It actually happened Wednesday, but I was too busy and too broke to observe it. This was also not a birthday I was looking forward to. Sixty is a strange age, at least in the US: you’re too young to retire, too young for senior discounts (though I’m offered them all the time by young cashiers trying to be helpful). Yet you’re regarded by hiring managers, marketing execs, and advertisers as being “old,” i.e. worthless and sick. Online I’m seeing ads for arthritis and cholesterol meds, and on a couple of occasions, handmade hardwood coffins built by Trappist monks. Memento mori! I need to switch to a browser that doesn’t collect data about my age.
(Re hiring: no, I didn’t get the job at the college. They did indeed have an internal candidate for the job since November, according to the friend of a friend who works as an English adjunct there. The interview was just a dog and pony show for HR. Needless to say, I won’t be applying for a job there again.)
In Japan, 60 is considered an auspicious age because the person has lived through five cycles of the lunar calendar and thus, it is believed, s/he has begun life anew. Men celebrate it with the kanreki, a big party where the birthday boy wears a red hat and vest. I’m not sure if nowadays Japanese women also celebrate kanreki. No one threw a party for my mother when she turned 60, but Dad got a banquet at his favorite Chinese restaurant and was presented with a red cap and sports jacket. I didn’t attend—I was living in Minnesota back then, and nobody sent me an invitation, which was interesting—but it’s probably good I didn’t. I would have ruined the day with snarky comments. I do not hold well with old Japanese traditions, including the feting of males while dismissing the value of females. And don’t get me started about the worth (or lack thereof) of old men. I’ve found most of them to be whiny, incompetent, and a general pain in the ass.
I found this awesome article on The Huffington Post about turning 60. Most online advice/inspirational articles don’t do much for me (if I see another article about how to work more productively, I will hunt down the author and smash her Pomodoro), but this one struck me as true. I understand myself a lot better now than when I was 20 or even 30 or 40. I dress comfortably but well, and fashion can go fuck itself. I take care of my health, not because I “have to”—there’s no Mommy or Daddy to tell me to brush my teeth and eat my veggies—but because I want to. I do things for myself, not because somebody else, especially somebody else on social media, will think I’m cool.
I also have less patience for friends who suck the life out of me. I’m a little ashamed to say this, because I realize many of them need help: they’re depressed, stuck in emotionally abusive relationships, or struggling to stay afloat financially and emotionally. They have, however, a tendency to call me as soon as they’re down or troubled, but never when they’re happy or having a great time. (“Oops, sorry, I forgot to invite you to my party. We can have coffee later and I’ll let you know how it went!”) I’ve also stopped making plans with these people: they tend to cancel or not show up anyway, because of one excuse or another. Mostly, I suspect they’re passive aggressive: I didn’t show them enough sympathy over the phone, or I remind them of their mother, or they want me to drive to their home, knock on their door, and rescue them from ODing on pills and liquor. I had one episode like this two weeks ago: I won’t go into it here, but it angered and upset me enough that I won’t take this person’s calls anymore. It sounds harsh, but putting a friend through something like that is ugly and selfish. This person is smart, with plenty of resources and who knows how to get help. (He sees a therapist.) Instead, he tried to put me through a guilt trip: tried, but I didn’t take the bait. He ended up on tubes in an ER and is now under suicide watch in a psych ward. I understand what it’s like to feel as if your life is in the toilet: but you don’t drag others down, especially the people who care about you.
Anyway, I’ve been sick for the last couple of weeks, which has given me the excuse to baby myself a little. Instead of running errands after work, I go home, change into pajamas, eat a light supper, then go to bed and read or watch a little Hulu. Older Daughter sent me a Harry & David gift tower, and I’ve been slowly savoring my way through the treats. The only conflict I have is with Sunny, who likes to sleep in the middle of the bed and slowly nudge me off of the mattress.