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Aug 07 2012

Cost and Benefits of Life After 40. Part 1

The strangest things happen after you turn 40. Some things you notice almost immediately.  It’s as if the clock struck midnight on your birthday and a large magician in the sky waved a magic wand over you and “poof”, stuff just gets weird.

 

I suspected my eyesight was starting to change in the last years of my 30’s.  They bulged and ached after a few hours on the computer, or after applying the final details to a painting. My left eye, started to wander leaving me in front of the mirror wondering if I may be the long lost twin sister of the British comedian Marty Feldman.

 

It was hard to stay focused enough to apply a small stroke of paint here when one eye had clearly travelled over there. I would shake my head to knock them both back in alignment. It reminded me of that little child’s game; the hand held disc that held the little silver balls that you tried to get into all the little holes. One little metal ball always got stuck and you had to shake the tar out of it to dislodge it so you could play again.

 

At 40, I might pick up the morning paper, to skim the local news, only skimming the page made me dizzy and nauseous. The lines blurred into one another until I became disinterested in the news entirely. It just wasn’t worth the effort to find out who was running in the next election, or what street the purse snatcher was last seen running on. I figured if I ran into him or her, the only thing they would get from me is some loose change, a couple of shredded up Kleenex and an old tube of lipstick that I rarely wore but carried around in my bag anyway.

 

Driving at night is a full on adventure. The glare of the passing car lights and street lights make me feel like I am in some type of dance club or Jimi Hendrix video. I don’t bother trying to read the street signs; I look for large markers like a big old oak tree or a gas station to lead the way.

 

A trip to the optometrist and a prism lens later, things got clearer. I still struggled with the paper and my painting; it took me longer to carry out these activities as I blinked a thousand times to clear the little black dots and lines that floated across my field of vision. My eye still wandered when the light wasn’t good or if I was tired, so I no longer seek knowledge in the written form after 8pm in the summer and 6pm in the winter.

 

Besides, it’s close to my bed time anyway. I have developed this strange internal clock that shuts me down after 8pm in the summer and 6pm in the winter. I walk my dog every night not so much for our exercise but to prove to myself that I can still muster the energy. The motivation; I fantasize the entire time about going home and putting on my pajamas. It is my official closing ceremony for the day, every little thing and every little creature in the house has been taken care of. My work is done.

 

After that there is no telling when I will drop off. I try to stay awake. I really do. One minute past 10 pm though, my eyes droop, the left one wanders down the hall and towards the bedroom and I experience the most extreme nausea that only an overextended body and mind can. I have a library of movies that I have never seen the end of. I trust the other people in the room to deliver the conclusion when I wake up in the morning. Oh the sleepy time nausea!  It almost reminds me of the fast food nausea.

 

I honestly don’t know how I digested it in my younger years. The grease, the additives and spices, the MSG, I just don’t do well with it. Sure I still enjoy the taste every once in a while but my body demands the mild cooking and fresh ingredients of home. The fast food meal sits like lead in my stomach, indigestion sets in and the only sound I can muster is a groan as I unbutton the top bottom of my jeans.

 

I’m happy that I am still able to wear my jeans although I have recently become more comfortable in the boy cut type. The waist is much more giving and does not cut off my circulation to the lower half of my body. The rise is comfortable as well. No longer must I hold up the back of my pants when I garden so as not to expose my behind. I don’t know who thought it was a good idea to declare high waist pants out of style and flooded every store with hip hugger styles. Have you noticed the length of the zipper on them? You know they are low rise when the zipper is the same size as the one that holds the coins in your wallet, all two inches.

 

I still love my jeans though; they make me feel young and current. I have my favorites, most recently a pair that I picked up at American Eagle stores. They are called “My Favorite Boyfriends” jeans. I don’t have a boyfriend of course and I don’t know who they are referring to or fashioned the pants after but I must say, he has some pretty comfortable jeans. There is no digging at the waist or hip, no muffin top to camouflage, just a nice clean line. You can bend and stretch and garden and shop and go out for the night and look cute to boot. It depends on what you pair them with. My daughter always keeps me on top of the latest styles. I am worried about her leaving as I have a confession to make….

 

Lately I have been attracted to sparkles on clothes and sometimes appliqués.

 

 I don’t know what’s happening to me. I used to be pretty fashion savvy and could put together a pretty cute outfit out of practically nothing. I had a knack for it. My favorite accessory has always been a nice cardigan or sweater. They are just so versatile.  I have a closet full of them in almost every neutral shade.

 

But something is drawing me to those brilliant gems and sparkles. They just look so darn happy. They look fun to wear and cheery. Maybe this year I will buy a sweater especially for the Christmas season with puffy snowflakes and maybe a red pom pom for a certain reindeer’s nose. I’m just tossing it out there.   

 

My daughter suspects this is happening to me. On our most recent shopping trips, as I gravitate towards the sequined t-shirts and quilted sweatshirts on the clearance rack,  my daughter tugs my arm and leads me away saying in a commanding voice, “No, Mom, we’re not going there.”

 

I wonder what I will look like when she gets home. Will I lose all sense of fashion? My husband would probably encourage these new fashion choices but I don’t know if I can trust a guy who after he turned 40 started wearing high legged white sweat socks, pulled tight to almost his knees and finishes off the look with a pair of old flappy stretch cotton shorts. Sorry dear, but I still think you look cute.

 

Oh boy, I can imagine what we’ll look like as we pick her up at the airport at Christmas. Maybe if I ditch the pom pom for a real glowing red light I can guide her plane in that Christmas night.  I am certain she would be speechless…which leads to my final observation of life after 40.

 

Where have my words gone? At one time, I knew all of them. I describe things more than I can name them. I know I seem pretty wordy on this blog but I’ve had hours to think of what I am saying or trying to say and an online dictionary at my disposal.  I’m talking about the words I speak when sitting with a group of people who have just asked my opinion on something. I’m talking about the words I try to speak as I am trying to make an important point to my children or to ask for something as simple as what is sitting in a bowl at the other side of the dinner table.

 

Sure I forget people’s names, or what I had walked into a room for or where I put my keys or the clothes that I stored from last winter. But words?  Sometimes I forget how to spell them which is the most disconcerting as I have always been a fantastic speller. I always made it to the finals in the classroom spelling bees, I always spouted off how to spell words to my children when they asked. I could do this while following a difficult recipe and talking on the phone all at the same time. I could spell and multitask.

 

I know stress sometimes causes it as well as hormonal changes after 40. Yet it doesn’t completely comfort me as I try to retrieve a noun from the recesses of my mind and then try to push it off the tip of my tongue while not letting on to anyone else that I can’t think of the bloody word for the yellow niblets that are on the cob that I would like a small scoop of.  

 

This post was supposed to be about the costs and benefits of life after 40. Although it seems as though I am focused on the costs, there are many benefits that I will write about in my next post. My left eye is wandering again from looking at this screen so I need to take a break. Till then I would just like to add……

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Never mind, I’ll think of it later!

 

 

 

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4 comments

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  1. Tim Stewart

    lol……..I’ll spare you the details about after 50 sis……just know as the issues grow……..the concern lessens……..I now fully understand funny looking, weirdly dressed, wandering aimlessly senior citizens much better than I did as a younger soul…!!

    1. Constance Stewart Meloche

      AHAHAHHAHA!!! Do Tell. I like to be prepared. Perhaps you should guest write on the mens take on life after 50.

  2. Cindy

    I was about to say the same thing ~wait until after 50! All this and more…!
    My 40th high school class reunion is tonight! (Big bonfire party last night; so fun when I could figure out who I was talking to 🙂

    1. Constance Stewart Meloche

      I think I must be an over achiever because I’m feeling a lot of the “more” now. Aaargh!
      Have fun at your reunion. The benefit of forgetting who you are talking to; you always feel like you’re meeting someone new. HA!

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