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…):



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



Weed: We’ll Ruin This For You, Too
July 13, 2021, 6:00 pm
Filed under: Middle Age, Parenting | Tags: , , , , , ,

Recently my state made it (sort of) legal to smoke weed.  It’s not my drug of choice for a lot of reasons, but I have enjoyed watching Bougie, middle-aged people decide that it’s now ok to try it, or at least openly talk about trying it.

But I suspect that, like all things that have been cool, this too shall pass. We’ll ruin it for our kids like we do everything else:  Face Book, Tik Tok, using the word “woke….” 

Here’s how it will play out:

 

  1. We talk it to death amongst ourselves, like we’ve discovered some huge secret.
  2.  We start trying to talk to our kids about it, who take pity on us, thinking we’re cute for trying to be hip, and let us know how much we don’t know.  They give us lots of tips, glad they don’t have to hide what they’re doing anymore.sativa

  3. We wait for hours in line outside strip mall weed stores to get the 4 free seeds they’re giving away as a promo, with visions in our heads of growing our own and becoming 21st century weed homesteaders. 
  4. We grow it, dry it, roll it, bake it and whatever else you can possibly do with it. We post our epic fails, techniques and recipes on Tik Tok with the same enthusiasm as we post about Karens and dueting with other people much cooler than we are. 
  5. Older Weedies marvel at the fact that middle-aged, middle class parents are now paying top dollar for the seeds they used to pick out of the crappy weed they could afford back in the day.
  6. Older Weedies have mixed feelings about the new weed on the market. They are wary of the new, more powerful and branded weed, but happy it’s regulated so their grandkids don’t experience the same flashbacks from laced weed they “got that one time from Jimmy.” 

    kurt
  7. Boutique brands have their own lines of weed-related products – Lily Pulitzer wrappers and bags, Toberlone weed-infused dark chocolate, Trader Joe’s weed/pesto ravioli bites. 
  8. Younger Weedies turn away from weed entirely, shitting all over it and the benefits they shouted at us until we made make it legal. Weed has now become uncool. They identify something about the new weed that is the equivalent of side parts and skinny jeans.

    stopped weed
  9. The states once again make money based on the middle class’s desire to be young and cool.

So enjoy it while it lasts, my Bougie friends and Young Weedies. There aren’t many times when our worlds intersect before we part ways again over what is cool and what isn’t.  



Crossing the Shaky Bridge to Middle Age

Women of a certain age joke about menopause all the time.

“If I had a dollar for every time I get distracted, I wish I had some ice cream.”

“I don’t have hot flashes, I have short, tropical vacations.”

“Menopause – it’s a thin line between love and homicide.”

This happens…that stops happening … and thank God THAT doesn’t happen anymore (you can Google the symptoms – it’s not secret knowledge, despite what our mothers’ generation thought).  I always thought that knowing those things made me have a pretty good handle on it, mentally.  My kids are grown and I’m definitely ready to kiss the whole period/PMS thing goodbye.

So, when mine stopped happening, I diligently started counting down the months until the magical 12-month mark with no period – then it would become official.  I’d be in a new stage of life that didn’t involve trips to the store because I ran out of tampons and packing extra underwear to take to work and on vacations (just in case).  I was looking forward to emotional stability, sleeping through the night and becoming the wise old matriarch I am destined to be.  I was even getting used to this new, fatty swim ring permanently hanging over the top of my pants, no matter how many sit-ups I did.

And then, at 11 months and 3 weeks – I got it again.

Are you freaking kidding me?

I was at the finish line, looking official Middle Age in the face and she laughed, said “Bitch, please,” and drew another 365-day line in the sand.

A couple of nights later (and one emergency trip to CVS for supplies), I dreamed I was pregnant (I’m not).  And in that dream, I was very upset.  I cried and wept, feeling angry and betrayed and trapped. I remember wailing “I don’t want to be 70 when my kid graduates college!”

50b

It took me a few days to process what was  happening with that dream. I finally realized that even though my body decided to have a last laugh or last gasp, whichever way you want to look at it, in my mind I had already moved on.  I’ve raised my two wonderful daughters and experienced  the joys and agony of watching them go through the ages and stages. I am ready to start a new phase of life.

That’s something the OBGYN, memes, Facebook and even your friends probably don’t talk about – the mental and emotional adjustment of menopause. I’m sure most women feel it is liberating, devastating, or some combination of the two, but we just don’t talk about that part of it.

Memes are way funnier, let’s be honest.

But eventually you either embrace or resent this new phase of life, this new you. You come to terms with it, or if you don’t, society will most likely not be very kind to you. There will be a lot of pursed lips and head shaking when you show up in your Daisy Dukes, 4-inch wedges and bikini top at age 60, no matter how in shape you think you are.

On the surface I was annoyed, but deep down getting my period again shook the fragile estrogen bridge (made of HRT pills and a secret stash of Midol) I was clinging to, as I tried to cross the chasm between youth and middle-age.

