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Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
"No, really!"

My Favorite Bit of Paper Cup Philosophy

The Way I See It #76

The irony of commitment is that it's deeply liberating - in work, in play, in love. The act frees you from the tyranny of your internal critic, from the fear that likes to dress itself up and parade around as rational hesitation. To commit is to remove your head as the barrier to your life.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

HeRR BiRRthday ~ May It Be Easy

  I'm privileged to be party to several birthday celebrations this summer. I've tried to herald this one in just a slightly different way. It's a special birthday. Yes, I agree ~ they're all special. But, stick with me. First a little music. I like Fiona Apple's cover of Across the Universe and that's saying something. I don't appreciate everyone who covers a tune originally written and sung by John Lennon. But Fiona does it nicely. I think the lyrics present us with a picture of a spirit easing through a wondrous, loving world and that would be appropriate for today's birthday girl.

She's my friend and her name is Rraine, hence the silliness with the Double-R brand in the post title. She's turning 60 and perhaps the next song dedicated should be "It Don't Come Easy". Oh, don't call me a bitch for revealing her true age! She's already done that, and admirably, on her own fine blog where she lets us know - with a wink - that there is both good and bad in everything that comes along. Now how ya gonna deal with it? Actually, Rraine is only my most recent friend in the past few years to turn 60. To a person, they have approached it cautiously and with humor juxtaposed with chagrin. My turn will come late next summer. I'm not fooling myself into thinking I'm going to like it. I hope I will be as graceful as some others have been. If I don't feel graceful, I might consider the alternative to reaching 60. And, so, young lady ~ my thoughts on turning 60 have taken me many places. I wish you the happiest day and hope you enjoy my musings.

For me, personally, 30, 40 and 50 were not painful. Now I'll confess that turning 40 and having a 2-year-old baby at the same time did keep me up some nights, until my friend pointed out that only "young" women have toddlers. Oh, yeah. I hadn't thought of it that way. And - as has been chatted up a little over on Rraine's blog in comments, I think back to my cherished Granny at age 60. She was energetic and active and brilliant, but - alas - she was an "old" woman. We're not like that any more. We're still vital if that's what we've chosen to be and if we've been fortunate enough to enjoy good health. We've got plans for ourselves, if we've remained committed to forward thinking. We've got more interests than time to pursue them all.

I was having a haircut and it must have been spring or summer of 1999. "Hey, Sandy, may I take this magazine home with me if I give you another one?" "Sure, Hon, how come?" It was in the days when I still hunted and gathered more crafting projects to work on. The magazine had directions for a cross-stitch sampler commemorating the many wondrous things that occurred during the 20th century. Yes, there was the Kitty Hawk and JFK, Iwo Jima and the 1969 walk on the moon - most of the highlights. That's all nice, but it was more personal to me. Dear Granny was born in the last three weeks of 1899. She died in 1987, so she didn't see the full century out, but no one can argue she was witness to many, many marvels. She always felt as if she'd been situated near the north Atlantic when the Titanic went down. Her brother sold newspapers in the street and had spent the vast sum of a nickel to bring home the headlines that spring morning of 1912. Tennessee was far removed from any ocean, but she read so much about it, she felt sure that was part of her tapestry. The Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on her 41st birthday and she later sent four of six sons to war. All of them returned home safe. That certainly was a part of her landscape. And yet, what strikes me hard as I write this is that the big events in Granny's world seem so far removed from her own proximity. As if she lived her life watching the world happen.

I can do "corn" really well, and here I go: I am nearly overcome with pleasure and gratitude for having been an American baby boomer, the place and generation I share with Rraine and millions of others. Yes, our nation suffers many ailments right about now - enough to make me groan, gripe and bellow, uh oh! rather like my father. So I take solace in reminding myself how special "we" really are. Our generation really defies any narrow definitions. Lavished with privilege, we have been able to think, to create, to challenge, to disagree, to fight, to make up, to love, to live and to die. We have wrought great change in the arts, in politics, in economics, in civil rights, in ecology, in vision, in goodness, in technology and more. Yes, the whole damn thing has been ours. Right up close and very, very personal. And I think I just made the argument for turning 60 (or seeing it over the dashboard or in the rearview). We've got to live our lives, so far, right in the middle of it all. To make it up as we go along, for good or for bad. And I'm not sure it gets any better than that, any time, any place.

