Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Book Club: Saving Fish From Running With Scissors while on a Fabulous Traveling Funeral

Aren't I clever? Aren't I cute? Don't I make a bang-up headline writer?

These are the books I have not read this month. No, allow me to correct myself: these are the books I have not been able to finish reading this month.
  • Saving Fish From Drowning, by Amy Tan: This is the first Tan book I haven't liked, so it's not like I'm a total philistine. I just got bored with it, with the conceit that the narrator is dead, and the characters are having the adventure she planned. Yeah--yawn!--so what. Maybe I just didn't get into the adventures. Maybe I just didn't get into the narrator. Maybe I just thought the writing was sort of pedestrian. Whatever--it ended up under the bed.
  • Running With Scissors, by Augusten Burroughs: I bought this book because it's getting so much play, how could I not? I mean, it was a New York Times Bestseller and now a Major Motion Picture. Okay, what else? "If you love Sedaris, you'll fold over laughing with [Scissors]." That should have been my tipoff; I don't find Sedaris particularly enthralling either. Maybe I'm just not into the evolution of fat boys who end up witty gay men, but--yawn!--so what. Another under-the-bed book.
  • Annie Freeman's Fabulous Traveling Funeral, by Kris Radish: This one I got at Raley's. I wanted a novel to read, I was shopping for groceries, the book rack was there, and this one called to me. I thought the title was funny and the premise, that four women take the ashes of the fifth on a funeral trip, was kinda clever. But the writing...oh, the writing. I'm sorry, Kris Radish, but you have so overwritten this. You have got to stop with the litanies of three, and the repeated signal words, and the sentences that go on forever into the night and beyond....! Oh, sorry, that was me writing. Which is what made this book particularly disconcerting for me is that in it, I recognize my own tendencies to overblow my prose.
Anyone want these three, not-very-well-recommended books?

Friday, January 26, 2007

How To Quit Smoking Overnight...

Have a blood vessel in your brain explode. Be taken to the ER in an ambulance. Have the docs send a slinky up your femoral artery to seal off the blood vessel. Spend about four or five weeks (who can remember? I'm brain-damaged after all) in ICU hooked up to various machines. One that took a direct reading of whatever from a nifty wire than they shoved down another artery in my neck to my heart. (It was called a Swann, for those of you who care to know.) Another pumped air into my lungs after the hospital shared not one, but three separate infectious diseases with me. Get food from a tube down your nose. Pee through one poked up your bladder. We won't even discuss any other eliminatory processes. Go through all of this, and be delivered six weeks later (after rehab, remember) back home, a non-smoker.

I started smoking when I was 15, and I don't have to tell you how long ago that was. I smoked about a pack a day for the next thirty or so years. I was a die-hard, love it love it love it smoker. My friend, Laurie, whose mother died of lung cancer, tried to get me to quit when she did. She went to SmokeEnders, and she would come home from a weekly meeting and give me a mini-version of what she'd learned. I remember having to list all the reasons why I wanted to quit smoking. None of them had to do with health. All of them had to do with odors--my breath, my car, my apartment, my clothes, even my body. Laurie went back to smoking, and I never quit.

Then she found an acupuncturist who had worked wonders with old-school smokers such as Jason Robards, Jr. The guy was an MD in Scarsdale New York, and he cured Laurie. So she made me go. And he cured me. I walked into his office a smoker, and walked out a non-smoker. It wasn't that hard. Evidently he knew the right pressure points to hit for endorphin rushes, and I recall being sort of blissed out for a week or so. I barely ate the sunflower seeds he had given me to assauge my need to keep my mouth busy.

Several years passed in which I (a) didn't smoke, and (b) didn't particularly want to smoke, and (c) was obnoxious about those smelly smokers in my path. Then, I don't know, one day I happened to notice that all the most interesting people were those smelly smokers. Non-smokers were up-tight, rigid, parsimoniously correct; smokers were creative, funny, fuck-the-world types. That was me, and I wanted to be outside with them.

