mammogram monday

fell asleep with a headache, woke up with a headache. not too bad yet, refuse to call them migraines. how am I supposed to know trigger points or if it is the start of a migraine vs. a regular headache, this is all new to me.

the house is cluttered, my room overflowing with trash and in disarray. i keep saying i will do it tomorrow when i don’t have a headache yet that day hasn’t come yet. it’s been about two weeks in a row. yes, I am seeing my doctor on monday after my mammogram and ultrasound, yippee.

English: Woman undergoing a mammogram of the r...

English: Woman undergoing a mammogram of the right breast (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

really looking forward to that day….to be over. how could it be another year? how many posts have i written about measuring the time going by so quickly by the time in the pink-purple room of the waiting room in the mammogram section. i should count them or maybe you can. they are all in this blog, i’m sure saying the same thing over and over like the warnings not to use deodorant or baby powder.

it’s always the same, not the outcome, but the process. I worry, I know everyone worries, most people can hide it, i can’t. there’s a shocker. i try to make light conversation and people seem so grateful. we are all the same in this room, in every mammogram room, we breathe the same nervous air, we give each other half smiles laden with fear, we wink, we nod. when someone leaves happily, there is always the thumbs up for them, spreading fear within.

this time i will try to do mindful meditation, it helped during my dentist appointment and i didn’t need nitrous oxide, i was so proud of myself, the dentist so proud of me. will it help on monday? i have no idea but at least i know this much, i know it won’t hurt.

a universal feeling, women in their robes, waiting to be called in. we smile encouragingly to each other. one by one we go in, we leave, sometimes through different doors.

*IF YOU DON’T SEE IMAGES, I DON’T EITHER. I ALREADY TOLD ZEMANTA/GETTY SUPPORT. I’M SO TIRED OF THIS HAPPENING.  THANKS FOR YOUR PATIENCE.
 
 

 

 

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To Huff Po,

English: Arianna Huffington attending the prem...

English: Arianna Huffington attending the premiere of The Union at the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dear Arianna,

“Ten Things You Do To Make Yourself Look Ten Years Older?” Really?  SO WHAT!!!

On behalf of so many women what on earth were you THINKING when you approved that horrid article about “10 ways to appear younger for women? ” We are still reeling with disappointment and frankly we thought perhaps you might have been on vacation that week. That truly would have been the only excuse (and that’s pushing it) for you to have allowed that article to run.

Here was my initial reaction on Facebook: “Dear Arianna, at Huff Po, this is an offensive article. People should be comfortable in their own skin. I wear mom jeans and sneakers all the time, I have adult children (okay my daughter) that would love for me to be more fashionable, guess what? Too bad. I’m 57 and while I need to get used to forming the word sixty, I am perfectly comfortable being who I am. Wisdom has to be acquired, dear. So, a little advice, whoever said okay to this article should be fired. Or at least, get someone to write a counter point. Like me. I’m happy to do it for you. hibernationnow.wordpress.com”

After doing a little research about Huff Po what I read and I’m merely paraphrasing is that much of the staff is comprised of “twenty-somethings.” Way to go to get a true, objective article on aging. Arianna, please, get a grip and turn the once loved magazine around, before it’s too late.

What about enhancing our beauty and embracing our lives at whatever ages we are? No more mom jeans? Tough, some of us like mom jeans, you could have, however, said “wear a belt, or a colorful scarf to accessorize.”  Comfortable shoes? My sneakers are great for my feet and I don’t need nor do I have the money to buy “comfortable shoes that are stylish.” Sure, I have looked at those they cost $1,000 and  $400.00 not $100 and besides Ms. Huffington, where do you think we are going at night?

Some might have the income you have but most of us don’t.  A night out for me is either cooking dinner or once in a while going out to an inexpensive dinner ( my husband is currently unemployed in the Computer Industry and I have a chronic pain disease) taking off my “mom jeans” and”sneakers” and happily changing into my pajamas or sweat pants (gasp, yes, I did say that) pulling off my unfitted bra and relaxing at home, reading a book or watching some benign television show that makes me happy.

Call me totally mindless and stupid but I get personal pleasure out of watching shows like “Parenthood” or “Gray’s Anatomy” instead of horrifying news or tv shows that display all blood, guts and murder. There’s enough of that in the real world, thank you very much.

Once my greatest dream was to publish an article in The New York Times or The Huffington Post. Now, I don’t really think that would be much of an achievement after all. But, you do owe it to women who are fuming across the country to show them this side of the story about aging.

