Five Things For Which Life Is Too Short

I am not entirely sure how this post came about, but probably because I’ve been reading several really good novels, and then the inevitable stinker came along. It wasn’t even inevitable, it was self-induced. I knew it was a stinker when I started it. Bah. Life’s too short, thought I. Especially when life (as I know it) could be a whole lot shorter than I realize.

You never know.

Here’s five things life is most likely too short to do:

Long StoryLife is too short for a long story. Don’t you inwardly cringe when someone says, “It’s a long story but…”. To me, this marks the beginning of an upcoming period in my life where I’m going to be irretrievably bored, and will live precious minutes that I can’t get back, listening to something I’d rather not hear. Unrecoverable time. If the long story is a good one then quite possibly the time spent listening to it could be worthwhile, but ninety-nine-point-seven percent of the time, if someone says this, you’d be better off requesting an induced coma.

spongecupLife is too short to drink cheap wine. This is usually said when that first bottle (the one with the label on it which in no way suggests there is wine inside) is first tapped and allowed to “breathe” before dribbling two ounces into paper-thin, stemmed glassware which could hold a twenty-ounce Frostie with room to spare. The burgundy-colored liquid is swirled and examined for “legs”, the aroma breathed in, before that first teeny nip. The one where the lips are pursed on either side of the glass so as to not soil such a delightful accoutrement with anything one might deign to put on one’s lips. Fast forward two hours. Life is now not too short to drink cheap wine, if that’s all that’s left. The guests are now imbibing the more questionable adult beverage from bottles with labels picturing three-headed cows directly from Spongebob Squarepants cups. This after the unforgivable party foul — that of smashing three or four wine goblets during that little ruckus over by the barbecue pit.

TattoosLife is too short to blend in. After closely examining this phrase, it’s probably true. Those of us who are still keeping score — who has the biggest house, who stays in the better hotels, who has the most expensive car, wins — are probably guilty of blending in. To me, this says, don’t do what everyone else does, do your own thing, be different, do the things that cause Le Eyeroll Magnifique. Who wants it written on their tombstone, “Here lies Mary, She Blended In”. Well, actually, no one has shit like that engraved on their tombstone anymore. A lot of people get cremated and don’t even have a tombstone. And if they do have one, they probably prefer pictures of Angels with Wings.

Stuffed mushroomsLife is too short to stuff a mushroom. Some things aren’t worth doing. How much can you put into a mushroom? Just a little bit, and before you can stuff it you have to core the insides out of all those little fungi. It’s important that they be no larger than what can be popped into one’s mouth in toto, lest you squirt mushroom juice directly onto your neighbor’s Gucci cotton-poplin. Pick a different Hors d’oeuvre. Break out the Cheez-its someone, and spare me from having to poke something into a half-inch opening. I don’t have that much tolerance for boredom.

Valley of the doolsLife is too short to read bad novels. Ah, here it is. The justification for this blog post. Last post, I said I was going to read Valley of the Dolls as an example of what not to do. Got about 15% of the way in (one sitting) and decided: Nope, nah, not gonna do it. To deliberately read a novel that you know is bad is kind of like going to an Adam Sandler movie. You know what you’re getting into, yet you do it anyway. Thinking about those hours of my life that I couldn’t get back after I’d read VOTD, and considering I’d read it once before forty-n years ago and thought it was pretty stupid then, isn’t my idea of an intelligent decision on how to spend time. I’d just done that with Fifty Shades, and that writing was on par with this latest attempted read. So, no thanks, Ms. Susann. RIP, but I’m not reading any of your books. I got what I needed from the first ten pages.

Spongebob Photo credit: origami_potato / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Tattoo Photo credit: * raymond / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Concerned about Alzheimer’s Disease? Read “Still Alice” by Lisa Genova.

HStill Aliceave you ever thought about Alzheimer’s disease as it relates to you? Do you have a relative, perhaps a parent who suffers from it? I did. My father. Many thoughts and worries have surfaced since he was diagnosed with “symptoms consistent with Alzheimer’s”. The only way to know for sure if it’s Alzheimer’s or some other form of dementia is to perform an autopsy. At that point, it doesn’t seem to matter so much, what it was that caused the loss of memory and motor skills and finally, death.

