Friday, May 27, 2011

The Cramps

I've recently become obsessed with this website, The Hairpin, which posts the best articles. They have the Ask A series, which features an anonymous, rotating panel of experts: Dude, Married Dude, Clean Person, Queer Chick. They suggest ways you can fritter your paycheck away. They gave an online tutorial on how to install feather extensions. In short, if The Hairpin was an actual living woman, it that friend of yours that always seems to be up on awesome shit: the broad who was rocking a glitter eyeliner in middle school; who smoked cloves until she realized that smoking is boring, who went and did a degree in urban planning or web-based journalism three years before anyone else got the memo, and who also knows just what to do when one of her besties knocks a tooth out during a tequila-fueled tumble off her road bike.

While the writing is usually conspiratorially casual - there are posted entitles "Why I am an abortion provider" and they offer tips on surviving Jamaican dance clubs - sometimes they totally knock it out of the park. They recently posted a piece on one woman's period, written as though the period was a bullying fremeny who coerced the hapless menstruater into sucking down caloric Orange Julius and buying insane sequined hot pants.

I loooove this idea. My period makes me cry at commercials and throw a total hairy eyeball at my boyfriend, often without me even knowing it's the hormones. I hate the sneak-attack element of menses. My period turns me into a nut: I once cried because I ate half a freezer pizza in one sitting. I will pick fights about stupid shit ("You know I only like the yogurt with 18 grams of protein! The other stuff is for weenies!"). I cry. I bloat. I refuse to brush my hair (okay, that's normal). I will throw tantrums and become a demanding asshole who could kill Howdy Doody's will to live. Then I get the flow, and I snap right out of it. Sure, I'm crampy and sore, but at least I stop hating myself and everyone around me.

That I even get a period is a bit of a miracle, given that some of my lady parts were lost in a fire (kidding! I had an ovary surgically removed last summer), but it's one of those miracles I resent. I feel like a lot of pregnant ladies who don't necessarily buy into the whole earth-mama, Birkies-and-flowy skirts, expensive-stroller ethos of modern childbearing might feel about their pregnancies the way I do about about my menstrual cycle: it's fine, but I have to twirl around in a field to do it? Like, have you seen tampon commercials? I know I'm required by Woman Law to wear white pants and have a rictus-grin on face for those magical five to seven days, but hot damn, I don't feel like it.

What I actually feel like doing is crouching like a feral dog in the food court of the Eaton's Center, murdering overly peppy H&M employees and eating honey-garlic chicken wings. I want to sit in a pair of dirty overalls and drink cheap beer and belch a lot. I want to make post-feminist punk music, where the bass player is a robot and the audience listens with their hands over their ears. I want rage. I want defiance. I feel positively mutinous when I menstruate, and it's only made worse by the fact that my period is like Ke$ha after her morning ablutions crossed with Courtney Love.

Why can't I just get gnarly when I get my period? Oh, sure, the hormonal tide often skews towards the sadder side, but I'm so over the idea of feeling like I have to hide it. "I'm crampy" is one of those man-repeller phrases like "I'm really into crystal healing" and "I love collecting Gund stuffed animals" that make people go, "Whoa." But it's a gross process: messy, squishy, smelly (like pennies!), and pretending it's some wellspring of womanly awesomeness is a little like pretending testicles are adorable, or that knuckle hair is sexy: sometimes, bodies do unappealing, weird-ass shit. In the case of women, our bodies do that stuff every month.

I think the next time my period shows up at my door, I'll indulge her a little. We''ll get day-drunk and go bake banana bread in a tube top, and then watch The Iron Giant and cry unattractively for twenty minutes. We'll try yoga for ten minutes and then get bored and switch to watching makeup tutorials on YouTube. We'll make out with our boyfriends, despite the fact that the boob tenderness is really out of control. We'll take a hot bath and put all our hair on top of our head in a lazy-girl approximation of a ballerina bun that will make us look as though we were styled by a deranged person. And the running thread, throughout this whole experiment, will be radical self-acceptance: loving the whole gross, bloated, sobbing mess.

And Toblerone. Obviously.

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