Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Plastic Surgery: yes, no, and if not now, then when?

Aaryn Belfer's got an article in the San Diego City Beat in which she takes apart a new picture book for kids called My Beautiful Mommy. It was written by a plastic surgeon in order to help, he assures us, the children of his patients get used to mommy's new nose or belly or tits (I think he's a tad gentler in the book). I'm not going to name the good doctor because I don't want him to get more attention than he's already bought with (I'll bet) some megabucks PR firm. If you want to know more, go read Aaryn's article, which is one and at the same time funny and mad and incisive, in other words just the kind of writing I love.

Susan Myrland turned me onto Aaryn's article because she "wanted my opinion." I started to email a response to her, but I got wound up and wired and thought--whoa! plastic surgery, is this not the very thing for MidLifeBloggers? I had a selection of titles for this post. Cosmetic Surgery: Kindness? Cure? or Cruelty? But the c/k sound seemed a bit more alliteration that even I was willing to go for. Then I thought Plastic Surgery: Kindest Cut, or Cruelest? That was marginally better, but it really didn't sum up my thoughts. The title I've used above does just that.

One can't have spent as much time living in Los Angeles as I have without being exposed to a variety of what we euphemistically call Work. Some of it wasn't bad, and some of it was pig-shit dreadful. The Work that was good--well, that, like the cheerful American tourist, just passed on by without notice. Okay, there is one case where I visited a friend of mine post-face lift and to thig day, I wonder if her surgeon just wrapped her in bandages and told her she'd had surgery. Twentyfour hours after the lift, I couldn't see a thing except that with the full head bandages, she looked, as she put it, like a Q-tip. So, while I have never had Work Done myself, as we say euphemistically, I certainly can say my opinion is "informed" by visual sightings of the good, the bad and the truly awful.

Why haven't I had Work Done? That facelift that my friend, the Qtip, had was $20,000--and that was just the doctor's charge, never mind what the suite at the Four Seasons Recovery Unit cost her. So bottom line is really the bottom line; I just don't have the spare thousands. If I did, would I do it? I'm not sure. The idea of having the skin on my face peeled back, flayed actually, is sort of scary. Sort of--hah!

As I write this, I'm realizing that my reasons for not having plastic surgery are mostly to do with fear that I would be the dreaded After example. I'm scared shitless to let someone mess around with my face, I don't care how many letters after his name he has. And so I tell myself that I'm proud to wear my wrinkles and sags and bags and dips and brown spots and--oh my god, I am so depressing myself. I've earned every one of these little fuckers: yada yada yada, fill in the Jamie Lee Curtis tape.

So what about some less INVASIVE procedure? Well, there's Botox. I would have Botox except that, drat it, I don't need it. My forehead has no wrinkles; it's as smooth as a baby's bottom, etc. etc. etc. I do have some crow's feet and I could get Botox shot in them, but really, they're not sufficiently bad, or maybe I just wear my hair hanging over my eyes and I can't see them.

No, the procedure I would have is something to eradicate those marionette lines that have now taken over my lower jaw. I'd like some Restylane pumped into them, not too much, just enough so that they're not so deep. I've noticed that when I look in the mirror and smile, they ease up nicely. And I find myself trying to remember to smile in repose. Except I fear that too much of that and people will wonder 'what the fuck is she smiling at?' I've got a big wedding in New York that I'm going to at the end of June. I'm thinking I'll make a doctor's appointment about the end of May. Or maybe I'll just smile at the wedding. Depends on where I am on the Adventure-O-Meter this month.

So the answer to your question, Susan, is: I'm not sure. I don't have a philosophical or moral or ethical problem with plastic surgery. I don't think it's a denial of aging; nor do I blame our youth-obsessed yada yada society. Frankly, we live where and how we do, and my feeling is we've got to deal with life as it best suits us. Not someone else. Us. Me. Jane.

And you?

Crossposted at MidLifeBloggers

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Lobbying, byJane

Today I went to the Capitol to lobby some legislators about some stuff. I was part of a largish (as opposed to smallish) group and ultimately I was one of four who saw three different Assemblymembers. Well, make that one Assemblymember and two Aides to Assemblymembers--who they refer to as "The Member," as in "Let's go to The Member's office." No one else seemed to think that was strange, but it struck me as hilarious. Probably because when I think of The Member, I see a humongously large penis. I did not laugh, however; nor did I share my thoughts with anyone--until now.

My part in this play was quite small, and I believe I acquited myself if not admirably, then at least satisfactorily. My fellow lobbyisters were a tad more involved than I: to say that I really didn't give a shit pretty much sums it up. They, on the other hand, were VERY SERIOUS.

Okay, here's the thing about me. Maybe it's my stage in life (mid-midlife) or maybe it's that I survived a catastrophic illness, but really, I can't get myself too worked up over a lot of stuff that others take VERY SERIOUSLY. That doesn't mean I don't take life seriously; I do. But I tend not to get overinvested in things I can't change, which includes most things that aren't under my direct control. Which includes most things.

What do you take seriously? And what of those things do you actually, really, truly have some say in?

