Legal

Legal

As you probably know, not so long ago, Californians used the power of democracy to make recreational pot legal. If you’re an Angelino, then you were already used to having dispensaries on every corner, but now you don’t need a legit (wink wink) medical condition to purchase weed, you just need to be over 21 and ready to party.

First, let me admit that I am prejudice in favor of drinking. I’ve mastered it, at this point. I know not to drive, shop on eBay, or try any new hair removal products while under the influence.

Also, I still have some judgements about pot, probably stemming from it’s shady reputation on the legal front, and a lame boyfriend from the early 90s who still owes me money.

But I like to stay up on things.

I’ve got two teenage sons, and while we’ve talked at length about drinking and drugs, the dangers of getting into that while their young brains are developing, and the gigantic screw ups that can happen when you’re intoxicated, I’m not sure they take me seriously. Credibility is everything with kids, and I don’t want to come off sounding clueless.

Which is why I went to pot school.

My friend Wendy and I signed up for the respectable sounding “Plant Medicine: A Thoughtful Guide to Cannabis Use” workshop and showed up with sharpened number 2 pencils, ready to learn.

After signing in at the yoga studio where the event was hosted, we were greeted by our instructors, Jenna and Jenna. (I kid you not.) They couldn’t have been more lovely and, by the looks of it, not stoned.

We took our seats in front of a long table where the Jennas had set up small bowls of “flower”along with bottles, tablets, joints, bongs, and vape pens. Basically, all the stuff you dread finding in your kid’s backpack.

Wendy elbowed me. “Look at all that pot just sitting there.” 

It did seem strange. I looked around, feeling like any minute someone’s mom was going to storm in, with her hair up in curlers, and shut this whole thing down.

Then I realized, (some might say a tad late) oh yeah— we are the moms.

In fact, the room was full of our exact demographic, which actually made me feel pretty good. Forget the white Zinfandel and Andrew Bocelli CDs, sisters, we are on it!

The workshop started off with a brief history of Cannabis and the legal battles surrounding it, which have their roots in racism (big surprise), and continued with a little scientific info ,THC vs. CBD, terpenoids, and something called “the entourage effect.”

We took notes.

We passed a few buds around in little bowls and peered at them with magnifying glasses, sniffing them like a fine wine. It was pretty fancy and so LA.

The Jennas wrapped up class with a lively question and answer period, during which I asked about edibles, sharing that it was these that made me the most nervous when it came to my kids. When I said that being a more informed parent was one of my main reasons for attending the workshop, Jenna smiled and said, “Bless you.” I think she may have bowed a little. #potteacher’spet

We learned that, thanks in part to mistakes made in Colorado, California now regulates edibles (the candies, mints, baked goods containing THC) more strictly than it had when they were only sold as medicine. For this reason, it is now much more difficult to buy the amounts that would likely cause a severe reaction. Even still, the Jenna’s put on their serious faces, pointing to a graphic on the screen that they said was the most important of the day:

“You can always take more, but you can never take less.” 

While strains like Strawberry Cough, Pineapple Skunk, and Champagne Kush are hybridized to produce certain effects, the bottom line is that every body is different and only through trial and error can you really know what works, and what makes you want to wrap yourself like a newborn and hide under the bed for six hours.

I also learned that, unlike alcohol, there has never been a documented case of death or permanent physical harm from an overdose of pot. While it is possible to have too much (see above), and impaired judgement is a side-effect of marijuana use that can definitely lead to disaster, a binge drinker is at risk of dying of an overdose, while a binge smoker is probably only at risk for eating too much Kraft macaroni and cheese while couch-locked. Good to know.

The workshop left us feeling informed and curious.

Time for a field trip!

We decided to visit a dispensary called Urban Treez and strolled in all casual like. After showing our ID to a guy in the front who recorded our info (probably putting us on a watch list of badass hippie types, yo) we went up to the counter and met our young “budtender”, Angel. (You can’t make this stuff up.)

Perhaps embarrassingly,  I told Angel that I’m not that interested in getting stoned, but do have arthritis pain in my toes, and sleep issues brought on by peri-menopause, which I am hoping might be alleviated by a little ganja, so could he hook a sister mother up.

Angel suggested a  THC tincture called “Deep Sleep”, a CBD cream for pain, and a neat little disposable pen simply labeled CALM, which he said I could just “rip on.”

For medicinal purposes (ahem).

“How much?” I asked, holding out my credit card.

“That will be $120.00.”

Wt actual f???

