In an effort to better acquaint you, the reader, with the VQR staff, members of our team will share excerpts from our personal reading—The Best 200 Words I Read All Week. From fact to fiction, from comedic to tragic, we hope you find as much to admire in these selections as we do.
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But the great compensation for being 50 in a culture that is not kind to older women is that you are less about criticism and you are less afraid of confrontation. In a world not made for women, criticism and ridicule follow us all the days of our lives. Usually, they are indications that we are doing something right.
Is 50 too young to start an autobiography? Of course it is. But maybe 80 is too old.
Fifty is the time when time itself begins to seem short…At 19, at 29, at 39, even—goddess help me—at 49, I believed that a new man, a new love, a move, a change to another city, another country, would somehow change my inner life.
Not so now.
I know that my inner life is my own achievement whether there is a partner in my life or not. I know that another mad, passionate love affair would be only a temporary distraction — even if “temporary” means two or three years. I know that my soul is what I have to nurture and develop and, alone or with a partner, the problems of climbing your own mountain are not so very different.
In a relationship, you still require autonomy, separateness, privacy. Outside, you still need self-love and self-esteem.
I write this from a place of self-acceptance, cleansing anger, and raucous laughter. I am old enough to know that laughter, not anger, is the true revelation. I make the assumption that I am not so different from you.
Office Manager Laura Plaia
Excerpt from 50 Things To Do When You Turn 50 by Erica Jong
There was a video that went viral a few years back: amateur footage from a landlord in Cincinnati who brought a video camera with him in order to cover his ass as he evicted a woman who had fallen behind on the rent. He walked from room to room, calling her name, swinging the camera this way and that and making wisecracks. He had lots of things to say about her artwork, her dirty dishes, the vibrator on her nightstand. You could almost miss the punch line to the whole meandering affair if you were not looking closely enough. But then the camera swung around, and there she was, in the most sun-drenched corner of her bedroom, hidden by the light. She was naked, and trying to conceal it. You could see her breasts through her arm, the wall through her torso. She was crying. The sound was so soft that the inane chatter of the landlord had covered it until then. But then you could hear it—miserable. terrified.
No one knows what causes it. It’s not passed in the air. It’s not sexually transmitted. It’s not a virus or a bacteria, or if it is, it’s nothing scientists have been able to find. At first everyone blamed the fashion industry, then the millennials, and, finally, the water. But the water’s been tested, the millennials aren’t the only ones going incorporeal, and it doesn’t do the fashion industry any good to have women fading away. You can’t put clothes on air. Not that they haven’t tried.
Editorial Intern Dan Goff
Excerpt from Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado