Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Woulda, Coulda, Should

So I went to see Pirates today after I went to see my mother. I helped her go through her closets and it was so fucking depressing. My mother has never had what one would call a "sense of style." This is not a criticism. Look who's talking. But her clothes are just so utilitarian and she made a good many of them and she did a great job- she was an excellent seamstress- and now she's giving away her sewing machines and old pieces of cloth.
She's giving away her couch and a bed and her vacuum cleaner and her fans and her ironing board and her blankets and her sheets and her pictures and her pots and pans and she's giving away her food. She's giving it all away and meanwhile, her memory is being taken from her, second by second and what I tell her one minute, she's forgotten five minutes later.
She tells me one thing one day and another thing another day and I just nod and agree with her. Whatever.
Bless her heart and dammit, it's just depressing.

So after I left, I thought, Hell, I've got a few hours, no one needs me, I'll go sit in the movie theater and watch mindless entertainment and eat popcorn for lunch and so I did. It'd been so long since I'd been in a movie theater. It was nice, in a way. Dark, you know. Not very many people there. I had an entire row to myself.
My favorite part of the movie came when Captain Jack Sparrow asked his father, Captain Teague (Keith Richards) if he'd ever been to the fountain of youth.
"Look at me, son," said Captain Teague. "Does this look like the face of someone who's drunk the waters of the fountain of youth?"


I feel so ugly these days. Old and fucking ugly. I found some pictures a few weeks ago of me back oh, twenty years ago maybe? A heartbeat ago, in other words. I was gorgeous. I looked like a freaking movie star. I was the mother of four. I put the pictures up on the refrigerator for the hell of it and when folks came over on Sunday, one of my friends looked at them and said, "Who's this?"
"Me," I said. "A long time ago."
"You're kidding!" he kept saying. Like, over and over and over again. I mean, he was practically falling on the fucking floor.
Jesus, I thought. You can stop any fucking time now.

Judy tried to tell me that I'm more beautiful now but Judy is sweet like that.

Age is a bitch. If it's not your face and your skin and your neck and your knees and your plump little breasts, it's your mind.
Well, actually, it's all of the above.

And it's like I've just given up. Given up. I read something somewhere the other day (was it you?) and a woman was complaining about being forty. Shit. My forties were my best decade. That's when I truly came into myself and my body, too.
The fifties have sucked and I can't imagine the sixties are going to be one bit better.

Well, it's the way it is. I can bitch and moan or I can get off my ass and try to actually do something to make myself look better but honestly, I have this feeling of why even try? I don't care what I do, the skin on my arms, my face, my legs has gone to shit. Can't exercise that away. Can't diet that any better. Can't go back and not lay in the sun until I was a golden as a biscuit.

When was the last time Mr. Moon looked at me the way he was looking at me in that picture? I don't even know. I mean, he looks at me with love. He tells me he loves me. He holds me and tells me I'm beautiful but I think to myself, He has to. I'm his wife. Plus, he's a really nice man.

I think I'm afraid that he'll get home tonight and look at me and say, "What the hell? Darling- when did you get so old and ugly?"

Or at least he'll think it.

There is no fountain of youth. In the movie, it was a beautiful place and of course it had to be destroyed because only God can determine the lifespan of a man and anyway, the way it worked was that one person had to give up his years for another to take them on. Who could choose that?

Only I could take completely pretty mindless entertainment and sword fights and Johnny Depp and Penelope Cruise and turn it into a whole bitter rant about aging. Yeah well. That's why I get the big bucks.

And you know, maybe I'll feel beautiful again one day. I don't know. I do understand it has to come from within and I doubt I felt any more beautiful the night that picture was taken than I do now. I'm sure I thought my face was fat and that I was, too, and blah, blah, bullshitblah.

