What you don’t remember won’t kill you. (After-the-fact birthday post.)

Sunday felt like a good day to have a birthday, and coincidentally, it was my birthday. So it worked out well. It was good.

For breakfast I had chocolate cake (that I made). Friends and family texted, messaged, and called. Caroline and I discussed Alice in Borderland, which we were both watching raptly on Netflix.

And Jessica gave me a Slytherin necklace that she crafted herself, which was funny because I’d been looking for a Ravenclaw necklace to give to her for her birthday.

And she also gave me a print of Henry Cavill as Geralt of Rivia, because she knows of my obsessions.

And I had veggie fajitas with extra guac and Mexican rice, and also a vegan New York cheesecake, complete with candles.

The day was a mystery in some sense. It was different than last year when I woke up on my 51st birthday feeling ever more slightly like an undead being than I did the year before, refreshed in the wake of the full half-century disappearing like vapor behind me.

On Sunday, I turned 52 and woke up in quiet surreality.

I feel like a stalactite made of lava, suspended and piercing. Or like a splinter of glass, crushable and dangerous. I don’t feel older, though it’s not an age or a span of time that I’m feeling. It’s a jolt.

Remembering how I proclaimed my satisfaction with past decades when I was in them. I liked aging in an abstract way, is what it was, and now what’s left is hindsight exposing the gruesome underpinnings of those years.

My 30’s, for instance.

Saying in the moment that I loved my 30’s even as I hated my high-paying job and woke up every week day already stressed out and unhappy about going in. Resenting Sunday because it forced me to think about going back to work the next day. Sick, sick, sick with autoimmune bullshit riled up by stress. Way too thin. I think back on it now and feel absurd. “I love my 30’s.”

It would be in someone else’s dream, if anyone’s at all, that I’d choose a radically different sort of job at 51 and love it and look forward to going to work every day because it’s fun and not a grind and not an infestation. It can’t be real to enjoy getting ready for the work week on Sunday, and yet it is. I used to suppose that everyone disliked Sunday for its portent of Monday. My experience now is the opposite, so I know that this isn’t true.

This (job) is one of the few great things that happened in the year that I was 51, this past year, 2020, which will otherwise go down in history as damned.

Quiet surreality.

52 and rid of the expectations that weighed like some obscene diamond-encrusted piano on parchment throughout my previous decades.

30’s: too old to qualify as a young adult, too young to qualify as an older adult. 30 being a milestone birthday heralded either by keen anticipation or foreboding doom. One way or the other, everyone feels some kind of way about turning 30. It’s a big deal to exit your 20’s.

I can see now that with my 30’s came a shadowy trickster of expectations of various sorts. And uncertainty and self-doubt and wondering is this it and shouldn’t I be doing (fill in the blank). And all kinds of clocks, each one telling time through the perspective and ideals of others, muddling my own sense of being in relation to the concept of time, and what I really wanted, and where I was in my life. My life.

For me, 50 was the more (most) impactful milestone birthday, and this decade isn’t terrible, as an ageist society might have you think. My (big life) decision-making skills are still (somewhat) lacking, but I’m proud of my survival skills, grateful for good luck (which I’ve needed due to said not-great decision-making skills). And it’s a relief to be an older adult now, no longer an adult in limbo. No longer an adult under scrutiny.

At 52, the expectations of others have mostly dispersed. I’m past the age….

Well, for me (as for most women), the big expectation was the having-babies one. Now I’m in my 50’s and people ask if I have kids and I say “no, not human ones” and it ends there, no follow-up questions. (But you DO want to have kids someday, don’t you?) At 52, I don’t have to explain that I had my spawning parts removed long ago, or why. At 52, there’s no need for clarification, no sequel of assumption or indignation, because there can’t be. “OH. Dual Income No Kids.” Or “You don’t want kids? WHY NOT?” As if living a childfree life was a sin, or at least a personal affront. Such judgment has ceased to matter. The question of babies was a bomb that finally fizzled out when I turned 50.

52, safely in my fifth decade and enjoying the fizzling-out of such questions and comments. Aging out of the window of expectations has been freeing.

Freedom in unexpected forms comes with being an older adult, I’m finding. That’s what they don’t tell you about aging. That things start to make sense. That you can develop more of an indifference to what others may think of you. That the way out is through. My 50’s are my reward for getting through my 30’s.

So my birthday was good. I got a lot of love. I didn’t hear from certain immediate west coast family members, but I couldn’t say that I was surprised, sadly, and overall it was too gorgeous a day to be crushed by the not-hearing-from.

And I’m continuing to work on my decision-making skills.

Like that.

