Hillary, When Do You Stop?

I was going to write something funny today, but with the news about the blood clot in Hillary Clinton’s skull, I think this might be more important.

Many people speculate that Hillary Clinton is planning to run for president.  I don’t think so.

I think the fact that she’s letting her hair grow long is an announcement, conscious or otherwise, that she’s transitioning away from public service. She has plenty of power, plenty of interests. She could have an amazing retirement.

As Secretary of State, Hillary set records for global travel. At any age, that kind of schedule can take a toll on one’s body, not to mention the stress of her job. Now consider the health concerns of running for and perhaps taking on the job of president. Every one has aged visibly in office, disproportionate to the number of years in that role. Why should Hillary throw herself onto that pyre?

As a private citizen, Hillary would have the world at her feet. Reputed to have an IQ of 140, she probably knows she could serve on any board; learn, observe, participate in anything; travel anywhere. Any number of global titans would be happy, I’m sure, to lend her a jet and a vacation home. Wouldn’t you think?

“I am so looking forward to next year,” Hillary told Gail Collins recently. “I just want to sleep and exercise and travel for fun. And relax. It sounds so ordinary, but I haven’t done it for 20 years. I would like to see whether I can get untired. I work out and stuff, but I don’t do it enough and I don’t do it hard enough because I can’t expend that much energy on it.”

If she does return to civilian life, most of us would nod with understanding. Some things are more important than being Leader of the Free World. Like sleeping in, or turning off your phone for a couple days and catching up on the last few years’ worth of movies or books.

Some say that after menopause we’re more like who we were at age eleven. I think we long to return to who we were before all the obligations and transformations were required. Before we started changing ourselves into that nice young lady, that girlfriend, that worker, that wife, that mother, that corporate person. In the case of HRC, that global politician. Wouldn’t it be crazy to explore that path?

We yearn for authenticity. We miss the real us.

I’m reading a book about professional women transitioning into retirement. Many of their essays contain exhaustive lists of the equally high-level, professional accomplishments they expect to achieve in this new phase. It appears they expect to work part-time until they are prevented from doing so by death or disability. I understand remaining active and not turning into a sloth, but at what point will we feel we’ve earned the right to fritter away our time in joyful nothingness?

Perhaps we still feel a need to prove ourselves. Perhaps as older people we’re afraid of being marginalized, so we work hard to earn our keep and deflect criticism.

Yet, getting a blood clot in your skull can force you to reprioritize. You see that it might be okay to simply park your ass in a lawn chair and savor the quiet of mid-day on your own peaceful patio. Sure, it’s good to be productive. But here we are on this good Earth. What are we doing with that privilege?

Hillary is powerful, well-traveled, and accomplished. She’s a warm and loving person with a throw-her-head-back guffaw. I would award her Crone status. I admire the hell out of her, and I wish her the greatest happiness and hopefully, many years of dolce far niente.

Boomers Should Talk to Young People

I’m one of the “sad old feminists” referred to here by one of my fave writers, Gail Collins of the NY Times. Sad because many younger women seem to think EVERYTHING IS DIFFERENT NOW! even though it isn’t. (Example from a recent article: “Women in their 20s are enjoying sex in ways past generations have never known:  casual encounters, one night stands…”)

Oh, come on. What do they think happened when The Pill was invented?

Such short-sightedness makes me feel left behind, like a forgotten shard of history, but I’ve found the perfect antidote: I invite myself inside their tent. I’ve begun talking to young women to learn more about how they live today. Every chance I get, I ask about work, marriage, etc. to learn if anything has really changed from the 70s. It’s fascinating, and it makes me feel like I’m still a part of their world.

For example, my hairdresser is 27 and she’s a feminist (but I wouldn’t call her that to her face. Have you noticed? Feminism has become a dirty word.) She and her sweet hubby are engaging in a still-friendly power struggle over how she should balance work time and mommy time. Nothing changes.

I volunteered for a couple of years at an elementary school, and the conversation at breaktime among the young women often focused on the same issues as I remember from 25 years ago. I ask the girls for clarification (“Are you still doing most of the housework?”) and they seem eager to talk about how things are today. Hint: nothing changes.

I even read a Cosmopolitan magazine yesterday. Talk about retro. It was mostly about guys – how to win them, sexually satisfy them, etc. Jeez, as if a guy needs anything more than the naked body of a 25-year old to be happy. But apparently the girls are still worried.

Nothing changes.