“Seemed like a good thing to do when I turned 50…”

Or in the words of Bruce Springsteen, “I ain’t nothing but tired. I’m just tired and bored with myself.”

I watch her as she tilts her head ever so slightly, scrunches up her face,  and looks at me as if she’s forgotten my name yet is certain she knows me. “So…,” she says to me. “You’re getting another degree?”

Heat rises to my cheeks, and I swoop in to claim imminent domain over the conversational real estate between us. “Yeah… “ (Shrug of the shoulders.) “Seemed like a good thing to do when I turned 50.”

The first time I heard those words roll out of my mouth—Seemed like a good thing to do when I turned 50—they sounded like the utterances of a phantom voice or someone possessed. Admittedly, this isn’t such a foreign feeling for a middle-aged woman going through menopause. Still, this was the first time I’d heard myself explain this later-in-life pursuit of education in this way.

And yet, once the words were out there, I knew it was true. Getting a Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing actually did seem like a good thing for a woman approaching her 50th birthday to do. I loved writing. It’s what I had always wanted to do, more than anything else. And it’s who I wanted to be. I wanted to be a writer. Yes, I wanted to write my way into my fifties. Just made sense.

There are a lot of things that began to make sense to me once on the brink of 50 that didn’t used to. But then there was a lot that used to make sense to me then that didn’t now. Menopause and middle age seem to demand a woman pay attention. (And sometimes, to the consternation of others, the middle-aged woman demands that everyone else pay attention to it too.)

What used to make sense? Wearing turtlenecks and wool sweaters. Staying up really, really late. Sleeping in was delectable. Chaos was okay. A full social schedule? But of course! Time alone? I don’t think so. Cranky? Rarely. Sweaty? Only when working out at the gym. That was life, pre-menopause, early forties.

Then it began. First there were the night sweats. I learned to keep a stack of clean t-shirts and a change of sheets by the bed. Then the erratic periods—more blood and less time in between. Followed by inexplicable tiredness in the middle of the day, coupled with a body that wouldn’t sleep past 6a.m. Crankiness with Everybody. Patience with no one, including myself.

Cue Bruce:

“I ain’t nothing but tired. I’m just tired and bored with myself.”

Bruce may have been singing about a restless, horny young man in search of a little hot sex to relieve his boredom. But that’s not what I think now when I remember that line from the radio days of my youth.

I think: Menopause. Middle-age. Turning fifty.

And I don’t think hot sex is the answer. It might be part of the answer, providing it’s with a partner who enjoys a little K-Y Ultra Gel or Liquid Silk in order to assist what, pre-menopause, used to come so naturally. Still, I know that sex is a temporary fix. And afterwards, I’m alone, with my fifty-something year old self. And I do get tired. And I don’t want to be bored. And I don’t have to be either.

So I decide not to be. And I do what makes sense now. I no longer wear turtlenecks. I shamelessly indulge in a mid-day nap. I relish the quiet early morning time with my hot coffee, my adoring dog, and the awakening birds. I buy my own K-Y Ultra Gel. And I go after what I really want, and what I really want to become. I complete an MFA in Creative Writing; I become a writer. And, yes… that does mean another degree.

Seemed like a good thing to do in my fifties.



About AnnB

On the precipice of turning 50 and then some.
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4 Responses to “Seemed like a good thing to do when I turned 50…”

  1. Laura Pugh says:

    I’m glad to see another post, Ann! You are a good writer and I enjoy reading your take on the world. Plus, I just love you. 🙂

  2. Sioux says:

    Something magical–in my opinion–happens when women turn 50. We figure out what is important and what is not important in the least, and develop a “I don’t give a flying fig” about people’s opinions about what we should do with our lives because they are OUR lives and not theirs.

    Have a blast this week with your writing.

  3. AnnB says:

    Sioux, You are So right! I couldn’t agree more. In fact, writer Suzanne Braun Levine has a slightly different term for it — similar to yours; same first letter; slightly edgier words! — in her book, Inventing the Rest of Our Lives. At some point I’ll do a post about her term. There are certain situations when it comes in very handy!

    So very happy to see you last night. And thanks for the good wishes on the writing. I’ll keep you posted. And I shall wish you a blast with your own writing! It’s a blast for us to read and listen to you!

    Thanks for the comment!

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