Sunday, September 26, 2010

Dreams of Youth

I had the opportunity to hear Amy Tan at TCU’s 2010 Fogelson Honors Forum this past week thanks to two dear writer friends. I was actually just as excited to see them as I was to see Amy Tan but don’t tell them that. Ms. Tan, a best-selling author, was an entertaining speaker and I tried to hang on her every word. But I couldn’t. I was too distracted by the heady atmosphere of the college’s Ed Landreth Auditorium and the youth of the honor students who handed out brochures and collected question cards. Did they realize how lucky they’d been to go to a college of TCU’s caliber? Did they realize what amazing opportunities they have in their futures – opportunities that I could only have dreamed of when I was their age?

But I never had those dreams of an amazing future or opportunities. For some of the early Baby Boomers like myself, our parents still considered college a waste for young women. My mother wasn’t one of those women who thought that the little woman belonged in the home or that only men could become successful in business. But she did think that the only reason for a girl to go to college was to find a husband and she had learned that husbands could disappoint. Her own secretarial and business skills provided for us when my father couldn’t. She wanted the same for me which meant business school instead of college. But it also meant no dreams for me of what I could be.

She also believed that it wasn’t a college education that got you somewhere; it was hard work and good work ethics. Her secretarial skills got her a good paying job; her intelligence and work ethics earned her the opportunity to join forces with an attorney to start their own company and corporation. She’d never had the mentality that she couldn’t do something because she didn’t have a college degree and she never felt less for it. While I learned from her that I too could do anything, be something, I never learned not to feel less for not having a four-year degree.

My mother proved herself right. When I ended up divorced and a single parent, I didn’t moan and wail about how I could provide for my family. I knew I could and I did. I take joy and pride in that as I should. Still, there are times, like last Tuesday night, when I realize what I regret the most – the dreams of youth.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Betty Oops Beauty Tips

Like most women of any era, I’ve never been too pleased with my looks. Nor did I want to spend a lot of time on them having been raised by parents who attempted to convince me that it is what’s inside that counts, not on the outside. Brains over beauty always won big in my house and I often felt that I hadn’t won much in either category. If you think I am being modest, let me share with you some helpful beauty tips that I’ve learned over the ages – the hard way.

 Never use Nair or any other hair removal product to shape your eyebrows unless you want your eyelids to end up looking like giant strawberries. (Hey, I was only 17 at the time!)

 Never dye your hair black with your Siamese cat napping on the bathroom rug under you. (It is highly embarrassing for a cat to be called Spot even for a few months.)

 Don’t lather on a new miracle face cream guaranteed to clear up all blemishes without testing it first. Hives tend to be larger and redder than zits.

 Don’t try putting on individual false eyelashes before that big first date without making sure you’re not allergic to the glue. You may have end up canceling that date if your eyelids have swelled shut. Also, those tiny hairy buggers are harder than heck to pull off when you can’t see.

It shouldn’t be any surprise that I hesitate to try Botox to erase my frown lines and fillers to plump up my lips and decrease my clown lines. Besides my fear of needles and having an allergic reaction, I can’t get rid of the image of an elderly woman I saw in the grocery store one day. Back bent and leaning on her cart for support, this sweet old lady was the happiest looking 80+ woman I’ve ever seen thanks to her wide surgically closed-mouth smile and her Botox- raised eyebrows that touched the edge of her coiffured black wig. All I could think of is that I never wanted to look that happy. When someone crowds in front of me in line or rams into my grocery cart while talking on their cell phone, I want them to know that I’m hacked off!

Still, I haven’t resigned myself to growing old gracefully or lost my desire to look good. Last weekend I spent an unmentionable amount of money on “Anti-aging Products That Really Work!” per Good Housekeeping’s October issue. It’s too soon to tell if they will do any good, especially since what I really need is aging-reversing products, but the good news is that I haven’t had any allergic reactions.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Blank Sheet

Yesterday, while I was trying to write this week’s post to my blog, I went totally blank. I had nothing to say and, for those who know me well, that’s quite unusual. It scared me. Both as a writer and as a leader-of-the-pack baby boomer. Then when I woke this morning, my mind racing on what to write for today’s entry, I panicked again. OMG! I have no life! The fact that the past week was mostly a sheet of blinding rain and that a close friend was going through an especially hard time last week with both her divorce and her health didn’t play into the picture. Nor did I consider that having a rather boring, non-eventful week isn’t necessarily bad.

Desperate for inspiration and tending to do things backwards, I goggled the term “blog” early this morning. Just as I feared—I am writing a “personal” blog which means I can’t hide behind my fictional characters as I love to do. It also indicates that, by nature of doing a blog, I must be a rather self-absorbed individual, a huge no-no taught to us by our parents who grew up in the real depression era.

But that was never my intent. I wanted this blog to explore the unique concerns and situations that we original baby boomers might find ourselves in—by writing sometimes with introspection, inspiration, ranting, and all done with a dash of humor whenever possible. I also realized from reading other blogs that I admire that it doesn’t have to be “all me”. So for today, I’m calling in the professionals just for us gals (sorry guys, maybe next time). There is an excellent essay by Terri Kirby Erickson on Boomer CafĂ© titled Aging Gratefully. The web address is: It’s what I needed to hear today. Maybe you need to hear it too. If not, enjoy anyway.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Senior Perks

This week I want to rant a bit. Not that I don’t often do that, but I usually try to keep my rants where only my house plants and dust bunnies can hear. However, the subject of my rant this week is one that I think is shared by a lot of us baby boomers—the “Senior Perks”.

I admit that four years ago when I walked into a McDonald's to order coffee for the drive back home after visiting my soul-sister-in-law in Temple, I wasn’t overly pleased when told that “coffee’s free for seniors”. OMG, the little gal behind the counter hadn’t even asked for my ID so how did she… Needless to say, I immediately pulled down the vanity mirror when I got back into the car. (Note to car manufacturers: rename mirror to “vanity crusher”.)

When I go to the movies with my girlfriends, I have no problem requesting my senior discount. The only drawback is that we have reached the age where we prefer the early matinee to avoid the crowds. When I ask for the senior special, I'm told no because early matinees are already discounted. Call me greedy but if I’ve reached that magical age, I want my senior discount regardless.

Speaking of magical age, I used to not know what it really was. Sometimes it is 55; sometimes it’s 60 or 65. Fortunately for me, it doesn’t matter anymore. I will soon meet any and all criteria which finally leads into the main reason for my ranting today.

In last week’s Sunday paper, I saw a notice from the local community college for a Senior Education Program for Seniors 55+. Excited to expand my comfort zone and add some fun into my life, I went online to register for a class. I wasn’t even particular about which class I took. Jewelry Making, Yoga, Watercolors, Creative Writing, Stained Glass, Belly Dancing, etc. all sounded good to me. The only class listed that I wouldn’t be interested in was Square Dancing. Guess what? The only class offered in the evening is Square Dancing.

I still work full time. I can’t image that most of the baby boomers my age and those to follow aren’t still working. Not in these economically challenged times and stock market. So you can understand my frustration to learn that these classes are only offered in the daytime. Am I unrealistic to assume that most unemployed 55+ would want day classes that offered them a second career instead of “classes for fun” and that the 55+ who have been able to retire have the means to find their fun elsewhere?

This isn’t the only time I’ve run into this problem. The City Recreation Centers offer special exercise classes for seniors but only in the daytime. Senior Centers are closed after 5:00 p.m. and on weekends.

Since I was taught not to make a complaint without a request, here goes: Let’s redefine the word “senior citizen” to include the working seniors who refuse to be old. We want to enjoy the perks too!