Monday, April 28, 2008

The problem with having a social life... that I get home too late to do a decent blog post. Of course, my social life isn't really a social life. It's more of an organization meeting life. Still, I got out the six inch heels again. I did so figuring I didn't have far to walk: I'd do valet parking at the hotel and just take the elevator to the event. Ha! The hotel parking lot was full. So I parked down the street and under a large tree. Amid the shattered remains of someone's windshield. Precarious terrain in those six inch heels. But I navigated my way to the party, stood in line for my vodka and tonic ($8.50) at the no-host bar and talked to people I didn't know. I'm good at that. I'll talk to anyone. I'm real fun in a supermarket line. But that is not the point of my story. The point of my story is that some of my new friends invited me to go to dinner with them. Sure, says I. We'll walk, says they. And walk we do--about six or seven blocks. Okay, I'm still not at the point of my story. Which is: on the way back from dinner, 'round about block five, my leg gave out and I started to list. Well, it was actually more of a stagger as I struggled to keep my balance. Fortunately, my new friends rushed to my aid, one on each side, and got me upright again. I did the rest of the walk in my bare feet--on the streets of Sacramento. And now I'm going to bed--after I wash said feet real good.

If I were twentyfive or thirtyfive, I'd just laugh it off. But at my age, I feel like an old lady that can't even stay afloat. Thus, I am going to tag this post accordingly.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Things I'm Thinking About

There are a number of thought threads that are warping and wefting through my mind about our site. I'll start off intending to write about one, but then another floats into view and grabs my attention. Part of this is that I do have ADHD, so sticking to something is, was, and will always be an enormous effort at times. Over the years (see, the advantage of having lived those years), I've learned that the best way for me to get something done is in bits and pieces. Do a little of this and then a little of that--eventually it all comes together and eventually the fabric gets woven. So, that's what I'm doing here in this post, which I'll also put up at MidLifeBloggers.
  • How to create conversation? to get and keep people talking on the site?
  • Should I be doing the editor thing and actually suggest ideas to specific people?
  • How much trolling over other sites do I want to do? And how much should MidLifeBloggers just grow on its own as it will?
  • Carol of A Different Nest wrote this in response to our first post: Great job. I, too, have a goal of writing beyond my blog. But, life keeps getting in the way. Maybe this site can be the start of some kind of anthology - who knows? Immediately I thought, yes, anthology, that's one way of explaining what I'm hoping for.
  • Are there people on our blogroll that would like to 'cover' certain topics? Who? What topics?
  • How to maintain and extend the inclusion of ALL...ages, opinions, interests? The very political and the apolitical, the scholars and the jokesters, the high-minded and the low-brow?
Some of these are mere fragments; others may die before dawn; of all, I ask for your thoughts.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

My Saturday, An Essay - by Jane

My Saturday contained all the excitement and romance that one could possibly want.

First, there has been the on-going debate over at BlogHer about some guy's book suggesting that the answer to the problems in the Middle East was to ship all the Jews somewhere else . Said "conversation" (ahem!) actually started last night and of course I was in the middle of it from time to time which not only put me to bed all roiled up, but rooted me out earlier than usual this morning. And that, in turn, required that I put myself back to bed for another hour or so after I had checked to make sure that the world was still turning.

Said nap resulted in my being eh eh eh, so I hied myself to the darkened living room to watch a movie IN THE AFTERNOON !! There was a time when I would cheerily spend my Saturdays cleaning and tidying my little abode. That time seems to be over. But the romance, oh yes, the romance was: I watched Message in A Bottle. That is the name of the film with Kevin Costner and Paul Newman playing father and son to Robin Wright Penn's good gal, Teresa. I had not read the book because you know, la de dah, I have all that education in literature and so I only like romances written by dead white women. I suspected it was a tear jerker--all that soft focus is a dead giveaway--and I figured I might as well go for it. The love story didn't really get me going because--well, it just didn't. I got all weepy at the end, but then my life in the current and not so current moment lends itself to that. Still, I made myself feel better by imagining that Robin and Paul consoled each other over Kevin's death. Certainly I would rather have the former than the latter. But that's just me.

Must I go on? Must I tell you that I did a quick turn into the drive-through at Jack in the Box. And then I hied to the drug store where I entertained myself by browsing in the cosmetics department. Okay, MIDLIFEBLOGGER ALERT: I got something called Bio-Oil, a South African product which contains the "breakthrough ingredient PurCellin Oil" and promises to "help smooth and tone aging, sagging and wrinkled skin on both the face and the body." All these breakthroughs and promises I could definitely use, and I'll report back as soon as I have something to say.

And then, and then, and then!! I watched reruns of Law & Order SVU and began the long process of filing and clipping that will culminate tomorrow in a painting of the toenails. O joyous Sunday--one can hardly wait.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Taking The Leap

That's the title of a post by MerlotMom. It's also the title of this blog post, because I've done it: published our first MidLifeBlogger post. Go look....

Thursday, April 24, 2008 - how's it gonna work?

Here's one explanation, long-winded probably, but jeeze, folks, I thinking out loud here. I mean, isn't the normal thing for a web site to be presented, all pretty in beta, with the major issues worked out? Am I capable of doing the normal thing? NO.

So look at it this way: you are being treated to an insiders look at the creation of a someone who knows nothing about creating websites. This is flying by the seat of my pants, people, which is how I've always done it. Problem is, you're all on the plane with me. However, I promise that we will not crash and burn. Equally, expect a bumpy ride from time to time.

