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Tag Archives: aging

Do I live to make people laugh and is that sad?

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I just got back from vacation with a not to be named relative who fears their identity will be kidnapped and held for ransom baked in kitty litter. We were in Waikiki which is beautiful even if though it is full of human beings. Many of those humans were also on vacation which means they were having fun or supposed to be doing so.

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Come in thin, leave Fluffier! That’s the Aloha spirit.

My not so distant relative was appalled at my habit of cavorting in the elevator. The hotel was about 80 percent full of visitors from Japan. They would innocently pile in on their way to or from the free breakfast not expecting a six foot tall lady in a pink hat to pretend to shrink in size as the floors went down or grow as they rose. They did not expect dancing or bird calls but these were included gratis. Some people chuckled or danced a bit if there was any room. Most people looked down. That just made me want to roll around on the floor. I kept thinking “Snakes on a Plane!”, “Clowns in an Elevator.” Clowning is a universal language best practiced when a language barrier is present.  It is important to communicate to people that they are in the elevator with a crazy person and should exit promptly.

Today, I’m back in Anchorage and  saw this gentleman out painting.

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Which would you prefer? A clown in the elevator or a mime painting your business?

I was not really motivated to go on a bike ride but I’m glad I did. Riding against the wind, passing baby geese and tourists covered in similar fleece I was excited to see the meter which counts the bikes that pass Westchester Lagoon log my passage. I biked around the triangle turnaround to see if the number had increased and found two other folks trying to figure it out. They observed that kids on bikes had not triggered the counter although I had, so it was not emotional age which was a problem.  We finally decided that it was magic. Then something set off a flight of about 60 gulls and I cried “The Birds, The Birds!’ as I leapt on my bike and set off screaming.

I like having the power to create something out of nothing. I especially enjoy creating a moment,( some relatives might call it a scene), that will make a great future story.  My look alike relative is not always averse to this idea. For instance, they were not familiar with the idea of “Aloha Friday” where people in Hawaii wear their Aloha gear to work, a reminder of the laid back welcome of Island culture and the coming of the weekend.

We both jumped into and out of the above mentioned hotel elevator and onto  the streets of Waikiki yelling, “Happy Aloha Friday!” to everyone we saw.  This cleared quite a path in front of us. We are tall, loud and very white.  We sounded drunk. I don’t think anyone said a word back to us but we made ourselves laugh. Yelling “Aloha” is like screaming “I love you”, probably not the most common approach.

I have very few silly photos of Hawaii only because I don’t like taking pictures as much as I used to with my old brownie camera. Here is a photo of a mask from The Honolulu Museum of Art which I feel is a fine resemblance of me.

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My doppelganger pointed out that my nose seems to be growing longer. I parried that my face was just receding, like the glaciers. My appetite for humor is still healthy and I find still find beauty in strange places. This is a great quality to build as age demands we let go of conventional understandings of life and love.  Here is one of my favorite photos of our trip. This is the look I am going for as I get older. I don’t think it’s a sad bicycle or a funny one but it’s different and it wants attention. That’s not so bad.

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Life is short. Eat pancakes in L. A!

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What better way to show disdain for the dominant culture than by eating syrupy piles of gluten in the city of thin. I went out for pancakes three times with my sister on my recent visit to California. That is not counting our visit to the Danish bakery in Solvang or my pestering her to drive to The Headquarters of IHOP in Glendale.( We ate there once and the service is excellent).  I am as gluten friendly as they come, having proudly spent 55 years avoiding dieting of any sort. Yet even I was put to shame by the pancakes at The Griddle Cafe in West Hollywood.

This is a place where you can truly be embarrassed to be an American. The portions are so big that I am sure there is a vomitorium located on the premises. Take a look at the biggest dinner plate you own. Now imagine a half inch thick pancake covering it, draped a bit over the sides. Add butterscotch chips, coconut, pecans, whipped cream and syrup. Lest I forget put two more half inch pancakes on top of it like a breakfast birthday cake. This is what I got.

These pancakes are even bigger than they look!

These pancakes are even bigger than they look!

Unless you have a wasting disease or have chemo scheduled for later in the week this is so wrong.  I ate what might be considered to be one slice of the three layer cake.  The rest wound up in a to go box for my brother in law, who like myself, enjoys pancakes, but had to work through our Griddle visit.  For a reason I can not understand, the pancakes seem to come in threes unless you are hip enough to know better. A guy at the next table had only one Red Velvet pancake that he did not  come close to finishing even though his partner took frequent bites. On the other side of us were a couple who appeared friendly but were discussing getting legal record of  his court proceedings expunged so I avoided looking at them and their pancakes preferring to discover what kind of crime he was found innocent of. Alas, they gave up on their gluten far too early.  The Griddle is too loud for eavesdropping, perhaps because it has a bar instead of the counter that any self respecting pancake/diner would have.. You will get a sore throat if you try to communicate over the voices of the soundly packed in hipsters catching up with their visiting relatives, braying waiters ( I saw no women employees), and loud superfluous, surrealist music.   There was also a television with one of the many American sports teams running around on it.

