Signs you’re dating a 50 yr old boy

As a kid I had a lot of friends who were boys. We rode our bikes together, we explored tom cruiseabandoned quarries, build dams (or fires), and generally mucked about. I loved my boys-who-were-friends. They never seemed to have ‘moods’, they didn’t have unspoken rules and I never had one hold a grudge. Sure they called me nicknames and made fun of me in class, but I never had a problem with liking boys as I was growing up.

Fast forward through boyfriends, lovers and husbands.. and suddenly I have a problem liking boys. See at 12, 14 or even 18, a boy is fine. A boy is fun. But at 50? A boy is kinda pathetic, needy and sad. Not sure what a 50-year-old boy looks like? Here’s a taste;

He doesn’t want to touch your boobs. Boys are scared by boobs. What starts out as fear, turns into fascination (or at least appreciation) somewhere in the teenage years, but if he’s still snickering at them  or terrified of them at 50, you’re dating a boy or a gay man, but definitely not a grown up. Run.. run away before he shows you how funny ‘radio tuning’ them can be.

He sends dick pics: I thought this was for teens and married folks trying to spice up their love life, but apparently boys send dick pics at any age. And they’re desperate for your approval. Can you imagine a 50 yr old woman sending a vag pic?? I mean.. just.. no. Men.. men write porn texts and make dates.

He speaks about his anatomy in the third person. If it has a name, or an independent presence in a 50-year-old mans life, you’re dating a boy. Someone who thinks their dick is a separate thing after 50 years, either needs an education or to grow the fuck up. Unless you ironically call it Brian. I’ll okay a Brian.

He’s braggadocious.  If he’s oh-so-proud about his dating prowess, his hair, his job, his car or even his finances at 50, he’s still an insecure little boy who thinks that’s what’s appealing in a mate. If that were the case, we’d ALL be cuing up for a chance at The Donald instead of reviling him from afar and shuddering at his name for the last 30 years.

He dumped his last girlfriend for being ‘not hot enough’. I know all single dudes over 40 with a job and even the slightest sanity have a plethora of women to choose from, but really? Actually maybe this isn’t a case of being a 50 year boy.. I think this is a sign of being an ‘ass-hat’.

So there you have it.. boys will always be boys, even with grey hair, crows feet and thickening waistlines. Date one if you must. I can vouch they’re awesome at building a dam when you need one. Just make sure to put that on your Tinder profile.

Guilty Pleasures? No Guilt Here

Recently a guy friend of mine asked me about my guilty pleasures. I’m not sure if he wasguilty-pleasures fishing for grubby details, but after giving it a few minutes the only thought I came up with was.. well nothing. If its pleasurable, I tend to not feel guilty about doing it.

Mostly I feel guilty about things I don’t do. Oh boy is THAT list long. Not going to the gym, not giving that document one last edit, not eating any vegetables that day, not calling my dearest friend (sorry FF! you know how I get), not putting more into my retirement account. I spend hours, days, years even feeling guilty about shit I didn’t do. Its basically 90% of what’s in my brain at any one time.. even as I drift off to sleep. My brain is so full of guilty, I don’t think I have room left to start feeling guilty about the stuff I enjoy doing, and then actually do. So in response to my friend, here’s a few of my ‘I don’t feel the slightest bit guilty about’ pleasures.

  • Loving Megan Trainor. I may be 45 but I still like to dance in the kitchen to unabashed girl anthems. I blame a 50 yr old dad for my obsession… apparently, they’re into chick anthems too. And hey, at least I’m not a Bieber-Believer.
  • Liberally using the word ‘fuck’. I know it’s a sign of low wit, but it’s a flourish I developed aged 12 and I just love the feel and sound of it coming out of my mouth.
  • Researching the latest high fashion trends for hours before buying the same tee shirt, jeans, boots wardrobe I’ve been wearing since 21. Its awesome knowing velvet shoes, baggy pants and high collared shirts are the thing… even better to know I’ll not be wearing them.
  • Going to bed at 8.30pm. I’m sure, in fact I know, I’m missing out but in return I gain 10 solid hours of sleep and the face of a 35 yr old.. well until gravity kicks back in.
  • Not having kids. I hear they’re delicious but like roasting lamb or snorting coke, just not really something I ever wanted to do.
  • Buying $80 bras online the moment I get paid. With boobs this size, it’s not underwear, its fucking architecture and who cares about a rich retirement if my boobs have to drag on the floor to get there?
  • Never reading ‘motivational’ slogans or articles about self-improvement. I have obsessive compulsion disorder so motivation and drive is something I have to medicate just to be able to relax. I click for ‘do nothing’ ‘change nothing’ and ‘think less’.
  • Screwing the laundry, the cleaning and errands to go for a long hike or ride instead. Dust doesn’t age but I am.. so I’m doing fun stuff as long as I can. I’ll clean when I’m 80.

What are your ‘not guilty about’ pleasures? If you don’t have any, I sincerely advise you get some post haste.

I am not Cagney or Lacey

I grew up on Starsky and Hutch, Cagney & Lacey, James Bond.. folks tracking down bad Old woman with pistolguys, hurling themselves in the path of danger,  armed only with a 9mm and some witty one liners. I loved them all. Of course I never thought I’d have the opportunity to grab a gun and run toward danger… until the other morning.

Picture this, 5.02am, a 45 yr old British spinster, wearing pink flowery pyjamas, bare feet, armed only with a cellphone and an unloaded 9mm Beretta, running out her front door towards some robbers.

(I think my pjs really owned the moment)

Rolling the camera backwards, it started with some noise. I woke to the sounds of scraping, metal on metal. I heard a window smash and immediately thought ‘someone’s breaking in my house’. Without turning on my light, I grabbed my gun (unloaded of course), checked no boobs were loose and crept out of the bedroom. Grabbing my cellphone off the counter, I realized the noise was right outside my bedroom window and immediately panicked,

‘the fuckers are stealing my bikes from the basement’

(priorities)

I ran down my basement stairs shouting ‘FUUUUUUUUUCK’, brandishing the gun and hoping they’d just take off running.

