Sometimes people get very upset when menstruation is mentioned but I don’t think it is upsetting in the least. I remember I had a friend who would blanch at the topic every time it was brought up. She would lift up her hand and actually stop the conversation, like a crossing guard. She explained quickly and quietly that she’d never had any problems with her period, that it came and went easily within the span of 72 hours, with no pain and barely any symptoms, and discussion of it was to her a form of bad luck, as if her ears caught the words they would form themselves into vengeful hormones and alter her lucky situation for the worse.

Its too bad because she was a funny friend, and I would have loved to have known her observations on the subject, but she spoke little of it and would hear none so I couldn’t do much but slowly let the connection fade, the tender link between our phones and psyches pull thin until the signals were dying. All you have to do is not call back once, and its over. Painless, unlike my period.

I bleed like a madwoman, hard and hot, with fairly horrendous cramping. I bleed like a big cat might, a lioness or a Bengal tiger, queen and mother of the jungle, large and unafraid, ruling her world with efficient and elegant brutality – velvet paws with claws. Like a big cat, my life is ruled by blood. Month to month, every month.

I have a fallopian tube and an ovary that don’t like their jobs, and would rather be off in another part of my body, doing something else, anything else. When it’s that side’s turn to do that whole dance with the egg and the uterine lining, it makes sure the rest of the body is miserable. It bloats my belly and retains every drop of water imbibed to spite me. It coagulates the blood into huge, hard knots that stretch the inner tubes of me causing unbelievable cramping as they pass through. I am irrational and irritated and feel the sky falling and the ground rising and it’s every other month that this happens. The other ovary and fallopian tube is just fine. Whichever side’s turn it is, the whole process is long, with lots of stops and starts, maybe even an entire day going by without anything coming out. Sometimes I feel like an almost empty ketchup bottle, all the red at the base of the bottle, turned upside down and pounded. An-ti-ci-pa-tion…….

I try to push it out, but there’s only so much you can do. Douches don’t help. That’s just rinsing it out, and supposedly its not that good for you. Who knows. I don’t care for douches anyway. I have tried to drink lots of water as this is also another method of moving things out of the body. This has done nothing but make me go to the bathroom more.

What I dream of, which is a sick fantasy and probably something I won’t ever see in my lifetime, is a menstrual extraction machine. They have a patent for one at the museum of menstruation. It’s got a tip that inserts and some kind of a pump that feeds into a receptacle. There’s possibly a flywheel or something, I can’t remember what is exactly on the diagram. If something like this was ever developed I would go for it as soon as it was on the market – be one of those people who camp out at the apple store for the new ipad or iphone. I want to be the first in line to have it.

Supposedly women did this for each other in the high-minded feminist 60s and 70s. It was kind of a midwife thing and kind of a feminist thing, but mostly it was a way to get control over and an understanding of our own bodies. Early feminists would make a jar with tubing that they’d sterilize and use to siphon out each other’s period blood, like they were stealing gasoline. It became illegal, possibly because the process could be easily adopted to terminate pregnancy, and no one wanted to give women that much say over what happened to their bodies and their selves. So, it’s a mystery that remains unsolved, periods and their length and vigor and timing of flow and everyone is scared to ask the questions because the discussion in itself is considered uncouth, even by and especially by women. I love to talk about my period because I think it is interesting. It’s a weird thing that I endure monthly and it causes me much pain and stain. I need to make my feelings on the subject very public. It’s weird and I have never liked it and I want to complain. Why hold up your hand to stop my bleating when if we could just talk maybe I could stop this bleeding?

9 thoughts on “An-ti-ci-pa-tion

  1. i often wonder if male policy makers could anticipate the cycle of the moon and passing eggs, if they would feel differently about how they attempt to hold weight over women’s bodies — it seems like a given, but the detachment some have in not recognizing their mandates holding sway over another’s body in various ways but holding up the hand as a traffic sign to thwart discussion of mentioned the word, cunt — however you might use it leaning toward a daft and banal person bordering on insane stupidity. thank you.

  2. Hey Margaret,

    I too suffer painful and heavy periods. My mom never had a cramp in her life and always scolded me for being dramatic. I just want to make the pain stop. Why do I still need to bleed? It’s been going on for more than 30 years (minus pregnancy and breastfeeding months); I’m done! I’m going to have a massive party when I stop for good – hallelujah!


  3. This is great writing. Have you thought about writing a novel, or series of novels? Or short stories? If you had never done a minute of standup, I believe you’d still be well known as an author.

    Mamie Van Doren has been writing a blog, have you met her? It turns out she’s a progressive, smart female with opinions on war, censorship, love… I recommend it.

    Margaret, you were great on “Finding Your Roots” and also “30 Rock” … if I were a network president you’d have your own show.

  4. Oh, lady.

    I would be camped out right next to you for that.

    Because, HELL YES I want that shit out of my body NOW
    instead of spooled out over seven days of hell and cramps and carnage.

    C’mon, science!
    If you can make dicks bigger,
    surely you can manage a one-day period.


  5. I have a long and complicated story about my periods, the horror, the misdiagnoses, the unexpected accidental result of reparative surgery, etc., ad nauseum. It ends, sort of, with clips on my fallopian tubes and an ablation that cleaned me out but-good-thank-GOD. I’ve been where you are, sugar, and am so DONE with that. If you aren’t ready to give up babies for ever, the best gynecologist I ever met said “Women don’t NEED to have periods, unless they want to have babies. Medications for supression are a godsend to women with miserable periods.” If you really want it to go away for a while, find a doctor who will prescribe the pill for supression. It’s awesome!!

  6. Hey Margaret, Found this post at: today.

    The Montreal Women’s Press published Birth Control Handbooks in the 70s that included information about how to do menstrual extraction. I found one on EBay:

    As for your heavy, painful periods, there are other treatment methods you might try. Check out the Centre for Menstrual Cycle and Ovuation Research:

    I love it that “Menstruation Matters” to you. Keep writing about it.

  7. Herbs! You have to try Lady’s Mantle ( and if all else fails, Shepherd’s Purse will def take care of the bleeding and level it out (both work well on the cramps too). (yarrow is supposed to work well also). Sage is really good for clots if you have that prob too … chop 1 Tbl fresh organic sage and steep for 5 min in 8 oz just-boiled water, then drink up. Clots be gone sista. I just started learning about and taking herbs due to peri-menopause which completely knocked me for a loop, and a whole new world has opened up to me. No exaggeration, there is an herb for everything and they really do work. Good luck.

  8. If guys had to endure a period once a month — for 5-10 days… by now it surely would be reduced to moments. lol.. but all kidding aside. How about a center for Menstrual extraction? A place where women can go for a chocolate shake, or nachos on their lunch hour.. open their legs and have dat shit sucked out! Done! voila! No more period.. just a moment of uneasiness; medicated by a dose of chocolate and salt. It’s horrible. The mess – the pain — the raging HORMONES that send you into a roller coaster of personalities; from Linda Blair to Little Miss Muffet!! I can’t stand it.. the tears, the diarrhea, the carnage! It’s like someone died in my bed some morning! YICK! I don’t like it I wish it would go away. And what about those clots? It feels like passing change from a tiny slot..dimes, nickels .. freakin’ quarters! It hurts. And Midol??? WTF is that going to to.. I need VODKA! And what about the sexual cravings? By the third day I want dick! Or some variation on it!! HORNY. SCRATCH ME BABY! Enough already. 12 years post last baby and I am done. Enough ALREADY! Mother Nature’s a real biATCH.

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