BOOMERBROADcast

The voice of baby boomers, the silenced majority. Rants and reflections on lifestyle, fashion, current events, books and more . . .


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My queendom for the perfect eyeliner


Is this too much to ask?

Things change as we get older. I won’t go into detail as you know what I’m talking about, but one issue that I haven’t been able to resolve is finding the perfect eyeliner. Back in the olden days (the 60s and 70s), I could execute a perfect swipe of eyeliner faster than . . . well, the blink of an eye. My eyelids were taut, receptive and beautifully enhanced by whatever I applied, in whatever colour. And I applied plenty.

As we age, less is better. We no longer apply foundation with a spatula, mascara with a broom or blusher with a mop. A delicate touch is now the order of the day. But boomer gals still like makeup and we have a sizeable inventory to back this up. Every so often I purge my supplies while trying not to calculate the money invested/wasted on products that didn’t work for one reason or another. Sometimes when I go through my ‘retired’ makeup and skin care products, I discover I own multiples of the same thing.

Eyeliner is my current challenge. While my eyelids are not exactly ‘crepey’ yet (I’m sure that’s not far off), I can’t get the exact result with eyeliner that I used to. Liquid eyeliners are just too difficult to control and the result is a bit too harsh, even after smudging. Pencils scratch, pull and refuse to stay put. I’ve had the most success with wetting a brush and using cake eyeliner or eyeshadow to apply a line that can be softened with the finger or a sponge wand. But even careful application doesn’t give me nearly the result I used to get when my eyelids were . . . well, you know, young.

Can you believe . . . nothing in my vast inventory works.

While I keep searching for the definitive, perfect eyeliner solution, I decided to go through my existing inventory and was shocked at what I already own. Any thoughts of purchasing something new were immediately wiped out by the humiliating sight of an entire tray of assorted eyeliner products. You name it—I’ve tried it. What I’ve invested in eyeliners alone would probably pay off the national debt of a third world country. And that doesn’t include skincare products, hair products and makeup. I’m not proud of it. Just stating the facts.

I recently had my eyebrows microbladed which will hopefully take care of the brow pencil issues. And don’t even suggest getting my eyeliner tattoo’d on. There are just too many downsides to that procedure for me to even consider it as an option. In the meantime, I need to figure out what I’m going to do with a queen’s ransom in eyeliner pencils that I don’t use. I’d be interested to know what brand of eyeliner works for you, my fellow boomers? Let’s share.


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Bohemian Rhapsody will rock your world


To be honest, I really wasn’t a follower of Freddie Mercury and QUEEN so part of my reason for going to see the movie Bohemian Rhapsody was to educate myself. QUEEN rose to fame just as I was passing out of my rock n’ roll phase—by then I was well into my thirties. As one of the early-born boomers I’d certainly heard of QUEEN but by the seventies I was listening to Meatloaf, ABBA and other musicians.

I’d seen Rami Malek who portrayed Freddie Mercury interviewed earlier on The Graham Norton Show , which increased my curiosity about the movie and the man. We’d heard mixed reviews about the movie and at the last minute doubted our choice but decided to give it a shot. And I’m so glad we did.

As the non-traditional son of Tanzanian immigrants to Britain, Farrokh Bulsara/Freddie Mercury joins a pub band in England and soon blossoms into the front man and entertainer who made the band famous. His unorthodox personality and bisexuality were radical even by seventies standards but the power of his singing voice was undeniable. Much of Queen’s music became the anthem for the seventies and their last-minute appearance at the Live Aid concert in 1985 was the pinnacle of their performing careers.

Me and my girlfriends absolutely loved the movie and I won’t over-share the experience here so you can go and judge for yourselves. I think I missed out on something amazing in the seventies.


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How much can a parent withstand?


On October 10th I was honoured to be a guest speaker on The Joy of Retirement at an alumni luncheon for former employees of Coca-Cola Canada Ltd. in Toronto. I was preceded by a former employee of Coca-Cola, Debbie Sands, who had written a book about her family’s challenges with their second daughter, Amy. A Moth To The Flame is the story of Amy’s struggles with what was most likely Borderline Personality Disorder, a mental illness that Amy seemed to display from the time she was a baby but went undiagnosed.

How does a parent cope when they do all the right things and their best efforts are met with extreme anger, defiance, antisocial and destructive behaviours? How could a beautiful little baby grow into such a troubled adult? Debbie Sands and her husband Ed struggled with these questions from the time Amy was born until she died tragically at the age of 27. And they still struggle with the what ifs, hows and whys.

Amy Sands was a sweet baby but prone to unprovoked and intense temper tantrums. She would have periods of calm but they were only temporary and as she grew, the problems also grew. In elementary school she was bullied for being overweight. A couple of years in a closely monitored private school helped but when she returned to the public system, the wheels fell off. Before long she was running with the wild crowd, neglecting her school work and despite being bright, funny and talented in music and dance, the demons ruled.

Before she finished high school, Amy was involved in drugs, drinking and assorted antisocial behaviours. She had also blossomed into a beautiful young woman with little resemblance to the awkward young girl she had once been. With her family’s support she managed to graduate high school but because of her self-destructive habits was unable to hold down a job or attend college successfully. She was a pathological liar who turned her accusers into enemies and was soon involved in a series of abusive relationships and criminal activity.

Debbie Sands was constantly searching for answers and solutions to work through her daughter’s problems. She read books, consulted with teachers, other parents and tried every resource at her disposal to try and help Amy live a normal life. Naturally, Amy’s aberrant behaviour affected the entire family including an older daughter, Stephanie and a younger brother, Michael. All the love in the world can’t fix certain problems. As parents, Debbie and Ed Sands expended extraordinary amounts of time, emotional energy and money trying to help Amy function in a normal way. But she fought, defied and abused them constantly, only to retreat, apologize, then begin the whole cycle over again.

After hearing Debbie’s presentation at the Coca-Cola luncheon I thought I was familiar enough with Amy’s story that I didn’t need to read the book, but when I picked it up one evening and started reading I couldn’t put it down. It’s educational, heartbreaking and yet redemptive, a must read for any parent who is having trouble with a son or daughter who has fallen off the rails.

The panelists on CTV’s The Social recently discussed a 13-year-old boy who had been an ongoing problem for his parents. He’d stolen the family car (not the first time) to go visit his girlfriend, after first disengaging the home security system and internet/phone system. His mother was criticized for taking his bedroom door off its hinges, grounding him indefinitely and actually taking off her belt to hit him when she caught up with him. While it’s tempting to condemn her for using physical force, it’s easy to understand her frustration and lack of options. This was not an isolated incident and parents of difficult teens are frequently stretched beyond normal boundaries.

Mental illness is chronically under-diagnosed in many young people and parents are often unaware of the root of the problem and the resources available to help families with these struggles. I commend Debbie Sands for writing this book and encourage you to read it or pick it up for someone you know who has similar problems in their family. It has already helped parents with daughters like Amy and will not doubt resonate with others who read it in the future.

To order A Moth To The Flame by Debbie Sands from Amazon, click here.

 


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How to hamper those Halloween pantry raids


You know what it’s like. Every year we pick up Halloween treats from the grocery store, usually two or three weeks before the big night and for some reason the supply mysteriously evaporates before October 31st even arrives. This strange phenomenon is particularly puzzling when it’s something you like. Boxes of Smarties, tiny Mars Bars and potato chips are highly vulnerable while raisins usually remain safely stacked in the pantry.

We have to be so careful about what we dispense these days. When we were kids, the best treats were the always the home-made ones—sugary maple walnut or chocolate fudge, taffy and peanut butter cookies were freely passed out in little orange and black paper bags with witches on them. Our closest neighbours used to pack “special” bags for us “special” kids who lived next door and they were always the best. Now everything has to be commercially sealed and inspected for tampering before being consumed. It’s amazing we survived.

Every year I’m never sure how many kids we’ll get at our door but I plan and hope for plenty as I love seeing the little ones stuffed into their costumes stretched over winter parkas and toques. We live at the end of a dead-end courtyard and are very tricky to find, despite leaving all the outside lights and illuminated pumpkins on. Last year we had only two visitors; one little boy from two doors down and another little 3 ft. superhero of indeterminate gender. I’d stocked up on chips and chocolate bars, then at the last minute sent my husband out to buy red licorice—just in case there was an unexpected deluge.

The bottom line, to my everlasting shame is that last year I ate 90 little bags of red licorice during the first few days of November, all by myself. How else was I supposed to get rid of them? Consign them to landfill? Then, at lunch the other day, my friend Deb made an innocent comment which is a brilliant solution to the annual problem of preventing the inevitable evaporation of treats before the big night, and how to dispose of Halloween candy afterward.

JUST BUY WHAT YOU DON’T LIKE!

Genius! Why didn’t I think of that? One of the guys I used to work with was mortified every Halloween when he was a little boy because his dentist father handed out toothbrushes to his trick or treating friends, and their house inevitably got egged. That’s one approach.

Or, I could distribute sealed bags of kale chips or packets of hand sanitizers. Even stickers might work but I’m afraid of my home being egged if I gave out something like pencils or pens. I’d be happy with that but kids today are far more affluent, more discriminating and not as happy with any old thing as we boomers were. And furthermore, I’ve already stocked up on Smarties and little chocolate bars. Maybe I could eat the Smarties and chocolate immediately (for the sake of the children, of course ) and replace this year’s handouts of candy with recipe cards. Parents and their little ones could then make their own politically correct, nut-free, non-GMO’d, gluten-free, fair trade chocolate treats. Heaven knows, I’ll never use the recipes. And, hold the eggs!


