Tuesday, December 29, 2009

To Gray Or Not To Gray

Many women my age have started that age-old battle between grey or not to grey. It really isn’t a battle, more like a war. Here’s how it goes for me. The roots of my hair started going gray about the time I turned 45. The rest of my hair was a wonderful shade called Mahogany, with caramel highlights. (My hair has always been a mousy brown so I started coloring it in my teens and have no idea what the actual color is). But I noticed that as the hair grew out these strands of gray started to emerge from the base. I would style my hair a little differently in order to make the color last a few extra weeks. When I turned fifty, I made the decision to give up the fight and go gray. I went to the hair stylist and had my hair cut back to where the gray ended. Now my hair was gray and an inch long all over. I loved the short hair. My hair has always been naturally curly and I could just finger toss it and go. But suddenly I didn’t recognize the woman in the mirror. As it grew out, I felt like I was suddenly looking like that sweet old grandmother down the street. The one that wears the housedress all day and has her hair pulled back in a bun.

Now, don’t go all, “I have grey hair and I love it. How dare you judge me?” I’m not. If you’re happy with your hair go for it. For me it just wasn’t the right time. But what to do? The upkeep on the darker hair was time consuming as well as costly. So I set up an appointment with a new hair specialist. "Specialist" means that instead of my usual forty-five dollars for cut and color, this one was a hundred and twenty-five. I guess if you put specialist on the end you can triple the money. But I digress. I went to the new stylist and she suggested that we go lighter with highlights so the gray might blend in. I’ll try anything once. She did her magic and when she turned me to look into the mirror I was overwhelmed with the results. She’d lightened, trimmed and straightened the whole mess and I looked amazing. How could I tell? Well, if you look in the mirror and don’t grimace, it’s a good thing. When I walked into the house after the appointment my husband said, “You look incredible.” Then he proceeded to wrap his arms around me for a little snuggle. The best praise ever. Someday I think I might try the gray again. But for now I’m a happy fifty something blond. Who knew?

Speaking of my husband and snuggling, there's the issue of sex. That’s right... sex. It really is better after fifty. For one thing, the hot flashes and the night sweats that accompanied the transition from 40 to 50, that soaked your nightshirt, sheets, and blankets and left a pool of water under your bed have stopped. The crazy ass mood swings that said oh, I want you, followed by don’t touch me, have ceased. Nothing sexy about those. There are no kids to interrupt so the word spontaneity is back in the bedroom. And finally (drum roll) if you’re like me and past menopause, there is no chance of getting pregnant.

My husband and I started our family early and rounded out the family with our third child when we were 27. Nowadays, many people don’t start their families until their thirties or early forties. You people don’t know what you’re missing.

There is nothing like that Sunday morning snuggle. You get up, have your coffee, read the paper and then the glance comes from across the room. Four hours later, much spent cuddling and talking; you get out of bed relaxed and ready to take on the day.

And it’s not just on the home front. Since we are traveling more we can experience this wonderful new freedom in many exotic places. That said I still don’t want the housekeeping staff to know what goes on so I keep my nice clean towel handy. There is nothing as romantic as when your husband takes you by the hand and leads you to a romantic place and you say, “Wait I have to get the towel.”
Now that I’ve grossed out my kids and possibly my mother with this topic, I’ll move on.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

I blame Tiger Woods for my new haircut.

I tend to get overly emotional about things. Here's the problem. I am the eternal optimist. That's right. I trust. It started with John Edwards. I believed in him, I spoke up for him, and when the news hit, I defended him. "Come on...There's no way those rag mags are telling the truth. Did you see him standing beside his wife? They're Kirk and I, childhood sweethearts that stuck together through thick or thin, good times and bad." I was convinced it was a right wing conspiracy to bring down a good man. WRONG!!! You think I'd learn. Next, there was the kid in the balloon. Again, I imagined the kid had been so upset that he caused the situation of the balloon getting away that he'd hidden from the family, scaring those poor parents, while the world watched. But no, the people involved had conspired to use the child to get on a, wait for it, reality show. I put the event behind me and refused to be one of those people that only saw the worst in people.

BUT THEN TIGER!!!! For years we've known about pro athletes and their voracious need for living life outside the moral compasses. Kobe, Norman, Daly, ARod, we read the stories and watched the dramas unfold. But Tiger was different. He led us to believe that he was a good man. The champion, the NIKE man. People complained about his attitude early in his career. I said, "He's so young, give him time." Or "It's not arrogance, it's confidence." I've seen the man up close. I've watched him interact with his family, and if what I saw was an act then give the man the Oscar.

I don't hold these men up to higher standards because they are in the public eye. They are human, they have the right to screw up just like any of us. But I do hold them to the same standards of all humans,"TREAT OTHERS AS YOU YOURSELF WANT TO BE TREATED" and "LOVE YOUR FAMILY ABOVE ALL OTHERS."

Now on to the haircut. I was pissed. I'd again told everyone I knew that it was the media that takes a little thing like a car accident and makes it news. I blame the whole world who seems to put these people up on pedestals but revels in their downfall. People who smugly say, "I always knew..."

SO... I was getting a hair trim the day the ninth lovely young lady that thought it was okay to have sex with a married man and then grab those fifteen minutes appeared on scene. As I sat in the chair, I told Allison I need a change. I needed to leave the store different than when I came in. I needed a drastic change to set my spirt right.

Hair grows back right? It looks okay, and it will take some time, but in a few months it'll be back to normal. Right?

I'll still look for the good in people and I'll still be shocked and disappointed. But it's the only way I know how to be true to myself. I look for the good and I still believe there's more good in people than we hear. It's just not news.

One last thing...I was at a tournament in Louisville Kentucky and was watching Justin Leonard putt. A young woman next to me was talking and I overheard her say to her friend that he was hot...First Justin is adorable, but hot??? Anyway I leaned over and pointed out his new bride who was walking along the ropes. "Too bad," I said, "You just missed out, he's married."
The woman looked over at my daughter and I and said, "I'd still do him."

Two points...

First, women need to protect and support other women. Rockers, men in sports, in fact any famous or for that matter non famous person who is married, that's a hands off, back off and find your own..

Secondly, our girls need to be taught self esteem. Having sex with someone famous doesn't benefit the woman on any level.

I think that's it for today, but instead of a blog I think you got a rant!!!!!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Gas Gage I or Fill 'er up!

Another habit I’ve picked up in this phase of my life is to fill the gas tank when it reaches ½ full. Or ½ empty as you may choose. It started when the prices were fluctuating between 3 and 4 dollars a gallon. I thought I could outsmart the oil companies and get more bang for my buck. Sometimes I won. Sometimes they got the best of me. But the other reason is that I forget to look at the gas gage and suddenly the damn thing starts beeping. This usually occurs when I am coming across the state from Ft. Myers to West Palm and am forty miles to the nearest town. All too often I have made deals with my God to just get me to the gas station and I will be better at paying attention to those little things.

I play that game where I shut off the stereo and air-conditioning hoping it will make the gas last a little longer. Only once did I run out of gas and have to walk. I was lucky that time. I was two blocks from the gas station. The guy made me give him twenty dollars to rent the gas can. I pointed to my car, just feet from the entrance, but I must have looked shady in my Capri’s and golf shirt. Maybe it was the two pair of glasses on my head. But then and there I decided to always keep my tank above the ½ mark. It just makes things easier.

Did you ever notice that you buy the exact same things every time you go to the grocery? I get my husband’s weekly contraband, but I was starting to get into a rut with the nightly meals as well. My Mother-in-law had a system where she had the same meal every week. Monday pork chops, Tuesday spaghetti, Wednesday chicken, Thursday steak, Friday pizza, Saturday dinner out and Sunday standing rib roast with rice and corn. It was the same every night of the week. I have a different approach. Whatever I was hungry for that day is what I would make. Mexican, Italian, Grandma’s southern cooking...whatever spirit moved me. It helped that I loved to cook, but I also found that I made the same recipes over and over. As I got older I started to experiment. Maybe a little cinnamon in the recipe.

“Hon,” my husband would ask, “What’s that I’m tasting in the meatloaf tonight?”

“Do you like it?”

“Well,” he pauses thinking about the fine line between criticizing the cook and suggesting that the flavor just didn’t fit. “It’s different.”

Different for all of you who don’t know means bad. Not just bad but usually inedible. That recipe was gone. But there are others. Experimenting with flavors helps when you have been cooking for years and are bored to tears with the same old same old. I actually took a cooking class at the local culinary institute to learn to make Chinese meals. Imagine my surprise when after thirty years of marriage my husband told me he didn’t really care for Chinese cuisine. I guess I need to look into some other classes and Dim Sum.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Which Way to the Casbah?

