Turning 40: I Don’t Look 12 Anymore

Twenty-nine and seven one-thousandths. No, that’s not a fraction from the world’s worst third grade math problem. Twenty-nine is an age and seven one-thousandths of an inch is the diameter of an average human hair. When I was twenty-nine, a single, coarse, dark-brown hair sprouted from the underside of my chin. I already had a handful of gray hairs tucked under a bed of various browns on the front, right side of my head, but at least those grew from the part of my head that female hair is supposed to grow from. Continue reading →

Jen Climbs a 14er, a Tragicomedy

Of the many ways in which my body has started falling apart as I enter middle age, the knee pain I recently acquired has been the most unexpected. I’m not a runner, nor am I terribly athletic or active in any way, so it’s not as if my knees have taken a pounding over the last 37 years. But I have had a lifelong habit of sitting on my feet, so maybe I shouldn’t have been all that surprised when last November it started taking me several minutes to fully stretch my legs out again after I had been curled up. Or when in December I found I was no longer able to fully tuck my right leg under me without piercing pain. Or when in January, some parts of the bones started sticking out awkwardly from my knee cap.

Luckily, a simple knee brace from the drugstore and intense vigilance to my posture while seated made these problems a thing of the past by spring. And so two weeks ago I thought that climbing a 14er, something I haven’t done in over five years, would be a good idea. You may think the hard part is going uphill for three hours gulping at the oxygen-deprived air, certain you can’t possibly force yourself to engage your thigh muscle to bring your foot up one more time, but you’d be mistaken. Downhill is the real torture, especially on your knees. Gravity pulls you down, faster and faster, forcing you to keep going, making your feet move so quickly that you don’t even know if your next step will be on a loose pile of rocks that will go flying out from under you or on a solid chunk of unyielding granite that slams all your body weight into your already wasted knees. Most often it’s the latter, over and over and over. As many times as I had to stop to fill my lungs on the way up, I had to stop to massage and stretch out my knees on the way down. Continue reading →

Lit Fest 2015 – Exercise 3

I used to be afraid of my parents’ bedroom because it lay at the end of the upstairs hallway, far away from the brightly lit staircase and the liveliness of my family of seven, sometimes eight, down below and even though that fear had always been just because of the location and the darkness, my fear grew noticeably worse after I watched an episode of the Twilight Zone in which a little boy had been left alone in the house with his ailing grandmother and when she called to him and he went to check on her, her scrawny arm reached out from under the covers and grabbed him and he discovered that she was a horrible looking monster who I was sure slept in my parents bed (or maybe under it or maybe in the closet) whenever they weren’t there and no one had thought to turn on the upstairs hall light yet so I had to creep through the total darkness to get to the room and grab whatever little woobie toy I was in need of and then go fleeing down the carpeted stairs as fast as my sock feet could take me without slipping out from beneath me, sending me bumping on my fanny eleven steps down to the landing where I could stand up and compose myself and then walk calmly into the kitchen where everyone else was still eating dinner and I could pretend that I hadn’t just escaped the very Devil herself once again. Continue reading →