Rant 69 December 2013: The Winter of Our Content

December 1st, 2013  |  Published in Uncategorized  |  30 Comments

“A myth is the dream of a culture.”
Joseph Campbell

“We’re all bozos on the bus, so we might as well sit back and enjoy the ride.”
—Wavy Gravy

Having passed through the abundant harvest of my juicy, fruitful celebration of 40, I’m now freezing at the threshold of the dark winter of Coming To Terms With Aging.

atheism-religion-aging-celebrate-birthday-ecards-someecards

I never expected this.

I always thought I’d sail through this part, barely stepping on the universe’s Life Change Lintel as I breezed through the portal into midlife.

In my vision of my 40s, I’d be one of those women who murmurs through still-full lips that Why no, she hasn’t noticed any changes to her body, thanks to perfect nutrition and regular exercise and by the way yoga and Swiss chard juice is quite magical!

I’d keep patiently adding, say, 10-20 lb to my lifts per year. You know, reasonable expectations. Modest. Do-able. By the time I was 90, I’d be deadlifting 1500 lb. Of course.

I’d say shit like Age is just a number! I have the body of a 20-year-old! (Well, not my 20-year-old body, which was saturated in alcohol, 50 lb overweight, and usually parked in front of a daytime talk show.)

Somewhere along the way, the memo to my body about How This All Works must have gotten confused.

Instead of adding 20 lb to my deadlift, I added it to my ass. OK, no problem. Bodyweight coefficient. Moar muscle. Right?

Ha.

Another memo typo. I seem to have subtracted 20 lb — and more — from my lifts.

Although thanks to smart training, I’ve stayed wonderfully injury-free for many years, I do still sometimes make inadvertent unggghh sounds when I warm up for morning workouts.

Squaaauunnnghhh crunch. Wait, what? Is that my fucking knee? When the fuck did that shit start creaking? Or is that more of a clicking?

In my darkest, most hormonally-addled, helpless and hopeless moments, I rage and cry. I curse my body. It’s cheated. It’s lied. It’s let me down. It’s not following the rules.

Here is a short list of things I mourn.

Loss of control (as if any of us actually had, or will have, control, ever).

A mountain of too-small clothing. Wait… are you shitting me… my shoes are getting smaller too? [gazing at flappy flipper feet]

My smugness (and occasional self-righteous whining) about how I’m different. Look at me! Magical, special snowflake! Nobody understands me! My body doesn’t follow the rules!

My expectations about, like, everything.

The comforting fiction that a healthy diet, regular exercise, and being a diligent Good Girl about health will fix and prevent every single thing that could ever happen to me. If I can just find the “perfect” workout and nutrition plan then I will never die. (Corollary: If I get a zit, tendonitis, cancer, or hangnail it means I must root out the failure of my health habits and purge the inflammatory inefficiency with extreme prejudice!)

Notice the “if-then” equation.

If I do all the right things then I should get everything I want.

My mom, an active woman in her late 60s who’s already kicked cancer and other chronic diseases in the fucking face with a tiny foot, complained to me the other day about a bit of arthritis in her thumb.

“I don’t get it,” she said. “I’ve been eating Paleo. That helps inflammation, right? Should I supplement with something?”

“Ma. Paleo’s just a good diet. It’s not gonna make you immortal.”

I could hear my mother pouting down the phone. Like me, the revised equation seemed deeply unfair to her:

If I do all the right things then I may or may not get anything at all. Fuck you, hapless bozo on the bus, sez the universe.

what-is-this-i-dont-even

So then you might — quite rightfully — ask: What’s the goddamned point? Why bother?

Great question.

One cold, dark morning, deep in a hormone-deficiency valley, as I creaked and crunched in my basement gym, feeling my gym shorts slice into my emergent muffin top, I had a single rebellious thought:

I’m still here, fuckers.

I’m still here.

It’s dark and frigid. This floor has spiders. My bum hurts. There’s an icy draft.

I’m still here.

Showing up.

