Monday, June 16, 2014

Unhand Me, Greybeard Loon

Today, I pulled out one of those stiff chin hairs with a tweezers and--whoa!--it was white. This and the weird little growth I had removed from my cheek last November, which turned out to be a wart, and I may as well start building the gingerbread house and perfecting a hideous cackle. It's not that we post-menopausal women hate young people, it's that, over time, the way everyone, younger and older, ignores us drives us bat shit crazy. And then they were right, we are nuts, and we do hate them, but not a priori. It's for a reason.
In my case, this is nothing new. I was invisible while young as well. The recent fuss about cat-calling on the streets has always been a non-issue for me. Even in high school, where the jocks called out numbers between one and ten as girls passed them in the halls, I was not rated. You can be sure I'd remember my rating if I'd heard it. Anyway, it hasn't happened to me yet, and I'm pretty sure it never will now. I feel bad for those it does happen to, but the assumption that the experience is universal is just as ridiculous as the assumption that it is harmless. Possibly the only thing worse than being objectified is being treated as if you don't even exist.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

This Face--it's a Curse

I don't feel bad about my neck, but I do feel slightly negative about my chin. I used to have one. Now it is a notion buried in wattle or dewlap or whatever you call the sagging of cheeks to chin line. The collagen that's failing me now makes my face begin to resemble a frowning bulldog. And I have the canines to make this passing resemblance something a little more than fleeting. Pictures of my Cooney relatives in their 60s had this chin, this downward arch imprinted on their lower faces whether they were frowners or not. It's an old wives' tale that making certain facial expressions will make your face stay that way. You have no choice which expression you'll be staring at in the mirror decades from now. I knew I'd never have the pursed lip cinch of my grandmother. I intended never to be so judgmental, and I haven't been. But there they are, little lines around the mouth that when I'm not smiling make it look as though I disapprove. Of everything. Of you, your idiotic fashion statement, your favorite movie, your best effort at poetry. My face betrays me every day. I do not feel what it constantly shouts at people. This face--it's a curse!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Domestic Architecture

Your new apartment (new to you!) has a tiny bathroom with two mirrors facing each other. Now as you step from the bath or sit on the toilet, you are faced with the ever-increasing dimpling of your thighs. In the past, you were younger, thinner and better able to steel yourself before taking this in. Now it is thrust upon you each day like subliminal scare tactics. At the same time, your ability to truly care what kind of figure you cut has eroded. If this extra padding were health-neutral, you wouldn't give a fuck. But lurking in your genetic die roll is a tendency toward Type II diabetes and you can't say you don't know what that means. Strict diet, needles, declines on all fronts--incremental at first, then with a sharp downward slope. Best not to let it begin.
You cut carbs. You walk fast. Faster. Time is chasing you. It speeds up as you slow down.

Monday, July 30, 2012

A Little Thin

I'm getting a little thin in the oddest of places. Not the hair on my head, though that is something half the women in my family have had to face--you know, the shiny pink scalp with only a few sparse tufts  poking out at irregular intervals. No, it's my Maggie Thatcher. And not where the rude tangle could use some pruning, but a quarter-sized patch, smack dab a little to the right of center. Now I'm a person who won't depilate. I can't even shave my thighs above halfway from the knee. Just gets too itchy and annoying a day or two later, and for what? If I wear a swimsuit in public, the fact that Maggie won't stay inside the elastic bits will not be the main reason people avert their eyes. The cellulite will scare them so badly they'll have closed their eyes before they get there. Wax? Don't make me laugh. Just watching the comedy/torture chamber procedure on various TV shows and movies (I particularly remember Evan Handler getting his back waxed on Sex and the City) made me shriek in sympathetic horror. For days afterward, the sight of a candle could terrify me. No, the old Maggie is purely the 1970s version of Our Bodies, Ourselves, just as radical Bostonian feminism has intended. But then along comes this age-induced (I assume) deforestation. Pearly pale, has never seen the sun. A clearing in the woods. Perhaps it is not baldness, per se, but merely a wearing off, a wearing down, like my formerly hirsute lower arms that are now hairless, thanks to miracle stretch fibers like Lycra. Or like my dad's calves worn smooth by decades of sock-wearing. But the only person who might notice this, besides myself, is not the most observant of men. He's always the last person to notice if I've gained weight. His objectification of me (and other women, no doubt) tends to the idealization end of the spectrum. We are all so beautiful to him. Whatever kind of goggles he's got on, I hope he won't be taking them off soon.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Menopause Rant

I'd like to tell you what an absolute pain in the butt this thing is, but like all changes you have no chance of getting around, no one cares. The older women all wish they had your miniscule problems to deal with. They are all slowing down, losing hearing, eyesight, motor functions; a few rampant fat cells and hot flashes, moodiness--they wish they still had your problems. And younger women? They don't want to know about this! Yuck! They still have boyfriend, husband, baby, job problems. Don't overload them with more stuff they can do nothing about. Other women your own age are mainly interested in competitive symptomology: "What? You only woke up twice? I routinely have soaking night sweats three or four times a night!" And it's true, I don't have it that bad. Several warming trends per day, nothing sweaty (yet), minor sleep disturbances, a voracity for carbs, the fabled sag of the ass that many women started to notice in their thirties only began for me last year (54!). Men don't want to know. They are uninterested because it doesn't happen to them, or so squeamish they can't bear to hear about it. Something like labor stories. Oh, and my one experience in labor was also too easy--only four hours, no epidural, no C-section, not even an episiotomy. Now an episiotomy is when they make a small cut in the birth canal--you don't want to hear more? Why not? Come back here! I haven't even gotten to the discomforts of mastitis . . .

Friday, March 2, 2012


Now that it would be technically
True, if someone were to say
"She's hot"
The flash subsides
The glow remains
Her body is
A livable city
Subject to a strange
Weather pattern.
Can she blame
Global warming?
Better to open a window,
Turn on a fan.
A world-class city
In a heat wave is still
A world-class city.

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Indignities Continue

Down in the hormonal hellhole, hopefully just visiting, not planning to stay. I want to devour the world's donuts, chocolate, cheese, olives and wine, pasta, hamburgers, salmon and croissants. I grit my teeth through each day. I want to want to exercise, but I do not. So I don't. My neck is tight. My shoulders hurt. My jaw feels like a vise. Yoga, hot baths, physical therapy--yeah, I should, shouldn't I? But I don't want to. My thighs are stippled with new blossoms of fat cells, butter- and sugar-filled globules crowding each other under my skin like bunched grapes. I see them and I think "I should cut back," but I don't. Lucky I don't smoke. Menopause: the ultimate unfairness. Wasn't it bad enough that you had to bleed once a month for forty years? That if you missed one period you panicked? That when for two years, you finally wanted to conceive you didn't? Or was it couldn't? And now that you can finally get off that merry-go-round, which you 100% regard with great relief, it's like you're seasick. Moody, nauseous, sleep-disturbed, howling with hunger for those things you know are not good for you, angry that all the control and reason you used to have at your pinpoint disposal has flown out the window. And you can look forward to at least a year of this, when a month or two is more than you can imagine surviving.
On top of this, you are a lucky rich woman who has nothing to complain about. Everyone, but everyone, has more and better reasons to complain. Your elders crumble, your children strive and pine, suffer through first love or heartache, and you, you're sitting pretty in the place you love to be, surrounded by love and having gotten all the best things in life--a good family, a good man, a good son, all good from here on in, and then this chemical--this hormone--sandbags you from behind. Whap!
The new you, an angry, complaining, inventive whiner who won't shut up, or eat less. Nor can you really believe that it matters all that immensely what your thighs look like, because--who's looking? Anybody worried about 55-year-old thighs has got to be the shallowest person on earth. And you, you may be menopausal, but you're not shallow. Not yet.