Forgotten Bruises

I bruise easily. So easily, in fact, that I think my sister worried for a time that I was a battered woman, when I truly wasn’t. I’m just a pale-skinned klutz, is all.

Quite often I can’t even say what caused a bruise. Many times, when I bump into a door knob (or whatever happens to be the offending solid), I say to myself, “I should write this down, because I’m going to be black and blue, and I’ll forget why.” But I never do. (Write it down, I mean. I pretty much always forget why.)

It kind of makes me wonder about the other forgotten bruises in my life– namely, the emotional ones. I know I’ve earned the right to be cautious in relationships, for example, but do I really remember all the causes for this caution? How will I ever know for sure?

Maybe that’s a blessing. I doubt many of us want to dwell on all the slings and arrows we’ve experienced in our lives. And I am grateful that I’m still willing to take a chance when a wonderful person crosses my path.

But on the other hand, it might be helpful to know why I’m overreacting in a certain situation, or why I’m making a choice that even I can see isn’t particularly rational. The bottom line is that we are all a product of our past experiences. The better you know yourself, the easier it will be to understand your gut reactions.

But I’m beginning to think that maybe it wouldn’t hurt to sometimes take that x factor into account: the forgotten bruises. They made an impact, too. And while it would be great to always know what makes you tick, the honest truth is that you won’t. Not always. That’s what makes us human. So be gentle with yourself, dear reader. Just do the best that you can.


Like the way my weird mind works? Then you’ll enjoy my book!

Putting the Logic Back into Biologics

The other day a friend was lamenting that instead of his usual solitary work environment, he was soon to be sharing an office with a coworker. “I’d like to be able to fart in peace without having to look over my shoulder,” he groused. That made me laugh. And it also got me thinking.

Why are we so programmed in this country to be ashamed of normal bodily functions? In some cultures, it’s polite to burp. Here, I’ve actually seen people blush when they sneeze or cough. I’ve even known people who have to turn on the sink faucet to block out the sound before they’ll urinate in a public bathroom.

We also have placed a heavy moral burden upon consensual sex, and how much we weigh or do not weigh. Heaven forbid someone be too tall or too short. Aging seems to be a source of shame. We’re supposed to keep all our body hair under strict control. And don’t even get me started about the stigmas attached to physical or mental disabilities.

Are you sensing a theme here? All of these things are biological. They are a natural part of being human. Everything from sweating to vomiting is a necessary physical process. We have limited control over our bodies.

I must admit I’m an extremely gassy person. When I went back to college in my late 40’s, I was often surrounded by young people who still cared what others thought. My occasional unintended farts would shock them. So one day I said, “Look. I’m old, I’m fat, I fart. I burp, I sneeze, I cough, and I puke. You’re just going to have to get over it.”

Seriously, though, I’ll tell you what: I’ll try not to fart during the National Anthem if you try not to act as though you’ve never farted in your life. The age of the Puritans is long past. We have so many other things to worry about. Let’s move on, shall we?


Like the way my weird mind works? Then you’ll enjoy my book!

Body Signals

When I got the news that my mother had cancer, I was at work. Prior to the phone call, my skin was clear. After the phone call, my face was covered with deep, painful, cystic acne. I went from looking fresh-faced to looking like pepperoni pizza in the space of just a few minutes. A coworker said he’d never seen anything like that in his entire life. It was if my skin erupted. It was first for me, too. For several months I had to sleep on my back, because even touching my cheek to the pillow was so painful I couldn’t get any rest.

That was the moment when it dawned on me that my subconscious was pretty darned powerful. When it wants to send me a message, I tend to get it, loud and clear. Fortunately it doesn’t happen often, but when it does… wow.

When the sheriff’s office called to tell me that they’d found my boyfriend’s body in his truck, still clutching his asthma inhaler, it sent me a similar message. This time, prior to the phone call, I wasn’t feeling bad at all. Afterward, Bam! I had the full-blown flu. Fever, aching, and my head and chest were so congested that when I took the plane to fly back home my ears became so blocked that I couldn’t hear a thing for two days. Which was convenient, because I didn’t want to hear at that moment in time.

Another time, the complete opposite happened. I had a bad cold, advanced enough for me to be longing for death, and then I received really good news, and my congestion instantly disappeared as if it had never been there. I can’t even remember what the good news was. (Funny how the positive stuff doesn’t stick with you.)

To this day, when I experience stress I’ll get blisters on my ankles. That area has so many scars after all these years that I find it unpleasant to gaze upon my feet. My doctor is completely befuddled.

I wish I could sit down and have a chat with my subconscious and tell it that less is more. Subtlety would be greatly appreciated. But my subconscious would probably reply, “I would, but you have this annoying habit of being totally oblivious.”

Message received. At least until the next time I need reminding. “Be gentle with yourself during times of crisis or I’ll take you down.”

Pepperoni Pizza Slice
My post-traumatic face. [Image credit:]

Outing Your Abuser

What I’m about to say is probably going to make a lot of people angry or upset, but as a sexual abuse survivor myself, I think I’ve earned the right to form strong opinions on this subject. Believe me, having this particular opinion makes even me uncomfortable. Nevertheless, here it is.

I have known many people in my life who have been abused in one way or another. The first thing I try to tell these people is that the abuse was not their fault. I point that out because no one bothered to tell me that. I had to figure it out on my own, and it was a good decade before I reached that point. A decade of thinking I had done something wrong, something to deserve such horrible treatment. That’s way too long. Even one day is way too long to have that kind of thought in your head. No one deserves that.

If you have been, or are being abused, you don’t deserve it. You didn’t ask for it, you don’t want it, and you shouldn’t have to experience it. But here’s where it gets controversial. Here’s my upsetting opinion. Even though you never wanted this role, even though it was thrust upon you completely against your will, you now, unfortunately, have a huge responsibility. You have to speak up. You have to out your abuser.

The reason I say this is that I know several people who experienced abuse and kept relatively quiet about it. It’s painful. It’s humiliating. It’s awkward. Speaking up can break apart families or even cause jail time. Speaking up means being publicly outed yourself, for something you didn’t do. You will be judged harshly by many.

But here’s the thing. Abusers aren’t going to stop abusing just because you’ve “aged out” of their emotional prison. They’ll most likely move on to someone else. And whether you like it or not, your silence enables them to do just that.

From an adult perspective, putting several puzzle pieces together, I am fairly certain that my stepfather must have abused his own daughter before he abused me. If she had spoken up, my life would be much different. I wouldn’t bear the scars that I bear.

Fortunately, that man has long since slithered off to hell where he can no longer hurt anyone, but when he was alive, I spoke up. I spoke loud and I spoke clear. Because one day I saw my two year old niece toddling over to his outstretched arms, and I wanted to make sure he would never, ever touch her. Ever. Unfortunately the adults in my life never stepped up once I spoke out, so he never got all the justice he deserved, but he also never got the anonymity on which he thrived.

So if you have survived that sort of evil, whether it was sexual, physical or emotional, I’m profoundly and truly sorry. But you have to speak up. For all the victims that are in line behind you. You are a survivor. Now it’s time to also be a savior.

speak up

The Laws of Attraction

Just a few minutes ago I saw a gorgeous man, and I thought, “Yummy.” But then came the inevitable realization that I’m old enough to be his mother. I guess I always assumed that as I aged, my taste in men would age, too. Well… yes and no.

In terms of pure physical attraction, is it all that unusual that someone who is healthy and fit would appeal to me? Are you kidding? An athletic 25 year old is pure eye candy, and that feeds my spirit.

But would I ever act on this attraction? Not in a million, billion years. First of all, I wouldn’t enjoy the look of horror when it dawned on the guy that he was being hit on by a fat old 50 year old. Second, and this is the funny thing about the laws of attraction: my desire for the guy would surely pop like a soap bubble the moment he opened his mouth.

That’s because the older you get, the more you discover that attraction goes way beyond the physical. It’s a rare 25 year old who would have enough life experience to mentally stimulate me. Our frames of reference wouldn’t even be hanging in the same building, let alone on the same wall.

So in terms of long-standing chemistry, I’ll take a guy my age any day. Sure, he probably has more scars, but that means he has interesting stories to tell. Yup, he might have a paunch, but that only means I’ll be less self-conscious of my own. And when you can relate on many levels, you can have one high-rise of a relationship!

But that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop thinking, “Yummy” when I see those 25 year olds. I may be old and fat, but I’m not dead.

[Image credit:]
[Image credit:]

Why Are We Shocked?

As more and more women come forward with rape allegations, it’s becoming increasingly impossible to maintain any warm and fuzzy feelings for Bill Cosby, America’s favorite dad. There’s nothing worse than having an icon fall from grace, but there you have it. It happens all the time. Not only are none of us perfect, but quite a few of us are, frankly, despicable.

And Mr. Cosby certainly isn’t helping his case by showing not only an utter lack of remorse, but a litigious response to the scandal. But that shouldn’t shock us, either. This is a pattern that most scumbags follow until the pressure becomes too great. That’s why I never take remorse seriously. It’s rarely a natural and sincere reaction.

And then you have the Honey Boo Boo scandal. There is a reason I never watched that slow motion train wreck of a show. But to hear the allegations that her mother is dating the man who sexually abused this child’s older sister makes me sick. But again, why are we shocked? A certain percentage of mothers are horrible. They put their own misplaced desire for love ahead of the welfare of their children every single time. It has been forever thus.

We’d like to think that the human race is civilized. No one wants to believe that the veil between us and violence is wispy thin. We want to maintain that illusion of morality and decency. But rape and abuse happen. As a matter of fact, I haven’t known a single female who hasn’t been abused, either physically, sexually or emotionally, at least once. The actual chaos in which we live is obvious if we only care to acknowledge it.

On some level, we all know that. And yet no matter how often we see human beings behave deplorably, we can’t quite seem to get used to it. I kind of wish we would, though. As sad as it would be if the entire world became more cynical, I think we would be more apt to take appropriate action if our utter shock did not dull the edge of our outrage.


[Image credit:]

Writing a Dating Profile

Okay guys, I’m starting to get my feet under me in this new city, and now that I’ve had a chance to lift up my head and look around me, I realize I’m lonely as hell. There. I said it. I don’t know anybody here, and while talking to my dogs helps, they tend to keep their own counsel.

Normally I’d make friends at my UU Church, but my work schedule doesn’t really allow for that at this point. I‘ve never really had to expose myself like this because up to this point a good man always seemed to cross my path just when I needed one. But I’m not getting any younger or any thinner. So I’m stuck with doing something I thought I’d never do. I’m going to put myself out there on one of those internet dating sites.

God, I feel sick even contemplating the potential rejection. But you can’t win if you don’t play, right? So the first step, I suppose, is writing a profile. I don’t know where to begin. I guess I’ll Google “Writing a Dating Profile” and see what advice I can get there.

Apparently you get a much better response by including a photo. Oh, God. Well, I may as well be honest right up front, because sooner or later the truth will out. I don’t understand people who fake their pictures on these sites. Yes, starting off with a lie will get you a first date, but it sure isn’t going to get you a second one. If someone is shallow enough to reject me based solely on appearance, I’d rather skip over that person anyway.

And I’ve noticed that a lot of women’s profiles talk mostly about their curves and their physical attributes. I refuse to do that. Sorry guys, but if that’s all you want, you couldn’t handle me.

Unfortunately, most of these sites relegate you to about 200 words. I can’t even wrap my brain around that type of restriction. How do I sum myself up in just 200 words? Here’s what I’d like to say:

Hi, my name’s Barb. I’m a 49 year old liberal, intelligent non-smoker, and I just moved to the Seattle area from Florida for a job as a bridge operator with the city. I don’t know a soul here. Sometimes I am proud about this gutsy move, and other times I think I’ve lost my marbles.

