The House of Flying Monkeys

… but they seemed so normal…

You are my sunshine…

Thought for the Day…

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On Becoming a Woman of a Certain Age…

When that age is somewhere between 50 and death it’s not as easy as you think.

And yes, despite my immature youthful demeanor and lifestyle, apparently I am exactly that.  Or nearly.  Too close to it now for my comfort anyway.  And I’m not handling it very well… not at all in fact.  Because I am getting old.

Old.

Such a final and sad word.  With so much baggage.  None of which matches or speaks of a trip to somewhere fun and exotic.  Instead speaking of a one way trip to the end, a trip that gets shorter every day, and the resultant feeling that my time here is running out.

Old.

And I’m laughing about it, I’m trying to embrace it, but I’m secretly scared.  Okay, terrified.  Yeah… terrified… that’s it.  So I’m laughing on the outside but I’m crying inside and I’m not sure how to make this better for me.  How to get past all my preconceived notions about being this age, about being old, about reconciling my ever-growing list of things that I still want to do in this life with the reality that my time alive is getting shorter every day.  Because next week I will be 50.

Old.

One of the biggest struggles I guess is that I’m not sure how to act this new age.  How does one be 50?  What does 50 act like or look like?  Because I’ve seen others in my life do it but I don’t want to do it that way.  I want to own this age.  Change it so people see it as not so frightening.  Not so old.  Just a number.  But I’m not sure how.  I’ve got so much more I want to do… get my Masters, buy a home, travel, become a grandparent… there, that’s not too much to ask for, right?  But next week I am 50, and the feeling that my time is running out is overwhelming me today, and tomorrow, and tomorrow.  And today I’m feeling like that number defines me as only one thing.

Old.

Fifty… half a century… the diamond anniversary of life… and instead of diamonds all I want is more time.  And that gift is the one nobody can give me.   More time.  Something so precious, so finite, and yet indefinable.  Something that is flying by.  Time.  More time.  So much more… please.  Because I want to live long enough to be older… to redefine another decade of life like I figure I’ll redefine this one… and just like I redefined 40.

Older.

My 40s were magical.  They started in tragedy and ended by being my most productive decade of life yet.  Becoming a parent, finishing college, changing careers, running two half marathons… how does one top all that?  But instead of asking that, perhaps I should be asking why my 50s can’t be more of the same?  Why can’t I grow into this new age and make it fit me and how I live, rather than fitting into the outdated perceptions that being 50 comes loaded with and allowing those preconceived notions to change me.  Make me different.  Make me older.

Older.

So with all this, what you need to know is that I’m fighting a battle right now.  A battle against growing old.  I’m giving no quarter.  I’m not quitting.  I may be inappropriate.  I may be ridiculous.  I may be childish.  But I’m always me.  And I’m not growing old… just older… and I’ll never grow up because if you get to 50 and you haven’t done it yet I hear you don’t have to.  All you need to do for me is say thank you.  Because you’re growing older too and you need to thank me in advance for paving a new way to do so.  A way that isn’t so old.  You’re welcome.

So on June 11 it’s happy birthday to me… fifty is here… this should be very interesting… very interesting indeed.  I’ve got no App, no Map, no guidebook, and no instructions… it’s all new and different from this point on.

Growing older.

Let’s have some fun!

And time goes marching on…

…right across my face… until it doesn’t anymore… not sure which is more frightening for me.  Death or growing old.  Neither are good options, not sure there’s a better/worse to choose from.

And yeah, with that, is it obvious that I’m sort of feeling my age these days kids?  What with my 50th birthday bearing down on me like an overloaded Septic Pumper, driving far too fast, on a curvy mountain road, at midnight in the pouring rain, with my own mortality doing the driving, as it sends a text and checks Facebook.

There, that’s your visual of the day.  You’re welcome.  I’m a giver like that.

