Posted by: Brenda Kula | February 27, 2008

Cold Cappuccino Coolers

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This is the view of my front yard. We live, as I’ve mentioned, in the Piney Woods of Texas. So of course we have…you guessed it. Huge pine trees. Thought I’d share them with you.   

It is late afternoon and I’m sipping a tall, cold Cappuccino Cooler. Add non-fat milk to the individual packet from General Foods International, and voila! You have your afternoon jolt of caffeine. Which today I seem to need. Well, most every day lately. I can say it is my hyperactive dogs that tire me so, and it usually is, in fact. They wear me down before noon most days.

Or, I can say it is what we middle-aged women refer to as…well, you know. It starts with "men -." Which I find strange in and of itself. Men have nothing whatsoever to do with it. And I sincerely mean that with all my heart. Just utter the word "menopause" and men go running to the edges of the earth and crawl underneath something. They cover their ears like children hearing a haunting tale of woe. As though it physically hurts them to hear that word. Don’t you find that peculiar?

I don’t think "wom-opause" would do the trick either. Can any of you think of a good word for this "coming of age" term? Please let me know. Because if men don’t have to go through it or feel the symptoms, I don’t want them staking a claim in any way. Just as they somehow are allowed to co-parent, yet never feel the ravages of childbirth.

"Lad-opause?" No. "Fem-opause?" No again. Perhaps just "pause." For isn’t that what our bodies do? Pause? Well, that’s not exactly how I’d describe this experience. There are mood swings. You cry when you meant to laugh. And you realize you will never look in the mirror and think the word "young" again. You will think "mature."

You will be having a conversation, and a simple word will not come to you. Your brain will go blank, and whoever you’re speaking with will look at you strangely. And you will flail around trying to figure out what that word was. Like: "I was sitting on the…(couch), but the word "couch" will simply disappear in a puff of smoke. Someone may as well have waved a magic wand and rendered you momentarily speechless. You will go on with your conversation, having made up some excuse, or simply changed the subject to cover your embarrassment.

But your brain will keep trying to come up with the word, like something that has been set into motion and cannot be interrupted. Chair…ottoman…bench…you’ll think, while the person you’re conversing with goes on about her husband or her bunions. Whichever hurts more that day. And suddenly you’ll blurt (if you’re lucky): "Couch!" And she’ll stare at you, startled. Unless of course she is about your age, and then the conversation will resume as if you’d never shouted this word at such an inopportune moment. For it won’t need explaining.

Usually I don’t think of the word for a day or so. Then suddenly, it flies into my mind as though the conversation was just minutes old, instead of days. I want to call that person right up and say, "Couch. I meant to say couch." And sometimes, if it is a woman friend near my age or older, I will do just that.

Oh, this is depressing. Thinking about what I can’t remember. I use to be so quick. I can still dart through traffic effortlessly. My neighbor Walli says she feels as though she’s on a race track while riding as a passenger in my Pathfinder. I drive like I’m hyped up on caffeine. Which, much of the time these days, I seem to be. You’d think if my body, my metabolism, my brain is slowing down, then the rest of me would too. I find myself walking fast, talking fast, driving fast. Hurrying, hurrying. And I have no idea why I’m in such a hurry. Maybe it’s just that I want to get on with it and pull in my garage and put up my groceries, and get back out in my gardens. Where I feel tranquil and at peace with the world. Where it is quiet and the only conversation is the silent coaxing one between me and my plants. No men, no menopause. Just pause. And I do take time to smell the roses. And whatever else is blooming.

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By the way, this is a picture of my brave little pansies after last night’s freeze. I covered them with a sheet. It didn’t get very warm today, but in the afternoon they tentatively reached their cute little faces up toward the sun and tried very hard to look cheerful. My thyme and sage next to them and the lavender behind them are hardy and resplendent. Resilient. Just as we women are. Menopausal or otherwise.

I’ve also noticed another cumbersome little trait I suddenly have. It seems as though someone has turned up the volume of my life. Noise is no longer just a sound. It chafes me. It’s as though sound reaches up with its pointed fingernails and trails it down the blackboard of my irritable self, and I want to scream in pain. I say this because my husband just finished exercising and has just gone into "his living room", which is next to "my living room," and he has turned on some horrendous old television show that sends shivers down my spine.

I get up and close the French doors that separate us. The doors that do not shut out the sounds, but keep us out of divorce court anyway. When did his television get so damned loud! Is he deaf? Is he simply "going deaf?" As I am "going through menopause?" When was it that I stopped being able to tolerate his sounds and retreated into my "living room", with my books and my aquarium and my computer? Silence is golden. Truly it is. Why is it that men must "silence" the silence? Why must they burst in on our serenity and turn up the volume of something? 

When he leaves the room for a few minutes, I rush in and quickly turn the volume down. And sigh with relief. Then I sit back down and resume my typing or whatever I’m in the midst of and suddenly…up it goes again. I grit my teeth and try to tune it out. Which of course I am unable to do.

So I will wrap this up and take the dogs outside. And listen to my little plants whisper that it is almost springtime. 

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Responses

  1. I sat on the edge of my easy chair through this entire post. It was like my life was being described for me. I loved it. Great and more Great!

    I have the answer as to why men turn up the volume. They can not do two things at once. They need to drown out their own thoughts so they concentrate on what’s at hand. When my husband and I are in a restaurant, he can’t hear me speak unless I speak up. He’s not deaf, he just can’t filter noise. We women of superior hearing can filter lots more stuff and it annoys us that it is so loud.

    As for man-o-pause..I couldn’t agree more. I’m going to be in it the rest of my life–I’m convinced. It’s annoying. I’m burning up most of the time. I am in a non stop state of sweat and drench. My face is flushed and I’m either craving intimate relations all the time and all dolled up—or I can’t stand the man. lol He doesn’t know what my mood is and is the victim!! lol

    I love the Pines and their canopy–I thought I better get that in there before I forgot to tell you. And forgot what their name was…. and forget to mention it…lol

    Thank you for the nice complement today. Maybe if I read what you have to say long enough, I’ll get with this writing thang!!

    Enjoy your caffeine high—I too want to hurry so I can be still.

  2. Ahh. . The Change. It’s an old fashioned term but… I think it fits. It started for me in my mid 30’s and by the time I was about 38 it was a full blown thing. I couldn’t say the word freezer for 3 years! I’d ask my kids to go get something from the. . you know. . the thing. . downstairs. . .we keep stuff in it. . .Come on… you know. Of course at that moment I also couldn’t find the word cold or frozen either! My feet were always boiling hot in bed. I had to sleep with them outside of the sheets all night. This from someone who used to wear a turtle neck in the summer. I sighed about everything! I forgot everything! I was always tired And cranky! My poor family!
    But… And here’s the good part… I’m nearly 43 now and It’s all sooo much better. I feel like myself most days now.
    I am almost through the Change. So hang on, and be as kind to yourself as you can because it truly won’t last forever.!

  3. This post made me smile today. As a fifty-something female, I can certainly relate. Thanks for brightening my day!

  4. You have described my life. Right now the television in the den is so loud I can follow the program all the way from the dining room. Has your husband started babbling, yet? You know,just talking about nothing? That drives me crazy.


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