The Frontiers of Adulthood: Age Recognition

So, I've become much more physical as I've gotten older. (Listen to me. I'm talking like I'm a corpse.) I'm not sure why it happened, but gone are the days of chain smoking, eating every heavy carb under the sun...and moon every day of every week (most notably bagels, burgers, waffles, and other delicious fare), and barely moving aside from lounging around with fellow college-age-melodramatic-"philosophers" at a diner, discussing prose and plays and the latest indie band on little to no sleep and a lot of coffee refills.

Actually, I totally know why. Because I realized that if I kept up that behavior, the chances of aging gracefully like my mom would be about 0.000000001%. I would end up looking like Iggy Pop by the age of 40 even with my awesome Asian genetics...and 40 is less than 7 years away at this point. I had to stop being so irresponsible. I mean, babies are a plan after all and being a haggard mom before the mommin' (yes, a made up word) even starts would be no bueno.

For better or worse, over the last few years, I've quit smoking (again), trained myself to execute some form of exercise 7 days a week, and have gotten to eating much healthier. (I'm now a burger a week type of gal and feel sheer panic when there isn't fruit in the apartment...I love fries, but I love yogurt and berries just as much.) Needless to say, college Nami would be completely horrified if she met adult Nami. The fact that sleep is so important to me now alone would send my former self into a tailspin.

On the day-to-day, despite feeling like there are never enough hours to fulfill all the to-do list items, from a health and well-being perspective, I'd consider myself one of the lucky ones. I haven't gotten sick in a while and usually only suffer minor aches and pains which are, more often than not, caused by my own stupidity. (Slamming my shoulder into a doorway - common occurrence, falling asleep in a weird position on the couch - nightly, trying to do too much physical activity in one day - please refer to my fitbit obsession here, and so on.)

So, where am I going with this story? Well, I had to share an experience I had on Tuesday that I still haven't quite recovered from.

There I was, heading to the gym for an evening run which is something I don't normally do. Due to work circumstances, I was stuck in traffic and couldn't make it to the gym while the sun was still out. That part was fine. I thought, "well, an evening run might be nice...maybe the gym will be quieter."

...which, of course, it isn't. Luckily, there are plenty of treadmills free, but there's a problem. Where during the daytime, the large windows in front of the treadmills are shaded so onlookers can't see in and runners get a view of the flow of traffic on Glendale Blvd (yes, so scenic, I know), what I didn't realize was that in the evenings those same windows basically become mirrors and everyone outside can see in...and the runners have to stare at themselves.

This did not please me at all. I try like hell to avoid any mirrors while I'm at the gym...though I do have a strange fascination with those people who stand in front of the mirrors while they lift weights, grimacing at themselves and egging themselves on...or letting out horrific, beastly sounds. (They're usually nice people, but when the mirrors and weights come out they basically become hairless werewolves.) Also, those folks in the studio who have headphones on, take all the mats and weights and yoga balls and weight bars and build an obstacle course that fills the whole room without even thinking about other people's space and commence to hop around, grunting, and violently dropping weight as they move on to their next obstacle course activity while they stare intensely at themselves.

Does not compute. Cannot relate.

Anyway, I sheepishly get on a treadmill, tap in my workout info and get going...I spend the first 20 to 30 minutes looking everywhere but forward. I try to look up and stare at the television and nearly fall off the treadmill (so that is why they have the "if you're on a treadmill, don't watch the television" signs), I use the reflection to watch the fauna of the gym in their natural habitat - flexing and chatting and making that "If balloons had faces and I was one that was about to pop, this is what it would look like" expression.

I try staring at the info collecting on the dash of my treadmill, but realize that watching seconds go by magically transforms time into Dali's melty clocks and things move about 10 billions times, now I'm desperately trying to figure out where to look because I can't run with my eyes closed.

I near the 40 minute mark when I accidentally make eye contact with myself...and then very quickly noticed my eyes drop a few inches down, I see the skin on my left cheek (and maybe my right too, but the lighting was making it so I couldn't tell) is shifting up and down...and not like a cheek that's perky with collagen and exploding with youth.

Nope. My skin is moving like flesh on a boiled chicken ready to slip off and tumble to the ground. (I might be being a tad dramatic here.) Needless to say, I'm horrified. I mean, I guess there was no way to know this was a thing until I was in this particular's not like I stand in front of the bathroom mirror and jump up and down to see how my face reacts to gravity...but, c'mon. I didn't need to see that.

Now, I want to follow this up by saying that I, by no means, think my face is super-haggard or that I look horrible or that this has ruined my entire life and I'm going to now go into hiding and stick myself full of botox-laden needles...It's more about age happening while we're not paying attention. (And how I might start looking into facial yoga and try to master facial massage...and maybe it's time I got one of those electric current face thingies...)

I tried to explain this incident to Charles last night. "It was moving!!! And not bouncing! It's like it was flapping!" I groaned. He just looked at me like I was a crazy person and told me I was in the flower of my youth and that he wasn't even joking when he said that...and I appreciate that. But I also know that years don't stop for anyone and as much as we say we don't stress about our bodies, we do. (Stop pretending. You don't fool me. I know you're standing an inch away from your mirror and seeing if those crows feet are getting any larger...and that's ok. You're only human.) It's just part of the human psyche, especially in this day and age as we're continually pelted with all types of societal expectations.

So, here I am, coming to terms with the fact that one day I won't look like I'm in my 20's. How I may not have inherited all of my mother's awesome genes (she easily passed for 40 in her 60's)...but I'm also interested to see what will happen to my face. Will it be a happy face? A sad face? A mad face? I know I look younger when I, I should give myself more things to smile about and be happy I'm alive and well. I'm completely frightened and completely excited and curious at the same time. (The "excited" part comes from wanting to be an eccentric old lady.)

I don't exactly know what to make of the whole thing right now. I guess I'm just a little shocked and weirded out. I've been aging and no one told me?! Am I being an insane person? (Probably.) Has anyone else had one of these moments? Or am I just that neurotic?


  1. I think it deleted my comment! Well anyway, I wanted to say that you shouldn't judge yourself on a moment in which every single person looks like shit! You look great! No one looks good running and the people that do are exceptional. Michelle Obama probably looks good running but that's it. I used to have to dig through pics of the NYC Marathon and it was damn near impossible to find good ones where there aren't weird faces, weird things flapping around, etc. So I know how that shock feels, but don't worry!

    1. Susan, you're too kind. And, yeah, you're probably right about Michelle. I have to keep reminding myself that it's about feeling good when I run. Not looking good. Like "I feel good eating this piece of cake because I ran 4 miles today."

      Did I mention I love eating? Bah. Anyway, weird faces are a part of running. I need to come to grips with that...and I need to avoid all reflective surfaces so I can concentrate on getting the job done and not marveling over how loose my cheek skin is. HA.

      Thanks for the encouraging words!