This one’s done..can I get another?

Image result for broken bodyThe world needs another post about Trump today like I need another 1st date. So instead I’m obsessing about how knackered my body is. Not just tired, but worn out. Done. Ready for recycling. Broken.

Ok, a little bit of an overstatement, but I so feel busted. Hot on the heels from an ENT appointment about my growing allergy to everything living thing, last week I learned that my nose is busted. One side hasn’t worked for a year or so, and the other side is thinking of decamping to Canada. The impact – that I start suffocating when I’m swimming, hiking, riding, running – is a bit of a challenge but “a simple surgery” with fix it.

The last “simple surgery” took a year off my life, left a hole in my shoulder and added a stone (14lbs) to my ass. I still hurt every day from the “simple-ness” of it all (though my  shoulder makes a great hook for a handbag and stores rainwater).

Next up my knees. I’ve always ridden bikes and I’ve run for 20 or so years including quite a few half marathons. Today.. my doctor says I have the knees of a 65-year-old with no cartilage left and torn fascia. But guess what…. ? A “simple surgery” can help eliminate the problem and have me up on the slopes by spring.

I”m noticing a trend here. I’m broken, but not beyond repair.

Except I’m scared of “simple” anything. After all, this election was meant to be “easy” back when we found out a Cheeto was running…

It seems as we age, anything becomes possible. Surgeries are so “simple” they’re not even called surgery anymore. “Procedures” sound more like what I do when putting on a sports bra.. but every doc I see is aching to offer me one in order to fix my failing bits.

Instead I’ve decided I’m opting for all new, all in one. I’m thinking about a full body transplant. An unemployed millennial fresh from a sofa. They’re not using their bodies, and it would be so damn wonderful to ride my bike without clenching at the pain, walk down the stairs like normal (instead of crabwalking with shrieks) or stand up without an ‘oomph’ and a moment to compose myself.

Yes I might have unshaved legs for the rest of my life,  wear a stupid beany while talking about my ‘woke baes’ but I’d trade it for what I’m working with.

No-one needs this many shrieks and moans at 44.  Not unless a Cheeto is talking.

Who’s with me?

 

 

Posted in aging, body, cycling, Embarrassing admissions, Getting older, health | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Teeth

This story starts with tea. English BreakfImage result for tea stained teethast to be specific but I’ll take Irish, Earl Grey and Darjeeling if that’s whats available. Because I drink a lot of tea.. and by a lot I mean boxes. My current record is 160 decaf cups and 80 caffeinated cups in one month.  Which  totals ~8 cups a day, a number that still seems sorta low based on the average work day. But still, it’s a lot of tea.

And tea stains your teeth badly. Ever wondered why British people over the age of 35 start to resemble smokers, and in late life Austin Powers… tea. That and no fluoride in the water.  But mainly its the tea. Years up years of tea.

Since I moved to the US and benefited from an aggressive dentist, diligent upkeep and the odd surgery or two, I’ve managed to keep the tea patina on my teeth to a minimum. But when applying a new lip gloss in full sunlight I noticed my pegs starting to look remarkable ‘tinted’. Time to follow my new US brethren to the land of bleach.

Americas love bleach. In their hair, in their water, on their butt holes… it’s a country and that likes things clean and sparkling white. So trays in hand I headed home to restore my mouth to a positively virginal state. No big deal.

Except no-one tells you that you have to wear these things for AGES. The package said 2-3 hours, but after 25 minutes my saliva had dried up to a crust and I desperately needed a drink. So I pulled off a tray and wiped away the gunk to see how it was doing…. nothing. No change whatsoever. Fucker.

Back in with the trays.

After an hour passed I got thirsty. Since my mouth was full of bleach and plastic, and the package mentioned ‘only white liquids or foods for 24 hours after bleaching’.. so milky tea then.

I make a cup of the worlds weakest tea, and then realized the tea would simply swish away the bleaching gunk. So a straw then?

What single woman over the age of 7 owns a straw?

After rifling through my cupboards I figured I had two options

  • Drip the tea onto my tongue using an eye dropper
  • Try licking up the tea like a cat.
  • Dribbling the tea down my throat using a tea-spoon by laying my head backwards and aiming between the trays.

Lets just say I found a way to get the tea into my mouth.

The burns will heal in a few more days and they do take your eyes off my slightly yellow teeth.

Posted in Embarrassing admissions, This is 40 | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Its 52 days until Christmas

Its 52 days until Christmas… and Hallmark is already 5 days into its ‘Countdown to Image result for christmas movieChristmas’ movie-thon.

For those not in the know (people with a life), every year Hallmark kicks off its “Countdown to Christmas” program of non stop Christmas movies between Halloween (yes, you read it right), and New Years Day.

Yes, ‘non stop’. As in all-damn-day-long.  Yes as you’re busy trying to untangle your fake cobwebbing from the bushes, and breathing a sigh of relief that Thanksgiving is still weeks away you could have been partaking in such delights as ‘The Best Christmas Party Ever” or ‘The Christmas Parade’.

But don’t fear, I”m here to catch you up on what you might have missed, and to whet your appetite for two.whole.months of Christmas.

In the mood for some bad puns? How about “Its Christmas, Carol!” or “Fir Crazy”? Image result for hallmark christmas moviesHysterical right?

Want to keep the focus purely on the family? “Home & Family”, “Baby’s First Christmas” or “Family for Christmas” should mentally nauseate you into rethinking that trip to Hawaii for the holidays.

How about a little chuckle? “A Very Merry Mix up”,   “A Christmas Detour” or the “Santa Incident” sound like occasions for some laughs. Of the most soporific kind.

Romance – of course – is a huge feature of Christmas and for all you single ladies out there, the choices are positively awash this November ?? Get inspired!!

“Tis the Season for Love” (I thought it was Turkey)

“Matchmaker Santa” (because that’s who I want choosing my lover)

“Single Santa Seeks Mrs. Claus’ (Nothing sexier than a beard and some boots)

“A Boyfriend for Christmas” (does he arrive in stockings?)

