It’s the beginning of March and it’s snowing. Again. Christ almighty, when will I be able to wear flats again? Walk on the grass? Feel the sun on my face. Throw on a t-shirt and a skirt and head out the door. My friend Monica said that nothing was more refreshing than strolling in a long skirt without any underwear. It was like opening the window down below . When I lived in New Zealand, I once found myself at a music festival, swept up by reggae music, sun-kissed and stomping my feet into the dust, hair wet from the ocean, wearing nothing but a long white halter dress. I felt truly free. Like I could breathe, and not just through my mouth and nose. The winter season is such a bulky time of year, I’m starting to feels like later-years Marlon Brando, but with much smaller breasts.
I manage a facility that deals with children, anywhere between eighteen months and five years, up to school aged. Each little friend comes complete with boots, gloves, hats, snow-pants, enormous puffy jackets, indoor shoes, lunch bags…and the occasional little roller bag with Dora the Explorer on in. The first snowfall of the season, ( exactly one thousand years ago) brought that fear to the forefront of my mind.
all. those. puffy. coats.
Imagine all of those possessions, and then stuff them into a little cubby. Then let a four-year old do it. Watching a pre-schooler try to achieve this cleanly and swiftly is like watching a monkey stuff a cream puff through a key hole. Children, bless them, are precious creatures, but when surrounded by twenty of them, it does feel like being a ringmaster in a midget circus… but all the midget’s have all been drinking champagne in the hot sun, or they have just recently been tasered on a tilt-a-whirl. They look stunned, confused, toddling around the room wrapped up in layers like little sausages. No one knows what belongs to them, and everyday there is a lone mitten, or abandoned sock. On more than one occasion, you have to line them up and hold up a sweater, moving slowly down the line trying to match the unlabeled item to their disoriented owner. “No one? This sweater belongs to nobody, it just grew some legs and wandered from a store somewhere? That’s fine, I’ll just add it to the massive pile we call the lost and found”. I dream about warmer days, and one layer per child.
Do they usually come with this much baggage?
I feel like I don’t know how to write. Or…that I can write, but I don’t know what to say. Or that I know what to say but I’m afraid to be as honest as I need to be to tell the story. I’ve just recovered from five days bed rest. Infection stormed the castle of my immune system, and my empire lay in smoldering ruins. What I love most about getting sick, (and when I say love, I really mean hate) is when you are ticking along, enjoying life, strolling on a metaphorical California boardwalk eating an ice cream cone, staring at the sunset…
…when someone runs up from behind and whacks you over the head with a crow bar, knocking the fun out of your day, and the wind out of your sails.
The mathematics of body chemistry. Busy schedule+winter+lack of sleep/hotel hot tub x dietary sensitives=five days of bed rest due to a spectacularly wicked thrush infection. It came on with a furious swiftness, as if it were sent to me by the devil himself via the four horseman of the apocalypse.
Sweet baby Jesus, the tunnel of love is on fire.
I woke at 6am and felt like moving my body would be the greatest feat. I texted my boss and fell back asleep for hours. When I finally awoke, I was weak and agitated. I wasn’t going anywhere. I lay there in the darkness, wondering how to pass the time.
Okay…time out. Listen,I’ve got to drop a disclaimer on y’all. I’m not sure where this blog is going to go, but there’s a 98% chance that the subject material may get a little uncomfortable. Right now we are cruising along in a little boat, on untroubled waters. I’m giving you the usual tour through my ridiculous thoughts, and everyone is perfectly content.
The tide is about to turn. Like that scene in “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory”, when they take that cruise on the chocolate river that quickly turned into an acid trip. It’s innocent enough, Wonka is singing a little ditty, and then it starts to edge on creepy, and then he starts screaming at everyone, and it really takes the sweetness out of a pleasure cruise in a candy factory.
This blog may do that. I’m going to talk about my vagina. Things may get graphic. Not in Quentin Tarantino or Larry Flynt kind of way, more Eve Ensler meets Katherine Hepburn. Still…I’m going to be giving you the worst side of Wonka.
I once sat in on a general meeting for “The Vagina Monologues”. People would introduce themselves with: “Hi, I’m Debbie and I love vaginas” or “If my vagina could she would wear a fur coat and diamonds”. The sentiment was a little too ooey-gooey for my taste. We can all appreciate the good work a vagina does, but you wouldn’t want to sit across from one at a dinner party all night. Although I suppose if it were Ensler’s she would plenty to discuss, be able to describe itself colorfully, and maybe wear hip horn rimmed glasses. She would have sassy catch phrases like: ‘Read my lips”, and discuss her favorite childhood book ‘The Vulventeen Rabbit’. When my turn came, I of course combated my vulnerability with humor, and compared my vagina to Mrs Roper from “Three’s Company”.
