Dear Mr. Fireman,

Telluride Daily Planet, Sunday, January 26, 2014

Fire!!!

Yes, I have written about hot flashes before but that was then and this is now, and I’m screaming Help! at the top of my lungs and waiting for the fire department to come and put them out. Permanently, this time. Because I am a burning building again and every part of me wants to jump out the window. A couple of times a night. I’m a burning, sweating building waiting for the team to show.

Can I just say something, as you sit there eating your shrimp gumbo the station cook has made that has just the right amount of hot sauce in it — the one that usually comes with perfect rice and a green salad and possibly that gingerbread with lemon sauce for dessert, someone’s great aunt’s recipe? Bear with me. I know you people love your food. And I’m sure you don’t think often of hot flashes, although you should since it is within your jurisdiction of things on fire. Think about it. The flames may not be visible to the eye, but I assure you I am on fire, and, as such, perhaps you should give a micron of your day to contemplating me/us women. As a fireman. Tending to the fires of the world.

You know, when it doesn’t snow, all you can do is think about thick, luscious flakes, and sideways storms, about the tiny pellets shaped liked actual stars, about accumulation, the sound of shovels and plows, the beeping of backwards-going heavy machinery. About cool white mist on your face falling from tree branches. And when you have hot flashes — oh I don’t know. Somehow the snow paragraph was what I needed to write. Because I’m about to have one.

See, the thing is, I did have almost a year completely free of hot flashes and so now I’m just, like, what???? What is happening here? Is this a cosmic joke? Payback? Is it a metaphor?
I don’t know how to make you understand. Say you had a little problem with eczema and it drove you crazy especially given those boots you wear and your naturally dry skin (half polyester socks don’t help, either). And then miraculously, after you’d tried everything known to man to get ride of it except voodoo, it was gone. And life was good and you didn’t itch or have scaly flesh and you weren’t embarrassed. And then. One day. It came back.

That was me, for pity’s sake — feeling not only really happy but slightly smug about it. Because I had finally somehow dialed in the solution, emphasis on the somehow. It took five years and I still don’t know what finally nailed it. Could have been getting rid of the B vitamins, or the calcium, or fish oil, or every other supplement I was taking. Could have been the micro adjusting the hormone levels. Could have been giving up wheat and sugar. The affirmations. The exercise regimens. Tending to my adrenal glands by doing — I don’t remember exactly what, but something good. I mean, was I actually managing stress in my life? Did that do it?

This is my new regimen, just so you know. I’m fighting fire with baby aspirin, one a day, for now. They are tiny and orange-flavored and I believe in them. I’m drinking more water and giving up caffeine, which makes me so sad, it may actually cause stress. I am saying new affirmations, including the one that goes with tapping my sternum: “Even though I have hot flashes and may be sad, I love, respect, and accept myself completely just as I am.” And every morning I touch the closet mirror for two seconds then touch my third eye, saying the words “Cool it.”

My reason for writing is this: I am seeking exoneration from anything having to do with this situation occurring in my body. Some things, it is hard to take responsibility for. Wherein millions of tiny fires ignite and create a situation of swelter in a woman’s body, she is no longer responsible, no more than volcanoes are responsible for lava. Here we are, women who have already suffered certain indignities. Big, bulging hand veins. White eyebrow hairs. Skin that not only wrinkles but crinkles. A new world of text so tiny, none of it really matters anymore. A newfangled memory whose architecture is no longer filigreed but straw baled.

In your capacity as a representative of fire and fire extinguishing, please just let us all off the hook. The next time you see a woman removing clothes at a very rapid rate, think to yourself, as you stand back in wonderment, “Wow. It’s a burning building. Middle-aged women are truly magnificent creatures, representatives of heat and combustion. Amazing! I think I will bring her a glass of water.”

Thank you for your consideration.

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