I believe it was Alzheimer’s but I’m not sure it matters. What matters to me now is, is it hereditary? Will I get it too? Probably? Maybe? Every day I look for it. Am I forgetting too many things? Is it that I forget or that things just seem to skim the surface of my consciousness? I am preoccupied, I am not paying attention, I just don’t care enough about that particular fact. Maybe. Maybe not. I don’t know anything for sure.

My friend suggested I read a book called “Still Alice” and I did. I just finished it and it was wonderful and highly recommended for anyone, whether you have people close to you suffering from it or not. It was written by a woman who has a Ph.D in neuroscience from Harvard University and is an online columnist for the National Alzheimer’s Association. Combined with that knowledge, and a definite writing flair, she has crafted a fictional account of a woman besieged with early-onset Alzheimer’s. The woman is only fifty when she is diagnosed.

The novel is written from the POV of Alice, so the reader identifies with the confusion, the uncertainty, the despair she goes through as the disease progresses. Alice can only sit and watch her life fade away, as she struggles to hang on to memories of her husband and children. When she can’t remember their names, she still remembers them. She knows they are her son and her daughters, but fears she doesn’t know this through understanding, but because they keep telling her.

She struggles to understand as her family talks around her, as if she weren’t present. She wants to tell them things but can’t get her thoughts out fast enough and forgets them anyway. She hallucinates and believes there is a hole in the floor that she must go around. She tears the house apart looking for things but then can’t remember what those things are. She can’t recognize herself in the mirror, because she thinks she is a young girl. She confuses her dead sister with her daughter.

It’s powerful, the thoughts and fears that Alice experiences. And the writing is brilliant, very moving, and educational too. Add to all that, the development of some very fine characters and you have a novel well worth reading, not only for the knowledge it imparts but because it is a moving story. I hoarded this book. I didn’t want it to end.

I thought of my father, as I read it, and wondered how much of this he went through. No one knows for sure, because no one who is going through it can tell you what it’s like. We watch our parents suffer with it and yet, on some level, we think that won’t happen to me, or I’ll deal with that later. This novel brings it home, makes it real. If you aren’t comfortable with that knowledge then this novel may not be something you’d care to read.

I’m glad I read it, but up until now, I don’t think I was ready.

Age is Just a Number (Sometimes a Big Number)

Here we go again. First thing on a Monday morning, I get a notice of a new post on Boomer Cafe. It’s called How Old Are You? One Baby Boomer Says It Really Does Not Matter. It’s written by a guy named Stew.

Yet another baby boomer yelling about how “you are only as old as you feel” and “age is just a number”. Bah.

Stew says:

As a person who is “older” (okay, I have trouble with that word), I have learned a few things about aging … mainly, I don’t understand what everyone is talking about. I don’t know how old I am unless I calculate it. When asked, all I know is that I am as old as I am feeling that day – be it 26 or 42 or maybe 31. And that is what I tell people.

Well, Stew, I have learned a few things about aging too. And here’s what I have learned.

  • It takes me longer to do things than it used to.
  • I am now afraid of slipping on ice, when I used to play on it.
  • I now have to read on a Kindle so I can make the text real big.
  • I now have aches and pains in places I never suspected would hurt.
  • I now go places and look around and think “everyone here is younger than me”.

The above is just a sampling. There is so much more. So do I feel 26 or 42 or 31 on certain days? Maybe if my mirrors came with PhotoShop installed, I would feel that way. But no, Stew, not really.

Stew likes to skydive. Doesn’t that just figure? People who blah-blahther on about how they don’t look at calendars except for when they have a dentist appointment always skydive. What is the point of it? Why would anyone even consider skydiving for one minute? Don’t you have enough respect for life to think, but wait, what if that little pull cord thingy doesn’t work? Yeah, think about that. I recently bought a temporary electric toothbrush. It has a little button to press for vibration. It doesn’t work. It’s defective. So think about that pull cord again, Stew.

Speaking of the dentist. Sure, you only consult the calendar when you have an appointment. Old people have to go to the dentist more. Their crowns break, their gums rot, the longer we are on this earth, the more we chew things and the more our teeth get busted up. That’s why you are going to the dentist, Stew, and why you have to consult your calendar.

