Age and Intolerance

As a follow-on to my post of the other day about aging and not caring what anyone thinks, I got an eye opener this evening as to what I don’t want to be when I grow up.

I made a late evening shopping trip to our local grocery super store, Wegmans. Wegmans is a big deal around here. Nearly everyone shops there. It’s more than a grocery store. They offer a little bit of everything, and they do a good job of it.

I was walking in, and as usually happens, people were coming out as we were going in. There was a small, elderly lady, coming towards me pushing a cart. She was probably in her 80’s with dyed, dark brown hair. Her husband was walking along behind her, and he was having trouble walking. He was quite a ways behind her.

She took one look at me walking in with my 23 year old son, and she turned to say something to her husband. He didn’t hear her so she repeated herself. I heard her quite clearly the first time.

She said, “I’m so sick of all these kids with their tattoos; that’s all I’ve seen since we got here.”

I was a little taken aback and didn’t say anything until it was too late. I should’ve either thanked her for calling me a “kid” or I should’ve said, “I’m 60. Bite me, Grandma.” Instead I muttered, “Go fuck yourself” under my breath. (She really ticked me off).

Getting older shouldn’t mean becoming intolerant to everything. What in the hell is wrong with people? It’s 2019. Many people have ink or piercings. If you don’t like it, don’t look, but for heaven’s sake, keep your trap shut about it. She was a narrow minded old bird.

She was talking about me, not my son. I have six tattoos. My son has zero tattoos. I have one on each ankle, two on my left forearm, one on my right forearm and one on my right wrist. I waited until I was 50 to get the first one. I’d always wanted one, but my mother was also intolerant. I couldn’t get my ears pierced until I was 21 because, “If God wanted you to have holes in your head, you would have been born with them.” I was, Mom. They’re called nostrils, ears, eyes, and my mouth. Insert eye roll here.

My neighborhood is full of intolerant old people. I see the hate on a daily basis.

There’s the big-mouthed old lady across the street who complained about my husband’s big truck being on the street even though it wasn’t breaking any laws. She stands in her front window in her bra and panties. Oh, but that’s okay. So is her constant bellowing at her grandchildren.

There’s the wizened old creep behind me who was catching small animals in have-a-heart traps and then leaving them there to suffer and die or he took them into his garage and did God knows what to them. I called animal control and the police on him. They made him stop. Here’s hoping his afterlife involves a big steel cage.

There’s the prissy old jerk beside us who cuts his grass three times a week. Over the years he’s sprayed Roundup on my flowers more than once – the hydrangeas my sons bought me for Mother’s Day, the special variety of black eyed Susan’s my friend gave me from her yard, the sedum my other friend gave me from her garden, and the huge clump of variegated violets from my Gramma’s yard come to mind. I’ve cried over many flowers he’s killed in his zeal to eradicate any and all weeds. He’s the moron who put wooden boards in the gaps in the hedge between our properties to keep my squirrels out of his yard. I’ve let my yard go on purpose just to tick him off. I don’t weed, and everything is overgrown. I stopped caring when he came in my yard and killed things I’d carefully nurtured.

Image courtesy of Pinterest

Old age doesn’t have to mean intolerance, cruelty and stupidity. Perhaps these people were asses when they were younger; I’ll never know. I do know they’re judgmental idiots now, and I don’t want to be that way.

Aging brings freedom. It doesn’t have to bring bigotry, meanness and hatred.

Finding my Inner Rockstar

My new license plates arrived this week. I ordered vanity plates when my regular plates peeled – the paint just disintegrated right down to the bare metal! Now I just need my car repaired and returned from the collision shop. They’ve had it two weeks, and they’re still ordering parts. I’m trying to stay patient, but it’s difficult.

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Here’s my newest ink (the Flying V guitar). I went to the Roc City Tattoo Expo. My boss went with me! What fun, and I didn’t get in trouble for being away from my desk! I was inked by an artist from FishLadder Tattoo from Lansing, Michigan. He was a real nice guy, funny and fast!

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Rock on!

Reclaiming the Wild Child

My hubby recently celebrated his sixtieth birthday. Yes, I’m married to a sexagenarian. Makes him sound like a pervert, doesn’t it? LOL. In our case, I think the pervert label fits me better than it does him, but I’ll never tell.

I’m sure everyone sees it anyway. I’m the one with the ink, the pink hair, the foul mouth, the preference for metal music, and the penchant for smutty romance novels. Hubby is so normal I often wonder just what it is he sees in me. He’s a trucker, and he’s the kinder, gentler half of this couple. I’m not sure even he knows what to make of me half the time, but this is who I really am. I stifled this for years; it had to come out sometime.

Hubby was the catalyst for releasing the inner wild child I hid so well for a quarter of a century. In my mid-20’s, I was attending metal concerts on a regular basis, and I had long, curly, blue-black hair. Then my cousin moved away and I lost my wild best friend, the one who attended concerts with me, and the one I laughed the longest and loudest with. I’d always been shy, but with her I was louder and more alive. I grieved her moving from New York to Texas to join the rest of her family. A short time after she moved, my father suddenly got sick and he passed away, and I suffered another crippling blow. I was twenty-eight, single, and still living at home.

Knowing I could lose my mother, too, at any time, I decided I needed to meet someone with whom I could possibly share a future so I dialed back who I was. I settled into normalcy. I cut my hair; I went back to my normal, boring brown. In essence, I grew up. I had a steady, decent paying job, and I was ready to settle down. Unfortunately, I altered who I was to fit in at work, as a partner and wife, as a mother, and in life. Giving up my wild side, I hated who I was, and I didn’t even know it. I thought it was just my natural reserve that always made me feel so damned inadequate.

I met hubby when I was twenty-nine. We married when I was thirty, and we had our first son when I was thirty-one. Life moved on fairly quickly.

Together hubby and I raised two wonderful, young men. We had our challenges with ADHD, Autism, Diabetes, Celiac disease, Asperger’s syndrome and way too much time spent with doctors, specialists, administrators, teachers and others who all thought they knew what was best for my sons. I stifled a lot over the years to see two young men through the nightmare and quagmire that was the public school system. I bit my tongue so many times when all I wanted to do was swear and lash out. As their advocate, I thought I had to hold my anger inside. I tried to put my boys first at all times. Having to deal with all these strangers who knew nothing about my sons but passed judgment anyway made me more outgoing but it also made me bury all that fury and anger deep inside.

I lost my mother when I was forty-six. Shortly after that my aged pets began to leave me, one by one; not their fault, of course. Everything dies. To get by, I buried my hurt and grief deep along with all that anger. I was probably clinically depressed and didn’t even know it at the time. I was hurting so badly I was barely functioning inside, but I made it through each day.

Something about turning fifty changed things. I hadn’t even realized that my sweet hubby knew deep down inside that I wasn’t a happy person. I was just going through the motions. He pushed. He pushed at me some more. Then he pushed even harder. Over the course of a year, he kept pushing at me. I had thought that we were happy and that we were complete. Being the saner, smarter half of this couple he knew differently. He knew I wasn’t happy, and since I wasn’t happy, he wasn’t either.

Hubby pushed hard, and he told me things needed to change. When it finally occurred to me that something was in fact “broken”, I began to get scared that maybe it was our marriage. He was the one who suggested I needed to do something really different to break out of this funk that I was stuck inside, a mid life crisis sort of gesture. So at age 51, I went back to school to start on my first college degree, and I got my first tattoo. The ink actually came first. It was something I’d always wanted to do but hadn’t because I didn’t want to disappoint my mother.

Gradually, the wild child began to find her way back. I finally opened my eyes and realized I no longer cared what others thought, and I didn’t have to fit into any molds of what I should be. I only have to do what makes me happy. I finally figured out what I wanted to be when I grew up.

My marriage? It was never broken. I was. My sexagenarian hubby? He loves the wild child. Me? I’m happier than I’ve ever been, pink hair, ink, loud music, bad language and all. I wish I’d realized what was missing years ago. Me.

Images courtesy of Pinterest

A Different Life Lived in Pink

I spent my toddlerhood in frilly, girly dresses and panties with ruffled bottoms. Nervous disposition, sensitive stomach, the doctor told my mother I was ‘high strung’ or easily upset. My mother’s extreme lack of confidence and poor social skills likely contributed to my nerves and differences. I toughened up and grew into a tomboy, a girl who hung out with the boys in the neighborhood, riding bikes, shooting baskets, playing kickball and using far too many profane words (because I couldn’t say them at home). My mom went so far as to take my husband aside and warn him before our marriage that I was “different”. I know about that conversation because he told me.

Of course, he told me. Different is good. Different is wonderful. Different is what it’s all about. There are no secrets between the man I’ve known and loved for 29 years (half of my life) and me. Of course, he told me what she’d said. She meant well, but he already knew I was different. So is he. That’s what brought us together in the first place and that’s what has kept us together. He encourages me to be me. I celebrate all that is unique and incredible about him, too.

He doesn’t care what color my hair is. I’ve always messed with my hair. It’s one way of being different and expressing myself. It’s fun. Hell, it’s the one thing I can change. I’ve been every color. My long-time stylist often asks, “what color do you want to be today?” She’s lucky she escaped my 1980’s metal band/Motley Crue/Nice ‘N Easy blue-black/Nikki Sixx phase. Yeah, at one time I rocked a blue-black, long, curly perm. It looked awesome. I suppose blonde with pink highlights has nothing on that. My natural color used to be dark brown; I suppose it’s gray now. I don’t know and probably never will because I don’t intend to let it go natural. Being able to make the dull different is really what a good color job is about.

I work in a traditional law firm, doing something that’s different. My job is specialized and not quite like any other legal administrative assistant’s job. It’s so specific that at our firm we don’t get help from the stable of floating secretaries who fill in when an attorney’s assistant is out. They aren’t able to do what we do. I love the work because it is unique. Detailed and demanding with a special set of skills it was the area of the law that appealed to me. Intellectual property is defined as ‘work or invention that is the result of creativity’ or something created by the mind. We protect people’s creations. It’s a different area of the law.

Perhaps being unique has something to do with my zodiac sign although I’ve never put much stock in that kind of thing. I am an Aquarius. I am the water bearer or water carrier, described as progressive, original, independent, deep thinker, highly intellectual, shy, quiet, eccentric. All these Aquarius terms fit me. I look for ways to be unique and then wonder sometimes why I don’t quite fit in. Creativity is why I write. Mental stimulation is why I read. I went for a web design degree because it was hard and because it was different from what I already knew. I need to be using my brain all the time. It’s always creating, always churning and mulling things over. I sleep poorly because I can’t shut my brain off some nights.

I struggled with a post the other day because it wasn’t different. I recently became an ARC reader for a few authors. I volunteered to do my first ‘cover reveal’ post. I struggled for hours with the post because the post was created for me. That might appeal to others because it’s an easy post. You’re provided the images and the text. That stifled me, and I hated it. I couldn’t change anything about the post or the wording of the blurb. I ended up deleting the entire thing and apologizing to the authors as I backed out of the scheduled posting. I don’t post unless I have something new to say. I can’t post the same thing over and over because it bores me. If it bores me, it must bore others. I need different.

I don’t know the reason why I’m like this. I was told years ago that I was raising my boys to be just like me. Like that’s a bad thing? That’s fucking awesome, isn’t it?!  My boys will make two lucky young women incredible husbands one day because they are special and unique. They’re both creative, too. They both write. They write fiction like I do. Their Dad writes, too, but he is more of a political commentator. My sons always have cameras in their hands, and they create, edit and post their own train pictures and videos on their own YouTube channels. Train-watching or rail fanning is a different hobby. They take a lot of flack for standing trackside filming, filming, filming, but they love it. They’ve loved trains all of their lives.

From birth, we’re encouraged to fit in. We’re urged to go along and be like everyone else. It’s easier for teachers to teach if the kids are all marching to the same drummer’s beat. I’ve experienced it myself in both school and the working world. Differences are frowned upon. They make you stand out in the hall if you talk during class. In my day, girls even had to have a note from home saying it was okay to wear pants! Ink and body art are frowned upon. Some jobs require you to keep them covered. It’s in the employee manual where I work, but no one reinforces it, thank God. I’ve steered two beautiful and unique young men through a narrow-minded school system that didn’t appreciate differences. I bit my tongue many times when I would have loved to tell off teachers and administrators who sought to bend the child to the mold. Unless you attend a school of the arts or work at an advertising agency, individuality and creativity are squashed instead of encouraged. That’s a damned shame.

Individuality and difference are good. Different is pink hair, a creative mind, metal music, tattoos and a huge heart. Different is worth taking the time to explore and get to know. Different makes the world go round. Why be normal when you can be Goddamned different from others? Who the hell wants to be like everyone else? I don’t.