McKenzie Free

One woman's quest for greater understanding through freedom of self expression.

I’m too old for online dating

I can’t believe I’m single again. I’m too old to date. However, there isn’t much call for 59 year-old mail order brides so unless I want to be forever without male companionship (a viable option I’m thinking about) I will have to date again. The thought of going on more first dates makes me cry harder than all the things I miss about my last love.

Feeling I must carry on, I once again turned on my online dating site. A man wrote to me. He was attractive, and if his write-up was even partially true, one in a million. The one catch for me was, he was only 5’ 6” tall. I usually only date men who are six foot or taller. Short fit men make me feel as though I might roll over in bed and squash them. I just don’t want to take the chance of an accidental death. It’s bad enough at this age worrying if the excitement of sex will give them a heart attack.

Last night I went out for a drink with my girlfriend who is much younger than me. I was telling her about this and she said it’s just a date, go ahead and email the short guy. So I show her his profile, and after a brief read, she explains to me that the reason he sounds like a man that’s too good to be true is because he’s a transsexual. Apparently he eludes to this in two different places in his profile which I missed while focusing on his small stature. So the reason he sounded completely wonderful was because he used to be woman. It had been like reading my own profile!

Actually, this wouldn’t have been the first time I dated a transsexual. The first time there was no indication other than the lack of attraction on my part.   I remember after meeting him telling my friends he had a butt like a woman’s. I told him we could hang out as friends and it would never be anything more. It was much later after some nights out dancing that he told me the truth about his transition. I have no problem with anyone’s choices of sexuality. I just have no attraction either.  We have remained friends, and judging by his troubles with dating, it’s no different after transition than it is before.

Alas, I digress. The point here is I’m too old to be dating online anymore and not being able to read this profile correctly proved it to me. I can’t keep up with the new slang phrases that are supposed to alert me to what men really want. It’s like learning a foreign language.  I once thought I had it all figured out but this experience makes me realize the world has changed too much for me to keep up with it.

Sadly, there are a lot of things I truly enjoy about male companionship, including sexual intimacy. I realize I’m spending a lot more time in my yard this year: chopping, pruning, digging, planting, spreading mulch. Apparently I’m taking my sexual frustrations out on my landscape. It makes me wonder anew about my mother who never dated or remarried after my father died in his mid-fifties. Her garden plot was enormous and flowers bloomed everywhere on her property.   Sure wish she was here now so we could laugh about this together. And, since I’ll obviously be doing a lot more gardening these days, I could use some of her green thumb tips, as well.

The top 10 reasons I miss my Dog:(

10. There’s no one at home to force me to go outside and get some exercise.
9. She was a great icebreaker at parties.
8. There’s no one to warn me when someone’s coming.
7. It’s now extremely obvious that I talk to myself.
6. I never had to worry about service or repair men coming into my home.  If they got fresh she’d nip them on their ass.
5. I no longer have a socially acceptable method of meeting good-looking strangers on the street.
4. She was the best excuse for not going out with co-workers after work: “I have to go home and let my dog out.”
3. I no longer have a useful purpose for my growing collection of plastic bags.
2. I’ve lost my best excuse for why I can’t “sleep over”.
1. And the number one reason I miss my dog? Now when I go home to that glass of wine after work I really am drinking alone!

A Tale of Unfulfilled Potential

I was told so often as a young adult how much “potential” I had. I was pushed into the advanced classes in High School. I took master degree courses my first year at the University because I didn’t want to be bored. At age 20 I met with members of our Nation’s congress and the Israeli Knesset. At age 21 I actually sat in the President’s chair in the Oval Office as part of a special tour of the White House given for “Up and Coming Young Politicians”. I was the only one with the courage to take the seat when it was offered. I commented as I sat down, “It’s about time a woman sat here”. That was almost 30 years ago and still no woman has taken the chair.

I was meant to do something BIG with my life. I was meant to do something big, find a big partner to share it with, have wonderful children who would be healthy and happy and well brought up. That is what seemed to be expected of me. We should be getting ready now to meet our grown kids at our beach house in Bethany for a long weekend where their Dad would tell them how proud he was of them and how much he still adored his brilliant, beautiful wife after all these years.

Instead I live alone with my dog. Two failed marriages behind me. No particular successes to share. I have no kids, no beach house, and barely enough money to pay my bills. I work for a not for profit organization that does invaluable work that America pays lip service to but where most of our workers barely make above poverty level.

I don’t know when it happened, where it went downhill, when I stopped being one of the best and the brightest and just became another tale of unfulfilled potential. I wonder if I could go back to that one moment, that turning point, would I make a different decision. If I got a chance for a do over would I take a different turn that would have me writing the great American novel while raising wonderful children with a loving, supportive man who thinks the world of me?

Was it falling in love with the wrong man and then holding on too long? Was it making the wrong career moves? Geographical moves?

No matter, for there are no do overs. I’m a survivor but I don’t know how much more survivor I have in me. I have tried desperately to rise up from ever y set back. I have mourned the deaths of those I loved and carry them with me daily. I have done my best to move on from a 20 year relationship that felt  liked it was ruined in an instant. I told myself, as all my belongings went up in flames, that they were just things, not relationships, and relationships are all that really matters. I have survived breast cancer, I have cried my way through the shingles and the other ravages of aging and through it all I can’t help thinking, where did all that often spoken of potential go?

Was it ever really there? How did I fail to harness it? Is it too late at this age to dig deep and find some flailing potential to build on?

Advice to my Goddaughter on her 18th Birthday!

  • No matter how many people tell you the fashion rules don’t apply any more—don’t wear white after Labor Day.
  • If you think you are at the end of your rope — let go — give someone the opportunity to show their love and support by catching you.
  • Don’t forget how beautiful and strong you are. 
  • Don’t spend money you don’t have.  Save for what you want or you’ll become a slave to your debt.
  • Laugh every day.  At yourself, with others, at life’s little oddities – it will help you keep perspective.
  • Don’t stop dancing until the lights go out. 
  • If it’s not worth working hard for, it really is not worth having.
  • There almost nothing that can’t be fixed with duct tape or three-in-1 oil.  If one doesn’t work, try the other.
  • Men do not judge our bodies the way we do our own.  They’re just grateful we have them. 
  • You don’t have to look cool all the time.  Go ahead – do the chicken dance at weddings.
  • Trust your instincts.  If something doesn’t feel right you don’t have to understand exactly why at the time – just walk away from it.
  • Don’t Sext – Those photos and words can come back when you least expect them.
  • A broken heart will always mend with time and what you learn about yourself in the process will be worth it.
  • No one is thinking about you.  We’re all thinking about ourselves and thinking everyone else is thinking about us.  If you remember this it makes all the bad hair days easier.
  • Everyone fails.  It’s all about what you do next.
  • Don’t date men who call themselves Hawk, Spike or Steel.  Men with real names are more likely to be real men.
  • Floss daily, make sure your shoes go with your outfit, and just get out there and do!

What Can Beat No Chemo?

I’m still reeling from news yesterday that chemotherapy is not indicated in my particular case.  I don’t remember ever receiving better news.  I was prepared for the worst, so much so that I didn’t know how to react to such great news.  I couldn’t quite grasp it at first.  I wondered if they’d gotten my sample mixed up at the lab.  The doctor had to ensure me that the results were mine.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how perspective changes everything.  Six months ago I in the midst of a deep depression and couldn’t seem to pull myself out of it.  Now, the things that were concerning me hardly seem important.  I’m alive and I don’t have to have chemo.  I feel lucky which is a feeling I’ve never really experienced before.  On the contrary, I’ve always felt like a little black could was hanging over my head.  Today I feel almost grateful for new outlook that having cancer has given me.

At this point I can’t think of any news greater than “You don’t have to have Chemotherapy”.  What can beat that?

Best meal I ever had at the Inn at Little Washington?  That night I was catered to by more restaurant staff than I ever knew existed, experienced delectable food, celebrated my birthday with my husband and closest friends.  A great memory…but it doesn’t come close.

