When I saw this painting hanging up at the Archway Gallery in Houston, TX, I was intriqued.  Here was a modern day Medusa. My mind started whirring about what that would mean for a woman, being a Medusa during contemporary times.  Would she hide it from the world or start her own Youtube channel? Do the snakes, or looking into her eyes, turn people into stone like it did in Greek Mythology? How does she feel about the burden of the snakes? There was a story there; in fact, dozens and dozens of potential stories.

“Medusa” was created by Susan Sheets, a Texas artist who made this one and other incredible paintings that are soulful up close, and take on an element of photorealism as you step away.  I recommend you stop by Archway Gallery and check out her work.  I encourage you to purchase a painting or two.


part 1

Marsha had sworn off dating. Nearly every first date ended the same. With death. The man simply keeled over.

No, Marsha was not slipping poison into their drinks or shooting large doses of heroin into their arms.

Truth be told, the deaths were the men’s fault. She gave them specific instructions, and being the gender that always thinks they are right, the men did not follow the instructions. They had to be the ones to make the rules, not her. And it cost them the ultimate.

However, there was one man who did follow her requests, and his death was neither a result of his aggressiveness or need to break the rules. It was entirely an accident.

It was the fourth date when it happened. Up to that point, he had been respectful and continued do so. When she was with him, he made her laugh, and she found herself looking forward to the next date. This one had true potential.

They were at his apartment, a tidy one bedroom with sparse furniture and a rabbit named Fred that hopped around with freedom and glee as he chewed on the baseboards. They settled on his couch, obviously something his mom insisted he purchase from Crate and Barrel. It was nice but not his style.

They proceeded to kiss, light at first, and then with a bit more intensity. Passion bubbled through both and before either realized, they were going at it hot and heavy.

It was then he knocked the turban off her head.

Yes, Marsha almost always wore a large turban, often a pink and turquoise one. Sometimes, she mixed it up and wore a large floppy red hat instead or a ridiculous beehive wig.

The head covering was a life-or-death situation. It served a purpose greater than anyone would expect. You see, Marsha suffered from Medusa Syndrome.

It started in her early twenties, with itchy nubs protruding from her scalp. In a few weeks, they shot out to look like sticks, and before long, they had eyes and tongues that flicked in the air. They were full on reptiles, more specifically, snakes. Marsha was terrified.

They waved in the air, happy to have a home and not much responsibilities. She didn’t know what to do, but going to the doctor seemed out of the question. They might lock her away in a laboratory, performing scan after scan, test after test, blood draw after blood draw. She showed them to her best girlfriends who suggested she keep them covered.

Her best friend asked, “Do you have to feed them?”

She didn’t know.

But it didn’t take long for Marsha to discover that if a non-relative male human looked at the snakes, they collapsed clutching their chests. In a few minutes, they passed away from a heart-attack. She was even more horrified by this than the actual snakes.

Interestingly enough, the snakes had no effect on women. Marsha sometimes wondered if she shouldn’t switch to being a lesbian.

Still, she wanted to be in a relationship with the opposite sex. She went on dates with the men, giving them clear instructions to never remove her head covering. Most couldn’t make it through one date before ripping it off. She didn’t understand the desire to see what was there. Did they think she was bald? And if so, so what?

Back to the man who made it to the fourth date. He followed her instructions and ticked off all the right boxes. He volunteered to feed a cat colony once a week. He visited the nursing home and played songs on his guitar, just for the fun of it. He had steady employment and made wise choices with his money. He had a pet rabbit that he adored.

But more importantly, he was fun to be with. He made Marsha laugh until the corner of her eyes crinkled, and tiny tears of joy slipped out.

It was the make-out session on the couch that accidentally knocked the turban off and cost him his life. Crying, she ran out of the apartment, and swore off dating.

Now her friend wanted her to go on a blind date. This was a bad idea. It could only end one way.

Her friend insisted. Just this one, to see if she liked him.

Reluctantly, she agreed.

They met in a low-key, not very busy restaurant that had a reputation of not serving you what you ordered. You told the waiter you wanted spaghetti, and you got minestrone soup.

You asked for a steak, you got grilled chicken. Still, Marsha liked the place. It was adventure to eat there.

When she arrived, he was already at the table, the glow from the candle on the table flickering. It reflected in the wrap around sunglasses he wore.

She sat down and introduced herself. She extended her hand. He did the same, four inches left to her hand.  

“Oh my God!” she exclaimed, “You’re blind!”

He stiffened.

“Is that a problem?”

“No, absolutely not.” She couldn’t hide the glee in her

He frowned.

Her friend was right. This one might actually work.

PART 2 will be posted shortly.

I expected a lot of things when reaching middled aged as a woman: the beginning of fading into the background, perimenopause with hot flashes and grumpiness, a bigger sense of “I don’t care what anyone thinks,” and diving into whatever I wanted to do without care.

The one thing that surprised me was the weight gain. 

Sure, I had been warned, I had been told by knowing women with sympathetic nods. But I wasn’t sure I believed it. Maybe I didn’t want to believe it.

Well, I told myself, if I eat right and keep moving, the gain will be minimal.

Of course.

If I eat right and keep moving.

But did I do that?


I do get my 5 plus servings of vegetables a day and most days keep the fat down. On the other hand, I drink more wine than I should. After all, how else are you going to wash down bitter kale?

As for exercise? It’s become non-existent other than a 30-minute walk during lunch. I try, I really do, but one of two things happen, I either go all out on day one, surprised that I can no longer do what I could before, and then stumble around the next several days due to muscle soreness. Or I ease into it, start to see gains, then get swamped by work, book stuff, and life for two weeks and must start all over. I never make progress. As someone who used to long distance run just for fun, this is frustrating.

This weight gain must be the stuff of menopause lore and not snacking too much, drinking too much wine, and being a stagnant blob 23.5 hours a day.

So, I did what any educated woman in their 40’s would, I got on the internet to see what was causing my weight gain and unattractive belly.

Images popped up all over from my search. If your belly is shaped like this, then it means this. Oh good, google was guiding me into the right direction.

I studied the drawings. I went into the bathroom and gazed at myself sideways. I went back to the photos, and back to my profile.

What does it mean if your protruding belly doesn’t match any of their drawings?

Mine is kind of trapezoidal shape. You heard me right, trapezoidal, more specifically an isosceles trapezoid. It slopes slightly at the top, right under the breasts, then juts out in a flat line, and finally slopes towards the pelvis region. My back creates the parallel line to my protruding belly line.

What on earth does this mean?

(It means you need to lose weight!!)

My legs, not as firm and muscular in the past when I happily jogged along 15 miles on an early Saturday morning, were still oddly skinny.

My belly, as stated previously, had jutted out in a trapezoid shape. If you don’t remember your high school geometry, look it up. But let me say this, you don’t want any body part to look like this.

My arms, always an issue and chunkier than I wanted, appear jiggly and bigger than normal.

I’m a mess. I know it, and on top of it all, my doctor told me I had “male patterned baldness,” and I’m thinning on top.

A thinning hair pigeon shaped lady. It sounds like a pitch for an SNL skit.

When I go to the doctor, and she does routine blood work, the test results are normal.

I know I should be ecstatic for this, but my insides don’t match my outsides. My blood pressure is low. My cholesterol is low.  All my blood markers hit right in the middle.

What’s going on?

The all-knowing older women in my life nod, and whisper the secret to my ears, “menopause.”

I think it’s more than that I think it’s menopause, not enough exercise, too much wine, plus stress. It’s an evil combination for the modern woman.

Or am I the only one who suspects this?

People tell me to embrace my body whatever shape it morphs into.

I will not go quietly into a larger pants size. I will do something about it.