Our Fortunate Tortured Selves

Remember liberal guilt? The idea that because we had so much, we felt guilty, and so to assuage our consciouses, we were happy to give some back. I still think giving to the poor is a noble cause, but I never thought guilt was what social programs were about. I thought those programs were in place because of  love. Because of generosity.

I’ve been poor, even homeless, but I’ve always worked. My income, when I have one worth reporting to the IRS, has always hovered close to the poverty level, which is now $13,444. My jobs have been waitress, secretary, high school teacher, college teacher, writer. The only government assistance I’ve ever used was a Pell Grant to start my college education. After I married, the Pell Grant went away. I pursued education anyway because I believed it was my way to a better job than waitress, bartender, or secretary.

Now I have two degrees in English, two jobs (writing and teaching) and I couldn’t buy myself a used car. Forget about a house! My husband is the reason I am living in a new house, buying new things to furnish it with, and feeling twinges of guilt. I have so much. Most of the world has so little. It doesn’t seem fair.

Land a man, land on your feet. This uncomfortable truth has been the reality of my life. Yes of course I cook and clean and so forth. That’s the unpaid work we women who marry take on. Well, some of us.

Had I not been married, I would have pursued full time teaching with more zeal. But the way things happened, I was able to teach part-time and write for great chunks of time, taking years off the day job. Without that time  off from teaching, I never would have been able to pursue things like writing for magazines. I would not have been able to write novels or find a publisher. I probably wouldn’t be writing this post or have the time to worry about all the poor people in the world. I’d be too busy grading papers or flying the freeways.

When I told my husband about a post I wrote a week or so ago, all about moving to the country and buying new curtains, he said I should be careful. He said I should not flaunt our situation. He said it would make some people with less feel bad. He was right. And ever since, I’ve been feeling guilty about my good fortune.


New house doesn’t quite feel like home yet. An internet connection would help. So would window shades:) But aside from the material organization, I’ve yet to make an emotional connection to this new place. Maybe because I’m not unpacked and remain undecorated. Maybe because my shoulders ache, my back hurts, and there’s a weird pain in my foot that is shooting upward toward the knee.

Which reminds me that I am close to a lovely yoga studio. I need to get back to class. After I rest the various overworked muscles. And finish unpacking. Then start writing again; I am counting today’s blog as a first step. Had to come out to a bookstore to post an entry. And I’m not the coffee shop type of writer.

I lived in one place for 25 years and didn’t give the move much thought. Well, other than “I can’t wait and I know I will love it!” But 25 years brings another sort of problem to moving house. It’s like packing for vacation. But instead of hunting through a few suitcases, I’m hunting through a bunch of rooms that equal 100 suitcases. Add to that short term memory loss (no big deal, it happens to most people as they get older) and unpacking becomes a challenge.

Then there’s the part about remembering to be fully clothed at all times (windows!) and to shut doors where applicable (windows!) Yes, the new place has lots of windows and I love that about it. I will love it even more when the window shop calls to say my order’s come in and when will they be able to install?

Meanwhile, I had to drive by the old place today. We’d forgotten to give the new owner one of the garage door openers, so I popped it in his mailbox. I felt nothing for the house I had loved for so long. I was actually happy that I did not own the mailbox bombed by bird shit.

I don’t love my old place anymore. I don’t love my new place yet. But I still have my internet home, and that feels just right:)

Heart Boomers

The generation I was born into (1946-1964 Baby Boomers) are everywhere. I was born in 1955, so I’m at the heart of the boomer parade.

I wonder how many people of my generation embrace the internet? I wonder how many use social media? I kinda feel like the old lady playing with kids when I’m doing this stuff. I avoid talking about my age. Especially on Twitter. I do not know one person in real life (except myself) who tweets. I am hoping to find some heart boomers to talk to about all the puzzling and intricate details of life after wrinkles. I think we blame ourselves too much for things that really are beyond our control or a lot more complex than what we read and see and hear from newspapers, magazines, television reports and even our doctors.

Many people in the US, including myself, are overweight. It’s frustrating to try to lose weight when you are also on a medication regime that includes 3 pills that have “weight gain” as a side effect. So I figured since the migraine headaches I use meds for have lessened of late, maybe I could cut down on the med and eventually wean myself slowly off of it, and something magical would happen, something like what happened to one friend who said when she stopped taking Prozac “the weight just fell off.”

(I wasn’t taking Prozac, but a low dose of Elavil, which can have weight gain as a side effect, and is not a recommended prescription for migraine, but is an older form of anti-depressant that has been found to help with migraine. So it’s an “off prescription” remedy for migraine.)

I cut my Elavil in half for a week and I didn’t lose any weight but I got a migraine. Luckily, I think the 1 Maxalt and 2 Advil prescribed for onset of a migraine nipped it in the bud. I also took a Xanax because migraine shoots my anxiety through the roof. Xanax also causes weight gain and I take those daily for anxiety and so I can sleep at night.

Am I going to just say fuck it, eat what I want and hell with trying to lose weight? Nope. I’m going to eat healthy and continue to try to keep portions small. I’m a vegetarian and usually avoid crap carbs. So you’d think that would be enough, but no. I admit I like a glass of wine or two and dark chocolate. I eat & drink those treats in moderation and fit them into my calorie plan. They’re said to have health benefits.

In general, women are supposed to eat no more than 2,000 calories a day to  maintain a healthy weight. Ha! I eat 1,300 and can’t lose weight, even though my weight tracker app says I should lose one pound per week with this calorie load. So I’m cutting back to 1,100 (again) which my app (Lose It!–it’s free and easy for iPhone:) says will help me lose 1.5 pounds a week. I have had some success with 1, 100 calories. Not 1.5 pounds per week success, but most weeks, I’ll lose a pound. Well, I did for a while until I got stuck.

I tried a few things to get unstuck. Carbs no more than once a day. One glass of wine twice a week. No chocolate. Not even my 72% cocoa squares. Cutting Elavil. Stubborn number on the scale stayed the same. Am I upset with my experiment’s failure? Oh yeah. I get so hopeful (still) about new measures and weight loss methods. When they fail, I feel like I’ve failed.

I used to think, when I was younger, that there would be a cut off time when weight would not matter. Sadly, this is not true. I want a healthy weight so that I don’t get the cascade of other maladies that come with being overweight. (Diabetes, bad knees, heart problems, back problems, etc, etc). Also, I am vain. I didn’t think I would be. I thought there was a cut off date for vanity too. I’m here to tell you, I’m 55, and I still don’t want to be overweight. I don’t mind my silver hair. I kind of like it. Wrinkles are fine too.

What I don’t like are migraine headaches and weight gain. I don’t like taking lots of pills either. I think the way to living successfully as a core boomer is to realize that things I don’t like will continue to happen with my body, despite the care I take with it. It’s been a good body and basically still is, even though I put it through some rough stuff back when I didn’t think about my body as something that could fail me. It took all the abuse I gave it and never cried. That was then. This is now. And somehow, I have to learn to be okay with it.