Monthly Archives: February 2010

Paparazzi

Yes, I heard Tiger Woods apology like millions of others on Friday. I was working and CNN was on (as always) so I didn’t have much choice. But I did hear the frustration in his voice when he asked that his family be left alone. HAH! Good luck with that one, I thought. The public OWNS you, big guy, you don’t get to take a shit in private anymore.

As the day wore on, I thought back to that over and over. You know, this is beginning to get really stupid. The United States has become a nation of celebrity groupies. We (as a culture, not me personally) slobber all over news about Britney’s newest boyfriend or pregnancy or whatever, stop whatever we’re doing to listen to “news” reports of  rehab progress on…take your pick of celebrity addicts.

There are entire magazines whose sole purpose is to print photos of celebrities….walking to their car…buying an ice cream…walking down the street with their children…gee, the sorts of things all of us do …but we don’t take pictures of it! Are our lives that tiny?? Are we that bereft of creativity and imagination that we need to WATCH the lives of people we will NEVER MEET to have something to do?

We all remember Princess Diana. I always felt she was one of the classiest people who ever lived, She and her children couldn’t go anywhere without being followed by photographers. The night she died they were trying to sneak away from photographers. Photographers took photos of her dying. And magazines were frothing at the mouth to buy those photos. They knew the magazines would be a sellout-and they could up the advertising rates for that issue and make lots of MONEY. And they did. News reports of people’s outrage at the photographer’s callous behavior took up newsbites for weeks. lawmakers got in on the action.

SO? Nothing has changed. Celebrities still have no privacy. For the most part, I think well, you wanted a public life, you got it. Celebrities should understand that if they want to be rich and famous they must sell their privacy. All of it. Then I think about the children. They didn’t ask for that. They have no choice. And growing up with flashbulbs popping and people walking up to you in public places as if they are entitled to your time and attention has got to make a person a little odd. I can’t imagine not being able to get in my car, drive to the grocery store and drive home…unmolested by strangers with cameras. The again, I’m not rich and famous. No one owns me.

But I keep coming back to the children. Besides making them…odd…their safety is always compromised. They can’t possibly have a “normal” outlook on the world or how to interact with people. It seems too big a problem to even contemplate. Growing up rich makes its own problems, but growing up exposed has to be something else altogether.

My point in all this (I do have one) is that we can do something to help. Yes, we can. You know those shallow, stupid magazines that publish all the photos? STOP BUYING THEM. We have the answer in our hands. If the magazines can’t sell, the photographers will have find another way to earn a living. Like real photo work.

If any of you feel the same way, that the “paparazzi” has stepped way over the line by following a celebrity’s family and publishing where they live and go to school, etc., do your part. Stop buying the magazines. Make it a public thing that you are going to do that. Publish it on your blogs, websites, Twitter, Facebook, etc. Even if you don’t like Tiger Woods, think about the concept of privacy and decency. Take pictures of YOUR family walking to the car, buying ice  cream, spending time in the park.

What do you say? Let’s make this an online thing-publish the names of magazines you’re going to stop buying and STOP BUYING them. Let’s stop this stupid paparazzi crap. Let’s live our own lives and enjoy the movies at the movies. Let’s stop telling ourselves that it’s OK for us to view photos of celebrities private lives. Let’s drop this ownership idea. Let’s act like human beings with compassion and respect. Let’s grow up.

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weather!

The ice and snow have us locked inside again. Before any of you out there with 4-wheel drives start snickering I want to mention tha I passed two of them stuck in ditches on my way home Friday night. Apparently some people who have 4-wheel drive think that means they can drive as if there is nothing on the road…and ice has no respect for 4-wheel drive. I drove very, very slowly and when the back wheels started to slide  I turned the wheel into the skid, gently, gently, and when the back wheels started sliding the other way I turned the wheel that way. I did this several times on my drive home, willing myself to stay calm, swearing that if I made it home I was staying there. I live up several wendy windy roads that are surrounded by creeks and streams and it’s uphill on the way home, downhill when I’m on the way out. Either way, it’s tricky. And nerve-racking. When I finally got home, I used my hiking stick to plod up my ski-slope driveway, muttering that I wasn’t venturing out again until Spring.

