The Obligatory New Year’s Post, or, I’m Too Old for Revolutions

Keeping it simple this year, resolution-wise.

A few year’s ago, I explained that we used to call them “New Year’s Revolutions.” This was supposed to indicate an intention to shake things up by changing something, irretrievably.

I’ve had quite enough shaking up the past few years. Just read my posts under the tag, “how not to” and you’ll get the idea. I’ll keep it simple, and more age appropriate this year, to wit:

A Sixty Year Old Widow’s Age-Appropriate Resolutions

  1.  If it’s an available option, always choose sleep.
  2. You really can’t eat that much anymore. So don’t. Embrace portion control.
  3. Enjoy your invisibility, and protect it by keeping your opinions to yourself.
  4. More reading, less TV.
  5. Prepare, and begin to pursue, bucket list.

That’s it.

I went back and reread last year’s obligatory New Year’s post, and found that I either didn’t do what I said I would, or did, and backed off quickly. After floundering around for most of the year, I got a really great job. Now I’m focused on doing it well, and keeping it for as long as I can.

Figuring out how to keep up with writing while working full time is a challenge, but I’m determined to do it.  I think goals are different than resolutions, so:

A Sixty Year Old Widow’s Writing Goals for 2020

  1. Finish querying first book.
  2. Write next book.
  3. Submit one piece of creative non-fiction or essay per week.
  4. Tally rejections proudly – they mean you tried.
  5. Find something to write about other than yourself.

Easier said than done.

OK, bucket list. Hmm. Don’t know if a bucket list should meet that organizational standard, “SMART” goals – specific, measurable (how do you measure the happiness you get from doing something you always wanted to do?) attainable, relevant, and time-bound (a bucket list is by definition time-bound – it’s a list of stuff you want to get done before you die). I don’t know if any of these are “SMART,” but here’s stuff I want to (or must) do before I die, in no particular order:

  1. Downhill ski, again.  Apparently, ski equipment is so different since I last went, I’ll have to relearn skiing altogether. Or find some really old skis and boots on eBay.
  2. Learn how to skate, and stop, on hockey skates. Just because.
  3. Find the money to go and someone trustworthy to care for Angelic Daughter (and get Angelic Daughter set up with an acceptable, safe, happy independent living situation – that’s a must do) while I visit New Zealand, Australia (what’s left of it, after all the fires, so awful! thinking of you, Aussies!) Alaska and Ireland. Can’t think why I haven’t visited Ireland yet.
  4. Get a book published. By a real, legit publisher. I want my obit to say, “Author of…”
  5. Find a sane, non-pyschotic, non-gaslighting, non-mansplaining, binary, heterosexual he/him to love, who loves me back. If such a being exists. There’s always hope.

Recently, I’ve been behaving as if I have lost hope – eating too much, not working out- and I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to give up on myself, my well-being and my chance, if there is any, to find love. I’ve been encouraged by my recent discovery that sleeping a full 8 hours a night takes ten years off my face. Who knew?

Today, I woke up feeling great. Yes, I woke up on New Year’s Day feeling wonderful. Probably because I spent the evening reading, and went to bed early, without watching on TV or participating in any of the forced gaiety of midnight celebrations and associated consumption of mass quantities of alcohol, a/k/a getting shitfaced (pissed, legless, paralytic, sloshed, plastered, wasted, etc. The English language has an extraordinary selection of words to identify the state of inebriation). Not that I didn’t raise a glass or three, but at least I had the sense to cut myself off and go to bed at a reasonable hour.

These past few years have given me, individually, and us, collectively, a lot of reasons to lose hope. But let’s just not. New year, new decade (yes, I’m on the “2020 starts the new decade, not 2021” team) and new chances to try to do the right thing, every new day we’re granted, every day we wake up, miraculously, again.

Happy New Year and Happy New Decade: may yours be filled with hope and mornings waking up feeling wonderful (and at my age, just waking up at all should count as feeling wonderful, even when my joints go snap, crackle, pop when I first get out of bed). I think of those sounds as the music of movement, and a reason to keep going.

Until next time, I remain,

Your tart-cherry juice drinking, ginger-turmeric tea swilling, arising gratefully, and absurdly early, to get to a great job on time,

Ridiculouswoman

Image by Jeff Jacobs from Pixabay

Let’s Take a Moment to Overthink This

If the palm reader was right I’d better get busy – let me think…

When I was around 15, a palm reader at a renaissance fair told me that I’d live to be 63.

In other words, she told me I would die when I am 63.

Which is something no reputable palm reader or fortune teller (HA! oh, ha ha ha ha ha ha HA! Reputable palm reader!) is ever supposed to tell anyone, I suppose on the grounds that if they’re wrong, their pronouncement could become a self-fulfilling prophecy, or, if they’re right, who’d want to know? Just keep it vague and positive, right?

I don’t know why I remembered that recently. Maybe I felt like I was wasting time, dragging my feet, failing in my quest to really live every moment of whatever time I may have left as fully as possible – and with love and laughter.

But if we assume for the sake of argument the palm reader was right – that gives me only a few years, with an awful lot left to do.

Like getting a move on the query letter for my book, and deciding who to send it to.

(“Mr. Churchill, don’t you know you are never to end a sentence with a preposition?” Churchill to presumptuous twit: “Sir, that is a presumption up with which I will not put.” But I digress.)

I’ve been composing the letter in my head, reading the blogs and websites about form and what kind of letters are effective, and which agents represent what kind of books, and looking for agents who will look at memoirs, and somewhere in all that, I read that  memoir agents are sick of books involving cancer, particularly survival stories.

Well, mine isn’t a cancer survival story, because Mike didn’t survive.

It’s a love survival story.

But it has “cancer”  in the title.

So I changed the name of my book from “Detour in Cancerland, in which a Ridiculous Woman Attempts to Defer Widowhood through Remodeling (and Lust) to “Love, Death and Carpentry, in which a Ridiculous Woman etc….”

And then I started to think, well, if they don’t like the word “cancer” in the title, they’re not going to like the word “death,” exactly, either, are they?

But the point isn’t the title: it’s to write a query letter that catches an agent’s attention enough for them to want to see the entire book. If it ever gets published the publisher will probably change the title anyway.

I’ve heard back from both my friends to whom I gave the book because I knew they’d be honest with me if they thought it was awful, and they both loved it and said I should move ahead with it.

Which led me to think that maybe I should have a few more “beta” readers to be sure I’ve gotten broad enough response to it. Every woman within 20 years of my age, when I’ve told them what it’s about, or just told them the original title, has said, “oh, man, I’d read that!” OK, so maybe I shouldn’t change the title.

The only other people I’ve given the book to are my brothers, one of whom read it and returned the thumb drive it was on to me, with no comment.

He’s the hypersensitive one, though, and there were things in there that I knew would upset him, and I told him in advance I wasn’t really looking for his comments, I only wanted him to read it so he wouldn’t be surprised, in case a miracle happens and the book actually gets published. I just hope he isn’t too upset. We’re having Thanksgiving together.

My other brother, the older one who is very free with his opinions (solicited or not) on pretty much everything, has started to read it.

Started 7 weeks ago.

He says he’s on page 90, but he too has offered no comment, which is very unusual.  My friends read it in less than two weeks. When I heard back from them I just told my brothers that I was going ahead with it anyway.  If he got to page 90 he’s pretty much read anything that would have mentioned him, anyway. So nuts to him.

Being irritated with my brother caused me to remember that I may have living brothers and sisters-in-law, with whom my late husband refused to associate, and who are not mentioned at all in the book (except for one fleeting mention of the smoking  habit of one of them), which sent me into another round of paralyzed anxiety.

Both of my parents are gone, as are my late husband’s. So do I really need to worry about what other unmentioned “family” members might think about the story, which is true anyway, when they aren’t even mentioned in it?

Isn’t that supposed to be something the publisher, if there is ever to be one, will worry about?

Which brings me back to the query letter.

And dying at 63.

And thinking about all the things I haven’t accomplished yet and how little time I have left if that damn, bored, mean-spirited palm reader (really, who would do that to a 15 year old kid?) was right.

Things like finding a new relationship, getting one more really good job, getting my daughter situated happily and safely out on her own with support provided by someone who isn’t me (because she’ll have to get used to that so we have to get started) and learning to sail and seeing Alaska before it melts completely and making the crossing of the Atlantic even though climate change is causing more and more huge rogue waves and the crews of cruise ships seem increasingly inept in their seamanship and skiing again and being able to buy a summer house in Maine and tracing some of the routes and visiting some of the (milder Mediterranean) ports of call described in the Patrick O’Brian books  and taking a screenwriting class and learning Latin and taking some kind of luxury rail travel and a steamboat trip on the Mississippi if climate change hasn’t caused prolonged drought and it is deep enough for that and getting paid singing and speaking gigs and publishing a series of Ridiculous woman books based on my continuing misadventures.

Which brings me back to that query letter…

Trying to conquer my fears and quell my OCD induced anxiety, but fully intending to be writing still on my 64th, nay, even my 84th birthday  (take that, bored, mean palm reader lady), I remain,

Your quaking, querulous, query-less, but still questing,

Ridiculouswoman