Of Penguins and Laundry Baskets

I wash my sons' laundry after they go to bed on Sunday night, because I am an idiot who likes to make Monday mornings harder than they already are. They are well past the age when they could do their own laundry, and in fact do on frequent occasions, but I am one of those people who can't see her floor half the time and hasn't been able to find her car keys since 1989 but cannot go on one more minute if shit is not folded exactly perfectly.

I could care less about the sorting, or the putting away, but the folding part gets my knickers all in knots. There's a little spot on the back, right side of my head about three inches behind the middle of my right ear that starts to feel like it's been up in a ponytail for entirely too long every time I open my sons' drawers and see the full out massacre in four part harmony on all of those poor, helpless seamlines.

I also make my bed with hospital corners. You know, the one day a week I make my bed.

And so, I usually do their laundry. On Sunday night. At 10pm. After Dexter.

And my oldest son does me favours like leave Every. Single. Article. of clothing 78.24% flipped inside out so that I have to unflip socks that feel like they've soaked in heavy starch and chonies that the government won't let me describe in public forums and the gym uniform that even he was all, "Um, mom, be careful with that because, jeez."

These do not sound like favours, I know, but they are and they are because I get so distracted trying to dodge the grit and reapplying the Vic's Vapor rub to my philtrum to stave off the smell of teen spirit and generally curmudgeoning about my ungrateful, irresponsible lazy piece of crap kid who is so spoiled he can't even flip his motherfucking socks inside out for me before I rage against the laundry basket, armed only with a cap full of Tide with Febreeze, a cup of vinegar and a dream of eight years from now when puberty is over that I don't even notice the decorative hand towel wedged into the middle of his laundry pile.

The cheery, bright blue decorative hand towel that goes with the washcloths and toothbrush holders and trashcans and shower curtain holder thingies* that make up the not-too-masculine, not-too-feminine upstairs kids' bathroom motif.

Now, I know my son well enough to know that the handtowel in question was not used for what it sounds like it was, because my son would have burned it, buried its ashes, invented time travel, gone 4 years into the future, spent an entire day at the DMV because there is no machination of mice or men powerful enough to let anyone avoid the day's wait at the DMV, acquired a drivers license, driven to the store, bought a new handtowel, traveled back in time and replaced the burnt, dead one. This kid would rather have his toenails pulled out than tell me what he had for lunch. He isn't sloppy. He doesn't make mistakes.

But that doesn't change the fact that for the four of five seconds after hap-hazardly grabbing the handtowel, I stand riddled with post-Dexter anxiety-laden terror, unable to speak or move for the horror that is seeping through my hands, up my arms in into my heart, because for those four or five seconds I believe, with all of my heart, that this thing in my hand is covered in the spent cartridges of my grandchildren and I AM TOUCHING IT.

There isn't enough Purell in the world to make that better. But at least I didn't have to see it coming.

*The fact that I know the name of the thingy in between your nose and your lip, but not the name of the things that hold your shower curtain up makes no sense to me, either.

Of Eggs and PR People

In the eight weeks from when I first found out I was going to have all of this surgery, I did what I'd say was a remarkable job of avoiding Dr Google. I considered my situation a need to know basis, and I didn't. I needed to show up. I'm great at showing up.What I'm not great as is understanding basic human anatomy, so when they doctor told me I was having a Total Hysterectomy, but keeping my ovaries, I was a little confused.

I had my marching orders in hand from the doctor and the admissions people at the hospital and they all said Total Hysterectomy with blah blah blah other procedures and I was confused because I assumed that meant Uterus and Ovaries because who gives a shit about the Cervix and that is why I have tree unplanned children. As it turns out, your ovaries aren't actually attached to your uterus and don't count as part of it. Your cervix totally does. And some people get to keep their cervix. I am not some people.

Anyway, it's been three weeks since my surgery and four weeks since my last period and that means that I, right now, am having my first un-period. I actually prepared for this. By searching Google. Because I'm an idiot. I just couldn't fathom what my ovaries would do if there wasn't a uterus dangling near-by them and everyone in Googleville told me that I probably wouldn't have much in the way of PMS anymore since my eggs had no place to go but it turns out that my eggs don't dig the whole "unrequited" thing and have gone on the offense.

