Author: Desiree Cooper

Every Woman’s Reward: Becoming That Mean Old Lady

 I’ll admit it. As the years go by, I seem to be getting meaner. If I gave a damn, this would be a troubling development. I was born on March 20, the vernal equinox, the first day of spring when everything’s coming up daisies. As a Pisces, I spent most of my life a brooding but compassionate dreamer, friend of the underdog, empathic helper. But March 20 is also on the cusp of Aries, the bullheaded, competitive, pull-no-punches sign. That makes me an astrological Dr. Jekyll, Ms. Hyde. So, I’m not surprised that in my second act, I’ve gone from friendly fish to full-tilt ram. What worries me is that my prickliness may not be written in the stars so much as imprinted on my genes. I don’t aspire to be an old shrew, but when I look at some of the women in my family, I wonder if it can be avoided.  I’m far more prone to hang up on someone, claim space for myself, cut off ridiculous prattle, even threaten court action when …

Come Sleep with Me: Caretaking Mom

When I turned 50, I rediscovered the splendid stretch of my own bed. Marriage-free after 25 years, children grown and gone, no pets with their whiny demands, I could haunt the night without fear of rousing man, child, or beast.   There are those who long for the late-night solace of someone else’s arms. But solitude cracked the night open for me, and my bed became my sanctuary, my spa, my office, my library, my snack bar. On my nightstand, Alexa played Esperanza Spalding when I was writing, or read me Octavia Butler’s Wild Seed as a bedtime story. Next to Alexa was a lavender-scented candle, and usually a glass of red wine or a cup of strong, black coffee. The marriage bed, the birthing bed, the family bed, was finally the ark of my own joy.  Then in the summer of 2016, I abandoned my Detroit home of thirty years, put my belongings in storage and moved to coastal Virginia to live with my parents. They were in their 80s, their minds fading much faster …