Today, the world is missing a pop/funk/R&B singer and a female pro wrestler. Prince (aka The Artist Formerly Known as Prince or that symbol I can't type here) has moved on much too fast to the beyond. Chyna, whom I saw live a time or two, having admittedly been a huge WWF fan in the 1980s and early nineties (no, I never believed it was true, but I had a mad crush on Brutus "the Barber" Beefcake, and I usually don't even like guys with mullets, giant scissors, and fishnet tights.) I did not condone or appreciate all Prince stood for and believed in life, as it is still a too-each-his/her-own world, but several of his songs do pop up on my eclectic playlist every now and then, nestled somewhere between the Newsboys, Ace of Bass, Neil Sedaka, Enigma, Tupac, Shaggy, and my uncles singing gospel hymns. (Variety is the spice of life, right?) What shocks me most about Prince's passing is that he was only in his fifties, the decade right beyond mine. Chyna was only 45, but it is likely that there were chemical factors in her farewell. Prince, on the other hand, was at least a sensibly-eating person, a self-professed vegan with an affinity for pasta. According to Dr. Google, who we all know is 100 percent reliable about every single thing (yeah, right), Prince used to stand outside the fast-food restaurants his family couldn't afford, just so he could catch a whiff of the yumminess that is McThis and McThat. A bit ironic, really, since he grew up to love things like eggplant and spinach and meatless spaghetti washed down with orange juice. (Wouldn't grape juice have been more fitting for the PURPLE Rain phenom? Oh well. As I said, to each his own.)
There have been a lot of celebrity deaths already in 2016, and we are only in the fifth month of the year. When we lost Hans Gruber a while back (or Snape to you Harry Potter folks, which I'm not), I sort of freaked out. Sure, we all watched him plummet from that tower, courtesy of Bruce (the actor, not the rubber shark...and if you don't know the difference, please revisit the awesome films of the prior decades, folks); nevertheless, there are certain people we expect to just be around a little longer. I think most of us alive nowadays sort of have numbers in our minds that are simply not true anymore: "I will retire at 65, then live till 80 or 85...or 90 if I really want to annoy my family just a little longer before I move on up to that deluxe apartment in the sky..." (Oh, and check out old TV shows, too, if you don't get that reference. That's what Hulu's for, folks!) It seems the Baby Boomers are dropping too quickly, dying in their forties, fifties, and sixties. I'm technically a Gen-X'er, since I was born after 1964, but I am right on the threshold of those dreadful decades at the ripe ol' age of 45, so it scares me. It especially scares me when I hear that a vegan who lived on eggplants and pasta with no meat in it could just die a decade and two years beyond where I am now. We lost my mom at 64 last June, but she had alzheimer's/parkinson's for many years. We lost my dad at 67 last November, but he did have a weight problem, and while his passing was very unexpected, it was clear that his heart attack was a result of other underlying problems. The point is, 85 is no longer the typical check-out time.
I heard a news report yesterday on one of those annoying morning news shows (not THE VIEW, which I refuse to watch ever since I heard Joy Whats-her-face ask, "Do religions have a problem with porn?" I see no reason to spoil my boyfriend rendezvous with idiocy and cluelessness and loud-mouthed bimbo-ism). In the news report, they said that the life expectancy has significantly dropped for women, at least in the U.S. They blame this on heart disease and other factors, but I think if those high-paid researchers would dig a little deeper, they might discover that it's a universal problem. People are dying sooner. We live in a world where we sit, moving little more than our typing/texting fingers for a great majority of the day. We seldom even move our heads around, because we're all staring at our e-thises and i-thats. We are constantly beaming signals and wi-fi into our ears and eyes, and we don't even have to get off the couch to turn the TV. We can check the oil in our lawnmowers with an app, for goodness sake, without even having to make the walk outdoors. Complicate that with the fact that we don't even have to get out of our cars and walk into the restaurant to get our greasy bags of food, and with the fact that half our food consists of chemicals, salt, sugar, fat, mystery meat, and enough scientific intervention (like steroids and GMOs) that Rod Serling could host this entire era with that terrified, uneasy look on his black and white face and that eerie music playing in the background, and we are all literally killing ourselves. We are fat. We are lazy. We are coddled. We are afraid of the outdoors. We are eating junk and demanding that it take no more than 29 seconds of radiation to cook it. We are neglecting our public parks and walking trails and instead playing sports on our Wii's and Xboxes. We have to have gadgets on our wrists to remind us to get up out of our chairs more than the bladder-obligated thrice a day. We are stressing ourselves out over everything and so instantly exposed to every bit of bad news and media mayhem that we are in a constant state of depressed, stressed mess. We are more advanced technologically than ever before, but we are becoming more dependent, stupid, lazy, and negative, and we are killing ourselves far too early because of it.