But anyway, yeah, feeling like I might be a bit old.  Or older than usual anyway.  And coming from the person who doesn’t ever admit to the “getting old” thing, those are big words I’ve shared.  And in a large quantity.  I know… scary shiz, ain’t it?  But the big struggle for me is that I’m truly not sure I know how to act this age… since I’ve never been 50 before…  I’m watching others do it, and they appear to be doing it much more graciously than I ever will, mainly because I’m usually one pratfall away from being drafted into the circus.  Nothing about me is ever graceful for long.  So I’m feeling my way through this one, trying on one mental attitude after another, sorting out how I’m going to do this “woman of a certain age” thing with my usual style and aplomb.  But truthfully it scares the crap out of me to be here… because I know people around me who are dying, right now, and I’m not ready for death to become a constant companion.  I’m not ready to have to bury friends.  I’m not ready to help people I love die a “good” death.

And WTF is a good death anyway?  It’s death, you’re dead, there’s nothing at all good about that.  So let’s just drop that redorkulous name for kicking it out of our vernacular, m’kay?  Thanks.

But yeah, I’m dealing with that now.  Losing more people I love.  I have become by age and survival a senior member of society.  And I’m fighting it with every thing I have and am.  Sitting here with my headset blasting Muse and Arctic Monkeys, sipping on Vitamin Water, and anxiously checking on delivery of my latest wrinkle cream/skin savior.

Yes, I’m ridiculous.  Aren’t you glad you know me?  You can at least feel superior to someone today… me :-)

And speaking of that looming sense of doom birthday, the other thing causing me stress about it is figuring out the right way to celebrate this “milestone” event.  Since, apparently having a funeral where we bury my youth in effigy isn’t something that’s “done”.

I know, right?  Who knew there were rules on appropriate celebrations?  Shocking, I tell you.  Simply shocking.  But it is what it is.

Anyway, so I’m struggling with trying to determine how best to mark this event… other than with anesthesia and plastic surgery of course, and I’m simply overwhelmed.  The beach looks tempting, but we can go there any time and it’s not exactly a big event.  Then there’s the idea of a milestone trip of some sort, but to where?  We’d like to do an adventure, but again, to where.  Of course I also love the idea of going somewhere and being pampered and spoiled with lots of good food and drinks but I’m not sure how much Bob will enjoy that.  So I’m dithering, this and that’ing the subject to death, while I get older by the second… oy!

So, yeah, expect to hear lots more about this, and yes, I doubt I’ll make a decision any time soon.  Ideas are welcomed… share away, and save some sympathy for old people… if you’re lucky you’ll be one some day.

If you’re lucky.

Or not.

Be a Princess? Yeah, I Can Do That…

Of course it’s harder than just typing the words.  Yeah, and it’s harder than walking into a shop, putting on a Tiara, and et voila!  There I am, ROYAL!  Oh I wish it was that easy.  I also wish I could just “Bibbity Bobbity Boo” it into happening.  But no, it’s been hard damned work becoming royalty.  It’s hard damned work making a dream come true.  But I can.

First let me explain.  I’m not working on becoming a real honest-to-goodness House of Windsor Royal or some such nonsense.  Er, no.  Clearly, being born in Dandridge, TN as the descendent of German farmers and Irish horse thieves that’s pretty much not going to happen.  Besides, the crown I’m seeking is far harder to attain.  You see, I want to be a Disney Running Princess, with a RunDisney Princess Crown Medal around my neck, after I’ve run 13.1 miles through The Magic Kingdom and EPCOT, and I even get to run through Cinderella’s Castle which is really a dream come true.  It’ll be just like my first visit, when I was just a little kid and I skipped through those gates and up the street because I was so damned glad to finally be a part of the magic.  And that’s what it is you know.  Magic.  And this Sunday, at the buttcrack of dawn, I’ll make that magic happen, and I’ll make this particular dream come true.

Because I can do that.