“A Bride for Christmas” (That’s one for Santa’s list )

“Snow Bride” (or as we call it, spring weddings in Colorado)

“A Holiday Engagement” (sounds like a trip to the OBGYN)

“A Princess for Christmas” (just for Christmas?)

“Hitched for the Holidays” (because they’re not stressful enough)

“Santa Switch” (now this sounds promising)

“A Divas Christmas Carol” (the only one not married or dating this season)

“Merry Matrimony” (whoever they are, I hate them already)

“Northpole” (if he’s Italian, send him over please)

I seriImage result for hallmark christmas moviesously gave up listing movies here as I was starting to sense that a)the only people watching Hallmark are single ladies who dream about fantastical situations where they find themselves suddenly dressed up like Elsa in Frozen and b) I realized that I was one of those people and c) I felt nauseous.

<insert diatribe on social norms and media stereotypes>

So there you have it.. a brief selection of “movies”, (yes movies with casts and cameras and money being spent) from the now-in-progress Hallmark ‘Countdown to Christmas’.  Going on 24 hours a day for the next 2 months. Set your DVR.

Mazel Tov.

Note to Self: You do not want romance for Christmas. You want gloves.

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Dear Mr. Leaf-blower

I know you wanted to be a Jedi Sir, but I’m here to tell you the truth. Your hourly walk up Image result for man leaf blowerand down the sidewalk by my house, armed with what amounts to an outside vacuum cleaner is no more protecting us from Stormtroopers than it is actually cleaning up leaves.

I understand the need to quell the rebellion Sir, but blowing leaves from the sidewalk onto the street, only to have a puff of wind skitter them back on the sidewalk is the very definition of idiocy. I applaud your tenacity Sir, I really do. Most people would give up on the leaf-blower at some point in order to go… well… have a life, but not you Sir. Not you.

Its been about 5 weeks now and as if by decree,  every day around 8am you begin leaf-blowing. I know you’ve run out of sidewalk at times Sir: I saw you heading up the street a few blocks, chasing those damn leaves to another street where they might choose to relocate. But then on your return, you see there are now new invaders to the street. Who.Must.Be.Denied.Vacancy. That seemed to really reinvigorate your search and fight against invading Storm-um – leaves. So I guess I’ll leave you to it. You will not be deterred I can see.

Until snow comes. Tee- Hee.

Oh shit.. I bet you’ve got a snow-blower.

Posted in feedback, Getting older, men, Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Relaxing into spinsterhood

Image result for old lady walking her dog funnyThe other night I walked my dog in my pjs. Not content with one horror, I compounded it with a pair of wool socks, my retainer, some fetching Dansko clogs and an oversized down jacket. And it wasn’t even dark.

What can I say, I am the poster child for spinsterhood.

This journey started some time ago. After getting divorced in my 30s, one of the simple joys I rediscovered was taking off my pants and underwear as soon as I got home from work. Off with the confines of work, back on with comfort. A really bad day? Off with the bra and let everything have some freedom.

However back then, I still had some modicum of dignity. I suspected that I might meet some cute dude while walking my dog, borrow a doggy bag and be moved in by sundown.. so I dressed appropriately when I left the house. I mean I wasn’t throwing down at the park in a thong and some fur-lined heels, but I looked slightly cute. I wore jeans, t-shirts, cute tops even a bra on occasion.  I usually brushed my hair and spritzed on some perfume.  My level of male-dar was on full alert. After all.. you never know. He could be out there..

Fast forward 10 years and how things have changed.   These days as long I’m warm, pretty much anything goes inside the house. Flannel shirts, granny underwear, that 18 yr old pair of pjs, if its comfy.. it’s on.  Outside the house.. well.I’ve walked my dog in a bikini, clothesless under a Barbor jacket, in hole filled sweat pants (quelle horreur) and mostly in clothes I wore the day before (with or without the food I cooked on them). I wear a beanie or a hoodie on my head to hide my rat tails  and I mainly try not to get picked up for vagrancy.

I don’t worry about missing that cute dog walking guy or not looking appropriately attractive enough to draw the attention of that volleyball player. I’m too old for them now and I probably can’t even see them at a distance to be completely honest.

Plus I can categorically verify that no one is out there anyway. I’ve looked. I’ve done more than look, I’ve actually walked about 13,000 miles while looking.  So these days I am settling into my spinsterhood and everything that entails. No underwear after 6, no makeup after Friday and whatever the hell I want to wear while walking my dog.

I think I’ll just date the mailman.

Posted in aging, Getting older, Life after 40, living alone, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Drowning not waving

Image result for drowning in the poolI’m terrified of deep water. If I can’t stand up in it then I’m a) clinging to the nearest stationary and solid object b) peeing in terror and c) screaming.

I’d like to think that it’s this which made me such a great sailor for all those years; abject fear of ending up in the water is a fantastic motivator to staying upright.  I learned how to capsize and right a boat only getting my feet wet.. mainly because I swim like a stone.

The signs weren’t good from the get go. Early swimming lessons at the local pool with my sister kicked off with a lesson in floating. As my body sank to the bottom of the pool and my very very short life flashed before my eyes, it was only the shouting of my mother from the balcony “Grab your sister NOW” that assured my existence. Needless to say, I didn’t take my feet off the bottom of the pool for the next 20 years.

Fast forward to 40 something and in the midst of a life crisis it came to me. I needed to learn how to be comfortable in the pool. Maybe..if I could swim with ease… I’d have one less thing to be terrified of  and live happily ever after. (with a pool)

As I now embark on my 4th set of private lessons I’m still terrified in any pool over 4ft deep. I have my strokes down pat but as soon I see the bottom of the pool deepening I’m heading to the bottom await my drowning. And this time, my sister’s hand is 4,200 miles away.

I’ve tried chanting, wearing fins, closing my eyes, looking ahead instead of down and even Valium. Nothing. Choking, panic, snorting and inhalation of an awful lot of water and once, a lifeguard actually ran to help me..  and still.. nothing makes it less horrid.

