I have my period erratically these days, and it’s not distressing to me, but it is to my Period Tracker on my iphone, which before had been like the Farmer’s Almanac for Aunt Flo, which now seems to answer my call that my period has started with a “really? uh, ok……”
Of course it doesn’t have this function, but I give all things around me a life and a personality and a meaning and an opinion. Period Tracker is a great app because it gives you a place where you can talk to yourself and your phone, really our closest companions, the bff, the spouse, the bottom bitch, the most intimate partner over and above all our electronics (iphone i want to wife you) about what is going on with your body. There are even multiple choice selections on how bloated or cranky you feel, if you can’t put it into words and you just want to tic a box instead.
I love having a place to go, a private digital menstrual hut where I can compare my periods present to periods past, and like marley’s menstrual ghost, i can shake a tampon string and see my periods future. I have been steadily getting them since the age of 13, so my period career began just before my comedy career. I’ve been bleeding and writing jokes for about the same amount of time. I haven’t figured out either yet. They are both a mystery to me. I still mess up jokes and I still have never worked out how to put a pad in correctly for overnight bleeding. Loose fitting grandma panties feel like an option, even though i have spent many mornings lying in a great pool of blood and then trying to somehow extract the blood from the NASA foam mattress wondering what is going to happen when i move and the movers have to move the mattress and see the map of stains that show my progression across the bed over a decade.
They could tell from the stains what kind of underwear i prefer, whether i decided to sleep on my back or on my side, the summer i told my husband i was going to sleep on the left side of the bed instead of the right, the winter I moved back. I don’t know if the movers want to know this, or what they could divine from the stains, if they could tell my fortune from the blood patterns like tea leaves – “you will soon come into a lot of money…… a long lost friend will be visiting you…. someone close to you needs advice…..” but i don’t know if movers are also shamans. I am sure movers encounter bloody mattresses of all degrees of stain and spill, and I am overly self conscious of my own blood, and if I really think about it, I will never move because I love my house to a fanatical degree and so it’s all a moot point.
For about 20 years i have been using a menstrual cup, which is a latex contraption, about the width and breadth of a shot glass and I fold it in half and and stick it up there and it snaps open with a gratifying thunk against my cervix. This is a wonderful invention, yet I never dare to use it on the first couple of days because it fills so quickly that emptying it is akin to bailing out a boat with a bucket.
When my flow is light enough that i can put it in, I feel the kind of freedom that I used to see in womens tampon ads before the scourge of toxic shock syndrome, fine females fit and all in white, playing tennis, serving new green balls like a drawing on the cover of an old school Pee-Chee folder, swimming across olympic pools, wearing the tightest whitest Gloria Vanderbilt jeans with a rich gold embroidered swan on the weird coin pocket inside the regular front pocket. I feel like a woman with rights and money and equality and all good things. I forget about sexism and oppression and the glass ceiling. And then i forget and feel so good that i leave it in there.
Once during the Sensuous Woman tour, I was sharing rooms with a cast member, and I was feeling so free I had left that cup in there for almost a week after my period had ended. I then suddenly remembered and then pulled it out and the blood had hardened and congealed to the bottom of the cup and it smelled incredibly foul and looked like a black creme brulee. I was knocked down by the smell and insisted that my roommate smell the cup and my unfortunate roommate said no! no! no! no! and got into bed and then kept shaking head back and forth silently, no no no – pulling blankets over head and shaking head no no no, and then finally, face appearing, ok. Yes. Said roommate smelled the cup and laughed and laughed and we both laughed and covers went back over roommate head and the smell did not leave our room for the entire run of the show.