Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Maturity Police

My sister Andrea, bless her heart, is worried about me. This morning I received an email from her that bluntly expressed some of her concerns. Here's a juicy snippet:

This will sound harsh, but when a 42 yr old woman is playing dress up, posting pictures of herself on the internet, and singing some salacious songs in a cheap bar, the husband has reason for concern. And we can't say it's all innocent. Everything we do, we do for reason. .... I ask why do you feel you need the attention? Are you getting attention from Larry? Are you unhappy with Larry? Are you trying to recapture your youth? Perhaps you're going through a midlife crisis.

This particular sister and I had a rather rocky relationship in the past and lashing out is in her nature, so this didn't strike me as particularly odd. It's just how she rolls, and I love her in spite of it.

What does seem odd to me is how a smart woman like her has managed to go through life without acquiring any creative and unusual friends. More eccentrics in her circle would do Andrea good. If she had more weird friends she'd realize that there's a whole subculture of people out there just like her Disgraceful Little Sister - adults who love to dress up, share pictures and stories about themselves with others and *gasp* even sing karaoke in trashy bars. If she had more creative friends she'd understand that some people don't need a reason to be outrageous; they simply can't help it!

I did have to call her out on the bar comment, though. Larry and I went out a few months back to a karaoke dive and happened to walk in on lesbian night. I sang Touch Myself for him and he and the crowd appreciated the performance. It was fun. I highly recommend serenading one's husband with salacious songs in cheap bars. Those with the spirit to try it might find it more fun than they ever dreamed.

What seems odd and outrageous to my sister seems normal to me not because I'm anything special, but because I've surrounded myself with so many special people that what seems crazy to her seems average to me. Cases in point: My friend April. April is 39, rather portly and not the most attractive woman on the planet. But, oh God, can she light up a room. She has a great sense of humor, lives completely in the moment and is blessed with an imagination that won't quit. April is a Harry Potter fanatic and loves to write fan fiction. Recently I got a letter from her HP alter ego, "Delite" informing me that we'd both been invited to guest lecture at Hogwarts. Of course, how could I say no. I immediately wrote her back and sent the message by owl, of course. April is the goofiest person I know and I love her to pieces for it. And no matter how many years go by I will never see her as old. Same goes for my friend Dan, who starts planning his annual Halloween party in March and works himself into such a frenzy by October that co-workers run the other way when he approaches to avoid hearing about his decorations. Or my friend Elizabeth who - when I told her I thought the holly tree in her yard was enchanted - simply nodded and said, "Yeah, I know."

But April, Dan and Elizabeth are just three examples. Most all of my friends are oddballs, although I still associate with some normal people, mostly out of a sense of sheer pity. I mean, normal people can't help that they're normal. I've always figured being normal is a little bit like being retarded, and it's always better just to be nice. Better them than me.

Creative people tend to gravitate towards one another and are only reminded of their eccentricity someone from the "outside" points it out, usually with much hand-wringing and cries of "Act Your Age!" Those people don't realize that people like me and April aren't about recapturing lost youth; we never really grew up in the first place.

I wish more people would enjoy life, which is too damn short given how delicious it can be. But unfortunately this society conditions more to become conformists than oddballs, to delay gratification until we're too old and sick to enjoy it. Conformist drones are easy to spot; they're largely angry and unsatisfied. But mostly angry. When the oddballs try to have fun or act too spirited we only need to look around to find a drone standing there, pinched-face and sullen, tapping their watch and wagging their fingers as they remind us of the deadline they believe has been imposed on Fun and Games. Those of us who insist on missing that deadline drive normal people to distraction.

Oddly enough though, some of those same conformists - at the first sign of wrinkles - run for their Botox treatment, not realizing that the Youthful Glow isn't something you can pump into your exterior, but something that shines from within.

One day I will be an old woman. As I told Andrea, I'm quite looking forward to it. Should I be fortunate enough to live that long, I plan to have long gray hair and - if possible - be even more eccentric than I am now. In fact, I even have a role model: children's book author Tasha Tudor:

Now in her nineties, Tasha Tudor lives in a house in Vermont where she still writes, illustrates and yes, dear sister - even continues to play dress up. Her collection of Victorian clothing is something to see, and she is known for hosting elaborate tea parties where guests are also required to be in costume.

But I'm not quite there. Not yet, anyway. At a spritely 42 I feel I can still dress up in breast-boosting corsets, plan my trip to Hogwarts and sing salacious songs in cheap bars. Eventually, I'll have to slow down. But I'll never be normal, not even to please a beloved sister.


Jana said...

