women of a certain age

Deep Breath In…now hold it until you find sensible workout clothes!

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Early yesterday morning I was extolling the virtues of yoga for back care to a friend, and the conversation goosed me to do what I’ve been putting off for a year, buying new workout clothes.  Should be easy, no? Everywhere you look are women wearing yoga pants and capris, with oh so cute little bondage straps–err, sports bras.

I’m picky.  Yoga gear should be form fitting enough that you can easily check your alignment, and not have everything rolling up, rolling down, and twisting under you.  You should be able to move freely in whatever you’re wearing.   I had looked online last week.  Good grief, $100 for a pair of yoga pants?  By the time $60 began to look reasonable, I knew it was time to step away from the laptop.  And so I went to the local discount sporting goods store, where I was sucked into the vortex of fluorescent pink sports bras with perfectly coordinated checkered capris.  A mere $75 for an outfit.  No. Went home, went back online, found some things that were more reasonably priced, and purchased nothing.  Better prices aren’t really better if I can’t tell exactly how something is going to fit, if it will actually be comfortable to move in but discreet enough to throw a long t-shirt on top and run the girl to school.

Yeah, I’ve seen some of those inexpensive pieces in person, and they’re barely opaque enough to qualify as tights.  And the rest–including some of the very priciest ones–seem to be manufactured and promoted by the same sadists who came up with Spanx.  How the fuck am I supposed to execute a smooth downward facing dog if I’m busy trying to force air into my lungs?  Now I’m sure the idea is to hold in and hide all the rumply bits you’re trying to smooth away with exercise, but they seem to have forgotten one thing.  That excess of skin/cellulite/*gasp*/flab?  It doesn’t actually disappear with the bondage gear, just gets pushed up over the waistband and down under the rib band.  Thanks, I feel so attractive.

And ah, the sports bras. I get it, if your workout is high impact, you might want something with more hold. But for yoga?  With the way most of these things are structured, I expect mammogram results to pop out when I take them off.  And why is the choice that either they come with pads thick and durable enough to walk by themselves or no room in the design for nipples, let alone breasts?

When, exactly, did workout clothes become yet another haute couture arena?  This may be sacrilegious to say in 2016, but as long as it’s reasonable enough to get on and off the subway in, I don’t care what this stuff looks like.  I don’t care if the sports bra matches the t-shirt matches the shorts.  Maybe I’d feel differently if I worked out in a gym, or a class, and was being seen by others.  Actually, this likely contributes to why I prefer to stick to the privacy of my living room.  If you’re headed to an appointment, or date, or work, after you work out, go ahead and live a little by getting dressed in real clothes.  They don’t have to be fancy, just yanno, clean–something you haven’t spent an hour sweating in.

So yes, I went shopping in one of the basic discount stores yesterday, determined to be successful.  If I don’t care about the fashion statement, how hard could it be? First off, I thought it was the perfect time of year to replace my workout shorts (I like to wear shorts for yoga in the hot weather, sue me).  There were indeed two racks of shorts in the clearance racks of the “athleisure” department.  Are you freaking kidding me? Lycra microshorts.  Just right for the woman who wants her already sagging butt cheeks to fall out during child’s pose.  Fine, forget the shorts.  I grabbed every sports bra, yoga pant, and capri that I could find that looked like it might fit, didn’t feel like it was made from that magical duck tape/spandex blend, was under $20 and headed to the dressing room.

I could have skipped the early morning yoga session, because just trying all this crap on certainly counted as a workout.  Mrs Fringe is not a large woman.  That said, as a woman-of-a-certain-age, I’m not as small as I used to be.  These things are obviously all designed for the prepubescent among us.  In real clothes, I wear a size 6 or 4, depending on the cut and the “designer,” usually need a petite (except in pants, my legs are oddly long for a short woman), and I needed– needed–mediums in this stuff.  What the fuck?  What about women who are truly curvy?  Or, god forbid, a bit more than full figured?  Are they banished to the dismal plus-sized rack at the back because they wear a size 12 (which doesn’t necessarily mean more than full figured)? When I came home I saw the brouhaha online about a well endowed teacher in a dress that covered her completely but was, ahem, form fitting.  I wouldn’t wear it, but I like things that are roomy.  Not sack cloth and ashes, but what I consider breathable. Appropriate for work? I don’t know, but I know for sure that is a woman who would be hard pressed to find something off the rack that fit her without being either tight or tent like.

