On Aging: One of “Those” Women…


I needed a dress for a wedding. For some, this might seem a perfectly normal thing, but I loathe clothes shopping. Detest. Abhor. Hate with a fiery, red-hot passion. Yet I knew I couldn’t very well show up in the sweat-stained sweater I’d been wearing over my pajamas every day for the past week.

My stomach twisted up like a class F4 tornado, as I pulled into the department store parking lot. I’d gained forty-five pounds in the past year. What had my doctor called it? Oh, yeah, “dramatic weight gain.” You think?

Whether this added heft was due to my full hysterectomy, or my lack of an actual thyroid, or my love of white cake with lemon frosting and sugar sprinkles, I’ll never know. All I knew was that I’d worn a size 4 since I was twenty, except for that two-year period after my divorce when I cinched my 00 cargo pants with a belt.

As I wandered amongst the racks, I looked like every man found shopping on Christmas Eve – lost, forlorn, and hopeless.

I finally found something that didn’t make me want to lose my mind, and I hung three sizes of the same dress over my hand. I had no idea what size I wore now.

I schlumped to the dressing room and prepared myself for my personal descent into the 7th pit of HELL – the trying on of clothes that I loathe shopping for.

Mirror, mirror, on the wall… I look like I’m seven months pregnant. Where’s my child?  The fruit of my womb? Is that a kick? Alas, no… it’s hunger pangs…

Size 6.

Dream on.

Size 8.

No, really… dream on.

Size 10.


I grabbed my sweats off the floor, yanked them on, zipped up my hoodie, and went back into the fray for a 12.

It sort of fit if I didn’t breathe too deeply, or expand my rib cage in any normal way, as one does when they actually take in oxygen.

Size 12…

I’m a house.

In all likelihood, I would have been more comfortable in a 14, but there was no way I could handle that. You know, emotionally, and all.

If you haven’t guessed by now, I’m not a girly-girl. Never have been. Hate pink. Hate dresses. Hate frills. I can’t tell you what type of dress I bought that day. Like if it’s a a-line, or b-line, or whatever. It felt like the fifties to me – gray with black and pink flowers. I even bought the fucking pink sweater that came with it. Because… wedding and fluffy, young love.

I felt pretty low for a few days after that shopping excursion. I huddled in my sweats, clutching imaginary cake. I guessed my six-day-a-week workouts for the past two months were really doing wonders for me, as I popped estrogen into my mouth like Milk Duds.

Eventually, I pried my fingers apart, dropped the pretend crumbs, and looked at my new dress. It was kinda pretty, despite the extra fabric. With a surge of hope, I decided I would focus on hair and make-up.

I once again had purpose.

I looked in the mirror and ran my fingers through the hair that had finally grown out after my mid-life crisis pixie cut.

Mirror, mirror, on the wall… is that a gray patch? Nah. No. It looks like a gray patch of newly planted hair seeds. No. That’s not gray. It’s silvery blond.

Because I’ve actually burned plastic into my hair by setting my curling iron too close to the hair dryer before commencing curling, I called a professional and made an appointment. I told her I had bought a “bun thingy” and asked if she could just put it in for me and do something with my bangs, so they didn’t look like that lone Q-Tip that’s been shuffled around in the bottom of a cosmetics bag for the past twenty years.

She hesitated just long enough to make me wonder if the call had been disconnected. “Sure,” she finally said.




Next… make-up. Here’s where the story takes a twist. I’m a PRO at make-up. I have a crazy awesome collection of MAC and brushes galore. I can definitely do make-up. This isn’t a girly-gift. This is art and painting. I’m mother-‘effin-Monet with MAC.

On the day of the wedding, my hair perfectly coiffed and shellacked with about as much Aqua Net as the ozone layer could handle, I was feeling in character when I sat down to paint my face. I set up my little light mirror and pulled out the perfect shades of pink and brown I’d chosen, and began.

Mirror, mirror, on the wall… why does the skin of my neck look like the soft folds of a cowl neck sweater?

You would have thought I was seeing myself for the first time in five years. My face was changed. The version of me that I walked around thinking I was, was gone. My foundation poured into the cracks and wrinkles of my face and set there like concrete; like the dry-cracked mud of the Mojave desert.

It was in that moment that I realized…I was one of “those” women. All this angst over my weight gain, and crinkly neck, and deepening wrinkles… OMGoddess. I was one of those females I’d heard about. The ones who put all sorts of stock in their appearance, then the market crashes, and they lose everything. Or so they think.

And this isn’t to say that I was the Bo Derek supermodel type before either, but I had gotten a fair amount of attention in my life because of how I looked. This reckoning almost shattered my mirror that day. Who will I be without this outward appearance? Who will I be as my hair turns grayer and grayer? Who will I be as I begin to fully embrace the beauty within, and let go of societal expectations of how I should look on the outside?

I’ve spent some time since looking at beautiful photos of Diane Keaton and Helen Mirren. I love their fire, their spunk, and their style. They’re aging gracefully; beautifully. I can draft behind them until I figure out how to embrace this new version of the physical me.

The Pause in Perimenopause – Part 1


Oh. Dear. God. Above…

I think I’m having hot flashes.

Is it menopause? Perimenopause? Just-o’-pause?

Come on baby, light my fire?

I’ve never worried about the “change of life” before. Ever. I mean I’ve actually looked forward to it after years of Stage IV Endometriosis and cramps that have left me crying, cuddled in the corner like Baby on crack. But, that was before I knew I was going to be pushed up to the razor’s edge of a stream of internal molten lava.

It was definitely before I knew I was going to burst into flames at any possible second.

It was most assuredly before I knew that the blazing inferno inside of my body was going to reach the surface temperature of the sun about eight times a day with no warning.

Picture it…

I’m sitting there watching reruns of Frasier, cuddling with the Kr8z, eating Big Hunks, and suddenly I feel this warmth in my torso that quickly turns hotter and hotter and spreads throughout my whole body until I’m gasping from panic and lack of oxygen. I’m afraid to open my mouth to let in any cool air because I’ve watched Backdraft about a million times so I know better.

I’m not sweating profusely or anything so there is that. But I am waking up a couple times a night and my yellow Dr. Seuss “One Fish, Two Fish” pajamas have melded to my body like molten gold. I lay there panting with So-Kr8z trying to lick the sweat from inside my mouth. It’s all very Animal Farm meets Suzanne Summers without her yams in the Mojave Desert in August.

I always thought that when you went into menopause you’d then graduate to Crone status; you’d be all wise and sage and have this crazy depth. I’m certainly not feeling very wise. Just yesterday I had Cap’n Crunch for dinner.

Picket Signs?

I visited Dr. Google looking for alternatives to hormone replacement. I’m only 42 and my guess is that, due to my endo, I only have one lone ovary up in there and she was probably struggling to keep up with my estrogen demands and went on strike. I can see her brandishing a picket sign painted with neon pink letters that read “Overworked and underpaid.” Or perhaps she jumped off my uterus due to loneliness and splatted to her death. Who knows? But, there is no way I’m going to swallow a single drop of horse pee. Plus, my dearest friend lost her mom due to a blood clot from those drugs and it was heartbreaking.

Unfortunately, my research didn’t uncover much. Some studies have shown flaxseed to be helpful and another study showed that it doesn’t do shit, though apparently it makes you need to shit. Then we have Suzanne’s yams which, apparently, don’t do a damn thing either, plus yams are meant for bathing in brown sugar and butter during Thanksgiving time.

I’m not wholly sure what it all means. Perhaps it’s time to take a pause. Perhaps it’s time to buy a fire extinguisher. I dunno. But… I’d love some tips for unfanning these flames. What works for you, aside from Equus ferus caballus urine? Have you experienced this inner pyromaniac phenom in your body? I’d so love some sage words of advice.