Category: Life

The Truth Hurts Sometimes

I have seen it everywhere. Social media, coffee mugs, t-shirts… “LIVE YOUR TRUTH.” Almost always, it is in the context of supporting someone whose identity has traditionally been marginalized: Gays, Lesbians, Trans, etc. And that is a wonderful thing. People waste far too much time forcing themselves into boxes built by and for the average community at large, whether for their safety, or just because the human need to be loved is so strong that we are afraid our true nature would leave us connection-less. Stop trying to be someone you are not. The world will adjust.

That’s not to say that everyone will like or love you if you do. But really, do they all like and love you now? Probably not. I mean, there are people out there who hate Hugh Jackman fer gossakes. What chance to the rest of us mere mortals have? But even tho you will still have some who aren’t happy with you, are mean to you even, you are likely no worse off than you were before, only now you don’t have the stress of a lifelong masquerade to add to it. Look to the others already living their truth for proof.

For example, there are people out there whose truth is that they are misogynistic, racist assholes. And they have no problem living that out loud every day. They know people disagree. They know some people hate them for it. They don’t care. They just keep on being true to themselves. Why should they get have all the fun? And on the opposite end, there are those who have no problem living large as ancient Jewish Democratic Socialists. They know there are haters. They don’t care. The rest of us should be just as determined to be true to ourselves.

Maybe your truth is that the spirituality of your African roots saved you, and wearing a dashiki helps you honor that. That is awesome! Do it! There will be some who look at you strangely or make rude comments, but plenty of us will be eager to hear what it means to you.

Maybe your truth is that your soul is a patchouli loving, bra banning, clove-cigarette smoking earth mamma. Some will make snide remarks, call you names. I’m not going to be eager to stand downwind of you, but like most people, i won’t hate you for it. I will still be respectful of you, even as i continue wearing pretty much anything but patchouli oil.

Maybe your truth is that you are a nudist, polyamorous vegan. Good for you! I hope you are able to find a group of people who share your same culture and values so that you can live your truth every moment of every day…. I may even come visit… But don’t show up nude for work.

Because here’s the thing…

Sometimes, being a good citizen means knowing when living your truth is detrimental to the populace at large.

I have heard people say that “gay behavior” is bad for the populace at large because it goes against Christian values. This, to my way of thinking, is incorrect. Public displays of blatantly sexual behavior are bad for the populace at large, but that is not a “gay issue.” No one should be having sex in the street. Downtown Springfield on a random Friday isn’t Mardi Gras… People aren’t expecting to watch your carnal exploits, and most would probably rather not. Consensual sex in private, gay or straight, causes no such issue.

I’ve heard people say that tattoos and weird hair colors and men who wish to wear skirts are a detriment to society. I have a few tattoos, and i fail to see how they harm anyone. That being said, if you have “Fuck you” tattooed across your forehead, there is an issue. Not with the tattoo, but with the sentiment. It’s just flat out rude to everyone. Hair colors? The definition of “weird” evolves over time – Hell, when i first stopped dying my hair, i caught flack for letting it be grey and white! But it is hair, and fashion trends wax and wane. Hard to regulate that. But again, if you work for a boss who has warned you not to dye your hair green, and you do it anyway, you should not be surprised if you get called to the mat for it. Same with the men in skirts, i suppose – tho i understand that one less. A woman can wear menswear, and no one bats an eye. Why is it allowed in one direction and not the other?

I think, what it boils down to is just learning to accept that no matter how any one of us lives, there will always be naysayers. Every choice in life has consequences. And even if i think it’s stupid for someone to be fired because they wore eyeliner to work, and the company has a rule about men wearing makeup; the fact of the matter is that you now have two adult choices: You fight it in the correct way – with arbitration or a lawyer – or you find another job. (I hope you fight it, because that really is stupid. ) Choosing to scream like a banshee on social media without taking any real steps to change things is juvenile and pointless. Trying to make a policy where the rest of the men also have to wear eyeliner just because you like it is also juvenile, and it is disrespectful to others’ truths.

Be an adult. Advocate for the freedom of individual choice. Stand up straight, speak clearly and with civil words. Make your voice heard. If necessary, protest and boycott. But do not set out to do deliberate, spiteful damage. I know that lately our country has seemingly forgotten how to have meaningful discourse and come to compromise. We also seem to have lost the ability to live and let live. But on the flip side, there are others who have forgotten that, while being civil to your neighbors and fellow citizens should be expected, as should the certainty of personal safety, there is no promise that they will all agree with you, nor can you expect them all to join in your bandwagon. The best we can hope for is that we all learn to play nice.