So ~ as a gift, a little eye treat with an explanation. I told Rraine I'd been busy making something. And I do have something tangible to give as a real gift when we share lunch later in the week. For the blog, however, I've made collages. I tried to put a "gentle on the 60 thing" spin on it, so there are four separate collages, each with 15 images. Taking things in little bites is better sometimes, I have found. It's still 60. (Yes, that is one of my own quite amateurish photos hidden in there, to make the gift personal.)

Hey, hey, readers, please send Rraine a happy birthday greeting by commenting on this post. Enjoy the collages below and don't miss the song at the end.

Seek within, seek without
Birthday girl with attitude
Soft and dreamy
Look east

In my ears right now: Three old women. Oh, yeah, they're old. Way older than we are. I see gray hair and extra pounds and evidence of plastic surgery. I hear them making music and I observe them creating with friends. They'd likely know many of the same paths we've walked. 60+ is a good thing! Now, let's go do something.


  1. ...until my friend pointed out that only "young" women have toddlers.

    My wife would beg to differ on that one.

    ...Granny was born in the last three weeks of 1899.

    I often wonder what my son and daughter will see during their lifetime, I hope its good although I have my doubts.

  2. @ Beach Bum ~ Hey, it sounds like your wife must be one of the sisterhood! Yay for those of us who are walking proof that the necessary anatomical events keep going after the age of 25. For me, it was not by choice. But it was my very good fortune.

    My daughter has had every good material and spiritual and emotional thing a good life has to offer. She's not avoided some painful things, too, but I'm talking about good things right now. I'm glad she's had many doors opened for her, but I'm with you - I don't think she's going to see a wonderful world unfold right before her eyes. Not like "we" did. And even my mother is now aware and acknowledges, "My generation mucked up everything. We wrecked the world." Well, maybe. Partly.

    At age 21, my kid knows everything, and she thinks "we" (boomers, in general) are "arrogant" about our era and ourselves. I keep saying, "No - just the lucky ones, not arrogant."

  3. Nice work on the collages. Very appropriate. happy Birthday rraine!. though I've already done this on facebook. yesterday I saw a time lapse video of stem Cells sprayed on a human heart and in a matter of days completely recreate that heart. Pretty damn marvelous stuff our kids have in store for them. they may be the first generation to have universal peace. No I envy them the wonders they shall see.

  4. @ Mike ~ Well, the collages could get tiresome to everyone else, but they've helped me across my recent difficult times. Use of one's senses and feelings, but not necessarily the intellect.

    You're right and I thank you for pointing out that our kids also have some positive things ahead. "Balance is the answer" says everyone who seems to have found that.

    I'm not at all surprised you hollered Happy Birthday on Facebook, but I'm glad you did it here, as well.

  5. Happy birthday, rraine (I know she eschews capitals)

    It's probably not such a good idea to identify oneself too much with an entire generation. I have some things in common with people my own age, and a lot of other things I don't. That suits me fine. Be an individual first.

    If you need further proof one shouldn't identify too much with a "generation', keep in mind that this country has been pretty much dominated politically by the right-wing the past 30 years (and if you believe the talk about the debt compromise coming out of Washington, will continue to be so) and I'm betting at least SOME of those right-wingers were born between 1946 and 1964 (the Baby Boom years). This is not to say the hippies weren't real, but just that there were a lot of folks at the time who must have kept there conservatism to themselves.

  6. @ Kirk ~ Yay! Another well-wisher heard from. And, yep, she eschews capital letters which has not one thing to do with e. e. cummings.

    You're dead on again, Kirk, about identifying oneself in a too narrow way. We're too complex for that. However, if I'm to be slammed into a particular generation, I like the one I'm assigned to. As you can imagine, when I did just the tiniest bit of research for this post, it immediately became apparent I couldn't shine a light on the boomers with fewer than maybe 5 posts and that wasn't the purpose of this particular one, anyway. I will say this: I've long thought we break into more natural and closely aligned subsets of early-boomer, mid-boomer and late-boomer. Just my thought.

    With your talent for researching and writing large bodies of work (history, war and art come to mind) I'd love to see what you'd do with a look at boom times.

  7. holy guacamole! this rocked my socks. thank you, leslie, for such a thoughtful, and beautiful birthday, and generational, recognition.
    and thank you, everyone, for chiming in.
    boom sha-ka-la-ka, boom sha-ka-la-ka!

  8. @ Rraine ~ not even a fraction of the recognition you deserve. I'm enjoying watching you grin and muse through here and on your own blog about it.

    Interesting about the music floating throughout: Across the Universe, High Sierra, Across the Great Divide, Cradle of the Interstate . . . over the top,out and gone, eh? Happy birthday!

  9. Huge Happy Birthday wishes, Rraine - "Happy birthday to you, squashed tomatoes and stew, bread and butter in the gutter, happy birthday to you!"

  10. @ Rachel ~ When I grow up I hope to be half the word-woman is Rachel Fenton. I am sure Rraine will love your cheery little tune.

    Remember recently, Rae, when you posted about Story Bought Dress and I said I'd immediately referred a friend? That friend was Rraine!

    As always, I thank you for playing when I have an idea. ;~}

  11. Hey, Les - I can't take credit for the jingle - it's just what we sang as kids!

    I'm sure Rraine will love the fashion zine - I hope she submits something x

  12. @ Rachel ~ Bring from the U.S., I didn't know that birthday jingle, so you COULD have claimed the credit! We had some goofy ones, too, that I don't recall. I was much too earnest and sincere to poke fun at the birthday song.

    I hope Rraine submits something, too. As I read your words and the words from the 'zine blog, I thought of her immediately. I know this, for sure: she'll read our words about it here.

  13. Well, a very Happy Birthday to your friend.
    As for the liberal or conservative @kirk .... when you live in the west one seems to lean on the conservative side it is a harsh reality out here that the east coast intelligentsia can't even understand.

    cheers, parsnip

  14. @ angryparsnip ~ I know Rraine will be pleased to see you dropped by to wish her well!

    Funny, your comments about liberal or conservative: I lean so far to the left, I frighten many people. My major career in life was as a union representative advocating for public school employees, so I have that leaning and the great deal of political action it called for. I guess I'm just used to fighting the liberal fight since I was very, very young. I shook Robert Kennedy's hand in Olvera Street, Los Angeles, at a huge rally some hours before he was shot. I already knew then which way was right and which way was wrong. For me. I was 15. I've always been willing to fight for what I believe in and try not to jam it down anyone's throat to the point of injury.

  15. I think the reports out of Washington were kind of getting to me before I read your post. For the record, I was born in 1961, making me a late baby-boomer (as is President Obama). I actually admire a lot of figures from the 1960s. I think I just see whatever progress that has occured as being somewhat more incremental than you do. It's a neverending battle, as Superman liked to say (born in 1938, I believe he was from your mother's generation)

    Again, happy birthday, rraine.

  16. This was a really nice thing to do, and it was done exceptionally well. The collages are wonderful.

  17. Hey, just wanted to say I hope you had a wonderful Birthday!! Best wishes throughout your next year. Hope to have a chance to get to know you better. Jenn

  18. @ Kirk ~ I know how your sensibilities transcend your actual age or "place" in the boomer boom, before and after. You are not nailed to your age in days or years. One of the many things I appreciate about you.

    I was born in 1952 - a "mid"-boomer, I suppose. Likely a little more intellect and maturity, so that I fit better with those a little older than I. My mother and Elvis were born on 1-8-35.

    I enjoy your company and friendship, Kirk.

  19. @ The Badger ~ What I believe: if you care for someone, you take steps to let them know. Then they never have to wonder whether you did or did not.

    Thank you for your kind comments. The collages are fun and, actually, no credit to me. I mean, I don't draw, paint or take pictures. Just using whatever media I can find to express what I feel.

  20. @ Jenn ~ It is so fun to me that you appreciate her, too! Who knows where we shall go?

  21. well, my entire comment was lost in the ozone, so here's an abbreviated version:
    everyone, thank you, thank you. i'm going places i've never been to before, and don't know how to get there. sound familiar?

    rachel, angryparsnip, jenn, les, kirk, beach bum, again, thanks.

  22. As to your picture there “Look east”… there are four characters in black on white.
    From left and then top to bottom they read ‘truth’ ‘friendship’ ‘ strength’ and ‘love’, respectively.

    I thought you might like to know.

  23. @ Magpie ~ I surely thank you for popping in to say so. Actually, I did know that. Not that I fluently read the characters, but they had been pointed out to me and I triple verified to make certain they said what I intended. I'm sure Rraine will enjoy reading your words. You were thoughtful to comment.