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.
Thing Not to Talk About #2: How I Slept
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).
Thing Not to Talk About #3: My Period
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.