Tag Archives: getting old

Stiff Nod to 2011. Open Arms to 2012.

(Heeeey- check out the new banner art by Will Manus, my funny, talented friend. It’s me! I’m on a horse. The Lone Rangerette. Let me know what you think.)

2011, you maestro of mania: I will not miss you, but I will take a moment to acknowledge the lessons you taught me (an abbreviated version, inspired by Squeaky Robot), before I move on.

1. Extreme activities are something I was not built for. I know what you’re thinking, 2011, that your predecessors 2005 and ‘10 covered this one, but those were snowboarding accidents. Totally different. Yes- ok, I did face plant and have my legs sail over my back and head in a scorpion move, completely reversing the c-curve in my neck; and then there was the cracking of my tailbone and hyperextension of my arm when I used it as a ski pole (to protect said broken butt bone as I fell), but I still felt confident this year when I signed up for volleyball and when I went indoor kart-racing with a friend. Joke’s on me. Strange sensation when a tendon snapped in my leg at volleyball, I could have sworn someone behind me took a swing at my calf with a baseball bat, but nothing could have prepared me for the special pain explosion when I nailed that wall karting. Ooo-eee bub. Knocked my helmet and neck brace clean off and then slammed my never-before-broken ribs into the metal kart frame with alarming force, changing that break status. I recall the race employee recovering my helmet some 15 feet away and mouthing, “How do you feel?” I replied, “I can’t hear you and my body is numb.” Which made him nod and slap my helmet back on my noggin. Race on.
2. I don’t have the attention span for kickball. Remember last spring, I was so excited to assemble my new portable grill for pre-game tailgates, delighted someone scored matching headbands for the team, and jubilant when I came across a pom pom in our team color, yet I groaned when I had to set down my Solo cup to head out to the field on game days. I’m hanging up my sweatbands for now and focusing my energies on upping the social event planning instead of converting a sporting event into one. Wisdom.
3. To say “no” and not feel badly about it. Also in the spring, 2011, you found me canoodling with an old flame who I’d been over for quite some time. Subtly, you smacked me in my conscience with the reality that he really did absolutely nothing for me, was a bit full of himself, and that I should not be spending time and/or energy on a relationship I cared nothing about. Excellent point, and I’ve taken it to task, also purging my heart and calendar from events or dalliances that leave me unfulfilled, bored, disappointed, or all of the above. Finding myself with loads of free time…
4. If it doesn’t have a sippy lid, I have no business drinking out of it or setting it anywhere near my electronics. I feel as though there may have been a gentler way of teaching me this one, you minx, but if dumping the contents of a 16oz Coke Zero all over the keyboard of my Dell Vostro was how you wanted to go about it, then let me at least thank 2010’s rationale that had me purchase full coverage. I mean, I typically do not drink soda, unless there’s booze in it, and I certainly never leave the cap off and set it next to my livelihood, so props to you, 2011, for seeing that coming and seizing the opportunity to school me. I hate you.
5. Perseverance. This one is a tricky bugger that you really spent most of the year hammering home and it will probably never finish resonating. Not ever. I finished the B-O-O-K the first week of June, which felt amazing for exactly 23 minutes. The sense of satisfaction swelled in a lot of places and I recall feeling capable of just about anything I put my mind to. I could do it, after all. I was a finisher, which I had never thought I could be before (Exibit A: a tattoo with only the outline of what it was originally designed to be; B: countless half-written manuscripts fizzled in my docs folder; C: hair that I keep intending to grow out and then hack off when it’s at the threshold, and D: many words often left unsaid when they shouldn’t be). Finished felt great. But those triumphant and boundless minutes were interrupted by a phone call that would hurt and rent me from my new-found  solidarity. That call would have me immediately on an airplane to the bedside of my best friend as she delivered her baby boy who’s heart had stopped beating. In all the time that followed, I would learn all the more how important it is to keep hanging on and hanging on and hanging on and…teaching yourself and teaching others you love how to start breathing again. How to open your eyes at the start of each day, get crushed all over with the immediate recollection of everything that’s gone wrong, and still will yourself to not only keep moving, but also to make everything you do matter, because it has to. There has to be some tangible impression, some outward sign that goes beyond eyes wasted with grief, to justify and testify that you’ve lost big and that it changes everything, and that you promise to make it count. That he lived. That you loved him. That his brief life changed yours. And in time, I have faith 2011, that the perseverance will pay off.
6. To be grateful.  The really good friends are the ones who will drive a couple hundred miles to wish you happy birthday, leave chocolate, wine, or flowers at your door when they know you’re sad or just want to show some love. They will call/text/come over when you’ve told them to get lost, cuz they know you didn’t mean it and actually need them now more than ever. They will also cook carbs to comfort you, ply you with just the right amount of hooch, threaten to hurt people who’ve disappointed you, and will lend a laptop cuz you’ve just ruined yours. They will sometimes swap tops in a restaurant, cuz you like theirs better and asked nicely. These friends will give you a look when you’ve crossed a line, will let you know when they love something you’ve written, and will say, “Hey, babe- you’ve got a little something clinging to your left canine.”
7. Metabolisms are not forever. And I can’t continue standing on the shoulders of a triathlon I completed 3 years ago. The effects wear off, and slowly but surely, your clothes get uncomfortable. Thanks for the push (out of my jeans) at the end of the year to finally sign up for boot camp. Here’s hoping last year’s injury tally carries over, meaning I’m safe for a spell.
8. Strangers are worth listening to. Remember when we were cornered by a lady at that hotel in Sacramento? Standing in a black velour track suit that fit 20lbs ago, she talked for an hour straight about her husband, her kids, her divorcee nephew that I should date, and her business ventures. And I listened, since there was nothing much better happening at the moment. At one point, while she was gushing about her affection for her husband (even after 27 years of marriage, she had a crush), she interrupted herself to tell me that she had a strong feeling about me. Out of no apparent place, she received a sense and blurted to me that February 2012 was going to be a significant month for me. Life-changing. She couldn’t get specific about whether I should be excited or filled with dread. Despite the several ways you tried to wire me for cynicism, 2011, I choose the former…and now walk brusquely toward whatever is next. Filled with hope.
So, while I would happily punch you in your sensitives for some of the harsher moments of last year, 2011, until you can’t see color, I’ll concede that there were important moments that will likely carry me through the years to come. On the whole, thanks.
Gotta tell you though, I’m pretty psyched that I’m through. Take it personally.
(I love your comments, so fill me in on some of your lessons learned in 2011.)
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Part I: My Sheep Farmer Story Dethroned

