Last night I couldn't sleep and suddenly the phrase appeared in my mind like an unwelcome sign (closed, out of order, out of business) the words were: You are Old and I found myself thinking well, yes, you will be 57 this next birthday and that is freaking old. I think I am not in the most positive state of mind. My father died three weeks ago, my work has slowed down, a novel isn't being snapped up and everything else-new projects, my house, is in a state of flux. On the plus side, my stepson and his wife had a brand new baby last night and on the neutral verging on weird side, my ex-husband, father of my twenty year old son is expecting to have a baby late this summer. He is old to be having a baby but men apparently can carry on indefinitely. I'm not sure if this has contributed to my feeling old.

“You are old, Father William,” the young man said,
“And your hair has become very white;
And yet you incessantly stand on your head –
Do you think, at your age, it is right?
(Lewis Carroll)

I have been watching the entire oeuvre of Ally McBeal on Net Flicks, a show I largely ignored when it was on television. I watch this when my husband is up at Zion where he is taking a nuclear plant offline because it is benign and actually helps me fall asleep. It's the sort of show where people announce they are old as they turn 35. However, a character referred to himself as being in a "Lull" and I thought-"ah, hah, that's what's wrong with me. "a short period of calm in which little happens" Here is a picture of me when I was not in a lull.
I was the keynote speaker along with Sara Paretsky at a Literacy Fundraiser. My novel was getting good reviews, I had a ten year old, I was working and dating my now husband. I felt overwhelmed and worried most of the time. I didn't think I deserved so much attention nor did I feel very happy because, frankly, I felt bad for not feeling better. Yes, when you look up "neurotic" my picture is there.

Here is another picture of me not in a lull. That is my wonderful roommate Jim who went to Julliard and practiced the flute like 300 hours a day. Jim moved in with me engaged to a girl and within a month had come out and had a very snarky boyfriend. "What did you do to him?" people asked.  I am holding Chester, a cat that my mother would later execute because he ruined her couch but she claimed he had a possible case of rabies. Chester was given to me by the monk at the monastery where I was being a part-time Buddhist, commuting there while I also taught creative writing at Rutgers and had a novel published in England. This was taken in my one-bedroom apartment on 69th and Broadway. I was living on so little money in Manahttan sometimes I had to walk downtown because I didn't have the cash for a token. 

But I was really, really happy because I was unsuccessful and had terrible boyfriends and, in fact, Chester was a rather terrible cat. I'm holding him like that because he wants to bite Jim. Chester attacked any man he perceived as a rival which was any man at all. I was happy because I was sort of living the dream, working in publishing, no responsibilities, sober and hanging out with cool ex-rock star sober people. I sat in the Zendo in the Catskills and had sexual fantasies about the Monk and baked bread and polished wood. I'm not sure how old I am in that picture, maybe 30? I thought I was fat of course. That was before pregnancy and menopause. What an idiot I was to think I was anything but fetching. 

Now, I'm old, definitely need to diet and I'm in a lull.
During a period when I broke up with my current husband because he yelled too much I dated this English scientist who used to say things felt "flat" when he wasn't having a good time. I wonder whether this is just a "flat" period or is it the eye of the tornado or is it the quiet before a huge storm which will produce all kinds of transformations and clarity? I have no idea but I've decided to look at this as an opportunity to notice how rarely I match my mood to circumstances and try to stop being so self-absorbed and act grateful.


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