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Posts Tagged ‘ageism’

She’s not at all what you would expect.

No shroud of murky darkness. No raving anger. No muttering excuses. No whorls of swirling depression blasting everything else to bits.

Just a sympathetic smile.

She sits on my desk sipping from a delicate teacup, as if her appearance in the middle of the night – and the middle of my writing – is a perfectly normal occurrence.

Okay, maybe it is a little more normal than it should be. But it’s not any less annoying.

Looking for all the world like Granny from the Beverly Hillbillies, I half anticipate her guzzling from a jug of “rheumatism medicine” instead of that dainty china doll accessory. But then, I’m not entirely sure of the contents, and she’s the type that hides that kind of stuff in plain sight.

“It’s all right, dear,” she coos. “It’s for the best.”

I just glare at her. I know what she means, and what the rest of her litany will entail. I’ve heard it my whole life. Every time there’s a bump in the road. With every obstacle, every challenge, every rejection. Even with the successes, too. Always that little whisper just off my shoulder.

A raging monster would be easy to ignore, by comparison.

“It’s just the way of the world now.” She takes another sip, pinky out, and rests her cool blue gaze on me. “And it’s ALWAYS been the way of the entertainment industry. You’re battling terrible odds on the best of days.”

She’s right about that. I’m no spring chicken and ageism is rampant, even for novelists. It should be about the product – it should ALWAYS be about the product. But people are what they are. Prejudice dies hard, if at all. And being a good writer isn’t always good enough.

“You can’t help support the household with rejection slips.” Her gnarled hand rests gently on my arm, with a little pat for emphasis. “Maybe you should just stick with what makes money. There’s no shame in that.”

No shame.

No shame in settling. No shame in giving up. No shame being good, but not quite good enough. That’s the story of my life.

All my glory days were long ago. All the genius, all the talent, doesn’t mean anything in a world that favors the loudmouth, the provocateur, the bombastic. Give the masses a sequined three-ring circus and blow up the MC as the finale, and you might get some attention. Social Media is god and goddess. Repeat the inane enough times and it turns into a catchy phrase. Watch that catchy phrase all tarted up for Sunday dinner at the whorehouse win the presidency.

“No one wants smart anymore.” Granny pulls out her big brown jug and chugs a few. I’m not sure what happened to the teacup – there’s no sign of it amidst the clutter of my desk. “It’s all about fake news and alternate facts and screwing everybody but the rich in the name of Jesus H. Christ-on-a-cracker. That’s just not for you, dear.”

Ain’t that the truth. But someone has to be the light keeper. Someone has to be the repository of reason and common sense and fact-based intelligence. Who better than a science fiction writer?

“There’s already so many good ones out there.” She winks at me and swigs another gulp off the jug.

I hate that she’s in my head. I’m never really free of her. And I hate that she’s so often right. There are a ton of good writers out there, already. The David Gerrolds, the John Scalzis, the Chuck Wendigs, the Jim Wrights. All fabulous writers with scathing wit and near-prescient powers of observation. They’ll not only keep the light burning, they’ll weaponize it and napalm the hell out of the stupids. I live barely in their shadows – a cockroach hoping a crumb will fall my way so I can feel like the gods have blessed me.

The jug is proffered in my general direction. “It’ll take the edge off.”

Like that’s a good idea. Just hide in your poison of choice. Hide in that world someone else created because you can’t handle the world you live in. Or the world you should be creating. Real writers write. Fake writers dream of publishing deals while killing orcs.

Too bad I’m old and have tits. I’d probably be a damn good game writer.

“Of course you would, dear.” The jug is tipped over and drizzling its contents down the side of my desk. “Everybody loved having you run games in college. Thirty-five years ago.”

She may look like an innocent little old lady, but her delivery would rival Dame Maggie Smith’s best Downton Abbey snark.

On the downhill side of middle age, and nothing to show for my efforts. So much of my life spent dreaming instead of doing. Because of that little bitch perched in the middle of my soul.

“It’s too hard for you, dear.”

“It doesn’t matter how good you are – you don’t know the right people.”

“You’re good. But not good enough.”

“You don’t really want success, do you? Just think of all the crowds you’d have to deal with.”

If she were an ugly monster, beating her would be easy. Heroic, even. But Granny is a sweet little thing, always looking out for my best interests, of course. Protecting me from the hurt. I won’t get rejected if I don’t put myself out there in the first place. I’m okay right where I am. I have a nice house and a great husband and there’s no need for me to get myself all beat up over something that’s really a pipe dream. Let’s face it – everybody wants to be a writer. And they’re a dime a dozen. So many of them will write for free. And so many of them will write badly. The world is littered with terrible copy under noisy videos claiming to be news, and no one seems to care.

