her insistence that fifties are the best years of your life.

Or maybe she just recognizes her age and accepts it. Or maybe, just maybe, she makes millions of dollars which compound, as times goes by, making her content.

Either way, 55 is coming up on the highway of life, and once again, no turn around, although the exit is visible, as it was at every age. I’ll just drive past till I run out of gas, although I can’t guarantee to keep my eyes on the road ahead and not in my rear view mirror, where I wish there was still a car seat.

Why…wait…What?

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English: Elisabeth de Meuron, commonly known a...

English: Elisabeth de Meuron, commonly known as Madame de Meuron. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Recently, I traveled to the marriage of my baby nephew to a person whose family, I can only assume as they are from Indianapolis, (a foreign land almost four hours from here unless you drive like my son and teleport,) considers his female counterpart to be toddler-aged. Shockingly, they were not only allowed to be married, a serious condition known to end in death, one way or the other, but were celebrated as they took this step in broad daylight.

Now, both children claimed to be in their mid-twenties, but as all parents know, the time it takes to pass twenty years lasts longer than the time it takes to pass a large kidney stone, which is forty or fifty years. So, for this couple of tots to claim that they had achieved the advanced years needed to marry was less than believable for most attending adults, but once a priest throws holy water around there’s no getting out of things, so there you go.

But the subject of this blog is not this sham marriage (Congrats to them, btw. Despite their lack of age credentials, I’m sure they’ll be mostly happy, so long as they take their naps and eat regularly.) My subject today, as you’ve probably guessed, is hearing loss.

Yes, hearing loss, a parents-were-right-kind of affliction, which, in my case, is most likely the result of having musician friends in my twenties.

Aside from being lots of fun and a good source of varying and sundry pills, (I’m kidding, of course. Musicians are well-known for their sober lifestyles and rarely, if ever, alter their brain configurations with illicit pharmaceuticals unless someone offers them, as musicians are often too poor to pay for their own beer and cigarettes, let alone what used to be know as “the good stuff.”) musicians can be hazardous to your health.

Now, you may be asking yourself, “Jamie? Are you trying to say you were a drug abuser as a child?”

No kiddies. Despite close association with with people who rattled as they walked, if they could walk at all, I missed out on that experience as I was afraid of heights and odd smells. I’m serious. I never even achieved a contact high. Let that be a lesson to you. You decide which kind.

Anyway, my point was, and I have completely lost it, um…drugs are bad and…AND I am nearly deaf because of the existence of musicians. There!

This is how it happened.

Once upon a time, I grew 21 years and as a result was compelled to drink alcohol in establishments that grew musicians. These musicians became more like friends, if you’re friends scream at you in a rhythmic fashion through large amplifiers.

Still, these particular friends performed British Invasion music, which made them the pied piper to my rat, or some less repulsive analogy. (These, by the way, are not the same people who partook in illegal substances. Those are an entirely different set of musician friends.)

Most often these completely drug-free individuals would play in night clubs and bars, where I’ll admit to drinking Amaretto Sours, a totally eighties drink of which I no longer partake and frankly, am a little surprised I did so at the time, but it was a different era and you could tell that by the large hair and enormous shoulder pads.

While at these dens on iniquities, and sometimes Denny’s of iniquities afterward, my preference was to sit near enough to the band, to watch them hop about in an adorable fashion and also maintain proximity to the dance floor where I would hop about in a different kind style of adorable fashion.

These two factors collided with my youthful decision to cozy up against amps which would rattle my teeth, buzz my toes, or the other way around, hard to tell in that situation, and render me deaf for hours after each event, which took place on the average of 3 times a week, for a handful of years. And I liked it.

That’s how you can tell you’re too young to get married in the mid-twenties, although I was already married so it made more sense. (Do you see what rock music does to you?)

So, flash forward to the baby wedding. I’m standing outside of a restaurant when my sister-in-law asks me if I’m petite. I’m flattered, I have to say, since petite has always been an unattainable goal for me. I answer, “No! I wish!”

My husband leaned into my megaphone and yelled, “ SHE SAID, FATIGUED! ARE YOU FATIGUED?”

Sadly, I agreed that I was. I was also fatigued.

Later, that same night, my lovely niece who claims to be a grown woman with a husband and child who is not her brother (the groom,) asked me a question that I found amusing, so I laughed heartily. I don’t remember the source of my laughter, but that’s another cautionary tale.

She smiled at me like you smile at someone who thinks they are making fun balloon animals and is, in fact, not, and says, “NO, REALLY. IS YOUR DRESS NEW?”

This really isn’t the sort of question which results in peals of laughter so I considered explaining my mistake to her, but assumed she’d be less than intrigued by my story of hearing loss so, instead I told all of you.

So, either take this as a warning to stay away from musicians or as a reason I tend to laugh inappropriately. In either case, It’s not snowing! Why do you ask?

