Just kidding. (On maturity, aging, boring stuff – adults only!)
Edification – Newsletter #104 – February 13, 2022
Happy Sunday! I missed you.
GUESS WHAT? I took a month off from newslettering and buckled down on my third novel, and last night I finished my first draft. I’m overly excited – as I am with every new piece – and am currently enjoying the delusion that it’s the best thing I’ve yet written. I’ll set it aside for a while and come back to read through my editorial jeweler’s loupe. For now, though, I’m basking.
It was 65 degrees here on Friday. All week I looked forward to that number in the forecast, seeing it rolling toward me on a crest of milder, rising temperatures, revising upward as it approached.
The day before, I turned 44 years old. Let me just say, 44 is not old by any stretch! But I’ve now surpassed the age of my paternal grandmother, to whom I have been compared all my life. I’m small, temperamental, and “tightly wound” like her – probably because I have the same heart defect she died from – so I met my forties with a mix of ambivalence and resignation. Do you know what a fatalistic belief that you will die at 43 does to a child? Sure do wish my parents hadn’t invoked my grandmother so often to tamp down my sass.
I don’t feel old, but I do have a greater appreciation for my own “maturity.” Yes, I put it in scare quotes. No, I don’t mean it derisively; I’m simply aware that I’m an older human being operating in a culture that values youth above maturity. In beauty as in art.
My hair is exploding in gray. My jowls are making a run for the border. Two years of pandemic living, two babies. We’re wrecking mind, body, and soul over here!
This era has aged us all a bit extra. Hard times do that. I’m sure you’ve seen the iconic Dust Bowl era photograph by Dorothea Lange of the migrant pea picker and her children. Did you know the woman was only 32 years old?
I like to think my art has mature subject matter. I’m not only talking about sex or trauma. Grief, guilt, heartache for grown children and elderly parents. Love, too. And, oh my goodness, the helplessness of it all. The humor it takes to survive. I’m trying to write the kind of poetry and fiction I like.
Maybe young people won’t identify with my stuff. Gosh, I’d like it if they did, but maybe I’m boring.
I don’t care about being edgy. I’ve clawed my way back from the edge. We do have the right not to be edgy.
When my oldest boy was about sixteen, he took a cheeky “sex quiz” online. It listed about fifty things, including making out, getting a hickey, getting felt up, etc. It also asked about number of partners, different kinds of sex and positions, sex in public, you get the idea. A little titillating, a little silly. My son took the quiz and said he had gotten a score of twenty-something. He suggested I take it, and when I said I got a 43, he was disgusted! I had to laugh. “I’m a middle-aged mom, what do you think I’ve done?”
Side note: It never ceases to amaze me that young people find mothers asexual. Motherhood is the living definition of sexual intercourse! Raw-dogging, to use the medical term.
Side note: Sex is not edgy to me. It’s human biology. It’s wonderful. Have at it. Write about it if you want to.
Side side note: All I’ve got is side notes around here, folks.
How about this weather. Looking forward to my 65-degree day made me feel quite “mature.” I remind myself of the old farmers of my childhood, who sat around feeding woodstoves and waiting for the winter ice to crack. Talking about the weather, predicting the weather by their bones, waiting for the weather to change.
I know small-talk about the weather drives some people crazy, but weather-watching is such an essential human activity, isn’t it? Not only does it speak to the origins of agrarian civilization, but also our helplessness before the power of nature, our fears, our hopes, our exclusively human ability to foretell our own mortal futures… We fancy animals make plans and predictions based on what is yet to happen. Weather forecasts are a tantalizing glimpse into the future. How could we resist? A 65-degree day after a cold spell might as well be a dangling emerald. Shiny object of a day.
Oh! Self-promotion. Blah.
I have an Instagram. Evidently I mostly post pictures of food and moss. Some arts, some hearts.
I’ve had a few pieces of writing published this past month. Too much to actually market at this point. What do I do with all this stuff? I hope you’ll pin the tail on the donkey and just pick one at random.
First this (84.7 percent true) flash fiction set on New Year’s Eve, 1999: “Forge Avenue, 1999” in Roi Fainéant.
Second, this very short, also pretty much true short story called “The Last Golden Hour” published in On the Seawall.
Plus a few short poems:
· “I don’t believe in ghosts but” in Voicemail Poems (with an audio of my actual voicemail reading the poem! How fun is that?)
· “Hurtling Lonely Glow” in The Dodge
· “Tuesday Morning Chemical Plant Explosion” in Evocations Review
I keep my website’s publication page reasonably up-to-date, if you ever wonder what I’ve been up to lately. I mean besides brooding and hiding from the world while simultaneously oversharing on social media.
Okay, that’s enough out of me! Shh, shh. Back under my insta-rock.