Yes, yes I really can.  Even if I didn’t believe it when I first said the words.  Even if I’ve had lots of doubts along the way.  Even if it’s been harder than I ever dreamed possible to make this happen.  Because making this “Can” happen started out as a dream.  Something I didn’t even start turning into a plan until years after I first said the words.  So it’s a dream that’s been a very long time coming indeed.  But first it started as words spoken out loud in the sunshine way back in February of 2011, as I lounged by the pool at Disney’s Yacht Club on our yearly Anniversary visit.  The dream came when I saw all of the happy and tired runners from that day’s Disney Princess Half Marathon partying on the sand, with their so shiny medals glinting in the afternoon sun.  After first thinking “what a bunch of idiots” I immediately had another thought that was just ridiculous.  Because that second thought I said out loud.  And the words I said were “you know, I can do that”.  And that small sentence?  Those six words?  They changed everything.

Everything.

Those words were prescient, because those words, spoken four long years ago, have come true.  Then I could not do this thing that I’m doing this weekend, but today I can.  I can do it, I will do it, and truly it’s been worth every bit of the metric crap-ton of work I’ve invested, the gallons of sweat I’ve lost as I trained in the hottest summer we’ve had in years, and the laser beam focus than most ADHD people can never muster the energy to pull together in order to be able to do so.  This weekend I will meet that long-delayed goal.

I will be a Princess.

A running Princess.  A running princess who has run a long way from where she started when she first spoke those words.  When she first began moving toward a nearly impossible goal from the most unlikely of beginnings.  Because back when I said that?  The furthest distance I could run was maybe one city block, if someone was chasing me with an axe, and they looked reasonably healthy.  Last year I still couldn’t do it.  I ran/walked the Royal Family 5k on Princess Weekend and I managed a 17 min. mile.  And while that was definitely not great, it also wasn’t as bad as before.  It was progress.  And this Sunday I will realize that dream, with what I hope is something around a 13 min./mile.  But whatever I finish with, it’s mine, I earned it, and it all began with that simple statement of “I can do that”.

Those words are damned dangerous.  They can change your life.

For me though, making those words come true about this and my other goals of the last ten years means that I now know truly that I can accomplish anything.  As long as I say those words.  As long as I believe.  As long as I work.  Hard.  As long as I do not quit.  I can.  And the lesson here for you guys is that you should never stop believing in your dreams… because only you can make them come true.  You can do that.

I can do it.

I can.

And here we go…

Monday

Moving my Valentine’s Cheese…

OCD

 

As most of you know, OCD issues abound in our Casa.  In fact, I might wager that between the two of us we’ve got enough “little” issues that they all might qualify as Subscriptions – lifetime version – to the Crazy People Quarterly.  And really, most of those issues are with things that other “normal” people don’t even notice, but that either of us will lose our shiz over.  Things like other people using my coverlet blanket (I have to wash it before I’ll ever let it touch me again).  Like unplanned things to do or changes to our schedule (we start at no, I work Bob to a yes).  Like oversized everyday objects like those great big sunglasses and pencils in every souvenir shop everywhere (triggers feelings of being overwhelmed or out of control in me, can’t even look at them let alone touch them).  Mixed foods, eating meals out of order, brushing your teeth after a shower rather than before… yeah, all of these, triggers for either one or both of us.

And you know you’re laughing… hell, so am I!  But that’s life around here.  We work around it, deal with it, accommodate it, and we live as normally as crazy people can, because life is like that.  You just deal.

One of my more infamous quirks though (and the one that probably causes me the most grief) is my tendency to make very elaborate and detailed plans for events and celebrations and then have no coping skills that allow me to handle it when something inevitably goes wrong and my plans don’t work out the way I planned.  This, of course, seems to happen with frequency, probably due to my overachiever nature colliding with life’s unpredictability, but when this happens?  Yeah, I’m not a happy camper.  I get stressed, irrationally angry, and then I get sad – in other words I go through the stages of mourning over the loss of my plans just like I do the death of a real person. Regrouping and changing plans?  Well, that takes a while.  First I have to do the steps of grief, every time this happens.  Yes, really.  All of them.

