Feelin’ thirty-two

Yesterday was my birthday.  Thirty-two.  When I was twenty-two, that seemed so old. Not old like granny glasses and a housecoat, but old like granny panties and mom jeans.  I guess I wasn’t so far off with my one hundred percent cotton nude-colored hipsters and Wal-Mart jeggings.  At twenty-two, I thought anyone over the age of twenty-nine must have it all figured out – a house, insurance, fancy car, shiny hair, well-manicured nails, fashionably dressed kids and don’t get me started on responsibility (teachers!  Having to deal on a weekly/daily basis with teachers scared me to death!).  What I didn’t think about was that the process of aging had really begun way back then, and reared its ugly head right around the ripe, responsible age of thirty . . . and kept going.  It never occurred to me that I was going to age at all.  At one point around twenty-five I thought about using eye cream, then laughed at myself.  I’m not laughing anymore.  Shoulda coulda woulda. 

 As I sit here typing away with my semi-arthritic hands and dual carpal-tunnel syndrome (and the heating pad at my lower back), I glance at my brittle nails (one of which broke last night at this same keyboard) and admonish myself for not doing a better job keeping up with even the most minute beauty routines; after all, the more work you put in, the more you get out of a job well done.  I keep my toenails painted and wear makeup every day, but neither of these is done well.  As a matter of fact, I only recently found out that I was doing all my makeup backwards and incorrectly.  How do I get to be thirty-two without knowing that concealer goes on after the foundation?  Or that I should be wearing a primer before foundation as opposed to not at all?  Or that they (being the beauty powers that be) make something called eyebrow powder that one can brush into and on top of eyebrows to make sparse, fine brows look well kept?  Or that bronzer is a product that women use to look healthy and not just tanned.  And here I was thinking only Teresa from RHONJ used bronzer (and we all know she uses every other product out there, all at the same time and mostly on her eyes.  Will we ever get to see her sans makeup?).  

 As I blow dry my hair stick straight solely to make it look like I am at least attempting some semblance of “getting ready” and use hairspray only to tame my flyaways at my forehead to keep me from looking like Alfalfa, I am reminded that I am light years away from twenty-two (I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling thirty-two oooh-oooh ooh-ooh.).  No teasing, no braiding, no texturizing and no awesome products in this hair.  Not even a decorative barrette, unless you, like me, think a plain bobby pin is accessorizing.  And jewelry?  Only on rare occasions will I change my earrings from my small studs that exist to cover up the pierce holes to something a little more fancy, like the Meijer $3-on-clearance dangly rock-looking ones I seem to favor. 

 Don’t get me started on the difference in clothing, either.  I’ve never been a fashion horse, but I think there was a time in my mid-twenties when I had a little more self-respect.  Cute jeans, tighter shirts, heels.  Now?  The aforementioned jeggings are as fashionable as I get.  Sometimes I’ll wear a pushup bra.  And boots.  That’s hot. But not just a pushup bra and boots.  That’s not.  Shudder.  I recently caught sight of my not twenty-two-year-old body in the Kohl’s fitting room while I tried on cute dresses (no, I wasn’t having fun.  I was looking for a nice interview outfit in the hopes that I find a job).  Lo and behold, I must not have seen myself in a full-length mirror in years because guess what I was surprised with?  My thighs were folding over my knees (just there I originally typed knewws.  See the eww, as in, gross?  Subconsious disgust).  How did I go all summer wearing shorts and feeling semi-decent about myself with fat folds on my knees? (Jeez, did it again.  Knewws.  That’s what I’ll call ‘em from now on.)

