In Which Everyone Realizes I’m Actually 50 or 80 as the case may be

Ever since I was a child, people have remarked about how I never really act my current age. My mother said I was born a little adult, and the librarian backed her up by calling to report that the fiction I chose was not age appropriate. Growing up, my sister used to say I had the habits of a middle-aged man. Fast forward to now, when my friends regularly proclaim there must an old woman trapped in my young adult body. Then I read this post on Yes and Yes, and it got me thinking about what exactly I do to give everyone this impression. What exactly are my habits that give everyone this unmistakable impression?  So I decided to make my own list, a condensed story of my life, where I tend toward a senior citizen. Here are some of things I love that are not age appropriate.

Casseroles

I like to eat them, and I like to make them, and not just at holidays like Thanksgiving. Hot melty bowls of veggies and meat usually covered in mayonnaise and cheese with a delicious crunchy topping? Sign me up.

Crossword Puzzles

They’re the only reason I ever take the AM New York from those pesky subway workers, or buy Star magazine.  Actually, let’s just make that puzzles , in general. I love putting them together, especially if they are covered in glitter feature cute animals.

Scratch Off Lottery Tickets

Though I have to go into the sketchy bodegas that usually feature pet cats roaming around, and degenerate gamblers playing strings of numbers, every now and then, I need to satisfy my itch for a Cashword or Win for Life. Hey guys, if you don’t buy the ticket, you can’t ever win.

Clogs and Nightgowns

I own them and wear them, even though I’m pretty sure they are only made for the Swedes and people living in retirement homes.

Crocheting

I find it relaxing to make scarves and hats while watching TV. Maybe its my short attention span that requires me to do multiple things at once for entertainment. Or maybe I am just secretly an old woman on the inside.

USA Network

You know those shows that only your parents watch during the summer? Like Royal Pains, and Burn Notice, and that one your mother can’t stop talking about how handsome the lead guy is, White Collar? They’re my favorite shows too.

Bonnie Rait, James Taylor and Aretha Franklin

It’s not the classic music that is SO HIP to listen to, or scores you points with the hippies at music festivals. It will, however, let you bond with your boss. These guys feature heavily into my iPod playlists, and I may or may not own their Christmas albums.

I Speak in Proverbs

If you’re spent time with me, you’re probably so used to me using expressions like, “That’s handy!” or, “Under mackerel sky, they ground’s never dry” that you don’t even notice them anymore. At least that’s what I tell myself when I let a, “Go to town!” slip out in the workplace when a coworker asks to do something. Or when I find myself clucking my tongue and thinking, “Willful waste makes for woeful want” when I see someone throwing out food. My strange little expressions picked up over the years from my great-grandma, aunts and uncles, and country childhood go unnoticed to most, right? Right.

Punch and a Cheeseball are Book Club Refreshments

This one’s two-fold. I have a book club. When I used to host it at my apartment, a typical snack was a big bowl of punch (alcoholic of course), and a cheese ball or dip. Sound like something you’d see at Aunt Gertrude’s holiday party? Also for book club I have been known to suggest a Nicholas Sparks book, and secretly read a Norah Roberts novel in between selections here and there.

I don’t know why I like all of these older-lady things. Maybe it’s because of all the time I spend at my grandparent’s house growing up (Hi Gram!), or maybe I was destined to be age inappropriate from birth.

Anything I forgot to include friends? What do you like that’s not typical for your age?

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Ombre Pashminas at Nordstrom Rack

 

 

A couple years ago when I was walking home from work, I happened upon a street vendor with a huge rack of ombre pashminas in every color you could imagine in the softest of  fabric, for $3 a piece. I didn’t have much cash on me at the time, so one red one, and figured I’d buy more the next day. I watched for the vendor for months, and he was never to be seen again.

Fast forward to this evening when I popped into Nordstrom Rack on my way home from work to pick up some fishnets to complete my flapper halloween costume. I was greeted at the door by an entire rainbow rack of ombre scarves of every color from red to purple for $12 each.

Let’s just say I won’t be making the same mistake twice. Get yours while they’re still available!

This is Litter Too

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I know a lot of people who smoke. Despite NYC’s valiant attempts to ban smoking in bars, restaurants, public spaces, parks and beaches, city folk just seem to like cigarettes more than most. Every day I see people, strangers and acquaintances alike finish their cig, drop it on the ground, stomp it out and walk away.

