Archive for ‘Truth Serum’

Name Calling

October 22nd, 2009

I’ve been hearing about Croning ceremonies a lot recently (I guess I’m eligible now), and I just don’t want to be one. Why do men celebrate their midlife crises by buying a sports car, but we’re supposed to be rebirthed as wise women and revered elders, who just coincidentally are also invisible in this culture? Crones might be central figures in fairy tales, but for an archetype to have continuing mythic power, doesn’t it have to be relevant to the way we live now?Otherwise we’re just pretending to each other. If you’re lucky enough to gain some power at that age like a Madeleine Albright or Hillary, it’s usually at the price of being sexless. You put on your pantsuits and collect brooches and never give off a whiff of musk, just old lady lavender. But if you dare to speak truth to power or speak too loudly, the other side of cronedom is invoked–the hag, the witch, the malicious old woman. Not so men. The older and grayer, the sexier and more sought after. And they’re certainly not chasing crones their own age. Maybe women who are involved in the Crone movement and menopause workshops hope to change the way our culture regards older women. I admire them for that, but I don’t want to be a Crone any more than I want to be a Cougar. I hope as I age that I’ll find more to me than I ever imagined, an identity that doesn’t require either workshopping or bedhopping to discover.

Not-so-deep Dark Secrets

September 19th, 2009

  • I like to run the air conditioner with the front door open. I know, I know–it’s bad. But I can’t help wanting to do it.
  • I don’t like fruit. I know it’s good for me and I eat it because I have to, but I don’t ever go, “Oh god I’m craving a mango and some hormone-free yogurt made in Iceland with a scoop of fat-free granola.” I grew up eating bread, butter and sugar sandwiches, every apple is a step forward for me.
  • I think the Guinness Book of World Records is a stupid waste of time, as is so much stuff (any MTV awards show, People Magazine, Vanity Fair, The View, pie eating contests) aimed at taking our minds off the fact of our mortality.
  • Despite the point above, I have to admit I love Flipping Out on Bravo. Hey, I’m human and like to forget I’m mortal every now and then.
  • I am utterly lazy at heart.
  • I worry about smelling bad when I’m old. I also worry that no one will tell me if I do. Is it inevitable?
  • I’m incredibly bored by reading or hearing about people’s weddings. Like dreams, I think they are mainly interesting to the people who are having them or hoping to have them. Marriages, on the other hand, have infinite drama.
  • My biggest regret is that I wasn’t successful at marriage. It makes me feel less-than even though I have an amazing life.
  • I’m addicted to reading mysteries because I love the god-like character of the Detective (excepting Miss Marple, who totally annoys me) and the possibility it will all come right in the end. Could that be why I was bad at marriage? Living with ambiguity is not my strong suit.

States of Lonesomeness

September 14th, 2009

  • When your soul sister moves to a foreign country and you have to accept it’s permanent.
  • When your daughters live on the opposite coast but you can’t accept it’s permanent.
  • When the light turns in September and nature begins to wrap up summer and put it away.
  • When a friend dies, and though it’s expected, you’re not ready for the empty space.
  • When you call your father and you can’t think of anything to say to each other.
  • When everyone you know is out of town on the same weekend.
  • When you realize someone you love is beyond your help.
  • When a piece of music suddenly opens a door onto a scene from 30 years ago.
  • When you come across an old photo of yourself as a child taken before you understood sorrow.
  • When the full moon is leading you on a car chase across town, always just out of reach.
Lonesomeness is so different from loneliness. Lonesomeness stirs things up, while loneliness just knocks you flat. Lonesomeness is that Hank Williams feeling of mournful emptiness, that song we all recognize at some time or another — the chords of longing and sweet sadness and homesickness for something we’ve lost but can’t remember, all playing at once. It’s our national anthem of humanness.

Kicking 60’s Ass

September 13th, 2009

I understand that my bones are getting more frail as I age and that I’m finally paying the price for hating milk from childhood on…but dear god, no one told me I would start getting advice about wearing sensible shoes from almost everyone I know. Today I dropped off a new pair of 3 3/4-inch Tory Burch heels to be stretched a bit before I wear them, and Alex, the shoe guy, suggested taking an inch off them for me! I agree that Tevas, Keens, Merrills and Chacos are safe and comfortable and not horribly ugly, but when I put them on, I’m always afraid I’ll start talking to strangers about fiber supplements and Medicare. My 5 year old granddaughter picked out a pair of lace-up high tops for her first day of kindergarten this week and called them her “power shoes,” because they would make her strong and keep her safe in her new school. Well, I need some power shoes for this new phase of my life, too, so I can kick ass in my 60’s. Shoes that make me feel invincible instead of invisible. Maybe Alex came up with the right compromise — a little less dangerous but still standing tall.

The Way Back Machine

July 28th, 2009

My grandparents lived in a tenant house in rural Kentucky on a bare hill that was brutally, baking hot in summer. No A/C of course, maybe a fan (although I don’t remember one) and a tiny kitchen that almost shimmered from the heat coming off the cooking stove. Here’s my poor mother, suffering through an August due date, several years away from my father (standing next to her) leaving her for another woman. My beloved grandmother is sitting down for a change, but usually she was toiling like a mule — cooking and serving food to family and hired hands, teaching Sunday School, weeding and watering her huge vegetable garden, wrestling ewes ready to lamb, killing chickens, putting her shoulder to a metaphorical plow every single morning of her life. My dear cousin sitting on my grandmother’s lap would eventually die too young from breast cancer that might have been cured if she hadn’t ignored it. My grandfather in his hat with his Indian-ancestor cheekbones and aloof surliness. All of us caught by the camera in the blazing afternoon sun standing on an almost-dirt yard in the middle of nowhere. There together for one moment before we moved on to meet our future selves.

