"The notion that such persons are gay of heart and carefree is curiously untrue. They lead, as a matter of fact, an existence of jumpiness and apprehension. They sit on the edge of the chair of Literature. In the house of Life they have the feeling that they have never taken off their overcoats."
- James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times

Monday, February 23, 2015

Bringing Sexy Back... to Sixty

CAUTION: I AM GOING TO TALK ABOUT SEX TODAY. It may get uncomfortable. It will certainly get graphic, at least as graphic as I'm comfortable with. 

I know a few of my readers would rather not read about sex, and that's okay. You don't need to read any further. Go read Snoopy's blog instead, http://thatsmysnoopy.blogspot.com/2015/02/glasses-half-empty-glasses-half-full.html


When I first read August McLaughlin's invitation to the Beauty of a Woman BlogFest, I saw that if I got to participate I could pick the original blog, about beauty and how I see it, or I could talk about the beauty of female sexuality. (Note: Please do check out all the blogs on the blogfest. Go to http://www.augustmclaughlin.com/boaw15/ for more info - they're giving out prizes!) 

I'm more comfortable with talking about beauty, but a little voice in my head double-dog-dared me to talk about sex.

How can I refuse a double-dog-dare?

I was raised in your typical Puritan household, sexuality-wise. Good girls didn't think about sex, explore sex, acknowledge it in any way, until marriage. And then they "went along with it" in a passive kind of way, to please their husbands.

When I was little, my grandmother gave me The Talk, which included everything about babies and how they were born. She omitted the part about how they get there. When I was about to be married, my mother told me I'd have to buy a douche bag. I asked her why.

"Because it's messy and it smells, and you don't want to smell, too."

It's a miracle I had sex at all. 

But not only did I have it, I found out I liked it. I liked the physical contact, the intimacy of it all. I loved the buildup and release of an orgasm. And afterward, I loved that feeling of having shared something so wonderful with someone I loved.

As time marched on, I figured that's the way it would always work. Even more so, I looked forward to the days when my husband and I were no longer caught up in working and taking care of our son, and we could spend more time together doing whatever we wanted. Wherever we wanted. Whenever... well, you get the picture.

What I didn't realize was what time would do to my body. I was happy to not have to go through a monthly cycle, although the hot flashes nearly did me in. Then my doctor prescribed synthetic hormone replacement therapy, which made me feel better. 

After 55, I noticed that my skin was drier and had more wrinkles. I figured I was joining the club, of people who get old and look their age. Imagine my surprise as I turned 60, when my hubby and I were enjoying a romantic getaway and I found out that the dryness was inside as well!

Nobody told me about this part of growing older. I love my husband. I love our sex life. I don't love feeling like someone is sticking a rasp inside me and scraping me raw. Not only did it hurt, I felt badly for him, and I felt less sexy. A lot less sexy. Kind of like a shell of a person, not even a woman. I enjoyed my life, writing and riding and being with friends. But I didn't feel whole.

There's a lot no one tells you about growing older. Vaginal dryness is just one thing. I have a friend who has an autoimmune disorder that resulted in her labia drying out and sloughing off like dead cells. She's now on treatment, but what's lost is lost. 

Who knew that was a thing?

The sad part has been that, prior to talking to my friend about her disorder, I hadn't disclosed my problem to anyone else. Sex isn't embarrassing to me, but this dryness was. We definitely need to be talking about the changes as we grow older. Young women need to know this is not abnormal, it happens, and there are medicines and creams and oils to solve it. They need to know what to watch for, and to see someone as soon as something feels wrong.

As for me, I told my doctor about my problem and am now on a medication to plump everything back up. I've only been on it a few days, but my body is starting to feel like its old self. 

Soon I will be whole again. Sex will be beautiful, and I will be beautiful in it.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

10 Reasons I Adore Neil deGrasse Tyson Even More Than Before I Saw Him in Person

On Monday, I ventured past the Orange Curtain, into Hollywood with hubby Dale and good friend Kelly, to see Neil deGrasse Tyson at the Pantages Theater. I had gotten the tickets last summer. Marcus wanted to go, and we took a chance that his semester schedule wouldn't prevent him from attending. We took a chance and lost.

