It’s been a weird, unhappy couple of weeks. Stories that aren’t mine to tell happening to people around me, there was a terrible death and an accident resulting in surgery and a bunch of layoffs and outside of my own little life there is of course no end to the awfulness in the news, from our maddening clown-show U.S. politics to the no-words nightmare of the Israel-Hamas situation.

One thing I’ve noticed is that when I’m trudging my way through a hard time I tend to look at my phone a LOT more, which is the actual stupidest because there is a definite correlation between my screen time and my mental health. It’s like any other addiction: I engage with it for the dopamine hits and then I find myself doing it more and more until the empty act itself — picking up my phone, swiping, thousand-yard-staring — becomes the end game.

I feel about my phone like Homer (Simpson, not the greek poet): “To alcohol! The cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems!” I mean it’s an uncomfortable animated TV show quote because there was a time in my life when I identified with that statement a little too much and now I can just swap in “iPhone” or “laptop” instead of booze and it’s still true.

Okay fine, my phone itself does not typically cause or solve real problems, unless it’s when I use the calculator function because tipping USED to be something I could do in my head because it was 15% and even a mouth-breathing mathlunk like me could go well, 10 percent is this much, and then half of THAT is… I’m just saying that it feels like it causes problems, like when I’ve caught myself doomscrolling for the eleventy-billionth time in the same 60-minute timespan.

Over and over I find that I’m reaching for my phone to distract myself from the not-so-great thoughts in my brain, only to find myself wallowing in more negativity and sorrow. Our human brains have not had nearly enough time to evolve to cope with an existence in which every horror and trauma across the globe is available at our fingertips, mixed haphazardly into a neverending digital feed that also includes the absurd/meaningful/funny/educational/delightful stuff we’re constantly looking for.

Well, this topic is nothing new. I’ve personally been struggling with my relationship with the online world for years. I greatly miss the Internet That Was, as opposed to the infinite Two Minutes Hate/Aggressive Mall Vendor/Intermittent Reinforcement PSYOPs it is now.

What it seems to be above all other things, despite or because of our tech overlords, is eternally lonely. You can look and look and look. You can heart and care-react and do the little sad face. You’ll see so very much, all day long. It feels like humanity, a lot of times, or like community. But it’s so, so, so fucking lonely.


Remember when menopause was only vaguely referred to as The Change? I remember hearing about The Change and knowing only that it meant the end of one’s childbearing years. I think I believed for a long time you just woke up and all the periods were over and that’s what menopause was.

I don’t remember ever learning that menopause (or perimenopause if you want to use the correct term that I know I’d never even heard of until my forties) was such a lengthy time of transition. I didn’t realize The Change wasn’t one change, but rather a staggering number of things happening all at once.

Such as:

My relationship with my body. Sometimes it’s every bit as toxic as it has been throughout my entire adult life and then some, with the added fuel of bemoaning all the new aging-related aches and sags n’ flabs. But sometimes it feels like I’m on the verge of transcending hardwired beauty standards and I get these glimpses of a more gratitude-based way of appreciating my body for its capabilities past and present and not its appearance? But then sometimes I catch sight of myself in a mirror and I’m like WHO EVEN IS THAT HALF-MELTED POTATO KAREN??? It is a rich and ever-shifting tapestry!

My identity as a parent. Oh, so you’re telling me that after re-arranging my soul/brain to accommodate the constant hands-on necessities of parenthood my kids will suddenly become independent beings who only require access to my credit card and not my entire life’s ambitions, and if I hadn’t been simultaneously in-roading new hobbies and friends and interests all along I might find myself staring down the empty-nest barrel with a real sense of, like, trepidation?

My career drive. You know the saying about how early in your career you just want to be IN the meeting, and then mid-career you want to LEAD the meeting, but eventually you don’t want to be invited to the meeting at all? I don’t give work the energy I used to, when it comes to caring about office politics or fretting over managerial differences. I hold boundaries on my time. I’m not trying to reach for that brass ring. At this point, I recognize my own value, I’m uninterested in any section of the corporate ladder above my relatively comfortable perch; I’m just happy to do good/interesting work when I can.

My lady garden and its once-oceanic habitat, now best described as a desert/arid environment. Clamate change! (…forgive me I physically could not stop myself from typing that.)

My ability to see men. It’s disappearing! ON GOD, I swear I do not notice men as often as I used to. You know who I find myself appreciating more and more, though? Women. Particularly older women. Sometimes I feel like we tend to give each other a little nod of recognition when we’re out and about, maybe at Safeway or whatever. It’s like being a Jeep driver: you know, the little wave? I see you, girl.


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