As promised in my last post, today I shall try to share interesting stories about How I Slept and My Period, inspired by a recent This American Life podcast episode.
I'm not sure why this has to be a conversational rule, because who is ever tempted to talk about this? The example This American Life shared was from an astronaut who recounted what it's like to sleep in space. Some astronauts strap pillows to their heads just for the familiarity of the gesture, although pillows are not needed and there's no way to keep your head on the pillow without tying it on. This was cheating, if you ask me. Pretty much any story that takes place in space and features an astronaut is bound to be interesting. (Even if it's about menstruation.But that topic comes later, you lucky reader.)
So, here's how I slept last night:
I climbed into bed and laid my head on my pillow. After reading the last few pages of The Book Thief on the Kindle app on my iPhone and bawling my eyes out, I fell asleep. Willie Nelson may or may not have made an appearance. Approximately 7 hours later, Keira wandered in and climbed into bed with us. I tried to pretend it wasn't morning yet. I failed. The end.
What else is there to say? I can't say many people have tried to tell me detailed stories about their tossings and turnings, and if they have, I must have blocked it out. My husband, who has suffered from long periods of insomnia in the past and has tried various remedies, has riveting sleep stories. But I'm not allowed to share them. Let me just say this: Ambien is a helluva drug.
Okay, okay. I'll can do a little better than my first attempt. Here are two of my best sleep stories.
As a very young child, I wandered into the living room while my parents were watching Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan. It was the earworm scene, which I will not share because I still cannot stand to watch it. They didn't notice my wide, horrified eyes until it was too late. It was a defining moment of my childhood. From that moment on, I lived in terror that an insect of any kind would crawl into my ear while I slept and commence eating my brain. My biggest fear? Earwigs. At the time, I could not imagine any other way they could have earned their name.
And so every night, I'd kneel by my bed and pray, "Please bless that no bugs will crawl into my ears while I sleep, and if they do, that they will crawl out again before I wake up." I would always fall asleep lying on my left side, with my pillow protecting one ear and a carefully positioned blanket pulled taut over my right. My younger sister, with whom I shared a room, witnessed all of this. She continued the bug prayer on her own for years after I outgrew it. And let me just say that my prayers were answered every night! Until one summer night when when I was sleeping on the trampoline with various siblings and cousins, and I awoke to find that my nightmare had come true. A LIVE BUG had invaded my ear and was having a party. To say I panicked is an understatemet. I acted a little bit like the man you'll see at 1:56 in this clip from the Chevy Chase classic, Fletch Lives:
When I was 17, I would regularly wake up to find myself snuggled deep under my covers, wearing nothing but my birthday suit, with no recollection as to how or why I was naked. Eventually I realized it only happened while I was wearing a particular nightgown, sewn for me by my mother for Christmas. The fabric must have been some fleece-flannel-alpaca blend, because it was so toasty warm that I would rise nightly to fling it off without ever waking up. One night I finally caught myself in the act, and the mystery was solved. After that, I only wore the nightgown on winter campouts (i.e., never).
I know you have been waiting anxiously for the fascinating menstruation story I have in store for you. You are in for a treat!
No, actually you're not. I do have one or two menses-related stories that wouldn't bore you, per se. But I happen to agree with Mrs. Matthiessen on this one. You don't want to hear about my period, and I definitely don't want to hear about yours. Generally I'd rather not hear any stories that originate in your pelvic region. Let's just keep it all to ourselves, shall we?
But speaking of periods, I recently came across some interesting general information on the subject. And I feel like this is a safe place to share. If you haven't closed your browser window after the number of times you have read "menstruate" thus far, I don't think you're going anywhere.
One of my favorite writers ever, Malcolm Gladwell, wrote a 24-page article all about menstruation, which can be found in his What the Dog Saw essay collection. True to form, it's pretty fascinating, particularly the claim that modern Western women menstruate about four times as often as they really need to. The whole 28-day cycle thing? It's not necessary (it might even be harmful), and it didn't used to be that way.
Some of the research cited in the article is based on the Dogon tribe of Mali, who live today much the same way they did in antiquity.
Gladwell says: "All told, Dogon women menstruate about a hundred times in their lives. (Those who survive early childhood typically live into their seventh and eighth decade.) By contrast, the average for contemporary Western women is somewhere between 350 and 400 times."
Whoa. I menstruated 100 times by the time I turned 19. I don't know about you, but that's one area in which I'd gladly trade places with the tribal people of Mali. (But I'd like to keep my iPhone, if it's all the same to you.) I mean, sure, it's all worth it if it's all a part of the miracle of creating life. But the Dogon women and their prehistoric counterparts had lots more babies than we do today, and they got to enjoy the abdominal cramping and violent mood swings way less often.
The essay continues: "T'wo of the world's most prominent contraceptive researchers argue that this recent move to 'incessant ovulation' has become a serious problem for women's health. ... incessant ovulation serves no purpose except to increase the occurence of abdominal pain, mood shifts, migraines, endometriosis, fibroids, and anemia—the last of which, they point out, is 'one of the most serious health problems in the world.'"
Okay, so how did I do on "Things You Should Never Talk About" numbers 2 and 3? Were you bored to tears? Intrigued? Inspired to share a non-specific menstruation story of your own in the comments?
Coming in future installments of "The Seven Things You're Not Supposed to Talk About": My Health, Money, Diet, and Route Talk.
A few weeks ago on the This American Life podcast, which I highly recommend, the producers took on a challenge: to try to find interesting stories on each of the seven topics one producer's very proper English mother claims should never be talked about. Unless you want to bore everyone in the room. Because nobody cares.
With so many holiday events coming up for so many of us, I thought it would be a handy list to share.
According to Mrs. Matthiessen, who got the list from her French friend's French mother, nobody ever wants to hear you drone on and on about...
Here on Yeah, Write, I shall attempt to share interesting stories from my own life on each of these topics. And you can be the judge as to whether or not I have succeeded.
Hey, at least I'm sharing these here, where you can close your browser window if you want to, instead of at a holiday party, where it's much harder to disengage.
I will admit that I don't like to hear other people recount long and detailed dreams. In any case, I think the key to avoid being tiresome when sharing a dream is to keep your accounts brief and succinct. If you find yourself trying to apply logic or a narrative structure to the scenes from your dream, you're probably crossing into boring territory. For example:
"Then 4o white horses rose up from the floor, and suddenly my mom was there, and she said, 'Turn around Billy,' but my name isn't actually Billy, so I don't know what that means...Oh wait, no, that was after the cactus with the top hat started tap dancing but before the squirrel started chasing me...Where was I again?"
Now on to two dream stories of my own. (Did just hearing that sentence make you want to stop reading? If so, maybe Mrs. Matthieson is right.)
I'm not sure if I can state this strongly enough: while in a wakeful state, I am 0% attracted to Willie Nelson. Zero percent. He is old enough to be my grandfather, after all. But in that dream, none of that mattered. Things got steamy, much to my deep confusion upon waking in the morning. Please don't analyze this one for me, because I don't want to know.
Other strange subjects of compromising dreams: Stephen Baldwin and Toby Keith. Seriously, why not Daniel Craig or Mr. Thornton from North & South, people I consciously admit that I find attractive? Am I a closeted redneck?
Example 2: One night after spending the entire day planting the massive garden at my old house, I had a dream that chilled my husband to his core, briefly. He awoke to find me crawling around the edges of the bed, peering over the edges, saying in a low and creepy whisper, "How do we get out of here? How do we get out of here?"
"Why...do we...need to get out of here?" He stammered in response, suddenly awake and terrified.
In reality, I had been dreaming that I had planted corn around the perimeter of our mattress, and I was simply trying to find a path to the bathroom without trampling the tender plants. After we worked out the details, Travis was relieved to learn that I wasn't seeking an escape route from a fire, home invasion, alien abduction, or similar.
As for me, it took a few minutes of conversation before I realized I was dreaming, as is usually the case. And Trav usually exploits that fact by keeping me talking as long as possible, like he did the time I insisted, while half asleep, that our dog Ruby was on the computer, printing our wedding pictures. (Which, frankly, would have been a huge favor to me.)
You can be the judge of whether these particular dream stories pass the bar or not. I find them interesting, perhaps because they sprung from my own subconsious.
Discuss. And feel free to share a dream of your own, succinctly.
Coming up in my next post: Stories about How I Slept, My Period, and My Health.
This album may not look all that special, but it is very well loved.
It has passed from careful old hands to sticky young hands. It has sat on the coffee table for months. It has been handled and passed around and looked at. A lot.
It contains 60 photos and 60 stories about my dad, directly from the mouths of the people he loves most. The night we gave it to him, he got very quiet. He looked through it, page by page, very slowly, three times in a row. Tears gathered in the corners of his eyes and actually overflowed in mine.
Do you want to know what I think he loved most? That his wife and children and in-laws and grandchildren all had a hand in this gift. That we all worked together to give him something so meaningful and so reflective of who he is. I think he loved seeing how we see him.
I can’t imagine giving anyone a better gift.
Join me in a new workshop, Easy Tribute Albums, that I'm teaching with Stacy Julian and Wendy Smedley, starting next week! I'll show you all of my secrets for pulling off a project like this, just in time for the holidays. (Come on, don't you want to give someone on your list the best Christmas gift ever?) In fact, there will be three album tracks to choose from. We'd all love to see you in class, so much that we're offering you a $5 coupon code if you register by the 14th. Enter code STACYCLAUS at checkout.
Yes, I know that life is not just about winning. But it shouldn't be all about losing either. Behold today:
"Keira, are you ready to go to preschool?"
"No mommy, I'm too sick. And I miss you. "
She does indeed have a cold, as do I. And she definitely knows how to butter her mama up.
"Okay, no preschool. But that means you need to watch a movie quietly during mommy's morning conference call, okay sweetie? Then we'll play."
Instead, during the conference call, in true toddler style, she:
So, right after hanging up and cleaning up, I devour three fun-size candy bars out of Keira's Halloween bucket, even though I've been off sugar since June. My excuse: must make sure there are NO more Almond Joys left to tempt Keira next time.
Then it's lunchtime, at least for me, who did not eat a ham sandwich at 9:30 a.m.
We both need to get out of the house, even though we're both still in our pajamas. So I make a beeline to the local Kneaders (a divine bakery with a drive-thru) to order lunch, intent on consuming the largest cinnamon roll in sight. Because if I'm eating sugar today, I might as well EAT SUGAR.
As I try to order, Keira wails at supersonic levels when her window is UP. But every time I roll it DOWN, she leans forward and shouts her own preferences at the intercom. I say, "One turkey sandwich" at the same time as she says "I need a Spriiiite!" in a perfect imitation of my drive-thru ordering voice. I roll her window up so the clerk can hear me, but then her screaming drowns me out. (I'm indulging her more, see, because she's sick.) I try to laugh about my predicament to the teenager on duty, but she doesn't care.
Eventually, I get the order across. I opt for a bowl of warm, comforting, tomato-basil soup instead of that cinnamon roll. I mentally pat myself on the back as I pull away from the restaurant. Way to go, Angie!
About a half a mile later, an individual in a compact car somehow fails to notice the half-ton truck (me) driving at the speed limit (45 mph) in the proper lane. The car pulls out in front of me, apparently without having glanced at the road at all, and I have to slam on my breaks so hard that my seatbelts lock up. And my treasured tomato soup goes flying.
It smells heavenly as it oozes onto the floormat.
As does the warm buttery roll that Keira is shredding in the backseat.
I mentally curse, then I square my shoulders and drive on, looking forward to cleaning up the 4th disgusting mess of the day.
No cinnamon roll. No tomato soup. Only a tiny shred of sanity left, and 5 hours to go before daddy is home.
How was your day?
#yesitcouldbeworse #firstworldproblems #gratefulformylife #nocheesewithmywhine #tongueincheek #tinyviolins
At Keira Jane's third birthday party, there was:
1. One incredible, delectable birthday cake.
It was, without doubt, the best cake I have ever made or eaten. I had to leave this cake behind the day after the party as I departed for a wedding in Washington, and I dreamed of it nightly. It was a mash up of three great ideas that made cake magic when combined all together:
2. One balloon curtain.
Much cheaper than helium...and adorable to boot.
3. One very excited little girl, who had to be kept away from these three presents for just three hours.And even that was too long.
4. Dozens of pretzel butterfly appetizers.
These are not only easier than they look, but also better tasting! (Granted, I didn't expect them to taste good at all.) These are a combination of fruit roll ups (which stick to the pretzels all by themselves!), melted white chocolate, and Gusher's fruit snacks cut in half. Find the recipe here.
6. One blurry photo of a tiny archer.
Can you tell she's obsessed with the movie Brave? She often says, "I am Medida, first born of [unintelligible], and I'm shootin' for me own hand!"
Note: I'm trying to learn how to use my nice camera again, instead of relying on the iPhone all of the time.
7. One little girl who got very embarrassed by the attention of everyone singing to her.
I don't think I've ever seen this expression on her before, and I love it to pieces. We tried to tell her that princesses "do not put their weapons on the table," but she just wouldn't listen.
We just wrapped up another Pajama Party* on Thursday, which is defintely our best one yet! We're getting the hang of this live broadcast thing more and more. This time, I remembered to bring my pants, which I can't say for our July show.
I have to share a little project I created for the show, inspired by Amy Powers, instructor of the upcoming Craft Happy workshop ("12 weeks of cheerful projects to celebrate the holidays—and life in general").
Amy is SO fun, generous, and inspiring. See for yourself:
Following Amy's lead, I created my own shadow box project using two jewelry boxes plus one check box. I had to cover mine in paper (embossed kraft paper from Stampin' Up!) to make them all match, but my Xyron Creative Station made it SO easy. I just cut everything to size and turned them all into stickers, with the super strong permanent adhesive cartridge!
I've been looking for an excuse to use my Simply Jane stamps and dies from PaperTrey Ink, as well as these papers from Bazzill Basics. I stamped, I die-cut, I embossed, I adhered, I punched, I trimmed, and I stayed up until 3:00 a.m. because I just couldn't stop. It is well, indeed, to have as many holds upon happiness as possible.
Swoon. What can I say? I love all things Jane Austen. And yes, those really are Jane Austen BandAids (although since they're not the BandAid brand, I should call them "bandages" or "sterile strips," in honor of my journalistic training).
And yes, they really do make grown-up-girl owies feel better.
* Want to watch the Pajama Party replay? It's free. Click here to register. Once registered, go to My Account, My Classes, and enter the Pajama Party classroom. Then click Archive and watch the September 26 Pajama Party featuring Studio Calico!
For more fun ideas just like this from Amy, join her in the upcoming workshop, Craft Happy, which starts Thursday! Here's a super top-secret exclusive sneak peek at the first four weeks of class.
I tell you, this girl's creativity and joyfulness are totally infectious. If you want find yourself grinning from ear to ear every day from October to December, Amy Powers is the key.
Feel free to save $10 with code GRIN as you see above. OR, I got special permission to offer you a $25 discount! Click here and enter code HAPPYCRAFTER at checkout! Your choice. ;)
In closing, speaking of "Janes" and "joyfulness," I simply must share a favorite recent picture of my own Jane, little Miss Keira Jane, who is very nearly three.
While I never think of September as "summer" in theory, in practice I consider it summer until it starts getting cold again. So it is definitely still summer around here, with our warm 90-degree days, despite Labor Day doing its best to usher in the fall before anyone's ready for it, and despite the darkening evenings.
We had a quintessential summer day yesterday: playing in the water, eating sandwiches outside, enjoying popsicles on the porch, making two different trips to Lowe's, catching up on some summer beach reads, working on home improvement projects, etc. In the midst of it all, I captured this shot, which just screams summer to me:
Summer, I'm going to miss you. Stick around a bit longer, will ya?
On my way home from having lunch with my grandparents last week (Have you ever tried the fire-roasted artichoke from The Cheesecake Factory? You really should.), I stopped at the Sandy Antique Mall for a quick browse.
I know I'm not the only person who finds old dolls creepy and would never EVER want to go to sleep with one in my bedroom, eyes open, watching me sleep, all night long. But on this visit, I spotted some winners.
Something about this doll reminds me of my grandma Hill, but in a creepy way. My grandma was not at all creepy, so I can't pinpoint what it is that reminds me of her. Maybe she had a doll like this somewhere in her house (the attic of which was most definitely very creepy).
AAAAHH! I'm sure I'm missing some historical significance here, but why has this doll just ripped the head off of a toy soldier...and is now looking so smug about it? (And what about that creepy angel that's photo bombing my creepy doll picture?)
I wisely left the other two dolls on the shelf, but this one I took home with me for the bargain price of $10. She would probably be creepy, too, if not for the fact that she's Little Orphan Annie, and she's wearing real fabric socks. I bought her for Keira, who has lately been obsessed with the Annie from my childhood (with Carol Burnett as Mrs. Hannigan). Never mind that Keira recently pointed at a lady at Costco and yelled at the top of her lungs: "Mrs. Hannigan! Mrs. Hannigan!" I can only hope that the woman was without a television for most of the 1980s and that the reference eluded her.
See, I told you she loves the movie. Although she's just now starting to venture into Disney Princess world, having fallen in love with Rapunzel, and then Merida (which Keira pronounces in a Scottish accent, like "Medidah," and she WILL correct you if you pronounce it with a regular "r" sound), and now Mulan. My little girl is growing up. You should hear her sing, "And at last I see the life...", her take on a song from Tangled.
My super-fun journaling workshop is back again for it's second run, and it starts tomorrow (Thursday)! Grammar-Free Journaling: 12 stress-free storytelling strategies is packed with dozens of ideas to help you tell your stories quickly and in creative new ways.
Awesome stamps from Technique Tuesday, Capture journaling products from BasicGrey, journaling helpers from We R Memory Keepers, an entire product line from Elle's Studio, whimsical pie-chart stamps from Paper Smooches, and list-style journaling cards from Cathy Zielske!
But the best prize of all will be your newfound confidence that there's more than one way to tell any story, and that you now have the tools to find the right storytelling strategy for each scrapbook page you make.
Also, a quick thanks to Ali Edwards, Cathy Zielske, Rebecca Cooper, Keshet Starr, Jennifer Larson, Katrina Kennedy, and Lisa Dickinson for hosting giveaways of my class on their blogs. At least one or two of the giveaways is probably still open at the time I wrote this, so hop around.
But before you go, here's a little code for you. It expires today, so don't delay! (No more rhymes now, I mean it. Anybody want a peanut?)