On Turning Fifty. Two.

 

“My fifties were my best decade.”

 

Someone made this proud declaration to me somewhere in the middle of my fourth decade. I liked the sound of it, so I adopted it as my mantra too. Well, except that back then I chanted it in the future tense.

“My fifties are going to be my best decade…” (pumps pompoms, does a high jump kick, lands in the splits, sun glinting off teeth)

And so, for the five years preceding fifty I started prepping myself for fifty. Ramping up the yoga, pouring over the manifestos of the You Can Do It gurus, drinking my morning kale and chia smoothies, and slathering on the organic avocado and chamomile skin elixirs.

It was Kathy’s War: I was gonna down-dog, positively affirm, chug-a-lug, and moisturize my way back to forty if it killed me. And still, fifty came. And went.

I’m now officially two years in. How’s it working for me?

I’m really hoping it’s too early yet to tell for sure.

They say it has a lot to do with your mindset. I gotta say though, some days it’s more of a friggin’ mind game I play with myself. And as much as I enjoy playing with myself, this game gets a little sketchy.

Truth be told there are some things we are not happy about, Bob. Not happy.

Like, can anyone else say nostril hair? I mean is it me, or is it just the Costco10x magnifier mirror? (shakes fist at Costco for offering such a deal on this device of torture) I never noticed how long those suckers can get—or that I even had them at all.

What is the deal?

And what is up with this little piece of chicken skin growing underneath my chin? What is this thing called…? (the old pal Depression chimes in, “Wattle.” – Thanks, jerk.) Now when I’m looking down at my phone to read a text, I see it reflected there. Hanging. Wattling. Mocking me. Oh the pain of it.

And when did pooping get to be such a boon? (decrepit Kathy rocks in her rocker, corncob pipe clenched in her teeth, “Nothin’ like a good BM in the morning, I always say…”)

Then there’s the night sweats, the itchiness, the raging, the crying, the bitching, the brain fog, the tummy pooch, the droopy buns, the can’t remember where I left the half-n-half, the voices (“No, really, wear the leggings…with the leg warmers…and tuck in the blouse! Headband too! Yeah, that’s what I’m talkin’ ‘bout!”), the cravings, the can’t remember… the can’t remember the… the can’t… What?

(shakes fist at the neighbor kids, “Get the hell off my lawn!”)

I’m trying to do this gracefully. I am. But there are days…

So yeah, okay, “My fifties are going to be my best decade… My fifties are going to be my best decade… My fifties are going to be my best decade…yet.”

I must put the yet tag on there because, well, you can’t be too careful with these magical (stupid) incantations. I would hate to cheat myself out of the Sexy Sixties, the Sagacious Seventies, the Ecstatic Eighties and the Nimble Nineties because I misquoted the damn spell for the F@#&ing Fifties!

Recently I ran across a heinous ad on the Internet. This nasty little thing just popped up in my face (during my query ‘What is Hozier?’) asking, “Do you suffer from laugh lines?”

WHAT THE HOLY HELL! Suffer? Really? Since when did laugh lines become the new cellulite?

YES! YES I SUFFER! And I will go on suffering because there is precious little shit left in this world to laugh about (except for maybe redonculous ads like yours) and I want evidence of that gorrammit!

It’s freaking hard enough to contemplate facing the more limiting aspects of aging like: vaginal dust, or the possibility of getting lost in my bathroom, or falling off my slippers and breaking my hip, without feeling that my laugh lines are now unsightly and unacceptable!

Screw it! Bring it on! There’s nothing for it. No miracle ointment, no little blue pill (oh wait), no reverse aging suppository. This thing is going to happen.

So here’s to the fanfuckingtastic fifties! (throws back a shot of Metamucil, wipes mouth on sleeve, slams glass on table, farts involuntarily). So let it be written, so let it be done.

Embrace the Wattle

By the way, both hens and roosters have that gnarly thing hanging down from their necks. Apparently wattles are the chicken’s cooling system; they don’t sweat. So I guess it somehow helps to have this flappy thing hanging here.

But I still sweat. Even with the flap. In the middle of the night. For no freaking reason whatsoever. Except…I’m in my fifties.

 

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Riding the Train They Call the City of New Orleans

“New Orleans? WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT?”

Blink, blink.

“Why the heck would you ever wanna move there?”

“It’s so hot.”

“Sticky. Ugh.”

“Bugs. Huge.”

