1. It looks like my head compressed and expanded simultaneously, but I've come too far to go back now.
2. On Wednesday I went to the dermatologist for my annual mole patrol, and as always in the midst of all the poking and prodding she said "those are just age spots" about the age spots on my left cheekbone and we both shrugged, because we both know age spots are the best possible outcome of this exercise.
3. This random astrology site that showed up as the #1 googlet for CAPRICORN confirms the following:
- Strengths: Responsible, disciplined, self-control, good managers
- Weaknesses: Know-it-all, unforgiving, condescending, expecting the worst
- Capricorn likes: Family, tradition, music, understated status, quality craftsmanship
- Capricorn dislikes: Almost everything at some point
4. All true!
5. It also calls us "the Goat of Fear."
When I was in my early 30s, I dog-sat for this rich couple that lived in Hinsdale. One time I got a call, a couple hours after they left town, from the husband, who asked me to please go outside and look for the diamond from his wife's wedding ring, which she thought she might have lost in the driveway. I did it, even though it seemed stupid. A single diamond in a sea of suburban asphalt! But it was a wedding ring, after all, and I couldn't blame them for caring about their gems. Plus they were serious people, so I did what I was told. I wandered around out there for a while, gazing at the ground, and I even looked in the garage, but I never found anything. I wonder if they did or, if they didn't, if they ever wondered whether I had.
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On the zodialogical wine scale, according to Laura Jane Drinks Wine, the CAPRICORN is a "Puligny-Montrachet, brut Champagne (substantial, though subdued)."
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How do you feel about turning 47? my occasional lover, the identical twin of Mark Ruffalo, asks as he dusts behind the TV. I smile wistfully and toss a handful of diamonds into the air, not even caring where they land: Substantial, though subdued.
Capricorns are commonly described as "saturnine"; i.e., gloomy, lugubrious, glum, morose. We're cold and remote, patient and determined, fatalistic, pessimistic, miserly and grudging. We are earth signs, goats above all—climbers whose feet never leave the ground, blah blah blah.
I don't know about you, but I would call this 100% accurate. I am a wintry soul. I am a crabby apple! I do believe we're doomed! I like what I like and I don't like to share! The "patient" part is true only insofar as I like to plan ahead and move according to my own timeline, but the rest of it seems right on to me.
And I'm okay with this idea of myself: it's the side of me that wanted most to live in New York City, the same side that tries to resist what Carol Shields calls that “dumb sunniness,” that easy, automatic reflex to smooth things over, to not make a fuss, which—I'm sure you've noticed—females in particular are often encouraged to do. I’m not saying go forth into the world and act like a deliberate asshole to everyone you meet, but at the very least I think it’s important that the story you tell yourself about yourself not be too easy or glossy or neat. Own your difficult moods. Own the ground that you stand on (unless it's already owned by the government). Own your goddamn right not to smile. You don't even need to blame that shit on your star sign.
And yet. Yet! For all that, who would've thought the most noticeable feature on my face would be the laugh lines?
I'm having a problem lately where I see my own face in a mirror and can't actually believe it's my face. It's not that I don't recognize myself but something has definitely shifted somewhere along the way, and I can't quite put my finger on what it is—or was—or when it happened, and the idea that it happened without me even being aware of it feels both ghostly and futuristic, like Miss Havisham cross-pollinated with a short freckled robot during one of her many long naps. All of which interests me in a vague, anthropological way until I remember that this is the only face I've got and odds are it isn't getting any better from here. Naturally this thought is immediately followed by a clap of thunder and my mother's voice reminding me that some people don't have faces at all, probably, and aren't I lucky.
But 45! 45 is a traffic sign age, a speed bump age, a not implausible mid-point. The Maginot Line of aging. 45 is not old yet but old is coming. Whatever "old" means. (To some people it is certainly old. To others it is spring chickens.) And while I'm not sure "old" has an assigned age, I do know I'm closer now to 60 than I am to 20, or even 25. This concerns me for reasons that have nothing to do with looks, but mostly I'm curious. It's like a Christmas present I didn't ask for and can't return that shows up at 2:30 in the morning or on random Tuesdays in July. And one that's also, obviously, a permanent tattoo.
In my quest for peace and understanding I keep turning back to this smart interview with Megan Follows (long may she reign), where, responding to a question about feminism, she says that "[women] get this pressure as you get older that your value becomes less. And I think, what's the alternative? I don't get older? I don't bring the quality of who I am and my experience to what I have to offer? So that my value is more at a certain point than now? That's kind of insane, and very disempowering."
So what are we to do? When I was younger I was also quieter and nicer and shyer and dumber. Nothing to cling to there! Today I say fuck 'em all, and this is my face. Here is 45.