Greetings All! It is high summer here in North Carolina. Last month I suggested that we might be between heaven and hell. Well, I can tell you which we are closer to - with temperatures that are consistently in the 100+ heat index this last week! The neighborhood dogs are excited to go for a walk but once they get out in the heat, they just want back in the house. My pandemic victory garden yields more lessons than vegetables. Don’t plant what you don’t eat, is a message I won’t forget. In the absence of restaurants, I’ve become a better cook, but it would take Julia Childs reincarnated to do something edible with a fridge full of summer squash.
The pandemic does have unexpected consequences, and they are not all bad: Of necessity we have learned to be farmers, cooks, and hair stylists. And even as we mourn the loss of in-person contact, we find new ways to connect. For example: my California erotic writing group has gone online, and I get to write with women I haven’t seen since the 2019 West Coast launch of Aphrodite’s Pen. The joy of meeting with them reminds me that my original (slightly subversive) goal in writing the book was to start a network of Elderotica writing groups. I figured an army of women writing about erotic life after fifty would make us all more visible.
And we could use some visibility now. Much has been written about the resurgence of ageism during this pandemic—among the many harrowing effects of the virus. One gerontologist suggested that the relatively weak public health response in the United States is tied to our disregard for the health of older people. A reminder of our vivid natures as older women—for our own benefit and for society at large—is clearly in order.
Another thing I’m noticing is that my calendar, which emptied of events in March, is filling back up with online commitments to teach classes, give sermons, and lead workshops. If your calendar is filling up like mine, please remember to reserve time for writing. My accountability buddy told me last week that it’s time to start saying “no,” and she’s right! I need to be smart about how I use my time—it’s no longer abundant as it was in March and April. The one thing to which I need to say yes is social justice work, which I must prioritize in the weeks and months and years ahead. We are all connected and we must support justice for everyone.
Last but not least, I am committed to finishing the edits on my story collection about Late-Life Love on Lockdown.
This was the inspiration: Several friends who are my age live in active senior communities and have been singing their praises for years. All kinds of facilities and services, and if a resident needs assistance later in life it’s right there on campus. But when the pandemic hit, the people managing these communities took highly restrictive measures to keep the residents safe. For example, if a resident left the grounds for a reason other than an urgent medical appointment, they might not be allowed back in. Hearing all that, I realized two things: First, I am thankful to live in a single-family home where we decide how to manage our own risks. And second, how the residents of a fictional North Carolina active senior community crafted vivid sex lives with those restrictions would make a great premise for a story collection. If we olders can create vibrant sex lives in those circumstances, we are a pretty amazing bunch. Look for announcements about the upcoming publication of that story collection. Also in the same series will be stories of late-life love in lockdown in New York and on the West Coast.
May we all stay safe in the month of August. May you be well, may you do good work, and may you find time to create and remember and write. You are valuable, your stories are important, and together we can nudge the world in the direction of joy.
With all best wishes,