Life

Playing Around with Story Ideas- “Like Oysters”

“Oh oysters! Come and walk with us!” the walrus did beseech.

Lately I’ve been volunteering over at the Institute On Aging, on Geary and Arguello. They’ve been super fantastic and welcoming, and I’ve been learning tons about elder issues. They’ve also been pretty flexible and open to my tasks as long as it furthers their mission. It’s a pretty unique nonprofit, and I highly recommend that you volunteer there if you’ve ever got time. I felt a little silly being there at first, but everyone’s been so kind that I’m glad I took the plunge.

Of course with everything I’m learning about end of life care, caregivers and ways to just generally be an awesome older adult, I wonder what’s my game plan for getting older? My ideal life would be living like Hillary Clinton- basically killing it in my 60s and beyond, at the top of my game and saving the world. But I’m no politician. What kind of career could I possibly be rocking at 72? America is pretty ageist, especially in the workplace. Also just practically, who will take care of me? Where will I live?

There are a couple of clear paths as I see it: children, family, friends and spouses. Oh also money, that’s an option. As I’ve learned over the years, none of them you can totally count on, but if you cobble them together bit by bit and live a good life maybe things will work out.

I’ve noticed that many of my older role models also happen to be men. John Waters, Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, etc. Active, artistic and jetsetting, doing important work at whatever age and continuing to be blazingly true to themselves. So there’s this idea that I proposed over brunch last week- older women are undervalued and basically invisible in our current society. What if a group of women got tired of being invisible and rebelled by switching genders? What if they basically said “I’m tired of being ignored and used as a woman. I’m going to spend my later years as a man. DEAL WITH IT. Recognize me. I’m still a person that matters in this world.” Self discovery and a conscious decision to cast off the past- what a second act.

Of course I know old men have it hard in our society too. They are ignored and made to feel powerless as well. That is just the truth. But all that aside, I feel like this is the start of a fun short story. I just need to keep thinking about it. An ex-coworker told me that oysters can change their sex back and forth throughout the years, but I am not really interested in that. Where’s the fun if everyone in my world starts out as a woman and then becomes a man? I am interested in secrets, power and identity.

This is all good as long as I don’t have to watch Alfred Nobbs, or whatever that horrible movie was. I am thinking that Beginners would be helpful. Maybe I should read some more Iris Murdoch too.

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