It could be the 30% tax on cannabis products, but let me tell you—that shit is expensive. I imagined what my husband would think, perusing the statement at the end of the month. Let’s just say he might not understand.

“Hold up, Angel. I’m not sure I should put this on my card.”

Wendy and I huddled to discuss which product I should keep, and which I might put on next year’s Christmas list.

“If you don’t want it showing up on your card,” Angel said, “don’t worry. We run it through as Manhattan Clothing.”

Done.

After our products were all zipped up in the nifty child-proof bag they make you purchase ($1.50, but reusable), we said our good-byes and headed home, promising to report back after we’d tried out our products.

It was reminiscent of a Mary Kay party, only with armed security and more guys.

I ended up telling my husband all about it, of course, and he surprised me by being more open than I’d expected. As far as the products I purchased, here’s a quick review:

  • The “Calm” pen gave me a barely noticeable chilled-out feeling lasting about 45 minutes, which I chose to spend in a hot bath listening to the Oprah podcast (it’s still me, after all.) Not bad!
  • The sleep drops tasted like I imagine the Jennas’ bong water tasting, and acted like a shot of Nyquil. OK to have on hand, but not the sleep-aid of my dreams.
  • The CBD cream did nothing for my achey toes but made my feet soft and shiny.

The verdict? Even though I don’t think I’ll be adding another vice to the rotation at this point in my life, I did gain some knowledge and walked away with a more open mind, which is enough for me to call it a win.

Like, totally, dude 🙂

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Resting

Resting

Well, that’s a wrap, people! I went through with the surgery and made it home safe and sound.

Funny thing was, thanks to a really good doctor and the miracle of modern medicine, the biggest post-op hurtle for me was not internal.

(Oh, trigger warning for anyone who would gladly trade a body part for a little peace and quiet and just can’t with me right now. I get it- we have that in common sometimes. Still, you may want to look away.) 

The most challenging thing about the past two weeks has been to do nothing.

Believe me, no one was more excited than I was, at the prospect of endless Netflix and guilt free napping. In fact, when I was making the decision to go forward with a hysterectomy, I had to check in with myself several times to make sure it wasn’t just because I wanted a vacation.

It took all of four days for the fun of that life to wear off, which is when boredom, and boredom’s BFF, anxiety, came a knockin’.

Doing nothing was surprisingly un-fun, and not because I have such a kick-ass work ethic or anything. (Obvs.) Actually, I couldn’t put my finger on what it was that made taking a break in order to heal so hard.

I thought maybe it was Facebook.

You know, seeing all those people out in the world with all their goings on, maybe that’s what was getting me down.  So I made what was, for me, a giant leap, and took the app off my phone. At the risk of being flagged by Zuckerberg’s flying monkeys or whatever, let me just say that, while this turned out not to be the answer to my acute post-op discomfort, it did end up being the single best decision I’ve made in months. (And you know how I feel about Facebook.) It has been nothing short of life changing, but I digress.

One thing that happened was, by cutting way back on Facebook, I had one less place to hide. Same with my daily list of things to do, without it I felt exposed and just, well, uncomfortable.

No, too general. Ok, I felt anxious.

Nope, go deeper. Ok, the truth is that without the wall of distractions I have carefully built, brick by brick, I felt guilty.

It seems weird, but the feeling that I do not think I am good enough unless I am constantly doing shit (driving, teaching, cleaning, trying, working, writing, talking), was so rock solid, and I would bet my last Percocet I am not the only woman who feels this way.

I can’t just be here– Mama’s gotta earn it.

One of the perks of having a hole drilled in your belly button and an organ pulled out is that you can’t get up and run away from the realizations that find you while flat on your back in bed.

Not that I didn’t try.

First, I did some serious online shopping. Pro-tip: If you ever have surgery or an injury or anything else that requires a lengthy convalescence, do yourself a favor and disable Amazon on-click ordering. The irony that, to escape feelings of existential guilt, I would turn to plastic mason jar lids, new underwear, black toothpaste, scented candles, and a spiralizer, thereby plunging me into still more guilt of the money-blowing variety, is not lost on me.

When that got old, I resorted to my go-to remedy for guilt and self-loathing, which is, as you may know, planning!

I planned the shit out of my future life. I planned meals and trips for the family. I planned activities for the kids and wrote out an entire home yoga practice which actually makes me want to laugh, it is such a pipe dream. I signed some online petitions and planned how I might take action on causes like gun-control and immigration.

