Posted: April 12, 2012 in blogging, hagwags, humor

My latest blogcrush is the inimitable Mrs. G at Derfwad Manor. I do love me a well-turned phrase and an irreverent look at life. (And her quip about “the hamster wheel of Tuesday” is still making me smile. My ENTIRE FREAKIN’ LIFE these days feels like a hamster wheel…)

This little bit of good news/bad news from The Salt Lake Tribune caught my eye today:

Carol Masheter, at age 65, is now the oldest woman to have reached the top of the tallest mountains in all seven continents, a feat completed in four years: Denali, Aconagua, Elbrus, Kilimanjaro, Vinson Massif, Everest and Kosciuszko.

It’s likely she will keep the record, because those who issue permits for Everest in Tibet have since decided no one over 60 can attempt the climb.

Masheter, who arrived home in Salt Lake City from Australia Wednesday morning, said that attitude makes no sense when held up to death-rate statistics for big mountain climbs. Older people have better survival rates, she said, likely because they have better endurance and judgment.

“Each climber needs to be evaluated on their own merits,” she said.

While I am delighted that a mere woman from my often misogynistic state has achieved such a staggering feat, I am as baffled as she is that the powers-that-be banned the over-60 set from ever receiving a permit to climb the Big Kahuna.

I’m certain the Tibetans are tired of hauling all the thrill seekers, masochists and adrenaline junkies to the base of Everest only to have them litter up the place like New York City after the St. Patrick’s Day parade (only with oxygen tanks, human waste and tarps instead of green bunting, cardboard and glitter) and, yes, DIE in frightening numbers on their way up and down the slope, their corpses left to dry out in the relentless winds and subzero temperatures. Perhaps this senior ban was a cheap and easy way to cut down on some the sheer numbers.

But I find myself surprisingly saddened by it. Even a little kicked in the gut. Somewhere in the back of my mind, on my half-formed Bucket List (you know, that list of things you want to do before you “kick the bucket”) was the hope that I might do something nearly impossible someday, like travel in outer space, win a Pulitzer Prize, date George Clooney —  or climb Mount Everest. Of course. It is the ultimate lofty aspiration.

My friend Liz and I try to do something every year that scares us a little, and one year it was summiting our local Everest, although at 12,000 feet above sea level it is less than half as tall as the real thing. And it nearly killed us. I was so oxygen deprived and dehydrated at the end that I was scooting along the spine of the mountain on two legs and a hand, like a chimp. But I made it. And it is a great memory. I look at that mountain every day and know that I beat it.

But now I’ll never be able to “beat” Everest, and my odds of winning that Pulitzer are dwindling as well.  It is the latest in a series of lowered expectations that I have had to make as I move through time. I find myself looking at new, more reachable goals, like finally embarking on a serious study of art history, living in New York City for at least a month, or even learning how to knit — which for someone as impatient and domestically challenged as I am would be a good thing.

What “Everests” are you no longer able to climb, and what are you replacing them with?

HotHags: Lauren Hutton

Posted: January 31, 2012 in beauty, hothags, style

Patti over at Not Dead Yet Style has posted the most wonderful homage to one of my fashion icons, Lauren Hutton. I would love to be as comfortable in my skin as she seems to be in hers. And that lovely gap-toothed smile always makes me rethink all of my fashion faults. Isn’t she swell? Thanks, Patti!

While I’m thinking about it…

Posted: January 29, 2012 in blogging

…my Blogroll is much too short. I know there are many wonderful blogs by fabulous women-of-a-certain-age out there that I’m not currently enjoying. If I have (horrors!) somehow missed your blog or you have a few favorite blogs that you can’t live without, please do tell! Thanks!

Terror, Dan Simmons: A gut-wrenching tale of privation suffered by a motley crew of 19th century British sailors in the Arctic, complete with a menacing monster and a mysterious mute maiden. For those of you who like nautical tales, this is a doozey… My first read of the prolific Simmons.

The Paris Wife, Paula McLain: I’m a sucker for anything about the Lost Generation and the years spanning WWI until the outbreak of WWII. Such cataclysmic changes in society and manners. Such style. A tale of Hemingway and and his first wife Hayley Richardson in Paris in the 1920s.

V is for Vengeance: Sue Grafton’s latest installment in her alphabetical mystery series starring the unflappable Kinsey Millhone. Christmas present. Read it in one afternoon and promptly passed it on to my mother-in-law. Just fun.

