Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The right to bear arms and legs, or not

Coming of “age” in this decade of rapid cultural change can present a few problems. Just when we’re realizing the necessity of covering more of our flesh, the younger generation of women is exposing more of it.

When did women stop wearing pantyhose—even with formal dresses? What’s a sixty-something to do? Do we observe the new rule and skip the hose, thereby exposing our varicose and spider veins, those funny skin patches that our dermatologists assure us is normal for aging skin, and the black-and-blue marks that occur a little more often because we need to work on our balance? Or do we wear the pantyhose anyway, thereby looking like we failed to notice that it isn’t the twentieth century anymore?

And those sleeveless dresses this past summer—not to mention tank tops everywhere. Sixtyish arms have a whole different set of problems: upper flapping flab, brown spots (some of which glom together until they look like one shapeless bruise), and, if you’re fair and thin-skinned like me, big, blue, meandering veins.

But there’s also something I discovered late one evening, and quickly covered up. Wearing a short-sleeved T-shirt while reading in bed, I absentmindedly raised my arm to push my hair off my forehead. My eyes wandered from the page to my upright inner forearm, and I was horrified at what I saw: rows and rows of craggy folds of skin. Ugh. I quickly straightened my arm, and they were gone. But now I knew the truth: I would have to wear long-sleeves all year long.

But, pragmatic person that I am—much of the time—I admit that I have gone to casual parties in cap sleeves, attended a niece’s wedding wearing pantyhose (in my defense, it was kind of chilly on the walk from the church to the reception), and surely have broken many of my own rules for being age-appropriate. Like we probably told our kids when they were teens: Be aware of the trends, adopt some, scoff at others, and do what feels right. I’m trying.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

I see a bright light ...

It has now been a couple of weeks since I’ve had my SAD (seasonal affective disorder) lamp. I wish I could say definitively that it has improved my attitude toward the upcoming winter, but it’s too soon to tell. But since I’m writing this on the evening after we’ve changed the clocks back to standard time (in my opinion, the worst day of the year), I can report that I’m not in a terrible mood. It’s only 5:42 p.m. and pitch black outside, but I’m not feeling blue. In fact, I’m looking forward to watching “60 Minutes” and putting a Newman’s pepperoni pizza in the oven—to eat with a healthy green salad, of course.

I turn the bright light on every morning just before I eat my breakfast. I’ve had to change my seat at the table so that the lamp can be plugged in close to me, and to avoid having the cord stretch across my husband’s seat, potentially strangling him. (That would not be a good start at averting sadness.)

What I’ve loved about the lamp from the beginning is that the light it provides is so much better for my cataract-impaired good eye than the three cloudy pendants that hang over the table. After my half-hour dose, and I turn it off, I’m startled at how dark the table area is without it.

This is not yet a solid enough test of SAD therapy, so I promise to report on it again from time to time. The real test begins when I have to leave work in the dark on Tuesday afternoon. We’ll see if I’m still smiling then.