FaceOnFire: A Girl's Guide to Perimenopause

{August 7, 2013}   Go ahead. Explore my pelvis.

If  you think shopping for a bathing suit is humiliating, try this on for size.

You’re lying on a hospital examining table with a camera wand thingy stuck way up in your Lady Parts while the technician attempting to photograph the walls of your Va-Jay-Jay searches fruitlessly for a clear image.

Lots of scintillating conversation topics arise while someone is probing your Garden of Eden with a rod masquerading as a medical device. Like for instance, the weather. In Southern California, that can only go so far:

Girl With Wand [staring at ultrasound screen]: How’s the weather out there?

Me: Sunny and 72.

G.W.W.: Cool. Same as it was yesterday.

Awkward silence.

There was a time when lying prone while someone jiggled a device in your Hoo-Ha was actually a lot of fun. Especially if that someone was your boyfriend/partner/hubby/spouse/gigolo. This time, it was tedious and annoying:

[20 LONG minutes after the weather conversation]:

Me: Are you finding what you needed in there?

G.W.W. [mildly panicked]: Uh, I can’t seem to get a clear image [probes frantically].

Me:  Well, since this isn’t working, I would suggest it’s time for Plan B.

Plan B involved G.W.W. disclosing that we were using “an outdated machine.” And that there was a “newer machine” next door. Two minutes later, the bizarre tableau resumed in the adjacent room with a more modern machine, this time with a wand wrapped in plastic. Hmm…wonder why the first one had no protective covering?

[10 minutes into my coupling with said Newer Machine]:

Me: So, how long have you worked in healthcare?

G.W.W. [staring at ultrasound screen]: Six months.

Me [panicked but masking it well]: What did you do before?

G.W.W. [still staring at screen]: I was in sales.

Me: Pharmaceutical sales?

G.W.W. [looking at me sheepishly]: No, I sold tractors.

A vision of her in a John Deere trucker hat was all it took for me to want to wrestle the probe from her hands and self-administer the pelvic ultrasound.  She finished before I could do my best Mrs. Peel and somersault off the table, looking chic but tough wearing nothing but an open-backed hospital gown.

Two days later, I was in the doctor’s office with a bladder infection.

Shopping for bathing suits can be traumatic, no doubt about it. But I would argue that getting your Pleasure Palace photographed by a former tractor salesperson is right up there. So to speak.


{August 1, 2013}   A Menopause Bucket List

It was inevitable.

Last month I touched down in the Kingdom of Menopause. I arrived first class (natch!), a glass of Sauvignon Blanc in one hand, a bottle of herbal hot flash pills in the other.

So what’s a girl to do? Turns out, lots.  With love in my heart and three extra inches around my waist, I present you with my Menopause Bucket List:

1. Lose six pounds (that was a no-brainer).

2. Send out a search-and-rescue team to locate my long-lost libido.

3. Invent melt-proof foundation.

4. Find a creative use for that box of super-jumbo maxi pads in the bathroom cabinet.

4a. Teacup chihuahua daybeds?

5. Find a Kegel app. Anything I can do to avoid becoming Menopausal Pee Lady.

6. Start doing crossword puzzles to stave off Brain Fog Syndrome.

7. Shit. I forgot what number 7 was.

8. Wear a rubber band around my wrist and snap it each time I listen to smooth jazz.

8a. I haven’t yet listened to smooth jazz. That was just a preventive measure.

9. Never, ever publicly announce I’m having a hot flash. Ever.

10. Consider changing the name of this blog, as I’ve permanently vacated the Land of Perimenopause.

So there you have it, darlings. What’s on your Menopause Bucket List?

Knock on wood, my consulting business is going swimmingly well these days. But it’s of dubious reassurance to know that if it all went to pot, there’s a whole new career path I can embark upon: Bearded Lady.

Yesterday I discovered a disproportionately long hair on my chin, due north of the thick, Don Draper-caliber beard hair that has plagued the tip of my chin for a good 10 years. A beard hair that has survived numerous electrolysis treatments and vigorous tweezing, leading me to believe that no hair removal treatment known to womankind will ever destroy whatever circus sideshow aspirations I may someday be forced to adopt.

