You Look So Young: Incredulous

The cashier at the grocery store had to ask for my I.D. during check-out today.  Knowing that I will probably be carded until I am age 90, I had it ready.

The cashier looked at my birth date, then at the photo, and then up at me, clearly disbelieving.  He looked down at the photo again, back at me, back at the birthdate again, and back up at me.

I was about to ask if there was a problem when he shrugged and entered my birth date into the computer.  He sighed as my purchase cleared.

“Well,” he said, “You just barely made it.”

Even official documents do not spare me.

(Also…how does a margin of six years constitute “barely making it”?)

Hello, Good-bye

We're more than half-way through 2016. Maybe my head will stop spinning by the time November does its fly-by.

We’re more than half-way through 2016. Maybe my head will stop spinning by the time November does its fly-by.

It’s a little rough due to lack of Photoshop, and the fact that I had to put it up when given the chance, because June will be totally gone before we know it.

Looking Ten Years Younger

This past June, I went to stay with my mom for a week after she had hip surgery.

Her first physical therapy appointment was at the end of the week.  Since she wasn’t able to drive yet, I took her to her appointment.

When the therapist came out, he introduced himself to my mom, who in turn introduced me as her daughter.  The therapists’ eyebrows knitted together, and he looked from one of us to the other.  “So…who did the driving here today?” he asked, obviously concerned.

“Oh, I did,” I said.  An odd question.

His eyebrows were almost touching now.  “How old are you?”

I smiled.  So that was it.  “I’m almost twenty-five.”

“Oh!”  he exclaimed.  His eyebrows had reversed directions, and were now trying to meet up with his hairline.  “Well, you have got to be the youngest-looking almost-twenty-five-year-old I’ve ever met!”

I wasn’t certain if he was mocking me or not–“almost twenty-five,” yes, that had sounded pretty stupid–but he seemed nice overall, so I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt and kept smiling.  “Thank you,”  I said.

He helped my mom up onto her crutches and began guiding her towards the therapy room.  Before they rounded the corner he looked back over his shoulder and said, “You really are very young looking!”

I laughed and turned back to my book.  Yes.  Yes, I know, thank you.  Later on, my mom told me that the therapist had continued talking about how young I looked through the beginning of her appointment.  Apparently he just couldn’t get over it.

***

So yes, I look very young for my age.  Judging by reactions like the one above, I guess that I look to be about 14 or 15–which is up from a few years ago, when people seemed to assume that I was about 12.

Before you start in with a knowing, “Oh, but you’ll appreciate it when you’re older/when you get to be my age,”–which I hear a lot, and which is nonetheless probably true–I’m not entirely complaining.  Not entirely.  It can be pretty irritating to be patronized.  Mostly what puzzles me is the extreme reactions people have when they find out that I’m almost a decade older than they assumed, like with the therapist above.  Is it really that crazy for a twenty-something to look like a teenager?

Probably the most extreme reaction I’ve encountered happened a few years ago, when I was working my summer job at the local library.  I had just graduated with my B.A. in history a couple of months before, so I was twenty-one (or, by my reckoning, “almost twenty-two!”).  I was checking out a patron’s books to her account when she asked me what grade I was in.

I smiled (I do a lot of smiling in these situations), because I had an idea of what was coming.  “Oh, I actually just graduated from college.”

It turns out that actually I had no idea of what was coming.  The lady SLAMMED both hands down on the counter, her mouth dropped open and her eyes popped wide.  “Are you serious?”

The smile remained pasted in place while I tried to recall where the police “panic button” was located.  “Yes, I graduated in May with a bachelor’s degree.”

The lady’s eyes were still popping, but I decided that at least she didn’t seem likely to leap over the counter at me.  “I didn’t think you were even a senior in high school!”

I laughed lightly.  “Actually, I’m engaged, I’ll be getting married in a few months and moving to Texas.”  This was meant as additional evidence to convince her of my true age, but I’m probably lucky she didn’t have a stroke on the spot.

“Oh…but you’re so young!”  she said, a little breathless.  She looked as though her life was flashing before her eyes, and I had a sudden intimation that the problem was not my age, but her own.

