Life continues at 40

About a week ago, or whenever, I turned 40. It was even more low-key than my 39th birthday. I guess it’s the power combo of having a birthday three days before Christmas mixed with people just not caring so much about birthdays in adulthood. But hey, I got two presents so that’s something.

40 doesn’t really feel old – or at least it doesn’t feel anywhere as old as I was led to believe by Dave and the Dynamos’ 1983 No.1 hit single “Life Begins at 40”. And I know that whenever someone complains about being old, there’s always someone older who gets angry and tells them to make the most of their youth and stop complaining. But I’m thinking that maybe 40 is the kind of age where you can start saying “I’m too old for this shit” without irony.

A year ago I made a list of things to achieve before I turn 40:

  • Finish reading Ulysses.
  • Come up with a few more things to do before I turn 40.
  • Explore historic Northland.
  • Learn to say “Hi, my name is Robyn. I am 40 years old.” in 40 languages of the world.

My progress report:

  • Lol, as if. It’s still sitting on my bookshelf.
  • Well, yeah, I already did that one.
  • I did this, driving up the east coast and down the west. Highly recommended.
  • Um, je m’appelle Robyn. J’ai quarante ans. Aw, guys, I can’t even say it in Maori.

Glasses are so much cheaper now that you can order them online. All up, these cost about $200 less than the ones I got in 2000.
Glasses are so much cheaper now that you can order them online. All up, these cost about $200 less than the ones I got in 2000.
I have reading glasses, but I don’t really need them. Or rather, I had another thing wrong with my vision and my optometrist added a +1.00 magnification to the prescription. I guess it makes things slightly easier to read, but I’m not at the stage of complaining about the size of type in the phone book or a newspaper (lol “phone book”, “newspaper”).

I hardly have any grey hair, which is fun. A few years ago I decided to grow out my roots, expecting some sort of Bride of Frankenstein look, but my natural hair was just this fairly inoffensive shade of light brown, and in such better condition without all the battery from colouring. So I’ll make the most of that while it lasts.

I’ve been paying attention to people in showbiz who turned 40 in the last year. My fellow 1974 babies include: Robbie Williams, Mel C, Carrie Brownstein, Joaquin Phoenix, Chloë Sevigny, Kate Moss, Posh Spice, Li’l Kim, Jimmy Fallon, David Faustino and Miranda July. They all turned 40 and kept doing cool things, so I knew everything was going to be alright.

But I still don’t own a table.

The tyranny of eyeglass fashion

It’s been about a year and a half since I experienced the special combination of razors and lasers and sedatives and painkillers that made up the Lasik experience, and it’s really good not having to wear glasses any more.

It’s not a hugely life-changing thing, but rather its benefits are made up of lots of little things – not getting fogged up in humid weather, not having raindrops obscure my vision, being able to lie on my side on the couch and watch DVDs, and not being pressured by the ever-changing world of eyeglass fashions.

Cos spectacles seem to have a faster fashion half-life than clothing does. I’m guessing it’s because that while clothing tends to wear out and is cheaper to replace, spectacles last longer and cost more, so get replaced less often.

But even though a pair of glasses bought 10 years ago might work just as well as they did back then, it doesn’t mean they will be any less fashionable than some late ’90s-style clothing ensemble involving cargo pants, a backpack handbag and a pashmina.

I know of a guy who wore the same pair of glasses for about 10 years, all of which were lean student years. Over that period he gradually became known as “the guy with the big glasses”. He finally upgraded to a pair of fashionably slim frames, but I wonder if in 10 years he’ll have become “the guy with the narrow glasses”.

Another example is “Goldstein“, the New York banker star of the ASB Bank ads. He’s been in the ads since 2000, and is usually dressed in a business suit and sports a pair of those big round glasses that were only fashionable in the ’90s.

Here’s his look, as seen in the window of the Mt Eden ASB:

Goldstein's old glasses

He’s probably being kept in the same tired old specs from 2000 because updating his look would cause a ruckus amongst the telly-viewing public and detract from the promotion of ASB’s banking services.

But in the real world, Goldstein would have visited his optometrist at some point in the past seven years, had his vision tested, and decided that as well as getting new lenses, he ought to get some new frames as well – probably something with narrow black rectangular frames.

And when I look at the pair of glasses, which served me from 2000 to 2005, they now look gigantic. When I bought them, I remember how tiny they seemed. They were Gucci and they cost over $300 and I did not want to give them up until I absolutely had to.

But it appears that the interweb may have a solution for people financially caught in an optical timewarp. Websites like 39 Dollar Glasses.com let you buy prescription glasses online for cheap. You need to get your prescription details from your optometrist, but once you have that you can get some relatively cheap cool frames, to finally drag your facial fashion look into the new millennium. The Glassy Eyes blog has lots of good consumer information and reviews for buying prescription glasses online.

Or you can keep wearing your old specs until they come back into fashion again.

Contact Lenses

I got contact lenses. I came home the day I’d got them and I excitedly told Xris, my flatmate at the time, that I had them. He said that once he’d had contact lenses, but had given up after about a year because in the end he just couldn’t be bothered wearing them anymore.

I remember at the time just laughing that comment off, thinking it would never happen to me. I was sure that after a year I’d still be wearing my contacts. Oh, how wrong I was.

I got contact lenses because I was sick of wearing glasses. At first wearing contacts was a novelty, but then I soon settled into a routine, and managed to get my lenses inserted in about five minutes, rather than the half hour I was originally talking.

It was great being able to see clearly without wearing glasses. I realised for the first time that there was a “Fight Club” poster on the other side of the floor where I used to work. Things were beautiful.

But there was a downside. After about eight hours of use my eyes would feel really tired, and a few times I had to leave social events early so I could go home and remove my $50-a-pair lenses. It also meant that things that would normally be spontaneous, like crashing on someone’s couch after a hard night, had to instead be carefully planned to incorporate contact lens care.

In the end I just couldn’t be bothered wearing them anymore. It was too much hassle mucking around with saline solutions, clensing stuff and the cost of it all.

So I went back to the optometrist and got a pair of glasses and some prescription sunglasses and have been happily wearing them since.

The one thing I have got out of my year as a contact lens wearer is the ability to completely suppress the reflex to madly blink when I put something in my eye. As a result, I can touch the lens of my eye with my finger. Neat party trick, huh?

Sometimes having perfect eyesight would be very handy, but I’m not about to go back to contacts (or get laser surgery) any time soon.

Glasses

“Men don’t make passes at girls who wear glasses.”
– Dorothy Parker

I’d been wearing glasses since I was 17 (only for driving and things like watching movies) and I was greatly disturbed by the severe absence of men who were making passes at me. I decided to put a stop to this shocking situation immediately, so I went off to the optometrist and demanded some contact lenses.

The nice optometrist lady tested my eyes and inserted a contact lens in each eye for me to try out.

Oh it sounds nice and simple from writing about it, but the truth is much more complicated.

The human body had all these defence mechanisms to stop it getting hurt. If something comes really near your eye, your body freaks out and closes the eyelid. So if you’re trying to get a contact lens in, your body is going “No! Piss off! Get that little plasticy thing away from me!” and making your eyelid shut.

This can make inserting a contact lens somewhat difficult.

So every morning for the first couple of weeks I’d spend about half an hour trying to get a little plasticy thing in my eye. Sometimes I’d think I had it in, but would end up with the lens folded in half, stuck to itself on my lower eye lashes. Eventually I got better at it.

Now I can walk the streets with everything in the background being sharp and clear. Oh, the beautiful blue sky!

However, I am disturbed that since I got contacts, men have not started making passes at me. From this I can only conclude that Dorothy Parker was a lying cow.