Tag Archives: menopause

Use It or Lose It

On one of my recent semi-successful (or at least pleasant) OKCupid escapades, I wound up having a rather frank conversation about sex. We were comparing notes on dates that we’d enjoyed and those that were nightmares. One of his horror stories involved a woman in her 50s. Evidently they were having a wonderful time and, as often happens, one thing led to another which led to…bed. The woman hadn’t had sex in seven years (?!!?) and, given the outcome of their coupling, probably won’t be having sex again. Ever. The date went from the bedroom to the emergency room. Apparently that “vaginal tearing” you hear about can get pretty bloody messy. His advice to me? “Stick anything up there, a carrot, anything!” To, you know, keep it more or less, uh, elastic. I nodded in agreement.

You may have read my post a year ago about “finally” having sex: “Like Riding a Bike.” Fortunately I didn’t wind up in the med tent (Burning Man’s emergency room) and though I was worried about lubrication, everything went smoothly. Well, after another full year (?!!?) without any “action” I managed to get laid again. Twice. The guy’s an old friend — and an old fuck — someone I’d slept with a few times before. Bless his heart, he had continued propositioning me throughout my four-year “relationship” and even after. I finally caved. Though it was only a couple rolls in the hay, compared with last summer’s five (but who’s counting?), I had the same concerns.

The first time was, well, pretty much a bit of the old in/out, to quote A Clockwork Orange. But the second was an extended afternoon delight. The fact that the guy is well-endowed only exacerbated my worries. But again, I came through (though didn’t actually come) unscathed. No bloody sheets and no need for medical attention. It wasn’t exactly the, erm, juiciest fuck I’d ever experienced but I’m guessing that may have actually enhanced his enjoyment.

In any case, the fact that I really haven’t been “using it” much has not — not yet, at least — resulted in my “losing it.” I will credit my still-stretchy status to the fact that I continue to enjoy masturbating and often do so with the assistance of my favorite vibrator, Lelo’s “Mona.” (I can’t say enough lovely things about this product and sure wish I could link to my review of it on Carnal Nation, but alas, the site no longer includes anything I contributed.) It is, quite frankly, far more fun than a carrot. And will hopefully continue to keep me tear-free until the real thing “comes” along. Heh.

Self. Absorbed.

This past Sunday was the Coney Island Mermaid Parade, one of my annual High Holy Days. It was, as always, a sunny, sweaty blast, filled with glitter and grog, bubbles and boobs, creative costumes and plenty of beer. I posted all my pix on Facebook except for this one, a self-portrait I’ll call “The Morning After.”

I’ve been obsessed with my body lately. The changes it’s been going through, how it feels to me. How it might feel to someone else. I grew up super self-conscious and over the past few years (or decades, actually) had become more confident. That confidence has been failing me as of late.

I recently had a short piece “published” online. I won’t link to it because, well, it’s somewhat mortifying, for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the title the editor gave it, a rather misleading one. What is more disturbing are the many “comments,” reactions from readers. They range from disgust at the mere thought of someone 52 having (or wanting to have) sex to complete dismissal of everyone over 50. Those are just the two most depressing angles of many that sent me into a deep funk. And upon reflection — on sex and dating and High Holy Days and (still) pretending I’m 25 — I can see why women disappear into the country to throw pots or quilt or do similarly “old lady” type things. Society just doesn’t want to acknowledge that women over 50 can remain vibrant beings. Bah.

I’ve considered the idea of telling people I’m 60.  The problem with that plan is that I’m so far out there as who I am — age, weight, hair color (carpets and drapes!), not to mention every job I’ve had or guy I’ve blown — that making believe I’m someone else or anything but precisely who and what I am would be impossible. So I’m stuck being me: 52-year-old, single, divorced, unemployed, ex-pornographer (and ex-awholebunchofotherthings). I’ll head out into the desert soon, where at least I’m “middle management” with a semi-decent reputation as a capable human being. Maybe what I really need to do is disappear completely, go to some far-off island or remote jungle and volunteer to thatch huts or something. For now I’m gonna go to bed and eat bon-bons. 

