Sunday, June 27, 2010

A make-up meltdown

I think there was an episode of The Brady Bunch which featured Greg borrowing his father's tools and not putting them away or some such thing. Of course within the requisite half hour Greg had learnt his lesson, received a few pearls of wisdom from his father, and you just knew he would never make that mistake again. Those kids never had to be told more than once. Anyway my question is why was there never a similar episode with Marcia (Marcia, Marcia) and/or Jan and/or that revolting one with the curls purloining their mother's make-up?

Because this, I have to say, is my number one source of irritation nowadays (after drivers who get confused by the colour green, and teenagers who spit, and visible muffin tops, and shop assistants who hold asinine conversations with each other while you're standing at the counter, and... well, I suppose there's actually a longer list than I thought). The whole make-up thing started relatively benignly and, to be honest, I actually thought it was sort of cute (which I suspect is a deliberate ploy with children, like the toddler who lets loose a swear-word and everyone laughs fondly - not so cute a few years later, is it?). At the time I even gave a calm, controlled Brady Bunch-style lecture about how I really didn't mind as long as the bits and pieces of make-up were always put back. Fat chance. I've now spent a goodly part of the past six years searching for mascara and foundation and eye-liner and that terrific green eye-shadow that you just can't get anymore. One of the problems is that I don't wear much make-up on a normal day (seems a little OTT given I usually work in over-sized pyjamas), which means I don't miss it until I've got a really important engagement and five minutes to make myself look presentable and the only thing that's left in my make-up drawer are several anti-ageing creams and a grubby cotton bud. Even then I start off relatively calmly and only turn into a screaming banshee when both female offspring plead innocence. Ten minutes later, after giving each other those 'god, mum's gone mad' looks, they'll take turns coming up to me with blunt eye-liner or whatever in hand saying 'is this what you're after? Dunno how it ended up with my stuff, I'd never use that colour."
So a few weeks ago I bought myself all new make-up, cleaned out my drawer, lined it with nice paper, and then fastened stickers to the outside which read This drawer and its contents belong to Ilsa (aka Mum). DO NOT TOUCH (operating under the assumption that, as with serial killers, personalising oneself might enhance the odds). Which was just fine until yesterday, when we were due to attend a family function and I decided to go for the elegant look (which, nowadays, requires a generous amount of make-up). Opening my drawer only to discover that there wasn't just one item missing, there were about four. And, once again, nobody had the faintest idea what I was talking about. So I lost it, wrenching the drawer out and flinging it, with the contents, into the bath (which has the shower at one end with a screen). Screeching 'There you go then! How easy is this now? Just help yourselves!"
Both female offspring eyed me pityingly as they backed rapidly out of the bathroom. Then I could hear them muttering as they headed away: 'do you know what's up with her?" No, do you?" And I was left to stare at the odds and ends of make-up detritus still rolling around the bath, where the drawer lay at an odd angle with its base now a separate entity from the frame. Feeling a little numb as I took in the loose powder that was sprayed artfully across the tiles, and the cracked eye-shadow cases that were leaching shades of brown and green into soapy puddles, and my new, very expensive (because I'm worth it) scientifically-proven anti-ageing serum-stuff that was now dribbling steadily towards the plughole. And I realised that while this momentary meltdown may have felt good, I couldn't even leave it like this for effect because unfortunately - and typically - I was the only person who hadn't yet had their shower.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Beware the evil side of technology

There is no doubt that technology has brought wonders. As someone who hit their teens while space invaders were considered cutting edge, the amazing capabilities of modern technology - which my offspring seem to take for granted - often leave me open-mouthed with awe (not a particularly good look but there you go). However it must be noted that there's also an nasty side to these incredible advances - and I'm talking about one device in particular. One entity that can embarrass, mortify and destroy self-esteem in several short minutes, even as it masquerades as something that is supposed to aid and abet. What's even worse is that we (as in I) paid for this nasty little bugger. I'm talking, of course, about the dreaded Wii Fit.
I hate it. And I hate the fact I knew I hated it yet I still allowed the damn thing give me a 'body test' this afternoon. I should have known better. First it had a go at me for having gained weight in the eighteen months since I last used it and then, as punishment, it rounded out my little animated character until I looked like a particularly rotund leprechaun. Next, when I attempted to get with the program and set a goal weight, it made some rather pointed remarks about needing to be more realistic. Thanks, buddy. But worse was to come when I underwent a series of balance tests and the Wii, barely disguising a supercilious chortle, asked me whether I ever found myself tripping over whilst walking. Then it proceeeded to give me a series of instructions on how best to do it properly. Walk, that is.
But the nasty bugger wasn't finished yet. While I was staring at the screen open-mouthed (yes, it's my default expression), it brusquely announced that it was about to calculate my Wii age and, before I could shriek "no!" - flashed 60 in suitably lurid colours. In case the significance of this failed to register with me, my little leprechaun immediately lowered her (fat) head and shuffled her (fat) feet. And the Wii helpfully added the fact that 60 was ten years above my actual age. Just in case, along with an inability to walk, I couldn't do simple maths either.
It was at this point I gave up. For all I knew this was all part of a cleverly coded Wii master plan - to take over the human race by immobilising us via crushed self-esteem (insert suitable evil genius laugh), until we are nothing but a gaggle of little fat leprechauns, hanging our heads and shuffling our feet. Besides if there's one thing my 50/60 years have taught me, it's to quit while you're ahead - even if it's by an extra *$#%&! decade.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The ultimate losing battle

