Sunday, October 28, 2007

do not go gentle into that AARP night

They just won't leave me alone, that American Association of Retired Persons.

I, who only yesterday was proudly proffering my driver's license to incredulous teenagers in order to prove my eligibility to buy beer down at the local market, am now being hounded to join an organization that wants to save me money on car insurance and burial plots. Why, I ask you? It's not like I'm getting any better at driving. Just last week I tried to pull away from the pump with the hose still attached, something I've never done before in my life. And I'm not even blond. If anything, I'm getting worse with age. That's me, DWL; Driving While Lame, all over the place.

And now that I think about it, maybe it really was yesterday that I got carded at the market. But that the cashier was actually an elderly, somewhat surprised Korean lady. And that I was buying sake, not beer, for reasons that escape us all at the moment. And that have absolutely no connection to the aforementioned hose-theft incident, I can assure you.

The point is that they're persistent, these old people, wanting to jump me into their pernicious little gang whether I'm inclined to the lifestyle or not. I'm certain that some night, when I least expect it, they'll surround me in their walkers and threaten me with canes. They'll take me out to an Early Bird Special somewhere, get me drunk on a potent yet mysteriously drinkable cocktail of Metamucil, Celebrex, Grey Goose and stool softeners and the next thing I know, I'll be waking up at 6 am to check out a sale on polyester pants down at the WalMart and eagerly waiting for Matlock to come back into rotation on TV Land. I'll eat hard candy and donuts and slowly grow soft and amiable. This vision of my future scares me a lot. Especially the amiable part.

In the September Issue of Harper's Bazaar, Rita Wilson (A Size 8 in a Size 0 World) refers to the "creeping obesity" that befalls many women in middle age.

"Ah, yes, my precious. This is what happens naturally as we age. First it's a gain of one pound one year, then another next year, and before you know it, you have put on 10 pounds."

Rita goes on to conclude that she is happy with who and what she is, and if I were Rita I would be too. Rita Wilson is wealthy and beautiful and wise. I am not Rita. I am middle class, plain and frankly not very bright. I have put on 14 pounds in 2 years, my eyelids are drooping ferociously in their mutual race to the ground and my jowls seem to have developed ~ okay, wait a minute, when the hell did I develop jowls? Jowls now? Really? Oh, for the love of...

The point is, is self-acceptance does not work for me. It plays too much into my natural tendency toward laziness and sloth. In fact, I've been indulging in way too much self-acceptance lately. Don't feel like reading that lengthy article on Myanmar? Don't bother; nobody cares what you think, and what're you gonna do about it anyway? Looky ~ here's a piece on Britney's New Lips! Let's read that.

Getting fat? Oh, so what; you're old! Enjoy that bag of Trader Joe's Hawaiian chips, parked there on the couch watching reruns of America's Next Top Model. Can't be bothered to put on makeup in the morning because it keeps seeping into those giant cracks? Easy; stop looking in the mirror. Nobody cares what you look like. They never did. Give it up. Grow up. Have a cookie.

Fear works for me. Fear of being judged unattractive, unappealing, unlovable. Fear of being marginalized in a world that values women more for beauty than brains. Fear of growing old in a society that worships youth above all and relegates those that succumb to it's inevitability with grace to second class status. Fear is what gets me to the gym and keeps me from indulging my every gastronomical desire. Fear is my only self-discipline. It is what keeps me from staggering over the line into a state of total personal anarchy.

The papers are full of studies indicating that, as long as they maintain their health, people actually seem to get happier as they grow older. It seems they become less anxious, more accepting of themselves and others. They mellow. And this, I would argue, is how I know that I am not yet old enough to join the good people of AARP. I lack the requisite mellow. As Woody Allen once said, if I get too mellow, I ripen and then I rot. And nobody needs to see that.

So while I appreciate the interest AARPies, I am not yet ready to join your happy little gang. But keep those cards and letters coming. Maybe if we could just get some really cool tattoos...

Thursday, October 25, 2007

they call the winds Santa Ana

The 16 firestorms that have been sweeping California are for the most part under control, and we were extremely fortunate in that we were never in any danger. Today the skies maintain an eerie orange cast and the air has the acrid stench of smoldering destruction. This quickie video was taken with my trusty little Canon Elph over the back patio three days ago, when the hot, dry winds were blowing 50 to 80 miles an hour through the canyons, ripping a heavy canvas off the (closed) umbrella, knocking down potted plants and trees and generally rocking the walls of the house.

To his endless credit, Hootie the Plastic Guard Owl (who ain't never caught a rabbit but is still a friend of mine) never left his post. He remains there to this day, intimidating not even the most skittish of bunnies and reptiles.

Later things got really hairy.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

still life sewing table

October has always been my favorite month of the year. No matter where I've lived across the country, I've always managed to experience it as a golden time ~ amber and ruby-splashed trees, vibrant against sparkling cobalt skies; the air ever crisp with the scent of burning leaves and coming winter chill. That beauty will forever be tinted by sadness now, as maybe it always was, for it was a year ago today that we lost my sweet mother. I was therefore not unhappy to awaken to find that gray skies and a light drizzle had replaced the ubiquitous California sunshine ~ I prefer it when my internal and external landscapes combine to form a unified whole , and I always enjoy the company of ghosts in the rain. I spent the hours peacefully, painting on my little patio, protected from the damp.

I ran into a lot of trouble though, mostly having to do with color. I couldn't find the shade of pink I wanted for the floral highlights, nor the desired tone for the table's shadowed areas. I struggled with the essence of the Happy Buddha, casting a possibly fatal shadow upon his continuing joy. Muddy the pigment, spoil the mood. Somehow, I just couldn't find it.

But I'd taken a photograph of this grouping a few weeks ago because I loved the way the late afternoon sun playing through the lace curtains scattered long, eggy ovals of yellow and gold across my mother's sewing table. And I wanted to capture the way light seemed to come from within the vase itself to dissolve it's material boundaries.

I didn't quite hit my marks. I tend to overwork things and I'm trying to let that go. But there'll be other dancing, eggy-yellow globes and glowing turquoise vases after all, and the more you try the better you get. Or so I'm told. In the meantime, I enjoyed a wistful, rainy day custom made for music and melancholy, and for just a few hours material boundaries were, perhaps, transcended.