To Be Real in an Unreal World

Last night after dinner #4 was inspired to dance to the music on the radio, PRI’s AfroPop. He has always said that he hates to dance, but now it is revealed that actually he loves to dance, and loves a maternal audience, but he just hates to dance publicly. He put my bathrobe sash around his head for a head band and danced, including leaps onto and off of the couch. It was an inspiring performance.

Boyfriend’s daughter, M, was here last night, her mom and step-dad being out of town for several days, and she would not dance. #4 had offered the adults, (boyfriend and me) “You guys sit on the chair and we’ll dance for you.” But M would not dance. Always in the past she would, but not now. She retreated instead into #4’s newest “Beet” manga, too self-conscious and apparently disinterested to dance. #4 wanted to turn off all the lights except the ones on the Christmas tree (yes, it is still up) and dance in his own brand of disco lighting. But because M was reading he could not turn off the lights. He was furious and heart broken. First of all, after five years of being able to count on M for the best play imaginable, she is now unavailable. She won’t play, she won’t dance, she won’t participate, all she wants to do is read HIS “Beet” mangas non-stop. He still anticipates her visits to our house, trained by years of experience to expect non-stop active and imaginative fun. But now, she’s not available.

She sees herself as more of a teen sort of creature. She has become self-conscious. She advertises the fact that she wears a bra to cover her breast buds. She lets us know that she is getting curves. She is relinquishing her personhood to become instead a sex object. Not that her personhood is really going away of course, but I remember that loss, the transition from person to sex object. It caused me no end of problems and still does. But at the time a girl thinks it is glamorous. Finally she gets to BE that princess she always wanted to be as a child, the one from the stories, the one who was desired by the prince. And all it really takes to be that princess is beauty and curves. You don’t really have to be a person. You can hide behind the beauty and curves and the world will love and desire you whether you are a person or not. The world will think it recognizes you. It will think you are that princess from its own stories, and it will desire you, even though it doesn’t know you. Who you are doesn’t matter. It’s just how you appear that opens the doors. And yet M doesn’t know this. The world tells her that it is sexy that matters, so she goes for the sexy. And relinquishes herself.

Meanwhile #4 feels betrayed. His best friend has abandoned him. Now he must dance alone. Usually he doesn’t mind, when she isn’t here anyway, but now he must let go of her, his best friend, even when she is around. A lot of it is just natural development after all. There yawns a new gulf between an eleven year old girl and a ten year old boy. Still, I feel that she is beginning to be tainted by the insidious messages of our society. He is still a little boy living in a real environment of nourishing influences. Not for long, but for now. He is still innocent, and I pray he can remain real in an unreal world.

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At the Peak of Middle Age

It is a new year. Snow is falling again, outside my window. I am at the peak of middle age, and my youngest son, the only one still at home, number four, is ten and a half years old. This is a critical moment in my life, a time when everything as I’ve known it is about to change. I’ve hung on for a long time to what I’ve known, but now I have to let go and prepare for change. I guess this is a true mid-life crisis. Up until now I’ve been young with the feelings and attitudes that young people have. I’m still kind of young, but not for much longer. How do I judge this? Guys are still attracted to me, even ones much younger than me. I guess that’s how I judge it. Instead of, “Whose grandma are you?” many of them still spark when they see me. Isn’t that how we judge these things in our society? But someday in the not so distant future, I think that spark will not be so frequent.

Part of the change is the task of letting go of the reproductive part of my life. (which in our society means letting go of life itself, because after all, what good are you if you are no longer sexually attractive, especially if you are a woman?) I strive to learn that I will be just as valuable, and hopefully more so, when those men no longer spark at seeing me. I must let go of my last child and know that there will be no more babies in this lifetime. These things are only part of the metamorphosis I am beginning. But they are signature landmarks on the path I travel.

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A Propane Tank One Third Full

Well here I sit at the peak of middle age. It is a January morning and there is a frost rimed world beyond my windows. There is thick, patterned ice on the inside of the many windows in my house which are not double paned. It has become a glorious winter, like a winter should be, full of ice and snow. I rejoice in it. I am in the mood for winter this year. I hope the propane holds out until the end of March at least, but at this point I am doubtful.

We wouldn’t even have propane if it weren’t for the propane delivery man’s fortuitous mistake. He came two weeks ago, on one of my at home Thursdays, and put in $250 worth of propane, filling my tank one third of the way up. Boyfriend had called the day before to ask them to put $200 worth of propane on my credit card as the propane company must be paid in advance. They told him that the minimum amount would have to be $250 before they would deliver any propane. He didn’t agree to that because it was my charge card (the one with the 27% interest rate) and he hadn’t cleared that amount with me. So we weren’t to get any propane that delivery day, except that the delivery man apparently made a mistake. He gave us propane. Now I am hoping I can pay it off over time, although even that will be hard. I have been grateful to that delivery man for giving us unexpected warmth. I feel warm, colorful valentines of gratitude puffing through the wintry air from my heart to his. I hope it is warming him in some way too.

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Bowling Ball Head

Too tired to write, but tired in a good way. Had a pleasantly mundane day at work. Walked Bo for an hour in darkness and snow. Snow falling lightly, lying heavily on the waiting arms of giant sleeping conifers. Was almost too tired to walk, what with my chronically short sleeping hours. Came home to Boyfriend’s wonderful, improvised Thai cuisine prepared with the few bits of food left in this broke household. Warm, deep, food- vegetables and cut up salmon burgers imbued with spicy tropical warmth served with rice noodles and peanut sauce. And here I said I was too tired to write! But seriously, my head feels like a bowling ball trying to hold itself up on a toothpick.

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