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.

What Goes Around Comes Around. Twice.

My husband and I have been married for eleven years. Eleven years is a long time to do anything. We've seen our share of ups and downs, and that is the understatement of the year. I am not the easiest woman to be married to, for any number of reasons. I am grossly insecure and particularly needy and excessively sensitive. He's got his things, too, but this isn't about him today, it's about me. I've made him work for this relationship. I change the rules on him constantly and expect him to just keep up. Example: When he met me, I worked three jobs, 19 hours a day, 6 days a week. Now I stay home and let him go to work for at least 12 hours every single day while I fail in every way to so much as wash the dishes. He does this with a smile on his face, or so I assume; it's not like I ever actually see his face anymore. I'd like to say that he at least gets to come home to a hot little body waiting for him in lingerie, but what he really comes home to is a snoring wife wearing his sweat pants hogging his side of the bed who used to be a size -0 and is now a solid 12.

I make few apologies for this. It's not like I knocked myself up with a baby that decided to make me gain 105 pounds in nine months, after all.

However misguided my feelings on the subject, I do feel a little bad that the 98 pound girl with a D cup you could stack plates on that he signed up for a life with has now turned into a National Geographic centerfold. I feel bad enough, in fact, that I, on occasion, will buy him pistachios and roses and have them waiting for him when he comes home in the middle of the night after the umpteenth night straight at work.

Roses & Pistachios are the way to a man's heart

He reciprocates occasionally, coming home late from work on the nights he's due in early, bearing gifts for me, too.

If I wrap the divorce in silk, it will be an appropriate 12th anniversary gift

That is a gym membership, brought home for me last week, because apparently he wants a divorce. You leave a man enough times and he'll start double-dog daring you to do it again, all for the low low price of $31/month.

To his credit, he did include all-you-can-eat childcare in the package. So now I can't bitch about being fat, having no where to go OR having no one to watch my kid while I go there anymore. It's like he's robbed me of everything, including my lovely lady lumps. Asshole.

But I'm determined to use it, partly because I do want to get the fuck out of this house occasionally, and I would like to do it sans-four-year-old, but mostly because I'm sick people congratulating me and asking me when the baby is due. The best answer to which is, "Four years, three months and eleven days ago; thanks for asking." So I went last night to try this thing out. I got the four year old ready to go and the nine year old announced that he'd like to go as well. So I put my gym bag down, huffed a little, and called to see if I had a two-for-one daycare special. Which I do. I grabbed my bag, my two youngest, and headed out the door when my eleven year old ran down the stairs in full gym gear asking if he could come, too. You know, to work out with me.

Seriously, I just started being able to poop without company. Will there never be a moment's rest from these people?

So I put everything down, again, and called the gym, again, huffed, AGAIN, and lied about his age, again, and found out that I could bring him. So off we all went. 45 minutes after I was planning on getting to the gym, we had two kids checked into daycare and one magically-turned twelve year old on an elliptical next to me. Who beat my fat fucking ass, hard. Every spanking this kid has ever received in his entire life was repaid last night, in full. He pwned me.

Vengeance is a dish best served sweaty, with burning quads.

It's not like I can let me kid out-work me. If he does 50 crunches on the ab-thingy, I have to do 50, also. If he's barely broken a sweat after 20 minutes on the elliptical, I have to grin and pray silently for god to strike us all dead and spare me this humiliating torture. If he gets through an entire circuit and asks to do it again, well, I just have to do it all again. Even if I can't stand upright anymore. Even if I've sweated out every drop of moisture in my body and am now replacing that sweat with blood. Even if my legs are jello and I can't recall where my arms used to be. Even if I just want so scream that THIS WAS MY PRESENT AND YOU ARE RUINING IT, SHORT PERSON. I can't do that, now can I? We're having a bonding moment, right? One of those fleeting mother-son moments that will be over the second this kid learns what a Playboy magazine is. Which, thanks to him, I may be able to appear in someday.

Better Living Through Crimes Against Fashion

I have some back problems. They're not "end of the world" back problems, but most certainly prone to being "abrupt end of my day" back problems. Basically, the right side of my back has decided to wage global-thermo-nuclear warfare the rest of my body, and it's gotten the entire right side of my body to join in it's jihad.

This shit hurts like a motherfucker a good deal of the time.

I've tried everything to fix it. I've handed thousands of dollars over to a chiropractor in Denver whom, I am pretty sure, used it all on midget porn. I've done yoga, but when your stomach hangs the way my stomach hangs, yoga stops being classically graceful and fascinating to watch and becomes something Quentin Tarentino wouldn't be comfortable putting on screen. I've gone to a billion doctors. I've cried. I've eaten my body weight in ibuprofen. This afternoon. Nothing helps.

When I moved up here to Ye Ole Canada, I figured that it might take a while but I'd maybe be able to actually get this fixed, what with the social medicine making sure I don't have to bankrupt myself for help. I went to several different doctors who ran several different tests and all of them were inconclusive at best. My current doctor, whom I am sort of in love with, actually went so far as squeezing me in for a CT scan, which came back normal.

Because guess who's back didn't hurt the day of the scan? Go on, I'll give you three tries.

It's gotten to the point where I know, without any doubt, exactly what the problem is and I have a general idea of how it would need to be fixed, but my doctor isn't about to let someone slice me open without an MRI, and that would take no less than a year to get, so he's told me that yes, I'm probably right about what I think, but just keep taking those Motrin and it'll go away someday.

Which, in doctor speak, means "when your birth certificate expires." I'm just not that patient.

He offered to do some nerve conductivity test, but then forgot. He ordered a bunch of bloodwork for me to have drawn, and I lost the forms. I asked him what to do if this continues to get worse, and he told me to get an exercise ball and do these completely pornographic sorts of back-bends and splits and bouncy things on it. I think he has the hots for me. Or wants me to have more children. Either way, I'm not buying my kids an $85 bouncy ball that's bigger than their head in the name of physical well-being. That's what I buy Guinness for.

The last time I was in his office, he wrote me a prescription that read, not kidding, "Shannon has monster feet and needs orthotics" and wrote me another one that I thought I was mis-reading. I looked at it. I held it up to a mirror. I turned it upside down. I asked a Ouija board. I kept getting the same answer.

The man prescribed me Birkenstocks.

And I figured that it's finally happened, that the province has run out of tax money for medical care and they're throwing any old diagnosis at people just to make them so annoyed, they'll stop coming to the doctor already. Or drive to Seattle. Which would just make my back hurt worse. So I went to the shoe store and talked to a lady forever and bought my very first pair of tree hugging hippie shoes (with my husbands own money, thankyouverymuch FTC) and you know what?

Those bitches Changed My Life.

My back still hurts, but more in a "I have a really good reason to whine today, and possibly get away with not washing the dishes" way than the "I'm going to give this Playdough Thanksgiving set plastic knife to my daughter and let her dig out a chunk of my spine with it" way. I actually feel better when I wear these shoes. A lot better. Like, I don't ever want to take them off better. See, my normal flat feet don't sit properly on the floor, and that throws my entire spine off and makes me stand all funny which throws my back off more, and then everything pinches and tightens up and the entire right side of my body starts talking about seceding from the Nation of Me in revolt. And the Birks? They fix it. They make my feet set properly on the ground. They rotate my arches way the hell up, and keep them there, and they mold to my feet to make sure that everything continues to stay where it belongs. And it makes the pain stop.

They look completely fucking ridiculous with a slinky black cocktail dress on, but I've never been one to put fashion over comfort, so there's that. Don't like it? Don't look down. Doctor's orders, yo.

So I am now officially one of THOSE people who wears brown hippie shoes with woolen socks under them and once I move to Boulder, Colorado and stop shaving my armpits and start humping trees, my transformation will be complete. And I'll be so close to pain free, I may actually be able to notice the other little pains, like all the crotch splinters. Humping trees ain't for the faint of heart.