 I’m old now.  Time for wrinkle creams, gloppy moisturizers and wearing a scarf on my head while I sleep to keep my fine, dry, elderly strands from breaking while I toss and turn with aches and pains.  No more time in the sun for me.  The last two summers have given me four wrinkles on my upper chest and a great many dirty birdy feet near my eyes.  I have melasma on my forehead and upper lip.  I can’t jump on the trampoline without feeling every ounce of my body jiggling around like pudding beneath my skin and without my back aching for hours.  I can wear only sensible shoes now – flats, flip-flops, clogs and slippers (and all in wides).  I tried wearing heels the other day for an important appointment and found myself carrying them while I walked through three levels of a parking garage in my pantyhosed feet (that dates me, too, doesn’t it?  Does anyone besides the Duchess of Cambridge wear pantyhose anymore?).

 Enter my cousin-in-law Mariah – a gorgeous gal and creator of the popular YouTube vlog, The Gal’s Guide (http://www.youtube.com/user/thegalsguide) – a guide for fashion, beauty and all things in between, it seems.  Picture a beautiful Barbie doll with brains, personality and all the beauty knowledge a single person could possibly have . . . and then some.  Just what a thirty-two-year-old mama needs to freshen her look when she needs it most.  My favorite tutorial of hers is her ‘no-makeup’ makeup look.  This is where I learned I am a four-year-old when it comes to beauty (watching her curl her eyelashes was a real eye-opener for me.  Pun intended).  Mariah is the epitome of fashionable.  Every video finds her looking flawless and effortlessly put together.  She is what I aspire to be in my down time (you know, when Hubby and I get to go on a date for about four hours every six months or so and pretend we are stylish and modern and young) and luckily for me, she gives lessons on how I can be just like her.  Her vlog is my new obsession.  Maybe she can add a little something about how she stays so thin, or how her skin is so perfect in the Florida sun and dry AC, or how a mama can do it all/have it all without missing a beat, or how . . . never mind, now I just sound jealous of her youth.

 The point, if there has to be one, is that one cannot turn back the hands of time. Luckily there are plenty of young women out there willing to help the elderly cross the road or apply foundation with a brush. 

 

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When applying as a writer . . .

I decided to take an unconventional approach to querying for a writing position: I’m submitting a tongue-in-cheek cover letter to a few local newspapers and keeping my fingers, toes and legs crossed (Hubby not too thrilled about the last one!).  See below for a peek into the life of a DESPERATE woman who so badly wants to be PAID to write:

 

Subject: Writer to write and make you laugh

 To whom it may concern (but specifically to someone who finds value in nonconformity):

 Please allow me to introduce myself to you.  I am a married, stay-at-home mom of three boys – and yes, the stigmas of that position, as well as the number and gender of the children, are mostly accurate as I do wear pajamas most days, spend the majority of time yelling, and my kids almost never hear my voice or say please and thank you to the woman who gave them life.  My current job titles include, but are not limited to: chef, housekeeper, laundress, personal assistant to a handful (or fistful, depending on the day) of demanding and inflexible men, hostage negotiator, babysitter, party planner, life coach, nurse, child psychologist and bartender (though the latter two should never be confused with each other).  I would add that I have perfected the art of butt wiping, but I feel that may be a little too risqué on a cover letter for this classy lady. 

 Let me warn you that this may be a bit wordy, but if I am succinct, I am not funny.  If I am not funny, I should not assume that I have a snowball’s chance in . . . well, you get the idea.  I am interested in sharing my plethora of specialties with your publication in the form of written entertainment.  I am no longer able to entertain my current bosses with my biting wit and somewhat questionable sarcasm, as I am afraid they’ve all developed immunities to my charms. 

 I propose that I write a column documenting my somewhat hellish experiences with my little animals (one of which has special needs – always a fun addition of fuel to the fire).  They have a knack for creating drama everywhere they go and I have a knack for overdramatizing their antics, so we, as a team, would be tumultuously entertaining! My dream is to give you and your readers a front row seat to the disorganized hilarity that ensues every day.  A number of your readers are parents and, being one myself, I know stressed out parents would appreciate a tongue-in-cheek column about parenting and experiencing the area with young and rambunctious children in tow.

 Of course, nothing in this world is free, especially concerning an aging woman under the influence of little boys (ahem, someone needs to pay for my hair dye and wrinkle cream).  They suck every ounce of worth and youth out of me so I would expect some compensation for my hard work and certain misery while my boys embarrass themselves and me for your entertainment.

 I would also like the freedom to come in to work late and take random days off.   My current positions don’t allow any vacation days, so I hope I can count on you to assist me with that.  Aside from the pajamas and yelling, I am pretty professional.  I clean up well and impress when I have to. 

I have a small amount of experience leftover from my high school newspaper, but that was ages ago (honesty will get you everywhere?  Probably not, but at least I’m not embellishing my experience).  My most recent writing experience comes from a writing competition I won in Michigan, hosted by my former library district.  That’s write!  I took FIRST PLACE.  A few snippets of my work can be found below (please ignore the shameless plugging of my abilities – a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do, especially when the girl won the very first competition she entered, and when her brain cells are dying at rapid speed).

 Wait.  Before I end this asking only for a column, let me be frank.  I’m not picky.  I just want to write.  And get paid.  I’ll be your admin if you need one (and I’ll write about that).  I’ll be the go-to gal for the boring function no other reporter wants to go to.  Heck, I’ll be a grammar goon or spellchecker or what-have-you.  Got a position in the mailroom?  Need someone to read and respond to your e-mails?  A research assistant?  We all have to start somewhere and I’m willing to start by cleaning the office if it means there is room to progress into the world of writing.   Be warned, though, that I will write about the condition of the office. 

 Please let me know via phone, e-mail, snail mail or hot air balloon if this situation is something that is of interest to you.  You can also expect to receive a second copy of this in the mail.  I like to cover my bases.  I want a writing job so bad I can taste it.  Strangely enough, it tastes a little like that Jell-O salad called Ambrosia. 

 Sincerely,

 Underwhelmed, underappreciated and under a pile of laundry in Sylvania

 

Gray hairs, white lies

Oh. My. Word.  Is that a gray hair?

 For reasons unknown to my mostly rational self, this morning I got the feeling that I should be checking my hair for grays.  I didn’t really think I’d find anything but I looked anyway – we all have that weird OCD-like behavior when it really behooves us not to.  I took my brush and brushed my hairline up and back and leaned over the sink to peer closely into the mirror – something I had never, not ever done in my life. 

 My first brush stroke produced what I had really highly doubted – my very first gray hair.  It was about three inches long and slightly thicker than the rest of my dull, baby fine and painfully thin hairs.  It sparkled and shone in the light of the bare globe vanity bulbs and appeared blonde (which is what I was hoping for).  My hubby walked in just moments into my sudden old age.  I turned toward him in what seemed like slow motion and pointed.  “Is that a gray hair?” I asked incredulously.

 Now, let me tell you a little something about my husband.  He is the type of guy women want around because he is very flattering and complimentary and will go to the grave lying to make someone (ahem, me) feel gorgeous and perfect.  Lately we had been having discussions about my between-the-eyebrow wrinkles or, according to him, “wrinkles”.  His eyebrows shot up as he leaned closer and I read it all over his face – I was old. “Uh, yeah.  It is.” He said.  “Welcome to thirty, baby!  You always said you want to be all gray.”  He knew his face had betrayed what was to be a little white lie (er, gray lie) and then had to make a joke of it.

 “Psh.” I said, laughing but superficially worried about my current predicament.  He kissed my sleep-wrinkled forehead and headed off to work, chuckling at my vanity, I am sure. 

 I spent the morning thinking about time and youth and gray hair and wrinkles.  What is youth, anyway?  An overpriced, overhyped serum at a department store?  A feeling? An adjective?  A state of mind?  If it is the former, than I am youthful – wait, no.  Ever since I was 23, I’ve felt out of place with my age.  I should be thirty; I used to tell my friends.  I feel thirty on the inside, I would explain.  But my face and height and body shape begged to differ – I still get carded to buy wine!  I was shopping with my parents (who are 49 and 51) and children a while ago and they were buying O’Doul’s non-alcoholic beer (which, although non-alcoholic, you are still required to produce proof of age).  The cashier asked if I was their daughter and my dad, befuddled by the question, asked, “Why?  Can you see the family resemblance?”  She said, “Oh, I was asking because I can’t sell your alcohol to you with her if she wasn’t your child.”  At this, we all looked at each other open-mouthed and shocked.  “She’s knocking on the door of thirty!” laughed my mom. “Four kids!”  The cashier was surprised and laughed it off as a compliment, but a deeper part of me felt like I was being jipped out of a certain rite of passage, like developing breasts as a teenager – wait, I was jipped out of that, too.  I felt like my age and my appearance didn’t match and for that I was a little sad.  There have been many times in my life where I felt that I was being overlooked due to youth, misunderstood and brushed away.  I knew people didn’t take a lot of what I thought and said seriously due to being mistaken for, say, 15. I wanted to look older, I wanted to look wiser.  Are wrinkles wise? 

 Later in the afternoon while my youngest was napping, I got curious and took out my trusty, five-year-old hand mirror and brush and went to the window for better light.  I began running my fingers through the hair I’ve had a hate-hate relationship with since teen years, and wouldn’t you know it – my hair was ridden with grays.  Ridden, I tell you! Gray, gray everywhere.  At my nape, by my ears, smack in the middle of the back of my head.  Everywhere.  I must have counted twenty before I stopped.  When did this happen?  Why haven’t I noticed them? – Well, that’s not really a legitimate question.  I know why – I don’t pay too close attention to my hair as I HATE it.  I wash it, brush it and pull it back.  I trim it very sporadically and color it even less.  It just hangs on my head like dead, thin corn silks.  It’s shiny – I’ll give it that, and smooth – but it lacks about two-thirds of the volume a healthy head of hair holds.  I stared into the mirror, playing with one of them for a few seconds before I was shocked back to reality by the ring of the phone.  It was Hubby-of the-Year.  “Hey, that gray hair isn’t the only one.  I found more.” I said, expecting to hear him say something like, “You’re crazy” or “No, those are just blonde” but instead he hesitated and said, “I know.  I’ve been noticing them for a while.”

 Wait.  What?  What?! You knew about them and didn’t tell me?”

 Because of my dismay, I cannot recall what he said in response to that.  I do know that I felt almost betrayed, like he had lied to me.  My core, normally so age-driven and anxious to be old, had just been told it was old.  I was no longer the young 25-year-old-blond-with-the-yoga-butt he was dating.  I was now the wrinkled, gray-haired-30ish-year-old-wife.  In the course of one night (one sleep as my kids say) my whole persona seemed to change.  I aged dramatically and drastically just at the revelation of the pursuit of youth.  I had really never given any thought to anti-wrinkle creams.  When I saw a hair dye commercial, I completely disregarded the sales pitch that it “Completely Colors Hair Thoroughly – Even Those Pesky Resistant Grays” and “100% Gray Coverage”.  On this day, my afternoon was spent perusing Amazon.com for the best price/product for my situation (in case you are wondering, it’s Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Anti-Blemish Cream.)

 When my boys got home from school, they were anxious to tell me all about their fun Friday, but I was anxious to shock them with my old age.  “Do you see my grays?” I laughed as I pulled my hair back. 

“Whoa, yeah!” said my oldest with a huge smile.  “They are white!”

 I had to tell myself, after realizing what a bad example this would set for my teenage stepdaughter, that this obsession with youth and beauty had to go.  I sat down, opened my laptop and here I sit, pouring out my frustration over what shallow, insipid little ideas that float through my sometimes tiny little mind.  Hubby and I had a little laugh over the whole deal and he turned and looked at me with the most genuine expression and said, with his hand on his heart, “This is all that matters.  All that counts is what’s in here . . . and yours is beautiful.”

 Gotta love my man.  He sees past the shallow exterior into the shallow pool of love!