Transfiguration

16well_pear-blog480

OMG, OMG, OMG…

On Sunday, I read an article in the New York Times titled Researchers Track an Unlikely Culprit in Weight Gain that just might change AGMA’s life.

And the life of every apple shaped post-menopausal woman with wonky bones and a draggin’ booty.

I mean, this is BIG!

Researchers have discovered that the suppression of a single hormone in ovary-less female mice did amazing, wonderful, marvelous things.

From the article… “In mouse studies, blocking the hormone solves those problems, increasing the calories burned, reducing abdominal fat, slowing bone loss and even encouraging physical activity.”

A single hormone. Let that sink in ladies.

Can it really be that simple? Can we really transform from apples back to pears? And have stronger bones and more energy?

AGMA loves to imagine an alternate pear universe.

The offending hormone is F.S.H. – follicle stimulating hormone. In women, it stimulates the production of little eggies that can eventually turn into little humans. Given a little Barry White playing in the background…

AGMA’d think after enduring a lifetime of monthly cramps, bad moods, and having to deal with tampons, pads, gross leaks and ruined clothes, our bodies would be happy to be done with all that when our reproductive system start flipping the off switches.

Nah, baby nah. The retribution has just started.

Among a myriad of other things, menopause really pisses off the pituitary gland. It starts pumping out mass quantities of F.S.H.

And that’s when the trouble starts.

We wake up one morning and search in vain. What happened to our waist? It was just there yesterday.  WTF?

And we find it’s been replaced by a large blob of grossosity.

That never. goes. away. ever.

And, on the nights we manage to get a decent night’s sleep – which doesn’t happen very often because of some other body chemicals that go cattywhampus – our arse is still dragging the next day.

That never. goes. away. ever.

And a DEXA scan shows that some of our backbone, which has always been a symbol of our endurance, resilience and courage, is slowly leaking away. We’re given big pharma meds with potentially dangerous side effects, and warnings about brittle bones.

And, for all but the most determined individuals, the combination of these often work together to cause women to get very sedentary.   It get’s real easy to sit in on the couch, surf the ‘net, snack on whatever’s in the fridge or in the panty, and watch Antiques Roadshow reruns.  Which only exacerbates things.

Yikes – exacerbate – now there’s a word AGMA is sure would flummox 45 and the mental giants that surround him…

In the words of my grandson, “No fair!”

Hell, AGMA runs flippin’ marathons, and I still can’t get rid of the grossosity. Or replace lost bone. Or feel energized.

“No fair!”

But Dr. Mone Zaidi of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City wants to change all that for us. He’s currently working on an anti-F.S.H. antibody to test on humans.

God bless Dr. Zaidi!

I wonder if he’s accepting test subjects in Georgia?

Pick me, pick me!

AGMA can’t imagine the implications if his research proves that suppressing F.S.H. in women will do all the wonderful things it does in mice. At the very least, he will instantly become a rock star-like celebrity and possibly could have his likeness added to Mt. Rushmore.

Dr. Zaidi for President 2020?

Women’s fashion will need to be totally resized.  Donations of large waist/hip pants to charity organizations will surge. Profits of the big pharma companies that make those questionable bone replacement drugs will dip. And Antiques Roadshow viewership will decrease dramatically.

And AGMA would be a glorious pear again.

Pick me, pick me!

P.S.  If you haven’t had a chance to read my reblog of Monday of my friend Dooke’s post please take a look at it.  I know it’s long, but it’s a beautiful story of a life quest realized.   And it might bring a tear to your eye like it did to crusty ol’ AGMA!

One tough sausage ball

mr-bill

“I haven’t written anything in nearly three weeks. I’m going to go out and write come hell or high water.”

That was AGMA around noon today to Hubs who was working from home.

And here I am writing, not having to deal with either hell (unless you consider the ongoing Trump presidency a new, 10th level of hell ala Dante Alighieri) or high water. Just some minor traffic and a hour less time to write than I thought I’d have.

AGMA’s dentist appointment for a crown re-do and a filling re-do for later this afternoon got moved to earlier in the afternoon. I wonder if it had anything to do with my FYI call to their office this morning informing them that half of the tooth scheduled for the filling re-do is no longer there.

Evidently the sausage ball I was eating Saturday evening at a party was a far more formidable force for a rear molar than it appeared. Or it could be that a molar that has been 70% filling and 30% tooth for the last 47 years finally gave up the ghost.  It broke.

My dentist is going to give me that look. Again.

Actually, this week is shaping up to be an expensive on for us on the healthcare front.

Timely given the proposed GOP Don’T Care Un-heathcare plan. It just seems like people can’t start dying fast enough for them. They actually seem a bit giddy at the prospect…

But we have good insurance – for now – so instead of costing us an arm and a leg, it’s only going to be a few fingers. Maybe a toe too.

Hubs was home today because he had a CAT scan this morning complete with a barium and iodine cocktail. Yummy.

