Brain Dead


Meet Ms. Blobfish. She kind of looks like the comic character Ziggy, doesn’t she? This kind of fish only looks this way if you take them out of water and plop them flat on a surface. But they’re still not exactly the belle of the sea ball once immersed in the briny.

That fish is a metaphor for how I’m feeling these days. Kind of like I’m melting into a gelatinous blob. My memory’s gone hazy. My body acts weird on occasion, especially my knees. Who is that woman in the mirror that frightens me each morning? Please tell her to leave my bathroom immediately, thank you.

Sleep evades me. Though I go to bed at a normal hour with the goal of getting eight hours, somehow I only manage, at best, five. It sucks. And it’s killing my ability to remain sharp.

Some of it has to do with middle age: we women go through menopause and it does a number on our bodies. Though I haven’t really had it as awful as some women, it’s bad enough. I don’t get night sweats, thankfully. But I do get emotional…but only when no one’s looking. I certainly don’t want to start bawling on the sales floor of Phipp’s. I will not go on hormone replacement. I do want nature to take its course. But for chrissakes, can I just get a few more hours of rest?

I’m doing everything I should be. I work out religiously three or four times a week. Cut the carbs and eat plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit. Eat mainly chicken and fish for meat. Stay away from sweets. But still, that ring of flab appeared one day, even though my weight stayed consistent. Its as if everything slid south to my waist and stayed there. How is that even possible? Yet when I’m dressed, I appear thin. So much for optical illusions.

And those dark circles under my eyes? Insomnia will do that to you. That sweater or fleece in my hand? One minute I’m sweating my brains out, the next I’m freezing. It’s quite warm in my house now, but I have the chills. That’ll be replaced by a hot flash soon.

So the other day at the gym, as I was lifting free weights, I heard this woman complain about these exact inconveniences. “I can’t regulate my body temperature anymore,” she said. “Either I’m flashing or freezing. And forget sleep! I can’t stand the insomnia anymore.” After a while she pulled up two fifteen pound dumbbells and began her reps. I glanced at her. This woman hadn’t an ounce of fat anywhere on her. I’d kill to look as fantastic as she did.

“I heard what you said,” I tell her, “and I’m in complete agreement with you.”

She laughed. “Yeah, it sucks, doesn’t it?” she said, huffing her way through thirty reps. “But I’m working through it.”

I eye my middle and she caught my glance in the mirror. “Yeah, that too. I had one of those. But keep at it. I did. It’ll go. Give it time. Work it out.”

I’m trying, believe me. I’m practically nauseous with the amount of stomach crunches I do. I never had a middle ring before and to be honest, it’s bugging the hell out of me. It rests right on top of my belt. If I wear high-waisted pants, it manages not to be so obvious. Or wear a slightly less fitted blouse.

And let me tell you, a well-fitting underwire bra puts those girls right back where they belong. For a while, they wanted to play catchup with my waist. After a slow creep, I put an end to that. It took a little bit of a search and several different models, but I found several that put my upper figure to rights. Well worth the price!

But what kills me the most is this persistent fogginess. Here I am, in the middle of a sentence and I suddenly forget what I was talking about. How is that even possible? Then after a moment, I remember. It’s as if my consciousness comes to an intersection, stops at a red light, waits for the traffic to clear and then the green light comes back and so does my thoughts.

I really feel stupid sometimes.

You know what’s weird about aging, though? I don’t seem to be any different than I was when I was younger. Sure, I’m a little wiser (I hope) and don’t go out drinking all Saturday night. But I still believe in the same things I’ve always believed in. I read the comics every day. I listen to the latest music on college stations. My young coworkers talk trash and I beat them at it every time. I’ll invite someone over to dinner and catch up on things. My curiosity never ends. Everything interests me and I’m open to try something new. I’m true to myself and that will never change.

Now if I can only remember why I came into the living room…

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