I've just spent a marvellous week reclining on the couch drinking lots of coffee, eating lots of biscuits, and researching (i.e. reading) background stuff about middle-age. Some of the books/articles/print-outs were thought-provoking, some were boring, and some were just hysterically funny. I am now a font of fascinating trivia, such as apparently a Saudi Arabian woman can get a divorce if her husband doesn't bring her coffee (sounds reasonable), or grapefruit scent can make an older woman appear six years younger to men (perhaps the smell makes them squint), or the fact that the world's strongest vagina belongs to middle-aged Tatiata Kozhevnikova, who uses hers to lift 14kilos of weight (and I seriously do not want to know the logistics of this remarkable feat). Plus I learnt several anti-ageing tips, such as one thing that instantly ages an older woman is to dress head to toe in the same designer (dang, there goes my wardrobe). Even apart from being very useful for my eventual book, I fully expect that my possession of all this assorted trivia will enhance my desirability as a dinner-party guest forthwith.
However something that did strike me about a lot of the material I devoured during the week was a tendency by several authors to treat ageing as some type of battle. And therefore, by the very nature of things (i.e. being alive), as an ongoing battle. Apparently one needs to fight, to attack, and to launch counter-offensives - which may be why last week we learnt a perfectly lovely looking 18yr old girl/woman was on her way overseas to have a tummy tuck, breast uplifts/implants, and a vaginal tightening. It seems she could barely look in the mirror (one assumes this was due to the first two issues and not the third). I dearly hope, for her sake, that these operations will be everything she wants and needs - but I highly doubt it. She's just started 'battling' a little early than most, that's all.
The problem, as I see it, is that this is a battle which simply cannot be won. No matter how vigilant you are. That's not to say we shouldn't aim to be the best possible version of ourselves at each life-phase, and exactly what that entails will vary from woman to woman. Speaking for myself I have no intention of ageing gracefully, I've never been renowned for my gracefulness so what the hell. But I do intend on maintaining a healthy relationship with my own ageing - sort of a 'you rub my back, I'll rub yours' type of thing. Where I look after myself, within limits, and I also have fun, within limits. Like any good relationship I'll probably push things a little too far at times, and there'll be some resentment, and regrets, but at the end of the day well, we're stuck with each other. And there's too much I still want to accomplish to waste time being my own worst enemy. Literally. So by all means lather on the moisturiser, enjoy the facials and manicures and pedicures, even go the botox or the plastic surgery if it makes you feel good - but don't visualise the whole thing as a battle. Because if you do then you're going to have to label yourself a loser. It's as simple as that.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

And a good night to all!

Why is it we start off life as experts at sleeping, and then progressively get worse as we age? How does that work? Do we forget something? I mean it's not like it's rocket science:
  1. you lie down (preferably on a bed),
  2. you close your eyes,
  3. you fall asleep.

There. That doesn't sound difficult, does it? I mean I'm not having any trouble with either point 1 or 2 (in fact I am increasingly doing these anywhere and everywhere, which is particularly disturbing for passengers in my car) - but point 3 seems to have me stumped. Instead of falling asleep my mind churns with thoughts and ideas and lists. Like did Daughter No.1. remember to take her library books back? Will she be able to talk her way out of the $250 fine? Is that rumbling noise at the far end of the house a possum on the roof or somebody with nefarious intent sliding the door open? Is Only Son going to do himself lasting damage with a diet of two-minute noodles? Did Daughter No.2. set her alarm? Did I remember to write a speech for that talk I'm giving tomorrow? What will I wear? Does anything still fit? Oh, christ, is that really the time?

And as anyone who has ever had trouble getting to sleep will tell you, it's all over the moment you start stressing about the time. Because it then becomes part of a vicious catch-22, where growing anxiety about your likely level of tiredness the next day (doing frantic calculations about how many night-hours are left now... and now... and now), makes sleep even more unlikely. So that eventually you become just a mass of nerve-endings, shedding frustrated tears that are illuminated only by the little numbers that are relentlessly flipping over on your bedside clock.

Yet a quick calculation tells me that, give or take a few dozen nights in my teens when I didn't sleep at all, I've been doing this for around 18,370 nights. That's a whole lot of nights. And they say practice makes perfect? Bah humbug.