No estrogen for a week and I am imagining every menopausal symptom and adding some undocumented ones. Are strange dreams a symptom of the 'Pause? In the last few days I have had both the best dream and the worst dream I've ever had.
The Best Dream
Paul McCartney was using The Bookmobile as his tour bus. He drove to my house, and he called my friends, and we all had a tea party. He liked my friends, of course, and then at the end of the day he said he'd write. Then he drove off in The Bookmobile.
I woke up in LOVE with Paul McCartney.
The Worst Dream
I was at work, late for a meeting, and I was not wearing pants. (And, as an aside, I almost never have the No Pants dreams any more. I suppose my subconscious no longer cares that I reveal too much.) It was an episodic dream in which I was put upon, packed into elevators, dismissed, late, insulted, and I found a ratty sweater and a used Blackberry.
Very unsatisfying, especially after Sir Paul.
Earlier this month I used a tension rod to fix a broken cabinet, and if you were wondering what was trapped in my Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, it was a pizza pan wedding gift. After I rescued it, I started wondering what other wedding gifts I still have 28 years later.
Pizza pan, painted metal, says "Pizza!" in the center
3 glass salad bowls
7 crystal glasses
A food processor
2 glass cake plates
1 glass cake stand
Betty Crocker Cookbook
An electric carving knife
My rolling pin
And that's it. (I already had china and silver from my dead aunt Delores, so I can't count that as wedding gifts.) And what's really sad is that I only remeber that Virgil gave me the picture frame and Diane gave me the cookbook. No idea where everything else came from, except Mom's friends supplied me with the crystal, I'm pretty sure of that.
So, all future wedding gifts I give are going to be in cash, I think. Or a Betty Crocker cookbook. That held up pretty well.
Two years ago the USDA lowered pork cooking temperatures to 145, 15 degrees lower than I've ever seen, and NO ONE TOLD ME. Bring on the trichinosis: I like juicy pork.
Now that I know, I just made the best pork roast of all time. It wasn't a bit pink, even at 145, and I've never carved anything that juicy. I couldn't make gravy because all the juices were still in the roast. I'm not really sure what made it so ideal: the low temparture OR the 12 hours of buttermilk / salt brine. (3 cups buttermilk, 3/4 cup kosher salt, marianate 4 lb roast 12 hours.)
I scored the fat and tried to make crackling, but at 145 degrees there wasn't enough time.
I ate it on 7 grain bread without anything else. That's how juicy.
In addition to my user-friendly "Your breasts are normal" mammogram letter, I also saw the cold doctor-to-doctor mammogram report.
"The present examination has been compared to prior imaging studies performed at Barnes Jewish Hospital on 06/18/2009, 10/09/2006 and 09/28/2006. The breasts are almost entirely fat."
"Doctor, I need a consult. Have you ever seen breasts this fat? They're almost ENTIRELY fat." I suppose they expect me to be like milk, between 2 and 4% fat. And here mine are, almost entirely fat.
Then I started to think, what are they supposed to be made of? Cartilage? Sawdust?
As it turns out, there's a breast density scale that measures the amount of fibrous tissue you have.
So, if density is a bad thing (and some think it is), then my breasts are in the 90th percentile.
What's odd is that back in 2006, my gyno told my authoritatively my breasts were dense, then later that year I needed another test because they were too fibrous. All I can think is that I've heard caffeine contributes to the problem. Maybe they've lost their edge now that I'm off the caffeine.
Of course now I want to be the first woman to go from "almost entirely fatty breasts" to "Entirely Fatty Breasts."
Let's get this straight. I do NOT have shortness of breath. I can breathe, sustain life, I'm all pink, I have no complaints about that.
What I HAVE is a constant need to yawn without the capacity to yawn successfully. I don't know what this is called. Yawnus Interruptus? It happened ten years ago right before I took that yoga class, and the class reminded me to breathe in my belly, not my lungs.
I put all my belly into my recent attempts to yawn and it is still not enough. Here's the only way I can reliably catch a satisfying breath: I exhale everything out of my lungs, then I exhale some more, then I push down on my belly, arch my back, and then I can yawn.
I read something a few days ago about "overbreathing." Evidently a person having a panic attack feels like she can't catch her breath, because a little hyperventilation sets off some chain of events and the carbon dioxide / oxygen triggers go wonky, and it all goes south. In reality she can breathe just fine. The cure is to breathe normally, stop gasping for air, and eventually it all straightens out.
Of course, I believe this a real condition because it has just the right dismissive tone that you expect from science and reason. I think it's my condition because I like the idea that what evidences itself in others as "panic" looks like "chronic yawning" when I do it. Plus, it's supposedly triggered by holding your breath, which I did plenty of during the mammogram the day before it all started. (Mammogram is clean, btw.Go, boobz.)
Sadly, I've been trying to breathe normally for a week and a half and I still need to yawn. I stifle yawns every half hour, because that's the cure for overbreathing: ignore your body and breathe like a normal person. What I wouldn't give for a really good yawn.
Since yawning is suggestive, you just yawned while reading this. Enjoy! Pull in enough air to tip you over the edge for me, since I cannot.
We just watched The People vs George Lucas, a delightful documentary about the hatred George Lucas stirred up by a) revising the original Star Wars and b) making the prequels be inferior to Episodes 3-6. Most important, it taught me why people have t-shirts that say "Han Shot First." I had no idea Han was standing his ground in the Cantina. I never saw the remake or any of the prequels.
Much is made of George Lucas' greatest sin: changing a movie that was key to a generation of children. I wasn't in that generation. Just to put the finest possible point on it - and this is true - my first date was to see the original Star Wars in the theater. So, if you ask me, George can make the movie any way he likes. He can make it worse, better, in Klingon, I don't care. My childhood is safe from George Lucas.
Why Meno"pause"? I don't want a pause, I want a complete eradication of the meno. MenoShrivelUpandDieWorthlessFleshPocket.
So, I was at the gyno today and mentioned the hot flashes at the beginning of last month and the hysterical crying that prompted Gary to proclaim The Change was upon us.
The gyno said, "Well, 51 is the average age menopause starts." And I am nothing if not average. Especially when it comes to being a female.
He advised that I should finish up this month of birth control, stay off it for two weeks, and then come back for a blood test to see if I have any hormones at all.
He also said there were supplemental hormones that could help with the hot flashes. Hormones, good or bad? I don't need any now, because the flashes fade in ... well, a flash, essentially. Of course, I've been supplementing my body with artificial female hormones since I was eighteen, since that's what my birth control pill is.
Oooh, what if I'm done with the Menstruation already? My breasts showed up in the course of a week, maybe I'll just knock out this menopause thing before the end of my birthday month.
More likely, I have years ahead of me of turmoil and sweat, or else I'll try this birth control hiatus and, after period-free years, I will stain myself at work.
Today I got the first mammogram I've had in ... three years? Five? It was not so long ago I don't remember how mammograms were.
In the past, the technician would say, "Let me know if it gets to be too painful." I would take this as a personal challenge and I would never say uncle, no matter how much it hurt and how splayed my breast would be.
They don't give that warning anymore. They don't give you an out. The tech today positioned me, told me not to breathe, and cranked it up to 11.
"Oh! Damn that hurt!" I said after the first flattening.
She said, "That's because you tensed up your shoulder." So I became floppy drunk Ellen, dangling by the boob off the mammo machine. Relax. "Don't breathe." Squish. "Now you can breathe."
"No, I was relaxed, that still hurt." But I let it go, because I figure it's my fault for letting my breasts get too large. I suppose no matter your breast size, they have to roll them to a uniform thickness, so a DDD is going to be under more pressure than a AA.
That's a good diet motivation. If I lose weight, mammograms won't hurt as much.
Or am I taking too much blame? Perhaps mammograms just do hurt more than they did five years ago. Has anyone else noticed a difference?
First off, if you want to be surprised by The Conjuring, don't read this.
All I knew about the movie was that it was a classic old-school scary movie with no excessive gore. I was happy that I didn't know anything else about it.
More after the jump (or, if you're in a feed reader, just stop now).
Here is what I learned: there is Dengue Fever and then there is Dengue Fever.
A guy at work mentioned that his dad was hospitalized in Australia after being bitten by a mosquito in Vietnam. "He's got Dengue Fever. He's just miserable, poor guy." He chuckled.
I put my hand over my mouth, horrified. "Oh, my God, I'm so sorry."
"Yeah, he's got a rash, and muscle aches ... and a bad headache."
And in a few days he'll die because his intestines will liquefy and pour out his ass, I thought, do you not KNOW this? Instead, I asked, "Are the doctors wearing biohazard suits?"
"No, just masks."
So now the doctors are dead from Dengue Fever, I thought, maybe the whole hospital. The whole city. It could happen. Ebola wipes out entire cities, why not Dengue Fever?*
Son of Patient Zero seemed morbidly chipper about the whole thing, so when I left the conversation I looked up Dengue Fever and found I had confused it with Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever. That's a later stage that only appears in 5% of cases.
By the time I found him to apologize, my friend had called his Dad in Australia and made sure he was okay, no doubt because this nut job at work had freaked out just hearing about it.
Gary was outraged I had made that mistake, particularly since we'd just watched the episode of Naked and Afraid with the contestant who caught Dengue Fever, and his intestines seemed to be intact.
*This is factually wrong, of course, It's transmitted by mosquitoes. Quite the expert I am, today. Not so much yesterday when talking about it.
