Saturday, January 22, 2011

Coming of Age at Age 62

People who know me, know I cannot shut up about something once its tweaked my interest.  I rattle on and on and expect everyone else to find it every bit as interesting as I do, and just don't "get it" when they don't.  Well, that's not true. I do "get it," but don't have enough sense to just let it be.

Except recently when I announced at DorothyL that I had just discovered Amanda Cross. I was tickled pink to be welcomed with a volley of on-list and off-list conversations from a host of people who also love her (and one person who doesn't), but were lucky enough to have discovered her many years before I did.  

I was on page 15 of SWEET DEATH, KIND DEATH when I read this:  " . . .  She had a theory about middle age.  She thought of it as a time quite different from the earlier years, cut off from the ghosts of the past.  One might recall those ghosts; most people, she thought, recall them too often.  But they need no longer haunt one.  You have the sense she spoke of, of life able to begin again, if one will but let it."

Hooked.  I was hooked.  I loved every word of this book, and in the meantime have become quite besotted with Amanda Cross.  

From - - - "Amanda Cross is a pseudonym for Dr. Carolyn G. Heilbrun, the revered Columbia University professor whose WRITING A WOMAN'S LIFE and other nonfiction volumes are recognized as ground-breaking classics in literary criticism and feminist studies."

Note:  Dr. Heilbrun died in 2003.  An apparent suicide, a note was found nearby which read  "The journey is over.  Love to all."

As I mentioned at DorothyL, it seems serendipity had a hand in my discovery of a book that's been in my "to be read" stacks for . . .  well, I have no idea for how long.  That I should run across it when I did strikes me as one of those little  "fortuitous accidents" that just happen.  Fortuitously.  This is a book which, aside from the mystery story, delves quite deeply into theories about how women age, obviously written by a feminist.  A book of fiction, written in a style that I find quite lovely and gently, subtly, humorous.  And written in an environment of higher education.  Having worked as a secretary in two different universities for the past 30 years, it just felt like home.   And moved me to reflect a little on the fact that since turning 60 a couple of years ago, I have, without giving it thought, started doing "new to me" things.   To say that SWEET DEATH, KIND DEATH struck a nerve is understating the impact.

Bear with me, please and sit back while I tell you a tale.

The summer of '08 I took an art class at Cheap Joe's Art Stuff.  Cheap Joe's is pure heaven for artists, and for dabblers like me.  Heaven!  The class I took was one in mixed media collage, taught by the talented Cathy Taylor.  The class was a week long, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for five days.  Just like a work week, only not.  Entering the studio with a group of people of varying levels of talent and experience, but all feeling that urge and/or need to scratch a creative itch was quite an experience.  I loved every second.  I'm hoping to be able to do this again, in the meantime, I'm also hoping to use some of what I learned and do some more collages here at home.  I have a fascination with them, and what can be done is just never-ending.  Tapping into my imagination to see what I come up with is going to be a lovely little adventure I'm anxious to get on with.

In July '08, I was asked by the lovely, fun and talented women at The Stiletto Gang to write a piece about my smoking and trying to quit.  That was the first piece of writing I ever did.

Next thing I know, in September I was  invited by another lovely, fun and talented woman, JT Ellison,  to do a guest piece at MurderatiThis one about the "Internet Water Cooler."

Then in October I went to Baltimore for my first ever mystery conference.  And, of course, I chose to start this little mystery con adventure off with not just any mystery con, but the biggest of 'em all.  And, oh my, I am so glad I did.  Saying that it was a life changing experience might sound trite to some, but to many others, you know exactly what I mean.   Bouchercon was so special, and filled me so full of things I wanted to share, nothing would do until I wrote about it And, so.  Meanderings and Muses was born.

And then in November 2008, I turned 60.

Not until just the past week or so have I put all those events together.  Had I given conscious effort to turning 60, determined to do things I'd only thought about doing, it's doubtful I would have done them with as much joy and freedom.  It would, I think, have felt forced and contrived.  I would have been focusing on the "doing" instead of the "experiencing," I think.  Instead, I now realize I've been living my very own "coming of age."  

But wait - there's more!  

(Oh, what picking up one little thread can lead to.  A spider's weaving is the best analogy I can think of.)

I happened upon a notice in Kathryn Stripling Byer's blog about submissions being accepted for a regional anthology.  Long story short, I had a piece accepted and was published in the oh so wonderful CLOTHES LINES, edited by the incomparable Celia Miles and Nan Dillingham.   A few weeks later, "Western North Carolina Women's Magazine" chose some pieces from  CLOTHES LINES to showcase in their magazine to help promote the book.  I was over the moon happy that my piece was one of those chosen.  Whod'a thunk?!  To say I'm proud of the experience is understating the obvious.  I was the proudest woman you have ever seen when I first saw my copy, and that joy has not diminished the teeniest bit. 

During all this, I got to know a number of incredible women who have written some incredible things.  And have been doing it much longer than I, and possess enormous talent that I only wish to have a smidgen of some day.  One of those women is Marlisa Mills.  Marlisa, besides being a psychologist in the Asheville area, is one of these super talented writers, who was a part of CLOTHES LINES.  And she writes a monthly column for (guess?) "Western North Carolina Women's Magazine."  In March, the topic of the magazine is to be "Coming of Age."  And guess who Marlisa has asked to be the monthly profilee?  Why, that would be me!  Ha!  Coming of Age.  It can, indeed, happen right around retirement age, I reckon.