I think maybe it's my own aging which has caused me to fall in love with Keith Richards at his age. I never cared at all about him when he was young. Whatever. Keith Richards. Yah-yah. Guitar player of the Rolling Stones. Wasn't he a junkie? But reading his book gave me to understand how fully he's lived his life and how much he's earned the face he's wearing- craggy and aged to the point of caricature. To me, now, at this point in my life, to see him still doing what he loves gives me hope, I suppose.
Or not hope.
I don't know.
I respect his aged ass. If the man keels over tomorrow, he'll have made it. The junk didn't kill him and being on the road for a million years hasn't killed him and falling out of a tree didn't kill him and the surgery on the resulting brain injury didn't kill him and fame hasn't killed him and the car wrecks haven't killed him and here he is. Playing guitar, acting in movies, writing books, still trying to write the perfect song for Mick Jagger. Still taking seeming delight in all of it. Still wearing scarves and hats and skinny black jeans and earrings and bracelets and things in his hair.

Me I'm not so sure about. I need to find my ju-ju. I need to figure out how to rev up the engine, I need to wear lipstick again.
I need to do something about this hair. I need to remember that it's all about getting up and trying to find the passion in this life. This one life we have. Whether that passion is gardening or a grandchild or writing a book or planning a vacation or building a house or just simply staying alive- it has to be there. Otherwise the flame goes out.

My flame feels so low. Like I couldn't even keep a pot of rice simmering over it.

Guess I better figure it out. Because if there's a fountain of youth, it's located somewhere around passion. I want to find it. I do. Before someone has to come and clean out my closet because I need to move into assisted living. "No, I don't need this. I'll never take a trip again. No. I won't need a sewing machine, a mop, a broom, this jewelry, this make-up."

I'm wasting time worrying about it all. I'm letting the sand dribble out while I lie on the floor and whine.

I know that. I do.


  1. This might be the most perfect thing I've ever read about aging. As perfect as your perfectly smiling blonde self. I'm not going to waste your time talking about how beautiful you are now, how sexy you are, etc. etc. even though I know these things to be true. I'm not going to waste your time because all of what you said is as true as truth ever gets and that whole damn conflict just is. It just is.

  2. That IS a lovely picture. Mr. Moon does not still look like the photo but he's still very handsome and still has plenty of life left in him. I'm sure the same is true for you. No 50 something woman looks like she did at 30. I lament MY youth and I'm 36. You speak the truth. Life is something else.

  3. It is said we are no different than the flowers....

    We Grow. We Bloom. We Fade. That is our Glory, and our Tragedy.

    As I'm fading I take great joy in reading your posts each day. Thank you.

  4. Youth has a beauty all its own. So does age. It's harder to see because it's not so much on the outside except what shines through the eyes and the smiles and the hugs and the tears. You can see the beauty in your children who come home to see you and the people you meet who stop to say hello and chat and friends who call to see you sometime soon. That is beauty.

  5. I may have never met you in person, but I knew that was you right away. Your daughters look just like you, and YOU look just like you.

    I've struggled with an eating disorder all my life, so I get what it feels like to feel ugly, to see photographs of myself from the past and think:" why didn't I realize I was beautiful THEN? 'Cause I'm sure ugly NOW."

    Good god, it's hard being in this body, frail and earthy and mortal as it is. And it's even harder being a woman in a body, with all that extra baggage we have to carry around about beauty and self-worth, etc. etc. Well. The alternative, if it even is one, of face lifts and boob lifts and that eternally frightened feline look so many of the women at symphony concerts here wear? Jonah said it best when he asked me, at a recent concert, "Mom, did that lady's sister smack her in the head when she was making a funny face and made it stick that way? Do you think she can even chew her food?". You're beautiful, Ms. Moon.

  6. go buy yourself a pair of high heels sister.
    rebecca, older

  7. ps. you looked like a movie star you did. now you ARE one for crap sake.

  8. psps. he's so cut in that photo he looks like one of the beach boys. when THEY were young.

  9. Mary you're beautiful in that picture and you're beautiful now.

    I wish I could teleport myself there right now and show you!!!

    I want to send your parcel but I still have no money. I will in the next week as soon as I get paid.

    Find your ju ju again, it's still in there I know it is.

