Wednesday, 14 November 2012

The Bonfire Of My Vanity or How to hit Forty (with a big stick).


Recently I've noticed changes in the way I look. A grey hair here, another chin there, a thickening at the waist and a thinning of the lips.
It's like I didn't take the phone call from middle age but it's left me a voicemail saying "I've reserved a place for you in your early forties, can you hurry up and confirm your coming only the demand is high and you'll be shoved back in economy if you don't claim your ticket soon".
Well I'm not coming. I want my (eye) bags removed from the hold, my passport unstamped and the contraband they took from me at security returned. I'm not prepared to swap the twinkle in my eye for a wrinkle around my eye just yet and although I'm the wrong side of teenage spots I know for sure I'm nowhere near the age for liver spots.I feel like I'm just hitting my prime physically (except for a few pounds) and emotionally. The skimpy arms and underdeveloped coping mechanisms of my teens and early twenties have been replaced with the big guns that every other day at the gym and years of experience have given me. I can now pack a punch both physically and emotionally, rather than just packing my lunch.

Reaching the age of 40 was not a big deal for me. 39 was the killer year, the year I began to question everything about myself and where my life was heading.Career,looks,relationships and money all came along to my 39th birthday party and screamed at me, they didn't even bring cards or gifts, they just turned up, blew out the candles on my cake and threw it out in the rain to melt. Luckily, I didn't like that cake anyway, it had been baked, shaped and moulded by others so as I watched it slowly wash away I thought "great, now I can bake a few small muffins, add my own ingredients and leave them in the deep freeze until I'm ready to share them. Let everybody else eat cake".

 I've learned to relax and give myself time to breath and the absolute need to prove myself to everybody all the time has got up, given up and left me. I'm like the hare from the "Hare & the Tortoise", except I've already ran the race, come back, popped a Valium, taken a nap and let the tortoise think he's won. I've removed myself from the rat, hare & tortoise race and I've quit the commute. Life just started to feel far to short to be spending an hour and a half every morning and every evening underground, and in the company of people I'd probably cross the road to avoid. A tube journey to a job you hate is your very own road to hell, so I jumped off before I jumped under.

What I'm saying is this, life gets easier as you get older. The insecurities and patterns of thought that hold you back fade away, the endless need to prove who you are recedes because you find out who you are. It's not easy but if you learn to take a step back and observe rather than always being in the thick of it your priorities will change. It's not about getting old or giving up, it's mostly about growing up and realising whats important. Financially I probably hit my peak about six years ago but as a friend pointed out to me, I'm nowhere near my peak creatively ( I don't know if he means my writing is truly awful?) and holding on to that is what motivates me and keeps me happy. I don't need to go and spend ridiculous amounts of money on possessions because I've finally become self possessed rather than self obsessed, and I don't need to numb any pain because I know how to handle it. I get my laptop out and I start to write rather than getting my cheque book out and starting to write.

Age, experience and life will not wither me, in fact they excite me. I look at them with the same enthusiasm I had in my youth, it's just I have to squint a bit now. There are still so many things I want to do, see and write about and I don't feel any older. I feel more confident and sure of what I'm doing and sure of where I want to be than I ever have. I'm learning to appreciate the grey hair and the few lines that I have rather than thinking they have to be denied, dyed, covered up and lied about. I like my older face, it's the only one I've got so what's the alternative? Looking healthy and happy at 41 is better than looking fifty and lifted at 40. They say at forty you get the face you deserve, well that's fine, I'd rather have that than the face I can afford and I read an article recently that middle age doesn't actually start until we're 55, so I'm still fresh faced and in my infant years anyway.

Becoming 40 is no big deal. If you're approaching it, scared of it, worried about it or dreading it, RELAX. You've already got the hardest part over and done with and although it sounds like a cliche, it really is the truth that life truly begins at 40 and I should know.
I'm hurtling towards 42, on a pair of roller skates and with a smile.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Looking for Love in all the Wrong Places.


