Hanging out in a liminal space

6 03 2018

liminal-space-definition-ofI have a feeling of being in transition, of being in between the not anymore and the not yet. I’ve been chewing on it ever since I saw my dear friend incarcerated in his body from a stroke, and struggling in a nursing home.

The push onto the threshold is also because this is my 60th year. My parents were wrapped in end-stage cancer by this age. I’d been married for a few years by that time, my children born before my mother left us. It is so hard to believe this was so long ago; also so hard to believe that I am this old. In my head, I am still a rollicking 45 – not as spry as a young ‘un, but no way am I as old as my parents were!

In a real life and space, I’d be planning for retirement, I’d be managing some poor employees, I’d be all serious and such. Maybe I’d even have learned to play golf. Instead, on my “freedom 50 get MS plan”, I’m looking down the wrong end of the telescope at a life that seems very far away.

Not that I don’t have one now – lucky me with friends and family and a view of the harbour and almost my health! I am definitely NOT complaining.

6c6a49f23bf8b7fb1bcff4f50f1a1971--love-birds-for-the-birdsI’m sensing a change coming, though, like a fresh wind. Maybe it’s the birds doing their still-chilly spring romantic dance. Maybe it’s the fact that sometimes, sometimes, I feel a bit like I can play the ukulele. Maybe it’s the repetitive strain injury from stabbing wool for hours…or the look of my still not right bedroom, covered in wool and still-waiting-to-be-unpacked necklaces and clothes.

I’m tempted to throw it all out. Sell it, give it up, start fresh. It seems to be on the backward side of the threshold. But what is on the other side? What can I do next?
When I was in first-year university, I didn’t have any money to buy my parents a160503_BOOKS_Allegory.jpg.CROP.promo-xlarge2 Christmas present. So I wrote them a story, about a unicorn and a girl making choices at a fork in the road. It was so dreadfully heavy with allegory I’m surprised my parents could lift it, let alone read it, but never mind, I can do a good preaching when I set my mind to it. They cried. My English teacher read it and told me it was trash.

images-8In the story, the Unicorn was there to help the girl along the rockier path she chose. It was meant to symbolize the coming of adulthood and the need to take on responsibilities, as it were. It had capital-B Bears in it who were my parents, who were ahead of me on this treacly road, who provided support from afar; it provided sympathy for what they’d lost by taking on adult responsibilities.

It was gruesome, I tell you. Whenever I am feeling too full of myself, I get it out and read it, and then go brush my teeth. Three times.

But I’m feeling that split in the road now. The need to figure out what this later bit of my life will come to mean. The tasks that will keep me sane. The things that will bring me joy. Housekeeping just ain’t it.

I know a few things will have to figure. Since my fall yesterday, I know I am going to have to throw myself back into physical fitness. My body is quitting on me, but that doesn’t mean I have to help it. It’s time to really allot time to exercise as I have done before. I’d say I should give up scotch, chocolate, and cheese, but let’s not get crazy here!

That means less crafting time, as all of that takes time and space.

I’m going to work on friendships, because I love them so much and often don’t get to meet up with my friends. (or family – that has to change, too) I don’t want to end up alone. I’ve seen how that can go, and it’s nasty.

This can also mean less crafting time, though most of my friends gather to do crafts, so maybe not…

Creativity is important to me, too – so I’ll have to work that in somewhere, somehow,00f5dde1205620d312e1ccceeabc3210 using words or needles and thread or wool or both.

So I’m standing on a doorstep. Time to step forward…just have to push myself through all of these piles of wool first…(but wait – I still want to try this, and make that, and there’s Alice and other stuff I could try and even little things …)

Maybe I’m not quite ready to step over that threshold … seems like I’ll be liminal for a while yet.

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Single and over sixty: solitude or sorrow?

5 11 2016

solitudeI’ve recently had the chance to speak with several over-60-year-old men, and women, about relationships, being single, loneliness.

Well, okay, some of these were dates. Some were laughter over dates. Some were thought provoking, others broke my heart.

We all handle being alone differently. Many of the women I know who are single seem happy to stay that way, at least for now. They are tired from years of sharing their lives with children or family members and are still craving the gentle solitude of a solo cup of coffee in the morning, or a cuddle with their pet in the evening, when they are weary and don’t want to talk.

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coffee. peace. quiet.

Or they want to take off on women-only trips around the world where they can just go and be without the need to perform.

But they are a self-selected group. I hang out with independent (some may say too independent) women.

I also know so many women whose lives are destroyed by solitude, who must have companionship, preferably male and human, to survive. These women are shattered by divorce and find it intolerable to live alone. They, too, break my heart. No one should be alone who doesn’t want to be…but on the other hand…part of being a good partner is learning to be good on your own, I think.

