Laments About My Life

Nora’s Neck, My Thin Lips

Self-image Bites

Nora's neck, My Thin Lips

The amazing screenwriter, journalist, and author Nora Ephron hated her sagging neck.

I hate my lips.

Nora lamented the pitfalls of maturing – aka aging –in her best-selling book, I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman. As the title suggests, she especially bemoaned her saggy, baggy neckline and her middle-aged need to camouflage the offending body part with scarves.

Well, my nemesis is my lips. However, unlike Nora, my problem isn’t solely the result of aging. It’s a lifelong curse. And unlike Nora’s scarf solution, I cannot cloak my offending feature. For decades, I have suffered in silence, but no more. Today I share my shame. Read more

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Apples are OK. Compliments are Better

A Compliment a Day Keeps the Old Age Blues at Bay

apples and compliments make for good health

My recipe for good health and vitality is not fresh fruit, but vanity. Yes, apples are nice, but compliments are so much better.

Yesterday I had several errands to run and a few appointments to keep. It was a busy day. So, I made an effort, did a bit more than just throw on some jeans. Truth be told, I did a lot more. I, as they used to say, gussied myself up. It paid off. I got four compliments from four different people.

One woman, a make-up artist at Bloomingdale’s no less, told me how much she liked my lipstick.

A passerby on the street complimented me on my cool jacket.

My lunch companion admired my green-lacquer necklace, and the waitress praised my shiny fire-engine-red nail polish.

I rode the BART home feeling pretty good about myself. I met my husband for dinner. He was tired and not feeling great. He offered no compliments or even much by way of conversation. It was a quick dinner, and home we went to a quiet evening of TV and sleep.

I thought about the compliments I had received that day. They were great. I sincerely appreciated them. Truth be told, I needed them the way someone in the Sahara Desert welcomes a sip of water. But they made me think. They were different than the compliments I used to get in “the old days.” Funny how we say “the old days” when what we actually mean is the days when we were young. Read more

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Second Hand Dope

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, Lungs ...

Second hand dope

A recent Saturday night at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley, Ca. Handsome Hubby and I went to the famed venue for the first time to see Beck, a musician I have long admired and long wanted to see.

The concert was sold out, but a friend gave us her VIP tickets. What a generous treat. Cool, right? Totally cool.

Well, apparently Handsome Hubby (HH) and I are not cool, at least we’re not Berkeley cool.

Second Hand Smoke

It was a rock concert. So, yes, we should have known. It’s Berkeley. So, yes, we really should have known. But we just weren’t prepared for the magnitude of it all. It was overwhelming. Read more

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My Shout-Out Moment

Standing Up for Myself

Howard Beale's shout-out your windows rant

Hillary Clinton recently revealed how creeped out she felt when Donald Trump lumbered along behind her during the debates and how sorry she was she hadn’t told him to back off. Well, I recently had my own shout-out moment, and I’m proud to say I took it.

Now no one would ever accuse me of being a shy, weak and wilting flower. No one would ever say I’m one to hold back on my opinion. That said, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve mellowed a bit and try not to rock the boat quite so often. Yet, the other week in Reno, Nevada, I showed my true colors – and then some. Read more

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Where Do You Keep Your Olive Oil?

Culinary Questions Meet Midlife Uncertainty

Olive oil in a dish

Both the mighty and the not-so-mighty worry. Shakespeare’s Prince Hamlet pondered lofty questions from his castle keep; I ponder less esoteric topics like how to keep olive oil.

Hamlet contemplated the unfairness of life and debated avenging his father’s murder by his uncle, now  stepfather and king. He pondered life itself:

To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them:

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Poor Hamlet. Everybody’s got issues, right?

Take me. I’m no Shakespeare, but I too face grave, indeed existential questions:

To refrigerate or not to refrigerate? That is the question.
Tis better to risk rancidity or clouded, solidified olive oil? Read more

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Everybody’s a Critic

Feedback Bites Back

Critic taking and giving stars

It used to be that criticism belonged to the ranks of five classes of people – professional critics, impartial consumer product reviewers, your mother, your best girlfriend, and your in-laws.

Now, thanks to the Internet, everybody’s a critic. Everybody with a bone to pick — informed or terribly ill-informed — is a critic.

You can ding short-staffed restaurants, struggling retailers, and barely-managing masseurs on Yelp; you can demolish drivers on Uber and Lyft, and you can anonymously trash-talk people on all sorts of social media websites. It’s a scary Internet world.

For a long time, I ignored casual “citizen” reviewers. If I wanted to know what somebody thought, I wanted to know what somebody-in-the-know knew and opined. If I needed a theater or a movie review, I opened The New York Times Arts and Book Review sections. If I needed a new toaster or vacuum cleaner, I turned to Consumer Reports.

If I needed confirmation that my husband was an insensitive clod, I asked my mother (although she generally sided with my husband). If I thought I looked fat, I’d ask my girlfriend for a hasty assurance that I was mistaken.

But now I know that everything is reviewed online, even you, even me! Read more

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Celebrity Diet: Words to Live By

2 a.m., Any Night of the Week

That’s it. I’ve binged again. Must stop. Must take control. I will go on a Celebrity Diet. Starting right now. Read more

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CIA? Me, a Spy? Oh, My

The Day The Agency Called

Diana Riggs as Emma Peel

I’m not sure what prompted the recollection. I was just sitting on the couch watching some silly spy movie for the 17th time with Handsome Hubby. Somewhere between the commercials, the snacks and nodding off, I engaged in a little middle-aged woolgathering, the way we of a certain age  do from time to time. I remembered something I hadn’t thought about in a long time – my own, true-to-life, almost CIA spy adventure.

I was young. (Like I said, it was a long time ago.)

I had studied in the then-Soviet Union, had two degrees in Russian Area Studies – political science, history, language and economics, and spoke Russian with some degree of fluency.

Then the CIA called.  Read more

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Middle-aged Chatter

Why Do We All Talk to Strangers?

Do you remember the doll Chatty Cathy? If you grew up in the early 60s, you probably had one. Second to Barbie, this pull-string talking toy was the most popular doll on the market. I had a Chatty Cathy and loved her dearly.

And like my doll, I was a regular Chatty Cathy. I talked so much as a child that my family used to pay me to keep quiet. I’d get a nickel for every fifteen minutes I’d keep still. The truth is, I didn’t collect many nickels.

I wasn’t just chatty. I was really friendly. I once invited a total stranger over to our house. When he showed up, my mother won’t let him in, of course. But he wouldn’t leave. My mother called the police and that night both my parents gave me a stern lecture about not talking to strangers.

Yet, if I wasn’t supposed to talk to strangers, my middle-aged mother was setting a bad example. Read more

I Ache, Therefore I Am

Age Gracefully. I Dare You!

“I think, therefore I am,” Descartes said. Yet, as people age, many switch to a different, less inspiring paradigm, namely ‘I ache, therefore I am.”

I have, for instance, a cousin who spends entire telephone conversations reciting litanies of medical ills, without offering even one hosanna for the medical miracles that keep him alive and kicking and well enough to bitch and moan the whole time on the phone.

For my part, I have always vowed to age gracefully and suffer silently whatever slings and arrows come my way.

Well, that pledge have been put to the test lately and I confess, I have to give myself barely passing grades in the dignity and grace department.

Read more