Each year when the time comes to renew my subscription to More Magazine, I equivocate. At 78, I’m too old to care about mascara that will make my eyelashes grow. I have naked, Mona Lisa eyes. I don’t mind. I no longer wish to paint a face “to meet the faces I shall meet.”* (The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.) If I could live out my life exactly as I’d wish, I’d wear a muumuu and sandals every day, not because I’ve grown fat, but because it’s the nearest I could come to being au natural and still be decent.
Given my attitude, it would follow that More Magazine and I no longer have much in common. Yet on occasion, it does speak to me, as it did in a recent article, “How Much Money Is Enough?” (By Kate Ashford & Laura Singer, 9/2014 pgs. 112-117). It addressed the bag lady fear that plagues me and, apparently, countless women regardless of their incomes. On average, women earn less than men during the course of their working lives and, as we know, they receive smaller Social Security checks. But another disparity exists which is less well known, one affected by race. According to Ashford and Singer, Asian women earn 87% of a man’s annual earnings while white women earn 78%. African American woman fall behind at 64% and Latin women at 33%. (Ibid, pg. 116.)
Why the racial difference? Ashford and Singer don’t explain, but use these statistics to further establish that the fear of becoming impoverished is prevalent among women. The novelist, Anne R. Allen, is a typical example. She earned a decent income most of her life until her publisher went out of business. Starting a career over again would be daunting enough but around that same time Allen was diagnosed with COPD. Her insurance carrier provided only partial coverage for her medications, so she was soon swimming in unpaid bills. Allan stopped reading her mail. “A degree from Bryn Mawr,” she realized, “wouldn’t help me flip burgers.” (Ibid, pg. 117.) Finally, she decided to pour her heart and her thoughts into a blog: AnneRAllen.blogspot.com. Women responded with sympathy and an innate understanding. She became so popular that Writer’s Digest listed her blog as one of the Best 101 Websites for Writers. Eventually, money trickled in, enough to keep her afloat.
Allen had talent, to be sure, but luck played it’s part. With so many good blogs in the blogosphere, why hers took off remains a question, but clearly, she’d touched a chord. When I finished the article,, I reached for my pen to renew my subscription. Allen’s story gives me hope. That’s worth a few dollars.