Back in the 1980’s ‘selling out’ was like when a rock star gave the okay to have their songs used in commercials for stuff like soda and stuff. In fact, Neil Young wrote a song called ‘This Note’s For You’ explaining that quite well. But selling out to Madison Avenue is one thing. Selling out your beliefs and past is another.
I’ve heard over the years that people tend to get more conservative as they get older. For me, that’s not true at all. I’ve always been aligned with liberal progressive ideals but now can define them so much better than before.
So how did I see myself in middle age?
One way was living in a stone house out in the middle of nowhere writing and raising a ton of rescue animals. I’d wander into town once a week in a flowing hippie dress and get my stuff but go nowhere else. Another way was being a self-confident best-selling author traveling the world and looking pretty good at it.
At no time did I see myself as a suburban wife or single-mom (because if I had married suburban-Ken he probably would have dumped me when I hit forty). And I didn’t see myself as career-woman workaholic middle-manager either.
So in relation to my demographic generation, where do I think I stand? Somewhere between a rock and a hard place. We’re about as poor as the generation behind us (Millennials) and we’re also a ‘sandwich generation’ taking care of kids and aging parents. Yet I think we’re also the generation that sold out the least. I mean, we have red-hat assholes but we knew them as Young Republicans so no change there.
As for Generation X women, in the words of three of our musical icons known as The Chicks, we’re not ready to make nice. And now we call out gaslighters and deniers more than ever like The Chicks sing about so well. Because I think we tried to be nice and silent and neither one was received very well. And because of that, I think the generations on either side of us on the age-scale haven’t known where to put us. I do: in front of a tv or a radio with some food and a pair of headphones.
Middle-age for women (40+) is a fucked up time. It’s when a woman’s ovaries began the shutdown process in a way that is anything but graceful and smooth. Your body goes even crazier than it did with fully-working ovaries but at least we have doctors who are writing books that tell it like it is (Dr. Jen Gunter for the win!). We’ve all been touched by cancer so we don’t need the ‘awareness’ and pink-bullshit but a God-damn cure for it (which might be in mRNA like that used in the covid-19 vaccines- yeah science!). Most of all, we know most of the world would love to see us slink off into the dark woods though most of us don’t have that luxury. But the real reason I think the assholes of this world want middle-age women to shut up and go away is that we’ve run out of fucks to give.
But we also know we’re carrying around a lot of baggage, too and that we need to work through it. In the Netflix movie, ‘Wine Country’ there’s a scene with psychic who says this:
“Get over all your shit because it is much later than you think.”
That’s not easy to deal with knowing you’re carrying around a lot of crap and don’t have as much time to deal with as you’d like to. What I’ve learned is that you can unpack and sort it out and get rid of a ton of it. And you can let people know you’ve done that or not. It’s up to you and I will respect anyone’s choice either way. It’s not easy to do this but us middle-age women know nothing is easy past a certain point.
I think this discarding of trash and bullshit is what is leading a good number of us to tiny houses and living on the road. I’m tired of having stuff around that I don’t want or need. And I don’t feel like I need to stay in one place if I have the ability to move around. So why hang on to that crap when you don’t have to?
For me, middle-age is dealing with ever-more fucked up body than usual, an intense need to roam in a turtle shell on wheels, and an ability to write and create day by day. And most of all, it’s leaving a lot of garbage behind and not looking back.
I’ve got my music, books, tv and movies, and a self-confidence that grows by the day. And most of all, I know I haven’t sold out to greed and self-righteous right-wing bullshit. I’ve held on to what I believe in the most: love, hope, kindness, and good rock ‘n’ roll (and punk, new wave, alternative, heavy metal, and country music).