Here's what I'm imagining: The main blog posts of the site will be written by all who have and will join the group. We'll take turns. At least in the beginning, I'll serve as the editor. So say you've written a post on your blog that you think would be perfect for Write me an email, send me the link, or just copy it into the email. I, in turn, will post it on

My vision for this whole project is a place for all of us. I can see other avenues within the site that would work for less formal dialogue. I'm hoping that the category Conversations will work in a quasi-interactive way. Ask a question; get a bunch of answers. Okay, that's vague, but maybe by tomorrow, I'll have sharpened it up. Or maybe you'll join me in brainstorming this thing. How 'bout that...huh? huh?


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Themes and Content at

I've now looked at countless Wordpress themes and actually uploaded four. Of those, the two I like the best are not widget-friendly. One has to do some manipulating to widgitize them, and I'm thinking I'm so over the manipulation bit. But maybe not. Maybe now is when the tough get going, etcetcetcetc.

This is the one I'm liking now:

But then, I'm drawn to this one too:

Clearly I'm a fan of the rounded corners, odd-ball designs.

And I liked the one I posted yesterday as well, but I'm afraid all those separate windows would end up confusing me, if not the rest of you. I think I'll just pin the tail on the template and go for whichever.

Initially, there will be two places that need your thoughts and words. The main page will feature a different blog post by you at least three times a week. Right now, I'm going to function as the editor of the site, so you'll submit your post to me and I'll put it up on the site. This will, of course, be cross-posted from your blog, unless you'd rather not (and I know some of you would rather not!). The other arena which will depend on you will be what I'm calling, for want of something snazzier (!) "Conversations." Basically, it will be a comment page on a specific topic. Anyone gets to start the topic: again, tell me what it is and I'll put it up there.

There--that's the beginning. Whaddaya think?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Almost...almost...almost there!

Eureka! I have finally conquered Wordpress 101. I'm thinking that the site will be up tomorrow. That's what I'm thinking...and hoping...but not promising. What I can promise is that MidLifeBloggers will evolve over time as WE create it.
In the spirit of that, what do you think of this look? It's not typical...but then, neither are we!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Two More MidLifeBloggers

Eyes right, please, and check these out:

Twentyfour At Heart

Oneida in the Ozarks

That is absolutely all I have to say. I'm wiped......

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Seder, She is Over

I just walked through the kitchen on my way into the office and, frankly, it's a train wreck. Cabinet doors are open, the dishwasher racks are pulled out and both sinks are full of the debris from our Seder. I'll deal with it tomorrow. That's the blessing of living alone: my housekeeping is purely at the whim of ME!

The Seder was a great success, although I don't know what the rabbis would have thought. I was the only Jew at the table and, frankly, I ain't so up on the finer points of my religion. But what I wanted was a family dinner where people really wanted to be there and really, yes really, liked each other. So rather than making the schlep down to LA to spend Passover with my sister, et al, I made a Seder for my Northern California family: my two stepsons, daughters-in-law, and my granddaughter. As I said in my toast-- I may not have been lucky in love, but I was definitely lucky in my marriage.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Making Passover

This is something that Jews do: we make the holiday. I don't think that Christians make Easter, do they? You get ready for it, you bake the ham, you fill the basket, you dye the eggs, and then the holiday is there and then it's over and --whoosh! that's it until next year. We make our holidays, and this strikes me as interesting, at least etymologically speaking. Make implies effort, creation, work--oy vey!

I'm making Passover this year: the brisket, the matzoh ball soup, the kugel, the whole nine yards (if you'll forgive the inappropriate metaphor). And all that work--I'm loving it.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Stubborn, Stupid, or Determined?

I started to write a response to the comments I got on yesterday's post about my frustration with knitting socks and creating a website. Mainly, my blog friends were telling me to get a grip and ask for help. So my response had to do with the issue of not asking for help, but when it threatened to turn into Book Two of Gone With the Wind, I decided it merited it's own post. And now, faced with the proverbial blank page, all the profundities of GWTW-byJane have passed unmarked from my mind. So let me start again.

I read the comments this morning and I spent Molly's poop walk working out why I don't want help on creating a website. It does, actually, have something to do with why I'm determined as well to finish that pair of socks (despite the fact that, yes Jennifer, one can BUY perfectly lovely socks ANYWHERE).

All my life, when the going gets tough, I tend to get going. Thus, there exists behind me a veritable trail of unfinished thises and thats. There also exists, inside of me, as a consequence an often deep and always nagging feeling that I'm not quite (and sometimes even sorta) the person I pretend to be. I'm getting away with stuff--with failure, with disappointment, with success as well--by opting out of the game. I do it with such an offensive tactic that I dare people to even think I'm giving up. But I know. And I also know I have to stop--if I'm to continue to grow and enjoy my life.

So, my determination to finish the socks and my insistence on sorting out Wordpress myself are part of what I have to do to get past the point where I give up. It's Tough Love, but sometimes you gotta do that with your kids, even when it's your Inner Child.

By the way, check out the newest member of our MidLifeBloggers blogroll: Sonia of Aging Inappropriately.