When I drove across the country, I stopped at Badlands National Park, Mount Rushmore, and Gingko Petrified Forest along the way. This is an amazingly gorgeous country we live in. I’ve been to 19 other countries, and have sorely neglected my own. I’m looking for someone to explore the city and/or state with me. I live to travel. My best trait, I think, is my curiosity. I enjoy learning and discovering.

The other day I went to Chihuly Garden and Glass and wanted to pitch a tent there. I visited the Gum Wall and thought it was gross and twisted. I loved it. Discovery Park took my breath away. The view is spectacular, but the loop road nearly killed this flatlander. I have some adjustments to make!

I’d love an epic romance, sure, but I’d be happy with a friendship, too. It feels really weird being this isolated. All the people I love most are 3100 miles away. Thank God for my dogs, but as much as I love them, they tend not to hold up their end of a conversation.

As you can see from my picture, I’m not skinny. No sense in lying about that. You’d figure it out sooner or later. If you’re looking for a Barbie Doll, I doubt we’d have much to talk about anyway.

I’m a Unitarian Universalist, which means I think everyone has their own path to walk and I’m fascinated by the many different paths that people choose. I can’t really relate to people who think their religious beliefs are the only correct ones. I guess that means I’m intolerant when it comes to intolerance.

I really enjoy watching other people do the cooking. I love eating pretty much anything except Sushi, Brussel sprouts and lima beans. I think it would be a blast to go to Pike Place Market with someone, pick out some really good ingredients, and then come home and help them create something delicious.

I like to go and do things, but I also like to read and take baths and stay at home and eat pizza and take naps with my dogs. My most embarrassing guilty pleasure is reality TV.

I don’t wear high heels or much make up. I fart and I snore and I hate it when I giggle but I think a good dry sense of humor is extremely sexy, so I’ve learned to get over myself. I’m extremely passionate when properly inspired, but I couldn’t be less interested in shallow and meaningless encounters.

I’m not really into sports. I’m also child free and smoke free and would like to keep it that way. I believe that if you’re still getting drunk in my age group, that’s probably the tip of an extremely troubled iceberg.

I’m told I’m interesting to talk to. I love to write, and maintain a daily blog. I think I tell some pretty good stories, and I love hearing other people tell them as well.

I love my job. There’s nothing better than sitting up on a drawbridge and watching the moon rise over the city, with its long silver reflection over the water. And I’ve always loved non-traditional jobs that allow me to think for myself. But in the interest of full disclosure, my work schedule is insane. I never have the same days off twice, it seems, and sometimes I work mornings and other times I work evenings, and it’s subject to change without notice. Occasionally I work ten days straight. That means I can be a bit hard to pin down. But I’d like to think I’m worth it.

So far I’m loving everything about Seattle except the traffic. I’m itching to get out there and see more of it! Care to join me?

So what do you think? Would you date me? And how do I boil myself down to 200 words? This could be an interesting writing exercise for other bloggers. “How to Shove Barb Into a Nutshell.”

Ugh. This whole vulnerability thing sucks.


That Certain Something

The older I get, the less I care about the physical attributes of a potential partner. Anyone who is obsessed with washboard stomachs and full heads of hair when they’re pushing 50 is not being realistic. Certainly, be well groomed and have a grasp of personal hygiene, but I’m not expecting a hard body.

What attract me most are those qualities that you can’t always detect at first glance. Intelligence peppered with a sense of humor. Curiosity. A generous nature. Compassion. Kindness. Decency. A willingness to make a fool of oneself for loved ones. Integrity. Not taking oneself too seriously. A willingness to kill spiders if you hear me scream.

Am I asking too much? I don’t think so. I have all those qualities. Maybe what I’m looking for is me. But seriously, I see glimmers of that person everywhere. In the man who clearly adores his disabled child and would do anything to make her smile. In the guy who volunteers to help build a house for Habitat for Humanity. In the professor who gives that riveting yet entertaining TED talk.

It’s the way you live your life that will move people. Just be yourself and pursue your passions. Embrace your life. It will show. There’s no more powerful pheromone on earth than that.