On the morning of my 51st birthday I walked into the bathroom and looked at myself in the mirror. It was stunning. I looked like hell, in so many ways. So I went and got my camera and took a photo, then I posted it on face book. Along with 9 other photos of me from kindergarden to a couple of years ago. I am proud of myself for revealing myself. I am also amazed that I was brave enough to do it.

I am coming to grips with the fact that I am on the downhill slope. And that is amazing, and scary, and exciting, and exhilarating, and terrifying, and DEPRESSING. I look at where I have been and realize that I am nearing the end. An end I never thought would happen to me. But with the death of both my parents there is nothing standing between me and my own death.

I know the next part of my life is mine to control and to live in a way that I want. I also know that I am moving into a time when I will no longer accept things because I am afraid, or allow things to happen to me. I also know I couldn’t give a flying fuck what people think of me, because that is what freezes me in my life. Having my sister in Seattle has proven that to me. So worried about what she thinks of me that I am frozen. There is a reason why I like traveling alone, no one knows me or judges me.

So with the posting of that picture I think I have taken some of that “who cares what you think” attitude and presented it to the world.  As I stated in the posting, “This is the face of 51. Ah, fuck ’em if they can’t take a joke.”

The end of the world as we know it…

And I feel…..

I wish I could say fine, but I can’t. This new year January was one of the most impossible months I have ever experienced. I have had illness, injury, emotional break down, anger, fear, rage, hatred, sadness, and all the other things I want to avoid, pile up on me.

I work too hard, I always have. This pattern has decided to come home to roost. And I am paying for it.
When I have gotten sick in the past I just pushed through it. Pushed Through! In my forties it began to push back. I joked that I was like a wildebeest getting hit with a tranq dart. I drop to my knees, fight a bit and then hit the ground with a thud. Being that I have lived most of my life alone, I just sleep until my blood sugar drops and I become dehydrated. Then I sit on the floor in the bathroom and chug gatorade, and eat crackers. There is always intestinal distress and a face on the cold porcelain of the tub.
This goes on for a couple of days. Then I drag my ass back to work and recover completely a month later. I never get a cold without a sinus infection. My Doctor just calls in an antibiotic. I never get a flu without loosing 10 pounds and having a fever over 101 degrees. I never get through the winter without going down to illness. One of my friends gets a cold once a year for a week. And he can still work.

I work in retail in a video store during the day. I am the place people stop on the way home from work as they are sent home for being too sick. I am the place where parents bring their plague riddled children who are home from school. I am the place where people come to sneeze, snot and generally infect me with the outside world. I want to put up a sneeze guard at the store, and if someone comes in sick, I want them to walk through a decontamination shower first. I wonder if I would get as many viruses if I was a receptionist in a doctor’s office? Or was a kindergarden teacher? Or worked in hospital inCalcutta?

This year was particularly difficult. During the holidays we are very busy. And my back up person came down with a plague like illness that put her out of the store for the worst of the busy times. I had to handle terrifically hard days alone. And I had that Danny Glover in Lethal Weapon realization that I am officially “too old for this shit”! I wore myself out in the name of making people happy with 2 videos and a bit of candy. I exhausted myself to the point of making myself sick every night.

I have a Theatre background, so when I say I can usually deal with stress, I am not kidding. But this was like Finals week in college and tech week for a musical put together. It was terrible. And I suffered a lot. As I look back on this, I realize the wildebeest analogy works best if I think of myself as a newborn kitten, running as fast as I can ahead of the herd. Their thunder shaking the ground, the noise is terrible, then I feel the heat and dampness of their breath on my neck. The first wildebeest has arrived  and it steps on the back of my knees, and drops me. I then just curl up, trying to protect my head as the herd tramples over me. Kicking up so much dust I can barely breathe. The noise and motion unbearable. And it goes on from November 15th to January 15th.

When I attempted to emerge from this chaos this year, my legs did not work. I had a series of massages and physical therapies that left me crippled ( having to use a cane). I am recovering from legs swollen to the size of basketballs, and hips that snap and crackle when I move. I broke my arm 3 years ago, but not being able to walk is devastating.  I have had to sit. And mull. And be with myself. And that has opened an even worse kettle of fish.  Fear.

So on this first day of February, 20 days before I turn 51 years old, I am trying to cut myself some slack. Give myself permission to be a fuck up. Unpack the word Fear into smaller more digestible words that I can process and rid myself of. Today I sit in my living room, wrapped in a blanket, and I sneeze and my legs throb, but I also think the worst part has passed.

I have to think this, or the stampede will have won.