Filed under: Essays
Thursday, October 18th, 2007 • No Comments
Today is the tenth anniversary of NOW’s Love Your Body Day. I had a bunch of stuff I wanted to say on the subject, but I’m busy editing my novella, so I will share this essay I wrote for another website:
A lesson in humility is walking down the street with a much younger and much thinner woman and feeling practically invisible as men of all ages stare at her. Thankfully, my ego can take it, but I can’t help but feel sorry for those men because they’re missing out on so much. No—not me—I’m not interested, but there is a veritable banquet of older women— radiant, passionate, sensual older women— just waiting to be sampled. Actually, I doubt they’re waiting for anything. Women of a certain age tend to take what they want without waiting for someone to give them permission.
On several occasions at the coffee shop where I go to write, I’ve noticed two older women in particular. The first is in her mid-sixties, a plump woman with ample curves that suggest fertility even though she is long past her childbearing years. Her hair is a shock of white, pinned back from her face. Long strands of that white hair often slip their confines to trail down her wrinkled cheeks. Her eyes crinkle when she smiles, as does her mouth. If I had to guess, I’d say she smiles a lot. Her waist is thick, probably in part from the rich desserts she orders with her black coffee. She wears clothes that border on frumpy, yet there is always something about her outfit that suggests a sensuality most people wouldn’t notice at first glance. Her skirts come below her knees, but she doesn’t wear stockings and her shoes are open-toed sandals that reveal a fresh pedicure. Her blouses are conservative, high-buttoned and in neutral colors, yet they’re often unbuttoned enough to reveal a hint of cleavage or a wayward bra strap in some not-so-neutral color as turquoise or hot pink. There is something about her smile—playful, almost secretive, that makes me think she’s a satisfied woman—in all ways.
The other woman is younger than the first, probably mid-to-late fifties. Her hair is a dramatic shade of strawberry blonde, falling below her shoulders. The only makeup she ever wears is lipstick—some glossy shade of dark pink so that her hair and her lips are the first things you notice. She’s slightly thinner than the first woman, but the extra pounds she carries don’t weigh her down.. She often wears flowy, calf-length sundresses, sleeveless but with a high neck. They’re brightly colored, unlike the first woman’s wardrobe, but not what I’d call sexy. The last time I saw her, however, she revealed a lot of leg when she sat down because of the thigh-high slit running up the side of her purple dress. She didn’t pull and tug at the fabric to cover what she’d bared. In fact, she always seems very comfortable in her own skin— and in revealing it. Like the first woman, she smiles a lot and her laughter is that easy, quiet laugh of someone who is at peace with herself. She’s American (or, at least has no discernible accent), but on two occasions I’ve heard snippets of her cell phone calls—one was in Spanish, the other in French.
These two women captivate me. There is something about them, some intangible quality so rarely seen in women of any age. Though they bear the wrinkles and spots and sags and pounds of age, they seem ageless. I wonder what has made them that way, what experiences and philosophies they have embraced in order to be so at ease with themselves. I wonder if they’ve always been this way or if they grew into it. So many women seem to be in a constant state of perpetual unease, uncomfortable in their own bodies and hiding from the world beneath baggy clothes and hunched shoulders. Not these two women. They have a presence about them that makes them impossible to ignore. They are luscious, vibrant women and they know it. Maybe that’s what makes them seem so much more alive than other women— they know, and love, who they are.
Spending fifteen minutes watching women like this is so much more valuable than reading women’s magazines with airbrushed covers and diet articles. This is something I can aspire to be. This is something I want to be.
One last thing relating to body image: this educational Illustrated BMI Categories photo set by Kate Harding provides an interesting visual for those terms society deems ugly, non-sexual and unhealthy. Do the terms “morbidly obese” and “triathlete” belong in the same description? Apparently, they do.
Thursday, June 10th, 2004 • 3 Comments
I’ve been polishing my resum鮠 Not that I’ll be using it anytime soon, but I can dream. Interestingly enough, despite a variety of jobs (ten or eleven at last count) and a college education, I’m not really qualified to do all that much. At least not anything that pays well. Correction, I’m not willing to do the jobs that would pay well (and by “well” I mean a living wage that would allow me to be self-supporting without having to subsist on Ramen). I do not wish to be a an administrative assistant, a teacher or a retail manager. I do not want to work in a cubicle, be required to wear pantyhose or spend my days shuffling papers someone else put on my desk. I do not want to sacrifice my soul to put a roof over my head. Is that too much to ask?
The sad, ironic thing is, I’m bright enough to do the jobs that pay well. Accountant, easily. Banker, definitely. Mid-level manager of a major corporation, with my eyes closed. Marketing and sales, please don’t insult my intelligence. Attorney, sure. Psychologist, I’d be getting paid for a talent I already use. I don’t have the math skills to be an engineer or the stomach to be a doctor, but there are plenty of well-paying jobs that I could do if I wanted to (would that I had pursued those areas in college rather than the ubiquitous English degree that has served me so very well—insert maniacal laughter here—).
The key, of course, is the phrase “if I wanted to.” I have never subscribed to the notion of money equaling happiness. I cannot fathom doing a job that I didn’t at the very least like. Work time is too big a part of life not to enjoy it. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve done what I had to do to pay the bills and sometimes that has involved juggling different jobs I didn’t love. My survival instinct is greater than my need for job satisfaction. Still, I’ve never had a job that I hated. I’ve grown to dislike some of the jobs I’ve had, but every job started out as something exciting, new and challenging.
Back when I got my palm read in DC, I laughed when the fortune teller said I would be the head of a large company. It is so far removed from anything I would ever want to do, she lost all credibility in my eyes (not that she had a lot in the first place, given her tacky fur coat). Truth is, I could be in charge of a company if it was something that interested me. But the idea in general doesn’t appeal to me and no amount of money in the world could make that kind of job fulfilling.
I don’t have to be self-supporting and money is not a huge issue right now, but it’s a big enough issue to prevent me from returning to writing full-time with no idea whether I’ll be able to make fifty or five hundred dollars a month (let’s just say I’d be buying Ramen instead of roast beef, if my last stint at writing full-time is any indication). So, the resum頩s getting a little update in the hopes that when the time comes (bets are now being taken on when that time will be) I can make “worthless degree in English” sound like something desirable. Here’s hoping the next job will be interesting enough to sustain my spirit—if not my lifestyle—until I feel like I can commit myself to writing with no other source of income.
Wednesday, March 24th, 2004 • No Comments
If I can’t write anything worth reading, the least I can do is change my banner so it looks like something exciting is going on here. One day, when I have the money, I will let the chicks at BlogMoxie design a beautiful new layout worthy of the fascinating tale that is my life (please note the sarcasm there). Until then, you’re stuck with my rudimentary design skills which are coloring-book quality, at best. I do know how to amuse myself, though.
So, I am mostly recovered from The Incident TM. We shall not speak of it again. I’m wired on coffee and should be spinning this energy into a tale of danger and intrigue (starring the redhead above), when instead I’m doing anything but.
I hit the bookstore tonight. Ahh… what angst and heartbreak exists there. Perusing the shelves of endless books written by countless authors and none of them me. Crushing, I tell you. I’m conceited enough to know I’m as worthy of shelf space as, say, Dr. Phil and yet I’ve been beaten down by rejection so many times I have to pause and wonder if it’s worth it.
I wrote 950 pages the year after my first little novel sold. That’s roughly a quarter of a million words. I wrote my little heart out, trying to sell another book. I didn’t sell a single word. Zip. Nothing. Reject. Try again. Do over. Over and over and over again. Talk about an experience in humility. It’s enough to bring a tear to your eye, isn’t it? Yeah, yeah.
Strangely enough, I’m still writing. Whether it’s a triumphant story of perseverance and talent or a cautionary tale of failure and despair remains to be seen. But I’ll keep at it until they pry my cold, dead fingers from the keyboard. Why? Because back there in that last paragraph I wrote “my first little novel” without even thinking about it. Only someone truly in love with writing (or truly stupid?) would write “first” in the same sentence mentioning 950 unsold pages of blood, sweat and tears. I guess I must believe it’s worth the rejection and the insecurities and the depression and the drinking problem (well, not yet… but we all know it’s only a matter of time) and the sheer terror of failing yet again, in the hopes that I’ll once again be among the countless authors taking up space at Barnes and Noble. Otherwise I wouldn’t write “first,” right?
Yeah, it’s worth it. That kind of blissed out nirvana is worth whatever suffering it takes to get there. I just need to remind myself of that more often.