Family

My cousin said to me tonight that you can’t change family dynamics and I think she is right. The way someone was as  a child is the way a sibling always sees them. Mean people stay mean. Bullies stay bullies. Angels stay angels. All you can do is try to accept the way they are. Returning to my childhood home makes me joyous, sad, angry, depressed, frustrated, revengeful  and content. At least I am safe now or at least I think I am. It is funny how some people think you should be loyal to your family no matter what they do to you. I disagree. I think loyalty is something people either deserve through their behavior or they don’t. I love being loyal to those I love and to those who I believe in.

Beautiful places are compelling and dangerous: they lift you up and sometimes leave you hanging there wondering how to get down.

Last night the full moon shone on the bay and reflected into my dreams which were all forgotten by morning. The sound of the lobstermen woke me and I was curious for the lobster caught from their deep home trapped under the sea. Maybe when they shed their skins under the ocean they cry and no one hears them.

What does ?

What does one do when the sun is setting

and the neighbors are drinking magaritas

and the birds have stopped crying for anything

and the televison is silent.

What does one do

when it’s too early for wine

and the night seems so long

and sleeping can’t happen

for another five hours

What does one do?

You think this is a song and i have an answer but I don’t and I know what I do but maybe it won’t work for you or maybe it will if you try it.

You want to know, you ask, then come closer and I will tell you but only if I can see you are as true as a white Begonia or perhaps a Narcissus without the mirror or maybe I will give you a TIGER to take care of your rodent problem and then you would have entertainment in l” heure bleu” which you so obviously need or you wouldn’t be reading this piece on what to do, would you?

INVENTING A LIFE

Inventing a Life

Yesterday I went to visit an old friend who is 87 now and mostly stays close to home. She moves about with a cane and is in pain a lot of the time but her mind is as sharp as ever and her memory is filled with the most remarkable things. I visit her every few weeks or so not out of duty but out of a real enjoyment of her company and a delight in her sense of humor and knowledge of the world.

It strikes me that she has spent quite a bit of time revising her past: changing dates and reasons why certain things happened, revising  her opinion of certain people and generally, as a chess player does, has moved and rearranged her life pieces so as to make her own life seem more palatable to her. Each time we visit together I am struck by the changes she has made in her history. Sometimes they involve changing dates things happen and sometimes they involve reasons why she did certain things.

I have known her for a very long time, however, so I know what has been altered to fit the new picture of her life. I admire her for doing this reshuffling as it has made her life more palatable to her. Though she is angry still at certain things that happened, she is less angry at herself which was the most difficult thing for her to deal with. At the end of her life she is still the feisty, proud, intelligent woman she was when we first met: unwilling to compromise about life or her position in it. She is also one of the bravest women I have ever known.

Once, when we first met, we were traveling somewhere in a car driven by her cantankerous husband whom everyone feared, including me, as he had a terrible temper. The husband, who had drunk a few glasses of wine, missed his exit on 101 and suddenly swerved across three lanes of traffic with a total disregard for other cars and speeding along at 84 miles per hour. From the back seat where my friend and I sat, I let out an enormous scream as I was terrified of dying in the moment. The husband pulled over to the side of the road and turned around in his seat to ask in a scary voice, “Who said that?”

My friend said without missing a beat, “I did!”

I learned more from that moment that a lifetime of other lessons.  She jumped in to protect me from this mean man and didn’t care at all what he thought or what he would do next. She wanted to protect me and did it without even an instant’s thought. I was too young to really get the enormity of the moment but as years have passed I see that this small story exemplifies most of her acts in life. She does the right thing. She did the right thing many times and in many situations requiring great courage which I will not go into here as they are so private.

When I got home last night I felt very sad and still do. I wish I could wave a magic wand and change her life to one where she didn’t have to suffer so much loss. I wish I could have known what I know now many years before this so I could have been a better friend to her. I wish I could somehow explain to her that I understood her suffering and applauded her for her bravery but in the long run, it wouldn’t matter to her. She wants neither accolades nor any pity: what she wants is respect and for people to admire her life. Admitting there were frailties or failures in it would not be something she wants the world to know about.

I am grateful for her friendship and for the example she has set for me in life. So often we think that we need to go deep into our life experiences in order to be healed and function more happily. We spend hours in therapy trying to relieve our pain and reach an understanding of our fears. What I have learned from my friend is that this path does not work for everyone. Some prefer to carefully reconstruct their history and alter a few dates and eventually sit with their version of life as that is the only version they can live with. Sometimes the pain of what life brings is too harsh to bear in reality so embellishing a life when your life is almost over serves a purpose which is now understood and respected by me.

Just Another Saturday Night

Just another Saturday Night

So tonight let’s take a bottle of that nice wine someone gave us down to the shore while the sun sets as it will set for a very long time up here and when it has left us to go on to some other friends lets still stay here and hold hands and you can kiss me like you did one winter and I will be enchanted again by the endless possibilities of it all because that’s what I do in Maine in the summertime and wine is important and can you imagine people who date people who don’t drink  as I think that would be so difficult as then there would be no sunset or no kiss maybe I am wrong about this but I have a feeling it would be like watching a musical on Broadway and the orchestra has gone home for the night but the cast is still desperately trying to sing to us all and it seems a little bit to me like the time I was in bed with a man who had hearing problems and he turned  and removed his hearing aids placing them carefully on the night table before turning back to me to make love and I was thinking why did he do that  is he so used to making love without hearing what his partner is saying  maybe he doesn’t care or maybe that’s just how he has done it for years so I got out of bed and left the house.

Jobless in the bay area: Interviewing skills

Jobless in the bay area

Today I was lucky enough to be visited by an old friend who I hadn’t seen for 10 years or so.

She came because she wanted some interviewing advice and that is what I used to teach: how to sell yourself, how to work a room, how to get the job of your dreams. I stopped teaching because it was incredibly tiring and I had run out of hope to give people.

I found that today I really enjoyed doing my old job again and was helpful to my friend which is what it is all about to me. We spoke of her past employment and what she wanted now and then we spoke of how weird it is to be older and unemployed and having interviews with people 10 or more years younger than you.

I found this point the most interesting one as it is true for so many people today. You work hard, make a good living, advance up the ladder of corporate success and then lose your job. You have to begin a long search, learn to sell yourself all over again, and face the fear of never finding a job.

I find the younger generation hard to deal with as they seem to have no sense of humor. I often find myself out with a group of people younger than me and I notice they are really not having that much fun. Often they drink a lot, the men talk sports, and the women talk about schools for their kids. In this regard nothing has changed from my generation.

The one different thing is that my generation knows how to have fun! We had great music for fun. Anyone who grew up in the sixties and danced to the Beach Boys, kissed to the Beatles, and went to a Rolling Stones concert knows about fun. Fun is just good old sweet fun. Like spending an entire afternoon in a grassy field making out with your boyfriend.

My friend who is on a job hunt interviews with mostly young men and she isn’t having much luck. I think she isn’t having luck because it is really hard to establish rapport with a guy in his late thirties or earl forties. They don’t know the art of small talk the way we do. Small talk makes the big talk which comes after so much easier. These guys may also be threatened by a woman who is older and infinitely more qualified that they are. In any case they do not feel comfortable establishing a rapport and go right into hard core interview questions.

You know what I told her to do? Wear a pretty dress rather than the black suit she always wore to interviews.  Well, that’s not all I told her to do but I did recommend that she do that. I think wearing a dress at our age to a job interview shows you have a good sense of self and that you are comfortable in your own skin. I think the old days of dark suit interviews should be swept out the door.

My friend did tell me that once she was 40 she vowed to wear all the pink she wanted to the office. So now she needs to remember that. We all do. It’s so hard to face fear and act as if you have none. People get hired who seem confident and competent. Acting fearful is a bad thing in an interview. It’s not so much the pretty dress as the attitude that says I am comfortable with myself and I get along with people.

After she left my sweet dog disappeared for a couple of hours. I felt terrible fear and was crying most of the time. I convinced myself she would never return and that I would never find another dog like her. I would be forever sad about losing her. She had been carried off by an enormous eagle that had eaten her piece by piece.  Can you imagine anyone thinking like this? Crazy, right?

Fear is crazy. It paralyses us. It makes us unable to live our lives with freedom and joy. It is the worst possible emotion I feel yet is is always simmering under the edge of our lives. As the book says we have to “Feel the Fear, and Do it Anyway”.

More Erotic Fantasies from an Older Woman

More Erotic Fantasies from an older woman

Though I am not married, I believe in marriage. I like the word, “husband”. I know this may make some of you smirk.  How can someone like me, an avowed feminist, be supportive of marriage? I think I believe in marriage because I believe in happy endings, holding hands, sending cards on birthdays, celebrating anniversaries, making a relationship romantic even if it is a long term one. I like to word “husband” because it means to me a nice man who is there for you in the long run. Someone to watch your back.

Last night at a dinner party with a group of friends the subject of marriage came up, and I said I hoped to remarry before I was dead. Several of my guests laughed and then a few comments were made like, “Why would you want to get married?” and “Why not just live with the person?” and “Would you want someone around all of the time?”

I am used to these kinds of comments but they still bother me. It seems to me that I should be allowed the same kind of romantic hopes one has when one is young. I have been single for a long time, actually since I was relatively young, and I haven’t lost my romantic desire to be with a significant other. I have no need for financial support nor do I want someone to take care of me. I just want to have a husband.

Yes, it’s true I have gone out with a lot of men. As Marilyn Monroe said so wisely, “Some girls just get asked more!” I have had a really good time over the last 15 years dating up a storm and I don’t regret a minute of it. Now that I am announcing to the world I want to settle down, the world laughs at me!

I wonder why this is. Is it because their own relationships have lost their romance? Is it because they feel uncomfortable when I speak of romantic love and how I would like to find it? Is it because they think I am “too old” to be thinking like this? I am embarrassing them in some way?

I don’t think you are ever too old to be a romantic. I think it is what those small moments are for when you have a really happy daydream about something romantic and you find a small smile on your face. I think it is when you see something about your beloved that reminds you how tenderly you feel about him. I think it is having the pleasure of seeing something in a store you know he would like and buying it for him.

I think sometimes if people could still try to believe in magic they would be happier and have more fun, be more relaxed, and have more meaningful relationships. I am used to people laughing at me because I say things they may have felt but are uncomfortable hearing. Fantasies are not for the faint hearted.

In recent years I have run into a few men who have tried to have a relationship with me despite that fact that they are married. This is such sad behavior. I find it not only bad behavior but also insulting to me. These men prefer, it seems, to compartmentalize their relationships: one for the family, one for love and sex, one for business, etc.

So what am I saying here? I believe in romance despite the fact that I am old yet I find it difficult to speak about my beliefs as most people I know seem uncomfortable with dreams and romance. Romance, to me, means loyalty, faithfulness, passion, support and most of all, flatly refusing to give up my hopes as they get me through the night! And that means a lot particularly in today’s’ world.

So to all of my friends who make fun of my desire, I ask that you change your tune and support me. You may find it fun to dream as well!

My Bunion

My Bunion and what it taught me.

First of all…was the bunion named after Paul Bunion? Does anyone know the answer to that?

I am an expert in what it feels like to have a bunion as I have had one for 15 years.

I never knew I had a bunion until a friend of mine who happens to be a plastic surgeon looked at my foot one day and said, “Oh MY! How long have you had that?” “What?” I asked…

When he pointed out my “deformed” foot I was in shock. How could I not have noticed my problem? Then my yoga teacher noticed it and focused on teaching me exercises on how to help my bunion. Frankly I had no desire to do this as I had no sympathy for my bunion. Apparently it was unsightly and it was causing all of my very expensive Christian Louboutin’s to be uncomfortable. I spent a bit of time each night trying to straighten it out along with trying to flatten my hammer toe.

None of these attempts were very successful and in the long run I grew accustomed to my bunion. Until the other day, that is.

I was at a friend’s house and it was a “take your shoes off “house which, thank God, only happens in California. I had taken off my right shoe and was working on my left when the child of the house who was standing next to me asked, “What is the matter with your foot?”

I swear, until that time I had been willing to overlook my bunion. It rarely caused me pain, it seemed fairly normal to me, and I just assumed the yoga teacher and the plastic surgeon were focused on symmetry and perfection.

Coming from the mouth of a child, however, I knew my foot must look weird.

All at once my world has changed. I am reluctant to wear sandals or go barefoot. I don’t wear the shoes I used to that I think now show my “deformity” too much. I am now really angry with my foot. You see, it is my second deformity. I also have scoliosis and never and I mean never walk away from anyone wearing a swimsuit. If I did I know they would also know about my major curve.

Basically for the past few weeks I have been whining to myself about my bunion. This whining has lead me to other imperfections in life that some of us have. Like cancer, for example. Imperfections, you may ask? Why use that word?

I use it because I think that’s how we secretly look at any human being with any type of disability at all. From bunions to cancer, we want to be perfect and if we find we are less than perfect there is a bit of embarrassment , an almost shame, that we feel.  It is so interesting to me how I came to this point.

I have a friend who has just had bunion surgery and has enormous pain right now. She had to have the surgery as she could barely walk. Sometimes at night I think of the doctor performing the surgery, wielding a giant hammer on that hammer toe, smashing it down, placing a pin in it, believing it will all grow back perfectly and be symmetrical again. This frightens me. I also feel frightened if I imagine getting sick with cancer and how I know I would feel as if I didn’t want anyone to know. I can’t be less than symmetrical, myself.

Life is so fragile: the constant unfolding of layers and the dropping of disguises. The process of understanding where you fit and what you stand for. Many of us have bunions. Many of us get cancer. Many of us have other issues that also make us fragile in life.

Loneliness, for one. I don’t really have a conclusion here. Just a commentary on bunions, an ordinary part of life and a wish that we could allow ourselves and everyone else to be less than perfect.