Monday, May 27, 2013

This and That … or How I Spent My Three-Day Weekend

Well, I was pretty lazy this weekend.  Part of me wants to excuse it because I’ve been working my ass off for the past few weeks and I needed to change some patterns and take a break.  Another part of me wonders why I am sometimes incredibly lazy.  I did make some progress in my ongoing ‘finish unpacking U-Haul boxes’ project but some of those boxes contain important papers, documents and bills and those items remain in the boxes.

My guest room needs to function as a guest room soon and there is now almost enough room in it to achieve that purpose.  That room also serves as a home office and eventually a home studio.  The walls will also provide display space for some of my art prints and photographs.  The walls remain bare in that room.
It is Monday night, the end of the third day of my three-day holiday weekend.  The weather was great but I barely stepped out of my apartment to enjoy it.  I went to the grocery store, one block away, used the fitness room, across the street, took the garbage to the dumpster, at the other end of the building, and I sat on my patio sipping wine last night … for about fifteen minutes.  Little steps, I guess.

I have mentioned several times that two of my best friends are visiting this summer and I am very excited about that.  I don’t really have to say that again, do I?  But I just did.
Sometimes I am a fanatic about accuracy so I cringed several times when I saw Facebook posts saluting Veterans on Memorial Day.  Every day is a good day for such a tribute but let me point out something: Memorial Day is set aside to salute those military men and women who DIED in combat.  Veterans Day is the day to salute the Veterans.  Accuracy. 

I began to move my music from the old computer to this new laptop. Some of the songs didn’t make the move and I don’t understand why.  iTunes sucks sometimes.  Apparently I did something wrong when I purchased downloads and 100 of my 1400 songs are invisible to iTunes on my new computer.  I think that means they are all on the computer but I have to import them again from different files.  A pain in the ass process.  Amazon, CD Baby, iTunes … can’t we all just get along?  Geez.
My new apartment is great.  I can’t believe I’ve been here six months already.  But 1992 apartment construction was pure crap.  Great floor plan, nearly non-existent sound deadening.  I understand that I’ll hear hammering sometimes (like when someone hangs a picture) and I might hear loud domestic noise like a vacuum cleaner.  However, I hate that I can hear nearly every footstep upstairs and a few minutes ago I heard an alarm clock.  I wonder what else I’ll eventually hear.  I wonder what else they will eventually hear from my apartment.

A few months ago I said I would probably never buy real estate again.  I got burned on the last one, the first time out of three houses I bought and sold in my life.  However, I saw an ad today that reminded me how low interest rates are right now and there are some pretty nice condos and townhouses in my new neighborhood.  But they cost at least what I sold my last place for.  The problem, of course, is the damn down payment.  No way will I ever have twenty percent of the price of anything around here.  Maybe I could afford to live in the only other two places I’ve considered (Asheville and Nags Head, both in North Carolina) but as I’ve said many times, I cannot make a good living in either.  Both are very appealing to me but both are missing the primary things I like about living where I live … lots of people, lots of entertainment and cultural activity, incredible and extensive medical care facilities and my nearly three decade history of being part of this general area.  Those are hard things to give up.  I know many people choose a brand new place to ‘retire’ when they get older, but I’m not sure giving up emotional and geographical support systems is the thing to be doing at a point in life when those items matter the most.  I’ve moved cross-country many times and I remember the thrill of exploring new places and developing new friendships but there comes a time when stability is more important and I see that time just over the horizon.
That said, I can’t imaging retiring.  Some people my age who had government jobs with early retirement are doing just that, including two of my high school buddies.  They are young enough to start new careers if they want.  They also have paid-for houses and children who will be old enough to care for them when they are older.  I don’t have any of that.  No regrets, really; I have lived an incredible life and there is plenty ahead of me.  But I did have retirement plans at one point and I am only a couple of years away from the point where I thought I’d be transitioning into a different life.  Not happening.  The good news is that I am at the top of my game in my career, making the best money I’ve ever made and have a relatively good amount of job security.  Relatively.  And my life is about to enter what is likely to be the most exciting part.

OK, so I should stop whining, right?  Right.  I am a lucky man.
So instead of cleaning, I’ve been sharing these thoughts and I appreciate that you’re still reading this.  Word count is almost at 1000, kind of long for a random blog in Boomerville.  I hope these insights help you in some way or lead you to think through some parts of your life.

Memorial Day Perspective

This blog started out as a collection of observations about the ‘baby boomer’ generation so I should probably observe once in a while.

Today is Memorial Day, a day to remember those military men and women who gave their lives in the service of our country.  I didn’t always have such a positive attitude toward the military.  I was coming of age at the end of the Viet Nam war.  It was a tumultuous time in America and I clearly remember the peaceful and not-so-peaceful public rallies and demonstrations, especially those protesting the war.  I did not like the military and did not believe we should be sending our citizens to fight someone else’s war.

Then I found myself in the Army.  I learned that every job in the military was designed to support the fighting, from cooks to truck mechanics to accountants to medics.  One huge killing machine.  I still hated the military but as I met soldiers returning from Viet Nam I began to understand their point of view and to recognize their sacrifice.  Many of them had been drafted, forced to join the ‘volunteer’ Army, but many had joined out of their own sense of duty.  I got out in a year, a story I think I’ve told elsewhere in this blog, and spent my time in the relative safety of Louisiana and Texas.
I am not sure when my attitude changed but I now have the utmost respect for the military.  I still do not believe in killing, I hate guns and wish they didn’t exist except for sport, I believe war is usually wrong but I have come to understand that killing, war and a strong military are necessary.  Many have died so the rest of us can be free to live lives of our own choosing.  We have the freedom to elect our leaders, to work at jobs we choose, to write blogs criticizing aspects of our country.  Much blood was shed to protect those rights and freedoms.
I think one of the two wars we’ve been engaged in during the past decade should never have happened.  Many people died during those wars.  But I will never dishonor those who served and those who died.  They did what they believed was right.  There are no simple answers to the questions that relate to war and my opinion about was is only one opinion.  We are a complicated combination of differing views and that paradox is defended by the sacrifices of our military men and women.

I do not personally know anyone who died in a war yet I am connected to all of them.  We all share that connection.  And today is a day to honor them.


Sunday, May 26, 2013

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Thinking About Stuff

So I’ve been on my own about six months now and I’m still happy I finally did this.  Is it what I expected?  Yes and no.

In the yes column: I have control of my life in a way I haven’t had in more than 15 years.  I do what I want, organize things to my liking, pursue my interests without having to justify my actions.  It is a liberating time in my life.  I have said this before … marriage is a great thing when both people are fully engaged in it, paying attention to each other’s needs and interests, are supportive of each other and build a life together without sacrificing their individuality.  I didn’t have that.  Now I am building a life by myself.
In the no column: I expected to accomplish all my goals at once, to instantly transform my life from the frustrating struggle of the past eighteen years into the exciting, diverse conglomeration of all my interests.  Who the hell was I kidding?  No matter how flexible and spontaneous a person is, certain habits and patterns develop over nearly two decades and that doesn’t change in six months.
My single favorite word is balance.  My life design is a balance of diverse interests and priorities.  I am at the beginning of a whole new chapter in which I will be able to eventually find much of that balance.  I have slowed down enough to take stock of what I have and make a specific plan to find the rest.  Balance takes some prioritizing.  I recognize that I can’t have it all at once, that it will take steps, generally one step at a time.  I will find a balance between living in the moment and planning for the future.  That strategy works for me.  What’s your life strategy?  Does reading about mine help you in any way?  Just curious.

I have a few guiding principles that I am more able to articulate now than just a few months ago.  For one, developing deep friendships is very important to me.  I know a lot of people but can count only a very few as ‘good friends’.  Most of my friends are women and I want to develop more friendships with men.  A ‘guy’s night out’ is almost an alien concept to me, something I haven’t really done since college.  Among my female friends, there are two that are closer emotionally than the others but both live hundreds of miles away.  Fortunately for me, both are visiting this summer; one later this week and the other in July.  One is a nearly lifelong friend and the other had been a good friend since the day we met four years ago.  These friendships are very different but both are very important to me; I don’t think I could have survived the past few years without them.
Another ongoing part of my life design plan is learning.  Six months ago I thought I’d do it all at the same time … Italian lessons, dance lessons, music lessons, a return to college.  Reality is here now.  All of those things will wait, then I will choose one to begin, just one.  Probably the Italian lessons.  Maybe the music lessons.  I am always reading books or magazines that relate to my interests, especially history, so that pursuit is a learning situation similar to what I would get in college.  My current book is about the past and present of the Space program and the next one is about Thomas Jefferson.  My usual magazine fare is the Smithsonian and sometimes I read National Geographic.
Music is a huge part of my life and my plan includes taking in more live music and eventually studying music again.  Funny thing is that my original plan for today was to go to a concert but I chose to stay home and handle other things instead.  My balance will come during the two friend visits this summer, each involving a concert.
Writing is also on my life design list.  A ‘real’ writer who sometimes visits this blog once told me I am a writer because I write this blog.  I am flattered by that but I call her a real writer because she has published a few books.  At some point I will learn how to make writing a part, even a small part, of my income.  But that will have to wait.  There are other pursuits ahead of it.  One at a time.  Balance.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Random New York Stuff

I spent a few days in New York this week, on business.  Right.  My business is a business but it’s fun so it’s almost hard to call it business. I now get to New York a couple of times a year and I am starting to actually know a little about it, even beginning to know my way around a little. 

Some random observations:

- Like the song says, New York is the city that never sleeps.  Places are open late and people are on the move at all hours.

- It’s called ‘the Big Apple’.  I don‘t know why.  Maybe I’ll look that up before posting this.

- Some say New York is a dangerous city.  Maybe it is but the only time I don’t feel safe is in the hair-raising taxi ride from the train station to my hotel each visit.  I am shocked that none of my taxi rides involved a wreck and none resulted in the death or injury of a pedestrian or bicycle courier.

- This visit I walked down to the site of the most horrible catastrophe in American history: the target of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001; the site of the former World Trade Center buildings.  The top of the new Freedom Tower building was installed recently and I took some pictures of the structure.  It is an eerie feeling standing in front of the now-famous fire station, facing the single tower that replaced the destroyed twin towers.

- The most common sound in Manhattan is a car horn.

- That city is at times dirty, smelly and noisy but it is incredibly ALIVE!  I don’t know that I could ever live there but I love to visit and I think I understand the appeal.

- OK, I looked it up.  There are several theories about how New York came to be nicknamed the Big Apple… too many for this blog, so click here to read more.

I’m going back to New York next month and that time I hope to add a day or two to the business part of my visit to engage in some tourist activities.

Additional random note: Windows 8 and Word 2013 are both a pain in the ass.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Day In the Rain Observations

Today was my radio station’s annual music festival at a local outdoor venue.  The reserved seats are under cover but the lawn seating area and the concession area that rings the venue is out in the open.  We do have a catering tent for our staff and I did spend some time in there between showers.

Some randomness:

- The event is in May or early June every year, which means there is always a chance for rain.  We often get downpours, then the sky clears and there rest of the afternoon and night are great.  The last two years saw almost no rain.  We got rain today; no downpours but definitely periods of steady rain.

- The waterproof rain jacket I wore is no longer waterproof, which shouldn’t be a surprise because I bought it in 1999.  It was definitely waterproof then because I wore it in driving rain on a beach in North Carolina the day after I bought it as I was preparing to evacuate the approaching Hurricane Floyd.  Now it is water resistant.

- I know you can get a sunburn even if it’s cloudy but I just didn’t think about reapplying sun screen.  Where am I red?  Not my winter white legs, not my arms, not my nose, not my face … my ears are sunburned.  Didn’t see that coming.

- Spent some time talking with co-workers I rarely see at work.  And everyone looks different in concert casual attire than work clothes; sometimes that’s good, sometimes not so much.

- I’ll be back at this venue in two weeks to see Tim McGraw with one of my closest friends and again in July to see the Dave Matthews Band with another of my closest friends.  Rain or shine.

- Today, however, I saw no music.  My main job at this festival each year is to record short interviews with the fans for later use on the air.  Normally I do stay and see the music too but I am way too busy this week and weekend, so I left when the main acts started.

- This is a good venue once you get past the traffic jams and the iffy weather and the overprice concessions.  All sarcasm aside, it is a good venue.  Sound is usually good, seats are comfortable.  If I ever get rich I’ll buy VIP seating because that comes with table service.  Ahhh, to be rich.

OK, enough for now.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Stuff Coming

I've got stuff on my mind, things I want to say, observations I want to make but I'm busy this week.  Actually that is one of my observations ... I am BUSY this week, so busy that I feel like I'm drowning in the murky liquid of stuff!  I love my life but sometimes it gets crazy.  Fortunately I have some skills that enable me to straighten things out.  One of them is the ability to take a deep breath, look around, soak in the positives in my life and regroup.  When I take those steps, I return to my usual positive self and things get better.  I realize I've accomplished personal and professional goals, I have music adventures in my near future, I have a paid-for 3-day trip to New York next week (for business but it's fun business), and two dear friends are visiting me soon.  OK, that's all for this morning.  More stuff coming soon.  Have a great day and thanks for visiting.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Hey Mom

So my curiosity about things led me to finally look up a little history regarding Mother’s Day.  A West Virginia woman named Anna Jarvis is credited with the first one in 1908.  She campaigned to make it an official day recognizing one’s mother and President Woodrow Wilson declared it a national holiday in 1914.  Jarvis eventually came to dislike the commercialization of Mother’s Day and I can’t blame her; it is definitely a ‘Hallmark holiday’ now.

BUT does that really matter?  The relentless television ads and retail sales do serve to remind us to set aside a day just for Mom.

My mother died almost eight years ago and I hate to admit this … sometimes I forget about her.  I don’t always think about her on her birthday, or her death day, both of which were the first days of their respective months.  I only visited her back home once or twice a year during her last few years and one of the few regrets I have in life is that I didn’t spend more time with her.  The last time I saw her, ten months before she died, dementia had begun and she didn’t realize who I was till my third or fourth visit to the nursing home that week.  Before that year, however, she had no problem recognizing me, she remembered what I was doing for a living, where I lived, who I was married to.  She still expressed regret that I didn’t give her grandchildren.  She still told stories about my youth and revealed more details about hers with each visit.

It is impossible to avoid thinking about her when the Mother’s Day ads start each year but it is during that time I often realize that she is with me every day of my life.  I went through a twenty-year phase of my life in which I tried to reject a lot of my parents’ beliefs and attitudes but as I got older I realized that their ‘processes’ are a major part of who I am.  The approach I take toward thinking things through is very much like that of my Mother and my Father, even though the conclusions are often very different.

Mom was a story-teller.  Any little comment by anyone in her vicinity could launch her into a story about something.  I do that too … pausing for a moment here while readers who know me in real life laugh at what I just said.  Mom was curious about people, what they thought, what made them behave as they did, who they knew and what they did in their youth.  Mom was a stay-at-home mom from six months into her pregnancy with me till the day she died, and that was her choice as well as the custom of her generation, but she was very independent.  Dad seemed to be king of the house, as was also their generational custom, but it was apparent to me in my adulthood that she had an equal stake in the family; she was just more subtle and background about it.

She seemed to be a conformist but she also defied many standards and expectations of her day.  For example, she worked from post high school till the middle of her first year of marriage, got married at the end of her 30s, had kids in her 40s in an era when her peers were becoming grandparents at that age.  She was outwardly judgmental about many things but often eventually changed her attitude in the face of new information obtained as a result of her ongoing curiosity.  She didn’t return to work after my sister and I were out of the house but she did begin to pursue some of her interests, including taking art lessons in her early 60s.

My Mother loved to travel and I suspect she was behind the annual family road trips we took.  She would pick the destination and choose many of the attractions we would visit.  She was more adventurous than Dad but also quite cautious.  Dad would figure out the details of making trips happen; things like daily travel distance, hotel reservations, budgeting.  They had an incredible yet subtle compatibility in which they shared things they were in sync on (which were many) and they had plenty of give-and-take on their differences.

I am certain that Mom influenced my taste in women.  I am attracted to women who are independent but no so much that they don’t need me, a mix of conventional and unconventional, opinionated yet open-minded, with a balance of adventure and caution and a mix of extrovert/introvert, spontinaety and predictability.  That’s not too much to ask, is it?  Geez.  No wonder I’m single again.  OK, enough Dr. Phil.

As I was unpacking unlabelled boxes after my recent move, I found a stack of cards and letters from Mom that I hadn’t seen since the 1980s.  She still had her beautiful handwriting and her somewhat formal writing style and I was surprised by the level of detail and emotion she expressed in her letters.  I either forgot about that side of her or had never noticed it.  Maybe I’ll dig those out on Mother’s Day and read them while sipping on a glass of her favorite wine … Chablis … which she pronounced chah-BLISS not chah-BLEE, despite the fact that her native language was French.  Quirky Mom … quirky son.

Happy Mother’s Day.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Food For Thought

An interesting observation from John Lennon ...

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Role of Friendships and Family

The typical boomer, by my observation, is or has been married, has children and despite our mobile society lives fairly close to some part of their extended family.  I am atypical in that I have no children, my closest relative is 200 miles away and most of my family lives more than 1000 miles from here.

I’ve read many books and articles on the nature of friendships. Strong friendships usually develop over time, shared time.  The individuals share experiences, social time, may occasionally ask each other for help and offer each other help, sometimes with very important or serious situations.  A bond is formed through these shared experiences, especially if the friendships develop during times of personal growth or change such as adolescence.  There are levels of friendship, ranging from the casual friends who might be connected by work or neighborhoods to the closest, emotionally intimate friends who can call each other at 2 in the morning to ask a favor or seek help to handle some emergency.

I have lived within fifty miles of my current address for just over twenty nine years yet I cannot name a single person who I could call at two in the morning for that kind of help.  I can only name one person who I could call and ask for a ride to a doctor’s office if I was unable to get there on my own, and that is my now ‘ex’ and obviously it would be very awkward to make that request of her. 

So how did I get to the point where I’ve lived half a lifetime in one area yet have not developed any of those friendships?  And if you are in this situation, have you ever thought about how you got there?  More important, what do we (boomers or otherwise) do about it?

I have no answers, only questions.  At one point in my life I was a great networker but I let those skills lapse, especially when it comes to family.  I have close friends now, partly because of constant communication, but they live in North Carolina, Louisiana, Hawaii and England.  It has been a challenge to re-establish local friendships from my first years living here in the Washington DC area.  I know I write about (and whine about) this a lot.  I am working on taking action but that is difficult.

My biggest source of new friends is work.  Those friendships begin with shared connections to work and sometimes they can develop into more significant friendships, but only if the parties engage in non-work bonding.  That could be sports, hobbies, whatever, but who has time for that?  I do plan to concentrate on meeting people outside of work, but that is a time issue to, at least for now.

I’m rambling now, so I’ll stop.  Just wanted to share this observation; maybe you’re in the same boat at times.  Updates later.  I’m happy with the direction my live is moving in; if you’re a regular reader, you know that I am often obsessive and impatient. 

All for now.  Cheers.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Laughing At Myself

I might be the last person I know to admit how obsessive I am about things.  I finally recognized it a few years ago but it still catches me off guard sometimes.  And even though I think I hide it, apparently I do not, because my boss mentioned it today (in a friendly way, not as criticism).

So, this week’s obsessiveness and the mostly good results:

First, the leg thing I mentioned in my last two posts.  In my head I had already figured out a Plan A and a Plan B for scheduling the possible surgery and I imagined how I would handle the daily parts of my life while on crutches for a few months of recovery.  The diagnosis by the orthopaedic surgeon after x-rays and some conversation and inspection … I experienced a minor flare up likely caused by the inevitable rubbing of the metal pin in my leg against bone or muscle.  No need to remove the pin; in fact, it’s harder to do that now than it was twenty years ago and maybe riskier.  See him again if it happens a lot but meanwhile nothing is wrong.  By the way, it has generally felt fine for most of the days since the one day of sharp pain.

On to my computer decision stress.  I had another chat (my 4th or 5th) with my work IT guy.  We talked through what I really want and the pros and cons of some potential choices and prices.  An hour later he emailed me a link to a discount mailing list he’s on … a major discount on the exact thing I was looking for had just popped up and it was available on Amazon, where I regularly buy other things.  A few minutes later I had ordered it.  Dude, I’m getting a Dell!  This laptop has more power and more features than the desk top I bought five years ago and it cost a third as much as the desk top did.  Wow!  And no more obsessiveness and no dealing with a clueless sales monkey at Best Buy (some staffers there do know what they’re talking about but I usually find the ones who don’t).  This time next week I’ll be writing these posts on my new laptop.

My summer.  One of two my anticipated visiting friends has book flights.  The other one has a plan but I’ll have to wait for details to be nailed down.  I think the only obsessiveness I had about planning for either is that I want to be a fun and flexible tour guide and I definitely over think the details.  But the closer I get to their scheduled visits, the more relaxed I get and the more I remember that these are two of my closest friends and at least part of their motivation for visiting me is, well me.  And hanging out is part of the plan for each.  I have a new neighborhood to show off, tickets to concerts for each and there are always plenty of tourist things to do around here.  What the hell was I worried about?  And my guest room is almost ready, which was really the only big detail left.

So I guess the only thing left to really laugh at this week is how funny I’ll look when trying out my Hip Hop Abs DVDs when they arrive.  No, there will not be any videos of that.  Don’t even ask. 

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Random Thoughts on a Saturday Night

One of my best ‘finds’ on the cable TV channel lineup at my new place is Palladia.  It’s all live music.  Right now I’m watching Sade in concert; I’ve always wanted to see her but never have.  Last night I saw selected replays of the Hang Out Music Festival in Gulf shores, Alabama last year.  Saw three songs by the Dave Matthews Band; can’t wait to see them here this summer, hopefully with the friend who first got me very interested in them. 

You’re not going to believe this … I ordered Hip Hop Abs today.  Stop laughing.  My abs are all flab right now, despite an intentional ten pound weight loss over the past few months and a return to the gym two to three times a week.  This dvd series looks like fun and the price was pretty low.  I’ll let you know in three to five business days if it’s worth it.

I am so busy during the week that sometimes I get very lazy on Saturdays.  I had great plans to clean my place today and go see a blues band tonight.  I did do laundry, start cleaning the bathroom and took a nice walk.  Also took three naps.  Didn’t go to see the band.

Nothing new on the new leg issue I mentioned in my last post.  It hurt a little this morning but felt better this afternoon, hurt a little after my walk but felt batter an hour later.  I really don’t have time for medical issues right now.  I have a very busy schedule from now till the end of July and I do NOT want to have any medical issues interrupting things.  Summoning up all the positive energy I can find.  If I have to have some kind of new surgery on my leg it’ll have to wait till August.  I should have a better idea of what’s wrong after another doctor visit Monday.

My desktop computer keeps crashing or glitching, so I’m using a work laptop right now.  I’ve been shopping for a new computer but haven’t found the right combination of price and features yet.  When I dug deeper into the specifications of one my IT guy at work suggested I realized it didn’t have an ‘optical drive’.  In other words, no CD or DVD player built in.  I realize software and music are largely download things now but I still want the ‘optical drive’.  I still make music CDs for personal use in my car and I still have many CDs that I want to eventually put on my iPod.  And as convenient as laptops are, I still prefer larger monitors and better keyboards that those that are usually built into affordable laptops, which means I need more USB connections and other features; that means I might need something a bit more expensive than what I’ve been looking at.  Why is this so damn confusing?

My attempt at having some kind of friendship with my ex is a crazier ride than the scariest roller coaster at the biggest theme park.  After two weeks of no communication I get a text in which she whines about two or three things she used to always whine about and concluded her rant with the words “my life sucks.”  I’m proud to say I didn’t get sucked into the discussion.  I waited two days before texting back a question which would indicate my willingness to help a little with one of the things she mentioned.  She answered with news that the problem she was whining about was resolved.  Today I got an email from her asking a basic questions about something followed by a fairly cool story about some nature things we used to joke about.  Up down up down.  At this point all I want is up.  I have no expectation that we can have any kind of friendship.  If it happens, great.  If not, no problem.  It is incredibly significant that I have reached the point that I don’t get sucked back into the conflicts.

It almost feels like spring here this week.  Highs in the upper 60s, lows in the 40s.  I was wearing shorts, a t-shirt and sandals for my walk today.  A little chilly for that but it worked.  Soaking in the vitamin D sunshine, trying to get a shade darker before my summer work-related outdoor concert season begins in two weeks.

OK, that’s enough randomness for tonight.  Time for one more glass of wine.  Cheers.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Aging Yuck

Do you cringe when you hear a 35-year-old claim they are getting old?  I bet you do if you’re a boomer, which means you are between 49 and 67.  If you’re in the boomer age zone, how did you feel about age when you were 35?  45?  Now?

I ‘collect’ people who are role models for creative aging, with the hope of learning from them.  It could be people who do what they love regardless of expectations related to their age, including people I don’t know (Paul McCartney, Mick Jagger, Diane Sawyer) and people I do know (a former radio talk show host acquaintance who last time I saw her was still hosting a show and teaching two college courses at age 90).  My mother and her older sister each also defied aging expectations and were great role models for getting older (and their brother married his second wife in his 80s).

I hope to be viewed as such a person one day, but on this day I am feeling old.  I have a doctor appointment this morning to discuss a new recent pain around a twenty-three year old leg injury.  Today I feel great and almost cancelled the appointment, which I just made yesterday.  On Tuesday I experienced a sudden sharp pain at the injury site as I stood up to leave work, nearly fell over at my first step and continued to limp for the rest of the evening.  There was still some pain Wednesday and a little bit yesterday, when I finally cut through the annoying voice answering system at the doc’s office to convince them I needed the appointment today and not next Wednesday.  Today there is no pain but I am concerned that something might be wrong where the metal pin that is still connected to my leg bone after all these years.

Last time I saw this doctor in January for my cataract surgery pre-op exam (just saying that makes me feel old – I am actually young for cataract surgery but I’ve had it in both eyes now), the doctor, who I estimate to be in his 40s, said from this point forward I’ll be making friends with many doctors.  The element of truth in his attempt at humor is actually a little depressing.  My normally healthy, positive attitude combined with an incredible family history leads me to believe I have thirty to forty years ahead of me, maybe more.  But many people I know, from a 33-year-old friend who thinks she’s old to a 48-year-old friend who thought her 62-year-old ex-husband was old to a 68-year-old co-worker who thinks he’s old to a 70-year-old neighbor who thinks she’s old, whine about getting old. 

And now I’m doing it here in this blog, which began as a writing vehicle for observations about creative aging.

I really should be shining a spotlight on people who are healthy, vibrant and doing what they love, including musicians I mentioned a few paragraphs ago.  Paul McCartney is 70, Mick Jagger is 69, Bruce Springsteen is 63, Tom Petty 62, George Strait is 60, Bono from U2 is 52.  Willie Nelson celebrated his 80th birthday this week.  Each of them is touring now or has toured in the past three years.  I don’t hear them whining about aging.  I don’t know that any of them have ever been hospitalized.  George Strait rides horses and Harleys and Jagger’s recent concerts look like commercials for cardio exercise plans.

Three years ago the only doctors I had were a dentist and an eye doc.  I had stopped having annual physicals several years prior because I didn’t like the primary care physician I had at the time.  Two years ago I decided to find a regular doctor again and less than a year later I had skin cancer surgery, eye surgery and a still-unexplained neurological episode that lasted four months last year.  Soon I will add a psychologist to the list.  I still have a positive attitude and an even healthier lifestyle, with better diet and exercise and less stress.  But a twenty-three year old injury is knocking at my door.  This part of aging sucks.
On a brighter note, check out this clip with Jagger.