I know… W.T.F.????

And despite knowing this and understanding it so well, yeah, it happened with Valentine’s Day this year.  And I’m still verklempt over it.  And shaking my head at the ridiculousness of feeling these feelings and being upset still.  Ridiculous.  See?  That’s the thing with OCD stuff.  You know it’s crazy, you know it’s ridiculous, but you can’t just stop it from bothering you.  Like the spelling of OCD.  Who did that anyway?  It should be alphabetized dammit!  Bugs the crap out of me every time I write it.  Oh, wait, here I go again… and we’re off on a tangent.  Another problem I have – ADD – and oh hey!  Look at that shiny squirrel!

Squirrel!

And we’re back, to Valentine’s Day, and my plans, that were ruined by Orlando traffic, and the disagreeableness that ensued.  Because you can bet your ass that it ensued.  First, you have to know that I hate my 100 mile plus commute every day.  Yes, I love my job, I really really do.  But I purely hate that damned drive.  In fact every day I hate it just a little bit more.  It’s become a palpable thing, that hatred.  It’s my commute partner, sitting in the other seat, that I grumble to all the way to Winter Park and back home again.  Every. Day.  And the main reason for my ire?  The unpredictability of the damned thing.  I just never know what it’s going to be like.  I can’t plan for anything at home in the evenings because I don’t know what traffic hand I’ll be dealt any particular day.  And there’s a lot that can go wrong in the 60 miles I drive every afternoon.  Some days I’m lucky and it’s only a bit over an hour… other days (Like, oh, yesterday? Yeah I’m looking at you!) it’s over 2 hours and that’s with leaving work at 4:45 instead of 5:45.

#dammit

And, of course, this is on the day when I’ve got plans, elaborate plans, planned out to the nth degree, of a fabulous menu for a delicious meal, that I had painstakingly built, taking care to mix and match tastes and textures for the perfect over-the-top comfort food meal I could make.  Yeah… er, that didn’t happen.

Yeah.

So, um, yeah… angry doesn’t really do those feelings justice.  When I had to go to Publix and buy a steak.  For a steak dinner that could be on the table by 8pm.  So we wouldn’t be up until 11pm eating dinner.  Because of traffic.  Feckin’ traffic.  Because of my commute.  Which ran over my carefully laid out plans.  Like traffic tends to do.  And yes, before you ask, the substitute meal was delicious.  But because I spent so much time planning the other meal in my head I just know that it wasn’t as good as the original meal I expected to serve.  And remember, I cook to relieve stress after a hard day at work.

Um, okay, if you say so…

The evening, of course, was good despite all this drama.  We enjoyed the substitute menu, and afterward we watched two new episodes of “House of Cards”.  In other words, Valentine’s Day for old married couples who’ve been doing this long enough to know that being all crazy in love isn’t limited to one day a year.  But still… the missing dinner… I’m still disappointed we didn’t get that.  I’ll do it Sunday because I have plenty of time then… but it just isn’t the same.  So damn you Orlando traffic.  And damn you OCD for being so crazymaking.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a blanket or two to wash.  I know somebody wrapped up in them.  I just know it.  And since it’s coldish these days I need lots of blankets to wrap up in.  Gotta have options… even if I don’t plan for it.  That’s my evil plan, right?

Yeah.

 

Words with Friends…

True Friends

So, last week I had an old friend visiting.  We hadn’t seen each other in many years and yet our friendship seemed as though it had never been interrupted.  Conversation was easy as we recounted the years since we’d last been together, shared memories from our distant past, and spoke about our lives today.  It was a wonderful visit, enjoyable and filled with laughter and the simple joy of being together again.  But at the same time the wonderful visit was happening I also was dealing with a nasty dustup on Facebook.  (FFS – I truly exercised some poor community management with that one, am I right?!?)  Anyway, long story short:  a former classmate from high school who is newish to social media and the etiquette of thread comments, I tactfully tried to correct her and my efforts were not taken well, the rest?  Yeah, you read it, you know you did, don’t deny it.  Everybody loves a trainwreck!  Suffice to say that the entire episode simply confirmed my belief that arguments on social media are the digital equivalent of teaching pigs to dance.