Happy belated Birthday to me.

~~~~~

A couple of b-day selfies on my way out!

 

52nd birthday, makeup-less in the morning, in bed. I woke up late. [27 Dec. 2020]

 

I look like a floating face. ^ haha

 

52nd birthday, outside on the shaded back patio, early afternoon. [27 Dec. 2020]

 

Next time I come back here to post it’ll be January 2nd, so Happy New Year, my friends! 2021!!!

 

 

THE PLOT THICKENS

Remember this post? I have updates.

THE PLOT THICKENS

A man parks his nondescript SUV along a curve on a residential street and crosses the street. He is Delivery Guy. He walks up to the house and rings the doorbell. No one answers the door. Delivery Guy sticks a small piece of paper on the door, crosses the street, gets in his SUV, and drives away.

A woman and a man are inside the house. They are Kristi and Callaghan. They watch Delivery Guy leave from their living-room window. Callaghan opens the door to get the piece of paper stuck to the door.

Callaghan brings the piece of paper to Kristi. They see that it’s a pre-printed form note that looks like it came from a quirky gag gift post-it pad one can buy at a hip independent bookstore. The note is printed with: DELIVERY NOTICE! Important Time & Date Sensitive Material

Kristi sees her name hand-written on the note. The note does not feature the names of either the sending company or the shipping company. The note is printed with: Please call within 24 hours to reschedule your delivery

CUT TO FIVE DAYS LATER

Kristi calls the number on the note. A funeral home voice mail recording picks up.

We see Kristi’s face. Her expression is wondering what Time & Date Sensitive Material a funeral home would need to deliver to someone’s door.

We see her face remembering that she received in the mail an invitation to purchase a cemetery plot.

We see her face realizing that it’s the same funeral home.

CUT TO THREE HOURS LATER

Callaghan walks into the house.

KRISTI

They REALLY want to sell me a cemetery plot. But why does their note say Time & Date Sensitive? Do they know something I don’t? Am I on their list of people who are going to die, like, tomorrow?

CALLAGHAN

It’s time and date sensitive for them. They have to grab you first, and before you die.

[/END SCRIPT]

(Sorry, I don’t know how else to show that I’m done writing in screenplay mode)

So here’s the punchline: I finally got the funeral home person on the phone and found out that the delivery guy was trying to deliver the funeral home’s “complimentary gift.” The one they said they’d include with any promotional info I’d request. Remember how I filled out their form just to see what they’d send as a complimentary gift?

“Please share your name and address to receive your complimentary gift and any information you requested.”

I asked the guy, “What’s the complimentary gift you were trying to deliver?”

He said, “The complimentary gift is a brochure.”

Er, right.

 

File this under “Things no one tells you about aging.” (Mortuary letter WTF.)

Have you ever received a survey asking whether you’ve made your final arrangements? If you’re 50+, you probably have, because evidently you’re ripe for the picking.

I’m turning 50 this year, and I’m now being solicited by mortuaries (in a letter sent by an umbrella mortuary corporation) whose promotional mailing wants to know all kinds of intimate details about my death plans.

My jaw dropped in disbelief and amusement last week when I opened the mail addressed to me (not to Callaghan, who’s 14 months younger) and read this letter and survey asking the following questions:

  • Have you already arranged for a funeral in advance? If no, would you like more information?
  • Are you aware that you can lock in your costs at today’s prices by arranging for a funeral in advance, no matter how many years it is between commitment and use?
  • In the event of your death, who is responsible for making your final arrangements?
  • Are your loved ones aware of your preference in funeral arrangements? If yes, have you provided detailed written instructions to them about your arrangements?
  • Have you already purchased a cemetery plot? If no, would you like more information?

I have a question for them: Really?

First of all, if you’re struggling with depression, it is – at the least – darkly hilarious to receive a mortuary corporation’s sales pitch. It’s not every day Callaghan walks into the kitchen and finds me laughing over a random piece of junk mail. 

At the worst, this sort of mail could be awful should it reach a person at the wrong time, during the wrong circumstances, depression or otherwise.

Secondly? Everything.

But it gets better. Beneath the survey, the letter says, “Please share your name and address to receive your complimentary gift and any information you requested.”

I’m tempted to send in the survey just for that, because I would LOVE to see what a “complimentary gift” from a mortuary would be. In fact, I think I will. Seriously.

We’re all on their list, my friends. THEY are waiting for us to reach their target demographic. They’ve decided that 50 (49.5!) puts you in the shadow of death’s door. These mortuary corporations have your birth dates, names, and addresses, and they’re waiting.  

So here we are with my minor gripe: AARP forgot all about me, but the mortuary people did not… and they’ve wasted no time in attempting to sell me their wares.

