Laugh Your Way to Lower Stress

If you’re a man reading this article, you’re either living with a menopausal woman or you hoping I’ll talk about sex. I will, but not in a way that will make you happy. Or hot. Know that going in.

Menopause isn’t pretty. I know. I’ve got the sweaty sheets and haggard, sleepless look to prove it. But it gets even uglier when men of the guy variety step in and try to fix it. For the love of all that is holy, if you don’t want to open the gates of hell, please heed my advice. You and the mood-swinging woman closest to you will be better off for it.

  • Look in the mirror. Do you have hair in your ears? Gray ones on your chest or among the pubes? Would you like her to bring that up at parties? Okay, than stop talking about her moustache. At least she keeps it trimmed.
  • Yes, you’ve been hot before. In fact, science tells us that there is only one temperature that doesn’t make most men sweat and most women run screaming for a sweater or a blanket with arms in it – 68 degrees. But you have never been “hotflash-hot” unless someone has set your testicles on fire and shoved them you-know-where. So when she says she’s burning up, do NOT respond with, “Now you know how I’ve felt for the past 27 years.”
  • After she flashes, she will be freezing. If you share a bed, you’d be better off using a sleeping bag on top of the fitted sheet so that you can rest comfortably while she throws off and then shivers beneath the covers. Although if you’re resting comfortably while she’s miserable, that may be a topic of conversation over coffee in the morning.
  • Unless you are a superhero who can transform into a giant popsicle and inject yourself into her chest for the 45 seconds-1 minute her hot flash lasts, you are worthless when it comes to offering workable solutions. So keep your suggestions to “Just open a damn window” or “Why don’t you take off your bra?” to yourself.
  • Speaking of sex, if you’re getting any, you’re lucky. She’s hot, she’s cold, she’s thought about hitting you in the head with a 2 x 4 and hasn’t done it. Yet. And she’s dry. Down there. We’re not talking the kind of dry that cheap flavored lube from the porn store will fix either. And there is not enough WD-40 to handle this job. The good news is that menopause may be the one time where quickies are actually the preferred form of sexual activity. So keep your mouth shut (a ball gag can help) and be grateful.
  • If intercourse is off the table (and the bed, the floor, the cat tower, etc.) and she offers up a BJ (which may be rare because when the estrogen goes, so does a lot of her caring about your needs), you’d better reciprocate with whatever she wants, even if it’s a two-week vacation to Antarctica with only her girlfriends. She’s got what’s left of your manhood in her mouth and she could swing from horny to homicidal in 2 seconds flat.
  • If you’re in the middle of an argument about anything from politics to pistachios, do NOT jokingly ask her if her bad mood might be hormone-related. Remember how well it worked when you tried to blame things on PMS? This will not go any better.
  • While “menopause” is defined as the day on which she hasn’t had a period for a year, the symptoms can show up as early as mid-40s during “perio-menopause” (Greek for “Well, aren’t I damned lucky?”) and last well into “post-menopause.” There are women who never stop hot-flashing and mood-swinging. Your 87-year-old aunt with the shotgun by the front door? Now you know why she’s always angry.
  • Be prepared for weeping. Not regular crying at things that are sad, but loud wailing and gushing tears that seem to spring up from an internal sprinkler system at the stupidest things. Cat food commercials, text messages from the dentist, Pharrell Williams’ song “Happy”… all of these can start the waterworks. Even if she didn’t want any more children or never wanted any, the idea that she can’t have them now, combined with hormones stampeding through her brain and body, makes her really sad. If you want to empathize, imagine knowing that you could never have another erection. There you go. That’s what empathy is like. Use that a lot.

Well, I hope these tips help save your relationship and your man parts during the next 5 to 50 years of your life. I’d write more, but I’m so damned hot right now!

 

engagement-annoucement

As ads for diamond rings keep reminding us, December is “Engagment Season.” As someone who has been engaged (and then married and then divorced) three times, I have some advice for those of you who are still single and thinking NOW is the time to change that up.

