ME: the mother
S__: the 13 year old son.
SETTING: Kitchen of the family’s 1934 brick home; it’s only 4:30pm EST, but darker than dark. Like, darker than people ever REMEMBER it being this time of year. Even WITH daylight savings. Or, whatever it’s called. The mom is working away to make ANOTHER delicious soy-, dairy-, purine-, apple- free meal while she quietly suffers knowing that she’ll be eating a chicken leg and bowl of peas for the SECOND time that day.
ME: S__! Please get off your device and come help me with dinner.
NOTE TO READERS: The rule about the kids not having “screen time” on weekdays seems to have gone the SAME WAY as the rule about them NOT dressing like a Middle School gym teacher.
S__ <entering kitchen, begrudgingly>: Why do I have to help in the kitchen?!
ME: Because you’re sitting around doing absolutely nothing productive AND HELPING ME IN THE KITCHEN IS GOING TO BE ONE OF THE BEST MEMORIES OF YOUR ENTIRE LIFE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The only thing you ever see in movies and television shows about perimenopause is the hot flashes. Well, I don’t even HAVE hot flashes. There is so much more that goes on with perimenopause that I want to tell you about, so women everywhere will know what to expect. Here are answers to some common questions about perimenopausal symptoms.
During perimenopause, do you put on weight?
FUCK YOU AND YOUR LITTLE DOG TOO
Do depression and anxiety increase during perimenopause?
YOUR QUESTIONS ARE LIKE A GATEWAY DRUG TO ME PUNCHING YOU IN THE FACE.
Do you experience increased vaginal or urinary infections?
I HATE YOU, YOUR CHILDREN AND WHAT WILL EVENTUALLY BECOME **THEIR** CHILDREN.
Do your raging hormones make you more irritable?
PERIMENOPAUSAL CATHERINE BARDAGY WINCHILD GOES TO 11 **VERY** QUICKLY.
On a bright, beautiful, sunny winter day, I left my house in Rhode Island and headed to the airport, beginning my journey to Oregon, where my sister and dad would also be arriving, and where I would finally get to meet my brother’s 2 year-old son. I would only have two days out west, but it felt good to know that I had solo travel time on either end of the visit, and — that on my direct flights — someone would even be SERVING ME FOOD!
While waiting at the gate in Providence, the clouds started rolling in and it was announced that our plane FROM Newark had not even arrived.
Me: Will I make my connection? I only have a 1.25 hour layover.
Nice United Lady #1: You’re flying into concourse C, Gate 99 and your departing Gate is C88, so you’ll make it, no problem! Plus, they know in Newark that you’re coming in late, so they’ll hold the plane. 
Fifteen minutes went by and then it was announced that Air Traffic Control in New York had put a temporary ban on all air travel.
Me: Am I going to make my connection?
Nice United Lady #2: It looks like there’s another flight TO PORTLAND at 5:29 pm, so, if you miss your 5:15, you can get on the 5:29 flight. It flies out of Gate 95.
Me: Should I pull my luggage off this plane so I have it with me? (Note: I ALWAYS check my bags, for reasons that include, but are not limited to: not wanting to drag my luggage around the airport; not wanting to bring a suitcase into a bathroom stall; and also not wanting to have to lift it up and place it in the overhead bin on the plane; You might like refer to this as, completely idiotic)
Nice United Lady #2: No, no, no. You probably have liquids in it, right? You’ll have to dump them. Your luggage will be fine.
We finally boarded in Providence at 3:30 pm (an hour late), then sat on the runway, unable to depart until 4-something. I didn’t worry at this point, because I really, truly, utterly believed that if Air Traffic Control was banning air flight in and around Newark, that my flight to Oregon would ALSO be leaving late.
We landed at 5:00 pm and I figured I still had 10 minutes to HUFF it. Then the pilot announced that our gate wasn’t ready. I STILL THOUGHT I WAS GOING TO MAKE IT. No one could convince me otherwise. EVERYTHING WILL BE DELAYED. It’s Newark!
Seat belt sign goes OFF, I stand up and suggest that we line up in the order of our departure time (so organized!). 5PM gets in front of me. “We’re going to make it!” I tell 5PM.
I run off the plane, rush to the monitors to confirm my gate, find Portland…and there it is, in bright red, capital letters:
I scanned the monitor for my 5:29 pm backup flight to Portland, except, THERE WAS NO FUCKING SECOND FLIGHT LISTED FOR PORTLAND!!!!! There was only ONE flight to Portland, and not ONLY had that father fucker already left the building, but I swear it was THE ONLY FLIGHT ON THE ENTIRE MONITOR THAT WAS LISTED AS DEPARTED!!!!!
WHERE IS THE PORTLAND FLIGHT THAT I HAD A BACK UP RESERVATION ON????? I rethought my ability to alphabetize, I searched ARRIVALS…anything…trying to find that flight. Then I remembered! I had a flight NUMBER. I scanned the 4 monitors full of ONE GAGILLION FLIGHTS for my number…nothing. At this point, I ran.
I ran toward the gate where my original flight departed. The lady in Providence said it was “close” to my incoming gate. Plus, maybe it just SAYS departed. Maybe it was sitting there, WAITING FOR ME! Then two things happened simultaneously: I learned that Gate 88 was NOT close. It was not close AT_ALL. And, also, I learned that my bladder was full and that I was peeing in my new, modern, boot cut, purchased at the LOFT 2 hours before leaving sunny Barrington, looked great (!), saw the woman who sold them to me that very day IN THE PROVIDENCE AIRPORT (<—SO Rhode Island!) jeans.
I stopped. Not only because I was wetting my pants, but also because I was never going to get to that gate quickly enough. I needed to figure out what was going on with the backup flight “to Portland”‘ before THAT flight departed.
Then, I remembered that Nice Lady #2 in Providence had written the backup flight’s gate number on my boarding pass. I ran to Gate 95 and asked the Gate Guy to please help me, that I’d been told I was booked on a flight to Portland but THERE WAS NO FLIGHT TO PORTLAND LISTED ON THE MONITOR and could he please help me figure out where I needed to go.
Gate Guy (GG): Your name?
Me: Catherine Winchild
GG <panicked>: YOU’RE ON THIS FLIGHT!!
Me: THIS FLIGHT GOES TO HOUSTON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
GG: But it goes on to Portland [whatever he says here is A MUDDLED MESS in my memory, but I ASSUME that THIS plane heads to Portland after landing in Houston].
GG <continues>: HURRY! I have to call down and tell them not to close the door. Take this, give it to the Door Guy…sit in seat…8A…Go!
Me <arriving on plane, panicked, relieved, damp, looking at all other passengers who are comfortably seated (in dry pants)>: Hello, everybody! I’m sure you’re all thrilled to see that I MADE my flight! [hilarious]
2 Flight Attendants <NOT AMUSED>
Me <to 2 Unamused Flight Attendants (UFAs)>: Please tell me this plane goes to Portland, Oregon.
UFA1 <with ATTITUDE>: We have NO IDEA where this plane goes. All we know is that we’re on a leg to Houston. This plane could go anywhere after that.
Me: I’m not getting on this plane unless I KNOW IT’S GOING TO PORTLAND!
UFA1 <to Door Closing Guy (DCG)>: Does this flight carry on to Portland?
DCG: I have NO IDEA.
Me: I AM NOT SITTING DOWN ON THIS PLANE UNTIL I KNOW I’M GOING TO PORTLAND! [good boundaries!]
DCG <calling Gate Guy, then turning to me>: This plane goes to Houston; then you’ll have to change planes in Houston.
Me: THAT’S RIDICULOUS!!
DCG: I HAVE TO CLOSE THE DOOR. Are you getting on this flight? You have to make a decision RIGHT NOW.
And this, my friends, is where the story becomes unbearable to relay, because, as a woman who has a VERY keen understanding of what a MAP of the UNITED STATES looks like, I knew FULL WELL that flying toward the Gulf Of Mexico before heading to the Pacific Northwest was not really the MOST EFFICIENT way to get there, but the thought of flying that far out of my way and then trying to make another connection in another airport was just too much at that point. I feared I’d be flying for the rest of the night.
Me: I’m not going to Houston to catch a flight to PORTLAND. I’ll find ANOTHER connection.
I got off the flight thinking that Newark would have plenty of OTHER ways to get to Portland (via Chicago? Denver? San Francisco?! SEATTLE!!!!!), there was nothing. Not_a single_connection_except__Houston. At that point, the only other options to Portland included spending the night in Newark (the AIRPORT, not a hotel on United’s dime), catching a 6:30am to Denver the next morning and then heading on to Portland; OR, getting a direct flight to San Diego that evening, spending the night in the San Diego airport (again, no hotel) and catching a flight to Portland early the next day. Both options had me spending 6 hours on an airport floor and arriving in Portland one half-day into my two-day trip.
“I’m 48 years old. I no longer spend the night on an airport floor,” I said to the universe, in my head. “Fly me home,” I said out loud, in tears.
20-20 hindsight/guilt-ridden/completely traumatizing/haunts me epilogue: “You should have stayed on the Houston flight,” Customer Service lady said in her sweet accent. YOU SHOULD HAVE STAYED ON THE HOUSTON FLIGHT. Well, if I’d had more than 10 seconds to make a decision, I probably could have found out that Houston WAS the last way to get to Portland that night, and that I would have had an additional 10 hours of travel time, putting me in Portland at midnight, PST. Despite the fact that 10 hours of travel time would also have landed me in GREECE (if I’d gone in the OTHER direction), clearly, I could have done it. HOUSTON. It just sounded so_far_SOUTH.
The okay parts I keep trying to remind myself: While at the Customer Service counter in Newark, I learned that the Houston flight was DELAYED (no, they wouldn’t let me back on). In the end, I would have had 20 minutes to make the Portland fight. Who knows. Maybe I would have ended up stuck in Houston. The Customer Service lady’s SUPERVISOR, without even KNOWING I’d been crying, gave me a voucher toward another flight (I had originally been told I’d lose all my money). But the most miraculous part? My luggage actually showed up on the baggage carousel back in Providence! I dug so far into its contents to confirm that the bag was mine, it probably looked like I was feeling it up. Then, at midnight, I drove through Barrington with its white, snowflake lights lit up in the rain, and — for the first time in a LONG time — I actually thought it looked beautiful.
 Telling passengers that your connecting flight will wait for your delayed flight is one of The Biggest LIES of the airline industry and only complete MORONS actually believe that crap. <– le moron est MOI!
MORALS OF THE STORY: 1. Don’t go west for only two full days, no matter HOW excited you are about the two direct flights with concentrated hours of solo time, a good book and airplane food; 2. When a Nice Lady is making your reservation on the “next flight to Portland,” ask if it’s direct, and — if it isn’t — ask where it connects through and how long the layover is there AND when you’ll arrive at your final destination. 3. Don’t ever fly from the East Coast after 6:30 AM; 4. Empty your bladder before getting off a plane, as you never know if you’re going to have to RUN; 5. Don’t make crazy, stress-filled announcements to an entire flight of seated passengers, as the Flight Attendants will probably think you’re completely fucking wasted, especially if they notice your wet your pants. <— JUST KIDDING! No one could tell!
A few years back, I noticed this trend around Barrington where many of the blonde women were wearing Black Puffy Jackets. Someone I absolutely love and adore has a Black Puffy Jacket and regularly makes fun of me for making fun of the jackets. So, one day, when a BLACK PUFFY JACKET showed up in the mail, addressed to me, with nothing but a Chinese return address on the package, I assumed it was a joke from my friend.
My friend hadn’t ordered the jacket, but I remembered my mother (while she was still living in a nearby hotel with her cat, before they both left for England) saying that she needed a winter jacket for England and that she’d seen a girl online wearing a cute black jacket with a white, fur-trimmed hood. So, I figured my mother had ordered the jacket for herself and sent it to my house.
The jacket was an XXL, but teensy tiny. So, I wasn’t going to FORWARD a coat that I knew wouldn’t fit my mom. Not forwarding the jacket was A Very Good Idea, because the jacket never would have reached my mom in time, as she was kicked out of England after 6 weeks (another story).
Soooooooooooooooooo…I kept the Black Puffy Jacket. Now, this is no designer Black Puffy Jacket. This is the CHEESIEST Black Puffy Jacket ever, TRYING to be a fancy-schmancy North Face jacket. How can you tell it’s trying to be fancy? Because the lining of the jacket has illustrations of super-fancy things, like perfume bottles and NECKLACES.
But, that jacket is WARM! It’s like bundling up in a cozy sleeping bag. And the welcome warmth of that Black Puffy Jacket is just another one of those lessons in NOT making fun of shit, because if you make fun of things and continually AVOID those things, you miss out some of the best things in life: like cozy warm jackets and LAND/RANGE ROVERS. <— no.
The Very Best Part of the jacket? The white fur hood lining, which is removable, but when attached, makes the hood super-extra-large and kinda feels like you’re walking around in a black puffy, fur-trimmed PERISCOPE, which — as I’m sure you can imagine — is hilarious and adorable and also makes it hard for me to see where the dog is pooing.
The best thing? The other day I had my invisible, grey-haired eyebrows dyed and now I have “black” puffy EYEBROWS to go with the coat! You can see both here:
Whoops! Hold on…the “fur” fell down and covered up my eyebrows…
There we go!
I can tell my anti-depressant/anti-anxiety meds are finally reaching therapeutic levels because yesterday I actually had this thought:
I can’t LEAVE Barrington. This town NEEDS me!
And then today, when I was cutting my grapefruit into easy-spoonable sections, I thought:
I’m so happy for this grapefruit knife. This thing is so HANDY.
Now, if you knew my brain before medication, you’d know that the grapefruit knife USED TO seem rather stupid to me, like a lazy person’s totally-unnecessary kitchen utensil. That downward spiraling thought would then just lead to negative thinking about the ICED TEA SPOON and it was only a matter of time before — of COURSE — strawberry stem pickers and cherry pitters were taking it on the chin. In my head.
But not today! Today, the kitchen utensils felt like some kind of MIRACLE. Like, thank you, completely useful things that make my life easier. Why WOULDN’T you want an iced tea spoon? It makes reaching into the tall glass so EASY.
I can’t believe these drugs are legal.
I think I have been addicted to negativity. I have been addicted to negativity like an alcoholic is addicted to alcohol; like a drug addict is addicted to drugs; like a sex addict is addicted to sex!
I always imagine 1970s rock stars like Pete Townsend having a hard time giving up booze and drugs because they were afraid that without those things, their artistic talents would suffer. That Townsend, specifically, equated drugs before a concert with playing something incredibly badass. Also, I may have read that in Rolling Stone magazine in 1982. I’m not sure. Whatever!
But then you listen to his first album after he got clean, All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes, and it’s brilliant! Possibly better than anything he’d ever recorded with The Who.
That’s how I’ve felt about making fun of shit: That if I didn’t make FUN of something, it WOULDN’T be funny. But that’s not true! I mean, it’s okay to make fun of the silliness and absurdity of it all (it all = LIFE), but you can’t go around making fun of PEOPLE. Very SPECIFIC people. Because, #1: you risk the people READING your work will then see THEMSELVES in what you’re making fun of and then they won’t learn any lesson about how they SHOULD behave. <— That’s a joke. No, because if you’re constantly making fun of stuff, everyone will feel attacked at some point, and that’s just not nice. It’s also not funny. IT’S TRAGIC. Why?
Because all that negative making fun of stuff just seals it into your own soul and the bitching and moaning and demeaning of bitchez and douchebags and rich people and stupid RI drivers ALSO makes you hate those VERY SAME PARTS OF YOURSELF, which, trust me, are in abundance.
The trick is, you have to see the value in EVERYBODY. It’s always been easy for me to see the good in some poor guy, riding down the bike path on some 20-year-old, 10-speed bike, wheels squeaking, stolen milk crate attached to the back, filled with a boom box playing music as he rides. For me, it’s EASY to love the disenfranchised.
What’s hard for me is loving those women who have so much, because THOSE LADIES CAN BE SO MEAN TO THE GUYS ON THE BIKES! And, even worse, those ladies are mean to their WAITRESSES! But, not ALL of the ladies I make fun of are mean. And those who are mean, are learning too. And, you know what, I’m mean too! Not to waitresses! God no. I love anyone who’s serving me some fucking food. No, I’m mean to the people who have so much. That’s not better!
No one is like, Okay that fancy lady over there is being mean to the cashier at Michael’s Craft Store, but Bardagy is being mean to the lady who was mean to the cashier, that’s perfectly cool. No! It’s not cool! IT’S ALL MEAN!
So, from here on out, I am un-addicting myself to the making fun of bitchez, douchebags, Stepfords, bad Rhode Island drivers, luxury car drivers (even the Land/Range Rovers drivers. EVEN THE RANGE/LAND ROVER DRIVERS!!!!!), and — what else — I’m sure there are more…Oh! The males of the Republican right who are into vagina control. Look! I even capitalized Republican!
That last one is going to be hard. DIGRESSION: Those of you who know my Facebook feed know how much I love the Foo Fighters. One day it occurred to me that if Dave Grohl was against abortion rights, I could never listen to his music again. THAT’S HOW INTO MY VAGINA I AM. So, maybe I’ll go slow on that last one…I mean, there’s gotta be some line between being mean and having STANDARDS, right? I’m all into a baseline of standards for the vag. But, I’ll try not to get too STUCK on it. Because you can’t go around just thinking that people are EVIL for wanting to control your vagina. They’re doing what THEY think is right. You know, saving babies but gutting public funding for anything to support families. AHHH! I TOLD YOU THAT LAST ONE WOULD BE HARD!
I need some methadone equivalent to take while I begin to lay off THOSE guys. Maybe I’ll start using drugs. JUST KIDDING!
Once upon a time, when I had a cubicle job, I worked right next to this guy who was into dog breeding. One day, he looked me straight in the eye, and referred to one of his female dogs as “a bitch.”
Never one to miss an opportunity to generalize about an entire group of white men based on an n = 1, I took this interaction to mean that the only reason awkwardish male/daytime cubicle dwellers even go into dog breeding is so that they can “legally” use the word bitch without getting into “trouble.”
I want a word that can be offensive to others, but if used in another context, is perfectly legit. Then “Jesus as local handy person” popped into my head (because my anti-anxiety/anti-depressant meds are beginning to reach therapeutic levels). I gleefully imagined his business card phone number:
I thought about having to leave Jesus a message when I called, because Jesus is so busy! Then, one night, my family and I would be sitting at the dinner table, when a call would come in. We’d screen it, because — well — dinner is family time and, also, because I keep getting phone calls from an Eastern-European-accented “John Parker from the IRS” who is threatening to sue me. Anyway, days after waiting to hear back, Jesus would finally be leaving me a message, so I’d RUN to the phone and, reaching it on time, exclaim “Jesus!!”
Of course, when I’d say “Jesus,” it would always have that under-my-breath/half-whispering-it, elongated/pissed-off/in-vain tone. Except that I would just be saying his name!
13 year old son, coming home from school: “Mom, who’s working in the basement?”
Friend coming over for dinner (meds at FULL therapeutic levels now, allowing me to host The People again): “Oooooh. Who did the work in your kitchen?”
And so it goes.
NOTE: No jokes about naming a female dog Jesus were made during the writing of this post.
I went to my first Dr. Psychiatrist appointment the other day. Oh! I just remembered this funny thing. The next time you spell out a word that contains the letter P, say, “That’s P, as in psychiatrist.” Hilarity will ensue. Continue…
When I walked into Dr. Psychiatrist’s office, the Front Office Lady (she of practically physically knocking me over with her request for insurance information) opened the glass window to her office and there, for all to hear, was country music playing. Country WHAT?!
Country music was so completely out of the realm of what I expected to hear in a psychiatrist’s office. I guess I just assumed that a psychiatrist would play something chill, generic, inoffensive, or — okay, if we’re being honest here — something from my OWN Volvo driving, Starbucks drinking, NY Times reading, NPR listening, sushi eating play list. If Dr. Psychiatrist was going to play a very particular type of music, I’d expect Kate Bush, not COUNTRY! Are you with me here?
But then I thought, “Okay, the quote-unquote music is playing in the Front Office Lady’s glassed headquarters. She can play whatever she wants in her own evil lair, even if it is incongruous with my expectations for Dr. Psychiatrist.”
Then I went into the waiting room, where the country music was ALSO blaring from the speakers. To be clear, it wasn’t some charming, old-timey, Cohen-Brothers-movie-soundtrack kind of country music. This was 90-point-something, Ashley/Amber/Tiffany (can’t remember which) calling from Barrington (for real) to say that she LOVES her Cat Country RADIO music.
So, I’m just sitting there, inadequately medicated, struggling with a resting heart rate of about 100 beats per minute, trying to sit as far away from the speakers as possible, searching for another place to wait where I can escape the awful, overly-earnest music, growing more and more agitated by the minute, when I saw it! A compendium of New Yorker cartoons sitting on the coffee table. Thank the good fucking liberal genius! New Yorker cartoons are what one EXPECTS to see in a psychiatrist’s office. I immersed myself in the book’s funny and tried my best to ignore the Sounds of Hell.
Let’s travel back…about twenty-five years…when I was in therapy as a young woman…my therapist fell asleep on me, not once, but twice. His excuse? That he was the father of a newborn baby and was exhausted. I didn’t believe him. I thought he was just testing my ability to advocate for myself, seeing if I would yell at him and tell him to wake the fuck up! (I failed both times; I just sat there.) ((Still traumatized by the whole thing and would likely do the exact same thing today.))
Is the country music some kind of Dr. Psychiatrist test or lesson, as in, if you can stay calm through this Chevy truck driving, Dunkin’ Donuts drinking, Wall Street Journal reading, Fox News watching, “American Fries” eating music, you can do anything? I dunno.
What I do know is that I seriously need to manage my expectations of a psychiatrist’s demographics, which — after writing all of this — seem a lot more like STEREOTYPES. Let’s just hope that the free med samples he provided can calm me the fuck down, because the ONLY kind of music I hate is country AND western and if that shit is playing during my next appointment, I’m gonna wait in my Volvo.
FOOTNOTEY THINGY: “Country AND western” music is a reference to a line from “The Blues Brothers” and I typically wouldn’t cite it here, because, just like with Dr. Psychiatrist, I just ASSUME that we — me, the writer, and you, the reader of similar background, attracted to this blog — all inherently GET “The Blues Brothers” reference, but — if you don’t — well, there it is, cited for legal as well as other purposes, and — also — you REALLY should see that movie.