So I analyzed my smoking versus non-smoking situation and came up with these rules: 1. Since smell was the major issue for me, I would never smoke inside. 2. I would not smoke mindlessly; I would make sure each cigarette I had was a wanted one. Because I lived in the Northeast, rule 2 was impacted by rule 1: standing in a freezing rain or blizzard is not condusive to enjoying one's smoke.

My rules worked well for me, and I ended up smoking about seven cigarettes a day. I had my last one about eleven o'clock on July 8. I sat on the porch and smoked before going to bed. Four hours later my cerebral aneurysm ruptured, which takes us right back to where this post started. When people asked me how I quit smoking, I would tell them the ICU is a good place to do it. Sheer coincidence, was the implication.

But then I read this article in the paper today, and I'm wondering if along with the other parts of my brain that the aneurysm flattened, did it get my insula as well?

EDIT: Ooops, forgot to put my tags on.

Thursday, January 25, 2007


A new link for me. This is a roundup of blogs in the greater (or lesser?) Sacramento area, including Stockton, Yolo, and Staten Island, I think. No, really, check it out

They've got a link to the Sacramento Bee's Blog Watch and--hey, y'all, my post on Roe v Wade made the list. I think you can vote if you go to the site, but I'm not sure why you'd want to, or what the prize is.

Speaking of my Roe v Wade post--thanks to all the commenters who had such nice things to say about the post. And to the one Anonymous, whose comment was that my post missed the point that there was a dead baby involved--no, dear, I think you missed the point.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Roe v Wade: You've made it to 34...may you go on forever!

Today is the 34th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision, Roe v Wade, that ensured a woman's right to choose what does or does not happen to her body. Bloggers are honoring and celebrating and shouting that fact from the virtual rooftops by writing about why we each are for choice. Here are my reasons:

I'm Pro-Choice...because I'm an American who honors the Constitution and all the Founders sought to create of this country. "Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness"--it's the second word that's salient here. Liberty: just another way of saying free to chose.

I'm Pro-Choice...because I was around before Roe v Wade. I've had friends who have given birth and had back-room abortions. I remember one who told of pulling wads of packing from her vagina in the Greyhound bus on the way back to Pittsburgh from West Virginia, where she could find someone to abort her. I've stood and rubbed another's back while she delivered a daughter, who was pulled from between her legs, wrapped up and hustled off to the nursery before she even got to hold her. I remember how missing your period felt like a harbinger of doom--and for some it literally was.

I'm Pro-Choice...because I've worked for the Movement and I know the statistics, and I've seen the pictures of what happened when abortions were illegal. I'll never forget one photo in particular, NARAL had it on a brochure I think. It was a woman with short dark hair, lying on her stomach with her arms outstretched and her legs drawn up the way a baby lies in its crib belly down. Except she was lying in a pool of her own blood, and she was dead. To me, that photo was the most eloquent visual possible, and I wanted to blow it up and throw it on all the desks of legislators after the Anti-Choice people delivered their photos of fetuses.

I'm Pro-Choice...because I value what is over what may be. The real here-and-now woman is far more important to me than the potential of any child she may or may not bear.

I'm Pro-Choice...because I don't believe my religion or any religion, which are after all man-made, should have the right of dominion. You say potahto, I say potato--both words get to the same vegetable, after all.

I'm Pro-Choice...because I don't want some goddam man who has never had his legs in the stirrups telling me what I may or may not do. It's burns my chaps and frosts my hide that the Anti-Choice movement is the province of men. Who the fuck are they to have even an iota of say in the lives of women they are not related to? Get another hobby-horse, buddy. If your life lacks meaning, find some other passion to make you feel important.

I'm Pro-Choice...because I'm Pro-Family, Pro-Kids, Pro-Loving Relationships.

I'm Pro-Choice...because I'm an intelligent woman and I don't see how I could be anything else.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Population explosion

My cousin Ratphooey had her baby boy this morning. Now if only MissB would pop hers out, my family would be all present and accounted for.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Say Hello to Butare, Rwanda

I don't know if you can see it, but I've got a button on my blog that links to some mega-switchboard in the sky (or the depths, since I do know that the salient wires are buried deep). It gives me reports about Traffic and such, most of which I'm still unblissfully ignorant of.

