“Do something, even if it is wrong!”

Notes from Alexis: Delightful thoughts on aging, hope, fear, being verbose, and just plain funny thoughts about people being irritating.

7-13-84

Dearest Lex,

I loved your last letter and I’m so glad you are worried about my problem of aging. It isn’t that I want you to worry, but it’s nice to have a buddy in the war.

Now if you think about it a little, you set out to study a situation I already have a modus operandi for, a M.O. I jump in with all four feet, read everything around, with gusto, and expect to rise up out of it with an answer, or a skill, or some knowledge.

Now when I did that with weaving and spinning you could say, “Oh look, Mom’s out in the swamp having fun,” but with aging you think, “We’re out in the swamp, and it’s no fun at all.” Wrong. We are out in the swamp and it is fun, but it can be a little scary if it’s not your M.O.

I was not only studying aging, but men also, since I was, and am, in the act of writing from a man’s point of view. Now I really never doubted I’d have any trouble with aging. I felt sure I knew how to catch the big one, but I really thought I was in water too deep, over my head, with men. Not so! They too can be caught.

Just this past week I have come up out of the swamp, if not with all the answers, at least with some of the questions, and that’s a big part of it.

So for my lecture on aging, as you suggested ‘fear’ might be the very rock that others would stumble against and fall, but not me. Fear has always been something to tackle for me. Whenever I found myself afraid then I would take that fear out, turn it over and around, study that sucker, look at it from every angle, then just do it. I would never let fear stop me.

No, fear was not the stopper. Lack of hope was. Can you believe it? I, who have never lost hope, have more hope than I can use – the great evangelist losing hope! It’s to laugh at, or cry, or both but it’s true. I found myself temporarily out of hope for some reason. It took me a year but I finally mixed myself up a new batch.

I’m always okay if I can do something. You know the “Do something, even if it’s wrong” syndrome. But first comes the thought. So my thought for some reason was that I was short and fat and ugly – old if you will. Well God, those are things that can be done something with. So I’ve set to with great good humor.

I changed my hair-do. I have lost some weight and firmly intend to lose some more, but evidently changing my attitude was the good part, because a man flirted outrageously with me the other day, and I’m here to tell you it didn’t hurt one bit that he was young and beautiful. Bless his heart.

My sense of humor is coming back too. I think it is funny that I was so concerned about what other people think. I have never cared before, but this time it was the right approach. It got me off my crying jag, got me moving, making a forward motion.

I have involved you in all this because I thought you would find it fun and enjoy the whole thing. If not enjoy, exactly, then certainly remember. I’m sure I’m not totally out of the swamp yet, but I’m no longer floundering around and lost. I’m full of pep and energy, piss and vinegar, and swimming for shore.

I haven’t worked out all the details yet about men, but you will hear all the gory details when I do, as I know you are all agog.

To change the subject – What is Wealth? – having five reams of lovely typing paper! You keep thinking you know what wealth is but I keep telling you that you are mistaken. Listen to Mother. I went to Active Office and told the gal I wanted 16 lb. paper and we looked and looked. We found 69 lb. and 24 lb. but no 16 lb. She asked the other girl and she hollered across the room. “Why does she want 16 lb?” I whispered to my gal, “Because it’s cheap, but one hates to yell that across the room,” and we began to laugh like a couple of loonies. She said, “Oh, come look, we have a whole bunch of 20 lb. on sale.” And there, my dear, was the loveliest paper at only $2.88 per ream which is half the price of this El Cheapo stuff I’m writing on now, and it is all the same length for God’s sake.

Speaking of paper you can’t imagine how shocked I was at your paper. I couldn’t figure out what I was seeing until I realized it was a letter. I wasn’t offended you understand, but the world finally stopped tilting when you explained. I have to tell you that you are a mite askew. You wrap your gifts in newsprint but you write on exquisite paper. I finally got the rules figured out, and then you rocked the boat with scratch paper. Please try to remember that you are dealing with someone with a very shallow nature. Down deep I’m very shallow as someone once said, and I need rules and regulations to keep me straight.

Since I am now paper rich, I am in the process of typing “Always Going” in its best clothes for some dear agent or editor, who is going to ride up on a white horse and sweep it off to a publisher.

I got up this morning with a positive picture of another chapter of “EAB,” I suddenly can ‘feel’ the middle (Part II). Before, I just wrote it and felt nothing. I am sure that is why I have felt uneasy about it.

Have also written three more good things for “Bits and Pieces” – this makes fifteen, but wordage is so small that it will take a bundle to make a book.

I told you I was writing authors, and I wrote to Aram Saroyan about his book “William Saroyan” (get it if you can). It is about his father and I grew up reading William Saroyan’s books. He, Aram, wrote me back a nice card. Besides being a beautiful looking man he named his daughters ‘Strawberry’ and ‘Cream.’ How can you not love someone like that?

D. J. had a watercolor show at the Art Gallery, I went to the reception Sunday and she really irritated me. I have put up with a lot of guff from her, as well as defended her, as she is so damned grating! She asked me what I was doing, and I told her writing, and she said “I knew you were verbose.” This means ‘wordy – too many words,’ and I took umbrage. In all the years I have known D.J. I have never been able to get a word in edgewise. She talks all the time, and it irked the hell out of me for her to say such a thing. Not that it isn’t true of course, I certainly am verbose, but it is maddening to have someone who never stops talking say it. There are two others – A. B. and D. C. – who have said the same thing more or less and both of them never shut up, never let anybody else speak. So why am I all a wroth? Good question, and if I can figure it out I shall impale them with my pen.

Well, dear here I have to stop, eat breakfast and do some “EAB” work. Found another author, James Stephens, and I love all his works, but if you read him start with ‘Deirdre.’

Will write more later.

Love,
Mom

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