I have found that I try to simplify my life as much as possible. That way I don’t really have to think too much about those small daily things I need to do to keep the house running smoothly. If I do have to run errands during the day, I find I plan the route out in my head before leaving the house. First, I try to only make right hand turns into and out of shopping centers. This way I don’t have to go across traffic to get to my destination. You may think this sounds crazy, but here in South Florida people just wait for me to cross their path before speeding up and cutting me off.

I set off to run the errands and I do it in a circular trip. Dry cleaners, post office, gas station, department store, and office supply store. I try to go full circle ending up at the grocery before heading home. Most days this works perfect. But throw in the occasional stop at the library and it can really screw up the day. That means I have to do a u-turn, God forbid, and its right outside the local community college. After waiting a half hour to let everyone go that’s making a turn in front of me, I gather up the courage to make the turn. I feel like an adventurer taking her life into her own hands as she climbs Mt Everest.

I pull into the lot at the library that is full today as it’s ‘Bring your Kids to Story Hour”. I tuck my Jeep Wrangler (that’s right, soft top Wrangler) into a space in the grass at the back of the property. It may not be an actual parking place, but it’s away from the throngs of Mothers and children making their way into the facility.

My kids grew up in the library. Thank God for Monday, Wednesday and Friday story time. But I don’t remember them running around and screaming during story hour. As I scan the shelves looking for the latest Janet Evanovich, Nora Roberts or Kristan Hannah, I notice this one kid who is making a nuisance of himself.

I hear the same name over and over.

“Evan, stop running.” The mother starts quietly enough while she sips her bottle of Pellegrino water.

Evan’s screams go up a notch.

“Is that how we behave in the library?” By now the whole library is glancing in her direction. She just shrugs and takes another sip.

“Evan, I’m going to count.”

I never got this counting thing. Numbers just don’t scare me. My kids would actually count along with me when they were young. I could hear them counting as they made their way to their room. In front of me, one, two, three, up the steps, four, five, six, bedroom doors slams and I’d hear them scream seven, eight, nine.

“One, two...Evan, I’m serious...three.”

Evan has now run over to the new release table. He stares down his mother as a smile, which looks noticeably like the one the kid that played Damien in the Omen wore, crosses his face. He sweeps his arm across and knocks the books to the floor. Mom takes a sip and calmly says, “That’s it, Evan. No trip to the toy store after story time.”

Evan doesn’t care, his mother hasn’t made a move to get up and stop the boy’s bad behavior. She has turned her back on him and sits listening to the girl reading the book to the other children who are actually behaving. Evan stops momentarily. We all hold our breath. Could it be by ignoring the boy maybe he will go sit and listen with the other children? Suddenly, the boy screams. A loud ear splitting scream that echoes through the book stacks. The girl stops reading and glances at the mother. The librarian walks over and asks the mother to please quiet the child as it is a library and others are trying to concentrate. Then the mother does something I’ll never forget. She grabs her bag and water as if she’s been insulted and walks over to her son, taking him by the hand. “Come on, Evan. Let’s go to the toy store. At least there they’ll let you be a kid.”

Was there a lesson there somewhere? If you behave badly and are called on the behavior you get a present?

I get my books and as I check out I smile at the librarian. “It can’t be easy,” I say.

“That’s nothing, she’ll be back next week and we’ll go through the same thing.”

I nod, commiserating with the woman. Everyone has to deal with his or her own routines and the problems it entails.

I get back into the car and head to the grocery. I go in, shop for the same things I buy every week, salad, turkey, sunflower seeds, salad dressing and crackers. My husband comes home for lunch every day and his menu has been set for years. I check out and as the bag boy puts my items into the plastic bags I remember that I have reusable bags in the car. The cashier notices that I have a pair of reading glasses on my face and another pair pushed up on my head. I thought the ones on my head were sunglasses, but I’d left them in the car. I get in my car and head home. As I enter, I am happy to have once more been out in the world and made it safely back in the quiet of my own personal sanctuary.

And with no left turns.

It’s the little things that keep me happy.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Where Are Those Damn Glasses?

