Writing Menopause: A Book Giveaway!

Standard

In

Hot off the press from Inanna Publications, an anthology of Fiction, Poetry, and Creative Nonfiction. Yes! Here’s what the editors, Jane Cawthorne and Elaine Morin write in the introduction:

Menopause. Say the word in public. See what happens.

You may catch some knowing glances, a few rolled eyes, a few exasperated sighs. As Jane Silcott writes, you may see some squinching. It’s a good word — something between squirm and flinch. The word illustrates the uneasy silence that is often attached to this chapter of our lives.

Menopause lacks enough good stories. There are roughly tens of thousands of books about menopause. Much of the existing literature is clinical, offering women definitions, lists of symptoms, and possible treatments. This book is different. It is not about what menopause is, but about how it feels. As Donna Caruso writes, “Spare me the lecture on the righteousness of the cycle of life.” There will be none of that in these pages.

Instead, we searched for stories that we wanted to read, that were beautifully told, and reflected our experiences and the experiences of people we knew. Our contributors offered us cultural references like Chrissie Hynde, Tori Amos, Billy Idol, and Lemony Snicket. They countered the cliché that menopausal women are all used up and instead gave us vitality, creativity, sexual craving, and lust. And they offered us points of views and perspectives that went beyond women. Menopause is experienced by non-binary people and trans men too.

Our call for submissions brought us a huge variety of literary forms as well. The anthology includes stories, poems, creative non-fiction, a dramatic monologue, two interviews, a poem with a provocative prose introduction, a poem in two languages, and a list of facts and fictions about menopause. All of these add depth to the collection and an understanding that there are different ways of seeing and reading experience.

Within these pages are brains and bodies both lamenting their losses and eager to see what is next. The menopause experience is not simply something to survive. Unburdened by childbearing expectations and, possibly, by other gendered ways of understanding themselves, those in menopause climb mountains, take on lovers, create art, daydream, undertake scientific explorations, and transform themselves with an urgency that springs from the bittersweet realization that their time is short.

We divided the anthology into three parts, with titles meant to invoke contradiction and capture the multiplicity of the menopausal experience. There is no one way to think about or experience menopause, and, certainly, there is no right way. The first section, “un/done,” includes works that describe a desire to be done with social and cultural constraint, and to challenge the cliché that menopause means life is over.

The second part, “in/fertile,” sometimes celebrates and sometimes mourns the end of reproductive fertility, while acknowledging a new kind of fertility that might, or might not, emerge.

Finally, the third part, “un/known,” contains works that capture the sense of being out in a new world, not knowing oneself, or, conversely, knowing oneself at last. These pieces find their characters revising what they thought they knew. Many of the pieces could have found a home in any of the three parts, a confounding problem for the editors, but one that speaks to the depth and complexity of experience that these works describe.

In these works, we as editors have found joy, commiseration, and kinship. We hope readers will find this and more.

Now, let the squinching begin.

 

When I offered to feature the book on Friend for the Ride, I asked Elaine to explain the impetus behind the anthology. Here’s what she wrote:

In answer to your question about our impetus for doing the book, I would say that maybe the truest reason we decided to do this book is that we were both approaching menopause.

But the real impetus was a Facebook post a few years back. Someone in our writers’ group asked if and how menopause was entering their writing. This morphed into a discussion about representations of menopause and how there seemed to be a need for more “good stories” about it.

Most of the stories we were reading didn’t speak to us, and didn’t reflect us or the women we knew. These were not stories we felt were even true. We had new points of reference, different cultural touchstones than the ones being depicted. We wanted to hear about these. So, in this collection we have references to Chrissie Hynde, Tori Amos and Billy Idol.

We wanted to counter the idea that menopausal women are all used up. This was old and clichéd to us. And untrue. A pleasant surprise was discovering how many contributors were talking about sex. Wanting sex. Having sex. Lots of it. We also wanted to counter the idea that only women were going through menopause. Because trans men and other gendered people were going through it too.

Giveaway: The publisher is offering a copy of Writing Menopause to one Friend for the Ride reader. For a chance to win, please enter a comment by July 15. Thanks!

To find the book on Amazon, click here.

 


Elaine Morin was awarded the Brenda Strathern “Late Bloomers” Writing Prize in 2007. She writes, edits and finds outdoor adventure in Calgary, Alberta, just a stone’s throw from the Canadian Rockies.


Jane Cawthorne’s work has appeared in newspapers, magazines, and literary and academic journals. Her play, The Abortion Monologues, has been produced widely in the United States and Canada.

 

Italian Window Shopping

Standard

While I’m no fashionista, I do love clothes. And so, on our recent trip to Italy, I had a glorious time window shopping and snapping photos for you. The windows of Florence and Rome boast the best of Italian fashion. Love the slicker above. Great color! Not so sure about the fuzzy bathrobe-look of the coat below, but it’s spirited, to say the least

Lots of the dresses struck me as fifties or sixties retro.  I often find myself telling a young woman, “We wore dresses like that in the sixties.” (And sometimes I get the feeling that’s not what the young woman wants to hear.)

Smocking for big girls!

Which reminds me of my granddaughter Emerson in her smocked dress.

Most of the windows are fairly simple set-ups. This one is more elaborate.

Wow on the hair!

Late one night we saw two guys working in the windows below.


We stopped to watch them for  a few minutes.

Back to the fashion.

I could skip the hat, but how festive and elegant are these birds?


Italian women may be sporting jumpsuits this summer.

I wondered if the watermelon  on the striped suit below would disguise my stomach.  Don’t think so.

Where in Florence would you wear this outfit? Concert? Dinner? Evening stroll?

When shopping with my girls, they encourage me not to buy anything they deem “boxy.” But I got to say, I like boxy!

I’m fond of polka dots, and I’m a sucker for navy and white.

Lots of windows featured purses. Great colors!

Time to move away from the windows of Florence and Rome. Here are hats popping out of a shop on the streets of San Gimignano.

And look a the jaunty hats on these Italian policewomen.

Note the colorful uniforms of the Swiss Guard at the Vatican. You do wonder what this guy thinks when he gets dressed for work.

Check out the brilliant, beautiful shade of Mary Magdalene’s dress below. Bible fashion at its best! I was moved that an artist in the 15th century portrayed Mary in such a stunning gown.


Also moving, is the simple robe of St. Clare of Assisi, who founded the Little Sister of the Poor.

And then there’s Venus, keeping things simple. A drape works for her. Course why not, with a body like that?

But the real answer to any fashion woes may be to go au naturale just like this lovely lady does.

Back to window shopping.

As I walked by the windows, I thought of going into the shops, but I never did. We were usually headed somewhere, and also, I felt a bit shy. Of course now I regret not checking out the rest of the store as well as the prices.

But in many ways, window shopping is the best shopping of all. We can envision ourselves in the outfits and not spend a single cent, which, in Italy, leaves a whole lot of money for gelato.

The Ladies Room Door Art Series: Part Thirty-four

Standard

img_8503

From Cindy, the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. Batter up!

img_8502

And Cindy snapped these at a bakery in Château-Richer, Quebec,  called “Chez Marie.”

img_8608

 

img_8607

 

img_8609-1

Pat found these at the Outback Steakhouse in Williamsburg, Virgiania.

sheilas

 

blokes

Nancy spotted this one at a restaurant near the Rialto Bridge in Venice.
image1-4

Judy found these simple shapes at Lobkowicz Museum at the castle in Prague.

c94f9e61-8392-4114-8da7-b6a919ccb443

 She writes that, “There was a special bathroom stall for mom and baby. More room and a table to change diapers.  Very clean. Mostly white.”

47acf3cd-28b1-4f2c-b201-2eb9e95cec8b

From my cousin Robert the Fireman, the doors at Hopatcong, New Jersey, Defiance Engine Company 3.

women-firehouse

 

firehouse-male

I snapped this western sign at The Carriage House in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. We were there for the wedding of my friend Lisa’s lovely daughter, Jordan.

20161015_180552

From Carol, the Lake Lure Inn in Lake Lure, North Carolina:

img_6496

Taziki’s in Greenville, South Carolina.
img_6477

And from Carol too, the Orange Blossom Country Club at the Villages.

Here’s the unisex door at Pizza Tap, down the street from my daughter Laura in Dallas, Texas.

pie-tap

And to wrap it up, one of the oddest doors I’ve even found. Well I didn’t really find it. A waiter led me to it.The door is not labeled and is hidden in a wall made of puffy vinyl panels. Cliff and I stopped at the restaurant for a drink in New York City. I’ve lost the name of the place, but they sure boast one wacky door.20160920_160550

Finally, blogging friend Jena Henry introduced me via Twitter to toilet paper origami. Learn more here. Find plenty of ways to decorate the end of your toilet paper  on Pinterest, too. I wonder if I can convince Cliff that our toilet paper rolls need a bit of sprucing up. Does that seem like a good use of a retired husband’s time?

 

SYLK: A Giveaway!

Standard

The world is abundant in enticing fruits, but the kiwi is at the top of my list. And so I was pleased when  SYLK offered Friend for the Ride a generous giveaway. Thanks, SYLK!

  • SYLK is the only all-natural moisturizing lubricant made from New Zealand kiwifruit vine extract. What is so special about this proprietary ingredient is that the kiwi vine extract is composed of polysaccharides, which gives SYLK its film-like consistency, very similar in texture to the body’s natural lubrication, without being sticky.
  • Moreover, the kiwi vine extract mirrors vaginal pH. SYLK is pH balanced so it will not upset the delicate pH balance of the vagina. This is particularly important because an imbalance in vaginal pH can cause irritation and infections such as bacterial vaginosis and yeast infections.
  • The proprietary kiwi vine extraction process is also bio-sustainable. The kiwifruits are harvested from the vine, and the vines are usually disposed of. However, SYLK uses the kiwi vine extract as the differentiating ingredient in its moisturizing personal lubricant.After that, the remnants are used back in the orchards as mulch.

Vaginal dryness is not uncommon. In the United States, 64 million women are of menopausal age, in which half experience vaginal dryness. Moreover, there are over 300 medications that can cause vaginal dryness along with numerous medical and life conditions such as the postpartum period, diabetes, auto immune diseases, etc. Adding a moisturizing lubricant can increase comfort daily and for intimacy. Even if vaginal dryness is not a factor, 74% of Americans consider lubricants as a sexual enhancer, according to Durex Global Sex Survey.

Click here to learn more about SYLK.

Giveaway: SYLK will ship a tube of their lubricant to three lucky Friend for the Ride readers. For a chance to win, enter a comment below. If you’re feeling shy, email me. My address is at the right. Contest ends on July 10.