Thus begins the Cranky Little Old White Lady blog. Here I will share periodic observations of a 67-year-old white woman (as of July 2016). I’ll be ruminating on life, love, patriotism, race, gender, gardening, food, whatever is on my heart/mind that day. I intend to be seriously light-hearted. I will speak my truth; if it resonates with you, fine. If not, remember it’s just the meanderings of one cranky little old white lady.
Labels are all but inevitable. They can damage, especially when doled out by others based on stereotypes, assumptions, experience, fear, whatever. They’re handy when adopted intentionally. I picked each of my labels and believe you have the right to know something about the person behind them.
Cranky: Right now, I’d be cranky no matter how old or what gender or color I am. We are witnessing the systematic takeover of our beloved country by ignorant, fearful, hateful power mongers who cannot or, I believe, choose not to act in the best interests of this country. I’m mad as hell that we all have – myself included – let these shenanigans go on so long that it’s come to this point: The Republican Party – the party of Lincoln – at its national convention in Cleveland this week is about to nominate for president of the United States a congenital narcissist whose only real interest, as far as I can see, is to aggrandize himself and increase the value of the Trump brand. There is not an ounce of public servant in the man. Most who flock to him are desperately seeking answers to question far more complex than can be addressed in one or two words. But he gives ’em what they want. Those who support him out of a stated desire for party unity have lost any right to my respect. Not that they give a rat’s ass about folks like me. But people in positions of leadership who choose to turn a blind eye to the viciousness of his words and the way Trump calls forth the basest of our natures have relinquished their birthright to a nation that stands for something much more ideal. Those among us who see the problem but think there is still time to sit back and watch, or who say, “Really, this isn’t happening. Not to us,” are nearly as bad. It is happening, now, in this great country. We once believed in “give me your tired, your poor.” Today the party of Lincoln (I intend to use that phrase a lot to irritate Republicans who might still have souls) has actually endorsed a political platform that calls for building a wall across our border with Mexico. Although, as things stand, Mexico might pay for it just to keep us out.
Little –I am short. After having been the tallest girl in fourth grade, it was downhill from there. Everyone else kept growing until I was average among my peers. At the same time I began my expansion into clinical obesity, although most of the kids just called me fat. After years of dieting, with more failures than successes, after a lifetime of wanting just about any one else’s body but the one I was in, and after, in despair, convincing myself small was never an adjective that would describe me, I found the magic of real food. Now I am little. Five-feet three, down from 5’4-1/4. I wear a small in anything. Even my shoes are a half-size smaller than they were. Little fits.
Old – I started receiving Medicare two years ago andSocial Security last year. Officially, that makes me old. I don’t feel old but I watch how people react to my short white hair and the clear evidence that I haven’t been carded in decades. To them I’m old. Young adults call me ma’am. Whether 67 is young-old, middle-old or old-old are hairs I don’t care to split right now. I don’t have enough hair to waste on such a silly exercise.
White – I have come to refer to my ethnic background as Northern European mutt. There’s British, Irish, Scots, Welsh, French, a little Italian (I’m thinking the Alps region) with a dash of Spanish and North African. I look white and I’m white according to census criteria. That makes it official. This is an important descriptor because those of us who have been floating on the luxury barge SS White Privilege are the only ones who can get up and give someone else a comfortable seat. We need to get over ourselves and welcome everyone else on board. And only someone with membership in that exclusive club can tell them the truth. Not saying they’ll like it. But someone needs to start THAT conversation. I’m here.
Lady – This is the identifier I had the most trouble with, simply because there has been, as long as I’ve been alive, a distinction between being a woman and being a lady. Actually, I’m female, although that is only a biological classification. My being a woman is a biological fact of life. I’m a female who at one point in my life menstruated. The past tense confirms the old part. In our culture, to be called a woman is not necessarily a compliment. To be called a lady is always a compliment although not necessarily for the right reasons. As I have been taught to see things, a woman is her own person, which is seen as dangerous. A lady can be her own person but not out loud. She earns the appellation by being beautiful, demure, graceful and above all, appropriate. A woman farts; a lady passes gas (and only in the confines of her own bathroom at night when everyone else is asleep). A woman shakes hands; a lady touches fingers. A woman laughs; a lady titters. In those contexts, I am no lady. But I learned long ago from the most womanly lady I’ve ever known that a woman with class is very much a lady. She won’t go out of her way to make others look bad even when she knows she’s the smartest person in the room. She understands the importance of compassion and empathy and seeks to laugh with her companions, not at them. I’ve known many conventional ladies who smile at you and watch you walk away in shreds. A womanly lady can show up in sweats and a T-shirt and still look good, because being a womanly lady is an inside job. She’s confident, light-hearted, absolutely committed to her friends and family and the things that matter most in her life. She doesn’t take shit from anyone, but isn’t compelled to rub your nose in your bad behavior.
So that’s me, the Cranky Little Old White Lady. I have some things to say. Take your earplugs out. It’s going to be fun.