Where To Now?

I went to Church a couple weeks ago. Shocking, right? Truth be told, I’ve been attending Sunday Masses for a while. I started going two years ago, after moving from Phoenix to Philadelphia. Based in Philly, it was a logical decision, A. D. (after divorce). Ironically, however, by doing so I also returned my east coast roots. (My parents were PA and upstate NY born and raised, and I was born in New Jersey while my dad was stationed at Ft. Dix.). But then again . . . life is a circle that turns on itself, returning to end where it begins . . .

Single and alone, after 36 years of being wife and mother, the move itself was a faithful act. And they say faith can move mountains. But I didn’t need a mountain moved (and a transcon moving company had taken care of my worldly goods). What I needed—desperately—was the comfort of believing a higher power had a plan for me. So along with my NJ/PA/NY roots, I returned to my religious ones—ie the Catholic Church. And OMG (no pun intended) was that first confession a doozy!! “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It has been 41 years since my last confession . . .” Side note:  I made it easy for poor Father Cavanaugh by just ‘fessing upfront to having broken all of the 10 Commandments except the 5th. (Thou shalt not kill.) I think he doled out 20 Hail Marys, 5 or 6 Our Fathers and an Act of Contrition. (I got off light.) But I digress . . .

So back to me in Church, with a pretty clean slate, I might add. Since my last relationship breakup has engendered 6 months of unwanted celibacy, I no longer have to cop to that “sex outside of marriage” thing. Nowadays #2 (taking the Lord’s name in vain) is the one I struggle with. That particular Sunday the subject of the homily was perseverance, specifically “you don’t bury your God-given talents in the face of failure.” It was a coincidence to say the least. Fateful to say the most.

Just the week prior I had written a piece here entitled “  . . . and start all over again.” Its subject was failure, because at that point I’d had a lot of it. Not only on a personal level, having been dumped by a man I really cared about, but on a professional level as well. The book I had decided to self-publish on Amazon had sold a whopping 4 copies! In the post I wondered whether I should shelve the whole project and just concede to having failed. (BTW, a girlfriend told me it was my worst post ever—depressing and sad. But hey, sometimes the events in life just don’t lend themselves to a light and witty post. Besides which—and based upon its hits and comments—I redeemed myself with the next one about vibrators.) So back again to me in Church . . . Oh, dear Lord! “Church” and “vibrators” practically in the same sentence?!? Crap. I wonder which Commandment that breaks? Maybe I’ll just offer a dozen Hail Marys to be safe . . .

But all joking now aside, here’s a confession of a different sort. My writing talent (if it is indeed a talent) has long been a source of frustration and self-doubt. On the one hand, I know I can write. On the other, I don’t always believe it. So as I sat there listening to a discourse about perseverance and talent, I wondered if maybe it wasn’t a message—not exactly a lightning bolt from the sky, a burning bush or the actual booming voice of God—but a message nevertheless. Father C continued his sermon, citing the example of Michael Jordan (arguably basketball’s greatest player) who said he learned more from his failures than he did his successes. The shots he missed in the game he practiced the next day over and over and over again. The ultimate lesson to be learned of course was faith—faith in God—who doesn’t make mistakes. So when man (or woman) does, then he (or she) must work to correct them. Be they actual sins or failures to achieve true potential, i.e. missed basketball shots . . . or next to zero book sales?

Drawing parallel, I began to think. So, short of writing a whole new book, how did I work on what I’d missed? I decided to correct the mistakes I believed I’d made in marketing. I changed the title and cover and book description. (See “I Still Want Fireworks” which addresses the redo in further detail.) Feedback was positive. And so with renewed faith, I awaited results—and steadfastly refrained from checking the sales numbers.

In the meantime I finally achieved a goal I had set four years ago. Six hours before 2017 ended, I finished reformatting the last of my three historical romances. All are now on Amazon in Kindle format. I reedited each, correcting content and character motivation errors, writing mistakes and awkward phrasing. No longer restricted by the publisher guidelines that in the 1990s censored what I could write, I also reworked and rewrote scenes and dialogue. In short, I wrote this time to please myself. Each of the three is different and each endears itself to me for a unique reason.

By far A Knight’s Desire has been my most popular. It is the quintessential medieval romance with a flawed hero, a feisty heroine and a villain readers fall in love with. Hearts Enslaved takes place in Roman Britain, not a popular time frame for a romance, I’ll grant you. More historical in military fact and detail, it was however my favorite to write. I loved its hero—but more importantly it earned my military son’s seal of approval for accuracy. (He read it while deployed, but admitted he’d torn off its bodice-ripper cover first. That’s ok, honey. I don’t blame you. I was never thrilled with the cover either.)

Fires in the Night was the first book I wrote (ever). unnamedAs such, it has the simplest story line—and the most sex scenes. I was a very bored stay-at-home mom when I wrote it. To say it was a romantic fantasy and an erotic escape would be an understatement. Because it is my guilty-pleasure favorite to read, I gave it a new cover. And may I say, DAMN! If only a cover would sell a book, this one would put me on the New York Times List for sure! (or is it only me who needs a cold shower and /or the nightstand drawer . . .)

So now I am at a crossroads. I toy (no pun intended) with the idea of writing romance again. But I don’t think my heart is in it. Nor do I think my life has enough content or humor for a second humor memoir. Besides which, I finally checked the sales numbers for I Still Want Fireworks yesterday. Alas, 4 must be my lucky number. (That would be sarcasm.) Which leaves this blog. And the concomitant question: What the hell am I doing? Or accomplishing? I am no expert on life, nor do I possess any credentials to address its issues. There are experts aplenty who can—and do—do so.  So where to now? Where do I go in 2018 (metaphorically speaking/writingwise, ‘cause we all know I went literally to Paris—see “Now Taking Applications”).

Again, because God has a sense of humor (and impeccable timing), I think my answer came on the last day of 2017 in the form of an email from a follower of “singleat60.” She opened up to me, a stranger, relaying her last few years of adversity and struggle with major health issues. She said she’d been reading me for a while and that it was as if each of my stories when published mirrored exactly what she was going through that week. She told me to keep writing because I “help so many who are going through” what I write about. WOW.  Her words humbled and touched me profoundly. Because she’d included her phone number in her email, I called her. We spoke for nearly an hour. She said she was in awe and honored. No, E . . . it is I who was honored! As we signed off, she thanked me repeatedly for calling. I tried to thank her, but she dismissed the impact the call had had upon me.

In speaking to E, I realized I may have realized my writing niche after all. It’s not my academic knowledge, formal training or expertise—because I have none, none and none. As I’ve said before, the only degree hanging on my wall says German, Russian and History. My Master’s is in Life. Period. But my honesty and willingness to openly and candidly (sometimes too candidly) write about my emotions, doubts, fears and experiences  . . . according to E, they count. Moreover they fulfill a purpose, she says. Again, WOW.

