It’s All About the Content, Stupid….

 

Blogging is all about content.  At least, that’s what they tell me.  I am not good at stuff like that.  When I was working as a screenwriter in Hollywood, everyone told me I was  GREAT writer, but my work always lacked “theme”.  I never knew what that meant.  I watched A LEAGUE OF HER OWN recently, and it stuck out like a sore thumb that the “theme” had to do with the fact that the character Geena Davis played had absolutely NO character arc.  She reluctantly agrees to go to the Baseball Hall of Fame reunion, she reluctantly greets the other players on the ball field, and when the story goes into flashback, she spends the entire movie being a reluctant baseball player, a reluctant older sister, reluctantly gorgeous (because as anyone who is gorgeous can tell you, being gorgeous is a real drawback) and only halfheartedly interested in playing in or winning the World Series of Baseball.  So if the theme of this movie is about being a reluctant participant in your own life, then this movie is dead on target.

I have been casting around for a theme to this blog.  Is it about us as baby boomers?  Is it about the baby boomers I have come to admire?  Is it about being an adventurous baby boomer?  And what makes someone an adventurous baby boomer?  Someone who can stand upright on their own and breath without the aid of an oxygen tank?   Or someone who goes bungy jumping off an expansion bridge in New Zealand?  Or both?  What is my theme, who are my characters, and how do I go about executing a successful blog, with millions of followers?  Because I want millions of followers.  I mean sure, Gangham Style is an AWESOME video and FULL of spirit and energy, but I have a youtube video people LOVE and I am not an internet sensation….YET.

So like anyone else who is trying to figure out how to make baby boomers relevant, and fighting what seems to be an uphill battle that is obvious and painful at the same time, I have decided to start profiling baby boomers, to let their dreams, accomplishments and personal histories tell the story.

If you want YOUR story told, send me an email and I will get back to you to set up an interview.   Because as fascinating as the Kardashians are, they got NOTHING on the folks who INVENTED tie-dye….

Oh…and we completely revised our website….have a look….

http://www.babyboomeradventure.com

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Well, Dip Me in Spit and Cover Me with Bird Droppings….

I have just witnessed a miracle.  After seven months spent jumping through increasingly smaller hoops accompanied by the “wah wah wah” of Charlie Brown’s teacher in the background, the journey to obtain a title for the Dodge Travco we bought last February has finally…just today…resulted in an official document delivered to my mailbox by the North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles, and which is now in my hot little hands.

This seemingly ordinary event began when we purchased this awesome turquoise and white throwback, and drove it from Crossville, Tennessee to Asheville and discovered that it had no vehicle identification number.  Anywhere. On the entire vehicle.  North Carolina has turned purchasing anything with wheels  into an art form of  Draconian proportions under the best of circumstances; if you purchase a vehicle in the state, both parties must be present to have the title transfer notarized, which means, you can buy a car on Saturday, but until you can have the transfer notarized on Monday, you are out of luck.  In our case, we bought an “antique” vehicle, which means (under normal circumstances) an inspector comes to your house, checks your paperwork against the VIN number, signs off on it, and away you go to the Department of Motor Vehicles to get a registration, and hopefully, a brand new title.

The Travco didn’t HAVE a VIN number, so the inspector issued a new one, which means we had to get an indemnity bond from an insurer stating that they were willing to take the risk that we hadn’t stolen it and that the seller was satisfied it was no longer his.  After obtaining said documentation, we took everything to the bank to have it all notarized.  Nobody said we had to do that, but we figured, why take any chances?  I went to mail it, but there was no address, so I took it to the local Department of Motor Vehicles, figuring, after weeks of struggling trying to pull all the paperwork together that I was good to go.

The woman who runs the Department of  Motor Vehicles said Michael had to be there to sign off on it as well.

Naturally.

At the time, he was working at the river from 7 am to 7 pm  and couldn’t get to the Department of Motor Vehicles if his life depended on it. Of course, this being the rural south, there ARE ways around the problem.   I looked this woman in the face and said, “”What would you say if I told you that Michael was out in the car.  That he broke his leg and he can’t make it up the stairs?” She shot back, “Did he break his leg today?”  Without skipping a beat, I told her, “its funny you should say that, because he just broke it this morning”.  She told me would just go ahead and look up his driver’s license information, the paperwork was handed over, and off I went….

When I finally got a letter in the mail TWO MONTHS LATER, it said that the indemnity bond didn’t specify that the “body style” of the vehicle was a “housecar”.  Which is a quaint way of saying it isn’t exactly a recreational vehicle but it IS bigger than a breadbox.  Now my indemnity bond needs a rider, so I apologize profusely to my insurance agent for the trouble I have put her through, but I get the rider, I send it off and two more months pass before I decide to call the Department of Motor Vehicles to find out what is going on.  The woman who took my call said, “Oh, well, it doesn’t say on the indemnity bond rights of survivorship, but it DOES say that on the registration, and the two have to match exactly”.

Seriously?  Now my rider, needs a rider (how very “party of the first part”, “who’s on first” of you) and by the way, would it have killed you people to catch that the last time I needed a damned rider? I mean, you have been at this for five months now.  Surely someone might have noticed that particular discrepancy before.  Except that I find out that once the paperwork reaches the special titles  office it goes to ONE PERSON.  ONE person WITH a job, who WANTS to KEEP IT gets to mosey through stacks upon stacks of paperwork looking for errors so they can get a regular paycheck while the rest of us have to wait around for the damned title to show up – someday.  And no one, not even my patron saint at the DMV had ever heard of someone having to jump through so many hoops just to get a damned title in the 25 years she’s been doing her job.

But here it is, in a stack of mail, on a day when I sold the glass kilns from Michael’s studio for some decent coin, got a killer deal on business cards and t-shirts for the new RV business (website in progress!), won $10 from a scratch off lottery ticket, nabbed a room for the Occasion for the Arts Show in Williamsburg  the first weekend in October for a song, got my confirmation email from VibrantNation.com as a guest blogger, put my first short story in the mail for a writing competition that pays $1000 to the grand prize winner with a story about  a lime (of all things) and wound up on the waiting list (okay, that part kinda sucks. I’d love for some art show to just go wild and take me on the first try, but what the hell) for the American Crafts Council show in Baltimore this February.

So somebody, dip me in spit and cover me with bird droppings.  Cause this girl is on FIRE!!!

How Being Retired is like Being Back In High School Again

In 1946, the year the first baby boomers were born, the average life expectancy was 66.7 years. You didn’t have much time to cram it all in, or even think much about your options before it was all over.  Immediately after high school, my father enlisted in the service, met my mom, got married, worked until the day he retired, bought an RV, and worried about his finances on a daily basis until the day he died in 2010.  That was what you did back then.

I went to college, got married, had a kid, got divorced, worked in the restaurant business until I met my second wife and had two more kids. I became a professional photographer, got divorced again, retired at 49, and took up yet another career as an artist before meeting my third wife.  Two years ago, I became a whitewater raft guide and a ski instructor at the ripe old age of 58.  My kids are grown, my mom has settled in a house near my brother, and I have at least another 30 or 40 years before I even start to slow down. Every yardstick my parents measured their success and progress by has absolutely no value to me as a guideline for what comes next, because no one in history has ever been where my generation is at before.

We are like the freshman class on the first day of high school, watching the “senior class” for clues on what to do and how to act.  The trouble is,  none of us want to be like the senior class, because there is a twenty year age difference between us. I have friends in their fifties who recently gave up everything they owned to buy and RV and hit the road. He is a doctor and she is an administrator, and after both lost their jobs, they decided to travel the country in search of seasonal employment to make ends meet.  Half the people they’ve encountered so far are in their seventies and half are in their fifties.  The seventy year-olds are living off social security and retirement savings, but the fifty year-olds are on the road out of necessity.  Some have lost everything in this new economy except their RV’s, and the only work they can find is temporary.  Others are on the road because after a lifetime spent pursuing a dream, they want to actually LIVE instead of just thinking about it, and do it now, before its too late.

 

But with thirty or forty extra years on their hands, it seems a great big question mark is hanging out there.  What do we do next?  Every phase of life up until this point has had a purpose, a routine, and map.  Someone else has done it before us,  so we know what to do when we get there ourselves.  The seniors know more than the juniors, and the juniors know more than the sophomores, and if we want to be cool like the upperclassmen at fifty, then we need someone to watch, so we know what to do next.

Well we have some ideas about how to do that,  starting with the turquoise 1969 Dodge Travco we just bought that will become the headquarters for  a new TV series we plan to launch about baby boomers this spring that you will DEFINITELY want to stay tuned for.

Because if there’s one thing we know for sure, its that we ain’t your grandma’s AARP!

Would Someone Please Tell Me What’s So Great About Being Young?

I’ve been reading Huffington Post 50 blogs lately and I’m starting to notice a trend.

First, there was the swan song to the passing of youth marked by the writer’s decision to retire her sexy underwear for “granny panties”. I have been wearing granny panties for as long as I can remember. Bikini underwear are way too uncomfortable, and thongs were out of the question, and besides, I always thought lingerie was a form of discrimination, if for no other reason than the fact that men wouldn’t be caught dead in the stuff.  I still think  men love lingerie because they don’t have to wear it, but that’s just me.   Wearing granny panties meant I never had a panty line.  I never had a man refuse sex with me because I was wearing them.  And since they are bigger than a shoestring, they never ended up wedged between my cheeks. Setting fire to my underpants and setting them off to sea as a symbol of my old age would be pointless in my case because I actually love wearing comfortable undergarments and I don’t care who knows it.

Then there was the homage to Meryl Streep as the oldest woman ever to appear on the cover of Vogue Magazine at the advanced age of 62.  Now, I have to admit that it never really occurred to me that magazines rarely feature anyone over forty in advertisements until I flipped through a recent copy of  Vanity Fair and realized there wasn’t one single model over the age of 20 in a magazine targeted to a demographic at least three times that age.  Lincoln has at least made a stab at marketing to baby boomers by casting Mad Men’s John Slattery as their new spokesman.   Lincoln says they chose him for his “authentic, real world appeal”, but since Slattery’s built his entire career on being a cold fish, that’s exactly how he comes cross in these ads. If you want “authentic, real world appeal” then get Meryl Streep to hawk your cars and see how fast they fly out the door.  Especially since baby boomer women are the fastest growing segment of the fastest growing segment of the population.

It seems everything about boomer blogs is about what we aren’t anymore.  We aren’t young, we aren’t beautiful, we aren’t sexual, we aren’t thin, no one markets to us, we aren’t represented on TV proportionate to our numbers, we aren’t the center of the universe anymore and we hate it.

But as far as I see it, boomers aren’t really doing anything about it either.  I work nights at a local college and the kids I work with  to love make a point of my age.  The adults in their lives are either professors or parents  who are self-conscious about aging  and these kids know it, but I don’t let their comments get to me because I’m not concerned about aging.  I’m smart enough to know that aging is ts inevitable, so why not make the most of it and besides, these kids don’t know anything.   One girl thought the Ten Commandments and the Constitution were the same thing.  She doesn’t know who the Marx Brothers are,  who Fleetwood Mac is, and she’s never seen Casablanca. Now, the world will go on if she never discovers these things, but what bothers me, is that she isn’t the least bit interested in knowing about them either.   One kid in particular likes to go on about how ancient I am on a nightly basis, until I told him not that long ago, I may be old, but I can still kick HIS ass. When he puffed up at me and said, “I don’t know about THAT” I said, “well I do, because girls fight dirty”, a sentiment I might add, that the swim team girls on work-study instantly echoed.

I don’t get what’s so great about being young and I really don’t get what’s to be gained by wringing our hands over the fact that we aren’t anymore.  The number of people over the age of 100 is expected to reach 3.8 million people within my lifetime, so at 52, I am hardly “old”.  I am just beginning to hit my stride and there isn’t enough time in all the world for me to accomplish all the things I want to.  So all you boomer bloggers; stop telling me what I am not anymore, because baby, I am just getting started.

And So It Begins……

When I was twenty years old, and a junior in college at Oregon State University, I thought I knew everything.  My history professor James, who was all of forty at the time, told me over drinks one night, that the assumption was thoroughly appropriate for my age.  “After all”, he said, “the only time in my life that I ever knew anything was when I was twenty.  It was only when I got older than I realized, I didn’t know anything at all”.  I remember feeling rather smug at the time, which really only proved his point, because I felt as if I DID know everything, and with the certainty of someone who is too young to have the sort of life experience to realize just how little I actually knew, about anything, really.   When I was 20 I couldn’t imagine being 52, and now that I am 52 I can’t imagine what was so great about being 20.  Oh sure, I don’t stop traffic anymore the way I used to, and there are parts of my body that have gravitated to new locations, but when the host of THE AMAZING RACE openly marvels that a farm couple in their fifties made it more than halfway through last seasons show without an oxygen tank and a wheelchair, I figured it was time to make a stand in favor of getting older.

EVERYTHING about being older is better than I could have ever imagined it would be.  Because it finally occurred to me….I didn’t have forever to do this anymore.

I didn’t have time to judge people.  I didn’t have time to waste.  I didn’t need to be self conscious about my body anymore.  It was my body and I needed to learn to love it, because I was never going to look like a supermodel. Even though I may never be a gourmet cook or learn how to speak Mandarin Chinese like a native, who cares?  As long as I am willing to try,  then what possible reason do I have NOT to do whatever I damned well please?

I am 52 years old, and my signficant other is 58.  We find ourselves marvelling at the youth culture, if for no other reason than the fact that we find it incredible that ANYONE under the age of forty thinks anyone over the age of forty is boring.  Michael has been a dive master, a jump master, a motivational speaker, an artist, a whitewater raft guide, a welder, a carpenter, a contractor, a rough neck, a bartender, a restaurant manager, a ski instructor, a marathon runner and a commercial photographer.  At 56 he was the Rookie of the Year and at 57, the Raft Guide of the Year, at two different raft companies between 2010 and 2011.

I worked in the film industry for twelve years before becoming a gourd artist, a painter, a handbag designer, and, when the economy went in the toilet, an inbound sales agent, a telemarketing recruiter AND a virtual assistant for a cookbook author.  Against all odds we managed to land a permanent home loan modification from one of the most intractable mortgage companies on the planet, and even though we aren’t where we thought we would be at this point in our lives, we  still spend our weekends roaming the North Carolina countryside on the back of Michael’s 1988 Heritage Softtail when we aren’t rafting the class three and four rapids on the French Broad River.

In the past two years, we’ve sent in audition tapes for the Amazing Race, Survivor, Expedition Impossible and Project Accessory, and even though we still believe reality TV stardom is in the cards for both of us, the idea that, at 52 and 58 we are obsolete members of this society makes us both laugh.  Because if 50 is the new 30, then people, you all need to get the hell out of our way.  Cause we plan on passing all you suckers, straight on by…..