It has been a very interesting couple of weeks. Recognising my 'real-time' age has been forced upon me.
Work has been a two man show for the past fortnight, which was reduced, on a couple occasions, to a one man band. This type of challenge normally brings out the best in me, as I have been known to be performance driven. When the Harry Potter movies were first released, my former boss made a comment as to my being just like Hermoine Granger. Having no idea, at the time, about whom he was referring, I did a quick search, and was delighted to see that I was likened to a cheeky pre-teen, but my pride was somewhat deflated when he referred to the 'bossy' element. Everyone whom I told then watched the movie, and to my amazement, all said, 'oh yeah!' Attempting to ease the blow, the term 'bossy' was reduced to 'confident', an accolade which I accepted with grace. Considering my profound timidity in my youth, this was a rather becoming trait.
My relatively new found confidence proved to be rather helpful over the past couple of weeks. Once again, an English accent speaking with authority regarding legal papers from not only the courts in Texas, but also from other states, was somewhat disconcerting to some, but most accepted that as it was said with such self-assurance, it must be correct. If it was purely confidence they wished to hear, confidence was what they received. Fortunately, I am not in great demand when it comes to telephonic communication in the office. Most calls are for Dana or Roger. Unfortunately, I was both Roger and Dana last week, and the week before, as well as being the first port of call on the telephone. Letting the caller know that 'it's me or nothing', had a variety of responses, all of which were positive. In this respect, advancing age has its advantages.
The age factor was not quite so complimentary last weekend, nor at the beginning of the week. On Saturday, I had an appointment to have my hair cut. I had decided that once I reached my half century, I would no longer hide the natural colour of my hair. The transition will be rather drastic and it is a decision that I have come to terms with, but the timing is, at present, undecided. Having my hair cut in a very short style, would give me another week or two to decide whether I was going to stay red, or go 'au naturel'. As I sat in the chair, my wonderful hairdresser, Nhan, was asking me what style I wanted him to create, when his colleague asked, 'are you doing a colour?' Of course not! What a ridiculous question. Do I look like I am in need of a hair colour? The length of 'au naturel' was rather prominent, but the unintended stare I must have given was enough for the poor young thing to turn away and mind her own business. After washing, and cutting my hair, he led me to the dryers. Even short, my hair takes an age (no pun intented) to dry, and these machines, apparently, reduce the static. As children, my sister and I loved to sit in the chairs under the giant domes. We longed for the day when we, too, would be able to sit without using our hands to give us height, so our heads would be covered. Now, as he led me to the dryer, I just thought, 'No!! These are for old people' Now I really was my mother! I knew I had really aged!
Nhan and I discussed the possibility of me having an older look, and after years of telling me 'no', he finally relented, and agreed that it might not be so bad. Perhaps I should try blond first. Not any blond, or course, platinum would be the best choice, so the fade out wouldn't look so drastic. I am now left to find a way of testing the look. Finding a white haired person upon whom I can cut and paste a picture of myself, is not very easy. I have tried to find a website that doesn't want to know everything but my shoe size, but to no avail. A wig shop would be my preference, but they are few and far between, and normally cater for the opposite request.
My next encounter with my age, was at the doctors' surgery. There is a vast difference between The Red House surgery in Radlett, Hertfordshire, England, to the one in Austin, Texas. Probably the only similarity is sitting in the waiting room. My reason for the visit was my urgent need to visit the restroom every twenty minutes! Ladies, if you have ever encountered the type of problem to which I refer, you will know that if there is the possibility of an infection, you are advised to 'drink plenty' which of course, adds to the amount of times you have to 'go'. Sitting in a waiting room, knowing that I was going to be asked for a 'specimen', my legs were tightly crossed, in the anticipation of being called. Fortunately, my symptoms had not reached chronic stage, and I was called reasonably quickly. Before contact with the doctor, I was taken to be weighed and had my 'vitals' checked. Fortunately, I was vitally sound. The young assistant (I must be getting older, as they seem to be getting younger) asked me various questions, and I gave her answers. A girl as young as she failed to see why, as my symptoms were not completely relevant, I had come to see the doctor. When I told her 'age and experience' convinced me that a visit was advisable, she looked very perplexed. I sighed at her naivety and wondered if she would remember this moment, when she was older, and she was sitting in a doctor's surgery, explaining to a young assistant why she had come to see the medical professional, and then seeing the response of the very, very young person.
