It started in my therapist’s waiting room. A client for another therapist had already grabbed the Martha Stewart magazine so I was stuck with AARP, which I usually avoid because I’m not OLD! I ‘m about the same age as Obama, Madonna and Michael Jackson. That’s not young, but not really old. Mick Jagger is kind of old, not ancient but oldish.
The AARP mag or rag as those in the journalism industry, ( but not those who are women of reproductive age) , might call it, is not something that makes you think. It’s about vacations, stars and legislation. What else do retirees and people like me who are hoping their lives are not yet over love? Contests! It appears that every year, AARP, to boost their dying subscriber base, hosts a New Faces of 50+ Model search. The deadline was today, midnight EST, that’s an hour and a half ago.
I spent 4 hours of my life last night writing a 300 word essay about how I embrace life over 50. I kept getting stuck on the word “embrace”. I mean being over 50 is okay. I know more about myself so my mistakes are more obvious. I had to come up with a motto as well and a photo. The photo shoot involved me, a mermaid costume and some juggling rings. Only later did I read that it was supposed to be a head and shoulders shot.
Around midnight last night I was done. The essay was exactly what an essay written out of desperation and narcissism should be, not very good. The real challenge was submitting it online. The damn site kept telling me I hadn’t completed some areas. It seemed to want me to have exactly 300 words but no matter how I came up with those last words they were rejected. I felt rejected. I also was going to hurt my computer so I turned it and my dreams off and instead had some chocolate and watched an episode of my new guilty pleasure – Falling Skies. Who wouldn’t like a soap opera with spidery aliens called Skitters?
Since my essay will never be read by Kathy Lee Gifford, who I believe is one of the judges, I have reprinted it here for you. Thank you for your consideration.
My Motto: Existential Angst can be fun and slimming!
I would love to impress you with what I’ve learned since I’ve turned fifty. I don’t know you, but I do want your approval quite badly. I took this photo myself, in my mermaid skirt. Perhaps this was not the best choice since the mermaid part doesn’t even show? I admit I might be a wacky role model. Some people want their face on the cover of another celebrated magazine which has recently made some sketchy cover choices. I’ll settle for a corner of page 33 or so in The AARP Magazine.
Does this sound like I’m embracing my 50’s? I hope so. Really what I’m finally embracing is my own anxiety. It’s not as painful as it sounds. I’m not going for the pity vote. I have a job, an apartment, roommates and I get along with my family of origin for the most part. Sure, I shake when I’m angry, when I’m nervous, when I’m cold, pretty much all the time. Perhaps I moved to Alaska to normalize the shaking bit. And yes, constant shaking does tend to make people thinner.
An acting teacher once used me as an example, telling the class, “No one wants to see nervousness.” I guess I didn’t look enough like Woody Allen at that time to help her see that people love someone who embraces their own failings. I’m a clown, I walk on stilts and juggle. I act like I’m incredibly afraid of breaking something, which at age 53 is more about me than the furniture. Of course, I’ve found a way to take comedy too seriously but then I remember to use that for a laugh. I’m okay with being confident that I’m not extremely confident. This is much more fun than being a teenager.