It’s the first question we ask each other now. If the answer is yes, the next question is: What are you doing differently?
What, indeed? It’s not like everybody got vaccinated the same day. At the end of March, about one-fourth of the adults in my state have received at least their first shot (which is pretty typical of numbers across the country). We are nowhere near herd immunity. Nationwide, however, full vaccination of willing adults is expected by the end of July. That is great news, but there are still many countries where no one has been vaccinated—so we cannot expect a quick return to “normal,” because the virus does not respect national boundaries. To end the pandemic, vaccines must be distributed worldwide. Until that happens, we wrestle with a new set of risks and benefits in this partly vaccinated world.
So, again, what are the lucky vaccinated doing differently? In my case, after a year of lockdown I have two cracked fillings and can barely see through my ancient glasses, so of course my first priority after my second jab was—a haircut! This self-avowed feminist remains vain, insecure, or both, at age 67.
Here in North Carolina, Spring is busy springing. Now that I’m immunologically bionic, it will be great to spend more time out of doors: go for some hikes, and maybe, finally, get to the beach. Our connection with nature is especially healing when our connections with humans are interrupted. I hope you are getting outside wherever you are, too.
This month I published the last of the blog series on Genitourinary Syndrome of Menopause (GSM), including a look at Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) and whether it really deserves its bad rap. Over ten thousand papers have been published analyzing the results of the Women’s Health Initiative, and not one of them received the attention given to the first, very negative interpretation of results. Take a look at the blog and consider whether to discuss HRT with your physician. If oral hormones are the right choice, they are way cheaper than the predatory pricing on estradiol cream. Please share this blog series with menopausal friends. The more women are aware of the issues presented, the more open our conversation, the better - with more chance of change happening.
The month of March included International Women’s Day and two grim milestones that remind us how far we have yet to travel to achieve rights for women. The murder of Sarah Everard by an English policeman galvanized protests and calls for restrictions on men—not women—when a killer is on the loose. The killings of eight people in Atlanta—six of them Asian American women—energized protests against racial and gender-based violence. This second blog in March looked at ways to push back on male violence.
Looking ahead to April, I am wrapping up a consulting assignment and excited to find new ways to support the creativity of women after midlife. Here are ideas I’m hatching, and I’d love to hear from you about the ones that appeal to you:
Our ongoing Elderotica writing group features shared leadership and structured, positive feedback. This group may switch from weeknights to meeting once a month, on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon to be as convenient as possible for women on both coasts.
We could set up a writing group where we write ahead of time, trade stories or chapters via email, and meet to comment and encourage one another. This could work well for women writing erotic or romance novels, or collections of stories.
I could run a writing group series that meets for a set number of sessions (say once a week for two months). For a series like this I could provide a full set of structured prompts and guidance.
With writing partners, I could offer one-time, three hour Saturday or Sunday workshops using structured prompts on particular themes. Two examples:
The wild adventures of writer Amie Fisher’s shapeshifting Angelina character, who begins in a carnival and controls men with her pheromones;
The ongoing tales of the Palace of Wisdom, an imaginary sensual retreat in Big Sur for women past midlife
Sound fun? Write to me about what grabs you at email@example.com. If you have other ideas for groups or workshops, I’d love to hear those too.
What great motivation while editing my next book (and first novel), Brilliant Charming Bastard. And when I do get bogged down, I play with cover designs (not my thing, I’m a rank amateur, but you know how fun distractions can be).
And finally, we come back to the question: What are we doing once we are vaccinated?
Cultivating hope, nurturing creativity, moving toward justice and safety for women and for all marginalized persons. May we be well, may we be safe, may we have joy, may we be free.
Earlier this month I had a great conversation with Sharon Saltzgiver in her podcast "The Thing About Aging". She's a terrific interviewer who asks thought provoking questions.
Reader reviews of my new story collection, The Erotic Pandemic Ball, have been wonderfully positive. It’s gratifying to see reactions like these:
“This is sex for the thinking person. If you like your bump and grind to come with a real plot, this is for you! I guarantee you'll be plenty diverted by Fosse's clever ways of subverting Covid's pathetic attempt to keep sexy people apart!”