The pathology on the MEGA polyp (seriously, that’s what the doctor called it; we have started calling it Mr. Bill) removed during his colonoscopy several weeks ago (that I did NOT write about…), showed the tiniest amount of cancer. The pathologist couldn’t see it when they initially checked Mr. Bill out, but there was ‘an area of suspicion’. Gotta watch out for those. So Mr. Bill was sent off for more tests and came back positive for some cancer cells.

The doc said that he was 80% sure that he got it all when he unceremoniously cut Mr. Bill out during the colonoscopy but just in case, Hubs had to have the CAT scan today.

I’m liking his odds. Stay tuned for more…

And of course AGMA has the joy of a visit to my long suffering dentist today.

I’m sure the crown re-do will go forward as planned. I’m just not sure what happens to the filling re-do since there basically isn’t much of a tooth left to fill. No matter what he does, I think it’s going to cost us some serious simoleons.

And last but not least, I have an appointment for MRI this week.

I took my last prednisone tablet on Saturday. AGMA cautiously feels like I have a new lease on life. I’m very much looking forward to a reduction in the chipmunk cheeks, getting all the feeling back in my tootsies and a good night’s sleep with out the help of big pharma.

I’ve been on this wonderful but horrible drug since the beginning of December. The goal is to get rid of the mass in my pancreas caused by a stupid autoimmune condition AGMA managed to develop.

Duh – I hate it when I do stuff like that.

An 8 week round of prednisone last summer caused it to shrink but not disappear. After trying another immune suppressant drug for a few months that my body did not like at all – lots of side effects – I took a 4 week break to run a marathon and go to Australia.

Naturally.

This round of prednisone has been more intense in that I took a higher dose for a longer time period – 14 weeks total.

Now it’s time to see if it worked.

That’s what the MRI (with contrast dye) is all about. Evidently they need to put dye in to make sure no part of the mass can play hide and seek behind my stomach.

Stay tuned…

As I said, an expensive week for the AGMA household, but thankfully, our insurance will be paying for large portion of it. But at some point over the weekend, when we were talking about all of the above and reading about the proposed GOP plan to decimate the ACA, Hubs and I looked at each other and both blurted out the same thoughts…

What would people who don’t have insurance do if they were in our situation? What will people who will lose their insurance coverage under Don’T Care do if they were in our situation?

Maybe we’re socialists or bleeding heart liberals. Maybe we have a bit of ‘survivors guilt’. But we think that everybody should have access to the same healthcare as we have without having to file for bankruptcy. Or die.

Pretty radical huh?

That’s AGMA.

Cold sores and lip fungus

famous-alfred-eisenstaedts-picture-during-v-j-day-in-times-square

This past June marked the 45th anniversary of AGMA’s first tentative, wobbly steps into adulthood. Very wobbly. I was naive. I was shy. I was mousy.

But I was ready to start my real life.

45 years ago, I, along with 700+ classmates, graduated from high school.

And those of us who are still fortunate enough to be around and in relatively good health and with the means and desire to travel to Pittsburgh, got together last Saturday night to celebrate that momentous event. Or we were just looking for a reason to party.

Yes.  It was my 45th high school reunion.

And as promised in my earlier post in June, AGMA was boldly and proudly in attendance. Because, unlike 50 of my classmates who are no longer with us, I could go.  And not to be morbid, but of those 50 classmate who have gone over the rainbow, 22 have passed in the last 5 years since our last reunion in 2011.

Holy crap on a cracker – 22 in 5 years!  Poof, gone.

I think it’s a good thing we’ve started having reunions every 5 years now.

Aging is clearly a risky business.

Contrary to my plans in my June post, AGMA didn’t get glammed up or dressed to the nines. I didn’t wear heels or lots of make-up. I didn’t buy a new outfit either. It was billed as a casual affair so I went casual, wearing clothes I already had, and a bit of blush and eyeliner.

But I looked good… Darned good.  And people noticed.

It was a good night for AGMA’s normally fragile, humble ego. Like the Grinch’s heart, AGMA’s ego grew three sizes Saturday evening.

Because only 2 of my 5 BFF’s were there and Hubs stayed back in Atlanta,  I wandered around most of the evening striking up conversations with former classmates and/or their spouses/partners.  I call it social “cold calling” and I’m pretty good at it .

“Hi! My name is AGMA. I’m sure you don’t remember me because I was very quiet and shy in high school, and didn’t move into the community until 9th grade. So do you still live in PIttsburgh?” It was an effective opening line.

And if I was talking to a man, I added, “And I definitely didn’t talk to guys. I used to blush and turn red.” I was surprised at the number of men who laughed and said, “And I didn’t talk to girls!”

Turns out many of them were as terrified of me as I was of them! Who knew?

Based on AGMA’s observations of the 80+ people who came the reunion, my classmates, 45 years later, fall into one the following groups:

  1. People who have become self actualized enough to leave the cliquishness, “labels” and insecurities of their teenage years behind them and are now really nice people. AGMA falls into this group. Of course.
  2. People who are still suffering from self confidence issues and are still reluctant, after all these years, to go outside of their comfort zone.   So they still stick like glue to their old high school peeps for support. That’s just sad.
  3. People who have never gotten over the trauma of _________ (fill in the blank) from their high school years and have come back to prove a point. They are now (take your pick…) successful, beautiful, handsome, have a head full of hair, skinny, rich, have a hot spouse and/or successful kids, and have come to rub it in the face of the cool “kids”. Who really don’t give a flying f*ck. Still.
  4. The people who were self confident and nice in high school, and are still self confident and nice. Yeah – there were a few of those.