Bridge1When I look behind, I see a thinner version of me chasing my children, arranging play dates, juggling work and parenting and a busy social life, and generally burning the candle at both ends without a thought. I see Hubby working hard and picking up the slack, leaping into the chaos when he got the opportunity, and juggling the same crazy things.  It’s a busy, almost frantic life back there, and I get tired just watching them. When I look forward, I can see the other side, at least what we’re told is there: great, worry-free sex, wisdom, acceptance of certain physical flaws and changes that actually celebrate the life of a woman.  I see Hubby and I standing together watching our girls make their own way in the world, their own families, their own memories.  I see us figuring out this new existence together and connecting in a new way.  I see us being the team we were in the beginning.

And I realize that I’m looking forward to getting over this bridge, despite the bottles of Aleve, the moments of missing what used to be, and the memory losses that are already starting to peek around the corner at me.

So, another 365-day countdown begins. Now, if only I could remember where I put my calendar….

 

 



College Orientation – You Had the Power All Along, My Dear

We recently attended college orientation for Daughter #2 at a large university, and to be honest, I was lucky it ended up on my calendar. Not because I don’t care but because, like everything with the not-the-first-kid, you are just a little more relaxed about it. Added to that, it’s very disconcerting to suddenly not have access to every detail of your child’s schedule after being in charge of it for eighteen years. I had to text her the night before and ask if there were any parking passes we had to print out, what the address was, or if there was anything else that needed to be done ahead of time – shockingly, there wasn’t. Daughter #2, like her older sister, had it all under control.

64b61db3848356d53155feb18883516e--photography-ideas-children-photography-poses

I like to think it was good parenting that made it happen, but I’m pretty sure it had more to do with me accidentally leaving them at restaurants or school, trying and failing to explain simple math, and letting them believe that many of the phrases I use are common phrases until their friends asked what they meant. I was clearly not to be trusted (I never understood algebra and I said “Fooped” instead of “Sharted” because I didn’t want them implying the word Shit…it sounds stupid now, but it made sense when I was tired and they were little).

The orientation started with the usual official school cheer, and we stood and made arm motions over our heads and yelled the appropriate things, like a bunch of sadly sober, not-quite-caffeinated-Village People.

At Daughter #1’s orientation, I paid close attention to Dean Somethingaboutliberalartsandgraduatinginfouryears, and Associate Dean of WhatdidshesayIhavetopee.  The second time around? Nope. I was busy feeling superior and counting blonds vs. brunettes in each row to pass the time.

And then they took our sweet babies to meet with their advisors, or hang out with the cultish, singing and dancing university groupies to get them acclimated to campus life. Some parents looked scared and bereft.

18CIRCANOW-facebookJumbo

Others looked around like plane passengers do when they’re trying to decide who would be worth having aboard if there was a crash on a tiny Pacific island. There were a few that I would not have trusted with the exit aisle…just sayin’.

The Deans of Random Departments spoke about how great the school is (yeah, the choir knows – our kids applied and we are writing a substantial check for them to go here – we get it), followed by lunch in the Dining Hall. That hasn’t changed, except that we never got to pick from a pizza bar, Mexican, a grill menu, a vegan menu, and a Chinese buffet. My school had one of those things as a theme, and God help you if you didn’t like flat burgers.  I spent many a dinner standing at the cereal bar, picking the stupid strawberry things out of Captain Crunch because…seriously, who orders Crunchberries instead of plain Captain Crunch?

The parents’ Resource Fair was okay, but the table I really wanted to see would have been called “Crap You Still Have to Buy.” Since we don’t find out until August what dorm Daughter #2 is in, I’ve already decided I’m going to buy every variety of drawers and basket in Target and start playing Tetris as soon as we get there.

And finally, there was a speech by the Mental Health Professional on how our roles as parents and children transition when they go to school, what to say and not to say, and things to watch out for. For that one, I put down my Candy Crush game (sadly, I’m on level 800-and-something) and paid attention. It never hurts to hear how this momentous change is affecting your baby, and what you need to do to make the transition easier.

sub-buzz-16021-1491256289-1.png

I made notes about what local delivery services were available (every college town should have Insomnia Cookies) to send things on bad days. I felt guilty about not writing more letters to Daughter #1, but realized that probably wasn’t going to get any better for Daughter #2, so then I felt extra guilty – I suck as a parent for not doing that for the first one, and suck even more for knowing I probably won’t do it this time, either.

I was nervous and scared for my baby, until I remembered that I’d already had my chance to be an attentive mom…and I was. Aside from accidentally leaving them at restaurants or sports events (I swear, it was a mis-communication…OMG let it go!) and swearing a lot, I know I must have done something right because they’re ready. They are strong, independent young women, ready to try new things, accept new challenges, and let me know, “I got this, Mom.”

futiz1ztfvzxqyfbtvrr

 

 

 

 

 

 




%d bloggers like this: