100 Word Challenge*: South


South is a direction. For most people. And in most circumstances.

But for me, South has more often than not been a place.

When I lived in Iowa, South was Texas, the Gulf Coast and Florida. Places I regarded as the farthest points from the brighter spots of the universe for reasons that were as stereotypical as often as they were based on fact.

Today, South is the United States of America, a place I consider as uninhabitable as I would swampland, Mars and Saudi Arabia.

It seems the farther north I go, the less South appeals to me. Curious.

*I found this prompt via a Twitter friend, who is a very talented writer and comedian. Not unlike how I found the 30 Day Challenge. It goes like so – Using “south” for inspiration, write 100 Words – no more, no less – then add a link back here from your post. (A pingback is like bread crumbs, it helps your readers find the other 100 Word stories, and it’s nice to share.) – and you can check out the creator here.

And a side note, my 30 days will not include weekends unless I am spectacularly bored or maddened about something to the point of beating my outrage to death with words. I probably should have stated that upfront.

Good Day! And Welcome to Day 2 or 3


I’ve already lost count.

Let’s talk about ageism today though.

Age has been on my mind a lot because I am getting old. Actually, I am old. And people are not keen on allowing me to claim my rightful age.

52 is not my favorite age. Currently or ever, I suspect. Not because it’s old, but because I am fully aware of the limitations that time and society have placed upon it and me.

33 was my favorite age physically. I was peak me from a purely superficial standpoint and from a strength, agility and endurance one as well.

And though 52 is long past peak body, it’s just coming into peak me in terms of awareness, knowledge, ability to leverage my experiences and education. It’s emotionally my steadiest era to date.

I’d be thrilled to have my 33-year-old knees back, but little else about that year or that decade entice me to wistful nostalgia. It’s only in recent years that I’ve truly come into my own.

That’s why ageist attitudes and the idea that youth should be an ideal worthy of a pedestal irks me.

While I wouldn’t argue that some of us don’t age like fine wine, never lose the training wheels or come to a greater understanding of what life is really about – our place and purpose, I think there is more to be said for old age than youth. IF you can let go of the idea that you are not your body.

What freaks people out about aging boils down to a weird attachments to and hang-ups about our physical selves that leads us to believe that is all that we are. Just a meat sack to be maintained according to societies ever-changing requirements.

If we didn’t have such a damaged relationship with our bodies, we’d probably feel better, or at least be neutral, about the fact that it changes over time. We are not children forever. We are not teens forever (though it feels like it at the time). We are not young adults or middle-aged adults for very long.

But we are old – most of us – for nearly, as or longer than we are all of the aforementioned.

At some point as we approach 50, it’s like a switch is flipped, and we are no longer young or youngish. No one mistakes us for a demographic we’ve clearly passed through. We are told we “look good for our age”, which may or may not be true, but  it’s not something young or middle-aged people are told. It’s reserved for the old.

At 52, I am old.

And I have earned it, dammit!

I will not be patronized by people who can’t or won’t come to terms with their own aged selves.

I will not long for anything in the past (except my knees – really miss the happy days of bouncy knees).

I will not be told I am “only as old as I feel” or “just a baby”.

I am not interested in propping up other people’s denial when they wail “but if you are old, what does that make me?”

Older. That’s what it makes you. Older. Deal with it.

Or better yet. Revel in it! Celebrate it! Be fucking amazed at what a warrior you are. How wise. How experienced. How zen.

Oh, I am aware that in a world where supple, tight and smooth is idealized that soft as leather and lined skin draped over bumps and bruises is not celebrated. That’s evident every time an actor “of a certain age” appears on a screen sporting an iron pressed look. One that is frozen in a parody of the young person they no longer are.

It’s hard to reconcile for many.

It just makes me sigh and worry for humanity’s future.

I resent that I am forced to deal with ageism. That there is maintenance beyond just what is sensible and healthy. And that somehow my aging without regard to arbitrary rules concerning appropriate dress, hairstyle and habits is somehow impacting negatively on anyone. Whether I know them or just happen to pass through the same space here or there, my existence is not harming anyone’s life. It’s just their unrealistic body ideals that are offended and frankly, that’s not my problem.

Ageism is as made up as any other ism. Invented only for nefarious or selfish reasons. To oppress, suppress, discriminate and divide. And like all other isms, we can choose to participate or not.

I choose not to.

 

30 Days of Writing


30 Day writing challengeIn no particular order, and completely subject to whim and whimsy, I am going to take up this challenge to blog for 30 grueling days in a row.

Or maybe just 30 days.

No fewer than 10 though, fer sure.

As I go over the topics, I am reminded that I have been blogging for over a decade and have covered many of these topics – in one way or another – already.

For example, I am fairly certain I have written about my first kiss.

I know I have (more than one probably) “interesting facts” about me posts.

I pet peeve all over the place. Twitter. Facebook. Here. Ad nauseum.

I’ve debated tattoos. Whether to get one or not. And I know I’ve written about memorial tattoos, and yes, I still think they are a bad idea.

My family, immediate, extended and in-law have all been covered. Sometimes so thoroughly that I’ve gotten myself into trouble.

For example, I blogged my father’s death. I don’t think I spared anyone really. And this was back in the day when quite a few people, my family included, were reading this blog on a regular basis.

I consider my family and my feelings about them well-trodden ground.

The only member of my family who is fine with me writing about them anymore is my husband. This owes partly to my incredible fondness for him as a topic, and the fact that my characterization of him makes him chuckle and openly wonder whether readers even believe he is a real person based on the stories I share.

Not sure that my daily agenda would be worth writing about. I am such a housewife and mom these days. A privileged one. But still. Does anyone really want to know about the yoga classes I attend? My media habits? How much I hate Costco?

I was a mommy blogger with a “syndicate” of mommies back in my early blogging days and I am really done with that kind of navel gazing.

Earliest memory? I was lost at the circus. Literally lost. Forgotten by my father who was getting drunk with his friends. I have written about it. It’s not a feel good story.

Can’t think of a single phrase or certain word that make me laugh, but in my family, anything to do with poop or farting is the starting point for hilarity.

Yes, we are that kind of family.

I have nothing to say to anyone who might be considered an “ex”. Anything I had to say, I said. To them.

One guy I called immediately following our last encounter and railed at his answering machine until it cut me off. I had to call back twice more to get out all I needed to say. After that, I was good and ignored him. Often to his face. Much to his displeasure. He never did get to rebut a word.

And I could never write an entire post about what I wear because I am a uniform type of girl. I blame it on 12 years of Catholic school. Totally ruined my sense of fashion or more accurately, crushed any interest I might have developed had I been forced to put outfits together from a variety of clothing choices from an early age.

I have had several uniforms over the years. As a high school teacher, it was jeans or khakis and a polo shirt. Every day. All year-long.

Currently, it is yoga pants, a sleeveless tunic top and some sort of sweater.

Fashion is for people who space in their brains for a closet. I don’t.

My morning routine is relentlessly focused on getting the child to school on time and ahead of the cluster-fuck of other people trying to do the same. The end.

Hmmm, I may have to supplement this challenge list.

No matter. Day 1 of this challenge has been met on the page of battle, and I emerge the victor.

On to day 2!

 

Writing Challenges


The biggest challenge I face when writing is getting out of my head and doing it.

It would be easy to assume that when I am not physically engaged in the act of writing that I must not be writing, but the truth is that I am writing nearly all the time. Dozens of stories – many that will never manifest on a page – are in play at any given time.

And when I am not “writing”, I am thinking about writing.

It’s a wonder that anything else in my life gets done.

I’m sure you might wonder how a writer writes in their head and if I could explain it properly, I would. However, it’s not a straight forward thing and the best example would be daydreaming though instead of wishful thinking about my own life, I dream up lives for people who don’t technically exist.

To me, it’s a natural extension of the “fan fiction” I would daydream about characters in the books I read when I was young. In my experience, books never ended. I simply moved the settings and characters into my mind and continued on as I thought the narrative should travel.

As I got older and mastered – after a fashion – the art of writing, I borrowed ideas from books and television and began inventing characters, settings and narratives of my own.

But then, as now, I think a lot more than I write. A lot more.

When I sit down to write then, words come out in a hurry and because I have spent so much time with characters and ideas in my head, it might seem to anyone watching me that I am channeling stories. Plucking them out of the air even.

The only problem with my method of “writing” is that I sometimes get stuck in my head.

And let’s be honest, it’s easier to write when it doesn’t require you to actually write.

With writing comes revising, editing and that can sometimes be tedious work. Though I will admit that I love editing. It’s my inner English teacher’s only outing anymore and she relishes it.

So, when I am in one of my stuck in the labyrinth of my mind periods, I sometimes turn to writing prompts. Think of it as following a trail of twine to the exit. Like Theseus only I didn’t have to slay anything. Much.

I’ve run across two fairly decent prompts in the past couple of days.

First one is a computer game actually called Elegy for a Dead World.

Based on the poetry of Shelley, Keats and Byron, you explore dead civilizations and write their history from the point of view of an archeologist.

The second is a 30 Day blogging challenge. I haven’t done one of those in forever, and though I don’t find all of the daily prompts intriguing, I am going to give it a go in my own fashion.

It’s this or write about Canadian/Albertan politics and truthfully, I am full up with impatience with both right now.

Mostly because there is next to nothing of great importance going on although one would not know that given the volume level of the dialogue on current topics.

Let’s just sum up briefly by saying that some people’s perspectives are in sore need of grounding reality checks. In the young I can write if off to youthful idealism, but there are plenty who are old enough to know better that should simply find new hobbies because they seem to have lost their way.

So! Writing Challenge it is.

At least until I get bored or the temperatures rise to such a level that I will need to be outside as often as possible. Warmth is not a lengthy visitor on my little patch of the western Canadian prairie, and I find, as I age, that I need to physically bask in it as much as possible so when winter comes – and it always does – I don’t lose my will to live.