Nothing. Just a few depressed spiders.

‘Shit.. they must be breaking into my car.’

I ran back up the stairs, and pre dialed 911.. no way were those fuckers stealing my car. Its one of the few things the bank doesn’t own, plus its got my yoga mat in it. Those things take ages to wear in.

Running outside, I verrrryyy quickly realized that no-one was stealing my aging 4Runner, instead 2 idiots had decided my house, in a old residential neighborhood, at 5am, was THE time and place to try and open a stolen cash register by hitting it with a crow bar and throwing it against the curb.

Oh shit. Time to style this out.

I crept down my stairs (please don’t see me, please don’t see me) and got the plate numbers (see… tv IS totally helpful). The taller guy saw me, shouted something, then jumped in the truck, while the guy trying to crow-bar open the thing.. threw both in the truck bed and then himself. They screeched off, leaving coins, bills and gift cards all over the floor.

The rather good looking policeman who showed up found a distinctly less courageous women in her pjs, gun in pocket, sitting on her doorstep in mild shock. Yep, you don’t see that on tv.

I later found out the guys had smashed into a local store and grabbed everything including the un-openable register. I guess by now they opened the thing, but with a license plate, the cop seemed to think they’d be caught.  I was just relieved no-one shot me. He was too.

See, you might have a gun and something to defend, but only tv and movie ‘good guys/gals’ get to do it without breaking a sweat or getting killed. When shit got real.. I’m still a 5’2″ middle aged chick who’s scared of shooting herself in the foot and really, really doesn’t want to try out a citizens arrest while not wearing a bra.

Next time..I’ll be under the covers with the dog.

I Am Rooted

rootedIts back to school time and for many of us, that means a mini ‘new term’. Whether its new challenges, future plans or simply a fabulous pair of new boots, September signals the end of the summer fug and the chance to start the next chapter.

Looking back, September has always been a time of big decisions and moves in my life. If its September, chances are I’m taping boxes or working out my notice. But not this year.

This year, I am rooted.

Its taken 27 years (I apparently try EVERYTHING once) but I’m finally where I want to be. I live in a state I love, at a job I love, with friends who I adore, and a dog who’s the best. I’m medicated up to the eyeballs but I’m home.

Sounds as annoying as fuck, doesn’t it?

Lemme tell you.. to get to ‘rooted’ (aka, not planning the next escape), a sampler of the random, costly, ill-thought out decisions and events that took up those 27 years.

38 house moves, 6 house purchases (all conveniently sold in the midst of market downturns, at a loss), 5 rear end collisions, one near bankruptcy, one near deportation, marriage and divorce, moves to cities I didn’t really like, for jobs I absolutely hated, career progressions and regressions, hospitalizations, 2 botched surgeries,  at least 100 terrible haircut/ dye combinations and a lot.. more than a enough for one lifetime…of really horrible online dates.

I think I’ve tried every trick in the book, plus several in the Bible, the Ikea Catalog and The Breakfast Club. I’ve failed spectacularly at an extremely wide range of normal things and I’ve got permanent scars on my knees to prove it. The only thing holding up my optimism is Botox and idiocy.

September has always been my month to charge forward… before falling promptly flat on my face. So this year it will be different. I am rooted. I am changing nothing.

Except maybe my footwear.

 

 

Boobs on the beach

Its mid summer and as thoughts turn to sand and surf, its time for the dreaded death bikinimarch known as ‘swimwear shopping’. I’m not going to moan about crappy lighting, lumps and bumps or the awful southern migration of everything once pointing north. Thats not my problem.

After all, having no kids means I’ll probably die alone and unloved, but I won’t have saggy tits or a mom pouch. Hey, there’s an upside to everything. So what’s my problem with swimwear?

Its boobs. Specifically big boobs.

Living in the US means 90% of all female attire is designed for 5ft 10 waifs with flat chests and a 34 inch inseam. Clothing options for big boobs are limited to the ‘Misses’ section, Fredricks of Hollywood hoochy section or the nude granny bra’s hidden next to the flannel nightgowns. Its like the tits fell off the immigrants when they came over on the Mayflower or something, because America sure doesn’t provide for those of us who are blessed in the breast department.

And before you start playing the worlds smallest violin, check out Miss Tits in the picture. See the challenge? Nuff said.

Hailing from the UK – the original land of the pendulous breast – I was used to skinny model clothing everywhere, but stores did still recognize that women – by and large – have tits. And sometimes, big tits, monster tits. Check out a lingerie department in the UK and be awestruck at the sizes. Most Americans would claim ‘fake news’ in the face of a 28GG. But I’m here to tell you – its normal and it does exist. In fact, I’ve seen more than a few IRL.

But here in the US, you’d think that big boobs don’t exist, young chicks definitely don’t have them and they certainly don’t exist the moment you step on a beach.

I discovered this my first year in the US during one of the most depressing days of my life. With a beach vacation looming (and many years before online shopping), I spent 8 hours traipsing around every store I knew in search of something, anything that would cover more than a nipple.

Every store was the same. Tiny triangles designed for mutant sexless elves. Fabric so thin you could see my heart beat through it. And for every top, a bottom designed for an 8-year-old boy. I sized up. I sized up again. I moved into the plus section. And still I couldn’t find anything that covered more than my nipples or my ass crack. I wound up eventually in the ‘Big Girls’ section of a department store, flicking through swim suits with skirts and spaces for my future mastectomy. I felt like a mutant.

So that was my choice. Sexless grandma, cancer survivor or porno reject.

I wound up laying out in a Speedo that year.

Thankfully these days we have the world at our fingertips and I can summon the best swimwear from anywhere (where women have tits), for just $4.99 shipping.

I can look like a 50s pinup, an LA madam or even Aquaman if thats my thing. There’s  ‘full coverage’ or ‘partial coverage’, underwired, ‘bandeau’ (aka wrapping them around your back) and even the mumsy ‘tankini’ to hide that lunchtime prosecco pot belly. Hell you can even go whole hog and grab a burkini. And of course, they still make those triangles.. just bigger and with sturdier straps for us grown up girls.

