Written by Tarane and Diana
At home or at work?
I recently took a week off of my 60 hour a week job. The first three days of my vacation, I woke-up automatically at 6:30 and freaked out about being late thinking that I had overslept by half an hour. On the fourth day, I realized that I only had work clothes, working hours, and work habits. My hobbies had cobwebs and my self-care ideas were rusty and stretched out of shape. I ask my daughters to hang out. They had things to do.
I decided that a trip to the gym was in order, maybe lifting weights or taking every class offered might work well. After all, lately, the only place where I get exercise is in bed where I’m exercising my right to sleep! So, off I went to my first kick-boxing, tummy–tucking, cardio class. Just by chance, when the class began, I found myself in the middle of the room surrounded by twenty-some-year-olds. After just a few minutes of class, I was seemingly getting wider, my arms and legs were heavier and suddenly closer to the ground with every beat of the music. I was pulled into reality as the instructor shouted out: “Just think of someone who has really hurt you and now kick, that’s right, kick up right into him. Send him to the moon and again! Now add the punch.”
So I did, yeah, “That’s right, take that.”
“Again, harder!” the instructor smiled and winked at me. Now, for real, I am encouraged and enraged at the make-believe saboteur; I kick harder until I felt something unusual attack my muscle in my thigh. Everything tightened and fire began to crawl onto my skin. I’m hurt! The saboteur fought back!
The next morning after an evening of frozen peas in my groin and Advil, I have to bypass wearing pants because I can’t bend my legs. So, it’s a Mumu and off to taking care of all the errands, I have postponed for my week off.
By the fifth day, having actually acclimated to the OFF work wake-up-routine, I found my wallet empty of the $400 I had withdrawn to carry me through the week. So not only had I not earned any money, I had actually been paying monies to my children whose $20 requests appeared to be never ending. Feeling like an ATM on heels, I went over to each of them trying to connect as they glanced and dismiss my attempts. They were oblivious to me, while thumbing their way through their internet web of text, e-mail and instant messaging. I guess I’d have to make an appointment first.
By the sixth day, I gained 5 pounds thanks to the over production of Cortisol (the stress hormone released as I attempt to deal with the tsunami of requests, needs and the worries of returning back to work) and my newly discovered bananas and Nutella protein shakes and chocolate dessert nachos (recipes available upon request). After all, the doctor did want me to increase my potassium and protein. I spent the sixth day looking, on the internet for ways to shed some of the now 35 total pounds that she wants me to lose.
Most of the seventh day is spent frantically as I looked through every piece of paper in my home and in the trunk of two cars for the project outline and deliverables that are due upon my return. I had forgotten all about it. Another vacational (as in taking time off) hazard. By 5 pm, I decide to rewrite the whole project and am up till 1:00 in the morning doing so.
I must add that the week was punctuated by a variety of soliloquies delivered on a variety of topics to my two teenagers as they occasionally glanced up from their electronic gadgets to say: “Yes, mom.” “Okay mom.”“Whatever you say mom.” and ”In a minute mom.”
Driving back to work, I realized that I really had one day off, because it took three days to get used to the tempo of being off . One day to enjoy it and three days to get ready to come back to the unanswered e-mail and voice mail avalanche.
Upon my return, my boss asks me how my time off was. I heard myself say: “Please, don’t ever let me do that again! I only want a day or 2 at most off."
“Why?” he asks.
“Well, it took 3 days to slow down the tempo and 3 days to rev it back up. The one day in the middle was my actual day off. There’s more. I get paid here and at home they take my money away. People listen to what I have to say here and I actually get paid to share my thoughts and ideas. At home, my views and opinions are seen as archaic and un-cool. I get to dress up to come here and spend time in a place that I don’t have to clean or keep up. At home, I have to clean around the clock and there’s no closing time.”
He laughs and tells me that he never looked at that way.
I smile and say, “Neither had I.” And wonder where I really am; at work or at home?
Written by Tarane and Diana
Me, No…. Pause
It seems like just yesterday, I was in the ladies room at a local restaurant; I was fussing with my hair; I smiled and said out loud to myself, “Wow, I look like my mother.”
Just then a short, white haired, bag-toting lady came out of the bathroom and announced in a deep scratchy voice: “Embrace it honey, you will soon look like your grandmother!”
Life changes as I enter another life chapter: menopause. Waves of sounds wallow through my home and shatter my thoughts interrupting my day. These sounds and feelings seem to be familiar, yet I can’t remember when they began. Life apart from work and work apart from life must have been synergistic at some point, keeping things integrated and connected becomes a struggle everyday. New emotions and feelings encompass my entire day. Everything seems to be so very new and yet familiar.
Most recently, with my fast changing body temperatures, I’ve been keeping my thermostat at around a nice igloo. My daughters inquire: “Why is the house so cold?” “Why are you constantly taking your sweater off and then on?” “Why are you so sensitive?”
Daily activities seem more trying. I return to my bedroom prior to leaving for work and I can’t remember what I went in there for. My body clock has gone digital and I have lost the batteries. My doctor reassures me that I am not pregnant or bi-polar and that I don’t have a disease. CT scans have proved that I am not hosting a ET that is sucking my memory and energy and replacing all the goods with the extra pounds of flesh in my gut. She adds: “You’re in the beginning stages of menopause, Welcome to perimenopause.” If menopause wasn’t scary enough, now I have to worry about this guy named Peri, the one responsible for the before stage….. now what was I talking about?” Once again my train of thought leaves its station and I am not on board.
Fat finds its way easier and easier to my stomach: menopudge! My breasts are finally as big as I wanted them to be in my twenties. Back then I could have used them, now, they limit my functioning in more ways than I care to admit. Try hiding behind a tree or giving yourself a pedicure. I asked my husband to set up video surveillance in our bedroom and have it turn on automatically at around midnight. He raises his eyebrows with a delighted glint in his eyes and asks: “Why?”
“To catch the aliens!”
“What aliens? What are you talking about?”
“The ones who kidnapped me and took me aboard and upon checking my diminishing hormonal levels decided to turn my head so that now my backside looks like my stomach; flat and my stomach looks like what my backside use to look like; round and protruding. We got to catch them. It’s the only explanation for this body that I no longer recognize.”
My oxford work shirts all have smile lines and I’m tempted to pin or sew the stitch line to prevent the smiling and the progression of a cleavage line that is slowly turning into a cleft chin. I wonder why no one has opened a designer line of shirts with fake buttons and sewed seems to help keep menopudge obedient. The literature speaks to the weight gain and hair loss and hot flashes and mood swings and poor libido. It also mentions facial hair and all data indicates that the growth rate is something along the lines of a few millimeters a week.
Hmmm, not in my case, I can tweeze and go to bed and the next day, while standing across from my boss outside the building and discussing a very important topic, I trace his puzzled stare at a spot on my neck and when I touch nonchalantly, I discover the 3 incher that has magically sprouted over night. Nowhere in the literature on the perils of Peri and menopause does it explain what to tell the massage therapist whose hands are slipping across my back as he wonders out loud, “Are you having a reaction to the oil? Gee, you must be allergic, look how you’re sweating.”
My first responses to all of this is to cry, but instead I hold back, smile (while preventing my shirt from smiling) and attempt to make light of my new alien body with its faulty radiator that comes on and off. My family may be complaining but my friends are all supportive. We share stories and play “Top this”. My good friend shares that when she is the middle of a story and can’t remember a name or a word, she simply says: “I think there’s a Italian word for what I am trying to say.” She and I know that she doesn’t speak any other languages besides the English she is butchering.
Work unfortunately, can’t wait and I find myself using tools like notes, lists and leaving myself voice mails to help me keep my day integrated. Keeping a fan at work, pointed at my face and a portable one in my purse helps with the hot flashes after the frozen lingerie melts. Yes, I freeze all my undergarments in ziplogs the night before, I mean Ziplocks, the Italians call it “il Ziplogs”. All this along with extra shirts and deodorant are must haves for maintaining a healthy work out look.
Knowing that menopause is just another stage of many to come provides some hope for the return of a well running furnace and make-up that doesn’t run. For now, I may just welcome Peri and soon menopause hoping that this too shall pass and if it doesn’t, oh well….what was I saying now?”