Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

In January of 2012 my soul mate of 42 years passed away after nearly 12 years of living with severe disabilities due to a stroke. I survived the first year after Don’s death doing what most widows do---trying to make sense of my world turned upside down. The pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties are well documented in this blog.

Now that I’m a "seasoned widow" the focus of my writing has changed. I’m still a widow looking through that lens but I’m also a woman searching for contentment, friends and a voice in my restless world. Some people say I have a quirky sense of humor that shows up from time to time in this blog. Others say I make some keen observations about life and growing older. I say I just write about whatever passes through my days---the good, bad and the ugly. Comments welcome and encouraged. Let's get a dialogue going! Jean

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Living the Bohemian Life and Misbehaving Kids


It occurs to me that I do more thinking about life, than actually living my life. I plan. I plot. I dream of different scenarios of what my future could look like. That’s nothing new. I’ve been doing it as far back as I can remember. Even when I’m busy doing a boring or repetitious job I’ll be transported in my head to another place, another time and that sometimes gets me in trouble, especially when I’m driving on the expressway because it causes me to miss my off ramps. In the meantime, how much of real life is passing me by? Once in a while I’ll get on a kick where I feel I need the discipline and practice of living in the moment. You know the drill: if you’re slicing tomatoes you pay attention to the way the knife cuts through the red skin, the subtle smell that drifts up and how you do your next slices so they’re all even and beautifully fanned out on the cutting board. I can only do the living-in-the-moment exercise for so long---a week tops---before something in my brain calls up images of things like spending the summer on Nantucket, playing the role of a Bohemian artist and before you know it, all my tomato slices or clean socks are mismatched. 

Have you ever looked up the word “Bohemian?” I just had Alexa define it for me and she came up with six different meanings. Picking out the one I like the best, she said a Bohemian is, “A person, as an artist or writer, who lives and acts free of regard for conventional rules and practices.” I know what’s keeping me from spending the summer as a Bohemian artist on Nantucket---it would cost a bundle of money and I look gad-awful in floppy sunhats---but there is nothing but my own inhibitions keeping me from being a Michigan Bohemian. That and I truly am a conventional kind of person when it comes to following the rules of society. So what does being a Bohemian really mean to me? I ask myself for better clarification. 

And all I can come up with for an answer is a wish to be a really, really good artist that has people admiring the crap out of my work and telling me I’m the reincarnated John Singer Sargent minus the scandal of Madame X. My childhood dreams are still my childhood dreams. (It's all my mom's fault for letting me sleep with my first big box of Crayolas.) But have I lived the life where my art comes first above everything else? For over a decade, yes, I did but for the past 35 years art has come to rest at the bottom of the to-do list. You can’t (or a least I can't) achieve perfection at anything without a total devotion and the selfishness that's seems to be its Siamese twin. The most artistic thing I give my time to now is trying to write a shopping list I can actually read when I get to the grocery store.

I was thinking and writing about all this while having lunch at the Guy-land Cafeteria but I got distracted by my apparent low tolerance for children in a place that is normally filled with older people. Every single one of the five kids near me were annoying including the two who were well behaved and looked like they belonged on a Norman Rockwell Life Magazine cover. At another table another pair of whinny kids were making their mother look like a slug with no ears. The little girl---about four or five---had never been introduced to a comb or brush and I expected cooties to escape her head and come over to my table. Her older brother kept standing up in the booth to get a better view of the other diners. Across the aisle from me another mother was telling her son to put his shoes back on or she was going to pull his pants down and whoop him in front of everyone. He no more than got his shoes on when Stand-Up Boy kicked his shoes off and in the direction of the mom who threatens bare-butt spankings. Stand-Up Boy’s sister decided that was a good time to push her whining up to a higher decimal point and demanded that her French fries be cut in half. Who does that?

I had gotten a chocolate brownie to go with my grilled cheese sandwich which was a good thing because I needed all the comfort foods I could get, but I was wishing my mom had been there with me. Her kids or not, she would have gone into drill-sergeant mode and told Whinny Girl to straighten up or she’d give her something to whine about and she’d have told the shoeless boys she was taking their shoes away for a week. “Don’t want to wear shoes? Let’s see how you like walking on those hot sidewalks outside without them.” It’s at times like that when I know the Universe knew what it was doing when it didn’t give me the power to propagate babies. Back in the day, my mom might have been praised for her methods of controlling children but in today’s world I would have ended up in Social Services Prison where being a Bohemian in mind, body and/or spirit would not be tolerated. ©


Note: The Painting at the top is one of John Singer Sargent's. Madame X is at the bottom. It was originally painted with the one of the dress straps falling off her shoulder which shocked the art world and was labeled "titillating" and "indecent." Yes, slut shaming in 1884, at a time when the art salons were filled with classical paintings of nudes. Figure that one out. He repainted the strap after the painting's debut but her reputation never recovered. In 1916 when he sold the painting to the Metropolitan Museum of Art Mr. Sargent renamed it to Madame X, not wanting to cause the socialite more grief by having her name forever associated with the work.


31 comments:

  1. I have a lot of Bohemian friends. I find it interesting because I could not be further from that. I love their free spirit, how they dress and what is important to them I am 180 degrees different. I dont wish to be more like them yet that is who gravitates to me and I to them. crazy huh? I am surround by artistic creative people. I am not either. Interesting to me why.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Me too. I love to look at people who dress the Bohemiam way but I could never do it. Maybe if I was a skinny-Minnie I could? My husband wasn't creative either but, like you, he loved being around creative people. For him, it was something he never had a chance to do/develop growing up but he did have a creative eye.

      Delete
  2. Oh, there are far too many Boho parents out there to suit me, too. As long as their progeny aren't killing each other, they call it Well-Behaved. The more trendy name for it now is Free-Range Parenting, but I call Bullsh*t.

    Parent is a verb as well as a noun, a fact which sorely escapes too many.

    Rick and I live a very streamlined and relaxed lifestyle in the summer, especially at the lake on the weekends. It's not Bohemian in the artsy sense, but in the sense that we don't plan a lot and grab the very simplest of dinners, often wine and fresh bread, cheese, veg and fruits.

    You're in Hyper Plan Mode right now. Your Boho Time will come.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'm planning on my 'Bohemian Time' coming. Your description of summers on the lake are exactly why my 'safe place' is always at a cottage. All my warm, fuzzy childhood memories were at the lake.

    I didn't mean to connect the Bohemian Life style with misbehaving children but I guess I see why you went there with Free-Range Parenting. I don't know which is worse---free range parenting or helicopter parents.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I was very Bohemian as a teen, and yes I was criticized/shamed for it. That part of me has long been simmering under the surface and just waiting for my retirement from corporate life to burst into bloom once again. Ye Olde Blogge has been my outlet in the meantime...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was Bohemian aka a hippie by night and weekends and 'normal' at work during the week. Jobs/careers do get in the way of a lot of things, don't they. Your retirement is coming I suspect you'll turn into Nature Girl with hiking boots and a vest full of pockets---oh, wait! That's another one of my daydreams.

      Delete
    2. Hehehe! You know it, Jean! And with paint-stained hands and clothes and even wilder hair than I have now. I'll be going from daytime Grace to full-on Frankie. In fact, looking down at what I'm wearing today I think I'm already more than half way there. :-)

      Delete
    3. Your transition from working woman, to moving and retiring woman is going to be fun to follow in your blog.

      Delete
    4. I plan to make it as entertaining for readers as I hope it will be for me! Thanks Jean.

      Delete
  5. Like you, I dream of having a bohemian life. In my mind/dreams I am a gypsy. But reality sets in when you build in the price of wanderlust. I am lucky that we do travel a lot.
    My husband is more of a settled person who likes roots. But then, onto your topic of whiny children, I too am happy never to have had any. My husband, however does and now grandchildren. Kids bore the hell out of me and I have no tolerance for the kids of today and how their parents bend to their demands.
    My mother would also have said stop whining or I'll give you something to whine about!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Our mom's were made of the same stock. LOL

      When I think of all the well-known artists who lived the Bohemian Life many/most of them came from wealthy families that they could fall back on. A few were good at finding wealthy patrons who paid their bills.

      Living a Gypsy, wanderlust life would not appeal to me and isn't it a good thing we all have different daydreams. Wouldn't want our 'save places' to get overrun with others. LOL

      I like kids but I've lost the ability to communicate with young ones. We seems to be scared of each other. LOL

      Delete
  6. I was a bit of a hippie, does that count? Cracked up at the second boy tossing in his shoes. Evidently the thought of a naked spanking sounded appealing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It cracked me up too, like he was testing her or wanted some discipline in his life because his mom wasn't giving him any.

      We grew up in a era when being a hippie was cool, didn't we.

      Delete
  7. Wonderful post. I don't know what your other art is like, but you certainly are a writer.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! when my life got complicated by caregiving---first my dad and then my husband writing became my only creative outlet because it's so portable so I've had a lot of practice.

      Delete
  8. Whoa! No wonder strangers pick up Kate’s tab when they take the boys out. Or when older people ask if they can give the boys five dollars to buy dessert. And give out compliments every time they go out. Even the servers write charming notes.

    I’m feeling a need to be Bohemian... just got a 2019 updated muumuu to start!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is so sweet about the strangers acknowledging the boys' good behavior.

      Where did you find muumuu's for sale? I need a couple for those late night dog walks.

      Delete
  9. Dear Jean, you've really--in this well-written posting--given me something to think about. When I was a teenager and in college, I was somewhat Bohemian in my dress s style and hear the comments of my classmates as they whispered about me behind their cupped palms.

    Even in the convent I sort of what my own way. A never complained or commented negatively, but my thoughts were frequently riotous. That may have led to the breakdown I had there, which is recounted in my memoir: Prayer Wasn't Enough.

    Since then, I've pretty much dressed as I please, but I suspect that I'll never be a true Bohemian except in my commitment to writing. It is my passion and it keeps me motivated as I age.

