Friday, January 20, 2012
I hope you just went 'huh?' because I had a lot of fun thinking about titles for this post. You can take the Brit out of Britain, but you can never remove my love of double entendre.
Alas, it's not nearly as exciting as it sounds. Felsted, who is in great health generally, is nevertheless pushing sixty (he's seven years older than me) and has been diagnosed with severe sleep apnea.
This comes as no surprise to me. Felsted is a positive orchestra of snores, grunts, whistles, burbles, rasps and wheezes when he sleeps. The absolute WORST is the huge SNNRRRK (often accompanied by a jerk liked a galvanized frog) caused by his brain desperately telling his body to reboot because he stopped breathing for a moment.
I completely failed to convince him that this was not normal until, one day, our dentist--of all people--decided to screen his older patients for the disorder. Two surveys, one home test and one hospital test later, enter the Machine.
Do you people have any idea how OLD it makes me feel to have medical machinery in the bedroom? The Machine is quite small and fits neatly onto the nightstand, but still. And it seems like only yesterday that we were young lovers with very few cares in the world...
Aging is a funny process. When you're young, you can't wait to be older. Then at some point in your life (around the time you have kids, I think) everything accelerates, and suddenly there are wrinkles and flabby bits where once there was smooth young skin.
It certainly doesn't bother me to be getting on (although I could do without the sore knees and ankles, but serves me right for doing karate in my 50s). About six or seven years ago I had a dream that I remember very vividly. I woke up and I was a young woman again, and it felt so REAL. I remember looking at my smooth, slender arms and thin hands - I always rather liked my hands. My stomach was flat again - oh joy! But then I realized that what I had lost in the transformation was Felsted and the girls. If I was young, they could not be there.
This was one of the rare occasions when I woke up crying, and that dream still haunts me and brings a tear to my eyes. If I ever look at the aforesaid wrinklyflabby bits and sigh, I recall the dream and feel much better. Who needs mirrors anyway?
And being older is a great thing for a writer. The perspective that you get from having experienced the good and the bad--triumphs, childbirth, breakups, weight gain, weight loss, the death of loved ones--makes it much easier to put yourself into the head of your protagonist. In addition, you've hopefully read a ton of books in your long life, which is a guaranteed way to learn how to write well.
Quite a few writers don't reach their prime until well into middle age, and some make their debuts in publishing at an age when many are thinking of retiring. Younger writers, it seems to me, are often more insecure about their abilities.
And for good reason, I think. Despite the thoughts that frequently pop into my head about how, if I'd started writing fiction sooner, I would have a whole pile of books published by now (my inner dialogue lacks modesty), in truth I know that my writing now is considerably better than it used to be.
Two of my friends have sons who wish to be opera singers. Their stated intention is to work in casual jobs--waiting tables, bar tending--for the next few years. They know they won't even have a hope of getting into their chosen niche until they're in their forties and their voices have matured. Don't you just love that long-term view? Supposing we did that with writers? There'd be no Twilight for one thing...RESIST THE COMMENT JANE.
So I guess having a husband with Darth Vader tendencies can be seen as compensation for having attained the age of wisdom. And going to sleep last night without the familiar sound of sawing logs really was rather pleasant.
So...if you're young, what bothers you about aging? If you're not young, what do you think you've gained and/or lost?