If you and your loved ones are healthy, be happy to awaken to another day, enjoy your loved ones as they love you. Look at yourself in the mirror, without any make-up or new dress- up changes; if you  see some wrinkles? Smile, you have lovingly earned them. Be happy with yourself, just the way you are.

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Take Me Home

Members of the United States Navy serve the ho...

Members of the United States Navy serve the homeless at Dorothy’s Soup Kitchen in Salinas, California (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We had run into each other before a couple of different times, I just didn’t who she was. I saw her at the food pantry waiting in line with her kid, one day we saw each other at the soup kitchen. We knew each other, all of us. We just didn’t acknowledge each other, we kept ourselves private, looking down at our kids or in our bags of free food or me, down at my worn pink sneakers. I heard her name once but nothing else. She was so tall and skinny why I could almost see through her, she looked so frail, like a bird thats broken. What I remembered of her were her frozen green eyes that seemed like they were stuck in her head with glue, like they never moved or blinked.

I guess the only thing we had in common was we were both moms on a mission to protect our children, to protect ourselves. Months later we met at the shelter, The Home For Abused Women And Children. I had been at The Home for a month now, she was just coming in. As soon as we saw each other we nodded, she took the bed next to mine. Her daughter and my daughter looked about the same age and they hit it off,  children were great like that, they were best friends in less than five minutes.

She and I probably took a good couple of hours to speak, none of us were good at trusting but we were  friends pretty soon. Once she made up her bed, with me helping her, we started talking. Not good stuff like you see on funny television, that’s for sure, but stuff we had in common. Both of us had been in abusive relationships; I felt guilty being here but she felt proud. That was what she was like, all the time.

She made me promise to talk to her first if I was ever tempted to run away from here and go back, and I was tempted often. So, when my kid said she “missed her daddy” I would want to leave straight away but Alison always knew before I even packed. She would come over, sit me down and she would not let me leave. We would go back in time, and tell her out loud when Brian hit me so hard my head cracked open and blood was everywhere, how I  saw it on the green tile linoleum, thinking it would be hard to get out. It was kind of out of my body, why would I be thinking that?  The pain so bad I wanted to die. She reminded me of what he said he wanted to do to my daughter and what he had done with my niece and that stopped me cold.

That changed my mind back to reality and she started reminding me of why I had left him and how he was still the same monster he was when I finally got out. Then she and I would hug and I would thank her until the next time it happened and I’d like to say it never happened again but it did. Lots of times.

We stood by each other, like real friends, and we joined a job training group together so we could get jobs somewhere. We all moved to another state, changed our names and started fresh. We shared a one bedroom apartment but we made do; the girls slept in the living room, we shared the bedroom working different shifts. We had “beat the odds” they said at the shelter, we were safe, we had our own home and we were proud.

FOR MORE INFORMATION AND HELP:

The hotline number is (630) 469 – 5650.
Why should you call Family Shelter Service’s hotline?
  • You want to talk about your situation with someone who understands, or
  • You want to learn more about services and how to obtain information and help.

I like knowing there is somebody I can call at any time.”
– A Victim of Domestic Abuse

The Sanctity Of The Sauna

Sauna in Pančevo, Serbia

Sauna in Pančevo, Serbia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We tiptoe in, mostly we avoid eye contact but if we make it we acknowledge it quickly with a nod of our heads; dressed in white towels, the room is absolutely silent. Nobody breaks these unwritten rules either, you just know them. No talking in the sauna. Not one word. Someone leaves, they don’t say “good-bye and have a nice weekend,” that would be against the rules. ” She exits silently, closes the door quickly behind her and disappears into the locker room.

We know the procedure, even if it is our first time, we know what to do and what not to do. Is it in our genes? How else would we know? Perhaps it’s passed down from our mothers?  I have seen the occasional aberration from the norm, but mostly one evil look, or two, will silence the uneducated. Oh, they will get the message.  Don’t do this again, if you want to chat, go to Starbucks.

I go after a swim, where I feel that I am getting some of the chemicals out of my body, making my body glow naturally with heat. I can only stay inside for about five minutes, there are no watches or clocks, you need to know your own body and your body tells you when it’s time to leave. Don’t fool around with that. Drink a bottle of water right away to hydrate your body. It’s your own, private club, or at least that’s what you pretend. Other women work painstakingly with their hair and hair dryers for a long time trying to straighten their hair, but once I’ve showered I’m relieved to go out into the sunshine where my hair will curl naturally by the sun. I should pay more attention to make-up and clothing and accessories, I know, but to me, a little lipstick is all I do. It’s all I care to do.

Maybe the sauna takes us back to a place where there are no phones, no meetings, nothing to do in today’s ever so quick, changing lives. I admit, I have a cell phone but only use it for my children, it is usually turned off. Perhaps the sauna brings me back to the quiet, to the way things used to be, before the latest technology. I like it there.

The Vow

Description unavailable

Description unavailable (Photo credit: erix!)

What happens when your married, dearest friends, stop speaking the same language

yet the giggling of their small children silence them into frozen statues?

I saw her heart being injured again, looking familiar, from the last time, but a little less severe.

Why? Because she knew this feeling already, the first time was an abomination a cruel, nasty, unforgivable hurt that stabbed her heart raw, blood gushing out, out, out.

As her friend I tried to help but I knew I couldn’t.

Did she want to break up her marriage for one cruel and very hurtful remark. He had never laid a hand on her, except that time he pushed her once when they were engaged.

She would not accept that, ever. This was emotional abuse.

For all the years that he was kind, for the children, for the companionship, she stayed.

I knew, she thought, he always kept a secret, sensing something but not the darkness and emotional cruelty underneath all the pleasantries to the public. “A nice guy. ”

He did not like confrontation, so he sabotaged their joy.

Now he is nasty and passive-aggressive, is it his age or

depression or a later mid-life crisis?

Yes, all of the above.

I had to ask her: Is he simply stupid with all-things emotional?

She nodded yes. Silently. She nodded yes.

Power attracts her, as it always did, romance too.

He had neither.

We had discussed this topic many times.

I saw her put her head in her thin, translucent hands

rocking back and forth, back and forth

too weary for tears.

Had she finally given up?

I could not hear their whispers anymore

Twenty years are a long time

Knowing them, she thought, they will stay together

and accept mediocrity.

I will ask her one last time and never again: do you realize how little he Hears you,

Understands you?

“The roses” I say, are the perfect example”

Yes, she says. I know.

I don’t ever want him to bring me those cheap gas station roses again.

We have children, she said.

I will not hurt them, we will not hurt them, those precious, light souls.

We do not hate each other, we will be companions.

It’s not always about just us, too many people think that way.

We will stay a family. For us. For them.

Carry on Tuesday: My Favorite Things

Daffodills in St. James', close

Daffodills in St. James’, close (Photo credit: existential hero)

Don’t you know that it is human nature to be able to list the worst memories in your life more easily than it is to remember the best ones? Why is that? Why do we all remember, more clearly, things that we don’t like at all instead of all the things we do?  Maybe because sad things leave us scarred emotionally, we remember them because they wound us like a deep cut into raw flesh. Your skin is deeply cut, blood seeps out, you’ll probably have that scar for the rest of your life and it will remind you, forever, of what happened to cause that pain.

When I am feeling lonely or blue I try to think of peaceful things, the things that make me happiest, my favorite things: the ocean, dogs, collecting seashells while walking on the beach, the mass of yellow daffodils that come up once a year in the same place in my neighborhood. This year I only saw the start of the meadow of yellow flowers, when they barely started to bloom. It rained every day for a week after that, it wasn’t an auspicious start to summer.

It is harder for me to remember the happiest days than the worst days. There have been moments of magnificence in my life, with my husband, certainly the birth of my two children, but other than that, my head is cloudy. I can’t blame everything on Fibromyalgia,or Fibro-Fog as we call it. I don’t think I could have come up with this before anyway.

Perhaps tonight I’m steeped in self-pity, oh yes, now I know why. I just figured it out. The great unconscious, the biggest moment, months, years of grief: the death of my father. Father’s day is two weeks away. It gets to me every year around this time and every year I forget. How on earth could I forget that my father is dead? I know he is dead. What is wrong with me? Every year since his death, eleven years ago, I still go to the Father’s Day section for cards, or this year I picked up a new pen that I knew he would love, forgetting that there was no physical him anymore. I guess I will never stop doing that.

I will make a concerted effort to continue to think of past, happy, moments and will jot them down. The word “magnificent” sounds like an over-rated French movie. I’ll stick to happy but the point is, my memory can remember the pain first, the pleasure, second.

For all those women* who do not have a Father on Father’s Day, this is for you. I know how you feel, from my broken heart to yours. Do whatever you can to make your own life a little easier, a little happier, whatever it takes. Or honor your dad with a special memory or flowers, a drink, anything to help ease YOUR pain. Buy yourself some chocolate or ice cream or both. I feel for all of us, I really do.

*should say women and men

Father's Day 2009

Father’s Day 2009 (Photo credit: Paul Allison)

Trying On Bathing Suits Or Buying A House: What’s Worse? 6/2013

"Mermaid Club, Philadelphia." Member...

“Mermaid Club, Philadelphia.” Members in bathing suits circa 1920. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I tried on about 80 bathing suits yesterday at a nice store, oh fine, I’m exaggerating, I tried on 8 bathing suits but it certainly felt like 80. I have lost weight so my excuse that nothing fits because I’m heavy does not hold water (pun intended). Someone described me as “tiny” and “slight” the other day, I literally looked behind me looking to see who they were talking about. There was nobody behind me. I may have lost weight but in no way do I feel slight or diminutive. What are they thinking? And no matter what I weigh, or anyone weighs, trying on bathing suits is a horrifying experience. Am I wrong?

Have you seen the bathing suits THIS year? If you have, there’s no need for you to read any further. What has happened to a regular one piece swimsuit: a regular bathing suit with straps and a back?  The suits I tried on either had no umm, support in the front, and no straps ( I don’t count those little stringy things as straps) and there was no backs, one literally went down to my backside. Who wants to see THAT?

Today I went to two other stores, same results. The suits are either not in my size (though I bought one  that is too big for me and one that is too small for me out of pure desperation). The others in the store are skimpy,  poorly made and junky, not even my daughter with her cute figure would wear them and they are all mix and match. Ugh.

So, my personal conclusion is that trying on and actually buying a bathing suit is MUCH WORSE than looking and buying a house. Ladies, do you agree? I would talk to men too but let’s face it, they really do not have the same problem. Small, Medium or Large? Hawaiian print or solid blue? Am I right?

Buying a house? Seems pretty simple to me. Not even 100th of one percent close to the agony of the bathing suit selection. Buying a house: Know the limits of what you can spend, know which coast/states/towns you want to live in, do research on different areas and look at some houses with your new best friend, your local realtor who wants nothing more than his/her commission. Select a house, sign about a hundred checks, move in, done! To me it sounds like  a piece of cake. But, please, remind me of that before the next time we move……

Carry on Tuesday: Vive la difference

English: A photograph of a 2 month old human i...

English: A photograph of a 2 month old human infant, his mother, his maternal grandmother, and his maternal great-grandmother. Each person in this photograph gave birth to the next younger person thus showing four generations in one family photograph. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am 83 now and in my day, when I was growing up in Europe as a child, are parents and grandparents taught us to have impeccable manners. Yes, we were “old school” as my grandchildren tell me. It didn’t matter that we were poor, and couldn’t buy things, it mattered how we acted. We acted like the sons and daughters of kings and queens. We had no money and were poor but our family was very strict and we were taught to be courteous to everyone. As girls, we had no freedom at all, we did what our parents and grandparents said, there was nothing to think about, we did what they told us to do, never could we question their choices. We did not KNOW that questioning was an option because back in those days it did not exist.

I married a man, who was of course, the son of a European father and mother. He was not wealthy either but our styles were the same. Manners were natural to us, culturally we were very alike which I think is very important. When after several years we moved to the United States of America we were shocked when we found out that not everyone was raised the same way. It took years for my husband and I to learn to adjust to people who didn’t know to say  “Thank you” or “Please.” If an elderly person had no seat on the tram we automatically got up and offered our seat to them. I thought this was what everybody did. I learned the hard way, that most people did not do these courteous things. But, then again, I had lived in a much different world. I made sure however, that my children and grandchildren learned these manners and I am proud of them.

Today young people can do so much more, they are free to make decisions, they have so many options, oh, how I envy them and delight in their world. They can have careers, go to college, be parents and work, it is so exciting! We were never allowed to work, our only job was to be mothers we had no choices back then. Imagine now, if young women had no choices, there would be an uproar, good for YOU! You have come such a long way and I am glowing with pride, look at what you accomplished that my generation could not, vive la différence! Celebrate young women, you have achieved so much in a life time, a different world, where you are equal, where you can do whatever it is YOU want and not be told what to do. Congratulations!

Free Write Friday, Kellie Elmore

House cat with a ball of yarn.

House cat with a ball of yarn. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The air was thick with humidity, Emily hadn’t seen the sun in five straight days. To say she was going “stir-crazy” was the understatement of a lifetime. It was hard to breathe, harder to move. She was home with her teenage children, her husband worked long hours and while he used to call her nine times a day just to say hello, he had stopped calling altogether. She had signed up for a clay class but she just heard that it had been cancelled. Her volunteer work at the hospital had ended three weeks ago. She had nothing to do, nowhere to go and she was starting to feel bored, restless and just a little off-center.

She made dinner for the family, most of which was eaten in silence. The cat, Ivy, purred on the sofa, her head resting on a ball of blue yarn. Emily let out an audible sigh of envy, at least the cat was happy, she thought, at least someone was, she certainly wasn’t. What was it about this summer that seemed so different? She felt so closed in, none of her friends were around and there was nothing to do, no one to talk to. She wasn’t brave enough to fly someplace alone and even if she was, they couldn’t afford it but she knew it couldn’t go on like this, she needed to do something, soon.

She thought about it that week and slowly she came up with an idea, an idea that made her smile inwardly. She came up with a plan that involved everything she loved, didn’t cost a lot of money, gave her independence and a mini-vacation. She didn’t ask anyone’s permission, why should she? She had waited on her husband and family for years but one night she told them, not asked them, that she was going to be away for a few days, with her old college roommate. They barely even acknowledged what she said, they mumbled “ok” and  her son asked ” Who is going to cook us dinner?” was the only question asked by her son. You’ll figure it out, ” she said calmly, “Dad can give you extra money for pizza.”

The next morning, after everyone had left she packed her car, turned on the music, her music, on loud and headed to meet her old friend in Boston. She knew they were heading to the beach, which beach she wasn’t sure. She would stop at a motel or an Inn, whatever appealed to her on the way. There were no rules, no rules except for her to have fun and to do whatever made her happy. She had packed a few books, she had her radio and she felt peaceful. She was going to pick up Jane and then Jane would take over the driving. Leaving had made her happy, that was something to think about on its own.

They hugged tightly when they saw each other, it had been years since their last reunion. Jane took over the driving while Emily, now wearing her new sunglasses, put her arm and hand out the window in joyous rhythm to the music she loved. She tilted her head back, grinning, laughed happily and sang, loudly off-key.

Carry on Tuesday: I have wiped the slate clean

Description unavailable

Description unavailable (Photo credit: wakingphotolife:)

There was so much anger and resentment in my past, in my youth, it piled up like a bloody automobile accident on an icy winter day. Black ice that you can’t even see, like feelings that you didn’t know you still had. They snuck up from deep inside me and burst, like popped balloons. Years and years of self-teaching and negotiating and drawing lines and speaking up and creating boundaries had finally come. There had been teachers and books and confrontation to arrive at this peaceful place now, a place of breathing and thinking, forgiving and living in the present. It took a lot of work but I was proud of myself, finally.

I had wiped the slate clean and all the baggage of my past was behind me. However, I look across at you, my lover of five years and I fear it is still in you. I begged you for years to come to therapy with me, to work on our relationship but you refused. Does it mean anything to you that I have done all this work for our relationship? You shake your head back and forth and say in a low tone: “Not really.” You scratch your beard and stroke it, a habit that I have come to detest. I shudder from the cold temperatures in the room and in your answer which is void of emotions. You do not like change, I know, why would you like change; you haven’t noticed anything was wrong to begin with. I sigh deeply. I don’t know what to do, how to respond to you, you are a creature of habit and you annoy me now, this highly predictable presence in MY artist’s cottage. I don’t know if you belong here anymore, I mutter that under my breath but you don’t listen to me, even if I had shouted it out loud. You never listen to me, do you? You just hear what you want to hear, as if you were a five-year old boy, plugging his ears with his fingers and screeching some vile noises, getting louder and louder by the minute. I want to slap you but I have to control myself because that would be getting nowhere and I abhor physical violence in every form. Look what you have almost made me think of doing!!

I get up from our scratched wooden kitchen table, I feel sick to my stomach and head to the sink and heave into it, my long brown hair falling far into the sink. I am trying to vomit the destruction out of my body but nothing comes out. I want to look at the decay, describe it, name it, show it, but I can’t. I can’t even do that right. Nothing comes out of my body except the decaying dry heaves of a woman starting to become undone. No, I will not let myself do this. I stop myself and breathe. Slowly.

I lay on the sofa, with a red and blue crocheted blanket tucked around me that my mom made for me years ago. I’m tired, confused and feel very much alone. I don’t know what to do right now. I know in my heart and deep inside me, just one thing, we need to separate.  I need to be free, he is stifling me and I feel I can’t breathe anymore. “He had” no idea, he will wail, I’m sure, when I would later say this a mere week later. But, it was in the room with us for a very long time. He just wasn’t paying attention.