(Yes, the first letters of the last four words spell something nasty—
it was not intentional, but I decided to leave it there anyway!)
Just like Cordelia and like most little girls, I dreamed of being a writer when I grew up. In elementary school, I wrote poems and stories, which I gave to all my relatives and teachers. My 6th grade teacher allowed me an entire class period to read one of my stories aloud to my classmates, and they loved it. I was almost popular for a whole day!
But then came 11th grade and English Teacher Mr. V. I wrote a story incorporating every ounce of my teenage dreams, desires, and fears and presented it to Mr. V, who took one look, told me it was garbage, and why didn’t I write about something I knew. Within 5 minutes, Mr. V had convinced me that no one would ever have any interest in anything I might write—or, for that matter, in anything I might ever have to say.
I never wrote another word for public viewing. The following week, I went to my guidance counselor and changed all my advanced placement and college-bound courses for business courses (typing, stenography, bookkeeping). I graduated high school and took a job with the federal government, where creativity is not only unnecessary but actually frowned upon.
Here I am many, many years later, attempting to guest blog for my daughter who has already surpassed my teenage dreams. I am terrified. I don’t know if anyone will ever enjoy what I write. I am asking Cordelia’s readers to read my short post below and give me their opinion.
Was Mr. V right? Am I just becoming a foolish old woman? Is my writing totally worthless? Please be honest in your opinions, although hopefully not as brutal as Mr. V was. (But if you feel brutal honesty is, in fact, called for, I can handle it…I think.) Please bear in mind that this is my very first adult effort at public writing.
A Few Random Things I Have Learned in the Last 40 Years or So
There’s a reason stereotypes come into being. Most of them have at least a grain of truth somewhere. While it may be true that not every retired person in my area drives slow and erratically, I still cringe every time I find in front of me a big, shiny Buick, a driver wearing a Grandpa hat or with white Grandma hair, and a flower or something tied to the radio antenna.
Sometimes the most innocuous things can have unexpected consequences. When Cordelia first began her blog, her husband bought her a bunch of bumper stickers to promote her website. I, of course, immediately bought one and slapped it onto my car. I then proudly drove around waiting for someone, anyone, to beep in acknowledgment. After a while, I kind of forgot that bumper sticker was on there—until the day I had to go to a funeral home to pick up a death certificate for a client.
Returning to my car, the first thing I noticed was the nice, bright “Cordelia Calls It Quits” sticker. The second thing I noticed was the older bumper sticker I had taped to my back window, which originally had said “Forget Life—Play [insert game name here].” That bumper sticker had become warped due to moisture on the window glass, so that the only part of it that was still visible was “Forget Life.”
I guess I should have remembered that older sticker, because I had been receiving a number of beeps and jeers from somewhat angry other drivers during a period of time when our local media was having debates about abortion rights. In any event, after the funeral home incident, I became much more careful about where I parked my car.
[Cordelia note: This also reminds me of a ceramic jar Cordelia’s Mom has in her office, which jokingly reads “Ashes of Problem Clients.” We all faound this rather amusing, until one day my mother realized that the estate clients she met with—often coming to take over an estate after a loved one’s recent passing—may not find this jar quite so funny. Since then, she turns the jar so the words face the wall when certain clients come in. If you ever wondered where I get my snarky, totally inappropriate sense of humor from…]
The same things that you and your spouse fought about when first married are the things that bring you together many years later. Who cares which way the toilet paper is hung on the roll—just buy the cheapest and use as little as possible. We’ll be on Social Security soon and need to cut corners now. Yes, the kids are stubborn, headstrong, and probably smarter than we are, but now that they’re grown and on their own, that’s a good thing—maybe someday they can support us.
Yes, good home cooking is wonderful—as long as someone else does it and cleans up afterwards. And it doesn’t matter who does the housework—when you get [much] older, whoever is healthiest on a particular day gets stuck doing pretty much everything that day.
Sometimes you become your parent no matter how hard you try not to. On my arrival at a recent family get-together, my sister-in-law exclaimed, “My God, you look just like your mother!” My mother is 92 years old and in a nursing home. That comment did not feel like a compliment to me.
No job is worth losing your health over. Been there, done that. No further comment needed.
Struggling financially forever can have its rewards. We’ll never have to worry about anyone fighting over our estates because there won’t be any. [Cordelia note: I already got the classic book collection, so I consider myself the winner.]
Sometimes teenage dreams can be rekindled. Maybe not the exact dreams, but something close. Cordelia, I love you so much for giving me this opportunity, and hope I haven’t wasted your blog space needlessly.
So, folks, how was my first effort? Should I just stick to the occasional comments on Cordelia’s posts that some of you seem to enjoy (I really can’t understand that, but am feeling very special about it), or should I occasionally jump in with an actual war story of my own?
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