Hey, that’s a good question, isn’t it?

There I was with all that time, and a deep craving to fill it, so why didn’t I do something worthwhile? Why didn’t I research the issues I say I care about so that my knowledge goes  deeper than a BuzzFeed article?

Why didn’t I write, since I’m always wishing for more time alone to do just that?

Because that’s the joke, y’all. Being “crazy busy”makes it impossible to do deep work. And even though I’m just learning, my suspicion is that it’s no friend to deep love, either.

You know how every yoga class ends with Savasana, or corpse pose?

I always hear teachers saying this is the most important of all the asanas, and also the most challenging. “Yeah, right,” I snort, positioning my little lavender eye pillow and settling back for my version of the pose, where I ponder the perfect shag haircut and consider what I’ll have for lunch.

It turns out that the reason Savasana is easy for me is that I’ve never really done it.

For some of us, being still is hard-won.

For some of us, believing we have the right to be still, to take up space while doing absolutely nothing, is the true work of healing.

Let It Go!

Let It Go!

This week, I was planning on writing about a book I just listened to, called Soulful Simplicityand how, while not exactly ground breaking, it had inspired me to do a major clutter clear and closet purge. (FYI, this moved me much closer to my lofty goal of creating my own capsule wardrobe for slackers, consisting of pretty much only jeans and white t-shirts. We will revisit this topic in future posts.)

But then, in keeping with my nature, another shiny thing caught my eye, and I dove head first down the rabbit hole of Bullet Journaling. I thought maybe I’d post about that instead, how it made me feel super organized, and also a little insane. images

The BuJo, as it is cringingly called, is either the neatest thing to spring forth from the personal productivity world, or sent directly from hell to make us all feel like losers with shit handwriting. In a bullet journal you track habits, make lists, and “migrate” tasks, all using colored pens and something called washi tape. It’s porn for the persnickity. It both soothes and creates anxiety and I totally dig it.

Soulful Simplicity and bullet journaling might seem to be on opposite ends of the spectrum. One practice is all about paring down and getting less busy, and one practice elevates business to an art form, but it occurred to me that, for someone looking for order and reassurance, they fit together perfectly.

Get rid of all the stuff + Complete all the tasks = You will be OK.

My sister told me once that she is sometimes scared when she rides her big horse, Sharkey. At first I was surprised because I’m the kind of person who, if at all possible, tries never to do anything scary, so people who “feel the fear and do it anyway” are like sparkly unicorns in my world. The fact that at any moment Sharkey could decide he’s had enough and throw her off, doesn’t dampen the joy she feels as she gallops him around.

It would appear then, that it’s possible to hang on and let go at the very same time. Who knew?

Anyway, tomorrow I have a task written in my bullet journal: surgery.

Yep, tomorrow I will be bidding a fond farewell to my uterus. For all who have listened to my epic period stories and TMI rants about the whole sitch down there, this is indeed an event worth celebrating. It’s nothing really serious, but it still feels like kind of a big deal, parting with a body part and all.

There are only empty pages in my journal after the word surgery, because I have no idea what to expect, how long it will take me to recover, or just how it will feel to have my uterus gone. I can’t know for sure yet, but I imagine it’s not all binge watching The Crown and eating take-out. There are so many places my dark mind can go with this.

Will I have regret that I didn’t try more herbs, more acupuncture, more positive thinking to cure the stupid condition that got me here? (See? Bad attitude.)

Should I have taken the suggestion of the Chinese doctor who said I could fix fibroids by hula hooping a half hour every day? I mean, I hula hooped occasionally, but I never really committed to it, if I’m being honest.

Maybe I’m a quitter.

How long before I feel like my old self again, and should that even be the goal?

Or maybe none of that will occur to me, because maybe, just maybe, I will be too busy shouting from the rooftops— YeeeeeeeHaawww!! Free at last! Free. At. Last.

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I might look back on our trip to Hawaii, last summer where I was dead sure I would be eaten by a shark on account of leaking blood like a fucking sieve, and feel only pure relief to have that chapter closed.

Staring at all those blank pages in February, I can’t help it— I want to know what to expect. 

Hold please, while I consult my pretty Bujo “Feelings Tracker.”

Nope, some things, like feelings, can’t be planned.

Hard truth, I guess: Letting go is always a little risky, even when it’s liberating.

Which brings me back to closet cleaning. Right now, my closet is full of empty hangers, and I’ll admit, it’s a little tough to let go. What am I doing, I think? I’m not ready. I need these things. Even though I haven’t worn or thought about them in years, they feel like part of me, and I want them back.

