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Aging: Becoming My Mother’s Daughter

Next month is my birthday. I have about 6 weeks of being 36 left.

I’m told I look younger. This is good news, I like it.

Truth be told, I really don’t care about looking “36”. Not yet. I probably will. Likely when it starts to show. When I’m 42. Heh, heh.

But you know what?

A shot taken of me by my friend Rick Rake at an event on July 28th, 2010.

I’ve worked for that age. The sun damage my skin shows now is in stark contrast to the pasty-white well-hidden tubby non-outdoors girl I was for the majority of my life. When I was a kid, I was the fat kid who whined and lied about pretend injuries to get out of sports. Every hike I was supposed to do, I got out of.

I was so not a joiner. I was pudgy, pudgy, wheezy girl.

Not so much these days. I’m not where I need to be, but I’m better than I’ve been since I was 18, and there aren’t a lot of 36-year-olds who can attest to being healthier than they’ve ever been — than they’ve literally EVER been.

Despite that health, I’m caught with fatigue a lot of the time. I just deal with it. My friend who’s 42 tells me she was always tired for a few years in her 30s. I’m assuming that’s where I’m at. I eat fairly well, exercise 6 or more hours a week. What more can you ask, right?

Honestly? My newly-appearing wrinkles give me pause. I’m not sure I’m wild about them just yet. I do, however, like the “character” they give my grin these days and the way they highlight the twinkle in my eyes.

I think I wear the few wrinkles I have well. I know my mother wore her age fantastically, like a perfect-fitting pair of jeans.

People were devastated when my mother died. She was a sexy-as-hell redhead at 57 when cancer took her 11 years ago this week. She looked fantastic. Dead? How ironic.

I’m thinking a lot about her this week. Maybe it’s part of my reclusiveness of late. 11 years. Wow. Mind-boggling. Can’t help but reflect on anniversaries, and I’m not thinking so much about the loss of her this year as I am about the woman I’m becoming on my own life journey, and if it parallels my mother’s. Wish I could ask.

I think a woman’s 36th year is pretty pivotal in who she is. She’s now out of the “targeted demographic” most coveted by marketers, she’s starting to pay attention to wrinkle creams and thinking biological-clock type thoughts if she’s not already a mother. It’s the beginning of the transition from “breeder” to “matriarch”, a different kind of role that women seem to play when they hit early middle ages.

One day we’re the chick next door that the guy wants to hang out with and tries to sleep with, the next we’ve become Mrs. Robinson and anyone we chase under our age begets us a label of “cougar”. It’s a quicker transition than you might think.

I’m not sure if I’ve hit that stage yet, since friends still think I look 28, so I might be able to get away with more.

That youthful appearance may not linger a lot longer, as the greys and wrinkles begin to mount.

I both like and loathe the greys I have now, even if few in number. They multiply.

Today, I’m thinking about getting a punk-rock haircut again and embracing the salt-n-pepper look that’s coming on. There’s something tasty about edgy prematurely-greying people. Very, very tasty. I can pull that off. Not like I’ll be all grey tomorrow anyhow.

Age, I guess, really is a state of mind. I know some folks at 36 who look like they’re in their 40s. How you live really starts to show through in a hurry, and it’s your choice. This is the age that your lifestyle becomes visibly apparent to everyone.

Because of that, getting older doesn’t scare me. It’s probably to do with decent genetics (that come with a ticking time bomb but sure look pretty) and probably because I feel like I’ve been through enough in life already that whatever’s coming down the pipes is something I know I’ll just handle. Scared? Who’s scared?

No, I ultimately like my age. I’d rather be turning 37 than 22 again. You couldn’t give me enough money in the world to relive my 20s. My 30s ain’t been no walk in the park, either, but from 35 on? Yeah. I like it. Liking it more all the time, the further I get from my past and the more progress I make on this vision of who I always cheated myself out of being.

Some of us SURVIVED our 20s. Some of us kind of defied an awful lot of odds to get past where we were. Some of us really fucking love coming into our older, more comfortable selves.

I wish the media could understand that. I wish marketers got it. My age is almost like a battle-wound scar. Like that scene in the movie Jaws, where Quint, Brody, and Hooper are shooting the shit about old scars:

Brody[pointing at Quint’s tattoo scar] What’s that one?
Quint: Oh, that’s a tattoo. I got that removed.
Hooper: Let me guess. “Mother!” [laughs]
Quint: Hooper, that’s the U.S.S. Indianapolis.
[Hooper’s face drops]
Hooper: You were on the Indianapolis?
Brody: What happened?
Quint: Japanese submarine slammed two torpedoes into our side, Chief. We was comin’ back from the island of Tinian to Leyte. We’d just delivered the bomb. The Hiroshima bomb. Eleven hundred men went into the water. Vessel went down in 12 minutes. Didn’t see the first shark for about a half-hour. Tiger. 13-footer. You know how you know that in the water, Chief? You can tell by lookin’ from the dorsal to the tail.

As far as some of us are concerned, we probably shouldn’t even be alive. Enough’s gone on that, y’know, our survival’s really by the grace of God or whoever else was in the kitchen. Signs of age, to some of us, are like proof of getting to The Other Side.

At this point, I don’t see myself changing my hair to hide the greys. I’ll never be slowly salt-and-peppering again in my life, I want to enjoy the awkward and cute transition.

I also don’t see myself trying to hide wrinkles with Botox, ‘cos I never thought my face would be thin enough to have wrinkles — I thought it’d be unhealthily fat and smooth for decades yet. Wrinkles? SERIOUSLY? Okay, bring ’em.

There’s something satisfying about slowly becoming my mother’s daughter. I’m one size away from being the same size as her before her death, even if I’m 40-50 pounds heavier. Muscle tone!

Every now and then, I look in the mirror, and a woman who sort of reflects the mother I had as a wee little lass is the woman staring back at me. I still can’t believe that’s who I’m becoming. When I was 5 going on 6, Mom was the age I am now.

I never saw myself being here, now, looking more and more like her as she was then, every day.

But I’m starting to really, really like it.

RANT: Elite? Who’s “Elite”?

Yesterday, someone in the Vancouver social media scene* sort of thought it ironic that I should slag “tweetups” as being elitist and circle-jerky, since I was avoiding the whole worldwide “Social Media Appreciation Day” thing that Mashable sponsored and launched right here in Vancouver.

Apparently the thought is that I am now “elite” in Vancouver.

Yeah, whatever.

I was taken aback a little, to be honest. About being called elite, not that Mashable should say we are the seat of the world’s social media scene right now.

So, about that. Let’s talk about social media in Vancouver and maybe how I do or don’t fit into it, okay?

These days, compared to a lot of people, I don’t have a “huge” Twitter following — it’s about 3,500, but in there are a lot of really notable people in media. I suppose that’s why Klout thinks I’m up there in my influence now. Weird shit.**

Now, you gotta know: I logged onto Twitter back in April of 2008, looked around, and said “This is fuckin’ lame. No way this will ever catch on.”

I didn’t log in again until August, when it sorta started making some sense to me.

Then I found myself liking the challenge of coming up with interesting things that people might get a kick out of, or respond to — I loved the resonance I had when I was creative and/or funny.

For me, Twitter has always been about the thrill of creation. I challenge myself to see the world uniquely, and try to relate it to others in a way that makes them indentify and think, “YEAH, TOTALLY.” I like to make observations most people have only the inclination to think, but seldom to speak.

I try and be to Twitter in lifestyle observations what someone like George Carlin might’ve been — that’s my goal. I’m falling short, sure, but that’s the goal. I’m not fucking there to be all buddy-and-chatty, but I do let myself get social on there, and love the friends it’s brought into my “real” life.

Frankly, being on Twitter has changed and improved my life in EVERY way. I don’t deny that, and it’s why it’s such a valued role / time-focus for me. I do LOVE the opportunities it generates.

When it comes to blogging in Vancouver, I can count on one hand the number of official “blogging” events I’ve attended — and one was as a speaker. I’ve been to less than 10 tweetups in two years. I’m hardly “on the scene” except via what you see online, and that’s how I’d prefer it.

To be truthful, I have social phases, they come and go — usually with the seasons, literally. Winter, I hibernate, but summer, I love to see people more.

As far as celebrities and/or “connected” people on Twitter or in blogging, know whose ass I kiss? No one’s. People I talk to, I talk to because I’ve got something to say or I genuinely like them, or, as is often the case, they’ve said something that springboards into the perfect joke for me to crack.

I think blogging/Twitter celebrities are a fucking laugh, because I’ve “been one” in the past, and I know what my life was like behind the scenes and how hard I had to work to keep that wagon-wheel turning — and how much I personally began to compromise to see that happen.

I know how disposable we “social media stars” all are. Think you’re a creative genius? Yeah, you’re just one of millions — and it can go as quickly as it comes, as I’ve learned myself. Get over yourself, ‘cos pedestals and empires both come tumbling down, my friend.

Online celebrity that your livelihood depends upon not as enviable a position as you might think, so I don’t care to be a professional blogger. If I did, you’d see oodles of ads on here or affiliate sites.

But, you don’t.

Maybe you will one day — I’m not above it; it’s just that I’m not interested in what it takes to keep going successfully. I have NO illusions about how hard it is to keep that success going, and I don’t want to be beholden to my content right now. Advertising can influence content if it becomes too financially integral to you, and I’m on this blogging journey for myself and to create dialogue about things, not to have a livelihood. Priorities, and I know what mine are right now.

As a result, I don’t need to go to tweetups to whore myself for clients, network, or make buddies, since I’m already stretched for making time for people I care about, so I kinda hate tweetups, for the most part.

Why? They’re awkward. A lot of tweetups can be phony, filled with self-puffery and promotion. Every time you shake a hand, you get a resume. It’s often loud and blarey. No “real” communication happens at them. They’re cliquey — I’m forced to pick people to hang out with, and I don’t WANT to pick a table and stick with it; I’d rather meet a wide assortment of people. I’m a mingler, not a “sit and be exclusive” type, and I hate feeling like I have to stick with who I came with. I prefer smaller events with 10 or fewer people, where I can actually make eye-contact with everyone and talk to each person at the table.

In short?

I didn’t fucking ASK to be liked by you, or anyone.

All I sought to do was be real, be myself, have a place to put my voice, and honour my responsibility to deliver the content I know I’m capable of creating.

THAT’s what I do.

THAT’s what I want acclaim for and feel I deserve it for, because I do take risks and put myself out there, and I’ve been judged, and I’ve lost jobs, and I’ve been ostracized, all while I’ve fought to have relevance for my voice and the beliefs I think deserve to get air time with everyone else’s.

I’m a WRITER. I’m a writer who uses the now-accessible modern tools well. That’s ALL.

I’ve paid the real-life price to get noticed and be outspoken, and I did it on my terms the whole goddamned time.

Yes, I think that’s worth saying.

Yes, I’m proud of never compromising who I am.

You think that makes me full of myself? Then I’m sorry you don’t know what it’s like to have pride in what you’ve created. Pride is good, so long as you realize you’re not the only one with skillz.

I deliberately avoid hanging out with those perceived to be “the elite” because I don’t want ANYONE to think that’s all that I’m about.

I’ve worked too hard for this NOT to be about MY CONTENT and ONLY my content.

Am I going to diss the elite? No fucking way. Why not? Because some of them are incredible people doing incredible things, and they deserve every bit of their acclaim, whether you think so or not. A lot of people slam the “elite” out of jealousy or some sense of entitlement that leaves them feeling like they’ve been robbed via others’ success.

It’s bullshit. You get what you work for in life, and if you’re not getting what you want, you’re doing it wrong.

Trust me, this I know. I’ve spent a lot of time fucking it up over the years. I have a doctorate in fucking up, honey.

These days, I’m just riding the wave life brings me, and if being myself and not censoring my thoughts on Twitter somehow has given me cachet with a wide range of people, then that’s great, but it’s not EVER been the motivation behind anything I’ve tweeted or blogged.

I was the unpopular kid in high school so I get how bullshit popularity is, and how, for every person who’s accepted and celebrated, there are a dozen who are isolated and hurt — and that, too, is bullshit.

I am NOT a part of that circle. I am NOT a part of that hurt.

If I fucking cared about the circle-jerk, or thought my social status mattered, I’d probably try to offend fewer people.

I don’t even know what elitism is anymore, because I know I’m sure as hell not guilty of it, yet I get the feeling I’m accused of it.

I’m an anti-social person who comes to hang out some of the time, but would rather have someone over for coffee, not tweet about their visit, and just keep it real. I’m not snubbing anyone, it’s just not my deal.

Walk a decade in my shoes and maybe you’ll see why I like my quiet, anti-social life.

Know who I had over for breakfast this morning? Nope, you don’t. They’re “elite”, according to some people’s skewed perspectives on things, but I don’t give a fuck if you know. Why? Because I don’t need your approval, I don’t need the reputation-crutch of name-dropping, and I just generally don’t care.

The only time I do care is when people think I’m mean or a jerk, because I’m not, and it’s plain wrong to think so.

Find a time I’ve used cruelty against a person or group for humour. Give me an example. You can’t. Tell me about the time that I publicly ostracized someone who did something inconsequential, making an mockery of them in an attempt to belittle them. Right, you can’t. Tell me about the time that I snubbed people who approached me at an event. Yeah, you can’t do that either.

Because that’s not who I am.

I’m a scattered ADHD chick with strong but fair opinions and a biting sense of humour who’s just doing her shit, and people seem to like it.

Where you think it places me on the social spectrum is all about your deal, it’s not my reality.

It’s like that line in the Breakfast Club opening voiceover — “You see us how you want to see us.”

But I’m the chick that wakes up knowing I live with a bug problem and have to struggle to pay the rent.

I’m not on the A-list, I’m not hobnobbing, I’m not well-to-do, and I’m not who you fucking think I am.

Just because I give you this strategic view on my world doesn’t mean you really know jack shit about my life, so don’t kid yourself. You know EXACTLY what I want you to know, and not a fucking bit more — because I’m anti-social and things about my life don’t just “slip” into the public knowledge. It’s very much under my thumb. All of it.

You think I’m the ultimate oversharer? Heh. Right. I’m pulling the puppet-strings — I’m a content creator, I’m not a diarrhetic flood with no censure. Trust me, there’s a master plan, but it doesn’t involve hobnobbing with “the scene”.

It’s time to get over what we think other people are, and just take them exactly for what they say and do.

Because, you know, if you actually judge me on my words and actions, I’ll be goddamned proud to stand behind them.

And that’s who I am.

*This person meant it in a casual observation way and I didn’t take offense but it was the first time someone really put into words what I’ve sort of had people suggesting for a while now, and now that it’s out and said, I thought I’d write about it. As I started writing, I got worked up. Thus the cookie crumbles.

**Maybe being interested in Klout seems hypocritical after this rant, but why would I create content if I didn’t want it read or absorbed? I’m absolutely interested in knowing my resonance, I want to be read, I just don’t care about getting on “the list” socially.

White Power: Teeth Strips and Other Beauty Addictions

I want to be a sex goddess.

I know: I’ll buy teeth-whitening strips. That’ll do it.

Skill? Who needs skill? Communication strategies? Pshaw! No, I just need white teeth.

This is what the media would have you believe, isn’t it? Hey, she must be an all-American girl. See how white her teeth are? Geez. She really is the driven snow, but hey, I’d let her drive me.

Ahh, the media and beauty. If ever there was a more bastardly combination. Sigh. Where to begin? Where, oh, where, oh, where, oh, where?

Well, let’s go back from whence we came. Teeth-whitening. Well, I’m a cute gal. I’ve got a gap-toothed smile, though, you know. Just one gap, and not in the centre. I like it, actually. Character. I also have this one eyebrow with a crook in it, which leaves me easily delivering “devious” gazes in times of seduction. Those, and a small scar on my nose from when I had a tete-a-tete with a paintcan in grade two, are my flaws. But despite those, I have pluses. I’ve got warm green eyes that emote brilliantly, decent cheek bones, and even with their itty-bitty flaws, my teeth are pretty darned white, ergo I have a nice smile, and I’ve got nice, plush, full lips to frame ‘em. I’m all right, gap and all, ‘cos I’m just who I’m supposed to be, right?

Still, I did it. Those fuckers sucked me in. I bought them. I did. I justified it, though. ”I’m buying generic. I’m not a sheep. And hey, it’s on sale!” And I forked out $25 of my last dollars to pick up the fabulous, oh-so-now box of GLAM, BABY. Yeah, I bought the strips. What’s more, I bought the possibility of a less-flawed me. That’s what they’re really selling, after all.

Have you done this shit? Seriously. All right, we all know that getting sexy is an ugly, ugly business. Hair removal? Not attractive. Some ugly things go down when we’re alone and trying to get all sexed up. The things we inspect, the preening we strain to do. Oh, dear. It’s a wonder we come out of that with any self-esteem at all (even more mysterious considering those who willingly use the 10x magnification uberflaw-exposing mirrors — shudder).

But these strips? Dear, god. Insert them, and become a drooling mass of incoherence, a moisture monkey. Sex factor? Nil, man. I did one individual set of strips a couple weeks back and haven’t been back to do another set since.

I swear, you drool like Lenny when George has let him pet the rabbits too much. “But, George, I like to pet the rabbits. They’s so soft, George.”

Slurp, drool. It’s repulsive, really. Do not do this around your lover. It’d be so inconvenient to have them conjure a drooling-mass in-coital image of you arise to shatter — mercilessly — any hope of orgasm for that foreseeable moment.

And this ain’t no “God, I’m being pleasured ORALLY!” slurp of sexual satiation we’re talking about here. This is along the lines of “Granny’s having soup again, put her teeth on the counter”. So, unless you’ve a geriatric fetish…

But you know why they keep sucking us in? Insecurities. Beautiful means loved means admired means successful means laid, laid, laid. Oh, yeah, I’m in for the Kool-aid. Gimme some of that.

It’s our insecurities. I mean, hell, if you could find the ego as a bodypart, you could go and put an X for “hit me here” right on top of it. Our psyche’s one big soft spot. We’re all vulnerable in one way or another. We’re all judging ourselves a little on the harsh side, some people excessively so.

All our lives, we’re told to be better. Doesn’t matter who you are, where you are, you’ve been told one of two things: Be better, or conversely, forget better — you’ll never be any better, you’re trash. It’s all the same, still boils down got to look better, act better, live better, do better, speak better, better, better.

The cosmetics industry is playing that up like you wouldn’t believe. And now they’ve gone and gotten the boys all worked into a frenzy now, too. The last bastion of oblivion has been shattered, giving way to the rise of the metrosexual. Such pretty boys. I hate to admit it, I do like ‘em. They got that ready-to-eat look that conveys “yummy” and “sink teeth in” to me. Come on, you know what I’m talkin’ about. Some people are edibles. Some have “food group” and “recommended part of a balanced diet” all over ’em.

But there’s a lot to be said for rugged men, too, though. They clean up, and well. I like doing the cleaning, too. Rinse-and-repeat. Mostly repeat.

But you see? This is what they’re doing. Men are getting as compartmentalized and as stereotyped as women have always been. It started a couple decades ago, probably even as early as the ‘70s, but it’s blown out of the water in the last five or so years. Now guys are getting just as silly as the girls have been, via spending insane amounts on cosmetics and other beauty fixes. (Surgery, anyone?)

I’ve always been that type. My insecurities seemed tethered to my expenditures. “But it’s expensive, I’ll be beeyootiful the instant it touches skin!”

I’ve spent so damned much on the myth. I’ve always had a little bit of problem skin. I’m of Irish descent, so my complexion’s really fair, right? So, I’d often get blackheads on my nose. Every product I bought would do jack all about the problem, and I was spending $40 a bottle for this crap.

These days, I use a variety of skin cleansers, but when I want to exfoliate, I throw some sugar into it and lather up. My skin’s the best it’s ever been, my rosacea is completely gone for a more porcelain (ergo more corruptable, ergo good) look, and I’ve been looking five years younger since I started cheaping out. And my face is softer now, too. Truly. (Which is no mean feat since I ride a scooter and get exposed to the elements year-round.)

The irony is, They (the Man, et al) used to tell men that sugar was a great face scrub. I always thought, “Damn men, they’ve got all the luck.” I was gullible. But I put two and two together when the Queer Eye for the Straight Guy guys came along. At the start of the series, they’d tell the guys to scrub with sugar. It didn’t take long for them to be selling the “men’s exclusive facial care products” crap to the guys, though. “But it’s crushed avocado seed. It’ll give you…” rosacea, actually. Geez. That’s not exfoliation, that’s abrasion, dudes.

It took being broke to give me the best complexion I’ve had since my teens. Fuck H20, the Body Shop, and everyone else. Some things are worth spending money on, for sure, but I think the face-washing thing’s getting a tad out of control. My skin’s proof.

And this rant all started from me brushing my teeth before bed and eyeballing, guiltily, the box of whitening strips. My point? It’s a sad fucking thing that our insecurities cost us so much both financially and chronologically. Ah, if only being a sex god was simpler.