Good Things

Meet Prancer

Dog foster parent posted this on Facebook for her current foster Prancer – and I can’t stop laughing:

Ok, I’ve tried. I’ve tried for the last several months to post this dog for adoption and make him sound…palatable. The problem is, he’s just not. There’s not a very big market for neurotic, man hating, animal hating, children hating dogs that look like gremlins. But I have to believe there’s someone out there for Prancer, because I am tired and so is my family. Every day we live in the grips of the demonic Chihuahua hellscape he has created in our home. If you own a Chihuahua you probably know what I’m talking about. He’s literally the Chihuahua meme that describes them as being 50% hate and 50% tremble. If you’re intrigued and horrified at how this animal sounds already, just wait….there’s more.

Prancer came to me obese, wearing a cashmere sweater, with a bacon egg n cheese stuffed in his crate with him. I should have known in that moment this dog would be a problem. He was owned by an elderly woman who treated him like a human and never socialized him. Sprinkle in a little genetic predisposition for being nervous, and you’ve concocted a neurotic mess, AKA Prancer. His first week he was too terrified to have a personality. As awful as it sounds, I kind of liked him better that way. He was quiet, and just laid on the couch. Didn’t bother anyone. I was excited to see him come out of his shell and become a real dog. I am convinced at this point he is not a real dog, but more like a vessel for a traumatized Victorian child that now haunts our home.

Prancer only likes women. Nothing else. He hates men more than women do, which says a lot. If you have a husband don’t bother applying, unless you hate him. Prancer has lived with a man for 6 months and still has not accepted him. He bonds to a woman/women, and takes his job of protection seriously. He offers better protection than capitol security. This also extends to other animals. Have other dogs? Cats? Don’t apply unless they like being shaken up like a ragdoll by a 13lb rage machine. This may be confusing to people, as he currently lives with my other 7 dogs and 12 cats. That’s because we have somewhat come to an agreement that it’s wrong to attack the other animals. But you know that episode of The Office where Michael Scott silently whispers “I’ll kill you.” to Toby? That’s Prancer having to begrudgingly coexist with everyone when I’m around.

We also mentioned no kids for Prancer. I think at this point, you can imagine why. He’s never been in the presence of a child, but I can already imagine the demonic noises and shaking fury that would erupt from his body if he was. Prancer wants to be your only child.

So what are his good traits? He is loyal beyond belief, although to tell you a secret his complex is really just a facade for his fear. If someone tried to kill you I can guarantee he would run away screeching. But as far as companionship, you will never be alone again. He likes to go for car rides, he is housebroken, he knows a few basic commands, he is quiet and non destructive when left alone at home, and even though we call him bologna face he is kind of cute to look at. He also “smiles” when he is excited. His ideal home would be with a single woman, a mother and daughter, or a lesbian couple. You can’t live in an apartment or a condo unless you want him to ankle bite your neighbors. We already addressed the men and children situation. If you have people over he would have to be put away like he’s a vacuum. I know finding someone who wants a chucky doll in a dogs body is hard, but I have to try.

Prancer is available through Second Chance Pet Adoption League. He is in New Jersey but can be adopted anywhere in the general tri state area. If you’ve always wanted your own haunted Victorian child in the body of a small dog that hates men and children, please email njwoof@cs.com. Oh, also he’s only 2yrs old and will probably live to be 21 through pure spite, so take that into account if you’re interested.

Hahahahaha – don’t you love it? I hope Prancer finds the home of his dreams, bless his crabby little heart! ♥️

Xxx

Good Things

What I Know

Yesterday was my 47th birthday – I know, I’m shocked, too…I barely look a day over 35! 😉 It was nice having my birthday fall on a Saturday – and this year’s celebration turned out to be one of the best I’ve ever had. I had breakfast and coffee in bed, a trip to Austin for Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken for lunch (so friggin delicious, no lie!), back to SA for kayaking on the river through the King William district, ice cream BEFORE dinner from Baskin Robbins…and cauliflower crust pizza (with pineapple on it) for dinner – followed by some tv shows at home and just chilling. It was the perfect day from tip to toe – I’m so thankful for my peeps who love me and listen to me enough to know the things I like to do….they made my day simply the best. How lucky am I?

I would appreciate a day like that any year – but, in light of all that’s gone down in the past 13 months, yesterday was truly so special. My one takeaway (apart from the fact that I could work from home forever and be a-okay with that) from all of this is a sincere appreciation for the little things – I don’t need grand gestures to be happy. What I need is those I love, doing the little things that I love – that’s it. That’s all. I used to think that grand gestures were all that really mattered – they aren’t. Happiness is receiving coffee in bed, made just the way you like it. It’s time set aside in the day to cuddle puppy dogs. It’s getting dessert before dinner (always a winning idea, btw). It’s time spent with people who understand you – and love you anyway. Hurray!

Come on, 47…let’s do this. 🙌

Xxx

Good Things

I Will Always Love You

I was working on a writing project today and decided to include a quote from Dolly Parton, my very favorite big-haired philosopher. I wanted to get the wording just right, so I searched Dolly quotes, and Mr Google did not disappoint! Check out some of these gems:

  1. “Find out who you are and do it on purpose.” 
  2. “I think everybody has the right to be who they are.”
  3. “There’s a lot of talented women out there and we should all get a chance to do what we do.”
  4. “I really think it’s wonderful that we’re getting a chance to show what we can do and that we’re being accepted…I have been at it a long time, and it’s a new day and age.”
  5. “I’m a woman and proud of it. I really feel like I have plenty to offer… and I think we all should be able to express ourselves however we do.”
  6. “I live [feminism]. I work it. And I think there’s power in it for me.”
  7. “The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain!”
  8. “If you don’t like the road you’re walking, start paving another one.”
  9. “You’ll never do a whole lot unless you’re brave enough to try.”
  10. “I’m not going to limit myself just because people won’t accept the fact that I can do something else.”
  11. “We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails.”
  12. “Storms make trees take deeper roots.”

Is it any wonder that she’s had the life she has? The positivity and can-do attitude that she exemplifies warms my heart – and she’s as cute as a button, too. I LOVE her. The world needs more Dolly. 🙂

I’m reposting this next section here, I wrote it when I went to see Dolly in concert in Austin a few years ago (remember concerts?), and it was everything I ever hoped it would be — and more! I love her so much, I cried more than once during the concert…it was a spiritual experience. Wowza. Here’s a few pictures from the show – I heart her. 🙂

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I remember when Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton were all the rage in the ’80s. I’m a longtime worshipper at the temple of Dolly (who isn’t?), but I was never much of a Kenny fan (my mom was, though…she even had a poster of him on the inside of her closet door in her bedroom – so. weird. ) One of my friends from home and I used to giggle and sing “Islands in the Stream” when anyone with boobs (ie: she and I) would swim backstroke in the local pool. Get it? Boobs? Islands? I know. Lame. 😦

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Anyway….although I’ve always known all of the words to sing along to that song (because the bloody ditty was EVERYWHERE), I never stopped to listen to them. Until recently. Let’s take a look, shall we?

You do something to me That I can’t explain Hold me closer and I feel no pain Every beat of my heart We got something going on Tender love is blind It requires a dedication All this love we feel Needs no conversation We can ride it together, ah-ha Making love with each other, ah-ha Islands in the stream That is what we are No one in between How can we be wrong Sail away with meTo another world And we rely on each other, ah-ha From one lover to another, ah-ha

I can’t live without you If the love was gone Everything is nothing If you got no one And you did walk in the night Slowly losing sight of the real thing But that won’t happen to us And we got no doubt Too deep in love and we got no way out And the message is clear This could be the year for the real thing No more will you cry Baby, I will hurt you never We start and end as one In love forever We can ride it together, ah-ha Making love with each other, ah-ha

Lovely, don’t you think? I kind of love the words and the ideas presented…It reminds me of this article that some friends posted online recently (women friends hinting at their husbands) entitled Ten Things To Do For Your Wife Every Year: When your words and actions are intentional, the hope of a better marriage becomes reality. Here are 10 things to do for your wife every year:

Take a trip alone with her.

Make a big deal about her birthday.

Give her a weekend away.

Get dressed up (suit and tie) and take her on a date.

Pray continually for her and with her.

Take her to the place of your first date.

Give her a week off from “mom duties.”

Take her to a show.

Write a love letter to her.

Give her a head to toe massage without expecting anything. img_1143 I just think that when people try and do anything for those around them to show that they care…it’s pure magic, whether it’s a grand gesture or not. Doing things to make others happy and feel good is one of the best things we can selfishly do for ourselves as well….and we all ought to try it more often. 🙂 Who knows, friends…. as we are hopefully chugging towards the end of quarantine life, perhaps a bunch of great things are coming for all of us! Like Kenny and Dolly sang….This could be the year for the real thing. 🙂

xxx

Good Things

What’s the Frequency, Kenneth

Some folks operate on a completely different frequency from most everyone else around them, they just don’t connect with the masses…and I believe that I am one of those people. I don’t think like most others do, I don’t do the same kinds of things as other people are inclined to do…I’m just basically an odd duck. I have tried to do a better job of fitting in with the world around me, but the results of these efforts have been bloody disastrous, not to mention more than a lot comical. I guess I was just born to stand out – and not fit in.

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I have come to accept this, and most of the time I revel in my weirdness. I am flattered when someone comments on the odd uniqueness of me, and if I was to be called boring, I would probably weep real tears. However, I have come to realize that while I may think this is an awesome way to be, it is not awesome even a smidge to have to try to deal with me. The people around me have had to put up with a lot of shit from me over the years,  and….well, that’s probably not fair. I’m not entirely sure why this has come to my attention recently, but it has. I feel like I should contact everyone I’ve ever known, everyone I’ve ever dated (now there’s a list), everyone I’ve ever worked with, and try to make amends, AA-style. I need to somehow tell them that I’m sorry that I’ve been strange, odd, and difficult to tolerate. I need to apologize and acknowledge that my quest to find my best self has interfered/wreaked havoc on their existence…and I need to say sorry for that. I don’t really know the way to fix all of this, but believe me, I would sure like to. I know some very kind people, it seems….and they all put up with me. Angels, every single one of them – thank goodness I found them at just the right time.

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Speaking of time….so much of life and your success in it comes from timing. I have notoriously BAD timing….no joke. If there was to be a super-great life opportunity about to happen, I would show up when it was over…not because I’m not punctual (because I totally am), but because that is just me. My timing is almost never right. I have struck gold with this issue the odd time – I had my daughter at the perfect point in my life, and she has been the most beautiful gift every day of her nearly 15 years. I happened to be at exactly the right place (working next door to my dream school) at exactly the right time, and I fell into an AMAZING position that changed my life in so many ways: helped me become the professional I was meant to be, helped me find the friends that make up my tribe, set me up for the work I’m currently doing, and showed me the way to my happily ever after. That was really fantastic timing….but that is the exception, not the rule. To deal with all of this, I have really worked hard on adopting an attitude of gratitude, and embracing the idea that at least something really great came along….even if the timing wasn’t quite there. I’m grateful for the opportunity. 🙂 Besides, when things are meant to be, they will find a way…good stuff will win. I believe.