“Well…” I faltered.  I hate it when people say that.  What do you say to that?  “No, actually, not really.  People used to get married a lot younger.  My grandmother got married at eighteen and had my dad at nineteen.  Anyways, if I’m really lucky and live to be one hundred years old, I’ve already used up about a quarter of my lifespan.  Why wait around just to use up more?  That probably would have made the poor woman catatonic.

I don’t recall the rest of the conversation, but the lady did eventually recollect herself, and sincerely, if a little dazedly, congratulated me on my graduation and wished me well in my upcoming marriage.

I don’t know what happened to her after she left the library, but I’m hoping I didn’t cause a trip to the emergency room.

***

I’m going to do some complaining at this point.  It really is annoying to not have people take you seriously just because they think you are or aren’t a certain age.

There are times when I want to wear a sign around my neck, proclaiming to the world my actual age and accomplishments as proof that they don’t need to treat me like I’m a kid.  “I AM 25 YEAR OLD. I have a bachelor’s degree, I am married, my husband and I own a house, we are landlords.  WHY ARE YOU TREATING ME LIKE I’M A 10 YEAR OLD?!?”

The memory that grates on me most is another incident from when I was working at the library. This time, I was probably a sophomore in college–so about eighteen or nineteen.  I was helping a man at the front desk when he asked abruptly, “Are you even old enough to work here?”

Snarky come-backs flashed through my mind.  “Are you always this rude?”  “No, I just snuck back here while they weren’t looking.”  “Would you prefer that I stop and find someone else to help you?  It’s a pity they’re all extremely busy right now.”  But I was representing the library, and more would be accomplished by trying to keep a professional demeanor.  So I smiled that smile, looked him in the eye and calmly replied, “I’ve been working here for four years.”

His question didn’t deserve an answer, quite frankly, but I think that was probably the most effective reply I could have made.  In any case, he shut up and let me continue doing my job.  But I can tell you that having my competence questioned solely on the grounds of my perceived age has been a pet peeve ever since.

I have, unfortunately, another pet peeve that’s developing:  being called endearing names by strangers.  Usually, this doesn’t really bother me.  Yesterday, however, it seemed like this was happening to me all day while I was out shopping.  I started wondering if I was being trailed by a five-year-old with pigtails, or if I had suddenly turned into a walking bag of sugar.  By the time the fourth cashier called me “sweetheart,” I was smiling (yes, that smile) through gritted teeth.

Alright, so I was probably over-reacting.  It’s a very small thing, and as I said, normally it doesn’t bother me.  Yesterday, though, it got under my skin.  It felt like a concentrated dose of condescension.

You know where things like that don’t happen?  On a military post.  Not in my experience, anyways.  It was rather disorienting, when I first got married, to go from the discourtesy of some of the situations I have described, to have people “ma’am”-ing and “Mrs.”-ing me without batting an eye.  People in the military seem to assume that I am an adult, with adult responsibilities.  I’m not sure why this is.  People in the military do tend to get married younger than in in the civilian world, and young people often have adult responsibilities.  But why people don’t seem to assume that I’m a teenage army brat, I don’t know.

On the other hand, in the civilian world, people seem to assume that I am a teenager, and treat me accordingly until they find out otherwise.  There really is a change in demeanor when people find out that I’m older than they thought I was.  It’s a little hard to describe, but, for one thing, they tend to minimize the “dears” and “sweeties”.  For another, they become a little more focused and serious in whatever they are doing, with a little more air of respect.

Which makes me wonder, among other things: assuming I was a teenager, why would I deserve less respect and serious attention than someone just a few years older than myself?

***

I have plenty of stories about people mistaking my age.  Thankfully, most of them are amusing.  There’s the time I went to the dentist when I was nineteen, and the hygienist got my file mixed up with another “Ashley” who was was fourteen.  The hygienist didn’t even suspect the mistake until I pointed out a discrepancy in the file (besides the birthdate).  I had thought there was something a little strange going on when she had entered the cleaning room the first time.  There was a birth-story show on the TV, and the woman was in the middle of labor.  “Oh, you don’t want to watch that,” she said, and turned the channel.  Which was true, I didn’t particularly want to hear a laboring woman shrieking while I had my teeth cleaned, but there was something funny about how she said it.  Later, when she discovered the file mix-up with the fourteen-year-old, she got a little sheepish.  “Oh,” she said, “That’s why I turned the channel when I came in!”

