Sunday, January 26, 2014

If Men Read this Blog....


My friends and I spend a fair amount of time talking about sex. We always have. During long lazy summer days at the beach (ruining our skin for middle age), we’d discuss the men we knew in detail.  One was tall with giant hips. We decided the hips meant he was “hung like a donkey”. One spent so much time lifting weights to get “big” we were sure he wasn’t hung at all.
We mused about which ones we’d have sex with. So and so “is married but never flirts. That’s a turn on”. So and so “is super funny but seriously needs to lose weight”. So and so was probably “nasty”. We decided who had already had sex in the office after hours or during hours and who was going to. One friend already had and I was hoping. 
We’ve discussed oral sex, anal sex, hetero sex, same sex sex, married, single, and sex by yourself sex. I’ve got friends who are swingers and friends who still can’t turn the lights on when they’re naked. In case I haven’t been clear…. I know a LOT about the sex lives of my friends and some of their friends who I don’t know and a few random female acquaintances met at parties.  
Therefore when I make this next statement consider me something of an expert. Sex changes for women in middle age. It changes faster and in different ways than it does for men. Most women don’t know how to talk to their partner about it and most men don’t know anything about it at all.
It isn’t all about menopause either. It’s also about the health of the relationship, body image, energy level, and boredom. Yes… boredom. By the time you reach middle age you’ve had a lot of sex. Sometimes it’s all been with the same person. Not long ago a woman nearing her 80th birthday and married to the same man all her adult life told me “I regret not having had sex with more men”.
The other day it occurred to me that if men spent as much time reading things designed to make their relationship better as women do; then more middle aged women would be having better sex and more of it. If you do a quick review of online magazines for women they all have a tab somewhere that says “relationships” or something like it. Men’s magazines have a tab that says “girls”. And yes, it’s pictures of beautiful girls.
In case my husband reads this (unlikely since it’s a “girl thing”) I better quantify that “I” am not a middle aged woman in a dry spell. I married late in life, had learned what I wanted and had no fear expressing myself.  Plus, my husband and I are both talkers. The kind who are able to listen while our mouths are moving.  We talk so much that in twelve years neither of us has ever said “we need to talk about something”. It works for us and works for sex. Which is a good thing, because he won’t read this blog and he certainly won’t click on the “relationships” tab on the internet.
If it weren’t a girl thing, if men read this blog… which they won’t. I’d tell them “do some reading”. It’s all out there. Do a little research. Read about menopause, read about women’s sexuality. Read the things your wife is reading and talk about it. Watch Oprah! She did an awesome segment on women and sex. Being interested in what women care about sexually (centerfolds turn ons don’t count) will for sure get you laid more than complaining about how you don’t get enough sex. Instead of your wife or partner doing all the work and research then having to take the emotional risk of being the one to bring it up. Do a little educating yourself. Help a girl out for god’s sake.
But men don’t read this blog.

 

Saturday, January 18, 2014

A Girl Thing

"Honey how do I read your blog?" ...... uh oh
 Tentatively "Did you like my blog?"
"Um ya...It's kind of a girl thing"

 Whew... I'm doing it right

Friday, January 17, 2014

The Green Grass Part 2: I'm a Loser


We agreed to meet at Denny’s near the freeway for our first ride. I’d been feeling resentment towards my husband for not wanting to ride motorcycles anymore. Another story for another day. In this story I’m resentful. Yesterday I said to a friend “if you’re feeling resentful it means you need to change something”. That’s what I was doing at the Denny’s, changing something.
The woman across from me joined the meetup group I started for women motorcycle riders with time during the week to ride. We were getting to know each other over coffee and eggs before “kickstands up”. I asked her what she “did” that allowed her time to ride during the week. I should have known she’d ask me back.
I’m overly curious these days about what people do for a living. It’s a kind of vicarious thrill. She said “I’m a nurse in the ICU unit”. There’s that quick twinge of envy I get when someone has an interesting job. She tells me she works 12 hour shifts and has several days off at a time. I make jokes about how nice it is to have an ICU nurse on a motorcycle ride. Hoping the subject will change quickly. “What do you do that allows you to ride during the week?” she asks. My face feels a bit flushed and I say “I’m a loser. My husband makes the money”. I pause and include “It’s kind of embarrassing, but it is what it is”. She does the laugh people do when they’re a little uncomfortable and makes statements about how it shouldn’t be embarrassing. I think she meant it. She’s a really nice woman with sad eyes.
“I’m a loser”. I’ve said it several times since quitting grad school. It’s sort of like the fat kid making fat jokes. Say it out loud first. But don’t feel sorry for me. I know it’s not true. I say it because I think that’s what other people think when they find out I don’t work. I say it because in my prior life I had disdain for women like me who didn’t work. There is some psychological hold over from that. And I say it because the things I “do” that contribute are truly difficult to explain and undervalued even if I could.
I take care of my marriage. It’s important to me. I manage relationships with my friends and family because I have the time to do it. I’m the person everyone goes to for support. I spend hours on the phone listening to people’s lives. I make sure that so and so knows how to hook up with this person or that person. I open my home for days or even weeks at a time. I share what I have with people who need it or would benefit from it. I love seeing other people thrive. I love helping them thrive. I used to make money doing it, now I don’t have to. The downside being; now I don’t have a “job title”.
 There’s an entire human behavior theory called “Relational Cultural Theory” that talks about how important this kind of work is and how undervalued it is and how it’s primarily women who do it. The original theory was published in a book called “The New Psychology of Women”. I learned that in grad school right before I quit. I recognized myself.
None the less, it’s embarrassing to say I don’t work. It’s even more embarrassing to say that I don’t want to anymore. That I’d rather be available for my grandkids or my husband or my in laws than be admired by a boss. It’s even more embarrassing than THAT to say I don’t have to work (at this time). It’s embarrassing to not be valued for anything other than my support of other people.
I’m not sure where this is going. I’m not truly content being in only this role. I want to do more.
But I’m not a loser.
 
                               ME AND MY STEPSON  AFTER FINISHING THE "GLADIATOR"


 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Green Grass: Part 1


They were women no one felt sorry for. They lived in beautiful homes in sterile neighborhoods and drove Escalades or Navigators that matched their husbands. Maybe one was white and one was black and one at least had the little family of stick people in the window, except for the woman whose children were grown. She drove a two seat convertible and rode a Harley Davidson. Her husband had a jeep with a bikini top and a horribly uncomfortable backseat. She’d tell them that’s what you do when your kids are grown. The women would gather on her front porch to drink wine that wasn’t expensive but wasn’t cheap either. Washing away the day in true suburban style.
Mostly the older woman thought of herself as an observer. She was shocked to hear herself saying she didn’t like Hawaii because the natives treat you like shit. That Hawaii is just “a big reservation on an ocean”. How Belize was so much better. Belize was the perfect combination of poor (read quaint) without real poverty. The children are fed and healthy for the most part. She tried to sound noble saying she didn’t want to cruise up to an island on a floating mansion with enough food to feed a third world country knowing there were children outside the gates who hadn’t eaten in three days. Who were living in ditches or caves and were hungry. Saying “it feels like a Dickens novel”. Oh she was observing all right. Observing herself becoming someone she barely knew and didn’t like.
Her good friend’s words echoing in her heart: “The things people with money talk about… The trips they take (eyes rolling), the wine they drink. Sooo boring.” Her good friend who still has an important job and no husband to pay her bills. The woman felt bored and boring and guilty. Other people make the world go round while she’s just filling hours in the day. She watches the X-ray technician and feels more admiration than she probably should. She wants to apologize to the barista for driving a BMW and not having to get up at 4am to “open the stand”. She wants to apologize for having health insurance. So she tips a lot more than she probably should. The tipping makes her think for a moment “maybe I have a purpose”.
She’s a woman no one feels sorry for. She knows that. Back in the day, when she was an expert, when she contributed, how many times had she scoffed at women like her? Women with big homes in gated communities driving nice cars with nowhere to go. Feeling superior and jealous at the same time. “What do they DO with all that time?” She and her friends/co-workers would wonder. They talked about how they would live if they didn’t have to work. The trips they’d take, the house they’d own, the charities they’d support. They talked about how “in shape” they’d be if they didn’t have to work. They thought they’d be good at having money.
 

 

 

 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

P.E.


At seventeen I started exercising on purpose. Having been born near the tail end of the boomers mine is one of the last generations who never had to think about exercise before adulthood. We were simply active. We rode our bicycles, walked long distances to school, swam in rivers or lakes, and played rough games in empty fields. Schools still had physical education classes that required…well… physical education. We climbed ropes (my favorite), played dodge ball, did jumping jacks and dreaded changing clothes in the locker room.
Boomers are proud of that history. We reminisce about it with friends our age and post FB memes that say “like this if you remember” not having to be home until the street lights came on. We scoff at the softness, obesity and lack of physicality of “kids these days”. It makes my husband absolutely insane every time the Public Service Announcement for “60 Minutes of Play” airs. “Why do they have to tell kids to play?!” He yells. “Why do they have to remind their parents” I think.
But this isn’t about them. We could proselytize forever about video games, cable television, smart phones and computers. This is about us. It’s about what happens after we grow up and start growing old. It’s about how hard life can be. It’s about how exercise has saved my life. Figuratively if not literally. Although I tell my daughter "when the Zombie Apocalypse comes I’m the one that can swim the river and walk the hundred miles it takes to get to the safe zone". That’s literal.
It’s hard for me to imagine who and where I'd be without exercise. What my life would be like. It’s strange how memory works. But the memory of making a decision to be well and exercise is really clear. I was a cigarette smoking, overweight, drug using, sad, extremely lonely seventeen year old. Cigarette in hand browsing through a magazine I saw an ad with beautiful healthy looking young women in it. They were on a beach laughing and running with glowing skin and healthy bodies. I thought “they don’t smoke”.  
It was more of an impression than a full thought. The ad impressed on me the idea that if I wanted to feel like that I had to be healthy. We won’t get into how those girls were likely anorexic cigarette smoking drug users that photography did miracles for. Or that it was probably a cigarette ad. Because what matters is what happened to me. I wanted to FEEL GOOD and I didn’t.
Although I did quit smoking and start exercising a few weeks later, it was years of finding my way into real health. I battled (and beat) cocaine addiction throughout the late seventies and part of the eighties. Exercise helped me get strong and stay strong to do so. I spent my weekdays lifting weights or doing Jane Fonda aerobics. My nights and weekends snorting coke. The exercise gave me the endorphin boost that cocaine addicts crave as well as the self-esteem boost we all crave.
What I wanted when I quit smoking, when I quit doing drugs and when I started exercising was to feel vital. Like we did as kids swimming in the lake or playing flag football. Do you remember that feeling? Exercise has allowed me to feel like that every decade of my life.
Thirty three summers after seeing that ad in a magazine I swam across a small lake and jumped off a cliff. Every week I hike to the top of a beautiful hill and feel the breeze on my face. Long after I beat drug addiction I battled anxiety and panic attacks. I’ve had surgeries and horrible illnesses. I’ve been disappointed and life, like it does, has tried to beat me down. It hasn’t in large part because I’m strong and because I can climb a mountain or swim across a river.
It’s a perk that my ass still looks good and I can fit into cute clothes. That’s nice. It has its benefits. It means I feel sexy and I still like sex. Which is good for my marriage. It means I like how I look most of the time and it shows. I can laugh at myself and laugh with my friends and that’s good for my friendships. A number of years ago I was in a physiology class in college. The PHD professor said “exercise is the only true miracle drug”. I’ve tried a lot of drugs and can tell you unequivocally…. This is truth.
 

In the new year may you be well~ Kelly