Don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade here. But shit aging happens and saying you are 26 when you are really 62 just means you are dyslexic, not “young at heart”.

Here’s another good idea. Stew doesn’t think we should travel south. Don’t go to Florida. Everyone in Florida is old.

Stew also says:

My idea of a challenge is not seeing how few times I can hit a dimpled white ball for 18 holes. The only dimples I want to see should be resting on the pillow in bed next to me and making me feel … and act … 25.

This is probably not a good idea, Stew. This sounds like promiscuous behavior to me. Or, sounds like you have a thing for younger women. Very problematic. Or maybe when you say “dimples” you are referring to some other part of the anatomy? In that case, okay. But 25? Really? You taking some of that “Vigara” that keeps showing up in my spam folder?

(And as an aside here, if people are going to spam you with ads for drugs, wouldn’t it be prudent to spell what you’re selling correctly? Just wonderin’.)

So, I did a triple eye roll at Stew’s post. Stew, you need to consult your calendar. You were born back when stamps cost two cents. When your phone number had four digits. When the milkman left dairy products in glass bottles on your doorstep. When you got S&H green stamps at the grocery store. When people still said “gee whiz”. When jello was a food staple.

There’s nothing wrong with aging. I think we, as aging grownups, might be better off accepting our new limitations instead of trying to pretend otherwise. Nothing screams “old geezer” more than someone trying to pretend they are thirty years younger than they are.

Shibui, that’s what we need in this country. Respect your age. It’s what got you where you are.

Baby Boomer Literature – A New Genre?

Last week, I read an article on Boomer Cafe called “Author Claude Nougat Knows the Next Trend in Publishing”.

Boomer Cafe.. it’s your place is a site that explores issues which affect people of the BB generation. You can find informative articles about financial management, health issues, trends, retirement topics and lots of other interesting subject matter, and they welcome contributions from readers too.

boomercafe_02

The article header says:

“Almost since we reached middle age, advertisers and marketers have sold us short. They said we no longer represented the demographic they were looking for. Well, we’ve got news for them: baby boomers are the biggest, richest demographic in the world today. Author Claude Nougat already knew that, and has begun to promote books written specifically for, and about, baby boomers. She says, it’s the next phenomenon in publishing.”

Coincidental. I had been thinking about pitching Boomer Cafe to do a guest post of my own. But I didn’t have to do that, because Ms. Nougat did it first. I have been talking about this for a long time myself, so I was very glad to read it and discover others were thinking the same way.

In the article, there is a link to a Goodreads Group specifically for BB authors which promotes nothing but BB Lit. YEAH! It took me eleven seconds to sign up for the group and comment. All you readers who are BB authors, you need to check this out! You are not alone. Help is on the way.

Here is the Goodreads group and this link is also in Claude’s article.

Since that article was published, it was picked up by the Passive Voice. It attracted some, shall we say, negative attention. Here are a sampling of some of those not-so-nice remarks:

”As for many baby boomer novels being published, last time I pitched one I can’t remember if the agent guffawed or gagged.”

“There are, Lord knows, some Baby Boomers out there who are so self-absorbed that they think the sole function of popular culture is to chronicle their every whim and eructation.”

“To come to such a conclusion does indeed require the assumption that whatever stage of life the Baby Boomers are going through at a given moment, the paramount purpose of popular culture is to record it.”

“The bottom line is: Old people just aren’t very interesting (I know, I am 65).”

And later, the article was picked up by Kindle Nation Daily. This site didn’t generate much negativity. Most of the commenters felt it was a great idea and many listed books they have written. Some interesting titles: “Bastard Husband: A Love Story”, “Sex, Lies & Hot Tubs” and “The Old Guy Rules”.

Naturally there are going to be a huge cross-section of people who don’t want to see this, especially those who have it in for our generation, that we are all a bunch of selfish, it’s-all-about-me, self-centered crybabies. If you don’t believe me, google “baby boomers suck” and see what you get. We are blamed for everything from the financial crisis to the current political situation to the high medical costs. We are responsible for taking younger people’s jobs because we won’t die off soon enough. We are aiding in the demise of the world and causing the earth to warm by our conspicuous consumerism.

