27 January 2012

Forty’s Lookin’ Pretty Good




I turn 40 this year. Well, in November of course, but I’ve already begun thinking about it, and what I’d like to do to embrace it. 



Last week when I became a dropout—for the first time ever in my life—I freed up not only blocks of time (no more homework!), but my whole attitude about commitment and responsibility. “Not to rain on your parade,” said Ian in bed last Monday night, as I was reveling in my new time freedom, and trying to think about ways to like my hair better, “but I think that quitting your editing course is not going to remove EVERY hint of neurosis you’ve ever had.” 

His comment made me laugh so hard that I thrust my bedside journal at him and made him write it down verbatim, which is why I was able to quote him directly with no accompanying qualification.

Here are some of the things I’ve done since freeing myself to do them: 

1.      Replace the lenses in my glasses, plus buy new ones. I haven’t been able to get a new prescription for several years now—that is, I could get a new one in my left eye, but it doesn’t seem to need it (I checked out at 20/15 at the ophthalmologist Monday afternoon), and the right eye is, well, the right eye. I have finally learned how to work around my blob of vision-central, distorting liquid—at least when I’m reading the eye chart—and so I was able to recite the letters at the 20/20 line Monday (s l o w l y), which is pretty darn good. Also, I finally, after years of pleased surprise that it hadn’t happened yet, misplaced my prescription sunnies. I suspect they’re somewhere in the Mini, but nowhere easy to find without undoing dog beds and seats and whatnot,  so, since that sounded dirty and cold, it was enough of an incentive to get back over to Eyes on Fremont and update my facial wardrobe.

2.      Get a new boob. I think I’m allowed a free replacement boob every two years. That, at least, was true of the old insurance company. I assume it’s true of the new one, but I can’t be bothered to verify. At any rate, a couple years ago I changed my eating habits. I think there were two major contributing factors, one being a comment from my friend L that she had begun eating what she wanted to eat—which in her case was a lot more fat and protein than she’d been eating and a lot less bread and carbs—not none, just whatever her body wanted. She lost a lot of weight, and gained a ton of energy, all listening to her body. I thought I like fat! I like protein! (what I really like is bacon), and so we started bringing whole milk into the house, and eating more bacon and more peanut butter (sometimes together YUM), buying primarily flourless breads, baking with more whole wheat flour, and not trying to worry down the cruciferous veg if it felt oogie. And, notably, not having chocolate root beer floats 5 times per week (and now, I actually rarely want one at all, even though SO GOOD). The second factor was the instigation of city-wide mandatory compost/yard waste pickup.  I grew up in a seriously clean-plate family and now, knowing that what I don’t feel like eating will be turned back into dirt, I’m happy (I have also learned to dish myself smaller portions). The upshot of all of this is that I’ve lost about 20 pounds in about 2 ½ years, and even though I keep expecting the weight to rush back on, it’s really not. I seem to be where I’m supposed to be, and the only part of me that hasn’t been shrinking is that one faux teton. And so now the mounds match. (Note: we do have an FSA, which is a pretty good deal.)

3.      Visit Elephant Super Car Wash. I love Elephant Super Car Wash. I even love that they’re really, really imprecise. It’s cheap, and quick, and the 4-Runner still has dog blood inside, so who am I kidding? This is not a posh car. This is a working truck, and a spit-shine is what it’s comfortable in.

4.      Donate several pounds’ worth of silver and/or novelty jewelry that I’ve collected over the last 40 years. I saved very few pieces, because for the most part, for the first time ever, I felt absolutely no tie to most of the stuff I’d been hiding in the back of the closet. A lot of it was very beautiful, or quirky, or cool—and now other people will get to appreciate it!

5.      Donate dozens of decorative boxes—also collected over 40 years—also felt no tie to virtually all of it.

6.      Clear furniture from my office (to Cousin S, so glad she could help us out!) which had been put there not because it was awesome office material, but because we didn’t have anywhere else to put it (I have an idea for a computer desk and then maybe Ian and I will build a bookshelf—I can learn some woodworking—to coordinate with the desk. For now the office is furnished with a little table where the new computer desk will go, and the sun has been peeking through the southern window, allowing me to bask in its warmth and still see my screen. This will be a good arrangement . . .).

7.      Get my cannabis tested to see what kind of oil I’ve made. Turns out very high THC, which kills cancer cells and “enhances” the patient’s perceptions of things. The guy who does the testing recommended a strain I can look for, for future batches, that will have a higher concentration of CBD, which kills cancer cells and enhances immune function of cells. That sounds less fun, but that’s okay. There are lots of other fun things to do when I’ve worn out the utility of this one.

8.      Get my hair cut, for the second time in 3 weeks, after not having it cut at all for over six months. The first haircut was to try out the new designer recommended by the peerless Theresa, and to do something, ANYTHING, with the rat’s nest on my head. Well, I didn’t like the first haircut. It was fine, the woman did a nice job, and I liked her, and she’s friends with Theresa and I think will be good for the time being. But what I asked for for that first cut was not actually what I wanted to have on my head anymore, and so I went in again this last week and had Nicole give me a real haircut—not just a trim—but a whole new style (!). It’s really the first time in my life I’ve ever actually chosen to go here—a new short cut—because the chin-length bob I acquired as a senior in college really doesn’t count. I could still use ponytail holders. I LOVE my new cut!

We were over at dinner at some friends’ house last weekend, and I was telling the story of my recent wave-upon-wave of personal enlightenment and release, and one of my friends, in actually a much meaner way than Ian, also called me out on my neuroses. “I’ve known you a long time, Calin,” she said (or something like it—no direct quotes here), “and I can say from experience that your neuroses are NOT going to be gone . . .” (or something like that). It pissed me off, but then, this friend has been known to say things, or even set them to music—not just to or about me—that have caused many, many people to be pissed off—it’s one of her charms. 

The point for me, though, is this: I’m actually not sure that Ian and this friend are that right anymore. I’ve been actively working at releasing all sorts of energy that is no longer (or wasn’t ever) doing me any good.  I agree that getting rid of one onerous responsibility doesn’t guarantee a major psychological shift. But for me, to choose to get rid of this particular onerous responsibility, was to choose something more than just dropping out of school. It was me recognizing some fundamental truths about who I am and how to best spend my time. I’ve been living toward the future for a long time now, maybe not non-stop my whole life, but for a long time; and for the first time that I can remember here, at home, in the familiarity of the lives we’ve built for ourselves, I am now completely present, the way I’m present when I travel. I have a framework of medical appointments that I’ll still be building my life around, but aside from the times I’m actively involved in all of that, it’s really not affecting me that much anymore.


I’ve worried, and supposed, and wished, and mourned; and now it’s time to have fun. 

1 comment:

  1. A clarification:
    Although Calin made me write down my comment about quitting the editing course not removing "EVERY hint of neurosis you’ve ever had", she doesn't remember the context (probably related to number 7 on the list). My memory of the context is that she was saying that the only time she was self-conscious about her radiation-thinned hair was when she was sitting in editing class, which seemed like a pretty strong statement. I can see that the change in outlook that came together with leaving the editing course was a big deal, but also believe that Calin is still human (in spite of possessing a few super-human powers).

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