Subourbon Mom


How About Romance Novels for Grown-Ups?
July 30, 2022, 3:14 pm
Filed under: Middle Age, Misc. Humor, Posts | Tags: , , , , ,

The other day I was super grumpy and stressed for absolutely no reason. So, I did one of the two things I always do when I’m like that.  Since I didn’t have what I needed to make and eat an entire tray of Rice Krispy treats, I went to the bookstore (yes, I actually bought NEW books at a Barnes and Noble, not used on Amazon) with the sole intention of purchasing a genre I haven’t read in a long time – Romance.

When I say Romance, I don’t mean the plasticky covers with raised lettering and a Scottish pirate or a huge-breasted heroine with Victoria Secret hair stranded in a castle somewhere.  I just wanted something happy and a bit less sugary than Hallmark or Virgin River. Maybe Maeve Binchy with a little sex? Or Outlander, which has just the right amount of sex and plot (but I’ve read and watched all of those).

What did I find?   

About 100 Romance novels for current day 18-40-year-olds, with cartoon looking covers and full of young people who don’t know how to communicate with each other. They’re all going on trips or to weddings or changing tech jobs, which is age appropriate. I’m just not there anymore – at least, not for first weddings.  

I found another large batch of Romances between quirky women who are attracted to supernatural creatures that may or may not kill them in between sexual encounters. Don’t get me wrong – I loved the Twilight Series, True Blood and A Discovery of Witches. I just wasn’t feeling it that day. I wanted to take the edge off, not be edgy.

I also found some Romances with a “Red Room of Pain” theme that can be interesting when you’re in the mood, but again, not feeling edgy that day.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, I saw a bunch of Christian Romances. I suppose they exist in case I was feeling guilty after reading something from the Red Room of Pain section, and needed my inner church to whisper, “Make room for Jesus!” as I was reading. Ummmm…hard no. I was already grumpy – I didn’t need God hanging out on the periphery of my escape making me feel bad.

What I didn’t find was a Romance section geared toward the 45+ crowd that wasn’t Christian, wasn’t syrupy sweet and didn’t come in large print. In fact, anything that appealed wasn’t even in the Romance section – it was in the just plain Fiction section. That should tell you something – publishers clearly don’t believe 45+ people want to read about romance between their peers. After thumbing through a bunch of possibilities (think Kristin Hannah, Erin Hildebrand), I realized that Romance for the 45+ crowd all has the same elements:

  1. 40+-year-old woman is deserted by her husband through cheating, financial ruin, or death
  2. Deserted woman must abandon her old life and return to a place of her childhood and confront some trauma before she can heal
  3. In this process, deserted woman meets the new love of her life but she hates him at first, before he helps her see her real value and accomplish her goals (on her own of course – then they get together after)
  4. Somewhere in between her hating him and accomplishing her goal, they sleep together and can’t communicate afterward so it’s awkward or downright antagonistic. I always want to scream at them, “Just fucking talk already and stop being 13 again.”
  5. The setting is always somewhere we wish we could be – a cute cottage on a coast or in the mountains, a ranch, or a crumbling house that must be rehabbed. Anywhere but Suburbia, USA.  
  6. There is always at least one quiet person who befriends her and tell her when she’s being a twat.  
  7. And if you’re reading Norah Roberts, there’s a murder or assault or stalker that must be dealt with, too.

Full disclosure, one of the novels I’ve written has elements 1, 2, 3, 5 & 6 in it. I get it – it’s a formula that works.

*But I think we need to find a way to work Romance novels for the older(?) set back onto the Romance section bookshelves. How about we talk about trying to look sexy while having a hot flash?  Or the heroine falling in love with a guy whose testosterone might be a little low, and he can’t always get it up? 45+ romance isn’t fiction – it’s real life, albeit just not as glamorous as jet-set 30-year-olds or as prescriptive as the Christian or supernatural romances. Real life romance may not be quite the escape you’re looking for, but it can be romantic and comedic and downright spiritual in its own way, depending on your view.

