Tag Archives: age

Nice!

For some reason, over the past week or so the subject of being nice has been popping up into conversations with me. I went to a writer’s conference last weekend, where the vast majority of attendees were women and people kept remarking, with a tinge of surprise in their voices, that they couldn’t believe how nice everyone was. A few other moms and I were agonizing over why 9-year old girls just can’t seem to be nice to each other. Headlines were filled with not-nice election-year behaviors. Anti-bullying missives came home from school. And my mother-in-law and I had a discussion about how being nice seemed to have a relative meaning, based on according to what part of this country you live in.

At first I found all the “nice” mentionings a bit coincidental, but since I am a little on the self-centered side, I started wondering if perhaps people were dropping hints.

I used to know I was a nice person, because people used to tell me. I don’t hear that exact word much anymore, but people do often express gratitude to me for my support, help, shoulder to cry on, email to e-vent to, etc. Is that what you say about nice people my age? Or are they offering positive reinforcement for behavior they’d like to see more often instead of the bitchy side that is sometimes evidenced here on this blog?

To try and clarify things, I looked up “nice” in my American Heritage dictionary. Here’s a synopsis: “1. Pleasing and agreeable in nature. 2. Having a pleasant or attractive appearance. 3. Exhibiting courtesy and politeness. 4. Of good character and reputation; respectable.”

Yes, well . . . I guess the good news is the folks at A.H. neglected to qualify their definition by time limits. That is, they don’t say “pleasing and agreeable in nature at least 98.7% of the time” nor must one have a “pleasant or attractive appearance 75% of the time” in order to be nice. Perhaps that’s my saving grace. After all, I do stop to help strangers, offer to take photos of people when their arms don’t seem long enough to get a self-portrait, and have good parking lot karma because I always return the cart, come hell or high water, or even lightening flashes, to its rightful place. All those are signs of nice behavior, are they not?

On the other hand, I can be catty at times. It’s just that the world gives me so much fodder, it almost seems disrespectful not to acknowledge those gifts with some kind of snarky, humorous (in my opinion anyway) remark. I’ve also experienced my fair share of Schadenfreude — but who doesn’t enjoy a head-lining story about an anti-gay Republican senator getting bad press because he likes to get close to his male interns? And, with my windows rolled up so no one outside my car can hear me, I often yell and scream at idiot drivers who cut me off in traffic. Those behaviors rather suggest I’m not nice, right?

Perhaps. But, let me share the end of that “nice” definition in my trusty dictionary. The last entries read: “Obsolete. a. Wanton; profligate. b. Affectedly modest; coy.”

Ooo! I think that means I’m an old-fashioned nice girl after all.

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Social Networking

Not that I want to hound a theme to its grave, but I’m just not done with yesterday’s rant.

As a good little writer this morning, I finished skimming through a bunch of blogs from popular people in the publishing industry. One of my favorites is literary agent Nathan Bransford of Curtis Brown. This past Tuesday he asked the question: Does Social Media Help Sell Books? and took a poll. 51% of the respondents claim they do not rely on social media to encourage their book buying habits, 37% said yes, it does, and the rest were a joke answer.

There was plenty of anecdotal evidence for both sides of the poll in the comments, some of which was a little shaky — e.g., a woman who answered “yes” because she gets 30 to 45 hits a day on her site, so she feels it must be working. Does she think those are all different people each day? That none of them, not even good ‘ole mom and dad, visit her site more than once a year? And that each and every one of them are buying her book?

What I found heartening is that I’m not alone. Many others are where I am: overwhelmed by the immense amount of time and energy that goes into successful social networking (keyword: successful). Kelly Ann Jones made a comment here yesterday about how hard it is to find time to write because she’s too busy with her social networking. And I know of a YA author who has an extremely successful Facebook page, complete with competitions, etc., where she gets thousands of visitors — but she hasn’t even finished her first book yet. Perhaps if she’d been able to put that energy into the book, it’d be done (and then she’d be where I am, trying to figure out the damned query letter).

But let’s go back to Bransford’s post — think about it. Who responded to his comments? Mostly authors (published or still trying), i.e., people who are more likely to spend time on social media to begin with (after all, they must if they are to sell themselves, right?). So you’ve a bunch of book-minded internet-junkies answering a question about whether or not social media sells books. Hmmm . . . One would think all the answers would be “Yes! Yes! and Hell yes!” but it’s only half. I find that amazing! I mean if only half of them are buying books that way, what about the rest of the reading public — you know those people who just like to read and have absolutely no interest in writing, editing, publishing, or otherwise wall-papering their bathrooms with rejection slips.

I would love to see real, verifiable, survey results about how effective social media is at selling books. Does Joe Public rely on blogs, Facebook and Twitter to tell him what makes a great read? I don’t know a single person in my non-internet, non-social media life who has bought a book because it was hawked on Twitter. Nor have I bought one because of that. However, I do know several “normal people” who buy books because Amazon suggested it (because they bought a similar one on-line or via their Kindle) — or they continue to find new books in Barnes and Noble when it rains and they’re looking for shelter.

Granted, it could be a sign of my age and the age of the people I know. Maybe twenty-somethings do buy books because of Tweets. But, since the market does show that the majority of book buyers are women my age, (and my book is aimed at that target audience) I think that means Twitter is a waste of time for me (though I feel guilty saying that, as if I’m knowingly doing something wrong). Hail Mary . . .

Who has insight into this? Who thinks it’s worthwhile to spend hours, hours they cannot put back into their life, on social media networking in the hopes of selling a book? Hours not spent working writing books, short stories, essays, poems, etc. Is it effective? Do you have stats to prove it?

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Still complaining after all these years

So my lovely husband has started reminding me lately that I’m still complaining. He has a point — I am still complaining, but I gotta say, life has the deck stacked against me.

It’s not that I want to complain; I really don’t. There’s just so much shit going on around me that it’s hard to make a comment about anything without it sounding like a complaint. My allergies remain so severe that all I want to do is take a hand-rake and rip out my eyes because they itch so much and there are days I sneeze so frequently that I’m afraid to drive as I might lose control of my car. My PMS is so bad these days it’s telling me I’m peri-menopause, actually it’s shrieking it to the world with me completely unable to control it. There’s oil spilling out in the gulf and all that is happening about is fingers are being pointed instead of someone shoving them into the hole to plug it up (that metaphor was a stretch, I know — I’m talking about the boy with his finger in a dyke).

And I’m getting old. It’s official. I’m officially getting old. Proof came with his latest comment a few minutes ago, “boy you’re sure complaining a lot this morning.” All I wanted was for his help in making the text on the emails in my in-box look bigger. No, I didn’t rearrange my desk. I just can’t seem to see what’s in my in-box like I used to. I’d love to say that the entire world is using a smaller font, but I have a feeling that’s not so true. So he changed the resolution and yes, the letters are bigger, but now they’re fuzzy. All I said was, “thank you, but now they’re blurry.” And oops, I did it again. I complained.

What’s a girl to do? Should I remain mute? The only way that’d be possible would be if I completely alienate myself. And the odds of my butt exploding and blasting me into the milky way are better than thinking my kids would leave me alone in my room undisturbed for longer than 30 seconds. But I could try. I could lock myself in my bedroom with nothing but good literature and vodka. The thing is, if by some miracle of miracles and not a screamed “MOM!” is heard, I’ll sit around reading and drinking all day, which on the surface sounds ideal, but eventually I’ll have to pee and when I stand up after all that lounging, I’m sure I’ll be stiff and sore. Add a little drunk into it and soon enough I’ll be saying (complaining) “Good Christ, my neck hurts. And my back!”

Shall I go to some island paradise and relax in a hammock while polite and obsequious waiters feed me delicious foods and ply me with umbrella-laden drinks? Yes, that’d be nice and one would think complaint free. But, it couldn’t last forever. Eventually I’ll be bitching about my credit card bills. Resorts ain’t cheap you know.

Tell me, what’s a girl to do? I’m still giving it the old college try–I keep re-starting my week of living complaint free. ~sigh~ it’s just that life gives me such fodder. God it’s hard–and that’s not a complaint, just a comment about something I’ve noticed.

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Texting for the over 40 (Because you asked for it, Laurie!)

My friend Laurie recently asked me how to abbreviate “obnoxious, gaudy, distasteful and trashy” in a text message.  She may have been joking, but I felt it to be a good question, which needed a good answer.  I thought perhaps we could rearrange the words and come up with an acronym we could pronounce, e.g., TODG.

The idea brings up a good point:  if those of us over 20 (OK, over 40) are going to embrace texting, we need to come up with our own abbreviations.  After all, our vocabulary in general is more mature than most avid texters and our life experiences often require something more than OMG to describe them. We have reached that age when we must socialize at events that, if we were twenty years younger and had been invited, our response would be to laugh our asses off, or as they say LMAO. But, due to our jobs, our spouse’s job, our volunteer work, our political affiliations or whatever, we now suffer through them and the suffering is more easily handled if we can E-vent (if unfamiliar with that word, see my post regarding e-venting, apparently I’m too old to figure out how to put the link in here) to a friend who’s not there.

Yes, someone needs to come up with texting expressions for the rest of us. And why not me? I can fulfill a public service as well as the next gal. So here goes . . .