For me, I may more be one of those independent women who prefers to live in MY space, to invite friends to visit, but never ever to stay. Not to say I don’t like the visitors…

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not a real man in a cabin, though the axe might be real.

I know a few independent men, too. But they seem smaller in number, perhaps because they are out in the woods somewhere living in a cabin and so I don’t meet them often.

Most of the older men I meet are painfully lonely. It breaks my heart. I seriously think men find it harder to be alone, struggle more with their sense of self-worth than women do, on average. They seem driven more by the need to make love/have sex/fornicate than women let show. They wake in the mornings dreaming of sex, they go to bed thinking of it. Without it, a huge part of their inner selves seems to wither.

So what does an aging man have to offer a woman? They don’t seem to know. Instead of seeking companionship, shared interests, etc, they look for younger and younger partners, hoping their flagging sexuality can be enlivened by a more active lass. They tell themselves lies about their fitness, desirability, general selves. And so they doom themselves to failure and loneliness. They aren’t used to hanging out with guys, most of them, so they end up isolated. It’s terribly sad.

Oh, and they judge women, by scores they don’t apply to themselves. In happy delusion,

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One of my recent dates, examining my height

they seek tens, when they themselves are 4s or 5s, or on a good day, a 7. I had a 400 pound man tell me that he didn’t think I looked THAT overweight (in tones of condescension). I’ve had people suffering bankruptcy tell me I was getting a good catch who would look after me. Riiiiiiiiight.

They don’t think about evolving themselves to fit the needs of women in their age group, to read, to learn, to cook, to be responsible, to be independent and self-supporting. To have let go of anger. That is unutterably sexy. Women who have spent years looking after people don’t want to meet someone who, on first acquaintance, obviously needs looking after. And so many men have interesting lives, if only they would share them in a non-self-aggrandizing way.

So women are stuck in a bind if we want companionship. No one our age wants us – men seem to want women ten to twenty years younger. The ones twenty years older than us want us, but they are often looking for someone of their porn dreams, someone to care for them, someone to adore them, as they were adored when they were young and fit and had their future ahead of them. Oh, and someone who wants to make love all the time.(One chubby fellow I dated showed me his sticky little book of sexual positions, many of them life-endangering. When I laughed out loud at one contortion, he said, sure, we could do that. No, I said. I’m not standing on my head for anyone. Sorry. That was that. I washed my hands and left.)

518ldvbqs-l-_ul1200_Or they want a nurse, preferably one who would wear that sexy nurse outfit while massaging their feet.

Dating is perilous in this age group. If you meet and decide he isn’t for you, and you try to let him down gently, you run the risk of being stalked, as you try to peel his tentacles off of you.

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If you are clear with them, you are a bitch who only values money. (or healthy teeth or someone who lives responsibly or someone who doesn’t spend every spare minute looking at porn on a 60 inch tv set). They get furious at you.

Either way, dating feels more dangerous than it should.

Other men are so sad and hopeful you want to be kind, you err in kindness, you give mixed messages to try not to hurt, you hope they will break up with you so you don’t have to deal the crushing blow. They, understandably, get confused, and you end up hurting them anyway. Or vice versa.

So for those women who want male companionship with a little naughty icing, they have a challenge.

But thank heavens, we seem better suited to solitude. And as for me, male friends rock. More than that, I dunno.

Maybe that’s why so many of us are into crafting with our friends. js23831350

Off to needle felting I go….

 

 





The pettiness of the long-distance writer…

21 01 2014

Oh, I’m so fed up. With myself, with my not-writing, with this foolishness that I assign myself only to fail.

I find myself avoiding reading reviews of new books because the bitterness of “I shoulda been a images-11” is so strong, though I know full well I don’t have the stick-to-itiveness to finish my writing projects. I read about award winners and hiss inwardly through my teeth, begrudging other writers their moment in the sun, chewing on the regurgitated bile of my not quite able to pull it together dreams.

It’s bloody sickening. Originally, when I felt this feeling coming on, I decided to give myself a three-month writing fast, just so I could ENJOY reading again, stop doing the back-seat driving thing, just enjoy the road, wallow in others gift. And then I found myself signing up for things, giving myself deadlines that I could fight against again, setting myself up to fail and getting angrier at myself all the time.

Yesterday, I gave in. I spent the day playing with felt, hooking rugs, practicing my ukulele. In the evening I dipped my reading toes into the unexpectedly and thrillingly charming “The Elegance of the Hedgehog”. I laughed, I found myself in a local Chapters store reading silly joke books and crafting books and just plain enjoying myself. It was a great day.

And no writing.

I think I may have to do it again.





Felting rocks and writing faith

6 12 2012

A little break from countries today. The sun is shining bright against a bank of threatening grey clouds and that always puts me in a thoughtful mood.

Plus I’ve been making things for Christmas. Felted things. There’s something about changing the form of matter that appeals to me. Pottery, where you take mud and create structures; glass blowing, where silica melts and you can twist it into shapes; felting, where you take fluffy stuff and turn it into little creatures or scenes or objects; writing, where you take letters and stick them together until they make some sort of sense.

This morning I was felting rocks again. It’s a very “grounding” experience, as the trendy say.

You start with this:

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Add hot water and lots of soap, and scrunch and swirl it around and around in your hands, squeezing and rearranging until the wool knits together and suddenly it feels right. Yellow wool never cooperates, which may account for the lack of it on yarn shop shelves. It has to be used sparingly, much like adverbs in writing. A little bit is enough, too much and you get odd lumpish stuff.

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Writing can be like this – you write a bit and it feels messy and squishy and then you revise and revise and revise until it becomes totally meshed, with any luck.

Of course, as with writing, not everyone is going to appreciate a felted rock. I like them because they take a hard heavy thing and put a cushy thing around them, and the whole thing is organic and just feels good. Selling them might be more difficult, though.

And I guess that’s like writing, too.

I suppose all we can do is write and feel and get that “felt” experience, as my friend Nancy would say.

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Downsizing, or why the heck did I keep that???

8 08 2010

As part of my lifelong effort to live smaller (hahaha), or really, as I recover from the life of raising kids and all the multicoloured toys that  entails, I keep trying to shrink my belongings to tinier and tinier amounts.  Probably I’ll end up being one of those RV types who lives in a conversion van with two outfits of clothing, one for spring and one for winter…

The problem is all the hobbies I took up over the years. As a military wife, I often couldn’t find work in the places where we were put, and heck, someone had to spend time with the kids every once and awhile. So I did hobbies. Endless, endless hobbies. It was a military wife requirement, like buying Tupperware (so you didn’t have to throw out all your food every time you moved) and home parties and kowtowing to the upper ranks and eventual alcoholism.

I learned tole painting, needlecraft, sewing, silk scarf painting, jewelry making, painting, pottery, woodworking, photography, knitting, scrapbooking, plastic jewelry making, flower arranging, gourmet cooking, and more.  I held the line at plastic canvas “creations”. And I never crocheted a poodle-shaped toilet paper cover.

But my closets now are filled with the remainders of these hobbies, as well as my failed musical instrument career. (guitar, ukulele, recorders of all sorts).  I’d like to say I did any of these things well. But I don’t.

I did knit a uterus once, for the prenatal classes I was teaching.  it was the hit of the mum and me playgroup I  attended with my son and daughter, though I noticed the other mums started sitting further away from me once they knew it wasn’t a hat I was working on. It was red and white striped. With a detachable vagina.

I have unfinished projects stacked sky high, a plastic container filled with fabrics waiting for their moments of glory, partially painted objects, needlepoint missing the picture, knitted misshapes.  I even have the entire requirements for furniture refinishing, another hobby I developed but have problems now completing as I live in a carpeted apartment…

I suppose all this experience could come in useful if I was running a summer camp (shudder) or kids program (shudder shudder), but I don’t want to do these things. I just wanted to learn how to do things and keep my creative mind occupied.

It’s time to let them go, but it’s so hard! I say to myself foolish things like, well, I can finish this needlepoint – this one that I’ve had for longer than my marriage (which I managed to finish). Or I hang onto scraps for the quilt I eventually plan to make – but heck, I have a pile of pants needing hemming that are already out of style. Why do I think I have the stick-to-it-iveness to finish a QUILT?

And yet….there is something so satisfying about making something from raw materials.

So I say, but the tote filled with material hangs about, year after year, wondering what its role is, gazing disconsolately around the stuffed closet, while I gaily gad about for a shopping spree or laze about sipping wine and eating bon bons. My sewing box is like my bundle of good intentions – filled to bursting but never ever to see the light of day. It makes me feel guilty.  Heaven knows I have enough time to whip up clever covers for the seats or charming pyjamas for everyone I know.

Instead I curl around a mystery or go out for lunch with friends or write a small thing or kill people off in a novel. Or stare into the middle distance or pluck my eyebrow hairs.

So it’s time to push things on. I’m loading up bags for the local charity resale store, hoping someone else might see my patterns and crafts and sadly unfinished glories and take them on. I’m feeling it’s a bit like that cartoon about the singing frog, though.  I suspect people will buy these things, as I did, with their good intentions, hoping to make them sing in their own homes, only to find that they merely sit around and go “Bra-a-a-a-p”. But, like that man in the cartoon, at least I won’t have to deal with them anymore.








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