Here are my Top 7 Reasons Not to Get Engaged During Engagement Season:

1. Do you become a tree on Arbor Day? No? Then you don’t have to get engaged during “Engagement Season.” You also don’t have to get an STD during Chlamydia Awareness Week.

Human_Tree_Human_Statue_Bodyart_(9030873228).jpg

2.  Are you bored with your romantic partner and think that a diamond on her or your finger might just shake things up? Spend the money on a tropical vacation somewhere during earthquake season. THAT will shake things up.

3.  Does it seem like the next step in your relationship? If you’re thinking about making a lifetime commitment to someone because it’s another step in a process, join a 12-step program for fairy tale addicts instead.

marriage-emily-blunt-valentines-day-five-year-engagement-ecards-someecards.png

4.  Is engagement on your to-do list because all your friends are doing it or they’ve already done it and are having babies and leaving you in the dust? Are you in middle school? If so, you’re too young to get engaged. If not, you have so many options, including finding new friends who are spending their time volunteering to fight climate change or drinking.

5.  Do you or your partner just want some jewelry this holiday season? Fine, get some jewelry. Buy from a local artisan who crafts amazing art for your fingers, wrist, neck, ankle, or nipples. It will cost you less money, cause you less guilt wondering where the stones came from, and help keep an artistic community member from a life of crime.

9ef61f1e35ef88b8435ed19a9ba00020.jpg

6.  Have you been in a relationship with someone for too long and it’s about damn time he/she made you an honest man/woman or you did the same for him/her. (Can we please start using gender-neutral pronouns, grammar police?) Really, threats and coercion are how you’re going to play this? That doesn’t bode well for a healthy relationship. Perhaps you could run a republican presidential candidate’s campaign instead.

settle-engagement-marriage-couple-wedding-ecards-someecards

7.  Has he/she asked you and you don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings? This one is serious, folks. I got married twice out of not wanting to make my then-partner feel bad that he had popped the question, despite the fact that the first time the ring wasn’t even real! If someone else wants to get married and you’re not ready, it’s time to move on. Date someone else. Get a dog. Write a screenplay. But for god’s sake, don’t say yes when you mean “No, no, I’d rather have a colonoscopy!”

There you have it. If I’ve saved just one single person from making the same mistakes I have, my job here is done.

shutterstock_5010793-275x300

Questioning My Sanity

I question my sanity regularly. Fortunately, it usually doesn’t answer and I take that as a sign that I’m mostly still okay — or perhaps my sanity has taken a vow of silence.

screaming-woman

Three weeks ago a new puppy joined my family. Well, he didn’t just show up at the front door  and when I answered, say with his eyes lowered, “I’ve been searching for my birth mom and I believe you may be her.” I was somewhat involved in the process. Involved, as in, I decided that my three senior wiener dogs and I could probably use some youthful energy to perk things up around here, then I scoured all the animal rescue sites nearby for dachshunds, filled out three applications, and went to meet a young fellow named “Boston” who was advertised as a 1-1/2 year old dachshund.

1358671176_9303_BACEcReCUAEBX4Z.jpg-large

Did I mention that I frequently have doubts about my sanity?

As it turns out, Boston was lying about his age. And lineage. And name.

His name is actually Murray. I know this because when I call it, he comes. Two of my other dogs are named Watson and Justin, so Boston was not going to work. Plus, when he barked, there was no trace of an East Coast accent.

He’s definitely part dachshund — the stubborn, hole-digging, begging for treats until you cave in just to be released from the overwhelming guilt in those eyes part. But he’s also got a little something else in him. I’m thinking kangaroo, given that he can jump 3-feet straight up in the air. I’m thinking maybe I should carry him around in an apron pocket.

images

And given his proclivity for chewing everything, including my earlobes (which is the most action I’ve had in years), I’m pegging his real age at around 9 months.

Murray was found roaming the streets in California. Perhaps he was hunting for a good Pinot Grigio.

So here I am matriarch to a family of three dachshunds and one dachshund hybrid (perhaps I should have called him Prius!) I’ll stand at the back door, rattling off a list of possible names until I hit on the one that belongs to the dog who is digging holes, eating tomatoes, taunting the koi (wouldn’t Taunting the Koi be an excellent band name?), or just obstinately sitting steps away from me ignoring me for the hell of it.

I was right in my prediction that a younger dog would pick up the energy level around here. Everyone is awake a lot more than previously. This is a good thing, for the most part, except at 3 a.m. when sleeping might be a good idea. And everyone is in better shape too. Walks are faster and more plentiful as we attempt to wear the newest family member out so that I can go out into the world and earn enough money to buy squeaky toys for him to destroy the next day.

4037873912_00676e6073

Am I glad I have a new pup? Absolutely! Am I also crazy to have four dogs? I’m fairly certain of it. But I’d rather be crazy happy than any other kind of crazy.

We all know that dogs are better judges of character than we lowly humans, so why not ask them how to choose the right candidates for president?

After surveying my three dachshunds and a terrier and labradoodle we met on a walk, here are the criteria they came up with that should help you count a candidate out:

A human would NOT make a good president if:

He starts sentences with, “I’m not a cat, but…” and then tells cats what they should and shouldn’t do.

imagesWhen he goes on the paper, it’s the U.S. Constitution.

pdl-moving10550853_10152570224983011_7898264544470158241_n

She rides around in the pocket or purse of rich folks.

imagesHe wants to build a wall to keep out losers.

imagesHe always sticks his snout into other people’s business.

images42He hasn’t learned a new trick in decades.

images45

He only hangs out with his own breed.

05064e7bd539793a7ed06360f30d4597

Not only did he not pass obedience school, he still barks with a 4th grade education.

dumb-dog

He blames others for his mistakes… and his brother’s mistakes.

hqdefaultHe doesn’t care who he steps (or sits) on.

images

She’s never been a working dog.

070830_dog_hmed_12p.grid-6x2

He isn’t a service human; he’s a “serve me” human.

images

She thinks everyone should worship the same squeak toy she does.

images

He believes in piddle down economics.

dog_pee_xlarge

He is against reproductive rights.

d21vu35cjx7sd4.cloudfront.net

He whimpers about how much he misses the “good old days.”

616f618e532193bb762b235c9749e7cb

I’m thinking of printing out cards that read, “You really deserve a slap to the head, but because society frowns on that, I give you this card instead.” A little poetry in lieu of poetic justice.

I’ll call these my STH (slap to head) cards.

Slapped-by-Craiglister-YouTube-1

I needed these yesterday when I was at a local grocery store that carries an equal mix of organic and conventional foods, and a woman asked me if I knew where the “other” grapes were as I looked at the organic ones. She then proudly said, “I don’t buy organic.” I replied, “But those are covered with poison,” to which she responded, “I have to die of something.” In my head, I continued with, “But what about the bees? And the other critters who drink the water full of toxins?! And the people downstream? And Casar Chavez?”

A telepathic environmental activist is what I am. Because saying this stuff out loud could lead to harder drugs, such as  keying people’s Humvees or tossing Chinese throwing stars in their general direction as they serpentine across the parking lot.

large

Also deserving of one my STH cards is anyone who says, “I don’t follow politics.” This is especially true if their response is to a statement such as, “We really need to do something to change the impact of humans on the earth” or “I sure hope no one takes away Social Security because I don’t know how I’ll survive on pension plan of a snarky wordsmith.”

Do they feel that being aware of issues beyond what type of lip gloss Iggy Azalea uses or whether the latest superhero movie holds up to the comic book requires too much effort? As if to “follow politics” they might actually have to physically follow the issues around, hopping a cab here, a Greyhound bus there, never knowing whether they’ll end up in Vegas or Muleshoe, Texas.

For them, my STH cards would be a substitute for my standing on a cruelty free, vegan, free-range soap box and yelling, “You don’t have to follow anything (except the 4000 people you stalk on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest) to take an interest in the world at large. It’s a fascinating place out here. You should come take a look sometime. There are real goats and llamas too!”

mama-llama-and-tiny

Carly Fiorina, most of the female staff at Fox News, and any other woman who speaks out against equal pay for women, unfettered reproductive health care, or maternity leave should get an entire deck of cards. Come on, you’re packing a penis, right?

STH cards would help prevent me from hurling boxes of tampons at these women, yelling “Traitors!” and insisting they sit through the movie Beaches until their estrogen surged back to normal levels.

MOV_7f8b019f_b

I clearly need to design these cards fast or take my chances of showing up in a real life Orange is the New Black situation.

Invading My Space

images

I’ll admit that I’m lousy at setting boundaries. Words come out of my mouth that in my mind make my desires or lack thereof clear, but what other people seem to hear is, “What you need to do is wheedle, and manipulate, and pressure me into changing my mind.”

And by other people, I mean mostly male people.

Wish-washy boundaries are why I ended up married to my last ex-husband, a man who proposed to me while he was in the bathtub! He could leave a ring around the tub, but I couldn’t draw a line in the sand. How sad is that?

images

My girlfriends all seem to understand that when I say something like , “I can’t be out after dark these days because my 16-year-old dog with Sundowner’s Syndrome gets freaked out and might have a seizure,” what I mean is “I don’t want to be out after dark because my dog is my family.”

Guys seem to hear, “I’d really like to come over and make you a sandwich, day or night.”

Case in point: I met a guy at a book signing event recently. We talked about writing and he asked me if I’d like to have coffee sometime. I assumed (wrongly, I now know) that he wanted to talk about writing with me, a writer–someone who could perhaps give him advice. I have these kinds of “meetings” all the time and am happy to share anything I know and learn new things. Hell, when you’re a writer, you’re always in search of new stories and stealing them from strangers is a great way to “do research.”

When this guy, let’s call him Kyle, sat down for our “meeting,” he immediately started talking about his ex-wife and then caught himself by saying, “Oh, I’m not supposed to talk about my ex, right?” Red flag, right? Still I managed to convince myself that he was just telling a funny story to break the ice and that soon we’d be chatting about how he’d like to write a screenplay about his ex and wondered whether I had any advice about doing that without a lawsuit or bonfire on the front lawn.

bad-dateBut no… He told me about his kids. Then asked if I had any. It was then I finally wised up. He. Thought. This. Was. A. Date.

I mentioned that I was working on a novel. Talked about writing jokes for the internet. Looked at my watch several times in a very obvious fashion. “Hey, Kyle, see, I’m looking at my watch. That’s a sign that I’m ready for this to be over.” I thought I was drawing a line. All he saw were flirtatious doodles.

Throughout our conversation, Kyle made it clear, he considered this to be the first of many “coffees and lunches.” I said I was really busy, that my schedule was unpredictable, that I could turn into a werewolf at any moment and should flee if he valued his life.

werewolf_woman___second_date_by_jrunsteen-d861rxsHe nodded and smiled and asked me why I hadn’t asked him any questions about his personal life. Because, Kyle, I’d rather have a Brazilian wax than give you any reason to think this might be a date.

I should mention, he was extremely loud. The woman at the table behind ours kept trying to move farther away. I wanted to get up and offer her my napkin to stuff in her ears.

Nothing phased him. Not my looking around the room at other customers and servers. Not my determining who owed what on the bill and paying my half as soon as the check came. Not my swift kick to the crotchal area. Okay, that last thing was just in my imagination.

I said goodbye to him at the door of the restaurant and he followed me to my car. I threw out eight or nine clear “I have to go” statements, to which he said we “had to get together again so I could help raise his consciousness.”

I’m sorry, is that my job now? I don’t know him from Adam and not only does he expect me to go out with him again, I have an assignment! Oh lucky me.

Fortunately, I have a friend who is good with setting boundaries — at least for other people. She helped me compose an e-mail and took out all the words that could possibly be misinterpreted. She said I should practice ways to say no for the next time this happens. I told her the last time someone asked me to coffee, I had practically screamed, “What do you want from me?” at him and was trying to be a little kinder.

But I’ve taken her advice and have been making a list of phrases I can use that might keep people from pushing past my boundaries:

o  I’d love to be caught in midnight fire at sea. (This is a Dorothy Parker quote, but might be too literate for many of the guys who come my way).

o  I ‘m sorry, but this vaginal dryness is really distracting. What did you say again?

o  Maybe later, but I’m performing a bris this afternoon. (I’d save this for the Jewish guys).

o  Republican leaders say the sexual orientation is a choice, so right now in this very moment, I’m choosing to be a lesbian.

o  My coven is going on a retreat for the next six months.

A 'coven of witches' line up for a Halloween portrait dressed in festive witch's hats and improvised costumes, ca.1910, United States. (Photo by Transcendental Graphics/Getty Images)

A ‘coven of witches’ line up for a Halloween portrait dressed in festive witch’s hats and improvised costumes, ca.1910, United States. (Photo by Transcendental Graphics/Getty Images)

o  I don’t date outside my species.

I’m hoping these help me out in the future. Feel free to use them if you need them.

What’s a Slut to Do?

I’m so tired of people yelling “slut” at women who use birth control and would like it to be covered by insurance. Men who carry around a 12-pack of condoms along with their fully covered little blue pills, on the other genital, get a wink and a nod for doing what guys do.

images1

I like math and this is an equation that doesn’t add up: If X (women) don’t have sex in order not to be so slutty, and Y (men) have sex in order to be men, who are Y having sex with? We all know that the folks who consider women slutty also can’t visualize gay sex without their heads exploding, so how do we solve for Z? Is it socks? Apple pie? A rolled-up copy of the Wall Street Journal?

numerical-jobs.ashx

I’d also like to know if the quaaludes Bill Cosby used to rape women were covered by insurance. Really, this question has kept me up at night for a week.

I am the least slutty woman I know. I’ve had sex with three men in my life and all of them became my husbands. It’s my rule — if I sleep with someone, I have to pay for it not with pregnancy, but with marriage. Since my last divorce nearly 7 years ago, I’ve slept with a total of 0 people. That’s right, I’m much more abstinent that Bristol Palin! I’m thinking of renting out my uterus to Michelle Duggar in hopes that she might pop out a free-thinking child who doesn’t consider molesting his sisters a normal youthful indiscretion.

BWx20x7ex201149.1L

So, no, I’m not a slut, a whore, a tramp, a skank, or any of the other lovely words tossed loosely at girls and women who have sex, think about sex, can spell sex, or belong to some kind of sect. Yet for nearly 30 years, I relied on birth control of some sort, primarily the pill. I credit my ability to live the way I want to Margaret Sanger and a tilted uterus I refer to as “the goalie” because she never let anything into the net.

When I first started taking the pill, I was 17 and it was free at the university health center in… wait for it… Texas! All I had to do was bear with a good ol’ Texas gyno who told me, a virgin seeking to prevent pregnancy that I had “childbearing hips.” Fortunately I proved that my hips were meant for walking and that’s just what they did… without having a human child hoisted up on them.

But because I had sex, albeit it with a series of spouses, and relied occasionally on birth control I couldn’t afford (hey, I stole toilet paper from the library and ketchup packets from fast food chains throughout college), I guess I WAS a slut. Someone should tell that to my college debate team because when I refused to sleep with any of the guys, I was labeled “frigid” and a “narc.” Well, the latter was more because I also turned down offers of cocaine and LSD.

If the voices calling women “sluts” get any louder, why don’t we implement the solution those folks always offer up: Let’s just unscrew everyone. No birth control or abortion for us? Fine, no sex for you! Jerry Seinfeld had the Soup Nazi; we’ll become to the Sex Nazis. No sex for you, no sex for you, bread for you…

soup_nazi_02

The good news is that studies have shown that women who don’t have sex become smarter while men become stupider. Here’s my plan: No sex with anyone until the presidential elections in November 2016 (you can do it; I’ve made it 7 years!). By then they guys will be too dumb to find their way to the polls and we’ll finally have the matriarchy we need.

When anyone asks where you came up with such a crazy idea, tell them a slut suggested it.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 72 other followers