I went to the optometrist last week and the nurse asked for my birthdate, which I then told her.
“Very good!” she exclaimed in an extremely enthusiastic voice, as if I were a three-year-old just learning when I was born.
Or an old, decrepit person in the process of forgetting when she was born.
In her terrific book This Chair Rocks, Ashton Applewhite quotes studies showing that when older people are treated as if they are less competent, it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. We can internalize that message so that it changes our expectations for ourselves. People who have identified as smart and successful their entire adult lives can begin to question their abilities, looking for evidence that they are failing, and interpreting their own performance differently than they would have done in their forties. So it’s important to push back about those messages during interpersonal interactions.
I know all that, and I am all about the empowerment of women past midlife. Yet in that moment I could not think of one thing to say. It was especially challenging to call this out because the person didn’t use belittling words; her tone conveyed it all. I am sure my facial expression reflected my disapproval, but under a mask our nonverbal cues don’t help.
Dear Reader, I would love it if you would comment on this newsletter with comebacks you have used in situations like this one.
In return, I will gladly send you a code for a free copy of my Love in Lockdown series, as a thank-you for a helpful way to address this kind of ageism in the moment.
Alright. I’m finished venting now.
This month I had the opportunity to interview Sally Bellerose about her new novel Fishwives, the story of two lesbian women who make a life together in the second half of the twentieth century. I loved the grittiness of this book. These characters choose each other every day, even though they are surrounded by a society that disapproves of their relationship. Reading this novel reminded me that in a heterosexual relationship, there are invisible social supports that encourage a couple to stay together. We are essentially swimming with the tide. In a gay or lesbian relationship, the partners continually swim against the tide. And these women swim valiantly, throughout their lifelong partnership. I recommend reading Fishwives because it’s a fine novel, and also because it can raise our awareness.
Meanwhile, I’m busy cooking up afternoon workshops and also a new magazine to feature sexy writing by women like you. Should be fun and empowering.
Look for a Call for Submissions for the magazine soon.
And I hope you are vaccinated. It takes away so much of the worry, doesn’t it? Here in North Carolina, we are even starting to see walk-in vaccination sites with no appointment needed. From what I’m reading, breakthrough infections for vaccinated people are very rare. And when they do occur, they tend to be much less serious. This is a global problem that must be addressed globally, and so I am glad to see that our country will be sending vaccine to countries with continued large outbreaks. May this year bring more freedom for us all.
Please keep your pen moving, or your keys clicking.
Please keep reading erotica by Women of a Certain Age.
And do, do let me know what snappy comebacks you use when you encounter ageism. We are all in this together!
I publish two blog articles (published online on the 10th and the 20th) and this newsletter every month, so you hear from me (or a guest blogger) a couple of times a month. Below is a brief extract from each of last month's blogs - click the links for the whole enchilada! If you've ever considered getting your voice out there, I welcome suggestions for topics, or a fully written guest piece in line with my philosophy for the site. Drop me a line......
April 2020 exists as a haze in my mind. One of my few clear memories is looking out the window at two squirrels running and playing in the newly green yard. Even then I knew it was absurd to envy wild squirrels with as little as a one-year lifespan. Yet I felt enormous envy that, while humanity locked down, life in the wild roared back with the season.
Last Spring we faced an absolute lockdown and a paucity of choice. Now in Spring 2021 we are faced with too many choices and too little information about how to make them. At first, some experienced vaccination euphoria, a moment when it seemed like being an older person put us at the top of the heap. Newly vaccinated, we were the cool kids at the party.
And initial data seems to indicate that vaccinated people are unlikely to transmit the disease. But then we learned that even fully vaccinated people can, rarely, experience breakthrough COVID.
So, where does all that leave us? Can we travel? See vaccinated friends? Get a haircut from a vaccinated stylist? Every decision is fraught.
A woman in a longstanding lesbian marriage once told me, “I love it that my everyday life is a revolutionary act.” I remembered that while reading the new novel, Fishwives, whose main characters go about their daily lives exemplifying for their friends and neighbors the lasting and perfectly imperfect love of two women. In the process, they model that love for us readers too.
Sally Bellerose writes powerfully about sex and about growing old. She is an accomplished novelist whose work has won her multiple awards. In her latest novel, Bellerose traces the lives of a Lesbian couple and their friends from their twenties during World War II all the way to the end of their lives in the present day. The book explores how social attitudes affect their romantic and sexual lives, how they cope and push back, and how their love changes and grows, with a depth and compassion that leave us longing for their company after the story is over. We caught up with Sally for an interview about her new book.
I tried out sharing other authors' work (and they share my free eBooks) in February and it seems you like that. Lots of people downloaded books! So, here we go with another try. There are over 50 authors listing FREE books here, with a wide variety of tastes and styles, so you are sure to find something to keep you occupied.
You may remember the terrific guest post by my friend Simone LaBerge, “Sexuality Down the Decades,” where she reflected on her own sexual development from childhood to her seventies and talked about her hopes for the years ahead.
Her writing inspired me to create a free short course to help you to reflect on your journey so far and your hopes for the days to come.
Sign up for a fascinating interior journey, and share the details with your close friends and on social media please!