When men make all the decisions and the decisions benefit only them

Guess whose clothes have 1. pockets 2. big enough to hold things.

Hint.

NOT WOMEN.

Mr T, putting his phone in his front pocket, where it fits and will remain undetected until an X-ray, much like a root-canaled tooth that has started to rot and your previous dentist, whom you left because he was a Trumper who says face masks for his staff are a “personal choice,” failed to detect and was not discovered until your new dentist took new X-rays. To make it even better? You had the Good Insurance with the old dentist but now have coverage only for cleanings and cavities.

We are going to a concert and as I was about to fall asleep last night, all the worries and questions that stay hidden during the day rushed to the front of my head as they do because why on earth could a concern about my dental insurance or whether Mr T had paid the health insurance premium or will my tooth rot out of my head before I figure out what to do wait until morning when I could actually do something about it?

A question that also came to mind and blocked my sleep was “Can I take a purse into the concert?” a question that never would have occurred to me years ago but after the baseball park debacle of ’21, it has to be an issue.

And of course I cannot take a purse into the arena.

The Fiserv Forum FAQ page helpfully tells me that I can take a wallet smaller than 4″ x 6″ x 1″.

OH THANK YOU SO MUCH FISERV FORUM! I can fit my phone, my money, my ID, my glasses, my keys, and my meds in that wallet!

BTW – just asking – what do I do with that wallet once I have stuffed everything into it?

Do I hold it in my hand? Because one of the joys of a purse is that it has a handle that allows you to hang it on your shoulder, which means you have not one but two hands available for other life activities.

Do I put it in my pocket?

Hahahahahahaha!

Oh dear Fiserv Forum. Once again, we see what happens when a group containing only men makes a decision that affects everyone.

Because guess what Fiserv Forum?

WOMEN’S POCKETS HOLD ALMOST NOTHING.

Source – read the whole thing

Only 40 percent of women’s front pockets can completely fit one of the three leading smartphone brands. Less than half of women’s front pockets can fit a wallet specifically designed to fit in front pockets. And you can’t even cram an average woman’s hand beyond the knuckles into the majority of women’s front pockets.

pudding.cool

Oh I hear you telling me I can put things in my back pocket.

Dear, dear Fiserv Forum.

Have you ever tried to pee with a phone in your back pocket?

WAIT NO OF COURSE YOU HAVEN’T! You can pee with your phone in your front pocket – where it fits – and if your front pocket is full, you can put the phone in your back pocket, where it’s still fine because YOU ARE PEEING STANDING UP.

But if I – a woman wearing clothes designed by people who clearly hate women – have to sit to pee (which is how this world works), then I must lower my pants and guess what?

A phone in the back pocket will fall out.

Why do you hate women, Fiserv Forum? Why?


BTW, I won’t put a credit card or cash in my back pocket because of pickpockets and it won’t fit into my front pocket, so I guess I will not be spending any money on concessions.

Forbidden fruit is the sweetest fruit

Let’s share this list of banned books with all teenagers

Ah book banners! Don’t you know the best way to get a kid to be interested in something is to forbid it?

NEW: A Texas parent is attempting to get a biography about Michelle Obama removed from Katy Independent School District’s libraries. The parent says the book makes “white girls” feel “ashamed,” shows the Republican Party as having “bad values,” and portrays Trump as a “bully.”

Bryan Tyler Cohen on twitter

My parents were relatively non-interfering sorts, although when I was a kid, it wasn’t the challenge it is now. We didn’t have the internet. My parents controlled the movies we saw because they were the funders and/or transporters to such movies. When I was a teenager, the only movie theater was on base and they wouldn’t sell tickets for R movies to anyone under 17.

And I read pretty much what I wanted, although my mom did draw the line at Valley of the Dolls and Portnoy’s Complaint.

I retrieved Valley and read it behind her back. All I remember now is that it was about flight attendants.

(Runs to google to be sure that Valley is indeed about flight attendants.)