Who knew?!

Next week will be my last week of work.  When I leave my office on Friday, I'm officially a retired person.  I am thankful beyond belief to know that I have a wealth of fun things to look forward to doing.  And even more to discover.

Life is good.

This coming of age event is being marked by some fun events.    I'm having dinner one night next week with gal pals (The "Nutz") in my book group, my office is having a small, quiet (as I requested) send off for me, and my neighborhood (the BEST neighborhood on God's little green earth) is having a little party also.  How lucky can one woman be?

In addition to the "real" parties, I'm throwing a "virtual" party.  It'll be held in two "virtual venues" on January 28th.  Here at Meanderings and Muses, and at Facebook -  I hope you'll drop by!


Vicki Lane said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Vicki Lane said...

You make me want to read Amanda Cross. And, believe, Kaye, as one speaking from almost 68, there's lots of good times ahead.

I'll look forward to the piece in WNCWoman!

Patty said...

Kaye - I'm so glad you starting speaking up in Dorothy-L, and tickled pink that you have started writing and being published. It sounds like your retirement years are going to be as busy or more busy than those working years. Also, Thanks for letting us play in your playground here at M&M.

Mason Canyon said...

Well you've peaked my interest in Amanda Cross now. I have a feeling you are going to be anything but retired after next week. :) You'll be busier than ever.

Thoughts in Progress

Diane said...

I came to M&M only four months ago (I've always been a late bloomer!)and love it. Now I will content myself by browsing all the previous posts. Congrats to you and all you have accomplished and, even better, for what is ahead. I found your post to be a truly inspiring one. Thanks.

Kaye said...

Once you retire, you will wonder how you ever had time to work. The possibilities are endless. ENJOY!

billie said...

What a fabulous post! I'm so glad you mentioned it on FB today!

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Vicki - you don't know how nice it is to know that I'm not the only person who had not read Amanda Cross. Actually, truth be told, I'm happy to have just recently discovered her. I'm not sure I would have appreciated her quite as much at an earlier age. Do read Sweet Death, Kind Death and let me know what you think.

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Patty -I'm glad I did too!! (thank you). Although it would seem once I started speaking up there, its been hard to shut me up. imagine that.

I love having you come play at Meanderings and Muses. You have no idea. I'm thinking of asking Donald to erect us a swing set. :>

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Mason - Have I? Let me know what you think, please! I know I'll be spending a lot of time reading blogs and always look forward to yours (love your Sunday Salon!).

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Diane - Another late bloomer! Welcome, sister! LOL! Now that we're older and wiser it doesn't seem so bad, does it? Thank you for your kind words, they mean a lot. I hope you'll continue finding things here that interest you.

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Kaye, Hi! I think you are exactly right. I can't wait for the adventure to begin!

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Billie - LOVE seeing you here!!!! Thank you - nice words like that from you are like a bright red cherry on my sundae this sunny Sunday.

Patty said...

A swing set? Cool. Now, it has to slide. And, if you have a good, strong tree we could put up a tire swing. Anyone else going to help outfit your playground???

LJ Roberts said...

What a wonderful post, Kaye. Thank you. I do think there should be a cozy tree house in the playground; the perfect place to hide away and read among the leaves.

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Patty - A slide! Absolutely!!!! I feel a blog coming on . . . "Playgrounds I have Known and Loved!"

LJ - oooooh - a tree house. Yes! Too lovely.

Janet Rudolph said...

What a great post, Kaye. Now that I'm aging, too, I think I'll reread Amanda Cross. Such a sad end for her, but that's another story. Enjoyed her then, but maybe will even more now that I'm at a certain age, too.

Loved reading about your move into new areas. I always think I'll go back to art when I retire.. but not sure when and if that will ever be.

Eve said...

I'm finding Amanda Cross! And Kaye, this is a marvelous post. I came to read Bobbi Mumm's post and am so glad I read yours too. I'm at that sweet coming-of-age age myself.

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Janet - that you have a background in art does not surprise me in the least! But I'd love to hear more about it.

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Eve - Yay for those of us at this very sweet coming of age age! Ain't it grand?!
And I hope now that you've discovered us, you'll come back often!

Eve said...

@Kaye, I will come back. I see many interesting people are planning to post blogs. I too am a writer and am always interested in what other writers have to say.

Cathy Olliffe-Webster said...

Yay Kaye! I love your outlook and suddenly don't feel so bad about having just turned 50. So excited that you're retiring soon! I can't wait!
Your first few lines struck a chord with me. "People who know me, know I cannot shut up about something once its tweaked my interest. I rattle on and on and expect everyone else to find it every bit as interesting as I do, and just don't "get it" when they don't. Well, that's not true. I do "get it," but don't have enough sense to just let it be."
Funny, I wrote something very similar a week or so ago. If you have a moment, check it out.
By the way, I want to thank Karen Schindler for pointing our your terrific blog.