Not Irrelevant Yet!!
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Aug
20

Like many other boomers, the thought of someday losing my mind scares me witless. So, like so many others, I’m doing what I can to stave it off. You know, the usual: crossword puzzles, yoga, exercise, listening sporadically to foreign language CDs. Yet I can’t seem to get my mind around the premier cognitive game that many of my peers and others are doing religiously– namely, Sudoku. Try as I might, the point of it– other than brain fitness– eludes me, which may already be a sign of my deteriorating neurons.  Yet I’m kind of in awe of one of my coworkers who multitasks by working  on sudoku puzzles during weekly staff meetings.  Now that takes some real presence of mind! To be continued….

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Aug
19

I first learned how to write in longhand or “cursive” in Mrs. Catts’s third grade and I wasn’t very good at it. Trying to execute a graceful capital “T” or “F” usually threw me for a loop. And three years later, in Mrs. MacRobert’s class, most of my handwriting papers were inevitably returned with a minus for messiness.

But once I was safely removed from formal schooling, I started to develop a fondness for the art if not the craft of putting pen to paper. Part of the reason seemed to have to do with “flow”– both the physical and metaphysical kinds. Writing in longhand allows me the oppotunity for both free-range association and contemplation, which work well on creamy pages of my journal notebooks or for the stream-of-consciousness letters that I have been sending to my sister for the past 30 years.

Still, I recognize that handwriting is SO last-century. As a Gen-Yer of my acquaintance recently exclaimed when she came upon me sitting with pen in hand, “You’re writing in a notebook! How old school!”

That may be true, just as it may be true a PC is also much easier for daily composition and random scribbling. And I do love the delete key!!! But I don’t want to give up my hard-won mastery of capital Ts and Fs at this stage of my life nor the slow, peaceful rhythm that comes with swirling letters on flowery stationery. I think Mrs. MacRobert and possibly even Mrs. Catts would be proud.

Aug
19

One of my 30ish coworkers introduced me to the small screen pleasures of youtube several years ago– so I’d actually heard of it  before  it became a major political infomercial source for the Obama campaign. And once I discovered that I was only several search-and-clicks away from viewing the Beatles singing “She Loves You” on the Ed Sullivan Show or watching the faces of the 60s  faux rock group, the Monkees, I became a believer. Nostalgia would never again be quite the same.

As  I began mining for golden oldies that had been buried for decades under other layers of my cerebral minutiae, I uncovered hits from Motown and even Philly that I’d loved and lost, like “Love is like an itching in my heart” by the Supremes or “Ain’t That Peculiar” from Marvin Gaye.  I even found comfort hearing the bittersweet yearnings that emanated from Buffalo Springfield and Laura Nyro.

I may love youtube simply because rediscovering these vinyl blasts from my past can still make me feel young and carefree again, even if only for a few minutes. Or young and self-righteous for several more. Like, you know, it was really groovy seeing  Jefferson Airplane belting out “Volunteers'” at Woodstock again. It made me almost want to raise my fist in the air.

But instead, happily, I just clicked “replay.”

Jul
23

Yesterday, while perusing the advice column,  Ask Amy, I noticed that the topic of Facebook and boomers came up again. This time, it was in the form of a response by a young reader to a previous question by an older reader about the downsides of friending.  The Gen-Yer made it very clear where she stood on the subject– that a 63-year-old had no business being anywhere near the virtual social network. Or something along the lines of “we know how to use it– you don’t.  So don’t bother.”  I got to say, it made me want to sign up for Facebook almost immediately.  Because, like so many other people of all ages, I just don’t like being told what not to do.

To be continued….

Jul
20

In the latest issue of More Magazine, a publication for “spirited women over 40”, I read an excerpt from a soon-to-be-published book called How Not to Act Old: 185 Ways to Pass for Phat, Sick, Hot, Dope, Awesome, or at Least Not Totally Lame. The author, Pamela Redmond Satran, whom I assume is a “spirited woman well over 40” (judging by the fact that she mentions a 19-year-old son) generously offers middle-agers a short list of 21 do’s and don’ts designed to preserve our illusion of ourselves as “cool”— something our generation never thought we’d have to fight to maintain. But apparently we do, or as Ms. Satran asserts, “the point isn’t to behave like a 26-year-old. It’s to learn how not to act like someone a 26-year-old might snicker at.”

Call me old-fashioned, but when did it become a value or aspiration not to be snickered at by someone several decades younger or by someone we used to diaper?  As the generation whose mantra was once “don’t trust anyone over 30”, if we don’t change the rules about aging, who will?

The way I see it, through the lenses of my extremely fabulous, green-Gucci-framed bifocals, the issue isn’t about NOT acting old, but about NOT acting like a jerk, at any age.

Jul
08

Part of my reluctance to join Facebook has to do with friending. I’m not sure I want to enter that territory of potential lost and found. Do I really want to reconnect with people from, for example, my camp days or people I used to work with several decades ago? Maybe yes, maybe no. But probably for no more than several e-chats. Nor do I want to worry about who isn’t friending me, like my children or their friends or their friends’ friends. Don’t they like me enough? Don’t they think I’m cool? The whole thing seems so junior-high school not to mention time-draining. Yet increasingly, I’m feeling called to move in that direction, like the guy in the Far Side cartoon who stands in front of two doors in hell: “damned if you do” and “damned if you don’t”.

“The boomers have taken over Facebook,” said the mother of one of my 22 year old son’s friends, which briefly strengthened my resolve that I would never join the friending fray. Still, I can feel I’m starting to weaken as more and more of those middle-agers with whom I have actual friendships have capitulated.

“If you join Facebook, I’ll friend you,” a work colleague in his 40s said to me recently.

It’s an offer I almost started to feel like I just about couldn’t refuse, until….I read an article on Facebook addiction in the AARP Magazine, of all places. So, no, I’m not going there– yet.

Jul
03

Ok, I’m lying. This post has nothing to do with sex. Although I do believe there can be something sensually satisfying about the soon-to-be antiquated experience of reading hard copy—books, magazines, and especially newspapers.

“It’s a sensory thing,” I said to my son’s friend, a 22 year old journalism major, when he told me that print media is just this side of irrevocably irrelevant.  He didn’t understand the whole newspaper with a cup of coffee in the morning thing, although he, as well as his peers, did grow up with hard copy in all its various forms.

“Remember story time at the library?” I wanted to ask, although I don’t think print books will be obsolete for awhile. And maybe not even magazines for at least several decades—depending on how long we baby boomers are around to leaf through pages in doctors’ waiting rooms.

I do feel some sorrow, though, when I  contemplate the idea that some of my future descendants may never know the joy of newsprint-stained fingers–or that learning how to fold a newspaper while sitting, for example, on a subway, can be as simple and distinctive an art as origami.

Jul
01

I first heard the term “back in the day” from my son, then in his mid-twenties, as he talked about the nineties. I was a little disconcerted but soon discovered that “back in the day” could refer to any kind of  past moment, whether it happened four decades or two years ago. Now I use the phrase myself, often, to denote the sixties or  any “back in the beginning” point in time. Although now that I’m invoking it,  I’m sure the phrase  will soon become as dated as the violin crescendos in the Moody Blues’s “Tuesday Afternoon.” If it isn’t already.

Jul
01

Not Irrelevant Yet!! is a site for the demographic who are taking up the most space  in this country at this particular moment in history. We are mighty, annoying, and turning gray or to various colorists with increasing frequency. And even as we lose more and more of our hearing, we will continue to claim that *our* music is better than that of any generation before or since.

Jul
01

Back when my naked toenails looked presentable in sandals, I used to think that pedicures were completely politically incorrect. As I would opine to my sister  the hippie, “It just seems wrong to let someone from the Third World sit at my feet and buff my toes!”  I was a good liberal then and full of self-righeous indignation, but that was  before I started hearing the word “exfoliation” and wondered what all the fuss was about. Soon enough, I was hooked on a peeling, combined with some major soaking and a few less than chaste colors of OPI polish. Funny how aging and vanity can seem at cross-purposes with principles. But there you have it. The feet that once marched on Washington are now scrubbed and painted pink/red/mauve every few months. Or as much as my guilty conscience can afford.