Here is the website for The Griddle Cafe although it does not in anyway communicate the degree of overkill/disgust that the in the flesh experience will afford you. In that way, it is a food parallel to internet dating.

http://thegriddlecafe.com/

The to-go container was abnormally heavy, probably because I insisted we douse the pancakes with real maple syrup before we left. But better to be carrying this heft in your hands than around your belly. It wouldn’t make much difference to me since I am entirely invisible.

Mindy Kaling, not quite as invisible as I am

Mindy Kaling, not quite as invisible as I am

You may have seen the commercial where Mindy Kaling does nude yoga in the park, pigs out on whatever she wants and squeezes men’s muscles because she believes she is invisible.  I am invisible because I am old and have white hair.  But like Mindy, sometimes I do get seen just when I least expect it because the lights are low or someone misplaced their glasses and mistook me for a blonde.  So I often resort to calling attention to myself just so people don’t  trample me on the sidewalk. I did so when my sister and I walked down Rodeo Drive.  This is another strange place but in a more traditional Beverly Hills kind of strange. Rodeo Drive is a block of chic shops with items priced somewhere over $1000. (that would probably be the price for a pair of sox).  But the people who walk down the street do not go into the shops. They just look in the windows because we are middle class people. It is not so bad to be a middle class American tourist.  There are some people from other countries who are actually shopping but they are also tourists who don’t know that they could probably get this stuff cheaper if they just waited until the season changed. Maybe they want to buy it full price because some of them were taking photos of themselves with their bags in front of the stores.

When I found myself surrounded by people who amazingly were NOT texting but taking photos, I grabbed my phone and pretended to take photos too, since I can’t see how to pull up the camera in the brilliant Californian sun. My sister kindly pointed out “The RastaVan”  which was no doubt carrying music loving tourists through the neighborhood. I noticed that the windows, however did not open so we could hear the music or enjoy the aroma.  I  did enjoy seeing the security guard on the roof of The Cartier shop. He did not look like he had a gun, probably just had a phone like everyone else. I will tell you that lightly quilted white kimono wear is big this year as well as bo-ho flower patterns. No one walking on the street was wearing these but  maybe we will, when these clothes eventually come to Marshall’s in sizes which accommodate  people who eat pancakes.

Some more or less anxious thoughts on my birthday

1.  Hey I should do all the things I like today to make myself happy and if I’m not happy doing those things maybe I shouldn’t be having a birthday!

2.  Am I a late bloomer? I think I am. What if I already bloomed and I didn’t notice? Why didn’t you guys tell me?

3. I just decorated the yard, not for my birthday, but because it’s my birthday, and I get to do what I want. Here it is.

It's a little busy but there are lots of dead people in the world

It’s a little busy but there are lots of dead people in the world

There is a fish theme going on. There’s a shark and two baby ghosts in the cauldron.  The big ghost is holding a salmon.   Good thing my birthday isn’t in March or I would have Brutus and Marc Antony out there.

4. I should have exercised. I’m not getting any younger and it’s not like I was working today. I just don’t feel like it. I feel like solving all my life problems at once. That’s about as healthy as the discount cake that I bought myself at the supermarket. Not day old cake, but it had kind of a crunched corner as if another cake did a hit and run. I just took a break and rode my bike. It was cold and people kept telling me there was a big bull moose on the right. After  a half mile of hypervigilence I quit looking. Turns out his butt was towards the trail so he was hard to see even though he was close. That’s good for me since he was eating and not looking to hoof me to death. Bad for you because you don’t get a photo. I don’t feel any less tense.

5. I should be grateful. I watched Captain Phillips last night. At least there are no pirates at my house. There are however fishermen and fishing gear.  In the film, there was some debate as to whether the men from Somalia were pure pirates or half fishermen.  I don’t think I have to worry because my current roommate is half greenhouse man and half fisherman.  Not much of a pirate although he does pay the rent in cash. None the less, there is  not 30,000 dollars in a safe anywhere close by.  Really not much exciting to hijack here, but it’s home.

We are fishers of men

We are fishers of men

 

6.  I never tell facebook my birthday but somewhere about half way through the day I announce it myself  because I can’t stand knowing that I am just one of a billion fleshy balloons  rolling  around on broken glass. I want to be special enough that my buddies stop looking for the 10 million dollar ransom and  fix my hurt foot.

 

7.  If I just started telling people I was a Taurus would I become more “lean in” and “take charge”? Can I make up a zodiac sign like a “Virbra” or “Libro” because I want to be on the cusp of something?  The symbol could be a woman sitting on a fish scale or metal scale with breast armor. It would be confusing and fit me perfectly. I don’t really believe in this stuff but there is something about the sun and the moon that does something to my psyche. I like to go for a ride at sunset. Sometimes I can relax afterwards, as if the lease on the day is up and I can give up trying to achieve anything.  I don’t know what I’m trying to prove.

sun going down on my birthday

sun going down on my birthday

 

8.   Is it too late for me to be more like Ponyo? I hope not.  I will approach my next interview like the little fish girl who could. Maybe I will even ask if they have ham!

keep running after what you want!

keep running after what you want!

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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.

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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?

Chief Skitter Killer

Chief Skitter Killer

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.

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