Posts Tagged ‘40-year-old woman’

News Flash

November 13, 2013

40-year-old woman has failed to yet figure it out.

What are you doing on craigslist at this time of night, young lady?

I certainly was not looking through the casual encounters, the missed connections, or the used surf boards.

Uh, no.

I was, once again, looking to get inspired for a job, a career, a, well, fuck, an anything.

I was chatting with a darling girl friend of mine and she was telling me about all the applications she has going on, the process of applying for jobs, for career jobs, for the next move in the career, more school, the outlying time it takes, and the exhaustion of having a folder of resumes on your desktop that all have to be just so subtly tweaked depending upon who you are sending it to.

The cover letters.

The introductions.

The word of mouth connections.

I thought, man, I ain’t got no drive, just pushing this damn stroller around and around the block waiting for the baby to close his eyes and for the other to not pull my shoulder from my socket as he bounced around in the baby carrier strapped to my back.

I am grateful for my work, don’t get me wrong.

I watch the struggles, pitiful, tragic, comic, of the young kids that circle the head of Golden Gate Park, the trust-a-farians (rich kids run away from home having a little adventure before heading back to mom and dad in Chicago), the hippies, the dread locked, barefoot, smelly ass, ripe, dirty children with their prolific dogs and cigarettes and trying to shock the tourists teenage rebellion.

Some of them are obviously on the streets because they have no other place to go, or have a family life that was better left at home.

Or they are drug addicts.

Or they are naive.

They are hustlers and scam artists, dirty little ragamuffins with shells braided in their snarled hair, and rags on their backs.

I recognize myself in them as well.

Despite never quite going to that place–dirty, homeless in a park in a big city.

I was homeless, though, and more than once.

I couch surfed and squatted, in Madison and the fucking Upper Peninsula of Michigan, now that is just good times.

I called it camping at the time.

But I was homeless.

I am not today and as I struggle with the same story that pops up again and again I pause, step back and get some gratitude in my life for where I am.

I want things to happen so fast.

I want to go, go, go.

Fuck, I am even tired of writing about this thematic.

So, I haven’t got it all figured out.

Oh well.

Next.

Tried on some more dresses for my friend’s masquerade ball this Saturday, no success.

Worked.

Much success.

The boys both napped at the same time and not once but twice I was able to have an undisturbed cup of tea and a good read through the New York Sunday Times.

I rode my bike to and fro.

I enjoy the feeling on my legs, though, not so much the shoulder.

It is still buzzy and painful, but I am identifying what actions seem to be causing the stress and I am not carrying the boys around as much, I am taking ibuprofen and just keeping the fingers crossed that I will get through the week and it’ll magically disappear.

Like I wish my demented thinking about who I am and what I have should go away.

At least I have perspective.

It doesn’t always happen at once, but it does happen and then I grow and learn something else.

I live in San Francisco, for fuck sake.

It’s a sort of expensive town.

If it weren’t for the way I live I don’t know that I would be able to live here.

I don’t know anywhere else I want to be living.

Oh, I have ideas of things that would be nice.

A trip to Africa, another to Europe, more Europe, I only really saw Paris.

Maybe to the Caribbean, haven’t ever done the South Seas, or South America.

Ah, thoughts, so many places to go, so much to disbelieve.

I used to think that everything my head told me was the truth.

That if I had a thought it was the truth.

I discovered that I am not my thoughts and my brain lies to me all the time.

ALL THE TIME.

No one loves me.

No one wants to spend time with me.

I am alone.

I am not enough.

I will be poor all my life.

Blah, blah, blah.

I suppose the trick is to let the brain chase it’s tail like a dog and exhaust itself on the circular thinking.

The writing helps me break it down.

The writing is linear.

Perhaps that is why I need to write.

I need to also lay off giving my self grief about not writing more.

That time too, shall  come, or not.

I am alive and in pretty damn good health and usually in pretty damn good cheer.

I love my little home by the sea and I am thinking about the stars and how bright they were as I opened the garage door tonight after returning from my regular Tuesday night thing at 7th and Irving.

Wow.

Those are bright.