My favorite report, though, is the one called "Location". That tells me the city and state and country, if you will, of each visitor to my site. Mostly, it's got Elk Groves or Sacramento or Philadelphia. But sometimes my reading public comes from far afield.

I get so excited when I see that. I want to yell "Hello Taipei--whassup?" And "Hey Singapore, how'd you get here?" Or just plain--"Hi Butare, Rwanda. Who are you and will you be back?"

Hi hi hi, world out there. Am I incredibly uncool for getting excited about this????? Does anybody else think it's a wonder, this blogging thing?

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Blog Lengths-- A Quiz

Today, class, we're discussing length, as in duration, and frequency of blog posts.

1. What do you think is the best, most felicitous, appealing and proper length of a blog post? I have blends (blog friends) who, in my humble opinion, go on forever. But maybe they think I go too short. What say you?????

2. How often should one post? This, obviously, does not apply to those entered in NaBloPoMo. But during so-called normal times--is it better to post one sort of majorly blog a day? That's what I try to do. But how about the times--today seems to be one of them--when I have lots of little things burning to be said. Am I talking too much? Should I be quiet over here in the corner? Do you not have to hear everything that I'm thinking as I'm thinking it? Whaddayahthink?

Comments...comments...anybody seen my Comments....?

Where'd they go--the little thing at the end my posts that lets my multitudinous readers weigh in on my every thought? And I din't do nuthin' to the template. Help help help

EDIT: oh they're back again. So comment, people.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Logging Hours...

I am logging my hours for the BBS so I can get them signed by past supervisors so that when I finally have 3000, I can take yet another impossible exam. You probably didn't understand any of that except for the last bit--unless you are a marriage & family therapist, counselor, clinician, whatever--take your pick. So let me translate: The BBS is the Board of Behavioral Sciences which is responsible for California therapists licenses (not psychologists, however, that's another board) In order to get licensed in California, one must have an MA in Psychology at least AND 3000 hours of various kinds of experience, training, etc. which must be supervised by a licensed BBS MFT supervisor. Or some such thing. I haven't paid all that much attention because it seems to me that by the time I have the 3000 hours, I'll be dead. Currently, I am pre-licensed, which, although it makes me sound like a used car, means I can do therapy under the supervision of a yadayadayada.

If you are still with me, it's probably because you're either bored at work or have a friend/family member who is going through the logging of hours business. In which case, you must send them to this nifty site, which offers, for a nominal fee, software so one can do the whole thing on the computer. Which is a vast improvement over doing it by hand, a task that always includes much stress over my post-aneurysm crappy handwriting ("She used to have such lovely handwriting...almost calligraphic in nature...sigh...").

This logging of hours means I am going back over my calendar for the past two years. And finding addresses. And phone numbers. And the license # of my supervisors. And lots of other shit that I should have done at the time. My friend Marlene has a spreadsheet of her own going. But then my friend Marlene is well-organized. Her friend Jane is not. Her friend Jane has bits and pieces all over the place, which I mean to file and sometimes I do file them but then I forget that I've filed them or where I've filed them. In LA, there were only certain places where this detritus of my life could be lurking, but here in Elk Grove--sheesh! all the world's a stage.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Job Search - 2007

I have been doing this since 1994. Then I was doing the official MLA Job Search. That is the Grand Inquisition of all job searches, as any of you who have or tried to have college teaching positions well know. The first year, I got one interview; the second, a job at East LA College, which I took. I thought that job would be my last, since it was supposed to go to a tenure track position, but the gods or my karma or just pissy department politics got involved, and I was burped out on the job market again. The years ensued and--geeze, haven't I gone into this a million times before? Suffice to say, I am, once again, doing a job search.

And loathing it. Okay, loathe is a bit strong, maybe. Distasteful better?

I am applying for two kinds of jobs, naturally, to match my two kinds of Master's degrees. The Marriage and Family Therapist Intern jobs, of which there are few to none, at least that aren't the same job that I just left. And, yes, the English Lit teaching jobs, which devolves to composition in its various guises.