Draw A Straight Line and Follow It: The Music and Mysticism of LaMonte Young, Jeremy Grimshaw: A biography of one of the founders of American minimalism, a crony of Yoko Ono and John Cage and a major influence on U2 and Coldplay. (And a local boy, to boot.) Very strange dude. All about breaking music down into math and physics. The book was very dense and I only “got” about a third of what he was talking about musically, but what an interesting life.

What’s on deck: Joan Didion’s Blue Nights and Where I Was From, Robert Barnard’s A Charitable Body, and a couple of British murder mysteries I bought used on Amazon. (More evidence of my Amazon One Click madness…)

What’s sitting on your bedside table? I’m always looking for a good read.

HagStags: Colin Firth

Posted: January 25, 2012 in hagstags

His Royal Hunkiness, just as fine as he was when he was the consummate Mr. Darcy. (He’s 52.)

(And I did!)

Becoming invisible

Posted: January 23, 2012 in aging, beauty, discrimination

As I may have mentioned before, I do try to keep myself up, although it’s becoming a bit more challenging all the time. So a web coupon for a two-for-one microdermabrasion package sounded like just the thing for a post-New Year’s pick-me-up. Both Mother and her sister had serious age spots and other pigmentation issues with their faces, and I didn’t like what I was seeing in the mirror, despite my liberal use of some of the over-the-counter creams. So I did the deal and made the call.

The “spa” where I would receive my treatments was in a nearby town and, like many such services, was attached to a plastic surgeon’s practice. Walking in, I was impressed by the decor and vibe. It was very zen — all blonde wood and stainless steel, water fountains and cushions, with the requisite new age music playing gently in the background. I’ve had such treatments before, but this was probably the most chi-chi place I’d ever visited, and I made a mental note that, if I liked the service and the price was good, I’d probably return.

The receptionists were both occupied, so I stood for a moment and continued to survey the room. The nearest receptionist was young and attractive and pleasant, and she would eventually take me back to the “solarium” where I’d fill out my paper work and wait for my therapist. The other woman at the counter — well, she was my first clue that this would be a memorable experience.

Rail thin, she could have been anywhere from 25 to 50 (that was probably the point) and I have never seen anyone so whose face was so sculpted, all taut skin and protruding cheekbones and unruffled brow, except for her lips, which were double plumped. A generous application of makeup accentuated all the angles.

Now, I don’t think I’m a complete snob about such things, and I will allow that some women can benefit psychologically from “a little work” (like my middle-aged friend whose husband unceremoniously dumped her in the middle of her chemotherapy). This, however, was WAY beyond a little work, and was, for the right potential client, probably great advertising for the nearby plastic surgeon.

No, it wasn’t her appearance that was startling. I stood at the desk for several minutes, chatting with the other receptionist, and at some point, I realized that the well-sculpted woman wouldn’t look at me. No, she wouldn’t even acknowledge I was there. And by the time I left, neither would anyone else. My therapist was very competent, but I had expected at least a half-hour or more of pampering, and she had me out the door in 15 minutes. And, unlike every other day spa I’ve visited, no one tried to sell me anything or get me to return for other services, even though in my paperwork I had marked several procedures that I might be interested in. I was literally hustled in and hustled out.

Surprised, I mused about all this I sat in my car in the parking lot, and I came to two conclusions:

1. I wasn’t their kind of client. They wanted walking advertisements for their services, and no matter how much work I had done, I would never meet their mark.

2. At 60, I was the walking embodiment of a future they — in particular the well-sculpted woman — probably feared with all their souls, a future where they couldn’t depend on their looks to open doors and make their lives easier. If I hadn’t been standing in front of them with a paid-for voucher for services, I think they would have looked right past me.

I’ve never been able to cash in on my looks (which is why I became smart and funny), so I don’t understand that kind of dread. My fears about aging run along the lines of disability and penury. But I’ve never had anyone make me feel that invisible before, and I expect it will happen again. I’m 60, and most of the time I’m pretty okay about that. But I keep running into reminders that a lot of people aren’t okay about it, for themselves and for anyone else.

Are you okay about your age? I certainly hope so.

Well, THERE’S your problem…

Posted: December 22, 2011 in aging, humor

Like writer Jonathan Ames in the NYT today, I have a problem with kipple. No, not kippers. Kipple, which seems to have consumed his only fork:

So, what is kipple, and why did it cause me to lose my fork? I learned about kipple from the Philip K. Dick novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” Here is an exchange between a man named J. R. Isidore and a character named Pris Stratton.

This building, except for my apartment, is completely kipple-ized.

“Kipple-ized?” She did not comprehend.

