Monday, September 26, 2011

Aging: The 60’s Are the New 40’s

First of all, if the sixties are the new forties, someone forgot to tell my bod.  

The only time that aging gets to me is when I look in the mirror.  At all other times, I am still the person who dances like a native to loud rock music, cackles at outrageous situations, and shocks the children.

There are times when I find myself needing a nap, when my legs swell for no reason, and I need a hand rail to climb stairs, but those symptoms are not exclusive to people my age.

If the sixties are the new forties, then why do people around me treat me like I don’t exist?  

Four years ago I decided to stop dying my hair chocolate brown and let the gray take over. I wanted to embrace my age and “go gracefully.” That was the day, people started helping me across the street, men started calling me “ma’am,” and every person behind a register started offering me the senior discount.

What happened to me, the strong woman I still am?  I have single-handedly raised three adult children, achieved several educational degrees, and overcame more than my share of adversity, and now I am just some old lady that others dismiss?

I don’t think so.

I certainly don’t want to live the next third of my life being ignored or being treated condescendingly. My hair might be gray and my collagen may be collapsing, but I still know how to rock and roll, baby.




Monday, September 19, 2011

Las Comadres

“Aye, Comadre, you take the dressing room.  I’ll wait out here until  the other one empties.”
“No, Comadre, let’s share this one.  See?  It’s big.”
“Bueno, sí.  Okay.”
Muffled noises, hangers clinking, heavy breathing.
“Aye, Comadre.  Help me.  I’m stuck.”
More shuffling. “There.  Let me get the zipper.”Breathing. “Maybe they have a bigger size.”
“This is my size.”
“Sí, pero nowadays they use less material and charge you more.  Let me go see if they have it in a bigger size.”
“I need to exercise.  Me dejé.”
“No, Comadre, pero como?  It’s the style of the dress.”
“Comadre, por favor, I can see for myself.  The mirrors don’t lie.”
“We’ll go to the gym.  I, too, have let myself go a little.”
“Aye, don’t yank on it.  I don’t want to have to buy it if it doesn’t fit.”
“You can keep it in the closet as incentive.”
“I am not going to the gym, not looking like this.  Come to my house every day, Comadre.  We’ll work out there.  When I look better, then we will go to the gym.”
Silence.  

“Let me go see if there’s a bigger size.  That dress looks so good on you, Comadre.”
Silence.

“Let’s go to Kohl’s.”
“Sí, vamos.  You get more dress for your money there.”
Muffled noises, hangers clinking, heavy breathing. There is silence in the  dressing room  next to mine.

I take a good look at myself in the mirror.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Blissful Ignorance

Back on July 11, 2011, I posted “Writing a Cleverly Crafted Sentence.” It advocated using mentor sentences as practice to improve one’s writing. It may not sound like fun, but let’s throw something else into the mix – passion, emotion, uncertainty.
Here we are exactly two months later on the tenth anniversary of September 11, 2011. Let’s revisit this concept with that in mind. . . .  
Several years ago, while I was still in the classroom, I used the following sentence with my juniors in an American Literature class.  We had just finished reading a funny, short story by Rick Reilly, entitled “Funny You Should Ask.”  I found the first sentence so curiously constructed that I decided to use it as an impromptu grammar and syntax lesson.  “Real” sentences are immensely better learning opportunities than something out of the old “Practical English Grammar” books I had as a child.
Here is the sentence in a vertical column on the left broken into its word chunks (phrases, clauses, single words).  Next to it is my attempt at emulating the same structure, except I used September 11, 2001 as my lead. 
I hope you try it as a writing practice and as a way to record that terrible moment in our lives.
April 12, 1999 -                                      September 11, 2001 –
So we were lying                                    So we were working
on our backs                                            in our groups
on the grass                                             at our desks
in the park                                               in our journals,
next to our hamburger wrappers,           happy in our blissful ignorance,
my fourteen-year-old son and I,             my twenty-six juniors and I,
watching the clouds loiter overhead,   helping each other create nonsense,
when he asked me,                            when a fellow teacher startled us,
“Dad,                                                      “Raquel,
why are we here?”                                  Have you seen the news?”

I would love to see what you create.  Post on here or on my Facebook.  God bless America.





Monday, September 5, 2011

Regret and Remorse Redux

I wish I had every cent I ever spent on:
·       exercise equipment, work out videos, fat busting drugs
·       clothes choices that looked good on the store mannequin, younger or taller women, but not on me
·       cute shoes that pinched every time I insisted on wearing them
·       books I never got around to read
·       books I read that sucked after the first five pages
·       family counseling and expensive lawyers trying to save my first marriage
·       bad haircuts/fad haircuts (picture an Afro or the Kate Gosselin)
·       decaffeinated Diet Cokes
·       craft kits that I never could learn to make or finish
·       anti-wrinkle/anti-aging cosmetics
·       anything in dark blue or neon orange (I’m a winter.)
·       a black tee-shirt

I would be infinitely rich.  I’d probably make the Forbes list.

Funny thing about regret – it doesn’t ensure remorse.  Faced with the same circumstances, the same temptations, the same promises, I would probably squander my money again on the same slate of lavish nonsense.
Oh, look. A sale--->>>> !