For a week now since (and after seeing a posted motivational video about goal setting for the new year) I’ve thought about my PP&C (passion,  purpose & calling.) Writing has always been a love/hate endeavor . . . I guess that does qualify as a passion. Check. Certainly what I write nowadays is therapy for me, a way to vent and address my thoughts and issues . . . ok, purpose. Check. But calling? A humor blog about sex and aging and starting over? Really? But who would have thought they would resonate so with other women? Not I, for damn sure! Nor have I any real idea with how many. (Though the numbers today say 5355 views by 3162 visitors in 90 countries, let’s be realistic. A lot of that could be pervs simply searching for porn with the word “sucks” in the title.) Neither can I truly know how impactful my off-the-wall musings and attempted humor posts are. But thanks to a fortuitous Church sermon, a random video and a loyal follower’s email, I do know this:  I know the answer to “where to now.” At least for a while . . .

In the meantime, ladies, how about each of you? As 2018 begins, what is your PP&C?


Postscript: Stay tuned for this techno-idiot’s foray into an audiovisual realm . . . With E’s encouragement, I’m going to try something new next time, a 2-parter that is half video and half my per usual written post.

Post postscript: In response to readers’ requests, techno-idiot figured out how to provide a hyperlink (I think it’s what it’s called). Click on one of the book titles above, and it should take you to Amazon–if you are wanting to check out any of my books further.

Now Taking Applications

I flew with a woman this week, my age—give or take. Waiting in the hotel crew lounge for our room keys in Paris (yeah . . . I know, rough life), I overheard her say, “I’m now taking applications for my new boyfriend.” I laughed. I loved her joie de vivre. But more, I loved her brand of brass—that clash of class and sass that bespeaks confidence. Her outlook on life—and post relationship dating—was more than admirable. It was enviable! And eye-opening.

I can write (and no doubt have) 100,000 words on the topic of starting over, wanting more, refusing to settle for less and learning overall and most of all to love the self that stares back at me in the mirror. The truth is, it’s not easy for me. (Those who can, do. Those who can’t, write?)

One pretty standard bromide that abounds on chat sites and Facebook pages (and in self-help books by so-called “experts”)? If you can’t love yourself, how can you love someone else? You need to work on you. Then the right one will come along. I have no problem with the advice—hell, I’ve probably said it here! But let’s be real. It’s trite and unoriginal, a feel-good remark intended to soothe and create the illusion of problem solving. Again, I have no issue with the counsel, per se. But sitting in that lounge, I realized a hair-splitting truth. Like good writing, starting over is not a technique about telling. It’s about the skill of showing. In other words . . . Babe, don’t spew the right platitude. Sport the right attitude. Repeat after me. Attitude! Not platitude!

So here’s my story in a two-part nutshell. #1 Like the blog title says, I’m single at 60 (ok, 61 now) and it sucks! And #2, like my book title avers, I still want fireworks. I want them because I had them. And I miss them. The last guy I was with  . . . suffice it to say, he delivered. Though he’s now water under my bridge, he set the bar pretty damn high. At the risk of yet another cliché . . . he’s a hard act to follow for 2 reasons.  He was not only actually attracted to my intellect, he was not intimidated by my strength and independence. In fact, he came out on top (no pun intended, but yeah . . . he did). Trust me . . . a rare trifecta. He made me feel ALIVE, desired, cherished, appreciated and confident . . . for a woman who was married for 36 years to a passive aggressor who took her for granted and who needed to undermine her sense of self in order to bolster his, it was a drug! But as I’ve earlier written here (see “Candyland”), dude doesn’t do relationships. Yep. The problem with fireworks . . . they go bust after they burst. And they burn.

Cue now my colleague’s comment. And the epiphany it inspired.

In as much as I most definitely nowadays have a vacancy, I realized in that moment in Paris, I’ve done next to nothing as far as advertising the opening. In fact, over the past 6 months I’d metaphorically hung out a “closed for repairs” sign.  In all honesty, my age is doing a number on my confidence. Add to it my insistence upon fireworks (read “It’s in His Kiss”) and my proclivity toward young, dark-haired, exotic (albeit dude was a definite against “type” although still 9 years younger) and what we have, ladies, is a pessimistic attitude that has surely created a self-fulfilling prophecy. Short and not so sweet:  I wasn’t likely to find anyone—so why the fuck bother? Truly, in the last 5 years, I’ve only encountered 2 men who checked off those subconscious (or not) boxes of mine. Both subsequent relationships lasted 9 months—give or take. Neither a great track record nor cause for hope. Again, why the fuck bother?

So back to Paris . . . that evening . . . well . . . don’tcha know? . . . ‘cause God has a sense of humor and life is a freaking circle that turns on itself . . . Walking through the Latin Quarter with that self-same colleague (with whom I have now bonded and call “friend”), we passed an Italian restaurant. As is the custom in Europe, a waiter elegantly dressed in a white shirt, black tie and long red apron stood at the entrance, greeting passersby in an attempt to entice them inside.

“Happy New Year,” he said, in French.

I responded the same, politely gave a nod and a smile—and was promptly hit with a jolt. Damn! Tall, salt and pepper beard, dark hair and amazing eyes . . .  Eyes that were locked on mine. Or were they? He smiled and there it was again! The same jolt. And a rush of conscious realization now catching up to my subconscious.

I think he asked where we were from.

“Americans,” my friend replied.

“You?” I asked, knowing the answer before he gave it.

“Italian,” he smiled.

“My mother was Italian,” I said.

He switched to Italian and asked where I was going.

“The hotel.”

“To sleep?”

“Yes. Tomorrow to America.”

He titled his head and affected a frown. At that point, I didn’t care. I’d never see him again. My Italian pretty much exhausted, I patted my heart and then gestured to him. I told him I found him quite handsome. Again he smiled. His eyes remained locked with mine. You know . . . that “silence speaks volumes” thing? I sighed in regret and wished him a happy new year. And off we went, my friend and I.

We hadn’t taken a step when she exclaimed, “He was so flirting with you!”

I laughed. But now my common sense was returned and my confidence gone. I figured he was just trying to drum up business. “Was he?” I asked.

Yes!” she answered. “He was. I didn’t know you spoke Italian.”

“A little,” I said. I had picked it up in college, having lived in Florence for 4 weeks with a couple Greek architect students when my study abroad program in Germany ended. My brief immersion had given me a slight acquaintance with the language and a full appreciation of the merits of Greek men over American college boys. (Note and FYI:  Not only were they men—having all served in the Greek army prior to beginning their college studies, they were all uncircumcised. TMI for sure. But one hell of a fun fact, regardless.)

“Damn!” I then said in an admission more to myself, “I could have fucked him in a New York minute!” We laughed and starting looking for our Metro.

In hindsight I should have taken a card for the restaurant, or at least a picture with its very attractive waiter. But neither is of import. In that brief exchange I realized hope. It’s not over for me, not by a long shot. Not only do I still know how to flirt, to perceive interest and in fact, to actually attract it, there are still men out there who light that spark in me. Who knew? Few and far between, I’ll grant you. But thanks to that lone Italian waiter standing in the Latin Quarter of a French city, I am officially declaring my repairs done. The vacancy sign is coming down and a new one going up. I am now open again for business . . . and yep, you guessed it. I’m taking applications.

Remember. Attitude not platitude, ladies. Show. Don’t tell. Oh . . . and does anyone want to sell me a Paris trip?

Take a Look at Me Now

I don’t remember the date it happened. But I do remember the moment—the moment when I realized I had become invisible.

I was in my late 40s when it happened. One day I was visible—noticed by men and seen as sexually desirable. If you know what I mean, then you know what I mean:  My smile elicited immediate response. Men made deliberate eye contact. They contrived reasons to speak or engage, and when I walked past, I didn’t have to look. I knew their heads would swivel and eyes follow . . .  And then one day—they didn’t. The heads didn’t turn and the male eyes simply gazed straight past. If I did get a horn honk  . . . trust me. It was a toot by default ‘cause the car was coming up from behind and not approaching straight on. And whistles? They were followed by a “Lady, you left your lights on!” or a “Hey, you dropped something!”

It’s a fact of life, and it happens to us all – with the rare exception. (Sophia Loren comes to mind, but she’s the definite exception. At 71, she posed for Pirelli’s annual pin-up calendar—AND NAILED IT!) But for most of us mere mortals, we age and our looks fade. Our asses fall and boobs sag. The only body parts that thicken are the ones we wish wouldn’t. The rest—lips, hair, brows, skin and even vaginal tissue? Yeah. Those are the ones whose control dials Mother Nature turns to “thin.”  The Bitch! But why not? No sense advertising a service (procreation) no longer in service. It’s God’s ultimate consumer protection from fraud measure.  See, unlike men who are able to seed life with their seed all their lives, we women come stamped like a carton of eggs (pun intended).  Our wombs not only have a “best if used by” recommendation, our ova have an actual run out of stock date. Pause now for a quick biology lesson:  As opposed to the human male who can continue to produce product as long as he continues to breathe, the female of the species is born with all the supply she will ever have. Personally, besides giving dogs only a 10-15 year life span, I think it’s either one of God’s greater screw-ups—or definitive proof The Higher Being is male. But that’s just me . . .

Back to being “invisible”  . . .  it’s not just me who feels unnoticed, unseen and ignored. A recent survey asked 2000 women over 50 what they hated most about getting older. Their answer:  “becoming invisible” and being seen by men and society as no longer viable, interesting, necessary, important, valuable or wanted sexually. Color me not surprised. Statistics and reality prove time and time again that men prefer younger women. While there are the rare exceptions (Hugh Jackman comes to mind—hell to the yes! But he’s an Aussie and of sturdier, randier, lustier and less watered down genetic stock—seeing as Australia was a British penal colony.) Speaking of watered down . . .

Before we look at the shallow pool of available American men over 50, let’s pause now for a couple unfun facts about married American men53% of all married men in the U.S. are married to younger women. Broken down further, 25% are married to women 5-9 years younger, while 18% of all wedded American males are married to women young enough to be their daughters. Trust me. I’ve done the research. Their preferences don’t change when they online date—ergo the validity in older women’s sense of rejection and self-unworth. According to a survey conducted by Elite Singles (an over 50 dating site), 42% of all men surveyed wouldn’t even consider a woman older. For men in the 60-69 range, their average preferred age gap is 11 years younger.  I’ve done the math. That leaves me, at 61, with a 72-year-old? Oh, hell to the no! Ergo, my present state of celibacy—and invisibility.

Now . . . please don’t take me to task or try to tell me a woman doesn’t need a man’s attention to validate her. Yes, I know. Her worth is more than her physical appeal to the male gender of her species—who is, after all, merely primordially responding to her procreative ability. I know that. I know, too, we are more that tits and ass and lips—or the ability to squeeze a grapefruit-sized head out of our vaginas. We SHOULD be judged and valued for so, so, so much more. Talent, intellect, grace, strength, wisdom, life’s skills and experience, character, blah blah blah. Yes, we should. But we usually aren’t. BUT if that’s the way it is in your world, then PLEASE send me the GPS coordinates. I’ll happily start packing. But in my world, the real world, I’m invisible to men. With the rare exception.

Pause now for an unneeded, but fun for me, flashback:  The night of my 60th birthday I met a man who, if not an actual citizen of Older Women Rock World, was at least carrying a forged copy of its passport. (When I told him my age after learning he was 51, he shrugged and spouted the OWRW motto:  Age is just a number. “Why does it matter?” he then asked.  “Because women of a certain age are invisible to men,” I said, deciding to call him on his gender’s prejudice. “Even the 50 and 60 year-olds want 30 and 40. Why go with 60?” Well . . . somebody must have given the fucker the secret password, because he used it! “Intellect,” he said, without missing a beat or even looking at a crib sheet, “There has to be something there for after.” Needless to say, Checkpoint Charlene lifted the gate and Dude was let in . . .) But I digress . . .

Ladies, is it any wonder the biz of botox is booming? Anti-aging everything floods the market, Fountain of Youth formulas, laser treatments, fillers, skin care regimes that cost a fortune—all because we can’t face our face. (Guilty as charged.) Not that any us want to launch even a single row boat with it. (See paragraph below.) Honestly, most of us don’t want to turn back the hands of time either, we’d just like to stop the freakin’ clock! We don’t want to look better than what we were born with or even younger per se. We just don’t want to look any older. I love a line from Game of Thrones, “Nothing fucks you harder than time.” It’s frankly a screw job I could do without.

Make no mistake. I love being a grandmother. I love the financial freedom I enjoy, the time to do what, when, where, and with whom I please. Some might say it’s a trade-off. The cost of which is the loss of youth, looks and –alas–sex appeal. Those who are still going to take me to task reading this . . . well, I’m guessing you’ve never known the power, the sense of satisfaction, or affirmation that comes from having “that” sway over men. All the power pant suits in the world have rarely changed the course of history as has “that” sway. There are exceptions, of course. (Golda Meier comes to mind. At 71, she came out of retirement to become Israel’s fourth—and still only female—Prime Minister.) But as a rule, the face that could, would – or supposedly did – launch a thousand ships? Yeah . . . not Golda’s. In fact, after “a certain age,” even Sophia couldn’t pull that one off.

History is full of examples. (Indulge me. I was a history major.) Edward didn’t abdicate his throne for Wallis’ intellect or Caesar lose his Empire (and life) for Cleopatra’s wisdom and character. Hell, a chubby little intern might have used something to enthrall the leader of the free world, but it wasn’t life’s experience. And if Clarence’s fascination with Anita was the juris prudenz in her head, then the hair on her Coke can would have come from his. Seriously! The only woman who was ever able to keep a man’s interest absent “that” was Scheherazade. And she’s fictional—and from the same group of stories as a genie in a bottle. (You want to rub something to gain riches and jewels? Honey, believe me. It ain’t a magic lamp you need to stroke.)

So now that I have no doubt offended most of you, let’s continue. I am as guilty as society, of judging myself now lacking. While I’m hardly in Golda’s or Sophia’s leagues, I’m not without entries in the plus column. I am bilingual, well read, well-traveled. I’m told (and a few published books and a blog with over 4300 hits would indicate) I’m a pretty good writer. I know I’m well organized, empathetic, sentimental, generous and loving. I am great under pressure and fabulous in a crisis. I am strong. In the last 4 years, within my immediate family, I have dealt with and survived death, divorce, deployments and drug addiction. The cherry on the top of my crap sundae?  Suicide. Yes, I can handle life. So why can’t I handle aging?

Age doesn’t dictate happiness. No more than society’s definition of beauty denotes value or worth. There’s actually a movement afoot in the U.K. to have an older woman define herself, not as “older,” but rather as a “WHIP” (Woman Happy In her Prime). It’s a cute name—but silly. We are what we are and be what we want. So after much deliberation, I’ve decided here-forth to think of aging (as I do most things in life because I’m a Libra) as a scale, the balance of which is maintained by loss being equaled out by gain. For example, age-related wisdom serving to compensate for biological losses. In the 1960s, feminist Betty Friedan said: “Aging is not lost youth, but a new stage of opportunity and strength.” I’m going with that. Certainly in many ways the woman I see in the mirror today is an improvement over the one in the photo that introduces this post. That photo is from 1990. It was part of a series of professional shots I had done for the book cover of my first book.  I’ll save you the math. I was 34. And as much as she’s the one who used to get honks, hoots and hit-ons, I honestly wouldn’t trade places with her today.

I’m not saying my life today is without deficits. The single worst thing is the occasional bout of emotional loneliness. Ok. Scratch that—or make it #2. The single worst thing is the occasional bout of horniness—balanced however by a heaping helping of independence I would not trade for anything!  For the woman in the photo, her focus was her sons who were at the time her works in progress. While hitting the New York Times Bestsellers’ List remains on my bucket list, the true work in progress I’m working on now is me. That entails spreading my metaphorical wings and going where I’ve never dared before. Self-publishing I STILL WANT FIREWORKS was a start. So was starting this blog. And I’m not alone. In greater numbers than ever before, “invisible” women have realized invisibility is also a key to freedom. Specifically, the freedom to pursue their dreams and goals, utilizing their talents and strengths (and life’s accumulated wisdom, skills and experiences) in order to seize opportunity and create success in a multitude of endeavors that time, circumstance and youth prohibited.

I once read that “life begins out of your comfort zone.” But it takes strength and confidence and a certain “Fuck it! I don’t care” attitude to take those steps. Indeed, nothing may fuck you harder than time, but neither will anything bestow those aforementioned attributes in greater measure. By no means am I done, throwing in the towel—and conceding invisibility. Oh, hell to the no! But check me out now for what I do and accomplish. Go ahead. Take a look at me now. But look for the reasons I consider valuable.


Postscript: One of those women I spoke of above who is now utilizing her strengths and talents and pursuing a new endeavor is a lovely woman I met through an Sidney-based facebook page for women 50+ . (BTW, to my nearly 600 Aussie and Kiwi viewers: THANK YOU!!!!) Her name is Jan Clifton and she has started a facebook group and blog for women called Doing Curves in Style. It’s a site for mature, curvy women that discusses fashion and styling and lots more. Do check it out. You’ll be taking a look at another woman boldly choosing visibility over invisiblity.

UPDATE:  Since publishing this post, my humor/memoir self help book on online dating has been reviewed by Readers’ Favorite. I am thrilled to announce I STILL WANT FIREWORKS received their 5 star rating for Non-Fiction Humor/Comedy. 

I Still Want Fireworks

They say you can’t judge a book by its cover. But we do.

A perfect case in point . . . decades ago during my romance author days, I was doing a book signing in a bookstore. A young girl about 18 or 19 walked up to the counter and asked the salesclerk for a copy of The Last of the Mohicans.

The clerk promptly returned with the classic in hand, a pale purple cover featuring a couple of Indians in artful silhouette.20171203_101201-1 “Oh no!” the girl exclaimed. “I want the one with Daniel Day Lewis on the cover!”  (The movie of the same name and starring said actor, was playing in the theaters. Clearly to exploit renewed interest in Cooper’s immortal tale, some clever publisher had come up with a paperback release shrewdly featuring a scene from the movie on its cover.20171203_100714-1-1)

When the clerk explained they had sold out of the sexy-running-through-the-woods-long-hair-flying version, the girl declined the proffered copy. “That’s not the one I want,” she said. “But it’s the same book,” the clerk explained.  It didn’t matter. She didn’t want it. True story.

BTW, it used to frustrate the hell out of me in those days that I (as the effing author!) had absolutely no say-so about the 3 things that sell a book:  1) the title 2) the cover 3) the back blurb. (FYI, the editor chooses the title and writes the back cover description; and the cover itself is chosen by committee in the art department after the artist submits several options.)

Here’s another true story:  By far, my best selling historical romance was a medieval entitled A KNIGHT’s DESIRE. 41rHCWb8puL._SX303_BO1,204,203,200_I’d like to think the reason it sold 125,000 copies was because it was a really good story. (I’d like to. But I can’t.) Truth is, my sales had nothing to do with the content and everything to do with the cover—which featured a really erotic positioning of hero and heroine. (At first glance it appears he is doing her from behind.) The distributors, who unloaded each month’s new titles and put them on the bookstore shelves, were all men. Need I say more? They freakin’ loved that cover! And because they did, they put it front and center. (The Walden Books rep told me so himself.) If you are interested, the Kindle version is available on Amazon. It has a slightly different cover now, but it’s essentially the same book as the one I published in 1991, but with a few editing and content improvements.

So, back to book covers, titles and descriptions. Last month when I decided to self-publish my humor memoir/online dating story, I was thrilled with the opportunity to control the aspects that garner sales. The  problem was I didn’t know what the hell I was doing! I not only forgot the most important commandment in marketing (sex sells), I made a point of denying it, focusing instead upon what I deemed to be staid respectability. Guess what? Big surprise! winkcoverThe book didn’t sell but a handful of copies. (Wink: A Single at Sixty’s Odyssey to Life, Love & Online Dating is still available in ebook format on Amazon because I can’t undo it. I signed an exclusive arrangement with Amazon Kindle to carry it for 90 days.) But I pulled the paperback version and went back to the proverbial drawing board with the guidance of several friends who were brutally honest. “The cover is boring,” said one. Another was a bit more diplomatic. “I like the art deco feel, but it doesn’t really reflect you, your writing style or your personality. And it doesn’t reflect the story at all.” A third hated the title and the description both. “Stress the sex and sass,” she said. “That’s what makes it such a fun read.”

If nothing else, this blog has shown me that my readers don’t shy away from candid subjects or sex. (Who would have thought the subject of vibrators would fly?) So to the curious, the voyeurs, my followers and viewers (who now number over 2100 in 70 countries), here is KDP_PRINT_BOOK_CONVERTED_COVER_THUMBNAIL_100the official reveal of  I STILL WANT FIREWORKS:

On the one year anniversary of her divorce, former romance writer Judith Hill signs up on a well-known dating site. Now an international flight attendant (with a penchant for dating young, dark, long-haired and exotic), she decides to hedge her innate skepticism with a purposeful plan. As a non-fiction endeavor, why not chronicle her experiences into a humor/how-to memoir geared to other women similarly starting over?

There are two problems with her plan:  technology and the reality of virtual reality dating. When last she dated, a “web site” was where a spider named Charlotte did her thing in a barn for a rat! But worse for a self-avowed techno-idiot, is the world she discovers.  Like Alice tumbling down the rabbit-hole, she finds a strange reality with a twisted “Build a Bear Workshop” for adults mentality. Superficiality rules, and with the cloak of anonymity emboldening even the the most timid, the lines of propriety blur quickly.  Normal patterns of human behavior and traditional social mores don’t just fade. They disappear!  (Can you say “dick pic” and “cock shot?”) Before she realizes it, jamada (as Judith is now known by her user ID), falls victim to the mindset, abandoning her common sense, sexual boundaries—and even her own compassion.

Initially serious about finding love and determined to keep to “type”—ala her last relationship—a 38-year-old Turkish restaurant owner who took her for a midnight swim in a Swiss lake for their first date (ah! the perks of international flying!), Judith dutifully creates her wishlist. Indeed, her first online experience, with a rather handsome and (conveniently) widowed Italian engineer in his 40s, appears to perfectly fit her bill—until phone conversations revealed an extreme religious leaning. Undeterred, she moves on to a gorgeous 42-year-old Israeli lawyer, who after a month disappeared. Suddenly, just like that  . . . Poof! The online store of long and dark-haired exotic men in the greater Philadelphia area runs out of stock. And jamada is reduced to boring, boorish, gross and old (as in claiming 60, but looking 70). Clearly the 37-year-old Tunisian concierge who asked her out in a Munich hotel lobby does not have a slighter older brother or cousin in Philly on Match.com! Then, on the night of her dreaded 60th birthday, as she’s sitting on the patio of a local Irish bar sneaking a cigarette, the cosmos delivers an unexpected birthday present. A broad-shouldered, blond (!) and short-haired (!) mechanic enters and sparks fly . . .

Written in an intimate girlfriend to girlfriend style, with chapter titles like “The Penis Does the Picking” “Goldilocks vs. the Pea Princess” and “Talk Dirty to Me,” I Still Want Fireworks is a candid look at life, love and online dating written by a woman who knows she is old enough to know better– and doesn’t care. From discourses about wisdom and wrinkles, celibacy vs settling and “want” as opposed to “need,” to forays with texting and sexting total strangers, to speed dating, blind dates and bar hook ups, Judith holds nothing back. Fans of her blog are well acquainted with her unique mix of sex and sass wrapped in humor and bona fide research. While her followers have called her “raw, down to earth” and “amazingly funny,” Judith prefers “irreverent and relevant.” (Remember . . . this the woman who wrote a treatise on vibrators.)  I Still Want Fireworks delivers on all accounts.


Good Vibrations Follow-up

I have a confession. I was leery of posting my last article. To say “Good Vibrations” covered a subject that is rarely discussed, especially by a sixty-year-old, would be an understatement.

However, to my absolute delight–and total surprise– my readers not only reacted positively, they responded in huge numbers! Clearly I hit a g-spot — g as in “go, girl!” One reader dared to post a comment in which she asked me to try and find “the vibrator lady’s email.”

I did.

Here is the infographic. If you are easily offended or not interested, then please! read no further. Know I am making no judgment. And no endorsement. Now if Carvaka wanted to send me a “personal massager” or two to try out . . .Senior-Sex-Infographic (1)

If you have read this far, I’m guessing you are interested.  Again, no judgment or endorsement. Just info. Here is the link the vibrator lady provided: https://carvakasextoys.co.uk/senior-sex

Good Vibrations

I am a Baby Boomer, a moniker for those born between 1945 and 1965. As such, I’ve lived through some pivotal changes in regard to my gender’s equality under law. How’s this for a shocking bit of trivia?  It wasn’t until 1968 that women were finally eligible to sit on juries in Mississippi! But this post isn’t about women’s social progress or legal recognitions. It’s about my generation’s sexual evolution.

Born in 1956, I was too young for the counter culture/free love movement of the 60s. Nonetheless, I was a definite beneficiary of one the revolution’s most life-changing repercussions—specifically, a little som’ em som’ em called “oral contraception.”

Here’s a little history on THE PILL. While the first oral contraception was approved by the FDA in 1960, it took a literal federal case in 1965 (when the Supreme Court overruled an archaic 1870’s law called the Comstock Act) before married couples were given the right to use birth control. It took another 7 years before yet another damn Supreme Court case (Baird vs. Eisenstadt) legalized birth control for all citizens irrespective of marital status. Other countries lagged even more. (1970 for Italy and 1980 for Iceland) Interestingly, however, behind the dreaded Iron Curtain of Communism and oppression, the Soviet Union made the Pill readily available to women in order to “facilitate social equality between men and women.” Hold that thought.

So what the hell took so long in the supposed “free world?” In a nut shell (no pun intended) sexual moralities, traditional mores and societal attitudes had to change. Social acceptance of birth control required the separation of sexual activity from procreation—a highly controversial subject, to say the least.  You see, birth control, i.e. THE PILL, did far more than permit a woman to control her reproduction. For the first time in the course of human history, a woman could have sexual intercourse as she desired (gasp!) without the risk of pregnancy! No longer was she reliant upon the man to wrap it up or pull it out. (neither effect measures, BTW). In other words—sexual freedom to f**k just like a man. Oh, happy day! Right? Wrong.  Puritan, Victorian, backward, dumbass (take your pick of applicable quantifiers) attitudes to sex were—to put it mildly—reluctant to embrace the idea. Convinced the Pill encouraged promiscuity and “free love,” the powers that were (old white men, same then as now) passed laws controlling its availability. (Lest you think ancient history, know the debate about making sex education, condoms and other birth control measures available to minors remains a hot button topic. But that’s a soapbox for another day.) Back to the Pill . . . In 1974 family planning clinics were finally and legally allowed to prescribe and dispense oral contraception to single women—regardless of age and absent parental consent.

I am proud to say I was there. In a Planned Parenthood clinic in April of 1974, to be exact. I was a senior in high school, a 17 ½-year-old-trailblazer—only I didn’t know it at the time. But I was among that first generation of women able to enjoy ABSOLUTE control—not only over her reproductive rights, but of her sex life—on her own terms. (BTW, mine was also the first generation to go to college, get married and then have a full-time career while being a full-time wife and mother. And FYI, back in that day there was little to no paid maternity leave and very few husbands changed diapers or did middle of the night feedings. But such is progress—thank God!)

Now 61, I am ironically poised yet again on the cusp of treading new sexual ground. But first I need to backtrack.

Last month I received an email from a woman in the UK. She’s the product manager or such for a company that manufactures, among other products . . . are you ready for this?  . . . vibrators. (gasp!)  Somehow she had come across this blog (thank you, world of the world wide web) and noted that I was one who wrote rather openly about the subject of sex and women over 60. Since market analysis had determined this was a widely under-targeted and untapped demographic, her job was to explore it, I guess. She asked if I would be interested in posting a link on my site to a tasteful ad about their complete product line geared to older women. (It was tasteful. I looked at it.) At first I laughed, visualizing how mortified my sons would be should their mother become, not only the face of sex after 60, but of vibrators, lubricants and sex toys! But then the inner rebel, hippie chick, sexual trailblazer I was reared.

I have always loved the shock value of dispelling preconceptions. Why the hell not? I asked myself. Who am I worried about offending at this point in my life? One of the best things about being 61 is that I truly don’t give a rat’s ass about what people think. I am who, what and how I am. And at my age this leopard isn’t going to be changing her spots. (Adding age ones, for sure, but not changing them!)

We are the first generation of women in their 50s, 60s, 70s and beyond willing to admit we are still sexually active.  Ask AARP. They will tell you sixty is the new sexy. In several posts I have already intimated toward the subject. We all know what is meant by a reference to “the nightstand drawer.” So who are we fooling? Seriously! We know the need, desire or practice doesn’t suddenly die at 60. And just why the hell is it such a touchy, indelicate, shocking and taboo subject? Walk around most European cities and you’ll see the damn things in the front window. But here in the ole good U S of A, we rely on euphemisms. On the shelves of Walmart, Kroger, CVS, Safeway, Target, they are labeled “personal massagers.” Really? Am I the only one who knows what they are meant to massage? Call it like it is. Vibrator. Vibrator. Vibrator. Who the f**k cares? And who the f**k gets to judge?

Here’s a little interesting history on the subject of vibrators. Their first documented use was in a Paris hospital in 1878.  Magazine ads in 1899 offered them as a cure for “neuralgia, headaches and wrinkles.” A 1908 National Home Journal ad for the Bebout hand-powered mechanical vibrator touted its “gentle, soothing, invigorating and refreshing” properties. A tag line declared it was “invented by a woman who knows a woman’s needs.” Hello?

In truth, the vibrator was invented by a man. In the late 19th century it was used as a medical instrument for pain relief and the treatment of a wide variety of ailments in men and women both. Rachel Maines, the author of a book called The Technology of Orgasm: “Hysteria,” the Vibrator and Women’s Sexual Satisfaction goes into deeper historical detail. She maintains that from the time of Hippocrates on, “massaging female patients to orgasm” was a standard medical practice for the treatment of “female hysteria.” According to her research (BTW, her book has won multiple awards) “doctors loathed the time-consuming procedure” and so they, after the vibrator’s invention, happily substituted the device. Ironically—or amusingly, depending on one’s point of view—she says the practice “was not seen as sexual because of the lack of penetration.” Regardless, from 1900 into the 1920s, vibrators were widely marketed in mainstream magazines for home use for health and beauty benefits. Then, when their appearance in pornography apparently made it no longer tenable for mainstream society to ignore the sexual aspect and connotations of the device, the ads disappeared. So, too, the “device” itself—until it reemerged in the 1960s due to the sexual revolution. Now here’s some really interesting trivia. Until recently many southern and Great Plains states were able to ban the sale of vibrators completely as “obscene devices” by enforcing public moral codes that restricted private intimate conduct. In Alabama it is still illegal to sell them to anyone without a doctor’s note. (FYI, in India, the possession and sale of vibrators is still illegal.)

According to a 2009 Journal of Sound Medicine article, there are 15 different kinds of vibrators (who knew?), including one that uses Bluetooth connection. Seriously??!! BTW, the same article reports that 53% of US women aged 18-60 have used a vibrator. So what the eff happens after 60?!? I guess no one knows ‘cause no one has asked. So I’m telling.

The sexual revolution of the 1960s gave my generation of women choices previous generations couldn’t have imagined. It should be a natural progression we continue to carry the torch and more openly address subjects previously taboo “in polite company.” So here goes . . . Yes. I am 61. And yes I am a grandmother—but I am not the grandmother of my grandmother’s generation—or my mother’s. I still wear make-up, my hair long and high heels. I am not invisible.  Neither in appearance nor attitude. And here’s the shocker (or not—if you are a regular reader) I still like sex. In fact, in 2017 I enjoyed several months of the best sex of my life. But for the last 5 months I have been celibate. I miss it. I miss the intimacy and the physical contact. But I also miss the release and the feeling of pleasure. Yet I won’t “date” someone I have no attraction toward just in order to have an orgasm. Therefore, since there is no one in the picture or on the horizon, I have 2 choices:  Go without or go for it. So, yes, I have a “back massager” in a nightstand drawer.

Today we laugh about Lucy and Ricky’s twin beds. (Like TV audiences in the 50s didn’t know how little Ricky really came to be?) But are those stupid ads for Viagra or Cialis or whatever the f**k (pun intended) the male enhancer is any less ridiculous? Seventy years ago the morality police (or someone) wanted society to believe husbands and wives didn’t sleep in the same bed. Today it’s the notion that if a man and woman over 50 do “it,” it’s by sitting in respective claw-footed bathtubs and holding hands over the rim? I don’t think so. In fact, I know so.

The first generation of women to control their sex lives is alive and kicking and still controlling. Unfortunately, I can’t now find that woman’s email. I hope she sees this and gets in contact. I will absolutely run her article and supply her link. In the meantime, in a step on the road to open discourse about sex after 60, including toys and lubes, here’s a couple recommendations. The best personal lubricant I’ve ever used was recommended by my doctor during a marital dry spell. Dewdrops, P. O. Box 6350 Scottsdale AZ 85261 www.fillingfantasies.com  And if “back massagers” aren’t your thing, Riteaid has a little fit-on-the-finger number they call a “personal massager.”

And contrary to the ads, a claw-footed bathtub is not required.

“. . . and start all over again”

There are six hard truths about starting over (actually about life in general and any goal in particular):

  1. It’s HARD! (So be bloody prepared.)
  2. It takes work. And effort. (Anything worth having always does. Half-ass efforts get you half-ass results.)
  3. No matter how much you think you’ve got it figured out beforehand—i.e. the direction, the goal, the work or effort needed, the time it will take—it’s NOT going to go the way you expect. (FYI, this one I have beaucoup trouble with . . . it doubtlessly has to do with my control issues.)
  4. Failure WILL happen. (Yeah . . . beaucoup here, too. See above.)
  5. Perspective is everything. So is timing. (And hurt is just a part of life. So get the f**k over it and move on.)
  6. A dream, goal or desire deferred is NOT a dream, goal or desire denied. You may just have to take a deep breath and do like that old Frank Sinatra song says: pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start all over again.

And BTW, there is NO way to cheat the system! Just so you know.

So here’s my story . . . and an illustrative example of the hexad process above. Once upon another lifetime ago, I wrote historical romance novels. They won all kinds of industry awards and recognition and I was the “Up and Coming Author of 1991.” Blah, blah. I was told I was very good and had all the potential and talent needed “to make it.” The problem was success required prolificacy, and I had three boys who required their mom. I didn’t have the time to produce a book every 8-10 months which is what was required “to make it.”  Nor did I have a supportive spouse. So I shelved writing. Someday, I thought, I’d go back to it.

Fast forward 20 years . . .

Boys are grown. Marriage is over. Ex is deceased. I’m starting over. Since I don’t necessarily want to live the rest of my life alone or celibate . . . ok, celibate is more a factor than “alone” . . . I’m looking. Within that “looking” process (remember, subject to the six steps above!) I tried online dating. I quickly learned the only way I could deal with the experience was to write about it. So I did. In fact, I wrote a book. Formatted as a weekly journal that chronicled my six months online, it’s a hybrid:  One part self-help with practical “dos” and “do not dos” and “need to knows,” one part humor memoir and one part researched exposé on the online dating industry itself. I named it WINK:  A Single at Sixty’s Odyssey Guide to Life, Love & Online Dating and let a few select people read it. Once again I was told I was very good. I had a flair for humor and WINK was funny and witty and sophisticated. It had the potential “to make it.” So I tried to find a publisher. But the publishing world I knew 20 years ago is long gone and the editors replaced with 30-something-year-olds. I was told authors today—especially in non-fiction—need “a social media presence.” So I started this blog.

Fast forward 3 months . . .

Singleat60sucks.com has over 2000 viewers, readers and followers in 55 countries around the world. It has been recognized with a “Top 100 Humor Blog” award. Once more I’m being told I am “an amazingly funny writer,” that what I write is “raw and down to earth” and that my readers “love” my posts. So surely now I have the gravitas (and social media presence) to find a publisher? Yeah . . . no . . . and hello, #4! Agents and editors alike now tell me what I am marketing has “no market” because “older women aren’t interesting, ie commercial.” No one would buy a book about a sixty-year-old online dating, say the 30-year-olds in charge of new acquisitions from an “emerging” author. (The older editors and agents all have established stables of authors.) Funny thing . . . I fly with lots of “older” women who tell me the exact opposite! As do all of my friends and family, many acquaintances and even several random strangers I somehow struck up a conversation with in the grocery store line. Moreover, when I talked about the book in a blog post, I had dozens of readers ask where they could buy it. I stubbornly decided to ignore #4 and look instead to #1, #2, and #3. I decided to self-publish WINK on Amazon as an ebook and as a paperback.

Fast forward a week . . .

Hello, #4, my old friend . . . to date I have sold 3 ebooks and zero paperbacks. It’s demoralizing and disheartening and embarrassing as hell to admit—much less write—here. But from day one when I started this blog I resolved to be honest and candid. Hell! I can write openly about my sex life and romantic breakups, and my issues with being 60 and single—it sucks, remember? Why not the other failures of my life? As much as it pains me to admit, I guess the 30-something-year-olds were right? Older women aren’t commercial or interesting. There is no market—despite my gut instinct telling me otherwise. (A pause now as my brain insists upon making a comment . . . “Ah . . . dumb ass! Would that be the same gut instinct that has served you so well? Ya know, the one that told you to sleep with a guy you are still trying to get over?”  Response:  “Yeah . . . well, on second thought, it probably wasn’t my gut that was the body part talking . . . )

As with all failures, I do have reasons and excuses. I’m currently in Arizona awaiting the birth of my 3rd grandson, so I’ve not had the time or opportunity to work on promotion and publicity. Too, after the fact, I found out Amazon Australia doesn’t support paperback distribution. (Really? I can sell the book in Germany, France, Spain and Japan where English isn’t the official language—but not Australia where I have 369 followers? Well, doesn’t that just figure!) On the bright side, I did just learn Kindle has an app for smart phones, iPads and tablets. Techno-idiot me thought you actually needed the Kindle device to read a Kindle book. Who knew?

So what now? Do I go back to #2? Do more work with promotion and exposure and publicity? Or do I look to #3? Or #5 and #6? Romance wasn’t destined to work. Maybe not non-fiction either? Maybe my writing niche is this blog? Or maybe it’s something else I can’t even fathom right now?

Ironically, as I was off and on writing this post (and struggling with my sense of failure), I came across a video clip on Facebook of a graduation speech given by a comic I’d never heard of, Tim Minchin. He spoke of chasing “big dreams,” and had a far different take on the subject. Advocating “passionate dedication to the pursuit of short term goals,” he warned his audience of new graduates to “just be aware that the next worthy pursuit will probably appear in your periphery.” He told them to be “micro ambitious” and that they didn’t have to have “a dream.” “You never know where you’ll end up,” he said, “which is why you should to be careful of long term dreams. If you focus too far in front of you on long term dreams, you won’t see the shiny thing out of the corner of your eye.”


NOTE:  I have always been a believer in the Universe sending messages in times of need. So . . . was coming across that clip merely coincidence? Or a cosmic kick in the ass? What’s even more ironic is that the topic of my next post is indeed “a shiny thing.” Please watch for “Good Vibrations” next week . . .

Candy Land

I spoke to a guy I used to be close to last week. It was a phone call precipitated by a text exchange precipitated by a text—mine (of course!) I’d contacted him the night before. Humbling myself, swallowing my pride, burying my self-esteem (Do feel free to insert other descriptions—if you’ve done it, you know them!), I asked him if he would drop by. Naturally I couched the request beneath reasons (pretty valid ones, I thought). I explained I was overwhelmed with family and financial issues, a looming deadline and a loved one’s serious hospitalization. Just needing an escape and a moment unfocused on problems and worry, I eventually cut to the chase and got to my point. (If you’ve done it, you know what’s coming next.)

I admitted I was horny. (Gasp!)

Yes. It was a mistake. It was a humiliating admission—and request.  A move taken right out the Breakup for Dummies not to do chapter! But wait! It gets better!  You see . . . we’d not seen one another in 4 months. I truly thought I was pretty much over him. In fact, I thought I pretty much hated him. I thought he’d stayed on my mind (and in my phone) only because he owes money. After all, how could I delete his number and forget him completely when that financial detail stands unresolved?

So what happened? Why did I text that night?

At the time, I convinced myself it was physical. Or just a moment of foolish weakness. (Sometimes when we are down, we reach back.) But was it? As it turned out, it didn’t matter. He never responded. (Big surprise!) So the next morning I did. Suffice it to say, it wasn’t a friendly text—or a short one. In short, I demanded he start to pay me back. I know many of you reading this will now be shaking your heads. “Count your blessings!” “Call it a loss and move on.” “You’re better off.” “You deserve better. And you’ll find better when you believe you deserve better.” Ladies, believe me. I KNOW!!! There isn’t anything any of you can tell me that I haven’t told myself.

Unfortunately, the answer to “How can a supposedly intelligent woman be so f**king STUPID?!?” has an indisputable explanation:  Emotion doesn’t play by rules—nor  by “not to do” guidelines. Moreover, for some of us (and you know who you are) moving forward after an ended relationship is like playing a board game:  ala Roll the dice, get a three, move forward three spaces. Roll a six—whoo-hoo—move six! Occasionally, however, we players of this Getting Over a Relationship game can (and usually will) land on spaces that send us backwards. Most of these spaces are labeled “MEMORIES.” But there’s also the damn ones that can send the player back nearly to the effing beginning! These spaces are typically labeled “GIVE IT ANOTHER CHANCE”  “FORGIVE HIM” and “UH-OH! YOU GOT HORNY AND TEXTED HIM.”  (BTW, in this twisted version of Candy Land for adults, there is no egg timer to flip over to determine the allowable time frame. There are, however, cards you will be left holding if you don’t use or discard them in time.) So back to my round of Getting Over a Relationship/Candy Land last week . . .

There was no immediate answer to my “not short” text. When one arrived hours later, I wasn’t prepared. His first words were he was sorry for what was going on with me and my family. He said he wasn’t being rude in not responding sooner. He’d been off work with a serious injury and was on pain meds. Therefore he was “just waking up and only now getting all this.” All I could type was “oh.” (As in uh-oh.  Trust me. What I’d unloaded in a spate of hurt, anger and a whole lot of other emotions had been a hell of a lot to “get” in one text!) I said I was sorry he was hurt. (And I was.) He answered he’d live. And again he wrote he was sorry I was going through what I was. We both had a lot going on, he said.

If you have played GOR/CL, you will relate to my next move. I deliberated first, of course. Then I played one of my PHONE CALL cards. He answered. (I was honestly surprised he did.) I offered an apology for the text. He said it was ok. He said he “got it” that I was “venting.”

“I just always assume the worst,” I said.

“I know you do.” He laughed.  “When I see a text from you with all those words . . . I know. You’re venting. A lot has happened all at once. It’s ok. It’s allowed. You’re allowed.”

“I just hate the loss of control,” I said.

He laughed quietly. “I know you do.”

And there it was . . . in his voice . . . what I’d not heard in nearly 5 months:  Warmth, wrapped in the intimacy that had once existed between us. Damn! Yes, he knows me. Better than any man I have ever known, in fact. We spoke for over 20 minutes, as friends. And as we talked about everything that was going on with each of us, I realized how much I miss the friend—not the lover. (Yes, color me surprised at that one!)  It was the WORST thing he could have done to me—be the friend I’d once had.

After we hung up, I picked it apart. (Of course, I did!) And I also assumed the worst. (Of course, I did!) First off, he was on pain killers, I reminded myself. And second, by his being “nice,” I didn’t bring up the money. Cynical bitch that I am—I figured (Of course, I did!) he did it on purpose. After all . . . he KNOWS me! But whether his move was deliberate or not, is of no import to the point of this post. What matters is that I landed on one of those freakin’ spaces you sometimes can’t avoid when you play GOR/Candy Land.  Yep. Whatever progress I was making in moving forward just got reversed. Like it or not (and I don’t!) I’ve been moved back twelve spaces! Not quite back to the beginning . . . but pretty f**king close. Damn!

My optimistic and romantic-at-heart girlfriend is convinced it’s not over between us. I’m just as convinced she’s wrong. He doesn’t “need time to figure it out,” because there is no “it” to figure out. He doesn’t do relationships. Period. We both agreed to the rules upfront. But then we both broke them. And so when it began to appear that was exactly where our pieces were likely headed, he played his “GAME OVER” card. He swept Lord Licorice and Queen Frostine back into the box and folded up the board.

And so I’m left still holding a bunch of cards I thought I had discarded in time . . .  FUN, ADVENTURE, TRAVEL, SEX, CONVERSATION and FRIENDSHIP.  Damn! Who would have thought the last two would be the ones with the highest value?

The Long and the Short of It

Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair—unless you’re over 50. Then it’s time to cut that sh*t off! Or so pretty standard conventional wisdom would have us do. BTW, just who the hell is “conventional wisdom?” Those nameless, faceless forces we also address and refer to as “they say” and “according to them?” Someday I’d really like to meet “cw” and “they” and “them,” ‘cause, man, do I have questions . . . but back to today’s topic of hair. (Betcha thought it was going to be about something else, didn’t ya?)

Mine has always been a thing with me. Maybe because I grew up in the hippie, Haight-Ashbury “be sure to wear a flower in your hair” hair days—when long and straight and parted in the middle was the look to have? Vividly do I remember my sister and I competitively comparing whose was longer. It was probably 1967 or 68. (The fact hers was blond and mine wasn’t always gave her the edge, regardless.)

Over the course of my 61 years, I’ve had every hair style imaginable, beginning with those hideous Mamie Eisenhower bangs in the 50s and the aforementioned flower child look of the 60s, to be followed by the permed ‘fro of disco and the Farrah Fawcett wings of the 70s, with a grand finale of the 80s’ Dynasty “big hair.” (Needed, no doubt, to balance out those shoulder pads! What were we thinking?) It’s been long to my waist and short. Like above the ears short—usually after each pregnancy—‘cause no new mother has time to wash and care for long hair. Besides, the little sucker (pun intended) just loved to grab on and yank the crap out of that crap. I’ve been permed, dyed, frosted, streaked and highlighted. (Remember those caps and that freaking crochet hook?) Curling irons, flat irons and styling wands . . . yeah I’ve had a few. Colors, too. Dirty dishwater natural to fried and dyed peroxide blond to red and even black. (Trust me—not a good look on me!) The need to reinvent, the desire to improve, the constant search for “better” than what God gave me . . . yep, been there, done that. My most drastic change was leaving school on a Friday afternoon with mid-back blond and returning Monday morning with a red shoulder bob. But I digress . . . but thanks for the trip down Memory Lane!

Nowadays it’s long again, some odd color that is natural grow out, incoming gray and leftover “caramel” from my last saloon visit—nearly a year ago. She left me with an orange stripe down the middle, and I’ve not been back since. I’ve not had it cut or trimmed either. So it’s below my waist. I know I should cut it. “They” say I should. But it’s become the representation and symbol of a personal struggle. Five years ago I started to lose it, not everywhere, but in the front. I used to have a widow’s peak. Now I don’t. And along with the added inch of forehead, I’ve lost my eyebrows—all a result of some stress-induced auto immune disease I fight to keep at bay. (Let’s see . . . my mom’s passing, the end of my marriage, my son’s 2 deployments, another’s divorce, my ex’s death—yeah, I’d say there’s been stress.) Ironically, as the forehead grows, so too the length. Go figure!

So back to cutting it . . . I occasionally think maybe I should. But my dermatologist says no. She says it’s my “signature” and she’s devoted to saving it. I get compliments on it all the time—but sometimes I wonder (because truthfully, I have a lousy self-esteem)—if they aren’t backhanded ones. (As in, Geeze, lady from the back you look one way—but when you turn around . . . damn, girl! The hair and the face just don’t go!”  And as “they” say . . . no fool like an old fool . . .)

I’m not alone in my hair dilemma. I saw a Facebook post the other day (which actually inspired this diatribe) in which a fifty-something woman posted pictures and flat-out asked “Should I whack it?” Naturally there were lots of comments, opinions and suggestions. It’s what we women do:  comment, opine and suggest. So here’s my 2 cents on the subject:  Regardless of age, some women just look better with short hair. If you do, do cut it. But if the cause for your cut contemplation is because it’s easier? Then I’m not so sure. Easy isn’t always better. But ultimately it’s your hair and your choice. But if the reason you are considering a whack job is solely because “according to them” you should—then hell no!

There are damn few positives about being 61—but the biggest one is the fact I don’t give much of a f**k any more about “they,” “them” and “conventional wisdom.” It’s me, myself and I these days. And we are all fine with doing whatever the eff we want to. Whether it’s venting in a blog or candidly addressing unconventionally unconventional subjects like sex after 60, I’m letting my hair down.

So to the woman over 50 who wants to rock her long locks . . . Rapunzel on, babe! I’ve got your back, hair covered or not.