I've been out of that job market for over ten years, so I'm somewhat queasy on details like, oh, recommendations from former colleagues or department chairs. This is why I find the task so distasteful. Why do I have to jump through all these hoops? Why can't they just look at my resume and see that I've taught a shit-load of comp classes of all levels (and speak so nicely, as well) and wave me over to the In pile?

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Book Club: LIPSTICK JIHAD Azadeh Moaveni

I wish I had something erudite, astute, and articulate to say about this book. Other than: I liked it. Yeah, that does sound a tad lukewarmish. But I finished it, which considering the half-read genuis-works littering the floor by my bed (Amy Tan, we're talking about you--) is a great compliment.

I liked that I got a glimpse from the inside of Iranian culture. I went to graduate school with a lot of Persian/Iranian emigres. Mostly they were, like Moaveni, the American-born children of those who fled when the Shah was deposed, making a diaspora in Beverly Hills. But some were Iran-born, like two of my three dentists (the third is a Cohen from Cincinatti, I think).

And if the personal is not political enough, consider our wise and sainted President who, according to Ted Koppel, seems to be threatening war with Iran. So it is fascinating, if not relevant to be able to peer through the window into the Persian-American world Moaveni offered. I don't know if the Beverly Hills diaspora is different from the Bay Area diaspora where she grew up. Her whole world seems to be Muslim, whereas the Persians I know in L.A. are Jewish and Muslim and Zoroastrian. And that might make a difference. Or maybe not. I'll ask the dentists.

The window into the Iranian world was a tad more murky. For one, Moaveni is a Muslim, so her Iran is filtered through a Shi'a lens. For another, the Iran she talks about is that of the late 20th, early 21st century, when for a brief moment, it seemed as if Iran might be joining the world (yes, I know that is a disgustingly, Eurocentric attitude, but--Moaveni herself describes it that way). Today we know it never happened; the Lipstick Jihad, if it ever really existed, got (get ready for an appalling metaphor) wiped off the face of the Middle East.

I did not like that she kept reminding me in one way or another how very young and how very cool she is. And, seemingly, rich, or at least without any concerns about the mere facts of life, like food and rent. In this, she is very like the women I went to graduate school with. They were, most of them, dealing with the conflict of becoming self-actualized American women while not having to give up the Prada and Lauren and Chanel that daddy let them buy.

What I really liked was the way she dug into the internal conflict between her Iranian and her American selves. Her conclusion is that she could never find a home in either country (and she did move to Beirut), but I think the conflict she described is far less specific.
. . .I now realized that I would perpetually exist in each world feeling the tug of the other. The yearning, which I must embrace and stop assaulting, was a perpetual reminder of the truth, that I was whole, but composed of both.
When I read that, I felt a shock of recognition. She is describing the essential Otherness that we all have to deal with, and that makes this book far more than just a memoir.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Baby, It's Cold Outside...

...the subheading for the post being: "Walking Your Dog When It's Friggin' Freezing."

For those of you living in the balmy NorthEast, be it known that the central western part of the states, or at least central California, is having a rare cold spell. So rare that the newscasts are leading with it. So rare that the Governor opened up many more Warm Shelters. So rare that we're being instructed in how to protect our pipes and our lemon trees and our rose bushes from the frigid air. So rare that we haven't seen the like of this weather in this century. So rare that the last time we descended to these depths of farenheit it was way, way, way back in '92 or '93.

I don't mean to make light of it--well, obviously I do--but really, one man's subArctic freeze is another guy's sunshiney day.

I just came back from walking Molly in this subArctic balm. The temp is, oh say, 40 or 50--and yes, there's a wind chill. But I, being a former Pennsylvanian, insist that January in California should be shirt sleeve weather. My winter coat is stored for trips to New York. I make do with a $10 hoodie sweatshirt from SaveOn and my LL Bean downvest. And earmuffs. It wasn't, I regret to tell you, enough.

Or perhaps the walk was too long. I have a short round-the-block version for Molly's poop walks and a much longer, down-by-the-Slough-I'm-Exercising-My-Dog walk. I intended to go on the former. But Molly--poor Moll had a weak belly this morning. It is, I'm sure, a consequence of ALL THE HUMAN FOOD THAT HER FATHER FEEDS HER! Which is what I'm silently screaming as I crouch on the sidewalk trying to find and contain each dribble. She assumes the position here, there, and everywhere trying to get that last little drop off her asshole. Have you ever tried to wipe up soft shit from a lawn? Let me rephrase that: have you ever tried to wipe up soft shit while you had your hand inside a thin plastic bag which is all that is between you and the doggy diarrhea--in subarctic conditions? It feels like exactly what it is.

And then my ear muffs start to slide off, but I have no free hand with which to readjust them. And thanks to Molly's bowels, we're far from the short round-the-block walk. I think of it longingly as I trudge home. But I have miles to go before I sleep--and piles of dog shit to dump when I get there.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The Knitting Diaries: the scarfed tucked coat

This came in the mail yesterday. It's the yarn I ordered from Elann that I posted about the other day. With it came the instructions, as promised, for the coat, which was designed by Helen Hamman. They're calling it "scarfed tucked coat" --lower-case and since Helen Hamman's logo is also lower case, I'm presuming that this is a typographical choice and the name of the garment is actually, The Scarfed Tucked Coat. But it may be that that's just Hamman's or elann's way of differentiating this particular coat from the unscarfed tucked one. Or the scarfed straight-line coat. (Now the letters are starting to shimmer and blur in front of me, and I'm wondering if scarfed is actually a word. And what it would mean to be scar fed, as in eating a new brand of--blech! stop it!)

I was most eager to see the instructions for knitting the coat. I know it will be a challenge. Just to take on a project of this size--a coat, for chrissake!--is major. But it never occured to me that I might not be up to it. And then I looked at the pattern: two pages, 8 pt. type, a schematic that is clear, but that reveals the truth of what the explanatory blurb said: "This unique, asymmetrical coat features right front pleats and a long scarf, which drapes dramatically over the left shoulder. It is worked from side to side, with its body shaped by short rows."

Oy. In an instant I went from excitement to fear, from certainty of success to sure failure. In my mind's eye, I saw myself happily knitting the gauge swatch and then I saw myself shoving it and whatever else I'd completed on the coat into the back of my closet (with the other failed projects). That quick. Soup to Nuts--joy-excitement-interest-terror-failure-denial.

It seems to me that I may be on to some signal piece of self-knowledge here. If I can catch what I'm feeling and doing as I do it, it will be a way of isolating my process so that I can understand what happens when I get scared. And maybe alter the process mid-stream so that it doesn't end up in failure. So I'm going to do a diary of making this coat. Not posting about it every day, but when there is actually something to say. Maybe you all will help me figure myself out....

Monday, January 08, 2007

Down For The Count

Out of commission, bonged over the head with a virulent not-yet-super-snotty cold. What more can I say?

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Yadayadayada Day

I'm having one of those Yadayadayada Days. You know, the kind where you stay in bed too long, read too many spam letters, listen to too many E-OnLine news videos, and when asked any kind of specific question, can't think of a better response than yadayadayada.

I'm blaming it on an incipient bout of the flu. Feel sorry for me.

There are many things I could be doing. But, eh....yada, etc.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Paying Bills...

I am sitting here with that vague, pre-frontal lobotomy headache that I always get whenever I manage to fasten my butt to the seat to Pay Bills (I wanted to put that in a huge purple font, so it should scream as it does in my head, but I've spared you, holding myself to a delicate cap initial letter status). I believe I have mentioned this state before. Like every month or so, when I can no longer avoid the shifting pile of envelopes that have accrued since the last time I paid 'em. And I believe I confessed that it isn't not having the money to pay that bothers me. And it's not having to write checks, because mostly I do on-line (bless you, BofA) banking. It is just the fact of these fucking people wanting something from me. Leave me alone, goddamnit.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Starting a Knitting Frenzy, I fear