“Dangerous.”

Many friends and family just shook their heads at our news. Then as hubby and I walked away: “I told you they had some loose marbles…the silly infantasizers…some kind of Mid-Life Walter Middy thing…” (I didn’t actually hear them say this, but I used my Spidey Sense and so I know they were.)

Yeah, well, so. It is nuts the things we’ll do to be closer to our kids. It would be so much easier if they were jerks so we could just rend our garments and be done with them. But alas, pure awesomeness are they.

It was hard enough to have the two of them opt to move to Los Angeles after high school. (I suppose performing arts school and acting careers were somewhat inevitable.)

Thirteen hours away was torture; then back in aught-thirteen, our eldest—Em—announced she was moving to New Orleans.

We said:

“New Orleans? Really?”

Blink, blink.

“Why the heck would you ever wanna move there? It’s so hot. Sticky. Ugh. Bugs. Huge. Dangerous.”

Translation: PLEASE! Please don’t go! I can’t just get in the car when I’m Jonesin’ for my kid, and drive for thirteen hours and put my arms around you!

Our boy, Tim, followed a year later.

“New Orleans?” “Reallly? Hot…sticky…”

We called them six months later.

“We’ve decided. Dad is retiring from teaching and we’re moving.”

“Where?”

“We think maybe…well, if you don’t mind…that is, if you don’t think it would be too weird to traipse across the country after our kids…Can we come live with you?”

“YAY! Wait. With?”

“Well, no, of course, not with, of course, that would be just, no of course not with… But close?”

“YAY!”

So they loaded up the truck and they moved to the Big EeeeZZZ! Nawlins that is… sweat that pools, lots of bars…MovinToTheBigEasy

No, wait, wait. Hold on. It’s swimmin’ pools, movie stars… Hey! Got those too!

See, here’s the other part (and this is the reason behind the reason): They make movies here. And TV. In fact, the industry is growing so robustly here, New Orleans is being called Hollywood South these days.

And well, you know, Mikey and I are both actors…

So we figured hey, we’ve been carrying these prickly actor dreams around in our chests for going on…well, our whole damn lives… time to take some action! Time to scratch that itch or die. And we get to scratch while consuming beignets, crawfish, and bourbon!

So in the midst of middle age, we have embarked on this new adventure.

Yep, done lost our marbles we have. But we have the rest of our lives to find those. Remember back HERE I was explaining what the heck I’ve been doing with myself and why my blog has been moldering? Well, as promised, now you know a little more about number three on the list of what I’ve been up to.

So far, moving to Nawlins has been a bit like stepping into a strange, twisty, Technicolor, alternate reality. There is a story around every corner and in every epic pothole.

I’ll be sharing some soon, so y’all come back now, y’hear?

 

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Ginormous Blessings Come in Wee Little Boxes

A re-post… In honor of my sweet momma. Happy Departure Day ~ I miss you with all my heart.

We sat in the front row. The musicians were so close we could hear their breath punctuating each masterful bow stroke and see the rosin fly from the horsehair in wispy puffs as the friction coerced the notes from the strings. The music was sublime and it connected us—my mom and me—for that hour and a half, in a way that I could not have imagined in that moment.

***

Table-With-A-View

Our favorite spot on the Trinity River. Can you guess why?

As much as Mike and I love music, you wouldn’t think we would be such infrequent concertgoers. It was by happenstance that we wandered into a Trinity Alps Chamber Music Festival concert this last July, that was going on at the Strawhouse Café (our favorite coffee spot on the Trinity River). We couldn’t stay, but were very impressed and stoked to find out that the festival was ongoing for several weeks during the summer, and that there was another concert scheduled the following weekend.

“My mom would love this!” I said to Mike.

“You should call her and invite her to come down and go,” he confirmed.

My mom who turned eighty-one this year, and still fairly spry, remained mostly a home body, so I was surprised that she accepted my invitation to come down from her little house in Trinity Center and have a girl’s night out with me.

As was typical for her, when Friday came, she called and said that she wasn’t sure she wanted to come—long drive, didn’t want to impose by staying over, blah, blah, blah.

“Mom, just pack up your bag and come on down. We are expecting you and I will be disappointed if you stand me up.”

“Oh, Kathy. You are so one way.” She ribbed me. “Okay, I’ll come.”

Even after dinner her curl-up-on-the-couch instincts kicked in.

“Are you sure you don’t want to just stay here and watch a movie together?” (she meant snooze)

I knew that given the choice, she would always prefer to just hang with her kids and chat without any outside interference. But somehow I knew that we just had to make it to this concert. I knew that we would be sorry if we missed it.

“Mom, we are going to this concert.” I’m a real bossy-pants with my mom sometimes.

“You can be so obstreperous, Kathy.” She loved her fifty-cent words (Merriam Webster’s, not the rapper’s).

I could tell she was a little nervous as we made the long trek to the front of the auditorium. It was a long way back to the ladies’ room. We settled in our seats, and she reached over and held my hand.

“I’m glad we came.” She confessed.

When the music began, Borodin: String Quartet No. 2, I could feel her grip on my hand tighten. I looked over at her, her face beaming, her eyes sparkling. I was glad we came too. I squeezed back three times, I-love-you, it meant—our little signal from as far back as I can remember.

As the final note of the first number faded into silence, the room was hushed and reverent for a beat before we took a collective breath.

“Sweet.” My mom said aloud to the musicians, as if they and she were the only ones in the room. The audience burst into an agreeing tumult of applause.

And on it went. Each number more intoxicating than the last, and I could feel my mom’s pleasure next to me.

You see, my mom’s love for music (and in turn, mine) runs deep. Her mother was a piano teacher who saw to it that both her daughters received formal training.

Laura-Anne Liechti 1943

Mom – 1945

My mom, who bristled at the discipline required, was endowed with an extraordinary gift and until marrying age, studied to become a concert pianist under the masterful instruction of Alma Schmidt-Kennedy at her prestigious studio in Berkeley. When faced with the choice between marriage, children and family life, and the rigors of a professional career in music, she opted for the former.

My family, however, reaped the benefits of Mom’s continued passion for her music. Many a night I was serenaded to sleep by her playing—drifting off with melodic strains of Chopin, Debussy, and Rachmaninoff swirling around me. Her playing was magical, not just because she had technical ability, but because it issued forth from her soul with exquisite interpretive voice.

It wasn’t until the last several years that mom’s body started refusing to cooperate when she had the hankering to play. She ruminated often about her regret at having let her gift dwindle from lack of use. She told me that she would sometimes wake herself up in the middle of the night, her fingers tapping on her tummy as she played in her dreams. Sometimes she would just get up and play.

Over the last few years, as I watched her struggle to find the notes, her fingers stiff and back aching, I couldn’t help begging her to play for me anyway—I just couldn’t get enough. She always resisted with great fervency. She couldn’t stand that it was a fight to reach the notes. “Oh, I just can’t play anymore.” Or “I haven’t practiced, it will be awful.” Or “My nails are too long.”

Then she would finally give in and play—tearfully—telling me that the music, as she hears it in her head, is so beautiful that it makes her weep. She had an intimacy with the notes that was rare and astounding. It was hard to see it winding down, but I longed to watch and hear her none-the-less.

***

We sat in the front row holding hands. Connected by the music and our love. I was bossy and she was her usual sweet placating self, and we were both so happy to have come. I could not imagine that two weeks later, she would be gone.

Mom and me Spring 2012

Mom and me, Spring 2012

Now, that night is a precious memory that is my treasure to keep tucked away in my heart. One that Love saw fit to bestow upon me in all graciousness, one that will forever make the listening bittersweet and the color of my life just a little more vibrant.


In memory of my sweet, sweet mom, Laura-Anne Liechti.

March 28, 1931 – August 3, 2012

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T’was the Nightmare Before Christmas,

…when all through the house,

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.

Or a ballerina.

Superheros

Photo courtesy @CandaceMarie321

Or an Ironman, a Captain America, nor a Thor.

Nothing hits the empty nester like a Holloween without your kids. Even all grown up ones. I would have given my left…ovary for my kids to come crashing in, bragging about their booty.

My girl in her Amazon Warrior costume, broadsword slung across her back and my boy dressed up in jeans and a T-shirt holding his pillowcase and telling me he is dressed as a high school student…

Lonely HalloweenBut alas, it is no more. Not a peep. Not a knock, a ding dong, or a flaming bag of poo. Just a bowl full of Reeses and Baby Ruths…untouched. Except for maybe one or two. Or four.

It’s okay. Castle: Season 3 disc 4 was good, and I got some writing done. Finished a chapter in my book, dressed like someone in her jammies.

Happy Halloween!

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