Thursday, October 13, 2011

30 Day Photography Challenge - Flowers

Catching up!
Summer's paradox at a distance.
Randal put some flowers in his hair.

UPDATED: Geoffrey takes us back to the beginning.

Forty-six is a weird age. Not weird like when you're twelve and itching to be a teenager or you're fifteen and anxious to get your driver's license or when you're between eighteen and twenty-one, the time of being an adult who can get married and fight wars for rich people, but you can't drink alcohol. Legally.

No forty-six, for a woman, at least, is weird because it's the time when you're body is shifting gears from being a potential baby-maker to being a walking exhibit of good and bad choices. It even has its own capitalized name. The Change.

I'm going to go into some personal stuff here so if you're bothered by periods and such, please step away. I'm not in a mood to wrap reality in rainbows and unicorns for anyone. Because I'm 46.

First - this isn't because I just turned 46 although knowing that I'm closer to being fifty than I could have every imagined I'd be, has been a bit of a shock. The reality is that I could have written this post when I was 45 and it will likely be relevant when I'm 47, too.

My body is definitely changing so what do I do? Well, I ask my husband stupid questions like "We didn't have some kind of sperm accident that I've forgotten, did we?" 

To which he rolls his eyes and utters a denial and a number that makes it abundantly clear that he's keeping track of how many times we've had sex in the last month. 

So where's my period?

The first time this happened, I freaked out. Like when I had sex with my boyfriend in the back of his Chevelle and we counted on his good lord and the pull out method. My period would be late and I'd go into a self-flagellating panic. I was a smart girl with a promising life ahead of me, why on earth would I let an unsheathed penis within six feet of my vagina?

Every time I went to the toilet, I closed my eyes and hoped for the little telltale signs of a bit of pink on the tissue. Please oh please, I prayed to no one in particular, let my uterus shed its lining!

And here I am again. Without my trusty IUD. With pretty much the same careless contraceptive methods that were the hallmark of my teens. And I'm wondering if I'm going to end up with an Oopsy Daisy baby. The horror. I'm over the parenting thing. If I could give Sophie an express ticket to eighteen? In a heartbeat. Selfish? Oh yeah. Think I care? Let's just say if I had baby advice to offer it's this - if you want more than one, do it bam, bam, bam! Four or five years between three kids means I've been at this for twenty-one years and I'm in for the hard stuff for another five with no time off for good behavior.

I love them. Of course, I love them, but I'm ready to be living the life in those Toyota commercials where the empty nesters go horseback riding and dancing and, by god, I won't be satisfied until I've held hands with my love while we sit side by side in matching claw-footed bathtubs admiring the sunset.

So what does this have to do with flowers? Well, I'll tell ya. It might be a stretch, but I'll do my best.

Just keep repeating to yourself "The sweet flower of youth" and you'll get the idea.

Some of you know what Pinterest is, but if you don't here's a link. Right click it and open it in a new tab or window so you can stay here and read my really important words. Go on, I'll give you a sec to get the gist.

Back? Good. So here's the thing - some of Chloe's friends and I follow each other on Pinterest and it's delightful because they are lovely young women with so much promise and talent. I adore them. But there's a dark side to this and here it is: Pinterest is my daily reminder that not only is my flower fading, but that there will come a point when they - those beautiful, intelligent young women - will burst forth with their own flowers of fertility and there's no holding it back. Biology won't let us no matter how many bargains we offer. Where we leave off, they'll begin and so it goes, Kurt.

The itch to mate is taking them by their smooth-skinned hands and leading them toward marriage and motherhood. They're pinning ideas for how their houses will look, wedding ideas, wedding reception ideas, and yes, baby ideas. Sigh.

I love it that they can use technology to visually dream, but sigh. And as an aside, boy am I glad that this kind of thing didn't exist when I was twenty and torturing my own mother with how my life would be so damned superior to the lame choices she'd made. Holy white sofas in high rise apartments, she'd be laughing maniacally and sending me links to all kinds of big ideas that never materialized.

I mentioned this to the Voice of Reason who once again rolled his eyes and reminded me that I was twenty-two when we married and furthermore, by the ripe old age of twenty-five was so desperately in the clutches of the biological need to procreate that I bit a hole in a used condom and inserted into my vagina.

How annoying of him to use my own history to illustrate a point.

So what is it that bothers me about seeing Chloe's friends pinning their dreams on marriage and babies and House Beautiful?

All of it. None of it. It's a reminder of things done, undone and not done. It's my friend who divorced at forty-one and shared with me that she'd heard envy expressed by so many women our age. It's the middle-aged lament is this all there is? It's the grinding sameness of every day because I'm feeling trapped and need someone else to blame because that silver-haired chick in the mirror is busy craving a return of her eighteen year old face unlined by time, stress and sun. It's the emotional adolescence of wanting what I want when I want it, consequences be damned. To blithely ignore the needs of others for a change, to eradicate the contractions can't and won't and shouldn't from my vocabulary so I can finally reach that much rumored potential.

And of course, on my worst days, I want my youth back but with the caveat that I get to take today's knowledge with me.

Because, let's face it, age does give us the gift of experience. I would only want to go if I knew that I could go confident that most of what people say isn't very well thought-through so I shouldn't take it personally. That not everyone is going to like me and that's okay. That it's fine to wear that skirt, to toss out those shoes, to leave the dishes in the sink, to plant my ass in a chair and read a book, to phone that friend, to take that trip, to leave the sadness for another day, to write with abandon, to tell that boss no, to laugh off that joker, to skip the fries and have the milkshake, to say yes to this dress, but not that one.

This isn't about regret. This is about learning. This is about looking at where I am now and figuring out what comes next because, well, fifty is kind of what I see as my personal halfway mark. And there's still so much to do, you know?

But first there are some pressing issues to consider. Do I buy a case of pregnancy tests just to be safe? What I don't use, I could hand out at high schools that teach abstinence only. I won't tempt the fates by wearing light colored pants, but how am I supposed to go on without blaming my chocolate cravings on hormones? That has been part of my personal narrative for so long, it will be like learning a new language.

Maybe I've won the hormonal lottery. My periods were always light and painless. I got pregnant easily. My pregnancies were fairly uneventful if you overlook a little bed rest here or there which was probably my body telling me to lay off the cleaning jags anyway. Is it possible that my uterus just closed for business and didn't leave a forwarding address? I've had one or two things that felt like hot flashes, but otherwise The Change for me has been a breeze. Goodness me, I can't believe I typed all that. I might as well have just done this:

Dear Trouble, come and get me.

What kind of cycles have you guessing?


  1. Empty nesters - that's a total myth. Sure the kids go away and college party for 4 or 6 years. BUT THEY COME BACK! And with Face Time, Skype, messaging, etc. you will learn about stuff you wish you didin't.

    Oh, and they'll "drop by" supposedly by accident so that you will have to baby sit their own children. Naturally the kiddies will be on sugar highs and all you want to do is watch re-runs of favorite sit-coms.

    All the old people driving around pulling vacation trailers? Every last one has changed their names, gotten new identities. They hope and pray they can escape their children before getting caught and forcibly placed in nursing homes.

  2. And I'm wondering if I'm going to end up with an Oopsy Daisy baby.

    I know of a card I could send you...

    So the challenge is flowers? I think I can do that...I've got one or two or a hundred lying around unpublished. And that's just from the last couple weeks!

  3. Amen. How I loved this post.

  4. Shit, & I struggle to toss fifty words on the yellow desert screen.

    Granted, I may cry like a woman or a Boehner at certain moments but I ain't no chick so I can't relate to the obvious lady parts bits (which is kind of all of it, ain't it), but everything else, at least in spirit (mostly 'cause I still have a shade under a couple until 40 don't punch me, be a southern hospitality hippie), oh fucking yeah.

    I'll sacrifice to Cthulhu that there are no more additions to your household outside of oversized novelty checks.

    If Bill's right, and I suspect he is, I'm gonna start drinking (more) right away.

  5. Ah yes the joys of getting old. We become like an old typewriter - no period no colon and no memory.

    Let me fill you in to things to look forward to if you aren't there yet.
    !. Hearing loss unless it's that irritating teen music (Hey turn that down!)
    2. Vision loss - Can you still thread a needle?
    3. Lack of bladder control - Like a programed somnambulist the 2 AM trips to the bathroom.
    4. Lack of wanting to do things you once did. No sweety I can't do cartwheels on the front lawn. A fast dance at the class reunion? Forget it you'd look like a fool.
    And depending on genetics the body really craps out after 55.

  6. As I struggle to type around my laughter this 62.5yr old male'll just leave you with a warm soft hug and the words "you'll be ok honey."

    ROTFLMAO!!!! I think I'm gonna pee my pants.

  7. Truth? I was going to do a series of pictures of my daughters, from infancy to the present, using the whole "budding flower" thing as a template.

    I detect the barest hints of melancholia in some of your words.

  8. I know how you feel -and I have been happy that my life was not tied up with my looks because it was so obvious to me when they stopped being an esset and it didn't crush me!

    It took me yabout 10 years for the monthly cycles to finally stop but I was lucky to have a doc who told me my eggs were shot so there was no need to replace my IUD when I was around 50.

  9. Okay, Bill who commented first: Bill is right! They come back! And if they don't, there are way way way too many open gateways for "communication." Every photo I see on Facebook of my kids are drunken ones. I'm disappointed every time, they look so, well, stupid. I was drunk at their age too, but there were no World Wide Photos of me doing it, for my PARENTS to freely see. The idea that they don't care if we see them kind of creeps me out. I want to be impressed.

    My 80 yr old in-laws have a saying I love: "Don't wait for the golden years. They ain't all that golden." Meaning that now that they are free to do stuff, their physical abilities intrude. Their advice is to do all you can along the way and forget this Retirement, Empty Nest, Golden Years bullshit. These words are just Hallmark Card sayings that lull us into false hope.

    And on that bright note!!!

    Forty-fucking-six. I'm here too. It's the close-to-50 part that totally freaks me out, along with my body not looking or feeling like my body anymore. Who is this person? I get to reinvent her (that's me trying to be positive) but I have no idea where to start.

  10. Let me echo Teri about the body image issues. I feel like Uhura in that Star Trek episode, where she looks in the mirror and sees an old woman looking back.

  11. I love this post so much, Lisa. You are such a sistah!

    So, I've got four years on you. By the time you read this, you probably already got your period. It starts playing hard to get right about mid-40.

    As someone who spent too many afternoons in grocery store restrooms with pregnancy test sticks during my late 30's and early 40's, I finally found a fabulous solution. I married a guy who had had a vasectomy.

    Meanwhile, though, I totally relate to that ambivalence with the ingenues. Do you hug them or slap them silly?

    I have much more to say, but I have to go shed my linty sweatsuit in favor of acceptable crone garb and then I'm off to one of those "pink" gatherings with free wine and a bunch of salivating aestheticians wielding before and after shots.

  12. Ah! to be 46 again, or 56 even. Instead, I'm looking at 65 next month and except for a few lines and a little weakness in my left knee if I walk too far, I'm feeling fine. I can easily sleep 8 hours without running to the toilet, don't need reading glasses so needle threading when I feel like bead weaving still isn't a problem. I'm not on FB and neither is my son but, considering the fact he's five years younger than you, he's far past the stage of drunken partying anyway. Don't believe everything you hear about being past 50 having any particular meaning for you. My grandmother had her last child when she was 54 and was still dressing up to go dancing when she was 85. I had my last period at 56. One never knows, do one?

    I'll keep my fingers crossed that Chloe and her friends make good choices in a complex world. I've always thought it unfortunate we can't inherit wisdom or be born already knowing how to ride a bicycle.

  13. "Life gets sooooo much better when you finally get old enough to not measure your life by everyone else expectations!"

    A direct quote from one of my favorite ladies!

    We have this to look forward to. Trust me--she lives it wholeheartedly!

    We would so love to have her slant on life.

    I still have a gladiola in the garden that has yet to bloom. If it makes it before the really HARD freeze, she will be stunning!


  14. BTW; you are absolutely beautiful, so no worries okay!?

  15. Hi I'm Downith and I'm 50,
    (hi Downith)

    I hear ya sister. Last night my son told me that a friend of his has a motto for life (said friend being 9!)
    "You've got one life. Live it."

    At some point before I'm 51, I hope to adopt that motto...

  16. Bill - Don't shatter my illusions! ;-D
    If - They could at least call them Oopsy Daisies. And is there a tag on your blog for all those pretty flowers? I'd love to see.
    Lyra - Thank you, my friend.
    Randal - Cry like a Boehner! I'm stealing that.
    Demeur - Looks like I'm well on my way.
    Future - I'm glad it cracked you up. I'll take that hug! I can't get pregnant from that, right?
    Geoffrey - We are always so in sync, my friend.
    Susan - Shot eggs. I'm holding on to that idea.
    Teri - We have a date in November for cocktails and pretend.
    averil - That's the perfect way to put it. Wahhhhh!
    Suzy - I'm trying to get my husband to let me do a kitchen vasectomy. He's very tiresome in his reluctance. What a poop.
    susan - you give me hope!
    kkryno - I love that motto! We need it on a tee shirt. And thank you.
    Downith - Another excellent motto. We need two tee shirts.

  17. Great post Lisa, how I hear you! I am also waiting for that empty nest so I can revive my social life and get out there, but quite a way to go, and the exes as useless as usual.

    Sometimes I feel I have given so much energy away and the men in my life seem freer, less stressed, still so keen about things, while I am still trapped in the house, organising people, providing a taxi service, cooking!

    When do the easy years come around and the time for a long relaxed bath?

    (really hope there is no oopsydaisybaby!)

  18. I am totally naming my next, er first, band The Good Lord and the Pull Out Methods when the kids leave the nest and I learn how to play the guitar in all that "spare time." Love you and hope you photo the preg test, too!


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