Thursday, April 17, 2008


I'm running in place, or so it feels, on so many things in my life. That sounds direr than I mean it (btw, is there such a word as 'direr'? there is now!), but of the things I've tried to accomplish this week, a big zippo is happening. To wit:
1. Wednesday Night Knitting at Knitique: I decided to bite the bullet and FINISH THE GODDAMN SOCK THAT I STARTED OH, ABOUT NINE MONTHS AGO. We all know, since I have whined continuously, that I hate knitting socks. I do not knit socks. I love sock yarn. I buy lots of sock yarn. This is a joke among those who knit with me and, goshdarnit, I've decided to change and amend my ways. I WILL master that freakin' sock, or, or,--whatever. So I took said freakin' sock to work on last night and after I had done eight rows turning the heel, I decided it was all wrong and I frogged it. Then I went, crumpled instructions in hand to Danielle, who cheerfully told me I had done it right the first time. So I knit and I ripped and now I have to knit again. FRUSTRATION.
2. I am trying to get up and running. By myself. Because I am, wouldn't you know it, a "Mother I'd Rather Do It Myself" kind of person. But myself doesn't know diddlysquat about building websites. So I'm sitting at my computer with OMSH's Wordpress Wednesdays handouts on one side, Wordpress's Codex on the other, and Wordpress for Dummies on my lap. I know just how I want the site to look and to work, but, but, but--. I wish I could just stick my hands into the computer and make it do what I want it to. I wish I knew what I was doing. I wish I wasn't so fucking independent!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Petard Upon Which I Am Hoisted

I wrote this post last year, September 10, 2007 to be exact, when I was feeling like the loneliest voice in the blogosphere talking about issues of aging. And in fact, there were no comments, nary a response to what I wrote. Rereading it now, and knowing that there's actually a dialogue going on, I'm going to republish it.

The original title was:
Today's Blog Is Brought to You By......What I Read In Bed At Night. It was a rather lackadasical title, truthful but not especially meaningful, or appealing. Some titles are like that for me, but others come out of some hidden place and insist on being, despite seeming nutty, wild gibberish. Then after a time, I'll suddenly see how absolutely perfect the gibberish was, how it so summed up things I felt but couldn't articulate. The one for this post today is that kind of a title, and after you read this post, see if you can tell me what that petard is.

Last night, and the night before actually, [I was reading in bed] Living in the Light of Death and The Northern California & Nevada TourBook. The second was a function of the first and, obviously, they have very different authors and completely different subjects. The former (the first, that is) is a book by Larry Rosenberg on breath awareness meditation or, as the subtitle says, "On the Art of Being Truly Alive." This is so what I'm needing to foster in my life: breathing, being alive, and a knack for taking the piss out of topics that I really do believe in. Ooops. Can I suck that last sentence back? Or at least the final clause--or is it really a phrase with an adverbial in it?

But I digress. The TourBook is the AAA's tome on where and what to visit in--hey!--Northern California and Nevada. If you belong to the AAA, you can go to one of their offices and slide your card in the appropriate slot, punch the appropriate buttons and--woila!--maps and tourbooks come falling out. Sort of like the candy machine at a Motel Six (not that I'd know what that's like, since I foreswore motels with numerals in their names about a decade ago).

I got the TourBook (I hope you're noting the unique capitalization) several weeks ago when I was looking for a likely spot for Molly and I to visit. I found one, but we didn't go; we knitted instead. That is, I knitted at Knitique, my LYS, and Molly veered between greeting the customers and sweeping the floor searching for and finding all manner of crumbs, a task which leaves the floor cleaner and a black low water mark on her chin or beard or muzzle or whatever you want to call that curly white hair that grows on her face.

But again! I digress. I had the TourBook in bed with me because there are three practice centers for Insight Meditation in California, and I wanted to see which was near me. Instead, I got caught up the first chapter of Rosenberg's book: "Aging Is Unavoidable." That's a contemplation, and Rosenberg says it's one people want to avoid. They accept it intellectually--oh, sure, big deal--but to actually take in the real fact of it, of the eventual disintegration of the body--? Nope, that's for someone else. Part of it is a question of self-image, he says, and that, that point is where I got nailed to the wall.

"Self-images are a problem. They are designed to help us feel adequate and secure but also often cause a great deal of suffering. We all have them, and most of us aren't aware we do. We spend enormous time and energy and even money creating and protecting them, trying to keep them intact while our daily experience is chipping away at them. Then when someone sees us in a different way, we are shattered. They mention a senior-citizen discount, and suddenly we see ourselves in Bermuda shorts and canvas shoes, wearing a funny little straw hat. That isn't the image we want to present at all. The pictures we have in our own head are way out of date."

I've been thinking on that. It's a gendered description, so I'm not caught by the Bermuda shorts and funny straw hat. Except--except, the image in my head of a senior citizen is my mother. Short little Libby, who loathed being called cute. Who wore Bermuda shorts and Keds in matching colors. And berets--she was famous for her berets (in fact she was buried in one). There is a whole world of negative images that I have attached to aging, not only clothing, but behaviors and attitudes and ways and means of being that come from watching my mother age. Things I vowed I would not do or feel or say. Except...except...well, you know what I'm going to say, don't you.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Monday, April 14, 2008

It's All Relative, Mr. Einstein

Age is, that is; relative, I mean.

