Monday, February 5, 2018

Forever 36 and 5 observations about ageing

Last weekend, I celebrated my birthday. Not gonna reveal how old I am except that I'm forever 36.

When you're a kid, birthdays are milestones to look forward to. You wish for stuff like, grow a little taller perhaps. Able to take public bus by yourself. Done with PSLE year. And for the less forward-looking, more presents! Once you're an adult and have kids of your own, the milestones tend to centre around your kids. First tooth! First steps! First word! Done with that dang PSLE!

Then when you reach a certain *ahem* age, you become less ambitious ("Let my wrinkles not show in my birthday photos"). You suddenly wish for birthdays to be less eventful and have fewer milestones. Cos the milestones tend to be more alarming and catch you totally by surprise. Like you step on a scale and realise with a shock that's the first time you've gone over a certain number. Or the first time you discover that white hair isn't limited to the hair on your head.

But hey, that's the universe's way of saying, "Surprise! Happy birthday, my old pal!" So in the spirit of graceful ageing, here are five observations I've made about growing older:

1) Eyesight 

One of the first signs of ageing is deteriorating eyesight. Suddenly, words on a page can't come into focus, even after you've blinked furiously. When you're trying to take a photo, you think your phone automatically engaged a soft filter with blurring effect. Oh wait, it's just your eyes.

I've given up reading the fine print on menus. Not sure if I'll be getting avocados or asparagus. When I play Farm Heroes Saga on my phone, I sometimes have to ask Andre to tell me many strawberries I'm missing. I tell my writers to submit drafts to me in Point Size 12. Any smaller than that and they're asking for it.

You know what really annoys me? These measuring cups for medicine:

The markings are etched without colour on the cup. How the heck do they expect optically-challenged seniors to pour out our meds in the right amount? Do we need to paint a black backdrop on the kitchen wall just so we can contrast the dang cup against it? Idiots.

The solution is simple but troublesome. Lao hua glasses. I buy them from Daiso - they're cheap and you can change the degree according to how quickly your eyesight degenerates. I buy multiple pairs and put them in almost every room at home, partly because I often can't remember where I last left them. There have been instances when I'm holding a pair in my hands, yelling, "Where are those glasses?!" But that's a different problem with ageing.

2) White hair

When your hair decides that it's lost its will to pigmentise and will go au naturale. I've actually had white sprouts before I was 30 but those were the rogue ones. Once I hit 40, it became a mass contingent. So much so that I gave up going to the salon to colour my hair - it was too frequent and took up too much time. I just diy with store-bought hair dye every month or so.

My friend recently recounted to me how she was asked twice within a week by supermarket cashiers whether she had the senior citizen card. She's the same age as I am. Which probably explains the extreme indignation I expressed towards the impertinence of these supermarket aunties. How dare they! I've known this friend since we were best friends in primary 1, so we still think of each other as spring chickens prancing around in our pinafores.

"It's probably cos of all my white hair," my friend shrugged. She has no issues with ageing. Apparently I do, because I then made a quiet resolve to be more diligent in my hair colouring.

3) Exercise

When you're in your 20s and 30s, exercise involves hitting the courts for a sweaty game of tennis or jumping in tune to an hour of aerobics. I used to stare unabashedly at elderly folks wearing bright orange caps and shorts, swinging their arms vigorously while walking, like they're trying to karate chop flies. Now I get it. The neon orange is cos they can't see anyone - they need people to see them. And you become a little limited in the type of exercise you can do when anything can potentially injure a joint, a bone, a muscle.

Talking about injuries, when you're younger, you ache after a marathon session of badminton. Or an ultra challenging workout at the gym. Now, I can get a neck ache from simply turning too quickly when checking my blind spot in the car. And I have to whip out that Salonpas for my aching shoulder after sleeping in one position all night. I have a permanent crick in my knees, an ache in my right hip, and the soles of my feet hurt when I walk too much. Talk about less ambitious physical goals.

4) Wet and dry

One of the (many) annoying things about ageing is that parts of you that are supposed to be moist become dry and parts that are supposed to be dry become moist. My skin, for instance. It has always been reasonably cooperative - a little oily in parts but nothing that some blotting paper can't fix. Now, makeup that has looked good on me for years settle into fine likes and cake up like bad fondant. I've succumbed to the Curse of Mature Skin. Gah.

Meanwhile, my eyes and nose have gone the opposite route - tearing and dripping for no apparent reason other than to irritate the hell out of me. The only bright side I can see to this is that when you enter the train blinking and sniffling, people move away from you faster than a speeding bullet.

5) Body shape

When I was a kid, people probably thought I was anorexic. Stick-thin and I could eat whatever I wanted. My body type was pretty kind to calories. A few decades later, I'm paying for the wanton dietary disregard. My metabolic rate has slowed to a crawl. I merely have to look at a curry puff and I can feel my midriff expanding.

Last year, I decided that swimming would be my sport of choice, since it's kinder on the joints. I went to Decathlon to look for a swim shirt. The women's selection was all shaped something like this:

Concave in the middle cos presumably that's the female shape. Female shape, my foot. I tried one on and OMG, I looked like a bak chang. My middle section is where I'm BIGGEST, not smallest. In the end, I bought a swim shirt from the men's selection.

I have become a lot more realistic in my goal-setting. No more "get thinner" or "get back my waistline" nonsense. At my age, it's about maintaining (if you think it couldn't get any worse, yes it can).

If I can still fit into the same clothes a birthday from now, that's a worthy achievement. Then maybe I can celebrate with a curry puff.


Anonymous said...


Happy Birthday, *Auntie* Monica! =ppppp

sorry can't resist!

hiak hiak hiak

I am in my 40s and yes, I hv had the 'misfortune' of being asked for my senior card too at supermarkets - I simply shrugged and put it down to extra-diligent cashiers =ppp


monlim said...

Haha, you are full of grace like your name! I think I would have given her a death glare :P

Rachel Tan said...

and at 40, the government reminds you that one is aging, with Eldershield letters and phone calls :p

monlim said...

Rachel: Yup, that! Only in Singapore one is considered elderly after 40, harumph!

Rachel Tan said...

And now they may be revising Eldershield to allow entry at 30! lol :)

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