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The Certainty of Age

Youth shows but half; trust God: see all, nor be afraid!” — Rabbi Ben Ezra by Robert Browning

There are four stages in life. The first is when we know nothing. The second is when we know everything. The third is when we doubt everything we know. The fourth is when we are sure about what we know and no longer care about what we don’t.

Of course, that applies to life in general, not to things I don’t know like certain technologies or the latest slang. I care about technology and I care about language. What I know longer care about is trying to look 40 and act 35. This blog is about what happens to a woman who accepts that there are more days behind her than there are in front of her.   I am that woman.

I am nearly 52. What I know about life, I am sure of. What I don’t know, eh. Writing is my truth serum. If it passes through my lips, it might be the truth or it might be a  falsehood.  I cannot write a lie.  I am a sistah, a black woman, of a certain age and I will tell you what that is like for me. I will tell you what other women of a certain age are discovering about themselves.

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I’m All That

When they coined the phrase, “All that and a bag of chips”, they were talking about me. No, I’m not the big bootied, double-D busted, bandage-dress wearing all that. Although, I could be with the right plastic surgeon.  My “all thatness” exists on the inside.  After more than 25 years as a journalist, I realize that I’m bringing something to the party and it aint just chips and dip!

During my time working for a major city newspaper, I was a columnist, an editor, a reporter, a podcast host, a budding videographer, an amateur audio editor.   I pushed for the paper to incorporate use of the use of the Internet, to use video and audio more in its coverage. I knew this is where journalism was heading. I read a lot. However, no one was listening to me at the time.

I was 18-years-old when I started working at the newspaper. I was 47-years-old when I left. I’ve written about topics ranging from traumatic brain injury to the Olsen twins. I’ve interviewed Bill Clinton and Bill Cosby,  and a host of other folks, famous and not-so-famous. I covered Hurricane Katrina ,during which I met then-Sen. Barack Obama and then-Senator Hillary Clinton. I spent a week writing about all the beautiful people attending  Super Bowl XL.

For about 10 years, I was  a general assignment reporter. I could go from covering an airplane crash to new museum exhibit to a boycott on offensive T-shirts in the blink of an eye.

However, I hit my stride when I switched over to become a magazine writer. I showed up and showed out, especially during my Super Bowl coverage, which led to me writing a very popular entertainment column. That column attracted everyone from young black professional women to retired white men.  But the paper really didn’t appreciate what it had, so I left.

Now, after a year-long stint as an editor at a magazine, I’m in graduate school acquiring new skills to enhance my journalistic fabulosity! When you roll like I roll, the chips are never optional!

Pieces of Me

When you have lived for more than half of your life expectancy, you have to stop occasionally to take stock of that life. You have to add up all the little pieces of yourself that you have given away or had stolen, so that you can know how much is left.

Once, you have an accounting of what remains, then you can decide whether to allow that remainder to be stolen, whether you will give the rest away or whether you plan to keep something for yourself. Not giving it all is very difficult for women. We are often taught to put ourselves last. We come after the spouse, after the children, after our elderly parents, after the dog. But what happens when you have nothing left but years? Years, and bitterness because there is nothing left.

I’ve freely given pieces of myself to my children, my ex-husband, my friends, my extended family, and men I thought would be around longer than eight months. However, even after so much giving and unbeknownst to me, I’ve kept a little of myself for myself. Just a bit, tucked away in some far off corner of me that no one, not even my children, can reach.

I don’t consider it selfish. I consider it self-preservation.