“This House is Clean!”…rewind

roto

(This post was originally published in 2014.  It’s a humorous take on a subject most folks are reluctant to discuss.  For obvious reasons…

I’m reposting because it want to make sure EVERYBODY (and AGMA means EVERYBODY) over the age of 50 knows how critically important it is to get regular colonoscopies.  Sooner if there is a history of colon cancer in your family. 

A little over a year ago (February 2017), Hubs went in for a “regular” colonscopy (his previous ones had been clear).  The GI guy removed a large polyp and it turns out there were cancer cells hiding in the polyp.  

Damn cancer cells.

It was very, very early colon cancer – literally only a few cells grouped together.  It wasn’t even staged.  In May, the area around the poly was removed and the margins turned out to be  clear.

There was much dancing and celebration at Casa AGMA the day the pathology report came back!

The survival rate for early detection of colon cancer is very high.   This is a very good thing!

So this is all to say, if you’re over 50 and haven’t had a colonoscopy yet, get thyself to ye olde butt doctor NOW!)

On the way to a group run Monday, my running buddy told she was getting her first colonoscopy next Thursday. A colonoscopy virgin. Grasshopper has much to learn…

(Leave now if you don’t like TMI ‘cause this is going to be “one of those” posts!)

She complained that she couldn’t have any solid food on Wednesday; just clear liquids. She said she would be hungry. She was obsessing over how hungry she would be. “Oh honey,” I wanted to tell her, “hunger will be the least of your worries next Wednesday.”

I’ve had two colonoscopies. I think this puts me into the “experienced” category when it comes to this sort of thing. Lucky me.

Studies show that early screening for colon cancer save lives. I’m all over that. And, a colonoscopy really isn’t as bad as people say. Really. Maybe not.

I’ll give you that the prep is kind of yucky. My friend is going to be taking pills to “get ready” for the big day. I’m jealous. I was never offered a pill option.

The first doc in Ohio wrote me a prescription for something that I had to mix with water. It made 30 gallons. It seemed like it was 30 gallons. They said I had to drink it all over the course of the afternoon and evening the day before the procedure.

Game on!

Initially, it tasted like a cross between Gatorade, Pediacare and lemon-lime Kool Aid. Not too bad I thought at the time. “At the time” being the key words here…

Three gallons and three hours later into the prep “protocol”, my upper GI tract started to rebel. It was getting hard to drink the stuff. It was now tasting like a cross between horse sweat and liquified, stale Easter peeps. My throat was starting to clamp shut.

‘Round about that same time, my lower GI tract started to join the party. That’s the nice way to put it. I hovered close to the water closet. Very close. I was thinking of moving in for the night.

Several hours and several more gallons of the now totally undrinkable foul witches brew later, I took a stand. Enough is enough. The gag reflex had started kick in. This is never good. And what I did manage to force down started to shoot through me like I was a goose on speed. I made the unilateral decision that I had successfully completed the prep phase.

My second doc in Missouri didn’t write me a prescription for a prep concoction. He told me to get several over the counter products at the local drug store. Said they worked just as well. And it was cheap. No 30 gallons of toe jam peep sweat. No clamped shut esophagus. It was much more civilized with basically the same squeaky clean results. Easy peasy. Kind of…

So once the prep work is done, you’re basically home free. Other than the next day they snake about 15 feet of tubing up your colon while the doc wears a miners light on his head, a hazmat suit and stares at his monitor with live video of your now clean as a whistle innards. Can I order that on NetFlix?

But the best part of the whole process is the amazing twilight sleep stuff they use to knock you out! You have no idea at all what’s happening. This is very good. And you wake up feeling like you’ve had the best sleep you’ve had in years. In a sick way, it kinda makes it all worthwhile…

So if you’re over 50 and haven’t had a colonoscopy yet, for heaven’s sake schedule one! It’s a relatively simple procedure that could save your life. Plus you end up (get it – end up?) with some pretty good stories that you can swap with other 50+ types. Good times.

But I do have one question – when did they stop calling them proctologists and start calling them gastroenterologists? Proctologist is just such a great word. It’s the stuff great jokes are made of…

Two proctologists were talking about their patients (obviously pre-HIPPA…) The first one said that he was probing one of his patient’s “nether regions” and pulled out a bouquet of flowers. In stunned amazement, the second protologist said, “Where did they come from?” The first proctologist answered, “I don’t know. There wasn’t a card attached.”