Why I’m Watching the Grammy Awards

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I enjoy fashion which will probably come as a surprise to anyone who saw me grocery shopping last week. As a rule I don’t pull out my je ne sais quoi with my reusable grocery bags; it’s either one or the other and that day I was honoring the earth and confused about whether I was awake or not.

Plus, I am less fashionable in the winter than I am in the summer, because I live in Chicago where you put on a coat on Halloween, sadly covering up your Cruella De’Ville costume and then take it off on Easter to show off your tribute-to-easter-eggs outfit and then immediately put your coat back on because you live in Chicago.

Usually by May, if we haven’t sinned as a large regional city, we begin to see a little sunlight. At this point, those under 18 start running around town in a bathing suit and it’s not because they want to show off their youthful bodies, no sir! It’s because it’s so hot, they can’s stand to wear anything even slightly defined as clothing. And, any way, they have all of their goose bumps to keep them warm adding “tsk,” as an expression of disdain.

As a grown woman, my reaction to a positive change in the weather is to where my denim jacket with a jaunty (the use of jaunty forever branding me as a person of advanced age,) scarf, or my cool blazer with a striped tea and flats, telling myself I look just like Gwyneth Paltrow, despite more than adequate evidence to the contrary.

But it’s February now and my fashion choices are limited if I don’t want to become frozen to the driveway while attempting to reach my car. Still, among a variety of reading materials, I read fashion magazines, studying the cool and laughing at the extremely cool, dreaming of a time when I can switch from a goose down coat to a leather coat with the lining zipped in.

The most hilarious of the current fashions, in my humble opinion, (another sign of advanced age, you cease to express other people’s opinion as your own, which usually makes you look more goofy than independent,) are the giant high heels. To me, they looked like the wearer escaped from someone who was trying to kill her by putting her feet into cement and tossing her in the river, (or lake if you live closer to the city) and in escaping, chipped of some, but not all, of her unfortunate encasements. Of course, that’s just me and it’s probably not what happened.

There are many styles which a person can only see at an awards program and are rarely worn to walk the dog or take out the garbage. These styles can be hilarious as well and a better person than me could probably make the red carpet fashion parade into a drinking game. Side boob! One shot! This will quickly result in alcohol poisoning, so don’t do this.

These gowns include and are not limited to: Dresses fashioned by the same designer which created the Emperor’s New Clothes, (Psst, you’re naked,) gowns which give the impression that the wearer ran from a burning building, leaving important parts of her outfit behind, (congratulations on doing so in those shoes,) and dresses which look as if you’re having your tailoring done by clowns in a hurry to get into a small car.

As I’ve mentioned in another post, where I am amused by these types, my mother is infuriated. I am surprised she doesn’t hyper ventilate after an evening of watching television what with her harrumphing and cross armed glaring disapproval.

I try to make her understand that her anger is eating a hole in her stomach, that will eventually result in her intestines making a (let’s face it, uninvited) guest appearance and almost certainly won’t halt the sale of mini skirts (Which she wore in the sixties and seventies.) But she insists on wasting her energy, shaking her tiny fist at the fashion world to no avail thus far.

Although I enjoy some of the fashions I see on TV and in magazines, I find their prices more of a challenge than a money for goods exchange. So, I haunt the discount world; consignment, TJ Maxx, on-line bargain sites, (which disappoint me 90% of the time. Apparently a fashion purchase is only satisfying to me when I can rub the fabric between my fingers.)

There are those who think that time is money and that buying what you want quickly and getting on with life is worth a 300% mark up. These people are called aliens. There are few things more satisfying than walking out of TJ Maxx with a bag of clothes you bought, not because you needed them, but because they were an enormous bargain and you can always sell them to a consignment store.

The downside to this constant surveillance is that, during the thrill of the hunt, I’ve been known to buy more than one of any given item over time, which is why I’m now the proud owner of four black blazers, an uncountable number of white t-shirts and two pairs of the exact same boots, which I unknowingly bought, most likely by pressing refresh, from an on-line store with a no return policy.

(It’s amazing what a mention of social media can do in these situations. Suddenly the company’s policy was more of a suggestion and I’ll be receiving a refund. Thanks Zulily!

Anyway, back to the subject which was…um…fashion! And how I enjoy it, which came to mind because the Grammy Awards are on tomorrow night. They are the mother lode of hilarity when it comes to haute couture, which I think means silly frocks.

The Grammy folks, however are trying to throw a bucket of cold water on an already sheer dress by asking the musicians to adhere to a dress code. The good news is that, by asking the performers to not dress like tramps of either the easy virtue kind or the hopping-on-a-freight-train variety, the musicians, who are mostly purveyors of rock-n-roll, will be sure to wear only the most modest of attire, because one thing you can say about rockers is that they are always ready to conform when asked nicely.

