This is what almost-70 can feel and look like today. We are so happy to be inspired by the wonderful and contagiously energetic, Ellary Eddy.
“There is joy to be found at the drop of a hat”
You have such joyful exuberance. How do you do that?
I was lucky to be born in a time and place where you could run amok in the grass, through sprinklers, through backyards, into the trees, and the world was yours. No screens to distract you, no social media, no oppressive culture. Small-town Wisconsin, suburban Chicago… I think it gave me a healthy core. But more than that, I am an artist, and for me that means marveling at the world, diving into it, always moving, always engaging.
I write a lot about joy in my book. I think joy emanates from an awareness that we are here, now, experiencing this only life we’ll be given. And we can either encounter that with dread and doubt or with a sense of wonder and full-on excitement. For me, there is joy to be found at the drop of a hat.
“My brothers and I grew up like weeds”
Who has had the greatest impact on your life, and how has it influenced you as a person?
Probably my mother. For better or worse. On the one hand, as I was growing up, I was left to muddle through things all on my own. On the other, later in life, she showed me that a woman could run her own business and make waves.
What was your relationship with your parents?
My brothers and I grew up like weeds, really, but were well fed, well educated, and sometimes were actually listened to. Never enough, though. I adored both parents; my father was charming, my mother beautiful. And while I was perhaps intimidated by my mother’s effortless allure when I was young, as I grew up I believe she became envious of my youth and my freedom. Eventually, I realized my parents’ limitations and rebelled against them. But I always loved them.
Balancing Intimacy and Independence
You are single — what is dating in your 60s like?
Dating can be a ridiculous game at this age, especially online — a whole crew of deluded men looking for women often 20 years younger. But here’s the weird yet wonderful thing: while many older men, self-satisfied with their earlier accomplishments, get stuck in their youths, stop growing and actually become boring, we women become more “together” and way more interesting.
Being single can be superb. All that free time and energy to direct exactly as you please. Of course, we all want intimacy and comradeship and support, so the question is: What do you give up for that? I’m not an easy one, since I want all that and my independence too. I believe I’m getting closer. 🙂
“Desire keeps burning”
Wanna talk sex?
Why not? It is one of the cardinal issues for everyone, and no less so as we age. Look, desire — unless you yourself have smothered it — keeps burning. And let’s face it, sex, when done properly (teehee) is a blast. There is no excuse not to have it. Even if you’re flying solo, the world is filled with adorable sex toys to take along for the ride. All it takes is a robust imagination.
“I basically feel I am the same person as I was at 27”
What is your feeling about not changing as you get older? Love the outfits you have.
Like many people my age, I basically feel I am the same person as I was at 27. Or 12, even. Although I have tempered some of my youthful alienation, I have a strong sense of mischief, and some provocative takes on reality. I see no reason to change that. Sure, my body may weaken over time, but by then my mind will be so pumped I won’t notice. And I won’t stop doing what I’m doing unless someone puts a roadblock in my path.
Writing a Book
You have a new book; why did you make it?
Friends encouraged me, number one. Number two, I realized I had so many writing fragments scattered across my hard drives, so much experience under my belt, and so many opinions about all of it, that I thought, “Yeah, okay, I will.” Running Realize Magazine was good training for curating and for writing thought pieces, so I just kept at it. Like I say in my book, you don’t really know what’s in your mind until you write. Turns out there was a lot in there that surprised even me.
“I think I became an artist so I could keep playing”
What advice do you give others about play? You are so good at it!
When in doubt, play! Play with words. Play with ideas and colors and form. Play with your friends. Play with yourself! Dancing is a marvelous and always accessible form of play. And the occasional hit of sativa can enhance your playfulness and your creativity. I think I became an artist so I could keep playing. Because that is at the heart of what art is about. Playing with materials, concepts, and possibilities.
As I write in my book, play is a divine gift. Can you imagine life without it? Play lifts you out of time and drops you in the now. Best place to be.
Dealing With Loss
You lost your mom; how did that influence you?
It happened right when I was in the middle of a Kickstarter campaign for a YouTube channel for Realize Magazine. Even though she had been living with Alzheimer’s for 14 years, her death just pulled the rug out from under me. It really hit home how I never really got to know her and how now I never would, nor would she ever know who I really was or what I became. But it did make my relationship with my daughter even more precious.
Thoughts on Becoming Invisible
You write about women going invisible. Any advice on that?
Whew, the invisible thing. If I may quote from my essay Becoming Invisible:
“The issue here is manifold.