I still struggle to find options that don’t push my tits up to my chin or come with extra padding (because my DD’s NEED TO BE BIGGER?) but at least there are possibilities.

So thank you internets. Thank you Brazil, Canada, Germany and the UK for acknowledging that women do indeed come with chesticals which we can’t remove for our summer vacation. That our asses have curves bigger than two limes and most of us don’t shave from here to next Tuesday just to pop for a swim.

And for those considering heading out to find that suit for Labor day. Don’t bother. Google ‘bikini’ and your chest size on Amazon and be prepared for the onslaught. It’ll be the best bikini shop of your life.

 

 

 

 

 

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?

 

 

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?

The family you choose

friendsI once had a brush with death.

Some sore patches on my leg emerged a few weeks after a surgery. Ignoring them until I was limping. I headed to my doc, who assured me, “no big deal”. Phew.

2 days later , out on a run I realized I couldn’t breath. My leg was throbbing and I suddenly remember a former friend who dropped dead while running due to a blood clot. I walked the rest of the way and headed to the doctor. 3 hours later I was told my weird sore patches had actually been signals of a 3 ft long blood clot that reached from my ankle up through my groin and up towards my heart. 1 hour later I  learned I had a pulmonary embolism (PE) in my lungs;

“But the BEST PE you could get” according to my hematologist.

Not really thinking about what this meant, I headed off on a date.

Only later, when telling friends, did I realize how lucky I was. How my bike fitness had probably helped break up the PE in my lungs.. and how ‘heading off on a date’ wasn’t probably the best response to a fairly major medical emergency.

That’s what your support network, aka your friends and friends of friends, are there for when you’re single. To remind you not to be a half-wit. To point out the sometimes obvious. To make sure you’re taking care of yourself.

Married folk have husbands who do that (or other moms who nurture everyone).  They kill the spiders, know when you’re sick and support you no matter what.

Singletons, well we have friends for this (or we do it ourselves in the case of those terrifying spiders). These friends become our chosen family. They’re the ones who we lean on when we’re feeling down, who support us, and who help us out in a crisis. They’ll listen to your wittering, and hand you a drink or a bar of chocolate when you need it. Family is family and while your biological family might be awesome, for many of us it’s not practical to ask them to pick you up from the hospital when they live 4,000 miles away.

I love my chosen family. They consist of my riding gals, current and former work colleagues, friends or friends, Facebook friends, old neighbors, school mates and the random people you meet as part of your everyday routine.

This week I lost one of my chosen family. The guy who calmed me down with whiskey after a slippery motorcycle ride. Waited with me for first dates. Raised his eyebrows at some of them. But who always, always had a smile and a ‘what’s up?’ for me as neighbor patron. I spent my last night in Denver at his bar, and many evenings collecting my thoughts and shooting the shit over a nightcap.

It’s the first time I’ve lost someone who propped me up. Who was there, Who provided a meeting place for other singletons and people seeking a chosen family. The oddballs, the tattoo and motorcycle nut cases, the Denver homegrown, those who loved a rockabilly band on a Saturday night. Or just to sit at a bar and chit-chat about nothing.

Today I’ve never felt more protective and appreciative of those who remain. To lean on, to reach out to, to care if they don’t hear from you, and who remind you of whats important. The surprising loss, and even more surprising impact on my heart, is a good reminder of the importance of our chosen family.

To my chosen family, much love.

RIP Gary Lee Bomar.

 

Bring on the next stage of life.. and no I don’t mean menopause

7 stagesIts been a quiet summer here at Chez Chien. I’ve ridden a lot, developed some really pretty callus’s on my ass while my arms have withered to pipe-cleaners; I’ve barely drank, adopted shaved Brussel sprouts and fish as a daily obsession, and weirdly, not dated

Its been 7 years to the day since I was divorced, an anniversary I don’t remember until I do, and if you believe in the ‘7 year cycle‘ theory, ages 35-42 should have been all about ‘re-assessing the results of what we are doing externally in our life. Our relationships, careers, habits and the ways we interact are all put under scrutiny and modified or changed. It’s a time of facing up to what does and what doesn’t satisfy us.’

Which I think means figuring out exactly who you are. And here I just thought it was 7 years of crappy dates.

But re-reading Steiner’s theory, I do have to agree with some of his ideas. I have in the last 7 years experimented with all kinds of ‘selves’ and discovered so much more about myself that I thought. For instance;

  • I’ve moved from being a home bound introvert to someone who now regularly shows up for stuff without knowing a soul and can chat about anything without dying (as long as you’re not an attractive single dude. Jury’s out on that still).
  • I’ve grown out quite the mane of hair and discovered I’ll never be a comfortable girlie girl, no matter what guys like, so cut it off and have already been called “sonny” twice. Still have big tits…still not girlie.
  • I’ve ridden my motorcycle across the Utah desert and discovered that I prefer the unbridled joy of downhilling on pedals sans motor. Time to sell the Guzzi and admit that I’m not the greaser I thought I was.
  • I’ve vacationed in 5 star hotels, camped alone and with others across the US and overseas.. but found out that my best times have been pitched on someone’s sofa after a home cooked meal in a house filled with love. So much for the allure of the Ritz.
  • I’ve enjoyed hours of being tattood and can admit I liked the pain more than the result. Ah well, live and learn.
  • I’ve discovered that anxiety can be quelled with yoga, meditation and trust.. not so much with wine. So I’ve done away with the notion that I’ll always be the one with the big bottle of Xanax in her purse
  • I’ve discovered that while I love men, I’m not so desperate to date one if it means he’s a hoarder, extremely angry, emotionally retarded, fiscally irresponsible, mentally challenged, hung like a puppy or socially limited. I love sex, but FWB, texting and ‘lets hang out’ can kiss my ass.. I’m a grown up for gods sake.
  • I now know that my priorities in life aren’t the same as everyone elses. And thats ok. I’m no longer ashamed that my bikes are the most valuable thing I own and that I rent rather than own. Everyone has different things they care about.  That includes houses, cars, jobs, friends and yes, even how much you walk your dog.
  • And finally, the biggest lesson. You are not your parents. You may have elements of your parents, but they are not you, and you are not them. You can love them to death but you are not bound to become them. And that little insight only took 7 years of therapy to realize.

