For the last three years or so, ever since I stopped breastfeeding Una, my periods have been erratic and unpredictable. My cycles stretch out longer and longer (or, as happened when we were camping, suddenly spring back to three weeks). My premenstrual symptoms are drawn out for weeks (I'm moody, my hair keeps falling out, I can't stand to be touched, my boobs hurt, I'm vague and breathless), and sometimes pretend to be pregnancy symptoms, and so I have wasted a lot of money on pregnancy tests, and spent a few tears on them as well. Not that we're trying, but... you know. Some months my period just arrives without fanfare. Some months it's weeks of feeling crappy, waiting, waiting. A couple of years ago I saw two different doctors and they were so underwhelming in their support or concern that I never really pursued anything (Oh, you're stressed, they said. You're a mum with young kids, that's all.) I have an appointment tomorrow, since I'm due for a pap smear anyway. I'm going to ask them to check my thyroid, and inquire about the possibility of PCOS. Yes, I've been googling. The doctor will hate me.
Today I caught a train into the city. A woman was crying into her mobile phone. She was upset because she had taken her daughter to school, and her daughter's friend had met her at the school gate and said 'I'm not going to play with you today...I'm going to play with my other friend.' Oh, I know, if it was Fred I'd be blogging about it here, squeezing my heart out soggily, but on the train I felt cruel. Man up, I thought (that's my extra testosterone that's making my hair fall out, making me cruel hearted). Get over it. 'I told her,' the woman said seriously to the person on the other end of the phone 'that they could all play together.' But that's not actually the problem, is it? The problem is resilience, and lady, you don't got it.
A few stations later, the train filled up, and the woman receded into the din. A man sat next to me. It was 9am. He was drunk, and blurred, and broken looking. He was drinking Strongbow cider, which, as he pointed out, is three standard drinks, whereas a longneck of VB is only 2.4, which he told me, would go down very well if you were having a dinner party of three people because it would divide up evenly. But he wasn't an alchoholic he assured me, and the man on his other side. He was just drinking because of the pain. He held up his right hand. It was a big meat paw, swollen and red, clearly infected, not broken, he said, but smashed. The police had done it, with a baton, held him down, when he wasn't doing nothing. For no reason. Criminals with badges, he called them. Usually he only drank for an occasion, he slurred. But he didn't believe in that other sort of drinking, the one you do on Friday night. What do you call it? Binge drinking? At one point as he talked to me he entered an oddly nostalgic dreamstate, telling me about the wonders of mixing dry ginger ale and apple juice. He gave me the recipe. Half and half. I could probably change the quantities but I should mix half and half first, and then go from there. But just mix it in the glass, not in the bottle. His parents had made it for him, he told me. And I tried to imagine him as a boy, drinking dry ginger ale and apple juice out of a straw. Where are his parents now?
I parked at the station. I parked outside the tennis court in a five hour zone. But at the library I got caught up with research and it was three when I headed back. I had a ticket. $58 worth of stupid. Man up, I told myself, and I didn't even cry.
*Blog titles. Sometimes they are hard to think up