Tag Archives: women and aging

Books: I Feel Bad About My Neck by Nora Ephron

Nora Ephron’s I Feel Bad About My Neck and Other Thoughts on Being a Woman was part of my summer reading extravaganza. Nora, amongst many other things, is the screenwriter of Sleepless in Seattle and When Harry Met Sally and for a brief moment in time she was married to  American journalist Bob Woodward.

Nora is funny. And she writes comfortably about the uncomfortable topic of women and aging. As a woman in that demographic I’m aware of the neck, the midriff and the hair. But the essay that killed me the most and made me feel that perhaps Nora and I, in another lifetime could be comrades in arms, was her piece on handbags. The essay is called “I Hate My Purse”.

We all know who we are when it comes to purses. A long time ago I gave up on the idea that I could fit whatever I needed in a tiny, well maintained, minimalist handbag.

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In fact, I gave up when I asked my husband to buy me the biggest handbag he could possibly find for Christmas. And he did. And it’s huge. I spent 5 minutes thinking “I’ll put this here, that there and this here. Perfect. It will always be so and I’ll always find everything.” Evidently I didn’t know myself very well.

Nora , like myself, has everything in that handbag needed for every possible situation. We’ll begin with earplugs which fell out of the makeup bag which for unknown reasons can never be zipped closed.  The earplugs can be found at the bottom of the bag filled with hair and pencil shavings. The pencil shavings come from the pencil and sharpener I keep on hand at all times in the event I need to write something with a pencil and then subsequently the pencil requires sharpening  which means I need to have the sharpener. I can also find multiple lipsticks mostly without lids, often with pencil shavings in them with hair nicely embedded in the remaining lipstick.

Phone paraphernalia is always in separate compartments. Phone is in one, headset in another and cord in another. I have three hair brushes mostly because I can’t find them and so I keep throwing them in my bag. I have a hair straightener with me at all times because my hair is a shrill mess. I have a wallet that also serves as a small handbag. And of course, I have running shoes because you never know when you need to break out into a gallop (like today when I went to help a dog and its owner in distress). And of course an umbrella and a raincoat because I live in a rainforest. And I always have leftover airplane snack food that’s kept on hand (if I can find it) for emergency snacking, like if there’s an earthquake. Which brings me to the water bottle I also carry with me at all times. Again in multiples of at least two because as I mentioned I often can’t find things.

I haven’t even gotten to my lunch or my sporting gear which requires a whole other bag.

So yes, I liked this book. It made me laugh and at least for that chapter I felt there was a kindred spirit in the world. Nora also lived in New York which for me is a bit of a fantasy city. If only I had gone to New York instead of Vancouver when I left Toronto. Sometimes I like to waste time thinking about what if’s like that. She also likes to cook which is another thing I like about her and which she writes about with a great deal of humour. So ya, ladies, if you’re looking for a light read, this could be the book for you.

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Grey hair: Does it stay or does it go?

I’ve gone a relatively long time without cavities or grey hair. Sadly my long reigning glory of going without dental work came to an abrupt end this week the exact same time I spotted four ugly, wiry, nasty looking grey hairs on my head. The physical pain of an aching tooth (okay what I really have is a cracked tooth not a tooth with a hole in it) means that there is nothing to consider. My dentist is going to give me lots of drugs and make the pain go away.

The nasty grey hairs are another thing altogether. For one thing, why are they so awful and wiry? So thick, so hard, so grey. How much time can I really spend in the bathroom looking at my head, examining it in every angle of light, slyly trying to get my fingers on just the right one, my crafty determined fingers always just missing it? I remind myself that I must start carrying tweezers. I feel my eyes crossing as I do this, only dimly aware of the passing of time. Crap. Is that another one over there? I’ve only just accepted my mousey ‘caramel’ hair colour. Now this?

I think fondly of my Tante Nel, a fine looking, distinguished woman who always had grey hair. She looked great. Clearly, though, her grey hair is a different animal than mine. I know if I let mine grow in it won’t be fine, it won’t be distinguished. I’ll look like a middle-aged chia pet. Tough, stocky, more like broccoli than the more dignified asparagus.

I know I’m not going for botox, knee de-wrinkling, laser surgery, or any other kind of surgery in order to turn back the clock. Peace be with me. I’m going as gracefully as I can. But really. Do I just let this grow in or do I battle it? Blond highlights, hair rinse, Grecian formula, blue rinse. Suddenly I see why the blue haired beauties came into being.

I’m not rushing out to do anything quite yet. I’m prepared to spend time, tweezers in hand, cross-eyed removing these little monsters one at a time. Until then I will remain, forever yours mousey brown Tessa.

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