First — what is it that you’re missing out on? Let’s look at this phenomenon of not being seen: seen by whom and due to what? Are we not talking specifically about being seen as desirable? Or rather as an object of desire? Get real, ladies. You know who you are and there ain’t no shame in it. We’re wired that way.
Second — take a moment to adjust. Clearly you don’t really see yourself as an object. But you do want to be seen, if not as viable or attractive, at least worthy of attention. And that’s not a female thing, that’s a human thing.
Third — if you’re not feeling it, is this not really a two-way street? What exactly are you projecting? If you want to attract, you need to radiate. If you want to have your attractiveness appreciated, then consider wherein it lies. To my mind, what is truly attractive (not just to men, I’m talking even babies and dogs) is energy, humor, and joy. Everybody needs more of all three. Personally, that’s what I would want people to be attracted to. So have you, in fact, simply accepted the aging process as an excuse to drop out? If you were somewhat stylin’ in your younger days, have you shuffled instead into muumuus and muted colors? Have you enabled your own vanishing?”
So if you’re not getting the feedback you want from the world, do something about it. Announce yourself. Get a new pair of glasses, start swing dancing, run for office, start a gang! Myself —I am not invisible because I literally make myself visible, sartorially. Whether it’s teal blue onesies or neon yellow hoodies, faux fur coats or fedoras, hopped up sneakers, oversized sweaters, or abstractly cut Japanese jeans — I put myself out there. I see style as one of the easiest and most joyful forms of self-expression. You may no longer have the hot bod, or the smooth skin, but what you can have is a distinctive style. Make a statement and you will be heard, and seen.
What are your thoughts on cosmetic procedures?
Within reason, they’re great. I had a genetic trait for bull dog jowls and I couldn’t take it, so I found a surgeon who was deft with a knife and I’ve never looked back. But I like the lines we get as we age and, living in Los Angeles, I shudder when I see women with those hyper-real cheeks, baby doll lips, and glassine skin. I have a neighbor whose skin looks like the belly of a frog.
The Challenges of Being a Hyphenate
What are you struggling with?
I’m a dyed-in-the-wool, intransigent generalist. Though I have left in my trail many concrete proofs to the contrary, I’ve been haunted throughout my life by the term dilettante. I tried calling myself a renaissance man but I’m a woman, damn it, and really, a renaissance woman is not a thing. I have often found myself floundering guiltily in the highs and lows of my own generalism but have always kept the faith that it was all leading somewhere great. (I have written about this in a review of a new book called RANGE on my blog.)
I guess I’m always struggling with what my next moves need to be to make money. Of course Covid is putting a dent in all plans, but my ongoing question is whether to return to my art practice or write a second book. The latter is no sure-fire way to financial security, and although the former might be (again in better times), I’ve gotten used to liking a wider audience than painting gives me. The challenges of being a hyphenate.
Learning and Growing
What have you recently found very hard then found a solution to?
I have always found it difficult to self-promote but now, because I have to do so to promote my book, I am forging ahead with it all, blithe as a Kardashian (I kid). Some marketing pundit said something like, “If you believe in your work enough to put it out there, you have to shout that belief to the world.” I am now actually having a lot of fun with my blog site, which is heavy on the visuals, the provocation, and the kicks.
What are you better at now than you were when you were younger?
Better at maintaining my balance. It takes a lot to unhinge me. Plus I am terribly impulsive, which frequently leads me off-course. But I’ve gotten better at staying on the path: jeez, I have a lot less time to waste!
“The freedom of reaching one’s later years is really astounding”
Now that you are coming upon 70, what’s your ambition?
Wow. Really it’s just continuing to invent and create. I love working with video — shooting and editing — and am finding some avant-garde jazz composers happy to lend me pieces to work with. These are artists I discovered through my meanderings on Apple Music and reached out to through email. Securing one awesome composer led me to gain traction with another. I am also hoping to do some speaking, and would love to create some playful events combining dancing, short performances and readings, videos, and games!
At this point, I actually feel like I was put into a sling shot, years ago, and the elastic kept getting pulled backward, and I kept suffering frustration, but suddenly the thing popped and I’m flying. The freedom of reaching one’s later years is really astounding.
Do you have a life motto?
“Look down at your hands. See life squirming in them? It’s begging to be played with. And if you don’t — it will leap out and run off.”
My book: “Her Argument: Epiphanies, Theories, Confessions” Link here:
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