Since we started the midlifebloggers conversation, a number of people have been weighing in about whether they are or are not midlife bloggers. In a post the other day, Catherine from [The Seventh Notebook] queried whether at 38, she qualifies to join the group. No, she decided; she's not midlife yet, even though she likes hanging out with us and she's doing that whole growing-out-my-gray number that we all think about from time to time. To me, both those facts point to her definite place as a midlifer. Others have gone through complicated mathematical equations, trying to determine if and when they'll be midlife. I hate to break it to you, but if you fall off a bridge tomorrow, then you were midlife in your teens. See, it's all relative. Which means that it's all in our heads.

As I'm working on the MidLifeBloggers website these days and thinking about who we are and what we want and/or need, the one thing I know we don't want--and I've said this before--is to put an age limit on us. You right there, you're just 37, so, nope, off you go for another couple of years. And you over there in the corner, you're 70--too old, too old. The world is already too full of people telling us why we're not right for one reason or another. The blogosphere is just another world and it, too, can operate on the exclusion clause. In fact, that's probably why it sometimes can seem just like highschool.

I'm envisioning as a place where we gather to hang out and laugh or cry, to debate and console and teach and learn from each other all about The Great What's Next. We're peers, you know, some of us junior and some of us senior, but we're still all part of the conversation. I know for a fact that the ages of the women on the midlifeblogger blogroll hit every decade from the thirties to the forties to the fifties to the sixties. We all belong here; that's what MidLifeBloggers is about.

Tell me how you're envisioning What do you want it to be? What will make it yours?

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Symbols, Metaphors, Tropes of one kind or another

We moved into our house in August of 2005. The landscaping went in that fall, so it wasn't until the spring of 2006 that we made good on our plans to buy some sort of gazebo thingie to protect us, when we were doing the lazy, crazy things Americans do in their back yards, from the hot hot hot Sacramento sun. We found a tiki gazebo at Target. It was cute, without being twee, and if we avoided hanging fishnets and coconuts, it afforded our back yard a measure of sophistication. At least we thought so.

The gazebo came totally disassembled in a long, narrow carton. We assembled it. It took us all of a Sunday to figure out which pipe A went to which bamboo strut B, and so on and so on and so on. We raised the roof on the gazebo just before dinner, and I remember feeling tired and sore from humping pipe A, etc., but also so very very good. I was proud of the way we had worked together, D and I, to create this thing which would be a token of our finally having achieved something resembling The Good Life. This was the first time we had a GrownUps backyard, where everything fit and was finished and spoke to our taste and good fortune. I anticipated many, many evenings outside in the bamboo gazebo, with family who lived nearby and friends, who we would surely soon meet. I wish I had taken a picture of it that day, but this is the nearest I could find: a photo taken to put the redwood furniture on Craigslist. Imagine, if you will, a khaki pagoda style awning for a roof; add some bamboo shades on one side--there you have it.

I think we had company over once. Family didn't make it over as often as we'd hoped; friends, well, let's just say they were very hard to come by. This next photo is the gazebo in January after a hellish storm which uprooted trees all over the area.
Obviously, it had to go, and today D. came over and took it apart. By himself. He didn't want or need my help.

I don't usually write about the breakup of my marriage, and I'm not going to say much more than this: I cannot help but see that gazebo as a symbol or metaphor. It's raising and it's falling. The hopes and plans and dreams with which we moved to this house--and what remains today.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Office Update

...but no photos. Sorry, but the grand reveal is not ready for revelation yet.

I humped and heaved and sweated over all manner of those things you saw in my office. Now I have some semblance of order, but just a tiny tad. Tomorrow I shall continue my mission. I shall not rest till I am done, I swear. Or till I get fed up. Whichever comes first. And when my office is done, then, dear reader, I will stop blogging at the end of the day when my brain is but a noodle. Can you tell that my brain is but a noodle right now? Really? What was the clue?

Friday, April 11, 2008

I Need A Wife--or a Keeper...

I wasn't going to blog tonight. What follows is my desk area. Not bad, eh? Not great, but do-able. Scroll down a bit.....

This is the view of my desk from the door to my office. Disordered, yes. In the midst of a massive rearrange and cleanup, which SEEMS TO BE GOING ON FOREVER! Moreover (I love that word), moreover, scroll down a little further.

This is what I see when I'm sitting at my desk. Utter chaos. Not at all the thing for the sort of rumination that produces read-worthy blog posts. Thus and therefore, I was
not going to blog tonight because I can't think in all this chaos. And the chaos won't be resolved until I resolve it. No brownie is going to come in while I sleep and clean this mess up. Neither will a mother arrive to tidy it all. There's no one but me to do the job and this, I do believe, is what it really means to be a grownup!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

How Old Are You?

I just did a brief drive by of all my unpublished posts, hoping that one would suddenly leap out and say, "Finish me, you twit! I'm so worth it." Alas, alack, and rue the day, none did.

I spent the better part of today trying to Get Things Done and being thwarted at every turn by, I dunno, the gods? First there were my taxes. I am now up to 2007, thank you very much, a year in which I was gainfully unemployed for most of the time. Thus, one would think my taxes would be a breeze to do. Wouldn't one? No W2s to mess about with. No, but there was that pesky little 1099B that somehow made it into my stack of documents. I'd never seen one of those before. I hadn't a clue what it could be for, and it seemed to be saying I had received a check, which I swear to god never made it to me--or had it?

