Thursday, April 21, 2011
Well, I am forty. Today. Right now. I cannot decide if that makes me middle aged or if I have to wait for fifty to wear that title. But, for fifty to be middle age then the assumed average age of death would be 100 years of age and I don't think that is the average. I had my quarter life crisis at twenty-five, so I suppose I will wait until fifty for the one at midlife. This also means my Mother has a nearly middle aged child. I do consider myself a child for I don't feel much different than I did right out of high school other than I know so much more which is to say I am less certain. I was always an eight year old in an eighty year old body, so that much has not changed.
The amazing fact of being born, of my actually making it out alive still shocks me. People theorize of the viability of a fetus and the earliest a mother can give birth, but the fact is until that baby is outside of the mother anything can happen. Even then, who knows? When my mother had me, she didn't get to touch me for days. They flew me to another hospital, gave me a transfusion and had me in an isolet with tubes running out of my head. I can't imagine what that would do to a first time mother, just a child herself. Her first words, when the doctors told her how sick I was and that they were taking me away, were "I want my Mom."
I still want my Mom. For my early birthday party in my giant gift bag from my Mom, was a tiara. See, I am the Princess of the family. When the family dog Bailey was alive her nickname was The Princess, but the joke was that I was the real Princess. But, now that she is gone, I am the only one. So, I wore the tiara while opening all of the gifts, yet,the dollar store tiara was the best one. I wish it wasn't just me that got to reach forty, I wish Stephie did too. If I really do have forty more years, I would love to spend them with all of my family and friends. The crisis would be to not have them.
Monday, April 11, 2011
This turning forty is going to be a lot harder than I was thinking, and planning on it to be. I was watching my favorite "Globetrekker" with the trekker in Antarctica, when I just started crying. It was when a whale began following the boat, seemingly showing itself to the crew. Not only was I in awe, I just became so sad, knowing that I will never go whale watching. I will never hug a Redwood Tree. I will never go to Paris. I cried such greedy tears, comparing all that I haven't done to what others have. I know that these things will never happen in my life. It is not being negative, it is a reality. I struggle every month to make sure I have toilet paper and food. Which to some, in comparison, are veritable luxuries.
I was knocked back to this reality when after an hour or so of fidgeting and staring, I watched the documentary "A Walk to Beautiful" about women in Ethiopia with obstetric fistulas. These women, often married off at the ages of 8 and 10, have such complicated pregnancies that labor lasts so long (days, even a week) the child not only dies but the woman is left incontinent of urine and sometimes feces as well. They are pariahs, left to live in tiny huts, shacks, away from society and family. In some of these villages the nearest road is a six hour walk and after that a seventeen hour bus ride to the nearest city. These women are so ostracized, and without aid that the ride on the bus is such a horror. I was ashamed of my greed of wanting after watching this. I have wondered for years, why does it take witnessing the misfortune of others to remind a person to be grateful? Does being grateful mean not wanting? I'm not clear on this. I'm not clear on anything.
Last month when my Mother turned sixty, I asked her what she knows now that she didn't when she was younger and her answer was that she knew less. I think this is such an important and profound distinction between youth and experience. With the more you know, things aren't as clear. With more experience comes more understanding that there is so much more to understand and so many more possibilities that everything you were once so certain of, vanishes. Certainty is no longer so certain. I am not so certain how I am going to handle being forty. But I have said, better than not.
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Not the smoothest day for me. Stupid computer probs. Updated my MP3 player, which deleted all of my tracks, then my computer wouldn't recognize it. Spent over an hour on the phone with a very patient tech fella. We made a very excellent team, despite the disappointing outcome. So much for an upgrade. Tried to get my Blu-ray hooked up for Netflix, but when the instructions tell you to do something that isn't an option, then what option do you have? I spent so much time on the phone for my other issue my battery was dead, sooooo. (sidebar - what is it about computer problems that make you want to scream? I understand that it is such a luxury to even have these items, but when they go haywire, you just feel lost. I don't get it.) THEN, apartment urchins parked their asses on the stairwell, decided to holler and smoke, then me the Curbitcheon JUST HAD to poke her scaly head out and scare them away. I went out later, in need of consolation and maybe to make some nice so they don't smash out the windows of my car. See, this is a newly no smoking building. There are designated areas for people to smoke, the stairway right next to my front door, NOT being one of them. If a person is caught smoking out of the designated area more than 3 times, they can be kicked out of their apartment. Seriously. So, when I asked the kid "Are you really going to smoke that here?" and his answer was to flick his ash, smirk and say "yup" and when I followed with an eyebrow raised "REALLY?" his friend grabbed his arm and said "let's just go man" that kid knew where to leave it. Which is, on your own stairwell, next to your own door. When I went out later, it was just to alleviate any fears of my letting anyone know he was smoking. I doubt they get it. I doubt a lot. I doubt any kids around here have any idea what the word respect means.
But then, compare that to a day in the life of a Civil War Soldier (150th anniversary on the 12th of this month) any day I have is a peach. I have been watching Ken Burns' documentary on PBS this past week (which is what I was TRYING to watch when the urchin gathering commenced) and the horrors of the still photos from the field hospitals still catch me in quiet moments. Stacks, piles of limbs cut from the wounded. Legs, feet, hands and arms stacked like chords of wood. Yeah, my day was awkward. Ooooooh, my computer and my MP3 player won't do what I want them to do. Yet, none of my limbs are piled in the fields of Vicksburg. My brother isn't bleeding out on the third day of battle in Gettysburg. My mother doesn't have to wring the blood from the bottom of her gown due to the weight, so she can attend to the other wounded soldiers. Any day, yes any day, is a gift.