Of course, I have to go to work. My employers are pretty understanding but I can’t get the next month off. So, tomorrow-if the ice has melted enough by, say, mid-day, I’ll go up the mountain to work  and take my toothbrush and a change of clothes. My landlord has graciously offered to feed my cats if I can’t make it home. I don’t like the idea at all but it is what it is and we have to do what we have to do.

Working from home sounds awfully good on days like this. I’m making art and putting it up for sale but that takes time. There isn’t enough to live on yet. I’m looking into free-lance writing but I imagine that’s the same. It takes time to get established and in the meantime the rent’s due, the bills collect in the mailbox and life has to go on. If any of you have suggestions about work at home careers (please don’t send any of those “Yes! You can make $10,000,000 a month working from home!!!” scams…please) I’m open to suggestions.

In the meantime, those of you who are struggling with the unusually rough winter weather I feel your pain!

Remember, it’s already the middle of February (what the hell happened? Didn’t we just celebrate New Year’s?) so Spring isn’t far off. And we should all remember this when we hear someone whining about the heat in a few months!

Valentine’s Day

OK, I got the over 50 thing off my chest and I promise not to gripe anymore. It is what it is and I’m dealing with it. I want to get on to better things. My art. My writing. Hopefully feedback from friends!

It’s Valentine’s Day! Unfortunately, it seems to be another blatenly commercial excuse for spending money. It also strikes me as a sad statement on contemporary relationships.

I remember women in an office where I worked obviously chalking up whose husband was the best depending on how long it took the flowers to show up on Valentine’s Day-and how elaborate the arrangement was. They even compared notes on how much “reminding” they’d had to do in the days prior to Valentine’s Day. It was also made clear to anyone listening (and by the end of the day I sure wished I wasn’t) that the expense and size  of the flower arrangement would be mirrored in the length and quality of the sex that night. Oh, please, I prayed, let me go deaf for just this one day!!!

They asked me (it was my first Valentine’s day there) where my flowers were when lunchtime came and went with no arrival of red roses. I shrugged and said (the truth) “we do that kind of stuff at home.”

“Oh, so in other words you don’t get flowers?” the woman asking smirked and rolled her eyes knowingly at the others sitting nearby.

She  complained, on a regular basis, about her husband. About everything- his lack of willingness to help with their two small children, how he had to be reminded to mow the lawn, wash the car, how she found sales receipts hidden in the garage because he didn’t want her to know how much he paid for the new drill. I looked at this woman and thought “Poor thing.”

“I don’t know,” I replied, turning back to work, “we always have fun on Valentine’s but it’s just something between us.” I didn’t know what else to say. She shook her head and told me I hadn’t  “trained” him yet.

I’m not saying that every woman handles Valentine’s Day this way. And no, my marriage didn’t work out, but it wan’t because of Valentine’s Day. I still believe that Valentine’s Day is a sweet thought that has grown grotesque and swollen. I still believe that Valentine’s Day should be a private, romantic moment bewteen 2 people-not a Roses and Candy derby held at the office.

Maybe eventually I’ll be in a  relationship again and Valentine’s Day will be what it used to be for me-an opportunity to  say “You mean everything to me. Here’s something for you to hold  in your hand or your heart to remind you of that when I’m not with you-or when we’ve had a fight-or whenyou just want to feel special.” That’s what Valentine’s Day means to me . I hope I will be able to share that with someone again.

