Porcupine Mountains My Ass

When something is NAMED for another thing, isn’t it a requirement that the other thing be somehow related to the first thing?  Like if you name some mountains after porcupines, there is a legal obligation that porcupines reside on said mountains?

I cannot believe I have seen a bear in the wild and not yet a porcupine.

ANYWAY.

When we were not busy burying my father or drinking beer, we took three days to hike/camp in the porcupine mountains.  It’s right on Lake Superior in the UP of MI, about 2 hours from the WI cabin.  WTF?

Sorry, got carried away with the initializing.

First, I am going to own up in a very vague way because it turns out there are even topics I believe are too personal/gross/boring to blog about.

Womens, in case you didn’t know, have a very special time of the month.  And that time, while special, is also difficult.  It can be difficult to not feel like a hero for making it to the couch before laying down.  Especially difficult to not shove chocolate or potato chips or chocolate covered potato chips in their mouths non stop.

Jessica In Progress, dispensing with stereotypes since 2011.

My special time coincided nicely with the hike.  The hike where we were without privies or running water or chocolate covered potato chips.

In our planning for hiking the AT I did some research on how I wished to handle this special time and I have been actively preparing for this.

However.

Let’s just say it’s a wee bit different actually out on a 3-day hike with your period than sitting at home thinking about a 3-day hike on your period.  And there were some TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES.  Perhaps some pants needed some washing.  And I can’t believe I am thirty fucking six and admitting that I had this type of issue but I am and I did so there we all are.

ANYWAY.

The TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES took place our first day.  And besides slight embarrassment and huge paranoia throughout the rest of the trip, it really wasn’t that bad.  For me, I mean.  Tom had to listen to my paranoia for the next 48 hours which was probably excruciating.  But on the other hand he wasn’t continuously bleeding so maybe we were about even in the end.

I did take away some VERY valuable lessons learned from the experience and that’s the point of these small hikes.

Other Lessons Learned:

1) Couscous is the most amazing hiking dinner ever.  Easy to cook and so tasty and filling!  I try pretty hard to not get ideas for food that wouldn’t be easy to find in a regular supermarket/convenience store.  No point in dehydrating gourmet organic meals for us if we can’t have them on the thru-hike.  But couscous is mainstream now, right?  Right??  Otherwise, we are going to need to line up some couscous suppliers.

2) I have finally, finally, finally figured out how/where to carry everything in/on/strapped to my pack.  It sounds like a no-brainer.  But I specifically picked a pack that is on the smaller side so I didn’t over pack.  That’s meant I have very little wiggle room, literally.

The biggest concession I made was in the beginning I was adamant I did not want to strap large items to the outside of my pack.  But when I chose my sleeping pad, I did not realize how difficult it was to compress it to store in a stuff sac.  After 3 trips of cursing and glaring at Tom because he had the audacity to breath in my general direction while trying to stuff my pad first thing in the morning, I decided to try just rolling it tight and strapping it to the side of my pack.  It was awesome.

3)  Tom.  Is.  Slow.  Fingers crossed it was just because we hadn’t been hiking lately and he’s not conditioned to the trail.  Otherwise we are going to need way more than 6 months to thru-hike.

4) Letting Tom set the pace so much made me realize how much I probably push him.  And I’d much rather hold myself back and still have energy to do the camp chores.

5)  I am even more convinced that I do not want to live in FL for much longer.  I appreciate the hiking opportunities we’ve had, but I’m sick of sand and scrub.  Trees!  Glorious Trees!

6) Stick close to privies during my special time.  Or suffer TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES.

Isn’t it ironic?

If I attempted the purchase of condoms at noon on a Friday in Walmart, there was a 95% chance I’d have an aneurysm waiting for lady with kankle’s to realize she was blocking the entire aisle as she stared at a mushed doughnut display and fantasized about smearing them on her skinny biker boyfriend. 

(Why?  Why is it always skinny biker = fat chick.  And usually large biker = hot chick.  Although not as often as large bikers wish.) 

That’s ironic because Tom would probably not be worried about getting me pregnant while having sex with my corpse. 

When Tom asks why the saran wrap is on his nightstand, I’m going to direct him this way.

Nothing like pressure from the man paying rent

I was typing an email to someone yesterday with directions to our apartment when ST leaned my way from his side of the office and said, “That’s the most typing I’ve heard you do in weeks!”

Between that and the oh-so-subtle, “You have a blog, you know,” I’ve inferred he feels I should update.

But…update on what?  I’m positive there are funny things happening every day to me.  I’m sure of it because lately I’ve been so stressed and depressed that I would not have the stamina to type if other things weren’t balancing it out.  But…they allude me when I sit down.  Especially when I sit down by myself and the weight of the condo and classes and no job settles into my head.

I was typing directions because I’m hosting dinner for the sanctuary’s interns on Thursday.  We currently have four, and they are a great bunch.  But whenever I have people over, even friends who have known me for ten+ years, I fear they will be bored.  Because, deep in my heart, I’m aware I am boring.  And I LIKE it.  I will chose a book over boozefest.  Or incorporate them like the time my sophomore year that Julianne and I got drunk and recited our favorite poetry to the rest of the dorm.

…Just giving you a moment to let that sink in.

Anyway, in a fit of organization and forward movement that is the Jessica I know (unlike the Jessica typing this right now who would like to skip class to play video games in her leopard-spotted PJs…evidently I take this going-back-to-school very seriously.  You should probably lock up the vodka and Norton’s Anthology.) I called the school health department and got an exam for my girly parts Thursday afternoon because I am out of BC-pills and lord knows ob/gyn is still the one faction of medicine that insists on poking you because handing over a pill.  (Hee.  Poke.)

So, a brief two hours before my apartment is invading by younguns looking for a good night off I will be ankle deep in stirrups and lubricating jelly.

Perhaps I should just set up the shot glasses and copies of Frost beforehand.

T. M. I.

As a side note, after writing this, I realized another issue with discussing/treating PMS is the fact that it’s something that only occurs for a few days a month. I started feeling better and wondered what the hell I was making a big deal about. (I think the fact that my stomach feels better (get your miracle lemon bars here!) – which was completely unrelated – is putting a positive spin on everything.)

Maybe that’s the answer. Maybe women must simply tolerate a certain amount of discomfort. I refuse to believe that for now, but I concede it’s possible.

Anyway….

It’s entirely possible yesterday’s post was PMS-induced.

I have several drafts trying to explain my personal hell with this subject. It’s a difficult topic, once you get past making stereotypical cutesy references of being irrational and craving sweet, salty carbohydrates.

Bleeding gums aren’t cutesy. Neither are having your eyeballs swell and change shape so that you can’t wear contacts, insomnia, headaches, or breast pain. Oh my fuck the breast pain.

And you know what’s sick? In some ways I feel lucky to have all these physical PMS symptoms. I think people are more sympathetic and understanding to the overall condition whereas if my only symptoms were crying over the fact that I believe Frisco hates me and eating a batch lemon squares, no one would be soothing my back and saying, “Aw babe.” Instead I fear it would be bemused irritation and wondering why I don’t just suck it up.

Why is it that all of these symptoms are valid, all of them are a direct response to a change in my hormones, yet I feel the ones stereotyped do not deserve the same medical concern and treatment as the others? This is perhaps the biggest issue I have felt at a disadvantage over by being a woman in my life. I think we need more awareness and that’s one of the reasons I’m writing about it.

I’d never had huge PMS issues until a few years ago. I started the pill when I was sixteen and was off-and-on for most of my adult life. One month I didn’t get to the pharmacy in time and my ex-husband and I both noted a change for the better in my temperament. Since we weren’t having sex that frequently and planned a vasectomy, we decided I’d stay off.

I tried to go back on when the new boy and I started dating. It was a disaster. After two scripts in two and half months, I quit.

As I tend to think of myself as a moody individual anyway, I couldn’t tell you how long I’ve had the emotional issues with PMS. I didn’t take notice until last May when the physical symptoms got worse.

The breast pain is what couched me back in October. And finally sent me to the doctor. There are other physical aspects regarding my cycle (duration, consistency) that were also to the point I wanted an opinion on what was going on.

PMS often gets worse as women get older. Isn’t that wonderful?

The emotional side of it had also gotten worse. But I hadn’t really told anyone. Instead of just being sad or moody, I was having panic attacks. I would get frustrated and scared and I could tell it was irrational when (if) I vented to someone else and saw their reaction, but until then I was completely oblivious.

I had put off seeing anyone because I knew what the first treatment would be. Going back on the pill. I had to get desperate enough to consider this option and go through the hell it had been last time.

Luckily, the doctor listened to me. For once, I had actually written down each and every symptom and also the issues I had with each of the BC scripts from the previous summer.

She considered putting me on Seasonale, or prescribing that I skip placebos. Not having the change in hormones is really the only way to completely mitigate the effects. But since I’d been off for so long and had issues previously, we started with just putting me on Yasmin.

She also prescribed an SSRI. I knew that was coming too and had promised myself I would try whatever she felt was best. In the week that I took it, I failed to climax four times. While my partner and I have great chemistry and this failure would be strange enough with him, twice it was with myself and I damn well know what to do and do not have performance anxiety over it.

I stopped taking it. My doctor knows this. Sometimes I wonder what it would feel like, if instead of just being a moody individual something is really unbalanced and my quality of life would improve with drugs. But I’ve never felt that my life has been compromised enough by my emotional state for this to be an option.

Also, the Yasmin seems to help. Which is what I thought in the beginning. If it was going to help regulate all the other symptoms, why not this one? Is it because even doctors treat emotional symptoms separate from the physical? Is it that our medical institutions need to shift their views on PMS and other women issues?

The Yasmin only helps. So maybe I’m wrong. Maybe emotional symptoms do necessitate separate care.

But the Yasmin also only helps with all the other stuff too.

The breast pain, my biggest issue, is almost completely gone. Twinges here and there. I also take primrose oil the week of my placebo pills.

The physical aspects of my cycle are also more consistent. Although I still cannot predict to the day when I could to the hour when I was younger.

My gums are less severe. The emotions more range between weepy and frustration, which I recognize versus getting really out of control. No panic attacks.

But I’ve pretty much given up wearing contacts for about a week a month. And the headaches seem worse. As do the sleep habits and the night sweats. Although it’s possible they were this bad previously and the breast pain just masked it.

So while I’m debating going back to my doctor, I have a favor to ask the ladies. Do you have anything you swear by? Is there an over-the-counter medication that helps with your headaches/pains? Is there a tea you use to help sleep?

I hope this has been somewhat educational for men. Not that my situation is what all women go through, but perhaps it allows for at least some awareness and compassion. There are only two men in my real life that I’ve shared this with and they have been incredibly supportive considering this is all foreign to them.

Pink Panties of Shame

People at work who think I should be embarrassed today:

You obviously did not know me between the ages of 13-21, when it was pretty much a daily given that I would do something so humiliating I cannot think of more than 2 of these incidents in a row without needing to crawl under the desk and phone out for margaritas.

Incident 1 – After a boyfriend whose affection seemed to be…dwindling…did not call to say he made it home OK like he promised, I started calling him AND my pseudo-friend repeatedly. Around 3am her mother picked up. Did I hang up? No. I asked if Y was there, basically informing her I thought her daughter was a slut-bitch. (He wasn’t. Although later…what can I say? Intuition sucks sometimes.)

Incident 2 – I threw a cat at someone in an argument. (We were on the same sofa at the time with roughly one foot between us, please don’t call the SPCA. It was more the fact that the cat was clawed and the catcher was shirtless.)

Point is, these were actions in my control. Choices I made. My fingers dialed. My arm flung. And for that, I hang my head and drink sangria until it’s all blurry and I can no longer remember why the name “Susie” makes me spit.

I mean, yes, we could argue that I let my ass get so large as to cause the split in the back of my skirt allowing all of you to see my hot pink panties. I suppose some might deem this something in my control.

But I view the ability to dress oneself appropriately as a genetic trait. I am helpless in the face of my DNA to check clothing for matching or stains, let alone gapping holes in an area where I hardly ever glance. It’s not like it’s my knee.

Come to think of it, if you work with me and were present for the great vasectomy fiasco of ‘03, then you should be fully aware that pink panties will cause me no shame.

I’m holding my head high. Although my sweater? Very, very low.

(Pink Panties of Shame? So the name of my new band. Or book. Whichever.)

Unfit

One week a month, I feel I am unfit for human consumption.

I should have a magic room. With a soft bed, a fridge full of my favorite junk food (that won’t get me fat – natch), a collection of amusing and bittersweet DVDs, and, most importantly, no phone or Internet access.

I pondered whether I should be allowed communiqué in. Perhaps hearing from others would stave off the, “Poor me, nobody loves me”. But the problem isn’t just in my ability to be rational outward. I will pick apart and misinterpret anything communicated to me as well.

D sent me an email yesterday and as I tried to respond, I got in a rant – addressed not just to her but to the entirety of “the gang” – regarding something that happened a year ago. You’ll be happy to know that it didn’t get sent. I am not a total idiot. But it still shocked the hell out of me when the words flew from my fingers. I had no idea.

C & H did not call back regarding plans this weekend. Obviously they hate me.

Even moving from IM to voice, so that I could better convey emotion and also decipher his, did nothing for me with TG last night. We sat in silence and all I could think was, “I know I’m saying this wrong and I want to fix it but I don’t know how!” I try so hard to just get off the phone when that happens, but that in itself is hard. Matters of the heart are way too complicated for me this week. Couldn’t everyone just take a rain check and buy me a logic puzzle book to keep me occupied?

I woke up with Baby Doll song lyrics in my head and the intense urge to cry. No, not just cry. Bawl.

(“Some people say ‘Man I bet she still makes love like an earthquake’, Yeah but man she ain’t easy – she ain’t letting you in my friend, my friend”)

There was another nice email from the Never-the-fuck-here Guy (NG). Or at least, I think on any other week it would be a nice email. I don’t know. Right now it just makes me sad and tired because he forgot to mention the postcards. I’m taking a perfectly sweet email and getting all woe is me over the lack of zip code request.

Although it’s quite possible even on a normal week a girl could get a little tired thinking about a guy who’s going to be gone for 10 weeks. Except I wouldn’t know because this is not a normal week.

There have been, as of this typing, three different endings to this.

Ending #1 was short and sardonic with a “I hate being the stereotypical hormonal woman but as long as that’s the case why don’t I go shopping” feel.

The second came after hours of near tears at work. I felt dumb and helpless. Not the norm around here, in case you wondered. I was ready to run home and sob into Frisco’s fur.

Thankfully, a fifteen minute conversation turned that around somewhat. He had answers to my questions, and respected that I would know what to do. I left his office with a real smile. It doesn’t take away the dishrag weary I feel from such a day, but it relieves the panic.

Now I’m at school and want to post before anything else can occur.

Absolutely Not Non-Fiction. Nope. Never Happened

Some day I’m going to write a story about a 30-year-old divorcée who has 20 minutes to clean up the house to entertain a date and has to stop and ponder the fact that she was proud of herself for remembering to hide another man’s toothbrush.

Because I think it would make a good piece of fiction. Not that it’s happened to me.

Fuck. What the hell am I doing?

Get Over It

Last night’s plans for Taming of The Shrew (the play, not um, me) were ruined by weather. We finished the chocolate-covered strawberries on my couch.

Afterwards, we put the fact that we were home early to good use.

We planned to put it good use a second time, when…

“Umm…”

“What? We’re out? Shit!” That would be me. The one who got all worked up again and ready to, shall we say, ride. (Don’t fear ladies, I got him back before heading to the bathroom to brush my teeth and call it a night.)

“Hey, I’ve had boxes expire before I could use them all. I’m proud of us!”

“Are you sure? Not one left??” He lay back amused as I tore the drawer apart.

“You don’t have any in the truck?”

“There’s no right answer to that right now. But no.”

“Fine!”

It’s quite possible I made a few more noises. Not quite words, but the meaning was clear.

At breakfast this morning, we ran through our to-do lists.

“Oh…I remembered something I have to do.”

“You do?”

“Something I have to buy…?”

“Ah yes.”

“Damn. And I just did a huge shopping. There’s nothing else I need.”

“Time to stock up on some items?”

This led to a discussion of the most unnerving conveyer belt of items to purchase together.

I arrived to meet Michele for Starbuck’s 10 minutes early and popped into Publix. As I stood in front of the display, I thought, “What goes best?”

What indeed. Did anyone out there really believe I’d be ashamed of this? I grabbed a second box (consider that a challenge) and headed to the front with my two lone items.

To the man standing behind me at Publix:

I do not sacrifice live animals. I do not practice mail fraud. I am not a telemarketer. I pay my taxes. I volunteer. I sing “You Cannot Lose My Love” to babies nestled in my arms. I give outrageous wedding presents to my friends. I send flowers after being a guest in a home. I know CPR. I give to MADD. I do not make fun of people based on religion, race, sexual preference, or disability.

I do not have two heads.

I practice safe sex. I buy condoms. Get over it.