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’

Hey guys…I can’t feel my arm…

dead armDue to an overabundance of push presses and push ups (thanks Crossfit!), I’ve started  suffering from radial neuropathy on my right arm.(That’s fancy speak for nerve damage) Since I sleep on my stomach with my head on my arm, I’m compounding the situation every night by literally sleeping on the damaged nerve.

The result? Every morning I wake up and I can’t feel my arm.

(Stop taking notes guys; you can’t grip nothin‘)

Everyone’s woken up with a dead leg or a dead arm.. Typically from sleeping funny or, if you’re lucky, from being clamped between someone’s arms or thighs all night. As a one off, its no biggy but as an every morning occurrence, it sucks. Especially as the arm starts to wake up – usually about 30 mins into the day – when the pain.. oh my god.. the pain starts.

Needless to say I’m a big wuss, so after a week of walking around like Frankenstein, I put down the barbell and headed to the doc for limb replacement…or at least some really good pain pills.

Sadly all I got was a prescription for physio.  Which is now underway. (oh and the answer to the sleeping problem.. sleep between two pillows….or have someone strap your hands  to your sides. I know which I’d prefer….but that’s a whole other story.)

Anyway, after hearing me moaning and groaning about my fancy pants nerve damage, my coworker sent me a link from a guitar player who was suffering from a similar complaint via online community forum for guitar players;

As I type this out with one hand, I have a question. I woke up this morning and my left arm has been “asleep” from the elbow down for 12 hours now….Needless to say, it has me kind of freaked out. Nothing else is out of whack like bad color or anything and I can move everything, I just can’t really feel. Anyone ever had this happen before? Looking for some insight. Good thing I didn’t have a show or something today.

And here’s what his every-helpful guitar community had to suggest;

A. are you trapped in a canyon in Utah between a wall and a boulder? choices are:
1) cut arm off with a pocket knife or
2) go see a doctor immediately

B. Rub some dirt on it. It’ll be fine.

C. I often sit on my hand till it falls asleep…but that’s a different story.

D.I’ll never understand why some people will ask these questions regarding potentially life threatening problems affecting them on a message board that has nothing to do with medical problems instead of going to see a professional right away.

E. It could be the onset of a stroke. You might die. Are you still reading this message board… or are you at the hospital?

F. A blood clot could also cause numbness in extremities. Is there any discoloration?

G. I’d hang out on the internet for a few days and ask for medical advice on a musicians’ forum dedicated mainly to guitar gear. You’ll probably get much better advice than you would if you went into see your doctor.

H. Windex.

I. Hit your hand with a hammer. You’ll forget all about your arm.

J.Do you actually need your arm? If not, don’t worry about it.

K. I woke up this morning and my left arm has been “asleep” from the elbow down for 12 hours now… Now it will probably be up all night……

Then, 12 hours later… the original poster shows up again….

Thanks for posting on my thread. how long should I wait before becoming really concerned? It’s still numb today and I just slept last night hoping for an improvement. Should I go to the ER today?

M. Go to the hospital right away. Your symptoms can be that of a stroke. It can be permanent. You’re supposed to go to the hospital within 3 hours if it is a stroke. My mother had numbness in a finger as she was talking on the phone. She didn’t think anything of it. The numbness didn’t go away and the full right side of her body was affected. We waited too long to go to the hospital, and now it’s permanent. It may not be a stroke but you never know as that is a classic sign of a stroke. Since you waited this long it may not be reversible.

N. Go see the doctor or it might affect your genitalia very soon. You don’t wanna mess with your genitalia, do you?

O. I had a similar thing happen to me a couple years back. I woke up one morning and both my left foot and hand were numb, by that night, it had spread up to my knee and elbow. Went to the hospital and by the next day my whole left side from my chest down was numb. An MRI confirmed that I had Multiple Sclerosis.

P. Once your arm sees a new Les Paul it snap right back to scratch.

And we never hear from ‘Steve’ the original poster ever again….

So here’s a lesson of the day from ‘Steve’ (hoping he’s still out there).

Don’t ask your online guitar gear community forum for health advice. They are not doctors. If your arm is numb for more than a few hours, you could have had a stroke, a heart attack, you may have MS or just nerve damage.

You most definitely have questionable intelligence.

The case for women over 35

Robin-Wright-David-Roemer-Evening-Standard-02I was reading OKCupid blog this weekend and I have to share the awesomeness that came from their stats blog. If you’re over 35 and feeling sorta depressed about dating.. this one is for you. In fact, I want to trumpet this news from the rooftops, but since I live in a condo and I’m scared of heights, I’ll settle for some vague mumbling as I walk around Whole Foods and this blogpost.

The premise that OkCupid puts forward is this:

As a woman, the older you are, the harder it is to date

(I know, tell me about it).

But this isn’t just because there are less single people out there. The real reason is down the to skew that occurs in men’s preferred age range for dating. Men date younger and younger women the older they get. (Something completely evident as soon as you walk into a Houstons or Elways).

But its not just limited to sugar daddy’s and 50 something divorcees.. No siree.. By age 23, men are looking for women only 1-2 years older than themselves but at least 4-5 years younger. And  as they get older, this skews even younger and younger- peaking at age 48, when men will consider dating a 48 year old woman, BUT also everyone younger than her down to 28. (OkCupid has the charts to prove it).

“With a ‘token’ upper limit right around his age, the majority of men are dating 5,10, even 15 years younger the older they get.”

What’s even worse, according to OK Cupid, is that the average guy is spends a considerable amount of time messaging women even younger than their stated minimum. So no matter what the guy says on his ‘site page’, a 30 year-old man spends as much time messaging 18 and 19 year-olds as he does women his own age. And your 48 year old? Apparently messaging 22 year olds.

Yikes.

So if you’re a 41 year old women, you’re not only competing for attend from other 40 somethings, factor in the 30 somethings and even the 20 somethings.

No wonder we’re not getting much play.

Women, ignored by their male peers after their early 30’s, start increasing their response rate to older and older guys… since they’re the only ones who are paying attention. So your average 30 year old chick is actually already starting to respond to 40 yr old guys, and us 40 somethings are left with the sexagenarians.

In fact, by the time a woman is 48, her chances of meeting something via a dating site is 50% that of a guys.

But..put down the butter knife, hands off the Xanax… OkCupid says ‘oh hells no’.

Because here’s the dirty little secret.. based on OkCupid stats, we’re actually a more attractive match for guys than they think (no matter how deep our crows feet are).

Why?

Cos we like sex more.

In fact, OkCupid asked woman a bunch of sex related questions and mapped them according to age. Here are a few indicators of our apparently rampant sexuality;

  • 75% of 39 year old women, when asked, said that sex is one of their favorite activities. By comparison only 25% of 18 year olds agreed.
  • 74% of 34 year olds, said that they were fine with casual sex compared to 55% of 18 year olds
  • 81% said they enjoyed giving oral sex, compared to 63% of 19 year olds
  • 40% of 34 year olds said they’d consider a threesome, compared to just 29% of 24 year olds

Other preferences which OkCupid found about older women

  • We apparently like to dominate more in bed
  • We use contraception and get tested regularly
  • Our self confidence is at 95% by age 39

and here’s the big one for most commitment-phobic guys…

  • 96% of us are ok being in a relationship that won’t lead to marriage by the age of 36.

So, before you start questioning your profile or wondering ‘what in hell is wrong with me?’ know that you’re probably dating to young. And that goes for you too guys. Nothing wrong with dating a 35 or 40 year old chick.. you know, if you like sexy confident women who might be into a threesome?

Just sayin’.

Lies I’ve been told: The Beauty Edition

pink-bad-haircutContinuing on the theme of lying, this week I found myself besieged by people wanting to add to my list of lies.. with the people responsible for making you pretty – hairdressers, dentists, manicurists and ‘beauticians’ named as the most skillful of liars.

Not surprising. If your mortgage was dependent on convincing some poor schmo that a product, service or treatment could turn them from Honey Boo Boo’s mom to Jennifer Aniston.. well I guess even I’d start fibbing a bit. Plus women, bombarded by images of airbrushed perfection via every newstand, gossip site or tv show, well we’re eager for anything which will make us look a little less blotchy, more youthful and less, well, poochy. You never know.. maybe this thing – cream, facial, makeup or procedure – just might make our next Facebook photo something we won’t rush to untag. So here are the some of the lies we listen to and nod along with.. all in the name of hope and ‘beauty’.

Waxing.. it gets easier and less painful overtime

Bullshit. I’ve been waxing my lip since I was 22 and it still brings tears to my eyes with every strip, leaving me red and puffy for the rest of the day. I used to get bikini waxes, but after my third Brazilian, when I wailed like a newborn and brought the shop owner running, it was suggested that maybe, just maybe, Brazilians weren’t for me.  As for that hogwash about your hair growing in thinner when you wax regularly – forget that lie. Lets just say Phil Spector’s fro has nothing on what’s between my thighs these days. I think waxing prompted some kind of challenge mentality down there and its winning.

We can dye your hair from black to blond

Yes. Yes you can. Should you? No. No no no no no. Anything that takes over 4 hours in  a hairdressing salon isn’t to be recommended as ‘a good thing’. And no-one, not even your bimbo-est LA vanity case needs to spend 4 hours with bleach on her scalp. I seriously think my IQ was permanently damaged from that experience and my hair… well….lets just say the experience unsurprisingly led to the next lie I’ve been told….

“You can totally ‘get away with’ short hair”

Just because you’re bored doing blond highlights and 1/4 inch trims day after day, does not give you – my hairdresser – license to lie to me. Because while I am instantly morphing my self image into Andrey Hepburn, my hairdressing is just thrilled at the opportunity to try out a new style they saw at some trade show in Cleveland. Whether this microfringe/mullet combination will actually suit me (and make me appealing to the opposite sex) isn’t a consideration when your hairdresser starts lying. No, I cannot get away with short hair – unless ‘get away with’ actually means ‘resemble Dorothy Hamill’.

Long lasting lipstick/eyeliner/mascara

This one is usually one of two lies. The first is where long lasting actually translates to ‘it will remain on your face until you the leave the bathroom’ .. at which point the makeup will instantly move from where you originally put it to a brand new location of its own choosing. My eyeliner has never even made it out of the house on my actual eyes.. never mind to a date or evening out. It migrates under my eyes as soon as I breath out, rendering me an exact double for Uncle Fester and that face powder I applied so liberally? I’m shining like a freshly waxed shoe before I’ve even made it downstairs. The only times I’ve ever actually found an actual ‘long lasting’ make up product it apparently needs to be lasered off because no soap and water, cream or even pure alcohol seems to work. That ‘waterproof mascara’ I applied in 2005? Well its still there. I’m just waiting for my lashes to slowly fall out… it seems to be the only way I’m getting rid of it.

They’ll stretch out really fast/ shrink in the wash

Oh boy, have I fallen for this lie. See that chick walking tentatively, as wobbly as a newborn foal? Yes, that’s me.. waiting for my patent boots to ‘stretch out’ as promised. I’ve had those suckers for 8 years, worn them with ski socks, stuffed them with wet newspaper and taken them to at least 3 cobblers and nada. Still function as my own personal foot binding machine.  Meanwhile, those cashmere leggings I paid an arm and a leg for (mimosas + shopping = bad decisions galore) and which the assistant assured me ‘would shrink to nothing’ in the wash.. well to this day, I’ve boiled those suckers at 140 degrees and the crotch is still sitting somewhere mid thigh. I’m in danger of losing them entirely every time I stand up and the only way I can wear them is safety pinned to an extremely large pair of granny panties. Which, I assure you, makes for a very interesting conversation if you ever get lucky. Which you won’t..  because saggy, baggy, beigy wool leggings aren’t attractive to anyone, no matter how ‘awesome’ the sales assistant said they were.

Which leads us to the biggest lie of all…

That dress/skirt/jeans/cashmere leggings totally work

Yes, they probably do… just only in the dressing room. As you’re standing in front of the mirror marveling at your skinny legs and tiny waist, check your arms in the mirror. Amazing isn’t it – how skinny and long they look. And wow.. are you sporting new hollows where your cheeks used to be? And damn.. have you noticed how long your neck suddenly looks? Yes.. we all look amazing in the changing room (Neimans, Saks, Nordstroms we’re on to you). Just wait until you get home to your non tilted mirror and plain old lighting before you take those tags off.  I’ve gained about 15lbs between the mall and my home some days… but until you leave the store..hey, you’re totally making those skinny jeans work girlfriend!

Wondering if where you’re going to wear that gingham shirtdress,  if faux leather jeans are really you or whether that turtleneck  makes you look a little squat.. don’t worry. You’re totally making that look work. That 60’s large print mini-dress – just too cute. Platform boots – amaze-balls! And PVC jerkin? Cray-cray how good it looks.

Ladies, if your sales assistant is using words you don’t understand, if you know your mother would approve of it -or your hairdresser-step away from the rack. You’re not rocking it. You’re rocking her commission. Now go buy some sensible black pants like the rest of us.

Parents: Then and now

parenting

After ..ummm…. 6 years of therapy and untold hours of private musings I can finally say – out loud – I love my parents.

Yes. Big deal to your average American who grew up with the sound of a daily ‘I love you’ echoing out the door. Me.. not so much. We tend to save the ‘I love you’s’ for death beds and dudes trying to get into your pants. Parents saying ‘I love you’?  Give me a break. That’s for Oprah and the movies.

But its not just me. Without completely conforming to the stereotype that is a Brit, parents in the UK back in the 70’s were somewhat ‘stiff’. Not that forthcoming with the love and the supportiveness. In fact, mostly happy with the ‘you’re NOT going out in that’ and ‘who do you think you are?’ comments. Parents, back then, were for discipline, rules and making sure that you didn’t die from malnutrition or cold (though my mother challenged the ‘no hypothermia in the house’ convention by only turning on the heating when my lips turned blue and we weren’t able to move our fingers). Parents were there to toughen you up, prepare you for the ‘real world’ and largely, berate you for not following the rules or complaining that green beans should actually be green (not grey).

Most of my conversations as a kid involved the following lines from my parents

  • ‘If you think that, you’ve got another thing coming’ (still.. makes absolutely no sense)
  • ‘ You don’t talk to me like that young lady’
  • You’ll be laughing on the other side of your face in a minute (my face has two sides?)
  • I’ll wipe that smile off your face
  • You’ll get square eyes (used against tv watching and reading)
  • Do you want a smack? (ummm… no?)
  • If you don’t stop crying, I’ll give you something to cry about  (I can’t wait!)
  • What’s that silly look on your face for? (ummm.. my face?)
  • Don’t come running to me when you break a leg (ummm.. how?)
  • Eat your dinner, there are people starving in Africa who would die for that (not these beans they wouldn’t)

Funny yes.. but hardly ‘I love you’ territory. Parenting back in the 70’s was all tough love and rules. Parents weren’t there to be loved. They were there to ruin your fun and generally blame you for stuff you didn’t do. We didn’t expect to assured, or comforted, coached or counseled. We just had to keep our elbows off the table and our mouths shut.

No surprise that I spent most of my adolescence rebelling against everything my parents stood for. Rules, all of them.

I had bigger aspirations where there wouldn’t be any rules, I’d get to make it all up for myself. And I’d eat with my elbows on the table if I bloody well wanted to. The thought of their life – nice semi detached (duplex), 2 kids and a solid job with a good pension-  made me want to run screaming. Which I guess I did. Albeit quietly and in a very British low key way. (I went on a business trip and didn’t ever come home).

But with time and maturity you reflect and gain perspective. The notion of parents as mini jailors and dictators dissipates (or maybe its just hard to ground you from 3,200 miles away). You realize your parents were just doing what they knew and that honestly, they did ok. I’ve managed to avoid jail, the pole or drug abuse so I guess they’ve overlooked the divorce, the tattoos and the motorcycle. Clearly all those curfews and requirements to eat my greens paid off somewhere down the line. I still make myself eat kale even though I hate it, and yes, I know a kid in Africa is starving for it.

And while the ages of 14-18 caused significant scarring to my self esteem and anxiety levels, 17 years of American optimism and good medication have certainly helped limit the damage.

But over the past few years I’ve managed to put away the petty grievances and wishes, and just appreciate my parents for the people they are. The woman who gave me an iron will and an extremely faulty set of DNA. The man who proved that kindness and respect towards women doesn’t make you less of a man (and that nodding is often the easiest way to end an argument). Two people who, while they might not like each other very much sometimes, still sit down for a cup of tea together every morning and muse on life.

I would wish for such a partnership.

In fact these days, if I worry about anything I worry about them. About one day not having that voice in my head telling me ‘money doesn’t grow on trees’ or that ‘you’ll live’. That while I certainly don’t miss being asked ‘who do you think you ARE?’.. I do get nervous at the thought that someday.. no-one will remind me of the rules I now find myself living by  (‘were you born in a barn?’) or assure me of my place in the world – ‘stand up straight’, ‘elbows off the table’ and ‘take that silly look off your face.’

It might not be ‘I love you’ but its the only kind of parenting I know. And one day, hopefully a long, long time from now…I’ll miss it.

Fun date activites you might not have tried

life supportFun date activities you might not have tried

A bit bored of the usual ‘dinner and movie’. The thought of ‘a nice walk’ got you yawning? Do I have a ‘fun’ date activity for you?

Yes. Its time to write that living will.

I’m serious.

You’ll never feel more alive than when figuring out when to turn off the beeping machines keeping you alive, what to do with your remains and what song will be playing as they lower your body into the ground. It makes for a remarkable afternoon, not to mention a great date discussion.

Who wants to be making mad passionate love to each other when you could be discussing whether you want to be kept alive but brain dead  and whether you want 1, 2 or 3 resuscitation attempts made when your ticker stops. Do you want to be fed through a tube when you can’t swallow or just naturally starved to death? See.. aren’t you really starting to appreciate your day???

Plus your date’s responses really give you an indication of his true nature.  The man who wants to live no matter how many machines, how much medical care and whether he’s got a single brain cell left… classic Peter Pan narcissist. The dude who says ‘put a pillow over my face if I’m mentally done’… my kind of guy. If he wants to pull the plug on you as soon as your arms and legs stop working.. hmm.. we might have a problem.

Seriously, its a discussion which really reveals who that person really is. And as dark as it seems, its profoundly illuminating. I for one, want to know that he’s not out to harvest my organs as soon as I’m asleep.  Nor do I want to know that some dude is Terry Schivo’ing my ass for 20 years from some weird creepy loyalty and ‘love’. Hella no.

And then once its all over – machines are silenced, the last tattered sigh released – there’s a whole other discussion. Do you want to be fried to a crisp or sealed in a box? Believe me, the romantic possibilities you can discover when sharing which mountain you want your ashes thrown off and who you want doing the throwing (note, asthmatics and girls are off the list)… why its positively heartwarming.

Don’t get me started on memorial service soundtracks! I’d never even thought about this until I looked at the form and realized, holy shit.. if I don’t write this down, I could be buried to my mother’s choice of music, most likely one of the Three Tenors or my sister’s idea – something jaunty from Kylie Minogue. God help me. This… this I need to get in writing. I am not being buried to Michael Buble.

Plus you can discover all manner of shared affections with your date (James Taylor, Iron and Wine) and questionable taste (Mastodon?), strange predilections and silly humor (the theme from Shaft? really?). And I know one thing, I certainly don’t want those decisions left to chance, and while I have a girlfriend with excellent music taste, I think its one mix tape she probably doesn’t want to make.

So there you have it. If August is making you blue and you’re sorta bummed out with the constant sunshine and warmth, consider an afternoon perusing a living will. It sure puts things into perspective and man.. you’ll learn a lot about your date.