Author of Breasts Don't Lie

Archive for the ‘20s’ Category

Planes, Trains​, and Buses: Odyssey to Humility

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It’s the new year, and off I went to see my sister in Chicago.

I thought things were off to an auspicious start. I was PRE-TSA checked. But still, they unpacked my carry-on, waded through my underwear, and looked at me with a slatted eye. People watched and snickered as I repacked the bright blue and hot pink panties knocking one to the ground. Ugh – won’t be wearing those.

Then I had to wrestle the carry-on, kind of lumpy, listing to one side, into the overhead compartment of the plane. A man watched me. Didn’t help, just watched. Hoping my arm muscles wouldn’t give out, I jammed it in. He said, “I didn’t think you could do that.”

Cranky and smothering in three layers with the cabin’s dry, hot air blasting my face, I said, “Why didn’t you help me?”

“It was a good laugh,” he said sitting in front of me.

I kicked his seat throughout the plane ride.

At my sister’s suggestion, I bought a card for the trains and buses in Chicago. After spending five minutes futzing with the crazy machine, swearing, breaking out in a sweat (in the 10-degree weather of slush and gale force winds), I heard a harrumph from the machine next to me.

“Try turning your credit card the other way,” said a voice from under a parka.

Oops, that worked, and I had a green plastic card good for seven days of mass transit.

Then I tried to use the card to enter a nice wide turnstile. The woman in the cage yelled, “Hey. You there. Don’t use the handicapped stile.”

Feeling stupid, I moved my enormous carry-on, furry coat (a lot of synthetics died for that outerwear), and re-slung my laptop case over my shoulder. Making it through the narrowest possible turnstile, I made my way to the steps for the train platform. A man in front of me danced from one side of the stairway to another with each tread. More swearing. Is this a Chicago craze? When I misjudged his sway, and bumped into his back, knocking us both down, he slurred, “Sorry, my feet are cold.”

We missed the train. And both of us were very cold by the time the next one came.

Sitting in the car of the Orange line, I noticed the amount of junk around my feet. Food wrappers, single gloves, and assorted garbage littered the floor. Moving as fast as I could in my arctic apparel, my feet found a ledge, and I promised no touching the bottom of my bags. Yick.

Transferring to a bus, I thought, “I’m getting this down.” I managed to place my card wrong-side up on the card-reader three-times gathering a groan from the passengers behind me growing icicles. Sitting in an empty seat up front, my neighbor poked me in the ribs and pointed to the sign, ‘Priority Seating.’ I shuffled into a seat in the back of the bus where the floor resembled a food court.

Finally, I got to my hotel. The person behind the desk took one look at me, upgraded my reservation to a larger room, and told me about the nice bar around the corner where I could get an Irish coffee. Sounded good.

Unpacked, warm, and boots off, I thought about my trip. Humbling, my trip was humbling. In Dallas, I am nicely insulated in my car from other people and the travails of mass transit.

Sitting in the Irish bar, sipping the warming Irish Coffee, I thought about all the trash on the floor of the trains and buses triggering a funny memory of riding the buses in DC as a young woman.

I was riding the bus in the business district in DC during my 20s. I stood up at my stop. A sudden breeze ruffled my skirt, and suddenly, I was cool all under. Looking down, I saw that my underwear had dropped to the floor. Just dropped. Plonk. Pretending nothing had happened, I calmly stepped out of the undies and stepped off the bus. No way I was picking those up. At lunch, I bought undies at Garfinkels. What happened to the aplomb of my 20s?

Is mass transit designed to be humbling? Why do the hanging straps of the trains and buses resemble nooses?


(Image courtesy of

Weird Times


I’m at this really weird time in my life – mid 50s where I am working as hard as possible but seeing opportunities land elsewhere. In younger people’s laps.

My friends are talking about retiring, counting down the days, and planning their last great adventure. About five years ago, I realized I would be working until I died. Through a couple of lousy turns of the luck and some bad planning on my part, I will never be able to retire. Not ever.

Being unable to see a retirement in my future has impacted most areas of my life freaking me out. How did this happen? How did I not notice? Maybe it is a combination of my friends being 5 to 10 years older and in the last of the pensioned jobs. Maybe it has to do with being single or the two major downturns, more like plummets, of the stock market. Maybe it is a realization of the probability of being single when I die. Most likely the realization became embedded with fright after last year’s string of surgeries.

My friends are settling into their last homes and having what they consider safe adventures – cruises. Paying deposits for communities that allow you to move through ever increasing levels of care. I look at my townhouse and wonder how I will get up those steps in 15 years when my knees and hips give out. But who will give a mortgage to some one nearing retirement … So I have been told to plan for my infirmity. Like a good old codger, I have. Replacing the HVAC system. Replumbing. Changing out appliances. Getting stuff out of the attic and into easily accessible storage. Definitely must upgrade my refrigerator.

My 30-year yoga practice has changed. I said good-bye to the Level 2/3 classes, taking and teaching them. In class, it seems quite pig-headed to keep attempting something apt to hurt myself to appease my ego. But on interviews for yoga teaching jobs, employers do one of two things. They assume I want the gentle and restorative classes or I get pressured into those jobs.

I’m having to hunt down new doctors – my current doctors are retiring. I understand that my new doctors will be younger than me with little empathy for aging’s undeniable march. For example, my forty-year old orthopedist said, “You will never dance again.” I will dance tango again, even Lindy. Just watch me. “Wear sneakers 24/7.” Not bloody likely. I may lower my shoes’ heels from a 4” to 3” height but I will wear the handmade leather shoes from Italy with a tight skirt and fishnets.

I am the patient doctors keep badgering to schedule a colonoscopy, a skin cancer exam, but no one asks me about birth control or safe sex anymore. Maybe they think I’m too old to still be having sex.

Then there’s the men and dating.

No, I don’t want to go antiquing – never liked it so why should I like it now?

Yes, I do want to go for a hike at a decent pace.

No, I don’t want to have dinner at 5pm and go to sleep at 8pm.

Yes, I like to nap but I have liked to nap since I was 4.

No, I don’t want a sexless relationship. Sometimes it feels as if I have aged out of the sexually active category. I could stand naked by a motel with a sign reading, “The room is already paid for” and no one would take me up on the proposition.

Then there are the well-meaning people sending me articles to settle, for a man, any man who is breathing. No thank you. I deserve love as much as someone in their 20s, 30s, and 40s.

I am under pressure to go on that last great vacation. One doctor told me to do everything on my bucket list before 50 because after that I would need really, really good trip insurance. “All kinds of medical things happen.” Wow, groovy, I still plan to go to Argentina.

Maybe, quite possibly, I should replace the word ‘weird’ with ‘irritable.’ I am at this really irritable time in my life.

Throwing Down the Gauntlet


My body has thrown down the gauntlet. My thighs, hips and tummy are challenging me to grow up. I am fighting it the entire way.

I am pretty lucky. Through my teens and twenties, when I gained weight, the fat cells, like little mounds of dimpled orange skin, distributed themselves evenly over my body. I was pretty happy with my body. Okay dokey.

Hah. Until I hit 30. Then the dimples hit the fan. The fan directed them to my thighs.

“What the hell is this?” I said.

“Ah aging,” said my husband.

“No but it wasn’t there yesterday … “

“Yeah it was. Get over it. Let’s get brunch,” said my good chunk younger husband.

Still my butt was a rounded curve. My tummy was flat and firm – a six-pack when I was working out regularly.

Then I hit 40. My ass fell. Where did it go? It fell downward. Gravity took a bite. I asked an anesthesiologist for plastic surgeons about my flat butt. He looked at me.

“Not too bad. You’ve lost too much fat.”

“Huh?” I said. “I weigh the same as I did in high school.”

“You lost the fat pad at the top of your hips that keeps your butt high,” he said.

Good grief. Now I need a certain amount of fat to keep my butt in place. This is a bad joke.

I made peace with my thighs and butt. I decided ‘body peace’ beat becoming a gym bunny, perpetually obsessed with how I looked and unable to eat a Starbuck’s Morning Bun.

In my 50s, teaching 6 to 12 yoga classes a week kept me too busy to ruminate about my changing body. I would say to myself, “I am strong. My body is strong.” I learned to love my body. There’s nothing quite like wearing yoga clothes four or five times a week to get comfortable, even oblivious, to fat. I learned to love the different body shapes of the women and men in my classes.

Bodies became fantastic objects – I know we hate that word but the changes to my body feel less and more personal now. Bodies are capable of beautiful movements, showing our feelings, receiving information, and exchanging pleasure.

Two surgeries, four debridements, thirteen types of painkillers, and five months of antibiotics later, I am six months into a period of enforced rest with a prescription for minimal movement and medications that trigger sugar cravings. I have gained weight on my thighs, ass, and tummy. I have a fluffy tummy. Not flat. To add insult to injury, I have wavy arms. Ick. I had to reassess my self-concept.

“Crap,” I said to a friend.

“Crap yourself. You’re healing from the surgeries. Make peace with your body,” she said with an “I’m-not-putting-up-with-this” attitude.

We were perusing the Spanx aisle of the department store. “Aren’t these just light weight girdles?”

“Yep. I remember them from my teens,” she said.

“Holy crap. I remember my mom trying to get me to wear one. Fuck. I felt like a sausage with stuffing come out each end.”

“Well that sounds uncomfortable. Don’t buy one,” she said.

She’s so smart.

So I didn’t buy the Spanx girdle and the funny thing is, yesterday I picked up my body’s gauntlet.

As long as I am living, I will need to have a relationship with my tummy, hips, thighs, and arms – my body. In whatever shape they are. With however much I am fat or not fat. Dimpled thighs, flattened butt, fluffy tummy, and wavy arms, my whole body with its increase in fat, fat cells, cellulite, is mine. I own my shape.

You out there – I’m tossing you the gauntlet …

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