badness, goodness, humor, life

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Flo

Going to an all-girls’ middle school and high school skews one’s perspective of the world, and in so doing, failed in small part to prepare me for the very different social dynamics of a not-all-female environment.  There were about 500 people in my high school, only 112 in my graduating class, and we all more or less knew each other.  I had become so accustomed to being around nothing but social, friendly females that I assumed I could do what I did in high school (be friendly) and get the same result (friendship).  Not so.  I walked into my first college class, sat next to a female student and immediately introduced myself and started up a friendly conversation.  She was shocked into near-silence, and I was shocked by her shock.  We created a shock-echo that sounds like nothing and vibrates at a frequency between awkward and stage-fright.

pretty accurate

pretty accurate

I encountered another social speed-bump when sharing a suite of four bedrooms with seven other women in my freshman dorm.  One of them called out to me with a question, and I came out of my room with tampon in hand, joined them in the living room and started chatting.  A few sets of eyes kept darting to my hand.  ‘What are they looking at?’ I thought.  Not one to allow the elephant in the room to go unmentioned, I ended a sentence with, “Dah-ling,” and pantomimed smoking my tampon like a 1950’s Hollywood starlet.  A couple eyebrows shot up.  ‘Why aren’t they laughing?’ I thought.  I had found a point of cultural disconnect that I never knew existed between white, female Americans of the same age on a topic we all shared.  Initiate shock-echo.

In high school, I went through a rapid shift of hiding tampons when I went to the bathroom to tossing them into the air for fun while I waited outside for a stall to open up.  I give credit to the healthy self image the school managed to help instill in me as a female while still teaching Catholic values (quite a balancing act), and to my parents.  The first day of my first menstruation, my parents congratulated me.  My mom gave me a pad, then told my dad, who came rushing into my room and literally said, “Congratulations, sweetie!” before pulling me into a bear hug.  It was a healthy environment for a young woman, which did nothing to prepare me for the shame and secrecy I would be expected to keep surrounding my menstrual cycle in the future.

she's so stylish

she’s so stylish

I work in an office now, and I wonder where the line is for unprofessional behavior when I comes to dealing with natural bodily functions.  Is walking to the bathroom with a tampon in hand unprofessional?  My knee-jerk reflex says yes, but why?  Is it any less professional than carrying a box of tissues around if you’re sick?  Using a tampon is evidence of health and fertility, while being sick is proof of a weak immune system, and a threat to the health of everyone in a twenty-foot radius.  We should be more offended by the sickly than the fertile, given that menstruation isn’t a catching illness, and yet the male (and sometimes female) population occasionally reacts like I’m walking through the halls of my office holding a grenade instead of thanking me for doing what must be done to keep myself from bleeding all over everything for days at a time.  YOU’RE WELCOME, PEOPLE.

This needs to stop.  There’s no reason for me to feel ashamed of my ability to menstruate.  I’m capable of building an entire person.  That’s AMAZING.  I should get high-fives on my way to the bathroom, not shunned and encouraged to keep what is essentially a super-power in the down-low.  I’ve never understood the culture of shame that surrounds menstruation.  So I’m done hiding my tampons at work.  Anyone so horrified by the blatant display of my (and by extension, half of the human population’s) desire to keep blood stains out of the office chairs is welcome to explain themselves.  Starting now.

bring it

bring it

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goodness, life

I can has bees!

I will join a several thousand-year-old tradition, and thereby become a badass

I will join a several thousand-year-old tradition, and thereby become a badass

Dad has decided he wants to keep bees.  Naturally, I’m on board.  We’re going to catch a swarm together, put it in the hive he’s built and hopefully, eventually, harvest some honey from them.

We went to a local beekeepers’ meeting a couple weeks back, and yesterday attended a small mentoring program where we accompanied a very experienced bee keeper named Kirk who helps run the Backwards Beekeepers.  He’s hysterical.  He gives advice like, “I always put my bee suit on before going near a hive or a swarm.  That way I never wish to hell I had put on my bee suit.”  The man is a genius.

We checked on six box hives of various size, ranging from one to four stacked levels.  He loaned me the top half of a bee suit, and Dad brought me some gloves.  I felt super confident from the mid-thigh up.  I gathered and clutched the bottom of the “shirt” to keep bees from flying up into the shirt (it worked, miraculously).  We looked on while the other three attendees (more experienced than we) opened the hives and pulled out each frame to check on the bees’ progress, helpfully pointing out the various occupants of each section of comb: drone brood, larvae, honey, etc.  They pointed out drones (huge) and we got a quick peek at a queen (large, brown and sensitive to light).  Overall, super cool.

Captain Obvious says, "If you keep bees, you'll get stung."

Captain Obvious says, “If you keep bees, you’ll get stung.”

I started menstruating yesterday, so I was really tired and sat down after about an hour of this.  After a minute I worried that sitting would cause the cuff of my pants to lift and allow bees to fly up my pants.  I pondered this issue, and as I tried to think of a solution that wouldn’t involve standing, I got stung on my left leg right above the knee, through my pants.  Well.  Shit.

Sitting had pressed my pants right against my skin, so there was no space to protect me from a stinger.  I brushed the bee off and quickly pulled my pants away from my leg, which extracted the stinger.  It hurt a little more than an inoculation, and kept hurting for a few minutes.  Still, I expected to be stung at some point during my beekeeping experience, so I wasn’t too dismayed. Plus, it was my first sting ever!  So I was curious to see how I would react, both psychologically (temporary pain doesn’t really bother me) and (mostly) physically.  I took a Benadryl when I got home, and took a six hour nap, lol.  I haven’t had a chance to sleep in for two weeks so I was in desperate need to some catch-up sleep, and I typically take a long nap on the first day of my menstruation cycle, so I doubt it was a symptom of an allergic reaction.  The spot where I got stung is just a small pink dot on my leg now, and it doesn’t even itch, so I think I’m ok.

Dad was super bummed that I got stung.  He kept apologizing, and Boyfriend doted on me when I got home and did work on his laptop next to me in bed until I fell asleep.  Dad kept checking on me, and called me at work this morning to see how I was doing.  So sweet.  I am so loved.  Plus, I bet he doesn’t want me getting scared off, which is understandable; he wants a beekeeping buddy 🙂  He said he’s going to get me my own beekeeping suit!  Hooray!  I’ll be so confident in my own suit!  I can’t wait!  I’m doing that thing where I get really excited about a new thing.  I almost impulse purchased this necklace on Etsy the other day, lol.

UPDATE:  Aaaaaand I bought this one instead (two of them, actually, one for Dad and one for me).  Not sure where his will go, maybe on his wall at work?  Ugh.  I am the worst/best.

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