Tiny Bit of Crazy

A chronical of the laughter, revelations and transformations that are possible when you embrace the crazy

Since When Is 35 The New 65? May 17, 2011

When I was little, the date May 17th glowed on the page of every calendar.  Anything else that occurred on that date, no matter how mundane or unrelated to me, would sparkle with a reflected glow.

It wasn’t just that May 17th was my birthday. It was MY day and mine alone. Which is no small thing when you have an immediate family consisting of 5 other kids and 4 adults (the unique makeup of my family is story for another time. Let’s stay focused on me here).

When it was your birthday, you got to pick the meal that would be served on the Sunday nearest your birthday. I know this doesn’t sound like that big of a deal, but it totally was. Especially for me and my two younger brothers, affectionatly (I assume) known as “the little kids” (while our older sisters and brother were known as “the big kids”). When it was your birthday you were also allowed to stay at the table as long as you wanted, even after the time when he little kids would normally be encouraged to go play while the grown ups (and big kids) talked. For me this was huge, and I’d often stay for a while, even though I didn’t understand or care what anyone was talking about, just because I could.

Since my birthday was in mid-May, it came to symbolize the official beginning of summer for my family, and my meal choice was hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill, with chips and macaroni and potato salad, and we’d eat out on the porch instead of the dining room, and play frisbee and tag in the yard.

In my memory it was sunny and warm for every single birthday.

At some point in the last 2-3 years it occurred to me that is statistically impossible since I lived in upstate NY and meteorological records would prove it was probably cold, rainy and possibly even snowy more often than not.

But in my memory, every single year it was a day with my whole family laughing in the sunshine eating picnic food and strawberry cake, with me at the center.

But then I grew up and I went away to college. Birthdays were celebrated, and always enjoyed, but slowly I came to accept that the day would no longer entail me being the center of everyone’s universe. There are actually people, I eventually learned, who don’t know, or care, that May 17th is my birthday. By the time I was in my 30’s I was comfortable with this fact. Which isn’t to say I haven’t always enjoyed my birthday. I’ve always had wonderful friends and family who  have made the day special in some way. But the truth is that adult birthdays are rarely as special as childhood birthdays. It’s not a bad thing per se, just a reality thing.

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Today I turn 35. And I am aware of my birthday as a signal of the passage of time in new way. Suddenly today isn’t just about me getting more than a normal amount of attention, but about me moving into a new phase of my life.

As marked by the rapid deterioration of my body.

However, one upshot to getting older is that my appearance is catching up to my actual age. I used to consistently look 10-12 years younger than I actually was. Now the gap has closed to about 6 years.

When I was in my 20’s and looked like a teenager, or when I was in college and routinely mistaken for a visiting high school student, I hated my youthful appearance. Teachers, parents and random strangers would routinely tell me I’d be thankful for these genetics someday.

I was always pretty sure I wouldn’t.

But now while I might not love it, I don’t hate it anymore. And I can already tell that when the gap closes even more, I’m going to miss it…

However.

While my face appears to be that of a carefree 20-something, my body appears to be that of a retiree.

To wit:

My arches have fallen.

Which means I have to wear special inserts in my sneakers, and ideally my non-sneaker footwear will also have arch support.

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Let me restate that, to make sure we’re all on the same page here. Only a few hour into my 35th year and the concept of arch support is front of mind for me. Take a moment and digest that.

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The falling arch issue was discovered while I was being treated for a badly pulled Achilles tendon.

How’d I do that, you ask? Well that’s a funny story… wait, actually it’s not a story at all since I have NO IDEA how I did this.  Because that’s what happens when you get old. YOU HURT YOURSELF BY WALKING.

I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the next time I stumble while walking through Target it’ll be my hip that goes.

When I commented on how slow my recovery has been, my physical therapist, who is 25, said “These kinds of injuries take a long time to heal at your age.”

.

Also, my metabolism, which took a nose dive when I turned 30, has slowed down even more. Now just looking at cake makes it show up on my ass.

Also, this morning I discovered a mole on my leg with a hair growing out of it. That wasn’t there yesterday…you know, back when I was a spring chicken of 34.

And as if all of that weren’t enough, I also have Endometriosis. Which basically means that my body, much like my grandmother, has given up on the idea that my reproductive organs will ever be used for their intended purpose, and so my uterus has begun to look like that spare room in your house, with random cells and uterine tissue just tossed in there like last year’s Halloween decorations and that futon you can’t bring yourself to get rid of.

And it would be fine if those junk cells just sat in there collecting dust behind a closed door. But they don’t. They are wreaking havoc in my body. Kinda like a family of mice that takes up residence in the futon and now runs amok through the whole house, eating through your power bar wrappers, making tiny teeth marks in the fresh fruit , and leaving poo all over every surface…

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My hormones are out of control. I’m as likely to cry from a credit card commercial (no interest for the WHOLE year?!) as from hitting a red light.

I’m retaining water. Specially, I have swollen ankles. But on the bright side, if there’s one thing that looks good with orthopedic shoes, its cankles.

I’m frequently exhausted. Which is actually ok, because I need to spend a lot of time with my injured tendon elevated and iced.

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And yet…

I’m not all that unhappy about my birthday. Maybe its just the crazy hormones talking, but I find myself feeling a bit warm and fuzzy, a bit optimistic about life as I enter into the second half of my third decade.

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Turns out there are certain perks that come with advanced age.

Like the fact that I have acquired an almost embarrassingly wonderful list of friends and family who love me.  Before 10am I’d received heartfelt birthday wishes via text, phone, email, in person, and on Facebook by more than 30 people. And this is outside of birthday wishes and a present that I got on Sunday, cupcakes from my co-workers yesterday, a birthday dinner with my wonderful boyfriend planned for tonight, and a full on birthday party on Sunday, which is being planned by one of these wonderful friends. And I haven’t even checked my mailbox in a few days…  

I am humbled by this out pouring of love. And grateful that at various points in my life I’ve had whatever combination of luck, wisdom and heart to make the decisions that allowed me to make, build, and maintain these relationships with both friends and family members.

And then there’s the boyfriend.

My friends and family make me feel loved, but he has managed to make me feel special on a level I haven’t felt since those childhood birthdaydays.  

Tuesday night is not usually a night we see each other, and I was perfectly comfortable with celebrating my birthday with him on Wednesday night, our standard date night.

But he said he wanted to see me on my birthday, so we made dinner plans. Which was enough of a treat for me.

Then he called me at work this morning , which he’s never done before, to say Happy Birthdaywhich was a wonderful surprise and great way to start my day. It was already one of my best birthdays in recent memory.

And THEN, he showed up at my office in the middle of the day carrying roses, a balloon, and 2 slices of cake, complete with candles and matches.

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Sorry Mom and Dad, but I think this just officially become the best birthday I’ve ever had.

The possibility that he would be walking through my office door with flowers and a balloon and cake was so far from my mind, that it actually took me around three seconds to realize I recognized the delivery guy.

I was so stunned, my memory of the first few minutes of him walking in and setting the flowers and cake on my desk and me hugging and kissing him hello plays back like watching a YouTube video on a slow internet connection – all jerky movements and missed dialogue.

I’m actually still a little speechless. Which to some people may be the most impressive part about the whole thing.

All I can say at this point is that, so far, being 35 has kind of rocked.

 

I’m Baaa-aaak! November 11, 2010

I am definitely not the most uncoordinated person I know.

I mean, there are definitely people way more klutzy than me.

Unless I’m at the gym.

The worst episodes have so far taken place in my office gym. At my regular gym, when I’m with my trainer, it’s not generally too bad – maybe because he’s there to catch me and prop me and show me how to do stuff.

I mean, sure there was that day when for reasons unknown to me or god, I decided to step up onto a moving treadmill. But I caught myself with a surprisingly agile hop and skip and remained upright. And no one saw me except my trainer, and even though he laughed loud and long enough that everyone in the treadmill and bike area looked over, by then I looked like a normal person walking on the treadmill, so that doesn’t really count. 

I’ve been out of the gym for about three months due to an injury (not gym or klutz related), and today was my third session back, and my first one that attempted anything more complicated than the treadmill or weight machines.

First we did lunges up and down the space between the weight machines. Lunges take a certain kind of balance. I am out of practice. There were at least two times where I lost my balance and I was stuck in the lunge position wobbling side to side, arms out, looking like someone trying to balance in a canoe.

Next up was balance squats on an overturned bosu ball (so the squishy part is down) (that’s a technical term). Normally my trainer helps me get onto the ball, but this morning I had a substitute trainer and she was off doing something while I was supposed to be climbing up on this stupid thing. I initially forgot that, well, I’m me, and tried to just climb on.

I put my right foot on the right side and it tipped all the way to the right, and then I tried to lift my left foot to put on the left side assuming it would then stabilize in the middle. Except my right foot was at such a steep angle that as soon as I lifted my left foot my whole body tipped to the right and I was flailing around trying to avoid going face down on the carpet. 

For my second try, I did exactly the same thing again, with exactly the same result.

For my third try I did exactly the same thing, EXCEPT I started with my left foot….And got exactly the same result except the flailing occurred to the left.

Fourth try, I put my right foot in the center of the bosu ball, with the result of flailing forward. 

Into the guy on the big ab machine.

He was on his side, the upper half of his body hanging out into the aisle, minding his business, and suddenly, there I am. Sharing the pad.

I was just like “You had to have realized this was a possibility during tries 1-3.”

Fifth try I made it! Just as the trainer was walking over to help me. Although I have absolutely no idea how I did it and am sure that if I tried again right now, I would repeat tries 1-4 exactly.  

Later, I was sent to get a floor mat, and as I pulled it out from behind the big stretching structure thingy, I slid it backward and it hit a foam roller, which fell forward and narrowly missed whacking this really old guy sitting on a ball, and instead knocked down his water bottle. I said “Oh, I’m sorry!” and picked up the foam roller, expecting to hear him offer the socially obligatory “no problem”. And when I turned toward him to receive his forgiveness, he made  a snarly face and rolled his eyes.

I decided that he was probably just having a stroke.

Finally the work out was over, no one was bleeding, or suing (I assume), and I come out of the locker room with my big gym bag over my shoulder and decide to fill up my water bottle for the drive home.

The water fountain is in a corner between a wall and another ab machine. I walked around the ab machine toward the water fountain and promptly wacked the guy laying down on the machine with my bag.

I pretended I didn’t notice.

I couldn’t watch two people have a stroke on the same day.

 

How I Roll June 28, 2010

Filed under: Working Out — Meredith @ 8:18 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

The other day boxing class was held inside the gym, instead of outside as usual, because it was only myself and one other woman, J.  We were with our trainer in the “boy part” the part with all the weights and punching bags. (And to be fair, we WERE the only women in that section the whole morning.)

I’ve been boxing for several months at this point, and J has been doing it even longer I believe. I know we look like we know what we’re doing, and I know we look like we can do some damage with a punch – when you land a solid hit into a pad the sound is loud and can be almost deafening when you’re in an enclosed space. J had just finished a sparring round with the trainer and I was setting myself for my turn and in the brief moment of quiet before I started my round, this old, flabby, grey haired guy who had been watching us from where he stood near a bench press -spotting a younger, buffer guy, but not using it – says to our trainer, “Hey! Are they gonna fight each other? And can we watch?” with a wiggle of his bushy grey eye brows. My trainer replied “They’re gonna fight YOU! How about that?” Then turns back to me. I had to take a second to reset myself because the exchange, though it had only been 10 seconds had thrown me off. My trainer turns back to the guy and says “Are they gonna fight each other…” with disdain and dismissal clear in his tone. When he turned back to me I was ready, and as I started throwing the combinations he was calling out, I could see the old guy over his shoulder, and he looked suitably shamed, and kept his eyes focused on the guy he was spotting.

Part of my brain said that he was old, from another generation, he probably didn’t see how the comment wasn’t so much funny, as sexist and belittling. And I want to say that recognizing that was enough to keep me from feeling sexualized and belittled. But it wasn’t. I mean, it only stung for a second, but I’d felt it nonetheless. But THEN, I got mad, and *POP* I landed a cross that sounded like a gun shot. “Stupid jackass…” I thought and *POP* *POP* “Yeahhh” my trainer says in response to the sudden increase in the power behind my cross.  *POP*, *POP POP*, *POP*  the sound of me hitting the pads was so loud and consistent that the guy couldn’t help but look in my direction and just as I landed an upper cut that felt like  it could pop a man’s head off his neck (although, to be fair, I sort of believe that about every upper cut I throw. It’s the kind of punch that makes me feel like I could actually take someone in a fight.) I pushed myself to keep hitting hard and fast, to keep getting that *POP* even though I was almost at my limit. I kept hearing my trainer say “they’re gonna fight you!” and I wondered if the old man even considered it an option. *POP* I wondered if  he thought he could take me just because he was a man, despite being old and soft. *POP POP* I wondered if he saw the 20 years we had on him, the muscles in our arms, the power in our cores, the precision of our punches, the focus in our eyes. *POP* I wondered if the 3 other men who’d witnessed the exchange, and who were watching us now as well, thought I could take him. *POP POP POP* 

Because I so totally could. I could wup the wrinkles right out of that liver spotted ass.

Do I feel weird about the fact that I feel empowered at the idea of committing elder abuse? Not really. Maybe I should, I don’t know. But I do know this, that old man is probably the only person I could beat in a fist fight, including a smaller untrained woman. Unless I snuck up on her and got a few blows in before she knew what was happening, so she ‘d be dazed and have trouble focusing her eyes… actually, that’s probably not a bad strategy for Wrinkles over there either…which isn’t because I don’t think I’m strong enough to win in a straight out fight, but… I really don’t like it when the other person hits back. It’s so annoying. And hurts.

"I'm gonna knock you out..."

 

 
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