Of course they are.

There is no ground light on the ocean.

I marvelled at the sky.

The Universe, the stars, the few constellations I recognize.

The sway of the Earth to the music of the Spheres.

I tucked away my bike and opened the door to my studio.

“Hello house, nice to see you,” I said when I walked in the door.

It is.

Nice to see my house.

It is nice to hear the Beatles just randomly shuffle onto the player and hear Paul singing sweetly of the black bird singing in the dead of night.

“You were only waiting for this moment to be free.”

I have.

Some candles flickering on the bookcase, a bunny bank from the Marais in Paris, stacks of notebooks, a warm bed, a mug (from the Louvre gift store) full of pens, stickers from Flax, photographs of people I love, books, an electric tea-pot (there is something so insanely luxurious about an electric tea-pot), a music player, a hula hoop, white orchids in a violet glazed pot, French notebooks, pink Gerber daisies in a Mason jar in the kitchen.

Love in my heart.

Thoughts of you as I turn toward the edge of the world and sing my siren song of love to the ocean.

Burning incandescent.

Because that’s how I was made to do it.

 

Living the Dream

March 5, 2013

It is currently four thirty pm, or 1630h, depending on how you look at it.

I am sitting in Odette and Aime, a café on the corner of Rue Bellefond and Rue Maubege, in Paris, France.  If you were to have told me that at this time last year I would be writing in a café in Paris, I would have told you to go smoke another hit off the crack pipe.

I had no idea I would be here.  Here, sitting in a corner of a café with carnation red painted walls and the soft jumble of French verbs being spoken, correctly, around me.  I would not have believed you.  Oh, I would have desperately wanted to believe you, I would have given my eyeteeth to believe you, but I would not have believed you regardless.

Now, add onto that I just came from a swim at the local pool—Paul Valeyre Picine—I would have been absolutely incredulous.  Almost appalled at you and your teasing and how dare you even allow me to dream that sort of scenario.

But that is exactly the reality of my day, this day, this Sunday in Paris.

Last year at this time I was struggling with what I was supposed to be doing, where I was supposed to be going, where I was living, and the job that I was working—goddamnit I am thirty-nine, my life was supposed to look different.

I made a leap and decided that I no longer wanted to be a nanny.  I was done.  I had come to that conclusion while at Burning Man walking out from Center Camp toward the Man base from the six o’clock keyhole.  My life, I like to remind myself at this thought, does not look like a lot of 39 year olds or 40 year olds or any other year olds when it gets right down to it.  I am the one that imposes the “it is supposed to look like this”—then I compare and begin the despair.

I was with some dear friends and I expressed to one of them that I could not do it any longer.  I was done.  Ironically, I was not done, I still provide childcare, one of the few ways to make money in Paris without work papers, but I have a much different take on it then I did at that time.  I was miserable with the families I worked for and despite being paid quite well and living in a beautiful one bedroom apartment all to myself in Nob Hill, one and a half blocks away from Grace Cathedral in San Francisco with a view that you see only in the movies, or from my front door; I was isolated and despondent in my work.

I shared this at Burning Man.  Saying it aloud helped.  I then and there made the decision to quit.  I went to look into school, graduate school, make up school, accounting school, I checked out a lot of different programs.  I chased my tail in circles.  I ended up taking a job at a specialty bicycle shop.  I became their Operations Liaison, a fancy name for shop girl, at yes, the magical age of 39.

I learned that I was good at the job and I rapidly advanced.  However, I was not making half the money I had been.  I lost the one bedroom in Nob Hill and I struggled to find another place to live.  I stayed for ten days at the home of a family in Potrero Hill I had nannied for; then housesat for another friend when she was in China on a work project.  I couch surfed for a month at another friends home, ah the sense of humor the Universe has, it was two blocks up the road from my former apartment in Nob Hill.

Again I berate myself.  What am I doing?  I am 39, isn’t it time to grow up?

I finally landed in my own place, February of last year, a tiny in-law in the back of a Mexican family’s home in the Mission on Folsom Street.  I had my own entry way and my own bathroom.  I rigged out a tiny kitchenette in the bathroom, smashed a desk in a corner of the bedroom, and had a friend install a bike rack for my fixed gear in the bathroom.

I got by.  I continued to do the one thing that I do now, despite it all, and the one thing that should I allow myself to acknowledge has carried me through the mess of myself, writing.  I wrote a lot.  I wrote some more.  I blogged daily.

I lost my cats.

One went to Animal Care and Control.

Once went to a friend of a friends home in Alameda.

Every move I made I felt like I was losing something, space, clothing, artwork and photographs in storage, a painting I sold back to a friend in Wisconsin.

My world “seemed” smaller and smaller and I wondered, what was I doing, now “age 39” began to be a whip I beat myself with, working at a bicycle shop in the Mission riding a one speed I designed and getting tattoos of stars on my neck.  I had no boyfriend.  No lover.  No career.  No space.  I was at a loss as to how to proceed.  Had I quit the being a nanny for this?  At least it had been a “career” of sorts.

It was now April 2012, I was in the back of a café in the Mission, Ritual, sitting on a black leather couch having an Americano with a friend and mentor.  I was complaining about my job and what my life should look like at this age, 39.  What was I doing wrong?  This is not what I want. How do I get more?

He looked at me with wide eyes and said, “Well, what do you want to do, Carmen?”

My eyes misted and I sighed, “I don’t know, I just don’t know.”

“Yes you do!” He barked at me.  “What do you want to do, Carmen?”  He demanded, “you do know.”

I was so startled by this, the words flew from my mouth, “I want to travel and write and take photographs.”

“So travel and write and take photographs,” he said.   Then a pause, he crossed his legs waiting for me to respond, sighed, and finished, “what are you afraid of?”

“I don’t have any money,” I said the tears now fully formed rolled down my face.

“So what, do it anyway, darlin’ one thing I know,” he drawled, “one day you’re going to wake up and be 85 and wonder why didn’t I go move to Paris when I had the chance.”

“You won’t ever go hungry, all you have to do is ask.”  He settled back into the couch sipping a glass of water.  I could feel his eyes peering over the edge of the cup at me, holding his tongue, waiting for my response.

“Fine,” I said, “fine!“ I repeated.  “I will do it.”

It was the culmination of decades in one sentence, in one moment, I just took a deep breath and I leapt.  I began to plan for Paris.

Making the decision was harder than actually walking onto the plane in November of this past year.  Yet, once I made the decision, things began to fall into place.

A dear friend once told me that if it was meant to be it would all happen simply, that I could not ‘fuck it up’.  Conversely if it was not meant to be, I could not manipulate it into happening.

Paris was meant to be.

All the things I thought I had lost were in fact being taken away from me to lighten my load and enable my travels.  I got on the plane with a roll on suitcase and my fixed gear in a box I checked at the gate.

I realized my dream and turned 40 in Paris.

I still don’t know what I am doing and I am now 40.

I say that with some tongue in cheek.  I know what I am doing in the present moment and in this moment I am doing just fine.  I do not look 40, but I do not think I have ever looked any age and when I allow myself to not “look” or “act” my age, I just get to be me, Carmen, a writer in Paris.

Who cares what age I am here?

I am here.

Prep Time

February 22, 2013

I am going to do a little research.

Ok.

That was depressing.

I googled “woman age 40 stats”.

I have to say I am not fond of what I found.  Nor am I of the opinion that what mostly popped up was in any way applicable to me.

Either I am a raving lunatic who must make baby now.

Or.

I am losing my sex drive and have nothing to look forward to but the ravages of menopause.

I say fuck you to both those things.

I have been letting my thoughts percolate this week on the subject of being a woman of 40.  A topic I feel like I have done a lot of thinking about and a lot of playing with for this last year.  However, since I was asked to participate in this blog project, I have been coming back to it again and again.

Doing some sorting out of what makes me tick at 40 and what differences I see in my life and whether that has anything to do with anything regarding the actuality of what the age means to the society at large.

I don’t read a lot of papers.

I don’t watch the news.

I don’t get women’s magazines.

I do read “Voici” when I go babysit.

It is this hysterical French gossip rag.

I don’t have to understand much French to understand the scope of the magazine.

Besides the pictures really are worth a 1,000 words.

Not that the articles accompanying them are ever that long.

I have preconceived ideas, I suppose, of what 40 should look like.

It just looks like me.

My scope is limited.  Maybe I don’t have the same kinds of pressure to perform, to juggle marriage, children, career.

Working in a bike shop was a career, of sorts, I suppose, as is babysitting.  But they are certainly not the careers I think I would have seen myself pursuing at this age.  I just see what I am doing and think that it’s what I am doing.  It does not have much to do with my age.

When my age comes up for me it is generally a stick to beat myself with, as in I should be this, this, this, that and the other, like women I see who are my age.

I don’t look like women my age or act like women my age.

I just act like Carmen.

Do I need to put an age on that?

Do I need a signifier to go forward?

Nope.

The age has brought wisdom.

That I will give it, wisdom which comes with experience.

There is nothing I would go back and change, though.

No.

I like this me.

I like the work I have done to get here.

That is what I believe I will end up writing about for the blog project, the last year in a kind of retrospective, what happened to get me to Paris.  How I let go of things, the couch surfing at Calvin’s, the change of jobs, the losing the cats, the house siting in Oakland, the Lover, the Mister, the dating, the sex, the Burning Man, the service, the roll on suitcase.

I was also asked to be a contributor beyond the initial blog.

Which has me thinking too.

What goals do I have for myself, what am I doing now, where do I plan on going, how to move forward with my most authenticated self.  How to not care that I am 40 and acting like a student on holiday.

Well, actually, perhaps not acting like a student on holiday, the posters of the movie “Spring Breakers” in the Metro are cracking me up.  I am no spring breaker or spring chicken.

But I still get from here to there with a messenger bag, the new “back pack” oft-times and I am looking at Europe through the eyes of a student on vacation.

I found out through a friend recently about a train that runs from Paris to Florence/Milan/Rome/Venice called Thello and it costs, wait for it….

35 Euro one way.

That means for 70 Euro I can go back and forth to Venice.

VENICE.

I can take an over night sleeper train for 35 Euro and go to Venice.

That is something.

I am going to do.

I have been writing I am a world traveller in my daily affirmations for what feels like years now and Venice is one of the places I have always wanted to go.  I could go for a weekend.

Walk, stay in a hostel, maybe couch surf, take a gondola, go to a museum, watch the light and see what the sky looks like in Venice.

70 Euro.

Less than what it cost me to go to London and back.

I want in.

Of course I am still looking for Euro for rent for next month and food and all that jazz.

But 70 Euro?

How can I not do that?

I also do not know when or how things are going to change.

But they are.

That too is something that being 40 has given me.

This utter belief that if I show up things work their way out.  They don’t always work out how I think they ought to or the way I had suspected they would.  No, the world spins to a different tune than the one the dj in my brain box has playing.

It is a better song to dance to, frankly, I get tired of the station my head plays.

Reality when I show up for it is fantastic.

I am doing the work.

Corinne pointed that out to me tonight as I sat on the couch rocking the baby and shedding a few tears, mostly tears of frustration over the thoughts I beat myself with, the 40-year-old stick that I need to retire.  “Your really do the work,” she said.

Firm.

Strong.

No bullshit.

I can always push harder and try harder and exhaust myself and wrack my brains with schemes.  Or I can just soften myself, lay down the bat, just because I have been using it for 40 years does not mean that I have to use it for the next 40.

I am not even middle-aged yet.

One day I will look at where I am now and see that it was all exactly the way it was supposed to be.

Because it already is.

Grey Hair and Stiff Arms

February 20, 2013

That is what 40 means to me.

I looked in the mirror today and saw another little grey hair sprouting from the temple.

Out damn spot!

It is, of course, only noticeable to me.

It is also, number three of the grey hairs.

Truly, only three grey hairs and I am 40.

Not bad.

The stiff hands though, are starting to get me a little concerned.  My mom has had arthritis for a long while now.  Although I do not quite understand how it has manifested for her, she has had a number of other health issues and I am not really up on all of them.