Kipple is useless objects, like junk mail or match folders after you use the last match or gum wrappers. … When nobody’s around, kipple reproduces itself. For instance, if you go to bed leaving any kipple around your apartment, when you wake up the next morning there’s twice as much of it. It always gets more and more. …

The entire universe is moving toward a final state of total, absolute kippleization.

(Be sure to click on the article, because his bedside table looks EXACTLY like my beside table, only mine has drawers. And more books, if that’s possible.)

I thought I was the only one who believed that stuff kipple multiplied, even metastasized when you weren’t looking. I have long suspected my shoes of having  closet orgies to which I am not invited, causing them to reproduce wildly. (“I don’t remember buying these boots. They don’t even FIT.”) And don’t get me started about paper. I’m drowning in it. The pile of printed coupons, year-old birthday cards and insurance itemizations will soon bridge that three-inch gap between my bedside table and bed and smother me in my sleep.

I’m fully aware of the depth of my problem. I’m a sucker for a good book review, and Amazon One-Click is going to be the end of me, THE END OF ME, YOU HEAR? I’m like a junkie pressing the IV button for that next hit of morphine. (READ ALL THE BOOKS!) How can I possible throw away that birthday greeting from my son in Ohio? And it’s as certain as death that the minute I toss out that notice of payment approval from my insurance company for my latest medical mishap that said company will disavow they ever sent it. (But the coupon printouts likely have all expired, so I can probably let go of those. Maybe.)

Don’t worry. You can still visit me at home. The living room is neat, vacuumed and dust-free, and the kitchen (other than the recipe book shelf in the corner) is sparkling. You can use my bathroom without flinching. But I will probably not take you on a tour of the rest of the house, which is where The Spouse and I actually live. (His office is a hard-hat zone, shelves bowing with books and every inch of counter space covered with papers, theater programs and more books. The piles keep rising, like they have yeast in them or something. ) My office currently contains an unused desk and chair, a pillow-strewn IKEA futon, two overtaxed bookshelves, a recumbent bicycle exerciser, more piles of books and four large plastic containers of sweaters, scarves and belts. (Proof of insurance is required for entrance, thank you very much.)

If this sounds like an apology, it isn’t. We’ve lived in this house for nearly 25 years, and we have more than 120 years of living between us. We have baggage. Stuff. Even Kipple. We bought it, collected it, had it FedExed to us. It has meaning. That straw purse with the broken strap  in the corner of my office now filled with dusty green eucalyptus stems was purchased on a trip to Oahu’s North Shore eight years ago. When I look at it, I remember the open-air shop, the Old Hawaii feel of the little town, the taste of fresh pineapple, and the roughness of the black rocks on my bare feet at nearby Shark’s Cove. It evokes something in me. But it’s kipple, broken and unusable, and I’ll throw it out someday. Just not right now, okay?

I’d like to think we’ll get rid of most of the debris field as the years pass. But then I remember going through Mother’s house when she moved on to the retirement community (and eventually the nursing home where she died). Drawers of sewing notions that dated back to when I was a child. Dozens of yellow plastic bags that her newspapers came in. Stacks of cottage cheese cartons, most of them without lids, that she used instead of Tupperware. Canned goods and spices ten years past their use-by dates. Piles of rusted bobby pins. A box of broken jewelry. And drawers full of Christmas/Easter/Mother’s Day/birthday cards as well as photos and drawings from her children and grandchildren. Did it all mean something to her? Apparently. But most of it meant nothing to me. I was confident in my knowledge that my kipple was so much better than her kipple. As my last gift to her, I separated all the potentially sentimental items and put them in boxes for my brothers and literally threw away or gave away everything else.

Which is probably what my children will do when they have to go through my stuff. I mean, my kipple.

Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

— Robert Frost

I don’t intend to make any New Year’s resolutions this year — really — because I just want to BE: Be who I am, where I am, the size I am, the age I am. However, the stylish Jessica Quirk of What I Wore has a blogpost today on clearing out your closet that somehow appealed to me. She breaks things down into basic pieces, core colors, secondary colors, and add-ons, and it is all very sensible.

Frankly,  I’ve lost track of what’s in my closet, so we need to spend a little quality time together.  (I actually bought two pair of the same sandals last summer at Ross — I forgot I’d bought the first pair, I guess, but at least they were cheap…) So, next week, when I’m not watching movies or pretending to work, you can find me rummaging through my closets, which are scattered throughout the house. (HEY! MAYBE THAT’S MY PROBLEM! YA THINK?)

Any self-improvement plans at your house?