Adventures in the female reproductive cycle. 

This is going to sound, potentially, very stupid and young of me, but having been on fairly heavy-duty contraception since the age of fifteen and finding that the NHS’ new brand of it did NOT work for me (#bringbackimplanon), I am only just coming to terms with my cycle. Sort-of.
I still don’t get periods. That was one of the things I looked for when I was browsing through new contraceptives – I know there are people who think that being in touch with femininity means embracing Mother Nature’s gift, but honestly I’ll take clean sheets and nice knickers above some kind of witchy holistic version of womanhood any day. This means that for years I have been defining my womanhood in other ways – in the way that I look, dress, paint my face, as well as my association with feminism and feminist literature and subcultures that are built around women (like pinup) and consider my period an inconvenience rather than any kind of marker of adulthood, femininity or shared burden.
What my new contraception HAS thrown up is a hormonal cycle that is evident in my skin, eating habits and mood. It wasn’t obvious I was moody or depressed because my body was premenstrual but my uterus wasn’t, nor was it obvious that my skin was bad for any specific reason. It is only in the third or so month of this cycle I have realised that my skin has gone fine-fine-radiant-craterface on a week-by-week basis for three months now, and that the craterface period is accompanied by sugar cravings. Frankly, I had thought it was the other way round: my demand for cake had resulted in the pockmarks my face deserved, and once I managed to rein it in (or – not want it as badly) my face went back to normal. But, as we know, correlation is not causation, and by this stage I think it is more likely that my hormones are playing havoc with my face and I will be able to predict these semi frequent breakouts but not do an awful lot about them. A shame, really, as lovely skin was the other effect I sought in a long-acting reversible contraceptive.
The grouchiness is fascinating. This is the famed wandering uterus that women have been oppressed for for aeons! Finally, I too can become too irrational to do my job, incapable of debate online and indecisive about everything! I look forward to seeing the burden my sisters have carried this many years!

I have been a bit more crabby.

I know that not all women experience biology in the same way, and I know I have been a /little/ more than a bit crabby (sarcasm probably helps me in my job, though), but I did not experience it being a big deal. I haven’t cried, haven’t panicked, haven’t expressed a deathwish towards anyone I wouldn’t have done so anyway whilst hormonal. I remain capable of rational thought and capable of holding a position of responsibility.
All in all, if I could reverse my biology in the medium term I would, and I completely understand the decision of people who don’t want children to remove themselves from female reproductive biology permanently. I do want children (in the long term), but until then I want to go about living my life and not bleeding on things or being accused of hysteria when really, it’s a bit of an inconvenience.

today is a day for trepidation and celebration.

Well. Despite having to cut nigh-on 1000 words from it (including the entire idea of society’s fear of women’s sexual agency being linked to the sublime, alas I am still not over this), my Gothic essay has served me well and I have passed the module with flying colours. I’m a mite worried about my other module – Modernism – but the grade for that is in the pigeonholes at uni so I will have to fret about that until I can go get it tonight. How well I’ve done overall this year mostly hangs in the balance of a piece of work I only submitted recently and whether a) it’s as shit as my anxiety thinks it is, and b) whether anxiety with a doctor’s note is good enough for the mitigating circumstances board. I don’t think I have a hope with it, but other people do, so we will see. I would hate to have fucked up my academic career because I was too afraid to hand in a piece of work I considered sub-standard (but was of a higher calibre than others in the class…)

I am now prepping solidly for next year – I have a stack of books, have ordered an even bigger stack of books (you honestly don’t want to know my expenditure on German poetry and Enlightenment philosophy this month – nobody should be spending that percentage of their income on Kant and chums), and made myself a bullet journal tailored specifically to the needs of my dissertation. I have begun my reading with Terry Eagleton and a new history of Germany and am making notes of everything I find interesting in the hope that a question or theme will present itself to me.

To-do

  • Pray / sacrifice / chant to any and all gods for some level of leftish success in today’s GE (if Cthulu wants blood to take away Theresa May, he shall have it)
  • Pray / sacrifice / chant to any and all gods for DREAM JOB to interview me (they said they would announce shortlisted candidates this week)
  • Stay away from the television, news and all but the most superficial social media until tomorrow. It’s not worf it, mate.

Thunder only happens when it’s raining (Freudian Shit)

I have been having very strange dreams recently. Bad dreams, but I don’t know if you can call them nightmares. Usually my nightmares are completely debilitating, strange, and focused on images or aesthetic, and I wake up sweating and in need of reassurance. These dreams are taking aspects of my life that can never meet and mashing them together to create an unnerving experience, and confusing me between the real and the unreal. I am waking up disoriented. Last night, I dreamt that my headteacher wanted to see me after school, but my boyfriend came to pick me up for date night and insisted I could see him after – we ended up wandering through my school to a colleague’s office. In addition, something happened to another member of staff which confused me greatly when I saw her and she was jolly this morning, and I had to search my mind to remember that it happened in a dream.

I hardly ever remember my dreams properly, except for nightmares (because of the way they wake me up), so this is all very new to me and very unnerving. My disorientation has been lasting too far into the morning – thank god I work with children and have a mask I wear in front of them anyway! It’s the children who tend to shake me out of it – by having to pretend to be my hunky dory perky self I slowly become her, and the dreams become last night’s problem. Although one of my students did say I look tired today… and it has been making me sluggish, and distracted.

When I was a teenager we became obsessed with online dream dictionaries, and each morning my friends and I would search for some symbol which had been there in last night’s dream. Mine were always deeply specific – not just a snake, but a snake in a glass case with an apple in its mouth, or some other thing which wasn’t there – and darker than my friends’. No joining ginger pirates on adventures for me! As such, I’m a little sceptical of Freudian dream analysis. I can well believe that dreams are the guardians of our subconscious, and that they are the key to understanding our worries. But I don’t believe these symbols can be the same for everyone – how can my experiences lead me to have a cake symbolise the same things as it would to a German scientist 100 years ago? How can teeth be the same thing to me as to my friend? And what does it mean when my dreams are no longer symbolic, but linear? The pseudo-Freud that all of this simplistic dream analysis falls apart, surely. But since I can’t afford to see a proper analyst on the regular, one who knows I’m obsessed with having white, straight teeth and have a crippling spider phobia, shit Freud will have to do.

To-Do

  • Finish introduction to Eagleton’s ‘Ideology of Aesthetics’.
  • Pick crap up off bedroom floor.
  • Write a poem.

Descriptors I Would Never Have Used For Myself

Last night, one of my friends called me a perfectionist. It made me stop and look around for a moment, and realise that maybe sometimes other people see me with more clarity than I see myself.

ferris bueller

I began to understand that when I was in therapy – my therapist made me see myself in more complex ways than I did before I saw her, but that’s her job. When one of your friends says something that reflects on behaviours that they have seen enacted multiple times, and therefore know as an aspect of your personality, it makes you stop and take stock of who you are. Your identity can be as much tied up in what other people think of you as how you define yourself, and I think her assertion was fair as well as surprising.

Here is a list of things I would not use to describe myself, but other people would definitely say about me.

A Perfectionist

I just like things to be as good as they can be, OK? But when you decide to flunk and redo uni modules because you think one of your essays is a 2:1 rather than a first, or massively freak out because your rice is cooked but your stir fry isn’t going to be done for a while then maybe you have to accept that your obsession with things being the best is coming from a different place than most people’s.

A Picky Eater

I would not have called myself picky. I love food! I love to cook, and I love to eat different cuisines and foods I haven’t tried before. BUT. There is a long list of foods I don’t like or won’t eat (from meat to mushrooms and from cucumbers to capers) and some of my requirements are quite specific (I like cashews but I don’t like their texture so they have to be cooked, I only like lemon in sweet things and never eat it savoury). I have been called picky before, and may have to accept that I am at least a little picky.

An Extrovert

This one is difficult. I do not believe for sure I am an extrovert, but I am definitely extroverted – I smalltalk well, I make friends quite easily, and usually show myself to have a lot of energy. Sometimes, though, I just don’t have the energy to deal with other people, and I usually recharge by myself or with one or two trusted people. It’s most noticeable in a morning – I like mornings, but if I have to speak to or engage with anyone for the first hour I am awake it makes me disproportionately grumpy. The whole introvert/extrovert thing is complicated by my anxiety – am I an extrovert with social anxiety? Am I an introvert with extrovert tendencies? Maybe it depends on the day. But you would be justified in calling me extroverted.

An Animal Person

I definitely wouldn’t call myself an ‘animal person’ – even though I (really) want a cat, I am more pleased by animal gifs than most people, love to walk along the portion of the canal path that goes through London Zoo, and follow more cat pages on social media than somebody who does not like animals would do. In addition – I’m a fucking vegetarian! My thoughts on vegetarianism are more complex than just ‘aww the floofies’ (I support the rights of Mexicans in America too, without having much curiosity regarding Mexican culture or defining myself as ‘a Mexican person’ – you don’t have to be interested or invested in something to want there to be less suffering in the world), but it adds up to the reasonable inference on the part of other people that, yes, fine, I might be an animal person. I don’t think they’re very interesting, though – just cute.

Lion-cat-cutest-cat

Timetable. Go away.

Whereas my last essay I had plenty of time to go off-schedule and have it take me longer (and it took me about a week longer than I wanted), with this one I don’t have that luxury. The timetable I’m going to set out is achievable, but cutting it fine so I absolutely have to stick to it.

  • Tues-Fri 9th – 12th – get to 500 words. Read all critical sources (which is mostly done already). Re-read Great God Pan. Washing up. Practice German. Go to work. Get some sleep.
  • Sat 13th – get up at 8am. Go through The Shining for quotes (but just the folded-down pages). Get to 1250 words.
  • Sunday 14th – get up late. Be ready to go out and work from noon. Get to 2000 words. Cook, and marinate something for the next day.
  • Mon-Fri 15th – 19th – read over and primp what’s done. Finish any mostly-finished paragraphs. Get to 2500 words. Go to work. Tidy room. Practice German. Get some sleep.
  • Saturday 20th –  Get up at 8am. Work in coffee shops not library. Reach word count of 3000. Proof-read and make sure it all makes sense. Hand in 1st draft.
  • Sunday 21st – Check citations. Proof-read and primp. Ask a friend to proof-read.
  • Monday 22nd – Go to work at 8am. Final proof-read over break ready to hand in for noon. Do not panic.
  • Tuesday-Friday 23rd – 26th – Work. Social events in the evening. Y6 evening.
  • Saturday 27th – Half-term. Sleep for a week.

I will not be doing anything that isn’t on the plan until the things on the plan are done. One might argue that my washing-up, for instance, doesn’t need to be on the list (that person has definitely not seen the state of my house right now), but I want to be able to include living like an actual human in my crazy week.

For context, this blog post is almost 300 words and I wrote it in a 20-minute break. Although it is much easier to write than formal language structured to make a point, I will have lots and lots of 20 minuteses, and not one day requires more than 750 words. This is possible.

Wish me luck.

To-Do:

  • Sleep.
  • Touch up roots.
  • Stop reading reviews of Ivanka Trump’s book (it wastes time, and anyway this cannot be bested)

For those people who were worried about the throbbing vein in my eye.

I do not have diabetes! I am not dying! I have not developed psychosomatic eye problems! I have early signs of optic nerve inflammation, a 90% chance of that not developing, and a stronger glasses prescription in the bad eye. She also recommended I get computer lenses –  admittedly whilst telling me all about the medical community debate about whether they actually work or not – because of the strain I’m putting my eyes under and because I don’t need them for distances.

I’m actually quite glad about this – it proves that I a) did the right thing by choosing the optician rather than my GP. They did several tests on their fancy machines and she instantly knew the symptoms and the recommendations for if my symptoms worsen (actually saying go straight to the eye hospital if so, which is concerning). They’re having me back in a week for one more test. It also proves that b) I am not imagining things, my mind is not creating bigger problems than the ones that already exist (this is a BIG load off my mind – I do not need to be seeing spiders where there are none again) and I can trust myself to take my actual symptoms of my actual problems to professionals, who can actually help me work them out. In actuality.

I’m not thrilled that I have to get new glasses – not only is it expensive (even for cheap ones), it’s a shame to get new frames as I currently have two pairs of cute, vintage-y tortoiseshell ones that everybody seems to like. I was quoted £110 to have these ones re-lensed by Optical Express, which seems frankly excessive, but may have it done by an online-only company (as if they can’t do it cheaper from a warehouse not in London and mail them back).

I’d also like to say a big thank-you to my Englishness, as the eye test was free (thanks Martin Lewis Money Saving Expert Dot Com) and I doubt I would have gone had it been necessary to shell out for it. God knows how anybody in America is diagnosed with anything, and my sympathies as it only gets worse for young people and ordinary working people and anyone who isn’t a very rich white man or Ben Carson.

Basically, hooray for no diabetes! Although, I am currently drinking my first Starbucks in about a century, and if they get their way I will definitely be diabetic soon. #sugarcoma

(My new look? Vote for your fave.)

To-Do:

  • Proof-read and primp Modernism essay
  • Persuade everyone I know to listen to You Must Remember This
  • Buy the Lush face mask that will get rid of my gross zit face (according to the lady on the Nars counter)

Anxiety is beginning to make me feel sick.

I will not have this, not right now.

I’m not going to accept having to ‘eat over’ the pit in my stomach that tells me I’m not hungry, feel sick, don’t need water.

I’m not going to accept my body’s craving junk food.

I’m not going to accept the overwhelming urge to go straight home to sleep after work.

I’m not going to accept that I don’t care about my job, because I do. I’m not going to accept that I care about all of the irrelevant things, because I don’t.

I’m not going to accept the urge to shout at people, because I don’t actually want that.

I’m not going to accept the urge to not speak to anybody, because I will be energised by their encouragement.

I’m not going to accept that I can’t take the pressures of life, because I can. I’ve done this all before.

I’m not going to accept that this is me.

To Do:

  • Finish essay 1
  • Watch The Love Witch
  • Eat food