I want DISCOUNTS, not a cemetery plot.

Birthday post! (On aging.)

Not to sound like a disgruntled middle-aged person, but somehow, I’ve been dropped from AARP’s mailing list since they began their early-harassment campaign a few years ago. They were all over me when I turned – what was it, 46? – and now I’m on the eve of 49, and nothing from them. It’s FOMO more than wanting to actually sign up, I suppose.

Tomorrow is my birthday; I’ll begin my last year in my 40’s. I’ve felt sort of obligated to come up with a birthday reflection post, so I’ve been, well, reflecting.

I’m fine with aging, in general. Having to look at a downside, though, I came up with this: aging’s not fun in a typical way that aging’s not fun.

Common aging-related laments would include health complaints associated with age, “looking old” and gaining weight, failure to achieve life goals, becoming more forgetful, being broke later in life.

My only aging-related lament so far: loss.

We’re not as prepared for aging-related loss. We’re bombarded with advertisements for anti-aging products, money management firms, weight-loss programs, adult re-education programs, retirement homes. There’s a sizable market of services and shit to sell to oldsters. But there are no advertisements to help with the fact that the older we get, the more people we lose, the more beloved furbabies we bury. Maybe we get crankier and more melancholic with age because of this accumulation of loss, the general sadness that comes with watching our loved ones pass away.

Oldsters’ loneliness comes, in part, from death. It’s good to keep this in mind, to be mindful of treating the elderly with respect and compassion. They’ve seen a lot, and they’ve suffered a lot of loss along the way. Aging-related loneliness is a profound loneliness. Give oldsters a break when they’re in a bad mood or just generally negative. They may act like they don’t want us or need us, but they do, in some way or another. Love and compassion are the most invaluable commodities.

All of that being said, I’ve also found definite upsides to aging, and many of these are typical: learning from mistakes, caring less about what others think, getting closer to age-qualification for senior discounts at various places. (I needed a bit of levity there.)

Most of all, the older I get, the more gratitude I feel. I’m thankful to be alive; every birthday is a victory. I’m thankful for the people I do have in my life. I’m grateful to feel good health-wise, despite chronic illness; grateful that my body works. I feel enormous gratitude that I’m able to do what I love, and gratitude that I live in the sunniest place possible – yes, lots of sunshine matters tremendously to me and my mental well-being.

On that note, I took some selfies outside on Friday (December 22). Here’s one:

 

The Friday before my birthday – wearing red for the troops (2017)

 

I have goosebumps because there was a chill in the air, but that sun!!

Honestly, I feel like I can’t begin to stop counting my blessings. I have that many.

BIFOCALS??!!!

Callaghan and I went to the optometrist on Saturday, about a year overdue for eye exams. On my part, I’d been procrastinating because I knew I could no longer get away without hearing the word “bifocals.” Because in the last year and a half, my reliance on reading glasses ruined it for my distance glasses. My distance vision is now better without my current prescription, and that shocking realization finally landed me in the optometrist’s chair of bifocal doom.

My exam was uneventful. Callaghan was in the room, as I’d been in the room for his exam, and the optometrist joyfully shared her findings with him as she scrutinized my eyeballs.

“Look! She has a scar on this iris, an old one, probably from a chemical burn,” she said to him, thus divulging my unfortunate run-in with some caustic liquid in the Army motor pool of my first permanent party post in Germany back in 1988. I don’t remember what the liquid was. I just remember being rushed to the infirmary to get my eye rinsed out.

Callaghan stepped over to view my chemical burn eye scar through the microscope thing eye optometrists use to peer into your soul plus all of your past lives.

“Oh yeah,” he said. “It looks like a slug.”

Great. My husband saw a slug permanently etched onto my eyeball. Is nothing sacred? Thanks, optometrist lady.

But really, we loved her. She was awesome and hilarious, though she did, indeed, say “bifocals” to me. To us. Callaghan needs them, too! Haha!

Then we had the whole discussion about our options.

Bifocals are visible glasses within glasses. “Bifocals” is a euphemism for THE WEARER IS OLD.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a wuss about aging. I have nothing against being old enough to need bifocals. That word, though. Bifocals.

We also had an option to get “progressives,” which is a euphemism for THE WEARER IS OLD AND IN DENIAL. It’s where the eyeglass lens is invisibly sectioned off, with each section differing according to where you look. Multiple prescriptions can merge to create one-stop-shopping lenses that look like regular glasses.

The optometrist explained that with progressives, you get vision correction for distance, mid-range, and near. So does that make them trifocals, then? (Let’s not answer that.)