The last time I made a “Three’s Company” joke, my Kiwi husband didn’t get it. It makes me wonder if the reference is just a bit too old and regional for my target audience. “Three’s Company” is a wacky sitcom, a farcical web of high jinks and misunderstandings. Jack Tripper fakes homosexuality in order to live with two women in a Santa Monica apartment with very opinionated landlords. Mrs Roper, the landlord’s wife is a feisty old broad who wears muumuu’s and plastic jewelry with curly hair. Despite her seduction tactics, her husband is sexually unresponsive. She’s sassy, nosy, lonely and a little sad. She’s feeling her age, and desperate for a better time.
I never did participate in “The Vagina Monologues”. They had given me a monologue about an aboriginal woman who is repeatedly raped and beaten by her husband; but how every morning she got her revenge but braiding his hair incorrectly, so that his point of pride was crooked. Yikes. That meeting and the subsequent performance was not long after my friend Monica’s death, and I did not need that kind of story in my head. I had also chosen that time to go and see one of my oldest friends instead. It does remind me of a friend who did a performance in Ontario, with a group that was beyond lovey-dovey about their anatomy. At the after party, the topic of menstruation (as it so often does) came up. These women discussed their different flow methods; how some just…worked from home I imagine, and just bled out on their blankets. Many many made their own pads, and the hostess remarked that she would reuse her menstrual pads, wash them, and then use the leftover pink water for her plants. It was just then that my friend noticed the plethora of lush greenery amongst the ceramic pots and modern art. That woman’s vagina would wear caftans and smell like patchouli. My vagina is more along the lines of Annie Hall…or maybe Edith Piaf. dramatic, melancholic, misunderstood, traumatized, and a little bit outlandish.
Over the last five days I have thought less of my vagina as a person, but more as a place during a natural disaster. A war zone in Vietnam, a zombie apocalypse in the Sahara desert. Remember that scene in “Gone with the Wind” when Atlanta is burning? Now you’re getting the idea.
Oh candida, you are my nemesis. I’ve written of my love of bread before, “Carbohydrate Brokeback Mountain”, will explain all. Bread does not feel about me, as I do about it. As I get older, the tolerance recedes with time. The pain worsens; this infection was so consuming that I would have done anything to make the pain go away. I was melting ice faster than global warming. I can’t spend my life dodging the next candida car bombing. I’ve been here before. Eliminating the ‘danger foods’ from my diet. As my girlfriend said to me–first, “Yes you can blog about your vagina” and second, “Bread is the coal that stokes the flames of Candida”. What else you ask? What other food’s encourage the growth of yeast and should be avoided? What are the other culinary don’ts?
AVOID All sweets including hidden sweeteners in processed foods, such as soups, all fruit and fruit juice. Avoid grains such as prepared flake cereals sprouted grain cereals such as: Amaranth, Buckwheat, Corn, Millet, Rice, Rye, Spelt, Wheat.
Avoid Granola, Pearl barley, Instant oats, Cornmeal, degerminated Hominy grits, degerminated Microwave popcorn Blue corn meal
Pasta Pasta is flour and water, the flour may be white bread flour and it may be durum flour made from semolina. All types of noodles are made from the same base and they should all be cut out of the diet, with Bufin, the Japanese noodles, Ramen instant noodles, farina, semolina and white flour noodles and pastas.
Baked goods and Breads Avoid all cakes, pastries, cookies doughnuts or other processed baked food containing sugar. This list includes white bread, or any bread containing wheat, which includes parathas, nanas bread, pita bread, white flour tortillas, wheat dough tortillas, sourdough, or any other ethnic bread made from wheat. Mochi the sweet unleavened bread made from brown rice should be avoided.
Legumes Avoid beans and peas with sweeteners, bean sprouts, tempeh which a type of fermented tofu, tofu and textured vegetable protein.
Nuts & Seeds Coconut, Peanuts, Pistachios, Walnuts
Dairy Products Buttermilk, Soymilk (sweetened), All kinds of cheeses, Cottage cheese, Kefir, Milk, Sour cream Creme fraiche Sweetened yogurt.
