I ate a gummy and boy, are my arms tired

Image for post
Image for post
Photo: Glen Carrie on Unsplash

The gummy cubes are tiny, about half the size of a standard sugar cube, and they’re pleasingly packaged in an adorable tin. The accompanying literature suggests I drop them in tea, coffee, or cocktails. Just like sugar cubes. They’re flavored — “like those hot cinnamon candies,” say the people who claim to love me. They taste like stinky boy.

Thank god someone said, “Mom, you should start with half and wait a while.”

My experiment was based on hope and research. Anna Wilcox writes, “Using cannabis to ease menopausal symptoms is nothing new. Back in the 1920s, medical texts identified the herb as a potent analgesic for menopausal women.” Many of my friends and family use marijuana, either recreationally or medicinally; anecdotal evidence suggests that pot can greatly relieve some of the worst bits of midlife. After suffering most of the storied meno misery for many years, I’m all about finding anything that helps. I’ve been tempted for years by positive reports from friends and promising research blooming in the press. I default to the glass of pinot, but as Dana Goodyear writes in the New Yorker, “everyone knows that alcohol is bad for you (kills your stem cells, gives you cancer, makes you grouchy, paunchy, gray), whereas, increasingly, the industry is equating conscious marijuana use with sublime good health.” …

Bye Don!

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by nichiiro on Unsplash

We knew it would be bad. We wept into our drinks at the coronation, hoping for correction. We drowned our sorrows during the impeachment, seeking repair. And here we are. After four years of the world’s most high stakes reality show, we sit quaking in our corners, in masks and soft pants, mainlining carbs, and singing sea shanties. Everything is broken, and nothing is given. Inauguration day, 2021, will be one for the books.

The white supremacists and their windbag king have made a dry January impossible, so here is a menu of cocktails to get you through. Gather up those last shreds of will, scare up a little hope, and let’s get on with it. …

When the hardest thing to do is nothing

Image for post
Image for post

My stepmother died yesterday morning. It wasn’t Covid, which is a thing we must say now. She was 94 years old, frail and ill, sequestered in a nursing home not far from Washington, D.C. Due to the plague, no one has really seen her since March, except in brief chaotic Zoom calls and weekly “window visits” for my father. He would sit, bundled against the cold, for 20 minutes while she wrestled with a phone and a nurse on the other side of the glass. Then, he’d return to his lonely quarantine existence, sad and beset with guilt.

She lived a long life. She had a feisty spirit, a curious mind, and an artist’s eye. She could be mean and manipulative, burning everyone who tried to get close. She was a bitter mother to her daughters, my step-sisters, intermittently estranged from all of them. Perpetually unhappy, she spent a lifetime seeking the cure, dragging my gentle, compliant father on her feverish quest. She never found what she sought, the thing to calm the storms that raged within. …

Four Years of Madness Ends Exactly as Expected

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Andy Feliciotti on Unsplash

Four years ago, I wrote like mad. I ranted and raved, trying to write myself to some truth, or at least some understanding. I, like most Americans, was stunned by the 2016 election, afraid of the future. I briefly entertained the idea that it wouldn’t last long, that our system of checks and balances would save us from the Republicans and their Trojan monster.

How quaint it seems now.

We are all being taken for a ride, sent up the river for the price of a show, promised a spectacle of “soft sensuality,” if we will only stop worrying about things like morality and decency and ethics and law, if we just promise to look away, bury the questions, quell curiosity about the truth. …

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Alicia R on Unsplash

Just a string of tomorrows

At the dawn of 2020, I wrote a hopeful essay about the new year. I resolved to stop catastrophizing. What can go right?, I asked. The icing on that shit cake is the banner photo — Things will be fine, it says, scrawled in pink neon. Clearly, clairvoyance is not my thing.

As everyone knows, 2020 was bad. Bonkers bad. Last year kicked us around in ways so surprising and creative that you almost have to be impressed. Wow, 2020, hats off. We didn’t see that coming.

This Is Us

How midlife loosened my tongue

Middle finger up in the middle of a field.
Middle finger up in the middle of a field.
Photo: Gwendal Cottin/Unsplash

When I flipped off the speeding truck, I knew things had changed. Sending a hearty “fuck you” to a stranger was a thing I had almost never considered before, but in the moment, it seemed oddly, perfectly natural. I briefly reconsidered the wisdom of this change when he doubled back. And then I did it again.

Walking on my quiet country road in upstate New York, as I do every day, a jumped-up pickup with a tiny red-hat-wearing boy at the wheel came roaring down the road at an unreasonable speed. Frightening, aggressive speed. When he rounded the corner and saw me on the side of the road, he floored it. It scared me, but it also enraged me beyond caring for the fear. Just as he passed, the massive and menacing truck feet from my body, I shot my middle finger high up in the air, thrusting it in his direction with my best angry face and what felt like power. I was shaking, but it felt fabulous, like triumph. …

Notes on a Pandemic and a Democracy in Peril

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Tiffany Tertipes on Unsplash

I don’t write anymore. I sit at my desk, staring wide-eyed out the window at the rain, the leaves tinged with color, and I think. But I don’t write.

I eat raisins. I use the good pen.

I put bitters in seltzer and call it a night off.

I just did Yoga for When You Feel Dead Inside. Because, yeah. Dead inside.

I think about isolation dinners. Me, never alone. My father, always alone. Neither is ideal. Both are challenges.

The sadness is the thing. It’s amorphous and overwhelming, swallowing the days and me, too. I’m just sad, is a thing we say now. The body is heavy and slow. Time is a two-faced thing: Now slow and languorous, now buzzing with menace and imperative. The world asks for so much. We are in a moment, of the moment, and our leavings will be testament to it — but what to leave? …

Bodies, brains, and bathing suits

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Sai Kiran Anagani on Unsplash

I’m shopping for a bathing suit. I’ve been side-eyeing suits online, sidling up to possibilities, and daring to imagine a world in which I don’t mind trying on bathing suits. A brave new world, free from harsh-lit dressing rooms and a generous helping of self-loathing.

I hate the cliché — the mid-century woman scrutinizing her brilliant, hardworking body as she shrink wraps it for public consumption. Judging the pocked thighs, the soft belly, the shelf that has risen triumphantly on the hips. Worrying the extra dangle on the upper arm, the southward drift of the breasts. The frowny knees, the veins. None of these things were evident in all those magazine spreads and billboards screaming at me for the last half century. …

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Bernard Hermant on Unsplash

Trust me

I homeschooled four kids for about a quarter century and have lived to tell the tale. The tale is long and messy, with twists and turns, ups and downs, like any good tale. There are no real villains (no interesting villains at least) and most characters are minor heroes. Homeschooling is, essentially, parenting and parenting is just life. It’s hard, it can be fun, and it’s usually worth it.

I’ve started essays about why you should homeschool and then realized that the arguments are mine, the decision is personal. It’s a fluid decision with endless flexibility. Homeschool this year, and not next. Homeschool elementary, but not high school. Or vice versa. Homeschool forever, or never. …

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Evie S. on Unsplash

End of life dilemma

My great aunt has decided to die. She’s had a stroke at 88, and has decided that the suggested post-stroke things are onerous and difficult. She’s tired and just wants to die now. She is a vibrant ray of sun, a sharp and brilliant participant in the parade of life. It’s stunning to imagine that the woman who recently offered me a mimosa with vodka (“Aunt Evelyn, mimosas don’t have vodka.” “Mine do.”), with her wide mouth laugh and sparkling eyes, is the same woman who is “going home to die.” The woman who demonstrated her exercises to me just a few short months ago, exercises that I was hard-pressed to do myself. The woman who is always reading a good book, and asking for another. Life turns on us in a blink, I guess. They told us this, but we never listen. We imagine the stream running forever into the distance, or at least a lot farther than this, because we can’t (or don’t) imagine much over the horizon. …


Lisa Renee

Write it down.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store