Recently I read a status update on Facebook that I found truly upsetting, in fact, it horrified me. I found the words and intention behind it demeaning, degrading and down right insane:
“Find a guy who calls you beautiful instead of hot, who calls you back when you hang up on him, who will lie under the stars and listen to your heartbeat, or will stay awake just to watch you sleep. Wait for the boy who kisses your forehead, who wants to show you off to the world when you are in sweats, who holds your hand in front of his friends. One who is constantly reminding you of how much he cares and how lucky he is to have you.... The one who turns to his friends and says "that's her / him.'” (Delete or read as appropriate).
 I think I may have gagged several times whilst reading it. Am I so jaded, cynical and bruised by life's experience that the guy who's being looked for would make me run a million miles or does this kind of all consuming "can't live without you" person actually exist? Is there a warrant out for him and a photo fit that needs to be put up on every street corner or broadcast on the early evening news?
To me he sounds like a nightmare in trousers or at the very least someone who is all mouth and no trousers. Does anyone really want to find a man who sounds as sappy as a Disney Movie? I thought women / men / gays / lesbians and sharks had got this whole love thing sorted.Surely independence is better than being emotionally dependant? Especially when the guy who's being looked for and dreamt about sounds like he's a heartbeat away from being a stalker:

Why does anyone want to be called "beautiful instead of hot"? Don't they both go hand in hand to the bedroom? Are they not as intrinsically linked as Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde? There is beauty and hotness in the coldest and the ugliest because as the cliche says "beauty is in the eye of the beholder". Ugly sex is good sex and good sex is ugly, right? Especially if  you're doing it properly.
Why on earth would you want someone to call you right back after you've slammed the phone down on them? "I've put the phone down on you because I think you're an utter **** (choose your four words carefully) so I don't want to talk to you. Leave me alone". Having a partner who calls you back more than a PPI salesman does not make a happy relationship, it just makes you want to disconnect, unplug and tune out. "Let's speak when I'm ready and you realise I'm right".

There is nothing quite so scary as waking up and finding someone a couple of inches away from your face and staring at you. I don't care if it's love, lust or murder in their eyes, in the middle of the night they all look the same. Our sleep time is our dream time, time for us to be alone, to have adventures, to sleep with imaginary partners and even have ugly sex with them if we wanted. Waking up in the middle of the night with someone fawning and panting over you like a love sick puppy is annoying, even when it's done by a lovesick puppy. "You want to put your head on my chest and listen to my heartbeat? Why don't you go and buy yourself a stethoscope and lay on the opposite side of the bed and do it?"

I find the kisses on the forehead thing a little creepy too. I have kissed things on the forehead, mostly babies, puppies and pensioners but it's hardly the kiss of an all consuming passion is it? I think if I had a partner who insisted on doing that I'd have to attach a post it note to my forehead saying "leave me alone" or "go away quickly". Foreheads are for fringes and Botox, not for kissing and licking.

"Wait for the guy who wants to show you off to the world?". Exactly how does this work? I'm confused. Is he in to wife swapping? Husband swapping? That's just what I need, I've falling in love with a porno director and he wants to "show me off". There is a time and place for public displays of affection and that's mostly when there are no public about. Holding hands is for children on school trips and adults on doctors appointments. I don't want to hold your hand unless you're passing me some cash.

Finally, and this is the sentiment that really made me want to get rid of my lunch "one who is constantly reminding you of how much he cares and how lucky he is to have you".
For the love of God, Disney, sweatpants, puppies and ugly sex, seriously?!! You want to hear this constantly? Did you not get enough love as a child? Are you not secure and confident enough to know that you're a good, loveable, worthwhile person without some clingy, wet blanket of a man telling you? It is lovely to be loved but to be told it all the time? You don't need a lover, you need a therapist and if he's constantly saying how lucky he is to have you? I'd say that's probably true so you must dump him and go and have some fun on your own.