So, after an hour I bought three fiction novels – none of which have those plot points but look promising.  I’ll keep you posted, but in the meantime, please don’t be offended when I don’t answer your emails, texts or calls. I’ll be eating Rice Krispy treats and reading about the circus, a cult and an affair.

*Okay, when I Googled best elderly romance book covers, turns out there is already a section for that, at least on the internet. Here is my favorite cover (I can’t even…):



What’s Your Dream?
June 20, 2022, 10:04 am
Filed under: Middle Age, Posts, Sports | Tags: , , , ,

Here’s something I learned this year – you can keep your childhood dreams, but they’ll look a little different when you’re middle-aged. But really, what doesn’t look different as you get older? I literally am those people on the Progressive commercials that are turning into their parents: “We all see it…we all see it…BLUE!!!”  Don’t know what I mean? Watch this…

So, back to childhood dreams…

This summer I checked off two huge bucket list items. To most people they might seem frivolous or meaningless, but to me they mean so much more. For the first time in 35 years, I jumped a horse over little cross rails (for non-horse people, that means poles set at a foot off the ground). By jump, I mean the giant horse I was riding barely saw them and hopped over while I just tried to stay out of the way. I also rode in a small horse show trotting over poles just lying on the ground. Yes, I was the oldest in the class by maybe 30 years, competing against a few  people, most of whom were children and at least two who were your people training horses who barely knew what a pole was.  Did I forget my girth (saddle belt) and have to borrow one?  Yes. Was I freaking out?  Yes.

But I did it, and I couldn’t have been more proud of myself.  

See what I mean?  This doesn’t seem like much, in but in my heart those two things were huge. Let’s back up so you can see why – and why you should still pursue your dreams, no matter what shape they take as you age.

After a terrible year of deaths in our family this year, human and animal, the barn where I ride was and remains my refuge. Soon after the sweet horse I leased died in January from a sudden, terrible infection, I walked back into the barn to get away from the world. It was awful, seeing his empty stall and halter, but the barn has always been and always will be my refuge.

One of the horse moms (aka boarders) saw me and said, “I didn’t think you’d be back.”

Not come back? For a second, I was really offended. I had to regroup and remember that this nice woman didn’t know me as a child, creating notebooks full of fictional racehorses with breeding charts, colors, personalities and race results. She couldn’t know that for years I doodled horse heads all over my school notebooks; that I drew pictures of the horseback wedding I was going to have (shockingly that didn’t happen); or, that until I was 15, when I fell off, busted my shoulder and simultaneously found boys, the only thing in the world I wanted was a horse.

To my mother’s credit, a single teacher who made $30k a year, she somehow found a way for me to take lessons once a week and occasionally do a local horse show.  But a real horse of my own?  Out of the question. As an adult, I was able to satisfy my horse itch by being a horse show mom for years, until Daughter #2 was clearly able to do it on her own but let me “help” because she knew I needed to be involved.

Then came the end of 2021 and early 2022: three family deaths, one horse death and one horse near-death.  It was terrible, but there was a silver lining. Losing so many people and animals in such a short time made me realize time really is finite, and that if I want to achieve some dreams I have to put my phone down, get off the couch and figure out what that means.

A horse of my own may still not be in the equation, but now I take lessons. Do I want to be in big horse shows? Not really – I don’t need that kind of stress. My dream has changed into finding that balance between learning to ride better and riding for mental health. The two are not always the same. Some days its okay to just walk around in a field, to look at the bobbing head beneath you and find that simple joy. Other days, its feeling like flying as the horse you’re riding graciously allows you to flop around while it steps over poles. Whatever your dreams once were, don’t let them go entirely – find out what parts of those dreams you can still do, or how they might work in new ways for you.  Life is short and unpredictable.  Ask yourself, am I going to be mad next year, or in five years, that I didn’t start something today? If the answer is yes, then put your phone down, get off the couch and see what can happen. You might be surprised with what your old dreams look like now, and what it feels like to realize them.  