So if that 7 year cycle is now over.. what do I have coming next?

According to Steiner ‘ It is as if one takes all of one’s life experience up till this age and begins to digest it, and extract from it new ideals and a new direction in life. There is often tremendous unrest in this period and that following it. The unlived aspects of life cry out to be recognised and allowed. The desire to make a mark in life if it has not already been achieved presses for action here’

Oooo. Now that sounds interesting. Rock climbing and visiting China for sure.

 

 

Jobs that Monster thinks I’m suitable for

01 monsterEvery summer, just as I’m starting to return to Planet Earth after ‘the-craziest-hours-ever-no-seriously-I-mean-it’, I tend to look up from my laptop, notice that the trees now have leaves and reconsider my worth in the marketplace.

No, not whether I’m a BOGO or what I could get for standing on the corner of Colfax and 17th at 9pm on a Wednesday.. but what’s out there is the job market, and is there anything to tempt me away from my life of 11 hours in from of a PC, but the freedom to fart at any point without worrying about coworkers.

Now I’ve not had to purchase a single ‘work outfit’ in 4 years (my dog couldn’t even care less if I wore clothes at all) and I do love what I do, so there really is no pressing need to move on, but I still retain the smidgen of ego and ambition I was born with, and I’ve had the occasional Wednesday afternoon wondering what it would be like to actually see a coworker more than once every year.

Which brings me to my summer activity ‘job reviewing’.

I’m not hungry, so there’s no ‘hunt’ involved, but on occasion I do wonder if my title is destined to remain the same for the next 20 years and whether I will still be aligning fonts at the age of 62.. so I set up some RSS feeds, logged on and updated my LinkedIn profile (because that works..not), and reposted my resume to see what bites. It’s actually how I wound up in the job I have now.. and apparently I have the optimism of a millenial with a trust fund in the hope that ‘Perfect Job v2.0’ is also going to land in my inbox.

This year has been an exercise is reevaluating this approach.. and thanking my lucky stars that I’m not actually ‘on the hunt’. Here’s a sampling of Monster’s suggestions for my skill set. Just for some background, I was a management consultant for 17 years and a communications leader for 4 yrs at Fortune 100 companies.. but to Google.. I’m potentially any of the following;

1. Agile Coach

When I first read this, I immediately felt flattered. Maybe my 6 year commitment to yoga and my personal willingness to do anything for my CEO (from helping him grow tomatoes to writing his speeches) had shone through on my resume. I do love guiding and helping people, and while I don’t have much direct experience ‘coaching’ per se.. I was optimistic that somehow, the new field of leadership development was being opened up to me.

Then I read the job description and realized it actually means someone who does a certain type of project management around software development. Yawn. Not so much Agile as ‘willing to be glued to your PC for 12 hours and talk in 3 three acronyms for the next 15 years while surrounded by men in Dockers and bad fitting golf shirts’.  Actually, pretty anti-agile. Mind numbingly static really. Next.

3. Histotechnologist/ PRN

I admit, I actually didn’t know what this was, though my first thought was ‘something to do with history?’ Post Google, I learned it ‘centers on the detection of tissue abnormalities and the treatment for the diseases causing the abnormalities. Essentially the perfect job for someone who compulsively worries about their health and overall ‘normalcy’. Oh talk about taking your job home with you.. I’d be self diagnosed with MS, Huntingdons, and Parkinsons’s before the end of the my first day.

But what does a Histo..whatsit..actually do? “As a histotechnologist, you will prepare very thin slices of human, animal or plant tissue for microscopic examination”   How my past 20+ years of writing Powerpoint, talking to clients and trying to put people at ease with change would prepare me for slicing up brains and tumors I’m not sure. But since the certification is only a year, I added it to my growing list of ‘back up plans’. After all, I chop myself an onion pretty fine.. maybe I’d be good at slicing up grey matter? As long as no one is asking me to saute it afterwards, it wouldn’t be so bad?

4. Division Director – Child Support services

Anyone who knows me, knows that I treat children like you would a moving cactus. With extreme caution, thick gloves and sturdy sneakers.. you know, for running away. How Monster thought I could be in charge of ‘child support’  for a whole division I don’t know. Unless that division is ‘middle ages dudes who have the mental age of 12’ then I’m willing to admit I’d be hopeless at this job. (Actually, at this point I’m starting to think that the guys at Monster didn’t actually read my resume at all, and that they’re just shooting me rando jobs in the hope that suddenly I’ll realize my dream to become an insurance salesperson or admin assistant). Me, have responsibility for kids who are risk, who need help and assistance… are you kidding me? Unless it came with a lasso and a stable, I’d be about as useful as a penguin in this role. Next.

5. Drama Instructor

Well, I know I’ve been known to act out, but I take this suggestion with a pinch of salt. I know I kind of made a big deal about my lack of progression at work, and I might have overemphasized the awfulness of a few dates, and yes, I know that I can tend to blow things out of proportion but me? teaching drama? Nooooo. I could never… could I???

6. Taco Bell Shift Lead

Oh now the gloves really come off Monster! Thanks. Thanks a lot. My 4 years of college, my 17 years of 70 hour weeks, hour upon hour of client negotiations and deliverable prep has led to…. supervising the insertion of dog meat into a chulupa? Monitoring the cheese usage? Reordering tortilla chips? Oh thankyou Monster.. I’m flattered that you see the potential in me. Time to take any indicators of ‘customer service’ off my resume.

7. Retirement Plan Lead

Well I can’t say I’m surprised Monster. After all, I am getting older and I have, on occasion, thought about what retirement would look like. You, clearly, have me already moving fast on the downslope of my career. After all, why not get more prepared and informed about how I’ll be living on cat food and the leftovers at Chiplote come age 65.  Now I don’t know a damn thing about numbers and Excel screams with laughter when I open a new spreadsheet, but I’m sure I could pick it up. And I’m betting their dress code is pretty lax as long as your Depends adult diapers don’t show through.

So I think I’ll sit on my hands this summer. Maybe just enjoy having a job a love, coworkers who make me laugh and sure, I could be a VP of Corporate Communications somewhere, but I could also be a Taco Bell shift lead. I’ll take my chances and stay where I am. You know, until I have a hankering for a Gordito.

 

Chub

muffin topAt the advanced age of 42, I’ve recently noticed an alarming trend.

I’m developing chub.

Sure, I’m not on the path to being airlifted out of my house and certainly I don’t need a forklift to get to the doctors yet.. but after viewing some photos from a recent social event I noticed the beginnings of ‘chub’ around all of my girlie bits.

(wah wah.. first world problems.. worlds smallest violin etc.. yes, I know).

One of the upsides of crippling anxiety is a naturally fast metabolism. Sure, I have had to quit several jobs that required me to manage people or work more than 60 hours a week, and yes, I’ve developed a very nice relationship with Klonapin over the last few years, but damn it, I’ve never had to worry too much about getting chubby.

Anxiety generally makes you not hungry, and worrying for 18 hours a day tends to burn calories faster than most spin classes. Add in a natural need for exercise (got to burn off that anxiety somehow), celiac disease (rendering all yummy deliciousness out of reach), and you’ve got a recipe for someone who’s been the same size since high school.

Sure I’ve wandered around the scale; having your jaw wired shut for 6 weeks and a liquid diet gave me Mike Jagger hips and cheekbones you could slice ham on. Being dumped the day I sold my house for a $40K loss, drove me into jeans a size bigger and my first experience of saddle bag thighs within a month. Luckily I discovered crossfit and FWB.. result.. back to normal size.

But as I approached 40 I was told by many friends that I’d find myself at ease with the world and find a ‘new confidence’ in myself, and that my metabolism was about to shut down.. so I should just accept that pudgy was going to be something to fight from the here on out.

Well at 42 I just had to up my Klonapin dose and I’m still questioning whether I offended a coworker with an email that corrected her grammar, so I’m not quite sure about life becoming so much easier and more laid back at 40, but the metabolism thing.. that is RIGHT on track.

I eat well. No one has ever called me skinny and, thanks to cycling, you could easily balance a pint on my ass should you so desire. But what I had reckoned with was a layer of overall chub that seemed to appear out of nowhere overnight.

First I wondered if I’d been sleep eating.. but while my doctor found it amusing, he assured me that my anti anxiety meds made you sleep harder and deeper. So no dice there.

Next I looked at my diet, wondering if some how they’d started slipping fat into my 0% fat Greek yogurt, or coating my veggie burgers with lard. It’s not like I suddenly started eating fries on a daily basis or chowing down on deep-fried Snickers on the weekend. A quick survey told me that nope, nothing had changed.

Finally I looked at my exercise. Have I somehow fell prey to the dreaded ‘slowing down’ of old(er) age without noticing? I sure felt like I was working out as hard as ever – god knows my legs are beaten up to shit from mountain biking lately, and I  out walk my dog on a daily basis. So no… no answers there.

In exasperation I hit the internet. Which told me I might be growing a large tumor in my lady parts, suffering from every type of cancer under the sun, my endocrine system was finally going kaput (after slowly failing steadily over the last 7 years), I’m accumulating alcohol weight or that it’s all part of Obama’s socialist agenda.

Maybe you do just get chubby as you get older? Yet another thing my mum was right about. (dammit)

But as a single woman, I intend on getting naked with semi-strangers at some point this year (one hopes), so  I’ve decided to embark upon my first proper, bona-fide “diet” aka, stepping away from the Ju-Jubes in the candy aisle and snacking on less fattening alternatives than avocados and handfuls of almonds.

In fact, I just bought an apple. Kale salad is not far behind.

But know this. The difference between a 42-year-old on a diet and a 20 something… as soon as I can see my knees again and my arms stop jiggling like Beyoncé’s ass, I’m over it.

I have no desire to ‘thinspirate’ myself into anything less than my normal clothes and life is honestly too short to eat apples. (Unless you like apples)

But for the next few weeks its apples, kale and chicken breast. Right after I finish this tostada.

 

 

 

Getting old

Granny3-532Just call me Grammy.

No, I haven’t been moonlighting as a fantastically bodacious, twerking tween..

Think less Miley, more Granny Moses

NOTE: if you don’t get the reference, you’re too young for this post.

After contracting what I’m referring to as ‘the lurgy scourge’ this weekend and spending the better part of the week coughing up my lung innards, I decided to seek medical attention. After all, I’ve only got my fancy pants medical plan for 1 more year so I might as well get every damn doctor visit I can get while its still covered. Plus I still have room in my pill box and I can’t stand an empty space.

Heading into urgent care (told you my medical plan was fancy.. ), I figured I’d get my usual diagnosis. Walking pneumonia (2012), ‘that bug that’s going around’ (2011) or ‘pulmonary embolism’ (2008). Any doctor visit for me is generally a unexpected trip into future compulsive WedMD searches and (if I’m lucky), new prescriptions I have to take for the rest of my life. I had high hopes for something sexy.. black lung? SARs? the white plague?

What I didn’t expect was scoliosis and arthritis.

How someone enters a treatment room with a bad cold, a Barry White voice and serious snottage, but leaves with xrays and a orthopedic specialist appointment is beyond me. On a good note, they did give me some meds for the bug thingy but now I have a new medical issue to add to the list.. essentially ‘old lady’ back.

Give me strength.

Since this particular urgent care has seen me for random Memorial Day and Labor Day adventures, they were taking no chances and decided to x ray my chest for pneumonia.  (last time they didn’t and I did, so … fast forward, now they do ALL the tests).  The doc cheerily told me I was clear for the pneum… but ‘boy your scoliosis is looking pretty bad’.

Just what you need to hear on a Wednesday.

For those not up on spinal deformities,  Scoliosis is a medical term for old lady curvature of the spine which is generally associated with kids wearing body braces and retirees walking with their heads lower than their shoulders. I know. Sexy.

Add in arthritis in my lower spine and man, a whole new aisle of Walgreens just opened up to me.

