Category Archives: Aging

I May Live Under a Rock, But at Least I Didn’t Trip Over It

One of my good friends sent me an e-card this weekend for my birthday.  It included this message:

Screen Shot 2013-10-08 at 9.51.48 PM

I am well-known in my set for my clumsiness.  So, I assumed this was another way of saying,  “hope you don’t break your neck after somehow surviving your own ineptitude for 45 years.”

It wasn’t until, 24-hours later, my daughter and I were in the car listening to NPR, and I realized that there was another kind of gravity I was supposed to enjoy.

And it involves George Clooney.  (and Sandra Bullock)

Now, that’s my kind of gravity.

Don’t worry, George!  I won’t let go!



I’m Sorry Google Dissed You, Bill Fagerbakke

It’s been a crazy week.  Which is probably good because the craziness took my mind off my birthday for the most part.  And I know I’m supposed to be glad I managed to live another year.  But I would be gladder if it had been my 29th year of living instead of my 40-something-ish.  And if forty-something wasn’t so close to 50.  And if I could read the small print on my 50 different medication bottles.

I usually keep my birthday kind of on the DL, but I got foiled by Google this year.

I logged in to Google at work, and saw a lovely Google birthday logo.

“Wow!  Susan Sarandon is so famous, even Google is wishing her a happy birthday!  Or, maybe, this special design is for Bill Fagerbakke, the voice of Spongebob Squarepants, who also happens to share this special day with me.  Oh, silly me, it’s probably in honor of Jon Secada, famous singer of ‘Just Another Day’ that reached #5 on the pop charts in the US in 1992.”

I rolled over the logo to see if there would be an informative pop-up revealing the celebrity’s name.

And almost fell out of my chair when Google wished me, personally, a Happy Birthday.

My work set up our Google accounts.  Apparently they don’t subscribe to my “give a fake birthday for all your online accounts” philosophy.

Of course, this just means that I am going to receive Birthday Wishes about 6 times a year now, since I have 5 other Google accounts that are not work-related.  And I kind of fudged a bit on those birthdays.

I sure hope Jon Secada checked out his logo last Friday.  Nothing beats the special feeling you get when you find out that Google gives you a message that says, “Good job on not dying yet and, by the way, we know everything about you.

It sure does make that day special.


The Real Reason People Don’t Like to “Associate” with Me

You say, “Potato.”  I say, “Harriet Tubman.”

Because potatoes are from under the ground and Harriet Tubman conducted the Underground Railroad.

This is why people prefer not to be on my team when we play party games like Catch Phrase.  Supposedly, my word associations are a bit “out there.”  I like to call it, “creative thinking.”  Other people  have less charitable ways of putting it.

This also explains why a conversation between my mother-in-law, who has been having difficulty choosing words lately, and me usually ends up sounding like an exchange between a secretive teenager and Phoebe Buffay.

MILlie was trying to tell me about a friend of hers who visited this morning, and another mutual friend of theirs.  I think they went to college together but I’m not actually sure.

“She, you know, does things,” MILlie said.

“Things?” I asked.

She moved her hands back and forth together like she was weaving.

“Knitting?  Quilting?” I guessed.

“An artist,” my mother-in-law finally said after shaking her head at my guesses.

“Oh, okay, that’s interesting.”  I prepared to move on in the conversation, but “artist” was not specific enough for my mother-in-law.  She still had not gotten her message across.

“Rap,” she said.

And that’s where our conversation kind of went off the rails.

“Your friend was a rap artist?!!!” I asked.  I tried to picture an 84-year-old former rap artist.  Then I tried to figure out how old she would have been when the term “rap artist” was even coined.  Then I tried to picture a 60-year-old rapping on stage with Snoop Dogg.

MILlie shook her head, but didn’t seem offended by this suggestion.  It’s possible, of course, that my mother-in-law is not exactly familiar with the term, “rap artist.”

I tried to think of another job that would combine art with “rap” and moving your hands in and out.

“A professional gift wrapper!” I yelled, triumphantly.

“No.”  Now MILlie was beginning to look frustrated – probably with both of us at this point.

“Sushi chef?”


After several more increasingly off-the-mark guesses, it turned out this talented friend played the accordion.

