I’m turning sixty in a few weeks. I’m not putting my birthday in this post and making it that easy for the hackers. Frankly, they could put it together without much effort. Facebook tells the whole world when it is. But I figure if they want to hack me, they have to at least work for it. And if they ever do get in, I land a punch, because they’ll find my passwords are mostly variations of fuckUfuckinghack3rs or burninthefiresof1000H311s or URmamma8ntPROUDofU
That’ll fix ‘em!
But back to turning sixty. It’s a big birthday for me because my mom only made it to sixty plus eighteen days. I know it’s completely illogical to think I’ll die by sixty because she did, but I worry, because I think I’ll die by sixty because she did.
We’re just so alike, physically and in lots of other ways, too. I honor and revere all life—that’s all me. But like my mother, I will pursue a housefly in my home with the persistence of an aspiring writer hunting a publisher. I try to let them outside, but if they don’t cooperate, I swat them and consider it fly-suicide. If the fly hadn’t been ready to make its transition, it would not have flown into my kitchen.
Like Mom, I leave my coffee everywhere and spend a lot of time looking for it, finding it, reheating it, and then misplacing it again. Like Mom (and Linda Belcher from Bob’s Burgers) I make up songs about everyday things and sing them to the dogs while we go walking. Or in the grocery store.
Like Mom, I say “pissadeared” instead of “disappeared” and laugh every time. And I love peanut butter toast dipped in my coffee. And my heels crack in the winter. And my cheeks are extra rosy all year round. And my hair is naturally curly and frequently frizzy.
Like Mom, and I am confessing this for the first time, I fantasize about selling everything, buying a camper, and just driving around the country for the rest of my days. She did that. Her last good year was spent in a little bitty camper with her beloved husband. They didn’t have any money, did it on a shoestring. If you watched Nomadland, that was a lot like my mom’s last good year, and she loved it.
I look in the mirror these days, and I see my mom looking back at me. And there’s always been a part of me, way down deep, who’s pretty sure I’m going to go out like she did. Pancreatic cancer by sixty, give or take those eighteen days.
Now, don’t get me wrong! I have zero fear of death. I am rather excited about the prospect of emerging on the other side and remembering what it’s all about and knowing all the answers. I have an insatiably curious mind. But I am far from done here. My to-do list is very long, and frankly, I’m having a pretty good time. My hubs is way younger than me, and he’s rather attached, so I figure I owe it to him to hang out healthily into my triple digits.
So, given all that and despite common sense, I’m kind holding my breath for this birthday, counting down not until I turn sixty, but until I turn sixty plus nineteen days. There’s some kind of mental hurdle I will cross when I wake on the morning of my 19th day as a 60-year-old. I’ll feel, "Okay, so I’m not going out just like Mom did." And I expect the whole issue will just evaporate from my mind on that fine morning, never to be thought about again.
I know how irrational this all sounds from me, a firm believer in you get what you think about. It’s not like I haven’t tried to shake it. Last year, I even got a physical and medical tests — things I normally never do. All good.
I’ve tried following my own advice as presented over on the Bliss Blog. I tried focusing on women over sixty who are looking and feeling great. I tried overwriting my old fear with newer, better-feeling beliefs. I decided to start living as if I expected to live forever, which I think is a good practice for all of us. If I am going to live a century, I will want to feel great doing it. So I made healthy lifestyle changes at the beginning of my 59th year.. I did a lot of reading and documentary viewing, and decided to go off all animal proteins. I’m re-dedicating myself to my yoga practice. I’m drinking more water. I only use plant-based cream in my coffee for one cup a day, and sometimes not even that. I meditate daily. I feel great!
And yet that silly old dread swings over my head like Poe’s pendulum, lower and lower as this birthday draws near. I’m convinced the only way I’ll ever get past it is to get through the month of February alive. That’s it. That’s the goal. Survive February, 2022. Once I'm past that, I'm good until 100.
So that’s where my head is at as this birthday approaches.
I wanted to do a funny, snarky post about all the ways aging is a pain in the ass. There’s a boatload of material there. But I can’t think about any of that until a few days before March.
Right now, I just want to make it to sixty, plus nineteen days. THEN I’ll celebrate.
I know, I know. Completely goofy thoughts in the waning few weeks of fifty-nine. But there you have it.
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So I've started a paperback shop for rare, out of print, first editions and so print editions of the newest titles too. Everything is inscribed to you and autographed by me. You should browse. It's like visiting old friends.