“A fun romp of a read through the coronavirus pandemic with a hefty dose of eroticism, sprinkled with some fantastical dips into the surreal. The tales unfold, from a woman who uses a Quija board to conjure past lovers, to a vampire lover who visits a quarantined museum director, to a woman who dreams of other lovers while lying next to her slumbering husband. Explicit and beautifully lyrical, The Erotic Pandemic Ball may be just the pandemic companion you need.”
“If you might enjoy suspending your sense of reality to symbolically heal from lockdown stress, go and buy this book and enjoy!”
“Fosse has a wonderful imagination, crafting situations and events that constantly surprised me. Her writing is sprinkled with enchanting phrases and surprising insights. The characters are real people who have real sex in their own individual ways. While the lockdown will eventually end, these stories will be just as arousing and interesting when we can actually touch again.”
The complete Tales of Love in Lockdown series is now available.
The first in the series, Her Poly Pod, is a FREE download on all online stores.
Click on each cover (above) for details or for download links
I publish two blog articles (published online on the 10th and the 20th) and this newsletter every month, so you hear from me (or a guest blogger) a couple of times a month. Below is a brief extract from each of last month's blogs - click the links for the whole enchilada! If you've ever considered getting your voice out there, I welcome suggestions for topics, or a fully written guest piece in line with my philosophy for the site. Drop me a line......
In 1845, Columbat de l’Isere wrote an early description of what is now called Genitourinary Syndrome of Menopause, or GSM: “The postmenopausal woman’s features are stamped with the impress of age and their genital organs are sealed with the signet of sterility… It is the dictate of prudence to avoid all such circumstances as might tend to awaken any erotic thoughts in the mind and re-animate a sentiment that ought rather become extinct.”
Thanks so much, Columbat, for that terrible advice. Because, as it turns out, seminal fluid contains a high level of estrogen; one of the best things we can do for our post-menopausal vulvas is to have lots of sex with men. And that just goes to show that taking care of ourselves can be joyful.
But sex alone cannot replace reasonably priced vaginal estrogen. The American pharmaceutical industry has run a pricing scam on estradiol for half a century and it needs to stop. Recently, some women have even turned to laser “rejuvenation” of the vulva, an unapproved and dangerous technique that is the subject of an FDA Warning. The greed of businesses large and small puts women in danger, and together we can help to change that.
March 8 was International Women’s Day. As they say on their website, the theme this year is #ChooseToChallenge. Spoken word poet Anisa Mandaula celebrated our power to change the future in a video for the day, saying, “Choose to create history, not to be created by it.” Her poem calls on us to change the lives of all women, not only our mothers, daughters, and sisters.
The body of 33-year-old Sarah Everard was found March 10, two days after International Women’s Day. When she walked home one evening from a friend’s house, Sarah did everything “right:” she wore shoes suitable for running, she phoned her boyfriend to say she was walking home, she chose a longer route that was well lit. She limited her behavior in the ways women are taught to protect ourselves from male violence. And yet she vanished from a London street. After she disappeared, police went door to door in the area telling women to stay home for their safety. When a woman in parliament suggested a curfew for men instead, there was a huge uproar — and not only from men. Curtailing women’s freedoms in the face of male violence is second nature; think of the times you have paid to take a cab after dark to a place within walking distance or held your keys to defend yourself as you walked through a dark parking lot. Privilege becomes visible only when it has consequences; yet the idea of curtailing men’s freedoms to protect women against male violence is anathema. That this double standard is so firmly engrained should speak volumes.
I tried out sharing other authors' work (and they share my free eBooks) in February and it seems you like that. Lots of people downloaded books! So, here we go with another try. There are over 40 authors listing FREE books here, with a wide variety of tastes and styles, so you are sure to find something to keep you occupied.
You may remember the terrific guest post by my friend Simone LaBerge, “Sexuality Down the Decades,” where she reflected on her own sexual development from childhood to her seventies and talked about her hopes for the years ahead.
Her writing inspired me to create a free short course to help you to reflect on your journey so far and your hopes for the days to come.
Sign up for a fascinating interior journey, and share the details with your close friends and on social media please!