Badum-CHING!

As birthdays go, this one sucked

catinthehataging

Aging is not for the faint of heart.

It takes guts to get up in the morning, mentally and emotionally feeling like you’re 35.  Then you walk into the bathroom and look in the mirror.  The horror strikes.

WTF?  When did that happen?

And it really is like that.  One day you’re young and the next day the cashier gives you the 5% discount on Senior Discount Wednesday at Kroger.  And you didn’t ask for it.  Or is Senior Discount Day on Tuesday?  I guess I should figure that out…

It all happened in the blink of an eye.  But I honestly don’t remember blinking.

Maybe it means that my life has been full and busy.  Time passed, but I didn’t notice.  Everything seemed pretty much the same day to day and year to year.  Yeah, and that’s exactly what the Grand Canyon said when it was little gully with a stream flowing through it…

I just had a birthday recently and turned 61.  Happy birthday to me!

But last year’s birthday was tough.  Not being one to really ever be age sensitive, the whole turning 60 thing last year kinda shook me. It took me nearly the whole of 2014 to get used to having a “6” in the first position of my age.  Now I’m very zen about it.

Not for the faint of heart.

And, not only do you age, those all around you are aging too. Friends, family, co-workers, TV and movie icons.  Except Meryl Streep.  My God, that woman must have a pact with the devil.  Did you see her at the Golden Globes?  So amazing…

As a Baby Boomer, I’m doing what all Baby Boomers are doing now. I’m “reinventing” myself in an attempt to defy the aging process. Becoming a massage therapist in my late 50’s, starting AGMA last year, going for my personal trainer certification in 2015, training to run a marathon next month, traveling overseas as often as I can. Didn’t you know, 60 is the new 40?  Yeah, right.

I’m running just as fast as I can.  But I can’t hide.

That was made brutally and tragically clear a few days ago on my birthday.

A woman in my running group turned around about a mile into an eight mile run saying she wasn’t feeling good and was a bit dizzy. Nothing she said gave anybody cause for alarm.  When we got back to the parking lot ninety minutes later, she was found non-responsive in her car.  One of our group immediately started CPR until the EMT’s came.  She was taken to the hospital and was pronounced dead.  Heart attack.  She was only a few years older than me.

Here one minute, gone the next.  Literally.

Two days later, the husband of another person in my running group died very suddenly, with no warning.  Seriously?  Has the world gone mad?  Maybe I should quit my running group.

Can’t hide.

But honestly, maybe I don’t want to hide.  If it’s my time, then it’s my time.  Frack the Grim Reaper…  Hell, I didn’t even eat the salmon mousse!

“Getting old is a privilege denied to many.”  It’s a corny saying going around social media, but it’s kinda true.  It was denied to my friend and my friend’s husband this week.  It was denied to too many generations of young people who dutifully marched off to war.  It was denied the victims of 9/11 and the Indian Ocean and Tohoko tsunamis.  It was denied to the staff of Charlie Hebdo.  You get the picture…

So I guess I’m actually feeling pretty good about this aging thing. Sure, some mornings the knees take a while to get moving and I’m getting cataracts and many times I don’t remember what I went upstairs to fetch.  But all in all, it ain’t bad.  Yet.

To celebrate, for the next week, I’m planning on eating some amazing food, drinking some outstanding wine and savoring some of the best coffee in the world in a city full of really old, ancient stuff. Way older than me.  Roma.  I expect I’ll feel like a tween at a Justin Bieber concert.  Oh Baby!

Ciao!

Table for one please!

samplelady

I have a friend who insists on posting a Christmas count down on Facebook every day.   Well – maybe it’s not every day, but it’s frequent.  Too frequent.

Five more Saturdays until Christmas.  34 more days until Christmas. 816 hours until Christmas.  And they all have a picture of some Disney character dressed up as lame Santa, passing out gifts and smiling.  Ugh.

Terror grips me when I see these posts.

