. Is my wattle getting bigger? I’m still on my nice, graceful slip down the scale – I haven’t had to worry about food for almost two years now. Things don’t usually tempt me. Mind you, I’m being reasonable. But for some reason I’m not tempted to binge on anything, I’m full without seconds and sometimes without finishing what’s on my plate. In other words, I eat like a normal person, which of course makes me worry that I have a dread disease. But I don’t – my interest in food has simply changed. Now why it couldn’t have happened when I was in my twenties or thirties is another question, but I have a suspicion it has something to do with … gasp … aging. Funny how we don’t like to talk about getting older, getting old. I started out thinking I should come up with a funny euphemism for getting older, but changed my mind. Avoiding the term is admitting it has power over you, and I’m so enjoying turning myself into an eccentric old lady. Then again, I always was an eccentric old lady, just in a younger body. Now I can let my freak flag fly and people will just chuckle and nod and say “old Krissie is at it again.” Hell, maybe they’ll just say “Krissie is at it again.” Coz I am.

As I approach 70 I’m thinking that it might be good to decide who I’m going to be when I grow up. I’d love to be some slim, gorgeous woman who’s active, has long, thick gray hair and beautiful crinkly eyes, one who travels and does yoga etc. etc. I think you need a strong interest in self-care for that, and I’m afraid that’s always been my failing. I know so many women like that – Judith and Cilla and so many others. But that’s not me.

And there’s Granny. The women who retire into grandmother-hood – their life is their family and it’s full of joy and frustration and love. My BFF Sally has done that, but she gives up anything of interest to her, like writing or sewing or travel. In that case the interest in the children trumps the interest in her own life, and that’s good. I love my grandchildren to pieces, but the idea of doing daycare for them is not me. (Love to babysit, just not every day). I still have too much life I have to live.

And then there’s the wispy character from a novel, with bizarre clothes and scarves and strange statements out of nowhere and a naive delight in the world with a strain of deep cynicism beneath it all. She’s usually called something like Great Aunt Minnie in movies and books. That’s my jam. Richie says we live in a Booth cartoon (if you don’t know the cartoons of William Booth go on a search – he’s wonderful!). I say outlandish things (I always have) and float through life with great kindness unless someone is hurting someone, and then the Goddess of Doom emerges.

Yeah, I like that one. It’s like a nice pair of ancient jeans – it fits so welland it doesn’t constrict.

So who do you want to be when you grow up?

Krissie: What I did For Love

Photo on 7-2-14 at 10.13 AMFortunately I do most everything out of love and very little out of duty. Or so it seems. You can tell by what my house looks like. So here’s what I did yesterday.
Woke up, wrote a blog, checked my email (briefly). Wrote 2,300 words. Went into the pool (couldn’t float because my sunburn on my legs is too nasty). Copied my pages from the script, went through and marked my lines and my cues. Went in the water again. Loaded the dishwasher. Fixed the printer. Went through more of family boxes and letters (a report my father did on how women spent their leisure time in the 1950s — he was a researcher for the Saturday Evening Post at that point). Plus photos and letters and wonderful pictures from Mini-me’s wedding, all of which was slow and either painful or not (the wedding pictures weren’t at all painful, even though happy memories often are). Did three hours of rehearsal/read-throughs. Came home, went swimming, had dinner (salad), went to bed. You know, it doesn’t sound that tiring when I write it down.
Our key phrase this summer is from Calvin and Hobbes — The days are just packed. Phantom (the cat) spends his days hunting. The stupid robin yesterday decided to hop away from him yesterday instead of fly, but fortunately a squirrel was caught in the netting that protects the blueberries and he got distracted. Then he found a mouse. (I’m writing on the front porch and I watch him stalking back and forth on the edge of the grass, or perched on a rock and watching.
Richie saved the mouse (I don’t know why) and praised Phantom and brought him inside. Let him out later, Phantom found the mouse again. Richie came out once more, this time the mouse was dead so he threw it in the grass. Yesterday morning we had a squirrel head on our deck (small enough so that I didn’t notice, thank God). Now Phantom is sleeping under the picnic table. The days, as I say, are just packed.

So, today I write another 2k plus words (which I’ve been doing I came back from Crusie’s, where I wrote 3k a day most days) and I’m still at a place where I love this damned book so much. I have no idea if the pacing is right or any of that shit — I’m just loving the story as it unfolds for me. Usually that means it’s a winner. On occasion it means a broken heart. But you pays your money and you takes your chance.

