Becoming a swamp goblin

The opportunity to grow old is itself a privilege that many people will not have. But, it brings with it all kinds of things that won’t be privileges, particularly the increasing risk of illness and disability. Your life expectancy, and your quality of life as an older person will be very much informed by your wealth.

For much of human history, life expectancy was about thirty years. So here I am in my mid forties, ancient by the standards of most of my ancestors, middle aged by modern standards, and wondering what lies ahead. After a year of relentless health problems, I feel much older than I am. Thanks to those same health problems, I also don’t look it. Hypermobility often gifts people with younger looking skin, while taking away mobility. 

If you’re female-presenting, aging is traditionally a process of becoming invisible and irrelevant. There are no road maps for aging non-binary people. The menopause is cheerfully increasing my chances of growing a beard, while thinning my head hair. It’s not a very sexy take on being nonbinary, but its what I’ve got. I may have to rethink my visual presentation. I may not bother.

I’m not one of those people who will wonder if, as an older person, they will dare to wear purple. I’ve always been fairly outlandish. I’m thinking more in terms of swamp-goblin for my future self. I’m not really cute cottage-core granny material, I’m definitely on more of a scary witch in the forest trajectory. I have no intention of aging with dignity or grace, and I hope I can get more outspoken, outlandish and unreasonable as I go.

I’m fortunate in that I have spaces where my getting older will not disappear me. Writing is traditionally the work of older people, so long as I can jab a keyboard or mutter into a device, I can tell stories. The steampunk community is an all ages one and will allow me to be as outlandish as I like. The Pagan scene is pretty good at including older people even if the visuals are still far too focused on the sexy young women. As a swamp goblin, I shall be able to work on this. 

I’ve run into goblin-core as a concept and I like it greatly. Embrace the decay, the autumn, the mess. Embrace the toadstools and the cemeteries, the spiders, bugs and moths. It’s like goth, only it doesn’t call for being young and sexy – and there are increasing numbers of old goths who are no doubt moving towards more of a goblin aesthetic. 

As a child, I didn’t realise how far my maternal grandmother was from the pearl and twinset permed hair norms of old ladies at the time. She was colourful, her dress style was androgenous, she did what suited her. I’m lucky in that I have some sort of role model there. She kept going in every way she could, despite a body that was clearly very hard work to live in. She fought to keep her mind sharp and her life interesting. It’s a good set of things to aspire to.

About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, polyamourous animist, ant-fash, anti-capitalist, bisexual steampunk. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

4 responses to “Becoming a swamp goblin

  • jswhite

    I liked this post. Growing older still seems to be a topic many people don’t want to talk about. At 35, I’m only a decade or so behind you, but already I can feel the fingers of invisiblity creeping in.

    As much as I like the pagan scene, much of the art really does focus on the young, sexy witch or the ripe, pregnant mother…as someone who has a small child and is still in the proverbial broom closet, I see few pieces of artwork or visuals that resonate.

    I haven’t seen goblin core, but I may have to check it out now. 😉

    Thanks for continuing to post relevant and thoughtful things. I certainly enjoy reading what you have to say on things!

  • Christopher Blackwell

    When I was 55 I considered myself to be a geezer in training, by 65 I figured I had reached geezerhood and now nearing 76 I am working on the old part.

    Being on my own does not bother me, though I did have over thirty-seven years with a partner, literally death to us part, just not considered a marriage. I do nave a number of growing limitations, fading eyesight and hearing. I am at the point where reading books and newsappers is no longer possible. More concerning is the growing problem of reading on my 27 inch curved monitor from my computers. I cannot get across how fast it is changing, but I have an appointment with my eye doctor to see if we can do anything about it.

    Last year he was mentioning laser surgery and it may come to that. I have had six eye surgeries already. Five on my right eye just to keep enough eye sight to get around and a cataract surgery on my good eye, delayed several years least it do the same as the right eye had, so it might be time for another. I already have to have others to fill out forms, even writing a check requires a magnifying glass as well as my glasses, even then finding the line I am supposed to wrote on is chancy. The question wil come when I can not do that.

    Meanwhile I have an increasing number of specialists over the last 28 years. I could probably fill a pretty large library of medical records, my main doctor mentions how long it takes for his computer to bring up my files. I could do an impressive gallery showing of various X-rays, scans including cat scans. I gave up counting medications, once I could no longer count them on two hands.

    So far life has not been bad, I still have a great deal of enjoyment, but one cannot wonder but how it will be with still more limits. I have not driven in 21 years. went unconscious while drying totally both my pickup and a Lincoln town car. I have been using a walker for ten to fifteen years, no longer certain. Do a block or so as a limit walking, where as at the start could do one to two miles. Do have times of a little confusion, enough that people that know me do notice. That is spooky for a person that has always lived in his mind more than on the outside. So both what limits to come as well as how much more life are something that I wonder about. Yet up to now I have managed to adjust as needed. No use worrying, I will save my reaing energy for making adjustments as needed.

  • M.A.

    I’m 73 and I have no idea how to be a little old lady. Swamp Goblin sounds like a much more interesting option…

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