Have you ever noticed how forgetful you get after fifty? It’s not just the things around the house like the keys or mail or those pesky concert tickets. (Don’t get me started on my reading glasses. I bought four pair and just leave them lying around the house). But there are days you can’t remember a thing. For instance, a friend called about another friend’s son who is getting married. Half way through the conversation we realized neither of us could remember his name. We both have known the boy for years. Like, his whole life, twenty-five years. We kept talking, trying to remember.

“Remember he dated that one girl, the one with the red hair.”

“Wasn’t her name Carrie?”

“Her parents lived by the mall.”

Wasn’t her dad a dentist?”

“I think he worked downtown by the marina.”

Didn’t he divorce his wife for that receptionist?”

“Oh, now I remember, his wife owned the market that made the great gift baskets.”

“I used them all the time. Once I sent a fruit basket to a friend and the fruit was bad so the wife gave me a new basket free of charge.”

“She was good like that.”

“I think I sent that basket to Tammy when she got her hysterectomy.”

“Tammy’s son is the one getting married.”

“Oh yeah, what was his name?”

I have these conversations with my friends on an almost daily basis. But mostly I have them in my own mind. Where did I put that thing? Did I make that call earlier like I needed? Was it today or tomorrow that I was supposed to call the doctor? What was the name of that person who did that thing I wanted to look into? My son told me to put things back in the same place every day. Um, don’t you have to remember to put them there???? I remember stupid things like the names of my sixth grade teachers, or phone numbers of my friends in middle school. In fact people call me for numbers as if I were the white pages. But ask me what I had for dinner two nights ago and bam! The wall comes up.

I have become adept at writing things down that I want to remember. I actually write them down in three places. I have –
a. Pocket calendar
b. Refrigerator calendar
c. Desk calendar

The pocket calendar can be placed in my backpack (I don’t carry a purse, something that drives my daughters crazy) and I can write down things at lunch with the girls, when we will be meeting next, any hospital stays or any special occasions that might be coming up. We all cook and run errands for each other in times of need so it’s important to write it down as it happens. We are forgetful, but organized. Then when I get home I transfer it to my calendar on the refrigerator. That way my husband can glance at it occasionally and remind me of the various events. It is the center of our home and everyone eventually will make his or her way to the fridge.

“Hey Mom,” my son yelled one evening when he stopped by for dinner. “Did you know your article was due today?”

I rush to the fridge, look at the clock and run to the computer. I have until midnight to get the submission in. It is at this time that I look at the third calendar in my life and notice that although I wrote the deadline down in the pocket calendar and on the refrigerator I had left it off the desk calendar, which is where all the business appointments and deadlines are kept. Lesson learned. All three, all the time, period.

The one thing about the desk appointment calendar is that I have a tendency to write down numbers people give me on the pages. Two weeks later when I need the number I have to leaf through the book to find them. I have a stack of calendars from previous years kept just for the numbers. I guess I could take a day to write them all down in my address book, but I would have to find it. By the time I do find it, my mind would have wandered on to the next thing and two days later I would find the address book, put it away in a safe place and wait for the spirit to move me to organize the numbers once again.

It’s hard to imagine that this woman once ran a household with three kids and a husband, all involved in various activities, while being a president of the PTA, scout leader, band booster and director of the drama departments’ theatrical production when the teacher dropped out.

I think over the years my brain reached capacity and now chooses to ignore things that aren’t important or at least that I feel I may not need to know until some later date. I watch the talk shows and when they say it’s normal to forget some things when you get older, I call my friends to tell them we’re normal. They ask what show I was watching and then it happens. I have no idea, but I think it was channel four.

Friday, November 6, 2009

I'm Fifty!

I think there is a freedom that comes with the simple statement “I’m fifty”. I have used it over and over the last year. When I forget something, I excuse myself with, “Well I am over fifty”. When my Mom tries to tell me I shouldn’t drive alone from Florida to Ohio I say, “I’m fifty; I can do what I want”. When the Doctor says I have to work on that last twenty pounds I say, “Get real, I’m over fifty”.

It has become the basis of everything I can or can’t or will or won’t do.

I have to admit at this time of my life there is no period I would go back and relive. No age in my past that calls for me to experience again the moments leading up to this wonderful freedom.
I loved each and every one of those phases of my life, but for the first time I feel the ability to put myself to the forefront. No longer do the scrapes and bruises of crying children come first and foremost. They are adults now, out on their own perusing their dreams. They struggle through the tumultuous adult years that I look back on fondly, but am elated that chapter of my life is over.

