My mom’s new thing is to call me when she gets to the video store and I talk her through her evening’s purchases. It makes Katy, TX feel just a bit closer to Los Angeles, and it feels like hanging out with my mom, so I enjoy it. Plus I save my mom from making some seriously bad decisions, like last night:

“Okay. I’m holding Auto Focus and Personal Velocity.”

“Put them back, Mom.”

“But this one looks like it’s about Hogan’s Heroes. I liked that show.”

“Please put them back, Mom.”

Abandon. Katie Holmes.”

“Get it.”

I went out on a limb last night and recommended The Royal Tenenbaums. This is tricky, and most likely my mom isn’t going to like it, but every once in a while I like to ease her into my movie tastes. This one could go either way.

Mom likes: Danny Glover
Mom hates: Bill Murray
Mom likes: Owen Wilson
Mom hates: Ben Stiller
Mom likes: Gene Hackman
Mom hates: Weird Movies
Mom likes: Action Films
Mom hates: Semi-Siblings Kissing

It won’t be as bad as “The Tsk Heard ‘Round the World” known as American Beauty, but it may very well equate with The Good Girl, where my mom sums it up with, “It was weird.”

Talking so frequently to my mom now also lets me see the parts of her world I never really noticed before. Things like how she goes about her day. Stuff she thinks about when nobody’s around. How she talks to strangers.

But mostly I’ve been noticing her health issues. Not that anything is seriously wrong with my mom, it’s just that she always tells me what’s going on and then reminds me that one day it’s all going to happen to me.

And from what my mom’s been going through for the past fifteen years or so, I’m pretty damn frightened of hot flashes.

It starts with her blowing air over her upper lip, trying to cool off her cheeks and nose. Then she’ll pull at her shirt, fanning her chest, looking around to see who just brought a heat lamp next to her body. She’ll lean forward, as if cooling off her butt might help things out.

This is when my mother begins cursing.

She’s not someone who curses, so I know the hot flash must be serious. She pulls her clothes off over her head, sometimes flinging them across the room as if they were, in fact, on fire. She’s pawing at her neck, her upper arms, cursing and looking around, still sure there must be a heat source somewhere.

I thought it was bad when she was just getting the mood swings, back when I was still in high school. Those were some rough times. The mornings she’d be furious for no other reason than all of us were still alive and in one house and dammit, this morning she wasn’t going to take it anymore. But this is much worse, watching her suffer through these sweats, waiting for the moment when her body restores itself back to normal. There’s nothing I can do. I almost wish she could just ground me again unjustly, like she did when the mood swings would hit, if only to take some of her frustrations away.

So Mom went on HRT, which of course now she can’t take because I love her and I won’t let her take them anymore. Plus Mom’s pretty good at listening to her own body. She knows when something isn’t right. So the doctor had put her on some kind of anti-depressant to deal with the hot flashes, but the side effects include memory loss and blurred vision. When Mom started to notice her vision changing, she got nervous. In a strange turn of events, all of her friends are all on this same anti-depressant for the hot flashes. I guess that’s what doctors are now prescribing, since we won’t go near HRT anymore. All of her friends but one hate the pills too, and they’re wondering what other options they have.

Mom’s tried everything from teas to expensive herbal supplements to yoga (she wasn’t really pleased with the yoga. She fell asleep on my living room floor). She said that something called Black Cobash didn’t help at all. Just the sound of it scared me. So I offered to tell a bit of her story here in case any of you had ideas on how to keep my mom from flinging off her clothes. One of these days it’s going to be in public, and my mom is a very modest woman.

Dealing with all of these hormonal issues has made me a bit nervous about how I’m still on The Pill. I guess it’s now been almost nine years since the University doctors first put me on the daily tablet. I’ve changed prescriptions a few times due to headaches, and I’m now on a low Estrogen pill with iron placebos, but I still worry that taking a pill every single day for almost ten years might have changed my body. I just put my trust in the medical system when I was young and my only goal was not getting pregnant. Did they ever imagine people would be using The Pill for so long? People my age tend to be married and starting families. Should I go off it for a while? Should I stop using it? Does it even matter?

“You’re lucky you don’t have my skin,” Mom says to me. Or, “You tend to take after your father’s side, so you probably don’t have to worry about that.” But do I have my mother’s hormones? Has she doomed me to twenty years of hormonal torture? Isn’t there anything I can do about it? And why am I so worried about it now? Shouldn’t I just enjoy being in my twenties?

I think it’s because I saw the promotional material Pocket Books sent out to booksellers regarding my book. In it, they called me “highly ambitious,” since I was “26.” And yes, I did write the book when I was 26, and sold it right after I had turned 27, but in a couple of weeks… I’m going to be 28. The years have flown by since I moved to Los Angeles. I suppose it’s because I spend so much of my day waiting on phone calls or meetings, news and updates. But seeing that number “26” — it seemed so young. But wait, I’m 27. Why does that one year feel so different? I think I’ve just had a really huge year and it’s left me feeling much older. I’m suddenly much more aware of how our bodies are machines that we have to take care of. I’m no longer that girl who thinks nothing of drinking a pot of coffee or smoking a pack of cigarettes. Everything feels like it leaves a reminder on my body, sticks around a little longer, reminding me that I’m aging, I’m changing, and I can’t control what’s going to happen.

Anyway, if you have ideas on how my mom can keep her cool, please let me know.

Otherwise, just listen for the sound of my mother’s deep, unending sigh from being forced to watch a Ben Stiller movie. It’ll be sometime around 9 PM Central.

Buy Glarkware. It’s so damn cool.

Currently reading

Sarah. Almost finished with this. I really want to know the obsession with young male hustlers. And why does Gus Van Sant’s name pop up every time they’re discussed?

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