There was a time when the single, wiry black hair on my chin was fodder for a good laugh. It so happens that a former roommate (and current BFF) managed to grow one too, in the exact same spot. We envisioned a distant future in the same retirement community, where we would charm the dentures off of the single gents with our chin-hair growing contests. It was funny when there was only one hair, but now I have two. And I’m not laughing.

Maybe it’s hormones, maybe it’s the hair thinning treatment I started last month (see previous blog post). Whichever way you slice it, it all boils down to perimenopause.

Yes, girlfriends. To add insult to the injury of thinning hair on my scalp, I now have the potential to propel Justin Bieber into a prepubescent Envy Hissy Fit at the thought that my beard may be growing in thicker than his.

Where did I go wrong? What karmic faux pas did I commit to deserve such a hirsute fate? I suppose DNA might have a role. My ethnic makeup puts me at the cross-section of cultures that boast mustachioed, hairy-armed women. But just as I began celebrating the recent hormone-induced loss of the downy layer of forearm  hair that I’d been dutifully Jolen-bleaching since seventh grade, a robust crop took root on my face.

For purposes of full disclosure, I have been bleaching – with equal abandon – my Frida Kahlo mustache to the point that I go through a home bleaching kit about once every three months. Not a task I relish, and sometimes I shirk my duties. It’s those mornings when I apply the makeup and face powder and realize that I have a five o’clock shadow on my upper lip – at 7 in the morning – that I sigh, wash off the makeup and whip out the bleaching kit.

I’m beginning to worry that perimenopausal hair loss is a bit like liposuction. You may lose the belly fat through the wonders of plastic surgery, but in six months’ time you’ll have an ass the size of Texas. Me, I’m worried that as the hair on my head makes a rebound (that scalp treatment shampoo and serum seems to be working!), one day I’ll wake up looking like Chewbacca.

What’s a girl to do? I’m open to your suggestions. For now, I think I’ll torment the petal-cheeked Justin Bieber with anonymous Twitter taunts.

{October 3, 2011}   Hair Today, Bald Tomorrow

Last night I sneezed, and about 100 hairs fell off my head. This morning in the shower, another 300 met a sad, waterlogged fate – a sorry, tangled mass wrapped around the drain cover. It occurred to me as I was blow drying what remained that if I continue at this rate, I’ll be a dead ringer for Mr. Clean by the time I’m 49.

Of all the perimenopausal indignities I’ve suffered so far, from the weight gain to the mood swings to the still-traumatic super-absorbent tampon fiasco, nothing tops thinning hair and the impending Sinéad O’Connor “Pope Picture-Tearing Phase” look. The weight gain is under control, thanks to my sadistic personal trainer. Mood swings, I am discovering, can be fun! As for the tampon ordeal, a recent trip to my neighborhood CVS led to the earth-shattering discovery that they make extra-super-absorbency tampons that double as kitchen sponges. Yesssss!!!

Hair loss, on the other hand, makes me want to go green. Green with envy, that is. Lately I find myself fantasizing about getting Kim Kardashian in a headlock and taking the pruning shears to her disgustingly lustrous, obscenely luxuriant mane.

My own crowning glory began as a pixie cut, then moved to pigtails. Sixth grade saw me with a tragic Dorothy Hamill wedge that, paired with my beanpole frame and Super Fly coke-bottle glasses, rendered me androgynous for a year. As the 1970s waned, so did my first perm, which gave way to flippy Farrah Fawcett wings. In high school, I cut my own hair – an angled bob that complemented my beret and 80s thrift-store aesthetic. Junior year of college found me crying in a strip mall parking lot after an encounter with an Eastern European stylist who pretended she understood my request for Kelly-Mc-Gillis-in-Top-Gun waves left me with Michael-Jackson-at-age-six kinks.

