June 8, 2005

The Plural of Man-O-War Should Be Men-O-Pause

...WHICH IS YEARS AND YEARS AND YEARS away, my doctor tells me (my doctor is PRETTY), but the calcium and plant estrogen supplement industries want me to think I better start chewing little chews IMMEDIATLY lest my bones snap and I sprout 3 black, floaty chin hairs, right now, here, in the middle of my thirties. Well, okay. They are chocolate flavored, those chews, so PASS 'EM ON OVER.

I am thinking about AGING... Or rather, people around me have put two big SCOOPS of aging-thoughts into the raisin bran of my brains.

My agent, who is well into his 60's, had a birthday on Saturday. Last time I was with him, I couldn't help but ask in a panicky voice if he had any plans to retire. This is my AGENT. MY Agent. The one who picked me out of the slush pile, dug me up from tens of thousands of queries, from thousands of partials, from hundreds of manuscripts. I had no sales record, no publication beyond a few short stories in lit mags, and he read my work and said, "Yes. You. Absolutely."

He has become my friend as well--I GENUINELY like him, and if he DID retire he'd still be my friend... but. I DO NOT WANT HIM TO RETIRE. He said he wouldn't. And I clutched at him and said, "EVER????" And he said, "Not ever." So. I am holding him to that. But I do not like him to have birthdays.

He has more than three decades on me, and assuming I continue to write good books and assuming readers continue to buy them and assuming I don't I go trit-trotting under a bus because I am deep, deep in my head having conversations with people who do not technically exist and not paying attention (and these are all pretty big assumptions), he's statistically likely to get out of the industry before I do. Even if he NEVER retires, one day he'll gracefully slump down dead onto the Manhattan pavement, probably just after a truly superlative lunch. (Which, you know, that's how I'd like to go too, come to think of it. If I get to pick, I want the lunch to be at Blue Hill (home of the milk fed hen)though that would actually be GREENWICH VILLAGE pavement I was gracefully slumping down dead on, but hey, let's get real. I mean, I have some pretty cute shoes, but I KNOW most of them aren't good enough to die in IN MANHATTAN...But I digress.)

My best friend in the whole world turnd 33 today. HAPPIEST BIRTHDAY LYDIA. It's a big year for her because 33 is the age at which her Ultimate Idol, Herman Melville, wrote Moby Dick. Which means this is the year she has to write HER Moby Dick, before the GOUT or THE CONSUMPTION or some other wierd, artistic disease leaps on her and kills her in the middle of Melville's prime. She called me this morning.

Lyd: Hi. I am thirty-three. TODAY. This is the year I have to become profound.
Me: Maybe you should start reading Stephen Jay Gould. Scott keeps leaving his essays all over the bathroom. I could send them to you.
Lyd: No, crack-smoker, I am not reading Stephen Jay Gould. I have to find another way to become profound. Maybe I should look deep, deep, deep into my heart.
Me: Lord help me, NO! Please do not. I will give you fifty dollars to NOT look deep, deep, deep into your heart.
Lyd: Well, but I have two small children. I've examined my schedule, and my options for becoming profound are limited. I pretty much have to find ways to become profound in the car. While driving.

Yeah, me too.

And then today I got an email from someone who was looking for inspiring quotes about growing older from women over 35...She was very circumspect. She said, and here I paraphrase, "I looked at the picture on your website, and I am not saying you look OVER 35 or anything, but if you HAPPEN to be 35 (or over), (NOT THAT YOU LOOK IT), I'd appreciate a quote."


At the bottom she had pasted a couple of quotes she had already gleaned, one from a novelist I TRULY admire, and of course her quote was pithy and brilliant and inspiring, and made me positively LONG to cross the finish line into my forties so I can STOP being such a WANKER and become all wise and powerful and womanly and stuff.

AND SO, I called another friend and we batted around ideas for pithy, inspiring things I could say in the WAKE of this brilliant quote. That degenerated rather quickly, and I WASN'T EVEN DRINKING. We came up with about 100 TERRIBLE, AWFUL THINGS to say about aging, and we were laughing SO HARD that I would love to share them with you, but ALAS, this is the ONLY ONE I am willing to put down in writing out where God or my mother might find it:

"I hit 35, and I realized I wouldn't want to be 17 again for a million dollars. There wasn't one thing good about being 17...oh except the boobs. Ohhhh, the boobs; fearless in their perk, relentless in their bounce, with nipples that could stare right into the sun and. not. go. blind. Of course at the TIME I had NO idea what to do with them." *bursts into noisy sobs for the squandered boobs of youth* "But turning 35 was good too." *sniffle* "Mostly."

Yeah. I am going to hell. Not very inspiring. I will try to be more inspiring tomorrow, though I suspect that I am not GOOD at it. Nor am I even remotely related to pithy. I don't even think I have pithy's phone number. And if I got it? Pithy probably wouldn't take my call.

Posted by joshilyn at June 8, 2005 5:00 PM

So are you collecting quotes or not? Here's mine, from my ol' grandmother (punctuation optional): "Wish in one hand, shit in the other, and see which one fills up faster."

Posted by: laura at June 8, 2005 6:07 PM

I'd take your call. Then we could have a pithy party.

One thing about aging: Time gets more valuable as it whooshes by (runs out). (Supply & demand, I think.)

Just pithing in the wind,

Posted by: tyreese at June 8, 2005 6:43 PM

You have to be going through menopause to have three floaty black chin hairs! Egads, I have had them since I was 35, now I am 38. My daughter tells everyone I am 36....she's 10, so I let her imagine away.

Quote: Oh shit!

Posted by: Robbie at June 8, 2005 6:56 PM

I am so excited I decided to link to you yesterday, Josh! Cuz today, while I'm hard at work (still) on getting into the Guiness Book as the oldest living woman to have 5 periods a month- well, I find this!
Menopause is everything it's cracked up to be and more! More, I tell you!
Now about your agent. As you wax poetly about his death, you're sure he's still your agent? He might be having his retirement party at this very moment.
Cheer up- you're a baby, I've seen pictures of you and you look great.

Posted by: vicki at June 8, 2005 7:20 PM

So is Men-o-pause the plural of Man-o-war? Or the past tense?

Posted by: Katrina at June 8, 2005 8:10 PM

That was a heck of a digression, m'dear, lemme tell ya. Your agent is probably still chuckling to himself about lit fic authors. My pithy quote for you? Okay, here 'tis. "Funny thing about aging -- women grow beards and men grow boobs. What's up with that?"

Posted by: David at June 9, 2005 8:00 AM

I cant' recall how I came across your blog but I just love it.

I am a writer of some kind and its great to hear the "digression". It makes the writing/publsihing/real life mixture seem possible.

If your book has any of the flair your blog does, I'll get cover to cover in just seconds.

And I am SO relieved to hear that I'll get all wise in my 40's-I only have one year to go and I could use some wisdom.

Posted by: Julie at June 9, 2005 9:14 AM

ooops wrong url earlier-
here's the correct one


Posted by: julie at June 9, 2005 9:27 AM

When I turned 30, I decided no one (particulary no one male) could mess with me. When I turned 40, I decided no one could mess with me, but I, I am fully allowed to mess with whomever I want--no more bullshit filters, no more nice manners just because my Mom says so, no more putting up with people I just don't like. AHHHHHH! Victory is mine.

And speaking of aging, there's a nice debate about certain "surgical procedures" going on over at my site.

BTW, I want to be Vicki when I grow up.

Posted by: Edgy Mama at June 9, 2005 11:54 AM

Hell, what's magical about 35? Many of us start falling apart LONG before then.

I suspect that 35 is when you start making sure you have a pair of tweezers by EVERY mirror in your house.

Not that I would know. Yet.

Posted by: Mir at June 9, 2005 2:17 PM

Heck, tweezers in the car, tweezers at work, tweezers in your purse...okay, enough already I should be bald, but drats I was blessed with a lot of chin I guess. Yup, it gets worse.
Four years ago my eye doctor told me "Cele you're at that age where your vision will begin rapidly deteriorating."
What the *!*? Four years later I am half blind, and nobody tells me if I've got a three inch hair under my chin and I can't see it. And of course it's not black, oh no it is the brightest silver hair on my head.

unpithy, beyond the thirties, almost into the fifties quote...

"Close you're eyes you won't get quite as dizzy."

Better yet, don't blend the margaritas just pass me the whole pitcher. That way I'll have an excuse for being dizzy, beyond the overdose of bottle blonde.

Posted by: Cele at June 10, 2005 1:08 AM

Like fine wine I only get better with age is my mantra. Turning 40 was a new beginning for me. Accepting who you are and where you are in life will only make you happier. I'm 48 and happy to be so. Getting older isn't as bad as you are led to believe. Enjoy 35....it's only going to get better

Posted by: rosie at June 10, 2005 10:26 AM

You know, I've now become utterly addicted to your blog. I sit here and laugh my ass off while my husband looks at me with his head tilted to the side and sighs. What does he know, anyway?

Know what I love the most? Your book read just like your blog - I laughed through that too, when I wasn't getting all teary eyed.

I'm going to forty years old in a month, and my boobs never once pointed at the sun. I have been *robbed*, I tell you! Robbed!

Write on, Joshilyn!

Posted by: Kris at June 10, 2005 7:41 PM

Not old, just older.

That said, if the rest of me goes the way of my boobs, aging will Not. Be. Pretty. *shudder*

Posted by: Amy at June 11, 2005 11:28 AM

Oh dear, I'm glad someone else says "I'm going to hell" just like I do. Perhaps it means we're just southern and not exhibiting a stratospheric mental illness number (although I would bet you a case of my new favorite thing -- Minutemaid Light Limeade -- that in my case this is a longshot).

Ellen, whose creativity is wasted in Public Relations

Posted by: Ellen in KY at June 12, 2005 10:51 AM

Is 35 a magic number?

I always think that in just 5 more years I will be better off, and of course I always am. One day there will be no more years, and I will be content having lived the life I have and moving on to something even better.
I'll be dust.
Maybe both.

Posted by: Shawn B. at June 13, 2005 10:34 AM

Hey, having hit the pause button at the ripe old age of 29 I have one thing to say- see you in the freezer, or rather, standing in front of it with your shirt open carrying on a conversation about your dog with your horrified neighbor who didn't want to see your sweaty, blotchy, heat flashed skin while trying to sell cookies!

Posted by: Chris at June 16, 2005 5:10 PM