Monday, January 16, 2017

It Dares Not Speak Its Name

I cast about for the clock on the nightstand. 1:38am. My heart wants to jump out of my chest. This would make sense if I were coming out of a nightmare, but lately my dreams have been stubbornly inaccessible. Experience has me tear off the blankets, and then, there it is: first the heat that runs through me from my toes to my head, followed shortly by its opposite, a chill. It's maybe thirty minutes before I can get back to sleep, not so long, really, except for the fact that I am awakened again in similar fashion three times before dawn.

When doctor discuss menopause (but they don't! - there is surprisingly scant information on and off the internet about menopause), they always mention the mood swings. I read about mood swings and nod, irritated, because if nothing else, having one's sleep chronically disrupted does no favors to mood.

Menopause is a lonely experience. For one thing, its symptoms serve each and every time to remind you that you are old enough to be going through menopause, and not just old enough, but also objectively old. The symptoms themselves are unpleasant - here I'll add thinning hair to the lot - and unlike in pregnancy there is no positive outcome to counterbalance the discomfort. There will be no baby for my trouble. There will be only the certainty that I am done with all that.

And although I may have believed for years that I am done with all that, menopause has a finality that belief lacks.


I wonder why as a culture we seem so embarrassed by the idea of menopause. Is it really something that needs to be discussed in whispers, and only by women? Why is information so hard to come by? Why is there not more research into its symptomatology and its course?

This I do know: The way we skirt around menopause makes it an even lonelier experience than it already is.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017


In the beginning there was a leaf, red, orange, or yellow. Or perhaps it was red, orange, and yellow. Why not? And the leaf fluttered across one pane of the brilliant September sky. In this roundabout way it descended. Doing its dreamy dance it reached a patch of grass. When it arrived and settled on the grass, the light had already been divided from the darkness, and we may say that the leaf fell into the light. But it could have been otherwise and made no difference.

In the beginning there was a child who contained all the world’s joy. That’s not a paradox, though it may seem like one. This child had climbed onto a leaf pile and was busy inhaling its earthy, burned scent when the leaf in question landed near his foot.

In the beginning there was a mother who was taking a bath and had slid underwater. The water fanned her long hair Medusa-like. She was listening to her heart, its reliable beat. When she came up from under the water she heard her son chortling through the open window. She stepped out of the bath, and soon enough September’s breeze blew her dry.

In the beginning there was a father who was raking all of the leaves, all of them, yes, even our leaf. He was, however, noncommittally raking, having realized that as fast as he worked his son managed to undo the work. So he may have had a rake in hand, and he may have gathered some leaves into a pile or two, but really he was watching his son, whose enthusiasm was contagious, and he was smiling.

In the beginning there were these four: leaf, child, mother, father. They were doing exactly what they were supposed to be doing, but not because it was their destiny. They were meant to be what they were doing only because they were doing what they were doing. Do you see? They were dancing towards the earth, they were playing in leaf piles, they were raking and not-raking, and they were listening to the steady beat of a heart, and because they were doing all those things, it was their destiny to be doing all those things.

And it was so. And it was good.

written in 2012