4/20/2015

How to be a Sassy Old(er) Woman Pt 2

Now that we've addressed clothes, cars, critters and causes, its time to think about fun. One of the most fun things hubster and I have done lately was to go, with a group of about 20 friends to a honky -tonk in far west Texas, and dance. (We all stayed together at a B&B.) Hubster and I dance a poor two-step (bc I can never let anyone else lead) and the music was a mix of country and pop. We just reverted to our "old" styles of dancing (formed in the late 70's and early 80's....a little bit rock 'n roll, a little bit new wave) which apparently was quite a curiosity to the folk at this particular establishment. Strangers actually came up to us and inquired about where we had learned to dance, calling our style "unique"  - and no, it wasn't as bad as Elaine on "Seinfeld" - I just had to laugh. I didn't reply "in a bunch of gay bars back in the big city a long time ago", which was the truth. I just laughed. Who cares if we looked odd? We looked odd together. I just wish I could still fit into those size 6 leather pants I bought from North Beach.....
While I love love love the elegant ladies from "Advanced Style", I doubt I will ever be one. I just don't have the money to dress that well, I'm not thin, and I'm too action-oriented to ever look that good. My curly hair is always out of place (and this strands coming in gray are even curlier than it was), I'm sweaty, and besides, I want to DO STUFF not sit around and pose. Comfort is my goal and adventure is my plan.

You have to figure out what you want to do to have fun. Maybe knitting, playing bridge, and square dancing are your thing. Maybe you like watching tv and doing crossword puzzles. I want to be like T.E.Lawrence who died while riding a motorcycle near his home. I'd rather die on a motorcycle than in a hospital. I want to be like Gertrude Stein who encouraged young artists and created her own salon (in the French sense, as in, a gathering of writers and intellectuals who talk and share ideas, not in the small town sense, as in a place to get your hair done.) I want to find interesting, like-minded people to talk to about stuff. I want to do a wide variety of things, so that I have something to talk about. I'm not sure I can steer a motorcycle by myself these days, but I know I can steer a Vespa. "Normal" is boring. What have you always wanted to do, but never have done?
You have to get up and do stuff. If no one around you is making plans, starting things, then you make the plans. If you invite them, they will come. In the past few years I have started a bookclub, a dinner club (neighbors get together once a month and either go out to eat, or have a potluck with a theme, like "foreign vacation" or "Mardi Gras"), gone with friends to see plays, art exhibits, and concerts, booked fun trips. I created a "pub crawl" for hubster's birthday celebration (like a progressive dinner, only we went from craft brewery to craft brewery).
The big ticket item on my bucket list is travel. I want to travel as much as I can till I can't any more. I am scared by recent health problems that my travel days may not last much longer. But I started thinking: I just need to change my travel paradigm. Instead of the schlepping heavy luggage all over Europe thing - which I know I cannot do any more - I need to find other ways to get around. Rent a car. Sail a ship. The traditional thing for old folks is to take a cruise, but I hate crowds, formal dress, gambling, shuffleboard, and all that crap. Hubster and I are going to take a 10 person cruise on a sailing yacht in the Caribbean this summer - we'll let you know if it was fun, later. I just need to slow my pace, rest more often, not try to do as much. 

How to Be a Sassy Old(er) Woman Pt 1

Society doesn't really provide a script for women to behave as we approach mid-life, although there are plenty of archetypes to choose from at a more advanced age. I 'm not sure where the demarcation lies - is it 50? 60? 65? retirement? grand-motherhood? "I just don't care about conventions anymore?" "I'm retired now, I can do as I please?" "I'm pissed as hell, hear me roar?" The whole sexy-cougar-MILF thing just isn't of interest to me anymore. Maybe its due to the post-menopausal hormone drain, that leaves me feeling about as sexy as a balloon that lost all its air. I think that last surge of sexiness is something of interest to women who had their children at 20, and are now 38 with teenagers. That's the age where women start to get nervous about their looks fading; thank god I was overwhelmed with babies and diapers at that age and it just whizzed right by me as I tried to go a single day without getting baby stains on my last clean shirt.
 
Whatever the cause, I have reached the point in my life where I am quickly shedding my previous roles and concerns. Maybe what is liberating is finally, after 20-25 years, I don't have to change someone's diaper, feed them, work to earn money to care for them, spend every waking moment either driving them or else attending some function for them, giving them all my money and never having anything fun for myself, and then having the very child you slave for to turn and be embarrassed by your (extremely constrained, as normal as you can make it) self.  Ah, teenagers: God's gift to parents, otherwise, if they stayed cute and adorable like a 4 year old, you'd never want them to leave. So maybe the demarcation is when your kids have moved on to lives of their own and you are free to be as whimsical as you always wished you could be. (There's always the Mr. to worry about, your last child, but hopefully he can manage to take care of himself now and then.)
First on my list of reinventing myself at mid-age was to start at the bottom of my list (based on Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.) After 20+ years of only having the pet the Mr and the kids wanted, I went out any got a pet for my own needs. Then I swapped out the mommy bus (aka minivan) for something a bit sportier, zippier, and luxe- hey if men can do it, why can't women? Next thing up is to consciously schedule more time with your girlfriends - because as the internet meme reminds us, the odds are likely that you will outlive your husband. You need to get some girlfriends stat to spend the last 25-30 years of your life with. Last but not least: fun clothes. I am at the point where I am working on a more comfortable, artsy -looking wardrobe , a little bit at a time.
 These aspects of reinvention, however, are all superficial. Who is your role model? What do you want to do with the last quarter or third of your life? Who do you want to be like? Mother Theresa? Eleanor Roosevelt? Tina Turner? I have one friend, Bonnie, who is an artist (yes, she actually earns a living from this) and who , in her late 60's or early 70's (she will never say) has the most energy, is the most adventuresome, creative, spirited person I know. Bonnie never seems to sleep, she stays awake all night, reads a million books, loves dancing, travel, can talk for hours on any subject and never be dull. She is in great health and has the pep of a 20 year old, and she is a great inspiration to me.
 I do know this much: I have spent a lifetime of keeping my mouth shut about the things I care about - worried about keeping my job, creating enemies, causing problems, going alone, keeping the peace. No more. I figure this is the best time, when not distracted by the overwhelming responsibilities of daily living, to speak one's mind. It is the duty of the crone (in the Jungian series of female archetypes: the maiden, the mother, the crone) or elder female to pass on the wisdom of previous generations, and to speak up when others cannot, to improve life and remind society of its values, to point out its errors, to help develop solutions. There are several versions of this speaking up, and I hope not to be the cranky old curmudgeon sort of person. Rather, I hope to be the cool granny out there, protesting and volunteering to help others live a better life. What are the causes you care about? Who else is going to raise awareness, if not you?


Demographics of Texas


Don’t talk to me about “fly over states”, you snarky east and west coasters, and include Texas in that dismissal. We take umbrage at that notion, and consider ourselves “the third coast”.
Some facts to consider:
Population Canada 35 million  (2013)
Population California 38 million (2014)
Population Australia 23 million (2013)
Population Texas 27 million (2014)
Population NYC 8.4 million (2013)
Population DFW 6.6 million (2012)
Population Los Angeles area  13 million add San Diego, total area  18.5 million (2010) + Population SF bay area 7 million (2013) = 25.5 in two urban areas
Population DFW 6.6 million + San Antonio Austin area 4.7 million + Houston Galveston 6 million = 17.3 million in 3 urban areas

Texas coastline has 367 miles (as the crow flies) and 3300 miles shoreline including islands, bays, inlets, etc
The economy of Texas is one of the largest economies in the United States. As of 2013, Texas is home to six of the top 50 companies on the Fortune 500 list and 51 overall, (third most after New York and California). In 2012, Texas grossed more than $264.7 billion a year in exports—more than exports of California ($161.9 billion) and New York ($81.4 billion) combined. As a sovereign country (in 2012), Texas would be the 14th largest economy in the world by GDP (ahead of South Korea and the Netherlands).
In 2011,Texas had a gross state product of $1.332 trillion, the second highest in the U.S.  Texas has the second largest population in the country after California. (Wikipedia)

Percent of Texas Natives Shrink as Newcomers Arrive
http://blogs.houstonpress.com/news/2014/08/numbers_of_texas_natives_shrinking_as_population_booms.php

4/17/2015

What Would Jesus Wear?

I write to you as a field reporter observing the local customs, much as I would if I were visiting Borneo, Oaxaca or Papua New Guinea, and reporting back on what the natives there were wearing. Even though I am a sixth generation Texan, born and bred, and my parents hail from small Texas towns, I never knew anyone who dressed like this growing up. This is how the "Bible belt" has changed since I was a kid.
I am not sure if all the crosses people are wearing these days are a true sign of their religious feeling, or merely a fashion fad. No, the question that burns in my brain until the wee hours is this: where do they buy this stuff? I shop at local stores and never see any of it for sale.
Perhaps they buy it at the gift shop in their evangelical mega churches, or like the Tupperware parties of old, in small home-based selling circles. It is apparently de rigeur to have a smug, superior look on one's face while wearing it, as if secretly thinking to oneself, "that'll show 'em," or, "I stand for J-E-S-U-S."
A friend and I accidentally stumbled into the "wrong" nail salon one day - not the typical sort of place - and nearly all the customers were sporting the ginormous leopard print- rhinestone-sequins-crosses-feathers handbag. I was worried for a moment about being tarred and feathered and rode out of town. Did I miss the memo? Weren't nuns wearing habits, you know, back in the day, because they gave up all their worldly possessions and served the lord with humility and grace?


I tell you what I do know.....I know that Jesus probably never in a million years imagined the cross that believers feel he died on would be snuggling up to the inside of some girl's butt.


Is that respectful to Jesus?

4/16/2015

No One Left to Stand Up



First they tried to prohibit basic human rights for the gays,
and I did not speak out-
Because I was not gay.

Then they tried to restrict a woman's control over her own body,
and I did not speak out-
Because I no longer worried about birth control, reproductive issues, or the fundamental privacy between a woman and her doctor to make intimate decisions about her healthcare.

Then they came for the schools and the teachers,
and I did not speak out -
Because I no longer had kids in school, or friends who taught, and I no longer cared about the social and economic importance of education for others.

Then they came for the 98%, the workers, the elderly, young children, the poor and the middle class,
and I did not speak out-
Because I felt helpless, powerless, unable to decide what to do, that my vote didn't count, or how to make a difference.

Then they came for me-
and there was no one left to speak out.