I am just as guilty of this as anyone else. If I wasn't, I wouldn't have ballooned up to that 329 lbs. I was. Even now, I sit on my slightly bonier behind all day, with my laptop on my slightly less lumpy lap. (Hey, at least now I can see the spacebar without having to fling my bottom belly roll over my shoulder!) I identify as a Baby Boomer myself, since I'm a bit old-fashioned, even though I was born in 1970 (on the first day of fall. My mom was a Baptist preacher's kid, and Daddy was a preacher himself, so I'm not sure why they hippie-ed out and named my sister and me Autumn Joy and Liberty, then gave my brother a normal name. I will ask them someday in their deluxe apartment in the sky.) I do not want to die early, like my parents and Prince and Chyna and Alan Rickman did. I do not want my next 20 years to be my last 20 years. I've really only started living after at least 25 years of foolishness (I didn't really start screwing things up till I was in my early 20s), and I don't want to plummet from the proverbial Nakatomi Towers till I have to be rolled off in a wheelchair or at least take a walker with me. The other day, a cashier at a discount store where I love to shop actually had the audacity to ask me if I qualify for a "senior discount." I was appalled, as I usually get carded the other way. (Hey, one of those stupid Facebook app things the other day said my "virtual age" is 21! Thank you, Mr. Zuckerberg!) I remember being severely emotionally disturbed the first time a 20-something fella called me "Ma'am," considering that at the time, I was only in my late 30s, and my husband was 16 years my junior! (I used to average our ages together to determine mine, but I suppose I can't do that anymore.) Anyway, insulted and embarrassed as I was while I paid for my off-brand Splenda and nail glue the other day at Rose's, it was a reality check, and it made me want to go back in the store and pick up a couple extra boxes of Clairol. In my defense, he seemed a bit dazed and confused in general, so I like to tell myself he was just one of those who chose to celebrate 420 day before coming in to work. In any case, it was a reality check for me, a reminder that my days really ARE numbered and that we ALL have an expiration date. Morbid or not, the fact is that at some point, we'll all be the gravesites/urns formerly known as us.
We cannot control time. We cannot control when God decides to move us along. We cannot control every facet of our bodies or every genetic or health factor that will affect us. I trust God to know what He's doing when it comes to my lifespan, but I certainly don't have to hurry things along by getting back to the whopping 300s. This is why I am back to my 1,200-calorie plan, until I re-hit and maintain my 155-lb. goal for at least two weeks in a row. Lately, it seems my generation is being exed out far too quickly, and the Baby Boomers are seeming more and more like Baby Doomers. Speaking of babies, this is one reason why I actually buy "kids'" food and "baby/toddler" snacks, because they are lower in calories/fats/sugars/sodium and other nasties. (Try it! You'll be surprised how much of a friend to your weight the baby aisle will be! I've Gerbered away a lot of my blubber by replacing many snacks and frozen foods with kiddie varieties, and I have to tell you that even though the KidFresh chicken nuggets have hidden cauliflower in them--yes, cauliflower--they taste almost as good as Wendy's!)
In the grand scheme of things, only G-O-D will determine our D-O-D. I could end up like David Bowie or Prince or Chyna, or I might be around as long as Betty White (a real golden girl who's still working at 94!) You cannot choose your expiration date, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't do your best to extend it and make life more pleasant and enjoyable for yourself and others while you're here. Whether you are 18 or 87, just starting out on a weight-loss mission or working at maintenance every day, you are on Spark, and that means you are trying to do the right things. Give yourself a hand for that, appreciate every day of your life, and party like it's 1999--maybe even in a little red corvette with some portion-controlled spaghetti and orange juice!