Last week was my birthday so I've gifted myself with this new blog about aging with grace in Southern California.
LACrone is my space to record observations about the aging process and the acquisition of wisdom. I'll be posting interviews, quotations, book reviews, photos and observations about my struggles as a caregiver-daughter, crone-in-training and woman of a certain age in Los Angeles, the land of ageless youth.
News about Yvette Vickers sad, solo death hasn't helped my morbid frame of mind. Unfortunately, the discovery of the former starlet's mummified remains is not an aberration here in the world of sunshine noir. Despite the best intentions of friends, neighbors and family, there are plenty of older Southern Californians who isolate themselves in later life. Sometimes mental illness such as dementia forces the elderly to do this and other times it is because they feel invisible to others, who often rush by them without really seeing them.
I want this blog to be an inspiring window on older neighbors who can teach us how to celebrate the passage of time without fear or angst.
I embrace aging but confess that I this was a hard birthday to acknowledge. I've entered the third trimester of my forties and my father died in December. It has been difficult to work up enthusiasm for familiar rituals and holidays; I know that this is a normal part of the grieving process. My father's residency in a skilled nursing facility in Alhambra made me realize that I do not want to live out my last years in Los Angeles. It's not a place for the elderly or frail, despite its vibrant facade and warm weather. The crumbling infrastructure is a menace to the handicapped and the social service bureaucracy is maddeningly overburdened and underfunded. So I'm plotting my escape. I'm on the prowl for an independent-living retirement community, comprised of Elvis Costello fans, in Humboldt County. That should be easy to find, right?
Currently, I don't fear middle-age so much as I struggle to manage it. It used to be that you grew old and that was that. Now you must be more mindful in this age of limitless information and gene-therapy technology; decisions made in your forties will impact your eighties and beyond. Should I take statins so that my vascular system doesn't explode in later years? My friends and I can choose how we want to experience menopause and have babies into our sixties. Yet I'm part of a generational cohort that cannot afford to retire. I'll probably end up working at McDonalds in my seventies so that I can support my own mother who will probably live to be 110: the beneficiary of healthy-living and good genes.
Finally, a word about the blog's title. Wiccans and some neopagans worship the three aspects of the Goddess: Maiden, Mother and Crone. Often called the Triple Goddess, this archetype manifests the three stages of a woman's life-cycle. Although I'm inspired by the Triple Goddess aspect, I've named the blog "LA Crone" with sarcasm and irony. In certain parts of L.A., it seems as if females over the age of 27 are devalued and pressured to hide natural signs of aging with cosmetic surgery, liposuction, unhealthy dietary habits and overexercise. There's nothing wrong with exercising to maintain a healthy body, but the fish-faced stick figures with fake boobs that I see in certain shopping districts are ghastly. Who are the hags now?
I am well aware that today's use of the word "crone" can mean an ugly hag, but I seek to reclaim the word and rehabilitate it on behalf of the many single, older women out there who still have much to enjoy in life despite the absence of a partner or children. A stock figure in European folk and fairy tales, crones were old women who had occult gifts that could either benefit or bedevil a community. This was the outcome of the Catholic Church's propaganda campaign, which was intent on eradicating any sign of pagan ritual or its practitioners, especially older women who still had knowledge of old remedies and practices derived from an earlier epoch. Ancient cultures used to venerate older woman as soothsayers, healers and leaders. Now older women are mocked as whorish "cougars" or fat spinsters. Mainly, pop culture ignores them because they don't fit the traditional narrative. The graphic in the LA Crone banner could be Santa Muerte or the Virgin of Guadalupe. It doesn't matter. She's just a boney woman in sunglasses with a smile, making her Everywoman (eventually) in LA.
PS This is the longest entry that will ever appear on the blog. I aim to keep things brief.