Special thanks to my family, friends and especially Kimberly Anderson at Manakin Sabot Equestrian Center for their patience and encouragement. Thanks to Daughter#1 for telling me the truth and making me get up and do it, to Hubby for funding and taking pictures, and to Daughter #2 for listening to my blow-by-blow descriptions of each lesson. 🙂



Bathing Suit Ads I’d Like to See
February 13, 2022, 11:36 am
Filed under: Middle Age, shopping, Spring Break, Travel | Tags: , , , ,

Apparently bathing suit shopping season is here. I know that because all over my social media feeds are ads for bathing suits featuring svelte and often malnourished models posing in ways you will never see on the beach.

I want to see real moms and middle-aged folks wearing real suits with REAL evaluations. How about a picture of a mom dragging her toddler down the beach because he’s refusing to leave?

Here’s a few I’d like to see….

 


Our beach track suit provides the support you need up top and the grip you need on the bottom while you run. 

Review: 3 stars
Unless you’re wearing an actual track suit, nothing will cover and lift all the things. But I like the irony of wearing a Frozen t-shirt at the beach.


Forgot your razor at the beach? Or maybe you gave a half-hearted try at landscaping after doing nothing winter and your body rebelled by displaying red bumps of displeasure.  Either way, we have two solutions:

Option 1:

This gorgeous suit comes with a pelvis flap that you can tuck in or leave out depending on how neglectful you’ve been.

Review: 5 Stars
Sexy and for all body types.


Option 2:

The Tighty Rightey bathing suit bottom made for women. Comes in a variety of colors and patterns.

Review: 1 Star
Appreciate the idea, but having your leg cut off at the upper thigh with a white stripe doesn’t look good on anyone. Also it looks like you went to the first-aid tent.


Is your skin the exact same color as the sand because you work in an office all year? Or has your dermatologist canceled all your appointments because you refuse to listen and now you know there’s like 10 moles that are pretty scary looking and you should probably cover up after all these years? Our whole-body suit comes in dozens of shades and includes footies, so no one will ever know.  Just a add a little blending makeup to your face and you’ll look like you’ve been on the beach all summer.

Review: 3 Stars
5 stars for sun protection and keeping the dermatologist happy. 1 star because if you swim, the sand gets stuck inside the suit, and the suit doesn’t breathe well. If you’re a woman you’ll have a yeasty after one wear.


Afraid to bend over and shake out your towel or pass out at water’s edge because you might get a wedgie?  Our “cocktail” suit is made to look like you’re just stepped away from a party. The material moves with you as you struggle to clean up your beach stuff after 2 bottles of prosecco or if you actually pass out. No more jokes about your hiney eating your suit – just a sophisticated outfit that says, “Yeah, I‘ve had kids and I like wine – fuck off.”

Review: 5 Stars



Live Music – Live a Life Les Ordinary
December 21, 2021, 5:00 pm
Filed under: Food/Drink, Middle Age | Tags: , , , , , ,

Last weekend I was lucky enough to go see one of my favorite bands, Carbon Leaf.  Not only are they talented musicians and great performers, they also went to college with Hubby and I.  So, shout out to Carbon Leaf for still living the dream, even though we have kids, wear readers and pay mortgages.

When the time came to get ready, I was paralyzed with uncertainty.  What does one wear to a concert when you’re 50, and the band is 50, and its 35 degrees outside but you know its going to be 80 inside? I texted my helpful friends and these are the answers I got:

  • Slippers
  • Leg warmers
  • A banana clip
  • Esprit or Benneton sweater

But the most helpful was “Jeans, boots, cute long-sleeved shirt over tank top with a jacket you don’t care gets beer spilled on it so you can tie it around your waist when you have a hot flash.”

So there’s that.  Now I have to factor hot flashes into my wardrobe choices as well.

In the past, we would have forgone food and just pre-gamed at somebody’s house. That usually ended with someone holding someone else’s hair and running eye makeup.  As grown-ups, after a dinner and a couple of bourbons later we arrived at the concert walking straight and smelling like fried food.