Wikipedia tells me the goal of yoga is moksha–liberation.  Looking at the western yogi-gear offerings, I suspect something has been lost in translation.  If you’re wondering, I did wear my new gear this morning and got on the train wearing my new (see above photo) slightly baggy olive-green capris, crayola-box purple sports bra, and big ocean-blue long sleeved t-shirt. I left the falsies behind.

Halloween decor?

Halloween decor?

We Are Looking For

A clue!

A clue!

Normally, I use this neatogroovycool magnifying glass to examine the minuscule creepy crawlies in the tank.  Today, I’m using it to examine context clues.

I have a Twitter account (@MrsFringe).  I don’t use it much, but I hop on semi-regularly to see what’s trending, and sporadically I’ll spend quite a bit of time for a couple of days having fun with one-liners. Some of those I follow are friends, some are Fringelings, some are people I admire, others are agents/editors who are sharp, or funny, or interesting.  Quite a few publishing professionals will tweet tips–what to do/what not to do, why they’re requesting or rejecting queries, and query trends.

Recently I logged on and happened to catch a tweet at the top of my news feed that’s stayed with me.  While it probably isn’t politic, I’m going to address it.  Since I’m 40,000 years old and not twitter savvy (read: a blabberfingers), I’ll respond here on the blog.  Someone (agent? I think, maybe) tweeted something to the effect of:  Two spaces after a period and I know you’re over 40, don’t do it.

Really?

Well I suppose it’s true, those of us who learned to type on typewriters did learn to put two spaces after a period.  If you learned in typing class and/or did a lot of typing for any reason, it’s kind of ingrained–and if you do think about it, one space often looks “wrong” to us ancients.  Despite my advanced age and inherent slowed mental faculties, I actually understand that things change.  The world changes, advances are made, things that were once acceptable are now either extraneous or completely unacceptable.  Language evolves.

A friend of Nerd Child’s is staying with us for a few days.  He hasn’t been here before, and when he first walked in he said, “This apartment is sick.”  Hard to believe, but I didn’t go running for the Lysol, nor did I tell him to get off my lawn.  I thanked him.  Context clues.

I promise you, Fringelings, I am not what anyone would consider a delicate flower.

I checked. Nope, this is not a self portrait, but I may add it to my salad tonight.

I checked. Nope, this is not a self portrait, but I may add it to my salad tonight.

I also understand publishing professionals are inundated with queries, and there are many reasons to reject manuscripts.  What I don’t understand is why someone would think it’s ok, on a public venue like Twitter, to make this type of blanket, ageist statement.  True, I (and others like me) should probably try to break this wasteful habit of two spaces after each period.  All that white space left to rot by the end of a manuscript, shameful.  Also true, there are practicalities and logistics, reasons someone might not want to take on a debut author who’s 90 years old.  You wouldn’t have to dig too deep through my archives to find I’m quite open about not loving some of the facets of aging–oh, those saggy bits!  But these are query letters for manuscripts, not applications for centerfold models.

I had dinner with my journalist friend the other night.  She is (gasp) older than I am.  Not only still writing, but people still pay to read what she has to say, because she’s good at what she does.  If I checked the list of current best selling novelists, I’m certain a significant percentage would include authors over forty.  If I checked tweets of those I follow on Twitter, I’m certain all would include tweets (from men and women) about being feminists, supporting feminism.  You cannot separate feminism from ageism.  I’d like to see that placard carried at a women’s rights march, “Equal Pay for the Perky Now!”  It doesn’t bother me to be told to break an outdated habit, but the implication that my words hold no value because I’m a woman of a certain age?  That bothers the hell out of me.

I think I’ve posted this video before, but you can just go ahead and blame senility for the repeat.  Or, yanno, trust I felt it was appropriate for this piece.

*And yes, I made sure to add two spaces after each period for this post, ’cause that’s how I roll.

Insides, Outsides, and the Shit that Holds it Together

Dora the Explorer goes salt and pepper.

Dora the Explorer goes salt and pepper.

I’ve been feeling restless.  The restless that says the winter was too long, I’ve been broken for too long, I need a big change.  Since moving to Hawaii still doesn’t line up with my bank account, I got a haircut instead.

I told the hairstylist exactly what I wanted, he did exactly what he wanted, and I hate it.  I knew I didn’t like it while I was still in the chair, but he had someone else waiting, and my patience for sitting still while someone tugged on my scalp (or, yanno, touched me) was exhausted.