As an adult, I’ve had highlights and lowlights. Teased bangs (Hey, it was the 90s! Don’t act like you didn’t do it, too).  Updos for parties. Pink streaks for concerts. The Rachel was my last celebrity hairstyle and lasted a good two years longer than it should have. Then came a sort of Dark Ages, where my hair simply…existed.  No color, no fancy treatments, no distinctive cuts. In fact, I could go a whole year and not have a trim.

Which brings us back to today. The Hot Hot Husband professes to love my hair au naturel, and he means it sincerely.

But what’s a girl to do when the hair on her head begins a mass exodus to the bathroom floor, the kitchen counter, and every surface inside the car? Four words: Go to the mall.

Determined to find a solution to my ever-thinning strands, I begin at a kiosk strategically located across from A Popular, Overrated National Lingerie Chain. The kiosk, staffed by a bubbly young Asian woman with an enviably thick head of hair, sells…hair. That’s right. Disembodied ponytails of every hair color dangle lifelessly from racks, a macabre chuck wagon of wig pieces and falls. The salesgirl smiles encouragingly, eager to make her first sale of the day. I smile tightly, eager to hide my Texas Chainsaw Massacre flashback. The thought of attaching someone’s lopped-off pelt to the top of my cranium leaves me with a sudden desire to collapse on the nearest bench and put my head between my knees.

Undaunted, my next stop is a beauty supply store. Here I ask a magenta-maned twentysomething for hair-thickening shampoo recommendations. She proceeds to walk down the aisle, scanning bottles for the word ‘thickening’ and pointing to her findings triumphantly. This gets old after about her third victory, and I don’t have the heart to tell her I actually learned how to read some time ago, so I thank her and wander the aisles on my own.

I emerge $72 poorer, with a shampoo, conditioner and serum that promise to “nurture healthy hair growth.” Stay tuned for an update. In the meantime, I think today is the perfect day to break in my Missoni for Target hat.

{September 16, 2011}   Missoni Madness

Yes, I’m late to the party on this one, but I needed three full days to recover from the trauma that was the Missoni for Target line’s opening day.

Call it retail therapy gone bad. Really bad.

It all started with a picture of a hat in a magazine. Not just any hat, but a gloriously retro, Studio 54-esque brown felt floppy number with a band bearing the signature Missoni chevron design. Oh, how I coveted that hat. I had visions of myself in my new, dark-wash Hot-After-40 jeans (see previous post) wearing an as-yet-undetermined top and sporting that fabulous flasback-to-the-70s hat. The magazine blurb tantalizingly announced the pending arrival of the Missoni for Target line, in stores on September 13.

So Tuesday morning, I threw caution to the smoggy L.A. wind and invented a not-too-lame excuse for skipping my standing Tuesday morning networking meeting (a girl’s gotta work, but not when Missoni’s at Target). Off to my friendly neighborhood Target store I went, dutifully arriving at 8:15, expecting to be one of the few early arrivals on a weekday morning.

A little aside – I’m the kind of gal who avoids Black Friday sales and does her Christmas shopping in August, only because there’s nothing I hate more than overflowing parking lots and masses of wild-eyed, frothing-at-the-mouth bargain hunters. Let’s just say that the parking lot at Target on Tuesday morning was the real-life embodiment of my worst nightmare. You’d think it was 9 p.m. on December 24.

Undaunted, I pulled into the first available parking stall, oh, about a mile from the store entrance. It was a veritable 5K race from the parking lot to the front door, run by women between the ages of 30 and 55 eyeing each other suspiciously and trying not too discreetly to beat everyone else inside.

The warehouse-huge store was void of human life except for the massive, writhing cluster of women surrounding a giant “Missoni for Target” sign in the women’s clothing section. From a distance, I saw chevron-patterned sweaters flying over a cacophony of excitable chatter. Like hyenas at the site of a kill, women pushed carts piled high with Missoni merchandise, circling the few racks of the Italian design house’s togs, waiting for scraps to be dropped or left behind. By the time I was able to elbow my way through the feeding frenzy, the racks were empty, like a carcass picked to the bone. The only thing left: a row of puke-green corduroy coats with a hot-pink lining. And yes, they were as unappetizing as they sound.