    I would surely like to see some of your art work if you ever feel like sharing. Peace.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are the most commended writer that I know. To stick to one plot for so many decades and finally bring it to the finish line is quite an accomplishment.

      Delete
  10. I love the current Bohemian decorating trend. It's a perfect way to mesh all those old things we can't part with and I'm of the mind that lots of visual stimulation is good for the soul (many think it's just clutter -ha!). I too went through a hippie phase, but I'm back to classic shirts and pants. It's so much easier than paying attention to fashion.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I did not know there is a Bohemian decorating trend! I need to explore that.

      I love the idea that our minds need visual stimulation as a justification for clutter.

      Delete
  11. I'm afraid I was slightly before the hippie era, and I was a boring physics major. I did do a lot of traveling, starting with two quarters in Germany my junior year, then I dropped out of grad school to earn some money for more traveling. When Andy and I married we both had four thousand dollars saved up, and we spent a year in France where he worked. We traveled all over Europe on weekends and vacations, then came back the long way. When we got back to the states we happily settled down and started saving money again. I'm guessing that's not the way Bohemians do it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What an interesting life you've had! You had the best of both worlds, in my way of thinking. You got to travel and see great things while you were young but you didn't need to worry about where your next meal was going to come from.

      Delete
  12. Yep...I have been called Bohemian, a Gypsy, eccentric, Hippie, Different, and a witch. I just smile at them all and thank them. haha...Never thought of what each word means to me but it all boils down I think to a free thinker ( that sometimes gets me in trouble). I would love to see some of you art work, I too am an artist.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No one has ever called my any of those things except maybe Weekend Hippie back in the day. Free thinker works for me, I'd like that label.

      I have posted photos of my art in the past. I'll have to see if I can track down a link.

      Delete
  13. I was pondering that definition of bohemian ("A person, as an artist or writer, who lives and acts free of regard for conventional rules and practices") and it suddenly struck me: so much of what passes for conventional rules and practices today, I have no time or regard for. For example: I'm not on social media of any sort. I don't have a smart phone. I do spend quite a bit of time responding to comments on my blog, but it's still far less than the 23 hours per week the average American is said to spend texting, emailing, and perusing social media. And tv, movies, and such have gone by the wayside, since I'd rather use the time for writing or photography.

    I've forsworn all of the tech gadgets the tech companies tell us we can't live without, and I still manage to play music, get to the grocery store with a list, and pay my bills. Etc. and etc.

    It's really not perversity, or a point of pride. It's just that I don't adopt something unless I see a need for it -- and most of modern society doesn't fill any sensed need! Of course, there's always the possibility I'm not bohemian at all. I could just be weird.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are a Bohemian. You certainly live an unconventional life, do unconventional work and seem to make plenty of time for your creative side---photography and writing.

      Delete
  14. I was bad the other day, Jean. When Rick said we would go to see the grand kids for my birthday, I exploded and said I didn't want to spend my birthday with a two and one year old being nice to people I might not want to be nice to that day. (I'm living with some impending medical stresses that have me a little on edge and that wouldn't help!). I know what you mean about the kids -- you have to be in the right frame of mind for dealing with it.

    Our kid is living the Bohemian life trying to be an artist in LA. We worry like crazy and continually remind ourselves it's his life.

    As for the art -- you can be the artist wherever you want to be one. Right now you have a lot on your plate but whatever your 'me' time is, I hope you are finding it. Not just your scheduled me time, like a book club or whatever, but your day or half day off to just do what you want to do, when you want to do it, how you want to do it and with whomever you want to, including no one but you! You certainly deserve it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is so true about needing to be in the right frame of mind to be around little ones. I was not that day at the restaurant.

      Good luck getting a resolution on whatever it is that is causing you stress. I've had those kinds of outbursts back in the day and fortunately our mates understand us enough to overlook and forget and forgive them.

      I dropped out of book club---no time or desire to read fiction now---but I'm going to a movie with a friend on Monday.

      As for art, you are so right that will be there when I want. Al through my life I'd had periods where I didn't do anything but have learned that when I do go back to it, it only takes about 3 months before my skills are back up again. My new sort waiting for me in the garage will narrow down all the mediums to just one or two to take with me.

      Delete
  15. I'm far too conventional to be truly Bohemian as well. Which disappoints me, but there you have it. My writing also falls to the "later" category and I blame lack of discipline so maybe I'm not really a writer -- at least the kind that locks themselves in a room, barring all intrusion, and focuses for some part of each day on my craft. I'm too curious about what's going on "out there" and also too devoted to an activist life that keeps me writing in other ways. On the other hand, I know I'm seen by some I know as being close to if not fully Bohemian in the choices I make around furnishings, clothing, lifestyle, so it's all relative, isn't it? I'd love to see you in a floppy sunhat! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You have discipline but it's aimed in the direction of activism right now and I sure understand that devotion. It's kind of now or never and I admire the heck out of you for that. If we didn't have the president we do who knows where your time and energy would be spent doing creative things, even Bohemian inspired things.

      Delete