I have Female Hysteria

I accept that for the better part of a century we’ve been saying that Female Hysteria isn’t a real thing. Misogyny kept women locked in small lives with no intellectual, emotional, creative, sexual, or legislative outlet. Then they put us in institutions when we acted out. Men made the rules and we had to walk the line. But…bear with me…What if Female Hysteria is a little bit real? And what if I have it? In this the year of our lord 2019, me a woman of sound mind and good education, thinks she has a 19th century disease that was treated with masturbation and naps.

First Symptom: I am irrationally angry all the time. Today I asked a woman how to find a section in the grocery store and I nearly grabbed her by her lapels and screamed in her face, “Your pause is too long! Why isn’t your brain and mouth moving faster! I WANT TO BITE YOUR FACE!” Intellectually, I understand she gave me the information in a reasonable length of time. But I felt unhinged. Here is a short list of things that have enraged me lately:

  • The laughter of a child

  • A dog wearing a hat that didn’t match his personality.

  • The general lack of things in the color orange

  • A guy I used to date posted a picture of his shoes on Instagram

  • I’m the wrong height. I’m too tall to be average, but too short to be tall. 5’9 is the worst.

  • Everything has cumin in it

  • Actor Zachary Levi’s face in Shazam

    Any number of these things could have driven me to peel all my skin off and throw my bloody skin suit at the nearest bystander.

Second Symptom: Food tastes weird. Everything is too sweet, or too salty, or too spicy. What do I love? SUGAR. What do I love only slightly less? SALT. What is something I’ve never said in my life up until a month ago? “It’s a little spicy.” I was putting hot sauce on my eggs when I was six. And yet suddenly I’m one of those people who can taste different flavors in ketchup.

Third Symptom: I have zero interest in sex, but I have a desperate need to have it. I am straight and yet I hate all men most of the time. You have to talk to them so much before they’ll let you have sex with them. They all had childhoods. They all have friends, and jobs, and hobbies. And if I don’t pretend to care I don’t get to have sex. And masturbation seems so time consuming. If I have ten minutes I should probably load the dishwasher and put a load of laundry in the machine.

Fourth Symptom: I think everyone is out to get me. I’m not necessarily paranoid. Three people are actually out to get me. But that feels like a lot and my mind is conflating it into everyone.

People currently plotting against me: (1) A coworker who thinks I’m responsible for her changed circumstances and wants to see my fortunes fall (2) A buddy’s wife. She thinks I had sex with him. I did not. But I can’t prove I didn’t. You can’t prove a negative (3) My neighbor thinks that I am the one who clogs the garbage chute and has enlisted other residents in surveillance to catch me.

See? Anger. Observable Neurological changes. Loss of libido. Paranoia. FEMALE HYSTERIA.

Still not convinced? I know it is female hysteria because it goes away when I am given time to myself, bland food, orgasms, and a low-stress environment. So although the original diagnosis was just woman-hating bullshit. There is an actual human condition in which sometimes you need to have someone give you a very clinical orgasm, and then tell you everyone around you is a jerk and should try harder not to upset you. I will immediately begin to secure funding for a sanitarium for women like myself. High thread count sheets, Netflix, and gardens to drink tea in.


