Tag Archives: People

You’re Like A Suburban Midlife Crisis In America–No Middle Class

peacock mid life crisisHooray! Last week I entered my midlife crisis! No Saturn Return, no Pre-Midlife Crisis, no Late Onset Puberty; I’m talking the exciting big mirror in the aging face “Oh $hit What Am I Doing With My Life” Crisis. I’m at the point where adults finally become mature and live out those inspiring second chance stories that give people hope and aging rock bands one last chance to tour. And since so many people before me have been through it, I know I only have to survive some existential hell for a couple of years until I come to the conclusion that what I really need is to get rid of my old life and start a flashy new one! Problem is that with the middle class going extinct, middle class protégés like myself are finding that we are no longer able to afford the kind of satisfactory crisis that we are accustomed to. While some fear that with the demise of the middle class, motivated stoners and Teva wearing revolutionaries will finally rally to overthrow our current capitalist system, I fear that it will cause my midlife makeover to suck.

Without the same time and resources the middle class once enjoyed, the peacocky crisis we’ve come to know and mock will soon be a thing of the past. Of course there will still be two others available. There is the Rich Man’s Crisis carried out by those in the upper stratospheres of rich. This crisis as opposed to others, does not question career paths taken since the wealthy have always had the money to do whatever they’ve always wanted to do. These enviable midlifers are only subjected to the fear of losing their youth and the promise of impending death. So with a few new spouses (each one younger than the other), Botox shots and some hot sweaty yoga their midlife crisis is complete…ly Zzzzzzzzz.

Then there is the Poor Man’s Crisis, also known as The Struggling Artist’s Crisis. These are the ones who in their 20’s and 30’s did everything people in the other classes of crises try to emulate at 40 or 50. These creative types always dated much younger people but for like-minded conversation not for youth-sucking purposes. They chose day jobs that required little commitment so that they could concentrate on an artistic career that nearing 40 they discover never happened. Tired of living with roommates for 20 years and wishing for a few creature comforts they once scorned (Brookstone foot massagers), these once rebellious folks suddenly question their lifelong misgivings of society’s norms and immediately want to shed all semblance of their nonconformity. Ready to prove that they can succeed in a conventional way, they suddenly work hard to find someone their own age to marry, find a “real” job and settle down by buying a home or a fuel-efficient car in place of the incredibly cool beater or Volvo station wagon they swore they would keep until they died. Even less exciting than the rich, the poor man’s midlife crisis makes me go through another midlife crisis just reading about it.

It is because of the rich and the poor man’s midlife crises that we need to safeguard the middle class. Theirs is the iconic American midlife crisis. They followed the rules for so long they’re ready to break them! With 80’s style self-reflection and real jet-ski consumerist pizzazz, here in the middle you are promised toupees, red hot convertible sports cars, motorboats, cheesy young dates, divorces and the chance to sell that suburban home to buy yourself a downtown loft and finally live like all those cool artist types you stood in line with at the coffee shop and hated on your way to your 9-6-or-more job. You can go out to nightclubs, get college-style wasted on Manhattans and Old-Fashioneds because that’s what you last heard was hip from a temp a few years ago, leave your job in corporate America and make a new small business venture in something cooler like a distillery that makes bacon flavored whiskey with kitschy bacon flavored fruit roll-ups or by making specialty facial hair clips for wine tasters in Napa Valley, then get photographed in Sunset Magazine and show it off to your new family you just made with that temp you met a few years ago in your long-gone corporate job! That my friends, is a real crisis! Something I was ready to join in until I realized I couldn’t.

mid life crisisLike a chubby girl who lost weight but still sees herself as chubby, I like so many others raised middle class, learned that I had been mistakingly considering myself middle class when financially I am nowhere near it. So when my crisis turned up as a 16-year-old me to evaluate what I had made of her life and was unimpressed, I couldn’t escape or hurriedly make things better in a colorful, over-the-top, expensive way. I was sorry to let Young Me know that Now Me can’t just pack up and move my family to Paris or New York and live the life she wanted because I can’t afford to. Instead, the two of us have had to settle for lying in bed to piece together what makes sense from my past, discover what traits hold me back, support the ones that move me forward, take a close look at what’s important, what I want to spend my time working on and how to go about doing it. I discovered that I am part of a new class that is gaining traction in America, and our Lost Class Midlife Crisis is completely…ho hum practical.

*16-year-old me is completely over me and has moved on to her next victim.

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Pregnant Lady Gut

Last week I brought up two things that our culture asks pregnant women to change: their tendency to talk about their feelings and their views on their bodies. After enough talk on talk, this week let us discuss, Le Gut.

Along with Le Thighs and Le Ass, Le Gut has never been a friend of mine or of any woman’s. Yes it is so sensual, so laissez-faire as it rides over low-rise jeans after a filling holiday meal, but like  dealing with a French man on your first visit to Europe, you are constantly reminded to keep it at bay with rigorous all-American exercise and strict pilgrim-like puritanical abstinence. From a young age we are prepared for the battle with our guts through instructions on sit-ups, crunches and Shape magazine articles with year-round ten new tips to bikini abs. And so we work-out, cut ourselves off from lady friends who lunch on guilty caloric pleasures, sacrifice Doritos for baby carrots and then we get pregnant and we’re told, “Forget all the work you’ve done, love that big belly of yours!” What? Does being a baby incubator make me no longer a woman? Don’t I still want to look good? Oh but you will. Once a woman gets preggers you see, we are all re-brainwashed to now believe that everyone finds nothing more attractive than a pregnant gut. To say otherwise is a horrible faux-pas that shows you to be unenlightened to the ways of womanhood and could get you banned from any upcoming baby showers (that last part I know is not much of a deterrent, but still, just in case). So agree with it, pregnant bellies are so beautiful, so natural. Yes, and so was my non-pregnant belly gut, but no one said how beautiful or sexy it was when it squeezed on out my ironic baby T’s back in the 90’s!

As someone who used to be at one time forty pounds heavier (on my frame = 6 dress sizes larger) without a baby inside, this whole, “Miracle of life makes my gut okay,” is hard to accept. Maybe getting fat is an exciting new adventure for skinny ladies who have never struggled with their weight, but for those of us who have worked hard to trim down and undo years of bad eating habits and lifestyle choices, the idea of purposefully putting on pounds is not cool. It’s like asking a recovering alcoholic to suddenly stop their sober lifestyle and start drinking a glass of booze a day. Hey but in 9 months, no worries, you’ll be back to normal!  Oh really?

Now I understand that expecting mothers are not asked to get fat for fat sake, it’s just enough weight to help feed the baby and your new babymaking machine of a body. But still, part of you is gonna get larger than usual. Your arms, your legs. Madonna got fat arms. Hilary Duff got fat legs. I even had a friend who got a fat nose!  Of course I’ll do what I have to do to make sure our baby is healthy and out of me, but please, oh please don’t tell me not to worry and just let my body do its thing. And definitely don’t ask me to suddenly find the larger me gorgeous. Isn’t that sort of a stretch? No pun intended. I see these women who get obsessed with this new weird shape they take on and even go so far to try and make it sexy. Why? Is it really? Or is it because as women we always have to feel that we are in a state of sexy at all times. What if we’re not sexy when we get knocked up, or beautiful–would that be so awful? I do acknowledge that there are some women who look absolutely precious with their big alien-like extended bellies. Although I think that has something more to do with those sweet goofy smiles they get when they talk about being pregnant than the belly itself. Oh wait…no it is the belly. ‘Cause it’s pretty funny to see a good friend with a big ol’ Buddha belly walking around. So cute. But beautiful? Sexy?

I’d rather not try to make it something it’s not. How about instead of fetishizing it with sexy belly shots, just look at it for what it is–a part of life and our bodies. Ears for instance are not that exciting to look at and not all that particularly beautiful, but I don’t go out and prove otherwise by taking a sexy or sweet photo of my ears. No I’ll stick to knowing that what I have to look forward to is nothing more than the perfect extended tight gut needed for that beer-drinking trucker costume I’ve always wanted to pull off at Halloween. When the time comes, I hope to neither love Le Gut, nor hate it, but just let it be. And instead of fretting over making it out to be more than it is, I say as the French would say, “C’est la vie.”

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