Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Curiosities of Aging

I thank you for still reading my blog...I'm very appreciative and quite surprised. Tonight I decided that instead of sitting here, cold, at my dog sleeping on my lap to warm us both, I would read blogs and that's been good.

Night isn't something I like and the fact that it starts at 4:30 is seriously worse. And it's cold. And I'm surprised to be a person who puts plastic on the windows and tries to conserve heat. In the morning it's 55. My bedroom has no radiator. I open the door at night so the heat from the rest of the apartment comes in after having lowered it to the night range.

(The daughter my mother had planned to raise before she died too early would not have to put plastic on the windows. Why does this still matter to the person I've become? Class, economics, one's station in the world, having a PhD against not even having a Master's or knowing whether an apostrophe should be put in there. So interesting, issues of class and social/economic standing in a country which seems to pretend there are no serious class differences....)

And if I come back here in late in the day and have had the heat down to 55, it's cold. And it takes too long to warm up. And I waste the evening. I am quite sure that I can afford to have the heat on more and higher. But there was a strange transition when I bought a little two family house and moved from apartments so hot that I had to have the windows open in winter to a place where I was paying for my own heat and managing all the upkeep. And I notice that everyone I talk to who lives in this little, poor (as in economics) city tries not to start using heat early...and keeps it low... I've bought into this pattern. And damn, oil is expensive!

Recently the fellow who acted as the grounds keeper at our community garden told me that he'd decided I was a bit senile ... because I went to a garden meeting on the wrong day. But then he saw my website and  realized that I'm not. I found that extremely funny....

(But it's time to make a laminated card stating the fact that I've never remembered more than five phone numbers at a time, even when I was seventeen, and that I've never, never been able to remember a list of unassociated words. Just tell me a story and see if I can repeat the gist of it in ten minutes.)

And then I had lunch with a friend who I haven't seen in, maybe, thirty years, as in seen to sit and talk and have lunch and get reacquainted with and she said I look terrible! I'd thought I'd finally come into my own with a pleasantly worn, forlorn face (no longer puffed with prednisone so the scars and lines show again) and with interestingly straggly hair. My  hair makes me look like a witch,, she said...    (LET ME BE CLEAR THAT I  DID NOT MIND THIS COMMENT ONE BIT.  IT WAS INTERESTING TO HEAR WHAT SOMEONE REALLY THINKS. I LOOK FORWARD TO SEEING HER AGAIN, TO CREATING A REAL FRIENDSHIP...A RENEWAL...)

A quilter I interviewed last Friday was one of the two who started the group around 1989. She has a fast smile, a gravely voice and is perfectly gorgeous, tiny and wrinkled, with beautiful fingers that are delicate and graceful. She's legally blind now, macular degeneration that's progressed until she can only see contrasts and large shapes. When she met me, she leaned down, inches away from my face, but then navigated easily through the room where I interviewed her. She's full of life and, but for this little detail of the eye sight problem, ready to go, happy to have lived in a high rise here in Chelsea for thirty years where her neighbor, a newcomer of twenty years, drops in to ask whether she needs this or that. After starting out making shoes, she worked as a stitcher (for a while she sewed motor cycle jackets, but also purses, shirts, slacks, dresses, you name it), a job she really enjoyed because of the other women working there. (It would be terrible to work all your life at a job you didn't like, she told me.) Briefly she worked in salons, but that involved wearing fancier clothes and taking on airs, so she went back to stitching. Unfortunately, she's given up the quilt group and was only there for the holiday lunch.


  1. It's always interesting reading your observations on life. Your friend's honesty is a rare phenomenon nowadays, unfortunately. But too much of the same and I guess that you'll probably give her the heave-ho. :-)

    Keep well, keep warm and keep writing. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

    Greetings from London.

  2. dazzling photograph, melissa. and i like the story of your truth -telling friend. altho i disagree; i think your face is even more beautiful the more lived-in it becomes.

  3. thank you, Cuban... I'm sure I'd stick with her no matter how honest she is....
    and please, Susan, you have to tell me how to fix my hair...there is nothing to be done about my face (which I'm glad you think is improving)....but my hair, surely....

  4. The photo is marvelous. I join Susan in praise. You're an artist! I still believe in artists and art.

    And I appreciate your lovely face, which I've seen in the flesh.


  5. Fantastic stories, Melissa, and always told with your droll wit. Happy Christmas.

  6. How many of us might be taken as senile then, Melissa! Just for getting a date muddled! I love that the grounds keeper actually went to check you out on your website and had his concerns assuaged (or is the word 'allayed'?)!

    Like Mim and Susan, I have no doubt your face is the more beautiful for being 'lived in'. And. . . well, I'd very much like one day to meet you 'in the flesh!

    I hope you are having a peaceful and happy Christmas.