Yesterday I was going on about “flat light”, and as I thought about it last night, I began to wonder if in fact it’s to do with the colour green absorbing light. I looked it up in Google. Maybe a right track, wrong train, sort-of-thing? This morning, however, as I looked out on the world, I thought “perspective!” and immediately went out to capture a picture. The great difference being, of course, that today the sky is/was overcast.

As with everything, it’s a matter of perspective. I love a blue sky in Winter. In Summer it means the day is hot, not my preferred kind. For me, you will always get a better summer photograph with an overcast sky, than with a clear one. Just my opinion. Obviously, if you are a professional photographer with all sorts of devices…


When I met up with Grant in the kitchen this morning, I announced that “I’ve become a pear-shaped frizzled up f…ing fossil”. I daresay he had noticed, although, he is a man and in my experience, men are not famous for noticing much.

I suspect it’s that I have just not had much luck in that department, although I am not so sure luck has much to do with it.

All of which must read like the beginning of a lament and it’s not. At all. One just has to be realistic. And part of my new reality is that I am 71 and increasingly decrepit. Officially, I am “disabled” and I suppose that is the correct word, but I don’t like it. I have also turned pear-shaped, now topped off with my new pixie haircut. Perfect. Just the look I was always going for.

I don’t think. I will admit I still don’t like the way I look, but it is becoming less important all the time. For one thing, since I returned to New York, I have just about stopped using face make-up. From the age of 16 I would never leave home without it. It was more likely I would have been out in my bedroom slippers.

Not so long ago I found myself in a supermarket parking lot staring at my feet and realized I had my boots on the wrong feet. I pointed this out to Grant and we both fell about laughing and then proceeded through Hannaford’s giggling and snorting, to the alarm of several shoppers who may have thought us drunk, or drugged, I suppose.

The reference to slippers brought footwear to mind, and I thought I would offer, as an example of my changed self-image, the fact that I didn’t immediately get back in the car and pull the boots off, but carried on, walking slightly more erratically than usual.

The fact is, because I don’t get out much, and I probably wouldn’t, even if I was fit and forty, I tend to sit for a large part of the day at my computer, interrupted by some new-fangled appliance or other that has to beep. Is there anything these days that does not beep? Who decided beeping was a good idea? I’d like to talk to them.

My washer-dryer is a fine example. It may be another case of me needing to read the instructions, but seriously, it’s a washer-dryer. How many ways can you actually load it? Believe me, I’ve tried them all, to no more successful result. However, the thing that really annoys me is the fact that it beeps so insistently. Not just once, a nice “I’m done now” beep, but a repeated “I’m done”,”I’m done”, “I’m done”, “I’m done”, which begins to sound like “I’M DONE!” “I’M DONE!!”, “I’M DONE!!!”.

If I could figure a way to disable that beep, it would add minutes to my life. Yes, it’s not important, “so not important” as they say these days. Just an annoyance, and the very fact that it annoys me is a good sign, considering the things that used to annoy me.

If a bleeping beeping machine is the worst I have to worry about, I must be doing well.

Before I got side-tracked by that, I was sitting at my computer, which as I said, I do for a significant amount of time. (At present I have abandoned attempting to use the office chair and because I’m not seeming to want it, there are no cats laying claim, currently.)

Leaving aside issues of diet and exercise, it is my opinion that the body assumes the shape it is most often placed in. So, if you are on your feet a lot, your body is going to be basically uniform, up and down. But if you sit on your butt all day, surely it is going to spead? I was always mindful of this because even in my working days, I spent quite a bit of time seated at a computer.

Since my arrival in the States, aged 16, I always had an exercise routine. During the two years prior, while in a British convent school, I was fed a whole load of carbohydrates, good solid english boarding-school food. I had always eaten whatever I was given, without gaining weight, and didn’t really think about it. So imagine my horror, when I discarded my baggy uniform for the summer holidays, and discovered that half my clothes no longer fit. It didn’t occur to me that I might still be growing.

I immediately became neurotic about it. My grandma suffered some sort of metabolic disorder and was a very large lady. My mother constantly fussed about weight issues, and I became convinced that unless I was very careful, I should become overweight, and that it would be a really awful thing.

So in my second year at the Brit boarding school, I became basically anorexic. I would not eat anything that I perceived to be “fattening”, which was more or less everything on offer.

I began to lose significant weight, and the nuns became alarmed. They attempted to monitor me at mealtimes but they didn’t watch closely enough. What I did or didn’t eat back then was the only thing I could control, so I latched onto it. This is how these issues start, I guess.

It was probably fortunate that the cycle of anorexia never really had a chance to establish itself with me. Just as I was getting really into it, I was sent for one last visit to my parents in Laos and thence to a very different life on Long Island.

Another story.

But as for body dysmorphia, that was here to stay! It seems as if for my whole life, I have been uncomfortable in my body. There have been times when my body weight was down enough so that I didn’t feel fat, and then I would obsess about my hair being awful, and so on. If it wasn’t the figure or the hair (was there ever such a time?) then my clothes were all wrong. And for as much as I realized that most of it was in my head, I could not force myself to be comfortable.

Then at age 58 my spine fell to bits. Well, it had been a very long process, but that is yet another story. A year later I took what seemed the only option, of having a multi-level spinal fusion. However I may have perceived my own image, I had always had good body-posture. Overnight it all changed. I lost more than an inch in height and it was as though I had been compacted.

No doubt there was a lesson for me in there. I have a dear friend who is a few years older than me who has many medical problems and has had a very difficult life. I have another friend who recently lost her young son unexpectedly. I think of those two friends and of all they go through with such dignity, and I know that I am so fortunate to have only the comparatively minor issues that I do.

So does it really matter if I am pear-shaped?

2 thoughts on “Pear-shaped?

  1. I would just about give anything to have back the body i wasn’t ever happy with 40, 20, even 10 years ago! I kick myself now and then for complaining about bits and bobs i was never satisfied with and wonder if i am now paying for not appreciating it when i should have.
    I enjoy your stories and chuckled at your washer/dryer that shouts at you!

  2. Carolyn, I am amazed at how much our stories are similar. My back also “fell to bits”, starting about 25 years ago, but I was managing OK and there wasn’t much I couldn’t do until my hip gave out on me, then my back finally screamed out to my doctors that it HAD it be fixed and right away! So, reluctantly, I gave in to a two-level TLIF last year and will have my hip replaced next month. I hate that word “disabled” too, but I use that handicapped card that lets me park up close to the entrances. I lost that inch, too, but I still have some extra height, so I don’t really mind it. I do mind the way I look though. Sideways, I have no BUTT. Where did it go?

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