I really really need to get pool supplies and food, but Richie’s going to the town where the grocery store is so he can get necessities and I can go out tomorrow when I don’t have a rehearsal. The pool can wait one more day. It’s been in the upper 80’s every day so really wickedly hot, though poor Mini-me is stuck in Sacramento on jury duty so comparatively speaking I don’t even know what hot is. So I’ll write and I’ll swim (carefully, since the sunburn is still bad — it seems to have gotten through the wet towel I placed over my legs on Monday). I really need to go to the basement and sort through the fabric and stuff for costuming, but I keep putting that off. And today my rehearsal schedule is brutal — 4 to 7 for chorus (not so bad) but 8:30 to 11 pm for Acting as in Act, damn you. I go to bed at 8:30! Fortunately Billy Bigelow is darling, and so is Enoch Snow and Jigger Craven. In fact, Mrs. Mullin will make eyes at just about everybody (I’ll keep away from Zack, who’s about 17 and still a kid). Oh, and since it was just a read through I got to sing along with “Mr. Snow” – which I used to warble as I’d walk uptown in Princeton every Saturday. (People must have thought I was nuts).  It was fabulous!

So. I’ll write. I’ll swim. I’ll empty that stupid box and maybe even get down to the basement for a little bit. By the way, Richie cut peonies for me and put them on the table beside my loveseat (thank you Crusie) and they smell divine. There’s a breeze (there’s almost always a breeze) and it blows the scent to me. You have no idea how exquisitely lovely it is here. It really is breathtaking, and even the heat is lovely with the breeze (it’s not a hot breeze yet — it’s probably still in the low or mid 70s right now).

And I will walk to the end of the driveway and back once a day. I need to call the orthopedist and be reassured that walking won’t make my knees worse. He saw the latest X-rays – he would know. And my BFF is coming back next week, so I’ll sew with her. Maybe I’ll see if I can do a little bit about the disaster of the living room. It’s depressing. But I gotta conserve energy for tonight.

When I can get my Cougar on.

I think part of it is (ahem) aging. We don’t realize we haven’t got the limitless energy we had when we were younger (at least mine was limitless) and we can’t pace ourselves properly and we get so frustrated that we collapse in exhaustion over what should be trifles. But it must be a universal problem because everyone wants more energy.

Aha, Phantom has joined me to walk across the keyboard, bless him Better get to work — I think there’s sex in the offing.  (not for Phantom — we had him neutered a few weeks after he showed up at our doorstep.  Not for me.  Ah, but for Bishop and Evangeline … I love my job!)

(Oh, and there was nothing for make it Wednesday.  Go out and take pictures of your gardens and put them in dropbox.  That’s your task for the week).

Krissie: Age

Photo on 2014-01-31 at 16.08 Is that the face of a 65 year old woman? Does it matter?
I never thought I’d let a certain number get to me. I greeted 40 and 50 and 60 with complete equanimity, and I was looking forward to medicare which has been GREAT. But for some reason the number came up like something deadly on a slot machine (not that deadly things come up on a slot machine) and I’ve been in a funk ever since.
I’ve felt like everything’s over. I kept waiting until I finally hit the big time, but now I think that time has passed completely. Just because I turned a certain number. I’m afraid I’m going to die soon. Granted, the older I get the sooner I’m going to die, but I could have died six years ago when I had borderline ovarian cancer (I was going to cancel my appointment and not bother with rescheduling because it seemed like a fuss over nothing. Instead I went and was in surgery 5 days later).
But I digress. I feel like parts of me are wearing out, like my knees and my wrists and my skin. Well, my skin is really good, as my mother’s was. My wrists and knees have been bad since my 40s, and the knees can be replaced.
But I started thinking about being tired of all the stress, thinking “don’t I deserve a rest at my age?” and all sorts of stuff like that. I’ve always deserved a rest from taking care of everyone — age has nothing to do with it. And you get fed up when you get fed up — it has nothing to do with a magic number.
Basically I’ve just been seeing myself as “over.” It makes the idea of moving seem depressing, because even though we’re isolated here we’d be even more isolated elsewhere. I think I have to be around my grandchildren, and god knows I want to be, but at the expense of everything else in my life? At the expense of Richie’s happiness?
Anyway, a couple of days ago things suddenly slipped into perspective. I can be any age I damned well please — numbers don’t define me. I come from long-lived stock if people don’t drink or smoke. There’s almost no cancer in the family (so far just one first cousin. None of the aunts and uncles or grandparents or parents). I can live forever, I can be glorious. For some reason I lost track of that.
One reason might be society’s emphasis on retirement. I’m not going to retire — I write because I love to. I wish I didn’t have to be such a slave to contracts, though.
I think having almost my entire family (except Mini-me) be dead is part of it too. I’m older than my father, brother or sister ever were. I really have no peers up here. I have Crusie, but you know, Crusie is a force of nature. She can do anything — leap tall buildings in a single bound etc. Just because Crusie can do something doesn’t mean I can.

But all this feeling defeated is just so much crap. I can write the best book of my life when I’m seventy-two. I can go for longer walks at 75 than I did at 45 if I get my knees in shape and work on the rest of my body. I can still be glorious — it takes more than a stupid number to dim my light.

I don’t know why it took me so long to figure it out. Maybe because Richie’s been depressed. Maybe because the financial burden still seems overwhelming. Maybe because there’s another change in my life that leads toward feeling older, but since that involves someone else I don’t think it fair to talk about it in even our private-sort-of public.

But you know, fuck that. Instead of standing on the shore waving pathetically as life passes me by, I’m going to take a flying leap off the cliff and do a spectacular landing in a warm, sparkly sea, grinning like Esther Williams. I’m going to be the person I was meant to be, even if that person is a little over the top for some people. I feel like I’ve been tied up, confined, lectured to, and now I’m breaking free of all that.

Phew! We get really ridiculous over some things, don’t we? At least, I do. Maybe the rest of you are more sensible.


So my goal is think about all the things I can do. Not a fucking bucket list — I’m not even going to think about the bucket. Just a world full of wonderful things, a brain full of wonderful things, opportunities and delight. I’m ready.

Move It Wednesdays, Barbara: Listening to the BODY, not the mind

photo-81Two weeks ago on Saturday, I was really in the mood to blow off some stress with hard physical exercise. It was a long work week. We walked the dog a couple of miles, as is our Saturday morning habit.  We had plans to attend an introduction to Tai Chi in the afternoon, but that would be mellow and a little behind on my step count, so I went to Zumba.  It was a great, great class.  My favorite teacher.  A vigorous routine. And in the end, as a cool down song, we danced to Royals, my current favorite song (song of the book for Book 2 in my NA series), using a lot of Nia* steps, though I was probably the only one in the class who knew it and knows that the teacher used to be a Nia teacher at the Y.  I was sweaty and happy at the end, although I’d sort of ignored my knees a bit and had a feeling I’d pay.  My spirit soared, my mind was calm.

Within an hour, my knees said, “What the eff?” I sat in my favorite chair and iced them, as I often do. It usually calms them down. Continue reading

Krissie: Out of the Mouths of Babes

I made it through yesterday. Almost everything I ate made me sick to my stomach, which makes the connection between emotion and my stomach issues clear. I read. I listened to audio books. I curled up on the sofa and watched movies.
I did have to go food shopping for my mother. I’m having an upsurge of fibro symptoms so I’m in a lot of pain, and I was riding on the cart. A family was shopping, the kids in one of those carts that look like a car, and the parents were blocking the aisle.
One of the kids (maybe three years old) said “Dad, there’s an old lady behind you.”
Aaaargh. I leapt off the cart, grabbed the kid by the lapels and snarled “You talkin’ to me, kid?”
Uh, no. I slunk away, going “beep beep beep” on my electric cart, thinking dire thoughts about the passage of time.
The only problem with time is that it only seems to go in one direction. I think I need another day of self-indulgence.

Jenny: The Skin I’m In

I’ve always had terrible skin.  Bad acne until I gave birth at twenty-five, scarring, big bags under my eyes, awful.  Of course, I did have a great personality, but you know how that is.  So I basically ignored my face since I had enough hell to deal with in the first forty years of my life.  But when I was forty-one, I decided to make another change in my life (I’m good with change), and I started to write fiction and I quit my teaching job (loved the kids, didn’t like the hours or the authority stuff) and my life got much, much better.  By the time I was fifty, I was pretty happy, but the toll those first forty awful years had taken was etched all over my face.  So I went to a plastic surgeon. Continue reading