Thursday, January 28, 2016

Route 66

Get your kicks, you're on Route 66.

I know those aren't the exact words, but these ones work for me. I am now sixty-six. Six Six. No longer a junior senior. I'm edging toward sincerely senior.

I still don't believe, inside, that I have reached this age. Not that I don't suffer from creaks and groans in the knee or the neck, but I usually slough them off like buzzing mosquitoes. Generally my body is very sturdy and functional, even though I often don't treat it as well as I should. It's never been thin, or narrow waisted, or long-legged, but it used to look pretty good.

I was a classic yo-yo dieter. I probably invented it.

Nowadays there are parts of my body that I don't like at all.  Turns out it all has to do with that yo-yo.

I remember reading Nora Ephron's book, "I feel bad about my neck," and, while I laughed, I didn't really get it. Now I do. I have a turkey neck.

The other day I googled "how to get rid of your turkey neck" and the articles told me to consistently maintain a healthy body weight. Too late, so I practised suggested exercises instead.

I sat up straight in my chair and looked up at the ceiling. I closed my mouth and made a chewing motion. While I did that, my turkey neck disappeared. When I opened my mouth again, it came back.

The next exercise was a lot of fun. I had to hang my head off the edge of my bed. The cat jumped on my stomach and began to knead the flesh, but I figured this might be good exercise too. I had to lift my head up until it was in line with the rest of my body. Then hold for 10 seconds. Why is 10 seconds so damn long when 66 years have whizzed past?

Next I took a nap.

I did teach my friends Janet Bolin and Melodie Campbell about the trick for photos. Put your hand  (though Mel likes the scarf method) under your chin when anyone snaps a picture. Voila! 
Janet Bolin, Melodie Campbell, Me (Catherine Astolfo)

The other thing I dislike are the spare tires around my middle. I know, I know, I can do something about those, and I am. After thirty years I rejoined Weight Watchers. So far, so good.

Last but not least are the wrinkles all over my face. "Wrinkles should merely indicate where smiles have been," said Mark Twain. Meanwhile, he covered his own with hair. I tried that, but my hairs just grew long instead of abundant.

When my mother was elderly, I leaned over to kiss her and she said, "Oh my god, you have a lot of wrinkles on your face."

I answered, "Well I am 60." (Which is was.)

She looked absolutely horrified. "If you're sixty, then how old am I?"

You see, it's a family tradition to forget how old you are.

I've had several lives and I do mean that sincerely. Along with several husbands. There was my flower girl hippy life, my typical mom/housewife phase, my gay divorcée stages, my head-of-the-Union life, my esteemed educator phase, and now, my author life (which also incorporates my grandma stage).

This last life (probably) is my favorite. I'm retired, I've had a long happy marriage, I'm a grandmother. Plus I get to do my most favorite thing all day if I want to, and that is, I get to write.

"There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, your creativity, that you bring to your life and the lives of the people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you have truly defeated age." Sophia Loren

The only thing that worries me is: how long do writers write? Do we get too old for it? For inspiration I looked up authors who wrote until they were severely senior.

Millard Kaufman died when he was 92. He was a screenwriter as a younger man, but he wrote and published his first novel at 90. His second was published after he died. I am impressed.

Laura Ingalls Wilder didn't get her first book published until she was 65. She lived until 90 and, although she seems to have given up writing in her 80's, she wrote so many great letters that they formed a book posthumously. I like that.

Agatha Christie is probably the most famous severely senior author. She wrote books right up until her death at 86. Tons of books and plays too. I don't know if I can get my hair to go like that, but I'll try. What an inspiration!

I should try honey and baking soda on my face. According to the ancient Egyptians, the wrinkles will disappear. Combine that with sandalwood, antioxidants, detoxing, healthy food, exercise, crossword puzzles, and plenty of sleep, I will be writing until I'm 100.  

George Burns said, "You can't help getting older, but you don't have to get old."

"You grow old if you stop laughing," Maurice Chevalier apparently warned.

Therefore, as I embark on Route 66, I resolve to laugh, eat healthy, keep writing, exercise, and sneak in wine whenever possible. That's how I'll get my kicks.


Catherine Astolfo

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