I'm 45, and have been called the oddball friend by a few. Now I live with the oddest of all - Chris. He and I are a pair of those Christians that hate Halloween (sorry- but its hard to love a holiday dedicated to the dead and rotting teeth of children, but I digress, that's not my point here).
I love to remember my friend Lana, my dearest Oddball of them all friend. She and I were inseperable, I was her portly not so good looking friend (though I wasn't the one that lit up rooms, she was). She was the one that sold lingeree and loved to model it for friends all, she gave wonderful massages (or so I heard, never had a massage), and she's the only girl besides my mom, daughter, and granddaughter, that ever kissed me. =-). I miss her a lot, though we "broke up" over the love of a man...sigh.
As for your sister, you're right that she needs a few essentric friends, maybe a little less botox and a complementary surgery to remove that stick from her behind!!! Hey - if you want to sing at lesbian night at the krokinoakie bar, go for it!! If Larry loves it, that's all the better!! Doesn't sound to me like you and he have any problems, just your sister. Perhaps this halloween she could borrow some army boots and go ride a vacuum cleaner!!! SOURPUSS!!

Morgan said...

Geesh. I didn't mean to misrepresent her that completely. Andrea is a very cool chick and a rather independent woman. In a lot of ways I really admire her. She's just a bit more conservative and less of a people person than I am. I think I'd describe her as a Curmudgeon In Training, which I do think is unfortunate, because her increasing misanthropy - I think - has robbed her of meeting many of the truly beautiful people out there.
Per the Botox, I wasn't referring to her in particular. I don't know if she's ever had work done or not. If she has, good for her. My point is that surface work doesn't matter if you're an old fart on the inside.
Per Halloween, we will have to agree to disagree.

Andrea said...

Drunkenly serenading your man in a lesbian bar...sounds like an opportunity not to be missed. One to put on my to-do list.

I don't think you're an attention whore. Your idea of fun is just different from hers. You see a lot of beauty in your life, and you enjoy it, and share it here.

I'm not a people person either, but I do agree that we can all use a little more whimsy in our lives. Or a lot more.

thimscool said...

If I may criticize, I think you are taking the wrong approach...

Nobody is normal.

Morgan said...

Ah, Luke. Too true. Maybe "normal" is the wrong word. Maybe "conformist" is more appropriate. On the other hand, what today's folk consider acceptable conformity is abnormal to the Old Guard. Which means ultimately you're right. No one is normal. But some are more normal than others and I am probably less normal than my sister when it comes to - as Andrea (the blogger, not my sister) - terms "whimsy."

And Andrea, I quite agree. Whimsy is underrated. My sister admits to dismissing most people as idiots, which puts her at a loss because she denies herself the whimsy some of the sillier types could inject into her life.

But she's an super-responsible person, the ant to my grasshopper. We're just different people, is all and at the end of the day eventually appreciating one another for those differences.

thimscool said...

Conformists get rather wordy (even more than you or me) when challenged about what it is, exactly, that they want you to conform to...

It is better to let them spend the energy, and ask short questions like: "What should Larry have done to rebuke me for my sick serenade?"

The problem is that there really is no center. We all think there is, but there isn't... He is everywhere at all times.

I am not rabid, but I believe Jesus was Christ, as the Jews anticipated. And I believe he is God, as they missed.

You've spoken against what you disdain. I wonder if I could trouble you to speak about why you remain a Christian, in spite of the foul air in many churches...

laughingwolf said...

i gotta laugh, out loud, at those who presume to know of samhain [aka hallowe'en] reacting to common misperceptions, and dismissing it out of hand, without detailed research, because it does not fit THEIR concepts of reality

as for your sis, methinks she wants only the best for you, understandably, but unfortunately, seems only on what she deems as 'acceptable' and/or 'grownup' behavior... where is her sense of fun, of joie de vivre?

still, she sounds sweet, if a tad over-protective...

your own life is enchanted, my friend, blessed be

Morgan said...

Ah, Christianity. I don't consider myself a Christian, at least not as Christianity is defined by True Christians™. That's not to say that I don't believe in Christ as a god. I believe that Christ existed, but that God can't be confined to one man or one being, which technically makes me a pagan. But even as a pagan I believe I still adhere to more genuine Christian values than the likes of most Christians do. I was accused of being a pagan long before I realized I was one, but the accusers who've hijacked Christianity in the name of politics are hardly in a place to point fingers.

If someone asks me directly if I'm pagan I can say, "sure." If someone asks me if I'm a Christian I can also say, "sure." I'm as much a Christian as anyone else, given what it's become. I know a lot of True Christians™; I know very few true ones.

And thanks for the advice about how I should have handled my sister's admonition about the karaoke thing. That was good advice.

Morgan said...

Blessed be to you as well, Laughing Wolf.

By and large, many Christians - in spite of the promise of heaven - fear death. Pagans fear it far less, and see it as part of life. The kids and I have been talking this week about our Beloved Dead - my grandmother, pets, friends we've lost. On Samhain Eve we plan to put out extra plates for dinner for Grandmother Mamie, and a few bowls on the floor with food for pets we've lost. Samhain is the Pagan New Year, a time for regeneration and the promise of rebirth. This week we read the story of Persephone and Demeter, and how Demeter's perception of death and darkness changed after her time in the underworld. The kids can't eat a pomegranante now without thinking about that lesson.

You're right, Halloween is much than trick-or-treating and dressing up, although the common version of the holiday is great fun for us all, especially given the chance to play dress up.

Andrea said...

I forgot to say - that photo of Tasha Tudor is just beautiful.

Morgan said...

Tasha Tudor is the most beautiful woman alive, inside and out. If you ever get a chance, read "The Private World of Tasha Tudor." When her kids were little she invented a religion for her family called "Stillwater" loosely based on the Quaker philosophy, just so they could have a big celebration on Midsummer's Eve.

Here's what she said about it: "Stillwater beliefs are very hedonistic. Life is to be enjoyed, not saddled with. Did you know that old monk from away back who wrote to his patron, "The gloom of the world is but a shadow; behind it, yet within our reach is joy. Take joy." That's the first commandment of the Stillwater religion. Joy is there for the taking. Some people are born pessimists and some are born optimists. I'm definitely an optimist."

She's right on track. Isn't life, after all, about JOY, and not about moping and suffering and self-righteous hand-wringing? Shouldn't a true follower of God, wherever one finds it, him, her or them be Happy? Why is it that so many religious people are angry and miserable?

I think it's because they denied themselves the search and instead walk a path they've been told to walk, often out of fear.

thimscool said...

"I believe that Christ existed, but that God can't be confined to one man or one being, which technically makes me a pagan."

Christians do not believe that God is confined to Jesus Christ. They also believe in the "Father" (creator), and in the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit cannot be confined, and pervades all space and time.

So, as far as I am concerned, you are still a Christian, unless you reject any of that trinity. Do you?

I'm curious why you don't consider yourself to be a Christian...

thimscool said...

"Why is it that so many religious people are angry and miserable?"

Perhaps because they do not love God, and their neighbor, with all their heart.

Taking joy is all well and good. But there will also be sadness and suffering in life, whether or not you seek it. A religion should also speak to the problem of suffering.

thimscool said...

I must not fear.

Fear is the mind-killer.

Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.

I will face my fear.

I will permit it to pass over me and through me.

And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.

Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.

Only I will remain.

laughingwolf said...

your plans are perfect for the traditional 'dumb supper', hon


dumb supper....

A Samhain practice common up to the twentieth century, and still performed in some parts, of setting out a plate of food for the ancestors walking abroad on that night.

So called "dumb" because the spirits cannot speak; the idea the dead are mute is also seen in "Branwen uerch Lyr", where the cauldron-born warriors (i.e. those risen from the dead) are unable to speak.

Mary Jones (c) 2004

Morgan said...

Read again, Luke. I consider myself a Christian in that I believe in the teachings of Jesus Christ, whose message has been subverted today by politics. Per the Trinity, that is an oft argued topic that doesn't interest me. I don't spend much time thinking about the division of God into three parts. God pervades the Whole; in everything is a spark of the divine. That's what I believe. If that means I reject the Trinity then I suppose I'm destined for whatever hell you believe exists. Personally, I'm not buying it.

Per anger and suffering. You're right. It will always be with us and there's nothing we can do about it. But finding and sharing joy where others miss it spreads the light, Luke. In that it does alleviate suffering. If you've ever been in the company of an upbeat, optimistic person you'll know just what I'm talking about.

Morgan said...

Very cool, Wuff, very cool. I did not know it had a name. Now I do. Thanks, friend.

thimscool said...

"God pervades the Whole; in everything is a spark of the divine."

How is that different from the Holy Spirit?


If that means I reject the Trinity then I suppose I'm destined for whatever hell you believe exists.

Well, if you reject the Trinity, then I guess I would not consider you to be a Christian... but I'm not sure that means you're going to hell. Nor do I think you should be troubled by what I think about the matter.

Hell and heaven are concepts that I think are very poorly explained in the bible, and subject to a vast range of interpretations. I haven't come to any conclusions about the afterlife.

I reread what you wrote, and I guess that you qualified what you said about not considering yourself a Christian... it seems that you are saying you are not a Christian as defined by True Christians. Thank God for that.

Morgan said...

"How is that different from the Holy Spirit?"

I don't think it is. "Holy Spirit" is just another term for The Divine, like "prayer" is another word for "spell."

" seems that you are saying you are not a Christian as defined by True Christians. Thank God for that."


laughingwolf said...

always most welcome, m'dear morg :)