Up until now, I thought my posture was most excellent. After all, after being plagued by sensible shoes throughout high school and warnings to ‘stop slouching’ throughout every meal from age 8- 16, one could be tempted to assume that some of that was worth something.

Apparently not.

As I stare at my twisted and deformed toes (no amount of Clarks Stride Rites were straightening those fuckers out), and now my twisted and deformed spine (it snakes like a question mark in 3 dimensions), I wonder  what’s next on my list of medical maladies and random surgeries.

On a good note, scoliosis doesn’t require any pills, it won’t kill me and there’s bugger all I can do about it. The arthritis will just sit there being annoying when I slouch, so my Mum’s job has been eliminated (there’s always an upside). Doc’s recommendation? Cancel that Crossfit membership, stop running and start working on building abs of steels to counteract my Gummy Worm like spine.  Oh, and he recommended ‘aqua aerobics’

I told him I was 42, not 102.

Though he might have a case. Next week I’m having a massive clotted varicose vein removed from my leg.  For the second time (it grew back).

No. I’m not kidding.

On the plus side of my new diagnosis, I’ve never had a better excuse to invest heavily in corsets. Cheaper than a back brace, equally supportive and who knows…maybe burlesque can be part of my new fitness regime? If nothing else, a new corset will distract from the nice beige support stockings I’ll be donning for the next 4 weeks.

Just call me Grammy.

New Relationship Energy

ryanWe’ve all experienced it. If not for ourselves we’ve seen it in others and marveled at the glow, the pulse that seems to emanate from someone who’s just started a new relationship. They seem so energized, so animated, so… not like us.

New Relationship Energy (NRE) can be observed in both men and women during the first 6-8 weeks of entering into a new coupling. They’re the ones laughing loudest, who only need 3 hours of sleep, who glow and twinkle (yes you do ladies) or grin for no reason (even you dudes) secure in the burgeoning obsession that is ‘the new dude/lady’. They know enough to be smitten, but not enough to be annoyed yet. They’ve shared the basics on life but not yet watched the other pick popcorn out of their molars while driving. Its.all.good.

But whether its endorphins from all that sex they’re having or simply excess goodwill at the thrill of finding someone who seems perfect, NRE folks are excruciating to be around. They’re so goddam happy and relaxed. Energized and yet mellow. And hey can’t wait to find an excuse to bring up his or her name in conversation.

And I’m one of them.

Yes, I’m delighted to announce that there is a new person in my life.

(no Mum, I’m not coming out… EVA. That leather cap was a bad fashion choice in the 80’s, not a declaration of a sexual proclivity)

His name is Steve and he’s the BEST.

I met him online, he was available and within 3 days he was in my bed. I know.. pretty fast right?

But that’s Amazon for ya.

You see Steve is my new body pillow. He’s white (I’m not racist, he’s just gotta match the rest of the sheets), he’s huge (I like em tall), and he sleeps next to me every night.

Now I’m not a cuddler in bed. In fact, people trying to cuddle me largely wake up bruised and offended, but I do like the feel of another body in my bed. Whether its the weight, or having someone’s back to mine… there’s just something very comforting about it.

Which is where Steve comes in.

Steve doesn’t move, he doesn’t want to spoon and he’s too big for me to push around. So he just lies there. Taking up room and giving me something to feel against my back as I sleep.

Now I didn’t buy Steve with this intention (I’m not completely nuts). The intent was to help heal my torn rotator cuff (thanks Crossfit!) by limiting my movement in bed at night. A chronic stomach sleeper, I wake up every morning in a full ‘Superman’ pose, arms above my head and rotator cuffs screaming in pain. I had two options according to my physical therapist. Sleep with my hands strapped to my sides (how very S&M) or get myself a Steve, and use him to pin me down.

I opted for Steve.

(I considered the straps but I’m a 2am pee-er and there’s no way I’m wrestling with bondage at that time of the morning).

So, now I have Steve. I lay him next to me in bed every night and trap one my arms underneath him. Effectively pinning myself to the bed. For some reason, it tells my brain not to ‘Superman’ my arms and I wake up without screaming rotator cuffs.

In fact, I wake up every morning smiling these days. I’m enthusiastic about life again and I’m well rested and relaxed.

I think I might love Steve.

My PT chick tells me I can replace Steve with a real guy whenever I get the chance with the same effect. Just pin my arm under a heavy lump of snoring deliciousness and I’m good to go. And of course the bondage option is always an option should I choose to branch out.

Who needs sleep?

SleepyGirlI used sleep like a wind up clockwork doll. Wind me up with breakfast and watch me go until those 10 minutes before bed when my spring would wind down and I’d stop, pass out and sleep for the next 8 hours.

It was a beautiful thing and I totally took it for granted. Every night, 8 hours for the first 35 hours of life. Falling asleep was a simple as getting into bed, opening my book, turning a few pages and then bam.. out like a light. Didn’t matter if I had been drinking, if it was 6pm or midnight, whether I’d just drank a cappuccino or eaten a curry. Bed, book, out.

I haven’t fallen asleep like that for over 7 years.

These days, sleep involves a wrestling match between me, my mattress, my pillows, my overwrought brain processing every mistake or error or worry that I’ve collected during the day, and my ever shrinking bladder. (isn’t aging awesome?)  Oh, and occasionally my dog deciding that something smells scary 3 floors down and I need to be protected by some erstwhile barking. (shoulda got a cat)

Frankly its a miracle I get any sleep at all.

I thought it was a phase bought on my divorce. After 5 years next to someone – even one who talked and shouting in his sleep, his absence was disquieting. I was used to falling asleep with our feet intertwined, no matter how distant our heads and hearts were at the other end of the bed.When he was gone.. my feet felt untethered. My head started whizzing and sleep became something I used to do.

I tried sleeping pills and therapy. A year later, I was pretty much done with both since neither was particularly effective. Ambien knocked me out within about 15 minutes, but I found myself awake every morning at 3am no matter when I took it. Lunesta worked better, but I kept dreaming about death night after night, crazy ways of dying that even Michael Bay hasn’t imaged yet.. waking up at 3am as usual. Except this flavor was covered in sweat and terrified. They don’t put that in the advert.

I tried melatonin, light therapy, green tea extract, cutting out caffeine after noon, staying up late, going to bed early. Yoga, meditation, cold room and warm room. Milk at bedtime, book and no book. Ear plugs, eye masks and white noise machines. Lavender on my pillow, in my bath, lavender everywhere until the dog refused to come into the bedroom.

No wonder, it smelled like a AARP convention (sans the pee)

3 am still feels the same no matter what prep you’ve done for it. Too early to get an ambitious jump on the day. Too late to take another pill or try to wait to fall asleep (I tried it and missed a plane, a half marathon and too many conference calls to count).

I went back to therapy wondering whether the loss of a warm body in the bed next to me was the cause, whether I still had “issues” with my divorce, maybe I wasn’t dealing with something else that I just wasn’t aware of?Maybe I’d been taken over by demon spirits.. (hey I was tired, and not a little desperate)

I adjusted my anxiety meds. I tried new ones. I stopped them all.

Still wide awake.

Apparently 7 years in to my insomnia, I’ve now forgotten how to go to sleep like a normal person. Falling asleep is as foreign to me as swinging across the monkey bars. Something that seemed really easy a long long time ago, but I can’t even hang on the first bar these days.

I’ve resigned myself to pills. After all, as parents know, there comes a point when you just need sleep, and cold turkeying it just resulted in me making major mistakes a work, starting to nap at my desk and once, alarmingly, nodding off while driving.

The new pills knock me out hard enough that a plane could crash into my apartment I doubt I’d wake up. Dangerous sure.. but at least I can get my 8 hours and I do wake up alert and ready to go. (note, this is not an invitation to rob my apartment – my dog is a fierce protector ..hahahahahahahaha)

The one unfortunate side effect. Once you’ve taken the pill, you have a 30 minute period during which you believe you’re fine, but you’re actually starting to be drugged and losing your coherence.

The result? Unintelligible scribbles of book outlines that make no sense. White board bullet points that feature a lot of exclamation points and no logic (boil the black cat?). Pens everywhere. Post it notes with no notes. Glasses set out with no water or contents.

What I’m actually doing in this semi drowsy, drugged up state I have no idea. I never remember and just have to follow the trail of things that look different and ponder what I might have been trying to do. Since no-one has complained I’m assuming it doesn’t involve emailing, calling or texting. I check my bank account and I’m not online shopping. I know I’m not driving or eating. But I am wandering. Writing things down. Taking notes. Starting to do things but then clearly changing my mind.

And to be honest I don’t really care. At least I’m getting some sleep, I don’t dream about being killed and I’ve not woken up at 3am for any reason in a very long time.

Who knows, maybe one day the ability to sleep will return. Girls gotta have dreams.

The alternate ‘It Gets Better’ project

It-Gets-Better-LogoAnyone who knows me from a hole in the wall knows that I love Dan Savage. The smart mouthed advice columnist who is responsible for introducing the world to the term ‘Santorum’, ‘GGG’ and ‘monogomish’, Dan and his hoooos-band Terry were also responsible for the remarkable YouTube campaign ‘It Gets Better’.

The couple produced a single video in response to bullying of teens (LGBT in particular), promising that no matter how crappy things are now, it does ‘get better’ as you get older. If you’ve never checked out the actual first video, I highly recommend it (along with the 50,000 other videos on the site) and the overall project was incredibly inspiring to not only LGBT teens, but anyone who felt ‘different’ or was bullied at school. I only wish it had been around when I was a kid.

But… I’m no longer a teen and I’m no longer bullied, but I feel we need a few more ‘it gets better’ projects to help those who feel awkward, different or just having a plain old, ‘life is sucking right now’ period. And I know you’re out there grown ups… I know that we all need an ‘it gets better’ now and again. So here are some of my proposals – Dan – should you want to help out some lesser known ‘minorities’ who are suffering in silence;

1. That bad hair cut

We know the current trend of pixies got you excited and you just decided to go for it, but don’t worry. It will get better. It will grow out. In the meantime, try some blond or red highlights and always remember to wear lipsticks so people don’t call you ‘sonny’ in line at Target.

2. The hole your career slid into

Things have been looking pretty grim of late I know. You were right. You’re boss really doesn’t like you. (Sorry). But it will get better. You’ll find another ally somewhere else in the organization or you’ll land an awesome project where you get to shine for a little while. Or maybe you’ll be lucky enough to be laid off and get to start afresh somewhere where everyone doesn’t know that you slept with Dave from sales. Plus their healthcare plan can’t be any worse!!!

3. Thursday night TV

I know. I hate The Voice too. In fact all singing shows should be sold to Japan and immediately replaced with tap dancing, cooking or dog training shows. Anything except someone else murdering Maria Carey songs from 2003. But don’t worry. It will get better. Parks and Rec will be back in January and hey, maybe by then they’ll have something else to put before and after it that doesn’t make you want to stick a fork in your eye. Maybe it won’t even feature married overweight guys with hot wives?!!!!

4. Those Burpees

Sure right now you’re lying on the floor, coughing your guts up and wondering whether you have the strength in your arms to push up, but one day it will get better. One day, you will be able to jump from a standing position into a full push up and then bounce right back to standing without losing control of your bladder, your lungs or your vision. One day, you will knock those suckers out without even thinking about it. One day, you won’t struggle around on the floor like a dying worm, and you will not want to die… one day. I’ve not yet met anyone who’s reached this place, but I’ve heard a rumor that someone’s girlfriend did them easily once.. so I’m holding out hope that it gets better. I mean, it has to … doesn’t it?

5. Dating

You’ve online dated, you’ve casually hooked up, you’ve proactively searched and you’ve even tried joining those ‘activity groups’ in the hope that you might find a suitable mate who doesn’t annoy the shit out of you after 20 minutes. You’ve considered marrying your dog, and you’re most significant relationship this year is with Showtime.But it does get better. Sure, that goober your sharing a drink with right now isn’t qualified to clean your bathroom but you will meet a nice guy/girl one day, even if you have to clean a Brazilian rainforest of frogs to find them. Plus another martini and even this potential stalker is going to seem a lot more attractive.

6. Those $250 skinny jeans

You were so thin when you bought them and yes, you did look ahmazballs that one time you wore them, but we know the pain you go through in order to even attempt a zip up at the moment. It will get better. You will wear those jeans again and that money won’t be a leering pile of denim that your friend/partner/spouse uses in every argument about money for the next 3 years.  You’ll lose that muffin top, you’ll remember that nothing looks as good as skinny feels or you’ll learn not to give a shit and make like everyone else by wearing a super baggy sweater that comes down to your thighs. Or you can wait another 3 years by which time everyone will be back rocking the boot cut or grab some Taco Bell and you’ll be in them by the weekend.

7. Your bank account

We totally agree that you needed that thing that you just bought on line that you really couldn’t afford, but it will get better. When it arrives and you’ve hidden it from your spouse/ self for a little while, you’ll remember why you really needed/wanted it and man, its going to make you feel soooo good. Especially when you put it to its intended use and I promise, people will literally fall in love with you, now that you have that thing. You’ll be smarter, sexier, hotter, faster and damn, you’ll probably get a pay raise as a result. So hey,don’t feel bad. Its going to get a lot better real soon.

We need a new fairy tale

snowwhiteLadies? Remember the story your mother told you when you were growing up?
About how one day you’d meet a lovely man who you’d fall in love with and get married, have children, buy a house and live happily ever after?

(stop laughing)

This weekend, as I was hiking in the foothills, I heard a mother telling her daughter exactly this story as they walked up the trail. The little girl had asked the woman – her mother I assume – what being a grown up was like. Her mothers answer.. straight out of the 50s’ complete with the man, house, kids and happily ever after. I had to bite my tongue to not turn around and say something (plus if I had, I’d be the ‘crazy angry person’ likeness sketch featured on 9News).

It frustrated me, because while  that story might be true for some percentage of the population, its increasingly not true for a larger percentage. In fact as of last year, 53% of all American women are single, and 44% of both sexes overall. Only 65% of Americans own their homes (or co own with Bank of America), and roughly 20% don’t have children. Of those who do, around 30% will raise those kids on their own as a single parent.

That little girl who’s on the receiving end of the fairy tale might grow up to be one of the 4% of Americans who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, which doesn’t exclude them from the rest of the fairytale, but sure as hell makes it a more challenging journey.

And forget that ‘somebody for everybody’ myth. 5% of females and more than 6% of  males report that they have never had sex in their lifetimes – somewhat throwing my year of crap dates into perspective. What’s their fairytale? A mortgage and Netflix?

As I hiked on (and stopped mumbling under my breath), the larger question continued to irk me… ‘what does it mean to be grown up?’ After all, if its based on the fairytale she told her daughter, then I’m fucked (and clearly still languishing in childhood). No white knight here. No house, no kids.. though quite a few fairy’s (the Dan Savage approved term these days is ‘fag’ I believe).  ‘Happily ever after’ is always a work in progress.

Which got me thinking. What does it mean to be “grown up”? And what is the new fairytale you could honestly tell a child who asks, without making them want to walk in front of the nearest bus? I’m not always kid friendly, but even I wouldn’t want to dispel the fantasy myth that is ‘doing whatever you want, whenever you want, and no bed time!’ No kid needs to know about credit card debt, dates with angry men or watching your career fade when you can’t put in the hours you used to.  What does it mean to be grown up? Whats the new fairy tale?

The word responsibility springs to mind, but hey, I’m Queen of avoiding that so I refuse to pin maturity to that anchor. Wisdom is too wishy washy (and clearly a lie based on Denver drivers), and sensibility too dry (plus I own too many pairs of ridiculous shoes).

The UK Telegraph had a whole list of 50 things which indicated that you were now an adult, but since many of them were tied to traditional life events such as home buying and garden planting, I found it beyond depressing. Some of the ‘fun’ things on the list included ‘being able to bleed a radiator’, ‘going to bed before 11pm’ and ‘you like receiving gift vouchers’. If that’s what I have to look forward to when I’m 9, where’s that bus?

Dr Robert Epstein has a test to tell you how adult you are across 14 different functional areas, but as it was 100 questions long, no ‘grown up’ has ever had the time to complete it.

It used to be a standard measure that you were ‘grown up’ when you moved away from home – whether to a musty bedsit or the safety of a college dorm – but with increasing numbers of kids heading back home as soon as college is done, I guess that old marker is as obsolete as the handsome man coming to scoop me up.

Having a job? Nope, had one of those since I was 13. Having a bank account? Again, age 13. Reaching drinking age? Since you can legally drink at 14 in France, I hardly think that counts. Not caring what your parents think? I didn’t get that one until 38 (my first tattoo) so hopefully not. Being more externally focused on other people? Since that eliminates anyone in their 20s or those born after 1990, not a good marker either. Financial security? I’m still waiting so..no. Psychologists say its around age 25, when the brain stops maturing.  But I think I’d have to go with buying a vacuum cleaner. I can still remember that day and how I felt a) excited to have clean carpet and b) totally depressed to be spending $200 on something specifically built to clean a floor (rather than something that would make me feel pretty, cool or get me laid). And I knew for sure I was an adult when I handed over my 20% off voucher. ‘Adult responsibility’ summed up in one purchase at Bed Bath and Beyond.

But back to the original question. What could that woman have told her daughter about the thrills and excitements that life has in store for her, that might be a bit more 2013 and a little less 1950? (and certainly didn’t hinge on vacuum cleaners)

Here’s my take:

‘When you’re a grown up, you’ll have many adventures. You’ll have the opportunity to see and do almost anything that you can imagine. You’ll meet many amazing people, some of who you’ll know for years and years, some will just pass through. You’ll be happy and sad, that doesn’t change as you grow up. And if you like who you are, you’ll live happily ever after. And no, you probably won’t grow up to be a princess or live in a castle but that’s highly overrated and with the money you save on tiaras and heating, you can afford some fabulous shoes’