Off Duty Mom

Thoughts from an exhausted mom who is NEVER really "off duty"

Archive for the tag “aging”

Reality as a Geezer

There is no doubt I have lamented the aging process.  Having small children reminds me of how much energy I don’t have anymore.  And being a teacher of early high school students reminds me of how uncool I am.  These kids don’t even use the word “cool” anymore.

I am much nearer to 40 than I am to 20 (and to 30, for that matter).  I had never pictured myself at this age.  It’s kinda weird.

But, here are some realities I have come to understand about the aging process:

  • My body is older than my mind.  When I see a long hallway, I still want to do cartwheels all the way down.  I don’t, however, because I’d have to stretch for a half an hour beforehand and then take a bottle of Advil afterward.
  • My concept of time has shifted dramatically.  The concept of “a long time ago” has changed quite a bit.  I remember when Friends first came on the air.  It doesn’t seem that long ago.  It was 20 years ago, though.
  • My concept of “young” has shifted, too.  I once cried when I turned 24 because I felt so OLD.  Now, I work with people who have advanced degrees but are not old enough to remember the Challenger explosion.
  • I feel less grossed-out by plastic surgery.  I once wondered why people didn’t just “grow old gracefully.”  Now, I sit in front of a mirror and pull my face up manually and sigh as I wonder what it would cost for a nip and a tuck.
  • I actually care what I eat.  In high school, I came home almost every day and ate an entire family-sized back of potato chips (or an equivalently-sized snack of another type).  I wore a size 6 that my mother tailored smaller through the hips for me.  Now, I still love my potato chips, but each crunch comes with a side order of guilt, self-loathing and fourteen more pounds on the bathroom scale.
  • Nobody likes my music.  Two decades ago it wouldn’t have been hard to find someone who liked The Pixies, LL Cool J, Blondie, Nine Inch Nails, and who knew how to do “The Hustle” and understood that you were never supposed to “trust a big butt and a smile.”  Nowadays, we’re harder to locate.  Some of us came to enjoy modern music.  Some are stuck with the soundtrack to “Frozen” on repeat.  Some people switched over to “Adult Contemporary.”  Yeesh.
  • I’m okay (for now) with my glowing pale legs.  This time of year in my twenties, I was running to a tanning salon on rainy days and spending every damn minute outside to alter the color of my skin when it was sunny.  Nowadays, I don’t really have the time or the patience.  So, I just revel for now in the idea that I am staying away from skin cancer and/or wrinkles for one more day.
  • I don’t feel old.  This one is weird.  I don’t know what old is supposed to feel like.  I mean, I feel weaker and slower and fatter and more tired.  But, those things don’t alone signify an elderly status.  Are my knees supposed to ache when it rains?  Am I supposed to forget what day of the week it is?  Am I supposed to wear white button-down sweaters on 80 degree days?  I am not sure if I am doing this right.
  • I still feel like I am in high school — emotionally.  When all the stay-at-home moms gather to pick up their kids in their Lululemon or their Hunter rain boots and their big diamond earrings — and completely ignore the existence of those outside of their social circle, I remember feeling like this before:  for four straight years.

I still want to learn how to surf and speak a foreign language and read more books and run a 5k (no — actually RUN it this time — like, the whole time) and get a PhD. and a six-pack and a nose-piercing.

And I wonder if I will do any of those things.  Or even if I should

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I’m old and out of touch, just like I swore I’d never be…

I have been making a mental list of things I don’t understand.

It’s a long one.

(That’s what she said.)

And, being both a mother and a teacher I am therefore surrounded by young people for the vast majority of my waking hours.  And, you might think that this would aid me in my quest for ultimate world domination and superiority over others, but you’d be wrong.  Being around young people just makes me realize how little I know about the world around me.

macbethI have, like, a couple of degrees and whatnot.  I’m, you know, smart ‘n stuff.  I can recite a heaping chunk of the prologue of “The Canterbury Tales” in the original Middle English.  I can recall the entire first scene of “Macbeth” from memory.  I can say the alphabet backwards.  I know all the words to REM’s “It’s the End of the World As We Know It.”  I know my IQ.  I am not telling you what it is, but let’s just say that I’m not not telling you ‘cuz I’m embarassed, but because I don’t want you to feel bad about yourself.