Wishful Thinking

July 25th, 2009

That my son and grandson had presentee fathers. That so many assholes weren’t politicians. That winter would come just long enough for me to wear my boots and sweaters a few times and then beat it back to the North Pole or wherever. That I could remember to do pushups every day. That I had more self-confidence, less self-consciousness. That I could learn to walk in high heels without tripping, skidding and falling off the sides. That I knew more salty and savory people, fewer saccharine sweet ones. That I understood how to use my heart rate monitor. That I would ever in my lifetime achieve and maintain Warrior 3 in yoga — forget about Crow. That “Africa” by Toto wasn’t stuck in my brain right now. That FreshBerry frozen yogurt qualified as my daily serving of fruit. That it were cocktail time right now.

Night Thoughts

July 17th, 2009

I’m a Dusk person, not a Dawn person. I’m Saturday Night Live versus CBS Sunday Morning. I hate the Damocles sword of an alarm clock hanging over my consciousness when I go to bed. I find it hard to make it to early morning meetings. I almost have to sleep in my workout clothes in order to get to an a.m. spinning class. I try to eat breakfast every day, but I don’t really love solid food before my soul has had time to resettle in my body after wandering all night God knows where. But when the day begins to wind down, I wake up. I look forward to leaving my shoes at the door, taking a shower, putting on PJs and sauteing onions in olive oil when I come home from work. If I go out, the conviviality of Happy Hour makes me feel like I’m living in Hemingway’s Paris. I love the evening news, technicolor sunsets in winter, dinner parties, gentle shadows that soothe the tired earth, reading until 2am, thunderstorms that wake me up in the dark and night-owl guardian angels who watch over me when I finally turn out the lights.

Whenever I read about “aging boomers” lately, the subtext is “old person who is using up all our resources and should be abandoned on an ice floe.” Suddenly my age is anathema. I am a drag on progress, a parasite on society. Forget that I’m still working fulltime, taking spinning classes, using a computer, iPhone and Nintendo DS (okay, that one is stupid), trying to do my bit to fight global warming and mountain top removal and never holding up the security line at airports trying to figure out what’s legal to take in my carryon. I even have a Power Monkey! No, evidently that’s not enough to justify my continued existence (“What, you’re STILL alive?!). Evidently, I also need to admit that the ’60s were stupid, that I was a compulsive shopper, that I was too ambitious and feministy for my own good and that I’m sucking the lifeblood of future generations by having a longer life expectancy. Was I so dismissive of The Greatest Generation, the one that came before mine? If so, it’s probably payback to be the enemy now. Karma sucks, and I can hear my mother laughing about it. No longer hip, only waiting for that inevitable hip replacement that will take up a valuable hospital bed that could be put to better use by a 35-year-old. All I can say to young writers who are blaming boomers for the current economy is this is what 65 looks like, and good luck when you get there because someone younger than you will inevitably be bitching about how your generation fucked up the world. I just wish I could be around to enjoy it. Maybe if I eat more yogurt and do more pushups…

People Who Say Yes

June 18th, 2009

I should be used to Mean Girls by now after 15 years of publishing a magazine for women. I’ve had my fair share of nasty letters from women who think I deserve a comeuppance. Letters accusing me of being an elitist (hey, I want to respond, my toilet was outdoors the first 12 years of my life!), a man hater (yikes, my list of lovers says I have the opposite problem–I might be a slut!), a fake feminist (is there a secret handshake and password?), a plastic surgery pusher (I’d probably do it too if I weren’t so afraid of pain and anesthesia), an abortion loving liberal (yep, I’m pro choice forever). At first, I used to cry whenever I got a critical letter. Then I got mad. Now I try to shake it off and not give my energy away to strangers. But every letter like that makes me realize how judgmental I’ve been at times of women I don’t even know, and how that shames and teaches me. But it also makes me realize how much time all of us spend getting angry about the wrong things. I want to save my anger for men who beat up women, for rapists who walk free, for girls who aren’t allowed to go to school. And I want to celebrate people who are creating something, making art out of their lives, throwing a party for no reason other than being alive. I want to be one of those people, but I have a long way to go.

30% Chance of Tears

June 8th, 2009

The last few weeks, we’ve had the same predictable daily forecast: scattered storms, clouds, some sun, and a 30% chance of some sort of weather event — rain, water spouts, tornadoes, hurricanes, plagues of toads. Situation unstable. My own moods have vacillated between blue sky optimism, looming thunderheads, oppressive gray pessimism, barometric shifts and sudden showers. Yesterday, I felt a storm building all day and finally put on my sunglasses and raced out of my house for a power walk. I cried the whole way, hoping people I passed would think it was just sweat was running down my face. Knowing I had a therapy session scheduled the next day seeded the rain clouds, and I wanted to get the crying out of the way ahead of time. If I have a cleaning lady coming to my house, I spend the night before picking up and putting away, and ┬áif I’m going to see the shrink, I start stuffing things in a mental closet and tidying up any loose emotions that might be showing. So why do I go to someone for help and then pretend everything is fine? It’s like calling 911 and then locking the doors so the firemen can’t get in. Always being “fine” is part of my problem. Especially now, when I’m questioning the point of my job, worrying about growing older and becoming invisible, trying to let go of what I no longer need, wondering if I can create a new life and what that would look like. I wish I had an Emotional Doppler Radar app on my iPhone to warn me of rough weather ahead and a guru to help me ride out the storms that are bound to lie ahead in this part of my life. Or at least hold the umbrella and pass the Kleenex.