This is silly.  It’s a perfectly nice haircut, and 70 percent of the time I don’t bother to do my hair anyway.   And when I don’t do my hair, it doesn’t matter how it was cut, I look like a walking used q-tip.  I can’t even see into most of the mirrors in my apartment, they’re placed too high, good enough for giving the illusion of a larger space. As I type I’m wearing my favorite summer skirt, a super comfortable plain brown skirt with a streak of white on the back, from where I brushed against a freshly painted wall the first time I wore it, five years ago. But that 30 percent of the time– that’s what I cut my hair for.  This ladies-who-lunch-on-delicate-low-carb-dandelion-salads isn’t me.

I posted a photo to my personal Facebook page to whine about it, and my lovely and supportive friends all said all the right things about how nice it looked, I’ll get used to it, etc.  Quite a few of them also agreed. It just doesn’t reflect the inside me.  What does that mean, anyway, and why does someone who doesn’t bother to do her hair and regularly wishes she could stay in pajamas all day care about this?

I’m a pretty ordinary gal with a pretty ordinary life, someone who swings between stuffing all fantasies under the dirty laundry pile and dreaming about one of my word collections being available for purchase in a bookstore, all while carefully remembering to use qualifiers in personal statements.  If my 40,000 year old dreams haven’t become realities, if I’m not claiming my fantasies as possibilities, what’s wrong with looking like I’m running for office on a ticket I’d never vote for–and using run-on sentences while I’m at it?  You might say I’m average with an edge of funny, nice with an edge of bitchy, regular with an edge of  kooky, or even tired with an edge of ragged, but there’s no doubt I do have an edge.

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All this moaning, you’d think I wanted a mohawk.  I don’t, just a little oomph, a little oh! a woman who lives in a box but dreams outside of it–maybe even a little humor under that frizz.  But maybe not, maybe this bob is who I am, as opposed to who I thought I might be.  Which one is your hairstyle supposed to match?  Most of all, now that I’ve spent way too much time thinking about the dead cells sprouting from my head, what about you?  Do your insides match your outside?

I’m not OK, You’re OK

Are you?  I hope.  More ok than that ’70’s self help book I ripped my title from, anyway.  Did anyone else have to read it for psych when they were in school?  It should have been titled the Tao of OKitude.  I don’t remember Harris’ theories, I just remember each chapter feeling like torture.  As I recall, the solution was reading while listening to the Doobie Brothers cranked on the stereo.

Publicity photo of the music group The Doobie ...

Publicity photo of the music group The Doobie Brothers. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Speaking of, I guess I’ve got the 1970’s on my brain today.  I went to get my hair cut, wanted something a little different.  Retro.  Somehow, no matter what I ask for, I always seem to walk out of the hair salon looking, umm, shall we say, suburban?  Doesn’t matter whether the stylist is male or female, young, old, or middle aged, when they see my salt and pepper hair they stop listening and give me the haircut they think is appropriate.  You’d think they’d understand appropriate isn’t high on my list, based on the fact that I don’t dye my hair, and usually walk in looking like a frizz bomb.

Today’s guy tried to ignore me, and I tried to explain.  Of course, my brain fogged with the smell of hair bleach from the woman next to me getting highlights, and  I couldn’t think of the word “shag.”  I kept saying fringe.  Can’t imagine why fringe would pop into my head.   So I made him get props.  The sad, dusty binders filled with jagged edged magazine photos.  I’m laughing just thinking of the expression on the stylist’s face, trying to decide how to tell me I don’t have straight hair.  I reassured him that I understand my hair won’t do anything other than what it wants no matter how it’s cut without major intervention.  Just make it so I can make it look reasonable when I put the effort in.

After 20 minutes of cutting, product, 25 minutes of blow drying, 20 minutes with the straightening iron, a little more cutting, a little more ironing, a little more product.  Voila!

Mrs Fringe, Smooshed, Smoothed, and Ironed

Mrs Fringe, Smooshed, Smoothed, and Ironed

Sometimes a gal just has to remind herself she knows how to be a person.  I’ve been submerged in revisions, but I’m happy to say they don’t feel hellish right now.  In fact, I’m feeling pretty good about how the story is coming together.

In celebration of sleek hair and edits that are working, I offer a song to my fringelings.