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How do you see the world, my friends? Is your glass half-full or half-empty? Mine is generally half-full…with plenty of room for more vodka! 😉 I talk about this idea of being different with my little one all the time…she fluctuates between wanting to fit in with the masses in school, to marching to the beat of her own drum and letting her tiny freak flag fly any old time she pleases. I’ve worked in Education long enough to know the vital importance of acceptance from one’s peers during the tumultuous adolescent years, but I so hope that she holds on to some of that uniqueness, that vibrant personality that is coursing through her veins. Those are the things that make her sparkle…and what could be better than that? 🙂

xxx

Good Things

Feast Your Eyes

I’ve been thinking about Ernest Hemingway a lot lately, which is noteworthy in that he is someone that I think of on a pretty regular basis anyway, so why the uptick now??! Gotta be the Ken Burns PBS documentary that starts tonight – I can’t wait to check it out!

A Hemingway Cat

I’ve read all of his books, most of them more than once; I have delighted in visiting his Paris, and spending time swilling booze in his old haunts, imagining that the floppy-haired man at the next table might be the next Hemingway. I finally got to fulfill my lifelong dream of visiting his home in the Florida Keys, which, let me tell you, exceeded my every expectation – and I had set that bar VERY high. While there, I soaked up all of the details of the place (the tour was really great and our guide was outstanding), but the real highlight for me was his writing room above the garage – it was heaven to me. ♥️✨

My idea of heaven ✨

I think it’s pretty safe to say that I have a bit of a ‘thing’ for Papa, as I can count on his words moving me every single time. I’m rereading “A Moveable Feast”, and came across this gem recently : A girl came in the cafe and sat by herself at a table near the window. She was very pretty with a face fresh as a newly minted coin if they minted coins in smooth flesh with rain-freshened skin, and her hair was black as a crow’s wing and cut sharply and diagonally across her cheek. I looked at her and she disturbed me and made me very excited. I wished I could put her in the story, or anywhere, but she had placed herself so she could watch the street and the entry and I knew she was waiting for someone. So I went on writing. The story was writing itself and I was having a hard time keeping up with it. I ordered another rum St James and I watched the girl whenever I looked up, or when I sharpened the pencil with a pencil sharpener with the shavings curling into the saucer under my drink. I’ve seen you, beauty, and you belong to me now, whoever you are waiting for and if I never see you again, I thought. You belong to me and all Paris belongs to me and I belong to this notebook and this pencil.

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Gorgeous, right? Those words – I’ve seen you, beauty…it just kills me. There’s something so precious about a man who can express himself like that, and something so beautiful for a woman to be made to feel that way. Le sigh. Love this. 🙂

One other quick reminder of the beautiful life courtesy of Papa: A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway: AT NIGHT, THERE WAS THE FEELING THAT WE HAD COME HOME, FEELING NO LONGER ALONE, WAKING IN THE NIGHT TO FIND THE OTHER ONE THERE, AND NOT GONE AWAY; ALL OTHER THINGS WERE UNREAL. WE SLEPT WHEN WE WERE TIRED AND IF WE WOKE THE OTHER ONE WOKE TOO SO ONE WAS NOT ALONE. OFTEN A MAN WISHES TO BE ALONE AND A WOMAN WISHES TO BE ALONE TOO AND IF THEY LOVE EACH OTHER THEY ARE JEALOUS OF THAT IN EACH OTHER, BUT I CAN TRULY SAY WE NEVER FELT THAT. WE COULD FEEL ALONE WHEN WE WERE TOGETHER, ALONE AGAINST THE OTHERS. WE WERE NEVER LONELY AND NEVER AFRAID WHEN WE WERE TOGETHER. Love. 🙂

xxx

Good Things

Fa-La-La-La-La-La-La-La-Huh?

Excuse me while I kiss this guy.

I’ve been known to mishear a lyric or two in my day – apparently the song is called “Taking Care of Business” not “Baking Carrot Biscuits”…who knew? (Not me, that’s for sure) Some people have it WAY worse than me – who the hell thought this one:

Tummy why? Ain’t nothing but a fart hey, ain’t nothing but a meat steak”
Correct lyric from Backstreet Boys’ ‘I Want It That Way’:“Ain’t nothing but a heart ache, ain’t nothing but a mistake”

Fart hey? Meat steak? WTF?!?!

Here’s one of my favorite bits about misheard lyrics:

Some more to make you smile:

All Time Funniest Lyrics

Stevie Wonder: Signed, Sealed, Delivered
Down to the river, Onions!

Smash Mouth: All Star
So much to do, so much to see, so much wrong with Nick from…

Def Leppard: Pour Some Sugar on Me
Living with a lover with a red IPhone

Robert Palmer: Addicted To Love
Might as well face it, you’re a dick with a glove.

Sir Mix-A-Lot: Baby Got Back
I like big butts in a can of limes.

Hozier: Take Me to Church
Take me to church, I’ll wash you like a doll in the Saturda…

Abba: Dancing Queen
See that girl, watch her scream, kicking the dancing queen

Madonna: Into the Groove
I’m tired of dancing in Obama’s self

Queen: Bohemian Rhapsody
The algebra has a devil for a sidekick eeeeeeeeee….

Madonna: Like a Virgin
Like a virgin touched for the thirty-first time

Van Halen: Panama
Padded bra

Talking Heads: Girlfriend Is Better
Why, why, why, why start at Uber?

OneRepublic: Apologize
It’s too late to order fries

Bee Gees: Stayin’ Alive
Steak and a Knife, Steak and a Knife

Traditional: We Wish You A Merry Christmas
Check your p***y

Iggy Azalea: Fancy
I’m so Passive

Survivor: Eye Of The Tiger
And the last known survivor stocks his bread in the night

Bee Gees: More Than A Woman
Bald-headed woman… bald-headed woman to me

Fifth Dimension: Aquarius
This is the dawning of the Age of Asparugus, Asparugus

Cyndi Lauper: Time After Time
Suitcase, Dramamine

Judas Priest: Turbo Lover
You can’t retweet, I spy like no other

Robin Thicke: Blurred Lines
Baby can you breed a cactus from Jamaica? It always works for me

John Lennon: Imagine
But i’m not Obi-Wan

Mudvayne: Dull Boy
All work and no play makes me a dough boy

Survivor: Eye Of The Tiger
Donald Duck took my chances

Journey: Don’t Stop Believing
Don’t stop believing hold onto that fetus

Toto: Africa
There’s nothing that a hundred men on Mars could ever do.

Europe: The Final Countdown
We’re working for peanuts.

Elton John: Crocodile Rock
I remember when Iraq was young

Berlin: Take My Breath Away
In all that body lotion, somewhere there’s a loving flame

Hozier: Take Me to Church
Take me to church I’ll worship like a boy at the shrine of your life

Prince: Raspberry Beret
Rats marry their friends

Def Leppard: Pour Some Sugar on Me
Sweet potatoes, sack of beans

Sir Mix-A-Lot: Baby Got Back
I like big bucks in a can of lard.

Savage Garden: I Want You
Getting coffee, getting parfait is what I live for

Redbone: Come and Get Your Love
Drum and guitar love

REO Speedwagon: Dream Weaver
Jean Ebert

Genesis: Invisible Touch
“….she reaches in and GRABS MY PODIO(?!)….”

Outkast: Hey Ya
Shake it like a horny white preacher.

Police: De Do Do Do De Da Da Da
‘Caus when those elephants escape you, The large one ties yo…

Robin Thicke: Blurred Lines
It always works for me; it’s called the tooth decayer

Stone Temple Pilots: Interstate Love Song
Feelin’… like a ham-and-mustard shake

Journey: Don’t Stop Believing
Don’t stop believing. Hold on to that sweet derriere.

Primitive Radio Gods: Standing Outside A Broken Phone Booth With Money In My Hand
I bit down – I bit down hard on Davy

National Anthems: Oh Canada
Oh Canada, we stand on cars and freeze…

Bee Gees: Stayin’ Alive
Sayin a lie, Sayin a lie

Robin Thicke: Blurred Lines
Baby can you breed, a cactus from Jamaica

Styx: Babe
Bare bum leaving

Def Leppard: Pour Some Sugar on Me
Step inside, walk this way You and me babe, Hey, hey! Love …

James Brown: I Feel Good
So good, So good, I got a U

Bobby Fuller Four: I Fought The Law
Reagan rocks in the hot sun

R.E.M.: Losing My Religion
Let’s pee in the corner, Let’s pee in the spotlight.

Dire Straits: Money For Nothing
Money for nothin’ and chips for free

Starship: We Built This City
We built this city on logs and coal

Wham!: Careless Whisper
Guilty penis got no rhythm…

Metallica: Fuel
give me two, give me five, give me a dollar fifty five!

The Jam: Town Called Malice
Rows and rows of disused milf stands down in the dairy yard.

Rolling Stones: Beast Of Burden
I’ll never leave your pizza burning

Elvis Presley: Hound Dog
You ain’t never pornographic and you ain’t no friend of mine

Green Day: Good Riddance
It’s something unpredictable an Indian thats white, I hope …

The Chainsmokers: Roses
He already knows that my wall is fire

Hanson: MMMBop
A man who was asian took his life he only wanted to relax

Manfred Mann’s Earth Band: Blinded by the Light
You look like Medusa with Hair-Rollers in the night.

Weird Al Yankovic: My Own Eyes
My neighbor’s kids sold weapons grade plutonium Across to Ay…

Van Halen: Ain’t Talkin ‘Bout Love
Ain’t Taco Bell love

Mike Posner: I Took a Pill in Ibiza
You don’t wanna be stuck up on ecstasy Stuck up on ecstasy

Irene Cara: What A Feeling
Take your pants off and make it happen.

Commodores: Brick House
She’s mighty mighty, built like a mastodon

Judy Collins: Salt of the Earth
Let’s drink to assaulting the Earth.

Chaka Khan: I’m Every Woman
I’m Terry Wogan

Three Dog Night: Joy to the World
Joy to the visions that the people see

Alice Cooper: Poison
I wanna love you but your hips are a little bit pointed

Prince: Kiss
I just wanna extradite your kids

Hanson: MMMBop
so we just gone to Medicare and the Indian man was there

Shania Twain: You’re Still The One
Looks like we mated

Black Eyed Peas: Boom Boom Pow
Gotta Kit-Kat Gotta Kit-Kat Gotta Kit-Kat Gotta Kit-Kat Kat …

Steppenwolf: Born To Be Wild
Fry all of your guts a-and explode into spaaac

Demi Lovato: Skyscraper
Like a Scottish raper.

Eddie Money: Two Tickets To Paradise
I’ve got two chic’s and a pair of dice, Won’t you pack your …

Psy: Gangnam Style
Oprah got no style!

Beyonce: Single Ladies
I own a Single Lettuce

Jimi Hendrix: Purple Haze
“Scuse me I’m a business guy.

Barenaked Ladies: Big Bang Theory theme music
The artichokes begin to dream

David Bowie: Did you ever have a dream
did you ever have a dream or two where the hero is a cunning…

Elton John: Crocodile Rock
Long night crying by the record machine Dreaming of my Chevy…

Prince: When Doves Cry
maybe i’m just like my father, too cold maybe i’m just like …

Robin Thicke: Blurred Lines
Mushrooms are nasty

Starship: We Built This City
My pony plays the mamba

Ohio Players: Love Rollercoaster
Lonely house cat of love

Nirvana: Smells Like Teen Spirit
I will light on, I’ll abide on, I must kid to Morgan Freema…

R.E.M.: Losing My Religion
Consider this Consider this, the time that sent you read Con…

Justin Timberlake: Sexy Back
Come to the bank

Clash: Rock The Casbah
Drop the pasta, drop the pasta

KC and the Sunshine Band: Keep It Comin’ Love
Keep it common law

Bob Marley: Is This Love
We’ll jump rope ‘cross the bridge

Crystal Gayle: Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue
“Doughnuts make my brown eyes blue…”

Prince: Little Red Corvette
Living co-ed!

Red Rider: Lunatic Fringe
Let me take French

Xxx

Good Things

Hands Up

Here’s some resources to help you support some black female-owned businesses: Create and Cultivate List, The Jerk Shack here in San Antonio (my favorite restaurant in town!), Forbes list, and Refinery 29 list.

Want to do something to support our Asian American friends who are being forced to suffer all sorts of indignities and racist shit these days? Here’s some resources: Travel + Leisure article, GQ article, and NY Magazine article.

Finally – let’s give all the women we know a leg up. Here’s some ideas how: How to Support Women in the Workplace article, 20 Lessons from Powerful Women to Take Into 2021 article, and Celebrate and Support Women article.

I’m so sick and tired of the racist, sexist narrative in this country. ENOUGH. We have to be better than this.

Xxx

Good Things

More Than a Woman

I’ve been reading Caitlin Moran’s latest book “More Than a Woman” and it’s having quite the impact on my wee brain. She is writing this now, as a 40-something woman, and it’s like she’s spent some time spelunking in my mind for research as she’s perfectly nailed so much of my life experience…. and it’s brilliant (her book, not my life experience). She talks about the ways that women tear each other down (a loathsome act if ever there was) and makes a point that I have been shouting from the rooftops for ages: why not just skip past tearing someone else down and focus on building ourselves up???

My real favorite part, though, comes towards the end when she talks about how freeing it is to get older – THIS IS WHERE I AM WITH THINGS. Read this (it’s long, I know – but SO worth it I promise):

Middle-aged women, you are just about to be born again…and what I have realized is that, this time around, you’re going to walk the earth as a hag. These are your Hag Years, and they are glorious.

We think of “hag” as a bad word like so many words associated with women—“fat,” or “slut,” or “bossy”—but hags are cool, man.

Consider the Hag archetype throughout history: when life expectancy barely reached fifty, and once a woman was no longer a bride nor a mother, she entered her Hag Years until she died.

Hags lived slightly apart from the villages and towns—in a cave, or some witchy cottage in the woods. They tended their herb gardens, and mixed up their medicines, and were surrounded by their animals—dogs, cats, particularly clever and charismatic crows. They wore a cape, and had a stick to poke things with, and they’d roam around and engage in mysterious hag activities like talking to trees or doing weird rituals by streams and lakes. They’d be the only women callow, young youths would be scared of—fostering a useful irascibleness that prevented all but the boldest from getting up in their grill and wasting their time. When trouble struck the wider community, in the end, the villagers would always end up having to bravely go and consult the hag, who would then provide them with a medicine, or provide wise counsel, or tell a story from days of yore that provided a solution to the current problem. And, every so often, they’d meet up with their coven of fellow hags and spend all night cackling in a way that terrified everyone else.

This, I note, in the twenty-first century, is exactly the life I am living now. I have Gone Hag. Observe my day, now, in my Hag Years. I’m living a Hag Life.

Dog walk over, I return to my metaphorical cottage in the woods—my Hag House—which I have spent the last decade finally turning into a comfortable and beautiful fortress of books, food, art, and bright rugs, to which very few are invited. In my Hag House, I have no fear of FOMO—it is where I return to with a sigh of relief, glad I no longer have to gad about meeting people, when I could be having a bath and reading a book instead.

Like a hag, I have an herb garden—I have a whole garden that I dote on, in that cliché of middle age. Making a cup of tea, I go out, into the early morning sunshine, and quietly say, “Hello” to the birds and the trees. In the last few years, this garden has become my dear love—a plain square of grass I have slowly turned into a green bower of birches, ivy, and as many roses as I could fit against each fence, pillar, and wall.

It is only in middle age that you have gained enough mastery of time to plan a garden for all seasons: that you can plant a tree knowing it won’t start to enter its full glory for a decade or more—but that’s fine, because the decades pass so quickly now, so that’s an easy commitment for you to make. An older woman can look at a garden in February—all mud and twigs—and lay over it, in her mind’s eye, the tulips in April, the roses in June, the maples in October, the frost on the hydrangea heads at Christmas. Mentally cueing in the apple blossom in three weeks’ time; knowing that now is the time to stake the peonies—for, by next month, they will have toppled, fat, into the roses.

A gardener can lose herself in a whole day of digging and planting—surrounded by her dog, her cat, the robins, and the wrens—talking to them as she goes: “There’s a worm, mate. Fill your boots.” She’ll be on the side of the blue tits gathering dried grass for nests and carefully leave out seeds, so they can feed their babies. She’s on the side of all mothers—however tiny and feathered they are.

At the end of an hour’s work, she can stand—back aching slightly—and feels she has made the world, this tiny part of the world at least, almost perfect.

I am dressed like a hag, these days. My wardrobe is full of Hagosity. I have long swishy coats with big pockets, and a stick to poke things with, as I walk. The clothes of middle age are, I find, the modern versions of Hagdom: comfortable, enveloping, all-weather, brilliantly unappealing to the young.

And my stick-poking walks are full of hag activities. I leave the house again at 10 a.m. ready to be fully pagan in my yomp. I am unashamed to go to the woods and lean against a tree to feel the unusual comfort of putting your arms around something a hundred years older than you—connected to every other tree in the wood—disparately engaged in much the same activities I am.

My mind was blown when I learned that every wood has a mother tree, which tends to the others. They send sap, through their root systems, to ailing trees; they send electrical impulses to the whole community when they’re under attack by insects, so they pump toxins into their leaves to kill off the predators. As a middle-aged woman generally unserved by stories in modern popular culture, and short on viable role models, I find I have more in common with the big beech in Highgate Woods than I do with, say, a sexy, kung fu lady scientist in a Bond film. We’re kind of engaged in the same things.

Also, as a middle-aged woman, a tree will be one of the few living things I will encounter in my day that doesn’t want me to feed it, worm it, listen to its problems, or give it a tenner. It’s good to hold on to something that just radiates a treeish, comradely vibe of “I get you, mate. Me too.”

I pass a group of teenagers, smoking fags on a bench, and their body language is not what it was when I passed similar groups when I was a teenager—these days, they are deferential. Callow youths are wary of me, now: my thin lips and orthopedic foot stomp make them instantly stop pissing around at a bus stop. No one shouts “Oi! Tits McGee!” at me now, as I walk down the street, which is the Hag Bonus, and prevents my wise thoughts from otherwise being interrupted by constant low-level sexual harassment. This means that when I am finally consulted for help in urgent matters of the village, I can pull fully formed solutions out of my head and cheerfully present them, for the good of the community, or the weeping toddler, as is appropriate.

And as for my mysterious Hag Activities out in nature, well, from May to October, I daily pilgrimage here, to my final destination, to the huge, cold, muddy ponds of Hampstead, where I have a single, wild determination: to jump in.

Previously, as a young woman, I was always too scared of swimming in the sea or lakes. The dirt, and the mud, and the things that might swim up inside you. Eels. I feared eels.

Now, of course—now I have known real fear; now I have looked the end of the world in the eye—eels seem laughably inconsequential. You could fill my whole house with cold, muddy water and I’d be like, “Oh. Eels. Odd choice,” before calmly brooming them out of the house. Long-term terror and misery do not bring many gifts, but the wholesale destruction of all lesser fears is one of them.

I notice that—like all the women in the park, with the dogs—the Kenwood Ladies’ Pond is another territory for the older woman. There are not many places where they are widespread and triumphant—but they are here.

There is a sprinkling of skinny, jejune young things in bright bikinis, of course—but they do not last long. Screaming at the cold, taking ages to descend the ladder into the water as the older women shout, “It’s just a bit of cold water, dear!,” they are in and out in minutes. Almost everywhere else is, but this is not a place for soft, young, sexy things.

Instead, the ponds are ruled by doughty matriarchs. Janets, every single last one. Veined thighs; stretch-marked bellies; bosoms like the prow of a ship; grey or white hair up in a bun, or else a jolly swimming cap—these are women who have raised children and grandchildren, seen houses burn down, prosecuted fraudsters, scrubbed front doorsteps, and scared off bastards.

I watch one, in a navy one-piece, briskly descend the ladder.

“Now I don’t care about my children,” she says, on the first rung. She takes the next step down, shivering joyfully as the cold water reaches her thighs.

“And now I don’t care about my job,” she says, gasping.

On the third—up to her waist—she yells, “And now I don’t care about my fucking husband,” and launches herself into the water, sculling off into the willows with a determined breaststroke.

I twist my hair into a bun and jump in.

Hitting the water, all I can see is golden, golden brown—the soupy water shot through with sunshine. The cold is the kind that makes your teeth crackle.

Uttering a single “Oh!”—which bursts out of me with my last warm breath—I swim, hard, for a minute, feeling my chest shudder and my throat close. And then—after exactly a minute—hot, sweet syrup fills my belly and radiates up through my heart, out through my fingertips, and pours from the top of my head like steam. I keep swimming. I have never felt like this before. I feel perfect. Utterly perfect.

When I get out, I lie on the hot meadow grass—turning to hay in the sun—absolutely naked and overwhelmed with how astonishingly lovely I am. I am an absolute god. I briefly saw my reflection in the lifeguards’ hut window, and it showed a middle-aged woman with straggly, wet hair with green mud across her breastbone, walking awkwardly, barefoot. Like I say—astonishingly lovely. I am smiling like I am in the photos after I had just given birth. I think I might have just given birth to happiness. Or: of who I am going to be next.

WHEN I GET home, still muddy, but still glowing, I sit at the kitchen table and look at my house. My little queendom. My Hag Pod. Girls—now women—looking for their car keys, or else cooking tea; a dog on the sofa; a husband putting away the shopping.

This isn’t the only happy ending for a woman—there are millions, equally satisfying, that don’t involve children, or husbands, or what appear to be seventeen tubes of Pringles—but this is definitely one of them, and preferable, I think, to having perfect tits, six billion dollars, or colonizing the moon.

What goes on in a house—behind a billion doors, on a billion streets—is still seen as, primarily, the work of women. The laundry and the broken hearts and the boiled cabbage and the teaching of manners to toddlers; the plans for the future and the way you face adversity and the tone you use on the phone, to customer services.

I remember, a few years ago, walking home from a fundraiser for domestic abuse. The stories I had heard were the kind that make your bones sick; women and children, in everyday clothes with everyday faces, telling everyday horror stories. The monster in the house. The war in the bedroom. The fear in just sitting in a chair, ears still ringing from the last explosion.

For months afterward, I found every street I walked down inescapably sinister—for who could know what was going on behind each door I passed? Once a door closes, anything could happen behind it: It is amazing how much atrocity you can fit into a small, semi-detached house. How many bones you can bury under a patio.

For a while, I became uncharacteristically negative, and dolorous, about humanity—I could not get over this image of how, behind every front door, there is a world that no one save those behind it really knows about. How every street, suburb, village, and city holds thousands upon thousands of microuniverses—all with different rules, vocabularies, and ideas of normality. This is where the women are, and their worlds are utterly secret to us. Women’s domestic lives are secret to us.

But then, a second, comforting thought: the majority of untold stories, happening behind every door, are good. They are breakfasts, birthdays, Christmases, and the whole family being excited to use the new fluffy towels; they are handles being glued back onto cups, and weeping friends being consoled, and the money being found, somehow, for a holiday with Nan. The laundry and the broken hearts, and the boiled cabbage, and the teaching of manners to toddlers; the singing of songs, and painting the walls, and running what is essentially a small company from which you don’t expect profits, or goods, but merely the endless production of calm and love. Adventures still happen, inside these homes. Quests are embarked on. Transformations happen.

But we do not hear of these adventures because we do not tell stories about middle-aged women and their lives. Their triumphs and woes. What we do is either seen as just boring, or else ignored entirely. The lifestyle choices of younger women—the wine drinking, the years of sexual buccaneering, the intense friendships, life lessons, and messy explosions—have, thrillingly, in recent years, taken on a cultural significance and weight. We acknowledge them in their sometimes swaggering, sometimes tearful stories—we see these girls. We know they are a new, established archetype; you can now buy cushions for twenty-five pounds embroidered with the legend “Hot Mess.”

We have been these girls, and now, older, we cheer them on, as they racket through the cities we once racketed through. I hear them laughing in the street at 2 a.m.—returning drunk in cabs—and I fall back to sleep, smiling. They are the shiny ball bearings tumbling through the pinball machine. They are the buzz of electric trainlines being hit by the rain. They are out there, conquering the world, as they should, scattering single earrings as they go.

I feel like I’m on my sofa, quietly content, and texting them, “Just so you know, guys—there is something even more marvelous waiting for you, when you finally land.”

AS NIGHT FALLS, I sally forth into the world to engage in the final activity of Hagdom—meeting my other hag friends in our coven.

When you are middle aged, you find other middle-aged women inescapably more glorious than any other kind of person. You may love the men, and the younger people, passionately—but it is only with the rest of your kind that you feel you can assume your true form: sharing stories and laughing hysterically about things in a way that could, yes, be described by others, passing fearfully by, as “cackling.”

We like to meet away from other people—were it warm enough, we probably would meet in the woods, and dance, naked, around a fire; but as this is Britain in September, we all go to my shed at the bottom of the garden, where we gather around a single bottle of wine that will last us all night. No one in this shed has the enzymes for alcohol anymore. But we don’t need them—for you can get drunk on the right people, when you’re older, and these are the right people.

Sal, Loz, and Nadia—oh, these are the right people, who have sustained me through these years. When I was younger, I believed Christopher Hitchens when he said that women just weren’t as funny as men. I grew up in a generation where “comediennes” were rare and regarded as a freak of nature—once-in-a-generation one-offs, like Joan Rivers, Roseanne Barr, and Victoria Wood. Some kind of genetic accident, mutated to make this rare “female humor.”

What I realize now is that Hitchens and I were, respectively, too male or too young to have ever been invited into a coven—of which there are millions, across the world. You are probably a member of one. If you are not, I truly hope you meet yours soon. Covens are where middle-aged women withdraw from the world to be with those who have, like them, gone through abortion, death, miscarriage, nervous breakdowns, funerals, unemployment, poverty, fear, hospital appointments, and broken hearts—where they sometimes weep and comfort each other, but more often make jokes, so pitch black they can only be laughed at by a fellow hag.

In your coven, you attend to your busy, vital Hag Work: drawing up the lists of idiots to curse and heroes to bless; forming your battle plans and schedules. Scheming the downfall of asshats, and the uprising of the righteous. You do this in a place where non-hags can’t hear you, because Hag Club takes a lifetime to join. And it is here where you launch into the comic routines that leave your ribs bruised from laughing the next morning: the bellyache of pain that only comes from other hags being truthful about their lives. The husbands sneezing, the hormones raging, the bosses perving, and the children being “a delightful challenge.” This is where you realize there is a whole book full of truths about being middle aged that you have only ever heard spoken—and never read. I keep notes on what our conversations span, in a single night: socks, socialism, anal sex, first loves, what we would do in widowhood, whether to buy a fake fur gilet, how to get a pay raise, where the best trees are, kettling, communes, Botox, Sertraline, sexism in its many forms, the glory of Nora Ephron. This is where, one night, in our coven, we found out the origin of the word witch: wych, in Old English, means the thin, whippy branches that can be used to bind things—baskets, fences, boats—together. A witch is a binding thing. Without it, things fall apart. We are witches. “Worldcraft” is what they called it in the eighteenth century. The knowledge that comes only with age.

It’s now 11 p.m., and we’re lying out on the grass, under blankets, looking up at the stars.

“If you could travel back in time, and meet your younger self, what would you say to them?” I ask, as we drink tea from mugs. Oh! 11 p.m. tea is the best! “What are the things they need to know about getting older?”

We all pause for a moment, considering this.

“Always pee after sex—it prevents cystitis.”

“And wipe front to back—God, I didn’t know this until I was in my forties.”

“Have a secret Running Away Fund, in a bank account no one—no one—knows about. You never know when you’ll need it.”

“Learn to drive in an automatic. Fuck it. You might as well. Who cares about gears?”

“Don’t throw away the things that have always made you happy—drawing, music, dancing, animals, being outdoors—because they suddenly seem childish. They are the things that make being adult brilliant.”

“Parenting has about fifteen stages, and you’ll be shit at some of them and brilliant at others. No one is perfect at all of them. But they all only last a year or so, so just when you’re feeling useless, a new phase will begin that you’ll be awesome at.”

“A teaspoon of Marmite in a baked potato will change your life.”

“Your women friends will save your life over and over and over.”

“You can never have too much toilet paper.”

“Every woman will spend their life oscillating between thinking they’re ‘not enough’ or that they’re ‘too much.’ Neither thought can be, nor is, true.”

“Oh God, yes, this!” I say, banging my fists on my knees. “I have lost count of the women I’ve met who worry that they are ‘too much.’ Do you know what women commonly do, when having their picture taken? It is an action that is so ripe with symbolism it hurts. They stoop. They crouch down. They apologize, simply for standing there: ‘I’m a giantess!’ or ‘God—I look like Hagrid,’ or ‘Sorry—I’m Brienne of Tarth in these heels.’ NO YOU AREN’T! YOU ARE A HUMAN BEING WITHIN A PERFECTLY NORMAL HEIGHT VECTOR! STAND TALL! Or they pull their stomachs in, bowing away from the camera, murmuring apologies for how ‘fat’ they are.

