After the Bird is Eaten

The first problem with my birthday is that it’s too close to Thanksgiving.

Sometimes, the worst happens and it’s actually on Thanksgiving. So I have to spend the day acting like a good sport and pretending I don’t mind sharing my special day with a big, greasy bird. (No wonder I eat so much on Thanksgiving. I am starved for the spotlight.)

By the time my birthday cake gets hauled out, everybody else is halfway drunk and staggering from carbohydrate overdose and watching some crummy football game out of the corner of their eyes. I mean, add this up with the fact I am one-quarter Indian and am still a little upset about having the country taken away from us and how nobody ever apologizes or pays reparations — and it’s really pretty amazing I can get it together to blow out the candles and gorge a little more.

But I digress. Hell, I always digress. Digression is my life. Apres moi, no more digression.

Anyway, the second problem with my birthday is that all these years are starting to add up and I’m not sure how to categorize myself. This year, I turned 63, which doesn’t sound much older than 62 and isn’t going to freeze my property taxes (that will happen when I turn 65 and believe me, I plan to celebrate).

But, still. Sixty-three! It has that distinct whiff of No Spring Chicken about it. I am either Young-Old or Old-Young, depending on whether you incline toward the alphabetical or prefer more spontaneity in your categories. Having grudgingly embraced being middleaged in my 40s, I am now desperately clinging to it, about to be hurled over the precipice in a couple of years.

Aging — it’s exhilarating, terrifying, oddly comforting for someone like me who thought she was going to die in her forties. I am fine with it, I am a nervous wreck about it (the future! the future!), I am — unexpectedly — happier than I’ve ever been. I loathe the chipper, lamebrained notion that 60 is the new 40, but I am, let’s face it, a little obsessed with the notion of aging well — whatever the hell that is.

I am so obsessed by it that I am even working on a book about it, which is tentatively titled Puckered! The Subversive Woman’s Guide to Aging With Wit, Wine, Drama, Good-Humored Bitchiness, Perspective and the Occasional Good Cry with my good friend, the artist and cartoonist Marian Henley. (If you have to ask why we’re calling it Puckered!, you have probably never checked out the skin tone of a woman older than 60, but never mind.)

I would tell you that it all gets better the older you get, but I’m only 63, so what do I know? Also, one thing about aging does impress me: I just don’t have the time to mouth that kind of moronic bullshit at my age. Some things are better, a few things are worse, and occasionally — when good friends sicken and die — it sucks.

But right now, I’m healthy, I have a wonderful family and friends, my birthday didn’t fall on Thanksgiving this year, and someday soon my property taxes will get frozen. Carpe the rest of it, however long.

(Copyright 2012 by Ruth Pennebaker)

If you want to see similar posts, please look at She Comes on Like a Dream and Sixty Things I’ve Learned in Sixty Years

27 comments… add one
  • Happy birthday dear Ruth. Your birthday fell on my mom’s death date this year. An unfortunate coincidence. It makes me feel better to know that there was a reason besides overeating (which I did way too much of) for celebrating that day!

  • Hope it was a happy birthday. Yes, I agree, aging can be terrifying, but as someone who also thought she wouldn’t get to grow old, I have no choice but to embrace the process (even though there’s a lot of the process I’d rather NOT process…)

  • Funny the way “old” age creeps up on us, isn’t it? I get the “Puckered.” Lord, I look in the mirror and sometimes wonder who this old face belongs to. I’m looking forward to reading your new book and am glad someone so clever is working on this important topic to us baby boomers. That being said, please explain, quickly, how you will manage to get taxes frozen at 65? Is that a Texas thing?

  • Christine Link

    I love this idea of your writing on aging. I hope you’re serious about doing this: it will be so good. I think we get so many messages about being chipper about everything, but I far prefer your completely human approach.

  • Funny. . . aging has been on my mind too. Maybe subconsciously I knew your birthday was bearing down on all of us. It’s a group effort. If it’s any consolation, I’m older than you. A few days ago I wrote a piece with a similar theme, Becoming My Grandmother. It’s a shock to look in the mirror and see your long-dead grandmother looking back at you. Lord, have mercy and happy birthday!

  • I certainly hope your 65th doesn’t fall on Thanksgiving, that year will REALLY be a blow out! 🙂

  • Cindy A Link

    Isn’t it liberating to not really care what people think? Stare at me all you want. I’m getting the newspaper in my frayed and stained purple bathrobe with a giant coat thrown over it and mud boots. I do not care what anybody thinks. 😀

  • I will need your book, so hurry up and get it done! I am not aging well. At all.

    And when will you be posting about Texas secession? That’s one post I’ve gotta read.

  • My dad’s birthday was Christmas–every year. There was hell to pay if he didn’t get two gifts. One Christmas, one b’day. But then there was hell to pay all day. I couldn’t blame him. Some years, even my mom forgot the b’day cake.

  • Linda Link

    You’re aging with such distinction and class. I should only do so well. Can’t wait to read the new book!

  • Happy Birthday again. And show some respect to your elders(I’m among them).