This is why I never buy lottery tickets. 

So Kelly used his ticket and off we schlepped. Dale asked me numerous times what Dr. Tyson would be doing, and I answered numerous times plus one that I had no idea. We took our seats (really good ones) and waited to see what the evening would hold. 

What we were treated to, in honor of being in Hollywood, was NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON PRESENTS SCIENCE GOES TO THE MOVIES. Think of it - an entire evening of Dr. Tyson telling you that the movie TITANIC used the wrong sky in its night scenes, and the movie TED actually called him to get the night scene correct, and more. He had them in alphabetical order, and had to leave some out to make it all fit in two-and-a-half hours.

After that, he answered about 10 questions from the audience, and read Pale Blue Dot (see http://youtu.be/p86BPM1GV8M). He was not just brilliant. He was wise. For three hours.

So much muchness! I'd admired NdGT from his YouTube snippets, his appearances on talk shows, and of course, his reboot of COSMOS. But now that I've spent three hours listening to him speak live, I admire and adore him. 

You could say I admore him. Here are 10 reasons why:

1. Once he gets his teeth in a subject, he wrings every bit of energy from it. He spent two-and-a-half hours taking us through at least 15 films and discussing what they got wrong and what they got right.

2. He can talk for hours without any notes. This, people, is a mad skill.

3. Either he has the softest, most pliable shoes ever made, or he likes to give his talks in socks.

4. He has no problem dancing with joy, or falling to his knees in frustration. It's a good thing he wore jeans because he would have torn holes in nicer slacks.

5. He watches all kinds of movies, and he can't help but be impressed/dismayed by ANY science in them. (Example: he loves the line in FROZEN'S Let It Go, "My soul is spiraling in frozen fractals all around.")

6. On the one hand, the entire world seems to come at him as scientific theories and equations and physical laws. On the other hand, he can connect to his audience as a guy who could sit down and have a beer with you. (Of course, he'd probably treat you to a discourse on carbonation and surface tension, but at least it would be entertaining.)

7. He did his own charts for the evening talk. How do I know? Because there were typos on several (which he apologized for). Hey, Dr. Tyson, need a proofreader? My rates are reasonable.

8. He actually got mad at the movie GRAVITY because Sandra Bullock is supposed to be playing a medical doctor, but she's messing with "his" Hubble telescope. "Hey, I'm an astrophysicist, but I'll bet I can do brain surgery. Stand back and let me at it."

9. Every question from the audience was taken seriously, answered thoughtfully, and proclaimed "a good question" by him. Graciousness squared.

10. He is happily and unapologetically a nerd, and thinks everyone else should be, too.

I enjoyed the evening to the nth degree, but more importantly, I had several "aha" moments. In the end, Dr. Tyson made me want to be smarter.

Monday, February 9, 2015

So much excitement! So much muchness!

This is a week chock full 'o' fun stuff for me, and I don't know what's more exciting.

First, tonight, I get to see Neil deGrasse Tyson at the Pantages Theater. I have no idea what the program will look like. I mean, it's not like he'll sing and dance - at least I don't think he will. My expectation is that he will talk for a long time about important, scientific, nerd-loving ideas.

I'll try not to scream and faint in the aisle.

Then on Friday, I head down to San Diego for a weekend of writer bonding at the Southern California Writer's Conference. I've extolled their virtues every year, twice a year, ever since I began attending. The past couple of years, I've been teaching workshops. These are my people.

This is my tribe.

I'm teaching a workshop on self-publishing, which I've done before, and leading a read and critique group, which I've also done before. But this year, I'm adding a workshop I've never tried before, about public speaking. So many writers are solitary beings who'd rather not go out to the masses and put on a gregarious face. I used to be one of them. Hopefully, I can share some of my wisdom and let people practice in a safe environment.

In between these two days are riding lessons, writing, and life in general, but I find myself more cheerful with each task when I know there's something fun around the corner.

What's around your corner to get your pulse racing?

Monday, January 26, 2015

Do I believe in magic?

When I was little, my imagination sometimes bled into reality. I would spend an afternoon trying to climb up sunbeams. I had imaginary friends AND pets. I believed that if I dug into my memories hard enough, I could remember who I was before I was born.

My mother had quite a number of talks with me because she was afraid people thought I was crazy. 

To add to the mix, my family attended a Baptist church, where they believed that all kinds of miracles went down in the Old and New Testaments, but not anymore. The Age of Magic had ended.

Eventually, I packed up my magical thinking and put it on a shelf. Logic became my passion (yes, I had a major crush on Mr. Spock), emotions were my enemy, and software engineering was in my future. I spent 30 years designing, developing, and testing code for a living, and trying to keep my life in the logical zone outside the office. And yet...

I began to think about the hubris that told me that nothing existed outside my own senses. Colors existed outside of my natural eyesight. Dogs could hear sounds my ears could not detect. I breathe air I cannot see. What right had I to expect everything in this world to be easily revealed to me, or revealed at all? 

When I became pregnant with Marcus, I spent nine months in wonderment. When he was born, I was in awe. You could show me all kinds of charts with eggs and sperm and zygotes, etc, but they all miss one crucial step: How did one set of cells from me and one set from Dale spark LIFE?

Magic seeped from the box where I'd stored it, and nagged at me. 

Lately, there have been - oddities - in my life. Things my magical side points to and says, "There! See that? I was right!" Things my logical side pushes away, pooh-poohs, and laughs at, albeit a little nervously. Sometimes when I'm alone, I feel like I'm being prodded by something, and a relative who has died pops into my mind. One day, it felt like my mind was being bombarded from the outside, and my grandparents and parents were running through my mind on the inside. I actually said, aloud, "You people have got to back up and give me some space."

Call me crazy, but I felt a lot calmer after I said it.

So now I'm wondering what I believe in. Could it be there is a layer of existence that I cannot see, but occasionally cross paths with? Or am I trying to climb sunbeams again, in my old age?

Thursday, January 22, 2015

People, damages, and having a past

I have not read Fifty Shades of Grey and I do not plan to do so. My buddy, Tameri, already took that bullet for me. She read the whole trilogy, pronounced the writing not just awful, but godawful, and like any good book reviewer, shared specifics with me to quantify just how godawful it was. She did say, however, that she understood why it was so popular.

"Women fall in love with Christian because he's so damaged."

Yeah, I know we read books and watch movies about characters that have a past, that are broken and trying to renew themselves or right a wrong or somehow seek redemption. They intrigue us. Especially for women - we want to heal these broken souls. But is that who we'd really like to have a relationship with?

I mean, look at this guy.

He's sexy. He's passionate. He's got a boatload of baggage. Yes, he makes you swoon, but would you want to exchange apartment keys with him? Wedding vows? Cell phone numbers? He may be super-hot, but you wouldn't surprise him in the shower.

The reason this is on my mind is that I was listening to NPR recently and there was an author on Fresh Air talking about his memoir on PTSD. (Forgive me but I don't remember his name and it's not germane to the story.) He had gone to Iraq as a war correspondent, came home with PTSD and not only wrote of his experience, but researched the illness to write about it from the diagnostic side of the fence. What struck me most about the interview was his reason for wanting to go to Iraq.

Paraphrasing here, he said he wanted to go because he wanted to be "a man with a past." 

Okay, listen. I understand making choices in your life that you think are good but turn out not-so-much and you regret them and now you're a man/woman with a past. Sometimes things happen to you, outside of your control, and give you a past. If you have traumatic enough memories or spin your minor memories in just the right way, you can be a mysterious man/woman with a past. 

But to consciously choose a dangerous path just to get that label? Not sure I get that.

Anyone out there want to share how they've manipulated their life in order to be a specific type of person?

Proud Member of ALA!

I support fair and equitable library access to ebooks and so should you.