Thursday, March 26, 2009

Midlife Sex and HIV/AIDS

Back in the '80s at the height--or should I say, nadir--of the blind hysteria about AIDS, there was no little concern among my group of girlfriends. We were single, slim and gallivanters. Loved going to bars and clubs--our own 20th century version of Lindsay Lohan's life. Okay, maybe not so much in terms of the drugs, but the alcohol? Whoohoo! And the partying? Yes indeedy. I remember one road trip from Texas to LA that should have taken two days but stretched to five or six because we just kept finding another little honkytonk in another little Texas town that had to be visited. Some of us, those of us with a little looser grip on our knees, were freaked (as we said then) by the thought of getting AIDS. As far as we knew, it was a death sentence and could be caught just by breathing polluted air or kissing the wrong boy. I mean, fluids are fluids we figured. I dealt with the whole thing by, first, keeping a firm grip on my knees and, second, leaving LA and getting married.

Whew! I was safe. My girlfriends had their own solutions and none of us, as best I know today, ever showed up HIV positive. And now, of course, we're all midlife women, well past the gallivanting stage. So we're still safe--right? Not so fast.

More magazine has a very scary article this month. It's called "Killer Sex," and writer Alexis Jetter has some sobering statistics. Today, one in three women newly infected with HIV is over the age of 40. We're at risk because we think we're safe. We're married. We don't gallivant. We only date nice men and we only sleep with clean guys. Ha!

Go read the article. It will sober you up--and maybe it will safe you as well.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Natasha Richardson, TBI and Thoughts on Death

I don't want to write about her--but I can't not, because my mind won't go anywhere else. Since word of her skiing accident first came in, I can't not--think about her, that is, in one way or another.

Until the actual announcement of her death late Wednesday, I was traveling the road with her in the Traumatic Brain Injury bus. I guess a ruptured cerebral aneurysm isn't really a TBI, but the the consequences of the two things are the same. Blood in the brain where it shouldn't be. Swelling. Pressure. Destroyed brain tissue. Coma, death. Okay, the last two didn't happen to me, but the first three did, and I guess it's only natural that my mind goes to that experience when I hear about something similar.

It's a part of my life that is uniquely mine and uniquely personal and, in some ways, ever-present. It's there when I'm standing in the shower washing my hair and I suddenly feel like big, glob-like lump at the side of my skull that is the shunt. Damn--that's weird! Then I can't help but creep my fingers down my neck following the tubing right below the surface of my skin where it travels down my neck, over my chest and then--what? I can't feel it anymore but I know it goes into my stomach. Sometimes the tubing feels so discrete to me, I know I could pick it up through my skin. Pull it, and--but of course, I don't. And wouldn't. Still--it's there, a foreign part of me. I wonder when I die what will happen to it. Will the embalmers pull it out? If I'm cremated, will the shunt become a glob of melted plastic among my ashes? Or will my flesh disintegrate around it, leaving just the shunt and my bones for some future world archeologist to discover.

Yes, I think about death. Not all the time, or even a lot, but it's there somewhere in the back of my mind. Maybe because of my ride on the TBI bus I'm not so much afraid of it. I'm not looking for it; I don't want it. But I've arrived, I guess, at that point in my life where I see that--hey, guys! I ain't gonna live forever. That's sort of shocking in a way. Not that I won't live forever, but that there will be a time when I, my particular consciousness, won't be experiencing the world, won't be in the world, won't be of the world.

I wonder if Natasha Richardson had any presentiment of what lay ahead. According to the reports, she seemed to brush off the idea that anything could come of her fall. Was that because at 45, she still felt immortal? I'm sure I did when I was 45. But now--now I know better.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Why I Stay Home

I have another one of those social thingies to go to tonight. I was all hot-to-trot when I first heard about it, drinks at an Irish pub downtown, 6-8pm. I planned the 'when shall I wash my hair, do my nails' around it--all the girly stuff that makes going out an anticipatory blowout. But now that the 'witching hour is drawing nigh, I'm all--eh, meh, and bleh.

Because I would analyze the worm out of the wormwood, and because I really do see this as Getting In The Way of My Life, I'm ready to do some hard thinking-through. See if any of this sounds familiar to you--and if so, are there any ways I can outwit myself?
  • Going out means getting dressed.
  • Getting dressed means selecting from my wardrobe.
  • Selecting from my wardrobe means confronting that fact that nothing fits--and if it does, it looks like shit.
which means....
  • Confronting the ways in which my body has changed, much to my horror and dismay
which means....
  • Confronting that I'm older, aging, past the halfway mark, over the hill, out of the running--
oooops. Out of the running: that resonates. Clangs, in fact, and starts me thinking about what it was that I used to like about going out:
  • Picking a terrific outfit that would be the perfect costume (yes, as in theatre) for who I was going to be that night.
  • Loving the look in the mirror. Not as in some narcissistic venture but as in, "Damn I look good!"
  • Making my entrance, playing my character, seeing what kind of applause I would score.
  • And maybe, if I was interested, scoring.
That's pretty much gone for me now. I'm just not really interested, and I don't have the goods to venture on the stage as a leading lady any more. So what I'm left with when I go out is--what? And is this a good or a bad thing?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Late Night Fantasies...

...of work well done tomorrow.

That's me, brushing my teeth and planning--with great energy and zest and, yes, enthusiasm (is this overkill?) all that I am going to accomplish the next day. Except I don't. Because, generally speaking, I don't remember. I've taken, therefore, to making lists on Post-its while I brush which I then post on my monitor. See, here they are...all those yellow squares with writing on them.
  • Work on CSS
  • Start annotating BlogRoll
  • Start selling clothes
  • Buy nightcream
  • SEO
  • and so on and so on and so on...
What leaks out of me in the night hours between writing these lists and the morning time to do them is the details. And the enthusiasm. And the zest. And the energy.

If all that I think to do would magically get done, what a productive person I would be....

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Social Networking: Why?

I wish it weren't so, but truly I suck at social networking. I sucked at networking when it was just business-oriented. I sucked at networking when it was a school dance or party. It's not that I'm a wallflower or pathetically shy; it's just that I can't get myself to care. Even when I know I should do.

Last night I went to a Twitter meetup in Sacramento. After years of local people saying to me, "Blog? What's that?" and "Twitter? What's that?", the Web 2.0 scene has finally come to Sacramento. I am, of course, thrilled. Or think I should be.

But there is something about all those earnest people Getting Acquainted! Exchanging Cards! Sharing Business Concepts that creates in me a massive case of Don't Give A Shit!

But I should give a shit. Because I've got some business concepts worth sharing. And I've got cards to exchange that go with those concepts. And really, I go to these events ready to meet and greet and.....

Maybe that's the problem. Why do I go to these events? Actually, it's the first thing, the Getting Acquainted, that draws me. Top in my list of Life Goals is "Know Interesting People." After that is, "Have Good Conversations." And "Laugh A Lot"--that's probably number three. Not remotely near the top is Meet People Who Can Help Me In My Business. If it happens, that's a bonus.

Last night I found myself doing a circuit around the perimeter of attendees. Round and round I went, looking for a likely person to Get Acquainted with. Mostly they were all very busy doing what they had come to do: trolling for contacts, honing their Elevator Spiel. Every once in a while I would stop and introduce myself--there were definitely some people there who were Interesting People--and we would chat for a while. And then, they'd go their way. And I'd make another circuit of the room.

I think I was overwhelmed by the intensity of the Desire in that room. And maybe, depressed. Because shouldn't I have that same Desire? And if I don't, does that mean I'm doomed to fail?