Sunday, July 27, 2014

Naming My Own She

Several years ago, the late Kathryn Tucker Windham wrote the final of her memoirs as homage to the woman who moved in with her and refused to leave. She entitled this gem She: The Old Woman Who Took Over My Life and as you might expect it has sold like firecrackers do at dusk on July 4.

It appears all we women have, or will have in the fullness of time if we are lucky, our own She with whom to spend the rest of our lives. 

My own She has now taken up full residence, and I hereby christen her on this day Myrtle. 

It has well and truly been a matter of not being able to get her off my back for months, and I read somewhere that the only way to get rid of an enemy legally is to make a friend of them. I'm all about remaining this side of legal, so there ya go. 

Myrtle has sprung up, newly born yet aged 56 years, 3 months, and 7 days old. She has persuaded me that I don't have to wear mascara anymore, and that all other make up is now optional. Thus far, I still refuse to listen to her when she suggests we can dispense with leg and armpit shaving. She never had to persuade me not to color my hair, but she was right when she said that wearing my hair really short again would bring me peace.  Myrtle weighs 20 pounds, and I know this for true because before she began coming over for the weekends only, I weighed exactly what I wanted to weigh. Now that she has quite moved in, I am resigned to seeing my weight and hers all added together on the scale. 

Myrtle has gifted me with osteoporosis, arthritis in my feet and hands, an extra flap of skin or two on my body that could provide shelter to leprechauns or sprites but which otherwise serves no purpose, and these ridiculous "age spots" that may eventually wind up making me look like I finally got the perfect tan that always eluded me in my youth.

We are colorful, Myrtle and I. We have fireworks on our leg, just behind our left knee, especially. Some folk call these "spider veins," but I prefer to think of my body as a celebration of its life and not a hostel for arachnids. She has also deposited laugh lines in places I didn't realize my face even moves when I laugh, and just to be funny has arranged for annoying little hairs to spring up in random places on my face. At least they provide me with some entertainment, as keeping them at bay is the post-menopausal woman's version of a daily aggression-fueled game of Whack-a-Mole. 

These days I need bigger shoes (thanks, arches), wider pants (whose hips are these?), and industrial strength unmentionables, and we don't even need to discuss that I might be next in line for quad-focals as I now need to take my trifocal glasses off in order to read. 

I think my favorite thing about Myrtle is that she enjoys the company of my 18 year old self, who didn't give much of a fig about what people thought. There is a lot of freedom in that, although less beer. Myrtle is quite unyielding when it comes to her bladder, and "staying up late" now means getting to the end of the 10:00 news.  (And I get extra points if, during the newscast I refrain from saying, "What is this world coming to?")

Despite our differences, Myrtle and I are getting along pretty well, and as long as I get to keep picking the music we listen to and the way we dance when nobody's looking, I reckon she's welcome to stay. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Today's True Thing

Despite all the technology I have at hand and use frequently, nothing replaces a real engagement calendar, and The Old Farmer's Almanac Engagement Calendars have long been my favorites.  They lie flat, thanks to their spiral binding, and they are bound in a hard cover that slips into a bookcase just swell at the end of the year, where they will wait to be discovered and read by some grandchild in the future, just as I was able to peruse those that belonged to my grandmother. 

I learned more than one might expect from flipping through entries in her desk calendars: how she never quite forgave her hairdresser for retiring, how much more her physical limitations bothered her than she usually let on, how set in some of her ways she was and how flexible she was about others, and in these day to day things which were worthy of notation she wrote a story of her life. Even the most banal entry revealed something about her, about what her real life was like. People edit themselves in journals; an engagement calendar is more like a Twitter monologue. You do it, you think it, you remind yourself of it; you write it on your calendar in broken sentences, punctuation optional. No need for flowery language; no need to explain. Your life as a verb, as it were. 

I was delighted to get to work this morning to discover that my 2015 edition had arrived, but here's a true thing: 

Did you ever notice how, once you get a next-year's anything, all of a sudden you just can't stand this year's anything anymore? 

"People don't realize the that future is just now, but later."
~~ Russell Brand