Posted by: stephilepsy | January 31, 2011

The Least Wonderful Time of the Year?

Well, it was touch and go for a few minutes there, but I made it. My period is finally over. Look, I realize this a sensitive (i.e. wholly unwanted) topic for whatever fellas out there who chanced upon this post, and for you I have but two words: ovum up. It’ll be over soon, I promise.

My “lady time” has always been fraught with ungodly pain, and, owing to the NSAIDs the docs loaded me up when I first got sick, I had an ulcer that never quite healed properly so anytime I took an Advil for said ungodly pain, I’d end up vomiting for days. So, at the not-so-tender age of 25 I finally went to a gynocologist who put me on Seasonale.

It was bloody fantastic! Or, not-so-bloody fantastic, as it were. My period came only once every three months, and stayed for only three or four days, with hardly any pain to to speak of. Best drug ever!

Until March 2009 when it may or may not have caused, or otherwise contributed to, my stroke(s).

In any event, I certainly can’t take Seasonale anymore, or any other form of hormonal birth control for that matter. Between the warfarin and the previously mentioned stomach issues, Advil is out of the question when “Aunt Flo” comes to town. Oh, and if I thought menstruating was painful before, well, menstruating on a blood thinner is an entirely new level of agony.

My period is the grossest story O. Henry never wrote.

Speaking of O. Henry, and other classic American authors my life would be none the poorer for having never encountered, I would like to take a moment to discuss another rite of passage. One that does not involve massive blood loss from one’s nether regions.

That’s right boys, you can exhale now.

I’m talking about summer reading. Yay! We all have fond memories of summer reading, don’t we? Two or three days before school ended, we’d be handed those crisp white sheets of paper filled with tiny black print (oh, remember how tiny that print was!). We were told that these pages contained the options for our summer reading, that we must read two books from the list come September, but all we could imagine were long, hot July days stretched out before us, all we could hear was the painful bleating adults make in those Charlie Brown movies, and so we shoved those papers deep into our backpacks, hoping that whatever mysterious forces that were causing the strange changes we noted in our bodies on a daily basis would magically whisk away those damn lists so we’d never have to deal with them again.

Ring any bells?

Well, not for me, it doesn’t. I had a hell of a time finding books on those stupid lists I hadn’t read before. Plus, when I did, I’d get so excited that I read it during the first week school let out, only to forget what I had read by the end of the summer.

Yes, big time nerd. I know.

Fortunately, I eventually figured out that all you have to do is bring a book, and pretty much any book without watercolor illustrations will do, show it to a teacher and say, “I read this over the summer. I can use it for my summer reading project, right?” and she will nod dumbly, relieved at at not having to look at one more freaking illegible dissertation on “The Old Man and the Sea.”

Ah, yes. “The Old Man and the Sea.” Turning American men against reading and Literature since 1952.

I mean, the people making these lists try (man, do they try) to pick things that will capture kids’ imaginations, but then either the children foul things up themselves by choosing a book based on length (cough, Hemingway, cough) or, and this, in my opinion is a far, far worse fate than coming to hate reading based on your own imbecilic choices, they let their uneducated, barely literate parents pick out books out for them.

I was in a bookstore once (ZING! That one’s for you Dad.) and watched in horror as a woman raced down the aisles, her appropriately sullen daughter trailing listlessly behind her, in search of a clerk. “Bronteee,” she honked. “We need Bronteee.” To this day I hope they walked away with “Jane Eyre” and not “Wuthering Heights” or “The Tenant of Wildfell Hall”, although I suspect even Charlotte’s most famous work was going slightly above pay grade for the poor girl.

Contrast this with an exchange I had with my mom when I was about 11 or 12.

Mom: What are you reading? Is that “A Tree Grows In Brooklyn”?

Me: Yes. I got it from the school library. It’s supposed to be a classic coming of age story.

Mom: Honey, it was dated when I was your age. It may in fact be the most boring book ever written. Don’t waste your time.

Me: It says on the cover that it is an enduring classic. I’m trying to educate myself here. Go read your Stephen King.

Two Hours Later

Mom: I see you’re rereading “Gone With the Wind” again. Given up on Brooklyn already?

Me: I don’t want to talk about it.

So, given my mother’s (the primary reader in the stephilespsy household) hands-off approach to my reading selection, I get a little bit touchy when parents won’t step back and let their kids pick books out for themselves.

Last summer, while I was volunteering at the library where my mom used to work, a mother-daughter combo came in to do the summer reading dance. This was even worse than the bookstore, as the kid clearly had a mind of her own in regards to what she wanted to read, but Mom was not on the same page, as it were. Among the books forced on her were “The Tortilla Curtain” by T.C. Boyle [Boyle is for kids now, is he? Apparently the PTA has not read/gotten wind of “The Inner Circle” or, like, any short story he’s written, ever. Also, “Riven Rock” is a much better book and a way easier read. Won’t someone think of the children?] and “A Tree Grows In Brooklyn” by Betty Smith.

Sorry, kid. I guess your mother doesn’t love you the way mine loved me.

Happy Birthday, Mom! Hope that there’s lots of good reading for you, wherever you are. I miss you!


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