Overcome by a hormonal cocktail of frustration with an anger chaser, I did an about face and quick-timed it back to the car. Speeding along surface streets, I steered toward the next-closest Target, this one in a slightly less tony area than the first store.

Sure enough, there were a few more items left on the racks, but the cart-pushing Vultures in Lipstick were still a force to be reckoned with here. Besides the vomit-hued coats, the racks held one size medium miniskirt, a size large chevron-patterned clothing object (It’s a tunic! It’s a dress! No, wait – it’s just plain ugly!) and six black-and-white patterned t-shirts that would look good only if you were a mullet-haired 1980s dude with a mustache and  Sergio Valente man jeans. Really, Margherita?

What can I say. I felt defeated. Shoulders slumped, I headed to the pharma section to find contact lens solution. Pushing my cavernously empty shopping cart, I glimpsed hopefully at the handbag section on the way, hoping that a tote or wallet had been overlooked by the bargain-hunting packs of she-wolves. Nothing.

But right before I hit the greeting card section, something caused me to turn toward the right and that was when I saw it. Alone, on a near-scavenged Missoni accessories rack, was the hat. MY hat. Standing hungrily in front of the display, a Missoni Maniac in a tired velour jogging suit was blocking the display with her giant red shopping cart, picking over and examining all the Missoni wear she had presumably just grabbed off the rack by the armful and shoved into the cart. It was now or never. Abandoning my own pathetically empty cart, I reached over her with a bold, “Excuse me,” and grabbed the hat. She glared at me, adopting a fiercely protective stance over her cart, like a velour-clad mommy vulture hovering over her progeny.

Straight to the cash register I went, feeling like Charlie with his golden ticket.

The irony, dear reader, that I engaged in a bit of carrion-feeding behavior is not lost on me. Bargain shopping can bring out the worst in us, which is why I avoid it altogether. Was it worth it? I do love my hat, but next time the only place I’ll park is in front of the computer for the online site opening.

{September 8, 2011}   Say No to Granny Jeans

Dammit, it’s happened twice. I’m mad as hell, and I’m not gonna take it anymore.

I’m talking about going to a department store, asking a wisp of a 20-something salesgirl for help finding (insert clothing item here), and being shown the most godawful, matronly, downright HIDEOUS (insert clothing item here) in the entire store.

What gives? Do I really look like I could have such abominable taste in clothing? Or worse, do I really look that…old?

The first time it happened was early in the summer, and I was searching for a one-piece bathing suit. I know, I know. I haven’t actively looked for a one-piece since age 29 when I joined a new gym and wanted something practical to be able to wear while swimming laps in the pool. Okay, so I never actually swam laps, but the swimsuit was darned cute and it had built-in underwire bra cups that made my girls look swimmingly perky.

But I digress. Early this summer I was feeling dumpy and doughy, pasty and pudgy. This after two and a half years of less-than-frequent special guest appearances at said gym. The Hot Hot Husband and I were headed for a little weekend R&R in Palm Springs, and I was ashamed to appear poolside in a bikini, so I dragged my low self-esteem to A Big-Name Department Store that Started in the Pacific Northwest and hoped for the best.

Instead, I got a well-intentioned salesgirl who ushered me into a cavernous fitting room with Saw III-caliber lighting, and who reappeared a couple of minutes later hauling 10 one-piece swimsuits so AARP that I’m sure even Margaret Thatcher would have been offended.

But putting on my Pollyanna hat, every cloud has a silver lining, and this cloud sent me storming to the gym to sign up for personal training.

Three months later, at the same Unnamed Department Store, I’m searching for a Cute Top à la Audrey Hepburn in Two For the Road. A ballet-neck, three-quarter sleeve navy blue t-shirt that’s form-fitting, timeless and totally Euro. This time, a thirty-something sales clerk intercepts me on the sales floor and asks if I need help.