Today I bought on-line the yarn for this coat, pattern a freebie--hooha! I got it in this color, or something similar called Burnt Orange. I probably should have gone for a darker color as those who know my record of knitting Finished Objects are aware that I may be knitting this as my shroud. Still, I couldn't resist. The pattern just called to me--it's so weird, and throw-y and I'm sure I'll look just like the model in it. Ha! Seriously, I spent some time remembering that I won't look like the model and considering how all those pleats and folds around the middle will work with my already-pleated and folded middle. And I decided, since it already looks like it could be a good coat for a pregnant woman--go for it, Jane.

EDIT: I fixed the link, so it should go to the Elann site for this coat.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Happy Half-Birthday to Me......

I do this every year, don't I. Announce my half birthday and expect felicitations. Oh gawd, so immature, you're thinking. When will she ever grow up? I think the safe bet is on: never.

I am rereading one of my favorite books, Daddy Long Legs by Jean Webster. I first loved this book when I found it among the lot of second-hand books my mother bought at a used bookstore. All the books were circa the teens and 20s, illustrated, hard-cover girl's novels. What would be called Young Adult today. The paper on some of them had achieved parchment state and as I was often sent to sit in the bathroom with a book, I had a fondness for crunching off the corners of pages and dropping them between my legs into the toilet. Talk about an early form of dog-earred.

Daddy Long Legs is what we in the lit biz call an epistolary novel. That is, it consists of a series of letters, rather than straightforward exposition. This was, class, the first genre of novel to exist and was a particular favorite of women writers. The story is rags-to-riches, in some way. Jerusha Abbott is plucked from the orphanage in which she had grown up by a rich man to be sent all expenses paid to college. All she must do in return is write regular letters to him reporting her progress. What ensues over the next four years is a blend of coming of age, love story, feminist tract, and sociological exploration that is funny and tender and touching and maddening and eternal. It has been made, not very well in my opinion, into a movie twice. In my screenwriter days, I once pitched it to Ron Samuels and he actually showed some interest, but as was my wont, I never got off my ass to do more than talk about it. I still think it would be a fantastic film today, and I'd love to do the script for it, and still have my notes hanging around somewhere, if anyone is interested...

I am not reading my original copy. No, I'm much too much a today's chick (although I don't believe that vernacular is quite as au courant as I would like) for that. I'm getting it on-line. Sent to me in my email, a letter at a time by Daily Lit, who have lots of other books in their library. I know there are people who swear the internet has killed the novel. But how can that be when the internet is bringing me a book written way back in the early 20th century? Isn't that just widening the group of possible readers? And isn't that a good thing for publishing and writers and readers. Okay, it's bad for typesetters and paper manufacturers. But good for trees.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

When Your Words Catch Up With You...or, My Face Is Red, but My Heart is Full

Yesterday was Wednesday, and Wednesday night is late night at Knitique, my LYS (knit-speak for local yarn shop). Knitters have a propensity for communal activities. It's part of our DNA, so to speak, from the days long ago when no woman worth her salt or not would be found with empty hands. Women's work in all those Jane Austen novels was needlework, and if you recall, they could always be found in front of the fire somewhere with work in hand. But--I digress.

So, yesterday was Wednesday, and Wednesday night is late night at Knitique, when a revolving, evolving group of us gather around the table in the back of the store and knit and talk and eat pink M&Ms and knit and talk. Most LYSs have something similar; I've been to a number. Never have I found one where I went back again and again. There's a Yiddish word, gemeluchkeit
I wrote that a couple of weeks ago, got tripped up on how to spell that Yiddish word and never posted it. I was going to tell the story of how embarrassed I was when my friends at Knitique greeting me after a post in which I had lamented the lack of hard-core, graduate student, jargon-laden BS in my life. They just hooted and hollered and yelled at me in faux-yokel dialect. At first, I was confused. Then I realized--omg, they read my blog! I was pleased, embarrassed and then, perverse though it may seem, felt an overwhelming love for this group of women who have become my friends. One of my core issues has always been that I'm not being truly seen, but these women--they see me.