This is disconcerting, that as a generation we are viewed that way. Personally, I have always been rather pleased to be part of a world-changing group of people. We were sought after, and marketed to when we were younger, but now, not so much. A while back I bitched about NBC taking Harry’s Law off the air. Their reasoning was, we’re old, we’re stuck in the past, we don’t switch brands, we don’t buy enough stuff. All crap, of course, but it appears we, as a generation, have outlived our appeal to advertisers.

Still, there is strength in our sheer numbers, 79 million being one of the more popular counts. It’s decreasing daily, of course, as we die off (although not fast enough for some). If only a portion of this group is interested in reading novels about people their own age, that is still a sizeable market.

The oldest of us are beginning to retire. I did. Gave up the Corporate Hell Life in order to do what I wanted to do. In the coming years, people will retire in great numbers, and with retirement comes leisure, and with leisure comes more time to read.

Baby Boomers Do Not Suck. We are still cool and we will rock our nursing homes. And we’ll still be reading.

It’s about time we had an official Baby Boomer Literature genre.

Rock 'n Read

Rock ‘n Read

Photo courtesy of Microsoft Clipart

 

 

Blather of a Shoe-Watcher

One thing that has always intrigued me is shoes. Especially now that I have officially become a member of the comfort generation. I like to shoe-watch, and marvel at what women consider attractive, functional, appropriate shoes. Or, in some of the cases depicted here, the term “shoes” may be a misnomer – the things women choose to put on their feet.

What is the exact history of this behavior, that women feel as if they must encase perhaps their most important appendages, that upon which they stand and which allows them to be mobile, into the most weather-inappropriate, unlovely, nay even bizarre, adornment?

It may have started in China with foot binding. And yes, there are pictures available of what this lady’s feet actually look like sans her teeny-tiny shoes, and no, I’m not posting it here because it may take the last meal away from the safe confines of your digestive tract. It’s hurl-worthy.

The strange custom may have originated among the upper class court dancers in the early Song dynasty, but this is unclear. It spread to the lower classes eventually and became very popular because men thought it to be highly attractive. OH! I get it now. Because MEN FOUND IT TO BE HIGHLY ATTRACTIVE! Well, then, ‘nough said.

The woman in the above photo is still alive today, and to assume she has a bit of trouble getting around is a no-brainer.

It’s no surprise to anyone that women dress up their lower extremities because this is what men like. Or so women think, and oh yeah, men also like butt implants, fake boobs and engorged lips. But do they really? And, more important, should women care if that’s what men like? It’s not like men are willing to don inappropriate and uncomfortable garb for the sake of a woman. But somehow, women need to do it for men? Where’s the equality in that?

Ya’ mean you want me to, like, take a shower or sumpin’?

Shouldn’t women care more about what they are doing to their bodies and say screw it if guys don’t like this? Get some Shibui!  I think that would be most appropriate in this day of supposed women’s liberation. But from the looks of the stuff we put on our feet, we aren’t very liberated, now are we?

Still, it is better than foot binding.

Here are a few reasons why women should not wear high heels, and note that they are all pretty much related to the actual health of the foot:

  • Foot pain
  • Increased chance of fractures and sprains
  • Creation of foot deformities, such as hammertoes and bunions
  • Unsteady gait
  • Stride is shortened
  • Inability to run
  • A decrease in normal rotation of the foot puts more rotation stress on the knee causing degeneration of the knee joint
  • Tendon problems

Okay, now here a few reasons why women should wear high heels, and note that these reasons are generally related to aesthetics, or man-pleasing:

  • The appearance of calves is accentuated
  • Posture is changed because a more upright carriage is required, considered seductive
  • Wearer appears taller
  • Wearer’s legs appear longer
  • Wearer’s feet appear smaller
  • Wearer’s toes appear shorter
  • Arches of the feet appear higher and better defined

Some articles even say that men are turned on by a woman in high heels because she is more vulnerable and can’t escape as easily. Now, isn’t that a good reason to NOT wear these things?

I believe that women should not be turned on by men who are turned on by high heels. Unless said women are also turned on by 24-inch biceps and snake tattoos. Then maybe. But in that case, they’d deserve each other.

Here are some examples of the most grotesque examples of “shoes” I found:

Very versatile, goes with anything!

Extra support for ballet dancers!

I love throwing on something comfortable and relaxing with a glass of wine!

Just thought I’d pop out to Wal-mart. Want anything?

Double Boots, for those who like to walk backwards.

And here are some that could be considered odd perhaps, yet not quite so freakish:

Ack! Dog shoes! Get the PETA people in here.

Feet shoes, but maybe better if those feet weren’t from an eighty-year-old guy

Ladder shoes?

Hoof shoes, for when you’re impersonating a goat

Wanta keep him away? Porcupine shoes.

Wheel shoes.Great for when you’re late for work.

Lastly, my favorites:

Ahh. Shibui!

 

 

Baby Boomer Women Are Shibui!

Shibusa (shibui) is a Japanese concept, with no real translation into English (Shibui is the adjective, shibusa the noun.) The people of Japan think of beauty in levels – from blatant, harsh and bold to the ideal beauty of shibusa, which is the type of beauty that involves complexity, the imperfections and patina that only time can bring. A mature beauty, like a vintage wine, a history that is conveyed by the artifact. Understated quiet sophistication.

I can’t think of a word in English that comes close. Elegant? Tasteful? Refined? Dignified? These words all describe aspects of shibusa but don’t really define it. It’s the idea that things get better with age, and that perfection is not as well tolerated as shibusa.

Shibusa is simplicity, implicitness, modesty, silence, naturalness, everydayness and imperfection.

  • An old rocking chair is shibui.
  • A “real leather” lazy boy recliner is not shibui.
  • An old baggy cashmere sweater is shibui.
  • A 100% polyester “fleece” is not shibui.
  • Old English aged cheddar is shibui.
  • Cheez whiz is not shibui.

You get the idea here.

I had the insane notion that us boomer women need to throw off fifty or sixty plus years of age discrimination and embrace the idea of shibusa. Why not? We’ve been calling the shots as to what’s cool for decades, so why should we stop now, just because we’re getting old, and challenged in any number of ways?

Let’s throw away the anti-aging creams, the hair coloring, the gold jewelry, the fake nails, the spikey shoes, the clothes that (let’s face it here) aren’t meant to adorn bodies that have been around almost as long as Cheerios.

At some point we’re going to have to resort to plastic surgery if we want to keep up the charade. You can only hide behind dark glasses, botox injections, turtle necks and big hair for a limited amount of time. After that, it’s the old nip ‘n tuck.

I have lighting in my bathroom that makes me look like I am a decade or two younger. I planned it that way. You know the kind. Like when you go into a really upscale department store and the dressing rooms are all lit softly, dramatically, such that you look really good, instead of those fluorescent abominations in Target. Except for a couple of flaws (which can’t be ignored) the skin tones look perfect; unblemished, smooth and nearly wrinkle-free.

Imagine my surprise when I catch sight of myself in some other venue (even a turned off Smartphone will do the evil deed) and find to my horror that instead of looking like the ageless person I believed myself to be, I do in fact look pretty much like other people my age do.

Never mind photos. I think cameras should be able to calculate the age of the person upon which they are focusing and add the appropriate amount of PhotoShop right there. That way, no embarrassingly awful pictures can be posted on Facebook and to which you have to beg the poster to “please take that down, I hate it!” and to which they reply, “aw, I thought it was cute”. Take the friggin’ thing down before I unfriend you. I don’t care if you’re my daughter or not! Say I.

There’s a 55-year-old woman who is trying out for the Dallas Cowboy’s cheerleading squad. Everyone says, “Imagine that! She’s 55! Doesn’t she look great for 55?” What the hell difference does it make? She’s still 55! She’s got an AARP card! She qualifies for the Bob Evans Senior Meal! She can buy a house in a special gated community because she meets the minimum age requirements!

We baby boomer women need to embrace the concept of shibusa and hopefully convince others to embrace it too. Then our wrinkles and hair of (whatever color it is, I wouldn’t know anymore) and sagging skin would all be shibui, very cool.

So instead of this:

I’m going for this: