Expiration Date Approaching!

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I feel like I am approaching my expiration date as a woman. Sure, we tell each other woman are attractive at all ages, but who are we kidding? In this declining civilization with its emphasis on the perfunctory aesthetic the desire for superficial expressions of worth have gained significance in the social strata. Whether the fault of changing values, the sound bites media sensationalize, or the internet and social media removing our human interaction the result remains that there is an increasing amount of value placed upon outward appearance. This is true for both men and women. Though, as usual, women bear the heavier burden as historically they were nothing more than property and an extension of a man’s wealth and status. To have an attractive spouse and /or daughters was a symbol of prosperity. Much the way we view cars today. Think that has changed? Just look at fashion or gossip magazines. It’s still all about the outer package. We may propound ourselves to be more enlightened about such things but the truth is we still judge women more harshly than men in regards to physical attractiveness. Agree or disagree, my point is that I am approaching my expiration date. How do I know this? The amount of young men who approach me for the Cougar Experience.

Young men, vital and alive, exploding with the promise of the unknown future. These men approach me with all the bravado and pomposity that their egos and some alcohol can produce. They come up to my table, they interrupt my conversation, and they think that I will be impressed by their rudeness. They know that I am older than the girls they normally approach. I am some mythic beast, a gauntlet thrown down before them, K2 that needs to be conquered. I am an “older woman.” I’m not sure what bawdy stories get passed around among the post college young adult males about the sexual prowess of older woman but I can gather from their demeanor the tales have grown to epic proportions. This is not an attraction borne out of biochemistry and pheromones. It’s not a vestigial evolutionary instinct. No, this is an entirely socially constructed bucket list challenge and I am their target. They are going to bed this cougar and live to tell the tale complete with embellishments and photographic evidence of flesh wounds endured at her hands.

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It makes no difference to these young men that I have no interest in their quest. I just want to enjoy my meal, my show, the book, my coffee. But alas, I am confronted with a fine specimen of masculinity at the height of its potential, complete with the confidence that only comes with either youth or the privilege of white male mediocrity. I am inundated with flattery and blatant lies, they pretend to fall at my feet and adore me with false worship thinking, incorrectly, that is what I want. They know my youth is fading, to their eyes it is already gone, they believe the honeyed words with make me delusional enough to believe that they have an actual interest in me. They cannot comprehend why someone teetering on the edge of obscurity and staring into the abyss of middle age and looking down the barrel of the loaded gun that is menopause would deny myself a night of adventure with an exuberant creature such as themselves.

But they know little of women. They are cavorting with what are still girls. Young women who are still playing games, who have time on their side, who haven’t yet settled into their own skin. These girls have not blossomed into women. They have they physical presence of a woman, but not the internal fortitude. The cougar hunter hasn’t developed they skills of honesty and vulnerability, they can’t balance guarding themselves with being genuine. They can only replay the schema that has generated results for them in the past. They know not what a woman wants from a man. And not a man of media construct, but a man who can vanquish his own demons as well as the demons hiding under the toddlers bed at 3 am. A man who knows how precious time is and that to waste a moment of someone’s time is a crime too heinous to consider. A man who understands that being inebriated is not having fun, who understands that enthusiasm is the best gauge of consent, who respects the space and decisions of another person. A man who is discreet.

No, the cougar hunter will get nowhere with me. The posturing, the genuflecting, the capitulation to prescribed gender norms is usually diverting. But not enough to waste an evening. Not enough to try to get them to leave, because the youth never understand when they have overstayed their invitation. Not enough to revisit the unskilled encounter that all women remember too well from their own youth. Nor do they understand how unflattering it is to be singled out as approaching antiquity from the perspective of the youth obsessed culture. I enjoy watching them try though.

Perceptions and Patronizing Assholes

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I find myself stuck in the middle of the age divide. And believe me, it is a divide between “young” and “mature”. There seems to be no middle ground. Professionally I find that men, though occasionally a woman or two, which are older than I am are shocked to find out my age. The response is always “I thought you were much younger.” Why? Because I am immature? No, I highly doubt that with my attitude. It’s easier for them to dismiss my ideas and authority if they believe their perception of me as young. If I am young I can be inexperienced. If I am inexperienced I can be challenged, dismissed even, as not understanding the nuances and inner workings of any given topic. If I’m older and therefor wiser I have the experience, the log time if you will, to justify my position not only in the company but at the table. If my age is known and therefore my experience I can’t be written off as a “girl,” just some kid that is full of idealistic philosophies with her head in the clouds dreaming of boys and puppies and unicorns. If they see me as a peer they have to regard me as an equal with my feet grounded and heels dug in ready to work. It creates cognitive dissidence and they hate me for it. So the only thing left is to go after my appearance. That I’m not pretty.

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I’ve never been pretty. Not in the mass media, magazine photo shop, female sexuality as commerce sense that has been shoved down our throats as a minimal standard of female worth. I have zero fashion sense, I can’t and won’t wear heels, I hate make up jewelry and nail polish. My hair is brushed but rarely styled. Though I can totally rock a bun! I know the image that conjures is a frizzy haired hag in mismatch, ill-fitting stained clothes clomping through the halls but the reality is that I am presentable. Clothes are clean, pressed, and of neutral color and pattern that they all work together. Shoes are simple, comfortable, and practical. Skin is clear and clean, hair is clean and brushed. Generally this is the same criteria applied to the men. Do I look like I put effort into it? Nope. But I do look acceptable.

Back to pretty, I’ve never participated in the soul sucking, self-depreciating, time killing mania that is pretty. Not to say that the individuals that participate are in some way inferior. I mean, if you find some intrinsic joy in curling your eyelashes and waiting for paint to dry on your fingertips who the hell am I to criticize? But I’ve never been interested. I’ve got shit to do. Things to learn, books to read, fun to have. I can’t worry about my hair or if I am carrying last year’s handbag. The distance between pretty and me has always been a gaping chasm I never bothered to try to cross. As I approach my best by date it gets farther and farther away. Currently it’s just a dot on the horizon, so far away that I often look at it and wonder if it’s really there. I’m confident in who I am and what I do, the contribution I make and I shrug and move on. Pretty doesn’t concern me, pretty is irrelevant.

 

Harridan Hissy Fit

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I’m showing early symptoms of becoming the cranky old lady that shakes her cane at random people and calls them whippersnappers. I feel like it’s too soon. I am only in my forties. That’s only the halfway mark. I shouldn’t be symptomatic yet.

I’ve found myself commenting negatively about the college graduate generation. Millennials? Is that what they are called?   I thought that was just a slip of the subconscious. Like all those times I opened my mouth and my mother’s voice came out. It wasn’t really me. It was a combination of repetitive auditory input coupled with a stimulus. Add in a bit too much stress and the weak and flawed human reverts to its classical conditioned responses, despite lots of effort to overcome. However, the reaction can no longer be discounted as rote since I am often completely baffled by their behavior. Nope. I am not part of the youth culture any longer.

The symptom of greatest concern is my inability to deal with new technology. I found myself thrusting my phone at a random teenager in the food court because my app stopped working. I didn’t even introduce myself. I just walked up and said “You’re young. Help me.” They did. And they were incredible gracious about it too. But that isn’t the only time. These incidents are becoming more and more frequent with each passing day. Here is a short list:

  1. I had a breakdown because I couldn’t figure out why a document suddenly changed font type and I couldn’t change it back.
  2. A file that I needed to edit was in .pdf and I had no idea how to edit it. I told everyone in the office they had to listen to my profanity because I was channeling Samuel L. Jackson.
  3. Google Documents doesn’t allow you to merge cells in a table. No one under 35 thinks this is a problem.
  4. An intern submitted a document with all the bullet points in a table. When I converted it from Google to Word I couldn’t figure out how to correct the formatting.
  5. I spend far too much time on websites looking for the sign in link. Why do they hide that? Why can’t it always be in the same place?
  6. I don’t understand why all the checkout machines can’t be the same. Why do they ask so many questions? Just take my money.
  7. Why do stores need to email me coupons when I check out. Can’t they just give them to me in the bag?
  8. If we can have WiFi why can’t we employ Tesla’s wireless electricity system?  I want to be done with the Gordian knot of cords that lies behind furniture in every room.
  9. Why is setting up a video conference still so challenging? The Jetsons made it seem like it would be so much cooler than it is.
  10. I declined a key less entry system because I couldn’t understand how it worked and I was afraid of locking myself out of my smart home.
  11. Windows 8: The icons were in the same place for 25+ years, Microsoft decides to move them for no damn reason, tells no one. Bill Gates is still laughing at those of us trying to locate the Control Panel. I just gave up on adding a printer.
  12. Everything needs to be touch screen or nothing at all. I forget which piece of electronics needs a controller. Try adjusting the volume on your TV using your finger or pointing the remote angrily at the tablet to change the YouTube video. It gets confusing!

I am becoming obsolete!

The downward spiral to fiber supplements and adult diapers is imminent. Soon my driving will terrify people. I’m not ready!

Gravity is a Bitch!

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Several women in my family are rather well endowed. My sister has a pair rivaling Dolly Parton. All my life I was warned that women with large breasts had to dread the effects of gravity. Instruction was given to always secure solid foundation garments to avoid having them down by my knees by the time I was 40.

As puberty approached I, like so many other young girls, began to wonder what Mother Nature would provide me with in terms  of mammary tissue. I would alternate between what I wished for.

Did I want a  big pair like my sister? That came with lots of attention and admiration, but also back pain and the future threat of sagging. Did I want small, perky breasts? Those left no doubt you were a woman but still offered you the option of going without a bra. In the end it didn’t matter what I wanted. Like everyone else, I got what I got. Deal with it. And like every other woman before me I did not appreciate what I had until it was gone.

When I was younger were glorious. Middle sized, not too big, not too small. High, round, and firm. I would lament that they were so dense I could not get them to move together to form cleavage. When lying on my back they would disperse, but still looked divine. Well, that’s long gone.

They aren’t sagging to my knees, but the density that gave them their shape bailed around the same time my knees lost their elasticity. As a result I can now get cleavage. I can also do shadow puppets with them. It doesn’t seem so much like the effects of gravity as a rearrangement of surface area. Now the moment that my bra comes off they immediately try to take cover in my armpits. I’m not sure if they have developed social anxiety or a shifting of tectonic plates. Thankfully men have also become slightly more mature, or at least more tactful. It’s been a while, but the last few partners kept the commentary to themselves when they had to scoop the girls out from under my arms. Or maybe they found the nipple peeking out from my axilla cute. Whatever, no one is complaining.

Overall, it’s not that big of a deal. I had to make some minor lifestyle adjustments. Putting on a bra now requires me to bend at the waist while pulling the cups away from my body. This causes the girl to fall out of their safe haven under my arms and into the bra. Then I can straighten up and adjust them. I still have the concern of cup spillage, only now it’s the other side of the cup. The silver lining to this is that I have an extra layer available when the under wire pops out. It has to go through a titty before it can stab my in the artery. And it’s made sports bras easier to find. Since they lost density they compress much easier. No more bouncing.

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A few years ago this would have offended my sensibilities. Now I am the target market and I understand. Perspective.

I guess that’s what aging is all about.  Realizing that things change and sometimes it isn’t good or bad, but just different.

The Ravages of Time

    My physiology is torturing me. I am too far along the timeline for my body to start behaving like it is an adolescent again. My cycle and I had settled into a nice predictable routine. Boring? Perhaps, but I knew what to expect of my body and it understood how I would react and we had a system.  Then something changed and that time of the month is no longer a time of the month but a devastating and violent upheaval of my established standard. I have experienced this before. We all have. It was puberty, when our childlike bodies were flooded with new hormones at a prescribed moment in time determined by the pituitary gland, that bastard. And now it is happening again. Same sudden onset, no warning, no reason. What is it, menopause? No, not yet. It is a special affliction called perimenopause. Perimenopause is the period preceding menopause where your body produces less progesterone and you may have any of the following symptoms:
  • Fatigue
  • Low sex drive
  • Irritability
  • Irregular periods
  • Anxiety and/or depression
  • Mood swings
  • Hot flashes (aka flushes) and night sweats
  • Insomnia
  • Weight gain
  • Craving for carbohydrates and sweets
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Increased headaches or migraines.
    Sounds like a joy. So lets take a look at a few of these shall we? I say we start with the fun combination of weight gain and craving for carbs and sweets. I can attest that this is most definitely happening to me as we speak.  I noticed my metabolism slowing down a while back. Hell, that s.o.b. went into hibernation. So I adjusted my diet. Then I adjusted it again. And again. Somehow I am now living off of kale and chia seeds and have still managed to gain weight. WTF? As for the cravings, well, I have always enjoyed bread and chocolate. Realizing many years ago that this wouldn’t help my health in the long run I cut them both out of my diet and relegated them to the category of “special treats.” It’s important to understand this happened in my late twenties and I am fairly well-adjusted to life with limited bread and sugar. Why? Because recently I devour bread like I am some mythical wild child that had been raised by animals in the forest. I don’t bother to slice or butter it, I don’t even take the time to tear pieces off. Rather I shove as much as will fit into my mouth with chewing and alternating between gratifying sounds of enjoyment and low throaty growls to warn others away. Chocolate was an indulgence. It was to be savored and cherished, each bite slowly rolled over the tongue and permitted to linger at the soft palate for maximum enjoyment. Eating chocolate was ritual. But no more. I now descend upon the candy aisle like the Mongol horde single-minded in my quest for domination. Bags upon bags of sugar goodness are swept into my basket to be carried to the car where I will ingest as much as possible on the ride home. No longer is it savored as a means of pleasure, now it is a drug that my body must have or die. I approach it like a junkie, one is too much and too much is never enough.
    And that brings us to the mood swings. Because after my candy and bread binge comes the remorse. What have I done? Why did I do this? How could I have eaten all that and have no cognizant memory of it?  And how am I not sick? Oh, the self loathing and contempt. What kind of person does this? Suddenly the rush from the sugar dissipates from my blood stream and I am plunged into the dark depths of my inner psyche. Every mistake, every humiliation, every unkind action I have ever taken is pushed to the forefront of my consciousness and it consumes me. There I sit in a pile of crumbs and wrappers sobbing into my chocolate stained hands over the time in first grade I teased another girl for her hair ribbons. I am a horrible and worthless creature and that’s why nothing is right in my life and never will be. This is why I am alone, why my marriage failed, why I can’t have a successful relationship with a man. It’s because I eat bread and chocolate. If I didn’t eat these things, if I had more control over my impulses then I could become a better person. I could actualized my potential. But I never will because I have no will power and therefore am just wasting space on the planet. The pets are confused and hide from me as I weep into the side of the couch and rant incoherently.
    Why does this happen? Well, that is because of the irregular periods. What was once every 28 days like clockwork has become sudden onset with no early warning system. I liken it to a tornado. There are signs that favor tornado conditions, but that doesn’t always mean that a funnel will form and if it does that it will touch down. However, if that funnel does hit land you can be sure that it will leave a path of destruction in its wake. Much like my periods lately. I bloat, get irritable, have the cravings and the mood swings and that may mean I wake up in a bloody mess or it could mean nothing happens, no way to tell. And if it does occur there is no way of determining how long it will stay. Throughout my adult life it has been consistently 5 days. Over 30 years of this type of regularity only to have nature laugh in my face. Now it could be one day, it could be 10 days, it could last two days stop for three and then swing back around for an encore performance. I never know. So now I travel armed with an arsenal of feminine hygiene products. Every purse, bag, or available storage space has tampons, pads, and pantyliner’s. I have stain removal products in every location I frequent. I am prepared for the onslaught of the red tide revolution at every moment. No fluid shall get the better of me. I am armed. I can win this war.  At least I can patch up the wounds.
    I do disagree with the low sex drive. I didn’t get that. Contrary to everything I have read or been told by medical professionals my sex drive has hit an all time high. Especially during times of hormone fluctuation. It’s really no gift because the biochemical imbalance that is the glory of perimenopause pretty much ensures that no one in their right mind will want to engage in sexual intercourse with me. The outward manifestation is so detestable in both physical appearance as well as behavior it all but seals the deal for long, cold lonely nights of exasperation in an empty bed.
   Let me paint you a picture. Let’s start with the physical changes my body sees fit to burden me with. Aside from the changes in weight and its unflattering dispersion there is the paradox of hair and skin that is simultaneously oily and too dry. There are products geared for one, but nothing that can handle both. Seriously, we need to stop expecting miracles from the beauty industry. Next is the acne that comes on like a suicide bomber that chickened out and decided to  change gears and form an insurgency. No longer do I get small blemishes on my face but rather large, red peaks of impressive elevation slowly filling with pus but showing no sign of eruption. They scream out to anyone who dares to look upon them “Behold, I have taken this face hostage. There will be no quarter given.” They are painful if you touch them and painful if you do not. Their presence twines around everything you do forming an obsession until all you can focus on is relieving the pressure by any means necessary. But this path is folly for they will not relent. Even after the hormones have withdrawn and the invasion retreats victory is not your. No, it will resurface weeks later, the same spot, the same size, only to burst at the slightest touch resulting in an angry red scabbed over monstrosity that will most likely scar. You will average three of these a month coupled with spontaneously appearing white heads that do nothing to convince the world you do indeed wash your face. So this is a sexy look that I am sure we will see on the runways of Milan next season. All the men drool for this.
    The next noticeable change is that my nipples become engorged with blood and stay rock hard for the duration. This is not only unsightly but also have practical implications as they are now bumping into everything. Half the time I feel like my nipples enter the room before I do. They have become attention whores screaming :look at us!” in every imaginable article of clothing. A padded bra may or may not cover them up. I’ve had them poke through some bras padded so thick they remind me of early Japanese armor. Inconvenient it may be, but I must admit the level of projection is impressive. I can’t be dazzled by my body’s outstanding feats of hydro engineering for long because this has a major disadvantage. They are hyper sensitive. A breeze is painful. So is the gentle chaffing of the interior of the bra during normal movement. They now hit everything because I am not accustomed to allowing for their passage. They hit the door jamb, the desk, the side of the fridge, the shower curtain, and knock into objects on tables. Yes, I have pushed things over with my nipples. It’s not as fun as it sounds. Conflicting sensations accompany this fun new phenomenon. I alternate between having nothing and no one touch them and wishing desperately that I could gnaw on them so that the pain would offer relief to the never-ending soreness. This does not lend itself to a calm and balanced state of mind.
    Lets move on to what the hormones do to your behavior in regards to your sex drive. All the literature says I am supposed to be experiencing dryness and a loss of desire. Nope! There is enough moisture down below to revitalize the California droughts. And drive, I have drive. I’m not sure if this is a last-ditch evolutionary push for me to find sperm and procreate or a cruel joke my body is playing on me since I am currently without a partner. Either way, once the chemicals hit the blood stream the game is on. I’m not looking for romance, or tender lovemaking. I want primal animalistic sweaty rage as my body milks the seed from the male specimen. I need wanton bestial copulation. My nails digging into flesh as I am pinioned down by a hand on my neck, not out of cruelty but necessary for his self-preservation, hot breath and primordial rumblings as we both hurtled towards release. And there will be no satisfaction while the hormones have control. More, always demanding more from the poor spent flesh bag lying exhausted and broken next to you. While the throbbing returns and demands release that will never be sufficient. I can’t imagine what fear enters the hearts of men when confronted with this, I’m afraid of myself in this state.
    The worst part of all of this is that while it is happening we are aware of how irrational we are acting but are helpless to stop it. I find myself wondering if other mammals have similar moments during their heat cycles? And if so, how is this an evolutionary advantage? It would seem as if the female of the species is doing everything possible to drive the male of the species away in terror. Or perhaps that is how we ensure the strongest genes are passed on to the next generation. Only the bravest dare approach the female at this time and only the most worthy will succeed where so many others have failed. Though my personal experience is that it’s not so much courage as it is blind stupidity that makes men think women suffering hormonal fluctuations will find their attentions soothing. Well, also those deluded individuals suffering from the white knight syndrome of I can fix everything, but that’s a different topic altogether.
    There is one small caveat in my favor. A few weeks back I scheduled a doctor’s appointment because I was experiencing an abnormal amount of cramping in my pelvic area. That can’t be a good sign, so off to get a pelvic exam. She sent me to get an ultrasound. A trans-vaginal ultrasound. Essentially, the technician inserts what looks like a Hitachi Magic Wand into the vaginal canal and takes a look around the uterus and Fallopian tubes. Take a moment to imagine lying on a table, feet up in stirrups while some strange woman shoves a giant dildo up your hooha and tries to make small talk. Awkward!  What I found out was that the inoperable fibroid I have had for most of my adult life is being killed off by the lack of progesterone. At least something is getting murdered. Go hormones, kick that fibroid’s ass.