In general, the women have aged better than the men. Although I do have to admit to a few double takes with some of the guys. A few of them have gotten better with age. Much better.

But the big story of the night was that I did what was totally impossible and unthinkable to a 17 year old AGMA. And it only took 45 years. Who said crazy dreams don’t come true? You just have to be willing to be patient…

AGMA got to kiss our former class football jock hero. He was the quarterback of our state title winning football team. He was so popular that a quiet, shy mouse like me would never even think of daring to have a crush on him. That would have been just crazy.

Lest you think AGMA was dallying on Hubs, it wasn’t like that. Really. Although after 2 Moscow Mules, I’m not exactly 100% clear on how it all happened. I’m pretty sure we ended up kissing dramatically for a photo op.

Keep a lookout for it on Facebook. That possibility kinda makes me quesy…

At least there were no tongues.

Now that would’ve been gross. He’s turned out to be a kind of a slimy ,used car sales person type who drinks too much.  It’s tough being a washed up jock.

One of my first thoughts afterwards was that I hoped he didn’t have anything that was contagious. Not the reaction AGMA might have dreamed of 45 years ago….

But I was young and naive then.  And not aware of the dangers of cold sores and lip fungus.

I’m really looking forward to our 50th.

And I wonder who I’ll pucker up for in 2021?

Aging gracefully my ass!

Baby you can drive my car

big-golf-cart

The move to Atlanta, Georgia (pop = 5.7 million) in 2006 from Cincinnati, Ohio (pop = 2.1 million.) in 2006 wasn’t easy. While not as drastic as, say, moving to Los Angeles, California (pop = 18.5 million) from South Point, Ohio (pop = 4000), it was still a shock.

AGMA’s always lived in smaller, friendlier cities. Cities that are easy to navigate. Cities where, for the most part, drivers are courteous. Cities that have defined, relatively short rush hours.

My first six months in Atlanta were traumatic. This was before Google Maps. And I didn’t have a GPS unit. I couldn’t seem to naviagate the roads, the heavy traffic was intimidating and people drove batsh*t crazy.

I ended up only going out in my car between the hours of 10 AM and 2 PM.

This did not make for a seamless, joyful integration into my new home city.

Then one day, I got a “hobby job”.

Hobby Job (HJ) = an interesting, fun job with fun people that pays minimum wage. You’d better have somebody else paying the rent…

My HJ forced me out onto the Atlanta roads before 10 AM and after 2 PM.

You remember that old saying, “I you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.”…. Well – AGMA joined them. I got brave and bold.

Just in time to have my car totaled by another driver. On the interstate. At 50 mph.

Other than some bruising and minor whiplash, I was fine. Bluie, my first Prius, wasn’t.

A lesser AGMA would have thrown in the towel, curled up in a fetal position and gone back to the 10 AM – 2PM protocol. But no. I got my new Prius, Goldie (are you seeing the theme…?) and got right back into the saddle. Or the bucket seat.

For better or worse, I was becoming an Atlanta driver.

Fast forward to 2016. I go out driving any damn time I want. Speed limits and traffic signals…merely suggestions. Going the wrong way? Just do a U-turn in the middle of the road. Zipping in and out of lanes to jockey for a better position in traffic. And don’t even think of trying to cut in on me…

Survival of the fittest. That’s the tagline of Atlanta driving.

I don’t really notice how “assertive” my driving has gotten until I’m back in one of those smaller cities I used to live in. I notice that people are actually driving the speed limit. And people don’t consider the berm as an extra lane. And there is a lot less honking.

People living in those cities complain about their traffic. I just laugh at them. “Traffic?? You don’t know what real traffic is….”

Tora, Tora, Tora!

But every now and then, something happens to remind AGMA she needs to dial it down a notch. Or two. Or three.

Earlier this week, I got behind an “elderly” driver. I realize that the term “elderly “ is relative. And 18 year old would consider me, AGMA,  an elderly driver. Ouch.

My 32 year old son calls them Geezers. I think that’s a better term. A Geezer can be any age although the vast majority of Geezers are up in years.

This guy I was behind was the classic Geezer. Driving a big old Chrysler 15 mph on a 30 mph road. Most people go 40 mph on that road. Coming to a complete stop before making a turn. Seriously?? Slowing down for a stop sign 100 feet before the sign. Keep in mind he’s already going 15 mph. And then actually coming to a complete stop.

Total Geezer.

“It’s a good thing I’m not in a hurry or I’d lay on my horn.” I huffed.

He stopped – very, very slowly – at a stop sign that dead ended our road onto a very busy road. Right turn only. There was an opening and I saw him slowly pulling out. I turned to look at traffic and saw there was another opening. I pressed the accelerator.