Once inside, I was relieved to see we were age appropriate. See, the thing about being 50 and going to bands and other places is we either tend to be the creepy old people who get side-eyes from the youngsters, or we’re the youngest by 20 years getting side-eyes from the Q-tips. This time, there were two generations present – us, and our children. Carbon Leaf plays music both sets can enjoy. In fact, the younger crowd knew more of the sings than we did.

So, we danced and sang along, and I was secretly smug that I was getting my steps in, when I noticed something glinting on the floor. I picked it up – it was a pair of readers.

Omg.  That’s who I am now.

I used to find money on the floor at concerts, or maybe even a tiny bag of weed. Now it’s readers, and the woman in front of me was just as grateful I found those as she would have been back in the day if I’d picked up her bag of weed.

When the encore was over, my jeans were covered in spilt beer and bourbon, and I had in fact stripped off my jacket because of a hot flash or two. We headed out to get our requisite CD (yes, we still listen to them) and t-shirts to support the band.  Unfortunately, all I was concerned about when I selected my t-shirt was that it was soft, gray and had the band’s name on it.  I didn’t really pay attention to the actual design.

Once you see it, you can’t unsee it.  If you don’t see it, you are a better person than me.

Because I am super immature and have a 12-year-old sense of humor, this will forever be a sleep shirt, not for public.

The bottom line is, going to that concert reminded me of how much we need connection to our friends, our past, and our sense of fun and adventure. Stomping my feet not only got my steps in, it also reminded me of how much I love live music and, like the band members who are still living the dream, sometimes you just have “live a life less ordinary.”

Enjoy some Carbon Leaf – The War Was In Color (possibly their best song):

And “Life Less Ordinary”



Coffee Cooters
September 8, 2021, 5:30 pm
Filed under: Food/Drink, Middle Age, Misc. Humor, shopping | Tags: , , , , , ,

Aaahhh…the end of summer is here. Not that you can tell by the weather, in Virginia, but along with shopping for #2 pencils in the fall comes pumpkin spice everything and what I like to call the Coffee Cooters.

If you dare to venture out and hop into the drive-through line at Starbucks on a weekday morning, you will start seeing this seasonal creature, the Coffee Cooter. The first week of school is the optimal time for viewing them in their natural habitat.

Coffee Cooters usually travel in packs of three or four, but occasionally will be seen with only one other (see the Gotta Go Girl below). They arrive in some version of an SUV, parking at a slight angle due to the high rate of speed at which they slide into the space.  These beasts of prey will spend at least 5 minutes texting inside the car before exiting to begin foraging.

As a pack, there are two hierarchy layers:

  1. The Hunters.  The Hunters are dressed somewhere between going to a club and what their school has decided is acceptable. Often, this means dresses and skirts that barely cover their cooters, hence the name. As they walk, every few steps they must tug on said dress/skirt to ensure it is in fact covering what it is designed to (often it isn’t). Their drink selections vary between the excessively sweet but substituted with non-dairy, soy everything, and what they have decided is a sophisticated order – the Vente Americano. Occasionally they may order the Spotted Unicorn or Oak Tree Tea Leaf with Habenero Spice Extract special that they saw on TikTok. Their prey, in this case the baristas, flinch and jockey for position away from the counter upon their arrival.   
  2. The Gotta Go Girl. The Gotta Go Girls generally dress more conservatively, indicating the seriousness with which they take their responsibility. Just like in a club, the Gotta Go Girl is the pack member who remains vigilant of the time and on the lookout for inappropriate actions taken by the rest of the pack or by their prey. In the morning coffee run, the Gotta Go Girl frequently checks her watch and can sometimes be seen actively pushing the others into the car upon exiting the building. The Gotta Go Girl orders a simple latte because she doesn’t actually like how bitter coffee really is and won’t undermine her authority by showing weakness to the rest of the pack.

If you spot these creatures, do not approach them, or you will be disemboweled by their looks of pity or irritation. As they leave the hunting grounds, give them a wide birth – they are known for their speed and lack of attention to the surrounding area. And finally, trust that these creatures will soon fade into the autumn woodwork again as the money they made over the summer disappears and the weather limitstheir display of plumage.




%d bloggers like this: