BOOMERBROADcast

Baby Boomer's social commentary on life in OUR sixties for those who rocked life in THE sixties.


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It’s not easy being a trophy wife

We definitely earn our keep.

Just ask Melania Trump, our club founder and honorary chief about how difficult it is to always be viewed as nothing more than arm candy. In her wonderful book I Feel Bad About My Neck the late Nora Ephron lamented the exorbitant amount of time and money required to keep ourselves looking presentable as we age. She reckoned the time factor alone would total a full-time eight-hour-a-day job by the time we reach our eighties. Which isn’t that far off.

The rising cost of personal maintenance as we age is something that is becoming increasingly difficult to bear and definitely something our husbands/partners don’t need to know about. The price of keeping up my “natural” highlights and trim is locked in the vault; the costs of quality makeup, skin care products and body creams are just too scary and embarrassing to share with anyone; my electrolysis appointments are made and carried out in secret. The price of vitamin supplements, probiotics, fish oil and all the other potions required to keep our gears oiled is enough to bring on early cardiac arrest.

Massages can be designated as therapeutic health care in the same way chocolate and fashion magazines can be called groceries. They’re in the family budget and the costs are easy to hide. The other day as I was making an appointment for a mani-pedi, I recalled the days when I performed those tasks myself—for free. The results were generally reflective of my skill level at the time but at least they didn’t require the vast cash outlays I’m now forced to endure. I won’t even start on the price of quality fashion designed to camouflage our so-called figure flaws. Which brings me to the cost of Weight Watchers, gymn memberships, tennis lessons and yoga classes. Not to mention having to subscribe to every fashion and decorating magazine currently in publication to stay abreast of what’s in and what’s out. It’s a lot of time and a lot of money. The work never ends.

Will I ever not care?

I’ve often wondered if I’ll ever reach the point when I’m living in the “home” surrounded by the urns of ashes from all my dead dogs, that I won’t care what I look like. Imagine waking up in a comfy flannel teddy bear printed nightgown, brushing your inch-long “pixie” cut and putting on a fresh pink sweat suit over your soft cotton undershirt and grannie panties. Finish the ensemble with fuzzy warm socks inside Tender Tootsies and we’re set to go. Wouldn’t it be lovely if our daily makeup routine consisted of just a slash of clear lip balm to prevent scabs, a few drops of Systane to keep our dry old eyes from crusting over, and we’re ready to rock n’ roll. No more probing in a 10X magnifying mirror for stray chin hairs, new wrinkles, age spots or suspicious skin growths.

The work to stay beautiful never ends.

My husband is either discreetly grateful or sadly indifferent to what it takes to keep me looking so fabulous when he takes me out on the town to McDonald’s or for special occasions like my birthday to Swiss Chalet. When I ask how I look, his answer is always, “fine”. Good enough seems to be good enough. And we haven’t even ventured into such premium procedures as Botox, fillers and cosmetic surgery yet. Keep those pension cheques coming—it isn’t getting any easier.

That’s why we trophy wives have our own Visa cards and bank accounts. This allows us to make discreet lump sum transfers from the joint account into our own account to skillfully bury the high cost of maintenance. Life’s just easier if he doesn’t know the details. Although, considering what it costs him to golf, by my calculations, I’m still a bargain. And with his handicap, he’ll have to be content with me being his only trophy. But, I’m worth it.

To order  I Feel Bad About My Neck by Nora Ephron from Amazon.com, click here.

You’ll love it and it’s only $6.52

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How many e-readers are too many?

To E or not to E?

At the present time, in addition to being a voracious reader of hardcopy books, magazines and newspapers, I juggle several e-readers to meet my daily needs. Just like computer nerds who have multiple monitors flashing with activity on their desks, it takes several devices to satisfy my lust for the written word. The rationale compares to having multiple pairs of black shoes or a variety of purses (Boomer women can relate). Sometimes you like the comfy rubber soled walkers and other times you prefer the stack-em high stilettos that forsake comfort and performance for attitude.

I’ve been known to shoot smart phone users the evil eye as they thumb their devices in the company of friends at lunch or dinner. I’ve indiscreetly suggested that friends leave them in their purses when we’re lunching or catching up over a cup of tea. I rarely use my own cell phone and quickly become impatient with people who are constantly fiddling with theirs. But try to separate me from my iPad and I’d immediately suffer the DTs. I must confess, though, that I still prefer to read the newspaper in old-fashioned hard copy spread out on my kitchen table. With so many newspapers, magazines and other print publications being threatened with extinction, we have a responsibility to support print publication as much as possible. I’m certainly doing my bit with eighteen subscriptions per month.

Some British mags are just too delicious to wait for the hard copy, so e-subscriptions fit the bill

Since reading is my favourite thing in the world to do, I have totally embraced the digital world which offers unlimited access to nearly every word ever written. As the owner of two Kindles, two iPads and one Kobo I’m always just arm’s length from accessing my current library book, reference book or favourite British magazine that takes too long to reach our shores in hard copy.

A friend recently emailed to ask my opinion on the best e-reader as he was contemplating buying one. Since I’ve owned five, he felt I was somewhat qualified to have an informed opinion. My answer was the iPad mini because of its light weight and versatility. But that’s subjective and I certainly don’t want to diminish the merits and joy of reading on Kindle, Kobo or old-fashioned hardcover books. It’s just that e-readers have greatly reduced my burgeoning inventory of books needing literal shelf space and have saved me a ton of money by downloading from the public library or on-line retailers. E-readers are unbeatable for loading up several books when traveling. They’re convenient for carrying in your purse for a quick read while gobbling a burger and fries at Five Guys, or while getting a pedicure. There are so many options available. Take your pick but I highly recommend picking at least one. The way I read it, the more the merrier.

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From this day forth, all male citizens will be circumcised

Imagine if Parliament passed a law that required every male in the country to be circumcised. Or, what if getting a vasectomy required the written permission of the local Catholic priest, regardless of your religion. What would the reaction be if every male in the country was forced to undergo a rectal exam before he was allowed buy condoms. As bizarre as this sounds, that’s exactly the kind of obstacles and unwarranted control over their bodies that women in the United States are now facing compliments of a reactionary, misogynistic government.

There are reasons the original fathers of the American constitution insisted on separation of church and state.  Removing funding from Planned Parenthood has eliminated access for millions of women to assistance in health-related services like breast and pap examinations, STD testing, birth control and other counseling. Students, low-income women and minorities are not the only beneficiaries of services related to women’s health and particular segments of the population are totally dependent on them.

It’s difficult for men to comprehend the challenges faced by women on many levels in everyday life. We cope with lower pay, gender discrimination and general lack of support for “women’s issues”. Many men are oblivious and it’s our responsibility to educate and inform the men in our lives about the importance of fairness and equality. I wish I’d been more vocal when I was younger. If I had, I would have made more money and had a much fatter pension plan waiting for me upon retirement. But, it’s still not too late to make our voices heard.

This won’t hurt a bit. Trust us. We know what’s best for you.

Fortunately, as a Canadian, I live in a more enlightened society. We take care of our sick through universal health care and are more progressive in recognition of women’s issues than our southern neighbours. Canadian women are able to access maternity and health care services our American sisters only dream of.  Perhaps they should start lobbying for reciprocal restrictions on males in health, economic and social issues. Many health plans reimburse men for the cost of Viagra but do not reimburse women for birth control pills. Imagine the backlash if men earned just seventy-six percent of what women made? How would they react to being told they had to get the approval of a fusty old doctor before they could father children or alternatively, choose not to father children. The threat of mutilation or something physically invasive happening to their little boy private parts might get the attention of the alpha neanderthals running the country. Only then will they truly understand what it feels like to have a third party have the final say on what happens to their body, i.e. to be a woman. Religious dogma notwithstanding, men as well as women are the beneficiaries of freedom. America’s founding fathers understood this, but unfortunately the current government can’t read.

Tracey Ullmann captures the essence of women’s struggles brilliantly.

If you haven’t seen it already, you’ll understand the imbalance when you watch this YouTube Video by British comedienne Tracey Ullmann. Click here.

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Boomer girls just wanna look good

We can still rock it.

A couple of weeks ago I introduced Boomerbroadcast followers to a great fashion website and Facebook page for our demographic—Susan After Sixty. I’ve now found a couple more that I think you would enjoy:

Style At A Certain Age

Style Your Way to Success Over 50

The fashion mags continue to ignore our age group so I’m always delighted when I find fashion sites that offer some inspiration for those of us who aren’t stick thin and six feet tall. Most of us have finally figured out what does and does not flatter our particular body shape and that doesn’t necessarily involve elastic waists and granny prints. Personally, I’m always attracted to animal prints and anything with an abundance of tough-looking zippers going every which way. Remember the book “Color Me Beautiful” written thirty years ago by Carole Jackson? We all had our colours done and thereafter adhered to its dictum according to whether we were a Summer, Autumn, Winter or Spring. That advice stayed with me (I’m a “Summer”) although who doesn’t stray and occasionally strut out in the gorgeous saturated colours accorded to the “Winters”.

Who wouldn’t opt for fabulous over frumpy.

Our generation has always loved fashion and clothes. We invented mini-skirts and platform shoes in the sixties. We dropped our hemlines to maxi length with knee-high boots in the seventies and piled our shoulder pads three-deep to look executive in our power suits during the eighties. Boomers gals now have a few bucks to spend on looking great and we still enjoy it. With the dearth of inspiration out there, I’m hoping you’ll enjoy these sites. You can bookmark them, follow their website or friend them on Facebook. You’ll find lots of great ideas for your Pinterest files. Personal fashion choices are somewhat subjective but there are plenty of wonderful options to inspire. Here are the links.

Susan Street’s Susan After Sixty

Linda Waldon’s Style Your Way To Success Over 50

Beth Djalali’s Style At A Certain Age

Save them and have fun.

To order Color Me Beautiful by Carole Jackson from Amazon, click here

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The Sense of an Ending ends with a twist

How would you react to receiving a letter or other communication from someone you were intimate with in the swinging sixties or early seventies and lost track of decades ago? And what if that communication required a face-to-face meeting, after all these years? Imagine the emotions that would be ignited. That intriguing premise is the basis for a book by Julian Barnes called The Sense of an Ending. What prompted me to read the book was a review in The New York Times. The reviewer was so impressed with the story that as soon as he finished, he immediately started at the beginning to read it again. I can’t say that was my response but I did enjoy it enormously.

At around two hundred pages, The Sense of an Ending is a quick, easy read. When I first started reading, the main character, Anthony Webster reminded me of Holden Caulfield. The story begins in the early sixties with the friendship of three schoolboys in England whose dynamic is altered by the later introduction of a fourth boy, Adrian. When they go off to different universities, they maintain a tentative friendship but their lives naturally begin to follow divergent paths. We follow Tony Webster’s journey through the changes generated early in the sexual revolution. We observe his struggles and confusion with “the meaning of life” which was a popular concern of boomers. Then, suddenly, he’s in his seventies and receives a solicitor’s letter informing him he’s been named as the beneficiary of a minor settlement in the will of the mother of an old girlfriend from university.

The emotional struggles, the mystery surrounding the endowment and the confrontations that result profoundly affect Tony Webster’s entire philosophy of life. I won’t divulge the plot and its twists as I really think you should experience the book first-hand. Baby boomers will relate to the subtleties of morals, ambitions and social relationships we experienced and will find the book particularly interesting. But it’s also a kind of mystery story with a plot twist that makes the entire book worth reading.

Click here to order The Sense of an Ending from Amazon.com

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How much is enough?

How much more do we really need when we have each other?

The other day my friend Margaret commented “I have enough.” She said that there’s nothing in life she wants or needs that she does not already have. That observation is profound and got me thinking. Now that baby boomers have reached the stage in life where we are retired, semi-retired or close to retiring, we have time for reflection, and that is a wonderful luxury. We no longer have to drag our tired bodies out of a warm bed on a cold morning and sit in grid-locked traffic to serve the master. For wont of nothing, we have enough.

We’re gradually off-loading our crap gathered over years of consumerism to accommodate moves into smaller living quarters and generally simplifying our lives. I remember when I thought my life would be complete if I just had that one special item, perhaps a certain pair of shoes or a new sofa. Going back even further, remember when we longed for enough money to make a down payment on our first home or pay off our car loan? Think of all the stuff we’ve hauled off to Goodwill or just thrown out after we got tired of it or no longer had room for it in our cluttered, busy lives. What I wouldn’t give to have that money in my bank account now. We’ve all made financial mistakes over the years; that’s how we learn. The most important thing we’ve learned now that we’re at that special age when we do have time to reflect is that happiness is not about things. It’s about sharing life with those we love and being grateful that we have enough to eat, are warm and sheltered and live in a country that values caring for and about each other.

Margaret found the realization that she has enough to be very empowering and was inspired by reading David Chilton’s recent book The Wealthy Barber Returns.  “It was like a light coming on to finally recognize that I do have enough and allowed me to see everything differently, to relax, enjoy, be grateful and live in the moment” she said. Although I’ve personally not read the book yet (it’s on my list), I did read David Chilton’s original The Wealthy Barber when it was first published more than twenty years ago.

Most boomers are finally where we want to be in life and are happy that most of the stress is behind us, as long as our health holds up. Margaret makes entries in her gratitude journal every night which is something I also used to do and found incredibly uplifting. Perhaps it’s time to take a step back and reflect on the gifts that surround us already. Today I took an early morning picture of the pond behind our house. It was as still and clear as a mirror reflecting the surrounding trees and birds walking along the shoreline. I never tire of my morning pot of tea while reading the paper. When I first started blogging almost four years ago, I posted an essay The age of acquisition about appreciating these and other simple pleasures. That’s more than enough for me and for that I am truly grateful.

Click here to read The age of acquisition . . . too much of a good thing.

Click here to order The Wealthy Barber Returns from Amazon

Click here to order The Wealthy Barber from Amazon

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Is there a reward for Crime and Punishment?

There should be some kind of award for accomplishing items on your bucket list. Surely we’re entitled to a pair of new shoes for losing twenty pounds or treating ourselves to a spa day for running a marathon. That’s exactly how I’m feeling after having just finished reading Crime and Punishment by Fydor Dostoyevsky. Believe it or nor, reading that book was on my bucket list and I did it. Many of us have lists that includes such pleasures as visiting Paris in the springtime, writing a best-selling novel or hitting a hole-in-one. Perhaps our ambitions are as mundane as cleaning out the junk in the basement or finally paying off our Visa bill. That surely deserves a dinner out, paid for in cash of course. Not everything on our bucket list is necessarily pleasurable but it should be rewarding. For me, reading Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment was one of those things.

The obvious question is why would I subject myself to such brutality? It’s simple. Like someone running a marathon or climbing a mountain, it was there and demanded to be done. As an inveterate reader I felt challenged to add more classic Russian literature to my repertoire. Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment kept dangling across my field of vision as a goal to be achieved. To complete my troika of classic Russian authors (having also read Tolstoy) I’m now reading Anton Chekov”s Sakhalin Island, but I’ll tell you more about that in a future posting.

I’m certainly not an academic and my take on Crime and Punishment is purely that of an amateur, but overall, I rather enjoyed it. I loved occupying the minds and lifestyles of people who lived in St. Petersburg one hundred and fifty years ago. The characters’ names in Russian literature are always challenging to follow as their names take many forms and are constantly switched about. For instance, the main character’s name has several variations: Raskolnikov, Rodion, Rodka, Rody, Romanovich, (not unlike our treatment of David as Dave, Davey or David) and all the characters names have similar variations which can be confusing.

Raskolnikov is a poor, starving university dropout who, during a period of melancholy and illness, murders a local money-lender and her half-sister during a robbery. The plot takes second place to the psychological study of Raskolnikov’s motives and rationale for committing the crime. The dilemma is relevant and worth considering. Using Napoleon as his moral compass, Raskolnikov attempts to rationalize murder as an acceptable action when committed for the higher good. If leaders of countries can justify war and killing to conquer foreign lands and defeat so-called enemies, how could a simple student be wrong in murdering an evil loan shark, despised by everyone? This premise is eerily relevant in view of the current political situation in our world today. When is killing justifiable and when is it murder? Is it ever justifiable?

Sometime we've just plain earned it.

Sometimes we’ve just plain earned it.

It was a slow and tedious but worthwhile read. The thing I enjoyed most about the book was what I also enjoyed about Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. The minute detail about daily life in Russia transported me to a time and place I will never experience. Graphic descriptions of apartments, rooming houses, the clothing worn by ordinary Russians, conversations in period dialogue that reflect the thoughts, philosophy, sense of humour and worries of the characters was rich and evocative. Now that I have Crime and Punishment under my belt, I’m seriously contemplating tackling Ulysses by James Joyce, but I’m in no hurry. In the meantime I think at the very least I’ve earned a DQ Blizzard or something equally decadent. Don’t you agree?

Click here to order Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky from Amazon.

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