My hips are locked up like Fort Knox. An ovary gremlin stole my estrogen.

I hate feeling weak. I hate that light switch. I hate reality. I hate your face. I hate this song on my iPod. I hate this barbell and the ridiculous, embarrassing baby weights hanging on it. I hate stupid jerkhead everything.

I’m still here.

Breathe. Move. Rep. Creak.

Still here.

Because this is it. It doesn’t get better than this. This is how it works. It’s all the road. It’s all part of the journey.

You don’t get to drive the bozo-bus.

If you’re lucky, you get to look out the window as your life-vehicle hurtles towards the unknown, with a drunken maniac at the wheel.

clown-on-bus

Hello! I’ll be your chauffeur for the next forever! Buckle up… ahhh don’t bother, you’re gonna hit the windshield at some point.

Sure, if you do yoga and drink Swiss chard juice and rep out some squats (or whatever variation on eating healthy and staying active you prefer), your chances are definitely better than if you, like my 20-year-old self, watch Sally Jessy Raphael re-runs while sitting on your bursitis-y, ever-expanding, unmoving hips, swilling chicken wings and beer all day.

Because what’s the alternative? There is none.

Either you take care of business and give yourself the best chance of survival (while accepting the inherent fuckedupitude and randomness of life), or you relinquish all hope entirely.

Good health habits and regular movement definitely help your bozo-bus driver be a little less wasted and crazy.

Most of the time.

Sometimes you look in the mirror and think Ha! No wrinkles! I feel great today! Thanks, kale! and kale throws you a fist bump and you rock out together and then you throw on a slimming black knit shift that restrains your resplendent glutes like a bowling-ball-bag and go out to ass-kick the world.

And sometimes you wake up — naturally — at 4 am (4 am? When did that start to seem fucking normal?) and stagger down to your basement and attempt to move some metal around while cursing.

It’s all part of the process. All of it. ‘Tis the season.

And I ain’t goin’ out like a sucka.

That's right, fuckers. Kicking and screaming all the goddamned way. That's how I'm rolling.

That’s right, fuckers. Kicking and screaming all the goddamned way. That’s how I’m rolling.

 

 

 

 

Responses

  1. Jersey Gator says:

    December 1st, 2013at 9:04 am(#)

    I needed to read this today…this didn’t really hit me til I reached 50, but I do seem to view every bit of stiff joint or achy back as some sort of failure only part. I do realize I’m making aging easier by eating well and keeping active but, man, it can suck some days. Thanks for the bucket of perspective you just threw in my face.

  2. Nate R. says:

    December 1st, 2013at 9:14 am(#)

    The battle with old age is not one that we can win, but I don’t plan on going willingly.

  3. Nate R. says:

    December 1st, 2013at 9:14 am(#)

    They’ll never take me alive.

  4. Jennifer Bryan says:

    December 1st, 2013at 9:25 am(#)

    Oh, how I needed this! 1973 was a great year. You and I alone make it a year worthy of celebration. ;) How could it possibly have been FORTY years ago?! Yet again your post has made me feel like I’m not alone. Either that or you crawled in my brain and stole my thoughts. Thank you for sharing.

  5. Shauna says:

    December 1st, 2013at 9:42 am(#)

    Thank you. Just perfect.

  6. Sara Fleming says:

    December 1st, 2013at 9:47 am(#)

    Well, there it is. I can totally relate. I turned 40 and grew a chubby layer of dimply fluff that I can’t get rid of. My training has more tradeoffs: getting stronger slows me down, training for power saps my strength, training for endurance makes me feel like a 90 year old with glass joints. Have recently thrown everything out and started over to see what works, for me, and my goals. And it has definitely become very apparent that I need fewer goals. The main one right now being moving without pain and getting rid of the fluff. And hopefully in the process, I’ll find my motivation. :)

  7. jill says:

    December 1st, 2013at 10:10 am(#)

    hahahaha. and wait until you’re almost 60. i’m still kickin’ sucka too. i think that when you get even older you get to move to the front of the bus and see more clearly the hazards coming your way.

  8. Renee says:

    December 1st, 2013at 10:36 am(#)

    Thank you. Just thank you. 55 year old with a bit of this every day. Failed to be able to jump the chain link fence while trying to take a short cut yesterday and had to settle for going yo the steep brambly hill. Now I’m off for a hike. It’s not all I want but it’s better than the alternative. Celebrate your body and your (relative) youth!

  9. jan says:

    December 1st, 2013at 12:05 pm(#)

    I love that you speak from the gut! This really helps me understand where the ex-athletes in my life are coming from. I think it’s all relative though…I don’t mourn for “what was” with respect to what I used to be able to do because I don’t even know what I’d have been capable of in my younger years. I didn’t start pushing in any focused way until I was 42, and I’ve been steadily improving since then. I’ll be 46 in a couple of months and am thrilled with what I can do and how I generally feel now compared with those things at 30. Maybe that’s the secret! Do nothing but drink beer and eat nachos until you’re 40 and then there’s nowhere to go but up! :-)

  10. Joyce says:

    December 1st, 2013at 1:56 pm(#)

    Yeah…that first time you hear your knee creak is a bitch and a half.

    I am now an ice pack fashionista, with a full arsenal of various shapes and sizes chilling in the freezer.

  11. Michelle says:

    December 1st, 2013at 2:15 pm(#)

    Fucking Brilliant!

    I really needed to read this today. As a fellow 40yo, I’m kicking and screaming with you.

  12. Kym McNair says:

    December 1st, 2013at 3:04 pm(#)

    Oh, these rants give me life!

    That sound in my knees and ankles and sometimes my elbow and occasionally my wrist is creaking, clicking AND crunching. No matter, beloved. I’m still here too, and I’m still loving the flesh. All aboard the bus!!!

  13. Kel says:

    December 1st, 2013at 5:27 pm(#)

    You somehow managed to read my 47 year old mind today.

    I think I am going to make 50 my bitch. And I will still be here, too.

    THANK YOU!

  14. Heidi Swift says:

    December 1st, 2013at 5:47 pm(#)

    Needed this one. Well played, Krista.

  15. jeanne says:

    December 1st, 2013at 8:55 pm(#)

    I’ll be printing this out and taking it to read to my 91-year-old mom, who’s been in the hospital for nearly a week. A normal, textbook angioplasty was followed by uncontrollable bleeding from her femoral artery – major clenching; she’s better now. She’s feeling a bit let down by her arterial highways. I told her they’re all 91-years-old, too, and she’s healing up faster than anyone expected. She’ll be home soon, eating more vegetables than any five of her neighbors and doing her yoga.

    I had the beginnings of arthritis in my hands – waking up every morning with my mitts On Fucking Fire and everyone saying, Oh, well, you’re getting old. Fuck that noise. I googled Anti-Inflammatory Diet, cut out raw tomatoes and my hands are my own once more. The relief was so total and happened so quickly, it was amazing. Your mom might have similar results.

  16. CindyCindy says:

    December 1st, 2013at 9:13 pm(#)

    Thank you!

  17. Amanda says:

    December 2nd, 2013at 9:15 am(#)

    “In my darkest, most hormonally-addled, helpless and hopeless moments, I rage and cry. I curse my body. It’s cheated. It’s lied. It’s let me down. It’s not following the rules.

    Here is a short list of things I mourn.”

    I’m adding to your list – my breasts, estrogen, pain free back, internal temperature control that works..

    My life post breast cancer is a mess.

  18. Christine says:

    December 2nd, 2013at 10:44 am(#)

    This puts into words what keeps rattling through my mind and body.
    I felt better than ever when I turned 40, three years ago, until I went in for my gynecologist appointment. I left feeling like I had expired. The focus shifted from being reproductive to closing down the shop. Didn’t see that coming.

  19. Design_Mom says:

    December 2nd, 2013at 10:55 am(#)

    All I could think of reading was “shit, that’s me in 2 years”. Will I be having the same rant? Then I laughed my ass off at the photo caption, That is totally how I am rolling.

  20. Kristy says:

    December 2nd, 2013at 11:11 am(#)

    Thank you for this. You relayed exactly how I feel now that I too hit 40. I HATE it! I want my youth back; the one I totally took for granted. I too thought aging would never happen to me. Now, not only am I realize it’s happening, but it seems accelerated under my constant scrutiny. It used to be I only obsessed about my clean diet and workouts. Now, I feel like I cannot stop obsessing about my tattle tell face and crepe like knees. Where are our strong, female, aging role models? The ones who emanate grace and provide us courage to face this grim reality? I guess it’s up to us. We need to pave the way for the ones younger than we. We can do this together, and rants like yours allow us to relate and connect with each other. Stay strong, sister.

  21. Rhonda says:

    December 2nd, 2013at 12:14 pm(#)

    THANK YOU!!! Love it!!! Beat my 51- soon to be 52, self up every day that I am not stronger, better, slimmer etc etc. But I AM working on it every day and that is the best part. Keep up the good wrok- you are brilliant!

  22. Sophie says:

    December 2nd, 2013at 1:49 pm(#)

    I just turned 49 yesterday and am trying to approach 50 gracefully… This is exactly how I feel and was written perfectly. Thank you.

  23. Fahmida Bhabha says:

    December 2nd, 2013at 3:58 pm(#)

    thank you this, I really needed it – just got back from the orthopod’s office to be told that yet another crucial ligament in my knee no longer exists…crap!!
    3 weeks ago when I had an SI joint issue the recurring question was: “what did you DO?” my response? ask my injured knee of 30+ yrs why my SI joint is “unhappy”…

    kicking and screaming indeed :-)

  24. Lynn says:

    December 3rd, 2013at 7:58 am(#)

    Tomorrow I will turn 53. This is like an early birthday present. It makes me feel a little better about giving up on front squats (my shoulders and elbows just Do. Not. Like. Them) and doing goblet squats instead, and a whole passel of physical complaints too numerous to name. Your rant is a great reminder that it’s okay to be where I am and make the best of it. Thank you!

  25. Shantelle S says:

    December 3rd, 2013at 10:38 am(#)

    I struggled with turning 30… and in a month I turn 34, I can almost see 40! I struggle every year with another year added on so this was timely for me. As always, an incredible read KSD. I’m not going to feel bad any more about the little tantrum I throw every year when December comes along and just go to the gym :)

  26. randall mavrovich says:

    December 3rd, 2013at 7:21 pm(#)

    i just want to say i loved “while accepting the inherent fuckedupitude and randomness of life”. fuckedupitude should be added to the dictionary.

  27. DR says:

    December 4th, 2013at 10:44 am(#)

    I am turning 40 in a couple of months, and I am JUST starting a lifting program. Am I crazy? We just got our home rack from Rogue yesterday (bf is experienced lifter). I am happy to have discovered your writing and clever wit!

  28. CindyCindy says:

    December 7th, 2013at 7:55 pm(#)

    Thank you.

  29. Kaija says:

    December 11th, 2013at 5:09 pm(#)

    “I’m still here”…such a great statement, especially in the context that you wrote about.

    AND it’s a great Stephen Sondheim song :)

  30. Mike says:

    December 30th, 2013at 6:13 pm(#)

    40. I’ll be there in about two years. Already though, I’ve had to accept limitations in my body – I accumulate bodyfat a lot easier, I can’t play team sports on a consistent basis without getting a serious case of pat-ten, and I have ear hair. I experienced my first real training injury this year, so warmups are now taken much more seriously. And now I know that my lifts deteriorate quite quickly if I don’t train regularly.

    I’m definitely not the lean, full of piss and vinegar, would fancy his chances in a fair fight 20-year old that I once was.

    So it’s awesome to read this post and know that every time I find an excuse not to exert myself, you’ll still be banging out your barbell reps or kettlebell swings or yoga positions or whatever else you’re up to.

    Rage, rage against the dying of the light!


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