    This post is terrific. Your posts are ALWAYS terrific. Funny, poignant, beautifully-written.
    Brava, too, for your latest achievement. So well-deserved. xo nancy

  • Great post!
    All your posts are great. Funny, poignant, beautifully written, and right on the mark.
    Congratulations again on being named among the BEST. So well-deserved.
    And Happy Birthday again to my new, very young friend. Show respect for us elders. xo nancy

  • marina Link

    Hey – stop feeling sorry for yourself. Feel sorry for me instead – my birthday is December 21 (nobody really cares because Christmas is looming and everyone is already broke) plus this year the world is supposed to end on that day so I’m sure no one will bother to give me a gift. Why should they? I spent half my life reprimanding those who gifted me with birthday/Christmas combination presents, and now this.

  • Deborah Link

    Anybody with a birthday during the holidays spends their life getting screwed out of a celebration, in my book. My birthday is next week, and I’ll be eligible for SocSec which puts me in your age bracket as well. The only thing I like about aging IS the fact that I don’t care what anyone thinks (not that I ever did), and can say pretty much what I want without feeling guilty about it. Love your posts. They always make me laugh!

  • I love your book title and can’t wait to read it. I don’t like aging. It’s not really the number and, like you, I am happier than ever. But I deny that my body is going downhill–and it is going downhill. Maybe my body is aging faster than my numerical years. I can’t bring myself to accept the aches and pains and every time I look in the mirror I think, “Can I afford Botox, because…” I don’t want to be the woman who gets Botox (or whatever), though. I want to be the woman who loves whatever she looks like. But I’m not that woman. And I’m only 42. What hope is there for me when I get to 62 or 82?

  • Happy birthday. Love your book title they can stock it right next to all that beauty creme that promises you’ll look 10 years younger with just a dabble a day.

  • So, I take it you’re not ready to be called a crone? Wise woman?

  • I always feel sorry for people who celebrate their birthday around Christmas as they often dudded with a one for two gift. In our family most of the birthdays fall in a 6 week period around Easter period and we are all so sick of birthday cake and chocolate that we can’t wait for the celebrations to end. Not the gifts, just the food!

  • Arlene Link

    Ha! Thanksgiving fell on my birthday this year. That’s okay. I had the day off. I turned 62, so I guess I’m a Spring Chicken for another year. Looking forward to the new book!

  • merr Link

    I think that you and my husband share a birthday month and day. And, I can wait to read your new book, illustrated by Marian!

  • chris Link

    I identify with the holiday birthday–mine is New Years’ eve and I remember a few times when one gift covered 2 occasions, but I like to say that everyone celebrates my birthday–lots of fireworks, unless there is a drought. I have been dealing with Medicare enrollment and I didn’t think all that much about certain aging aspects until recently, when I suddenly noticed new things in the mirror. It seems like these things happened rather suddenly, but I do wear glasses. As distressing as it is to look in the mirror, I try to focus on the things that are OK. I enjoyed your post, as always, & await your book too.

  • bonehead Link

    Sign me up for a first edition of the Book Ruth. You’re the best!

  • How could I NOT read a book with a title like that? Count me in. And happy birthday!

  • Hope you had a fantastic birthday and I’m glad you didn’t have to share it with a big, greasy bird. I have a friend who did and pretty much everyone ignored her birthday.

  • Well, happy belated birthday, Ruth. And wait, your property taxes freeze at 65? Hmmm, wonder if we do that here in Michigan…

  • Lisa Mann Link

    Happy Birthday, and get to work! I need that book, and I need it NOW.

  • mjs Link

    Our only child’s birthday falls right after Halloween, most when she was young would just try to ignore the 3rd of november birthday she had, she was having none of that crap. We had to invite the entire class to her birthday parties.She would not offend people at all, she was a dynamo, still is hellbent on showing the world a woman, lady can do and have it all! Her many friends are married with tiny tiny ones who adore her, but she always tells me when she is done watching them, it takes her a day or so to recuperate, she brings books, food stuffs she knows they adore, she won’t answer the door at their homes, she lets the phone go silent, she gives them undivided attention, like I and her daddy did all the time to the princess as we call her, her name means that in hebrew (Sara) I am 64 and none too happy people call me mamn now instead of my name. I feel the same but my body is slowing down type 2 diabetes and I walk until I am like one those hobitts in that hobitt movie..But I am fine with it, some of my childhood friends I had knows since I was 4 years old did not get to my age, their husbands and wives are my dear friends and they miss them so so so much. We hang out together when I can I work for my Cobra in 5 months I will be 65 and can get Medicare, my hubbs of almost 40 years gets it now..oh, for the life of when one could do what they wanted when they wanted when very young, this is not Kansas anymore like Dorothy said in the Wizard of Oz, we are still the same just a chronological number that is all, Merry Holiday late, happy new year, found your blog it is fantastic. Happy November birthday very late, I can understand where you are coming from being born so close to thanksigiving two of our daughters bestest friends had birthdays that sometimes fell on Thanksgiving and their parents declined celebrations so we had them here before the date, they were not only children like our daughter was and my kid thought that just horrible! She has always believed in a fair and decent world for WOMEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! we are so proud of her, she is a uber beautiful human being inside and out and to us that is all that really matters the beauty of an inside that loves all people and judges no one and loves……….

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