No Matter

For all you all who took the time to write me to say “I think of you as attractive,” Thank you! I am much obliged. For the record I never think of myself as particularly unattractive. Perhaps my prosopagnosia is speaking when I say I consider myself anatomically neutral except for my weight. Since my hormones rearranged in a process known as menopause, this body makes me look fat. My hair, once luxuriously long, looks thinner when white. And my skin seems to have lost bloom. But I digress, my point is, and I do have one – is: that’s nice, that’s real nice and thoughtful for those of you with lots on your mind, things to do, responsibilities and activities, to take time to write me. I appreciate you.

Being a woman over 50 makes me vulnerable to hysteria, real or perceived. Getting a table in a restaurant takes longer, with said table located poorly. I remember being given one right at the center of two bench cushion seams (when several other tables were conspicuously available) at a popular upscale franchise. If I were younger I would have complained. I get to where it’s hard to care, left only with the conundrum of tipping. Ten to fifteen percent corresponds with the 90 to 85 percent of services rendered, but unfortunately reinforces the stereotype: single women are terrible tippers and therefore don’t merit service. The regular 20% feels like an arm-twist manipulation. Mo bettah go eat with a male companion when possible. . . .

The owner of the restaurant delivers our check personally to my colleague when I meet C for lunch. The baristas go out of their way to bring R his almond milk half caf latte when I’m with him. Mine gets left at the end of the bar for pick-up. I swear I don’t make this shit up. I never realize that getting a seat at a bar signifies privilege until that special treatment mysteriously evaporates. If there’s a glass ceiling I’m going to shine it. Being invisible allows me to eat what I want when I want without fear of repercussion. I’m not sorry to order a doughnut or a cookie with icing. I no longer worry about what people think about the books I read or the clothes I wear because none of it matters. None of it would make me a whit more noticeable in this pale misogynist world.

My mother would say, “Next month they’ll all be dressing like you,” when I’d bemoan the fact that I am hopelessly fashion challenged.

Misogyny isn’t merely irritating, it’s dangerous. As I mention in my last blog, thirty years of experience with the AMA led me to believe they don’t know jack. When I was a young woman no doctor would admit having a heavy period is anything beyond a problem in my head. The first one won’t even do a pelvic exam. The others convince me I’m having a normal reaction to normal stress. I give up asking ’em for advice. Twenty years after they prevail I meet a doctor who tells me my original instincts were correct. There’s actually nothing healthy about having a period that lasts 30 days. My instinct did not fail me.

For those of you who are wondering, what’s next? I won’t know myself until probably the end of July. There’s no speed to these tests. I have to wait until the appointment, and then the analysis for the assessment. Perhaps all I have is fibroids. According to the internet (so this must be true) 80% of women over 40 have fibroids. A common side effect of these benign tumors is heavy bleeding. At the risk of sounding like an idiot I wonder if heavy bleeding is the only side effect, is a hysterectomy really necessary? Imagine if men had a symptom that could only be treated by removing their balls. Do you think the AMA would recommend the procedure with the same glib impunity they recommend women remove breasts, uteruses, and fallopian tubes?

Nonetheless as a practicing Stoic I ask myself “What’s the worst that could happen?” Last year a friend of mine died. JC’s girlfriend made the specific request he not die at her house. Due to this request JC was forced to make an arduous plane trip close to the end of his life to get to his brother’s house. When the time arrived for him to leave his girlfriend realized how much distress and discomfort she caused. She was regretful too late. Arrangements had been made. I think about that reality. When I die do I have friends willing to put up with my dying? Will have I to deplete a life time of savings on the last two months of life? Dying is expensive business even when one attempts to do it quietly and in peace.

My mother, is an exception, as someone who bucks the odds. When I was 20 my family is completely taken off guard by the death of my mother. She hadn’t been ill. It wasn’t an accident. Her death was abrupt, inexplicable  and unexpected. I was haunted by the mysterious circumstances – afraid I too, might die at the age of 50 and a half. Only after safely passing that age milestone did I relax into being, frustrated by last Monday’s news which pulls me up short again. I’ll say this, no matter what happens I am mos glad I lived my life as if I would only get 50 years. I have no regrets on things I wished I did or did not do. Albeit some endeavors were more successful than others.

Don’t ever beat yourself up on a personal fail. Be glad for having explored possibility. Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly. You have to clean up and grow up in addition to waking up. These are all steps on the way to enlightenment. Be a “producitarean” i.e. someone on the way, not a reductionist. On the road to insight and awareness no effort is ever lost. No effort is ever wasted. In my early teens and twenties I questioned authority, social norms, who made these rules anyway? This is a good place to start. Ask yourself why you believe what you believe and even more importantly Do your beliefs serve? It’s not enough to chuck the norms wholesale, we need to replace them with working theories.

Being an armchair quarterback is intellectually lazy. I do what I can with what I have to elicit change. I’m pretty happy with how that works out. But even I am at the mercy of circumstance. How do I do with things not under my control? That’s the question, right? Easy to be metaphysical when the questions are rhetorical. Real life is another matter.


Now y’all play nice!

Sat Nam