Crush story winner about to be revealed. If you have a story you were planning to submit (you know who you are…) then get it in quickly to be considered! And I’m not going to acknowledge the several months lapse in posting, because in that time, my life has been rattled, broken, and rearranged…all of which are not www fodder, sooo. Pushing forward…

I've done this shearing thang.

Well. I realize that most of you out there haven’t heard the story of me being proposed to by an Irish sheep farmer when I was but 17 years old. (He was 65, if he was a day, had few teeth and had recently won the Irish lotto. Am I writing about that now? No. If you would like to know that story, pick up a copy of my book once published, or take me out for drinks.) But you should know that it’s a story I’ve been asked to tell and retell for so many years, that it’s sort of knit into the fabric of me.  Ha. “Knit.” Sometimes I catch myself spewing humor referentially. And I like it.

I bring this up now because, for the first time in over a decade, I’ve met my match when it comes to lamb tales, which is saying something, and it is my competitor’s story that I’m telling… in two parts, so let’s begin:

I’m sitting at the kitchen table with Mr. and Mrs. F, who are two elderly country folk I have just made the acquaintance of. The air is filled with the heavy scent of not-so-recent bacon grease. There’s the cabinets, the table, the chairs with our three posteriors in them, and then floor to ceiling clutter ranging from infomercial buys to grandbaby toys.

Mrs. F is in her housecoat apologizing for the smell and Mr. F is grinning at me, but it’s hard to tell because he has a pronounced under bite and features that would rival Uga, but there’s a twinkle in his eyes, and I can’t think of any reason he would be grimacing at me, so I’m calling it a grin.

It has just been said that Mrs. F knits. She has sticks and a pair of half-finished socks in her lap to validate her assertion and she promises to show me her pièce de résistance before I go (she uses those exact words). Her mention of self-cleaning the wool she uses to knit after shearing the sheep, which they own 9 of,  in their backyard is what sparks my recesses to tell the story of the Irish sheep farmer, but Mr. F interrupts.

“You should tell huh,” he sounds alarmingly like Christopher Walken, so I don’t look at him for the rest of the night so I can imagine he is.

“I was gonna tell her,” says Mrs. F. She is barely southern and sounds like no one we all know, but she has nice skin. Mrs. F looks at me, and says,

“Neil Diamond is my boyfriend,” she pauses dramatically and I scramble mentally to separate him from Dick Clark and/or Rod Steward because I have a terrible memory, “Mr. F is my husband,” she continues, “Neil Diamond is my boyfriend.”

“Okaaaay…” I insert awkwardly. Mrs. F goes on,

“And Christmas of ’09, Neil had a contest for the best Christmas sweater. The winner would get to come to his house for dinner and…” She’s cut off by Christopher,

“You nevuh set it. Up. Right. You don’t. You nevuh doah,” I picture Mr. F/ Christopher shrugging sharply in a blazer I know he isn’t wearing.

“I was saying…” Mrs. F tries.

“Every time. Each and every time.” Walken mutters whilst shaking his head and looking in another direction.

“You two sure know how to build anticipation,” I say. Eyes shining with possibility.

“Don’t mind him,” Mrs. F dismisses Christopher with a glare, “Let me tell you what happened. You’re not even going to believe it all.”

Best Christmas sweaters EVER, Mrs. Weasley. EVER!!!

“I already don’t,” I eagerly utter as I lean forward, “So your boyfriend, Neil?  You were saying that you were wearing only Christmas sweaters, I think…?”

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An Open Letter to a Jager Bomb (you know who you are)

Dear Jager Bomb,

You may or may not remember me as the 30 year-old gal who, on an uncharacteristically warm February day, went to a late lunch/early happy hour with her parents at the oceanfront. I remember you, unfortunately.

After 5 hours of seafood tapas, wine, cucumber mojitos, a walk on the beach at sunset, stargazing, wine from a thermos (don’t judge. 5 hours is a long time), you and I finally met. It was about 9 p.m. when I, in a moment of poor judgment and peer pressure (if you can call parents pleading to go to a seedy karaoke bar “peer” pressure), caved and agreed to enter an establishment called, “Grumpy’s.” Grumpy’s, as you very well know, is a converted Pizza Hut, circa 1989, frequented by the very same patrons as Wal-marts in Arkansas, Bone’s biker bar, and Super Cuts, so you can, I’m sure, imagine the attention we received when my father plunked his polo shirt-wearing self down in our red-vinyl-padded booth, followed by mom and I, what with our groomed eyebrows. Awkward.

I’m not writing you, however, to recount those early moments of embarrassment, but rather to thank you for helping me to quickly overcome my self-consciousness. It had been awhile since last we met, see, so I had forgotten the special powers you possess. Powers I don’t intend to tap into again anytime soon. Once my fear of perception was gotten over (read: once I had chugged you), not only could I relax and enjoy those participating in karaoke, but I could also:

  1. Approach a man and tell him how much I admired the embroidery on his jeans. Such patchwork creativity! “Harley Davidson” stitched right across the rump. I was told the jeans had been made in the 70’s, so I then applauded his ability to fit into said jeans.
  2. Assist as back-up singer to, not one, but ALL karaoke contributors, resulting in loss of voice. When you don’t have a mic, you sing reeeeeally loudly. Who knew I could remember every word to Bobby McGee and Tupelo Honey?
  3. Rub the DJ’s bald head for luck. (5 times)
  4. Style that tall guy with the long hair; meaning I commanded him never to wear jorts, a Hawaiian shirt, or white socks with white tennis shoes for as long as he lived. Then, I fluffed his locks. You know who I’m talking about.
  5. Begin conga/dance trains (3 times) around the entire bar, taking care to weave graceful figure eights around the pool tables and their players.
  6. Dance to Margaritaville with jorts-man. Of this, I am not proud.

We were encouraged to hear our new friends’ cry of disappointment when we got up to leave. Apparently, we had introduced some new behavior to the regulars. Hurrah.

Anyway, all this to say, it was, from what I recall, a pleasure to see you again, but please don’t expect to see me again anytime soon.

Cheers,

Abigail

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Baffles of the week: Friday Round-up

Happy Friday, ya’ll.  Let’s see how consistent I can be with a round-up of the things that baffled me during the week most:

 

1. Poor Customer Service Come-uppance AND Geriatric Limitations

I drove up to my local McD’s recently for one of their enormous iced coffees. It was going to be a long day. I pulled into the lot and was headed to the drive thru. Well. I was halted in my tracks because a very ancient man was lying in the road. Some paramedics that had been lunching at this fine establishment were attending the toppled man who hadn’t been able to walk to his car without falling on his ass, poor guy. My perplexion centered on why the paramedics were helping him up and then WALKING HIM TO HIS CAR. Seriously? He can’t’ walk 20 feet, but let’s put him behind the wheel.

There was no one in front of me in line, once I got inside but it still took about 11 minutes for me to leave with my coffee, which turned out to have all of the sugary crap that I had asked be omitted in it . Since there weren’t many things competing for the staff’s attention to explain the wait and confusion, I offered my feedback over the phone, which is encouraged on the receipt. I’m all for improving life for the next person. I was thanked for the info, and then offered a free coffee upon my return. I said that my return was unlikely, unless I had a ton of time to kill, and was then told that all I would need to do on my next never-going-to-happen visit was to tell them that McD’s quality control sent me for a free drink, cuz I had given feedback. Huh. Yeah. I wonder what THAT coffee would taste like? A mix of loogies and boogies, no doubt. Pass.

2. Wardrobe selection when exercising your right to bear arms.

I was perusing the wares at Best Buy in the super suburban Greenbrier area, when I noticed a fellow shopper and, with a piece holstered at his hip. I am a general believer in this right, but I do have some personal stipulations, that I wish the regulators who regulate this sort of thing shared with me. Certain stipulations for common sensical practices, if you will.

This very young-looking, fire arm –toting  fellow was wearing some plaid elastic  waist shorts. I won’t comment on this blight in his wardrobe with regards to fashion, but instead as a foundation for a holster. For heaven’s sake. Elastic is stretchy, and pistols are heavy. I just don’t see how this was a wise decision on his part, and the precarious/wobbly nature of his gun’s settlement made me so uncomfortable that I left the store. It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye because the lad bent over to check out the price on a Walker Texas Ranger box set.

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“Time and tide wait for no man, but time always stands still for a woman of thirty.” – Robert Frost

I love birthdays and on Sunday, I’m celebrating one of the bigguns’ (as my dear 80 year-old friend Millie says). I’ll be bidding a fond farewell to my twenties and venturing into the next decade of my life. My thirties. I’ve been asked a few times if I’m dreading it, and I am honest when I reply that I feel like I’ve been waiting for it. It feels like an accomplishment and, once I’m 30, I think I’ll somehow feel like I’m reaching a ledge on the cliff face I’ve been climbing, and can look down below to see how far I’ve come. Like all of the churnings so far will finally mean something clear.

Maybe I would be depressed about turning 30 if I felt as though I’d left something undone, but I have no regrets…the moments that didn’t go as planned still steered me towards where and who I am today. Perhaps I would considering drowning myself in a pool of Jim Beam if I looked 30, owned cats, and wore housecoats,  but I’ve been slathering on anti-aging serums and potions since I was a teen, don’t understand the purpose of felines, and know better than to wear shapeless garments, thanks to Stacy and Clinton.

Each milestone year, I’ve checked off something fairly memorable from my bucket list. My eighteenth, for example, was spent jumping out of an airplane in my first sky dive.  (With about 6 Navy Seals, coincidently. Thank you, lord, and happy birthday to me.) This “Becoming Year”, is my memorable moment. Much of my motivation for changing everything important was somewhat motivated by this being my 30th year.  To recap some moments that brought me to wherever I am, here are:

Some achievements and such from my 20’s:

  • USAA finally forgave my lead-footed transgressions and discounted my car insurance, and I am now a much more serene driver
  • (This ended up being both a positive and a negative, but…) Permission to buy vodka. (Lessons from this are too numerous and some too humiliating to mention)
  • Graduated from college, paid for by moi (but thanks Mom and Dad for the free room and board!) I learned how to negotiate grades (thank you, Cher) and how to write papers at midnight fueled by determination and milk (Red Bull did not exist, and I really like milk)
  • Lived in DC and signed my first lease (best years of my life, to date), which taught me how to avoid contact with metro handrails, intimidate snarky Potbelly’s workers, and scope the best HH spots
  • Discovered that you do learn to breathe again after someone you love dies unexpectedly
  • Had a couple of great jobs which taught me so much… like beware of bcc’ing people, emails are forever, and it does pay to keep your opinions to yourself (even when you’re right)
  • I also learned much about myself, like I have good intuition, making me great at crisis management (I should be a bomb threat negotiator! Or Courtney Love’s stylist…)
  • Had a job that I hated, which taught me not to work for people I am smarter than, Ambien is ok for daytime, and that you must be passionate about what you do…and if you aren’t, then leave and find the thing that blows your skirt up
  • Totaled my car and received a few g’s more than I paid for it to start with and spent my earnings on my first MacBook and learned that Apple products are too pretentious for me, and have yet to buy another
  • Added 6 stamps to my passport…learned not to make eye contact with ancient sheep farmers in bars, or they will likely propose marriage
  • Discovered I’m allergic to sesame seeds. Dammit
  • I learned that skinny jeans weren’t made for girls with hips and junk in their trunk, got over it, and bought the styles that were

My twenties were chock full of experiences and lessons that I look forward to acting on in my thirties.  I’ve grown into myself, finally. Self consciousness is gone, and in its place is confidence in all the things I am or have learned to be.

Your birthday gift to me? Hmmm… I would love to hear a key take aways from your twenties. I know we learn and grow from both our moments of joy, to tragedy in our lives. What sticks out to you? You don’t have to be on the other side of your twenties to answer, either, whippersnappers.
“I’m turning thirty this year. And you know the saying, a woman over thirty is more likely to get hit by an A bomb than find a man.” – Fanny Fink


“At twenty years of age, the will reigns; at thirty, the wit; and at forty, the judgment.” – Benjamin Franklin



“The only time you really live fully is from thirty to sixty. The young are slaves to dreams; the old servants of regrets. Only the middle-aged have all their five senses in the keeping of their wits.” –
Hervey Allen

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