Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Cut the Clamor: Accessories for the Disturbed

In yet another installment of Tales from Menopause…

I have squishy foam ear plugs stuffed in my ears. They come in a little cardboard box from the drugstore, and sell for about $2.00. Such a small price to pay for saving a smidge of sanity.

With these plugged-up ears, I can hear my own breathing, my heartbeat, and not much else.

Menopause has made sounds that were formerly mildly annoying rise to the level of perhaps justifiable homicide. I really don’t want to kill people because they make noises like rapping a teaspoon against a coffee cup. It’s against my high moral code. And I don’t think I’d look nice in an orange jumpsuit.

So these foam earplugs have become my latest menopausal accessory. They only come in ivory, but I think I’ll write the manufacturer and ask for an array of colors to coordinate with my wardrobe. Some shades of blue, perhaps? That way the plugs would even match my dominant mood.

But I digress. It’s a Saturday morning, it’s 8:00, and a light rain is falling. I’m drinking coffee, my extra-special delicious Bananas Foster weekend blend, and reading about Janet Evanovich’s fictional heroine, Stephanie Plum, ramming her Buick into a murderer’s sedan. I live vicariously through Steph’s kick-butt bounty hunting adventures. Yet one more way I keep myownself out of jail. Life is good.

But what’s this? The sound of a chainsaw breaks into my reverie. From my back door, I see a neighbor-man whacking twigs off a tree. The twigs are an inch in diameter and could have been dispatched with a sharp pair of clippers. Instead, he’s fired-up a gas-fume spewing Husqvarna with a window-rattling volume. If I remedied the situation with a Molotov cocktail, no one would even detect the small explosion.

I shake off the bloodthirsty notion, remind myself I am a woman of peace. Or of shattered pieces? I reach for the trusty foam earplugs, breathe deeply, and yet another potentially headline-making crisis is averted. The neighbor-man lives for another day of power-tool abuse.

Even the non-menopausal may find chain-saws annoying, you say? What’s the big deal? Ah, but volume has only a little to do with the reaction of a menopausal woman to sound.

What about a spoon being scraped along the side of a cereal bowl? Some years ago, I remember a dear friend, Lu, who was going through her man-o-pause—I mean menopause—telling me she had given her husband a plastic bowl and a plastic spoon to eat his cereal. The racket he made eating his All-Bran from a china bowl had become torture to her.

Since she loved her husband and dreaded the nuisance of replacing him, she hit upon the brilliant solution of the plastic bowl and spoon. It’s really hard to make an objectionable racket with plastic, especially after you’ve seen a homicidal gleam in your dear wife’s glittering eyes. The marriage was saved.

At the time Lu told me the story, I was blissfully ignorant of menopause, and chuckled at her tale. Wow—Lu is such a funny person—how she exaggerates! Ha-ha!

But now with the scales fallen from my eyes, I see Lu was saintly in her menopausal restraint. I hold Lu in high regard, striving to live up to her peaceable standards.

I don’t believe she killed a soul during her menopause. Or if she did, she buried the bodies deep.

That reminds me… maybe I’ll go sharpen my shovel… just in case.


  1. Now I understand why I have never been a fan of cereal.

  2. My earplugs are orange but they are just like yours! And my earbuds for the iphone are green - and , let me tell you, that is an awesome escape. Don't want to hear the stupid chainsaw - or, equally as painful - the STUPID leaf blower -- REALLY ???????? - you gotta make all that noise to blow some dust around - REALLY?????? - Can you tell, leaf blowers REALLY annoy me? waste of everything and a ton of worthless noise --
    but I digress..... Earbuds make soothing piano music happen which is second best to silence....
    yesterday this 7th grade boy was sitting in the front office - not feeling well, waiting for mom to pick him up, and he was tap tap tapping his foot against his backpack. I had to work hard to say kindly, "Hey, Kiddo, can you give that foot a rest?"

  3. Mark, thanks for "getting" this even though you are of the male persuasion. :-)
    Sebtown-- oh, the foot tapping. Yes, and how about knuckle cracking? I really must invest in noise cancelling headphones for the MP3...
    I feel so strongly about leafblowers that I couldn't even include them in this piece!

  4. As I mentioned previously, I'm not there yet, but I can see it comin' and I would like the record to show (or perhaps not) that I am totally screwed. Noise has been my downfall throughout my life so if menopause makes me MORE sensitive to annoying noise (aka ANY noise at the wrong moment), I will probably become one of those allegedly rare female serial (cereal?) killers.

  5. Masked Mom, you slay me. I wondered who would be the first to catch the cereal killer reference. Funnier still, Lu's husband is a sheriff. He may have dug the holes (if any) for her, just to keep the family out of the headlines.
    Thanks for stopping by, my friend!

  6. I hate my earplugs...the sound of my breathing and heartbeat are almost as annoying as the noise I'm trying to squelch.

    My thyroid tribulations have given me some new quirks and I'm fearing menopause will have the loony bin erect a wing just for me! I'm irked, by everything...EVERYTHING! The meat tenderizer, the heavy metal kitchen instrument with the spiked ends? Yeah, that one! I've hidden it, because it fits in my hand ever so nicely - just the right weight and everything - to wield a bit of justice for my own personal noise ordinance. So far I've fought the temptation, but I'm not menopausal yet...YET. I should look into property in Montana...well away from the general population. Want to join me? We'll buy only plasticware.

  7. Montana sounds like a plan... we do have some uninhabited islands here, but they are way too mosquito-y!

    Was that a Beatle's song that went, "Bang-bang Maxwell's silver hammer came down upon his head"? Oh, my, we are of the dark-humor persuasion, aren't we?

  8. Alienbody: Do not listen to the following.

  9. My earplugs are hot pink. So glad I didn't need them during man-a-pause. Although my partner at the time came close to death occasionally without knowing it. Thank goodness the condition is not forever.

  10. OMG! I know I smiled through the whole thing, but then realized I was actually laughing!

    Melanie, this was wonderful! And yes, I can remember women talking about menopause, and me thinking "pish-posh." I thought them crazy! But now I (we) know better. Sigh!

    Let me confess something here, my husband is driving me crazy with his snoring, and even though it is not as bad as it used to be. But like you said, the small noises, things that may not have bothered us before, are an enormous problem now. The little sounds are magnified ten-fold!!

    I don't have real weapons in the house, but my pillow was looking very threatening as I looked down and stared at my sleeping husband. I think I'm cracking. lol!

    Big hugs, Querida Amiga, and take care. :)

  11. I have hot pink ear plugs - several sets. I don't know what I would do without them.

  12. Seems we have uncovered a Secret Society of Ear Plugs, ladies (except for Alienbody, alas, but she does have her meat mallet at the ready).
    I had no idea-- thanks so much for making me feel a little less, uh, unusual? Tomorrow I'm taking a pair of plugs to work-- I swear I can hear at least 3 classes being taught simultaneously, and it wouldn't due to "go postal at Coastal." Bwah-ha-ha (Coastal's my school's name, how perfect...)
    Love you each and every one, dear readers!

  13. "Since she loved her husband and dreaded the nuisance of replacing him".. You know, when you put in a lot of work training him to fit you *just* right and then you up and kill him, errr, divorce him, that's very counterproductive! Then you hafta train someone new from scratch, oy! The worse part is thinking about that bitch who will get the trained husband (in case of divorce) with all the heavy lifting already done for her... Nope, I see your friend's point of view completely! I SAID I SEE YOUR FRIEND'S POINT OF... TAKE THE DAMM EARPLUGS OFF, I'M TALKING TO YOU!!!!

  14. Ha-ha-ha I'm getting pretty good at reading lips-- you said scratching the itch was had put you completely out of joint? Well, okay then.

    No, really, who wants to train another one? Does that sound sexist? To be fair, I'm sure my hubs has trained me in his own nefarious ways. Probably has a tape recording of his agenda playing under my pillow at night.

  15. Wow, I'm in for it when I hit "the change." Or should I say my husband will be? Every sound he makes drives me crazy.
    Great post, Melanie! :0

  16. What's so funny is I turned on my iPad to do some blog reading after kicking my husband out of our bedroom for snoring, and yours is the first post I read! I agree completely about a higher sensitivity to noise- chewing, swallowing, sipping are especially irritating to me!

  17. What's so funny is I turned on my iPad to do some blog reading after kicking my husband out of our bedroom for snoring, and yours is the first post I read! I agree completely about a higher sensitivity to noise- chewing, swallowing, sipping are especially irritating to me!

  18. Hi Melanie,

    Healthline editors recently published their final list of the top 11 menopause blogs on the web and made the list. You can find the complete list at (in no particular order). We encourage you to share your newfound status as one of the best blogs on the web with your friends, family, & followers.

    We also created a set of badges you can easily embed on your site & anywhere else you see fit:

    Please let me know if you have any questions.


    Warm Regards,

  19. Hi Tracy,
    Once I come down from the ceiling I will thank you for this award. Or maybe I will go ahead and thank you while I am up here. Wow. Thanks so much for noticing this tiny blog, for reading, and for the recognition. I am over the moon.

  20. Hi Sharon, I have officially become a Fussbudget. Guess I'll have to have a t-shirt made to warn people. ;)So many of us women are to be commended for not leaving a trail of bodies. Breathing in, breathing out, ha-ha.

  21. Tales from Menopause… Is this the middle?