There’s the time in El Paso a couple of years ago, when I went to the eye doctor for a follow-up on my new contact lenses. He asked if I was getting them in and out okay, and I said yes, although it was taking some practice.  He laughed and said, “Don’t worry, soon it will become as easy for you as catching the boys!”  I smiled and said, “Well, I don’t know what my husband would think about that.”  His smile faltered for a moment, and then he laughed a little nervously.  “Oh!” he said.  “I was wondering where your parent was.  You are supposed to have a parent with you if you are under sixteen.”  (Actually, that one creeped me out a bit.  I was glad there was a female assistant in the room with me.)

Then there’s the time last winter, when I was grocery shopping and the teenage male cashier had to ask me for my ID.  He shook his head and sighed melodramatically as he punched my birthdate into the computer.  “Your age just about breaks my heart.”  Uh…….thanks?

***

Someday, I will look like I am old enough to drive.  Someday, I will look like I am old enough to have graduated high school, and maybe even college.  Someday, I will look old enough that teenage boys (and creepy older men) won’t want to hit on me.  Until then, I’ll just keep smiling and laughing off the silly things that people say to me, and try not to get too mad about the stupid things.  I’m not wishing away my youth or my youthful looks, but I would appreciate being treated like an adult.  Also, if you could keep the hand-slamming, jaw-dropping, and eye-popping to a minimum, it would be probably be better for both of us.

And to that wonderful employee at Wal-Mart, who, when she had to verify my age so I could buy a tube of super-glue last year, gave me a good squint and said, “Nah, I don’t need to see your license.  You look eighteen to me”:  thank you.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Shiiiiiiiiiny

shiny_WMI sketched this comic a while ago, but since my brother got engaged last weekend (hooray!), I thought it would be a timely post.

Diamonds can be very distra—-oOOOOooo, shiny!

Ypres! A Mouse: Victorian England

victorian_england_WM

The theme for this comic is taken from one of the papers my class wrote for Mayterm.  I wish my professor had let me defend my thesis in comics instead.  That would have been much more fun–for both of us, I’m sure.  On the other hand, this comic gave me so much trouble, it probably would have been just as much work as the paper.

Fun but useless fact:  the top three panels are all based on portraits of Queen Victoria.

Untitled book can has title.

HAPPY SPRING!!!

Oh, wait, this is New York.  Juuuuuust kidding.  *SNOW*

***

Thanks to a wonderful friend, my previously untitled Great War book project now has a title.

Drumroll, please….

And the title is…

Ypres!  A Mouse!
Lab Mice goes to Belgium

Isn’t that great?

(If you are wondering what “yippers” is…well, google it.)

***

I do have a comic for you, but it has been giving me SO.  MUCH. TROUBLE.  that it probably won’t get posted until Saturday.  I know.  I can hear you wailing in despair.  Like you do most weekends when I fail to post.  –Actually, you’re saying, “That’s okay, don’t kill yourself, it’s not like anyone reads this blog anyhow.  You do know that you’re talking to yourself virtually right now, don’t you?”  Yes.  Yes, I do.  But the alternative is going and doing something productive, so here we are.

Anyways, to tide any of you over who actually might be reading this long, rambling post, and who might be looking forward to my comic posts, here is something amusing and WWI-related:

If World War I was a bar fight

Enjoy.

Cowering Brain

cowering_brain_wm

I contracted senioritis in my junior year of college, so by the time I was actually getting ready to graduate, it was at a pretty advanced stage.  Writing papers was like pulling teeth, and writing my senior capstone paper was the worst.  I didn’t even have a thesis until about two weeks before the first draft was due, and most of it was written over my week-long Easter break.  My topic was “English domestic civilian propaganda posters during the Second World War” (your line: “Wow.  That’s specific.”).  By the end of the semester I was having nightmares about the Blitz and Nazis, and was very ready to be done with the whole thing.  It was a relief to finally turn the first draft in, even if it wasn’t all over quite yet.