I have a nasty habit (and you should know this in advance) of not opening my mail. It makes me nervous to open my mail. People want things from me, like money for goods exchanged. And while I may have enjoyed the goods initially, I'm so over them now and why are you bothering me! Did I not open the mail in which this check was sent? It's perfectly possible. I have a rather lax attitude toward money. It makes me nervous. Thus, I'd rather just not think about it. Maybe tomorrow, at Tara.

Yes, I know this is incredibly immature for one who is at--oh my god--midlife. But that's the way it is. Years of living have nothing at all to do with maturity, and all you babybloggers better get used to it. Some of the oldest people I have known have been years younger than I.

So now that we've settled that there's a strong streak of willful immaturity running through me--here's a question that I started asking people when I turned 40:
  • How old are you?
  • No, how old are you?
The answer to the first is rarely the same as the answer to the second, and it seems that the older one gets, the wider the gap. So--how old are you? No, how old are you?

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Idol Gives Back

At what point does the appeal for donations by showing the reality of the needy's lives (and if that isn't an awkward amalgamation of words) move from helpful to hokey? Or--are all these give-give-give shows really doing good?
1. I loathe (okay, maybe dislike intensely) that program where the former model-turned-carpenter-turned-reality show star engineers the giving of a fantastic home--built and paid for by a corporation who garner more good will than any ad campaign could yield--to a needy-but-incredibly-deserving family. In the midst of an hour long program (minus commercials, of course), the plight of the family is dragged out for all of us to sob and sigh over: ah, the hard luck; oh, the disease; woe, the fickle finger of fate. At the end of the hour, the family's reward for having us slobber over their very life is a new house. Our reward is the relief those sobs and sighs afford. The network's reward is--well, you know what it is. This kind of a program is a 21st century version of Queen for A Day: may the most tragic--and entertaining--tale win and take home the crown, whatever it may be.

2. American Idol Gives Back: Is this in the same genre, only with better music and prettier people on stage?
I came in in the middle of it tonight, right about when Annie Lennox was doing something with poor black babies in Africa. That was only one of a number of Very Poor Folks trotted out for us, the viewing public, to see in all their misery and degradation. This, so that we would be moved to donate to the Idol Gives Back charity. We visited, among others, a New York mother and her two kids with Simon and a Kentucky family with Miley and Billy Rae Cyrus. I felt intensely uncomfortable, because of the way in which the meanness of these peoples lives was not only on show, it was the show. The camera-work was excellent, coming right in for a tender closeup of the ceiling fan with a bulb dangling forlornly; the sores on the New York mother's nose and forehead were technicolored; the Kentucky mother's teeth were--missing. Billy Ray Cyrus was practically gagging over the state of the Kentucky trailer. As the music dipped and soared, he stuttered that even when he'd called Kentucky home, he'd never seen such a place or knew that people lived like that. Simon, on the other hand, actually got in there and touched the people he was visiting, hugged them even, but all the while he looked veddy veddy British, stiff and formal and longing to Wash His Hands. I squirm right along with him, wondering what this family is thinking having this television star and his retinue, bright lights and camera, shoehorned into their tiny tenement. But then something changes for me. I find myself not so much anxious at these pictures of abject poverty, but involved with the mother and her kids. They have names now and faces and some dreams about what the future can be for them. They are, therefore, no longer the statistical They, but real people who I feel a connection to. My discomfort now is being matched by my involvement, my urge to participate, to act--to give back.

So here's the thing: when does outright manipulation of an audiences' emotions become necessary, a tool for teaching us, hoisting us up by the collar so that we are forced to look at the way the world really is? And if the only way in which we can be made to see is by sandwiching reality with starlight, is that such a bad thing? I don't know.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

All Dressed Up...

I was beSpanxed top and bottom, blown out and curled up (ever so softly). I wore a thin silk tunic and a shortsleeved tunic sweater just buttoned at its scooped neck. I deliberately chose not to wear my new killer 17" heels, so as not to intimidate. Instead I wore my black leather boots with the 3" heel. I was dressed for any meeting I have ever gone to in the past. But not for this one. This one, the other women wore arch-supporting walking shoes and bunion-enabling sandals. One man wore short shorts and a fanny pack; another wore a sweat suit. This was my first meeting of an organization about which I knew nothing, except that everyone was Jewish. And old. So old. No matter what their actual ages, I felt like I was sitting with my parents. And, really, not one cute person there. Yes, that's horrifically shallow and the fact is that I have zero, zip, nada interest in men these days, but somehow I'm still doing that kneejerk checkout for cute guys. Such a disappointment, all the way around.

What the hell was I expecting? I was expecting this meeting to be like the meetings I used to go to. Where the men all wore suits; where the refreshments were trundled in by bus boys; where the venue was a Hilton or its like. This meeting, this meeting was in the game room of an old age home. I don't mean to be shallow, but, jeeze, I got beSpanxed for that? I must go console myself with chocolate....

Monday, April 07, 2008

Blogging for Dollars

There's nothing like a little writing to make the insecurity meter start rising. And if it ain't about one thing, then it's about another. The NY Times helped the blogosphere out the other day by publishing an article that said basically, blog and you'll die. In Web World of 24/7 Stress, Writers Blog Till They Drop - New York Times

God knows how many other bloggers picked up on it, but two of our midlifeblogger crew were hit: Merlot Mom and Ms Meta of Metafootnotes both wrote posts quoting the Times article. Their takes were somewhat different, but for both women, blogging is, along with the good, producing some, shall we call it, quiet anxiety. I can relate.

