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On the 5th of November I turned another year older.

I’m into my 50’s now and for the most part I don’t mind getting older, though I wish my knee didn’t hurt for no good reason and I wish I could still read itty bitty printing.

The only thing I dreaded were the ” now you’re old ” speeches and advice that people dish out when you hit the big 5-0. I’d heard a lot of this advice flying around me in the past, but it’s another kettle of fish when it comes straight at you and smacks you in the face.

My Dad’s Mother told me- when I was a teenager- that when a woman turned 50 she should cut her hair- yeah that wasn’t going to happen to this girl  being I was a huge fan of Ann Margret and my goal was to have long wild and wavy hair FOREVER.

My Grandma’s advice reflected a sad view on life.  If you’re past the breeding phase, it’s time to walk away from being considered pretty or sexy.

But she also  said that when a woman turned 50 she could wear red lipstick and diamonds  and if she wanted she could even swear – oh- and you could talk out of turn and tell dirty jokes.

So Grandma Ginger’s advice may have sounded a bit dated but she also passed on the side advice that when you turned 50 you could almost do whatever you wanted.

On the other hand when I did turn 50 my so enlightened women friends who should have known better- being that they used words like ” She-ro ” instead of Hero but oddly they also used  cutesy  words like ” Rapey ” and scolded men who used it too and  they were first in line to ride zip-lines and held jobs that our Mother’s generation could never had held because they had a vagina,  and  they scolded women for coloring their hair and not letting it go gray and told me that if you went to a restaurant alone or with other women you’d get a lousy table and the wait staff would ignore you.

Here’s the thing, my Grandmother passed on advice because that’s the world she lived in, but she had also found a way to skirt it and she passed that on too.

My modern day friends?

Gee ladies, I’m sorry if you feel like you became invisible when you turned 50 and maybe it was miserable for you, but it wasn’t for me.

My first thought when I hit  50 was,  ” Well. What next Anita Marie?”

And it’s been an adventure of sorts ever since.

So are you turning 50 soon?

Take my advice, do like I did and think of Ann Margret and her fabulous hair,  wear flashy makeup, learn some great jokes and if anyone tells you different, well.

Screw them.

Ann-Margret

She Looks So Cute When She’s Thinking Hard

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Today I was talking to a friend about writing and they said that this other writer could be good but that their  lack of a college education showed itself at times.

“Really,” I said. ” I don’t have a college education.”

” Well. You’re self educated.”

” That’s like being home schooled. And I know what you think about that. Besides I didn’t pay for it and I never got tested and accepted. I didn’t walk away from my ‘self taught book learnin’ with a degree. So it doesn’t count.”

I hate having this conversation with anybody, but I will have it and I will hammer my point home with a rusty nail and rock.

” Sometimes people wave their degrees around 40 years after the fact like a girl waving her engagment ring around so that everyone notices and asks her about it.”

” Oh ” people are supposed to ask, ” what’s that” and then she’ll tell you all about it until your ears  bleed.

I’ll make no bones about it.

I did want to go to College. My problem was I lacked the confidence to go and the few people who I chose to ask about the process weren’t terribly supportive.

” It’s really hard.” I was told ” and you have that good job at the t-shirt store. Maybe you should stick with retail. You’re really great at that.”

I was 16 at the time.

So I saw college as this elite group of people and it was ok if I chose to not attend  because not everyone was ‘meant to go.’

I wasn’t bitter about it.

I just thought I wasn’t good enough.

Do you know who didn’t do a thing to clear that up?

hmm

So I try not to be a bitch when my College educated friends don’t understand science or physics. I don’t make fun of them when we talk about literature and the minute they open their mouths all the lines from Cliff’s Notes fall out.

I sold a ton of those things when I  had one of my ‘great jobs’ at a bookstore. I always heard the same thing, ” I just don’t have the time to read the entire book.”

Let me point something out. If you are in a place where you can savor the words of Fyodor Dostoevsky fucking DO IT. Don’t cheat your way around it. I read Dostoevsky in high school for my Russian history class. I read him last year (again) for the pleasure of it.

Don’t tell me you ‘remember his books from college.’ His works were intense, dark and because he dealt so much with psychology the characters were complicated people. You’re not going to nail them down in one reading and have it stick because you understand what the characters ‘represent’

You can re-read his works a few times and you will always see a new twist, understand a bit more or depending on the social and political world see it in a new light.

Anyway that’s what I’ve done.

So no, I didn’t go to college. I don’t have papers-  at least my dog does. He’s a Chocolate Lab and registered with the AKC. He also eats cat poop and licks my phone when it rings.

The only paper making me official is my birth certificate and my high school diploma.

Still. I write and read books about physics to relax.

I didn’t go to college but someday I might.

I just hope that after I don’t end up eating cat poop, licking my phone when it rings or walk away from the experience thinking it’s ok to read great works of literature only once or that you can get all the science you need from your friend who was really good at it…in College.

Anita Marie (Godfrey) Moscoso

Edmonds High School

Class of

’83

I Only Read It For The Articles

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Some of you, who are not pure of heart and spirit, may remember the joke people made when they got caught reading Playboy:

” I only read it for the articles.”

We all knew that was balderdash- people weren’t reading Playboy they were LOOKING at Playboy.

I’m not here to judge- and if you want to look at pictures of naked people be my guest.

What I’m here to do is point out that people are dragging that sold old punch line out and they’ve applied it to…

FACEBOOK.

really

Facebook is all about the pictures- we just have a hard time admitting that. So we write little quips and string together one liners and call it communication- but really it’s all about the pictures.

I think it’s fine if people are using Facebook as a way to communicate  if they’re housebound or in a place where for some reason making actual human contact is a challenge.

Moreover not everyone can be a storyteller- so if you want to share your dinner or pictures of your dog and kids and night out with your friends with other people who do that- knock yourself out.

But if you’re a writer ( for example ) Facebook is a creative killer.

Instead of taking those ideas that could turn into actual stories or posts or articles, they disintegrate into a Meme. Or you skip it altogether and instead of turning a person you know or met by chance into an interesting character you just slam this on your wall and call it a day:

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That’s not writing.

It will never be writing.

If you’re a writer don’t fool yourself, you’re not sharing an idea or telling a story. You’re doing the hi-tech version of writing on a bathroom stall.

In the old days picture above would have ended up in the margin of my notebook and I’d have turned it into a  story about two people who end up willing to fight to the death for a parking space- and then when they realize they’re deadlocked they make a deal with the Devil.

Nobody ever will comment under that picture” and what happened next?”

The point I’m trying to make is, if I want to share something  a story about my dog or how my same old daily bus ride is more then it appears or how I saw something strange or cruel or funny- I can do more then slam a picture on FB and post under it:

LOLZ

Or

REALLY?

books

I’m supposed to be a writer. It’s all I’ve ever wanted to be or do.

I shouldn’t settle for  doing less when I know I have so much more to offer.

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The trick is letting go of Facebook.

I’ve bought into the notion that this is where people ‘live’ now and if I don’t live there I will not be living at all.

That can’t be true.

It just can’t be.

Break Time

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Sometimes we take chances, we do something new, outside the box.

This year I did that.

I skipped Halloween, I didn’t write a word I didn’t plunge a knife into a pumpkin, though I did go to a cemetery which was abandoned and neglected and forgotten.

But that’s another story.

So what did I do?

I thought, very, very hard about my writing and how I wouldn’t treat anyone or anything the way I treat it.

I treat my writing like a toy. I play with it, get bored with it and it ends up forgotten and neglected under the couch until for some reason the couch gets moved and there it is.

So I look at my poor beat up toy and I feel guilty so I can’t face what I’ve done and I won’t touch it. I can’t even look at it.

A few  times during October I even pulled out my lap top and fired it up but I didn’t even go to my blogs.

I just couldn’t.

Sometimes I can hear the music and sometimes I can’t. But that’s not an excuse for my lack of self discipline.

However, I think this time I learned something- that I don’t take care of myself or my dreams or grow my talent.

I did that for my husband, my sons my friends – I would support them to no end in what calls to them.

But I haven’t done that for myself.

I’m thinking that by going outside the box- this time I learned something.

At least I hope so.

What She Said

One of my favorite memoirs was written by Carol Burnett.

It’s called called One More Time-

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I enjoyed Carol’s book because of the way she wrote about her family and friends. The people in her book were in glorious technicolor.I felt could see them as I read her book. On the other hand my family is full of vivid characters so I could relate.

So, where is this going.

I have been off looking for ideas, listening to music and probably eating to many snacks but it was worth it.

I was cruising around FB one day when I ran across a post in a Writer’s Group and an editor posted something where he said this would probably upset people but… ( oh translated this means I’m going to screw with you guys but that’s okay, right?)

his point:

You are NOT a writer because you say so, because that’s what you do. You are not a real writer or an author until someone like him edits your book, you gain ‘approval’  and you end up  getting paid.

I have three little stories about that.

First:

When I was just starting out as a guitarist I used to get offers to join bands- as a singer, but not as a guitarist because these bands were looking for “Professional Guitar Players.”

This criteria was set by 16-19 year old BOYS.

I told my music teacher I was sick of hearing that and what did it mean anyway?

My teacher told me, ” Professional means paid. “

He told me to run through the song I had been working on, I did, he reached into his  pocket and handed me a dollar. ” Here, you’re now a paid musician. You’re professional. Congratulations.”

As to the milestone- getting paid  and published.

Well, by a very rough estimate I won prizes and awards for my writing that ended up being worth a serious chunk of cash before I hit 17, so I guess by those standards I was a professional writer too.

I was in scholastic magazines that went state-wide and I think in a few other cases further than that.

The first time that I was ‘recognized’ as a writer was for   a poem and a short story I wrote about a demon cat.

My teacher was so impressed he passed it  around to other teachers and writers-   all the way to ones who taught college.

That’s right I was EVALUATED and my teacher put together my own lesson plan for the next two years so I could develop my gift, my other  teachers followed it to Junior High and it stopped in Highschool because Creative Writing was only taught to Sophomores.

So I applied for extended credit I came up with a new lesson plan and got credit towards Graduating  high school for writing.

So my story and poem ( which I hate writing poems and that was the only one I have ever written)  were entered in contest I’d never heard of and all I know is I got a check for 20.00 and a certificate and a copy of the magazine which in my infinite wisdom as a 10 year old ( this was in 1973), I cut my stuff out and threw the rest of the magazine away :::facepalm:::

But hey, OTHER people SAID I was a writer and I was good. I was only 10 but whatever right? I was APPROVED BY A HIGHER AUTHORITY

And :

I was in another group where we were doing peer reviews and the only piece out of the dozen or so stories that an editor/writer  liked  ( which was good actually ) she got up and said and I quote ” YOU WROTE IT EXACTLY THE WAY I WOULD HAVE. THIS IS FANTASTIC!”

Oh seriously, really?

Back to Carol’s book.

One of my favorite quotes was by Carol’s Grandma, ” Nanny”. When Nanny thought you were being how can I say this…you were being a mindless fool, she would say, ” You make my Ass want to chew tobacco.”

Now the imagery in that slays me.

I love it.

When I read those criteria by people who I will never know about what it takes to ‘be a writer ‘ and that most people who read what they said about what it takes to’ be a writer’,  will probably never meet and that they took it upon themselves to  define people because they have access to the internet and  that more then a few people would be discouraged by them all I can say to those haters is:

” You make my ass want to chew tobacco. Shut the hell up, go write something  meaningful that could actually help shape a writer or the world in general or give blood or do something useful with your life.

And if you are out there writing, and living the experience and it’s an important part of you life then yes you are a writer.

Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise

EVER.

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ps I fucking hate bullies

amm