That is to say that, for the first time since my first period on October  8th, 1988, I have raging, evil, inexplicable PMS. How do I know this? Exhibit A:

PMS Striketh

Exhibit B: My Sent Email box.

I've been blogging for five years and 10 months. I get my fair share of email pitches, and most of them are bad, but I've never really care too much about them even though it's like the new rite of passage in blogging to publicly commiserate with your peers about the audacity of your PR pitches. This has always screamed to me of bragging, like, OhMyGod, Becky, I really need you to know you will never believe how many people didn't realize I was too good for them today harumph. Until I got some PMS. And now I get it. No my head is exploding every time I open my email.

PR people are seriously emailing bloggers and saying 'Hi, I work for this random obscure company you've never heard of. Please send all of your analytic information from the past six months to random at email address dot com'. REALLY. And that's it.

They want to 'suggest' articles for us to write or 'guest post' for us on our blog so that they can get uncompensated advertising on our blogs? Really? Ask the Wall Street Journal to link to you for free, I double dog dare you. No, I don't think my blog is the Wall Street Journal but if you think I write 'articles' and am in the habit of ''publishing' press releases, you clearly think I am.

Someone asked me to post pictures of their clothing in exchange for a VIP link to their website. Like, is there a line to get it? Do I have to get a boob job and extensions to order your clothes? Do I get an double pour of Hennessey in my snifter if I enter your site through the VIP link?

A PR person for a brand new mommy blogging toy review company thing who has zero experience in PR and less in grammar asked me what I charged for my email list. I will not only not sell you my email list, because A) I value my readers and B) it's fucking ILLEGAL, I will flag your name and the name of the site you're working for and the second I get a commerical message from you, I'll know you bought someone's list and I'll report your ass to canspam because guess what? I do email marketing for a living.

And the thing is, since my ovaries have no where left to funnel their rage anymore, I need a new outlet - which has come down to gorging on cheeseburger or replying to these people. I've chosen the latter, with my ad rates. Or advice. Which, oddly enough, really effectively shuts people up because I think a good many of these PR people have gotten the Public and the Media parts down, but they seem to have forgotten that Public Relations contains the world Relations. Social Media contains the word Social.

But not all of them.

Companies like Chevy get that we're people and we like to be treated like people. The fact that I can meet the regional PR rep for lunch and just have lunch speaks volumes about the character of the company. The fact that I've asked them for way more than they've asked me for, that they took the time to read the words on my blog before they emailed me tells me that they're in this for the relations and it makes me want to work with them.

Companies like Kenmore rebrand and rebuild themselves based on the the input of normal old people. They asked people to describe their company in a word, turned those into word clouds, and based their new product line on the results...from the font up.

I'm a sucka for a cool director's chair.

I found it fascinating and refreshing to see how, at every level, this major corporation was hearing people, rather than trying to make them listen. They're tapping into local media with their Kenmore Live Studios and Social Media with the funniest PR person the world has ever known and treating bloggers like people and professionals and actually paying them for insane things like their TIME and OPINIONS and all the while delivering a solid product that my kids could use to play hide and seek.

Big enough for 100 sodas or one kid

That's, like, the perfect storm of marketing and I suddenly wish my house wasn't top to bottom Whirlpool because I totally want to put my money behind the company that is putting their money behind customer relations.

Companies like XBox seem to understand that if I'm on Twitter asking my friends if Santa should bring an XBox 360 or a PS3 and one of your paid spammers replies to me with a link that looks legit but really isn't, I'm going to hate you. But if you reply to me even though I wasn't talking to you and you say actual human things and are actually humanly helpful over the course of 30 minutes, I'm going to buy your product simply because you as a company are willing to invest in your relationships with consumers.

But of course I screwed myself because I decided to buy the damn Xbox right when Burger Kind decided to have their "we're giving away an Xbox every 15 minutes" thing and my kids will.not.shut.up.about.it so I took them to try and win one, which cost me $30 and an hour of my life I will never get back. Also, their dreams are crushed. Thankfully, Christmas morning should see that mended and see my without another pedicure for two years. Such is the price we pay for childhood whimsy.

But to say thank you to Xbox for the good service and Burger King for the burgers with mayo, I'm giving away 20 $10 gift cards to Burger King so you can try to win your kids and XBox Kinect, too. The whole giveaway they're doing ends on the 28th, so we have to do this fast. I'll draw 20 winners on Sunday so we can mail the gift cards out on Monday. If we don't get them there in time, go here. You can get 6 free codes online to enter, but you don't get a Whopper with that.

And really, I just want the Whopper. With extra mayo and tomatoes.  More than I've ever wanted anything in my whole life. Is this really what PMS is going to be like for the next 30 years?

Bigger. Stronger. Faster. Pussycat.

Imagine you have a house. A normal ol' run-of-the-mill, not too big, white picket fence, American dream on a budget house. Inside that house is a load-bearing wall, a support beam that holds everything up that should be up, so that everything to the side can stay aside. This is a very important wall, we all know. Now imagine that in a very short course of time you put another house on top of your house, one that weighed the same as the original house, plus five pounds. Imagine you didn't add another load bearing wall.

Picture in your mind what that wall would start to do.

Now imagine that you rammed a Mac truck into that wall.

And then did it again, 23 months later to the day. And then once more 7 1/2 years later, for good measure.

Before the roof fell in and everything that was supposed to be up french kissed the basement, the walls would probably start to crumble. That fauz southwestern stucco facade you spent weeks carefully applying with sponges and brooms and 170 grit sandpaper and a shaman's blessing would have all but disintegrated before your eyes. The pipes in the wall might start to bend and twist and wrap around other pipes, ones the don't have any business touching. The wires might start to cross. Mere anarchy might just be loosed upon a world you couldn't even see, because it was all neatly hidden under a picture of your great grandmother Pearl.

But someday, you're going to want to hang a new picture. And then, friends, kaboom.

And that's exactly what happened to my chocha.

Anyone who follows me on Twitter with any amount of vigor will recall a conversation on April 23rd between myself and my two favorite dotcomrades, Two Busy and Adam P Knave, wherein we took it upon ourselves to scientifically analyze the feasibility and the moral, religion and socio-economical impact of turning my vagina into a potato radio. We're pretty sure that with the right mixture of Masingil, hardwiring and old fashioned elbow grease, it could be done. We're also pretty sure that Jesus hates it when you talk about making 7th grade science projects out of vaginas on Twitter, because as sure as the Pope wears a funny hat, here I sit 7 months later with a six million dollar vagina.

Sadly enough, I cannot get NPR on the damn thing. I blame the liberal elitist socialist agenda propaganda machine.

Your body has a wall, in between your evacuatory tract and your reproductive tract, and that wall helps you sneeze without peeing your pants and helps you poo out our booty and not your money-maker, and helps your internal organs stay way up where they belong, where the eagles fly on a mountain high. Your body does, mine didn't. Mine tore in half, all the way top to bottom clean in half, sometime between 1998 and now, no one's really sure which kid I get to saddle with the guilt of this for the rest of their life.

You will know this is happening to you when your OB asks you during a routine exam if you ever feel like things are falling, and you say yes, and then he asks you if he can stick his fingers up your bumm and poke around, and you say I'm going to owe you dinner after this, aren't I?* and then he looks up from between your legs and says, "Um, how old are you again?" and you say, "35?" and he says, "Huh, 'cause I can see Russia from your house."

When your OB can wave at himself through your vagina via your rectum, your house dun broke.

Needless to say, there was a good amount of reconstructive/plastic/biological transplanty surgery to be done in order to fix the Bubble Yum Wind Tunnel and its supporting cast. Everything from the public bone south had either torn completely in half (rectal-vaginal fascia), disintegrated (perineum, pelvic floor) dropped (uterus, bladder, Dow Jones Industrial Average) or had distended itself beyond function (labia, vaginal wall, rectal wall). All of that was repaired over the course of 5 hours, and they even took care of that whole pesky MY UTERUS IS ATTEMPTING TO KILL ME FROM THE INSIDE OUT thing I had going on, by yanking it out and suspending the tucked, tightened, pulled, yanked and shrunken vagina from the ligaments that once held Chez Mr Lady in place.

Post-op, my doctor told me "that whole thing (sweeping hand gesture around the source of my power and femininity)" was the single worst he'd ever seen on anyone, and he usually sees this only in women over 70. I told him he a way with women and it was amazing he was still single.

But then he told me that he'd given me the "hand-sweep again" I had when I was 16, and if I hadn't been completely annihilated on morphine I probably would have punched him in the throat because now I'm going to have to deal with a "hand-sweep" that is too emo to make any friends and can't even get a date to the prom and thinks that Extreme is, like, seriously, the GREATEST BAND ALIVE.

*True story. I am made of class.

Finding My Way To Mariana

Surfing is not a team sport. Sure, you can have surfing teams, but ultimately, surfing is the sport of you and nature, tangled up together, limbs intertwined, riding on top of and against and through each other. Out in the sea, encapsulated in the grandeur of tidal pulls and gravity and water and earth, your ears are full of the the whole of creation roaring at you, perched and ready to strike. You tether your sliver of control to your ankle and attempt to find your god in your absolute mortality. It's a solo endeavor, finding your rhythm in time with nature, learning that you'll only dominate once you surrender, realizing that your power is completely perceived and contingent on your willingness to let that same power completely go. You ride the wave, the wave rides you.

It was September 20th, mid afternoon, when they told me they were going to have to take my uterus.

Every morning since, I have woken up, waxed my board, strapped it to my foot and walked headfirst and alone into this swell. My team paddles alongside me, but inside the tube it is me and my mutilation, pitted singularly against each other, timing a collapse against an escape in defiance of gravity along-side sanity within the swell of the natural order of things.

I do not know how to navigate through this, and so I choose most days to ebb out with the water, thoughtlessly allowing me, myself and this to drift lazily out to sea. When I try to speak of this, the waves come crashing down around me faster than I can navigate through them. They constrict with each undulation until I am drunken and suffocating inside an impossible tunnel.

Everything holding the core of me in place disintegrated. I am no longer able to create life.

It is hard, surrendering to this. I don't want this, and I don't know how to talk about this. I know how to mock this, to be sure, but I don't know how to honestly say that I cannot handle what just happened to me any more than I knew how to say I couldn't handle what was about to happen to me. And so I don't talk about it, except in very specific terms.  I am healing fine and I can start washing dishes in a few days and driving in a few weeks and maybe by Christmas, I'll be able to give my husband a "present". I listen to the advice I am given and I accept all the support I am offered and I tuck all of that away in my pocket for the time I know that I'll be able to unwrap it and use it and I continue ramming my head into this thing alone, because I don't know how else to do it.

I keep riding this wave, it keeps riding me.

I dream of tiny fingers wrapped around thumbs, of suckling and sleeping, of the things I thought I decided years ago I didn't want anymore. I'm jolted awake in the mornings by the reality of stitching that spans the height and breadth and depth of everything I used to need to make that dream come true, everything that has been carefully reconstructed with biological mesh and re-purposed ligaments and tethered expanses of skin and muscle.

I am the accumulation of 35 years of surface friction, mounting itself over and over again until at last, the base could hold me no longer and it broke against itself.

This wave of mutilation is still roaring around me, blocking sun and sound and earth and heaven, and I am tethered to the sliver of control I've convinced myself I still have left. I am trying to let this go, to rest upon the foundation that was surgically implanted into my body ten days ago and stay ahead of the wave that wants to come crashing down on me. I am reconciling the singular mortality I was forced to face against the three embodiments of my immortality that greet me each morning, and I am riding the wave.

And it is riding me.