My One Minute Book Pitch Meets with…Steeerike ONE!

Last night I ventured out to Brooklyn for Pitchapalooza, a sink-or-swim book idea slam organized by “The Book Doctors,” David Henry Sterry and Arielle Eckstut, authors of The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published. The venue was the Green Light Bookstore and featured celebrity guest judges Richard Nash and Jason Pinter.

There must’ve been 100 eager authors crammed into the indy Ft. Green store, each nervously clutching their script and editing on the spot. The format provided one minute to spill your spiel, followed by feedback from the panel. Writers were not permitted to respond to their feedback or otherwise defend themselves.  About 20 writers were randomly selected and offered the opportunity to pitch their books. I was one of the fortunate few.

I managed to get through about 99% of my pitch before the buzzer. When I first uttered the word “menopause,” there was a collective audible gasp. What can I say? It’s not a popular topic. Men don’t want to hear about it. Period. Just like they don’t want to hear about periods. Or anything else “feminine and messy.” And women, unless they’ve actually been through it — though sometimes not even then! — really, REALLY don’t want to hear about it! Females of every generation are terrified of getting old, of becoming invisible and irrelevant, of reaching an age when they can no longer trade on their sexuality or femininity, thereby negating everything society has been teaching us for the first 50 years of our lives. So I was proud of myself for even giving it a shot. I wasn’t at a woo-woo women’s support group; it was a retail establishment stuffed with my “I wanna get published!” competition. If I had to guess, I’d say there were maybe 10 women in the room who could even vaguely relate to me.

My paraphrased feedback:

Arielle began, “When you first started, I thought, ‘Oh, no, here we go again.’ I’ve heard hundreds of pitches for ‘funny’ menopause books. There are a million of them out there. But then you got specific about the kind of rock ‘n’ roll people you’d be targeting and I got it!” I’m pleased that she “got it,” but I’m not necessarily targeting just rockers. I’m going after badasses of every genre. And all you need to do is Google menopause books to learn that there are not anywhere near a million “funny” menopause books. She may have heard a million pitches for them but, for whatever reason, no one’s published them. Which is a shame, because I sure could’ve used one. All there was when I went looking was Menopause for DummiesMenopause Sucks: What to Do When Hot Flashes and Hormones Make You and Everyone Else Miserable and Is it Hot In Here? Or is it me? The Complete Guide to Menopause. There are, of course, the Christian Northrup books and Our Bodies, Ourselves: Menopause, which are not, in my opinion, either entertaining or even remotely badass.

Richard Nash suggested I come up with some catchy phrases that would really sum up the intended demographic, such as “The menopause book for the CBGB’s generation,” — which I immediately appropriated, by the way — though again, I’m hoping the book will have a bit more reach than that. Sure, the broads who are “still out clubbing til 3am” would be my primary market, but ideally everyone who doesn’t feel like part of the hippy-dippy purple caftan demographic will want to read my book!

Jason Pinter read a few notes that were primarily words of encouragement. Thank you, Jason!

Wrapping up, David added, “You said this was a funny book. Where were the jokes? You didn’t make me laugh.” Well, given that all I had was one minute, there wasn’t much time for stand-up. But more specifically, this is not a humor book. It’s an informational book, written with a sense of humor. Will it make people laugh? I hope so. But I won’t be telling jokes; I’ll be cracking wise. And doing my best to help my readers to not jump off a building in despair.

The panel also let me know it was a bad idea to say that 50% of the planet would be interested in my book, since that wasn’t accurate. They were in agreement that I should’ve mentioned other menopause books and how mine was different. I had avoided that in an effort to not come off sounding negative — easily remedied. But they all seemed to believe I have a viable book!

Fortunately, seconds after I ceded the mic to the next pitcher, a handsome young reporter beckoned. “We’d like to shoot your book pitch for NBC news,” he informed me. I couldn’t believe my luck! How many potential viewers would I reach with my idea? And my newly appropriated CBGB’s catch phrase? I threw my motorcycle jacket back on to appear appropriately badass. The segment seemed to go smoothly; I think I got my message across with an appealing amount of humor. I’ll look forward to seeing if I make the cut and whatever resulting adulation transpires.

While my first real “pitch” may have been a total strikeout, at least I had the nerve to attend the event and enough luck to be picked — and filmed! Since I bought the book, I get to schedule a 20-minute consultation with David and Arielle. I’ll be sure to re-work my pitch, taking all their constructive criticism into consideration. If I could pack a pitch into a minute, 20 will feel like forever!

The One-Minute Book Pitch

I’ve got a book that’s relevant to a mere 50% of the people on the planet. That’s right, every woman in the world will go through menopause! And there simply isn’t enough information about it out there, not even on the almighty internet.

The Badass Babe’s Guide to Menopause will fix that and crack you up! Hardcore medical facts with a rock ‘n’ roll sense of humor will explain what the hell is happening with your hormones and how to handle it with dignity.

The book will debunk myths and offer realistic coping strategies without resorting to hippy-dippy lavender caftan homilies or telling you that old age is the best part of life!

Beyond all the hilarious straight talk you’ll get quotes and stories from the world’s biggest badasses: Joan Jett! Chrissy Hynde! Tina Turner! Whoopie! Madonna!

And why should I write this book? I have decades of experience waiting in a comical, conversational style about sexuality, kink and other taboo topics. And hey, why not me?

You’ll want to buy this book because either you’ll eventually want to read it or someone you love will!

Cookies Aren’t Good Company

I think cookies and I are gonna need to stop meeting “like this.”

I don’t have problems with my weight anymore. In fact, I’m thinner than I’ve been for most of my life. (With the exception of a brief span that seemed to be a confluence of depression and menopause, in which I deteriorated to a size 8.) I’m not sure why; I eat whatever I want and no longer believe in counting calories or restricting my diet. I don’t denying myself anything, ever. Sometimes I’d rather eat a bag of cheese popcorn than a meal. What? I’d rather spend money dining out than buying groceries or cooking. In the rare event that I do bring groceries home, they inevitably wind up wilted, moldy, sour or otherwise spoiled. I don’t enjoy preparing food, especially for myself.

But that may need to change. I’ve been relishing my time alone lately…more than I think I ever have in my entire life. And though solitude within the walls of my apartment has become preferable, I don’t believe that pleasure will easily transfer to a restaurant experience. So I’m anticipating the need to eat at home more often.

I’ve always been one to snack; cheese and crackers can be a complete meal for me. I suppose that could be supplemented with a microwaved can of soup. I’ll pour some dressing on lettuce if I anticipate a case of scurvy coming on. If I’m feeling particularly ambitious I may whip up my one culinary creation, if you can call it that: ramen noodles with an egg scrambled in, a can of corn niblets (if I happen to have one in the cupboard), with melted cheese on top. Yeah, I know; we won’t be seeing that dish on Iron Chef any time soon! But I like it! It’s a steaming hot pot of all my favorite things! Except for chocolate…

If one is to believe the women’s magazines, like so many others I reach for chocolate when I’m feeling blue. Research has shown that the carbohydrates found in chocolate lead to an increase in serotonin, a chemical in most anti-depressants. Chocolate also contains phenylethylamine, a stimulant that is released when you interact with someone you love. Make mine a double!

My chocolate delivery system of choice is Pepperidge Farms‘ Nantucket Double Chocolate Chip Cookies. They are crunchy and yummy and positively packed with chocolate! But lately I’ve found that I’m simply not enjoying them the way I once did. Or at least as much as I should be! Could it be that they leave crumbs in my bed? Or has my relationship with them run its course? Our assignations are, at this point, primarily out of habit. I drop them into my shopping basket almost without thinking. I can’t imagine what will replace them. But I think it may be time… Perhaps I can cultivate a similar “thing” with detox tea?

Scared Sexless

This is very difficult for me to write. I am currently feeling terrified.

Terrified.

It is an emotion I’m not overly familiar with. I enjoy putting myself in odd and uncomfortable situations. I believe that the unfamiliar offers an opportunity to stretch boundaries. So while I have often felt nervous or apprehensive, I don’t usually feel afraid.

But lately I have felt nothing but fear. It is a fear of many things: getting old, being alone, and the combination of the two. I’m afraid about having no health insurance…and losing my health. I’m afraid of having no job and of never finding one. I’m afraid of having no money, no savings…and no credit. It is all conspiring to paralyze me.

Mixed in with the fear of being alone…forever…is the fear of never having sex again. Ever. “Don’t be ridiculous,” my friends tell me. They all think I’m being dramatic.

I haven’t had sex in six months. That about ties my previous “record” of how long I’d gone without sex. Let me start by saying that six months ago I had a boyfriend. Today, I don’t. Sex with this man was everything I’d ever dreamed sex should be: passionate, warm, comforting, occasionally daring or dangerous, spontaneous or mysterious, all of it. His skin was  soft, his muscles firm;  I loved the smell of him, the taste of him, the feel of him. Walking…anywhere, and holding his hand made me so happy I can’t describe it. Sleeping with him, with or without the sexual act, felt like home. Our bodies fit together perfectly; spooning was transcendent. As I sit here typing this I can’t even imagine my life without him. And it has been. For six months. That isn’t likely to change. Ever.

My fears are very much caught up in the loss of this man. But they also involve many other things. My age is probably the scariest thing. I am 51. I was 50 the last time we were together, a terrifying benchmark that delineates, for society if not for me personally, the “end game” of life.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I have heard the stories, read the books and articles: sex after 50 and how awesome it can be. It sounds to me like they’re trying to convince themselves as well as others. Vibrant, new age-y women crowing about how much better sex is once you’re “of a certain age.” Frankly, I can’t imagine sex being any better than it’s been…with this man…ever. And I can’t begin to tell you how sad and scared that makes me.

The thought of getting used to someone new, of becoming comfortable — naked! — with a new lover, is more than I can bear. As someone who has, in the past, engaged in promiscuity almost as a sport, this may sound completely ludicrous. And I can’t explain it. Why would something that once happened so easily, almost without thought, become so scary? But it has. Is.

Contributing to these fears is my past: It seems that every man I meet makes the assumption that merely because I’ve written erotica, sex toy reviews, etc., and hostessed unusual soirees, that  moments after shaking his hand I should be prepared to jump in bed with him. Which is most certainly NOT the case. Especially now. Aside from the abject fear of bursting into tears because any man is not THAT man I have a whole host of other concerns. And many of them are physical. Which may make them baseless when looked at objectively. But they loom, nevertheless.

Over the past year or two, my body feels foreign to me, like someone else’s entirely. My skin feels less taught — not that it ever felt all THAT taught to being with. It hangs off my frame “like the secret laundry of angels,” to quote Pat Conroy. Everywhere I touch myself feels strange, and not in a good way. I don’t smell the same way I used to, oddly. Everything’s creaky or weakening or weird. Orgasm isn’t as easily achieved. Lubrication is elusive. Blahblahblah. I can barely bring myself to masturbate.

This man…THAT man…was with me pretty much through the entire process of menopause, from the hateful hot flashes and rabid increase in libido to the less lubricated, comfort-seeking stage. Now that I am “on the other side,” and alone, I don’t know what to expect. I haven’t found anyone — NO ONE! — who has appealed to me sexually. Which is probably the scariest thing of all! I don’t know if it’s a total lack of libido or merely my fears. Even through those “dry spells” of no sex in the past, I was always at least attracted to people…to someone. Now the mere idea of making out with someone almost makes me physically ill.

Is this a phase? Will it pass…eventually? I keep hoping that tomorrow, next week, sometime soon — though certainly not soon enough! — a new man will cross my path and make all this seem laughable in retrospect. Everything I read assures me this will be the case and that feeling the way I do will only prolong the process. So how to turn this all around? How to keep myself from dissolving into a puddle of tears every time I think of intercourse? I guess it will take time…time I don’t feel like I have. Or perhaps patience. Another thing I’m not too experienced with. Either way I will attempt to embrace my solitude until true and enduring love presents itself. Along with the sex…