A day of rest

The last month or so, a number of things have gone quite awry. The point at which I realized I was burned out was when I found myself seriously having to think about whether or not it was worth spending $1000 on a new washing machine in order to avoid tearing the current one apart and replacing a $24 switch that died.

So come Friday, which is my day off. I got to the gym, and deadlifted. (160 pounds. I’m not good, I’m persistent. It’s not my best, but I have to do this in order to build back to that, after the last round of illness.) When I got home, I tried to cook a veggie-packed bobotie in order to use up the last leek, the last red onion, and one of too many zucchini (courgettes) that my husband bought. (My fault; I didn’t put a quantity on the shopping list, and he did best guess.)

After I dropped the third thing in 20 minutes (an 18-pack of eggs. Yes, quiche is on the menu), he declared that I needed to rest. I hadn’t noticed my hands were shaking, but he had. So I finished the dish, and agreed to sit on the couch. That lasted about 10 minutes, before I rebelliously tried to do laundry. I found myself back on the couch, and he picked up Kili-cat, and put her on my chest.

That’s dirty pool. Effective, but dirty pool. It took me hours to get out from under a purring cat.

When I did, I visited with a friend, and then came home. The cat herded me to the bedroom, hopped up on the bed, and was so cute I lay down to pet her. She immediately climbed on my chest.

Still dirty pool, even when the husband’s not to blame. Took me another two hours to get out from under her. About the time I’d decided to get up, my husband came in the room, and I admitted to him that maybe, if the cat could outwit me, I needed the rest. But I shouldn’t. Yes, it’s been a hell of a couple weeks, but I should be on top of it.

He looked at me, and said in the soft, gentle tones in which people deliver Dire News, “You’re not scheduling enough rest for yourself, love.”

“But…”

“You’re in your fourties. Not your twenties.”

I might have said something quite rude, in response.

He grinned. “I know. I still feel like I’m in my twenties, in my head too. But our bodies don’t agree anymore!”

Maturity, I have concluded, is nothing more than the ability to take responsibility for your own actions, a dreadful wariness about unintended consequences, a memory of deja moo (seen this bullsh-t before), and a large collection of coping mechanisms. And exhaustion. Lots of exhaustion.

When you write older characters, do you have anything else that you put in to distinguish old age and treachery from youth and enthusiasm?

15 comments

  1. Honestly… I think the best marker I put in was well-intentioned treachery. Rather than arguing about something, he worked around her until she did what he wanted her to do. (She wasn’t eating regularly. He was concerned. Sending someone she liked with his lunch in addition to hers so she had to stop and be sociable fixed the problem quite nicely)

    Also, a lack of patience for certain follies of youth. And a dogged persistence to find the *important* answers.

    1. Because food is love. And showing you can take care of a love interest by taking care of them, even if they don’t want you to, in ways they don’t find objectionable is very important for future harmony.

  2. Exhaustion is definitely a marker of advancing age. Sure, you can still do the needful when you must. But it costs more afterward.

  3. Being stiff and sore and grumbling about “Why can’t I work all day, party half the night, and do it again the next day?” With the occasional, “Does no one in [department/agency] remember what happened the last time we did it that way?”

    We will not discuss the too-honest coworker/associate/student’s quiet, “No, because I wasn’t born then.”

    1. Honestly Confused Kid: “Why doesn’t everybody know about $Bureacratic_requirement?”
      Me: “It only came in after the Colgan air crash, in ’14.”
      Honestly Confused Kid: “But that was years and years ago! I was back in Elementary then!”
      Me: *takes a sip of coffee, and replies with slightly strained patience* “…kid, not everyone is as young as you are. Some of us had been flying under the old rules for a couple decades, and there was no reason to know the world had changed in an area we weren’t working in…”

      1. Note to self: the coffee cup welded to the right hand is also a marker of age. Along with grey hair, reading glasses, and a cluster of service stripes, it’s one of nature’s warning signs, and should be given caution just like an arrowhead-shaped head and fangs on a snake, or bright colours on a snake or frog, or white berries, or the white stripe running down the center back of that low black not-a-cat that doesn’t give a damn about your right of way…

        1. Also the sleepy eyed stare and unflappable demeanor that doesn’t blink at the petty wrath of tiny souled tyrants. The occasional muttered comment that today is a good day because no one is shooting at you. The habit of turning the chair around backward to sit in it, and picking the location that can see the potential entrances with a solid wall at one’s back. The person that’s always early, never late, and doesn’t like leaving before the job’s done. The glue that holds the team together, in many cases.

          There are old men and old women who get there simply by advancing the time clock. And there are those that get that way despite things and people that have had strong and burning interest in them not living to get old. You cross the latter at your peril.

    2. We will not discuss the too-honest coworker/associate/student’s quiet, “No, because I wasn’t born then.”

      :laughs:

  4. Cats concentrate gravity. That’s why they’re so hard to move. 😀

    Now if only there was some way to harness that effect to move a spaceship…

    1. 1) Install big sun windows in an appropriate portion of the ship.
      2) Deck it out with comfy padding, elevated surfaces, and fuzzy blankets.
      3) Inform cats they are UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES EVER allowed in Sun Window Room.
      4) Use altered gravity at your convenience.

  5. The unflapableness has been the main thing I’ve used so far.

    Actually had to wind a character’s age back because I realized the old terror version of them, while the situation would still be a berserk button for them, they also would not be freaked out about it either. And since they needed to call for backup with enough force to get said backup stuck, it needed to be the younger, somewhat less unflappable version who was dealing with it.

    Also finding the old magnificent bastards tend to be fully aware of what the younger characters are actually up to, and, if they have gone hands off, it is because they have concluded this won’t kill the young punks, merely make them stronger.

    On a different note, just finished the first draft of the 5/8 fanfic story I was working on. 8,700 words. Twice as long as the longest short story I’ve done to date, and over half the length of the other rambling story I started with.

    They went on a vacation. I’m really not sure how so much stuff happened.

    On to the percolator for a couple of weeks while I go through all the punctuation of my priors, and see about fixing them. Margaret did a wonderful proofreading of the first short. It turns out my grasp of punctuation and comma i suave is curious, but not particularly compliant…

    And after that, on to 6/8 the murder nightmares…

  6. Not moving fast, because they are already there. (Ahead of the kid/young adult who is figuring it out as he goes.)

    Also showing the difference between trying to help someone/friendly bullying, and trying to run his life by manipulation because of course the kid is too stupid to be allowed to run his life. The latter is the backstory of why someone who dearly loves his family hasn’t been home in years, and the latter is trying to fix that problem… although she also hasn’t noticed that it is a problem, because That’s Just How They Are.

    Definitely a tendency to “see” people at an earlier state of development.

    Occasional borderline mind-reading exactly because they’ve seen something so often…and impressive misunderstandings because they “recognize” something and stop looking.

  7. If you were at most workplaces, you would work two hours, rest 15 minutes; work eight hours and get two breaks and one half hour lunch. An hour lunch in other places.

    And frankly, I tend to sleep a lot on my days off.

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