Why do we do what we do? Why blog? There's a huge conversation going on, some of which seems to be arriving as Tweets from Twitterers I follow, that seems to focus on the commercial promise of blogging and whether, in fact, that is its sole purpose.

I'm not immune to that argument, but I have found over the years that I've been doing this, that blogging for money is the road to ruin for me. When I have set out to make money with my blog, I have (a) failed miserably, and (b) felt, therefore, like a prize chump for even assuming I could succeed. When I keep my eye focused on communicating what I want to when I want to, then I feel good about myself and my work.

I have a blogging friend who supports his family by blogging. He's one of the guys that the NY Times article was talking about. He writes for umpteen commercial blogs. He's a stay-at-home dad and blogs about that, and he does some of those gossip blogs as well. But then there's his own blog and from time to time on that, his writer self just soars. Would that he had the luxury to let it fly all the time, but he doesn't. He has to earn a living.

I don't have to earn a living from my blog and that gives me a measure of freedom, yes. But the other thing that I don't have to earn from my blog is my sense of myself or my reputation as a writer. That's been well-established over the years and that, too, gives me a measure of freedom. It is, I guess, one of the perks of being a midlifeblogger.

I think that maybe all the talk of branding your blog or monetizing it--for a lot of people, it's just another way of saying, I matter. And for you???

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Blog 365: A How-to

A blogger friend asked me the other day how I manage to do a blog post a day. Don't I run out of things to say? Well, yes. And sometimes I'm just not in the mood. But I made this commitment and so I blog even when I have nothing to say. Like tonight. It's quite liberating, the idea that each blog post doesn't have to be something wonderful. It can be quite a bit of nothing. Like tonight....

Saturday, April 05, 2008

The Check Arrived Today

...from the Superior Courts of California, the lofty sum of $23.50, of which a goodly sum was for mileage--and that should tell you something about distances in our great state. However, I didn't announce this so that you could feel cheered for me, having that extra money in my pocket, but because I now feel absolutely free to tell you exactly what I think of jury duty.

Don't, under any circumstances, commit a crime, because the last thing you want is for your fate to be in the hands of a "jury of your peers." I realized this the first time I sat on a jury. It was a relatively simple case: a homeless man was thrown out of McDonald's by Downtown L.A.'s Security Forces, known to all as "The Pink Police," so-named for the color of their uniform shirts. The homeless man, let's call him Mr. X, was an older fellow with an abundance of white hair and a cane. That last is important, because--clue coming--it figures in the case. Mr. X objected to being routed from his warm seat at the back of McDonald's where he was simply resting his eyes, and when the Pink Police suggested he had to leave, with some physical maneuvering on their part, Mr. X may have reached for his cane. To rise...or to strike, that is the question upon which The People vs. Mr. X rested. This case, which required the services of both an Assistant D.A. and a Public Defender (both being paid for by The People), lasted a good two or three days. Mostly it was taken up with the Assistant D.A. being taken to task by the Judge (also an employee of The People) for a multitude of mistakes, all of which were due to the fact that this was the very first case he had ever tried. That this was just a bogus charge, without merit, blah blah blah, was obvious to anyone who had a brain. I knew that and figured, we the People, would take care of the bullshit is short order. I was wrong. My fellow jury members willingly sat for another three days--oh, and did I mention that this took place the week before Christmas?--arguing about when a cane was a weapon or a prop for a handicapped man and who said what when why or not. There certainly was a lot of blah blah blah, as this one and then that one on the jury wanted to be heard, to be agreed with, to be right. As you might imagine, I had little patience with this, and I wasn't the light of the deliberation room. But no matter--eventually, we agreed to disagree (it was December 23rd by now) and the jury was officially hung. Mr. X presumably went free, which maybe wasn't the best thing for him over the Christmas holiday.

I will not go into the same detail about the second case I was on the jury, except to say it was a civil case involving a van carrying about seven people, several of whom were pregnant, none of whom had seatbelts. Said van went over a metal sheet in the road and so jarred the passengers that they suffered all manner of whiplash, not to mention prepartum depression and scabies. Thus, they were suing the large construction company who had placed the metal in the road to cover a trench they were digging, all of which was, as you might imagine, well-marked but missed by the driver of the van. Again, the jury was a mess of warring egos, but this time, I was the Foreperson and I wrestled them to the ground. We found for the construction company, even the most bleeding-heart, anti-Capitalist of us.

And this case, the one for which I was paid that princely sum, this was a real horror involving some Really Bad Stuff. Such that one of their questions during voir dire was to ask of if we knew of this case from Oprah or America's Most Wanted. Of course, none of the fortyeight of us in the panel watched either program. Ever. We were untainted. We were also all perfectly comfortable with talk of vaginas and such. All of us. Including the man who twitched every time the judge said the word. I could see that this case would push the buttons of the good people who were eventually chosen and they would, some of them, turn into seething masses of neurotic needs, which would be unleashed in the jury room. Think Snakepit. I didn't want to be there.