You know what’s coming.

Yup – AGMA hit his bumper. Turns out he decided not to turn and stopped again.

He was obviously flustered by my bumping him. He turn onto the road right in front of a big truck who laid on his horn but thankfully pulled into the other lane. I was holding my breath as I watched.

Mr. Geezer pulled into the closest parking lot and got out to inspect his bumper. I pulled in, expecting to be yelled at (as is the Atlanta way), and possibly give him my insurance information.

AGMA didn’t expect what actually happened…

He smiled a big ol’ sweet smile at me and said, “Don’t worry. There’s no damage. This dent here was already there.” He was charming and lovely and didn’t try to scam me for his already damaged car.

I was stunned and humbled.

AGMA apologized profusely. He assured me he has bumped other people’s bumpers in the past so he understands. No doubt. I asked if he was okay. He said yes.

Then he thanked me for stopping.

I assured him that I always stopped when I hit somebody. Which very rarely happens I added quickly.

He smiled that sweet,lovely smile at me and said., “I think what you’re trying to say is that you always try to do the right thing.”

Gulp.  AGMA was ashamed for labeling him.

We said our goodbyes and as he pulled out onto the busy road, he cut off a car.  They laid on their horn.

I said a prayer of safety for him.

And a prayer for me to be a bit more tolerant. Maybe a lot more tolerant.

And for AGMA to know when it is time to give up the car keys before Geezerdom is in full force.

I hear golf carts are loads of fun!

Postus interruptus

Crossing out Plan A and writing Plan B on a blackboard.

 

So the next post I was planning to do was the third and final post on my recent trip to Europe.  I know you can’t wait.

ZZzzzz….

Well, you dodged a bullet.  For the moment.  I’m going to Plan B.

Do you remember the little kids song…  “Make new friends, but keep the old; one is silver, but the other’s gold.”?

This past weekend I did an emergency trip to Cincinnati for one of those golden  friends.

A dear old friend of over thirty years who has become estranged over the last couple of years for reasons unknown to me, lost her mother to Alzheimer’s.  Her mom was like a 2nd mom to me for many years.

In this African-American family, I was the 4th, pale-skinned sister.  Miss Waldine made sure that I belonged.  She called me (and countless others) her “precious child”.  And I believed her.

There was no way I wasn’t going to be there for my estranged, yet ever golden friend to honor her amazing, loving mother.

Sound weird?  I thought it would be.

It wasn’t.

Turns out, when there’s a death in the family, the stupid things that separate you from life friends go out the window…

For those of you without a great grasp of U.S. geography, Cincinnati is about 470 miles (757km) and an 8 hour drive from Atlanta.  Google Maps says it’s 7 hours, but Google maps doesn’t know about the rain in the mountains just north  of Knoxville or the stand still traffic around Renfrow Valley.

Ugh.

So I spent 16 total hours driving up there on Friday and back on Saturday. I  only spent 17 hours in Cincinnati.

Crazy.  Yup – AGMA crazy.

But maybe not just AGMA crazy.  Maybe it’s just what lifetime friends do for other lifetime friends.  Irregardless if they have been pissy and weird with us.

It’s all about the love.  It’s always been all about the love.

When I got up there on Friday, my estranged friend seemed to have forgotten or at least put aside what she felt was the great divide between us.  I’m still not sure what it as all about. But there was no trace of it on Friday.

When I showed up at her house on Friday evening, she treated me like a sister.  Like we have always been.  Like it should always be.

On Friday there were hugs and tears and reunions and laughter.

I got caught up on her family.   This was quite revelatory since I’ve talked to her maybe 60 minutes total in the last 4 years.  During those 4 dry years, I’d ask about her husband and kids and grandkids and the rest of the family, and got the “They’re all fine.” answer.

Guess what?  They weren’t all fine.  And some of them still aren’t fine.  It all came spilling out.

I wasn’t going to bring up the last 4 years if she didn’t.  And she didn’t.

The family visitation Saturday morning was yet another chance to see other family members I hadn’t seen in years.  He son, her sister, her niece who’s like a daughter….  Kids who were itty bitty the last time I saw them now towered over me.

Honestly, where does the time go?

I said my goodbyes to her before the memorial service started because it wouldn’t be over when I needed to leave to head back home.  As we hugged each other tightly for nearly two minutes, the tears started to flow.  Both of us.  I made her promise that we wouldn’t lose touch again.  I told her I loved Miss Waldine.  I told her I loved her.

One of these days, I’ll ask her about the long, dry spell.  One of these days.

But not anytime soon.

“…one is silver, but the other’s gold.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paging Dr. Dover, Dr. Ben Dover

vintagemedical

It was only a matter of time.

AGMA has enjoyed excellent health in her 62 years. Oh – a polyp here, a little dyspalsia there, maybe some elevated cholesterol numbers, but nothing needing any significant medical intervention. The only prescriptions I take are bioidential lady hormones to keep me from being a sweltering, raging witch. And it works.

Most of the time.