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Anne Tyler satisfies the woman in us


Reading an Anne Tyler novel is like eating an Oreo cookie. It’s predictable, consistently chocolate and always satisfying without competing for any great culinary baking stars. Her latest book “Clock Dance” has all the usual ingredients—a baby boomer woman, a reckoning around home and family and it’s partially baked in Baltimore, Maryland, a familiar setting for Tyler novels.

Willa Drake is the older of two sisters born into a typical family of the 1960s. Her father is steady, solid and the salt of the earth. Her mother, on the other hand, is more high-strung and ‘passionate’, prone to fits of anger and mood swings that regularly leave the family confused and hurt. Willa is frequently put in the position of having to be the ‘mother’ to keep the family functioning.

In college she starts dating Derek, deemed to be a good catch. When he wants to get married before she graduates, she’s reluctant but in the interests of not rocking the boat, she acquiesces and embarks on a predictable life of babies, working and getting on with life. By the time her two sons are ready for college, her husband is killed in a road rage incident. Willa’s life is naturally lonely after she’s widowed. When her sons leave home they maintain only minimal contact with their mother and their lifestyle choices are very different from her own. She remarries in an act of acquiescence disguised as optimism.

One day she receives a telephone call from the neighbour of her older son Sean’s ex-girlfriend, Denise. Denise was accidentally shot and her hospitalization leaves a nine-year-old daughter without a caregiver. Even though the child is not Sean’s, Willa feels obliged to travel from Arizona to Baltimore to temporarily care for the child. Her new husband grudgingly accompanies her but does not share her generous nature and ultimately returns home to Arizona. Willa develops a bond with the fatherless (and temporarily motherless) little girl and soon becomes part of their eccentric little community.

I didn’t find this book as engaging as Tyler’s earlier A Spool of Blue Thread but it was a nice way to pass the time. Willa’s passivity and general “goodness” at times made me want to scream “Grow some backbone” but that was Willa’s character as defined by Tyler and she’s not me. Anne Tyler’s books are always a good read. It’s a pleasant way to pass the time. I’d give it 7 out of 10.

To order Clock Dance by Anne Tyler from Amazon, click here.

To order A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler from Amazon, click here. For my review, click here.


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What’s with boomerang kids? Then, now and still?


We’ve all read about the 30-year-old man whose parents took legal action to evict their large so-called adult child from the family home once and for all. A few years ago we met a couple who resorted to selling their home and moving into a small condo in a last-ditch effort to ditch their immature, dependent son. It worked. Oh, that it should come to this.

While most baby boomers can’t imagine living with our parents a day longer than absolutely necessary, it seems we’re the generation that launched the unlaunchable generation. A much smaller proportion of boomers went to university than today’s young people, not only for economic reasons but also because there was not as much emphasis and insistence upon post-secondary education when we graduated in the sixties and early seventies. When we finished high school we considered ourselves launched and headed off to the big city to get a proper job, earn money and begin our lives.

The high proportion of young people today still living with their parents past the age when they should be off on their own got me thinking about why this has become so ‘normal’. Let’s take a look at why we were so anxious to cut the cord and today’s young people are not.

  1. Real life is not easy. The parents of boomers, also known as The Greatest Generation, lived through the Great Depression and many were veterans of World War II. They knew genuine hardship and made sure we appreciated every single advantage we had growing up. Everything was hard-earned and nothing was taken for granted. They instilled these values in their baby boomer children while simultaneously offering us a better life than they had. Helicopter parenting was unheard of. I clearly remember one day during my working years when four people in our office (including two Vice Presidents) were working on their kids’ school projects. How does that teach young people responsibility and accountability?
  2. Freedom. We had to be home for meals and frequently had to help prepare those meals and hand wash the dishes after. We had multiple chores to do around the house for which we were most certainly not paid. If we were disciplined by a teacher, we got it again when we got home. Parents defended the teachers not their precious misbehaving children. Parents were clearly our parents and not concerned with trying to be our friends. By the time we finished high school, we were anxious to be free of parental restrictions and go out on our own. It’s called growing up and I don’t see how this can be construed as a bad thing.
  3. Economic responsibility. Weekly allowances were just enough to get us into the Saturday matinée and perhaps buy a comic book on our way home. When we ran out of money, the supply dried up. We had to collect pop bottles for extra change. When we were old enough we got after-school or weekend jobs, babysitting, cutting grass, waitressing, whatever we could do to earn extra spending money. Today’s young people just ask for money and it’s handed out freely. How does that teach fiscal independence and responsibility?
  4. We learn from our mistakes. Despite our parents having high expectations, boomers were given plenty of latitude to make mistakes. We hurt ourselves; we made bad decisions and had to deal with the consequences; we were accountable and often had to make restitution for our mistakes. That’s how we learn to become responsible adults. Our parents knew that protecting us from physical and emotional hurt (within reason) was not character-building. They were there to pick us up and get us on our way again but they made sure we learned the lessons we needed to learn from our mistakes.
  5. Gifts are for birthdays and Christmas. It’s shocking to see the volume of toys and games children today have at their disposal. Boomers received toys and gifts on birthdays or Christmas only, and they were modest by today’s standards. A bicycle was special. Many of us did just fine with hand-me-downs. My own two-wheeler had been owned by two girls previous to me before my father bought it from a neighbour and repainted it for my birthday. Monopoly and Scrabble were high-end, expensive gifts. How is it possible to truly appreciate a gift when a child already has everything. I understand some parents are now discontinuing the distribution of loot bags at children’s birthday parties because they can cost parents up to $200.00 in total and children are so spoiled they usually toss the contents anyway. Material consumption is way over the top for everyone, including us old boomers.
  6. Your first home does not need granite countertops. How many boomers grew up in a 1,000 square foot house with one bathroom for a family of five, one phone and one black and white television? When we left home, we often shared a room in a boarding house or packed three girls into a one-bedroom apartment to afford the rent. By the time I’d rotated through a series of spartan accommodations over a period of several years when I started working, I was thrilled to finally be able to afford my very own walk-up bachelor apartment on Vaughan Road in Toronto. It had a claw-foot tub in the ancient bathroom, no countertop at all in the itty bitty kitchen—just a big, deep laundry sink, and I had to walk several blocks with my bundle buggy down to St. Clair Avenue once a week to do my grocery shopping and go to the laundromat. But it was mine and I loved it. Even when boomers got married, we didn’t expect to buy a house immediately. We lived in a cheap apartment while we scrimped and saved to accumulate a minimum down payment on a starter home ‘way out in the burbs. No granite countertops. No ceramic flooring in the kitchen and bathroom. No air conditioning. When I got married the first time, we didn’t even have a clothes dryer in our first home because we couldn’t afford the full complement of appliances. I hung clothes to dry in the basement for the first couple of years we were in our new (town)house, and I was in my thirties.
  7. Money is not fairy dust. It must be earned not sprinkled from above. Having skin in the game always makes the outcome more meaningful. When parents and grandparents keep bankrolling young people after the age when they should be launched, they’re enabling dependence.
  8. The boomerang didn’t come back. Returning to our parents’ home after we left was not an option. There was no safety net because our parents made it clear we were grownups and we were expected to fend for ourselves. Once we left, we were off the payroll, permanently. And we were usually still teenagers. That forced us to get our shit together and get on with life.

How much support is a young person really entitled to?

I recently read an essay in The Globe and Mail written by a young woman who felt universities should be providing much more support in terms of mental health services and guidance for students transitioning into the working world. She felt lonely, isolated and disillusioned living in her tiny studio apartment within walking distance of Fifth Avenue in Manhattan where she got her first job. The more I read her essay, the angrier I became. First of all, it’s the parents’ responsibility to instill independence in young people, not the university’s. This young woman graduated with no student debt; she spent holidays with her parents in Maui and there was no mention of having worked summer jobs or internships. Clearly, she was one of the entitled and ill-prepared for the real world. The comments from readers that appeared under her column were unanimous in telling her to grow up. Life is not easy and the sooner you realize that, the sooner you develop coping skills.

Every generation has its own identifying characteristics. The Greatest Generation lived through the Depression of the thirties, worked hard, fought in World War II and hatched baby boomers. Boomers discovered rock n’ roll, the sexual revolution and amazingly, the digital revolution. Gen X piggybacked on and benefited from the freedoms introduced by boomers. Then, along came millennials who are often maligned for being entitled and spoiled. No doubt, many do qualify for this distinction but not all. Each generation tries to improve on what they grew up with.

Young people who are independent, resourceful and prepared to start life with less than their parents spent their entire lives working for are more likely to succeed and become better citizens. Life truly is not easy and baby boomers themselves have been responsible for enabling boomerang kids and grandkids. Have we created a monster that’s forever going to need constant feeding and nurturing like the thirty-year-old whose parents needed the courts to boot him out? I’m not sorry I won’t live long enough to see how much longer this false foundation will stand up.

Take a look at this Baroness von Sketch example of a coddled Millennial applying for a job. It sure made me laugh and I think you’ll enjoy it too. Says it all:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5MU1Qe16E1E.