Iíve been feeling pretty decent, lately. My anxiety level was extremely high last week, but I managed to get it a little more under control over the weekend and into this week. Part of it is that work has been really quiet.

I also spent Saturday afternoon with Nicole. We went to brunch, did some shopping then went to a movie. We meant to see Black Swan, but it wasnít playing yet, in Philadelphia. Turns out, itís opening tomorrow night, here, and she has a friend who is in the Pennsylvania Ballet, and might be able to get us free passes. If she canít get me a free pass, no matter, Iím happy to go as a paying customer.

This friend of hers was apparently in line for being a stand-in for Natalie Portman in the movie, but I guess they chose a different dancer? Iím not sure.

Anyway, we went to see The Warriorís Way instead. Iím usually not into violence, and I prefer martial arts movies that feature hand-to-hand fights over weapon fights, but this one was done with a very cartoony-video-gamey-fantasy style that made it impossible to take any of the gore very seriously.

And, while, Iím not into violence, I love a good martial arts fight sequence, especially in the style of Jackie Chan, that shows off the abilities of the two performers.

During shopping, she and I stopped by a beauty store. She picked up a few things. I looked at a few things. I didnít feel like buying anything just then, but it did inspire me to visit Ulta, yesterday. I brought home a decent haul, which I havenít done in a long time. I even bought a bottle of perfume, which is another thing I havenít done in a long while.

Adam is not big into scents, and it seems that he thinks that I smell good even after two days in the woods, so it hardly seems worth spending a bunch of money to smell better. But, letís face it, as women, we love the idea that some nice smelling, pretty looking, silky feeling thing is going to make our men more attracted to us, when most of them already love us the way we are.

If I buy perfume, itís strictly for me alone, and maybe a few people who others who happen to catch a faint whiff when they are nearby, and probably couldnít care less, anyway.

Of course, if I buy beauty products, they make me feel better, which translates into me being a more confident and contented person. This indirectly affects how other people see me.

If it isnít obvious, all these feelings of not being on the edge of nervous breakdown, all the time, have left me feeling a little bit guilty. Actually, really guilty.

Itís not related to how much I work vs. how much I get. Itís related to how I feel, and thatís how I recognized it as bunk.

Feeling good means that I have the room to push myself harder, and Iíve neglected to do so. Once I recognized the guilt and the reason for my feeling, I have been able to deal with it a lot better. Iím not perfectly content, or anything, but Iím improving.

The other weird thing is that lately, right as Iím falling asleep, I keep recognizing that Iím going to die someday. The cats are going to die, Adam is going to die, as are my family and friends. So, Iíve been starting my nights out with all-out panic attacks over the fact that death is inevitable.

I think itís related to my aging. This is the first year that Iíve had to face aging for real. I probably got my first grey hair about 5 years ago. At the time, it was more a novelty than anything, and it was something that could easily be pulled out and forgotten. I could technically still pull out my grey hairs, but that would be time consuming and kind of silly.

Thatís not the only thing. There are changes in my skin, my weight, my muscle tone, my metabolism. While Iím not looking ancient, my days of being mistaken for a teenager are over.

Upon realizing this, I asked myself whether or not I was going to decide to be ok with this.

I could choose to fight it at every step and spend the next several years putting time and money into denying my age. Or, I could choose to be ok with it, and just accept it as a part of life.

I thought about all the various women Iíve seen in my lifetime, the women who have fought it and the women who havenít. I think trying to fight it just makes people age faster. They might have tighter skin that has fewer flaws, but all that worry over smoothing out wrinkles just invites more wrinkles. All that stress and maintenance pulls all the joy out of life. Instead of having a bright light in their eyes and an easy smile, they have a paper thin illusion.

The thing about the illusion is that everyone can see that itís an illusion. Maybe someday cosmetic surgery and beauty products will have the technology to actually make someone look younger, but not yet. Now, we just put together what we believe to be the ingredients of youth and beauty and hope for the best. The result is often mildly disturbing.

This is not to say that Iím giving up my precious beauty products. Not at all. I love potions in vials just as much as I ever have. Iím just not planning to take any drastic steps beyond anything in my regular routine.

This decision wasnít as easy as it sounds. Anyone who has ever gotten special treatment for her beauty is not going to just hand it over without a whimper. It takes effort to be ok with the passage of time once it starts leaving physical evidence. Recognizing and accepting the passage of time, also means recognizing and accepting death.

So, that lead me to feeling panicked about being a cold, lifeless stiff, rather than merely being panicked about the fact that my hair grows too fast to reasonably keep up with any dye job.

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Tuesday, Dec. 07, 2010 at 2:50 PM