by Sara Stamey
Dear Diary: Can a divorced, menopausal, cancer and abuse survivor laugh at the absurdities of midlife dating while reclaiming her power and passion?
First Place, Chanticleer Somerset Award, Women’s Fiction
A Pulpwood Queens International Book Club selection
Shall we pause to take stock?
Female (liberated, at least from ex-husband). Age 52, height 5’5″, weight 120, bone density excellent, minimal cellulite, maximal hot flashes. One and 3/4 breasts.
Months since sex: 27
Lindsey Friedland, former river-rafting guide and avid outdoorswoman, has hit the worst stretch of water she’s ever faced: divorce from an abuser, breast cancer, menopause symptoms that her friends seem to have paddled serenely by. And she’s lost sight of her dream of becoming an environmental journalist.
Lindsey needs to get her spark back.
Dear Diary, Disastrous blind dates so far: The walking cologne bottle. The “really want a gal to give me babies” guy. The pushy past-life reintegration facilitator.
Will Lindsey make it past the rocky shoals of family upheavals, job crises, sexism, and ageism… not to mention toxic love traps? Does “happily ever after” now mean settling for occasional (but hot!) sex with Mr. Maybe? Can she reclaim her journalism dream?
Dear Diary, I’m tired of being tragic. I’m sending off my article about the bulldozers versus the baby owls.
“Sara Stamey does for fiction what Cheryl Strayed and Elizabeth Gilbert did for memoir–Pause gives a voice to women who are too often invisible in contemporary books. The unforgettable Lindsey Friedland weaves together humor and passion against the backdrop of the Pacific Northwest’s natural beauty, using her unique voice to deliver a must-read novel about friendship, love, and killer hot flashes.” —USA Today Bestselling author Mindy Klasky
“Stamey’s lovely, inspiring, often funny novel… will touch the hearts of readers…. Stamey’s achievement is the realistic, down-to-earth, eminently relatable Lindsey and all she offers contemporary readers.” —Publishers Weekly Booklife
“I swiftly found myself enraptured by Lindsey’s environment, determination, and lifestyle…. Stamey’s plot is breezy, her treatment of Lindsey’s romances work marvelously, and her book is incredibly hard to put down. Her characters are real people you come to care about…. It’s most highly recommended.” —Readers’ Favorite Book Review, 5 Stars
“A solid, engaging tale about the importance of self-knowledge.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Filled with lyrical prose and pure, thought-provoking joy.” —IndieReader Review, 5 stars
MARCH 13, 2005
March is the cruelest month—will gray winter never end?—and no sign of the lion lying down with the lamb (or anyone else).
Shall we pause to take stock?
Female (liberated, at least from fraught marriage), age 52, height 5’5”, weight 120, bone density excellent, minimal cellulite, maximal hot flashes.
Possessions: 2 Best Cats in the World; 1 degree in creative writing and journalism (what was I dreaming?); 1 dead-end job transcribing medical reports. 1 charming 1920s bungalow with 30-year mortgage and badly in need of new windows, trim, and roof. 1 aging Subaru wagon, 1 bicycle. 3 recycle bins.
Green eyes, somewhat nearsighted; long hair, braid optional (blah light-brown, but disguises the gray strands appearing); “terrific ass” (impartial testimony of ex-husband); no-longer-firm jawline; 1 and 3/4 breasts.
Months since sex: 27.
IT STARTS LIKE THIS:
She’s twenty-three again, and that’s the magic, she knows the exact year, feels it in the way her skin presses tight against braless breasts, knee and hip joints smooth, no clicking or catching as she flows down the splintery steps of that funky old cottage in the cedar grove. Her bare toes grip the rough boards, savor the moist grass for the sheer pleasure of being alive. She throws out her arms and spins across the yard, embroidered long skirt wheeling out about her legs. The sun winks on off on, striping down through the branches.
A deep chuckle. He stands straddling his bicycle, flashing a white grin as she slows, steps forward, squints against the man splitting sun rays. He shifts, summer sunlight streaming over him, and he’s all golden—tanned and shirtless in ragged cutoff jeans and a strand of hippie beads, long blond hair shimmering.
Lindsey looks down and now she’s naked standing there. She’s all sun-gold, too, her breasts perfect round and smooth and she looks up, he’s naked, beckoning, wow she’s floating and she knows it’s a dream then.
She’s back all those years behind him on his bike and they’re flying fast down the hill. His hair streams out longer and longer with the wind of their flight, twining through her own tawny locks, and she laughs. Long flaxen hair sprouting, curling, twining into psychedelic paisley swirls and birds are nesting in the profusion, a home for the honey bees, the Wonder of their Hair! But then the strands whip out tangling in the bushes, and she’s yanked backwards from the bicycle as he flies on solo.
Lindsey lands on her bare feet flinching at gritty linoleum. She’s walking down a long hospital hallway of gray doors and glaring white walls.