I always feel very fortunate when I fill out medical forms and can put “N/A” under past surgeries. I don’t think that my wisdom teeth removal when I was 21 really counts. Even my kids popped out with minimal fuss with no episiotomies. I know…  TMI.

My body is a virgin temple when it comes to the scalpel.

Maybe not for much longer.

I’ve been having some weird GI issues lately and the levels of lipase in my blood are really high. My GP wanted me to see a GI doc to get a scan of some sort.

AGMA firmly believes that we all have to be our own best advocates when it comes to our health care so, of course, I did what everybody else does. I went straight the the Internet for a diagnosis. And I got the bejeepers scared out of me. Serves me right.

I took some deep breaths, slapped myself back to my senses, and started on an actual productive Internet search. I went on the hunt for a good GI doc. My GP suggested some GI practices that are affiliated with the same hospital she is, but I really wanted a medical group that has more than a 2 star rating on Yelp. Or maybe it’s not Yelp. RateADoc or something like that.

AGMA decided to go to a GI group that was well rated and really close to where she lives but is not affiliated with her GP’s hospital. I don’t think my GP was happy with me.

Tough.

It’s not her virgin temple.

The next hurdle was to actually get an appointment. Not as so easy. My doctor of choice was booked up until September. Huh? Let that sink in… He had no appointments available until September.

I’m no medical genius, but I’m thinking that the majority of GI issues really are not the kind of thing that can be put on hold for 4 months. But what does AGMA know…

I was told I could get an appointment with a Physician’s Assistant in the same practice, but at another location farther way – of course – in two days. Score.

But what exactly is a Physician’s Assistant?

During the appointment, I riddled out that PA’s are there to weed out people who don’t have conditions bad enough to warrant a GI doc’s time. Just a guess. But I bet they still bill the appointment to insurance at the doctor rate.

I gotta get me a racket like that.

So she wrote an order for me to get an ultrasound to check things out. But I had to schedule it. Here we go again…

Again, I tried to get the US at the location that’s a mile from my house. Their first opening was June 15th. Seriously?  I told the appointment lady that I could wait until June 15th, but I wasn’t sure my gall bladder and pancreas could.

She poked around on her computer a bit more and said there was a cancellation today at 2 PM I could have. At the farther away location. Of course.

And she happened to mention that I couldn’t eat or drink anything for 8 hours before the ultrasound. And I didn’t get up early enough this morning to have a snack. Of course.

But fasting is good for the soul, right?

I’m fantasizing of a big ol’ juicy burger later this afternoon.

Surprisingly, AGMA wanted to be efficient for once. I decided to get a test sample kit done at home this morning that the PA said I needed to do as another piece of the “let’s figure out what’s going on with AGMA” puzzle. I can drop it at the lab near the ultrasound place so I don’t have to make yet another trip out to the hinterlands.

It was such an interesting and unusual “collection” experience – I feel compelled to share. Lucky you.

Let’s just say it involved getting a “sample” of a certain daily – most of the time – bodily output that is NOT liquid.  And transferring it from a collection “receptacle” (that was a trick…) into 4 different sample jars. I wore rubber gloves. I regret not wearing a hazmat suit.

The lab tech who gave me the kit cautioned me about all the ways I could screw up the tests. If I didn’t do each one just right, it would require a test do-over. Even a smudged name on a vial could mean a do-over.

AGMA’s hands were shaking and she broke out into a sweat as she wrote her name and DOB on the vials. Dear God in heaven, I do NOT want to do that over. Please.

Now I know some of you out there are veterans when it comes to engaging with the medical profession and are shocked at my naivety about all this stuff. And think I’m whiney and wimpy.

That’s okay because I am.

Even though I’ve had close relatives and friends who’ve gone through the wringer with doctors and hospitals and insurance, I’ve never experienced it directly myself.

It’s like you step into an alien universe.

ET, bend over and say ahhhhh.

 

Ink me!

vintage_stock___tattooed_lady_by_hello_tuesday-d4x63r3

I’m still on my trip to South Africa. I have no idea how it’s going since I’m actually writing this before I leave. But I’m sure I’m having a mahvelous time… Wish you were here!

So Shelly at Destination Now has thrown down a challenge for AGMA. Sort of.

She made this comment to my Of Tramp Tats and Haircut post:  “So, I was reading this on my phone, waiting for my zumba class to begin. I got to this sentence and before I could scroll further, I paused. Slightly in shock, because I thought “my tattoo covered, septal cartilage” was referring to YOU. Well, you did use the pronoun “MY”. If those HAD been your adjectives, I would definitely been convinced that you were taking AGMA very seriously!”

What? Me not taking AGMA seriously?

And I realized that she was right. I’ve been getting fat and happy and lazy. And probably a little stupid. Sure, I ran two marathons in 2015, but what have I done lately to not age gracefully? A few snarky blog posts and that’s about it. Have I pierced anything but my ears? No. Have I dyed my hair purple? No. Have I been arrested for any acts of civil disobedience?  No, no and no.

Shameful.

I need to start living up to the essence of AGMA.

Since I got the edgy cut, maybe now it’s time I got the ink. I’ve actually been thinking of getting a tattoo since I was in my late forties. I though I’d get one when I turned fifty.