Make-Up Confuses Me

I spend a fair amount of time hating my personality because I’m socially awkward. When I die they should carve on my headstone “Ugh. Why did I say that?!?!?!” But although I don’t always enjoy my personality, I tend to be okay with my looks. I look like my parents,  they were nice looking people, and I loved them. And I like to see them. My father is long dead and my mother lives far away. It is nice to see them when I’m brushing my teeth.
The Mirror Has Two Faces is not a good movie. I love it. Regardless, it is crap. But there is one great line in the movie. The protagonist played by mildly deranged fame demon Barbara Streisand is talking to her future husband and he comments on the fact that she doesn’t wear makeup. And she says, “What’s the point? I’d still look like me, only in color.” It isn’t magic. You don’t wave the mascara wand around, say some incantations and get a new face. You get a face that is shinier or more matte. You get eyes that look slightly bigger and lips that are a different color and maybe a little fuller. But it is still your face. And since I’m cool with my face it always felt like it wasn’t worth the hassle.
I am aware that I have some facial features that years of human evolution have deemed as more attractive than others. And I don’t have acne or wrinkles. I’m also lacking in birth marks and scars.  So it is easier for me to say “Eh. That’s acceptable” versus someone who has to deal with excessive external criticism regarding their looks. But since when has being pretty stopped anyone from feeling shitty about their looks and being makeup and plastic surgery obsessed? What’s that you said? Oh. Right. Never. So it isn’t that.
I suspect it is a form of complacency that I’ve decided is contentment. I am currently as beautiful as I will ever be. It is all downhill from here. I can’t afford plastic surgery and am not healthy enough to risk having it. Therefore, thinking up reasons why I need it would be counterproductive to my desire to be happy.
And I don’t worry much about being pretty because it isn’t my job. I’m not a model or actress. No one pays me to be pretty, so I don’t have to be good at it. The insurance company that has the honor of being my day job would hypothetically pay me the same amount to do my job if I wore makeup. I say hypothetically because I do not know what the most beautiful women in the office make and I have never consistently shown up to the office looking like something other than the kind of woman who reads a lot and has never accomplished a successful cat-eye. Since what we’re building towards is me starting to wear makeup, soon we may find out.
I don’t have many friends who are not daily makeup wearers. One doesn’t know how to apply it. And another is allergic to everything and swelling and open sores don’t bring all the boys to the yard. So I have had ample opportunity to ask “Why is it that you do the thing that you do with your face?”
1)      “I have bad skin.” I’m not sure who decides what is good or bad skin. But my understanding of the standard is that it is smooth and one even skin tone. This is also virtually impossible to accomplish past your 12th birthday. People constantly compliment me on my skin. It is three distinct colors. We should have separate skin standards for adults and children.
2)      “I look tired.” Umm…Bitch, you are tired. You have kids/a job/an annoying husband/insomnia/a casual cocaine habit or combination of two or more. If we all look tired, no one looks tired. New Standard! Who’s with me? *crickets*
3)      “I don’t have any eyelashes if I don’t put on mascara.” You demonstrably DO have eyelashes if you can apply mascara. If you don’t have alopecia universalis then you are being overdramatic and allowing Maybelline to pimp you out to make them rich.
4)      “I don’t want to look old.” Yeah. This is a tough one. I don’t want to be mean. But if you are worried about looking old you probably already do or makeup isn’t going to help. You’ll just look less like you’re going to die today. And before you come for me with your “Easy for you to say. Black don’t crack.” I beg to differ. Black just takes longer to crack, but it almost always cracks. I’m going to look the same way I do today until I’m 60. And then in what will seem has been overnight I will look 110 years old. I’ve seen it happen. It is like there is an invisible army that shoves black women into meat dehydrators when they least expect it. And then we find ourselves whining, “But I used to look so good.”
5)      “I like it/I like how it looks/It is fun.” Okay. Now we’re getting somewhere. This makes sense to me. In this scenario no one is internalizing impossible to achievable beauty standards that slowly poison their soul until they’re writing into their will how they want their hair and makeup done at their funeral.

Since all of my readers are smart and ask the right questions, you’re wondering why if I don’t feel like I need it and I don’t like it, why am I going to start wearing makeup again. Excellent. Good for you. It is because I recently through careful examination realized that the kind of men that I want to attract like women who wear makeup. That when you put on makeup it signals to the world that you prepared to be noticed and want to be looked at. Wearing makeup says “I wanted to look my best for you.” It doesn’t matter that what I think is my best look is “$50 richer and slept 10 more minutes.” In order to achieve the desired result we must take the appropriate action. (Insert eye-roll) So I will wear makeup every day for two weeks, and see if I notice any positive change in how the world treats me. I’ll let you know. So prepare yourself for a bitter diatribe on how superficial the world is. Or just a video of me twirling and laughing with a scrubbed clean face shining with triumph.

Me. With varying amounts of color  applied to my face.

Me. With varying amounts of color  applied to my face.