I’d mostly heard about progressives from people whose attempts to wear them met with failure. The glasses caused a headache, the glasses made them dizzy, and the glasses never behaved according to their programming. The wearer basically couldn’t see and felt crappy because of them. So the wearer gives up and either settles on bifocals, or uses two different pairs of glasses, as we’ve been doing.

Granted, I probably know many people who wear progressives successfully. I just never hear about those, thanks to the human tendency to enjoy telling negative stories more than positive ones. It’s hard to get something sensational out of good news.

“MAN WHOSE PROGRESSIVE EYEGLASSES CAUSE DIZZINESS STUMBLES INTO MOUNTAIN LION LAIR, GETS EATEN”

Has a more enticing ring to it than:

“MAN WEARS PROGRESSIVE EYEGLASSES AND THEY WORK WELL, NOTHING BAD HAPPENS”

Our progressive glasses are on order, and we should be receiving them within two weeks. My beloved reading glasses are about to get much less use.

 

Reading glasses

Reading glasses

 

Now read this post again while listening to Queen’s “Bicycle Race.” When Freddie sings, “I want to ride my bicycle/I want to ride my bike,” hear it as “I want to wear my bifocals/I want to have six eyes.”

Have I “had anything done”?

A certain person found out that I’m going to be 47 in three months. Not being one to hold back, he blurted, “No way!! Have you had anything done?!”  Complete with dramatic interrobang at the end of the question.

It occurred to me that I’m getting to an age where people might wonder if I’ve “had something done” if they think I look younger than I should.

The guy’s question made an impact in my mind because not long ago, Callaghan and I somehow became ensnared in Botched, a reality T.V. series about plastic surgery that horrifies and depresses me as much as it fascinates me. I always anticipate the cases where the patients got botched during surgeries they had had for medical reasons (birth defects, disfigurement resulting from accidents, etc.), rather than for cosmetic ones. Those cases seem to be rarities, though.

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-Botched

 

I’ve never had anything “done,” and I don’t plan to ever get anything “done.” The idea of having non-medically-necessary surgeries is anything but appealing to me. I’d run from cosmetic procedures involving chemicals, lasers, needles, etc., too.

I have no problem getting shots and getting blood drawn. I’m fine with needles used for tattooing art on my body. I would not be fine with a needle injecting botulinum toxin into my face. I’m not judging those who do opt for such procedures – to each their own! – it’s just not something I can see myself doing. I wouldn’t get tattooed make-up, either; again, this is just my personal preference.

You could say, I guess, that I’m hyper-squicked at the idea of it all. I wouldn’t even get Lasik surgery! When it comes to surgery, words amounting to “medically necessary” have to be included in the documentation. If insurance won’t pay for it, I probably won’t get it.

I had a facial once, about 10 years ago, and even that was a little invasive for my tastes. The facial was a component of a spa package that someone had given me as a gift, and while it wasn’t a bad experience, I didn’t enjoy it enough to want to do it again. The aesthetician was gentle and methodical, and I remember that she used a botanical line of products, which I appreciated, but I found the whole thing to be strange-bordering-on-gross. I think I just prefer my own fingers and hands working with the skin on my face.

I’m particular about how I handle my skin, as well. I once tried a motorized facial cleansing brush after years of hearing people rave about their Clarisonic facial cleansing brushes. It kind of spooked me, and I didn’t like the way my skin felt during or after using the device. I gave it to Callaghan, who also tried it once and never used it again.

Body work – therapeutic massage therapy – makes me swoon. I love scalp massages even more. I could have my feet massaged for hours, which is odd considering that I don’t like people looking at my feet. And if I could hire someone to do nothing but trace designs on my back with his or her fingertip all day, I would. That spa facial, though! It was just kind of uncomfortably weird lying there while someone cleansed my face for me.

 

I'm really not happy in this pic that was taken last night, but a fake smile is supposed to lift your spirits somehow, so this was the experiment.

I’m really not happy in this pic that was taken last night, but a fake smile is supposed to lift your spirits somehow, so this was the experiment.

 

Of course I’m flattered when people remark that I look younger than I am. I’m not immune to vanity, I’m not a humblebraggart, and my mother taught me well regarding taking care of myself, so in a sense, the compliments are a tribute to her. But as far as anti-aging efforts go, I do my own thing, and whatever happens, happens. Just because I have a skin care regimen and use some products that say “anti-aging” on the labels doesn’t mean that I’m actually anti-aging.

Currently, in the morning, I wash my face and use an eye cream and sunscreen under my make-up (I apply the latter to my face, neck and upper chest, as the appearance of your neck and décolletage can make a huge difference)… and that’s it. I stopped using daily moisturizer on my face months ago. The sunscreen I use seems to do a good enough job, so I leave it at that.

