I’ve been on the fritz.
For four months.
I tried whacking myself upside the head. I’ve shaken myself. Jiggled the handle. Twisted the antenna. Rebooted. Let it rest. Poked it.
I was stuck. Frozen. That gray buzzing swirled around me. My test pattern burned before my eyes. [If you’re under 50, google “test pattern.”]
But today, as I lay in bed with the perpetual mist and gloom that winter and spring became this year, I was jump-started, as good as if someone stood over me with de-fib paddles. It’s my birthday. I’m 64, today, and this isn’t what I was expecting.
In my fondest childhood dreams, I was sure that I’d be an actor or a writer. Not quite, although I am, in my heart, a darn fine actor, if someone needs a 64-year old actress, which no one does. I could still be a writer, if I were more disciplined. Ahhh. Discipline. Something I never quite learned.
In my defense, I’ve been writing these past four months, but I haven’t finished anything. 20 beginnings and no endings. As usual, I have plenty to say (Karma, bad weather, grief, politics, my neck), it alternated between angry and maudlin. Blog-writing is self-indulgent (no editorial oversight), and we should all be grateful that I self-censored the drama that plays out in my head.
Instead, I ate. I went back to potatoes, pasta, pastry, and real Coke. In the depressing doldrums of this gloomy winter past, I gained five pounds in three weeks. No Zumba. No planking. Did you know that you easily can gain five pounds in three weeks, but you can’t lose them as easily in 10? A month ago, I went back to planking, 3 minutes a day, so my “core” is stronger, but it doesn’t get rid of the flab that covers my hard work. sigh
When I awoke this morning, I allowed myself 10 minutes of maudlin thinking. I started that when The Veterinarian went over the Rainbow Bridge. I allowed myself 20 minutes to grieve (only in the morning) and then forced myself to get up and get moving.
This morning’s weather was gray and damp and whispered,
“It’s our birthday. We’re gloomy and shouldn’t have to do anything we don’t want to do today, because it’s our birthday. Our 64th birthday. Let’s just wallow in bed in our foggy misery.”
Fortunately, My BFF jumped on the bed demanding to go out and to be fed, as she does every morning, which has saved me, really, these many months. You can’t be too self-indulgent, when you’re responsible for others.
And then it also hit me. I’m not dead yet. This is the rest of my life. I’m not going to just sit and look out the window all day. My life isn’t over. For better or worse, I see many more years ahead. My Mother will be 89 in October. Her sister was just 90 in January. One of her cousins is 93. Like me, they’re all short women, all “ornery,” as a man I know describes me. All with the same high blood pressure and cholesterol that I have. I see my future, 30 more years, probably. So, how shall I spend it?
In the arts, of course. I started studying a new version of an old dream. I’ve plunged into ballroom dance with my bad knees and attitude, bringing my smart mouth and lots of ballet and modern dance technique and skills that frequently hinder me. Of course, years of being immune to making a fool of myself onstage comes in handy. After all, I once played a salmon swimming upstream to spawn in “The Life Cycle of a Salmon.” Wearing an elegant gown covered in Swarovski crystals has that beat by an ocean of elegance.
Inspired by a friend who found satisfaction in ballroom dance during a tumultuous struggle of her own, I found some lovely people who, later in life, discovered the world of glitz and glamor in which I’ve been living since I first danced in a petticoat and My Mother’s costume jewelry for My Dad’s movie camera, 60 years ago. When I’m dancing, I’m a vision of grace in the movie that plays in my head. Well, I’m content until I hear, “Close your thighs, Suzanne.” “Girls up, Suzanne.” “Don’t turn out, Suzanne.” When I hear that, I’m transported to a ballet studio in a drafty hall and hear, “Straighten your knees, Suzanne.” “Elbows up, Suzanne.” “Turn out, Suzanne.” Nothing is ever going to be perfect. And that’s ok.
I’m back in a place where I’m happy not being perfect. Well, kind of. I still have high expectations of myself, but it’s a place that feels comfortable and familiar; a place where “Standards” are kept (no swearing, no jeans) and irony revered; a place where the lights are low on Saturday practice evenings, so we all look our best. It’s a place where I’ve been described as “A Flower from a Different Field,” a description so lovely and so apt that I’ve taken it on as my personal motto, although My Mother reminds me that it could mean a weed. Oh, well. Someone’s weed is someone else’s flower.
Plus, I’ve found something new to write about!
Well, no dates. I turned off the matchdot com account in February after I received an email from a man whose screen name was Brett of Fresh Aire and whose profile photo showed a man frowning. After studying the photo and profile for a few minutes, I realized he wasn’t being ironic, intentionally. That’s when I realized that I wasn’t going to find a flower in the field of online dating.
I met a nice couple in dance class who met online, but “nice” is the key word. I’m “A Flower from a Different Field.” And that’s ok. Independent. Bossy. Cranky. Ornery. Whatever. I meet lots of men at dance class, all of whom are happily married or outside of my age group. That’s not why I dance.
I also got an email from a guy at a “consumer protection” website a few weeks ago and another follow-up last week. He claimed to have read my dating posts and wanted to know if I wanted to do something with a consumer protection column about online dating. I say “something” because it’s not clear to me what he wanted. It didn’t seem that they were going to pay me to either submit my posts or link to my blog, so I wasn’t interested. I pointed out that my experience is entirely negative, which does not make for a helpful, unbiased review. Now, if they want to cough up some money, which would help pay for my ungodly expensive new hobby, I would reconsider.
Today, I’m 64. To borrow from Paul McCartney (also a Gemini), I could use a handy someone to “mend a fuse when [my] lights have gone” or [do] the garden, [dig] for weeds, but where I’m moving, there aren’t any fuses and someone else will tend the lawn and remove the snow. Still, a handy someone showing up with “birthday greetings” and a bottle of Champagne would be welcome at my door.
But don’t come tonight or ever, without an invitation. Tonight, I’m happy to enjoy a Margarita at my favorite Mexican restaurant with my family and, later, a little dancing with friends in that different field, so, who am I to complain? Life is still good (mostly). Soli Deo Gloria!
P.S. Happy Birthday, Angelina Jolie! See: Twins
 I made that up. Any resemblance to persons known or unknown is strictly coincidental, but, if the shoe fits…