Which we all know is a pipe dream. There will always be Christians who aren’t very Christ-like. There will always be civil servants who aren’t civil. There will always be free-love hippies who aren’t very loving. We are humans, first and foremost, after all. And humans can be really mean and hateful.

But keep living your truth, if for no other reason than to offset the schmucks. It will be difficult at times, but keep at it. Because even tho we can be assholes, humans can also be supportive and loving and giving. We can be kind. We can extend the hands of brother and sisterhood. We can become friends with those who look, act, pray, dress differently than we do. We’ve done it before. Remember, there was a time when a woman could be arrested for wearing pants. But we grew past it. We opened our minds and grew.

So i don’t care if your truth is that you are a Kenny G loving woman who wants to live as a meercat. Do your job, be nice to your neighbors, and don’t make anyone else live as a meercat. If anyone tries to hurt you for your choice, lots of us will be here to defend you. (Ok, we’ll defend the meercat thing. I can’t promise about the Kenny G.) We don’t have to understand it. But if you aren’t hurting anyone, we will do out best not to let them hurt you. We might not defend your right to work as a brain surgeon, because, last i checked, they weren’t allowing meercats into medical school. But we will defend your ability to exist as a free citizen. It won’t be easy, and lots of people will balk. But sooner or later, things will level out, because the vast majority of people are decent.

Most of us learned in the sandbox to play nice and keep our hands to ourselves. Then we grew up and moved on, remembering the lesson. Others are still in the same sandbox, biting, throwing sand, peeing in the corner… And they wonder why no one will let them out or play with them. But their truth is that they are tantrum-laden toddlers. So the adults will respect that and treat them as such.

 

My Snuffle Brings All the Boys to the Yard

The night i did the test, i settled in as best as i could. It’s not easy to sleep with things taped to your face and fingers. Not to mention the strap around your chest. The first time i did it, i apparently pulled off the probe on my finger not long after i fell asleep, so i was stuck doing it again. I really needed this to work because i didn’t want to have to go do it in one of their mock hotel rooms. That would be too much like a B horror movie.

It took a full album of thunderstorm sounds before i finally fell asleep. And when i woke up in the morning, all the lights were still blinking. Yeah! Success! So i pack up all the accoutrements, toss the sticky tapes, and drop it off at the sleep lab before i go to work. As i handed it to the tech, i told her that i didn’t imagine it had much bad news, since i felt like i had a particularly (And surprisingly ) good night’s sleep in spite of being wired up like a science experiment. She gave me a bit of a smile that i mistook for “Good for you!”

In reality, i later found out, it was more representative of, “If it were good, you wouldn’t have had to do it in the first place.”

I had opted to have a followup appointment to discuss my results instead of a phone call because i was curious about the mechanics and documentation of the measurements. So a couple weeks later, i’m in an examination room at the sleep lab office, and the PA comes in, shakes my hand, and says, “Yeah, i heard you had a good night’s sleep.”

“Yup. Hopefully it didn’t skew the test too much.”

“Uuuuhhh, seems unlikely. But if this was a good night for you, i’d hate to see a bad night.”

In one night’s sleep – a good night no less – i had 413 events. 4-fricking-13. Granted, i’ve heard of people having worse, but they were older or heavier or drank more. I’m an average weight healthy woman. I don’t fit the profile. Or so i thought. And when i voiced my surprise to the PA, he laughed. When i asked if he was joking about me needing the CPAP, he shook his head. When i said, “Do you have any idea how hard it is for a single, 52 year old woman to get a date WITHOUT having to wear a vacuum cleaner on her face at night? ” He offered that i could probably find a partner who also wore one so we could look like fighter pilots together – make it part of role play.

Smartass.

He went over the report with me line by line, graph by graph. There was no denying it. My middle of the night whale song was proven indicative of severe sleep apnea. (Leave it to me to skip straight to the high level. Oy)

So while i’m waiting for the insurance company to make false promises to the medical appliance company, i try to mitigate what i can. No sleep aids, no pain pills, no alcohol at night. I wear my little nose-opening strips, even knowing they are going to block my pores with their glue, or pop off and end up stuck someplace that didn’t need expanding. I doubt i’m really helping anything, but it makes me feel better to at least do a little something.

While i’m waiting for my new trunk (How big and bulky will it be? I know size doesn’t matter, but i’ve only got so much room next to my bed…,) i also do some reading about the condition and my test results. On the bright side, what few little health problems i have might actually get better if i can fix the sleep apnea, since most of them are at least peripherally related. That’s a plus. I will probably have more energy – Another plus – Which means i’ll be more likely to be active after work…. Which could mean losing those extra 5 lbs. – yet another plus.

So if i can learn to sleep while strapped in like a Borg, the payoff could easily be more than just an end to my overnight career as a fog horn. It could mean a lot of positive things.

That’s my story and i’m going to stick to it and tell myself it’s worth it, when i get depressed over having to sleep like i’m part of the Matrix.

**********

Day 1. With the help of a melatonin (Ok, two melatonin), I managed to sleep all night with my sexy new snuffle. Honestly, i do feel more awake than usual this morning, but that may be a placebo effect.  I check my report in the online app – And there is none. So i check the machine. No cell signal. Hmmm. Read the manual. Move the machine around the room. Still no wireless. Try plugging it in in the kitchen. Nope. The front porch. Nope. Considering my insurance company’s payment of said snuffle is depending on proof that i’m wearing it, i’d say we have a problem.

Read the manual. It says there is space for an SD card. Ok,. So there’s my fallback. Note to self: Buy a spare SD card today. (I probably have 50 lying arounnd the house somewhere, but of course i’m not going to find one when i need one.) The last bit of indignity would be to have to pay the full, uninsured bill for my  snore nozzle. Gotta fix that.

**********

Day 2. Last night i tried to adjust my attitude about the whole thing. Popped in an SD card. Strapped myself into my flight gear, took a pic of myself, and sent it out on Snapchat with the tagline, “My snuffle brings all the boys to the yard.” Here’s to humor – Helping to make the best of depressing things since forever. I look like i should be standing next to Sharon, Lois, and Bram and singing, “Skinnamarinky dinky dink, skinnamarinky doo….” But hey, at least i no longer sound like an Orca when i sleep. Or, at least i don’t think i do. It’s not like there is anyone here to tell me except SiriDog, and she won’t answer.

To help me get better used to this, i also turned off my morning alarm. There isn’t much variability in when i wake in the morning, so i wasn’t terribly worried. And true to history, i woke right before my alarm would have gone off. First thing i noticed was that i was instantly wide awake. My usual 5 minute transition has been shortened to almost nothing. Not sure if it’s my turbo hose or just the lack of an alarm, but that is kinda cool. I mean, i’ve always been a morning person – I wake fairly easily and without any grump; but it usually takes me 5 minutes or so to awaken the brain and the joints and the hands and the feet. Now it’s just, “Ok, i’m awake! Let’s go hunting snarks!”

I took the SD card to the sleep center and they checked my results. Success! Woo hoo!  My overall score went from 47 to 6. Yeah for me and my new grey appendage! At least i know my embarrassment is not for naught.

**********

It is almost my get-ready-for-bed time now, and i’m starting to feel tired. But that is most likely due to the fact that i had the energy for a full workout earlier. Another bonus. Energy for a decent workout. I can start looking forward to a waistline again. Hell, that alone might be incentive enough to keep wearing my face vacuum. Except that no one will want to see my waist because i will turn into a Kraken every night.

The Universe has a cruel sense of humor sometimes.

**********

Well, i fell asleep with no medication help and stayed strapped in all night. I guess i can get used to this. I may never like it, but i think i would hate the complications from sleep apnea more than i hate looking like an HVAC when i sleep. And, i suppose, the older i get, the more likely any potential overnight dates will have one as well. Of course, that whole premise hinges on actually having dates. So basically, the whole thing is a fantasy. So be it. In the end it boils down to this:

I’ve got shit to do. Places to visit. People to meet. New foods to try. Languages and dances to learn. Music to hear and play. Books to read. Things to create. Friends to make. And maybe even some grandchildren along the way. I can’t do that if i fall into decrepitude. My desire to check off items on my bucket list and have a wonderful life is greater than my embarrassment. So i will do what i’m supposed to do and be compliant with my personal mechanical robot. (“Danger, Will Robinson! Danger!”) I will strap myself in and ride the wild rubber hose every night. I will turn in my reports and make changes as needed. I will use the extra energy i gain to get off my arse and exercise more. And i encourage you, if you know you need it, to do it as well. Because the only thing worse than growing old is denying yourself the opportunity.

I’ll Trade You A Ceramic Chicken For Him

Sitting at the bar with a drink, a light nosh, and a magazine. Unwinding and looking for fashion ideas that will hopefully deceive the public as to the amount of class and grace i actually possess. Starting to feel all the bad vibes escape through the calamari. I feel a presence, and a body slides into the chair next to me.

At first glance, i was guessing his name was Chet, and he spent his weekends trying to lure 14 year-olds into the back of a panel van.  I know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but it’s kind of hard to get past that thought. Home-bleached Sideshow Bob hair, tobacco-stained teeth, and a shirt unbuttoned to show his mangy chest hair… The appearance of a man who sells weed out of the back of an Ice Cream truck.

Why is it always these guys?

But maybe i’m being prejudiced. He might be a perfectly fine man. So i nod hello and go back to my magazine. A minute or so later, he sticks his jaundiced finger on an ad with a young and voluptuous model wearing strategically and provocatively torn jeans and two pasties over her ducks and says, “You would look good in that.”

The fact that it is total bullshit is overshadowed by my disgust at the lechery oozing from his face. Eeeewww. Just eeeewww.

So much for me being prejudiced.

I raise an eyebrow, utter a quiet and curt “Thanks”, and go back to the magazine.

He chats up the bartender, who appears to be about as enamored with him as i am, and in the periphery of my hearing, there is a comment about bitchy and unsociable women. I wanted to say something, but ignored the impulse, lest it start a conversation.

I’m not in the mood to fight.

I’m not sure what it is about me that attracts these people. The creepy; the crude; the crass. The ones who smack of squalid morals and smell of stale hormones. They always seem to find me. Or maybe it isn’t me… Maybe they hit all of us, and we all wonder that same thing. In any case, the only way this man could be more scheevey is if he was wearing a big, ugly scorpio medallion around his neck.

Just about the time i motion to pay my tab and gather to leave, a couple of young blondies take the stools on his other side and he puts his attention there. One of the few times in life i’ve been relieved to be replaced.

But i will give the guy credit for one thing – He was real. He wasn’t hiding his intention, not trying to be sly. He wore his indecency like a signature cologne – as part of his persona as his accent. I might not have liked what he was peddling, but at least i knew i wasn’t being swindled. And there is real value in that. Not enough value to give the man my number, but value nonetheless. And it makes me question what would be enough value, and am i trying to buy a Mercedes on a Chevy budget?

Since value is largely subjective, i don’t suppose there is a single correct answer. There are people in this world that would pay $100 for a ceramic chicken. I wouldn’t pay $5. So what is the value of the chicken? Maybe there isn’t a single value at all. Maybe it’s a range of values. Maybe it’s a three-dimensional graph plot. Maybe it’s a complex trigonometric equation to be expressed in base 7.  Hell, maybe it’s 42. I don’t know. To be honest, i’m not even sure we can know our own worth. “Eye of the beholder” and all that.

It’s probably a good thing. It would be sad to find out that you weren’t worth more than a ceramic chicken.

Hello My Baby, Hello My Honey…

 

Yesterday i mowed my lawn. Not terribly exciting, even if i did do it with my new battery-operated mower, which is crazy quiet and so much easier than my old gas mower. Not even notable for how good the lawn looks this morning after a night of rain and a morning sky that odd shade of lavender-grey that makes all the colors really “pop”. But it did make an impression nonetheless.

When i was finished washing off the grime and pollen and dust and clippings, i discovered that one of my fingers had developed an appendage of its own.

I spent the night thinking i had somehow whacked my finger without feeling it. The large hard lump on the side of my pinkie was surely just a little bone chip. It’s only mildly discolored, doesn’t really hurt, and i can still move the finger. Obviously not anything permanently debilitating.

I wish there was a word for that fear-disbelief-anger-embarrassment you feel when you’ve hurt yourself without realizing it. The older i get, the more lumps, bumps, and bruises appear without apparent reason. I can’t decide if our bodies grow numb, or we just get so distracted that we cease to notice things like the pain of knocking an end-table so badly that you leave a hematoma the size of Trump’s toupee on your thigh.

