Archive for the 'friends' Category

Have cardboard, seeking viaduct

January 30, 2009

This poor woman could SO be me, or any number of my friends. How do you go from a $70,000 job to charity status? Fairly quickly and easily, apparently. This woman is clearly not stupid or lazy. She’s just had a run of bad luck in a particularly dangerous time, and despite the goodness of some charitable agencies, her future is still uncertain. She’s also lacking in social and emotional resources, which I think are as important as cash and credit.

I read that article this morning after musing all the previous day on the record number of lay-offs that were announced. The newscasters and news sites all concentrated on the numbers, but I kept imagining the actual human faces behind those figures: Thousands of human beings carrying  the sum total of their careers in a sack or a cardboard box, loading them into cars that aren’t yet paid for, driving to mortgaged homes filled with spouses, children, parents and pets who are depending on them, trying to figure out what to do next.

Remember that old line that most of us are just a few lost paychecks from being out on the street or under a viaduct? I think we’re going to find out just how many paychecks it takes.

Let’s be kind and gentle with each other this weekend, okay?


Boomer suicides

October 23, 2008

There’s a startling and rather depressing discussion going on at Tina Brown’s The Daily Beast over the American Journal of Preventative Medicine’s newly released study on baby boomers and suicide:

[B]etween 1999 and 2005, the suicide rate lept by 3.9 percent among white women aged 40 to 64, and by 2.7 percent among white men in the same age group—increases of 35 and 33 percent, respectively. Suicide in other groups decreased or remained steady, prompting one of the study’s co-authors to label middle-aged whites “a new high-risk group.”

Why are Boomers taking their lives? The news reports cite several possibilities: deteriorating access to mental health care, higher rates of prescription drug use, and more reluctance among women to undergo hormone replacement therapy during menopause. But online, in feedback sections and message boards, many Boomers have their own theories: outsourced jobs, too much atheism, piling debt, and being forced to care for their elderly parents.

This information has been reported on several other news outlets I’ve run into, but The Daily Beast opened its site for discussion, and some of the reports were hard to read, like this one by Marcygirl:

Even though I worked since I was 14, it wasn’t at the same job and have no retirement, so I was forced to realize that I’d probably have to work until I die. And that was doable until I got caught in the economic crash and not only lost my home, but my job was in real estate and I lost my job. Then I hit a brick wall with medical issues and, now, at 58 years old I’m 3 weeks away from being evicted from my rental, with no place to go, a state, county, and federal system that has no suggestions for people like me and the only answers I receive are “I don’t know, we have senior housing, but there’s a 2 year waiting list”. I am now becoming one of the invisible people and know that 3 weeks from now I have to walk out this front door and just keep on walking.

And the comments to these stories! Yikes!

Seriously, you poor, sad baby boomers make me sick [wrote Aaronthethird]. You all feel like life is unfair and too hard and poor baby doesn’t have life handed to them on a golden platter. Its your pathetic selfishness that has lead this country down the path to ruin that it has found itself at the end of now. Seriously, shut up.

Do we deserve this kind of vitriol? Indeed, did we deserve to have our mortgages and retirement and savings eaten up by an economic downturn fueled by vanity and greed? Please. Say it ain’t so, Joe.

Sure, I know people who have been consumed by conspicuous consumption. When my well-heeled brother divorced a few years ago, there were no assets to divide. None. He and his now ex-wife had spent everything he had ever made on their upscale life. (And was she pissed!)

But most of my friends and family have had more modest aims: a comfortable home in a safe neighborhood where they could kick back, raise their kids and pursue their lives. All of my friends and family have contributed to the comfort of elderly parents, and none of them plans to live with their kids. And most of them, men and women, have had two jobs at one time.

We aren’t lazy. We aren’t entitled. We planned for the future. The future just collapsed on us. I really believe most of us will dig ourselves out of the rubble, dust ourselves off and go on. But some of us — represented by those sad voices in The Daily Beast — are ill-equipped to move ahead.

If I do nothing else, I know I’m going to scan the horizon and look for those in my little patch of ground who might need some help and encouragement. But I fear they may be hard to recognize. Said one Daily Beast respondent, after cataloguing the debris of her life, “If I do commit suicide, it will be a great surprise to many, because I look pretty normal.”

Welcome to the new normal.

On attracting readers to Ye Olde Blogge Syte

August 28, 2008

Without question the most productive move I made as a newborn blogger was putting up a post at BlogHer looking for other middle-aged women bloggers. (And I clicked on a WHOLE lot of links just to get to that point…) That led to a lot of discussion, some fun developments and some great links with some very interesting women. I’d like to repeat that feat, if possible.

It’s not that I think I’m the non plus ultra in blogging. For every ten mediocre blogs I trip over, I generally find one blogger whose interesting life experiences, sparkling prose and off-the-wall observations make me want to delete everything I’ve ever written. Some of you people can WRITE, and you make me want to be BETTER. And the feedback I get from you is making a more honest woman out of me.

So, I have decided that, rather than sitting around crying in my beer (my favorite pose of late) over my moribund blog stats, I am going to perform one act of blog enhancement per week (along with shaving my legs and conditioning what’s left of my hair). And I have found many bloggers who are happy to help me with my resolve, which is one of my favorite things about the Blogosphere. Unlike most of the self-obsessed homo sapiens I bump into all day long, ya’ll ain’t stingy!

My most recent attempt was prompted by One Cool Site — one of several links I picked up from the very smart Dumb Little Man — who pointed me in the direction of Google site verification. After several abortive attempts, I am now verified under both my blog names, although I’m told it may take a few weeks for any results to appear.