I never did figure out how that related to the word, “rap.”

But if you’re on my team some day, and we are playing Catch Phrase, and there are seconds to go before the beep, all you have to do is say, “accordion” and I will guess “rap artist”, and then you can leap up and say, “YES!!!!!”

And everyone will be too busy wondering how those two things could possibly go together while we nonchalantly hide the real catch-phrase and celebrate our victory with as much enthusiasm as Harriet Tubman probably felt any time she got the chance to eat a hot, buttery baked potato.

and then there's always the rapping potato from:

…and then there’s always the rapping potato

If You Hear I Got Arrested for Stalking Martha Stewart, You’ll Know Why

We made the difficult decision this week to move my mother-in-law into a Memory Care unit.  None of us are happy about it.  But when someone insists on going to bed in a room that isn’t hers and starts storing her socks in the freezer, it’s pretty clear that independent living no longer suits her.

At least it’s clear to the supposed “experts.”  I’m not so sure.

The thing is, my mother-in-law discovered, several years ago, a curling iron that I had put in the freezer.  So, I feel like I’m one bed hop away from my own memory care incarceration and I certainly don’t have room to judge.  However, the place where she is living administered a quiz to my mother-in-law that apparently assesses one’s need for more assistance and it, surprisingly, did not include any questions about the proper place to store your socks or your hair appliances.

“What did they ask her?” I asked my husband.

“The date.  She didn’t know.”

Oh geez.  Half the time I don’t know the date either.  I have to ask my students or the lady at the dry cleaners when I’m writing a check at 4:00 in the afternoon.

“What city she lives in.  She knew the state, but not the city.”

Well, I do know that.  But I’ve lived here for 25 years (she’s only been here 2 years).  And if you ask my Kindergartners what city they live in, they will tell you anything from Canada to Paris.  I don’t see any of them getting stuck in a memory care unit.

“They asked her to fold a piece of paper a certain way and she did that perfectly.”

Oh. My. God.  I’ve watched videos on how to fold a fitted bed sheet 10000 times and I still can’t do it right.  And now they want me to do origami?

That’s 2 out of 3 questions I would have bombed.  So, basically, I would have scored the same on the quiz as my mother-in-law.

Please don’t tell these people I lost my wedding rings last week, then found them on the floor by my feet,  or that I punched the play button on our home answering machine this afternoon and did not recognize my own voice leaving  a message that I thought I was leaving on my husband’s cell phone voice mail until I replayed the stupid thing twice.

As long as I refuse to answer any questions and stay out of the freezer, I think I’m good for another couple of years.

But I’m going to learn how to fold a fitted bed sheet if it’s the last thing I do before my dementia diagnosis.  And I know exactly the person who can teach me…


Pretty Much the Only Person You Should Ever Call “Ma’am” is Your Own Mother

I almost bought a pack of cigarettes the other day.

I don’t smoke.  Never have.  But, I was really tempted to purchase some while I was standing in line at Walgreens.

The woman in front of me bought a pack, and this focused my attention on the variety of choices on the wall behind the register.  It also made me reflect on the irony of a place that sells you medication at the same time it sells addictive cartons of cancer.  But I digress.

In front of the cigarettes, a sign said, “We I.D. under 40.”

And I thought, I should buy a pack of cigarettes just to see if he will ask for my i.d.

I am 44.

How great would that be if he asked for my i.d., implying that he thinks I look like I am under 40 years old?

Of course, it could completely go the other way, I told myself.  And that would not be good.  What if it just says that on the sign, and they really just i.d. if you look under 21?  You DO NOT look under 21, I don’t care what your husband tells you.  

The Self who talks to me is very rude.

I tried to look at the woman-with-a-death-wish in front of me.  The cashier had not asked for her i.d.  I needed to compare myself to her.

But, I could not see her face.  I started to plot ways to get her to turn around.  Hey, uh, do you mind giving me one of those cigarettes? or just Oh my God.  Would you look over there?

But The Self who talks to me indicated that those were stupid ideas.

And while I was arguing with The Self, the woman left, gliding through the automatic doors with her bag of Marlboros and Pedialyte without ever revealing her face to me.