    If you saw me first thing in the morning without the hair and make-up you'd feel much better. It's all smoke and mirrors, but it works.

    I love you very much you fabulous woman xx

  10. could your post be any more profoundly perfect than on the eve of my birthday?

    you have me sitting here thinking damn, i am so GLAD i danced on tables like an unabashed wild thang while i had half a chance!

    love you then,
    and now.

  11. news flash, dear mary. mr moon still looks at you that way. scroll back to some of your previous posts. you'll see.

    but i do know how you feel. you said it so true. but you're beautiful then and now, you look the same, if only you could see it.

    in 20 more years, we'll wish we had appreciated ourselves now. isn't it always that way?

    i love you.

  12. Shit. I am 40. Was it me? ~~Thinking back over the last few weeks.~~ I hope it wasn't me because the title of my blog is Forty and Loving it! Well, it could have been me because life if pretty shitty right now but that is all spilled out in my blog.
    I have talked to all my girlfriends and it is unanimous that we have just really stared loving life. Are kids are almost grown. We can come and go as we please. We have our tubes tied and can't get pregnant. Could it get any better? Even though I am indeed 40 I am fairly happy because everyday above ground is a good one.

  13. Aw Damn. Sweetie. I know exactly what you are saying. I'd give anything for my forties back, I'm not greedy enough to even think about my twenties any more. I can't stop freaking out about my skin - my paperthin saggy skin and my brand new jiggly grandma arms - I am not ready for this shit. My brain - me - is not aging as fast as this body and it's worse than watching Spring vanish in what feels like days.
    For what it's worth, I never saw the stunning young you until tonight, and yet I see nothing but beauty in the present day you. But I know what you mean about feeling old in the bones and feeling like somehow you've been gypped. I keep expecting to wake up one day a delightful old woman, who takes all this in stride, like my grandma was - not the senile one, but the beer drinking funny one. We can only hope.
    And I agree with Angella, he still looks at you that way.

  14. Well, here is my perspective: You could go and get a face lift, a boob job and a hair coloring, and a tummy tuck. But I doubt if that would make you or Mr. Moon happy. Or you could think gratitude that you are healthy, talented, attractive, intelligent, witty, and much loved right now, at this moment, by many. And you are real, not some Barbie doll middle aged freak. You seem to have a lot of passion for living. If you need to branch out, find something that you really like to do and get to doing it. Leave the homestead and take up a hobby that you like and is fun. Every day matters.

    PS: You look like one of the Swedish actresses in the photo.

  15. Dear Mary,
    You always are afraid Mr Moon will think you're ugly and old when he goes away and comes back. But what a beautifully written piece. Love your readers comments too. I happen to think your face is more beautiful now. But I hear you for sure.
    Sorry if this is awkward, writing from my phone. I'm so so sorry about S. Ugh. Broke my heart the image of Elvis waiting. Love you and your amazing, gorgeous, truth telling self.

  16. oh, hell, girls....let's try to look at this sanely and objectively.

    We have a phase where we are all beautiful enough to give us the mite of self confidence to leave the house and go about attracting a bee to pollinate us and establish the beginning of new relationships or family so we can start learning and doing the important stuff and keep evolving.

    At that point superficial beauty is irrelevant and is almost a hindrance because maintaining it not only takes time and effort from really important things, but it turns us into selfish, shallow, ossified creatures who can't grow ourselves and can't plant a flower or scrub a pot for fear of spoiling our manicures.

    Does anyone really believe that that is what life is supposed to be dedicated to?

  17. Elizabeth- Your words make me want to weep with gratitude. Thank-you. You get it.

    Ms. Trouble- You get it too.

    Anonymous- That is the truth. We are no different than flowers.

    Jeannie- True. It is also true that there are different sorts of beauty.

    Sara- Ha! Jonah described a bad face lift perfectly. It is NOT easy being a woman. That's just the truth.