In any case, i woke frustratingly early for a Sunday morning today. As i lay there in bed, listening to the rain, and trying to devise a plan for my backyard, a different theory of the lump starting to evolve.

When i bought this house, there was a fire pit in back that had a single bench made of cement blocks piled together. The other three seats were made from tree stumps. As i was mowing by them yesterday, i noticed that they had become severely rotted.  I pulled one apart and knocked it over, just out of morbid curiosity. I’m not a big bug fan, but the idea that a single old tree stump could house any number of things was more powerful than my fear and disgust with palmettos. My curiosity was rewarded. The stumps had become a kind of condo for ants, worms, and some remarkably beautiful speckled slugs, among other creepycrawlies. After the mowing, i went back and poked some more.

You know those Italian villages that appear to be carved into the sides of rock faces? That’s what this reminded me of. As i peeled back the bark, a textured brown, tan, and grey cliff with holes/doors of various sizes carved into it began to emerge. The slime from the slugs left an iridescent path reminiscent of water and ice coming out of split shale. The sight both filled me with wonder and made me gag. God/Goddess/Universe is a freaking genius…. But She is also kind of gross.

So as i lay there listening to the rain, i started to plan my attack against the insects’ urban sprawl. I’ve been in this house for almost three years, but have never gotten around to lighting the fire pit. (I’ve been busy. And lazy. Don’t judge me.) The yard work that has been done has created quite a pile of sticks in the concavity, and i’ve a large back stock of logs besides.  I need to burn the sticks first and then somehow manage to get those big stumps onto the fire. They are twice the size of my own trunk, but i could probably pick them up if it weren’t for the bugs…

And that’s when it hit me. That lump on my finger is probably a bite. How the hell i managed to get bitten without feeling it seems strange, even for me. And it’s not like it’s itchy or anything. I slept all night without an allergic reaction. And it is no worse this morning.

Oh hell… What if something laid eggs in my finger? Daenerys is sexy as the Mother of Dragons, but i will be much less so as the mother of rhino beetles. Or fire ants. Or whatever hatches out of my hand.

Naaahhhh, i mean, what is the likelihood, right? Those stories of people hatching insects under their skin are myths, or bare minimum, rarer than nerdy Klingons.

(Can you picture a Klingon accountant? Carrying a badass pen in a snake skin pocket protector instead of a weapon in a sheath? Me neither. But there must be some, right? Someone’s gotta keep the books.)

Anyway, back to the bite theory. I went back to the stumps earlier today to take some pictures. And now i have that phantom infestation like you get when someone says the words “head lice”. I can feel ants crawling up my pants leg, even tho i am certain it’s my imagination. I feel the tickles of beetles and the damp of slugs on my toes, tho i can see there are none.

Apparently, phantom insect bites get my attention more than the real thing.

Of course, that’s assuming it is a bite. It could still be a bone chip.  It could be a torn pinkie ligament. Hell, it could be an alien, poised to pop out and deliver “Ragtime Gal” in a very high and tiny voice. That would only be slightly more surprising than the fact that i didn’t feel it when it happened.

If i didn’t notice what caused this, what else has passed by me without catching my attention? It’s not exactly on the same level as missing Liam Neeson smacking my bottom and calling me sweetheart; but it is still a bit disconcerting. Like, maybe, walking right past a $20 bill on the sidewalk. Or going the whole day with your shirt inside out. I’m too young to be that absentminded already.

Not really, but that’s what i tell myself.

In any case, i’m sure it’s nothing exciting. I’m more just miffed with myself for not knowing how it happened. Especially since there was no alcohol involved. Just my own aging brain. Tequila would have made for a better story. And if whatever is in my finger ends up on a nasty youtube video, that’s exactly how i will explain it. Unless it’s a little singing frog in a top hat. Then i’m gonna make millions.

A Jar of Confidence

I was watching an ad this morning that had Isabella Rossellini, with only a hint of makeup, talking about a face cream. Normally, when an ad pops up like that, i hit “skip” as soon as it lets me. But i adore Isabella, and what she was talking about really piqued my interest. There were no claims that it took years off her face. No percentages of improvement. It was her talking about how much she loved the stuff because it felt luxurious. Because she loved the scent. Because it felt special. And then she made the comment, “(I don’t want) youth. I’ve had that. I’m done with that.” And she smiles and laughs.

Oh, how i wish i could attain that level of security in myself.

It’s not so much that i want youth. There are so many experiences i never want to go through again. So many years of confusion and self-doubt. And then the years of growth, facing the parts of myself that i didn’t like and needed to change. (Not that all that work is complete yet…) I would rather spend a week getting daily root canals than go through all that again! But there are definitely things i don’t like about getting older.

Ok, ok…. You knew that already.

It made me feel so good to see Isabella – a woman who, in spite of being widely considered one of the most beautiful women in the world, was dropped from a campaign because of her age – talking about it in a positive way. Granted, she doesn’t look her age. She looks MY age, even tho the has 10 years on me. But even that means she has some wrinkles and sags… And she is stunning anyway.

It sounds trite, but i really think it has to do with her infectious laugh. And her sexy voice. And the way she projects herself. She is comfortable in her own skin. Aware of both her age and her own inner beauty. All things that you wouldn’t expect to sell a face cream. But it works.

Because after watching that ad, i actually left the house for the day in nothing but mascara and lip gloss. (Yes, and clothes. Sheesh.) If i had to estimate the last time that happened, i’d say it was no more recent than the previous presidential administration. But i figured, if Isabella – who certainly has a beauty mystique to maintain – can go confidently minimalist, i should be able to as well. I mean, it’s not like i have a cosmetic contract or reputation to maintain. So i left the majority of my makeup routine behind, and didn’t even add any extra cleavage to distract from it. I went out, ran my errands, and came home to a day of spring yard work without any penalty for skipping the color corrector or eyeliner.

I feel like i got away with streaking naked thru the park.

Yes, you could say that if the ad had really worked, i’d have run right out and bought that face cream. And i might have, if i didn’t already have more face creams, serums, and treatments than your average department store. I have creams with precious oils, serums without any oils, and bottles with vitamins and antioxidants and essences of the Amazonian rain forest. I’ve got a treatment whose selling point is that it is made with real Irish peat moss. I’ve got scientific breakthroughs that smell like Dow Chemical, and all-natural creations that smell like a goat’s ass. And in spite of all that, i still never leave the house without spackle and Bond-O.

I’ve spent enough years and dollars accumulating my skin care arsenal to know that no cream is going to bring a miracle, even Isabella’s.

But i still think it’s a successful ad. It will draw in women who are sick of the bullshit thrown at us by other companies that promise, if we use their products, we will wake up looking like Cindy Crawford. As she once famously said, even she doesn’t wake up looking like Cindy Crawford. So we know the claims are false. In spite of the fact that we sometimes (far too often) fall victim to wishful thinking, women aren’t stupid. If there was a lotion that would carve away the years, it would have been invented by now, and we’d all know about it. So the refreshing bit of honesty that sometimes a cream is good just because it makes you feel decadent might just be a game changer for the company. Maybe even the skin care market. The basic ingredients of a decent face cream don’t change much from brand to brand, so pick the one that makes you feel special.

My therapist once told me that your brain and body respond when you do something for them. Exercise, eating right, getting sleep – definitely. But also occasionally treating yourself to something extra yummy. Sleeping in on a Saturday morning. Things that are good for your soul. Your body responds positively. I think this ad feeds into that theory. Don’t buy it for a bunch of claims that can be made about nearly any moisturizer. Buy it because you like the feel of it, the scent, the fact that it makes you feel special.

Your body will likely respond to the honesty more than it responds to ridiculous claims.

As for me and my toiletry addiction, i won’t be buying the cream – I have too many already. But i will be buying the premise. And if i gain half of her sexy self-assuredness, i will be more than happy with the results. I’m sure i won’t be successful every day, but even if i manage it half the time, it’s an improvement. Maybe not to the lines on my forehead, but definitely to my psyche.

Potty Mouth

Tonight i am preparing for a very important event. Cancelled all my other plans, bought a fancy bottle of drink that i’ve never tried before, donned a special outfit, lit some candles…. You’d think everything would be perfect for a first date. Or an anniversary celebration. Or a sensual interlude. And it probably would be, if that is what i were preparing for.

But i’m not.

All of that stuff that sounds so romantic takes on a whole new light when i tell you i’m preparing for my “Welcome to Middle Age” screening colonoscopy.

A strong flavored juice to cover the taste of the laxative seemed like a good idea. And the first 2 glasses were easily tolerable. Now that i’m about halfway through two liters of “The fastest way to lose five pounds”, i’m pretty sure that just the smell of tropical flavor fruit juice is going to cause me nausea for the next couple years. Hopefully it won’t affect my ability to enjoy tropical drinks on the beach. Note to self: Next time, pick something that i will never, ever want to drink otherwise. Like Cheerwine. Or hemp milk. That way i don’t risk ruining potential future vacations.

I’m decked out in sweatpants and sweatshirt – Something i rarely do. I know that there is nothing wrong with sweatpants, but i have this irrational fear that Liam Neeson will break down on my street, and when he comes to my house to ask for help,  i’ll unwittingly answer the door looking like a schlump. And wouldn’t that be a total tragedy? Because, you know, it would take celestial aligning for him to break down on my street… I wouldn’t want to spoil it by having him see me look dumpy. But i also know that if i try to undo belts and zippers every time this prep-kit works its magic, i risk ruining a pair of nice pants. Nice pants that really fit and look good are too hard to come by. Liam will have to deal.

The candles are dual purpose. First, the only thing worse than having Liam catch me in sweatpants would be if i opened the door, and the cottage smelled like a sewer. And second, sometimes in the face of a bout of misery, you have to take the bright spots where you can. I love candles. They make anything more special. Even this. In fact, this needed a lot of bright spots, so i lit a lot of candles and put on some of my favorite music to boot (An Amazon playlist of Requiems, if you care.) At least a couple parts of my body are happy and at peace. That’s definitely better than none. I’ll take it.

I know some (Most) of you are wondering why i am posting this. If you read my ramblings often, the answer won’t surprise you.

Like so many other things in life, there are things that we all go through, but no one talks openly about. Unsightly things. Embarrassing things. Hard-to-admit things. And by avoiding the topics, we make hard things even more difficult. Whether it is parenting, aging, sex, our faulty bodies… By refusing to discuss them, bitch about them, even laugh about them, we make it worse for ourselves. On top of all the discomfort we face, we compound it with the worry that we’re doing it wrong. Or that we’re abnormal. When in reality, everyone before us could have assured us that it’s a well-worn path. Making the subject taboo in conversation also perpetuates fear and anxiety about it. And most of us have plenty of fear and anxiety already without adding to it. Better to cleanse the air of mystery.

Just don’t cleanse it with laxative if you can avoid it.

I told a few people about what i was facing at the surgery center tomorrow. I mostly did this because i wanted to see how people would respond. Everyone who has ever had one either offered advice, joked about their own experience, or just gave that empathetic grin that let you know they feel your pain. No one responded with horror or disgust.

Granted, these were people who knew me, so it’s unlikely that hearing me bring up a not-ready-for-prime-time topic surprised them at all.

Nor would any of them find it unusual that i would be stressing the importance of preventative health by making jokes about it. That’s what i do. I talk and joke about stuff – Especially stuff that others don’t.

So i’ve been talking about tomorrow’s colonoscopy. It has made it a little less daunting. Well, some of that is the talking. Some of it is the promise of some solid Propofol-induced sleep. Some of it is the thought of a thinner waist in the morning. Some of it is knowing that i am taking care of myself. And some of it is because i know i will treat myself the day after with something really yummy. Between all of that, and my pretty candles and nice music, it isn’t unbearable. I’d still rather be eating calamari on the beach, but it isn’t terrible. In fact, i’ve been on first dates that were far worse. So i can definitely take this in stride. I got this. Yup yup.

And Liam, if your car breaks down and you have to come here, please forgive the sweatpants.

Games People Play

Apparently nothing is safe from the trawling creepers.

My oldest daughter got me into playing Words with Friends. Since i am a tireless Scrabble player from way back, it made sense to add this app to my repertoire. It took me a while to get used to the changes in rules and features in the web-based versus board-based, so in the beginning, i only played my daughter and a couple of close friends. Once i started getting the hang of it, i added in suggested players. It got to be great fun, if still a bit of a time-waster.

Then WWF added in a new feature: Messaging. Seems like a cool thing. You can give your competitor kudos for an exceptional play. Complain about having nothing but vowels for 3 turns in a row. Maybe even get to make a friend. I enjoyed the additional perk until recently.

A few days ago, i received some new game requests. The first came with an immediate message. It was an introduction, which seemed innocent enough. The man appeared to be about my age and said he was in Idaho. I responded with a polite introduction. As he continued on, i noticed a few things:

  1. Judging by his vocabulary and syntax, he was not likely to be a native English speaker – Rather odd since his name and picture screamed “middle America”
  2. His hours of play made more sense for someone in a time zone 5 or 6 hours ahead of me, not 2 behind me.
  3. He became overly familiar very quickly. Questions about occupation, etc, rapidly gave way to questions about location and other specifics (That i would never hand out to a stranger)

I decided to have a little fun with him. I made up some fairly ridiculous answers to his questions. He didn’t catch on to the unlikelihood of the responses and kept asking away about the personal details of my life.

In less than 6 messages, he was asking for my email address. Uuuuuhhhhhh… Nope. But i kept on replying with complete and utter ridiculous fabrication, just for my own amusement. And when he finally got around to asking if i was married, i replied, “I married Jesus when i took my vows.”

I haven’t heard back from him since.

Mind you, i am not in any way knocking or mocking nuns. I think their commitment is a wonderful thing. But i guarantee it wasn’t what the trawler wanted to hear. And i do hope the sisters would enjoy the humor in using that line to put him in his place.

The second gentleman was a bit more relaxed, admitted to me he was from one of the more cosmopolitan areas of Africa, and has not asked nearly as many invasive questions as the first man. In fact, his first handful of contacts were about the game itself. Then came the inevitable “You are so beautiful!” bit. He went on and on about my insanely good looks (To note, while i am certainly not the bad side of a tram smash, i am in no danger of being mistaken for a fashion model. My profile pic on the app isn’t even a particularly good one. So excessive use of phrases like, “You look like a movie star!” reek of fresh horse shit.) I think he sent half a dozen messages about my sparkling appearance and the probability that i had a great figure before the eventual “Are you married?”

This time i replied, “I was before my transition.”

To his credit, he replied “Ok,” and has continued playing the game – Albeit with no more small talk.

(Again, this was not to place any harm on the transgendered. My response was solely crafted to be something he would not expect, especially if he was only trawling.)

The third player got to the “Are you married?” on message 2. Not even a formal introduction first. (Apparently he didn’t read the national bestseller, Miss Manners’ Guide to Social Media Trawling.) I went left field on this one and sent a rambling rant on how marriage is the creation of the patriarchy, meant to keep women down, “Screw the establishment!”, reasons why men should be cut up and used as shark bait, and, hey, my coven throws a big shin dig for Ostara – It would be great if you could come!

No response yet, but the night is early.

True, i could just not respond – But where’s the fun in that?  Besides, i’m kind of angry, and my passive-aggressive solution helps me to feel better.

Yes, i realize that social media is full of trawlers, and by joining anything that has messaging capability, i effectively take the blame for it. A handful of times a few years ago on Facebook i would get similar messages… And back then i made a game of seeing how long it would take them to ask me for money. I’ve had similar things on other sites as well. But good grief – This is Scrabble! It’s a game, not true social media. It’s supposed to help my brain stay agile as i slide down the splintered pole of middle age, not inundate me with fake men fishing for money. But then again, i suppose creating all these stories to thwart them probably does at least as much for my brain as the game does.

Yes, i will feel badly if it turns out that any of these people is for real and just looking for a friend. Just as i feel badly for the people who take the charlatans seriously and fall prey to money scams. But more than either of those, i’m disappointed that it took such a short time for such a relatively innocent pastime to become just another way for lowlifes to fleece people by preying on their insecurities and sympathies. If they spent half as much effort trying to do good for people, i can’t imagine all the wonders they could accomplish.

But we all know that isn’t going to happen. There have been cheats for as long as there have been humans on this Earth. And there is little i can do to stop it. What i can do is stop allowing the fact that i am a common target of trawlers make me feel bad about myself. I am not pitiful, insanely lonely, or stupid; and i am most definitely not going to follow someone into a metaphorical unmarked van for flattery and a piece of figurative candy. Instead, i will entertain myself by having them fish for the figments of my active imagination. For my stories. I will waste their time as much as they do mine.  In fact, i already have a plan for the next one… I’m going to (Appear to) fall for it, hook, line, and sinker, and ask so many specific and personal questions in return that i creep them out as much as they do me!

C-o-u-n-t-e-r-i-n-s-u-r-g-e-n-c-y. With the triple word scores and the double letter scores…. I’d say i win the game.