But those kids look at me differently now also. Maybe it was because all those years I spent trying to set a good example. Maybe it was that being a parent consumed so much of our time that we couldn’t just be ourselves. When my husband and I travel now, and we do go whenever we get a chance, my kids ask if we might be home soon. “Maybe, maybe not.” They think we’re crazy. Who are these people that took over our parents? The parents, who for all our younger years put a hundred and fifty percent into raising their children. Who took us to every dance class, music class, and sporting event? Who dropped everything for dentist, doctor, orthodontist and speech therapists? Who planned every summer, winter, and school vacation so that the family could spend time together? Where are they? They ask. I’ll tell you. They turned fifty and decided it was time to find the people we lost when we became parents. Again let me reiterate. We loved being parents and all the craziness that includes. But everyone loses just a little of themselves when their lives are consumed with running the lives of others.

So the kids think we’re crazy. They think their father has a strange sense of humor. They don’t realize that it’s hard to be funny when you have to discipline a fourteen year old girl for sneaking out to the beach at two o’clock in the morning. Or a son for skipping school. Or another daughter for trying the old, "I’m staying at a girlfriend’s house" only to have the girl’s mother call to talk to her daughter that’s staying at your house. Hmmmmmm… Were we born yesterday? So yeah, your Dad’s always been funny. And yes, your Mother has always been a bit of a free spirit. These are two of the things that initially attracted them to each other. But those things were gathered up and put into a special chest in the attic. They lay up there just waiting for that magical time when we could pull them out and say, “Ah I remember you.”

So we travel. We go to concerts. We kayak and parasail. We golf, we write, we read. Yes, we work. But that’s different to. We work for us. For the big payoff, retirement. The years ahead where we can relax and enjoy the fruits of our labors. But in the meantime, we’re fifty, so we can have all the fun we want.

"I'll have the Creme Brulee."

Last week the girls and I were meeting for dinner at our usual spot. As we approached the front of the restaurant we noticed the chalkboard announcing the specials for the night. Salmon in a butter sauce with asparagus, beef tenderloin kabobs in teriyaki sauce, tomato basil soup and the appetizer of the evening was loaded nachos. All made our mouths water, but what caught my eye was written at the bottom. So small that it looked like the chef had added it as an afterthought – Egg Nog Crème Brulee. Now some people don’t like the custardy dessert, but I have to admit I am a connoisseur when it comes to this delicious confection. I like all Crème Brule, chocolate, peach, plain, and my all time favorite white chocolate with raspberry. See your mouths are watering already.

I followed the group into the seating area and perused the menu. However, somewhere in the back of my mind the nagging sensation lurked that the decision had been made. As usual we spent the first few minutes ordering our drinks and catching up with the news. How are the kids? What’s your crazy Mother up to? You know the typical girl talk for us over fifty crowd.

The waiter stepped up to the table and started writing. Two salmon specials, one Philly cheese steak, one order of wings with fries and then he came to me. I paused and looked around the table at my friends. In the last year we had all reached that half-century mark and had let many of the limitations from our youth fall by the wayside. Was I secure enough with these friends to take the chance? I knew that if I had a full dinner I would never get dessert. Usually I only order desert when my husband is with me and I can take two bites leaving him the remainder. So I took the chance….. “I’ll have the Crème bruele”, I said.

“And for your dinner?”

“Just the Crème bruele for now and coffee with a shot of Bailey’s on the side. If I’m still hungry I’ll get an appetizer.” I answered. The table grew quiet.

“Let me get this right. You just want dessert.” I could see he was judging me and by the looks on my friend’s faces they concurred with his sentiments.

“Yes, that would be wonderful.”

“Okay,” the man looked at me and jotted down the item.

Slowly it finally dawned on my friends. “Can I change my order?” the first asked the waiter.

The waiter just smiled. He knew what was coming.

“Will that be four Crème Brule’s and four coffees with Bailey’s?”

“Actually,” one friend said, “I’d like the chocolate fusion.” She read aloud the description from the menu. “A scoop of vanilla bean ice cream over a hot brownie with molten chocolate streaming down the sides.” She paused and smiled, “and a coffee with Bailey’s.”

The waiter walked away muttering under his breath as the five of us burst out laughing. But when the dinner arrived, we all enjoyed our “meals”. And the coffee and Bailey’s on the side.