BRING ON THE ANGRY MOBS! – Marilyn Armstrong

I’m mad at life. This is not what I planned. In fact, it’s not even close to what I had in mind. I was planning to go gently into my elder years, able to do whatever I always did, but perhaps a bit more slowly. Gray hairs which turned out to be white — about the only thing that worked out the way I planned.

But all the other stuff? Poverty and ill-health? The endless crumbling of the house? It’s just not fair!

I do not feel insightful, but I could probably incite a riot. I feel very non-insightful. Mostly, I’m pissed.

I want is to win a ton of money so I can not only fix the house, but improve it so that it’s comfortable for both of us. I want our lives for the first time ever to become easier.

My childhood was rough. Adulthood has been, to say the least, bumpy. Somehow, I thought as I wandered into Older Age, life would get easier. Those things we’ve always needed to do would slow and maybe even give up. We could relax, surrounded by our nurturing family who would take care of our needs and maybe even provide a few small luxuries.

That has not been exactly been how it has worked.

Meanwhile, I’m just pissed about the whole “getting old” thing. Why doesn’t someone else cook dinner? Why are we both still scrubbing and vacuuming and cleaning? Why does the house persist in requiring maintenance and repair even though we’ve already fixed it more than once? Isn’t there an “end” point when you don’t need to fix it anymore? What’s wrong with this picture?

I say let’s round up the angry mob and attack age. Who’s with me? If we can’t evade age, maybe we beat the crap out of it.

READY TO INCITE? – Marilyn Armstrong


Sometimes, you just have to love this language. I do not feel insightful, but I could probably incite a riot. I know it’s merely a homonym. Not the same word except by sound, but I feel very non-insightful.

I want is to win a lot of money so I can fix the house. I want my life — for the first time ever — to become easier.

I’m not sure when I started believing when you got older, things slowed down and you could relax, surrounded by caring family who would take care of your needs and maybe even a few small luxuries.

That has not exactly been how it worked. I’m just pissed about the whole “getting old” thing. Why doesn’t someone else cook dinner? Why are we both still scrubbing and vacuuming and cleaning? Why does the house persist in requiring maintenance and repair? What’s WRONG with this picture?

Round up the angry mob. Let’s skip insight and go directly to INCITE!

Who’s with me?


Life is inscrutable and messy. 

in·scru·ta·ble  (inˈskro͞odəb(ə)l)

Adjective: Impossible to understand or interpret.
Synonyms: Enigmatic, mysterious, unreadable, inexplicable, unexplainable, incomprehensible, impenetrable, unfathomable, unknowable.

Life is a puzzle. Inscrutable barely covers it. I used to think that at some point, it got easier. Simpler. Cleaner. Neater.

Instead, it has gone in quite the other direction. As we get older and more fragile, like has gotten profoundly complicated with no obvious answers which is to say — inscrutable. It would seem age does not limit the complexities of life. If anything, they get more complicated and difficult to address. Now you aren’t just trying to “get stuff done,” but you are trying to get it done with little or no money when you are no longer physically able to do it yourself (assuming you ever were). Since you no longer work, there’s no “waiting” for the next “extra money” to come in. It isn’t coming.

Our vehicle, the Jeep in a blizzard Photo: Garry Armstrong

Inconvenient though it is, the rotting window still awaits as does the broken faucet, the tired old toilets and sinks (remember when they were shiny and new?), the washing machine that’s on its last legs … and a door that urgently needs painting and finishing. And the car’s rear brakes.

We’ve got the parts. What we don’t have is anyone who has the time and willingness to take care of the work. We were never handy anyway, but there was a time when we at least could hire someone to take care of business. To be fair, a fair number of them were schleppers too. Good help has always been hard to find.

Life is like a Chinese puzzle. All the piece have to go in “just so” or it the pile collapses. Meanwhile, just to liven things up, there’s a special breed of  local criminals who prey on people like us. They look like normal people, but are crooks.

Are their lives so dreadful they can live with the damage they do? I know everyone needs to make a living, but I’m pretty sure my conscience would kill me for causing so much hurt to people who can ill afford it. Meanwhile, I keep getting whacked because I keep thinking these are regular people — and they’re not. Why do they want to hurt us? Because they are not very good criminals and we’re the easiest of all victims?

Photo: Garry Armstrong – In the blizzard

My son helps, but he has a life and he works and there’s only so much time …. and many of the problems just need someone handy and available to fix them. This is the stuff that neighbors used to do but we don’t have that kind of neighbor. Not the kind of people who help clear the snow … or offer to help with errands. Or even say “Hi.”

So this won’t improve. However inscrutable life is now, it’s bound to get worse. The money that disappeared into the water heater and the door and the parts to repair the brakes and the rotting downstairs window that I can’t replace and needs boarding up? On permanent hold.

I can’t even enlist anyone to help me paint the inside of the door or finish the outside of it. I can’t get the new faucet I bought installed in the bathroom. No one is ever going to properly clean the house. I do my best, but my best isn’t very good. It isn’t that I don’t want to. I DO want to but I can’t and I doubt I’ll ever be able to do it again.

When you live in a house and you see it start to disintegrate, at first it seems like no big deal. A little bit of this, a pinch of that. Little things. It’s only when it starts to accumulate that you realize you are in actual trouble.

So what’s left? Will we outlive the decline of our house? Maybe not. If we can time our certain demise to conclusion of this house’s usefulness, that would be a mitzvah. Of sorts.

Garry, photographer – Photo: Marilyn Armstrong

Did I mention the washing machine is on its way out? While they kids lived here, they beat the hell out of it, so I’m not surprised. The new ones aren’t built as well as the old ones and I’ve already been warned that we can expect a maximum  of eight or nine years. By which time our car will be pretty old too.

It’s nice to have something to look forward to.

All of this is keeping me up at night. Just little stuff but little stuff with the potential of becoming bigger stuff. The longer it goes undone, the more potential crisis lies in wait. The world may be entering an exponential stage of scientific growth and development, but here at home, I can’t afford new door knobs or a washing machine and I live in terror of needing a new car. Ever.

At home with the good toys.

There’s a gigantic split between the brilliant future that is waiting for humanity — and the gradual collapse of the lives we live. The great things we dreamed of will happen, but they won’t have anything to do with us.

The brilliant future will be for the young, wealthy, and healthy. We are none of those.