Tuesday, January 22, 2008

"tiny cupcakes served continuously"

I ran across Nicole Hollander's book recently and have been having a hoot reading it. It's titled: Tales of Graceful Aging from the Planet of Denial. It's not a cartoon book, although there are a few illustrations.

It's loosely gathered into chapters named things like:

Tiny vices
Raking over the Past
The Afterlife I deserve
Disastrous Apparel Decisions
If 60 is the new 40, when will I be 30?
My Coffee is not up to my standards

...And subdivided further into little stories with titles like:

The girlfriends have an emergency meeting
Compensations
Doctor, can I put this on my VISA?
The road not taken... was it a stairway to Heaven or a blind alley?
Things I will never do
Certain things, though, it's too late to do
Second thoughts
Fooling around with the French
Men who dance
My memoir, a.k.a., Everyone has one memoir in them, why not do it now?
Every memoir I've read has a section on lost loves
Medical disappointments
Think of your body as an old beloved car, perhaps a foreign car, one of those cute MGs that was always in the shop
Daily expressions of gratitude; the tomato bisque of the soul


Keehee! I love this!

The book jacket describes the experience of reading the book as being "like Nicole's idea of heaven: tiny cupcakes served continuously." This reminds me that I have a small package of petite fours hiding in the back of the fridge since Christmas. Yum. Best eaten frequently, in small, entertaining doses.

* * *
The section on Reminicing about the good old days starts out:

Normally I detest this kind of thing.
and:
You know another thing I hate is when women say, "But I'm the same inside." Well, too bad honey, toughen up.


This reminds me that while I am certainly aging on the outside (slowly, subtly), I have aged pretty well on the inside. I CAN'T say that I'm the same inside. Sure, there may be core characteristics, but on the whole, I've changed a lot since I was a young thing, even since college (which was what? half my life ago?). And it's only continuing. I like it. Wouldn't want to go back. And give up everything I've learned in the last 5-10-20-30-some years? Heck, no!

I'm more patient at least to the degree I recognize that I can't change another person or hurry them along. I am less tolerant when it comes to people acting badly, whether it's spouting prejudice or aspiring to superiority, especially at my expense. That quote by Eleanor Roosevelt about someone not being able to make you feel inferior without your consent? It's true.

I actually find myself *less* tolerant of what I consider idiocy. I've developed strong ideas of what is right and good. I still have the ability to see both sides of every argument, but I'm less willing to give somebody a pass for stupidity, more wiling to question. I am less likely to (attempt to) do somebody's emotional work for them (thank goodness!!).

I am more likely to try what I want and not be deterred by being less than perfect on the first try. I have come to recognize perfectionism as a barrier. I am more patient with myself when I get caught in an old pattern and can talk reasonably to myself even while I emote all over the place. I have learned to not waste too much time on other people's trying to define me on their terms. I have learned that, when necessary, I can embarrass people more than they can embarrass me.

I have learned that it doesn't matter if ones life partner is not perfect in the ways that one had hoped or imagined because they are still themselves and have a right to be themselves. Besides, they being themselves is rather endearing even if occasionally maddening. I've learned that it doesn't matter if I get my way or not, if things are not done the way I prefer them done. it doesn't matter if others are less than perfect. I am less fazed by wild energy from students--hehe. I guess I have learned to persevere, not give up too soon.

There are things about aging that I am dismayed over, but I am not willing to go through pain to do anything about them (pluck, tuck). I have learned that I am tougher than I ever suspected. I have learned that it's often better to ignore a lot of crap rather than become irritated by it. I have dignity under fire (and sometimes not).


On a number of other things, I have a ways to go. But hey, that's what the next few decades are for.

* * *

I DO reminisce about the good old days, or at least about the old days. But I have hope that I will continue to mature into somebody I am proud of. I don't aspire to be "cool," because alas I am hopelessly enthusiastic and wonder-struck about life and don't anticipate ever shedding that un-cool attitude. Too bad for me. *smirk*

I do aspire to be the vivacious older woman. Ms. Hollander is a good role model for that, although I am not as biting as she can be in real life. Me in real life, I mean. I could aspire to sharp wit and innovative coping techniques. Or her "smarts and unabashed lip" that one reviewer describes. One of my aunts is also a good role model, except for the part about being a little crazy, by which I mean delusional, but she still has her emphatic enthusiasm, and that's me all over. I have a number of role models, maybe a topic for another post. Maybe I could adopt Nicole as an aunt meanwhile. Or maybe as a fairy-godmother.

* * *

A short list of consequences of reading Nicole Hollander:

I start having visions of myself as an older woman. Whoo-hoo!
I am heartened and entertained by the many gems and turns of phrase that strike me as a polished piece of humorous truth.
I start writing/thinking like a wry, wise-cracking, elder feminist from Chicago.
My husband spontaneously uses descriptions such as "cats with special powers."

* * *
I now return you to everyday life.

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