I want the crochet poncho I made a decade ago, because it’s not just some ugly poncho, it’s  hours spent at home with my babies, and the rhythm of those early years. I want the cute velvet jacket because it’s me, twenty pounds ago, with a career and my own apartment and all that discretionary income. Sigh.

It’s not the things I’ll miss, it’s the person I was when I had them.

Look, I’m not saying that parting with a pair of tired wedge sandals is the same as having an organ removed but, in a way, for me, it’s not completely different. I’m ready for this operation– I’m past ready. It is my choice and I am lucky beyond measure that I am able to have it done.

Yes, and…

I just have to take a moment.

When I got pregnant I couldn’t believe the whole system actually worked the way the films in health class said it would. It seemed crazy— while I lay around eating gyros and watching Seinfeld, my uterus held the developing human, kept them hydrated, and even made a placenta, for god’s sake.

And when having a vbac with my second son, I was amazed at how my uterus ran the show. She performed like a champ, this organ that I’d barely noticed all my life, doing most of the work, contracting and pushing out an actual person. A miracle.

You did it, old girl. Thank you.

It feels really good to have those memories, and those aren’t going anywhere. As for the rest of it, I’m taking the reins, and letting it go, even if I’m a little bit scared.

Alrighty then. See y’all on the flip side 🙂

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Staring Down the Dark

Staring Down the Dark

I really did plan to write a cheerful holiday post today. I put the order in and sat poised at the keyboard, ready for inspiration. Instead, here is what came out: that time I thought I might die. Proceed with caution if this isn’t your bag 🙂

When I was a kid, I loved being afraid.

Grocery shopping with my mother, I would be drawn by a force I didn’t understand, to the far end of the meat section, where they stocked the chicken and pigs feet, frog legs, fish heads and tongue, all stamped with bright orange stickers, “Low low price!” I’d creep toward the display and stare at it, shivering.

It was brutal, scary, and weirdly soothing.

I learned then that if I could look long enough at the white belly, the bone, the hoof, my fear would eventually turn to curiosity. By the time I heard Mama calling me, the parts had lost their grisly pull, and although I never wished to see them on my plate, I wasn’t afraid of them anymore, at least until the next time we went shopping, when once again I would wander from the kid-friendly entertainment of the cereal aisle, into the place where nice girls didn’t go.

I remember creating haunted houses in the sweltering attic of our small house, hanging my dolls, bloodied with magic marker, from the ceiling, and arranging bowls of spaghetti brains, broken mirrors, and rubber knives in creepy tableaus.

As I got older, I added to the scene, with death threats scrawled on paper that I carefully burned around the edges, and descriptions like this, next to each installation: “This very baby carriage and it’s human contents was crushed by the axe of a madman!”

It was a little intense for the other grade schoolers in my neighborhood, so usually it was pretty much just me up there, hanging out on summer afternoons, hot as hell and perfectly at home in the dark.

My friend Risa told me that the fact that I wasn’t afraid of the dark was proof that I was The Devil. We were living in the Bible belt, so this was a pretty big deal. After I got over that first rush, similar to getting cast as the lead in the school play, I admit it gave me pause.

I had good reason to think she might be on the right track in her assessment of my character, but in the end I was way too insecure to think I could be the Anti-Christ himself. For one thing, I was having a heck of a time memorizing my multiplication tables, proof, in my own mind, that I would never be tapped for such an important gig.

By fifth grade, I was an avid reader of horror comic books. After comics came ghost stories like The Bell Witch. Later, while my friends were reading Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret, I read Amityville Horror and Helter Skelter.

I was the kid who was always looking up leprosy in The World Book Encyclopedia, or holding a seance.

My idea of fun was slipping into fear like a pair of comfy slippers and walking around for a while. There were a lot of demons inhabiting my world. For some of us, feeling scared helps us, well, not be so scared.

Once I grew up, my world felt a lot safer, and I mostly seemed normal-ish, at least when it came to my idea of a good time.

Then a few months ago, I decided to address a slowly percolating health issue.

Let me preface this by saying that all the tests have come back clear and I am basically fine. No biggie, as they say. But during the whole biopsy/second opinion process, my entire being was screaming “Are you fucking kidding me? This is a biggie– this is The Biggie!”

Even though I wasn’t conscious of it at the time, looking back now it’s clear that I employed the skills honed way back when, at the grocery store.

I looked.

