“I feel like a young man with something really wrong with him”

This was a quote from a piece I read by Anne Lamott recently and I could not have said it better.

This. This is precisely what getting older is like.

I feel like a young woman with something wrong with her. Terribly, terribly wrong.

My mind — although filled with more holes than a New York City avenue — still feels invincible at times. My mind tells me I can do things that my body is almost to the point of not being able to do.

Things like trying to accomplish the Garland pose during my yoga practice or simply lifting my leg to tie my shoe. It takes as much effort for me to lean down and pick up something I have dropped to the floor as it does trying to fly. More often than not I will attempt to channel David Blaine by staring down the item willing it through osmosis to magically levitate up to my open hand.

That doesn’t work, by the way. I haven’t quite figured out how he does it. But I suspect I better if I ever want to see these things again.

I’m a fairly active 52-year-old woman. Why can’t I do these simple activities any longer? I swore I wouldn’t allow it, but nature has other plans.

My knees are bad, my hips spend half their life screaming at me from the tops of my thigh bones, and my lower back likes to light small fires. Forget about my eyesight. Even the “arm length” trick won’t help me now.

And to add insult to injury, menopause strikes in the middle of the night like a masked bandit. Robbing you of your youthful glow and replacing it with facial hair, hot flashes, and night sweats so bad and so constant that frequent pajama and sheet changes are a necessity. Laying in something akin to a humid, tepid, salted pool is not conducive to a good sleep.

Not that I’m sleeping anyway.

The sandman no longer stops at my house. I’m like a small child waiting for Santa to arrive when in reality he just doesn’t exist. Waiting and waiting with childlike wonder. “Will he come tonight?” No. No, he will not. I don’t know what I ever did to him, but somehow I got on his “naughty” list.

And forget about the effects of alcohol. I THINK I can drink more than one glass of wine like a twenty-something and wake up the next day bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready to face the world. The reality is I wake up with my brain as foggy as the Los Angeles smog in August, which just makes me want to swear off the stuff for all of eternity.

Oh my beloved wine. Why has thou forsaken me?

You know what really gets me? Young people. Actual young people. The people I forget I am not demographically equal to. When I realize that I could most likely be their mother it’s like someone has sucker punched me, taking the air right out of my parachute. It’s the weirdest phenomenon.

SO, that’s about it in a nutshell. The bottom line is I think like a 22-year-old but feel like I’m 72. Seriously. I don’t believe I have matured much past 1989. Can someone please tell that to my body? Because the memo got sent to the wrong address.

Source: Anne Lamott, “12 Truths I Learned from Life and Writing”

The Brain Thief and Other Stories for the Middle Aged Woman

Warning: Spoiler alert ahead.

What in the love of God is this? Things have changed. Overnight. Out of nowhere. And uninvited. You know, on my body, in my body, all over my body. There was no warning either. Why wasn’t there a warning?

For starters, I feel like I’m losing my mind. If you lifted the top of my head off you will find little blips of memory from when I was twelve, thoughts of food, a squirrel, and the proverbial cobweb or two.

Then there is the loss of words. Simple words. Words I know. You see that word “proverbial” in the paragraph above? It took me exactly seven minutes to recall it. Usually I would turn to my trusty online thesaurus, but I couldn’t think of the word “thesaurus.”

I think and say really dumb things. Remember that riddle, “what color is George Washington’s white horse?” If I hadn’t already heard it a million times, I’m not confident I would answer correctly.

Then we have the hot flashes. They come unexpectedly and often. It’s like someone installed a furnace inside me and there is a tiny man shoveling coal into the thing like his life depends on it. I wish the guy would drop dead of a heart attack or something. No offense, tiny man.

My evenings are filled with three changes of pajamas, covers that end up on the floor until I start freezing again. And sweat. Pools of it. If only I could bottle and sell it. I’d make millions. You know, if sweat was trending.

And let me introduce to you the Mood Swing. It can turn on a dime. Like a Lamborghini. Maybe not as sexy, but most definitely as fast.

I don’t care who you are — except 1973 Robert Redford — if you do or say the wrong thing at the wrong time, you are crucified.

Like, get me some nails and a hammer and you are done for. You know, metaphorically speaking, of course.

I am predictably unpredictable. My family walks on egg shells. They know I’m gonna blow. They just aren’t sure when.

