when you’re 44: aging and habits.


A few months ago, I wrote a post called, “When You’re Five Years Old” and it was wildly adored by both my fans.

Actually, four people liked it. It was a fun piece to write because I remembered those days when I was riding my big wheel bike and getting into all sorts of trouble.

These days, I imagine my big wheel is not rotting at the bottom of some massive landfill or beneath an apartment building in Buffalo, NY where I grew up. There is no big wheel in my life anymore. There’s a massive SUV in my driveway and peeling out in that isn’t nearly as fun as the big wheel. It’s freaking terrifying.

I’ve spent the past four days in the midst of some technological administrative duties. What’s seamless to you (my new blog address) is a life-caustic, DNA-shattering death knell for me.

I am old.

I know: 44 isn’t old.

But it is. I feel like the old lady at the bus stop complaining about the loss of the horse and buggy. My recent experiences with technology have shown me how much I hate technology. I feel like channeling Gilda Radner’s Emily Latella lamenting the transition from rotary dial telephones, “What’s all this I’m hearing about touch stone clones?”

The literal heavy lifting we have to do when we move from one home to another: the downsizing, the getting rid of crap we can’t believe we ever held on to, the things we have that don’t make any sense even if you think about a time when they could have made sense (I think my mom has 16 copies of “I’m OK, You’re OK” and myriad miniature inlaid wooden pegboard chess sets), is almost as taxing as the mental heavy lifting of moving a blog.

I don’t know why I “tagged” the words I did. Reformatting and sorting through it all at the moment is a nightmare, but it does show me one thing: despite my supposed lack of interest in being a known, successful writer: the tagging proves otherwise. The tags are like Hansel & Gretel’s breadcrumbs in the forest: I want people to find me. Fixing the tags to make sense is a lot of work.

Waah-waah. I hear you. No one made me start to write a blog and no one made me keep it up and no one made me move it. Google did. Because for my needs: Google stinks. The email updates of new posts weren’t going out to both my readers.

All the moaning aside, I’m happy I’m at this new site and I’ll never move again unless someone does it for me.

Being at WordPress means I can create categories. And once I figure out why that matters, I’ll let you know. Actually, I know: it’s because I write a lot of stuff that’s all over the map. I’ve published 64 posts. Many of the posts have similar themes: humor (I THINK SO), parenthood, mindfulness, authenticity and others. I want people, who might come here to browse, to be able to look for something that might interest them and read it and THEN decide I don’t know what I’m talking about.

I’m good, it’s cool.

So today’s newest category is going to be: Aging.

“Yay!” my mother said when I told her. “Creating a neeew category meeeans you’re expaaanding your writinnnng, Maaaally!”

“No. Well, yes and no. Creating this new category means I’m preparing to die.” I said. “Creating this new category means that I’m experiencing cellular failure and preparing for age-related organ death. I’m being proactive. I don’t want to be caught unawares. The last thing I wanna do is leave this blog for my children to clean up.”

“Ho! Maaaally, you’re so fuuunnnny! You’re nooot dyyyying! You’re tooo yaaaaung!” (And then she changed her voice. It dropped an octave and sounded like a scary almost female John Wayne), “You’ll live forever, kid. Ya gohht good gennnes.”

Woah. Insert my pensive smile and shallow breathing, an old coping skill from my childhood.

“Well, mom, it’s true. I’m dying slowly. My eyes are shot. Taking a splinter out of a toe is an act of futility; I can’t see it so I have to wear reading glasses now.”

“Everyone does. I have fifteen pairs all over the house. What’re you doing going barefoot?! I remember when I started …” she said.

“Aaaaand I creak and moan when I get up from the bed and I have lower back stiffness.”

“Everyone does. I have at least fifteen joints that you can hear two floors down. Just stay in bed. I remember when I started …” she said.

“Yyyyyeah. I … well, I also have to wake up to pee …”

“Everyone does. I pee at least fifteen times a night. I remember when I started …” she said. I guess she had no advice for avoiding the nocturnal peeing trips.

The conversation couldn’t go much longer because I end up doing all the listening. I had to hang up.

So. . . .

When you’re 44 years old, you fret about tomorrow because you can’t remember what’s on the calendar.

When you’re 44 years old, you drive to run halfway around the park you used to run to and then run around.

When you’re 44 years old, your eyes need to adjust between near and far vision and during the transition, everyone looks fuzzy like mold.

When you’re 44 years old, 25 push-ups take as long as doing 15 used to but don’t give the results that 25 used to.

When you’re a 44 year old female you don’t want anyone to touch you because you might burst into flames due to random perimenopausal hot flashes.

When you’re 44 years old, your body is what it is. Chances are you can improve it; it’s worth it if your health is on the line.

When you’re 44 years old, you’re very likely on the downward slope of the rest of your life. If you don’t like how your life is going now, you better get yourself together and fix it.

When you’re 44 years old, you’re the only one in your way. Really, there is no one else to blame. Forget blaming your parents: you’ve been a cellular adult (26) for at least 18 years; it’s time to grow up.

When you’re 44 years old unload the dead weight: stop hanging out with people who drag you down and stop ignoring the sensations we know as intuition: they will never steer us wrong. Even if near-term experiences prove otherwise, in the end: the intuition is right.

When you’re 44 years old live for yourself and stop being who you think others want you to be. If people decide they don’t like you but they can’t say why, give them a reason.

When you’re 44 years old if you’ve got some bad habits that affect your health, change them. It takes 21 days in succession to create a new habit (break an old one) and that’s 21 days of consciousness and awareness.

I’m gonna harp on this habit thing for a moment because I’m really talking to myself, you’re just listening in: regardless of your age, did you know that it takes between 8 and 14 minutes to fight an urge or break a craving? So if you’re fighting an urge to break into a box of Oreos (we get the huge ones from Costco) or have some ice cream or smoke a cigarette or take a drink or buy something you don’t need, know that if you distract yourself for 8 to 14 minutes, if you say to yourself, “I’ll come back to this …” or “Look there’s Elvis!” and start a hunt to find him, you will be able to beat it.

I’m saying all this because while I know 44 is relatively young, my elderly relatives that were still alive when I was in my teens and mid-20s all died before they fully experienced 90. They had some habits that were very hard for them to break and they were also completely immobile when they died as well. I don’t want to be like that. So Mom, if you’re reading this: get up and walk around.

And you guys, if you’re 26 or 16 or 48 or 37: live for yourself and get ready to savor the triumphs and learn from the lessons. Habits can be broken. When you are an adult, you are in charge of your own life.

Thank you.

About Grass Oil by Molly Field

follow me on twitter @mollyfieldtweet. i'm working on a memoir and i've written two books thus unpublished because i'm a scaredy cat. i hail from a Eugene O'Neill play and an Augusten Burroughs novel but i'm a married, sober straight mom. i write about parenting, mindfulness, irony, personal growth and other mysteries vividly with a bit of humor. "Grass Oil" comes from my son's description of dinner i made one night. the content of the blog is random, simple, funny and clever. stop by, it would be nice to get to know you. :)

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