Armed with my sticker, containing my details, I was taken back, through the waiting room, where Samantha was typing something in to her telephone (probably updating facebook, advising all her friends that her mother was the cause of immense boredom,) and into another department, where I was told to, 'wait here'. Not entirely sure why I should stand in the middle of an empty corridor, with a white sticker on my hand, I cleared my throat, in an attempt to gain the attention of a white coated person, sitting at a desk in a small closet. I wondered if my answers to the young woman had caused enough concern for her to take me to the 'psych' department. White walls, white coats, no windows, and personnel sitting in cupboards. Not convinced this was the case, but not entirely sure it wasn't, I started to edge back towards the waiting room, not taking my eye off the seated occupants, and made sure I had enough saliva in my mouth to allow the word 'help' to escape (although it is possible that the first notice of incarceration any of my family may receive, would be Samantha's facebook status; 'Why is Trace screaming?') 'Fill out the form!' was the next instruction from the young assistant, who reappeared from nowhere, and once again scuttled off to goodness know's where. Perhaps she had put something on the themometer she had asked me to put under my tongue, as she started to bear a resemblence to the white rabbit in Alice in Wonderland; not in appearance, just in actions. Was I halucinating? I decided that pulling myself together would be the best option, and started to fill out the form. Age, once again, got the better of me, and I had to retrieve my glasses to read the small print. I do hate to 'give in', but decided it was necessary, as I didnt wish to sign myself into a 'controlled' ward. I managed to gain the attention of the cupboard resident, who took my sticker, placed it on a plastic bottle, and led me to a room where I was finally able to breathe a huge sigh of relief. However, the relief was not without consequences. There was a list of instructions, above a pile of packaged swabs. I was tempted to write 'well duh' under the final emboldened line, 'Now wash your hands'.
I left the room to find the white rabbit pacing up and down the white corridor, and hopped after her, back to the original room, to wait for the doctor. The doctor with whom I am registered does not seem to be at the surgery when I am in need, but her associate, whom I see when she is not available, is wonderful. T. J. is about nine years my junior, and has longed to visit England. She understood why I had come to see her, and was thoroughly sympathetic. She told me I did not have an infection, but explained why I had the notion. She started to explain the bi-product of the menopause, which was very helpful and reassuring. She did not once mouth the words, 'the change', as have previous general practitioners, and explained that I probably stopped producing estrogen two years ago. However, fortunately, it is stored in my body. In the fat! She was quick to add, 'although it probably had a hard time finding any!' I thanked her for the compliment, but advised her that it was probably all in my rear! Suddenly, I felt no need to try! In answer to questions such as, 'what are you doing?', I can now reply, 'sitting on my vast quantity of estrogen!' Why do my trousers feel tight around my hips, yet incredibly loose around my middle? Yes, it's the estrogen. Estrogen has suddenly become my best friend! No supplements necessary for me, I have a great storage facility! T.J. said she would let me know if further tests produced a different result, but I havent heard from her.
I started to explain the results of my visit to Dana, who reminded me of a television programme we had seen. 'Remember when the doctor started to explain about "women's things", and the guy said "I know as much as I want to know"......well....'. Point taken, but at least I now know he has a weak spot!!
Attempting to grow old gracefully may take a little more effort than anticipated, being that allowing my hair to go grey is the easy thing.
We celebrated the end of the week by visiting a new Chinese restaurant. I have had positive experiences in shops and restaurants regarding age. One time, after being asked for ID when buying glue (ok, so I had my hat on, and a really trendy coat), and being approached by a lady who said that her and her husband were having a bet; her husband thought I was Dana's daughter, but she believed I was his wife (we are still unsure as to whether they thought I looked really young, or Dana....well....I dont need to go into details.) She came across some minutes later and put down $2. She said it was half the winnings. Dana then handed back the money to her husband, as a 'thank you' for complimenting me. Saturday's experience was somewhat shocking. The waitress brought the bill to our table, and blushed. 'I am so sorry', she said. We looked at her with confusion. She continued, 'the girl who checked you in .....and I know it's not the case....but....well I can change it....it's obvious you are not....but...she put you down as seniors!' I just laughed. I told her that I must have been standing behind Dana at the time! She laughed back. Ten percent discount is ten percent discount, so why argue! She was happy to leave the bill as written, still apologising when taking it from our table. I noticed, as we left, the discount given to seniors was for thos over 65! If I look 65 with red hair, how old will I look when I go grey! We both agreed that the girl who seated us must have been very, very young, to think we were of such an age.
Of course, I am reminded daily of my mortality. Many commercials tell me that 'at my age', I need to be aware of a number of ailments, most of which I have not only not heard, but don't appear to be suffering from. Why are all complaints now called 'diseases'? I remember seeing a commercial when I was about 8 years of age, showing a young woman pushing a pram, and going slower and slower. She was apparently approaching forty, and needed to be fortified with the new wonder drug. I was terrified. Did my mother KNOW she had to take this? I didn't want to insult her by telling her, and reminding her of her age. I assumed, as she was very intelligent, she must be aware. She never did take the product, and never fell asleep whilst pushing a pram! Natural aches and pains now seem to have long, technical names. However, with the list of side effects, I think I would rather suffer from the problem. Anti-depresents may cause meloncholy tendencies. Sleeping pills may cause drowsiness. Other items may cause partial death!
Roger is hopefully coming into work tomorrow, and Dana only has a couple of things scheduled, so my week should be slightly easier. As they are both older than me, I may feel slightly more rejuvinated, and back to my usual twelve year old self! However, I am sure that anything of interest will be....another story.