Not at Google! I repeat: NOT AT GOOGLE. (Please don’t look at Google while waiting for test results. You’re welcome.)

I looked at what was scary.

After meeting with a surgeon who painted kind of a bleak picture, I found myself strolling the aisles of Trader Joe’s, planning my funeral, making a mental list of the friends who I could call on to help my sons and husband once I was gone.

Like a lot of women I know, one of the ways I cope with stress is to share with friends, which I did.

Some friends responded to my news with a big smile and, “Oh stop it– you’re FINE!” They meant only the best, of that I am sure and I love them for wanting to save me from my own dark side, but flipping on the lights isn’t always the compassionate move.

And plus, how could they possibly know I was fine, at that point? I couldn’t know that about them and I would never pretend to.

One friend and I talked about what we could binge watch during my chemo. We discussed the merits of something called “exposure burial” vs. cremation. I instructed her to save my journals but delete my texts, which she totally understood. We laughed about how crazy it was, but we never shut each other down.

She sat with me in the dark.

Although I had been talking funerals, and chemo, and loss, my real fear was of having to go through it alone.

By the simple act of not looking away, she told me that nothing about me was too scary. She would be there, even if/when things got that fucking bad. She would watch t.v with me, and find me banana popsicles, and help me change my bandages.

I’d do the same for her.

There’s an image in my mind that, if it had happened back in 1972, would have made all the difference: it’s of a little girl, at the far end of the meat section. She is shivering from cold coming off the refrigerated cases, and from what she sees when staring into them. She doesn’t want to look away, but feels her friend standing next to her, and knows she is not alone.

They both look.

And they are both afraid, and less afraid, together.

I’m Done With People Leaving

I’m Done With People Leaving

A mom friend and I were hanging at the park with our kids a while ago, when she casually mentioned that she and her husband were looking to relocate. LA had changed too much for her over the years and she was done. She wanted more space, and fresh air.

Just like that? I thought, but didn’t say.

I tried to sound regular. “You’re moving?”

“We’d love to get out of here,” she answered. “We’ve already started looking up north.”

I was shocked. Not shocked at her announcement, I’d already said goodbye to three dear friends and my sister in the past five years alone, losing them to lower housing prices and walkable neighborhoods elsewhere. It’s going around.

What shocked me was my reaction.

I was pissed.

I was pissed that I’d grown even just a little attached to her, this kind-hearted animal -loving urban farm girl. I didn’t want another long-distance friendship kept on life-support through social media.

One of the worst things about my face is it’s transparency. She saw me shut down. Later I got a text: Sorry if I upset you earlier. We are looking to move eventually, but it probably won’t happen for a while. I hope we can still be friends!

Sigh.

My fingers typed what I thought was the right answer: Of course we can. I’m an asshole! 🙂

In Los Angeles, you get used to people leaving and if, like many of us, you moved here from somewhere else with a full set of fancy abandonment baggage, it can be a pretty rough. Over the years I’ve learned that if it seems like someone is just passing through, it’s probably best to let them.

At this point, it’s about staying power.

Back in Nashville, my Grandmother had the same steadfast group of women friends for years. We called them “the Marys” because they mostly shared that name. If you were to run into one of them around town and drew a blank, you could throw out the name Mary and know that you had at least an 80% chance of nailing it.

For years the Marys gathered weekly for their “sewing group.” It was an afternoon of chicken salad, cocktails, and conversation, where occasionally something got hemmed.

They took turns visiting when each other was sick. The few Marys who could still drive at night would fairy the others to dinner parties, and the wedding receptions of  grandchildren. It was a bond forged over decades, a lifeline, as they chartered the waters of their own old ladyhood.

I don’t know about you, but that’s looking pretty good to me these days.

Recently I read the book Life Reimagined, in which the author, Barbara Bradley Hagerty, counts supportive friendships as one of the most vital ingredients in a long and healthy life. The evidence suggests that more than genetics, diet or even excersise, friendships keep us going strong.

It’s medicinal, people.

While the data supporting the link between friendships and our health was new to me, the idea of friendship as a lifeline was not. I’ve written before about how, as a kid, I fed my attachment hunger through close and durable ties with my friends. I may have had a wire monkey at home, but in the homes of friends, I was patched up and found a sense of belonging.

I was hooked.

Which is why when my friend Wendy tells me over drinks at a bar we know so intimately that we just call it “the corner”, that living in LA is just too expensive and that her family may, like so many others, need to pull up stakes, I freeze.

“I mean, look what you can get in Iowa for 300K” She says, handing me her phone. I scroll through her Zillow feed, unsure of the correct response. Happy? Excited? Envious? I am none of those.

I am hurt.

Look, I know it isn’t about me. I know it’s about this friend of mine, who may have to leave her hometown, her world, and move into the unknown, not because she wants to, but because she has to.

But at that moment I am unable see my way to being a grownup.

I pass my finger over the screen, scrolling past circular driveways and sprawling farmhouses with mature trees in every yard. The numbers are so low compared to LA home prices that I think there must be a mistake. But there is no mistake.

Or is there?

Taking a good size gulp of Pinot, I wonder if maybe the mistake is trying to have lasting friendships in a town of transients.

We finish our drinks and split the check. I tell her I’ll try to be supportive, but I’m not sure I have it in me. I don’t want her to leave. She understands and says what everyone says when these conversations have run their course. “It probably won’t happen for a while.”

It has occurred to me that LA would be a pretty hard place to be a Mary. Some days it’s a hard place to be a Maggie, so I can only imagine.

Oh well.

At least when we can no longer drive at night, we can get an Uber in like five minutes, so suck it, small manageable towns with low property taxes.

(Now, normally, this would be where I’d put in a big plug for LA:its beaches, its mountains, its tacos, and weirdos, and seventy degree default temp, and I’ll-never-leave-no-way-this-is-MY-TOWN!)Los Angeles California Skyline

But that would be a lie, at least the never leaving part.

It may be that one day my husband will have to cash out and move to cheaper less crowded pastures. That’s the reality for a lot of us in tinsel town, and other towns too, all across the country.

So where does that leave friendship? If we are all apt to up and move any old time, is there anyone we can count on, and can anyone count on us? Am I wrong to even want that?

This reminds me of the sand mandalas created by Buddhist monks. You know, where hours and hours go into the creation of intricate sand paintings, which are then purposely destroyed as a reminder of the impermanence of everything.

Non-attachment. It’s their favorite.

Maybe in about ten thousand more lifetimes when I am way more actualized it will be my favorite too, but I’m just not there yet.

Of course none of us knows who will stick around and who won’t. It could be housing prices, a bad diagnosis, or divorce, but the truth is that shit happens, especially as you get older. Maybe the dream of my own band of proud Marys is an effort to soothe the anxiety that comes with that midlife realization.

I don’t know how it will feel to say goodbye to the next friend who leaves. I only know that I can’t let myself go on a preemptive strike. As hard as it is, I will fight to stay open to these relationships, even without the guarantee. I will build my friendships not like a sand mandala, but like a Vegas hotel– built to last, at least for now.

We can’t know otherwise, none of us.

In closing, let me quote the often unappreciated genius of this song, made famous by the one and only Ronnie Milsap. I’m actually not kidding.

“I wouldn’t have missed it for the world

Wouldn’t have missed lovin’ you girl

You’ve made my whole life worth while, with your smile.

I wouldn’t trade one memory

Cause you mean too much to me

Even though I lost you girl

I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.”

Feel free to sing with abandon at your next Karaoke night, after a shot of Jager. Now go forth with an open (or open-ish) heart, my friends!

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Do What You Love (and also some stuff you don’t)

Do What You Love (and also some stuff you don’t)

You know how everyone says that hitting midlife is so awesome for women because we stop caring what anyone else thinks and can finally be who we are, without striving to live up to some weird made up standard “out there?”

Well all of that may be true but, as always, I gotta flip that shit over and look at the underbelly, because I’ve got an issue.

The truth is that while I am happy to stop torturing myself over the fact that I suck at thank-you notes and drink straight out of the milk carton (sorry),  some of those old self-imposed external expectations worked pretty well, and I miss them.

Take, for one, staying in shape.

Fifteen years ago, I used to go to the gym regularly and I felt great! It was just a part of my every day, a healthy habit. But make no mistake, it was fueled by the mirror and the x-boyfriend and the stupid asshole size whatever-it-was that I thought I needed to be.

All of that is gone, and I am thrilled.

But what motivates me now? If it’s no longer the fear of not measuring up, then what? Of course I want to be healthy as I age, to be there for my kids and husband, to feel strong.

I get it.

But in the face of a night out with girlfriends and plate of garlic fries, let’s just say they those goals get a little bit fuzzy around the edges.

Garlic fries are so yummy, you guys.

And fifty year old me has been a good girl for long enough.

But just recently, I stumbled into a strategy* that totally works for me, and because this blog is all about helping the world, I will let you in on the secret now.

By utilizing the energy of my largely untapped and renewable resource, anger, I feel like maybe I’ve figured out the secret to bringing about positive change in my life, or at least getting some shit done.

Here’s an example: Yesterday, I knew I should go to the gym. (One thing I will never discuss at length here is exercise. 1. Because there are lots of people who do that and know what they’re talking about, and 2. Because zzzzzzzz…..) Anyway, I knew I should go, but I just didn’t want to.

Like I seriously didn’t want to.

I was pissed that I had to take time out of my busy life of doing things that I can’t explain right now but that are very important (not), VERY important (no, seriously not), and the nagging awareness I had that, at my age, it is more important than ever to stay active just served to make me feel more resentful, and therefor more likely to drink all the wine.

Hold up for a sec —

Before any of you leave comments suggesting I simply find an activity I enjoy, like salsa dancing or whatever, let me say that I’m a grown-ass woman. I lived through Jazzercise and Tae Bo and that dumb kind of walking where you wag your ass around, and it all sucks. But I want to be healthy, so I’m committed to figuring it out. (If the tone of this post is not to your liking, I totally get it. Feel free to skip the rest and go do your Prancersize.) giphy

Anyway, yesterday, for some reason,  I did not do what I usually do, which is try to make myself want to exercise. Instead, I let myself be pissed at a glaring flaw in the otherwise perfect human machine, which is that you have to drag it off the couch and make it sweat and breathe hard if you want it to work right. And even if you somehow managed to do that today, you just have to wake up tomorrow and do it all again!

Intelligent design? I think not.

So I did what I so often do, I vented a little on Facebook:

“Damn you bastard gym! I’m mad I have go to you and sweat in you and smell your stinky smell and listen to your bad pop music and to your grunting hairy guys! I give you thirty minutes. That’s all you get of my precious day.”

Just admitting how I really feel about the whole exercise thing gave me a boost.

This is bullshit, I thought, pulling on my Target sports bra. What a total pain in the ass, I musedas I closed my locker next to a naked water aerobics lady who seemed perfectly happy being there.

Weirdo.

Oh, I kid.

Anyway, before I knew it, I’d done thirty minutes of something that felt like exercise and was free to go! Changing in the locker room, right next to the same lady from before (why does that always happen?), I realized that a good chunk of the negative shit I have around going to the gym is really just me fighting my nature.

It turns out, I don’t have to want to exercise, or go to the gynecologist, or stand and chat with my elderly Republican neighbor with the hair weave who is just a really lonely guy, to do it.

I and I do want to do it. Or at least, I want to have done it. 

Feeling bad about the fact that you feel bad, only makes you feel worse. (There’s some Buddhism in there somewhere, but I can’t exactly find it.)

So, thus concludes the probably one and only fitness tip you’ll ever get from me. Also, I’m not giving up the fries.

(*This might not work for you, especially if you’re a nice person.)

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Going With the Flow

Going With the Flow

 

You guys, we need to talk,

and it might not be pretty.

If you are squeamish in any way, are eating while you read this, or happen  to have been raised in the south, you might find this post a bit, shall we say, MUCH. You’ll probably just want to scroll on past this post. I promise to write something nice next week.

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Ok, if you’ve read this far, there is a good possibility that we get each other, which is great because I could use a little help here.

Since preschool, I have considered myself a professional when it comes to my bodily functions. I never wet the bed, spewed milk out my nose in the lunchroom, and never once, in three sexually active decades, did I have an unwanted pregnancy scare. But now I find myself at fifty, completely confused by my own female body.

To show you what I mean, I’ll share a conversation I had with my friend Jo Dee, just yesterday:

I’m leaving brunch at a friend’s house. I had to leave earlier than I had planned and I’m not happy about it. Walking to my car, I call Jo Dee.

“Hey,”she answers. What’s up?”
“Oh, just bleeding on myself. You know, it’s the new normal.” I’m referring to my near constant state of menstruation, since peri-menapause came a-knockin’ about six months ago.
“Oh, hon. Did you bleed through your pants?”
“I’m not sure. I’m sweaty too, so it’s hard to know.” I might be whining at this point. It’s mid- April and the LA sun is already blazing. “I’m going home to change.”
“Poor thing. And also, ew.”
“I know. Am I supposed to just always wear a pantyliner now? Is that what people do?” I can’t believe I even have to ask.
“I think so,” JoDee answers, but not in a way that inspires confidence. I have a feeling she’s as confused as I am. “I guess?” She adds. Yeah, I’m on my own here.
“Well then I have to find unscented pantyliners, because the ones I have make me smell like a giant roll of toilet paper. I hate it.”
She laughs. “Gross! Used toilet paper?”
“No, not used, but still. The smell gets all up in my nostrils and I can’t get rid of it.”
“Can’t you get some crunchy granola pads from Whole foods or whatever, with no smell?”
“Yeah, I can get like a coconut-hemp-compostable-diva-liner thing for seventeen dollars a piece.”
“I’m sure they actually do make unscented liners, though. Just the regular kind from Walgreens.”
“No, those are what I have. But they’re not unscented, not really. That’s what I’m saying.”
“I’m going home and smelling mine.”
“Careful, that shit gets in your nose. You’ll smell it in your dreams.”
She laughs. Laughter. It’s my Valium.
I sit in my car, with the air conditioner cranked and pointing directly at my sweaty face. “My body is totally different suddenly. I’m having to learn so much. And I’m buying all these new things, like I have all kinds of tampons now. I have a whole collection, a cornucopia of choices, for every possible situation. It’s ridiculous. They make one kind now, which I’m sure is for ladies in the home stretch like myself, that is huge— it’s like the size of a hamster. For those special days.
“That would just piss me off. You have to spend all this time and money on something you’re not even that thrilled to be going through to begin with.”
“But I am thrilled. I’m not crazy about gaining weight or weird hairs growing on me, but I can’t wait for my period to stop.”
“I know people who say they had a few big gushers and then never had another. They were just done. No problems.”
“Fuck them.” (This may sound harsh, but really, people. Know your audience.)
“Exactly,” she says, and I love her for it.
“But some people accidentally say the wrong thing and it’s really not their fault. I shouldn’t blame them but I can’t help it,” I say.
“Of course you can’t. On account of the the hormones.”
“Like this morning, I’m walking into church and the nicest woman walks right up to me and guess what she says?”
“What?”
“She says, we are having a blood drive next week. Can I sign you up to donate?”

“Oh my god.”

“I told her no way, that I have none to spare, but she wouldn’t give up that easily. She asked if I had ever given blood, and I said actually I’m giving it right now, and if things don’t change I’m the one who’s going to need a donation.”
“What did you say to her?” Jo Dee chimes in. (Oh brother, I say to myself, you’d think she’d know me by now.)
“No, that’s what I said! Those exact words! She looked a little terrified.”
I need to get home and assess the damage to my cute new jeans, but I’m not ready yet. I need to talk right now. As I scrounge under the car seat for a bag of almonds or an old fortune cookie, I imagine JoDee and I in our own Red Tent. We would sit on the straw, sharing stories and binge watching Transparent right on through our moon cycle, emerging only when we were ready to pick up our work again. The caring for the children, the doing of the things. The taking of fish oil and B supplements.

“I saw that you want to start a Facebook group for menopause women and period stuff.”
“Yeah,” I say, tearing into an old fruit roll-up. “I was kind of kidding, but so many women responded, I’m thinking it might be a good idea.”
“There are obviously a lot of us in the same boat.”
“It’s totally selfish on my part. I just want to have a place to ask the nitty gritty questions. I want practical tips. How to’s.”
“You want to know if you’re always supposed to wear a panty liner.”
“Exactly! I want “Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret” for grownups.”images

We talk for a bit longer, but that’s where my memory fades. Tasting the jelly bean sweetness of dried berries in my mouth, I start the car and head for home, remembering what it was like to be eleven.

Twelve.

Having seen the educational films in health class, and the string that hung between my mother’s legs, I knew what was coming and had a vague idea of what to do.

Sort of.
I had a package of thick pads and a pair of plastic underpants with metal clips that seemed too sharp to wear next to a place so soft. I stole a box of tampons and studied the package insert, chewing on a lock of my hair as I looked at that cartoon of a see-through girl standing sideways.

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I needed more.
I needed instructions from the women who could instruct, and embraces from the women who could embrace. When I was eleven, I looked to Judy Blume and the older girls at my summer camp. Somehow I pieced it all together.
It’s harder now.
I’m a grown-ass woman. I expect myself to know better.
But I’m as awkward as I was back then. I know it will be fine, perfect, even, to unfurl the way nature made me. But the sun is hot, and I am not in control of this.

And maybe,

it could also be

that I know what comes after blooming.

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