“Stand up! Don’t apologize! Relax your stomach! TAKE UP YOUR SPACE. Take up your space, middle-aged women—take up your space. You spend all day saving the world; yet, you still feel you are physically too much. My God, hardworking women—you have earned your place. You have earned every inch. Straighten up, and take it! Oh, I wish I could shout this at every middle-aged woman I meet!”

Lauren starts laughing, then says: “‘It gets so much fucking worse.’ That’s what I’d say. Then I’d wait for it to really sink in, and then say: ‘but then it gets better than you could ever imagine.’”

We all nod. Yes, yes. These are all useful truths.

“What about you, Cat?” Nadia asks. “What would you say, if you could go back and talk to yourself?”

I ponder. “Well,” I say, eventually. “I’d want to warn her, definitely—so it didn’t all come as a shock. And I can’t deny I’d want to wind her up just a little bit, because that would be funny, and she would appreciate my dark humor. But I think, mainly, I’d just want to tell her that I love her. She gave birth to me. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for her. So, I think I’d just give her a hug. Oh! Imagine if women had time machines! It would change everything. I’m sure we’d make good use of them. I’m sure we’d say the right things and be of comfort to our younger selves. Because we are so fucking wise right now.”

We all sigh. There is a long pause, whilst we all reflect on the last ten years of our lives: The middle age so many presume is dull, and uneventful, and bland, but which actually manifests like an epic Ring Quest, all conducted without leaving the house. Heroes, and demons, and sex, and work, and doubt, and despair, and hope—storms whirling onto and through the house, over and over, even as you still get the washing done, and try to end every day having said, to those who inspire it, the only thing, ultimately, ever worth saying: “I’m glad you’re in my life. I love you.”

The silence lasts almost three minutes, before I break it, eventually, saying: “But, even more than that, I wish we had some fags.”

I know this was LONG read, but it’s absolutely extraordinary, isn’t it? I can’t stop thinking about this. I’m going to be 47 in a couple of weeks, and while people think it’s funny that I’m roundin’ 3rd and heading for 50, I think it’s a MIRACLE. I’m alive. I’m happy. I’m (mostly) healthy. I still have my own teeth, and a crackin’ sense of humor. As each year ticks by, I don’t feel closer and closer to the grave (though I most certainly am), I feel more and more free, more and more MYSELF. And I love it. It’s a great time to be alive – bring on my Hag Years. ✨

Xxx

Good Things

The Prophet

I’ve read Kahlil Gibran’s “The Prophet” four times now, and each time I get something new from it, the beautiful, simple words resonate with me on a different level. If you haven’t devoured this book yet, I highly recommend that you do – it won’t take you long to read it, but the absorption of the words and the meaning could sustain you for a lifetime. Gorgeous. Here are some of my favorite passages:

When love beckons to you, follow him, Though his ways are hard and steep. And when his wings enfold you yield to him, Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you. And when he speaks to you believe in him, Though his voice may shatter your dreams as the north wind lays waste the garden.

Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself. Love possesses not nor would it be possessed; For love is sufficient unto love.

And what of Marriage, master? And he answered saying: You were born together, and together you shall be forever-more. You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days. Ay, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.

But let there be spaces in your togetherness, And let the winds of the heavens dance between you. Love one another, but make not a bond of love: Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls. Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup. Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf. Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone.

Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music. Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping. For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.

And stand together yet not too near together: For the pillars of the temple stand apart, And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.

It is well to give when asked, but it is better to give unasked, through understanding.

And to the open-handed the search for one who shall receive is joy greater than giving.

And is there aught you would withhold? All you have shall some day be given; Therefore give now, that the season of giving may be yours and not your inheritors’.

What books do you keep going back to because they speak to your soul? I would love to hear your recommendations! ✨

Xxx

Good Things

Vincent

I’ve got a love of small tattoos, I now have fourteen of them dotted here and there on my body – each one tells a story of something that matters to me, or a moment in time. I love them. ♥️

I added three this past weekend, including this one to the inside of my left forearm:

Do you recognize it? It’s Vincent Van Gogh’s signature – and I LOVE it! My daughter expressed a bit of concern and asked me why I had chosen to put his signature on me – here was my answer:

-First off, Vincent is my very favorite artist of all time, and his work speaks to my soul. Simple as that.

-Second, Vincent’s work is representative of the Impressionist era – one of the hallmarks of this art is that when you look at the paintings too closely, you will notice imperfections and flaws, but when you see it from a distance, it looks beautiful….people are kind of like that. (Remind You of “Clueless” a bit?) Anyway – I don’t believe that we need to go looking at people so closely, seeking their flaws…why? What’s the point? Accept people as they are!!! Accept that they may have flaws (we all do), but they aren’t their flaws….choose to see the good, the beauty in them. ✨ I want people to see the good in me.

-Next, Vincent never knew success during his life, yet never stopped creating. During his short time painting, he approached his work with passion and devotion, despite the fact that he wasn’t achieving success and receiving accolades…he kept on. For the love of his art. For his belief in what he was doing. He painted because he HAD to in order to feel alive. There’s a lesson to be learned here: find what you HAVE to do, the thing(s) that make you feel magical – and DO THEM. Even if nobody else notices – do them anyway. Even if you never receive praise – keep doing it. I find that devotion to one’s craft to be so beautiful and inspiring, don’t you? ✨

-Finally, I’ve struggled with self image my whole life – I’ve never found myself to be terribly attractive, and I’ve always thought that too much of my self-worth was tied up in my appearance. The older I get, the more comfortable I am feeling in my skin, finally feeling at peace (most days) with what is looking back at me from the mirror. There’s nothing wrong with me – I AM a work of art, just as I am. So now I have my favorite artist’s signature on me, too. I love that. ♥️✨♥️

What artists do you love, friends?

Xxx