I'm writing this now because I spent New Year's Day with them and it couldn't have been, I feel, a better, more propitious start to 2007. Danielle, the owner of Knitique, has started a New Year's Day tradition: a 6 a.m.-2 p.m. deep discount, wear-your-PJs sale of everything in the shop. I didn't get there at 6, but at 12:30 everything I wanted was still there. So, I went 'round the store with two shopping bags and loaded up. I bought yarn and books and felting needles and more yarn and...and...and... You'll see everything over the next months, I promise.

But it wasn't the sale that made the day so special. It was the women there. Danielle, of course, and her sister, Lisa (we discovered we were kindred souls!), and Teresa and her daughter and Kim and Shirley. There were some Knitiquers missing--Mary and Susan (who was home with her week old baby) and SJ and Nancy get my point. After the shop closed at 2 p.m., we went to On The Border and had margaritas and dessert and then dinner.(Yes, you read the order right.) We laughed and talked and shared stories and made plans and...and...and--if this presages the best of 2007 for me, it promises to be a fantastic year!

Monday, January 01, 2007

On the First Day of Christmas....

...oh, wrong holiday.

I've just gone through the last three years of New Year's Day posts and they're less than scintillating. 2004--nothing; 2005--photo of my nephew and cousin; 2006--ah, this was the year I came into my own as a blogger. On January 1, 2006, I offered photos of the goose I cooked at Christmas (to be known forever more as either The CSI Goose, or The Only Goose I Will Have Ever Cooked); a little tidbit about the Rose Bowl, and a link to something about Camilla and Charles' wedding in which I made a prediction. I cannot be more specific about these last two, as I'm just not interested enough to reread them. Was I then? Or did I think that such links were what would make a Real Blogger of me? I suspect the latter.

I have no resolutions because I make them at Rosh Hashanah. And break them at Yom Kippur.

I am now in my seventh decade. Doesn't that just scare the fucking shit out of you (she says mostly to herself)? Particularly those of you who have resolved to quit swearing (yes, you over there with the Red Stapler). I would like to tell you that living all these years has made me a wiser woman, but--t'ain't so, McGee (that, I believe, is a cultural reference to a radio program from the 30s or 40s--I picked it up from my mother, who would be 98 this year).

The fact is that you are who you are no matter your age. It's kind of like that adage: you take yourself with you wherever you go. I don't know that stuff gets better; maybe you just don't care as much. Some days I accept who and what I am; some days I want a do-over.

I can remember looking at a photograph of my mother when she was a young woman and being amazed at how beautiful she once was. Didn't she mind, I wondered, getting old. When she looked at herself in the mirror now decades later, didn't she care terribly that she no longer looked the same? I think I asked her, as well as I could without coming out and saying, "Don't you just hate that you're no longer pretty and young?" To me, at that time, aging was a tragedy.

From this side of the mountain, however, it's not. Oh, I am not thrilled with age spots (for which Esoterica does nothing) or crepey skin or errant facial hair. But they don't define me. Somehow I have always had friends who were much younger than I (is this a sign of immaturity, that I play better with the little kids?), and I'm coming to realize that the age difference is more of an issue for me than it is for them. What is it that I'm nervous about?

Okay, here's the tell all. I'm scared of looking like a fool. I'm scared of being one of those old women who dresses like a kid. I'm scared of people saying about me, "why doesn't she act her age...find friends of her own...stop bothering us...stop thinking she has anything in common with us..."

Here's something I wrote, a poem I guess, dated August 20, 1973. I can tell from the paper I wrote it on that I was sitting in the Newsroom at the BBC. Make of that what you will:
To retain my cool at
any cost,
That is my heart's

For my biggest fear
in this whole wide world,
Is looking like a fool.

Thirty-four years later, what has changed? My biggest fear now, I'd have to say, is how much that little ditty still governs my life. How much I have sacrificed to not looking like a fool.

I think there may be a resolution in there somewhere, but as I said--I don't do them this time of year.