As you know, I was saved by the numbers. One other man and I walked away of the original forty-eight. But if I had been called into the box, I felt sure that my answers to a couple of the voir dire questions would have gotten me thanked and dismissed:

"What's your attitude toward the presumption of innocence?" I think it's great as a concept but it doesn't work so well in real life these days. In fact, it barely works at all. We're so juiced up on who's right and who's not, who's good and who's bad that we make up our minds before the case has even gotten to court.
Do you have any special knowledge of child molestation? Yes, courses on child abuse were a part of the curriculum during my MA degree in psychology. And in my work with children as a marriage and family therapist intern, I was a mandated reporter. I had to know both the law and the implications of evidence.
Can you base your decisions entirely on the evidence and the law? No. To ignore what I know from my experience and my education about child molestation would immoral.
Do you believe a false accusation is possible? Likely? Are you kidding? It happens all the time; just read the newspapers.

I once met a big time defense attorney from New York and he told me I would be the last person he would sit on a jury because I'm smart and I have a strong sense of right and wrong. And that, folks, is our justice system. It stinks.

Friday, April 04, 2008

George Clooney Plays My Father

My dad was a Leatherhead...truly. Here he is, sans helmet, circa late 20s

He spent his college ball days as a fullback for Cornell. Then he went into the leagues, which were just starting then, and played for the Long Island Bulldogs. I don't know all that much because my dad was a modest man, and this all had to be pried from him.

It was a really rough game in those days. His fourth finger on one hand only had one joint because the finger was broken in a game and never fixed. He had a red star scar in the corner of his eyelid from someone stepping on his face with their cleats. And he played one entire half unconscious. He was knocked out somewhere at the beginning of the half but never fell down. He didn't come to until the half was over, and in the telling of it, that seemed no big deal to him.

I can't remember why my dad didn't continue playing pro ball, but I can tell you he had little interest in the modern game. "Sissies," he would say, looking at all the padding and high tech helmets they wear today. Padding in his day was Kotex and the helmets, yep, just leather.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

The Frustration of the New

Hold your ears because I'm going to scream. EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEYYYYYYYYYYYYYOOOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWW (or however you spell it)

Today I got nothing, sweet nothing done. Or at least that's what it feels like. I spent all day getting this new iPhone set up. Woe to me that I don't have an available ninth grader to do it for me. Suffice to say, it's going--I think. And the highlight of it was the Activation call which was with an Apple employee in Nigeria. She had the strangest accent, a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Maybe some New Zealand and maybe some Poland. I couldn't tell. So I asked.
"I'm Black," she said. Which confused me, because if there's any accent I associate with Black, it's Southern--and this was some strange part of the South if that were true.
"Where are you, I asked.
"Africa," she answered.
"Africa! Where?"
I'm always at my most articulate when I'm impressed.

I went through a Lou Dobbs time when I was pissed off at the outsourcing of jobs. But I'm over that now, thanks in no small part to Thomas Friedman's, The World Is Flat. And how else am I going to get to talk to and laugh with a lady from Nigeria?

Still, nothing got done today, but the phone, and that leaves me feeling not only frustrated but angry at myself. Why myself? Why not. I live alone; who else do I have to blame?

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

I'm An Adult, Now What?

That's a subhead on an article in the Washington Post that Catherine Thatch over at [The Seventh Notebook] sent me the link to today. I won't give you the title, because Catherine and I agreed it was rather on the lame side (I think it may have been written by a junior intern), but I will, of course, link to it. It was written by Douglas LaBier, who identifies himself, thusly: "As a psychotherapist and a member of the booming midlife generation, I've heard many expressions of midlife distress...." His thesis is that midlife is what happens when you finally grow up. It hits some people hard; others barely at all.
"Psychologically, midlife is the portal into full adulthood. Successfully crossing that portal involves addressing the question that lies at the source of most adult emotional conflicts: 'What's the purpose of my life?'"

But exacerbating that search for meaning is the fact, LaBier says, the our forties are when the emotional defenses that we successfully used in the past to shore us up are now, much like our bodies, starting to sag. It's this collision of the Search and the Sagging, as it were, that result in the midlife crisis. Some people start over and wrestle their way to new meaning in their lives. Others, says LaBier, more or less accept their situation and try, usually unsuccessfully, to define it as happiness.

Which are you doing? Me? I'm definitely one who starts over. I'm on my third or fourth career: journalist, English prof/grad student, therapist--and now I guess I'm back to journalism, of sorts. But what about you? Are you looking for a second or third act? And this time--whaddya want to be when you grow up?

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

April the First, A Day of Foolishness

...none of which you'll find here, except if you find the rambling postyfoolishness to your taste. To wit (and not), I did nothing today to mark it as April Fools Day. Nor, you will note, did I do anything to change the banner, which still reads February. Hey, what happened to March? Well you might ask. And I wouldn't know what to tell you. Nor can I promise to have the April banner up soon. Just deal with it, okay?

What I did today was a lot of this and a lot of that. This was BS stuff that added up to little. That was making the beginning of something of this MidLifeBloggers thing. It is a thing, which is more than just a blogroll, because I bought the domain name, I have a burbling idea (that means one that is frothing up from the depths) of having a site where we can post and talk and find each other for any and all sorts of reasons.

Anyone wanna come along for the ride?????