My mom has an uncanny ability to actually smell my hormonal shift and she lives 600 miles away. My husband usually wishes he was dead. My daughter tries to get another family to adopt her. And my co-workers look around wondering if they made a wrong turn and wound up at the circus freak show instead of the office.

Also, I have weird dreams. Case in point: This past week I dreamt William Baldwin was released from house arrest and I couldn’t wait to write a blog post about it. Imagine my disappointment when I woke up and realized I made the whole thing up.

Randomly waking up in the middle of the night and then not being able to fall back to sleep is a real thrill. Staring at the ceiling waiting for the Sand Man to pay me a visit is about as entertaining as listening to Taylor Swift stuck on repeat.

The facial and neck hair that seems to sprout like wildfire during the Santa Ana winds is super fun. Because I can’t see close up without my readers, I don’t always see it. Until someone else does.

And my all-time personal favorite? Muscle atrophy. I exercise almost every single day. If I did that when I was in my twenties, thirties — hell, even my forties — my body would look like Jane Fonda from her 1970s workout videos. Instead I look more like Gumby with boobs.

That just about covers it. I wish I could end this post on a witty note, but I can’t find the words for it.


DRY Should Be a Four-Letter Word

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I have a sad story to tell. I don’t know the statistics, but I’m guessing just about every woman with a vagina will suffer from the ailment of which I am about to speak of.

Last week, I wrote a post about having sex for the first time after baby. If you missed it, you can read it here.

I received a comment from an older woman. Her name is Marcie. She told me about her friend. Her name is Bonnie.

They are both on the other side of menopause. Which means they are dryer than a prune on the equator.

Marcie is lucky. Her hubs doesn’t care much about sex anymore, therefore, Marcie doesn’t have to worry about it. Because, and I quote, “sex after childbirth is nothing compared to what you will face after menopause! It is painful beyond belief! Sex after menopause is like sticking knives AND sandpaper in there.

Thanks Marcie. Glad to know that I have something fun to look forward to. I love the feeling of sandpaper in my vijay jay. Said no woman ever.

Now, her friend Bonnie isn’t so lucky. She happens to be married to a sex machine. Pretty much no amount of KY Jelly will do the trick. There are drugs with dangerous side effects that she has to take so that her man can get his rocks off. And these drugs don’t even work all that great. I just hope she’s able to achieve the big “O” for her troubles.

Why is it that men can go at it like little Jack Rabbits and can procreate until their last breath? I still am amazed at how far Tony Randall went. That little horn dog. May he rest in peace. I just hope he’s not trying to hump my grandmother up there. Oh right, he likes the younger ladies.

What was I saying? Oh yes…sorry about that.

I love men. I really do. This is in no way a man bashing post. I’m just stating the obvious. And, also, I need to say that I’m totally coming back as a man in my next life. Because seriously, if I don’t have to have my ass ripped open by a human head ever again, I wouldn’t be happier.

Anyway, I did a little comparison. Correct me if I’m wrong.

What women have to endure:

  1. Painful periods with mega bleeding out of their down between, cramps, nausea, migraines and mood swings for 7 days or more each month from adolescence until — dear God — too long.
  2. Childbirth. 9+ months of carrying a person on the inside of our bodies like an alien and then enduring hours of having to push this person into the world through a small hole. It doesn’t seem natural. But yet, it is.
  3. Menopause. Why do they call it this? To pause the menses? Then just pause it Mother Effing Nature and move along.
  4. Atrophy of the Vagina or Dried Vagina Syndrome. Sure, maybe that should fall under menopause but I truly and deeply in my heart feel that it needs its very own bullet point. No further explanation needed.
  5. Sagging butt, boobs and mid-life gut (or as the kid likes to refer to it as the “fupa” (pronounced foo-pah — pretty huh?)).

Just so you know, my husband looks better than the day I met him. Why does the gray hair at his temples look sexy when my gray hair just makes me look like an unkempt old maid? I have to pay hundreds of dollars a year to prevent this look from taking over my life. That is not a lie. But I digress.

What men have to endure:

  1. Premature ejaculation. I’ll give it to them that this must suck.
  2. Not able to “perform.” Eh. It happens to the best of us.
  3. The fear of someone kicking them in the gonads. I heard that’s pretty painful. Although I have been elbowed in the breast and it’s not like picking daisies.
  4. Wet dreams. I don’t know, it sounds kind of fun, no?