    Madame Radish King- I think I am older than you are. Not sure about that. I do have high heels. I can't even IMAGINE wearing them. Arrggghhh! You're precious. And honey, I am not a movie star. I can't even get Wes Anderson to call me. Shitfire.

    Christina- You're precious, too. Damn.
    I'm so lucky.

    rebecca- Amen, table-dancin' sister. Amen to our wild-thang days.

    Angella- I say that same thing all the time. In twenty years I'll look back and think...
    But it's still hard, knowing that. Still hard.

    Birdie- No, dahling, it wasn't you. I think you have the right attitude about forty. Good times. Enjoy!

    Mel- Some days I AM that grandmother. Other days, no. Hell. I don't understand this process.

    Syd- Swedish actress. Ha! I did! And of course I won't be getting those surgeries and mostly, my passion for home is enough. You're a wise man. Thank-you for being a friend.

    Bethany- You are sweet, sweet, sweet. Thank-you. And Elvis was so sad. If he'd had a watch, he sure would have been checking it. Poor old husband.

    Lo- True, dear. So true. The thing is, I didn't even wear much make-up in those days. A slash of lipstick was a big deal. It's just hard to let go of the idea that maybe, just maybe, we are sweet on the eyes. And of course I agree with you. I love you.

    A- I know. She's right.

  18. I have to say that I'm surprised that your friend couldn't recognize you in that picture. It looks just like you! Of course, Mr. Moon has aged right along side of you. And you both still look fabulous! I hope you do light the spark of your passion again. You deserve to feel beautiful, because you are.

  19. Dear Ms Moon,
    Welcome to Adolescence Part Deux. Waning hormones, wrinkly skin, drooping...everything. Life changing shit. I propose a Vision Quest for this chapter of life, where instead of going forth and fasting and taking hallucinogens,(though these would be good things!) to find our path in life, we instead rediscover our passion and maybe embark on a new path altogether and we learn to accept and maybe even love the decay and decrepitude that nips at our heels and other parts. Wouldn't that be grand?

  20. Lora- Well, he is young and a relatively new friend. So...
    But still- his reaction was not comforting at all.

    Ms. Planting- I think you are right. And I know that when I am doing something new, I feel better about everything. And it WOULD be grand to embrace the decay and decrepitude and some days, I can, but it's not a smooth path. It's a bumpy one.
    And does it all go back to what is acceptance and what is apathy and giving-up?
    Thank-you so much for coming by and for leaving your good thoughts. So much.

  21. So I have a theory. I call it the Goddess Theory. MAJOR Goddesses in history have ended up on one of two paths: Death (Marilyn Monroe, Grace Kelly, Princess Diana) and they are frozen in their youth. We think of them and we see them as young and beautiful.

    The other path is obscurity - hiding (Brigit Bardot, Marlene Dietrich, Rita Hayworth). They just disappeared, never to be photographed again.

    The ones that hung in there (Liz Taylor) made some of us cringe as we saw them age. And upon death, it is their youthful pictures that are strewn about in their memorials.

    Aging sucks. I myself look in the mirror and am shocked sometimes. Where did I go?

    But the thing that shocks me is that the inside doesn't match the outside. The inside is still approximately 32 (and sometimes 4 1/2) years old.

    So I sigh and stop looking. For awhile.

  22. I'm glad you treated yourself to a movie.

    At 45, I am already feeling useless and old and fat. I hate the 40s. Everyone I know (including you and the Moms liked them). I don't. I was never a stunner, merely cute, but I hate losing my youth and looks. I can't imagine how hard it is for someone like Angelina Jolie, growing old. You'd have to have a lot of substance in your life to handle it, otherwise, it is depressing as hell.

    You and Mr. Moon in the photo are now my computer wallpaper. Adorable. You are one of the most beautiful women in the world to me. I mean that. You are my damn idol. The way you feel about Keith is how I feel about you.



  23. You are a great beauty, no matter how you slice it. It just IS.

  24. Omgrrrl- Some days my insides are older than my outsides. I know- impossible. But true. And then some days, like you, I can't believe I'm even thirty, much less...fifty-six! I believe your goddess theory has much truth in it.

