She’s Baaaaaack

I have written several posts about perimenopause, and for an all too seeming brief amount of time, the symptoms seemed to subside. And then in late winter/early spring, “It hit!” to quote the Burl Ives snowman in “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” Google it, young ones.

Of course our winter went on and on, with single digit temps — I’m sure that didn’t have one thing to do with my state of  mind. Anyway, I was walking to work and the woman in front of me was wearing a dumb coat. This sort of thing had set me off before, so I must have some sort of coat trauma in my past. The previous time, the odd geometric pattern infuriated me. This time it was a zipper, in the middle of the back of her coat, running down the length. My first thought was, “What the hell do you need a zipper in the back for?” and my second thought was, “Oh, dear god, here we go again.” I refrained from running up to her and unzipping that useless zipper just to see what would happen. It’s really exhausting trying to prevent yourself from doing dumb crap your hormones think is a hoot.

So, there’s that to be thankful for. But the coat was just the beginning.

Within days, my chest felt like there was a furnace inside. I have to be reluctantly grateful here, and say nicely, “At least I don’t have full-on hot flashes.” But it’s also no picnic having a furnace in your chest — it’s hot but your arms are still chilly. Is there such a thing as a body-less long sleeve shirt? Or maybe I should buy a pair of long white evening gloves that go up to my shoulders, add a diamond bracelet and act like it’s completely normal thing to wear to work.

As I may have mentioned in the past, you should be thankful I am self-aware enough to not take you all down with me.

So, I’m already having issues, and Earth Day rolled around. To set the stage a bit, I grew up in the 70s and I have clear memories of coloring the ecology symbol on many purple-inked mimeographed handouts. I also remember the messages involved mostly not littering. I drew a lot of pristine landscapes with full trash cans, and I picked up a fair amount of litter myself as a kid. And let’s not forget the proud Indigenous man with a single tear rolling down his cheek because of highway litter. You could write an entire blog just unpacking that 30-second public service announcement. But as a kid, I was affected by it, and I wasn’t going make that man cry with my thoughtless littering.

When recycling became a thing in the Boston area in the early 90s, but a thing that was not yet picked up at your curb, I took bags of my recycling on a bus to the Department of Public Works. Bags of recycling. On a bus. To the scary DPW yard that featured coverall clad men who don’t talk, mountains of trash, and big, smelly trucks. OK, that’s my “I walked 10 miles in the snow uphill both ways” story.

Then it got easier and you could recycle at the curb, but just certain numbers of plastic. Then you could recycle separated items, plastic and paper; then you could do single stream. And I was happy to do it, but all the while, the save-the-earth people kept up a chant of “not good enough.” You should also take 5 minute showers and use your plastic bags to weave placemats and purses, even if you don’t use a purse. If you don’t do all these things, you don’t care enough about Mother Earth.

It kinda wears on a girl who heard a similar theme growing up. Sure, you cleaned the whole house, but you missed this spot. Your report card says A-. Why didn’t you get an A? The environment folks may as well be my dad yelling at me. But I colored all those ecology signs and drunk the Kool-Aid, and did my best to tune out the negativity. But now we’re hearing that we didn’t recycle the right things, so China’s mad and not taking our less-than-pristine recycling, and somehow this is all our fault, again.

The environment people didn’t miss a beat — now we have to do these 14 other things and don’t even think about using those plastic bags, even to make a purse.

So when I picked up the earth day issue of Oprah magazine, I should have known to walk away. I really should have. Oprah is the new crazy coat, and my chest is a fully lit furnace.

Every page felt like it was berating me for not doing enough. Sprinkled in between were allegedly uplifting stories of impossibly perfect do gooders. You know, people who stopped using plastic altogether and knit food storage bags out of hemp they grew in their back yard — “It was a little difficult at first, but really it’s so easy, anyone can do it!”

I should have just done what the magazine was asking and recycle the damn thing — if magazine paper were still recyclable, which it isn’t because some people insisted on putting styrofoam and plastic objects with no number, and other nonsense in their recycling bins, and now we’re all being punished. But the part of me that has been diligently recycling for nearly 30 years couldn’t let it go. I kept turning each page hoping for vindication, or acknowledgement, or at least an apology: Sorry, things have changed and you did a good job before, but now we can’t recycle paper and plastic. But hey, cardboard is still good! You know, a little positive reinforcement?

Then I read a headline that made me forget the lady in the weird zipper coat, the Indigenous man with his tear, and the furnace. It was about the most environmentally friendly forms of birth control.

Let me repeat. Environmentally friendly forms of birth control.

Of course this was before the whole kit and caboodle was under attack by the Cheeto flea minions. But still, really? Like women don’t have enough things to worry about around sexual and reproductive health, and now you are holding me accountable for using condoms instead of more “environmentally friendly” forms like an IUD? Because, you know, putting foreign objects in your body, which is really just here temporarily, is better for Mother Earth, who will outlast you puny mortal. Why is this even a thing? Let’s just ignore the fact that these types of birth control don’t work for everyone, so there are a great many of us are lucky if we have one or two choices. They also seemed to skip how environmentally friendly a vasectomy is. Inquiring minds want to know.

Did any woman actually want to know this? Ever? Or were the editors sitting around thinking up crap to fill the magazine because they ran out of DIY do gooders? I can’t even blame it on a man because Oprah’s staffers are primarily women.

Ladies! WT ever-living F?

Call me a crazy anti-environmentalist, but I’m fairly sure it’s not too many condoms filling up the landfills that are causing our problems. It might have a tiny bit more to do with the policies of the government and large companies than my birth control choices and 10-minute showers.

But let’s not quibble. You know what I can do? I can throw the magazine in the recycing bin, and I did. China doesn’t want it and neither do I. Maybe one of those DIY people can make a Christmas tree decoration out of it. I’m too busy taking my food scraps to the community compost to keep them out of the trash and ignoring people in weird coats. Because, you know, I just don’t care enough.

Photo note: Apparently that ad with the Indigenous man was a total fake from start to finish.


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