A couple of things happened.
First of all I turned 55 last month and, yes, this month was asked twice at stores if I wanted the senior's discount. A reporter friend of mine was asked the same thing when he was 45 so I shouldn't take this personally, and of course I will take any discount going.
But it made me think.
I am not bothered about aging but I have a lot I want to get done, and suddenly I can see the time will be running out on the meter one day and that I should be making choices on where I am going to direct my time. This goal, not that one.
Secondly, I listened to an episode of This American Life about a woman whose job it is to go into people's houses if they die unexpectedly (no this is not as gloomy as it sounds bear with me, it was actually quite a funny episode in places) to find evidence of next-of-kin. The shocking thing about this was that in that process she uncovered so many attempts of things that were abandoned. This horrified me. I imagined my children trying to find anything around here and seeing all the evidence of my creative disillusions. Vintage patterns bought online to be used once I had taught myself how to grade, miles of horsehair interfacing for when I was going to tailor men's suits, bound button hole gadgets, Christmas ornament patterns ... I can hear them now "What was she thinking? When did Mom think she was actually going to get the time to do all of this?" Do I want people to remember me as a planner but not a finisher? One of those women who stands in jeans, sweats and runners and wrestles you for the Designer Pattern at the Vogue sale? Someone who really didn't know herself and her own life all that well?
Thirdly with all my marking I have had a reason to think a lot about how important editing is, something all writers know anyway. I am also reading Steven King's excellent book on writing which says the same thing.
What have I been writing on my papers? Apart from "No caps nec."?
1. Cut, these words are not necessary.
2. Break this one sentence down into two or three simple clear sentences.
3. Vague. Where are you going with this?
4. Needs focus.
Fourthly I have been thinking about the current SWAP competition on SG where the challenge is to make a capsule wardrobe of clothes that you would actually wear in an typical week in your life.
Imagine! How crazy is that? To sew clothes that you would actually really wear!
This has been a hard concept for me to get my head around but in combination with items 1-3 sort of boiled up in my pre-Christmas brain into a whole lot of thoughts and various activities, many of which I am going to document here.
The first thing was the Big Throw Out. (Caps. nec.)
A few nights ago in an anything-but-marking mood I stayed up and started throwing things out of the three closets I have taken over. Four garbage bags later for the Diabetes Society this is what went:
1. All skirts that were not in my basic colours of black, grey and navy. Anything lighter makes me look fat, anything else will require me to make tops that won't go with anything else but the said skirt.
2. All skirts that are patterned and loose. Some of these are in lovely fabrics, silks etc. but I have a straight up and down body and longer loose flared, draped skirts are counter my shape. Also since I have never adjusted to the idea of a coat that is shorter than a skirt, even if it seems to be fashionable, this meant that I needed to sew a slightly longer coat to wear over them in spring and summer. Let me see, a lined light wool coat (47 possible patterns collected) so I could wear skirts that didn't suit me. Out.
3. Suits and suit jackets. Lots of them from my recent corporate life. Good fabrics, good clothes. Problem is that I can't wear these things to teach in. I suppose it would do my students good to see me all super professional but these are not comfortable for my life which involves walking through the woods to work (often within feet of deer it is really lovely, beats the pavement) and running around a classroom talking to kids, sitting in groups, sitting on desks, drawing on boards etc. Also if for some crazy reason I ever go back to the business world by then these things will be just out-of-date enough to be aging. I have also realized that my large number of "investment" pieces really are the kind of classic that despite good fabric and decent construction, actually manage to navigate that place where they are not ever quite out of fashion, but not quite ever in it either.
4. Anything that doesn't quite fit or isn't comfortable. Some of these things hurt to throw out because I made them.
5. Synthetics. The hot flashes have put those in my permanent past.
It was tough and I admit to a moment in the middle of the night when I stood beside the clothing donations bin and wanted to climb in after my stuff and pull a few things out and I actually finally now have a real "Capsule Wardrobe" because there is not much left. And what is left is going to have to work a lot harder.
But I do feel clearer.