she’s become mannish

‘She’s become mannish,’ they used to say. I’ve heard it myself. It was a term given to a woman well into menopause, a woman whose facial features had become ‘coarse,’ more like a man’s. The point was, she was decidedly not feminine. And obviously, the term was derogatory, most often extremely so.

She’s become mannish.

With time, the term mannish has disappeared, and sexist talk has become slightly less overtly offensive. We no longer call women mannish, but we still insinuate that they’re past their ‘prime.’ And critics might comment that certain women have not ‘aged well,’ (it’s like reading a menu at a steak house), or that they should do this or that to make their look softer, more feminine, when what they mean of course is younger.

In short, we want them to make themselves more palatable, to not remind us that the process of aging marches on. The process of aging marches on, though. I recently heard the philosopher of ethics, Heather Widdows, talking about beauty say:

We all sag, wrinkle, and die. 

Celebrities like Frances McDormand, who may have once been called mannish, are now heralded for their ‘bad ass’ looks and attitudes. And even though I’m tired of the saying bad ass, especially when applied to older women, I agree with the sentiment. I completely understand why when someone like McDormand, Sarah Jessica Parker, Allie MacDowell or Jessica Lange are seen with little or Continue Reading

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a rag, a bone, a hank of hair

‘A rag, a bone, a hank of hair.’ That’s the inevitable answer to the question ‘what’s going to become of me?’ A rag, a bone, a hank of hair, that’s what. The clump of flotsam you come upon on the beach. The kind of stuff you can be both drawn to and freaked out by. The kind of thing kids might say “ugh” and “ewww” about.

I explore those things, poking at them with a stick, and then tugging on the line, holding the wad up with two fingers like it was either a delicacy or a wad of hair just fished out of the drain.

A rag, a bone, a hank of hair.

It’s what I’m becoming, happily, almost joyfully. I’m deeply aware of it happening, the shedding of what’s no longer necessary and the increasing focus on what’s good and lasting.

On a superficial level, I still go about my indulgent routine of… Continue Reading

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downsizing; latvian style

So, we’re going from a two room apartment in Manhattan, to a five room apartment in Rīga, and I don’t think this is what I actually had invisioned when I talked about “downsizing.” I’m downsizing Latvian style.

I’m apprehensively ecstatic, tilting from giddy to disbelieving and back to giddy as quickly as the weather here changes. I’m wondering if I can manage, or if, like a friend said, “you’ve got this.” Do I? all I know is, I’m facing down the glory of the unmanageable.

This past year, especially since Covid, many of us have felt the need to act on some long held “ideas” about quality vs. quantity, things vs. experiences, and what it is we want vs. what we really need. And so we read posts about throwing stuff away, cutting ties to people whom it no longer make sense to be tied, and organizing closets… 

When in doubt, clean a closet. 

It always works. While your depression might not be magically erradicated, the mere fact that you can see what you own, seems to make life more manageable. And just having things be manageable, has been a standard for years now. But could unmanageable be better? 

Unmanageable is the place we go when we bite of more than we can chew, when we didn’t do our homework, and when the world just overwhelms us with its infinite capacity to fuck things up. It’s also that “edge” everyone’s always talking about, the pushing the boundaries place where we’re in doubt about our abilities, again.

Then too it’s the place we go to dig deep within ourselves, and when we don’t come up with anything, to ask for help. Not really a bad place to be.

Photo: Sabine

Done, moved, above one of the five rooms. A week ago, nothing here was known to me. Today, I’m sitting at a kitchen table, in an “eat-in” kitchen, looking out on this. It all seems strangely familiar, or am I just a chameleon, able to “blend in,” to become part of the scenery? Yes, and no.

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quarantine, part two

Upon arrival in Latvia, we had to quarantine for 14 days. This is the 11th day of what feels to us like quarantine, part two. Honestly, I’m dying to take my face mask off. I’ve acquired a sort of acne on my chin from five months of wearing a face mask in New York.

I’m getting “smile lines” around my eyes from trying to “smize” all the time. 

I do not whine though, K. and I are lucky, and Latvia has been lucky, and wise. The government did a good job from the start, the infection and death rates from COVID-19, have been very low. We have come to a place where, for the time being at least, a reasonable, hands-on, let’s all do the right thing kind of sanity prevails. 

We moved from our first abode, a large sort of James Bond themed hotel room, with wonderful light fixtures and wallpaper that looked like a wall of dark, milk, and white chocolate streaming down the walls.

It had good, but fake Dupioni silk curtains at the immensely tall windows. Continue Reading

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