I actually think the stiff hands are a by-product of the amount of typing and writing that I have been doing since I came to Paris.  I write constantly.

When I am not baby sitting.

And then I write when I am babysitting, should the timing allow, as it is tonight.

I am out in the suburbs, not once, but twice today.  When I look at my commute time for the day it factors in around three and a half hours door to door to door to door.

I left the house this morning at 8 a.m. came back at 2:15 p.m. had a late lunch, did some photo editing, posted up the photography blog here, did some research around agents, sent a query, then packed the computer, the book, and the dinner in my messenger bag and headed off again to the Metro at 6 p.m.

I will get home around midnight, maybe later.

I brought the computer with me.

I have some commitments tomorrow I have to make and the thought of coming back to the house after having spent that much time on the Metro to sit down and write a blog, made me think twice about getting on the trains during commuter rush hour with my computer; I decided it was well worth the hassle of having my laptop on me.

Grateful I did.

I am zonked out.

I do not feel like I have much to write about.

I have also been thinking about what to write about for a friends blog.

She asked me to contribute to a forum about turning 40.

What does that mean to me?

Aside from the slight annoyance that at this stage in the game I still get acne and I have three grey hairs.

I don’t feel 40.

I don’t particularly act like I am 40.

I do not believe I think like I am 40 either.

Then again I do not believe that I do a lot of things in general like the masses.

I was taken with something a friend said to me yesterday.

First, was that I was a talented writer, his words were amazing, so I’ll just use those, and he said that my chances of making it were better than most.  Simply because I decided to leap.  That most people do not.  They don’t try, they don’t go, they don’t buy tickets half way around the world with no clear idea how to proceed.

I feel like I am constantly walking into this darkness.

I know there is light, but I tend to feel like it is emanating from me.

Not that I am headed towards it.

I am the source.

Does that make me a typical 40-year-old?

I do not believe so.

I have been grappling with the idea and find that I don’t often care what people think of my age, except that I still find it endearing when someone thinks I am younger than I am.

The father of my charge from Courbevoie was taken aback to find that I was older than he was.  What is a 40-year-old American woman doing picking up part-time baby sitting gigs in the Paris suburbs?

Living the dream.

Maybe that is what makes me 40.

Not necessarily that I am doing something 40 year olds do, I am sure there are other 40-year-old baby sitters, of course there are.  However, what the age thing has to do is not so much the number of years on the tree, but rather just the accumulation of time which has garnered me a faint bit of wisdom.

I have the experience behind me which clearly dictates that I am not a product of my age, but of my journey.  I am not my job, but what I do.

I am a writer.

I am not a babysitter.  I no longer, for the most part, correlate who I am with what job I do.

The job is a job.

Who I am is a brave woman.

Scared, yes.

But brave as well with a perspective on myself that I would not have except for having aged into it.

Does that qualify as 40?

Or 50?

Or 60?

When will I feel like an adult?

When will I not have a slight fetishistic fascination with Hello Kitty?

Or the color pink in my wardrobe?

Or sparkles for that matter.

Ah, I know what makes me 40.

It is my, I don’t care what you “thinkness”.  Because if I did maybe I would take the glitter out of my clothing choices.  Maybe I would not flirt with the 25 year olds.

Then again, as I was told recently, “you would rock a 23 year olds world.”

I dare say I might.

Not that I have any presenting at the moment.

40.

I still have not quite grasped it.

Perhaps by the time my friend needs her blog I will have come to some sort of conclusion.

I am a 40-year-old in name only, with my fixed gear bike, my tattoos of stars, butterflies, dragons, and one small pink jack-a-lope, with my school girl dreams, and yes crushes, with the insouciant  nature I still count myself fortunate to have, and the picture of me in my own minds eye scuffling through the fall leaves that first week in November when I landed in Paris.

Skipping through the leaves, kicking them up, doing a pirouette or four, and listening to music way too loud for any adult on my headphones as I walked along Quai D’Orsay in the twilight hours of a Saturday evening.

40 is looking pretty damn good if you ask me.


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