Age vs Beauty, and Sally Field …

Beauty_is_as_beauty_does

The other day I was watching the View. I’m on leave from work, and I guess when you are on leave watching ladies chat about pop culture and American politics is a thing that just happens naturally. Honestly, they kind of drive me crazy (because I’d like to argue with them, but end up arguing with the TV screen. Then my mother, working in the other room, says ‘who are you talking to? And I have to  admit that it’s no one.), but if I don’t watch something I have trouble remembering to eat my banana for breakfast.

Anyhow, Sally Field appeared on the show to promote her film Hello My Name is Doris. Apparently it’s good, according to her and the ladies at the table. I believe them. From this chat, Sally Field was asked about gender and age in Hollywood. She shared some insightful remarks about trends and actions and ideas without follow through. I was impressed with her experienced perspective. But one little thing really caught me, and it continues to make me think.

While discussing age and Hollywood, the ladies of the view were letting Sally know how darn good she looked – ‘You look 35!’ says Joyce Beher, a View host. I know that is meant as a compliment, but it immediately strikes me as a sad juxtaposition against the words that Sally had literally just spoken. Sally Field is smart and productive and beautiful.

“What the heck was that?” I say to the TV screen.

Does she look 35? No.

Should she look 35? No.

Does Joyce’s comment inadvertently imply that whatever age Sally is at this moment isn’t an age to be honoured?

Yep.

And what’s sad is that is really how our culture has been trained to think, not just Joyce Beher. We attach beauty to age – with an emphasis on ‘anti-aging’, when the two things needn’t have a damn thing to do with one another.

People who are beautiful in my life:

My mother; my father; My mother-in-law, my father-in-law, my brother’s partners, my brothers, my best friend and her husband, my sister and brother in law, the inspiring library ladies who I worked with in both Southampton and Rosemount, the women of my old book club and writing group, the children of my cousins (and my lovely cousins too!), all the babies I adore to see on Facebook, my husband, my grandmother, my husband’s grandmother….

There are so many beautiful people in the world, and the more I come to meet and know them, the more incredible they are in my mind.

How old are all the people I just listed? It doesn’t matter one bit. They are a range of ages and experiences. They are a rainbow of eye colours, hair types, tan lines, wrinkles, scars, and smiles.

Beauty is not age. And the moment we say ‘you look half your age’ I think we discount the value of perspective, wisdom and credit earned within a lifetime, as well as how wrinkles add kindness to a face, and grey hair is lovely, and stretch marks are accomplishments. (etc)

Age before beauty? Beauty before age?

In my mind the two do not compete.

Beauty is as beauty does.

 

2015 in the blink of the screen

Here we go, it’s the end of 2015. No joking, I can remember the year it turned 2000 like it was literally (almost not quite) yesterday. The New Year’s Eve party was held in my neighbor’s dance studio – and it felt as though half our grade showed up. Maybe it was really just a quarter, but it was a big party nevertheless.

My dad bought me ‘baby duck’ champagne because he figured the millennial shouldn’t be rung in without some fizzy baby booze, even if I was underage for drinking. (Which is reasonable, I think, considering there was no shortage of booze at the party. Though I seem to recall my mom wasn’t so very thrilled that he went out to get me ze drink a la baby duck.)

This was back when I didn’t touch alcohol. I had my reasons, but mostly it was because I really didn’t care about it. This I get from my mother. However, I was nevertheless all set to have some champagne, except that I barley got a sip in due to some very concerned friends who weren’t too pleased. So, I caved into peer pressure – but in the reverse direction than would be expected.

Whatever! It was a great night. There was a balloon drop that took forever to set up beforehand because we had to blow up all the damn balloons. There were weird make out scenes at midnight – as in, throw up and then kiss! For me no kiss, but I watched a guy I had a crush on kiss someone else, and somehow I was still into him after that. Typical wonderful teenage stuff 🙂 And I think I was wearing trousers made out of this khacki coloured mesh. Weird.

At midnight we checked the phones, and for about 2 minutes they didn’t work. Y2K Strikes!

Then came the inevitable freak out, when the host is both hammered yet beginning to sober up, and realizes: “My parents are going to kill me!” which is when we pull out the garbage bags and begin cleaning – around about 1 am. I’ve been at many a party where this has happened, and always get my clean on. Once, at a different New Year’s party, the host’s mother actually called during the party, then asked to speak with me knowing I’d be sober. I’m not bragging, except that I AM BRAGGING because somehow it made ‘being responsible’ feel cool for a few minutes.

Anyhow, after the party, at about 2 or 3 am, we went back to my friend’s home. When I say ‘we’ I mean all my group of friends – the guys and the girls, and I reckon we totaled over 15 people. Boys slept in the basement and girls slept upstairs. Except that my friend’s mother were completely shocked that everyone was hammered. Hammmmmmered. One friend who shall remain unnamed tried to go through the door and walked into the wall, repeatedly. So, we got quite a talking to the next morning. In fact, my friend’s mother thought I was also completely drunk – and this truly bothered me, since I’d been talked out of drinking that bottle of champagne, and therefore missed the boozy fun and instead got pinned for the trouble. Honestly, I was just exhausted by the time she saw me. Tired Catherine is actually nothing like champagne & sugar Catherine… but, why would she know that?

However, it was still really nice of her mother to let us all stay there. Her mom didn’t know what she were getting into. She handled it quite well considering.

Mostly I remember having a damn good time. And that it feels like just yesterday. And I was about 18.

Flash forward, and I’m almost 34. Okay, I’m 33 but with 34 on the horizon.

2015 went by in the blink of an eye. We were in Hungary for the summer. I got a real job – like, a serious and challenging and REAL job. I wrote many articles and won a grant. I was with my husband. We saw the cancer grow, and yet it didn’t own our life.

2016 will start off with a serious bunch of challenges. They will be worthwhile, but they will also be hard. One step at a time. It makes me wonder, will I write more this year or will I write less? Much less? Not at all? Or maybe a whole lot? I’m not sure. Each time I write a post about cancer, I feel truly weary of becoming ‘the girl who has cancer’ all over again. Not that I was ever that girl entirely, but you get known for something and it sticks. I guess I hesitate to blog it all out because it makes me address a piece of myself that  – just – doesn’t – fit.

And yet, writing it out fits me quite perfectly.

Oh well, who cares? Each year is a surprise, and sometimes you have moments that stick in your mind in the best possible ways, and will always feel like only yesterday. May 2016 have many of these moments for you, for us, for everyone. Even when it gets hard, and damn it – it will get hard, even when that happens, may we think back to ‘only yesterday’ and use those moments to fuel us towards the future.

One day at a time. Sooner than later, it will be the end of 2016, and we will have yet another new year to look forward to.

Happy New Year everyone. May you have a Baby Duck good time.

P.S. WordPress year in review!

 

 

May it be worthwhile

After a while of simply not writing things down, I guess it just becomes easier to stop altogether. That’s what I’ve been doing lately – stopping all together. It started just after that post I posted (oh man, ugly wording) about the blood and the hospital and the lung and yada yada yada.

Meatballs

I just stopped with the posts. This will happen sometimes. Often it’s because I’m out having an awesome time in the world. But sometimes it’s because I just don’t want to share.

All this being said, it’s been a trip.

Life has gone all pin ball machine lately, and I’m that metal ball pinging from paddle to paddle. Sometimes I shoot up in a happy moment, other times I roll down towards that game-over pit and not a paddle can save me . . .

That’s really dramatic language. When I started with that pinball metaphor, I actually thought it would be more fun.

Life has been like a plate of spaghetti. I’m the meat ball on top, sinking into the marinara sauce and wet, warm noodles . . . and the Parmesan cheese, with that pinch of salt and sprinkle of pepper . . . and the fork going in there with the spoon, wrapping all the goodness together . . .

Actually no. Life hasn’t been like a meatball on a plate of spaghetti. I’m just seriously hungry. Like SERIOUSLY hungry.

Life has been like this: it’s has been busy. After that trip to the hospital, a few different things happen:

  • My oncologist, Dr Canada, ordered a biopsy – meaning a tube-down-the-throat-into-the-lungs biopsy.
  • Then, following that, radiation was ordered – meaning shoot radiation at your lungs for two weeks every evening after work.
  • Then, following that the side effects kicked in – meaning don’t eat because you can’t and lose 10 pounds for swim suit season…except it’s winter and we all just want to indulge in cookies and chocolate. At least, I do. Stuffing too. And meat pie. And pretty much everything right about now. Just today I had my first solid food in a week. I chewed that olive about 40 times before swallowing.
  • I missed work, and worried.
  • Biopsy results came back. Interesting stuff. More another day.

Other things happened too!

  • Zsolt became CANADIAN.

I was going to throw him a party like this: Everyone would come over wearing red & white. We’d be decked out in Canadiana. He, being the guest of honour, would name the best Canadian outfit. We’d have a map of Canada and people would be blind folded, and would need to ‘pin the capital on the country’. There would be a table filled with Canadian themed food from Beaver tales to maple syrup to a veggie platter (because you need something healthy) to maple cake to Canadian beer, etc. And we’d all give Zsolt our best advice on how to be Canadian.

None of that happened, except in my head. Maybe it will, probably it won’t. Unfortunately the radiation side effects were stronger than anticipated, and we cancelled the party. Party or not, the man is still CANADIAN. And it’s still really surreal.

More things!

  • Refugees began to arrive in Canada! This makes me really happy to watch in the news. They’ve been going through a nightmare. Even though the memories will of course follow them, they are here. They are in a new home, and we want them to feel as safe as possible.
  • We decorated our apartment. Finally, after months of the pictures hanging around and the freezer being in the middle of the floor, we have put everything away and made this new place feel more like home.
  • Work! It went well.
  • I went and bought some clothes. Somehow, in between the physical phases of treatment, my mother and I went to the shop and I picked up some clothes for work. The sale rack was good to me. I no longer need to shop for another 1.5 years. ­
  • My family has been awesome-incredible-amazing-loving-supporting and more. Zsolt and I have been so touched.

 

This is what I need to remember going into 2016. It is probably not going to be a bed of roses, but if I’m lucky the lows will seriously be balanced, if not totally knocked aside by the highs. I need to remember what I’m fighting for. These good things need to be the center of me. It may not always been easy, but I pray it is always worthwhile.

That is all.

Goodnight.