So maybe I’ll see you at the pool. I’ll be the one looking for the life lesson wearing horse blinkers and a noodle.   Be sure to look for my wave.

Posted in Embarrassing admissions, fear, life lessons, new challenges | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

My dog’s butt is sick

Image result for dog in diapersMy dog’s butt is sick.

At the ripe old age of 11, faced with his first chance at some kind of medical problem, he skipped cancer, epilepsy, hypothyroidism or diabetes.

Francis went with an ill butt.

What started as an intense enthusiasm for his butt, morphed into a licking mania which at one point had me donning Bose headphones so I didn’t have to listen to the slurping, gnashing and chomping. I felt like I was listening in on a one man dog porno entitled ‘Hairy Ass Loving: Bite It Until It Bleeds’.

So I took him to the vet. No one is having that much frenzied sex in my house.

And I was rewarded by an infection. Which turned into a mysterious shape. That turned into the specter of ass cancer which $1400 later turned into a ‘self made body’.

Oh yes. My dog grew a living, growing tumor in his butt that was basically feeding on his ‘output’.

(I still feel faint)

I mentally decided that he needed to live on a farm for the remainder of his life. If it was going to turn into something from  ‘The Thing’ or ‘Alien’ there was no way I was sticking around for that finale. But I was assured it could be destroyed. And without Sigourney Weaver.

So while I eat noodles for the rest of the month, my dog rests his spoiled head on his inflatable collar, sighs on waves of relaxation from his meds, and we both try valiantly to ignore whatever’s going on below the waist.

I’m assured he’ll make a full recovery. My imagination may not.

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Back in the saddle

Image result for shoulder brace after surgery womenAs everyone knows, starting something is the hardest part. A diet, a commitment, a new job, the toilet roll. Re-starting something might be even harder. This time around you know what to expect..how hard or painful it’s going to be. This time.. you think, maybe just maybe it’ll be easier than you remember.

Following 2 extensive surgeries on my shoulder last year I found myself restricted from all physical activity involving my arms, shoulders or upper body movement of any kind.  A sneeze rendered me in tears and lifting a mug of tea became my Crossfit. As an independent lass it pained me to have to ask for help lifting groceries into my car (where I’d carry them, one or two items at a time, up 3 flights of stairs) and I became adept at deciding what to cook based on whether I could cook and eat it 1 handed.

It was pitiful, with spots of hilarity (I fell over a LOT).

To call me disabled was an overstatement, but basically I became a human wine box with bruises for 18 months.

Fast forward a year and I graduated from my various slings and arrows, discovered pitches of screams I didn’t know I possessed and managed to carry my first gallon of milk. All in all, almost back to normal. Sure I’ll never salute an officer , throw down a Hiel Hitler (wasn’t going to anyway) or ‘raise the roof’ (ditto) but I can now wear a bra strap, carry a purse and blow dry the back of my head.

Exactly the qualifications for some mountain biking.

I’d wanted to get back on the back for a while… pretty much 10 mins after I came around from surgery the first time. But everything hurt, I literally couldn’t use my arm, and every time I thought about falling… the sense of doom was overwhelming. What if I fell and needed another surgery? Or a new shoulder? I packed away riding for ‘another time’. Which came this last weekend.

It had been so long. so so long. I think Madonna was on her first face lift when I last rode some dirt. And oh how I missed it. The fire in your chest, the thumping of your heart, the feeling of flying on the downhill. The smell of warm pine as you crash into a tree on a particularly tight switch back. Glorious. And I was finally done being afraid.

I packed myself into straining Lycra, grabbed the Percocet and headed to the hills.

I’ll spare the blow-by-blow suffice to say it went something like this:

  • Shock (‘holy cow this is hard’)
  • Concern (‘is my heart meant to be pounding this fast?’)
  • Horror (‘fuck me, I don’t think I’m even moving forward’)
  • Despair (‘oh god, those people with the old dog are passing me’)
  • Hope (‘oooo is that the top? is it? it is isn’t it??)
  • Devastation (‘damn fucking false flat…’)
  • Resignation (‘Why am I doing this ? I’m clearly too old for this shit’)
  • Self criticism (‘Popcorn isn’t a recovery diet dammit.. should have made more soup’
  • Motivated (‘Damn it.. I can do this.. I have to do this or I’ll get old and crinkly and die’
  • Thrilled (‘I did it!!! I rule!!!! I did it!!!)
  • Realization (‘HOLY FUCK GODDAMN THAT HURTS MY SHOULDER’)
  • Alarmed (‘OMG I need to ride down this fucker! This is going to hurt sooooo bad’)
  • Joy (“I’m gonna love every single second of this. This is why I ride’)

I got on my bike, full of Oprah fed wisdom and promptly rode into tree.

Starting again is hard. You look ridiculous, you feel like a loser and your brain never shuts up reminding you of how much better you used to be at this. But the alternate – a life of memories, of ‘remember when?’, fear and failing confidence  – is way way worse.

At my way,  I get to look good in Lycra.. some day.

Posted in aging, body, cycling, new challenges | Tagged , | 1 Comment

I don’t get hugs

Since I came to the US some 19 years ago, I’ve found hugging quite alarming. 

After all every Brit knows that when two people meet, the accepted form of greeting is the handshake. 

‘How do you do?’

‘I’m well. How do you do?’

‘I’m well. Thanks for asking’

You can sense the raised pinkies and stiffness. The natural inclination to keep a distance both physically and emotionally. 

Contrast this with your average American. Unless you’re a cab driver, a waitress or a banker, the hug seems the de facto way of meeting and leaving people.

‘Whazzup?’ Followed by manly backslapping cross hug for the guys 

 ‘Heyyyyyy’ ‘or squeal’ followed by a brief hug and cheek air kiss.

See the difference? Americans are so….physical. They greet with their bodies. Brits greet with their hand. Outstretched. Away from themselves. In fact we’ll do just a head nod if we can get away with it.

Early immigrant me rejected the very notion of a hug as a greeting; bowing to shake hands with small children, proffering my firm grip to employers and even offering my fingers to 1st dates. 

I passed into my mid 40s, I decided to commit to my American ness and start hugging with abandon.

And that’s where the trouble starts.If you’ve never been taught something – at my age- you’re expected to know how to do it. And I hug like a 2 yr old. 

So that’s my explanation to my boss as to why I tried to hug his arm and then threw my arms around his neck like a child at Christmas and body slammed him. 

Confused doesn’t cover his expression.

So it’s Masonic handshakes from here on out. Preferably while wearing gloves. Much much safer. 

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Back to here

It’s been almost 2 years since I decided to pack up my snow boots and head out to CAlifornia to chase a golden opportunity and potentially find a new home. 

It sure was exciting. 

  • Google cars sitting on the freeway alongside Teslas and Ferraris. 
  • Meeting CEO of this and president of that.
  • Walking on the beach on Christmas Day as seals and dolphins surf the waves.

Less publicized was the daily 2 hour fight to get to work. The $3000 rent and the 70 hr work week. 

Needless to say, after 20 months I knew a heck of a lot more about wine, but missed my friends, the yellow aspens of fall and knowing where the hell to find a decent camping spot in June. 

It was time to come home. 

Lazy weekends in St.Helena are memories I shall never forget (and hope to add to) but living in a place where meth heads battle it out under my window.. Those nights I’d rather forget.

I leave with wild memories of Santa Cruz descents, the Boss live and giving it some, and my lovely neighbors- now friends for life-  who swam with me through the foggy spring/summer and fed me more wine, cheese and salami than a Brit thought possible.  

To them I raise an Aperol spritz and say ‘salut’

To my Denver peeps I simply say ‘what’d I miss?’

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Lady Rage

rageI recently attended a workshop where the discussion of anger management came up. Since the last time I can recall feeling really miffed was when my ex moved out taking one of my books.. it wasn’t a subject I had much opinion or need for.

Oh how wrong I was.

When  asked to think about the physical effects of anger, all of the seeming rational, calm men in the group immediately threw out a practically uniform list of attributes; seeing red, getting flushed, becoming blinkered to everything else, shortness of breath, clenched fists, sweating and taking a wide stance. Presumably this one is to allow for the massive expansion of balls.. or do men get erections when they get angry?  I guess it didn’t come up. Overall.. the responses that you’d expect when facing a large predator or Donald Trump.

Meanwhile all of the women in the group just looked confused. The responses I heard included; “I don’t really feel angry” or  ” I swear inside my car”, “I just swallow it” or (most familiar to me) “I start crying”.

Yep.. really helpful in those ‘fight or flight’ situations.

As much as I hate to tread that whole ‘biology’ trope, it was clear.. men are really used to and conditioned to deal with anger. Women.. we don’t seem to even admit that it exists or when we encounter it, we’re unable to deal with the feeling – the unbridled, uncontrollable, power of anger..and we’re too afraid (or conditioned) to express it. It’s too uncomfortable. And as ‘laydees’ we’re all brought up to stuff those uncomfortable feelings down as quickly and permanently as possible.

I thought back to the times I’ve actually been really angry – seeing red, losing control, balling up my fists fury- and I couldn’t come up with anything. Certainly not in adulthood.

26 years. 1 divorce, several heart breaks, numerous indignities, insults and betrayals. No anger that I can recall. I did call my ex out for ‘smelling bad’ and I’ve called people ‘mean’. But rage..fury… anger… ? Nada.

The women at the workshop… the best we could come up with was passing irritation towards inconsiderate drivers, annoying partners or friends, or frustration. But the symptoms felt by men, or expressed by men.. We just didn’t have the experience.

We didn’t need an anger management discussion. We needed a ‘how to feel anger’ course. A ‘stop swallowing this shit’ retreat. A certificate in ‘expressing anger externally’.

So there and then I committed to exploring my ‘lady rage’.

I know I have stuff I must be angry about. Things which make me teary-eyed to remember or stuff I don’t even want to remember because it makes me uncomfortable. I’ve had my fair share of let downs, humiliations and mistreatment. And god knows, I have a whole state of rudeness and bad driving to get started with.

Next time I feel uncomfortable, when I’m so frustrated that I’m fighting back tears or trying to hold it all in.. I’m going to clench my fists, widen my stance and let my lady balls grow. I am going to experience my anger, my fury, my rage.

Lady rage.. coming to a woman near you.

Sidebar: I Googled ‘angry woman’ for an image, but was faced by women with their arms crossed, fingers pointed or steam coming out of their ears. Clearly even Google can’t find a woman who actually looks angry. Unless she is black. There were lots of black angry women. Grrr. That’s a WHOLE other post.

Posted in How to be a woman, ideas, observations, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Ch-ch-ch-changes

Time goes by pretty fast if you don’t take the time to look around.

(Time also goes by Clichepretty fast after 40.. how is it almost July??? And where are my glasses).

Grey hair, sore knees, sad eyes and that’s just the dog. Its true I’m starting to resemble him these days, but I refuse to resort to spending my days lying on the sofa farting and snoring… no matter what I feel like.

A few data points from the last year or so to catch you up:

  • 3 new bosses, 13 keynotes, 6 conferences, 18 town halls, 300+ powerpoints and 1TB of new content created.
  • 2 heads of state, 2 ambassadors, 6 tech icons and many of the Fortune 100 CEOs. (Favorite was the Dutch Prime minister who was delicious, weird and still lives with his mother. Wonderful manners).
  • $$$$$ earned. I mean ridiculous.

And in non work life;

  • 11 procedures via 2 shoulder surgeries, 32 weeks of PT, knee cartilage busted
  • 7 glorious weekends in St. Helena, CA
  • 3 dates with men who turned out to be married.
  • 3 apartment moves
  • 1 old flame
  • And I finally saw BRUCE in concert (Springsteen not Hornby and the Range)

And the best thing of all?

I realized I prefer working with and being around nice people over most everything else.

Life is just too short to run behind Mr.Big in 4 inch heels hoping that you’re having some positive impact on someone somewhere. No matter the astonishing people you meet, the innovation you’re absorbed in, the resources available and the learning you do… nothing beats working with a team of people who have your back, who treat you well and who share your values. Seeing the impact of your work. Having a team who knows you and doesn’t think its weird when you lend a hand, offer or ask for help. It makes all the difference.

I’m sure this reads like every cliché in the book.. but its been an eye-opening, life changing 18 months for me.  I’ve always been independent, up for an adventure and embracing of change.. and this time might be the ultimate challenge. Putting my values first and building the life I want around them.

Now.. does anyone have a use for some slightly used high heels?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in adventure, career, Decision making, Getting older, job, life lessons, observations, significant moments, Uncategorized | Tagged | 3 Comments

On the road again

santa-cruz-skateboardsEver the wandering non-Jew, I’m celebrating the season by once again packing up and moving to a new zip-code. I personally think its a GREAT way of avoiding dusting or ever cleaning the oven, but frankly this time its motivated by a need to find my tribe. Some friends. A life outside of work, and tech and Teslas.

My current locale has much in common with a Ferrari. Everyone agrees that its beautiful, but its bloody expensive, ridiculously ostentatious and its not exactly the ‘go to’ to for a single chica with tats and financial challenges. I look like everyone else’s dog walker.

So I’m heading over the mountain to the promised land. Aka Santa Cruz. The land of the Banana Slug. Where I can walk to the beach, ride my bike to the bar and my dog can watch for whales, seals and seagulls all damn day long.

Populated by students, dropouts, hippy throwbacks, surf addicts, completely normal people and mountain biking fanatics, its also a place where I’ve experienced a lot of positive things. Christmas on the beach. Girlie friendship. The psychotic reaction of my dog to a dolphin. Insane downhill. The ability to breathe out. Strangers telling me how to cure mange while exploring rock pools- (no mange here but now I have the cure!).

Suffice to say, its my kind of weirdos.

I know the common denominator in my moves is me, and I’d be the first to admit if I was trying to escape something, but actually this is more of a ‘find’. Finding the trees, air, beauty and silence of Colorado.. but next to the ocean and peppered with friendly folks with a 70s vibe. Finding my tribe of peeps who don’t judge, who disappear on a surf day and who let you turn right without laying on the horn. Who knows.. maybe I’ll find a dude who gets me, some friends to hang with and the secret of eternal life for my dog.

But first I just need to deal with the reality of sand in everything.

Posted in adventure, aging, finding balance, new challenges, the future | Tagged , | Leave a comment

How not to get a tattoo

catbuttFollow these simple rules and avoid scarring your body with some unintelligible, stupid or downright embarrassing ink forever!!!!

  1. Do not awake from a dream with an idea that having this THING inked on you will bring you insight and joy for the remainder of your days. This is why it is called a dream. It belongs in clouds and your subconscious.. not anywhere anyone can see it while you are naked.
  2. Do not get a tattoo if you think it will make you cool. Tattoos do not make you cool. No one with the words ‘Mum’ on their bicep ever looked cool. Except maybe Johnny Cash and his said ‘Mom’. And, well .. Johnny Cash.
  3. Do not get a tattoo if it has taken you more than a year or two to think about it. People buys houses, get married and pregnant in that time. You’re clearly not an ink person if you’d consider having a baby easier than deciding where to get your death’s head or Mark Twain quote.
  4. Do not get a tattoo because it seems like ‘fun’. Hobby’s are fun. Tattoos are not a hobby. Unless you want to be covered head to toe by the time you’re 25, then its more of a lifestyle.
  5. If the idea for your tattoo came from the following sources, please exit the shop: Pinterest, the wall of the tattoo shop, a server/waitress/stripper, your friends leg, a dream, your computer logo, a video game. Buy a Sharpie and go to town. You won’t regret it half as much.
  6. Do not choose your tattoo shop by it proximity to the bar. This is not a selection criteria. Cleanliness, prior work, reputation, Instagram/Yelp/other artists recommendations are good criteria. Your ability to duck out for another shot while waiting is not a criteria.
  7. ‘Walk in’ tattoo shops are a dying breed. There is a reason for this. Artists do not like to draw and ink 73 Broncos logos every game day. Artists like to draw, create and ink something they’re proud of. It does not occur – generally at midnight on a Saturday in 60 minute intervals. You may luck out on an undiscovered speedy Picasso but its unlikely. Appointments people. Unless you want a Broncos tattoo of course.
  8. If you must, absolutely have to, right now, you will die without it – get inked immediately, read some online reviews.  Check out portfolios online. When entering the shop, find the artists portfolios and look at prior work. If it looks ugly, messy, blurry, jacked or downright terrible.. leave. Artists books are the work they are ‘proud of‘. Yes, that rose which looks like a cats butt is ‘the best’ Joe can do.. he’s not saving his best work in some secret drawer.
  9. If when waiting for the tattoo you change your mind, tell them you are going to leave.  You do not HAVE to be inked. It is your choice. There are no handcuffs (unless your shop is also a dungeon or you are in prison). Offering to pay for your tattoo even without getting it will save you from much laughter when your ‘Trump for President’ hits the beach.
  10. Finally, when the artist presses the stencil on your body and removes it … look at it hard. Look in the mirror. Move your arms and legs. If there is anything about that stencil that you do not like, open your mouth. Too big? Too small? Popeye seems to have feet bigger than his head? Open your mouth. Don’t assume ‘it will look better once its tattooed’. NO. It will look exactly the same once tattooed. Only permanent.

So there you have it. How not to get tattooed. Next up.. ‘How to Cover Up That Tattoo You Really Regret When You Ignored Your Own Advice’

Posted in Embarrassing admissions, humor, life lessons, mistakes | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Back to basics

Emerging into the sunlight after a two day team building/ solving world peace session, the one takeaway I had wasn’t quite what I expected. We didn’t solve the worlds problems but I did get to put names and faces together (weird after a year, cos they all had English accents in my head) and have a good old natter. I left not with solutions.. but with this.

005A painting by an artist whose name I don’t know but whose art I just love.

This picture just reminds me how simple and light life can be.

Either that or she’s saying ‘you’re a bit immature’ but lets not go there. The artist has never met me after all.

But seeing this painting reminded me of the need to be who you are. Of the joy of childhood.  You were once this girl.. and maybe, if you’re lucky, you get to be this girl again.

(Or maybe I’m totally misreading art and this is all about the nightmares of the soul or something).

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Riding at my own pace

women mtb groupComing back from shoulder surgery has been hard. Really hard. (apologies to friends, family and random strangers for going on about it all.the.damn.time). I’ve had to deal with a lot of pain, frustration and ridiculous contortions getting out of a sports bra.

But mainly, I’ve had to deal with my head.

Having to fight my inner achiever at every turn.

Of course I can ride my motorcycle. Carry my bike rack. Downward dog. Lift a kettle bell. Tackle a rock garden. Carry the groceries.

Why am I shrieking? Oh that’s just how I do this now.

Not only have I been fighting the obvious challenges of lifting, carrying and moving but on a more basic level, just being stationary has done a number on me. Apparently sitting on your butt for 3 months nursing a bottle of Vicodin isn’t great for your fitness level. Or your mood. Or what used to be your waistline.

FYI I now call it my ‘straightline’.

This was really brought home to me this weekend when I rejoined my cycling chicks for our awesome monthly ride/eat/win stuff/yak (Girls Rock Santa Cruz.. check it out if you possess a vagina and a set of wheels).

Even the drive to the ride gets me excited. Its my chance to connect with non work people, talk in detail about riding minutia and have a laugh.  As I headed off with my usual “Intermediate +” group I was zinging with caffeine and ready to rock.

Except I wasn’t. If you ever watch the Tour De France and there’s a guy who’s dropped off the back and is just way way way back from the peleton (and you sort of feel bad for him but wonder why he’s even riding if he can’t hang)?.  That was me.

Panting like an out of shape pug, thighs screaming louder than my shoulder pain, red faced and apologizing to the sweep girl behind me, I was torn between worrying whether I was having a pulmonary embolism and the humiliation of being so out of shape. As we rode on, the sweep girl started floating the idea of me ‘dropping back’ to the “Beginners+” group who were a few minutes behind.

My ego immediately stood firm “hell no.. I got this.. just give me a few… weeks” while my legs started gumming up with lactic acid and the sweat poured between my boobs. I’m NOT a beginner. I’ve been riding since I was 7.

I wrestled with my superiority for another few switchbacks, falling further and further behind, until my shoulder bitch-slapped me into reality. I’m not fit. I’m still in pain. And riding at this pace would not only ruin me, but remove all the fun for the rest of the group as they waited patiently for the hot, red, slow chick with the massive ego.

I considered that maybe I need to ride at the pace my body was telling me. Slower. Less aggressively, at a pace where I wasn’t going to asphyxiate. After all, the joy of group riding is in the shared experience of a warm autumn ride in one of the most beautiful forests I know. And struggling to catch a group who are happily chatting and rock hopping around for the next 3 hours would be hell. The ride didn’t need to be about pushing. It could and would be more enjoyable if I rode where my body was comfortable.

So I dropped. I sat down and took 5. The Beginners + group started riding up, gritting their teeth and panting.. just like me. After a  warm welcome I hopped back on and resumed the climb. At a pace I could handle. Heck I was able to chit chat. Laugh. My legs stopped screaming. And as I sat mid pack, surrounded by women having a blast and all dealing with their own challenges (how to jump a log, take a berm, ride off that cold), I realized that they weren’t slower. They were just all riding at their own pace. Within their limits.  Enjoying the ride.

Riding at your own pace. Radical huh? In life, in sport, in work and in play. You can appreciate the scenery, make new friends and have more fun.

Who could argue with that?

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Skillz

napoleanI was talking to a friend (who I am kidding, it was my therapist), about things we like to do for fun, and the topic of learning new stuff come up. I LOVE LOVE LOVE learning new stuff. Anything which makes me more self-sufficient, more ‘handy’, “better”  or less scared of something makes me feel like I stand a better chance in the face of the upcoming zombie apocalypse.

Shooting, riding a motorcycle, rock climbing, swimming, boxing, snowboarding .. I’ve learned quite a few skills over the years. So when she asked me what sorts of things I wanted to learn, what classes I might want to take now that I’m situated in CA and slightly less overloaded, I think she expected the usual ‘pottery class’ or ‘wine appreciation’. Maybe a ‘surfing’ or ‘kayaking’ since I am outdoorsy. But when I actually thought about it I’m not sure that the skills I want to acquire are actually ones they offer classes on.

  1. ‘In Da Club’ Dancing. No, I don’t want to learn swing, zumba or hip hop. I just want to be able to get down in ‘da club’ without looking like my Mum. Being born British brings with it an awesome accent and horrific stiffness of the body. We literally don’t have right bones to do anything more than waving our arms around and jumping up and down. Apparently these days.. that’s not quite the thing. Not that I spend a lot of time in clubs , but I used to LOVE to dance, and its a skill that I’d like to have. You know. Just in case the zombies require it.
  2. Motorcycle maintenance in English. Yes I know classes abound on mechanical type things, but unfortunately they’re populated by teachers who use the proper words for things. What I need is someone who can refer to the ‘thingy’ and the ‘coily wire’, ‘the lever’ and ‘the spanner with the round hole’, without complicating it with actual facts about how the wheels go round.
  3. Flirting. Sorry but I’m crap at it. I’ve had 20 odd years of practice but even my ex husband told me I was terrible. Not only am I terrible at it (I’ve thrown someone across the dance-floor, and punched them in the face while “flirting”), I don’t know how to respond appropriately to someone doing it (if I even recognize it in the first place). Apparently I have no game. There has to be a class for this. Or maybe I just need to subscribe to Teen Magazine?
  4. Face to name recognition: How do people do that? I literally have no clue how to remember people’s names. I recognize their faces.. but names? Nothing. I know their dogs names, the car they drive and even their drink preference, but trying to get their attention at any point? I’m Bridget Jones yelling ‘um….OY‘. Which is slightly awkward in a business meeting. With the CEO. Whose name you’ve forgotten.
  5. Sitting down in a coffee shop. I can’t. I just can’t. How do people do it? I mean I know they do it. I see them. Gazing through the window, or scanning a screen. Maybe just stirring their latte and looking peaceful. How do people actually go to a coffee shop and sit there for like an hour? I’ve tried it twice. The first time I set a speed record for cappuccino drainage. The second, I lasted about 10 seconds. I just feel so naked. Lost. Alone. Sitting a coffee shop and drinking a cup of coffee signals to the world a kind of confidence and peace that I just don’t possess. Nope, I’m the one trying to drink 160F latte through a pinprick while walking.   Help me .. anyone?

Needless to say I told my friend (analyst) that I would sign up for a map reading class in REI. I guess I can learn how to escape from zombies without using GPS. Personally I think a class on tolerating a massage might be more useful.. but hey. It’s a skill.

 

 

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Small Talk

small talk 2I spent my first 26 years in the UK, so I always thought I was pretty good at meeting new people. Easy entry points included the weather (past, present and future), the journey to the event (roads, Tube, parking) and of course, if desperate, hope that the Rugby or Big Brother is underway.  Sure, I was a bit clunky, but by time we reached the bottom of the glass or cup, I could breathe out and cruise along nicely.

Then I moved to the US.

Here small talk is an art. Something Americans seem to acquire at birth along with self confidence, perfect teeth and a love of crap beer. And therefore a complete and utter mystery to me. 24 hours in the US and I moved from ‘slightly awkward but warms up quick’, to a nervous, twitchy weirdo who needed to find the restroom every 30 seconds.

I tried. Oh boy I tried. I asked my friends for topics, questions, entry points and guidelines for small talk. I watched and listened. I even YouTubed it. I’ve feigned interest in all manner of idiocy (the price of diapers at Target vs. Costco, how the local sports team’s manager sucks) and asked every banal question I can think of (how do you know so and so, home location, career, family trees, whether it will be a good ski season, parking restrictions, the price of milk), but still… crickets.

I don’t think  its all on me though. I also think that the people I meet bear some of the blame. Once they’ve gotten through their small talk standards, ‘are you married?’ ‘ how old are your kids?’ ‘where go to school?’ ‘what do you do?’ seem to result in a vacuum in almost every conversation. Once people have asked me ‘do you like America?’ and established that without a husband, family or a familiar background they have nothing in common with me,  I can guarantee my ‘new friend’ will need to find a drink/his or her partner/ the Tardis within 37 seconds.

But since I am an adult and small talk is a requirement for survival (and on a date ESSENTIAL), I’ve developed a few strategies to avoid being left staring at my shoes while trying climb inside my own intestines:

Men

  •  Ask about ‘the team’. I’ve never watched an American football game but asking ’bout the local team seems to have a 99% hit rate with men. I’ve found a lot of smiling, head shaking and ‘for sure’ comments can get us through the first few minutes of awkwardness. If asked about a specific game or player, I always bounce the question back immediately. Men love sharing their knowledge of the intricacies of a sport. And they assume that their opinion is valued.. so I value it. A lot. Just don’t be too enthusiastic or you might wind up roped into a viewing party. Which is basically small talk x 1000 with a specialist vocabulary.
  • Find his hobby or ‘used to be his hobby before the kids/house’. Ask about it. Express awe. You might luck out and find an overlap (men seem to manage to maintain hobbies after kids)… and who knows.. you could wind up with a activity buddy. Don’t be too enthusiastic though or you might wind up with angry and suspicious woman stalking you.
  • Weekend plans. Grown ups don’t just wake up on Saturday and wonder ‘what should I do with my day’, they have plans. Things already on the calendar. Ask about them. Just don’t admit that your weekend plans typically consist of ‘walk dog’ and then winging it.  That doesn’t seem to go down well.

Women

  • Ask about the family. 99.99% of women have families and love to share so it’s a surefire winner. Sure, hearing about how stressed she is about whether Jimmy is going to get into a specific daycare/kindergarten/school isn’t as scintillating to you as to her, but hey.. stress is stress. Joy is joy. Her husband/ partner is probably sick to death of the conversation, but women need to process… so be there for her. No woman has ever complained about someone expressing interest in her worries. EVER.
  • Complement her hair/makeup/shoes. I’m a sucker for this one so I KNOW it works. And if I luck out and its shoes.. the branches are endless. Foot pain. What to wear on a night out after 40. How you’re considering opting out of heels. Remember that women don’t like to make each other uncomfortable, so likely she’s trying as much as you are to find a connection point. And everyone wears shoes… the rest.. well you can wing it.

If all else fails…

  • Play the foreigner card. Turn up the accent. Laugh at your homeland. Applaud their version of your accent. Tell stories of your incompetence in the US. Your bad dates. Mention a blog…. hang on… is this just a very extended bout of small talk???????

…..Um. Do you happen to know where the bathroom is?  I really do need to get a refill. Actually I think I need to go feed the meter. I’ll be right back.

Posted in Becoming an American, communication, Embarrassing admissions, fear, friends, humor, life lessons, observations | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Starting young

crying girlI recently fell into a Spotify hole of 1980-1988 (otherwise known as junior school through high school in the UK), and whilst rocking out to far too much electronica I noticed a strong theme in all of my favorite songs.

Totally depressing.

I mean, not for me Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s “Relax” .. nope, I preferred ‘The Power of Love”,  possibly one of the darkest and most depressing love songs I’ve ever heard. Depeche Mode? Way too positive for me. Give me some Thompson Twins crying ‘Hold Me Now’ or Fine Young Cannibals talking about ‘Suspicious Minds’. Wham’s “Last Christmas”, The Police “Every Breath You Take” Songs about cheating, dying, sadness, desire, stalking, being alone.

I was 12.

I couldn’t even spell puberty.

The further I went into my back catalog, the more depressing, introspective and heart wrenching the songs where. By the time I arrived back at my first and favorite album, Paul Young’s “No Parlez”, it was downright troubling. A whole album about a man being torn apart by his cheating wife. Song after song about leaving, being kicked around, despair, heartbreak and longing.

I was 12.  I didn’t even like boys.

But I sure liked me some depressing music to cry to.

And boy did I consume it. I practically welded my Sony Walkman to my head so I could wallow in depressing sad music. Bryan Adams’ “Heaven” (I should have know I was mentally ill), Alphaville “Forever Young”, and anything that could literally bring me to tears. My sister tuned me into the Smiths and I think thought I’d found heaven. I  thrived in my own misery until the tape un-spooled.

Today Social Services would be wondering about what on earth was going on at home, but then.. just a weird kid with watery eyes living in her head.

Why was I so miserable? I have no idea. But music told me there were others out there feeling sad, even if I wasn’t quite sure what they were singing about.

Thankfully at 15 I hit puberty, discovered Bruce Springsteen, Billy Bragg, The Clash and  and found a a new favorite emotion I could get with. Rage.

I’m expecting it to pass any day now…

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Indulging in some fantasy

tarotAs part of my ‘Furiously Happy’ campaign (Google it), I recently found myself in the local fantasist’s office. Aka the tarot card reader down the street.

Important Note: I do not, nor have ever, believed in fate, fairies, predictions or any type of woo woo. But I do enjoy a laugh.

Sitting in front of a waif of about 12, once I stopped dry heaving at the price, she solemnly told me to pick 33 cards from her tarot deck.

’10 for the past, 10 for the present, 10 for ‘the future’ and 3 for ‘lord knows what I sorta tuned out’.

Now I understood how the 45 minutes was going to be spent. Card selection.

Cut to the chase.. first the past (cue woooooo music)

  • Apparently I have a divorce in my past (no ring and I don’t look like roadkill, so not a stretch out of the gate).
  • I have a sad aura from this divorce (does anyone go through divorce happy? Hmm.. maybe Donald Trumps former wives?)
  • My ex “didn’t get me” (actually he got me more than most)
  • I am sad (hey lady, 8 years have passed, I’m sorta over it?)

Which was kind of it. Nothing else has apparently happened to me in 43 years. Moving to the US, traveling, achieving stuff, meeting people, some crazy medical stuff, a lot of online dating, adventure??). Nope. Apparently my entire past is a divorce.

Girl needs to rethink her approach. At least mention 1 other thing?

Next the present (more woo music).

  • There is no love in my life (geez lady, not even my dog??)
  • There won’t be love in my life for 2 more years (really? I’m mean REALLY???? You have got to be fucking kidding me. I’m not believing that on behalf of being human)
  • I am on a 7 year cycle (she didn’t mention periods or bikes so I’m guessing she means something else). She said I have 2 more years to go.. so maybe it was something about menopause??
  • My present is all about my work. (No shit lady. We’re in Silicon Valley chickadee. No-one is paying $3K in rent for the culture. They don’t even have good Mexican food here)
  • I need to figure out my work (my boss would agree)
  • I need to be happy (but apparently it doesn’t involve orgasms based on the earlier prediction)
  • I have work to do (no kidding, does anyone NOT have work to do? even my dog has shit to do)
  • It isn’t about the money (try telling my bank)

At this point I’m considering slapping her for bringing me down.  Just on the basis of return visits, shouldn’t she be throwing in some ‘you will meet a tall dark stranger”  or “you have much wealth in your friendships”??? Isn’t this meant to be fun? This just sounds like a very depressed picture of the saddest person in the world. Pass the steak knives.

Moving onto the future (she must have seen my murderous looks)

  • I don’t belong in America (Fuck off lady, I’m a citizen, you xenophobe).
  • I don’t fit in America (seriously.. does she expect to get PAID???)
  • I will meet a man in Australia who is my soul mate (??????)

Sorry but I have to pause here.

  1. Never been to Australia
  2. Not on my top 10 list of places I need to go in the next 10 years
  3. That’s it? One guy in the whole world for me and he’s in Australia???

The douche bag can get on a flight cos I’m not going anywhere.

  • Oh and did I mention, he’s married with two kids right now??? (how does this chick stay in business???)
  • But I will meet him in August? (doh?)

Hang on. So I’ve got no love in my life for the next 2 years but I’m meeting my soul mate in August?? How does that work?  I meet him and ignore him for a year? It takes a year for me to destroy his marriage? He meets me and I’m so amazing that he divorces his wife and then asks me out in 2017 and we move to Australia?

Oh fuck NO. (to any Aussie readers, I love your humor, your complete dearth of political correctness and in general, every one of you that I’ve met is a delight. But I don’t break up marriages and I’m not moving to Australia so sorry).

  • I will give birth to a son. He will be a miracle baby.

At this point I do start to smile.

Not as she might think, at my joy of a baby in my future, but at the sheer implausibility of that fact.

  • I’m 43 and I’m not getting with “Mr.SoulMate” until I’m 45. I think by 45 my uterus will resemble Utah. i.e. nothing grows there.
  • I’m unable to have kids. Literally. A fact.
  • I’m terrified and slightly horrified by babies (they’re basically shitting machines that can break if you drop them. Terrifying)

 

Well I did this for fun and finally she made me smile so I headed home.

Just to see, I pulled out a deck of cards and pulled three cards for my past, present and future.

  • Past: Queen of Clubs. I was really into hitting the nightclub scene right up to my 30s. I ruled the dance-floor. I was the Queen of the Clubs. TOTALLY TRUE!!! AMAZEBALLS!!!
  • Present: Six of Diamonds: I have 6 diamonds in my life. CRAYCRAY!! My old wedding ring had 2, my necklace has 3 and I have a diamond tipped drill bit!!! HOLY COW!
  • Future: The Joker. I will stop taking everything so seriously and remember how to have fun, especially when confronted by a 12 year fairy queen with a hatred for Brits.

You know, I think there might be something in this card reading thing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Embarrassing admissions, humor, the future | Tagged , , | 3 Comments