As for me, I’ll be wearing loose-fitting eggplant (a bold color choice,) sweat slacks and a over-sized, white hooded blouse with the words “look at the stars, look how they shine for you,” daringly emblazoned on the front, complimented with buttered pop corn on the neckline. As for shoes, my stylist has chosen black fleece slip-ons which have been transformed into mules by virtue of my not wanting to bend over to slip the back over my heel. I hope I don’t run into Joan Rivers.

Why I’m Thankful Post-Thanksgiving

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So, on Thanksgiving, did you go around the table expressing your gratitude? (Prepare for a series of run on sentences. In fact, as Dave Letterman says, “Hold on to your wigs and keys.)) Although we didn’t say it aloud, I’m sure we were all grateful that the burn I got my stomach from nudging a pan of rolls out of my way because my hands were full and my counter more full because the sink backed up and we were unable to cycle the dishes through the dishwasher didn’t mean a trip to the ER where the people who didn’t cook their turkey properly were less than appetizing to be around.

Speaking of thankfulness, and despite what it may seem for the next few sentences, I am speaking of thankfulness; you know how when someone says something to you and you fumble around in your brain looking for Oscar Wilde or at least Groucho Marx and can only come up with the neighbor kid who answers every question with “huh?”? And then, in the middle of the night, when you wake up to worry about vitally important stuff like, should I bring my jacket back the tailor that hemmed the sleeves a good half-inch higher than my wrists or fold shirt sleeves back over the cuff and act like I mean it? You know how, during that same time of the night when TV used to play the national anthem and go off the air, but now airs commercials starring people who can’t sleep because they’re on crack so you don’t bother watching and instead come up with the perfect in-your-face comeback which is not only witty, but thoughtful with the ability to change a persons entire perspective to that of your own, which is the only the only rational point of view? You know how that works, Sparky? That’s how I am when someone asks me a complicated question like, what’s your favorite song or what are you grateful for?

So, when my husband asked me what I was thankful for during our Thanksgiving meal, I could only come up with the fact that my little dog seems feel better and therefore was not urping during dinner. Now that I’ve had a few days to think, I have a much better answer, at least in my opinion. Here are the highlights.

I’m thankful there are so many mind-blowing, reality warping, tear provoking, danceable songs that I can’t come up with just one favorite. I’m grateful that composers can still write new music with the same handful of notes. I’m really grateful that my son is one of them and that everyone who hears his music agrees he’s a freaking genius. OK, not everyone, most people are just impressed with his musical abilities and skills as a conversationalist however, me, his dad, his grandparents, his godmother and some of our life-long friends are in agreement that his is a musical force to be reckoned with. (Please, if you care anything for me, don’t tell him I called him a musical genius as this seems to annoy him.) He’s also adorable.  Buy his CD.
I’m grateful that the election is over and more so, that the election commercials are gone, at least for a few months when the next cycle will begin.

I’m grateful that out latest attendance of the musical Les Miserables is over, because, no matter how astonishing the talent, how evocative the set design, how sweeping the epic, how memorable the music, in the long run, we are paying an enormous amount of money to attend a show with the title, Les Miserables, which translated means get ready to lose hope in everything good in the world. You should go see it. It was sensational and I’m still dehydrated from participating in the mass weeping. What greater tribute is there than that?

I am, as I mentioned, thankful that, after a bill from our vet which fell somewhere between ouch and BWOING, my little dog is feeling well enough to be irritating again.

I’m grateful that my husband made it possible for me to attend the best concert I’ve ever seen. Had I paid to see Coldplay with my own nickels and dimes I would currently be questioning whether I had actually seen Coldplay. Considering the fact that he has seen me slap my hand over my mouth and squeal at the sight of Chris Martin and still loves me enough to pay for me to scream at Mr. Martin in person, that and his charming good looks make him the best husband ever.

I’m grateful that (hang on while I knock on wood) that I have thus far evaded my regular head bashing which I have scheduled nearly every decade whether I need it or not. Thus far, I’ve had three skull related car accidents and one collision with a porch railing when I was short enough to run headlong into a railing. If we ever meet, ask to see my dent.

I’m thankful for the editors who remember I have a car payment.

I’m grateful to those of you who take the time to read my essays which, in case you’ve been thus far unaware, were meant to be funny. I’m especially grateful to those who’ve let me know that they realized this.

And finally, I’m also grateful for my ability to grant wishes to those of you who shared my blogs. Spread the word and bless us, every one.

Why Middle-Agers Feel Comfortable in Their Own Skin

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One of the better aspects about becoming middle-aged during this time in history is that Oprah grew older at the same pace. It was almost worth it to see what she’d say on the subject of the mutiny of her knees and to be a witness when her face began sporting a perpetual expression of either disbelief (facelift) or a pumpkin two weeks past Halloween (normal aging).