These same people would never consider dropping their disposable coffee cup on the sidewalk. They wouldn’t crumple up a napkin and let it fall as they crossed the street. And yet, when they are smoking it doesn’t occur them to trash their butt in the appropriate receptacle. In fact, I have only known one person ever who I have seen stub out the ash, and toss in the trash every cigarette she ever smoked.

So, why isn’t dropping a cigarette butt on the ground considered littering? How do these otherwise environmentally conscious people feel ok just leaving their butts on the sidewalk, or stuck in the sand at the beach? Why isn’t cigarette littering as socially sanctioned as other kinds?

Some speculate that it is because smoking originated as an indoor habit, where smokers easily disposed of butts in the provided ashtray. They have obviously never seen the floor of a bar after a night out in the few areas of the U.S. that still allow smoking in establishments. Others speculate that the habit originated when cigarettes were filter-less, and the leftover paper and tobacco merely scattered in the wind. But how has the habit persisted to today? Some people think that butts are made of cotton, a natural fiber.

But they’re not. Cigarette butts are made of plastic. They do not biodegrade. They contain chemicals that are harmful to children and animals that may scoop them up and eat them, and their total mass is large enough that it’s harmful to the environment. Let’s use portable ash trays, install more butt receptacles, and just be a little more aware that cigarette butts are trash. Can we try to put them where they belong?

Working it Out

“I feel a lot worse about my life, and the world after working out,” said….nobody ever. No matter what kind of bad mood I’m in- grumpy, tired, sad, angry- if I can manage to haul myself onto an elliptical/stationary bike/treadmill usually after about 20 minutes or so, I start to feel better. My mind starts to wander from whatever was bothering me. I find myself thinking about totally unrelated things, or sometimes out of no where stumbling on a resolution. At the very least, the endorphins kick in and I feel a little better than when I started.

One day I got to thinking after a run, where out of no where the fix to something I had been thinking over popped magically into my head as I jogged. They don’t call it working out for nothing I thought, working out your problems, working your body to get out of your head. I mean, where did the word really come from anyhow?

It’s a fairly new word in the English language, around for only about a hundred years. People speculate that it came after hard labor or things like construction work that use similar motions and body challenging movement. Others speculate that it comes from using the word “out” as totally expended, used until it’s finished. The word implies working your muscles until they’re spent, used up, out of energy. The resolutions to annoying situations that seem to pop out of no where, well they’re just a bonus of giving your mind a chance to do its own thing while you focus on not falling off the treadmill while you change the song on your iPhone, or running that extra half mile along the river without stopping to walk.

Rule #76 No excuses. Play like a champion!

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In the past couple weeks, excuses (and how useless and annoying they are) have come up several times with different groups of friends in different conversations. And the moral of the story? Most people are just looking for a little accountability. That’s right, good-old -fashioned taking responsibility for your own actions will placate even the most annoyed person in most situations. Because excuses? They don’t really get you anything except a bunch of unnecessary information.

It’s a key part of crossing over the border from child to adult. In elementary school, you might have gotten away with looking cute and saying your dog ate your homework. In college, you might have gained a gullible professor’s sympathy for missing class (again) from that nasty stomach bug that was going around. But take note of what these little explanations are doing. They’re deflecting the responsibility away from the person who messed up, and blaming some external force, outside of their control. The funny thing about them is that usually they serve to make the person using them feel better (when they know they’re not acting/doing/performing the way they’re supposed to), and serve to make the person hearing them more annoyed. And in the real world-well, that’s just not going to cut it.

One friend put it this way, “Excuses are like assholes: everybody’s got one, and nobody wants to hear about it.” When I hear someone giving me a lame excuse for why they didn’t do what they were supposed to, well, I hear the favorite quote from Wedding Crashers saying, “No excuses. Play like a champion.” And I wish it was appropriate to respond so simply.

When I find myself itching to make an excuse, I try to remind myself of that. If you’re calling out sick because you stayed up too late watching football, while it’s tempting to say you’ve come down with terrible food poisoning, the easier route is to just say you need to use a personal day, and that you will put in the extra time to complete missed tasks. When you screw up on an assignment, or have no idea what you’re doing, people are likely to be more willing to help if you try really hard, present your action plan to fix it, and then ask questions than if you point a finger at someone for not telling you enough.