Thursday, July 21, 2011

Peri-Menopause is NOT a Song and Dance Show!

Warning...Hot Flashes!  This blog post is meant to be seriously funny and funnily serious. 

I hit fifty a couple of months ago and somewhere, someone flipped a switch and the woman I knew disappeared!  Whoever did that, I am gonna find you and you are gunna get it...and no jury with even just one post-menopausal woman on it will convict me.

For just about two years now, my life has been one big roller coaster ride...first, moving to Paris for what we thought would be three years, only to be recalled back home for good and happy reasons one year later...then the ride continues with trying to find my purpose driven life, only to turn 50 and have my brain turn to cotton candy, my body into a furnace and my emotions a wreck!

I used to be smart.  I could read several books at a time and in a relatively short period of time.  Now I find myself, using  .75 (yes that is a decimal point in front of the 75) reading eyes changing JUST enough to make things fuzzy and my eyes tired...but darn it...they are still old people reading glasses.  I have to re-read pages that I just read and if in a couple of hours you ask me what I am reading and who wrote it, it is quite possible you might hear crickets.

For the longest time, I have been known as the Queen of Useless Information...I am the person you wanted on your team playing Trivial Pursuit, Jeopardy and so forth and so on...but lately, that cotton candy effect has totally clogged the information highway in my brain.  One of my favorite (and a wee bit snarky) "games" was to watch a movie or TV show and say to my kids and or husband, "You see that actor?  Guess what TV show/movie he/she was in!"  Then I would reveal a trivia  nugget from eons ago and smile smugly. ( A variation of that...see that actor...he's dead. yeesh...but funny in dry, morbid sorta way)  Nowadays, I can bearly recall what the heck we are watching...I recognize people and know I know them from ...ehhhh....argh...what????...when????.  It is so frustrating.  The worst though is when I am trying to have grown-up conversation and I forget what I am saying as I am saying it, or I cannot for the life of me recall a word...words...really?  Sometimes I feel so thick...stupid cotton candy brain.

For the most part, I have been going this peri-menopause thing alone...I am consulting doctors.  My new primary care physician, whom I love, is a guy and he is being a great advocate for me, but being younger, male and married to a woman still in her child bearing years, the dear man just doesn't get it.  I am meeting my new gynecologist next week...please God, let her have a functioning, cotton candy free brain...but by the grace of her ovaries, she will have a clue as to What The French is going in my body, heart and head.

As I said, for the most part, I have being going this change of life route mother passed away when she was 51 (and don't think for a moment that that fact doesn't add to my angst!), but she had a hysterectomy early on, as did most of the older women in my life so...menopause is not a topic of conversation...and that generation doesn't talk much about ladies' issues anyway!  I am surprised there are not more books, support groups, documentaries on the subject, but then again, if young women knew what was coming down the line for them...a curious desire to crunch ice, itchy skin, hair growing out of places hair never grew out of before...changes in bowel movement, aches, pains, cramps, fits and starts, weeping, forgetfulness, morbid thoughts, wicked thoughts... sleepless nights, totally gross BO (who knew a person who showers daily could stink sooo much)and of course, "PLEASE do NOT touch me!", sadly there is more...much  more...if we knew then what I know now...there would be a shortage of 60 year old women in the world!

God bless my sister-in law for sharing...but the first thing she said to me was and I am paraphrasing here...'I get it, but what you are going through is yours and your is your body and it is changing to a whole host of separate variables and timetables'.  Ugh.  We can commiserate about hot flashes, mood swings and night sweats...we talk about "triggers"...and it all helps.  The best thing though is when I share something with her, or something witchy comes out of my mouth before I even know what I said, she gets it and I do not have to apologize for going through what I am going through.

Aside from the physical challenges, probably the most difficult component of this whole thing is the sense of loss of who I am and was...I really don't know what happened, but I feel like somehow I disappeared.  Sure part of this is the fact that I am entering a new phase of life...empty nesting...downsizing...planning for a new future with my husband...but something or rather, someone is missing...and it is me.

I am still with it enough to know when I am going to be moody...and moody I will be.  I haven't figured out how to control that level of change...but when I get that feeling that if one more person does more more stupid thing that I will tear into them with epithets (why is it I cannot remember some words, but I never forget curse words?) or hit them with my seven iron, ...I can shut down and spare them the rancor or harm.  The unintended consequence is I seem aloof or worse, ticked off...but quietly so. If they only knew the alternative!

My next challenge is to stop apologizing for going through what I am going through.  I cannot help why should I apologize?  Certainly, I will own my behavior and if I behave unfairly or badly, I will apologize for that...but I am not going to say I am sorry for fanning myself, drinking gallons of ice water, or even begging off from plans made because I feel like crap.  Nope.  I will not apologize for peeling off layers of clothing (to a point) or tossing the covers off only to grab them and cover myself up again minutes later.  Don't expect a sorry if I am up pacing the floor at all hours of the night...worrying about stuff I cannot control...paranoia plaguing my thoughts and dreams...speaking of which...since that jerk flipped my switch, I have had THE strangest and most vivid dreams...there has got to be a best-selling science fiction novel in my head somewhere..fingers crossed! 

The other major hurdle facing me is trying to find balance...physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.  I think if I can get these in some order, then dealing with that which cannot be controlled may not be so overwhelming.  I am hoping to find grace, peace and patience, so when my husband (God Bless him) comes home from CVS with a list of any drug, supplement, cream or spray that mentions the words menopause, hot flash, mood swings, bloating, night sweats, etc...I won't want to deck him...I know he means well, but there is no pill...there is no operation...there is no is what is and hold onto your hats...this could last for...OMG...10 more years....shudder, shudder, flash just hit.

I have started to do some research and with the help of my new GYN...(please, please, please)...I will learn to live with this.  I hope I can get the people whom I love and many of you whom I live with it too.  It is the next leg of my life's journey.  And here's the hard part of it all...I am coming into the home stretch...not any time too soon...but this change of life means I am that much closer to end of life and the great mystery beyond that...and that kind of scares me.  I am not afraid of dying...just afraid that I haven't done all my living and with this spate of personal craziness...I am afraid of...what?... I don't know. 

So for the first, last and only time, I will say I am sorry I am peri-menopausal; really you have no idea how sorry I am. For nearly 30 years I have been taking care of people...most of whom I love...and now, without apology...I am going to take care of myself.  And if you come over and put a dirty glass on my counter...when the dishwasher is sitting open waiting for said glass...just remember... all I'll need is a jury of my peers and I'll be found not guilty of manslaughter...just saying.

From my heart...thank you to all my friends and family who are so 'there' for me and understanding.  I appreciate your patience and kindness...I'd give you all hugs...but please do not touch!!!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Kids These Days!

"Kids these days..." is/was often uttered by my dad and my father-in law whenever they saw someone from another, younger generation straying outside their moral zip code. I would secretly roll my eyes and ignore whatever perceived mayhem and foolishness existed to their older sensibilities.

Get ready to roll your eyes!  I was in Boston this past weekend and gosh darn it...KIDS THESE DAYS!!!

Okay, so let me backtrack a bit...our youngest, Emily had made plans to visit with college and post grad friends in Boston.  One of the young men in the group is beginning intensive training and discernment for a future vocation and a teaching assignment in Micronesia...very laudable, and the Loyola crew wanted to send him off with fun and well wishes!  Anyway, with all the roadwork around the city and limited public transportation out here in the boonies to the big city, Bill and I volunteered to drive her "in town"...that's what we say about goin' ta Bahstin up heyah...and drop her at South Station around 5:30pm.

I love this particular city and any excuse to visit, I am all over it!  As this was a rather impromptu event, we texted a friend who lives in the North End and asked if she'd like to meet us for dinner or drinks...she agreed to the drinks, but encouraged us to visit, for dinner,  a cute little out of the way restaurant about half way between Quincy Market and the Commons.  We took her advice and headed to Marliave on Bosworth Street.  To be honest, if we hadn't got a recommendation, we probably would have passed this place by. But, once settled into the flower box lined patio, Bill and I relaxed and absorbed the somewhat European atmosphere that embraced us as the soft summer breezes cooled us off from the heat of the day.  We were greeted by a lovely and friendly young waitress and informed her we were there for the long haul...Emily had plans to see the last Harry Potter movie with her buds...and the movie would get out around 11:30 pm!  Our after dinner drink plan was for around we had some time to relax at this new spot.

We ordered really cool, funky, cocktails, along with some cheese and charcuterie...ah...just like Paris <sigh>...and we talked and people watched...and Bill checked the Red Sox score periodically on his BlackBerry.  We were in no rush and our waitress friend was happy to have our company as we appreciated this little gem of a restaurant. 

As the hour drew later, we noticed that a number of foreign tourists found our little retreat...there were folks from France, Germany and I think one of the former Soviet countries...definitely a Russian accent!  This interesting turn brought us back to our time in Europe and we were happy.  We also noticed that around 7-ish, a younger, hipper crowd was joining us out on the Bill talked about his upcoming sales meetings, I people watched and reminisced about our the time we were the age of the cute couple sitting across from us, we were married and had our first daughter...I was slightly jealous...but then I remembered that at my current age, my nest was empty and woo hoo...we still have enough life AND maturity to enjoy the good things to come our way.

Then it happened...those kids...a group of early 20-somethings entered the patio.  Now this group of 4 guys and a girl were out of towners...and Marliave was not the first public drinking establishment they had visited in our fair city.  Dressed in various designer labels that immediately lead me to believe these were Hamptons kids...Ralph Lauren pink button-down , oxford cloth shirt and cargo shorts and docksiders...2 of the boys wore RL Polo t-shirts, plaid shorts and Bjorn flip-flops; weird kinda Bobsy-twins, I guess...a Ralph Lauren polo shirt with the collar popped and skinny jeans...Oakley sunglasses perched on sun-kissed know the stereotype.  The young lady was cute, cute, a sun dress, sandals and that quintessential hair bob, which at first was bunched up in a large butterfly clip, but the breeze begged for her hair to be loosed from its clip! 

At first the group seemed boisterous and a wee bit lubricated...but add more alcohol to the mix (get ready to roll your eyes)...and kids these days think that if they are having a good time, then everyone around them should know it!!

I mentioned that this restaurant had a quirky, cool cocktail list...but Oakley boy, rather than <quietly> peruse the cocktail menu insisted that everyone MUST have mojitos...dopey lad...although yummy, mojitos are soooo 2009! He convinced one of his buddies to have one and the other lads tried a variation on a mint julep...tres chic in my humble opinion and Miss Cutie...well she decided that even though they were not driving in the city, she would be the designated "driver"...someone has to be able to read the GPS on the iPhone.,,and ordered diet coke.  Mr. Oakleys gave her a rash of  you know what, until he thought about it and then loudly proclaimed,"Oh good!   Then we won't need to take a taxi...way to save us some money Bro!"  Silly boy...she is a lovely girl!

In the meantime, Bill and I ordered dinner and the wild bunch ordered oysters...and more drinks...our neighbors from Germany, packed up their leftovers and little curly haired daughter...I am not sure if they were done, done, or had had enough of the conversation dominating our end of the patio from a few tables over!

After their oysters and cocktails, the group ordered dinner and wine. Oh joy...more loosening of lips...then all of a sudden, the strangest thing if being called from the mother ship, all 5 of the prepsters pulled out their iteration of a cell phone and checked eerie calm ensued...momentarily... and then the loud mouth of the bunch called whoever texted them and everyone on the patio was briefed as to the groups' plans for the evening.  And was Oakley boy!  He talked over the person on the other end of the phone, idiotically forgetting that if you listen to the get the answers to your loud questions....about where the club is...who will be there....what time you should be there..are Southie, South of Boston and South Boston the same place....and as his frustration grew over the fact that he couldn't talk and hear the answers at the same time, and, I'll go out on a limb his third glass of wine kicked in...his language became the stuff that makes sailors blush.  Our friendly, young waitress, asked him to keep his conversation private or to perhaps leave the patio area...but he and his friends, ignored her request.

Being the mother of 2 twenty-somethings, who are wonderful young ladies and were brought up to know better, my tolerance for this young man's behavior had just about reached its limit.  Having a direct line of sight to the next table and the mommy secret super power of being able to stop idiots in their tracks with the arch of an eyebrow, I set to work on this pesky nemesis! Alas, the alcohol seemed to make him immune to my power, but his lavender t-shirted friend, was not so inebriated nor immune and upon seeing my brow arched sharply and upon hearing his lead-headed companion exclaim one of George Carlin's seven things you cannot say on television (at least back in the 60's) to the verbal abuse victim on the phone, reached over and gave said potty mouth a purple nurple...reached right over and twisted his nipple as hard as he could!  It took the breath and voice away from his pal...the other t-shirted fellow...his was a lovely shade of apple green...took the phone, concluded the call and dope slapped his friend for being such a loud mouthed jerk.

Bill and I had been on the fence about getting dessert...and with evidence that the Hamptons' crew were going to outlast us on the patio, we opted to take a walk over toward the North End.

Our stroll was not without further evidence of kids these days...I do not know what some of these young women were thinking when they got dressed before heading out...but it looked like this Saturday night, Boston was host to a hooker convention...mamma mia!  On a couple of occasions, my husband stumbled, his eyes transfixed by barely covered breasts, overly tight skirts and for want of a better term... je ne sais quoi...attitude, behavior and public display of practically pornographic mating rituals in and around the bars and restaurants at Quincy Market.  I can't fault the guy...he is only human and even after living a year in Paris, we were both a bit dumbstruck with the scene.

Seeking respite and wanting to make our way over to Hanover Street in the North End, we skirted around to the outside of the Fanueil Hall complex and crossed the street to the Greenway...ah..just the sound of traffic...not shouting, screaming, guffawing...and then we entered the quiet back streets of the North End.

We checked in with Bill's colleague and set to meeting for our after dinner drinks.  We were informed that another couple in for the sales meeting would also be joining us.  After a quick stop at Bovas for cannoli, we popped into a little cafe for some sangria for our younger colleagues and coffee for us coffee drink consisted of  espresso, Starbucks coffee liqueur, vanilla vodka and Godiva white chocolate liqueur.  We chatted about the upcoming sales meeting, stuff in the news and Kristen, a woman after my own heart, was "people watching" the young guys at the next table...eating, drinking and one point, on guy said to the other that he had to go....his girlfriend was really mad at him for being out late, or whatever and he showed his buddy the text.  It made his friend, mouth filled with food, garble what seemed to be an expletive...he was so vociferous with his exclamation that he made our friend Kristen, turn to him and say, "What did you just say?"....awkward pause...."Not that I was eavesdropping or anything!"  Laugh. laugh...and we resumed our conversation. Shortly thereafter, our server, who knows Kristen well, asked if we knew where the guys next to us might be...out for a cigarette? the restroom?  And Kristen indicated that based on her encounter and subsequent additional people watching skills that the guy with the text message had left because he was in a heap of trouble with his girlfriend...and she assumed that the other young man left too...well, shut our mouths...they dined and dashed...stuck the waitress with the bill...they left their beer, food and yet not even a couple of $20s to TRY and cover the these days I tell you!  How can you do that?  That waitress has to pay for those chumps!

Well, we finished our coffee (wink, wink) and it was time to head back to where we parked our car and collect Emily.  We timed it so perfectly that as we passed the Loews Theater at the Commons, Emily and friends were just crossing the street.  There was our almost 21 year old daughter amidst a group of young men....reminiscent of the group we left earlier at Marliave!  As they crossed the street, one young man took to her side as the other two fell in behind, creating a little safe cadre for our girl.  Emily made introductions and each of these young gentlemen extended a hand, shook ours, firmly but genially.  We enjoyed enthusiastic conversation...each speaking and listening in turn...and with well wishes to Gabe, who was beginning a very happy and exciting journey, we said our good-byes.  After Emily doled out hugs (and I got a very warm embrace from Gabe), we headed off to our car.  Thank goodness we finished our night with these kids...they demonstrated what is and can be so right with kids these days.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Stuff Happens

As I look back on my life, I realize I have been affected more than my share by Murphy's know the adage, if something can go wrong, it will.  It must be due to my Irish heritage.  When I was young, I took it personally.  As I grew older, I was often piqued by circumstance.  Now as I round the bend squarely into middle age...I plan on living a long time; God and Murphy willing... when stuff happens, I make note and sometimes write a blog.

So as I relate a few of my recent brushes with Murphy's law, please note it is just an observation, not a criticism (well there may be a bit of criticism and all for humor's sake).  When Murphy strikes, I often think back to the scene from Forrest Gump...when he steps in a pile of dog droppings and calmly states, "It happens."...thus spawning the somewhat infamous bumper sticker, "$#!T Happens!"   Well it does.  Let me preface, I am the person for whom Murphy's law was written...if I need to be on time for something extremely important, I will be a few cars behind the truck that jack-knifes... go for a colonoscopy...they find and remove polyps...when given the task for ordering wine at a restaurant, I always pick the bottle from the list that they no longer have...I stand in line at an event and the person in front of me gets the know how it goes.  Darn you Murphy!

I have been told that I always pick the best meal off the menu and am often asked by others to make I am usually the last to order.  Last night, Bill and I went to one of the few restaurant chains I like, Legal Seafood.  I was excited to go because a very special menu item had reappeared after a few years absence.  I learned of the additon from the June Legal Seafood wine e-newsletter that I receive...and the topic was wines from Alsace and one my favorite meals ever was to be the selection for the wine pairing.  We hit the Legal down at the Burlington Mall.  The menu still had the insert for the Alsace event and the wood grilled trout with juniper scented choucroute (sauerkraut) was still featured!  I knew what I was having. But, just in case the June Alsace specials were was July 1, I knew I would like the fish and chips as my second choice.   Bill wasn't in the mood for trout  or fish and chips, so he asked me what I thought he might like.  There was a crab-stuffed flounder Florentine with spring pea ravioli that I thought might fit the Bill...yes, there is a pun intended there...when the waitress came for our order, I asked her if the trout was still available...she said of course that it was.  I was so happy I actually clapped my hands!  Then she looked at Bill and asked what he wanted...the flounder...she looked back at me and I could hardly believe I needed to say it, but I did enthusiastically order the trout. 

As we recounted our day and the 18 holes of golf we walked, it dawned on us that dinner was taking an awfully long time getting to the table.  Just as the thought popped into my head, the restaurant manager came to the table asking who had ordered the crab stuffed flounder...I pointed to Bill and he again asked, did we order the flounder and the choucroute...Bill said yes, and the manager said, that he was sorry to say they just ran out of it.  So presenting Bill with a menu, he asked him to make another selection and stepped away from the table...Bill looked at me and said, "I am not surprised that they ran out of something YOU picked."  I then replied, "Yeah, I am surprised its the flounder...that kind of thing happens to me all the time."  Bill then selected the wood grilled fish platter...very much to his taste, but not mine.  I like lighter white fish...swordfish, salmon and barramundi are not my favorites.  The order went in...our seafood sampler appetizer came out and all was right with the world again.  Our server cleared the dishes and we waited and waited and finally out came our dishes...a different server asked,"Who gets the grilled fish and who gets the flounder?"  Neither of us replied because we weren't sure of what we had just heard.  He asked again..."Who gets the wood grilled fish platter?"  Bill raised a finger.  "Here's your flounder. "  I said," I ordered the trout choucroute.  We were told you were out of the flounder."  MURPHY!!!!

The server took the flounder back to the kitchen.  Our original waitress came back to the table with the flounder, her apologizing and saying that it was the trout they were out of and I could have the flounder...I looked at Bill, who wanted the flounder, but who was now enjoying the salmon...which I do not care for and I agreed to take the flounder. I really didn't want flounder, but I was not asked if there was something else I would rather have...I guess our server,  1)  would rather not bring the flounder back to the kitchen and 2) assumed the late hour might mean I wouldn't want to wait any longer for food...but she never asked...she just placed the overly caper laden fish in front of me. fish and chips.  I like flounder.  I make a mean sole meuniere.  But when your heart is set upon one of the most memorable meals you've ever had...the flounder, well..meh.

Eventually, the manager returned to our table, apologizing for the mix up (he admits that he never said there was no trout)...seeing my picked over plate, asked me if I would rather have something else...I could keep the flounder and they would bring me something else...or perhaps we might save room for dessert or bring some dessert home...on the house of course...I just looked at him...I might have had a slight puss on...and finally he said, "And of course, we won't charge you for the dinner you didn't want".  At this point, I was no longer hungry.  As a matter of fact, I was feeling a little green in the gills.  I didn't want dessert, but the staff insisted that we order something since it would be free...I just wanted cappuccino (they wouldn't comp that), so Bill ordered some ice cream bon bons...their peace offering had been made and accepted. 

10 years ago, I probably would have made a stink and been really ticked off.  Last night, it was just what was...and of course I said to Bill that this is the stuff of blogs!  With age comes wisdom and patience.  I am still honing those attributes in my life...thanks to Murphy...but I also understand that in this world there are so many people who go without...who do without...who suffer and don't complain.  If Murphy needs to kick me in the butt now and again to remind me of all my blessings, then I'll take the hit and grow as a person...and perhaps tell a somewhat amusing  fish tale.

I am inspired to try and recreate the trout recipe from memory!  I'll let you know if Murphy comes to that dinner.