BING >^^< which I decided means, “Being Catty.”  You can preface it with a name to suggest someone else is being catty, or you can introduce a clause with it so that the recipient of the message knows you’re being catty about what comes next.  For example if you text:  “BING >^^<  when will she get control of her boobs?”  The recipient will know that the woman with cleavage deeper than Himalayan valleys  is having her usual problem.  (Yes, I know, I’m probably just jealous–after all if I’d had all the fat sucked out of my body and something else propping up my boobs, I’d probably dress like that, too.)

Of course you can always follow BING>^^< with another acronym, such as OTH, for “Oh, the hair!” (think bad dye jobs) or SWMD, for “she’s wearing my dress!” (for those times when you realize the sales-woman lied to you again). And if you think the other woman looks better in the dress than you do, you can add SOB!

Social events can often begin with:  GIND for “God, I need a drink.”  Then a few hours later you could probably change it to GIWIWD for “God I wish I were drunk.” or maybe even HIC, for “yes, I am drunk.”

If you ever find yourself surprised by a new, young face in the crowd, a face that replaced a person who had already showed up at the same event earlier, you can type:  &HXIH2, which meansAnd his Ex is here, too.” The problem with that one is that I can seldom find the & sign on my phone, so for those of us with Blackberrys, you may want to use NHXIH2.

For those moments when an acquaintance with eccentric tastes, beliefs, or hobbies corners you at a holiday party to give you the latest updates, you can use TA_______A, to meantalking about _______ againand fill in the blank.  For example, you text “Tom’s here TAufosAfor Tom’s here and is talking about UFO’s again.” It works better when the subject in question begins with a consonant, e.g., “Sue’s TAcatsA” because when you read it, it sounds like a word you can pronounce in your head.

Whenever something is too long to text, but you know you’ll just have to repeat it later and there’s a good chance you won’t remember, send your friend: RM2TYL for “remind me to tell you later” and then follow up with a noun that you hope will continue to have meaning when your friend asks about it.

And for those nights when you’re out with the girls or when your husband isn’t with you (I don’t mean to sound sexist or anything, I just can’t think of any man sending texts like those above to anyone but EVERY woman I know would), there are a couple of abbreviations that may come in handy.  The first is for a girlfriend who isn’t there with you:  DDDHM, which means “Desperate, divorced Dad is hitting on me” and she’ll know you’re sitting on a bar stool and some dad is showing you pictures of his kids even though you’re wearing your wedding ring and told him you happily have a husband at home.  Finally the last two are for the spouse who is at home while you’re not.  The first is: IAY, which means “I appreciate you” (which is a purpose of all those DDD’s just mentioned; they are yet more reminders of why you’re with your man).  And the second is “SU4M” suggesting “stay up for me.”

Now then, if I were a marketing genius, I’d condense all that down, put it on tiny laminated cards and sell them as an accompaniment to reading glasses.


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Midlife ain’t so bad

It may be too early to say this, but I think my generation may have discovered the preventative cure for mid-life crises.  I say this because I’m surrounded by people in their forties who, despite the fact that they’re living in a country at war during an economic downturn, are just fine with their lives.  I don’t know of one man with a jones for a new, hot red sports car, or who just got his ear pierced, or who is ready to leave his wife for the first sweet young thing to look his way.  Likewise, I don’t know of one single woman who is ready to follow-up with her ogling of the bag boys at Whole Foods, who is designing the perfect first tattoo, or who is ready to leave her husband for another female.

So why are we so emotionally stable with our age?  I believe it’s because we’re all a little surprised we’re still alive and kicking. 

Just about everyone in my generation grew up expecting die sometime shortly after their 30th birthday. They may never have thought about it consciously, though many of us did, but I can guarantee you the thought was always percolating in a hidden recess of our brains at all times.  It started in Kindergarten when we learned how to prepare for fire, tornadoes and Cold War bombs whose existence demanded we die.  (Am I the only one who wondered, while curled in fetal position on the floor during a bomb raid drill, why they didn’t just build everything out of the same metal and wood that they made the desks we had to cower under?) The follow up began when we started watching TV.  News coverage proved the previous generation’s motto of Sex, Drugs & Rock-and-Roll was really warning us of new causes for our natural end.  We watched, spellbound, as the footage of dead-via-over-dose celebrities, suffering AIDS patients, and the horror of being trampled to death at a Who concert streamed before us.  Religion didn’t offer much comfort.  All the Southern Baptists in my geographical area were convinced the world would end in 1980 because some kid born somewhere had some mark on him and there was some building that symbolized some beast that rose out of some sea.  After they were proved wrong, they were replaced by New Agers meditating at Lake Eola park telling us the Earth would be destroyed when the planets aligned in 1988.  During junior high our science teachers, the first Global Warming preachers, taught a curriculum detailing how the entire history of mankind only served to create an environment too toxic for the earth to survive.  We’d leave the lab and stumble down the down the hall only to read Alas Babylon in English class.  Who knew Argentina would be a world leader after the US and Soviet Union were destroyed?  No wonder they keep saying we should learn to speak Spanish.  And meanwhile, Y2K loomed ever closer.

