In many ways what is unfolding is a tough summer. The oil continues to pour into the Gulf of Mexico. At work I spent many hours interviewing a young woman whose life story is the story of terrible abuse; people and systems who have failed her over and over and over. But she has, really against all odds, a beautiful smile, an interesting mind and point of view; a clarity about what she wants and needs, a hope for better.
July is just getting underway and it was 103 degrees here yesterday. It’s hot. We went to the Midwest for July 4th weekend, though not really to celebrate the 4th of July, but rather to celebrate what forever is connected to 4th of July for me, the birthday of my wonderful sister who was celebrating her 50th birthday on July 5th. We had a great time that included cake and basketball games and old friends and fireworks. Yes, she is my younger sister and yes, that means I am past 50. It was hot there too– too hot but we had a really good time together. Late in the trip my partner called her mother to say hello, realized her mother was sick and took off for Indiana where she has stayed all week. My mother-in-law is ok– all the tests came back with good, not bad results.
I have been a solo mommy unexpectedly this week. Which I thoroughly enjoy. It is clean and simple– the screw ups are mine all mine, and the beautiful, fun and funny moments are mine too. We’ve had some of both, but I think the ledger is heavier on the good side– though you’d have to ask my daughter.
I am increasingly worrying about whether I will lose my job in a matter of weeks. I am trying to help two women who work for me, though their fears and worries too. Though I don’t want to worry her, I know this talk is in the air, so tonight I told my daughter that I may lose my job in a month or I may not, but that we would be fine whatever happens with that. She said a number of interesting things, but one was– “well Mama, just do what you do and go in and work hard!” and the other was, “if you lose your job, we’ll have a party here– a stay-at home-from-work-Mama party.” I can’t argue with her good perspective.
Having A (our 19-year-old housemate for the summer) here has brought forth many feelings. I like him a lot. I like many of his friends, some of whom come around a little more and a little more. I like talking to them, I like hearing what he/they are up to and I like a lot of things about having him here. On the other hand, at times his presence, his interest or disinterest in my world and just the fact of someone who is 19 and not 45 or 50– calls forth some feelings that are hard feelings of feeling uninteresting, too old, too unwanted at least some of the time.
He has a vibrant connection to a cultural scene here that is very much of interest to me, but that as a mother of a younger child–and a mother past 50 at that– I often miss. He mentions events to me that 20 years ago I would have known were happening– but now I don’t. They are often things I am interested in, but not keyed in to– a Hip Hop Theater week this week, a feminist poetry and spoken word event on gay pride weekend. He goes out and returns home and tells me about some of them.
But before I go even a step further down a path of caving to a sexist stereotype of myself being a boring old…. (fill in the blank) which I am not, I am also reminded that I have my own extremely rich and beautiful cultural library, cultural compass. A long history and present life with music, literature, art and now blogs, spoken word.
For various reasons last night I thought a lot about the work of poet Marge Piercy. And tonight I was reminded of this artist whose voice and songs brought me to my knees long ago. Joan Armatrading. I searched and found her on YouTube immediately– and she still has a voice that makes you sail and weep–sometimes all in one song. I love her voice, her music and her lyrics, and I admire her because from what I can see in the current videos as well as in her past, she has always eschewed the trappings– and especially the sexist trappings– that are practically synonymous with commercial success. Her clothes are– well clothes, not costumes, she looks like an actual woman and not like the product of an ad campaign. And her voice is beyond compare. My friend B told me tonight that Joan Armatrading is performing at a local, mid-size music venue– tomorrow night. I cannot work out a way to go, but B says the performance is not sold out. We laughed– we said it’s not sold out because the older people aren’t going out to listen to her anymore and the younger people — have never heard of her. Whether you are young or old or in between though, you should hear her. So here it is, my first foray into posting a couple of YouTube links. Stop what you are doing and have a listen– whether you’re like me and have heard these a hundred times before or this is your first listen.