Source: 52-13 – My Commute
Ah, this will be a tough one. Right now, my only relationship is with my characters in my writing. That wasn’t always the case.
That was in high school, of course, and the person I thought I’d spend the rest of my life with was different from every other boy in the school. Then came college and the death of first love. I think I whimpered a little.
In college, there were dates, a few, but no one stood out as “the one.” There was a professor, but that went no further than flirting. There was also a Vietnam vet in several of my history classes. We talked about politics, the war, revolution, and almost anything else. However, I wouldn’t do drugs with him, and he moved on to someone who did.
So, rule one. Never date someone your mother likes, especially if you think it will improve your relationship with her. He was a policeman and a racist, and I wasn’t my authentic self with him. He didn’t see handcuffing and having nonconsensual sex with me as rape. He was also my infamous stalker after we split, the one I had to hold a gun on to get him to leave me alone.
Oh, and when we split, guess whose side my mother took?
I found “the one” at work in the early 1980s, and it was bliss for 20 of our 22 years together. The last two he spent in an alcoholic daze, and I wish I could say we drifted away. Rather, we both turned our backs and walked away: him because I wouldn’t enable any longer; me because I couldn’t live the rest of my life the way I had started it, with an alcoholic.
I’ve often said he was the person I was put on earth to love, and I do. I still do, 11+ years after. I always will.
A couple of years ago, I put my toe in the waters and had a couple of dates with a man in my area. Lunch dates only, and we decided on a “real” date–dinner and a movie. He didn’t call to set it up as he indicated he would, and I’d built up a good head of resentment. Then, I found out he’d died at home, alone, a couple of days after we’d chatted on the phone. I felt ridiculous, of course, for being angry, but I also thought it wasn’t my “right” to grieve. We’d barely known each other.
Even almost two years later, I think about what might have been.
That, and my life is full as it is right now. I’ve been on my own long enough I can’t imagine sharing time and space with anyone other than my friends and family. However, I miss male companionship. I miss the Sunday mornings sharing coffee and the newspaper in bed. I miss the walks, the boat rides, the long drives in the country where we talked about any- and everything.
I think about the promise of forever made by “the one” and wonder why on earth I believed in that fairy tale.
Excuse me, while I go back to writing fiction that’s happy ever after–more or less.
One thing I like about this 52-week writing challenge is the different topics I culled from various writing challenge lists (from Pinterest, by the way). Never in my life did I think I’d write about fruit, but here we go.
Hate is Such a Harsh Word
I can’t say I hate pomegranates. I love the crunchy seeds and that little splash of flavor when you chew them. I don’t hate them; merely, I find them frustrating. As far as I’m concerned they’re unpeelable and getting to the fruity, crunchy seeds is near impossible.
Oh, you say, there’s a special way to extract the seeds. I know. I’ve tried about a half-dozen of them. I’ve watched YouTube how-to videos, read how-to articles, and by the time I’m done trying to get the seeds out, I’ve lost interest.
And, yes, you can buy the seeds already extracted, but they don’t taste as fresh.
The Taste Test
Maybe it’s me, but years ago when I got introduced to mangos in Hawai’i, I thought they were manna from heaven. I had to have a fresh one every morning for breakfast. I even asked the waitress how to pick out a good one at the grocery store fresh fruit department.
Mangos in Virginia don’t take as good as mangos in Hawai’i. I don’t know why. I only know they tasted awful. I thought it was my imagination (actually, that’s what my ex said), but when I returned to Hawai’i a few years later, I had delicious, fresh, juicy, heavenly tasting mangos for breakfast each morning. Back home in Virginia? Meh.
It was the same for me with buying seeds already extracted from pomegranates. They didn’t taste the same. Now, I walk past the fresh pomegranates in my local grocery store with a wistful sigh (I don’t even look at the mangos.) and with only a memory of how they taste, quickly fading.
Do you have a “fool-proof” way of getting seeds from your pomegranates? If so, tell me in the comments, and I’ll try it.
This blog post could be short. My initial thought when I first heard of ageism (well after its coining n 1969) was: Huh? How is that possible? What does that even mean?
Of course, I was young, new in my government career, and coveting jobs held by what we called “dinosaurs.”
Then, I became one of the dinosaurs and had to scrap for every promotion and award with kids fresh out of college. In the beginning I’d had to prove myself because of my youth and inexperience. At the end of my career, I had to prove I wasn’t in my dotage.
Until It Happens to You
Like most entitled folk, I sometimes “don’t see” discrimination until it happens to me, and, unlike racism or misogyny, ageism is sometimes subtle.
It’s grocery clerks or wait staff or nurses or anyone half or less your age who somehow decide that calling you “honey” or “sweetie” or “darling” is something you crave.
It’s people who, when you tell them you’re hard of hearing (from noise damage caused by airplane engines not age), they raise their voices, smile sweetly, and speak to you as if you’re five.
It’s having a mechanic try to BS you into believing something is wrong with your vehicle… Oh wait. That happened to me when I was a young woman. That’s more misogyny than ageism.
It’s people in doctor’s offices who look at your age on the chart and offer to “help” you into and out of your chair.
Maybe that’s not exactly ageism, but a preconceived notion that once you hit a certain age, you’re weak and infirm.
No, that’s ageism.
Ageism Can be Deadly
That attitude that once someone reaches a particular age makes it easy for caregivers in nursing homes or even in families to consider that person less than useful, less than what he or she used to be. That, unfortunately, can lead to various forms of elder abuse–from stealing money, emptying bank accounts, to actual physical abuse. The belief that the older a person gets the more useless they are renders them less than human. Dehumanization makes harsh treatment easier to occur.
I remember clearly something that happened in high school. My grandmother was visiting, and she loved the old drug stores that had lunch counters. She particularly loved their chocolate milkshakes. At this particular time, she was in her sixties, an age I can relate to, and she was dressed as she always did for an “outing”: in a nice dress, purple, of course, matching shoes and coat. It was misting rain that day, and she had a bright, fluorescent purple scarf tied around her newly coiffed hair.
To me she was just grandma. She always dressed that way–bright, outlandish colors, usually varying shades of purple–and I thought nothing of it as we sat at the counter waiting for our shakes.
Not so for two girls a couple of years ahead of me in school. My grandmother’s hearing was bad by then, but mine was perfect. I heard them make fun of everything about her, and I was…embarrassed to be seen with her, something I’d never been before. It wasn’t until years later I understood that was ageism, that those two girls decided my bright, active, vivacious grandmother was worthy of disdain because she was, to them, old. They dehumanized her, saw her as a useless thing, and that made it easy, even funny, to criticize her.
What if she’d ended up in a nursing home with people who felt that way?
As a retired nurse, she’d seen quite a few of what passed for nursing homes in the fifties and sixties, and her ardent wish was that she never go to live in one.
I’ve often joked I’m a sixteen-year-old trapped in a sixty-something body. I text. I’m tech-savvy. I’m a gadget nerd. I don’t dress like other women my age. Hell, I wear brightly patterned leggings, some with airplanes on them. One pair I have has a pattern of clouds and lightning, and one of those lightning bolts appears to emerge from my a$$. My version of shades of purple I suppose.
I had a friend say to me not long before my sixtieth birthday, “Now that you’re turning sixty, are you going to dress your age?”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“Are you going to stop wearing jeans and tee-shirts and odd shoes and wear something age appropriate?”
That was ageism. You can imagine what I said to that.
I’m lucky to have kids who don’t think of me as descending toward uselessness, and I think that’s key. If you’ve brought them up to respect the worth and dignity of everyone at all stages of life, you won’t be an inconvenience they shuttle off to an “assisted living facility.”
So, here’s my thought for those smiling, simpering, young things who call me cute names and talk to me as if I’m incapable of understanding a polysyllabic word: Suck it up, buttercup. Your time will come.
What are your thoughts about ageism? Experienced it yet? Guilty of it?
I came late to the tattoo scene. I’d wanted one for a long time, but I heeded my then-not-my-ex’s advice about how a visible one would be perceived by the stodgy management where we both worked. My personal inclination was not to give a f**k, but he made sense. However, it wasn’t until he was my ex that I got the first of two tattoos I have. Pick your battles.
I wanted something to denote my Celtic heritage, but I didn’t want what every other person who thought they were Irish got: a shamrock, a Celtic knot, or a Celtic cross. I wanted something unique but recognizably Celtic.
I looked through books on Celtic history and finally came across an article about archeology at the neolithic tomb in Newgrange, Ireland. Prominent among the carvings there was a three-lobed spiral called a triskele or a triskelion. The triskele is sometimes called the spiral of life, and ancient Celts found things in the combination of three to be sacred, likely why they took to the Catholic trinity.
Once I had a sample of what I wanted in hand, I went to a tattoo shop near my house. It was small and clean, but let me tell you it was not like the shops in the reality TV shows popular then–L.A. Ink and Miami Ink. The guy behind the desk had tattoos with a death motif on every inch of exposed skin, and it didn’t take much imagination to figure out what was on the unexposed skin. He didn’t seem terribly interested in what I showed him, but once I mentioned it was a carving from a Bronze Age tomb, he was all in.
The best place I decided was on my left ankle, on the inside. He made the stencil and applied it, and I wanted to watch him do the tattoo. Outlining the tattoo wasn’t an issue. It hurt but it wasn’t excruciating. The artist kept asking me if I wanted to lie down. Nope, I’m good, I told him.
When he started filling in what he’d outlined, which involved a head on the tattoo gun with multiple needles and a scraping motion, I decided it was time to lie down. In all, it took less than an hour and fewer than a hundred dollars to get inked.
I’m a bad girl now, I thought, and relished in my badness.
However, when I went back to work on Monday, I wore slacks for a couple of weeks before I wore skirts, and with them I wore dark hose or tights. Finally, after a month of keeping my tat “under cover” I wore a skirt with nude panty hose and…
No one noticed. Oh well, so much for bada$$ery.
The second tattoo is for a far more somber reason than denoting my heritage and wanting to be a bada$$, in my own mind at least.
When one of my grandsons was four years old, he was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes–an autoimmune disease which essentially means his immune system attacked his own pancreas and put it out of service. At four, he faced a lifetime of insulin shots several times a day.
My own brother had T1D, but he wasn’t diagnosed until he was in his twenties. He eventually became insulin-resistant, and every system in his body started to fail. He died when he was forty-four. I take heart for my grandson because the medicine and the treatment for T1D is far superior than what it was close to forty years ago when my brother was diagnosed.
My grandson’s father, who has a couple of tattoos also, and I decided we needed to show solidarity with him. If he was going to face a lifetime of shots, we could endure needles for as long as it took to get a tattoo.
On my right ankle, mirroring the first tattoo, is a T1D ribbon.
This kid is the bravest little guy I know. An insulin pump has replaced the syringes, and he’s a normal kid in every way, including getting on Mamo’s nerves. Now eight, he’s decided he has T1D so he can educate people about it. I adore him; I absolutely adore him.
So, do me a favor. Read this and go contribute to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
Tattoo No. 3?
I’ve been wanting a tattoo acknowledging the fact I’m a writer for some time, as well. I’m thinking on the inside of my wrist so I can look at it when there are those days where the words won’t come.
I’m leaning toward the words, “I write” or “Write well,” in my own handwriting, with a small quill pen in case no one gets it.
How about you? Are you inked? What do they symbolize? Tell me or show me in the comments.