Best sex I ever had?  Incredible and also delectable but I do not kiss and tell so I’ll say no more about it except although it was exhilarating and took my breath away it doesn’t come close to the joy I’m experiencing now.

The only thing that ranks up there with finding out I don’t have to have chemo is the birth of my god-daughters.  That’s the amount of joy I feel again today.  A rebirth of sorts.  A new way to look at life.  I hope I’m able to harness this feeling and channel it toward enjoying life and not let depression take hold of me again.

Study Hard and Get Straight ‘A’s

“Study hard and get straight ‘A’s —  that’s what I flippantly used to tell the kids as they went off to school.  Today I will find out my score on what is arguably the most important test of my life.  It’s not Pass/Fail – you get an actual score from 0 to 100.  If you get 100 on this test, you don’t get an ‘A’ , a big gold star, and congratulations all around.  You get to have Chemotherapy.

Apparently only 4 of 100 women with early-stage invasive breast cancer benefit from chemotherapy1, and we’re all aware of its toxic nature and the resulting side effects, most notably hair loss.  So, now they have a test called Oncotype DX that can help you find out if chemotherapy is mandated in your specific case.  Oncotype DX gives you personalized information about your individual breast cancer diagnosis.   If your score is low, no chemotherapy for you.  If it’s high then chemotherapy is definitely prescribed in your case.  If you get a score in the middle then you must decide for yourself if the risk of recurrence outweighs your fear of the treatment.

I’ve been waiting three weeks for the results of this test and part of me just wants to find out the score so I can make a decision and get on with my life.  The other part of me, a bigger part than I’m willing to admit even to myself, doesn’t even want to go to the appointment.  It wants to ignore this is happening to me and get on a plane and go somewhere sunny where I will lay on the beach drinking Mai Tais  and reading sexy novels.

There have been many times in my life when people have told me I’m courageous, or even fearless, as if the two words are interchangeable.  I never think of myself this way.  I’m certainly not fearless as I’m frightened of many, many things, including clowns and things that go bump in the night.   What others see as courageous was most likely me running away from something I feared even more than what I’d chosen to act on.

So today I once again forge through.  I will do what needs doing although I don’t want to.  I will get out of bed, I will get dressed, I will put my make-up on (for one can’t go into battle without war paint), I will go to the office, and when it’s time I will pick my sister up and we will go and find out my score.  For the first time in my life….I’m hoping I flunked a test.

1  Lancet 1996 Apr 20; 347(9008):1006-71

Chocolate no longer works for me…..

Content

There was a time when a bite of deep, dark chocolate could ease the tension of a really bad day.  That’s back when bad days were about the wrong shade of hair color, a broken heel, a long wait for the subway, a husband coming home late from work in a bad mood, or a well-deserved speeding ticket.  As I get older, life seems to throw me more curves.  Hell with curves — it has  thrown me fast, hard balls that hit me point-blank going 65 miles an hour.  Bad days now consist of divorce and lover’s lost, death of beloved family members and  friends, disease and ill-health for myself and others I love.  I now require alcohol with my chocolate.   Sometimes I think if I wasn’t completely allergic to cigarettes I might even consider smoking. Others look so relaxed and thoughtful while drawing in that dark, smoldering vapor.
 

I’m scheduled for surgery on Friday.  I will spend hours in pre-op getting wired for sound by the radiologists and shot full of dye by technicians so that my lump and lymph nodes will light up like an airport runway to guide my surgeon’s hand.  After that, lying naked on a table with my breasts exposed to total strangers,  the anesthesiologist will put an IV in my arm and ask me to count backward.  These skilled strangers won’t see me, the person who lives this life, but only my disease which they will attempt to slice out of me taking along with that tiny piece of flesh an enormous part of the person I am today.

 

One of my good friends wrote, “I know you will get through the operation for your cancer and move on with the good grace and courage that is your hallmark.” If only I could be as certain as she is of my finesse and bravery. I will get through it. That I will do. With the emotional support, and sometimes financial support, of family, friends and loved ones. I will get through it and I hope I will continue to find at least some comfort in chocolate.

The Writers Mind

What she wrote:

I was skiing down Mont Blanc on the Italian side of the mountain with a group of friends when an out of control, grey haired, full length mink came barreling across my path. I swerved to miss her and down I went. A fall that usually only hurt my pride this time broke my shoulder. Ski patrol seemed to appear in a flash and carried me off the mountain, followed by our ski instructor Georgio.

Georgio stayed by my side through the emergency room, the surgery, and the six weeks of recovery in his beautiful chalet. He waited on me hand and foot during my recovery. In spite of my pain and disability we fell in love and were blissfully happy, sharing stories about our lives and laughing out loud daily about the little miscommunications caused by our lack of fluency in the others native language.

At the end of six weeks, just as I was about to be released from the doctor’s care, a long-legged, stunning brunette opened the front door of the chalet and announced she was home. Georgio’s wife, apparently, back from visiting her parents in the South of France.

I left them in the midst of a knock-down-drag-out and after being released from the doctor’s care flew back to America and back to reality. I had an 8 hour flight to cry and lick my wounds arriving at customs with a broken arm and a broken heart.

What really happened:

Walking the dog one evening I tripped over my own feet, fell and broke my shoulder. My boyfriend came and took care of me after surgery. We spent six weeks sitting on the sofa watching TV, unable to do much else.

The missing muse….

I thought my muse had deserted me.  For over a year I haven’t put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, other than at my day job.  Then this morning I woke up and this…

 

It was years before she realized it was the marriage, not the divorce, that broke her.  Every time she acquiesced to one of his demands she had lost a bit of who she might have been.  Not taking writing class or going out with her friends anymore because he wanted her home in the evenings. The promotions she passed up, the relationships she let slip away, because it would take too much time away from their life together.   Always having sex in the same position while he whispered strange, ugly comments in her ear.  His odd attraction to granny panties.  Victoria Secret had been lost on him.  He preferred full coverage briefs that made her feel like someone’s pasta making grandmother.

She told herself it was okay, normal, even good.  She told herself she was happy.  She took care of him and their home as a good wife should until one day after 25 years he walked into the kitchen and told her over his morning coffee that he was moving to California with the firm’s young receptionist.

And now, here she stood just a few years later, on the brink of something new.  She felt as though she was beginning to travel down an unmarked path similar to the one that park rangers always discouraged hikers from following.  “Stay on the marked trail”, was the advice she’d always followed. Until today.  Today she was about to leap into an unknown forest of possibilities.

 

Disc Function Nightmare

I lay on my back writing this the proud owner of not one, but three, herniated discs.  I’ve always been an overachiever but this is really taking it too far.  The pain has been incredible but I will meet with the surgeon today and I know that it can be fixed, I will heal, and before you know it I’ll be wearing high heels and dancing again.

Work is another story.  Work has become a waking nightmare.  My work days have become a hell which I would run from if I could but the responsibilities of bills and mortgage payments will not allow me to be free.  It’s not the work I don’t like, but those I have to work with.  I’ve been working for over 30 years and there are always a few people in every office that make life difficult for everyone around them.  There are always a few who have been promoted beyond their level of competence.  At Dysfunction Junction, however, incompetent, dysfunctional and flat-out crazy are not exceptions but the rule.  The more dysfunctional you are, the longer we keep you.

Can’t work more than four days in a row without calling in sick?  Welcome aboard.  Have to take medication to get through the day?  We need you.  Caught drinking at work more than once?  Please contact us immediately.  Don’t know the law or best practice around your supposed area of expertise?  We have a job for you.

It has gotten to the point that I would rather have severe back pain and be unable to bend over or go about my normal routine than be healthy and have to go in to the office.  At least I know my back pain can be cured.  There is no knife sharp enough to cut the disease out of this organization.

I’m trying to think of a way to keep the work and the paycheck but get out of social interactions with others.  My first thought is perhaps I can develop a phobia to sunlight where I can only leave the house after the sun has gone down.  Would they have to ADA accommodate me so I could work nights when no one else is there?  Hmmm…….

Please send me any and all ideas!

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