I’m turning 40 this year and if, thankfully, I’m not in Tara’s situation, it’s not hard to empathize with her.
Finding Lisa by Sigrid Macdonald released in July in the Women’s fiction, mystery.
Tara Richards is unhappy with her job as a rehabilitation nurse and disenchanted with her marriage, but lacks the courage to make a major life change. When her best friend Lisa disappears, Tara’s life is thrown into turmoil. Has Lisa jeopardized her sobriety by going on a drinking binge or is she hiding the news that she may be pregnant from her partner Ryan, who has a history of battering, and it’s not his baby? Lisa is her rock, her confidant, her reality check. Tara can’t live without her. Despite the near paralysis of bad hair days and her dread of turning forty, Tara joins a massive search to look for her friend in conjunction with the police, her colorful women’s collective, Lisa’s old-world Italian parents, and a twenty-four-year-old man Tara finds particularly captivating.
All the carts were taken at the supermarket on Tuesday. I found one off to the side of the vegetable aisle. It had a defective wheel, which resulted in me almost overturning a display of cantaloupes. The cart was also enormous. No doubt this was a deliberate ploy on the part of the supermarket to encourage excess shopping.
“I feel as though I’m driving a school bus,” I announced to the frail, pale orange-haired woman to my left, who was squeezing the small, unappetizing looking cantaloupes.
She smiled faintly and nodded. I wondered how she had the strength to push the heavy cart through the long aisles of the grocery store at her age.
“Mum, I’ll go with you to one of those Women against Rape meetings if you want?” Devon said to my astonishment, his voice rising at the end of his sentence. “There’s only one condition. You have to watch 8 Mile with me.”
“8 Mile? Isn’t that the movie based on the book by Stephen King?”
“Nah, you’re thinking about The Green Mile,” Devon replied. “8 Mile is the story of a rapper in Detroit. It’s based on the life of Eminem, whose real name is Marshall Mathers. Eminem even stars in it,” he said with increasing enthusiasm.
“I think it’ll give you a better idea of where he’s coming from. You know, you’re always talking about these girls who’ve been, like, abused and what horrible lives they’ve had. You even feel bad about boys who were taken advantage of by priests or their hockey coaches. So why don’t you have any sympathy for Marshall? His mother was abusive. She was mean to him, and she did drugs! Also, she, like, gave him something called Munchkins syndrome,” Devon added uncertainly.
“Munchausen syndrome?” I asked, trying to picture the tough guy with the tattoos and bad attitude as a small child with a manipulative and controlling mother.
“Yeah, that sounds right. She made him feel sick when he was totally healthy. And, Mum, I know you would respect the way Em felt about his little brother, Nathan. He, like, didn’t wanna leave him alone in the house with his mother when he finally split from Detroit. He’s also really keen about his daughter, Hailie Jade. He talks about her all the time in his songs and on TV.”
I pushed the buttons on the radio. The Steve Miller band was singing, “Time keeps on slipping, slipping into the future.” I had a sense of motion. The car was moving forward, and with every traffic light I passed, I was moving farther away from Lisa and our routine evenings at the ByTowne Theatre. The rest of us were going ahead, and Lisa had been left behind. I wanted to go back, not just to last Thursday night, but to my university days, so I could live my life all over again.
I wanted to be sixteen or twenty-six again, making decisions based on what I knew now. So many lost opportunities. How had I managed to completely screw up my life? I’d done everything wrong except that I hadn’t become a street prostitute or a serial murderer. Too late for the former—who would want me? But there was still time for the latter.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Originally from New Jersey, Sigrid Macdonald lived for almost thirty years in Ottawa, Ontario, and currently resides in Weston, Florida. She has been a freelance writer for years. Her works have appeared in The Globe and Mail newspaper; the Women’s Freedom Network Newsletter; the American magazine Justice Denied; The Toastmaster; and the Anxiety Disorders Association of Ontario Newsletter. Her first book, Getting Hip: Recovery from a Total Hip Replacement, was published in 2004. Her second book, Be Your Own Editor, followed in 2010. Although Finding Lisais written in first person, Macdonald only resembles her character in the sense that she once had a neurotic fixation on her hair, and she has always been called by the wrong name; instead of being called Sigrid, people have called her Susan, Sharon, Astrid, Ingrid and, her personal favorite, Siri.
Macdonald is a social activist who has spent decades working on the seemingly disparate issues of women’s rights and wrongful convictions; she has worked at the Women’s Center at Ramapo College of New Jersey and Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario, and was a member of AIDWYC, The Association in Defense of the Wrongly Convicted. She owns an editing company called Book Magic. Sigrid is a public speaker and a member of Mothers against Drunk Driving, Ottawa Independent Writers, the American Association of University Women, and the Editors’ Association of Canada.
HOW DO I FEEL ABOUT TURNING 40
By Sigrid Macdonald
Thanks so much for interviewing me for your blog.
How do I feel about turning 40? Hmmm! What a loaded question. The short answer is that I pretended to be 39 for about four years because I was so freaked out at the thought of that clock turning. So, yes, I gave this age obsession of mine to my character so that she would work it out earlier than I did.
When my 40th birthday approached, I was working at a university with a group of women in their early 20s and was active in the women’s center there as part of a collective. So I had conflicting thoughts because, on the one hand, I knew intellectually that we all get older — the alternative is a black box, and that doesn’t sound too appealing! We either age, or we die, and many cultures, particularly Asian, African, or Indian, revere older people. They understand that with time comes wisdom, not always but often enough. Certainly it’s hard to be an old soul when you’re 21 and have the kind of knowledge that you will have down the road at 50.
And 40 isn’t really that old. It’s actually somewhere around the middle of life for those of us who are fortunate enough to live long enough to reach our life expectancy. BUT here’s the kicker — pop culture gives all of us the message, especially women, that we are much better younger. To be sexy and beautiful is to be young. Of course, we have the occasional cougar like Demi Moore, but she was raked over the coals for her marriage to Ashton Kutcher in a way that the press never rips older men who frequently trade in their first wives for newer models. This happens routinely, and nobody even yawns, but it’s big news when a woman is much older than her guy.
The message that I want my readers to glean from the anxiety and ridiculous obsession that my character, Tara, has about her age, hair, and general appearance is that it’s okay to get older. We all do; it’s inevitable, and there is no point in fighting it. We want to embrace our middle and older years. We should view older women like fine wine, better every decade. And we, as women, should define ourselves by our standards of what is beautiful and what is great, not by some magazine photos or movie stars who are airbrushed, starving, and distraught by even the smallest amount of cellulite.
Hollywood has come a long way in terms of the body positivity movement, accepting the concept that women of all sizes and shapes should be proud to be exactly who they are. The same is true of slut-shaming; we have made progress in that area, and often enough, when it occurs, people call each other out on it and point out that it’s gender-specific — very rarely are men accused of being sluts. The same is not true of age positivity. There are so many female actresses who say that it is hard to get a decent part after the age of 40, and that is not true for men. So we still have a long way to go, and it starts with each individual, each woman (and man) embracing a new birthday with excitement and enthusiasm the way we did when we were kids.
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