    Ms. Bastard-Beloved- And to me, you are insanely beautiful even though I've only ever seen one photo of you! You are a blessing and a joy in my life and we are soul mates. Thank-you.

    Lisa- Will be you be my mommy in my next lifetime?

  25. I hear you.

    But you seem to have a lot of joy and zest for life, and that, to me, is beauty.

    I'm 57, and when I look in the mirror I focus on the eyes which can still twinkle a bit (sometimes) and just sort of ignore the rest of it.

    It's hard. Yes. My short term memory ain't what it used to be for sure, and seems like everything I eat gives me heartburn (I know it's got a fancy name now, but c'mon--it's heartburn). I haven't cut my hair since 1992 because if I did it would likely grow back white, like my beard. Not that having it slowly fall out is much consolation.

    I know you'll hang in there. You're allowed your plaintive moments, too. It's part of it.

    Be at peace.

  26. Oh my! Ms Moon. I don't know what to say that hasn't already been said. You are beautiful, you were beautiful. Beauty comes from within the heart and yours spills over. It shows with every word you write.
    What struck me the most about that picture is the pure love Mr Moon is looking at you with. And he still does.
    I'm 46. I look in the mirror and then at a photo only a couple of years ago and thing, damn.. what the hell happened, but I'm still me, and I hope someday someone else will see beyond the wrinkled wrapping paper of life x

  27. My grandma would say that 20 years from now, you'll look at pictures of yourself from 2011 and think, "damn, I looked so good, why didn't I see it then?"

    Not much consolation now, though. :)

  28. My first thought? As weird as it sounds I thought --she looks like me. The round face and blonde hair I suppose. Funny.

  29. Oh, A and I just loved that photo! You were beautiful then and you are beautiful now. Enough said!

  30. Wow. This post rings like a gong for me. Especially the part about passion. Man. Yeah. I'm searching for my lost ju-ju, too, Mary Moon. It's so tantalizingly just out of reach - I can remember having it but now......somehow I've let it fall from my fingertips.

    Maybe it's just the heat. But I don't think so.

    PS. What a dazzler you are in that picture! And what a dazzler you are ALWAYS in this blog (plenty of ju-ju here, my dear). I thank you.

  31. PPS. Oh, and I guess it goes without saying but I'll say it anyway - I love you, sister-woman (we are of an age, you know).

  32. Mike- Hello! Welcome, welcome! Another of-age-soul. I try not to look in the mirror at all. Is that bad? Please come back any time.

    Sandy- Oh, bless your heart. Thank-you. And please- enjoy your forties.

    Stephanie- Not as much as I'd like.

    SJ- You may be right.

    Mel's Way- I love you two. I do.
    Give Ms. A my love, okay?

    Kati- But you look gorgeous! You make me so jealous! Thanks, sugar darling. Your words always make me happy.

  33. got a lot of comments on this post.

    The age deal...I know where you are coming from. Mid life that weight comes out of nowhere. It layer on so slowly that you don't really notice till something you really like won't fit. Huh? No one told me I needed to eat less and it wasn't like I eat a whole cow or blocks of cheese! I eat good healthy food. I just have to eat like a mouse.

    Then the skin...if I don't wear my glasses it looks fine...sort of. Then I see the sun spots. The extra freckles that I never had that I don't like. The neck wrinkles...

    The tone of the skin...after the neck problem, the tendonitis, and lastly that broken wrist well I have become flabby with bingo arms. AARRGGGHHH! I can't believe how fast that went. Poof!!! The tummy...soft...the inner thighs soft. I am walking and hiking and eating like a mouse and I see no change. Nada. Say what?

    I look at those teen girls when I am picking my son up and I use to look like that. Except I wasn't happy with myself then. Crazy.

    Mary...I guess we have to keep trying just because...

  34. Oh, Ms. Moon, a big hug to you. Just a big big hug.


Tell me, sweeties. Tell me what you think.