by KJ Hannah Greenberg
I’ve reached that time of life when my new experiences are beginning to insist on entwining with my more familiar ones. Two important examples of this phenomenon are: the changes caused by the monthly sloughing off of my uterine lining and the changes caused by my weekly attempts to update my understanding of computer accessories.
Per the former, I’m now, in a good eye, part of the “over fifty” crowd. That certain differences would occur, in my physical function, was expected. Early adolescence, young adulthood, pregnancy, the post partum years, lactation spans, as well as the middle of midlife all brought with them anticipated variations in my reproductive tendencies. Some things got bigger, others smaller. Some energies intensified, others diminished. Women’s bodies, mine included, are anything but static.
Per the latter, whereas I remain an unwilling participant in the media revolution, I allowed myself, for the reasons of earnings and sanity, first to be dragged through the conveyances of mass media and then to be pulled along the shoots and ladders of convergent media. The liminal stages of those explorations, all the same, were disagreeable despite the fact that they wrought necessary transformations.
In the first instance, somehow, although I had previously experienced many corporeal alterations, perimenopause surprised me. Wellness, at its best, is a free fall that creates no G’s worth of health challenges. Yet, as honest older gals will testify, the mid decades’ fluxes frustrate order, hindering even those economies of time, space, money or energy that have been in place for just a brief measure. More specifically, simultaneous with my accepting that nooky would never again generate progeny, I found myself facing multiple false alarms.
In the second instance, my word count, font issues, and efforts to avoid hincty language, aside, nothing equaled the equilibrium problems I stumbled upon when interacting with machines that buzz, click, or burp. All of a sudden, editors were insisting on electronic connections. If I wouldn’t or couldn’t Skype or to IM, I stood to lose contracts.
My husband and I exhaled a lot, counted to twenty-five, and otherwise made do with my erratic hormones. My inner chemicals pinged and ponged more than they had during my premenarch years, my fecund years, and the occasions when I lapsed in my exercise routine. Like New Englanders who accept the inevitability of northerly winds, we braced ourselves during my shifting patterns.
I, personally, also attempted to get along with the more popular new conduits for broadcasting ideas. While remembering to format my works according to submission sheet instructions and making sure to trim my pages’ size according to individual outlet’s strictures stymied my creative process, decades of experimenting with not abiding by publication fads proved, in balance, that any urgings I manifested to resist the winds of the media might as well, alongside my writing aspirations, be flushed. Without a means to cultivate an audience, an author has few reasons to generate manuscripts.
The upshot of going along with, instead of fighting against, my physical changes is that my husband and I smiled and still smile more. Loving, in the sixth decade, seems to be an agreeable matter.
The most singular result of my retrofitting my instruments for offering up my work has been my ongoing enjoyment of having my name in print. Other benefits have included my intermittent pleasure in learning to place dark backgrounds behind pictures meant to be scanned, my periodic delight in developing a website, and my seasonal joy in learning to differentiate among data storage devices (albeit, I’ve still not tried parking my information caches on multiple viral servers, i.e. on cloud storage devices).
I never would have believed, had someone bothered to predict for me, that my perimenopausal years would be juicy, invigorating and downright fun. There continues to be a great discrepancy between my lived days and nights, and the concepts floated out by our information sources about the physicality of middle-aged women.
Similarly, if anyone would have suggested, twenty or thirty years ago, that I would be tolerant of, if not somewhat comfortable with electronic publications, audio publications, print-on-demand vetting, or other extremely contemporary aspects of getting writing to readers and to listeners, I would have laughed. I am an old school, palpable card catalog, Big Six publisher, footnotes ‘til ya drop, sort of person. Clicks and whirs never figured on my professional horizon.
Nonetheless, change can bring unexpected goodness. In determining that I will have to remain obsequious to my body’s rhyme and rhythm, similar to determining that the nature of publishing’s progression is beyond my control, I find myself freed. Explicitly, instead of fretting over my long past youth, I celebrate my matronly methods. Equally, instead of getting unsettled about the shrinking numbers of readers that bother with paper-delivered notions, I glean my satisfaction from wider, more diverse, and often younger groups of respondees than my traditionally transmitted writing ever scraped together.
At the same time that having to empty the dishwasher, having to take out the trash, and having to feed any and all visiting, though invisible, dragons remain constants, my ways of having to transport my exuberance to others, whether in intimate climes or for the public eye, have fluctuated a large amount. In all, I’d espouse that my sudden weaving together of comfortable manners of acting with new forms of being present is serving me well.
KJ Hannah Greenberg has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize twice, helps out as an Associate Editor at Bound Off and at Bewildering Stories, and has two new books launching, a full-length poetry collection, A Bank Robber's Bad Luck with His Ex-Girlfriend (Unbound CONTENT), and an assemblage of short fictions, Don't Pet the Sweaty Things (Bards & Sages Publishing).