And, yet, since I am swimming in a sea of Disney-Beiber-CallofDuty-Miley-Legos-XBoxLive-ness, I too often feel like a dipshit.

maniacsI remember being a teenager and just “knowing” that my folks were so out-of-touch.  They didn’t know ANYTHING about REALITY because they thought that 10,000 Maniacs were an LA gang and that Nirvana was Viking heaven.

Of course, my parents felt that their lack of knowledge of popular culture was irrelevant and that the real REALITY was, you know, mortgages and car insurance and W2s and that sort of thing.

I agree that personal finance is closer to relevant than knowing all of the stock characters on Saturday Night Live might be.  Nevertheless, I feel just a little silly and old when I realize how much there is that I don’t know.

galtLike this:

Who is Benedict Cumberbatch? (I know who John Galt is, but for some reason that doesn’t seem to matter to the people on Pinterest as much.)

Wasn’t “Dr. Who” a TV show in the 80’s?  Why is everyone talking about it now?

Name one song by Macklemore that isn’t “Thrift Shop.”  I dare you.  (Actually, don’t.  You probably can name 20 and then I will just feel worse.)

Who the fuck is ASAP Rocky?  (And why does one student keep insisting he is better than Tupac?  I never even heard the name ‘ASAP Rocky’ before, but I can tell you that it doesn’t matter.  There is no fucking way he is better than Tupac.)

Does anyone actually believe that Katy Perry, Beyonce and Miley Cyrus are feminists?

greeneAm I the only person on the planet who hasn’t yet read The Fault in Our Stars? (I’ve read almost everything William Shakespeare has ever written.  Aren’t I done reading things yet?)

At the end of the day, though, folks, I have to admit that I love learning.  So, if anyone out there can enlighten me regarding any of this or can share some wisdom with me about our world, I am more than interested in hearing about it.  Feel free to share the answers to these pressing questions in the comments section or pose a few of your own.

Thanks for reading!

Then and Now, Inside and Out

I will admit that when I sat down at my computer I had very little to say.  And, that, frankly, kinda scared the hell out of me.

Who am I if I am not a loudmouthed, sarcastic know-it-all who has something to say about everything?

I just don’t know.

My instinct, for some reason was to comment about Tupac.  I think it is because I saw a teenager wearing a t-shirt today that had Biggie and Tupac on it.  Tupac was flicking off the camera.  It made me think about the whole concept of rebellion and whether it was inherently good or bad — or neither — or both.

When I was a teenager, I remember there was a bit of a resurgence of 1960’s hippie fashion and culture.  I bought cheap babydoll dresses at Contempo Casuals and discovered The Beatles and people started tie-dying everything around them.  Then Hypercolor t-shirts became the post-modern pseudo-tie-dye reinvention.  Ugh.

And, during this time, I thought everyone over 19 was pretty fucking dumb.  They just didn’t understand reality.  This reality, of course, was whatever I believed it to be in my 14 years of wisdom.  No one, you better believe, was dumber than my parents.  They were super, ultra, extra dumb and could never hope to understand my world in all its complicatedness.

I was a rebel in my own mind.  I never got into any trouble whatsoever.  I once drove a car for about 5 whole minutes before I was 16 and had a license.  I never had to serve any penance for this crime, though.

anarchyYet, I empathized with those who struggled.  My soul seemed to identify with those who felt the need to revolt.  Maybe I listened to too many Sex Pistols songs or Sonic Youth feedback.  There was always a sort of fire in my tiny, adolescent belly that yearned to be in London (and be older), with my fist in the air and a snarl on my face.  I scrawled lyrics to Pixies songs on my school notebooks, then went to AP English class in my cheerleader uniform where I discussed philosophy and later filled out college applications to some of the more prestigious universities in my area.

I never felt like a hypocrite.  I just felt (then and now) that the person inside me didn’t always match the person I showed to the public.  Or the person my parents expected me to become.

I never rebelled.  Not in any real way.  And, I do think – now as an adult – that all of the teeny-bopper bullshit whining that I hear constantly about how adults don’t understand and the world is so cruel and the soul is so black and we’re just so misunderstood is played out and pretty fucking annoying.  I have become my parents.  But, I already knew that.

But, still, I kinda like seeing that picture of Tupac with a very adamant middle finger proudly on display on that kid’s shirt.  Part of me still identifies with the fuck-you attitude.

It is what makes me so charming.  And lovable.

I know you are but what am I?

She was the kind of girl who smoked cigarettes in a car with rolled-up windows while fuzzy dice dangled on her rearview mirror.  I am sure she owned plenty of leopard print.  I would be certain that whatever her name would be, it would end with an “i.”

He scrawled on desks in high school with the end of a pen that no longer worked.  And he only owned clothes with band names on them or things that were made out of threadbare denim or cheap, knock-off leather.

Her friends all loved pink and had big hair and wore plastic bracelets and shoes.  One had a button on her purse that said “Save Ferris.”  Another knew the perfect way to scrunch up her socks at the ankle so that they were just awesome enough.

He hung with guys who snarled a lot.  They couldn’t afford muscle cars, so they hung calendars of them in their rooms instead.  They pretended to know about the world.

Everyone believed, firmly, that these kids were going nowhere in life.  Now they’re 40.  They wear shirts with buttons and pants that have to be ironed.  They have kids and a mortgage and a sensible SUV with a top-rated carseat inside.  They have no idea what the coolest music is anymore, but they do know all about Doc McStuffins.

This might sound like people you know.  One of those people might even be you.

The person who wrote this was once cool, I am sure.  Now she uses adult diapers and complains that the rain hurts her knees.

The person who wrote this was once cool, I am sure. Now she uses adult diapers and complains that the rain hurts her knees.

So, you’re old.  That sucks.

I understand.

But, I offer no solace.  There shall be no respite from the weariness of your lamentable aging today.

Instead, I offer you this:

*next summer, Forrest Gump will be 20 years old.  That makes Haley Joel Osment (young Forrest) now 24.  He could be your coworker.  Or worse, your boss.

*it has been 30 years since Michael Jackson first did that Moonwalk on TV while performing Billie Jean and 30 years since Vanessa Williams became the first Black Miss America.

*If you had had a child the night Seinfeld aired its final episode, that child would now be a freshman in high school.

*If Nirvana’s Nevermind were a person, it could now legally drink in the United States.  Actually, it was released 22 years ago.

*It has been 43 years since the first heavy metal album was released.  Original headbangers would now risk serious injury for rockin’ out.

*It has been exactly 40 years now since psychology experts removed homosexuality from its list of disorders.  It took Denmark another 16 years to be the first to legalize same-sex marriages.  It took 26 total years from that date for California to offer some rights for same-sex couples in committed relationships.

Remember these guys?  If so, you are at least 30.  The show ended in 1981.  Muppet Babies ended in 1992.

Remember these guys? If so, you are at least 30. The show ended in 1981. Muppet Babies ended in 1992.

*It has been 34 years since Nickelodeon first launched as a channel.

*It has been nearly a decade since Facebook launched as a social networking site.

*28 years have passed since the launch of the first Super Mario Brothers.

*If you were 13 years old when Pac Man first came out in the US, you are now 45 years old, geezer.

*If you were 18 when Jimi Hendrix died, you are now 61 years old.  Criminey.

*Cyndi Lauper is 59.

*Gene Simmons is 63.

*Pee Wee Herman is 60.

*TuPac would be 42 years old now, had he lived.

*Denise Huxtable from the Cosby Show would turn 46 this year.

*William Shatner is 81.

*Chuck Norris is 72.

*Brad Pitt is 48.  Two and a half years younger than George Clooney.

and, finally,

*Ralph Macchio, the Karate Kid is freaking 50 years old.

Wow.

 

YOU’RE OLD.

Getting old is awesome.  At least that is what I keep telling myself.

Getting old is awesome. At least that is what I keep telling myself.

“Bikinis, zucchinis, martinis, no weenies”

 

With his phenomenal lyrical prowess, it is shocking -- shocking, I say -- that Juvenile didn't go further in his career.

The older I get, the older I get.

I barely understood my own youth culture half the time.

Then, I became a teacher. I thought I was young and easy to relate to at 22. But in actuality, I had no patience for or frame of reference by which to truly understand pants that start at your thighs, giant, tire-sized piercings or obsessions with Justin Bieber.

If I can’t even relate to a Juvenile (yeah–that was really his stage name. I don’t think irony was intended) song that came out the same year I graduated from college, I don’t know how I will be able to connect with my kids’ generation.

Yet, I still try to understand that song from the 90’s. I heard it today. Here’s what I gathered:

The gentleman insists that his female companion reverse her direction and move her pear-shaped physique in his direction. Repeatedly. Perhaps this young woman is afflicted with some type of malady that increases the size of her hindquarters and also causes her to be hard of hearing. If, indeed, she were suffering from hearing loss, that would be unfortunate since she’d miss the opportunity to hear the veritable cornucopia of words that rhyme with “yeah,” most of which, not surprisingly, are actually the word “yeah” itself. Fascinating.  And it doesn’t end there.

Ummm...it's not just me, right? I can't be the only one who doesn't understand how some people get to be famous.

Does Britney Spears really resurrect the world’s worst pick-up line from about 1982 and ask, “If I said I want your body now, would you hold it against me?”  Did Will Smith not teach his kid better writing ideas other than “I whip my hair back and forth?”  Did Nicki Minaj just say that her panties were coming off?  Did the Black Eyed Peas really tell me to, “Get up off [their] genitals?”  Just when I didn’t think it could get worse than “My Humps.”  But, then, I realized that J. Lo’s 2011 song features a briliant piece of artistry: 

“That badonkadonk is like a trunk full of bass on an old-school Chevy
Seven tray donky donk
All I need is some vodka and some shonky-tonk
And watch she gon’ get Donkey Kong”

>sigh<  I just don’t even know what to say about that.  Luckily, someone else did:  http://entertainment.ca.msn.com/music/photos/gallery.aspx?cp-documentid=29514912&page=10

 

There's a novel idea: THINKING. Thank you, Chuck D.

I used to think that my parents were so lame because they thought that 10,000 Maniacs were a riotous punk bank (they must be with that name, right?) and that Nirvana was shocking for busting up so many guitars.  And, forget gangsta rap from my youth of the late 80’s — I wasn’t allowed to listen to it, but at least it had a message.  And a point.  If you tell me that 9-1-1 is a “joke,” I can at least understand your plight in the American ghettos and the idea that your community is continually ignored by the very system that is supposed to save human lives.  What I will not soon understand is Rihanna begging to be loved like she’s “a hot pie.” 

I don’t know what I would do if I had to listen to my kids hear Katy Perry ask to see someone’s peacock, cock, cock, cock. Honestly. That’s a real song, people. I wish I were kidding.

When my 3-year old is 16, what crap will he be listening to?  And what stupid shit is he going to do to his hair?

What I’d love to know is whether I am just old and out of touch or if popular culture is just becoming that much more vapid. 

Your daughter's role model. I actually found a picture that wasn't overtly sexual. Winning.

Of course, I prefer to believe that youth culture sucks.  I don’t think that’s all there is to it, though. 

Truth is, I am now my parents.  How did that happen?

Follow me…

After my last post, I decided to join the 21st Century in an effort to slow my aging process, act younger and get my shit together. I also drank 3 (Yes — 3!) beers last night with this same goal in mind, y’all.
Join me in my travels through the modern era — @OffDutyMom on TWITTER!!

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