I raised my blood pressure and the other party learned nothing.  Moving on.

But that incident notwithstanding, what you might or might not have noticed in my Facebook posts these days is that I’m operating less in outrage mode and more centered in kindness.  Because I want to make my social media interactions more like the IRL visit with my old friend and less like the aforementioned Facebook contretemps.  And I made this decision very consciously, some time back, because I find that being constantly outraged is tiresome in the extreme.  Honestly, it takes up far more energy than I have to give these days, it has cost me relationships with people that I care about, it diminishes the happiness I want surrounding me, and frankly it complicates my life.

Outrage, simply, is outrageous.

And yet, despite my change of course, I find that I have many friends who appear to thrive on that element I am avoiding.  For some perplexing reason they seem to want outrage to be their constant companion.  Further, and also perplexing, they choose to make personal ideology their starting point for their every interaction in their world.  Sadly, they seem to feel the need to sort their relationships with the people in their lives into categories that match their worldview today.  To preach to the choir of the people who agree with them and to attempt to sway the opinions of the people who do not.

To be clear, I do not share that need.

Also to be clear, my friends span the entire spectrum of beliefs – from far left to far right – but the key word for me in describing them is the word “friend”.   Not political ally, not ideological mate, only and simply friend. And that is because, in most cases, these are people who I have counted as friends from a time before we even had an individual ideology.  Before we felt the need to make points with each other and pronounce judgments based upon our own individual litmus tests we’ve devised to separate our world into Us vs. Them.

Back when we were simply friends.

And I for one am making a concerted effort to return to that state with everyone I care about in my life.  To ignore the outrage I see around me and I do not apply any rules to those relationships other than that we remain friends.  Without need for judgment or argument, or for any disagreements we might have over philosophy or politics.  When I write or post, when I share and like, my rule for that content is always – is it kind?  Yes, of course many of my friends are quite different from me.  Yes, we quite often do not agree, in some cases about very many different things.  But still today we are friends (or so I choose to believe) and that is why I choose kindness, our shared past, our friendship, instead of looking at them through the prism of the world we live in today where we are all so wired for outrage and anger.

I am not wired for outrage.

So the point here, when you look past all of the words I’m casting about today, is be kind.  Try to look at life not as an opportunity to make points at the cost of friendship but rather a chance to enjoy each other’s differences as opportunities for learning.  And always remember that no one has too many friends.  No one.  The net of friendship is something you will need one day, but if you have turned away the friendship of the people who know you the longest you might find yourself alone when you most need someone.  And usually the ones who know you the longest are the ones who know you best and who can help you the fastest.  So knit up your relationships.  Keep them well-tended and not well-sorted. And always remember that words have power.  Words with friends have more indeed.  Always ask yourself this one question… am I being a friend?

My answer is yes, you are my friend.

Yesterday, today, and always.

My friend.

 

A Sandy Piece of Land…

Lakeland

 

…that’s home.

So yesterday I actually teared up a little when I finally saw the Gulf of Mexico and the first small sliver of sandy land out the window of our plane. Really. Of course I love traveling, adore trying and seeing new things and places, but I love coming home even more. And, clearly, over the last five years it’s become more and more clear to me that this weird, wild, wonderful place truly is my home and everything about me is more at peace when I’m in Florida.

Home… a word that means so many things but to me means roots, a sense of belonging, and a feeling of being in place that I do not feel anywhere else. When it comes to Florida I am a boomerang; when I’m not here a part of me longs fiercely to go back, and I get home as soon as I can. Today I am home. Thank you Florida, Lakeland, and our friends for pulling us into your warp and weave. We are home.

Always.

The Wednesday Achievement…

Tupac