Over 50 and female

I’m over 50 and I’m female…and I’ve discovered I pretty much don’t exist in this culture. I have no husband, no children, no boyfriend, no lesbian partner, no financially successful career. So…people don’t have a box for me. It’s easier, I guess, to ignore me. I didn’t really get it unitil I lost the 3rd job in as many years. The industry I’d been involved in, and happy with, began to crumble (where I lived) around the same time I approached 50. I never had trouble finding a job. Ever. I had lots of experience, I loved working and suddenly I couldn’t get a job. I could not get a job. I started using my credit card for cash advances to pay bills. My roommate moved out (no notice) the plumbing in my house broke, my car broke, my home’s air conditioning broke. I still couldn’t get a job. The industry was flooded with just out of college applicants who would work for $20,000 a year. They didn’t have my experience, but who cares when they’ll work for nothing?! I couldn’t get a job. A woman at the employment security commission confided that women my age always had trouble finding jobs. Women my age??? What the heck did that mean?? I started asking around, and I found that there were other women, over 50, who had become invisible. We had a few things in common…no husband (most of us are divorced) no children or they were grown and out of town. Many of us, like me, had always worked, but our relationships had been our primary focus, so our career had never moved into that stellar big dollar arena seen on TV. I had paid for my own school (while I worked as a waitress) and I had to get a job quickly. I was poor, came from poor, married poor. But I loved him. I was happy working, making a home, living on a budget, etc. I was an artist and writer on my own time, but those creative outlets were satisfied after responsibilties to home and husband were taken care of each day. When I lost my first husband (I don’t even have to tell you why) I became involved with someone else right away. I never considered anything else. It wasn’t in my scope of experience. I was young, I met someone I responded to, we took off. After a few years, that ended. I moved out on my own and liked the solitary life. I was beginning to work my career and, of course, met someone. It took a couple of years, but eventually he was the focus of my life. I’m not blaming these men for my problems now. I’m blaming myself, my culture, and my own inexperience with the attitude of age. I never knew women who DIDN’T work, so it never occurred to me that after 50 I would become a non-person. I knew women who worked-not women with master’s degrees who had staff. I wish I HAD gotten a master’s degree. It was my dream for many years to go back to school and get a master’s in Art history. Or Art Therapy. Or something. I approached it a couple of times with my husband, but there was never enough money. Because he was my husband and my training said “he’s your husband, his word is law.” I kept telling  said myself “someday”. Someday is now and there is no husband and for a long, long time, no job. I lost everything. I had a mountain of bills that kept growing because of past due fees, overlimit fees and higher interest. I wasn’t using the credit cards. In fact, after I bought my house I lost my first job. I found another one as a waitress but the money was terrible. It was new restaurant (the only reason I got it) and people hadn’t found it yet. I made nothing some days. I kept looking for work. I got three cash advances and when I finally found a job (8 months later) I cut up the credit cards. The debt is past due fees, overlimit fees and higher interest. I finally walked away from all of it. I gave up the house (went into foreclosure) I tried to work with the credit card companies., but what I got was “we’ll let you pay us a certain amount for 6 months and then we go back to tacking on over limit fees, higher interest, past due fees, etc.” If I couldn’t pay their set amount, I couldn’t get into the “program”. So, I said, you know what? I’ve been sending you as much as I possibly can, it’s not enough, you’ve continued to ruin my credit even though I’ve explained that I don’t HAVE the money, so…I’m not sending any. Period. They didn’t much like that, but I didn’t, adn still don’t, care. I went back to school for 8 weeks to learn another way to earn a living, ( I’m in home healthcare now.) I found a job at a convenience store, working nights, so I could go to schoool during the day. I referred to it as a career change, as if it ws my idea. I like the new industry, and I like being on my own. I won’t be with another man, of course, because now I’m over 50 and women over 50 are invisible. Except to creditors. And they can send me letters forever, I don’t care. I’ve decided to walk away from all of it. I’ve done the responsible thing all my life, worked, made a home cooked meal every night, done the laundry and cleaned my house and paid all my bills on time. Then when the floor fell out of my world, none of that mattered. It didn’t matter that I had PERFECT credit for 20 years. It didn’t matter that I had been a good wife, girlfriend. None of that mattered, so now, I do as I please. Period. Mostly that means I spend a lot of time alone, but I spend it creating-writing, drawing, sculpting, and I love it. If I meet anyone, they must accept that the skin on my neck sags, and that I would rather hike than go shopping. I won’t wait on anyone, if they want me to love them they have to love me back. I don’t see that happening, so luckily I don’t have to deal with it!!

 If there are any other over 50 women out there who have had society’s doors slammed in their face, let me know. maybe we can network and help each other find work, exchange ideas, etc. I don’t want to just grouse about hard times. But it DOES help to tell your story and know there are others out in the shadows of our culture trying to find their way.