Fruit Never eat dried fruit, and when you start the Candida cleanse diet it is best to avoid all fruit because of the fructose the sugar it contains. Once you have eliminated the current Candida infection then eat fruit with a moderate amount of sugar. Low sugar fruits are apples, grapefruit, melon, and strawberries.
Beverages Alcohol, Cereal beverages, Coffee both regular and decaffeinated, Fruit juices Soft drinks including the diet soft drinks. Processed tea drinks such as lemon tea. All fruit teas, Black tea
Condiments and Sauces No Ketchup or catsup or any type of tomato sauce Cream sauces such as Alfredo Steak sauce, NO Capers, Dried or powdered garlic, Miso, Dried or powdered onion, Pickles or chutneys, which include anything made with sugar and distilled vinegar. Spices, Distilled vinegar Sauerkraut.
Proteins: Meat products such as beef chicken or pork have added antibiotics and hormones and they should be avoided if you want to eat meat then eat free-range organic products. Smoked meats such as bacon, sausages and salami products such as pepperoni have added sugar and should be cut out of your diet.
Vegetables:Beetroot Canned tomatoes Carrots Cucumber skins, Mushrooms (all types), Potato skins, Prepared soups, Canned tomatoes
Don’t worry, there is plenty to feast upon that’s yeast free!
Antelope, bear, beef, buffalo, caribou, chicken, deer, duck, eggs, elk, all types of fish, frog legs, game hen, goat, goose, grouse (partridge), guinea fowl, moose, mutton, peafowl, pheasant, pigeon (squab), pork, quail, and turkey.
Oh good. No bread, wine, coffee, dairy, sugar, fruit…but all the pigeon I can eat?!? Jackpot! I’ll lose fifty pounds and call it the hobo diet. I just live off bird meat, frog legs and rain water and be Sarah Jessica Parker thin.
In my five days of bed rest, I remedied my boredom with several seasons of “Sex and the City”. I was mid-way through season three–which was set up in the bedroom DVD player for those days when Benjamin was tied up with his video games. Set up with water, tea and a bowl of ice, I propped by knees up with a body pillow, and completed the third season, which lead to the fourth, the fifth and both parts of the sixth season.
When the show was at its peak on television all my peers were obsessed with the show. In retrospect, this show created expectations that are a kin to teenage boys and pornography. People don’t always look like that. Sex isn’t always like that. Relationships aren’t even like that. Nothing is as exciting as New York. Real life isn’t quality HBO programming. Yet, it created an impossible standard of the kind of women we wanted to be.
The series finale took place ten years to the week of my illness. I can tell you exactly where and who I was when that show ended. A twenty-two university student, broke, broken, self-absorbed, thrift store fashionista, dreaming of bigger and better and not knowing how to get there. I wanted to be a writer then, but didn’t write anything other than random journal entries or assigned essays. I had plenty of material to work with. I suppose I didn’t know myself, I was barreling through my life, crashing into people, and snatching at choices without a thought to consequence. I was self-reflexive, but perhaps not brave enough to truthfully chronicle my life for public consumption. Of course, the only thing worse than people not reading, is people reading. And then…what would happen? Wouldn’t they know about my promiscuities, my bad habits, and worse yet, the bad habits of my friends? That thought occurred while watching the program in this highly concentrated amount. In theory, isn’t Carrie’s voice over her article being written? Aren’t her friends reading? Wouldn’t Mr Big be reading this weekly and have a better understanding of his partner’s needs? Wouldn’t just once Samantha say: ‘must you tell everyone just how much cock I’ve been gobbling?”
Of course, in a city of eight million people as opposed to a university town of 85,000…there’s a lot more freedom in anonymity. It’s a lot harder to scream from the rooftops about the heavy flow of traffic being directed through the vagina’s of you and your besties when the skyscraper only reaches six or seven floors. It’s a bit like trying to replicate Carrie’s fashion sense in a city where the downtown strip is six blocks on one street, and the majority of time is spent in the library or computer labs.
On the streets of the Big Apple, anything goes; amidst the crush of busy people in the urban jungle, you can mix couture with thrift store, and wear your heart, and your even vagina on your sleeve.
Calm down Carrie, that’s not even the worst of it. Going from episode to episode, I did notice one thing. Carrie Bradshaw is a selfish piece of work. This reminds me of a conversation with a university theatre professor, who had seen the entire series with his long-time girlfriend. Great writing, great characterization, great acting. The only issue? “Carrie Bradshaw is a cunt“, he says decisively. “She’s selfish, inconsiderate, irresponsible, vain, careless. Look at what she did to Aidan, that’s cruel”.
For those not in the know, after years of the hot/cold, yes/no treatment from Mr Big, who eventually marries another (younger) woman, Carrie meets Aidan, big sweet loving bear, a carpenter with an understanding heart. He loves, accepts, values and adores Carrie, who starts fooling around in hotel rooms with married Mr Big. She confesses the morning of Charlotte’s wedding, hoping to absolve herself and move forward. Aidan is like…’uh no, because now I can’t trust you–what other secrets do you have stored in that enormous bun atop your head?’
Enter season four, Carrie reconnects with Aidan, pursues him ceaselessly, earns his love and trust once more. They get engaged, Carrie crumbles under the crush of commitment, and then breaks his heart all over again.
Wow, she really is a cunt. It’s all the more obvious to me because my husband is an “Aidan”. The thought of hurting my bear like that made me feel awfully sad. That’s the power of excellent writing, by the end of the series you still find yourself rooting for Carrie and Mr Big. Of course, by the time you get to Petrovsky, “The Russian”, I’d rather Carrie drove off in the sunset with Miranda or Chewbacca from Star Wars than that humorless old bastard.
I don’t care how hunky he was “back in the day”, no Russian for me thanks. Look at that expression. Imagine opening your eyes mid-coitus and seeing that grimace looming overhead. Blech. When I would watch this program with one friend, who I visited after Monica’s death, we would bellow “BORING!” every-time he appeared on the screen. Thank God the Russian is the only person in the world more selfish than Carrie, and she finds her way back to Mr Big, who takes about as long as a Canadian winter to finally be like–“okay, I’m finally ready, let’s shuffle away from this retirement home and really make it work, until we die of old age in about ten minutes time”. (Until the movie, where I ruin the wedding and you still take me back in the end, which leads to the second (possibly ill-advised) film, when you snog Aidan in Abu Dhabi while Samantha has to keep her face from melting in the sun”.
Don’t get me wrong, I was very committed to this marathon; it kept me sane. I was emotionally invested in these lives, but it got me thinking about my friendships, romances, relationships, my youth, my memories…and my vagina. I was in such pain, I couldn’t help but wonder how women recover after birth and actually have to take care of another human being at the same time. What a terrifying thought. I’ve heard the stories, I could put the pieces together, that’s a long road back for the lady bits. Panic was rising inside of me. In the climatic fever pitch of my illness, agitated and desperately lonely, deep inside my own head, I was lost at an intersection of fact and fiction, memory and reality. “Sex and the City” inevitably turns to the ticking clock. Charlotte can’t have a baby, Miranda struggles with hers, Carrie doesn’t know if she wants to have a baby; it kind of makes you sweat from all the options.
A dear friend calls me up to check in on my health. We gab about “Sex and the City”, I vent about my illness, and she tells me that she is having a baby. Mind blown. It was like…’you can’t be pregnant, we’re only 22, smoking cigarettes and talking about our crushes “. It’s an age so good that Taylor Swift wrote a song about it. I still trip over the fact that the young girls from the past, obsessing over dramas that are dust particles now, sleepless nights spent searching for Mr Right, (and/or Mr Right Now) are now married, or settled with careers, mortgages and children, and that time is but a blip on the brain’s fuzzy recollection. Not that I would want to be that maturity level again, but having that kind of time ahead of me…that would be better than all the couture in the world. If you think about it, I am the age now of Carrie at the beginning of the series, when I equated this show to being in my twenties.
In an effort to cleanse my body, I saw an acupuncturist for a candida exorcism. In New Zealand, combined cupping and acupressure, gave you herbs, and you left feeling like a million bucks for about fifty dollars. This was being left along in a room for an hour, penetrated by a thousand tiny little pricks. I dozed for a spell, but then was wide awake, sinking into a new depth of loneliness. I wanted to go back to New York, back to bed. Once home, I tried to entice Benjamin to join me…”Please”, he said “I’m afraid the show will give me a yeast infection”. Which was fine, he wouldn’t understand anyway, he just doesn’t have the proper equipment. I was on a journey of healing and self discovery, and I didn’t even have to leave my bedroom. I crawled back under the sheets, where I was alone but in good company, just Carrie B, New York City, my vagina and me.