“That’s right, dear.” The teacup has returned, held between finger and thumb like it is a dirty diaper and there’s no pail in sight. “No one cares about quality anymore. So you shouldn’t waste your time.”

I lean back in my chair and scowl. “Fuck you, Granny.”

 

 

Worst thing you write

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There comes a time in everyone’s life when you hit a certain age and are immediately declared a walking state of emergency by the medical industry. Doesn’t matter how perfectly you eat, how often you exercise, or how good you really feel, you tell your doctor that particular age and he’ll automatically assume you’re about to fall apart at the seams that particular second. While statistics may have some influence on the doctor’s thinking, I have never in my entire life registered on the normal part of the bell curve, so I don’t see any reason to start now. One size doesn’t always fit all. Least of all me.

Now here’s where I’m going to commit social media suicide – I just had my 54th birthday. That’s right, one year away from being able to use the senior menu at Denny’s. I’m sure some of you out there have just had a heart attack. Especially my mother, who’s convinced I’m only 46 because for me to be any older would mean she is, too, and we just can’t have that. Sorry, Mom, but as long as I’m fighting mental health stigmas, fat shaming, and bad writing, I might as well take on ageism, too.

Of course, this may well mean I’ll NEVER get anywhere further than this here blog because an OLD person can’t possibly write anything entertaining or meaningful, let alone sellable, amiright? America is so obsessed with youth, we’re willing to throw away decades of experience, insight, knowledge, and wisdom just because of a number.

As my friends in the UK say: Bugger off, ya wankers!

Seriously, it’s really just a number. No more meaningful than how many politicians claim they’re telling us the truth. As a society, we have rules we all must follow just so we can function. Some of those rules include age requirements because of what the statistics have shown us: must be at least 16 to get a driver’s license, 18 to vote, or 21 to drink. On the average, I understand why we have those kinds of rules. But we all know at least one person who should never be allowed behind the wheel of a car, or in the ballet box or anywhere near alcohol, and their age has nothing to do with it. And then there’s the disconnect of 18-year-olds risking their lives for us in the military, but we can’t buy them a beer to thank them until they’re nearly old enough to retire. Sometimes that broad brush just doesn’t work.

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When I turned 30 my friends gave me a surprise party. It included black balloons, sympathy cards, and a headstone on the cake. Everybody kept telling me I didn’t look 30, and I wondered what 30 was supposed to look like.

My 40th birthday was just days after 9/11 so the atmosphere was somewhat somber. But it’s still my best birthday because my husband proposed that day. If you stop living your life normally, the terrorists win.

When my 50th birthday came around, my doctor handed me about four pages worth of tests he wanted me to do. Yup, that’s the age, folks. The big 5 – 0. Your warranty is up, and it’s now time to feed the medical machine. Of course, being female, I had already experienced a variety of embarrassing indignities for the sake of my health. Nothing like being a fat woman with your legs up in the stirrups and a doctor telling you to say “Ahhh” as he turns on the bright light. Not funny, dude. Seriously.

But I quickly found out that there is something in life even worse than comedic gynecologists. It’s called intestinal prep and you get to chug it before a colonoscopy. Saying it tastes like warm phlegm would be a compliment. And there’s a gallon of it. Don’t believe them when they tell you it will taste better chilled – they lie. Every fifteen minutes you have to down a cup of the stuff until it’s gone. Within about thirty minutes, your toilet will be your best friend for the night. Forget the book, take a pillow – you won’t be able to concentrate well enough to recite your name, let alone read. The stuff does what it’s meant to do with great enthusiasm. After three days of modified diet, clear liquids, and the prep, you’ll be looking forward to the test just for the sedatives. And it is definitely a case of the prep being far worst than the test.

But, when the time comes, GO TAKE THE FUCKING TEST! My husband had to have a colonoscopy as part of finding out why he was so anemic. Besides the source of his blood loss, they also found polyps – the type that would have become cancerous in a few more years. A day of prep – miserable. An hour under sedation – whatever, duuuude… A life without cancer – priceless! And I hear the prep solution is getting better. My husband was at least able to add about a pound of Crystal Light Lemonade to each cup of solution to help it go down. I guess he’s cuter than me, because the nurses never gave me that option. Bitches…

So I spent Monday in medical facilities getting my annual tests done and some pre-op stuff for the cataract surgery next month. I proved I’m not really a full vampire because I didn’t burst into flames under sunlight and the EKG actually showed a perfectly functioning heart. Also, the vampires at the lab got some very nice red blood out of my arm. Then my “vast tracks of land” were smooshed into pancakes and irradiated just to prove no aliens were in development. I may be a silver-haired obese depressive, but there are people half my age that would kill for my test results.

Still not on the bell curve. Take that, ya wankers!

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