Same routine, different cavernous fitting room, same scary slasher-movie lighting. I wait with anticipation, my back to the circus funhouse of a mirror. In walks Helpful Sales Clerk Girl, with an armful of the most geriatric selection of tops this side of the senior center canasta club. I give her some points for getting the color right (I mean, how can you fuck up navy blue?). But the fabrics, Hazel, the fabrics! Polyester, jersey (and not the Diane Von Furstenberg kind), and for Pete’s sake, fleece! And the styles? Four words: Golden Girls, circa 1981.

With all due respect to Betty, Rue, Maud and Estelle, I look NOTHING like a Golden Girl. I mean, c’mon. I’m only 45! So fast forward to this past Labor Day weekend at the flagship store of the aforementioned Temple of Retail Therapy. Thanks to my sadistic personal trainer, I am now the proud bearer of a smaller waistline, a tighter ass, and a still-shrinking PeriMenoPooch. I’m in the store looking for a pair of dark-wash jeans, preferably tight-fitting, to replace the tired, fading Seven for All Mankind jeans that I’ve been sporting for the last 10 years.

Straight from the airport and wearing my time-worn Seven jeans, I’m on a quest. This time, I get a tag team of two sales clerks, one a trainee. As chipper and darn-glad-to-be-of-service as ever (this is, after all, the flagship store), they ask if they can help me find something. I tell them dark wash jeans. They sized me up and said, “We have some higher-waist jeans over here…”

Before she/they could finish her/their sentence, I mustered a stern look, held a finger up and said, “Do NOT show me granny jeans.” This triggered a relaxation response in the two girls. They shed the finishing school posture, let out a simultaneous breath and erupted into conspiratorial giggles. Back to the Cavernous-Fitting-Room-with-the-Hostel V-Mood-Lighting I went.

Trying not to get my hopes up, I waited patiently for the girls to bring me a plethora of jeans to try. They showed up with six different pairs, and the fitting frenzy began.

Like my wedding dress, the first pair I tried on was a winner. Nervously standing in front of the communal mirror, the Hot Hot Husband had given his approval but quickly got the Don’t-Make-Me-Bitch-Slap-You look in his eyes when I asked him if the pants made my thighs look like sausages. Before he could react, Team Salesgirl walked in and I asked if I should go a size up. Immediately, they let out a simultaneous “Nooooo!” and looked at me the same way you’d look at a three-year-old about to light a plush toy on fire.

So the moral of the story is simply this: Age does not dictate what we should and should not wear, as long as it fits well and we feel damned hot in it. Not Personal Summer hot. I’m talkin’ Smoking Hot hot.

I’d love to hear about your retail experiences and what you do to dress with confidence. You never know – your story could help a sister out there who’s waging her own war against the Geriatric Fashion Pushers!

{August 8, 2011}   Hormone-bitchy

One day you’re just breezing along, shrugging off people’s annoying behavior, and another day you rip a sales clerk a new one. Hormones, or inborn bitchiness? You decide.

Let me begin by saying I’m proud of the newly cultivated self-restraint I’ve demonstrated over the past several months, as evidenced by my refraining from telling the imperious Italian professor you met in my last post exactly what I thought of him and his self-important master’s program.

But a few weeks later, my patience was depleted at Macy’s as I waited to pay for a $15 necklace, a normally speedy transaction that turned into  a 20-minute ordeal. The necklace, all seven tangly strands of it, was an attempt to deaden the pain of having bled through and completely ruining my favorite navy blue pantsuit (see previous blog post for the full story – it’s not for the faint of heart). Unlike all of my BFFs, I was born without a shopping gene, so for me, looking for a new suit feels a lot like getting a tooth pulled. A necklace, on the other hand, is a piece of cake. Unless, that is, your cashier is a sullen, bitter, middle-aged woman in charcoal polyester pants. For you armchair psychologists out there who may be crying ‘Projection!’, let me be clear that I have never worn – nor would I ever be caught dead in – charcoal polyester pants.

But back to our story. She was behind the fine jewelry counter helping two older British ladies as I approached. She looked up at me and said nothing, so I waited, thinking she’d be finished with the two women soon enough. I stood and watched her fuss over the two ladies, oozing charm and charisma. It’s possible my laser-stare caused a few hairs to stand on her neck, at which point she looked at me and said, “I’ll be with you in a few minutes.”

Once the English matriarchs left, the clerk started leisurely organizing staplers, pens and other department store bric-a-brac around her cash register, absently punching a few buttons on the machine and of course never once acknowledging my presence or making any attempt at Sales Clerk Cheery Chit-chat. To say that my patience was wearing thin at this point is a gross understatement. When she finally decided the time was right to ring up my sale, she scanned the price tag, literally tossed the necklace into a tiny plastic bag, and uttered, “Will this be on your Macy’s charge?”  All in less than one minute.

Oh, what hell she hath unleashed. For the first time since I was three, I raised my voice in public. It went something like this: “IT TOOK ME 10 MINUTES TO UNTANGLE THAT NECKLACE, THEN I WAITED – PATIENTLY, I MIGHT ADD – ANOTHER 10 MINUTES FOR YOU TO DECIDE TO RING ME UP, AND YOU JUST THROW IT IN A PLASTIC BAG?? THE LEAST YOU COULD DO IS WRAP THAT THING IN TISSUE PAPER!!!” This accompanied, of course, by my world-famous Stink-Eye Special.

In a nanosecond, she  went from Tammy Turtle into warp-speed mode, grabbing frantically for wrapping materials underneath the counter. A tiny tornado of tissue paper, boxes, ribbon and cotton flew over the counter, and in five seconds flat, my necklace was triple-tissue-wrapped and immobilized in a cotton-lined, taped box.

The moral of the story, girlfriends, is that as fraught with annoyance as perimenopause can be, you – yes, you – can harness those hormonal mood swings to inspire others to be the best that they can be.

If you’re wondering about the necklace, let’s just say I wore it once and decided it looked exactly like a $15 necklace should look – tacky. So today I’m headed back to a different Macy’s to return it – and to coax my self-restraint out of hibernation.

What’s the worst thing that can happen during a master’s program interview with a grouchy Italian professor and his elegant Swiss-German program director ? Hint: It’s not a piece of spinach caught between your two front teeth. It’s not trembling or appearing nervous, either. And no, it’s not a long tail of toilet paper stuck to the bottom of your shoe.

Girlfriends, grab yourselves a chair and a glass of wine and let me regale you with the heartwarming tale of the Little Super-Absorbent Tampon That Couldn’t. If you haven’t already figured out where this tragic tale is headed, let’s start with a question: Do you like surprises?

I once did, but that was before perimenopause. Once you hit this stage of Hormones Gone Wild, the monthly visitor decides to do her part by surprising you with arbitrary, special-guest appearances that usually coincide with Big Moments in Life, like vacation, getting laid (yes, at this age, that is a Big Moment), major work events, the first day with a new male personal trainer, or  as happended today, an unexpected intake interview with representatives from a Swiss university’s executive master’s program.

Although I thought I’d just be auditing a class, I still dressed to impress. The look: Not too “American,” yet feminine. The ensemble: My favorite navy blue pantsuit from Zara, a see-through (but very elegant) cream-colored Ellen Tracy tank with a flesh-toned cami underneath, and  my foolproof Banana Republic three-rope moonstone necklace. And because a little bit o’ naughty always makes a girl feel confident, my favorite pair of black Honeydew cheeky undies with cream colored lace. Rumor has it that Posh (a.k.a. Mrs. David Beckham) has a walk-in-closet-ful of these pricey but oh-so-saucy underpinnings. And of course, I availed myself of a super-duper-absorbent tampon with a panty shield for back-up.

I arrived 20 minutes early at the L.A. university where I was to meet the Swiss-German program director who had graciously arranged for me to audit one of the master’s program classes that takes place each summer in Los Angeles.  She encouraged me to mingle with the other students during the break. She also introduced me to my “partner,” an American woman already in the program who was assigned to be my mentor/guide through the morning.

Cutting to the chase, my so-called mentor was about as helpful as a Madrid train station ticket agent (more on that in a later post), and the other 24 students about as warm and welcoming as the Gestapo.

After an hour of listening to an American professor wax rhapsodic about the oh-so-bland management function that is human resources, I was ready to find Swiss-German-Program-Director-Lady and take my leave.

Once outside the auditorium, I noticed an odd sensation in the crotch of my Zara pants, not unlike wearing a still-damp bikini bottom under your shorts. I dismissed it as a little bit of perspiration from sitting for so long in a foam chair covered with what looked like wool upholstery. After all, I was wearing a super-absorbent tampon, and I figured if that failed, my trusty little panty shield would save the day (and my pants).

Swiss-German-Program-Director-Lady led me to the office of Angry-and-Bitter-Italian-Professor-Man for what I thought would be a quick meet-and-greet, but ended up being a “casual” interview. Swiss Gal offered me a red (this is an important detail) upholstered chair in front of  Angry Italian Man’s desk.

I’ll spare you the tedium of this “Surprise!” intake interview except to state that Angry Italian Man seemed to harbor a hatred for American Master’s degree programs in communication. Go figure.

Finally I said my goodbyes and gave my gracious thanks for the privilege of being completely ignored by a contingency of master’s students comprising obese Danes who looked like bikers, a skinny (and probably constipated) British man, and of course that delightful New Yorker who put her all into being my mentor for the morning. Last but not least, I thanked Angry-and-Bitter-Italian-Professor-Man for the soul-lifting opportunity to gaze upon his sneering countenance.

Girlfriends, let’s just say that once all those trivial distractions vanished behind the swoosh of gently closing elevator doors, I came to the realization that something was bloody amiss in my pricey, black HoneyDew undies.

A Laurel-and-Hardy-esque pantomime ensued as I tried desperately to find a floor with a ladies bathroom, madly pushing buttons, hopping out of the elevator and back in, and all this while hoping none of the EuroBrats could notice me in the ultra-modern, see-through elevator. I had Carrie-esque visions of 25 European master’s students pelting the glass elevator with tampons, panty shields and maxi-pads, laughing derisively as I crumpled to the floor of the elevator, hysterically sobbing from the humiliation, my Zara suit pants gushing buckets of blood. By now I had calmly accepted the fact that I most probably had left an enormous, indelible bloodstain on the beautiful beige wool upholstery of the classroom seat, and a slightly more discreet version on the tomato-red chair in Professor Assholio’s borrowed office.

I’ll spare you the details of the cleanup job after I finally managed to find a ladies room. Suffice it to say I was in there for 20 minutes, and all efforts to wish a replacement pair of pants into existence failed miserably. While I’m glad I opted for the dark navy pantsuit instead of the khaki dress I’d originally planned on wearing, my HoneyDews are crimson toast.

So what would Posh do? Something tells me she’d shrug, crawl into her SmartCar-sized, electric-pink Hermès bag, and text her personal assistant to cruise by Bloomingdales and bring her a new batch of HoneyDew cheeky undies, preferably in red. That girl’s got moxie.

Preventive medicine is a beautiful thing, as is an overly-cautious OB/GYN. Yes, gentle reader, after submitting to a hysteroscopy and D&C, my lady parts are free of gynecological cancer.

And now for the hard part: During the two weeks between the procedure and learning the results, yours truly did some serious soul searching and made a few vows along the way. Here are some of them:

1. Drastically reduce my consumption of saturated fats (Read: cut [out] the cheese)

2. Bump up the veggie intake

3. Only consume organic, humanely-raised, antibiotic and hormone-free chicken or beef (Note: this was more the result of squirming through the film, “Food, Inc.”)

4. Reduce stress by renewing my yoga practice

5. Exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, six days a week

You’ll be pleased to know I’ve passionately embraced vows 1 through 4. It’s 5 that I just can’t seem to consummate.

Once upon a time–12 years ago to be precise–I was rockin’ a hard body on the beaches of Southern California, Miami and Brazil. Those toned thighs and tight abs did not come easy. I was working out four days a week with a personal trainer, and the other three days I was logging some major mileage on the treadmill.

And then I met the Hot, Hot Husband.

Before you accuse me of blaming someone else for my sloth, hear me out. The very weekend we had our first date, I ran 12 miles in a marathon training program, much to the chagrin of my doctor, who had advised me to stop running as I was beginning to develop lower back pain. That weekend marked the demise of my inner marathoner.

But that wasn’t all. Prior to life with the Hot, Hot Husband, I was a salad-for-dinner kind of gal, and while my fridge was always stocked with cheese, I probably indulged once every couple of days. All this changed once the Hot, Hot Husband and I began dating, moved in together and married. Weekdays, we would have a pre-dinner wine and cheese hour where we caught up on the day’s events and wound down from our respective long  and tedious workdays. Weekends found us at one of hundreds of fabulous local restaurants, indulging in cheese plates, Grand Marnier souffles, truffle risotto, bottles of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and obscene amounts of butter.

To be clear, I am not complaining. I wouldn’t trade my life with the Hot, Hot Husband for anything in the world. Well, maybe a wild night with David Beckham, but even that’s questionable as I hear he’s not exactly a scintillating conversationalist. All that aside, I take full responsibility for the dramatic shift in my eating habits.

To cut to the chase, over the course of the next 12 years I gave up running, took it up again as a stress reliever while working at a shitty job, overdid it (the job was supremely shitty, trust me), and ended up with plantar fasciitis. So for the past two years, I have sporadically stop-started various exercise routines, and my weight gain was turbo-charged in the past six months thanks to perimenopause.

Where that leaves me, dear reader, is writing this blog entry as a public declaration that today, May 12, 2010, marks the first day of my commitment to get a minimum of 30 minutes a day of exercise, six days a week.

So I hate to write and run, but I really do have to run. To the gym.

I don’t know how your junior high “Birds and the Bees 101” experience went, but as a 13 year-old snickering through sex ed at St. Callistus School, somehow the nuns neglected to give me the down-lo on the annual ob/gyn exam.  After decades (literally) of putting the feet in the stirrups, I still can’t get used to the idea of an ice-cold tool being jammed into my lady parts.

Graphic details aside, today’s ob/gyn field trip caught me off guard, as my doctor (an amazingly bright and enviably fit woman) got the Pensive Furrowed Brow as I described my perimenopausal symptoms. The clincher—two periods occurring within less than 21 days of each other.

To cut to the chase, I will have to undergo a yucky exam with a frightful name that slipped my mind the second I found out I’d have to be put under for the adventure.  What scares the crap out of me is not that a camera will be launched into my uterus, or that tissue will be scraped from the walls, or even that the test is to determine if my frequent periods are the result of some kind of cancer. Nope, what frightens me more than Madonna’s beef-jerky arms is the fact that I’ll have to undergo general anesthesia (more on that in a later post).

So I did what any level-headed, centered 44 year-old woman would do. I went and got my first professional spray tan. I headed on down to my friendly neighborhood Massage Spot, and 15 minutes and $48 later, I emerged a bronzed Beach Babe with a little brown menopot.

For those of you who plan on indulging your inner St. Tropez Tan Girl, two stories from the trenches: 1. The spray comes on like an Arctic cold front, so be prepared to grit your teeth and bear it. 2. The tanning specialist recommended I not wear my bra until after I shower tomorrow morning, so if you’re at all self-conscious about letting the girls go free ‘n’ natural, don’t plan on running errands after your session.

Tonight I’m packing for a long-overdue weekend in Palm Springs with the Hot, Hot Husband. The forecast: I’ll be so busy reveling in my glowing goddess glory that the aforementioned Yucky Exam will be but a minuscule spot on an otherwise sun-bathed horizon.

et cetera