Nope.

Then I swore, “For my 60th!” That was two years ago. Nada.

As to the elusive what, early in the fantasy tattoo world of my mind,  I fancied getting a little flower on my ankle.  Seriously?  ZZzzzzz…

When I was in my fifties, and still all hot and bothered in my love affair with Ireland, I felt partial some sort of Celtic knot. *sigh*  So overdone. So yesterday.

Being the bat*hit crazy cycling fanatic that I am, of late I’ve toyed with the idea of the Tour de France logo. But that might be a bit cheeky since I can’t actually ride a bike.

What to do? What to do?

Then I had a brilliant idea. I’ll let one of you decide. Yup. One of you will be responsible for probably one of the biggest mistakes I’ll ever make.

Excited?  I know I am.

What kind of ink should I get and where? Just remember, gravity is taking it’s toll on certain parts of my body. Actually, quite a few parts. And, I’m a wimp when it comes to pain.

I know some of your are pretty sick puppies. I can’t wait!

I’m ready.  Hit me with your best shot!

Wise crackers

Owl

AGMA’s an on again, off again fan of On Being. Of late, more off again. I need to fix that.

For those of you who don’t know, On Being is a public radio show/podcast here in the U.S. It used to be called Speaking of Faith, but they rebranded it. I guess because it sounded too “religious”. Maybe.

Their website (onbeing.org) describes their purpose… “On Being opens up the animating questions at the center of human life: What does it mean to be human, and how do we want to live?”

Easy peasy right?

A link on the On Being Facebook page to a recent OB blog post caught AGMA’s attention. It’s titled The Wisdom Boom and is by a young, 30 something woman named Courtney Martin. You can read her post here if you want: http://www.onbeing.org/blog/courtney-martin-the-wisdom-boom/8422

It starts out, “Every eight seconds, another baby boomer turns 65.”

Don’t remind me. Only 1,563,520 x 60 seconds to go.

It talks about reframing the concept of aging Americans from a Silver Tsunami to a Wisdom Boom. Wisdom Boom sounds much more optimistic and not quite as frightening as Silver Tsunami. And much better than the 1970’s Gray Panthers.

I like Wisdom Boom, but with a caveat.  Wait for it…

In the post, she writes about specific Wisdom Boom individuals.  She describes their activities and the organizations some of them have established to enable people in the “third act” of life have an impact on the world.

Oops.  I think I must have missed my “second act”.  When did that happen?

At 36, Ms. Martin thinks she’s in the “messy middle”. It’s natural when you leave your 20’s to feel a bit like youth is passing you by. I remember thinking that when I was 34.

But oh, young AGMA and Ms. Martin, nothing could be further from the truth.  At 34 and 36, you are still so very young… Your future is still unfolding in front of you and will for quite some time. The “messy middle” really doesn’t start until you’re well into your 40‘s. And the &hit doesn’t start hitting the fan until you are into your 50’s. You have plenty of time so don’t panic.

Yet.

Just think of this.  A lot of people qualify for the Olympics well their 30’s and 40’s. Just look at Meb Keflezighi (easy for me to say…) At 40, Meb just qualified for his 3th Olympic Games in the Marathon. The Marathon. He’ll be 41 when the Games start in August. Running 26.2 miles in less than 2 hours and 15 minutes. At 41.

Holy crap on a cracker.

Like all of us, Ms. Martin’s in search of wisdom. She has a very busy, crazy life with family and career. She feels like she’s building stamina, but says, “…I’m not always sure I’m absorbing wisdom. Absorption feels like it takes time. I don’t have a lot of that.”

None of us had the time at 36. Trust me, none of us did. But the wisdom comes precisely through a busy, messy, out of control life. You don’t think about the lessons that you’re learning at the time or the “absorption”. You’re just trying to get through each day without screwing things up too badly. But later on, when you do have the time (and you will), you realize that the learning, the absorption, happened anyway. It’s not dependent on you consciously doing anything. The wisdom comes from surviving. And paying just a little bit of attention along the way.

Most of the time.

Ms. Martin sounds incredibly fortunate in that she seems surrounded by mature, self actualized, truly wise older adults. I caution her not to project her experience on all older adults.

And here’s that caveat…

As you and I well know, dear AGMA readers, a blaze of candles on a birthday cake doth not wisdom guarantee. Some of the goofiest, unwise, clueless people I know are in that “third act”.

For whatever reason, they haven’t learned the important lessons from the great taskmaster called Life. They have no idea how to set healthy boundaries and in many cases, are too wounded to grow emotionally as their bodies grow more age rings. And they seem to get more clueless as time passes.

They personify the definition of insanity; doing the same things over and over, and expecting different results. They get angry and bitter because they can’t figure out what happened; what went wrong.

We all know some of these folks. They are not the people to be working on those world impact projects. They might have an impact alright, but no the kind I think Ms. Martin is writing about.

But I so appreciated her post and hope you get a chance to read it.

I really love the idea of intergenerational, intercultural, interracial, interfaith, and whatever interother there may be, friendships. Makes me always want to be in a place where I can meet people who are different from me.

AGMA resolved a long time ago never to move to a retirement community like The Villages in Florida. Too many golf carts and STD’s, and not enough diversity for my tastes. But that’s just me.

Just remember Ms. Martin and young AGMA, you are both just in your early “second act”. Enjoy where you are now and try not to overthink things too much. Keep tapping into those wise elders, but don’t diminish the power of your experiences and instincts.

As some wise person once said, don’t worry about the destination; the joy is in the journey.

They were probably over 65.

 

Mama needs a new pair of shoes

OldVegas

AGMA found herself part of a uniquely American ritual this week. It’s one that thousands upon thousands of American Baby Boomers participate in a regular basis. One that knows no racial, gender, cultural or economic barriers. You just have to be over 21…

She made a pilgrimage to one of the 600+ casinos in the U.S.

Cha-Ching.

I realize that casinos are present and popular in other parts of the world.  But our casinos in the U.S. are gigantic, over the top affairs filled to the brim with aging Boomers. Graying, sallow, drawn and sometimes wheezing Boomers.

Makes me proud of my generation. Not.

Don’t get me wrong. There isn’t anything wrong with a bit of dabbling in games of chance now and then as long as it doesn’t consume your life, retirement account and make you like the Walking Dead.

Must. Press. Button.

It’s actually kind of fun. Especially if you win.

I wouldn’t know about that.

My first encounter with the gaming world was in Las Vegas in 1987.  The AGMA’s celebrated their 10th anniversary of nuptial bliss with a trip to Sin City. I was 33 years old. It was pretty much fun.

That was at the very tail end of the Rat Pack Las Vegas. The last gasp of the Vegas glory days. Hotel coffee shops still served 50 cent shrimp cocktails, $3 prime rib dinners and $6 all you can eat crab legs. Rooms were cheap and drinks in the casino’s were always free.  And dark, smoky lounges were sprinkled throughout the casino floor with smoky, sultry lounge singers.  It was a veritable cacophony of sights and sounds when somebody hit a jackpot – flashing lights, sirens and that wonderful loud klink, klink, klink of coins dropping down.

Those were the days of The Tropicanna and The Sands and The Stardust.  When the concept of the mega hotel-casino was in it’s infancy and thoughts of bringing your kids there were ludicrous.

As cliche goes, those were “the good old days”.

I’m glad I got to see that remnant of the old Vegas.  It was iconic, and, for better or worse, a quirky, crazy part of American history that’s now gone forever.

Anybody who’s been there in the last twenty years knows what I’m talking about.  Now you need a 2nd mortgage just to be able to stay and eat there.  No more smoky lounges on the casino floor. No more coins – now you get a piece of paper from the slot machine with your winnings printed on it to a recording of clink, clink, clink.

Totally lame.

Back in the day, I played $1 minimum bet blackjack at The Hacienda.  Some of the places off the strip were 50 cent minimums.  Now, it’s a miracle to find a table with even a $10 minimum. Too rich for my bank account…

Oh – I never won.  Ever. It didn’t matter what I played.  Blackjack, slot machines, roulette, machine poker.  But I never gambled much – maybe $50 in a day.  A good day was when I went up to the room at night with anything other than nothing. Cha-Ching.

Once pretty much confined to Vegas and Atlantic City, now it seems like casinos are everywhere.  The expansion started on Indian reservations, then to riverboats, but that wasn’t enough.  States, many of them Bible thumping red states (go figure…) wanted a piece of the multi-kazillion dollar gambling pie so they legalized casinos. The revenues support the schools you know. Yeah right…

Fast forward to a few days ago.  I’ve been on a trip.  Again.  Visiting family and old friends in Arizona. Good times.

On the drive up from Tucson to Phoenix, I made a pilgrimage detour.  The casino I went to is on some of that prime real estate that the U.S. Government graciously gave the Native Americans as a thank you for “allowing” the white settlers to have their sacred, traditional rich hunting and farming lands.  In other words, it was a barren patch of scrub desert that couldn’t support a family of kangaroo rats. Thanks Uncle Sam.

Kudos to the Native Americans for now having a lucrative purpose for that God forsaken, piece-o-crap land. Thanks Uncle Sam.

Cha-Ching.

Unfortunately, AGMA was not shocked at what she found inside.  The Woodstock generation fighting over the Davincci Diamonds quarter slot machines.  Boomers who protested at Kent State sitting in front of poker machines with their oxygen tanks beside them.  Smoking a cigarette.  Slumped postures and glazed over eyes and a big line at the ATM machine.

All incredibly depressing.  It was the middle of the day on a Thursday, the weather outside was spectacular – sunny and mild – and the joint was full.

How the mighty are fallen.

I fished my $50 offering out of my wallet and started my dance with several one armed bandits.  Twenty minutes later, when the carnage was over and the dust cleared, I cashed out.  I tenderly put my redemption ticket in the payback machine, grabbed my 55 cents, and fled into the sunshine and fresh air.

It was difficult to find an exit. They do that on purpose.  Bastards.