At night, I remove any make-up I might be wearing, wash my face, and put on the same eye cream before misting my face with water and adding a layer of night cream. I do a mask once a week, usually on Sundays. I also spend most of the weekend (if not all of it) make-up-free, to give my skin a rest.

As for my hair… when I go gray, I’ll continue to color my hair, with the purpose shifted from enhancement to coverage.

So I do my routine, I make sure I’m consuming the right nutrients, and I drink lots and lots of water. I try to get adequate sleep (ha!). I avoid direct sunlight on my face as much as possible, and I avoid things like refined sugars and alcohol in my diet. After that, though, I’m eager to see what I’ll look like at each stage as I mature.

Because aging is life, and life is good.

AARP Invite.

I got all giggly and amused the other day when we found an invitation to join AARP in our mailbox. There was no name on it. It was addressed to “Valued Member,” but I assumed that it was meant for me, since I’m the oldest person living at our address. Right? It was mine, all mine! I’d been joking about this impending day for a couple of years now.

 

"Got a letter in the mail..."

“Got a letter in the mail…”

 

 

"...go to war or go to..."

“…go to war or go to…”

 

 

...not jail. AARP, heheh!

…not jail. AARP, heheh!

 

The only problem? You have to be 50 to join AARP, so I knew I wasn’t technically eligible… I have four years to go… but still, I thought they were sending membership forms for people who are “almost 50” to join early, perhaps. I opened the envelope. The enclosed form looked pretty standard.

 

Nothing unusual here.

Nothing unusual here.

 

Then I flipped it over.

 

Then why send it??

Then why send it??

 

First of all, their membership offer expires on March 31, as in, this year. Secondly, according to their backside print, I won’t be eligible until December 27, 2018.  I did the math, which was never my strong suit, but still, I DID IT, and the AARP people are obviously messing with me and likely others who are within five years of the minimum age requirement. AARP is saying, “You have two months to accept this offer for which you won’t be eligible for another four years.” They’re dangling their discount-dripping carrots over our heads, and they’re probably laughing.

Seriously, AARP… consider saving some trees until eligible people are living at these addresses!

At least there’s recycling.

Oh, and here’s something random for we oldsters (and Tom Petty fans in general):

 

1907373_10153134237836833_2452243368220094308_n

(Thanks, Dennis.) =)

Have a great day, All!

 

46 is the new 96.

Alright, guys.

This is my birthday month. In eleven days, I’ll be one year older, and the spambots are on it. Yesterday I was innocently sifting through the detritus piled up in my non-personal personal email account (aka my designated spam email account), which I only check maybe once a week if that, when I found this generous offer from “Senior Helpline”:

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-SeniorHelpline

 

First of all, WTF. Senior Helpline? Seriously? Since when does being 46 qualify you as a senior? Secondly, WTF again @ get paid to live in your house.

This infuriates me; I’ve seen firsthand how con artists take advantage of the elderly, targeting them with scams tailored to their perceived sensibilities and vulnerabilities. It’s unconscionable. I’m thinking of a certain octogenarian… who happened to be a WWII vet… who spent the last days of his life waiting for the mail for his sweepstakes winnings. He’d write checks to the crooks and then wait to receive his prize, day after day, sitting by the window, watching for the mailman and occasionally railing in rage if the mailman was late, or if he didn’t have the prize in hand.

I also got this email offer for burial life insurance:

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-BurialLifeInsurancespam

 

Yes. It seems that with this birthday, I’m graduating from “Meet Senior Singles Near You!” spam, and now, the spambots figure I’m so old, I’m ready for the grave. Like 46 is the new 96.

I tried to complain about it to Callaghan on the phone at lunch yesterday, but he was too distracted by his own travails to respond. As if anything could be more distracting than get ready to keel over because you’re old emails.

“I got spam offering me burial life insurance,” I told him. “For as little as $5.5/month.”

He had no comment.

“I took this very scientifically accurate test online and it calculated my fitness age to be 22. You would think that they’d know that, if they know everything else about me.”

“Hahaha!”

“I’m glad you’re amused. I also got an email from ‘Senior Helpline’ saying that I can get paid to live in my own house.”

But he was actually thinking about the burial life insurance email.

“What’s it going to be when you’re actually old? Is it going to be something like get your burial in space?”

I thought about it.

“You know… that would be really cool… get cremated and have your ashes thrown into space so you can really become one with the Universe.”

Excuse me while I go yell at someone to get off my lawn.