‘ll be 49 this year (Lord willing), putting me smack dab in middle age territory. The AARP mailings aren’t arriving yet, and I rarely “feel” my age (thanks, I assume, to reasonably good genes), but I’m starting to notice little changes to which I’m learning to adapt.
1. I need more light to see.
This has become an ongoing joke at home. I want all the lights on at night and my husband wants the sound turned up all the way on the TV. It would be amusing, except the inability to see in the dark brings with it a terrible loss of freedom: driving after dark has become a problem. Every light, whether it’s a reflection or a headlight or a streetlamp, produces a huge glowing halo that makes it difficult to see the road. If it’s raining, snowing or the road is wet, the phenomenon is worse. The eye doctor has assured me this is a normal component of aging, like needing reading glasses, and there’s nothing to be done about it. I bought some incredibly unattractive anti-glare glasses supposedly designed to improve night vision, but they didn’t work for me.
With this loss of freedom, my ability to attend evening meetings or events more than a mile from my house is limited to whether I can talk my husband or some other poor soul into playing chauffeur.
2. Gray hair obeys no man (or woman).
I’ve often wished I could wake up one day with a headful of snow white hair like my grandfather’s. I’ve certainly earned them. Alas, my transformation to silver is still occurring one crazy hair at a time. Attempts to corral the things make them frizz, and the ones that pop up where they’re most noticeable look like imports from a Dr. Seuss character. Men have it easier, I think… if they aren’t already bald, there’s no expectation for them to color, and their hair is generally short enough to hide the “crazy hairs.”
3. Sleep is an elusive little bugger.
I’ve never been a good sleeper. My sleep was disturbed by my parents’ work schedule and recurrent nightmares since I was 5. As an adult, it was interrupted by children for two decades. I thought as an empty nester a full night’s sleep would be my reward. Not so much. I’m starting to understand naps. And why Fox runs its late-night news at 9 p.m. instead of 10 p.m.—meeting the needs of their demographic.
I am hopeful that at some point I’ll find myself waking naturally at the crack of dawn (or earlier). One of my childhood memories is of delivering a paper to an older gentleman in Glenwood who could be seen doing jumping jacks in his living room every morning at 3 or 4 a.m. I’m not there yet.
4. Crepitus knees.
Crepitus is a grating or crackling sound or sensation. My knees now talk to me when going down stairs, making me feel like the Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz. Thankfully they don’t hurt, they’re just chatty. I’m waiting for a grandkid to notice. My oldest, after all, thinks I’m “doing pretty good for 74.”
This aging thing definitely isn’t for cowards, but, as someone has said, “Do not regret growing older. It is a privilege denied to many.”
I would like to clarify something: I harbor no personal or professional malice toward any of our elected or appointed officials. Those with whom I’ve interacted in the last two years and five months I’ve generally come to respect and appreciate.
Our coverage in the last year addressing Sunshine Law violations, or questioning the way meetings are handled, has less to do with the decisions themselves and more to do with the manner in which those decisions have been made. It is our job as the newspaper to hold our elected and appointed officials (the people who manage our tax dollars) accountable for the way they carry out their duties, particularly in light of the Colorado Open Meetings and Colorado Open Records acts, but also in the light of general civility and the spirit of teamwork and transparency.
When it appears there is a violation of those acts, or officials appear to be playing dangerously close to the edge of the cliff, it’s our job to raise a red flag.
I hate raising red flags. It gives me stress. I don’t even like to ring the little bell to call a cashier, and have been known to wander the store until someone else rings the bell. Red flags are really for the benefit of our elected and appointed officials, giving them an opportunity to articulate the reasoning behind their decisions and, when necessary, to adjust the way meetings are conducted.
By Niki Turner | firstname.lastname@example.org