Turns out if you have millions of women tuning in to watch you age, you can pay magicians or fairies to transform your face on a daily basis, giving the impression that uncountable stacks of money makes your life a better place to live. I don’t think she ever mentioned her knees, but I refuse to research that.

Fortunately, not talking about knees created a vast amount of empty air time during which Oprah often discussed the positively glamorous process of becoming a woman in full flower, (old). Guests would arrive, carefully arrange themselves in her over-sized chairs so that their double chins were nearly undetectable and offer up the wisdom that, when a women begins her journey into mid-life she finally feels,”comfortable in her own skin,” which isn’t all that surprising considering it gets looser as we age. Which is more comfortable, the pants you have to lie down to zip or your husband’s Wranglers? To quote the young, “Duh!”

Even without the testimony of Oprah and Friends, there is little doubt that aging has its ups and downs as does every experience outside of pie. The question is: Would a detailed list of the gains and losses come out even or would it be more like a match up between warm chocolate and a sharp stick in the eye?

Given the gravitas of the question, I’ve decided to create a carefully constructed, scientifically accurate list of the yin and yang of the autumn years. I do this to save you the trouble. You can thank me later.

Not surprisingly the first gain which comes to mind is weight. I started life at a slim seven or eight pounds and immediately went about remedying that situation, mostly because there are very few options for fashionable attire when you weigh in under ten pounds.

Unlike fashion models, I continued to gain weight past the age of ten and evened out in my mid-teens, at which point I began to worry that I may be fat. This situation is the main reason time travel must be invented. If only I could return to the days of my youth and gently tell myself, “Shut up and enjoy the fact that you can eat a pie and work it off the next day simply by cutting back on pop!” (soda for those outside of Chicago). Having said my piece, I would swat my self on the back of the head, climb back into my time machine, and return to my thirties where I would live forever.

I’ve lost…everything, at least once. I once lost a set of keys in my backyard when I lobbed them toward the deck, (In my defense, I’ve never been able to throw anything at a target, no matter how large and I’ve gained the ability to live with that.) I’ve lost cash and checks, which are almost as good as money, and while I’m on the subject, credit cards and my passport. I’ve lost the ability to rise from a squat without assistance. I become lost in my car on a more regular basis, but no one can confirm this as I have GPS and rarely admit this failing unless I end up somewhere funny. I’ve lost the ability to make a living as a writer, (something I never really gained if we’re being technical about the word “living”).

Socks. I’ve lost them, as have you. If I were Jerry Seinfeld, I’d continue with a “What’s the deal with socks,” monologue, but let’s just agree it’s a conspiracy which will eventually lead to the end times and leave it at that.

I have gained the understanding that a nap is a gift and not to accept this gift is spitting in the face of all that I hold dear, and they hate when I do that.

I remember being a small person, bigger than a breadbox but smaller than the national debt, and my mother would declare nap time. Because I was less than world-wise and three-years-old, I worried something spectacular would happen while I was asleep and, in my defense, The Beatles came to America during the next year of my life. What if I had slept through that? One shudders at the idea.

Anyway, my mom would spoon me, trapping me with over sized (to a three-year-old) arm and I would be forced to lie there, wide awake while she snored, her vice-like grip never abating. Oddly enough, I found myself waking up some time later, usually alone and always refreshed. This never registered with me until naps were no longer mandatory.

I’ve lost all interest in leaving the house after dark or 7pm, whichever comes first. I have musician friends who invite me to see them perform, and I would love to do so, if they started at the same time as early bird dinner specials. But once I hit the indented place in the couch cushion with my laptop and the remote control, it would take an act of Congress to blast me out so we can safely assume I’m in for the night.

I’ve lost interest in acting my age, which comes as no surprise to those who know me or those who’ve read my ode to the lead singer of Coldplay. In the same vein, I no longer worry that my fashion sense is age-appropriate and, although that’s never been an issue, I’m putting it in the gain column, because I can.

Finally, the most universally experienced loss; I have officially lost all but one salad fork. All of us have been there, right? You got to set the table on one of the three days in the year you do so and find one lonely salad fork mixed in with the larger, and less friendly dinner forks. As we all know, this is a disaster of epic proportions as it is impossible to eat one’s salad without a utensil which is marginally smaller than a full-sized fork. That’s a bit of a misnomer, of course; it is perfectly acceptable to eat one’s salad by dipping one’s fingers into the bowl and plucking out arugula and heirloom tomatoes as long as you hold your pinkie up while doing so. However, where the @#$%^ are my salad forks? With my single earrings and socks?

Having re-read this column, I find that loss outnumbers gains, at least in my present state of mind, but I also noticed I mentioned pie twice, which has no bearing on the subject but is always a good way to finish up.