I looked the cashier in the eyes as I slid my purchase onto the counter.

“Is this all, ma’am?” he asked.

And that’s all it took.  I knew from that last word what I needed to do.

“Yes,” I hissed defiantly.  You agist bastard.

He rang my one item up, and handed it to me as I furiously swiped my card, completely insulted by this person who I decided did not deserve the satisfaction of me allowing him to ask for my i.d.. Because he ma’amed me, and experience has taught me that “ma’am” is a four letter word for “you are about my grandmother’s age, so I’m going to act respectful.”

And, at that point, I wasn’t sure if I would just burst into tears or fly over the counter and try to strangle him if he did not have the good sense to ask for my i.d.

And I took my bottle of Revlon Age-Defying Foundation home, assuring myself that I will slather the stuff all over my face, neck, elbows, and knees for a week.  I will even wear it at night.  And then, I will return to purchase my pack of cigarettes that I will never smoke, and my i.d. will be demanded.   And I will roll my eyes because people always make this mistake, and smile as I take out my driver’s license and prove that I am over 40, but have managed to maintain my attractive-and-younger-than-40 looks.  And that I am just as capable of caking my lungs with black soot as the next 39 1/2 year old.

So there you have it – the real reason why cigarettes should be illegal.

And possible evidence for Walgreens to issue a restraining order against me.

Does chicken poop make you look younger?photo by Fred Mike Ruby

Forget the Revlon.  Doesn’t chicken poop make you look younger?
photo by Fred Mike Ruby

This is All I’ve Got – Pretty Sad, Huh?

I am working on a very rambly ranting post that isn’t quite ready for public consumption, yet, so today I am giving you a bunch of random little observations from the last week.

Overheard behind me at a swim meet:
“What generation is your iPhone?”
I have an iPod 5.”
“Gosh, when I was your age, I was happy to have crayons and a coloring book.”
I turn around. “How old are you?” I asked the senior citizen with braces and an iPhone 4s.
“14.” She turned to the iPod 5 owner, “Just wait until you’re in your teens. That’s when you feel old.”

In my classroom:
“Okay, everyone, I’m going to take you back to your classes a couple of minutes before 9:30 so you can go to the program.”
“Is that the letter of the law or the spirit of the law?” one student asked, stopping me in my tracks.
“Uh, what do you mean?”
Exactly 2 minutes or around 2 minutes before?”
Yeah, I think I’m going to get sued by a six-year-old for getting him to back to class 30 seconds late.

In my home:
I was sitting on the armchair with Wonderbutt, our bulldog. My daughter walked into the living room, took a look in our direction, reached up, and yanked on the chain to turn off the overhead light.
I yelped, “Hey! What the heck? You didn’t even ask me if I wanted the light off!”
“I just thought Wonderbutt would sleep better with the lights turned off.”
He was already snoring and drooling in my lap. How much “better” did he need to sleep?
1 hour later, my husband did the same exact thing. For the same exact reason.
The only law in this house is the Law of Wonderbutt.

If the tongue is out, that pretty much means he is down for the night - no matter how much light there is.

If the tongue is out, that pretty much means he is down for the night – no matter how much light there is.

Just Give it To Me Straight; Will This Effect My GPA (Grand Plan to Age in relatively good health)?

Medical tests confuse me.  Not the try-to-get-into-medical-school-so-you-can-spend-the-next-decade-of-your-life-not-sleeping kind of medical tests.  And not even the “Better 1… or Better 2?” kind of optometry tests (though those kind of confuse me, too; I always suspect that I am being tricked and neither one is better, they are both exactly the same.  Coincidentally, my contact prescriptions seem less accurate every year, and I go twelve months seeing things in a blur because I am afraid to admit to my optometrist that I lied when I said #2 was better in the hopes of making the test end more quickly.) No, I am talking about the extract-some-bodily-fluids-to-send-to-a-lab kind of tests.  When you think about it, it’s my poor bodily fluids that are actually being subjected to these pop quizzes for which they never had the opportunity to study.  So, I guess it’s not the tests that confuse me – just the results.

“Mrs. Cap’n Firepants? I’m just calling to tell you that your test results were negative.”

“Oh my God!!!!!  So, I do have cancer?”

“Umm, we weren’t testing you for cancer. Just for kujdjidlkjkdjf.”

“Oh my God!  So, I have that? …Uh, what is that?”

“No, I am trying to tell you that you do NOT have it.”

“But you said the results were negative.”

“That means you don’t have it.”

“But shouldn’t that be a positive thing, that I don’t have whatever it is? Are you one of those glass-half-empty-people?  Because maybe you shouldn’t have this job if you are going to be spreading your gloomy outlook on life to perfect strangers.”

“This has nothing to do with my optimism or pessimism, Mrs. Cap’n Firepants.  It’s medical terminology.  When what you are trying to find in the test is not present, then you say it is negative.”

“So, are you saying that you wanted to find this in my blood?!!”

“I need to make some more calls, Mrs. Cap’n Firepants.”

“Wait!  Are you positive the test was negative?”

“I’m hanging up now.”

I breathe a sigh of relief that I apparently do not have kujdjidlkjkdjf.   And then I remember that I was kind of hoping that I do have it because it isn’t fatal, can be fixed by taking a pill a day, and would explain why I am such a terrible person.

So, now I am positive that I am feeling negative.

This may explain why my gynecologist’s office just leaves an automated message about my Pap Smear every year.

My bodily fluids would have totally rocked this test.  photo credit: dullhunk via photopin cc

My bodily fluids would have totally rocked this test.
photo credit: dullhunk via photopin cc

Happy Valentine’s Day, You Wrinkled, Pimply Old Lady. Eat Some Glue.

So, you probably thought my most recent post was the last time you would have to hear about fortune cookies.  And now that you’ve read the first sentence of this post, you are rightly assuming that you were wrong.  I know, being right about being wrong is not very encouraging.

I got another fortune cookie today.

Here in the States, we are celebrating another Hallmark Holiday – Valentine’s Day.  When I arrived at school this morning, I checked my mailbox in the faculty lounge, and found a cute little gift box filled with candy.  And a fortune cookie.

As soon as I got to my classroom, I quickly tore open the cookie, eagerly anticipating the antidote to the threatening golf fortune I got from Goldfinger last week.

This is what it said:

photo-3 copy

“Well, that’s great!” I thought.  “Some day, I’m going to be a partner in a law firm!” (This clearly proves what an optimist I am, as a pessimist – or a realist, since I’m 44 years old, and have never gone to law school – might think, “Some day, I am going to be framed for killing someone who writes provocatively puzzling fortune cookie prognostications, and I will need to hire a law firm.)

But then I found the business card in the box.

photo-1 copy

So, basically, even if I Live to Die Another Day, I’m pretty sure I’m being told that I will need to get my face dermabraised so I will be fit to be seen in public.   (At least I don’t have diamonds embedded in my face like Zao.)

Forget gun control.  I want fortune cookie control.  You wielders of fortunes have turned the perfectly harmless sport of hunting for the secret to my future into an automated industry churning out emotionally charged weapons disguised as fortune cookies.

But I’m not entirely ungrateful.  Ever the optimist, I found, along with my fortune cookies, some extremely delectable pieces of chocolate.  And a very tasty looking packet of Micro Dermabrasion Paste.

Yum, yum.

Yum, yum.

You Can Probably Get the Gist of this By Just Reading the Last Letter

I would like to thank all of the people of the world for their lovely alternative visual interpretations of the word "package" that I found in yet another Google search that induced temporary credit: kairin via photopin cc

I would like to thank all of the people of the world for their lovely alternative visual interpretations of the word “package” that I found in yet another Google search that induced temporary blindness.
photo credit: kairin via photopin cc

In Which I Write a Very Assertive Letter

Dear Amazon,

I recently checked the status of my orders, and noticed that one of them is labelled as “Delivered” even though I have not received it.  It is order number 123456782, and I would like to know how to rectify this situation.  This item is meant to be a Christmas gift, and can only be purchased online.  My daughter will be completely heartbroken if this present is not under the tree, and I will hold you personally responsible for the miserable day our entire family will experience while she cries her eyes out after realizing this gift is missing.  I do not understand how you can label a package as having been delivered when it clearly was NOT delivered.  What kind of shady organization are you running over there?

An Extremely Disappointed,

Mrs. Cap’n Firepants

In Which Amazon, Obviously Fearful of My Wrath, Responds

Hello, Mrs. Cap’n Firepants:

I’m sorry this package never arrived and you had to contact us. I completely understand your disappointment. That’s definitely not what we want our customers to experience.

At this point, we can only presume that the package was lost during shipping. I sincerely apologize for this.

We do our best to ensure that all orders leave our fulfillment centers as soon as possible to be delivered within the delivery date estimated when you place your order, but occasionally a shipment may be lost by circumstances beyond our control.

I’m forwarding your experience with USPS  to our shipping department–I know they’ll want to hear about your experience. We’re aware that our choice of delivery services reflects on our business as a whole, and we appreciate your feedback.

I’ve checked your order and see the item was ordered from DIP ‘N DIVE , a seller on our website. Because DIP ‘N DIVE ‘s inventory is constantly changing, we can’t replace items sold by them that are Fulfilled by Amazon.

I’ve requested a refund of $9.02 to your Credit card.

You’ll see the refund on your Master Card statement in the next 2-3 business days.

As this was an inconvenience caused to you while shopping at, I’d suggest you to place the new order with One-day shipping and write back to us with the order number so that we’ll either waive of or refund the shipping charges on the new order.

Please make sure that you place an order with Amazon or any seller which is labeled as, “Fulfilled by Amazon”, so that we can modify or make any further changes to the order. If you place the order with any third party seller then we won’t be able to change the shipping charges on the order.

If we can be of further assistance, you can reply directly to this e-mail.

Thanks for your patience and understanding. We look forward to seeing you again soon.

Thank you for your inquiry.

Best Regards,


In Which I Lose My Online Shopping Privileges

Dear Amazon,

Thank you for your prompt and considerate response regarding my $9 purchase.  Wow, you guys are quick.

So, I was wondering, hypothetically, how you would feel if I mentioned that, right before I received your apology and promise of a refund PLUS free, one-day shipping, I walked into my closet, and found the package to which I was referring sitting on one of my shelves?  And, hypothetically,  I wondered at that moment how the heck U.S.P.S. got into the corner of my closet without me having to even sign anything.  And I then remembered that I was the one who put the package on my shelf because I wanted to hide it from my daughter, and I also remembered telling myself at the time not to forget that I had put the package on the shelf.  “But it’s right there next to your box of bras, so of course you aren’t going to forget,” I chided myself.  Because I do wear a bra every day.  And it sat there for 6 days until I happened to notice that my Amazon account said it was delivered.  And it obviously wasn’t.  But it was.  And I thought about saying that my husband must have picked up the package and stuck it on my side of the closet without telling me.  But that didn’t make a lot of sense.  Because he never goes in my side of the closet.  And, somewhat more to the point, surely, after 6 days of retrieving bras from my bra box I would have noticed there was a package standing right next to it.  That I had not put there.  But I did not notice it.  Even though I put it there.  Which was a better hiding place, in my estimation, than the refrigerator, which really only works for small things that are not sensitive to cold.  So, there you go.  Hypothetically, of course.  Just wondering what you would do in that situation.

Thanks for your patience and understanding. I look forward to seeing(?) you again soon, too.  As long as you are not a stalker.

Amazon Rocks!

Your very loyal customer,

Mrs. Cap’n Firepants

How Far I’ve Fallen

(Twenty-five years ago, in the midst of being “kidnapped” at 1 A.M. by sorority members during pledging)

Fellow “kidnapping victim”, looking at me:  Geez, how do you always look so perfect?  It’s the middle of the night, we just got dumped out of bed, and you’ve got every hair in place, and you look gorgeous.

(Yesterday, in the parking lot, after spending an hour getting ready to go to the hospital to visit my mother-in-law:)

Dimples, my daughter:  Mom, why do you have two different shoes on?

Not my feet. I am in desperate need of a pedicure, so I googled “different flip flops” – and found out from “Lana” that this is actually a trendy new fashion statement…

This is Lana, my new fashion consultant.
photo credits: http://posejuniorfashionexperts

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