Actually, I consider my bad luck rather fortunate. It gets me in and out pretty fast. And I know I will never become one of the gambling Walking Dead.

Must. Push. Button.

AGMA’ll be back in a casino again.  Oh yes….  Hope springs eternal in AGMA-land.

I know that the big jackpot is waiting for me one of these days. Not.

But it’s fun to dream about seeing those flashing lights and hearing that clink, clink, clink sound.  Even if it is a recording.

Come’on triple 7’s!  AGMA needs a new pair of orthopedic shoes!

Stalking friends

address-bk-pages

So I’m still working on my holiday cards. Yup. The past month hasn’t quite worked out like I had hoped. As evidenced by, once again, not posting on AGMA for two weeks. *sigh*

I’m shooting for mailing them out by Easter. But Easter’s early this year so I might be overly optimistic…

I was updating some addresses in my contacts app today. This app links to my calendar and Google Maps and Email and probably five other apps I don’t know anything about. Boggles the mind.  My mind at least.

It made me think about how much my “address book” has changed over the past 40 years.

Of course, back in ancient olden times, when men wore stovepipe hats and women couldn’t show their ankles, we used physical address books. Like the kind with paper in them. Like a real book with pages in alphabetical order with blank spaces for names and addresses. And you would actually write somebody’s address with a  pencil or a pen. Quaint.

I still have every one I’ve kept since I was 19. Seriously. Just a little OCD AGMA showing…

Perhaps not the most efficient way to store friend and family address information compared to digital options today, but to me, my old address books are absolutely priceless. They are the story of my life and the lives of my friends in just a few lines.

Kind of a Twitter type of biography/autobiography.

My early address books reflect the life of a confident young woman just starting out in the world. That would be me. I was so naive…  Lots of information about college friends and still some high school friends. And old boyfriends. Most of whom got crossed out.

As an aside, crossing somebody out of your paper address book is far more satisfying than just deleting their address card from your contacts app. Far more. I mean, think about it. You can slash through their name with your pen like you’re Dexter. Or press your pink eraser to the page, and scrub and scrub their name until tiny beads of sweat start popping out on your upper lip and you lick them off with triumphant delight.  Satisfaction.

Those early address books had a lot of crossed out and erased addresses as friends left the cocoon of home and school, and entered the big wide world. Young professionals starting out in apartments, moving from city to city, buying their first house. Lots and lots of address changes as we all tried to find out where we belonged. And who we belonged with.

Then came the additions. Lots of additions. Cute Kathy Collins became Cute Kathy and weird Gene Wilson. Or Collins-Wilson. It was the 70’s after all… The single names morphed into two names (or three) and the address almost always changed along with it.

In a few years, there were even more additions. In the column beside cute Kathy and weird Gene’s name & address, I added other names along with birth dates. Nicholas 10/31/79. Corrie 7/8/82. Stephen 1/25/84. And more addresses were scratched out/erased as people moved to make room for growing families.

You’d think at this point I would have quit using a pen. Evidently AGMA’s not that smart.

Things stayed pretty stable for a while as people settled into their marriages, homes and families. My address book started looking better than it had in years.

And that’s when some the names started getting scratched out. Uncle Jim, leaving Aunt Ann strangely alone in the name line. And Uncle Harry was alone as well after I crossed out Aunt Mildred. Older relatives and co-workers. In a few sad cases, college & high school friends.

Then, once again, addresses began to change. Children graduated from high school and college. Some friends downsized. Some moved to new cities. Some turned from one into two entries as couples decided to go their own separate ways after years together.

I switched over to digital address tracking about ten years ago. First it was just a document that had all of my contacts in it. That was just a pain in the arse.

Now it’s a contact app that is sooooo much more efficient than my simple paper address books could have ever dreamed of being. So simple to delete a name or change an address or add a new last name. And it wipes out all traces of the previous entry. Completely.

I’m not sure that’s such a good thing.

My old address books are full of amazing memories. Of friends made and lost. Of new love and injured hearts. Of the joy of children and new places, and the sadness of loss and broken relationships.  Priceless.

Because when you cross out a name in a paper address book, you can still read it.  It’s still there. When you erase an address, there is still a faint trace of it on the paper. There’s a history there. A history of how life evolved for my friends and family over the past 40 years. And a history of myself through my relationships with them.

That’s pretty awesome.

I’ve had to delete two names this year. One, a former neighbor, and one, a friend we ran with when we were all 20 somethings. Deleting always makes me incredibly sad.  I don’t mean to be morbid, but I have a sneaking suspicion, at this age, the deletions are just really beginning. The circle of life and all that you know?

But today, I added two new entries. One is a Facebook friend who is going to the “next level” – I’m going to visit her next week! The other is the son of one of my longtime paper address book friends. I’ve known him since he was six. I added him and his wife, and in the notes section, the names and birthdate of both of his young children. That made me smile.

So here’s to a 2016 with more additions than deletions! We’ll throw that out the the Universe and see what happens…

Aging gracefully my ass.

Happy New Year and keep your fingers crossed!