And of course, this all coincided with the outbreak of the “Keep Calm and Carry On” spin-offs.

Ginger’s Christmas Letter

Dear Everyone,

This was a good year.  I like this house.  It has stairs, which are fun to run up and down, and the banister is fun for practicing my acrobatics.  So is the coat tree downstairs.  Mom says I am going to fall and break my head, but I never do.  I am too talented.  The house has lots of old radiators that get really warm.  They are nice to sleep on.

Mom and Dad brought home a big furry thing that smells funny.  They said that it is a dog.  I don’t think I like it very much, but the kittens do.  Sometimes it steps on me.  I like its food though.  One time Mom left a big bag of it in the pantry.  Juniper ripped it open and we ate a lot.  Then it made our tummies sick.  Mom put us in the bathroom while she cleaned up.  I hate being locked up anywhere!  I decided to show her!  I ripped up two rolls of paper towels and some toilet paper.  I thought she would be mad, but she just laughed.  Sometimes I don’t understand her.

When it got warm everyone went outside but me.  I cried as loud as I could, but Mom and Dad would not let me out.  They said I would just hurt myself.  Well, I decided to show them.  I ran outside every time I could.  I think they gave up trying to keep me inside, because now I go outside all the time.  Lots of times the outside is wet, though, and I don’t like it.  One time I caught something that was hopping and fluttering in the yard and brought it inside.  Mom chased me down and took it away, which was awfully mean, because I was so proud that I had caught it.  I am a good hunter.  I am especially good at chasing bugs and eating them.

Then Mom and Dad brought three more kitties to live with us.  I didn’t like them at first.  When they came near me I whacked them on the head.  I liked their food, though, but Mom wouldn’t let me have it.  After a while I started to like them.  They are nice to chase and snuggle with and I like to give them baths.  They are pretty big now, but sometimes I still whack them on the head, just to show them who’s boss.

Now it is cold outside and there is lots of wet white stuff on the ground.  It’s not a very nice surprise because I think it always ought to be warm out.  Mom and Dad put up a big fake tree in the living room.  We had so much fun with it!  I am too big to climb it, but Spot and Scout can.  We chase them around it and they hide in the branches.  I like to clean my teeth on the fake needles, it feels good.  Mom and Dad really don’t like it when we do that, though.  They say we have destroyed the tree.  It looks fine to me, though.  They got a new one that is real and I don’t like it so much.  It tastes funny and smells funny.  Mom says it’s perfect, and why didn’t they think of this sooner?  I want the old one back.

Christmas is soon, and Mom and Dad have been making lots of good-smelling food.  I like to sample what they make.  Then they put me outside with the other kitties.  You think they would at least ask what I think of what they make.

There have been lots of other good things this year, too…like back-scratches and treats and Tuna Fish.  I love Tuna Fish.  The kittens used to get it all the time, which made me mad.  Mom said that it had medicine in it, but I wouldn’t care.  Whenever I hear her start opening something I run into the kitchen and start crying.  Most of the time she says it’s not Tuna, but you never know.

Well, that is all for now.  I hope Santa brings me lots of Tuna for Christmas.

Love, Ginger.

and Juniper, Sheena, Bagheera, Scout and Spot too.

P.S. Spot wants to tell you about her year.

PurrpurrpurrTUNA!purrpurrpurrTOYSpurrpurrpurrSLEEPpurpurrpurrFOODpurrpurrpurrSCARED!!!!purrpurrpurrTREE!purrpurrpurrSQUIRTBOTTLEOHNORUN!purrpurrpurrSNUGGLETIMEpurrpurrpurrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

Practicing my acrobatics in the coat tree.

Practicing my acrobatics in the coat tree.

I am really cute.

I am really cute.  Merry Christmas everybody!

Not a Creature was Stirring

Merry Christmas!

Look familiar?  Yeah, me too.

 

This is my Christmas card design for this year, and is actually a re-do of an older comic from around 2009.  It was inspired by my mom, who always baked her special “Christmas breads” as gifts for people at this time of year.  This is a reminder–especially to myself, now that I have my own list of treats to make and gifts to wrap and Christmas cards to draw and print–to take a moment to rest and be peaceful.

Merry Christmas and happy New Year!