Flashes and not the good kind

You would think this would mean the acne would be gone but you would be wrong


Making Strudel

When I start to feel cranky about my life, I think about my lovely grandmother, who, despite being very smart and having an avid curiosity about Life and Art, who wanted to study art in Paris, had to leave school after eighth grade to work to help her family.

She worked on the farm in the summer and in the winter, was a maid in Milwaukee and Chicago, where, on her days off, she would walk rather than spend a nickel on the bus so she could treat herself to a candy bar.

I think about my great-great-grandmother, who lost her seven children to diphtheria in five days. All of her children died in less than a week of a disease nobody has to get today because THANK YOU VACCINES THANK YOU SCIENCE.

Other ancestors – I am looking at the amazing book my mom wrote about them:

  • GGGrandmother Maria Anna widowed at 31 with two little children
  • Some level of GG Anna widowed at 48, yet moved her children from Prussia to the US
  • Great-aunt Echo widowed at 38 with eight children
  • Great-aunt Madge widowed at 21 with two little girls – she watched her husband’s plane crash into the ground and burst into flame
  • My father’s mother, widowed AT MY AGE

I think of that to remind myself NOT TO BE A WHINER. That every single one of my ancestors would look at my cushy, easy, electrified, automated, very comfortable life and say, “REALLY? THIS IS WHAT YOU ARE COMPLAINING ABOUT? WOULD YOU LIKE TO TALK ABOUT REAL HARDSHIP?”

And yet.

And yet.

I think if I could have all of my ancestor women together over coffee and strudel or perhaps Bailey’s and flourless chocolate cake and we started talking, I think we would find common ground over hot flashes.

Who invented this system and why? What did women ever do to be punished like this? And I say this as someone who has had only mild hot flashes compared to my friends. Is there any biological purpose to hot flashes other than reminding us that hahahahaha you are now middle aged and high heels hurt and everything hurts after you exercise, even when you exercise daily?

*googles “what is biological purpose of hot flashes”*

*shockingly nobody really knows*

*thank God we have viagra at least we have our research priorities straight*

What is the point of suddenly being cooked alive from the inside? I used to smile at the jokes about women having hot flashes.

I am so sorry, My Sisters. I am so sorry to have discounted and mocked your discomfort. I was wrong. I didn’t understand, but you know what? That doesn’t even matter. I should have believed that you understand your own experience.

For a few months earlier this year, I had to ask my co-workers if it had suddenly gotten hot in the office or if I was having a hot flash.

In almost every case, it was that it had suddenly gotten too hot in the office. (I work in an office that used to be a factory. It’s not one of those cool factory to office conversions – it’s a cheap one where nobody wanted to spend the money on adjusting the HVAC properly or on installing windows or ceilings high enough that I can’t touch them or decent lighting.)

But then in May, I realized I didn’t have to ask. The sensation of getting hot from the inside out is very different from the sensation of getting hot from the outside in. I mean, it’s unmistakable and it’s unfixable. If it’s too hot on the outside, you can remove clothing! You can use a fan! You can open a window! You can open the freezer and stick your face in it! You can hold a can of cold diet Coke against your neck!

Note these are things I almost never have to do because I live in Wisconsin, where the concept, “Too hot” does not exist. It’s next to “chili without macaroni” and “Frito Pie,” which everyone here thinks is called a “walking taco.” I don’t even know where “walking taco” came from. Every right-thinking person knows it’s a Frito Pie. Honestly.


I started getting hot from the inside out and yep, there is no mistaking it.

You feel as if you are being cooked. You start to feel sympathy for those poor live lobsters dropped into boiling water. So THIS is what their last minutes are like.

No matter how many layers you remove – and in some cases, I was constrained because I was at work and around other people and although we have a very casual dress code, I bet they would frown on nudity, you cannot get cool enough. I would be awakened in the middle of the night, too hot to sleep. I would throw off the covers and tear off my nightgown. And I was still too hot.

This went on through May and June and slowed down in July. I think it’s over. I’m not sure. Does it come back? I feel like I am in one of those weird random reinforcement experiments where they discover the best way to get the rats to do what they want is not to reward them every single time they press the lever but only to reward them at random intervals. The rats know they have to press the lever but they don’t know how many times or what will happen. I don’t even have a lever to press – I just know that something bad is going to happen to me at random intervals and I don’t even know how to control it.

Does this end?




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