Okay, so we have 5 and they have 4. But can we compare apples to apples? No, it’s more like comparing apples to watermelon. Or even worse, an apple to the Loch Ness Monster. Does that sound dumb and not make sense? Exactly.

Now I am no man. So, I don’t know what it’s like to be one. But my hubs doesn’t complain about anything unless his stomach hurts, he cuts his finger or has a cold. Therefore, to me that means that there isn’t much to complain about.

Unlike us. See above. Yet, we do these things and we do it with dignity. Because, hello? Girl Power, that’s what.

May I just say before I go that may God never change the rules and decide that men should give birth. Because hello? That’s scarier than the thought of the apocalypse. Don’t you think?

Hormones vs. Hormones

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I woke up in a bad mood this morning. A real bad mood. Even the text to my mother was full of venom. I’m pretty sure she was praying. Thanking the good Lord that she was 639.59 miles away. Safely tucked away in the sweet plains of The South.

I don’t know why I woke up this way. I just did. It happens. So, when I told The Kid to empty the dishwasher, she replied through gritted teeth with a “PLEEEASSSE???” You know, the kind of “please” you say to your two year old when she demands a lollipop.

This was probably not the best day to get snarky on me. Peri-menopausal women are a force to be reckoned with. “Force” as in an Uzi With A Vagina. But what does she know? She’s only 16. So much to learn. Poor thing.

What was my reply? “I don’t think so, child. This is your chore. Why I feel the need to remind you to do your chore is beyond me. So no, I will NOT SAY PLEASE!”

When she was done with her chore, I told her she had an attitude and that I didn’t like it. “Mom, can I say something to you?” she asked.

The previous night I was at the high school for a seminar. It was about drug awareness. Three kids from our town came to speak about their drug and alcohol addictions. A child professional got up and spoke for a bit. One of the things he said is to listen to your child. Never dismiss her.

Usually when I am in this type of foul mood, I would say something really stupid and completely against what all child development people would recommend saying. They would not only cringe at my reaction, but would probably have my kid in some kind of therapy for the next 20 years.

When I am in this mood, it would sound something like this: “no, you can’t say anything because whatever you say right now will not help you. Now go upstairs and get ready for school.” But I didn’t. I stopped and I thought before I spoke. I know, this is a shocker. My mouth is usually louder and faster than my brain.

“Yes, you may.” I nearly had a heart attack at my own reaction. “Mom, why is it every time YOU’RE in a bad mood, we have to suffer?” I looked around for DH. So sure he was hiding in the shadows with a $20 bill.

I was rendered speechless. This is the second “attack” I’ve had from my family in a week. I use the word “attack” loosely. It was more like an awakening. The first time, when we were in the car going somewhere, it was what I like to refer to as a “come to Jesus” meeting. Except I’m the only one who didn’t get the memo. “We think you are going through menopause and we don’t like it. You’ve kind of been mean lately.”

They were as nice as they could be about it. But I sit here thinking about these occurrences. Yes, I have been pretty bitchy around here. Not always. I’m not one of those raging lunatics who should probably be committed. But I have my moments. Perhaps a little more than less lately.

And I know why. Sure, hormones play a part in it. I was born hormonal. You should have seen me as a teen. Think Regan without the complete head turn. Damned as I tried, I could only get my head to go 3/4 of the way around.

I haven’t been taking care of myself as well as I should. I stopped exercising. Exercise plays a huge part in feeling good. It’s got something to do with endorphins. Endorphins are your best friend. But I digress.

Whatever the reason, it’s not a good enough one to treat the people you love the most in this world the worst. No, I seem to save my best mood for everyone else. Friends, strangers, people who I try too hard with.

So, in my eye-opening last two weeks, I’ve decided that I need to lighten up on the closest people to me — my family. I can still be great to my friends. Kind to strangers. Civil to everyone else.

I’m going to save my good energy for my people. The people who, even though I act like Sybil at times, still love me back and never give up on me. Even in my peri-menopausal semi-crazed rage.

With that being said, we are still allowed to get upset with our children when they don’t listen. When they don’t do what we ask them to do. Perhaps I don’t need to spit blood, but I can be a little exasperated. And I’ll try to keep the Regan to a minimum. I promise.