Thirty?  Who was gonna live to thirty?

Us! And we did!  But we did it a little differently than our predecessors. 

Perhaps it was a natural inclination toward a joie de vivre in the face of death.  We insisted on having a good time while we waited for the killer asteroid to hit (no, that wasn’t a new fear from the early 2000’s; we started it back in ’86 with rumors about the real reason the space shuttle Challenger exploded).  We never gave up our fast cars; we had one in the garage alongside the family sedan—or better yet, we had two sexy SUVs.  We never thought we’d work only one job that would burn us out.  In fact, if you had only one company on your resume you looked like you had no experience.  So we bounced around from company to company, industry to industry.  Many of us waited until we were in our thirties to get married and start a family, and our kids only help us maintain our juvenile habits.  We ski on the Wii with our children and we buy them sodas to drink while we sip on cocktails at our favorite restaurants.    We teach them how to tail gate at rock concerts and foot ball games.  And when the kids aren’t around, we still act like we did when we were barely out of high school.  We’ll tuck our babes in bed and head down stairs to indulge the frat-boy mentality that still resides in both sexes as we watch Entourage or It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.  We said to hell with social conservative customs and jeans are now accepted everywhere, even in high-end dining establishments.  Our president says “it’s all cool” and we’re buying Lego sets to ease our stress.

Maybe it’s all Jimmy Buffett’s fault.  He did give us the line “I’d rather die while I’m living than live while I’m dead.”  Or maybe it was Prince’s dictate to “Party Like It’s 1999.”  Whatever it was, we never disconnected ourselves from our youthful appetites, never questioned the validity of our desires, never censored our tastes.  So instead of arriving at mid-life in anger and fear, feeling unfulfilled and resentful because we’re missing out on something as we age, we seem to be mildly amused. Already pierced, tattooed and in possession of a drawer full of current concert T-shirts, we go out to dinner with friends when inevitably someone says something like “have you noticed how impatient you’re getting as you get older?” And we laugh because we realize we’re becoming crotchety old fools and it’s no big deal.

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Filed under Age, Chaos, Commentary, Definitions, Relationships

Am I old?

God, I just can’t stand it.  But every bleeping day there’s yet another sign that yes indeedy, I’m getting old(er).

In an email I received yesterday, someone used the acronym FWIW to begin a paragraph.  I had no idea what it meant.  It took me an hour and two phone calls to figure it out:  For What It’s Worth.  (Which is much nicer and cleaner than anything I came up with.)

Of course I flew into a steaming diatribe against texting and how it’s degrading the English language and how we’re all going to be illiterates unable to read words with vowels within the next decade. 

But then, after I calmed down and had a cocktail last night, a different, and somewhat scary, perspective fuzzied up my logic.

The thing is, I can’t specifically say what’s wrong with texting.  The English language has never been static.  It’s in a continual state of flux and change.  It is different than it was 500 years ago, and almost unidentifiable from its form of 1,000 years ago–and nothing horrible happened because of that state of change. So why does it bother me so much when I experience it changing in front of me?

I think it’s because I’m getting older. 

Let’s face it, the world continues to change and go faster all the time and the only people who have problems with it are the older folk.

Like the elderly woman at Acme Grocer the other day.  She accidentally got in the self-checkout line, thinking it was a wider aisle for the handicapped.  While she fumbled with the machine and created a line of smug, sighing, eye-rolling impatients behind her, I could tell she was becoming more and more angry and defensive.  I stepped up to help her scan, bag and pay.  She thanked me, begrudgingly.  Then there was an off-hand remark about how “these damn machines” are destroying the world as we know it; making everyone anti-social.

Is it because I’m younger than she and have never had a checking account without a debit card that the self-checkout line only seems to make sense?  I don’t think I’m anti-social.  Most of the cashiers are rude as hell to begin with.  So if I have a chance to check out without dealing with them it makes me a happier person, hence more apt to be social with people I want to socialize with.

But, if I was thirty or forty years older and had come into adulthood speaking to “the girl” behind the counter as I write my personal check for my food, would I be as happy with the self-checkouts as I am now? 

And, if I was twenty or thirty years younger and had yet to develop my adult habits, would I still be upset with how texting is changing the way we spell and use grammar?

Perhaps fighting age has nothing to do with anti-wrinkle creams and plastic surgery.  Perhaps we should let go of the fight against graying hairs and start fighting ourselves whenever we insist on keeping the status quo. Prhps.

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