An Open Letter to Accidental Racists and Bigots

For centuries straight cisgender able-bodied white males determined what everyone would be called like a little girl on Christmas morning naming her dolls. Now as marginalized people begin asserting themselves it easy to offend someone. Even if you’re a good and kind person who would never do so intentionally. The wrong way to respond is to say it isn’t offensive. A little worse, would be to say people are too sensitive. And it is hard not to look like an ass saying "We're friends, we can joke around that way" or "It’s okay that I said it because one of my best friends is (insert race/sexual preference, ethnicity, etc). As a person of color I feel like I can provide insight into how many of us would prefer you responded. Copy this down and try it:
“I didn’t know that was offensive. I’m sorry. I won’t say it again.”

If you think you might be a victim of a social justice warrior politically correct witch hunt you can follow up with this question, “Why is it offensive?” We’re happy to explain it. There is always a reason. And usually we’ve put up with it for at least a century before we got up our nerve up to say something. I promise contrary to what FOX news and the right-wing blogosphere tells you, we’re not just making shit up to make you feel bad.

Getting defensive and arguing with the offended party about how they shouldn’t be offended is a request to have your privilege and superiority affirmed by that person. You’re telling a gay person that you know more about being gay, a black person that you understand the 400 years of the subjugation of their ancestors better than they do, and you’re asking a transgender person for permission to tell them who they are and how the world will see them. If you actually are as a good a person as you think you are, you won’t want to do that.

But if you still feel like you are being bullied by the word police you can just say “Okay” and roll your eyes after we look away. You’re not the first person to say whatever it is to us, at this point we can live without your enlightenment. We’ll settle for you just shutting up.


Arson Is For Wankers

When I was six my elementary school had a fire safety assembly and invited a young man who had been burned over 80% of his body. He had no fingers and since this was the 80’s and plastic surgery isn’t what it is now, looked like he’d been melted and then someone tried to shape him back into a person. He was very clever and charming and an amazing public speaker. It has been almost 35 years and I remember his words, they in fact haunt me. I have been terrified of fire ever since.

Mine is not a normal reasonable fear but something that I have lost sleep over. When I smoked I didn’t light cigarettes in my mouth. I looked like a crazy person but I wasn’t going to put an open flame three inches from my face. I also don’t go to bonfires, I rarely light candles, and any time I use a match I run it under water before I’m willing to dispose of it. I don’t just check the location of exits on planes. I do it everywhere I go. I used to do my own fire drills as a child. Which my parents probably didn’t question because they were just happy I was going outside.
I’ve been in two buildings that were on fire. This feels like an excessive amount, but I refuse to look at the statistics because I need to feel special and I’m afraid that might be  average. The first time was in college. When I was a junior, several rooms in my dorm on the floor beneath me caught fire. No one was injured but it was scary. The second time was Saturday night. And I barely registered fear for some reason. Possibly because a gypsy told me I would die on November 3, 2056 in a boating accident. I love boats. I don’t mind dying on a boat. As long as it isn’t a cruise ship. I refuse to die full of buffet shrimp after listening to Kathy Lee Gifford sing. 
Since it was September 30, 2017 and I wasn’t on a boat I stayed calm. I stayed calm even when the smoke was thick in the stairwell. I was choking on it as I went outside. My building has impressive protections that keep fires from really getting going. So I knew the fire would be out shortly. What lingers in my mind is the effort the arsonist put in. He and presumably a partner lit fires on three floors and in the elevator. The elevator thing is especially messed up because as it returned to the lobby it filled the corridors with smoke and when the doors opened it released enough smoke to briefly convince us that the fire may be in the lobby and we were trapped. It was like the perpetrator was trying to keep us in the building to burn.
As far as I can tell there is no reason to burn the building down. Witnesses who saw the guy with the can of accelerant gave statements to the police and I hope they find the guy. Thank God for the intrusive security cameras and patrols. And I appreciate the tenants that used fire extinguishers to get the fires under control before the Fire Department arrived. Two of the heroes are a gay couple I’ve been giving the stink-eye for months because their dog is poorly house trained and poops in the building. They clean it up too slowly in my opinion. Saving my earthly possessions earns them two weeks of goodwill and forgiveness. I have some takeaways:

1)      Whereas all I grabbed was my purse, a sweater, and my cellphone, others grabbed valuables. I don’t know if I have a healthy attitude towards the value of my life versus things, or I don’t own any valuables. I really hope it is the former. My neighbors stood in the fall air with televisions, guitars, a painting, and Spider Man collectibles. The TV is especially odd. We all have renter’s insurance. It is added onto your rent if you don’t have your own policy. So that TV would’ve been replaced if the building burned. Could it have enough sentimental value that when his life was on the line it was worth the two minutes it took to unplug it and carry it down five flights of stairs? Everything I grabbed was designed to make being out of a home less traumatizing. A phone so I could call people, my money and identification so I wouldn’t be helpless, and a sweater because it was cold out. All of these things were on my way to the door. I didn’t look at my television.

2)      My neighbors have ice water in their veins. I wasn’t particularly panicked when I heard the alarms. We have had a few false alarms when someone burned a casserole or sprayed something into a smoke detector. But when we reached the lower floors and the smoke was thick and dark I wanted to move about twice as fast as we were, while the people in front of me were transporting a cat in a special carrier and letting their toddlers walk at their own speed instead of picking them up. My mama didn’t raise me to trample children, old people, or cats so I moved languidly down the stairs. But I didn’t want to.

3)      I am a rare woman. Most studies show that women make better witnesses than men because we notice details. We take note of what people are wearing and estimate height and weight well. That is apparently not true for me. I saw the arsonist but took no note of him. If someone else hadn’t said I was with them in the elevator when he declined to get on while looking suspicious I wouldn’t even know I saw him. All men look suspicious to me at night because I  live alone and listen to podcasts about unsolved murders. I keep my head on a swivel but I don’t memorize faces until I get a gut feeling or a guy gets into my space. I will endeavor to be more nosy in the future.
I suspect my priorities are a bit askew. Someone kind of tried to murder me and approximately 300 other people and I was less upset about that than someone being bitchy to me at work. I guess they’re right. It really is the little things.


Crazy, Sexy, Cool...But Not Really

About a year ago I found myself kind of done with men. And not in a "I kissed a girl/And I liked it"-way. I kissed a girl like 20 years ago and I liked it well enough, but have never found a reason to do it again. I was done with men the way you get fed up with a former favorite restaurant. "You know, it used to be really good. But the last three or four times I went there I was so disappointed" So I was retired. And then I learned what people had been telling me since I was 13 was indeed true. Many, not all, but many men are attracted to ambivalence or being treated with disdain. And now I get hit on constantly. 

I do not understand this. My favorite thing about any lover is that he's really nice to me almost all the time. But this has not been a shared interest with the men I've met lately. If my attitude towards men was a person she would address people like this, "Ugh. What do you want? Really?!?!? You want to flirt with me? How dare you. You are late. Ten years ago I was sweet and fun and open and capable of love. Now i'm like a piece of gum you found under a table. Sure I'm still gum, the same way I'm still a woman, but someone has chewed all the flavor out of me, and I will never be sweet again. So just let me eat this burrito in peace."  This is how I usually feel. But it is not how I felt about the guy I met at Rite Aid last night. 

I did not get his name but I will call him Jean-Pierre, because I call all my imaginary boyfriends Jean-Pierre. And I will go into that another time. Jean-Pierre held the door open for me and smiled. He asked me how I'm doing and I responded with "I'm wonderful. How are you?" and gave him a coquettish little smile over my shoulder as I headed toward the potato chips. And he tossed back "Wonderful. Really wonderful now that I've seen beautiful." I giggled, while not giving much thought to him. I was trying to catch a train in 9.5 minutes. But I ran into him again near  nutritional supplements. He smiled and I felt all silly and goofy and wished he'd just ask for my number. But he didn't and I noticed he was going in the direction of the registers. Oh well. Time to finish shopping and catch that train. I grabbed my supplements and some "personal care" products. Pads, OK? I was buying pads. And not just any pads but Always Discreet Sensitive Bladder Long Supreme. I have my reasons and they will be revealed shortly.

I picked up a Little Debbie apple pie and went to the register. Where he was still waiting. Some demon sent to test me was arguing with the cashier about the cost of toilet paper and had held up the line.  Jean-Pierre was still in line. So there I stood behind him with my arms full: bag of Jalapeno Kettle Chips, four bottles of supplements, an enormous package of basically adult diapers, and a deep-fried apple pie.

They opened up another register at the same time that Jean-Pierre got to the front of his line. So we stood side by side checking out. And I tried misdirection and chattered and pointed out other things in the store so he wouldn't look at my purchases. But of course he looked. And he raised an eyebrow and smiled. And when he left the store he gently touched my shoulder and said, "Hey you take care of yourself" in the most earnest, talking to your grandma way.

I wanted to chase after him and at least try to run him through the flirtation cycle I call THE TLC after their 1994 album Crazy/Sexy/Cool. I first say or do something Crazy, then I manage to be about 15% Sexy, and then I try really hard to convince the guy I'm Cool. Here's how it played out in my mind as my feet itched to run out the door and catch him.

CRAZY: I scream "I DON"T PEE IN THESE!" while waving  the Always Discreet at him.

SEXY:  I just have really heavy periods. If I don't use these my panties look like a communist country's flag. You know...If I wear panties *wink* But the other 26 days of the month my vagina is awesome and you could see it if you want. 

COOL: Oh and these supplements are just for my chronic pain. (in Matthew McConaughey-like voice) I mean my body is breaking down, but hey isn't everybody's, man. Like we should all just accept and love each other in our imperfection. Because dude, we're all just made up of matter that used to be something else. We're all like part dinosaur. Nothing is every lost or destroyed. We're all just changing. I'm entering into my middle-aged chrysalis and you can be there when I become a butterfly. 

This of course would not have worked. I was already cemented in his mind as a broken down old lady full of tablets and gushing urine. Just a hollowed husk of a woman he was now flirting with out of pity. 

While there will be a segment of you who say I should only buy potentially embarrassing things when I am certain no one hot is around, I can't take on that pressure. I can't live my life like there is a Jean-Pierre lurking behind every corner. I need to be able to buy lube and a 12 pack of AA batteries without worrying about being judged, because they were in fact being purchased for two unrelated reasons. And I need to wear weird hats, or not brush my teeth before running out for coffee, or verbally abuse pigeons. I love hats. Almost more than I hate pigeons. I accept that I will meet men who are not repelled by my shitty demeanor, and I may be won over by that and smile, and then they will not understand all the stuff I've got going on, and not be interested anymore. And that isn't my fault. IT IS THEIR FAULT. They should've shown their asses up ten years ago when I didn't need industrial pads, or take supplements, or defiantly eat Little Debbie snacks

Angry at Soup

One of the chief conflicts of my life is that I'm a loner. But I am also driven insane by solitude. Constant battle. People, can't live with them, really need to stop trying to live without them.

I haven't been feeling well lately, and  I have spent much of the week in bed, eating soup. And I purchased a new soup, Campbell's Well Yes! Sweet Potato Corn Chowder. I like my food with a kick so I added some cayenne pepper and it was really delicious. My rage is not directed at the soup itself, but the label on the can. I actually yelled at the can.

"Preparing the soup is Easy!"  Really assholes?!?!?! Nothing in life is easy. If it's so easy what is with the damned exclamation point?

"You know how to do this-" Maybe I don't. Maybe this is my first soup ever. For all you know I'm a recently orphaned teen just trying to make it on her own, and you've now made me feel like I'm ill-prepared for life because everyone else in the world already knows how to make soup.

"All microwaves are a little different-so suggested cooking times are approximate."  Well, well, well, look who has lawyers on staff who are afraid of getting sued if someone eats overcooked or under cooked soup. 

"Heat in a covered microwaveable serving bowl on HIGH for 2 1/2 to 3 minutes." Thirty seconds into cooking the soup I learned why this instruction was lacking the rest of the label's insouciance. YOU MUST COVER THIS SOUP! I spent more time cleaning up splatter than I spent eating soup. 

"Let the soup sit in the microwave for 1 minute. Resting is good. Carefully remove."  You soup elites don't understand the common man. Not everyone has the luxury of rest. Not in life. Not in soup. Some of us hustle 24/7. When I'm asleep, I'm working in my dreams. And guess what Campbell's, many people eat soup at work, in a shared microwave. Other people need to use it. And they will think you're a jerk if even after the microwave beeps you don't take the soup out. You can't just make them keep waiting. Also Campbell's do you not know how microwaves work? They beep and beep and beep and beep until you open the door. I don't find an irritated appliance asking me to get my shit together very restful.

"Stir up the goodness and serve with a smile!"  Why is everything with you people an exclamation? It is just soup. I think I'm agitated because you're too animated.

"Caution edges are sharp." Oh, now you want to walk the novices through soup. Umm...A sharp edges warning is a little late. At this point in the label we already have a bowl full of hot soup. If we were going to cut ourselves on the can it would've happened while we were emptying it. Oh. My. God. You're lucky your soup is really delicious. 

"Made with carefully chosen ingredients:"  You've been making soup since 1869. Are you telling me that up until now you haven't given a shit about what you've been feeding people? Soup is eaten by children and old people. Tell me you were being careful before. 

I bought all seven of the vegetarian soups in the Well Yes! line and they're all amazing. And that is the only reason I will continue to let them piss me off with their stupid labels. Great soup. But I don't like yelling at cans of soup like Trump yells at the media.

Go Away, Weird Old White Guy

A weird old white man keeps popping up in my life like a Canadian dime. He's not useless, so much as he is useless to me. I worked under him 10+ years ago. And I didn't particularly like him then. He is the kind of man who always seems to be laughing at me even though I didn't make a joke, or only partially listening because I couldn't possibly be saying anything important. And when I moved to my new apartment in June I learned that we now take the same train home from work. This means I run into him several times a month. And he insists on talking to me.

I hate talking to people. Well, that's not completely true, let me clarify. I hate talking about nothing in particular. If you gave me the choice between small talk and you shitting in my mouth I would choose to risk getting E Coli. And this man who I will call Orville and I have nothing to say to each other, so it is all small talk. 

I find myself wanting to scream at the heavens "WHY DOESN'T HE SEE THAT I AM NEVER HAPPY TO SEE HIM?!!?!?" And I need to know what kind of white straight male entitlement has convinced him that if I'm listening to music while reading a book that he just has to get my attention.

Orville: I was waving and trying to get your attention for 10 minutes. But you were really enjoying what you were listening to.

What I wish I'd said: I was. The question is, why did you think that you wanting to talk to me was more important?

What I actually said: (hollow insincere laugh) Yep. It was good. See ya.

Every conversation I have with Orville transpires while I am obviously fleeing. And yet he persists in talking to me. The bond he feels exists between us is rooted in that we are both writers, in his mind at least. He has been writing the same novel for 14 years. And when I read a draft of it 10 years ago it was the worst thing I've ever read. I would gladly read every single one of the 50 Shades books, all the books ostensibly written by a Kardashian plus all those Kardashian adjacent, and any virginal vampire fiction some lonely Mormon housewife decided to fart out before I would ever read his book again.

I was glad to learn that he attempted to email me the latest draft of his nightmare opus and it bounced back because  I stopped using that email address years ago. And when he asked for my new email address, although I have 3 that are very easy to remember, I gave him the one that contains ancient Greek, two additional letters ,and a 2 digit number. He of course didn't catch it and I was in active retreat so he couldn't get a pen and paper or unlock his phone. He texted me for the email but I did the old "New phone. Who dis?" And then when I saw him the next time gave him the number for Papa Johns pizza. And not the one that delivers to me just in case he asked them about me and they told him my address. 

What's does a girl have to do to protect her time from weird old white guys? 

Tools I haven't used yet:

  • Violence
  • Pretending I am my own clone/android replacement and who he is wasn't programmed
  • Completely changing my routine.
  • Walking 1.3 miles home everyday
  • A disguise
  • Having sex with him (That usually gets men to avoid me)
  • Carrying around a bottle of something rancid and spraying him the way a frustrated skunk would.

I honestly feel he could walk up to me and vigorously honk one of my boobs and I would feel like that at least made sense. My boobs are very honk worthy. But the talking...the talking must end.