I’ve also, at the suggestion of Problogger, reached out this week to a couple of blog cooperatives and will sift through my blog for a pillar post or two to send to some zines.

Okay, you blogging veterans: Is any of this going to help, or am I just spinning my wheels? Are any of these widgets or embedded functions effective? Of all the advice you’ve bumped into out there about expanding the reach of your blog, what has been the most productive? Help a girl out, okay? I’ll be happy to do a follow-up post about my experiences with any suggestions.


Body betrayal: Taking care of yourself isn’t enough

August 13, 2008

I had lunch yesterday with a dear friend and traveling companion who has always been an inspiration to me. A a beautiful woman who just turned 60, she and several neighbors have been faithfully walking around the track at a nearby junior high school most mornings for more than 25 years, rain, snow or shine. She doesn’t drink or smoke, takes gobs of vitamins, drinks water or diet soda and watches what she eats. She is gracious and generous and good-hearted.

She has also just been diagnosed with congestive heart failure and pulmonary hypertension. Oh, and her knees and back are beyond BAD.

EXCUSE ME? How fair is that? This woman has taken care of herself in ways that many of us (ME!) simply haven’t, and yet she is facing an uncertain future full of cardiologists, internists, in-hospital tests, physical limitations and expensive drugs. (She’s having knee surgery shortly, which, given her other conditions, really worries me.)

Her take on it? Genetics. Her parents and older sisters exhibited many of the same complaints, and she figures it’s just the luck of the draw. But I’m still fuming on her behalf. As with many other aspects of life (marriage and child-rearing come to mind), doing everything “right” isn’t any kind of guarantee.

Perhaps we need to lighten up on our expectations of ourselves and others as we age. There still exists a tendency for us to think that we midlifers may have brought our maladies on ourselves through bad choices and bad habits. I know I’ve been too quick to judge others of my generation based on their physical condition. “How could they ‘let themselves go’ like that?” I’ve thought, when in reality they may not have had much say in how their physical health played out.

By all means, don’t give up your gym membership, and try to stay away from the French fries if you can. But, please, don’t feel guilty if your best efforts can’t forestall a what may be a preset genetic determination.

Ah, shucks! I’m speechless!

July 9, 2008

Jan of Jan’s Sushi Bar has given me my first blog award, an Arte y Pico, which is Spanish for, um, something nice, I hope. Actually, she says, it’s a Spanish-language “style and substance blog” award. A nice compliment from an excellent blogger and Web designer.

Thanks! I’ll be aglow all day!

In keeping with the rules of the award, I hereby pass the honor on to:

ByJane (who probably already has one)

Granny Sue

Maison Montmartre

My Open Wallet

Ask Allison

Interesting bloggers and blogsites, all!

Update: Oops. Forgot to post the rules, which are:

1) You must choose 5 blogs that you consider deserve this award for creativity, design, interesting material, and contribution to the blogging community, regardless of language.

2) You must publish the name of each award-winning author as well as a link to his or her blog.

3) Each award-winner must post a picture of the award and link back to the blog that has given the award.

4) Both the giver and the recipient of the award must link to the “Arte y Pico” blog, so everyone will know the origin of this award.

5) You must post these rules.

Blogging: It does a body good

June 1, 2008

Some genius has come up with a novel thesis: blogging may make you feel better. No kidding. According to Jessica Wapner, writing in Scientific American Online:

Scientists (and writers) have long known about the therapeutic benefits of writing about personal experiences, thoughts and feelings. But besides serving as a stress-coping mechanism, expressive writing produces many physiological benefits. Research shows that it improves memory and sleep, boosts immune cell activity and reduces viral load in AIDS patients, and even speeds healing after surgery.

I haven’t had any surgery lately, but I do know I like putting my thoughts down on paper. I had a shrink once who called it “yellow pad therapy” in honor of the legal pads her patients used to try to pull their lives and thoughts together. I filled up a few yellow pads myself.* Read the rest of this entry »


February 11, 2008

images-11.jpegMy mother, in an uncharacteristic burst of charity, once wished for me as many “women-friends” as she had enjoyed. She had a lot of them, I know, because as a little girl I would be dragged along with her when she went “visiting.” In our age of cell-phones, text messaging, twittering, video phones blah blah blah, this practice of actually driving or walking to someone’s house for an extended, sit-down, face-to-face conversation has almost disappeared. But it was an important ritual for my mother and her friends.

Mother would bring her knitting to Hazel Harris’ house in Provo, having likely bought the yarn at the store where Hazel worked. (I would spend most of each visit unsuccessfully trying to ignore Hazel’s facial tic.)  Mother and her friend Beulah Phipps would often give each other home permanents in Beulah’s tiny house in a shabby subdivision built in the ’40s for the steelworkers and their families. And Mother and Joey Maag would sometimes can peaches or tomatoes at Joey’s house in Pleasant Grove before Joey went blind. But most of the time they would sit there in their handmade housedresses and cross-stitched aprons, drinking coffee when Mother still drank coffee and Postum when she didn’t, and would just visit — about their children, their spouses, their lack of money, their neighbors, Church, all the small things that made up their lives.

I hated these visits on several levels. As a child, I had an embarrassingly active sense of smell, and their houses, with their strange combinations of hand lotion, laundry soap and food smells, were often almost intolerable. The ammonia odor of the hair permanent solution at the Phipps house would make my eyes water. On one visit in Price, the hostess had had a small fire in the kitchen, and I spent the whole visit sitting on her front porch because the smell in the house made me gag. Mother was mortified, but spent her requisite several hours visiting anyway. I spent the time dreaming of being home with my dolls and stuffed animals, making up stories about them. Read the rest of this entry »