My new book “Midlife Solo” is now available.

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birthday boy, and the hunt for a title

Dark and wet but not cold. Big day today: tomorrow Elijah is eleven years old, and today Holly and I are taking him shopping in the rain. We decided on a Blue Jays jersey and new sneakers for the growing feet of this baseball player who’s on his school’s team. And lunch. 

I watched some of comedian Marc Maron’s comedy special last night. He talked about how people who have children have a more visceral connection to death. “Happy 17th birthday, son. That means … I’m going to die!” Seeing this tall handsome boy brings joy but, yes, also melancholy — how much of his life will be able to see? I remember his mother coming to tell me she was pregnant, the father perhaps not very auspicious as a longterm partner, and although he has really stepped up as a dad, that has turned out to be her reality. And yet she was determined to go ahead. I was with her at the first ultrasound when we discovered her baby was a boy, and throughout his birth on Victoria Day, 2012. And now he is nearly taller than his mother and lives in an extremely complicated world. Unlike most of his friends, he still is not getting the cellphone he wants. But when he does, the entire planet, for good and bad, is there at his fingertips.

A surprise: my U of T class was cancelled. There were seven, two had to drop out, so I wrote to the remaining five about how the class would proceed, and two more dropped out. So we cancelled. Last term there were too many, this term too few. It’s a financial hit, but it’s also a welcome break. So be it. I’m teaching at U of T’s weeklong summer writing school in July, and Life Stories I starts up again in October. 

On my list this weekend is to hunt for burrows in my garden. Yesterday to my amazement I watched a fat groundhog scampering across my grass. We have raccoons galore, skunks, the occasional opossum and coyote and fox, but a groundhog is something new. They dig, and they chew, so I hope this guy has not taken up residence chez moi.

Asking for help here: I am nearing the end of the hunt for a title for my new book, difficult to pin down because it’s a bunch of essays about many different things and from different phases of my life. Now we have a title: MIDLIFE SOLO. Which I hope gives the sense of a middle-aged writer (most of the essays were written in my late forties and fifties) who’s single, but also – perhaps – singing. 

But the subtitle is CHRONICLES OF A … LATE BLOOMER. I’d like to add an adjective there. I had “thoughtful,” CHRONICLES OF A THOUGHTFUL LATE BLOOMER”, but a writer friend said, It may be true but it’s not compelling, doesn’t sound like fun or make me want to find out what happens in the book. I asked ChatGPT, which, with its usual originality, suggested “eclectic.” Phooey. Curious? Nosy? Cheeky? 

Can you think of an adjective that describes me, the writer of a disparate bunch of essays, and that’s compelling and succinct? Going nuts here. Over to you. Thanks!

The view from my kitchen chair yesterday: 

P.S. Just back from a successful sortie with the young man: black Nikes size 6 1/2, his favourite sushi for lunch, a big ice cream cone, and off he went with Holly for a Jays jersey. I escaped from the crowded capitalist hellscape that is the Eaton’s Centre on the Saturday of a holiday weekend — if you want to see why humankind is doomed, it’s right there — and it just came to me. What about candid? 
MIDLIFE SOLO:
Chronicles of a candid late bloomer
essays

Beth Kaplan
What do you think?
PPS. Well – Chris just called from Gabriola. He says it’s still not compelling or fun. 
Sigh. 

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7 Responses to “birthday boy, and the hunt for a title”

  1. Anonymous says:

    soulful (?) insightful (?) philosophical (?) … I totally get the point about your grandson's birthday. I now have a granddaughter at 7, grandson at 5 and grandson at 8 weeks … I'd like to be around to see them all approach adult. Put me down for 88 or thereabouts! Alan in Zurich

  2. Anonymous says:

    life-affirming
    life-loving
    loving
    embracing
    graceful
    grateful
    vivid
    vibrant

  3. Pearl Richard says:

    Creative? Crusty? Curmudgeonly? Opinionated? Intrepid?

  4. Anonymous says:

    Cheeky

  5. Anonymous says:

    Sexy anything with sex in it sells lol

  6. beth says:

    You are all very helpful, thank you!

  7. Anonymous says:

    Don't want to be a party pooper but I like it with no extra word – just 'chronicles of a late bloomer' It leaves more to the imagination. Ginette

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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