Last month Gary read an article in Maxim (he SAYS) that encourages couples to have "Naked Time." Not sex, per se, or per whatever, just daily nudity. Maybe just a naked hug, maybe naked spoons, at times naked penetration. The focus is intimacy, not the sex.
This is a great improvement over the past few sexless years, so of course I'm very positive about naked time. Very excited. Gary's excited too. He's been scouting about the internet, finding new things to do, suggesting them to me, I call his bluff. Lots of fun.
Tonight during Naked Time I did something during sex I have never done before.
I broke wind.
I don't know how it happened. It wasn't on purpose. I tried not to, but he knocked it out of me. I've been having sex with this man for years (not counting the last few) and that's never been a problem.
It squeaked out, and he rolled off me laughing. I tried to apologize, but the mood was shot. Poof! Gone.
I AM A MORON
I have an awkward cabinet. It's a lower kitchen cabinet in the corner. One side butts up against the sink, the other against the stove. It's essential a useful cabinet with a door that opens to an inaccessible black pit where I store Thanksgiving. The roaster, the serving dish, the cake carrier go there. I haven't used any of those things in years. It's Kitchen Suspended Animation.
To make things more annoying, the panel that separates the "Black Hole" from the "UnderSink" has fallen over. You'd think this would give me more access to the Black Hole, but no, there's another panel under the sink that's just fine. So here's what I have:
You can see where I tried to glue it back together. You can't see it, but I also tried to nail it back in, but I couldn't get a good hammer swing from the outside, and I couldn't fit inside.
I AM A GENIUS
I don't know when and where, but sometime today I thought, "Tension rod." I bought a rod and used the Power of The Curtain Rod to Push the panel back in place. Behold:
I was very pleased with myself.
So pleased, I took photos and put it on my blog.
I AM A MORON
I just inserted that first photo, just now, and thought, "Huh. What's that lid / plate shaped thingy sitting in the lower left of the picture? I didn't notice that before."
Sigh. Who knows. It's trapped between the panels now. Do I care enough to take the curtain rod out? No.
About a month ago, under supervision, Gary began to cook. His first dish was the classic Chicken with Pepperidge Farm Dressing.
He put the six raw chicken breasts in the bottom of the casserole dish. He argued that his Mom cooks all the chicken first and never would put raw chicken in anything. That is as it may be, I argued, but this is how the chicken GETS cooked. Trust me.
After he layered the eight ounces of Swiss, can of mushroom soup, and a half bag of Pepperidge Farm Dressing drizzled with a melted stick of butter, he was a little outraged.
"Yes, that's all there is to it. Just cook it."
"That can't be right. That's too easy." He sounded hurt. Like, bitch, you had me thinking this cooking thing required talent.
I thought, well, fine, I can up this game, and the next night we made lasagna with fresh pasta.
I'm sure you can guess that this was the best chicken and the best lasagna ever made. Months later he is still talking about that lasagna.
For a little while I tried to encourage him by catering to his ego.
"Gary, should I put walnuts or pecans in the cookies? I can never tell which is better."
"WHAT? Walnuts! Oh my God, you don't know that walnuts are so much better in a cookie?"
"No, I really don't prefer one over the other. Your taste is so much more refined than mine."
Needless to say, I created a monster.
Almost everything that Gary eats that he has not helped make comes under scrutiny, now that he is The Great Epicure. "This Bob Evans Omelet is too 'one-note.' It needs something interesting to counter the egginess" or "I can't eat this soup. It's inedible. Too much salt" or "Do these cooks even HAVE taste buds?" If the item is really good, he'll break down how it is good ... but how he could make it better.
He hasn't cooked entirely on his own, yet. Sometimes I get excited and try to teach him something. Last night we were assembling a frozen meal in a bag, the type that makes you feel like you're cooking because you brown the frozen chicken, then add the water, then the pasta and vegetables, then the packet of sauce. You know they could cook that chicken and drop it all in one bag and call it Chicken Voila, but they want you to feel like you suffered.
I tried to tell him that the chicken wouldn't stick if he just let it brown before he stirred it. He couldn't do it. I don't blame him. It took me years before I learned that lesson in patience. Don't pat, don't stir, don't check, and all will be better. But he stirred, so there were chicken bits on the pan.
"OOoo!" I crowed, "Let me show you how to deglaze." A splash of dry wine went in the pan. Magic! Chemistry! People, I get the feeling every pan from now on will be deglazed even if we just pulled bacon out of it. (Kidding, kidding. Don't try that at home.)
I'm hoping that by the end of the month he'll have a repertoire of a few casseroles and soups he can make on his own. (See that word "few?" That was orignally "five," then "three," then "several," then finally "few." Lowered expectations, the secret to my marriage.)
My God, some day I could come home to a home made meal. Ooo! Or bread! Sourdough bread!
It is my birthday month.