My pulse gets faster, my stomach starts to get that “roller coaster” feeling and little droplets of sweat ever so gently start meandering down my forehead.  I told her these posts make me anxious. Evidently she doesn’t care.  The relentless countdown continues.

48,960 minutes until Christmas.

Of course, my response is Pavlovian of sorts, based on conditioning from holiday’s long past.  Novembers and Decembers that were nothing but a blur of non-stop activity and motion.  Back in the days when I worked outside the home, entertained friends and neighbors, volunteered at church and school, took care of aging parents and tried to give my kids the perfect Thanksgiving/Christmas every year. Yeah – good luck with that.

Basically I acted like the Tasmanian Devil in a Bugs Bunny cartoon. Complete with the unintelligible grunting.  And I kinda looked like him too.  Still do.

But now, the holidays are a breeze.  The kids are grown and on their own, I live in a new city so there’s no entertaining old friends, neighbors and co-workers, my job is very part-time and my parents passed away.  Plus, gift buying on the Internet gives a whole new meaning to the term “easy peasy”.

But some days are still busy though.  Like yesterday.  Places to go; things to do; people to see.  Days like yesterday during the holidays make getting proper nutrition a challenge.  My morning banana and mocha only last so long…

My stomach started rumbling about 1 PM, but I still had a few stops to make.  I needed to get my glasses adjusted, buy toilet paper and get our Thanksgiving turkey.  What to do, what to do?

It came to me in a flash with a clarity of mind and reason I rarely experience.  I did what any hungry person of a certain age would do in the middle of a Friday who needed a spectacle adjustment, a turkey and mass quantities of toilet paper…

My name is AGMA and I ate “lunch” yesterday courtesy of the sample ladies at Costco.

I think of it as a power lunch.  It allows you to power through shopping while enjoying the wide variety of outstanding food products offered by this membership-only warehouse club.  They graciously provide the fuel for your engine so you can shop until you drop.

Fridays in November and December is THE best time to dine.  The sample brigade is out in full force in preparation for the weekend of unbridled holiday food buying.  The Costco food departments are loaded with holiday favorites – ham, meatballs, cheese, chocolate, cheesecake, candied pecans – and they want to share it all with you. For free.  That’s the best part.

During the day on Fridays in November and December, the hoards of shoppers there on the weekends are delightfully absent.   This give you full accessibility to the “buffet”.  No wild children snatching the samples out from under your nose.  No elbows being thrown at you trying to get the last sample.  No lines to wait in to get that schmeer of spinach artichoke dip on the pita chip.  Lunchtime nirvana.

You’ve got to know the “unwritten” rules though.  Only take one. Dispose of the toothpick and napkin in an approved receptacles. And thank the sample lady.  Every now and then, buy what you are sampling.  If you can do that, sometimes you can get away with taking a second sample. “This is SO good, I think I’ll just grab another one!”

If I had some good Tempranillo with it, I’d swear it was just like eating tapas in Spain.  Kind of.  In a sick and twisted way.

Bon appetite!

Announcing a new stablemate for AgingGracefully

GrandmaCool

Next month, I start a new job.  It’ll be a something totally new that I’ve never, ever done before.  I’ll be navigating unfamiliar and possibly treacherous waters.

I’m going to become a grandma for the first time.

To most, receiving the joyous news from your precious son or daughter that a grand-baby is on the way would be an intoxicating experience.  After my son told us, I just felt like getting intoxicated. Or downright drunk.

First of all, we were almost the last of the “important people to tell” to know.  Actually, we were the last.  My daughter-in-law was damned near 5 months pregnant and all popped out when they told us!  She wore a very loose shirt when we arrived…  All of their close friends, co-workers and HER family knew weeks before were were privileged to receive the news about the impending “blessed event”.

WTF?

Now, I know my son’s closest friends very well.  I know that, if they get their hands on a juicy tidbit, their mother’s will know as soon know as possible.  They are incapable of not spilling their guts to their moms.  Clearly this trait hasn’t rubbed off onto my son.

When I lamented that the “moms” probably knew before I did, my son assured me that his friends PROMISED not to tell anybody.  I talked to one of the “moms”.  She knew before I did.  Her son spilled his guts.  My son is so naive…

Objectively, I kind of get why we were the last to know.  We traveled from Georgia to Illinois to visit them this summer for a long weekend.  They wanted to tell us in person.  They wanted to see our reaction.  I sorta get that in a detached kind of “isn’t that sweet” way.

But when I realize that scores of people knew before we did – their 3rd grade teachers, my 3rd grade teacher, our mailman and the cashier at Kroger – it made the news not quite as exciting as it should have been.

I’m just wondering what would have happened if we hadn’t gone up there this summer.  I guess I’d have figured it out when I got the first baby shower invite.

My son tells us were welcome to come up when his wife goes into labor to be there for the delivery.  We live a 12+ hour drive away. And it would be more than likely snowing for the last 6 of those 12+ hours what with the Polar Vortex and all.  To book a same day or next day flight would cost at least $630.  Each.

We opted to book a flight up two days after the due date in hopes that the little critter arrives on schedule or is maybe just a little late. That would be excellent if he was a bit late.  He would get his first Do Bee points for that.  Miss Janie would be proud.

We’ve been told we have to stay at a hotel when we come up because they don’t want anybody else in their house while they’re all “bonding”.  Good God.

Then we get a text a couple of weeks ago saying that we needed to get our “shots” before we come up.  Nobody without their “shots” will be allowed to get anywhere close to the baby.  Again, WTF?   I’ll get my shots alright – those little Candy Cane Jello shots from my last post.  Maybe I can find a happy hour close by.

So.many.rules.

But being the dutiful soon-to-be grandma who doesn’t want to piss off her son and really does want to see her newborn grandson, I got my “shots” yesterday.  And my arm is really, really sore today. Thanks Obama.

I’ve been thinking about my grandma “name”.  You know – what the little guy will call me when he starts talking.  Providing we will be allowed to talk to him.  You never know with all of the rules.

Grams, Nana, Grammy, Big Mama, Memaw – so many to choose from.

Hmmm…

GrannyMyAss has a really nice ring to it.

Ocular Misadventures-Part Deux

glasses

[FYI, this will be my last post for a couple of weeks.  I’m off again tomorrow on another AGMA travel adventure!  I’ll miss ya’ll!]

In my elementary school, each class marched into the nurses office once a year to read an eye chart. They wanted to make sure our vision was okay.  I guess my eyes were passable through 5th grade. All hell broke loose in 6th grade.

I started squinting to see the chalkboard.  Very gradually – so gradually that I never really noticed – the moon developed a hazy ring around it.  Trees branches lost their definition.  The world became a soft, fuzzy place with blurred boarders.  Everything looked like it was surrounded by blobs of cotton candy.

In 7th grade, I went to a “proper” eye doctor.  Turns out I had become extremely near-sighted.  Duh…  I needed glasses.  This was a death sentence to a tween girl.

I was going to be a four eyes.

I didn’t like getting glasses.  They felt odd on my face and made my eyes look beady.  But it was wonderful being able to read the chalkboard and see individual leaves on a branch.  The moon and car headlights didn’t have halos around them.  The world was in sharp focus – at least visually.

But I was desolate.  Everybody knows, “Boys never make passes at girls who wear glasses.”  Pigs.

In high school, I traded in my glasses for big girl contact lenses. They weren’t particularly comfortable and were a royal pain to take care of, but I was “make a pass at” eligible again.  Nobody did.  Pigs.

In college, the abuse started.  Many nights I would fall asleep (pass out?) with my contacts still in my eyes.  The next morning I’d have to chisel them out.  Ouch.  Going to college in Texas, then Arizona, there was no shortage of windblown sand and dust.  Ouch again. And when I “slept over” and didn’t have my contact solution, I spit on my contacts to put them back in my eyes in the morning. That is assuming I actually took them out the night before and put them in the closest thing resembling a Dixie Cup for safe storage.

It’s amazing I have any sight left at all.

I wore contacts until I was in my early 30s.  After the birth of my second child, I didn’t have time to fool with all that contact lens nonsense.  Married for 6+ years, I figured two kids sealed the deal so I didn’t have to worry my looks anymore.  I started wearing glasses again.  I honestly don’t think my husband even noticed.  He’s an absent minded professor type…  I still don’t think he’s noticed.

Round about the time life started to settle down again for a minute (meaning the kids went off to college), I started thinking about wearing contacts again.  But damn…now I needed readers for seeing things close up.  Even if I got contacts, I’d still have to wear glasses for any “close up” stuff which is like 50% of the time.  Crap.

I could get those “Jekyll and Hyde” contact lenses where one eye has a distance contact in it and the other has a close up reading contact. Really?  They say that your brain gets used to seeing catawampus. I’m pretty sure my brain is already working to it’s maximum catawampus capacity.  I seriously don’t want to confuse it any more than it already is.  Besides, the whole thing just sounds creepy…

I opted for progressive, no-line bifocal glasses.  The lenses look like “normal” lenses, but they’re very sneaky.  The top part is for distance and the bottom part is for reading and, true to the advertising, there is NO LINE.  Nifty…but I’m STILL wearing glasses.

Shelley at Destinationnow.me commented on my last post that she had new eyeball lens implants when she had surgery to remove her cataracts.  She’s glasses free because one lens implanted is for close up vision and the other lens is for distance. Still kinda creepy, but the idea of having nearly perfect vision and never wearing any corrective lens ever again is somewhat intoxicating.

So, in ten years, when I get my cataracts removed, provided I don’t contract ebola and die in the meantime, I will, once again, be “make a pass at” eligible!  I’ll be nearly 71.

Get in line boys….get in line.  My dance card is fillin’ up fast!

Behave while I’m gone!

Ocular Misadventures

EyeExam

Hot on the heels of my post of a few weeks ago about the explorations in the deepest, darkest parts of my colon, I’m going for another doctor related post.  It’s what we Boomers do – talk about our visits to the doctor.  ZZZzzzzzz…

Last week I went for my bi-annual eye exam.  I went to a new O.D. Everybody in the office was very nice and extremely friendly. Everybody told me how happy they were that I chose their practice. I was immediately suspicious.  This is Atlanta.  Nobody in a customer service position here acts like that.  Must proceed with caution.

I don’t like going to the eye doctor anyway.   I hate the inevitable “gives you farsighted vampire eyes unable to read or be in the sunlight” drops to dilate your eyes.  And I always seem to get the techs who were former Abu Ghraib interrogators.  They position the eye dropper 4 feet above your eyes and then squeeze.  You endure the agony watching the drops fall and fall and fall before they plop into each eye stinging the crap out of them.  I’m sweating now just thinking about it.

But last week, I was offered a choice.  I could have the normal “Guantanamo Bay Special” eye drops or, for $35 extra, a new procedure that takes a picture of the inside of your eyeball.  No drops, no sting and no vampire blindness.  They could have charged $135 and I still would have signed up.  Don’t tell them that.

After the pictures and some other odd tests (“Click the buttons when you see the shimmering lines appear.” WTF?), we moved on to what is second only to the eye drops as my most stressful and anxiety ridden part of the eye exam.  I like to call it the “Is it better here or (sound of lens clicking) here?” conundrum.

They put this huge mechanical contraption in front of your face that looks like the old big binocular machine that was at the U.S. Grand View Hotel on Rt 30 in Pennsylvania back in the 60’s.  You’d put a nickel in and you could see three states and seven counties.  Only I don’t see three states and seven counties from the OD’s contraption; just lines of random letters of different sizes.  Downer.

Then starts the incessant, relentless questioning.  Can you read the third line down?  No?  Then they spin the dials and flip things around.  Can you read line three now?  Is it better here or here? Over and over and over…

At this point, I have line three memorized so it wouldn’t matter if they put a hood over my head.  I could recite line three in my sleep. This whole process could use a little more creativity.  It’s really easy to cheat.

They continue to madly spin dials and flip lenses.  “Can you read line three better with #1 or [click] #2?”  Sometimes the answer is obvious. But most of the time it pretty much looks the same to me. But they want an answer.  They’re insisting on an answer.  Now. Dear God in heaven….I can’t tell a difference!  My hands start to get clammy, my respiration gets shallow and I feel my heart pounding in my teeth.

I try to stall for time.  I ask them to see #1 and #2 again.  They’re not happy with me.  They’re starting to speak in clipped phrases with tight lips and a slight Brooklyn accent.  They aren’t going to take “I can’t tell the difference” for an answer again.  I think might wind up in the cornerstone of some new building or at the bottom of a river if I don’t come up with an answer.  Fast.  I desperately try to figure out if #1 is truly better than #2.  I blurt out an answer. “NUMBER 2! IT’S NUMBER 2!

I need a Xanex after we are done with the binocular machine.

Satisfied that I’ve been beaten into ocular submission, the doctor puts my eyeball pictures up on the computer screen.  I perk up.  I’m an anatomy geek so it’s very cool to see the inside of my eyeball.  He says my optic nerve looks great.  He says my macula looked perfect. In both eyes.  He says that I have the eyeballs of a 20 year old.  I’m thinking, “Yeah I do!”

Then he says, “Except for the cataracts that are starting. See the cloudiness?”

Yeah, I do.  Shit.

So I need to be careful when I’m in the sun.  Aside from the sunscreen I have to slather myself with to prevent skin cancer, age spots and wrinkles, now I have to wear polarized sunglasses all the time to protect my eyes from the evil UV rays seeking to destroy my vision. This will “delay” the development of the cataracts so that I probably won’t need surgery for 10 years or so.

You can run but you can’t hide from a body that has been around for 60+ years.  Some wear and tear is creeping in.  It happens to all of us who are lucky enough to stick around for this long…

Aging gracefully my ass!

September Yin and Yang

September

Yeah, yeah – I know I’m a little late since it’s already past mid-September.  This is a post that really wanted to be written at the beginning of the month.  It begged me to be written.  But because it’s not my normal “wry humor” (and I say that wryly…), I said no. It’s been nagging me ever since.  It would not relent.  I gave up. Thanks for your indulgence for my indulgence.

September is a very special month to me.  I always feel big changes in the air.  I can smell the changes.  September is chance to start over.  Brand new beginnings.  Most good and welcomed.

But not all.

September always means a new school year.  As a child growing up in Pittsburgh in the late 50‘s/early 60’s, school didn’t start until after Labor Day.   I was always excited to go back to school.  I couldn’t wait to see my friends again.  And back to school meant a new dress and a new pair of shoes for the fist day.  Cha-ching!

Getting a new dress was a big deal for me.  Due to divorce, I lived in a single parent household – unusual for the time – and my mother worked as a nurse in a VA hospital.  There wasn’t much money for new clothes.

Or new anything else.

But for the first day of school, not only would I get a new dress and shoes, but a new notebook, new pencils and a new book bag too.  (FYI – bookbags were the old school version of the modern backpack…)  It was a huge treat to go shopping with my mother for all my new stuff.  She was always so very busy all the time with work and taking care of the house and doing laundry and grocery shopping and cooking – we never had time just to hang out together. We would ride a trolley to downtown Pittsburgh and shop at one of the big department stores.   We always ate lunch in a restaurant.  To me, it was a thrilling adventure!

I experienced the same type of excitement at the beginning of September years later with my own kids when they started school. We’d go down the list of “suggested supplies”, head out to the mall and shopped ’til we dropped!  We all had fun, but I’m pretty sure that I enjoyed it the most…

And September was always the beginning of another year of volunteering.  I worked part-time in IT, so I was usually able to make time each week to volunteer at the kid’s school.  Yeah – I was one of those moms.  I was in PTA, helped out in the classroom, worked in the bookstore and on after-prom, baked cookies, was a Football Mom and a Soccer Mom.  All through their grade school, middle school and high school years, I volunteered.  And I loved every minute of it.

Now, every September when I feel the chill starting in the air and hear the sound of the September “critters” in the morning and see the leaves starting to put on their Fall regalia, my head and heart flood with the memories those happy new beginnings.  But September also reminds me that new beginnings can have their challenges.

My children have long been out of school.  The high school PTA and Football Moms are now run by people whose children were tiny babies back when I was involved.  September reminds me that every season comes to an end.  That very happy time in my life is over. Oh, I’ve adjusted to the empty nest and have reinvented myself several times over, and stay very busy and active.  I even started a blog!  But so far nothing has equaled the joy I had in parenting my kids when they were growing up.  September reminds me, sometimes cruelly, that time marches on.  Relentlessly.

Also, on a September day in 1965, my dear, sweet mother who worked so very hard to support my sister and I, died suddenly from undiagnosed pancreatic cancer.  She was two weeks shy of her 47th birthday.  So young…  I had just started 7th grade.  After the funeral, I was shipped off to a new city in a new state to live with my father who I had barely seen since he moved away when I was six, and his new wife who I’d never met.  I would never see the house I grew up in or any of my grade school or neighborhood friends again.

The smells and sounds and “feeling” of September remind me of new beginnings. But they also remind me that sometimes a new beginning isn’t welcome.   But it comes anyway.

I sigh and remember and mostly smile.

Confessions of a Former Ubertasker

Image

I used to be productive.  I had a professional job in IT, school-aged, active children, aging parents who needed help, a house and yard, and volunteer positions in my kid’s school, the community and my church.  Oh, and a husband.  All at the same time.  And I got it done. No nanny, no cleaning service, no smartphones or apps to coordinate it all.  But I got it done.

Remember (if you are of a certain age…) the 1970’s commercial for a perfume call Enjoli?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Q0P94wyBYk

Yeah – that’s how I rolled in the 80’s and 90’s.  Jack of all trades, master of none, but in my own way, I was awesome.  I got it done. And, most of the time, in style and with a smile.  Okay – some of the time.

But now something is wrong.  Terribly, horribly, awfully wrong.

My kids are now grown and living successful lives of their own.  My parents passed away in the early 2000’s.  I no longer have a “real” job – I’m on hiatus remember?  The community and school volunteer positions have long been filled by other parents who were themselves in high school when I was volunteering.  I work couple of hours at my new church in my new city each week, but that’s about it.

Based on my past performance of successfully doing six things at once, you’d think that by this point I should have learned three languages, hiked the Appalachian trail twice, gotten another Master’s degree or two (maybe a PhD), started a tech company and become a 50 state marathon runner.  And still had time left over to master the art of the French soufflé and blog five days a week.

But that’s not how things are now.

If my day starts out with three thank you notes to write (so old school…), a prescription receipt to submit to the insurance company, a couple of loads of laundry to do, two bills to pay, blog posts from some of my favorite bloggers to read and a hotel reservation to book, I start stressing.  Too much to do.  And it’s very likely I won’t get it done that day.  Any of it.  I might play on Facebook for a while, answer a few emails, run out for coffee, start a blog post (not finishing it mind you) and buy a new running visor.

Like Scarlett O’Hara said, “I’ll think about it tomorrow.”  Fiddle dee dee…

How could I have fallen so far so fast and become so unproductive?

In the past two months I’ve restarted my little one person business and am working about ten hours a week.  Now I’m having a hard to finding time to go to the grocery store.

Really??

This past weekend I went to a three day conference that started on Friday.  On top of that, I had to run on Saturday morning and go to church Sunday morning to meet a commitment.  By Sunday evening I was saying (to quote Sheldon Cooper on “The Big Bang Theory”), “What fresh hell is this?”

How does one go from being ubertasker to being a slug?  I’ve been trying to figure it out…

In the past, was it a matter of just gritting my teeth and mentally forcing myself to go non-stop to get it all done?  It didn’t feel like that at the time.  Because everything seemed so “important” back in the day, does everything now feel trivial in comparison and just not worth very much effort?  Am I finally exhausted after all those years of non-stop activity and drama – a sort of PTSD response?  Did I burned out my adrenals and am now incapable of producing the cortisol my body needs for coping with stress?  Beginnings of dementia maybe?  Oh – I really hope not…  Have I gotten lazy?  Or is it just the simple fact that I was younger, and had more stamina and energy?

I don’t have an answer.  I wish I did.

I bought some bacon a few months ago.  I finally had to put it in the freezer because I just couldn’t get around to “frying it up in a pan.”

Maybe I should see if they are still selling Enjoli…

I Wanna Hold Your Musette!

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I was young when “Meet the Beatles” was released in the U.S.  Just barely ten years old.  I’m pretty sure I watched the Beatles on The Ed “really big shoo” Sullivan Show in February, 1964. But I’m also pretty sure I didn’t understand Beatlemania, and why all those girls were screaming and crying and ripping their hair out.  But the Fab Four faced some pretty stiff competition for attention in my ten year old life – the formidable likes of Julie Andrews, Colorforms and my Barbie!

A couple years later, I got it.  The Monkees exploded onto TV in 1966.  I was totally smitten.  Beatles smeatles – THESE guys had talent and no funny accents.  Classic!  I used to pass notes – a quaint, ancient form of texting – in school with a fellow Monkee lover.  We drew little pictures in the corners of our notes of Mikes’ cute little wool hat, ever present on his head.  Now I wonder if his head ever got hot.

I even saw them in “concert”.  I’m still not sure who actually played the instruments, but ignorance is bliss and I screamed until I had no voice.

I’d forgotten how it felt to have that primitive, star struck, visceral response that reduces you to squealing mass of tongue tied tween.  Until last summer…

I went to the Tour de France.

I’ll pause for a minute to let that sink in…

If you’re not a professional cycling fan, you won’t get it.  I’m not even sure I get it.  I don’t even ride a bike.

All I know is that I became a quivering, teeny bopping mess all over again.  I saw, live and in person, the professional cyclists I greatly admire and knew only from my Mac and flat screen TV!   Incredibly talented, world class athletes in the most grueling endurance sporting event in the world, and some of them were standing right beside me.

On the outside, I played it cool.  Most of the time.

Inside, I was a roiling, tumultuous, star struck twelve year old who just wanted to squeal, “OMG, is that Marcel Kittel sitting over there?”  and  “OMG, there’s Peter Sagan!!” and “OMG…Jens! Jens!! JENS!!!”  And sometimes, despite attempts to control myself, it just came squealing out – quietly – anyway.  I couldn’t help it.

My 36 year old Australian TDF roommate didn’t know what to make of me.  I think I scared her a little.  So, okay…you know you’re really kind of nuts if you out-crazy an Aussie cycling fan, right?  I think I scared myself a little.

But boy, did it feel good to be so thrilled and excited and passionate about something on such a gut level!  To give yourself the permission to feel that innocent joy and limitless possiblity of your youth again after so many years.  Catnip for the soul.  Fountain of youth for the spirit.  Definitely NOT aging gracefully!

Amgen Tour of California this year anybody?  I promise, I’ll try to control myself.

Or not.

“My name is Sally O’Malley and I’m…”

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Wait for it…

Sally O’Malley is my hero – still kicking and stretching and kicking at fifty.  It was a sad day when Molly Shannon left SNL and took Sally with her.  I miss Sally’s unique zest for life and her fabulous red jumpsuit.

BIG birthday for me in a few days.  60.  Epic.  I joke around with people, “I don’t how this happened!”  [obligatory smile], but the brutal and mystifying truth is I really DON’T know how this happened.

Just a few years ago I was part of the all powerful, forever young Baby Boomers right?  The Pepsi generation.  Sex, love, and rock and roll.  Tuned in and turned on.  A hot babe in hot pants on the prowl for a hot time.  Cue snare drum strut…

Now, apparently out of the blue, the Regal Cinemas ticket lady is giving me the senior discount (she didn’t even ASK me how old I was!), I have no clue who the guy is on the cover of the People Sexiest Man Alive issue and I’m still hot, but not in the good way.

What a mystery – the passage of time.  Small, subtle changes like the wearing down of bedrock by a small, but relentless stream.  Day to day you don’t notice any changes but come back years later and it’s a whole different story.  The Grand Canyon, you know?

Graying hair, acid reflux, sore joints, jowls (ick!), techno/pop impaired.  Bummer man…

As a young goddess, I rolled my eyes when “older folks” nattered on about how fast their lives went by, their regret for not doing more, seeing more, being more – blah, blah, blah.  Boring…  Of course my life was going to be different – I would have it all under control.

How’d that work out for you girlfriend?

So now what?  Like bedrock, change. Adjust. Transform.  No food after 7 PM, ice knees, hormone therapy, smile at the Regal Cinemas lady, Google Adam Levine.  Run some half-marathons, start a blog, road trips to visit old friends and distant lands, tweet with professional cyclists.  Blah, blah, blah.

And of course I will KICK and STRECH and KICK!