Let It Go!

Let It Go!

This week, I was planning on writing about a book I just listened to, called Soulful Simplicityand how, while not exactly ground breaking, it had inspired me to do a major clutter clear and closet purge. (FYI, this moved me much closer to my lofty goal of creating my own capsule wardrobe for slackers, consisting of pretty much only jeans and white t-shirts. We will revisit this topic in future posts.)

But then, in keeping with my nature, another shiny thing caught my eye, and I dove head first down the rabbit hole of Bullet Journaling. I thought maybe I’d post about that instead, how it made me feel super organized, and also a little insane. images

The BuJo, as it is cringingly called, is either the neatest thing to spring forth from the personal productivity world, or sent directly from hell to make us all feel like losers with shit handwriting. In a bullet journal you track habits, make lists, and “migrate” tasks, all using colored pens and something called washi tape. It’s porn for the persnickity. It both soothes and creates anxiety and I totally dig it.

Soulful Simplicity and bullet journaling might seem to be on opposite ends of the spectrum. One practice is all about paring down and getting less busy, and one practice elevates business to an art form, but it occurred to me that, for someone looking for order and reassurance, they fit together perfectly.

Get rid of all the stuff + Complete all the tasks = You will be OK.

My sister told me once that she is sometimes scared when she rides her big horse, Sharkey. At first I was surprised because I’m the kind of person who, if at all possible, tries never to do anything scary, so people who “feel the fear and do it anyway” are like sparkly unicorns in my world. The fact that at any moment Sharkey could decide he’s had enough and throw her off, doesn’t dampen the joy she feels as she gallops him around.

It would appear then, that it’s possible to hang on and let go at the very same time. Who knew?

Anyway, tomorrow I have a task written in my bullet journal: surgery.

Yep, tomorrow I will be bidding a fond farewell to my uterus. For all who have listened to my epic period stories and TMI rants about the whole sitch down there, this is indeed an event worth celebrating. It’s nothing really serious, but it still feels like kind of a big deal, parting with a body part and all.

There are only empty pages in my journal after the word surgery, because I have no idea what to expect, how long it will take me to recover, or just how it will feel to have my uterus gone. I can’t know for sure yet, but I imagine it’s not all binge watching The Crown and eating take-out. There are so many places my dark mind can go with this.

Will I have regret that I didn’t try more herbs, more acupuncture, more positive thinking to cure the stupid condition that got me here? (See? Bad attitude.)

Should I have taken the suggestion of the Chinese doctor who said I could fix fibroids by hula hooping a half hour every day? I mean, I hula hooped occasionally, but I never really committed to it, if I’m being honest.

Maybe I’m a quitter.

How long before I feel like my old self again, and should that even be the goal?

Or maybe none of that will occur to me, because maybe, just maybe, I will be too busy shouting from the rooftops— YeeeeeeeHaawww!! Free at last! Free. At. Last.

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I might look back on our trip to Hawaii, last summer where I was dead sure I would be eaten by a shark on account of leaking blood like a fucking sieve, and feel only pure relief to have that chapter closed.

Staring at all those blank pages in February, I can’t help it— I want to know what to expect. 

Hold please, while I consult my pretty Bujo “Feelings Tracker.”

Nope, some things, like feelings, can’t be planned.

Hard truth, I guess: Letting go is always a little risky, even when it’s liberating.

Which brings me back to closet cleaning. Right now, my closet is full of empty hangers, and I’ll admit, it’s a little tough to let go. What am I doing, I think? I’m not ready. I need these things. Even though I haven’t worn or thought about them in years, they feel like part of me, and I want them back.

I want the crochet poncho I made a decade ago, because it’s not just some ugly poncho, it’s  hours spent at home with my babies, and the rhythm of those early years. I want the cute velvet jacket because it’s me, twenty pounds ago, with a career and my own apartment and all that discretionary income. Sigh.

It’s not the things I’ll miss, it’s the person I was when I had them.

Look, I’m not saying that parting with a pair of tired wedge sandals is the same as having an organ removed but, in a way, for me, it’s not completely different. I’m ready for this operation– I’m past ready. It is my choice and I am lucky beyond measure that I am able to have it done.

Yes, and…

I just have to take a moment.

When I got pregnant I couldn’t believe the whole system actually worked the way the films in health class said it would. It seemed crazy— while I lay around eating gyros and watching Seinfeld, my uterus held the developing human, kept them hydrated, and even made a placenta, for god’s sake.

And when having a vbac with my second son, I was amazed at how my uterus ran the show. She performed like a champ, this organ that I’d barely noticed all my life, doing most of the work, contracting and pushing out an actual person. A miracle.

You did it, old girl. Thank you.

It feels really good to have those memories, and those aren’t going anywhere. As for the rest of it, I’m taking the reins, and letting it go, even if I’m a little bit scared.

Alrighty then. See y’all on the flip side 🙂

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Will Prozac Make Me Nicer?

Will Prozac Make Me Nicer?

I’m not sure what’s up with me lately. I’ve felt tired and anxious, with a fluttering heartbeat and a semi-constant sense of dread.

That, plus pissed.

So boy was I relieved when last week I had a complete physical and received the fab news that I am a-ok, health-wise, and that my condition can probably be chalked up to just good old fashioned per-menopause.

The doc told me that several of her patients find that a low dose of Prozac helps with symptoms like mine.
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That sounds so 90’s.

It’s like the Rachel haircut of anti-depressants.

(Here’s where I stop for just a minute and say that I am so grateful that drugs like Prozac exist. It has helped several of my dearest friends out of the dark hole of depression, so I hope you don’t think I’m dissing your drug of choice. I am just a very neurotic and small minded person and I like nice things, even if they come in capsule form.)

Initially I’ll admit, I got pretty excited about my 10 mg of self improvement.

“What are some of the side affects?” I asked the doctor. I’m a smart consumer, I thought, as my hand made an almost imperceptible jerk toward the prescription she was writing.

Act casual, I thought.

She mentioned a short list of issues some people have experienced while taking Prozac, weight loss being one of them. “But you’re unlikely to experience any of those with such a low dose.”

I crossed my arms on the soft flesh of my new middle aged gut and smiled.”Oh good,” I heard myself say, almost convincingly.

My plan was to get the prescription filled and start taking my dolls right away so that I could be a new person by tomorrow. Why wait? My husband and kids would thank me! No more lectures about

Exactly How I Would Like the Bread Package Sealed Please.

Twist hard,

several times

and then fold over and wrap a rubber band around it.

Don’t forget to squeeze all the air out of the bag

and the reason you can’t find a rubber band

is that no one ever saves them

and no one puts them here in this little space

in the drawer,

where I’ve told you

the rubber bands should always go.

Am I the only one who cares around here?

It’s a small thing,

to seal the bag of bread and do you just assume

I will throw that stale bread away and go buy another loaf?

Is that it?

Well is it???

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In line at the drugstore, I had some time to think.

As much as my brain bugs me, what with all it’s shortcomings, I kind of like it.

Or, I’m used to it.

Or at least, I’ve tried to make lemonade, as they say.

I remembered a friend telling me that taking anti-depressants hadn’t changed her personality, it just made her not “stew” on things as much. But who am I, I wondered, if not someone who stews??

At that point, the lady standing behind me had a full-on passive aggressive sighing fit about the long wait. What a bitch, I thought. Geez! People need to get a grip. Talk about tightly wound! 

Wait, where was I?

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Oh yeah, do I or don’t I need some Prozac…

I peered into my phone, reading about other possible side affects, the ones my doctor had failed to mention. Side affects like clenched jaw, sleeplessness, anxiety (what the actual fuck???), cold symptoms, mild nausea, decreased appetite, increased appetite, loss of sex drive, constipation, dry mouth…

Later, I sat in my car, my little bottle of hope tucked in my purse,

and called Jo Dee.

“I can’t decide if I want to take them,” I said, enjoying the anti-depressant effect of  a bag of peanut M&Ms. “I just don’t know if I’m that bad off. When you look online, most people  say the side affects were nothing compared to how bad they felt before.”
“That’s how it was for me,” Jo Dee answered, referring to her own experience of depression years ago. “I just felt so fragile. Any little thing would happen and I would just start crying and go back to bed.”

“Yeah, I don’t have that. I do think I’m pretty irritable,” I say, stating the most obvious thing ever stated in the history of the universe. “I wish there was just something that would take the edge off when I need it. I should have asked her for Xanax.”

“Is that what Xanax does?” asked Jo Dee.

“That’s what a friend told me. She described it like, ‘Oh, it just takes the edge off.”

“But isn’t that what they say about every anti-depressant? That it takes the edge off?”

“Yeah,” I answered. “Tastes just like chicken.”

I went home, threw the bottle in the top drawer of my dresser, the one with my rhinestone jewelry from the 80s and all my boys’ baby teeth, and there it sits, waiting for me to decide.

My guess is that you haven’t heard the last from me on this topic, because I’m just so full of questions.

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Does my tendency to snap when my estrogen ebbs warrant a daily dose of medication?

Will taking a little bump of Prozac each morning mean I won’t get quite so worked up when caught in the incessant dinging of a group text from the parents in my son’s basketball league. DING!- “who’s snack mom this week?” Ding!- “I’ll do it!” DING!- “You’re the best!” DING!-“Thanks!” DING!-“Thanks so much!”

DING!-

DING!-

DING!

I don’t know. It could be that the bar for emotional health and a sunny disposition is just a little bit high sometimes.

Because group texts are annoying,

and don’t get me started on stale bread.

 

Going With the Flow

Going With the Flow

 

You guys, we need to talk,

and it might not be pretty.

If you are squeamish in any way, are eating while you read this, or happen  to have been raised in the south, you might find this post a bit, shall we say, MUCH. You’ll probably just want to scroll on past this post. I promise to write something nice next week.

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Ok, if you’ve read this far, there is a good possibility that we get each other, which is great because I could use a little help here.

Since preschool, I have considered myself a professional when it comes to my bodily functions. I never wet the bed, spewed milk out my nose in the lunchroom, and never once, in three sexually active decades, did I have an unwanted pregnancy scare. But now I find myself at fifty, completely confused by my own female body.

To show you what I mean, I’ll share a conversation I had with my friend Jo Dee, just yesterday:

I’m leaving brunch at a friend’s house. I had to leave earlier than I had planned and I’m not happy about it. Walking to my car, I call Jo Dee.

“Hey,”she answers. What’s up?”
“Oh, just bleeding on myself. You know, it’s the new normal.” I’m referring to my near constant state of menstruation, since peri-menapause came a-knockin’ about six months ago.
“Oh, hon. Did you bleed through your pants?”
“I’m not sure. I’m sweaty too, so it’s hard to know.” I might be whining at this point. It’s mid- April and the LA sun is already blazing. “I’m going home to change.”
“Poor thing. And also, ew.”
“I know. Am I supposed to just always wear a pantyliner now? Is that what people do?” I can’t believe I even have to ask.
“I think so,” JoDee answers, but not in a way that inspires confidence. I have a feeling she’s as confused as I am. “I guess?” She adds. Yeah, I’m on my own here.
“Well then I have to find unscented pantyliners, because the ones I have make me smell like a giant roll of toilet paper. I hate it.”
She laughs. “Gross! Used toilet paper?”
“No, not used, but still. The smell gets all up in my nostrils and I can’t get rid of it.”
“Can’t you get some crunchy granola pads from Whole foods or whatever, with no smell?”
“Yeah, I can get like a coconut-hemp-compostable-diva-liner thing for seventeen dollars a piece.”
“I’m sure they actually do make unscented liners, though. Just the regular kind from Walgreens.”
“No, those are what I have. But they’re not unscented, not really. That’s what I’m saying.”
“I’m going home and smelling mine.”
“Careful, that shit gets in your nose. You’ll smell it in your dreams.”
She laughs. Laughter. It’s my Valium.
I sit in my car, with the air conditioner cranked and pointing directly at my sweaty face. “My body is totally different suddenly. I’m having to learn so much. And I’m buying all these new things, like I have all kinds of tampons now. I have a whole collection, a cornucopia of choices, for every possible situation. It’s ridiculous. They make one kind now, which I’m sure is for ladies in the home stretch like myself, that is huge— it’s like the size of a hamster. For those special days.
“That would just piss me off. You have to spend all this time and money on something you’re not even that thrilled to be going through to begin with.”
“But I am thrilled. I’m not crazy about gaining weight or weird hairs growing on me, but I can’t wait for my period to stop.”
“I know people who say they had a few big gushers and then never had another. They were just done. No problems.”
“Fuck them.” (This may sound harsh, but really, people. Know your audience.)
“Exactly,” she says, and I love her for it.
“But some people accidentally say the wrong thing and it’s really not their fault. I shouldn’t blame them but I can’t help it,” I say.
“Of course you can’t. On account of the the hormones.”
“Like this morning, I’m walking into church and the nicest woman walks right up to me and guess what she says?”
“What?”
“She says, we are having a blood drive next week. Can I sign you up to donate?”

“Oh my god.”

“I told her no way, that I have none to spare, but she wouldn’t give up that easily. She asked if I had ever given blood, and I said actually I’m giving it right now, and if things don’t change I’m the one who’s going to need a donation.”
“What did you say to her?” Jo Dee chimes in. (Oh brother, I say to myself, you’d think she’d know me by now.)
“No, that’s what I said! Those exact words! She looked a little terrified.”
I need to get home and assess the damage to my cute new jeans, but I’m not ready yet. I need to talk right now. As I scrounge under the car seat for a bag of almonds or an old fortune cookie, I imagine JoDee and I in our own Red Tent. We would sit on the straw, sharing stories and binge watching Transparent right on through our moon cycle, emerging only when we were ready to pick up our work again. The caring for the children, the doing of the things. The taking of fish oil and B supplements.

“I saw that you want to start a Facebook group for menopause women and period stuff.”
“Yeah,” I say, tearing into an old fruit roll-up. “I was kind of kidding, but so many women responded, I’m thinking it might be a good idea.”
“There are obviously a lot of us in the same boat.”
“It’s totally selfish on my part. I just want to have a place to ask the nitty gritty questions. I want practical tips. How to’s.”
“You want to know if you’re always supposed to wear a panty liner.”
“Exactly! I want “Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret” for grownups.”images

We talk for a bit longer, but that’s where my memory fades. Tasting the jelly bean sweetness of dried berries in my mouth, I start the car and head for home, remembering what it was like to be eleven.

Twelve.

Having seen the educational films in health class, and the string that hung between my mother’s legs, I knew what was coming and had a vague idea of what to do.

Sort of.
I had a package of thick pads and a pair of plastic underpants with metal clips that seemed too sharp to wear next to a place so soft. I stole a box of tampons and studied the package insert, chewing on a lock of my hair as I looked at that cartoon of a see-through girl standing sideways.

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I needed more.
I needed instructions from the women who could instruct, and embraces from the women who could embrace. When I was eleven, I looked to Judy Blume and the older girls at my summer camp. Somehow I pieced it all together.
It’s harder now.
I’m a grown-ass woman. I expect myself to know better.
But I’m as awkward as I was back then. I know it will be fine, perfect, even, to unfurl the way nature made me. But the sun is hot, and I am not in control of this.

And maybe,

it could also be

that I know what comes after blooming.

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