(No! IT’S NOT! It’s about drug addiction! Oh well.)

I returned Portnoy to the library but then sat in the stacks to read it.

Oh my dear friends.

Why is this book considered a classic?

My mom was right to stop me – she set me on the proper path of ignoring books about the problems of wealthy white men.

I read less than one chapter, I think. I got to the liver – if you’ve read the book you know what I’m talking about – and stopped.

It. Was. Gross.

I don’t care about the problems of rich white men now and I don’t care about the problems of rich white boys (See also: Catcher in the Rye, another highly overrated book in my opinion) now and I did not care then.


Narrator: That was not to say that she thought these books should be banned. She just didn’t think they were all that.


Banning books. The last refuge of the frightened and ignorant and, dare I say it – YES I WILL SAY IT – evil.

If your world is so tiny and fragile that the knowledge and POV in a book can destroy it, the book is not the problem.

Back to the Texas parent who wants to ban Michelle Obama’s memoir (or maybe it’s a children’s bio of Obama) because “The parent says the book makes ‘white girls’ feel ‘ashamed,’ shows the Republican Party as having ‘bad values,’ and portrays Trump as a ‘bully.'”

I don’t want to see him, either, but the contrast between two people who actually like each other vs you know who and his wife is amazing. Source.

Where’s the lie?

The Republican Party does have bad values.

Trump is a bully.

And, finally, yes – reading Obama’s memoir made me, a white woman, feel ashamed.

Ashamed that I had so misjudged Obama.

Ashamed that I did not know so many important details about US history – not Black history – US history – the history belongs to all of us – like the fact that when Obama was a girl, Black people were not welcome in most unions.

Union jobs have been the path to middle-class stability for so many families.

And yet that path was blocked for Black people.

I was so wrong about so many things.

(Also, after reading her book, I think I would really like Michelle in person. She’s funny and smart and I totally get how awful campaigning is or even just being married to someone who is campaigning.)


Dear Texas parent,

There are different kinds of shame.

There’s bad shame, the kind Republicans like to heap on poor people for being poor and on single moms for being single. (I can’t help but notice there is not any shame on the men who turned women into mothers but whatever.)(Or on the child molesters, who happen to be white men.)

And there’s good shame, the kind of shame you have when you realize you were wrong. That you made so many assumptions and judged someone else or an entire race (although race does not exist as a biological marker – I mean our social definitions of “white” and “Black”) of someone elses without having all the facts.

There is the good shame that makes you realize you are ignorant and possibly stupid and that you need to do what you can to fix the situation.

Fortunately, it is possible to fix ignorant.

You fix it by reading banned books.

Signed,

A white woman who is trying to do better

They call me Mrs T and they are wrong

(No disrespect to Sidney Poitier!)

My aunt is gorgeous. I think she probably made this dress. But getting married didn’t mean she wasn’t who she was.

Do you have people like this in your life?

The people who know you use your maiden name but still call you “Mrs Husband’s Last Name?”

For a while, it was my mom.

In her defense, I did change my name when Mr T and I got married.

But shortly after we married, I realized I did not like my new name. I didn’t like not having my own name, the one I’d had my entire life.

(And yes, I know I am still perpetuating The Patriarchy because my maiden name is my dad’s name, but whatever.)

The other factor was I didn’t like sharing a name with Mr T’s parents, who hated me for reasons to numerous to list here but included the following:

  • I eat bacon wrong.
  • I use cabbage wrong.
  • I use cloth napkins.
  • I didn’t sit in the living room to watch a football game with them.
  • I don’t cut off and discard broccoli stems.
  • I don’t peel apples for pie.
  • (I STOLE THEIR SON’S LOVE BECAUSE LOVE IS A ZERO-SUM GAME.)

For his mom’s funeral, I helped Mr T look for photos to show at the reception. Not that I cared if I were (literally) in the picture, but in their house, we could not find a single photo with me in it.

Even though I sent them copies of the photos my mom took at our wedding.

(They were cranky about that. There were no photos with them! How about because when my mom was taking photos, they didn’t ask to be included. They had their own camera and didn’t ask anyone to take a photo. And rather than coming to the lake to take more photos with us, they went back to our house to drink.)

They must have discarded the wedding photos I sent.

Whatever.

But I did not want their last name.

I changed back to my maiden name.


Mr T has a friend from high school who has taken a hard turn to the right since he and Mr T used to smoke pot together and since HS Friend had a one-night stand with one of the bridesmaids at Mr T’s first wedding.

Before we got married, Mr T wanted me to go with him to visit HS Friend.

HS Friend insisted that Mr T and I sleep in separate rooms.

I didn’t care because my mom used to ask the same thing when I took boyfriends home.

With Mr T, I guess she just got tired and she didn’t feel like making up two rooms, so she put us in the same room the first time we visited her.

But Mr T refused to visit HS Friend under those conditions and HS Friend finally agreed.


HS Friend has had his revenge. Every year, he sends us a Christmas card addressed to “Mr and Mrs T,” not to “Mr T and Ms Texan.”

Because dammit that’s who a woman is: She gets her identity from her husband.


For the record: Women get to decide what they want to be called! If you want to take your husband’s name when you get married, that is fine! It’s your decision!


When our next-door neighbors got married, they combined their two last names into a new name.

Mr T mentioned them to HS Friend, who scoffed and said that Neighbor 1, who had a baby two years ago, is a single mother. There is no way, HS Friend maintains, that our two neighbors, who are both women, can be married.


My friend C’s husband, after about ten years of marriage, decided to change his surname to hers. I don’t remember all the details, but I think they wanted all of them – C, her husband, and their two boys, to have the same last name.

HS Friend would probably have a stroke upon hearing that.

(C, apologies if I got the details wrong!)


HS Friend will always address me as “Mrs T.”

My mom, however, now uses my maiden name, as I have asked her.

Because my mom is not a jerk and HS Friend is.

I have Resting Friendly Face

That does not mean I want you to sit next to me. Well, maybe YOU, fellow female human being, but even though #NotAllMen, I don’t want a man sitting next to me

You know, I think I like it that despicable stupid ignorant people are branding themselves. Makes it easier to avoid them.

I consider it a great success that on my recent flight on Southwest Airlines – a flight that was not full, I maintained an empty seat next to me.

Those of you who have never flown Southwest might not know what a monumental accomplishment this is.

For me, it meant I made no eye contact.

Head down.

Even though one of my favorite things is to watch people board and try to guess their stories.

But I kept my head down.

I don’t want women sitting by me

Women will sit next to me rather than in another empty seat. This would not be a problem except for the woman who whipped out her phone and started playing a loud game on it as soon as she sat.

After takeoff, after I had sent several her several Death Stares of SHUT THE HECK UP, Death Stares she had ignored, I finally asked, “Would you mind using a headset, please, so I don’t have to hear the sound?”

She rolled her eyes and said, “I FORGOT THEM.”

“Then,” I asked through gritted teeth, as this woman was older than I me – that is, Old Enough to Know Better, “would you please turn the sound off.”

She heaved a deep sigh, rolled her eyes again, and turned the game off completely.

I guess she showed me?

But at least she did not hog the armrest (although as the person in the middle seat, the armrest was by rights hers) or spread her legs into my space, moving them even further into my space each time I pulled my legs in so I would not have to be touching a stranger.

But I really really don’t want men sitting by me

I was in the middle seat on a flight from Atlanta to Dubai.

That’s a 16 hour flight.

Maybe 13.

Whatever. Very long.

Even before the plane took off, the big man in the seat next to me was screaming in his phone. “FUCK YOU RENEE!” he yelled before he slammed the phone down.

(That is a disadvantage of cellphones – there’s not really a satisfactory way to hang up on someone. It’s a quiet hangup, no matter what you do.)

His arm was on the armrest, as was the arm of the man on my other side.

Both of them sprawled into my leg space.

I pulled myself in and tried to make myself small. I didn’t even dare to ask them to get out of my space. The man had shown that he was willing to scream in public.

I did not want him to scream at me.

When I am on a plane, I tell the person in the middle seat (if it’s a woman – I never need to tell this to men) that the armrests are theirs.

But these men had not gotten the memo. They thought any available air was their space. That none of the space was mine.

It’s not just me

The always-brilliant Caroline Criado-Perez wrote about women and public transit in her book Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men. (If you have not read this book, please get it immediately. You will not regret it, I promise.)

A recent Brazilian survey found that two-thirds of women had been victims of sexual harassment and violence while in transit, half of them on public transportation. The proportion among men was 18%. […] A 2016 study found that 90% of French women had been victims of sexual harassment on public transport; in May that year two men were jailed for an attempted gang rape on a Paris train. A 2016 Washington metro survey found that women were three times more likely than men to face harassment on public transport.

Caroline Criado-Perez’s free newsletter

There’s a reason we shrink

When I lived in Miami (long before the flight to Dubai), I took the train to work. I got on at the first stop, which meant the train was always completely empty when I boarded.

One morning, a man boarded with me. We were the only two people in the coach.

He sat right next to me.

Right. Next. To. Me.

“There are a million empty seats on this train,” I said. “Why do you have to sit by me?”

He did not say, “Oh I am so sorry! Of course I should not have invaded your space? What was I thinking?”

No. He glared at me and said something along the lines of “F U bitch.”

He did move.

But not before making me afraid of what he might do.

That’s why I don’t say anything now. That’s why I keep my head down.

Things women just know

These rules come as part of the standard uterus package

Maybe it would be OK for the mother of the groom to wear white if the bride wore black? That was not the case in this story.
Source

When Mr T and I got married, his mom asked what they should wear to the wedding.

I told her that we were getting married in a church on a Friday afternoon, so, you know – church clothes. Not super fancy, but – in a church. A wedding. So.

Not a fancy wedding but a wedding in a church.

Mr T’s dad was cranky because that meant he was expected to wear shoes. He had commented often (with great pride) that since retiring to Florida, he had worn nothing but sandals.

This was a wedding. In a church. In Wisconsin, where it can get cold, even in September.

But he wore shoes.

I’ll give him that.

Mr T’s mom dressed as if she were attending a funeral. A casual funeral, but a funeral nonetheless. She wore dark, heavy clothes.

She did not wear what one would wear to a wedding in a church.

I don’t have any photos because when my mom was taking photos, Mr T’s parents did not ask to be in the photos. My mom didn’t want photos of Mr T’s parents. And Mr T’s parents, who had a camera with them, neither took photos nor asked anyone to take photos of us with them.

(But then they were really ticked off that there were no photos of them. My mom sent them copies of the photos she had taken of Mr T and me and their reply to Mr T was “Why aren’t there any photos of us?”

I dunno – because YOU DIDN’T TAKE ANY?)

(Also – and have I told this story before? Probably but I am still ticked off about it – when Mr T and I were looking in the house for photos to display at Mr T’s mom’s funeral, we found years’ and years’ worth of bills and junk mail but not those photos. They must have thrown them away.)

(WHATEVER.)

I say all of this as a prelude to the fact that women know. We know things. It’s part of the water we swim in.

We know The Rules.

I thought everyone – women and men – knew The Rules, but maybe I was wrong.

Because when Mr T and I had lunch with some college friends, Paul and Joanne, they told us about their wedding 30 years ago.

Paul’s mother, Theresa, wore white.

I know.

I know.

I KNOW!

Wait.

Mr T did not know.

He did not share my shock.

When Paul and Joanne told us this story, I gasped but Mr T did not.

Is this hormonal knowledge? Is it genetic? Is this secret limited to women only?

In both cases – with our wedding and Paul and Joanne’s wedding, the mother of the groom violated what I thought were widely-understood rules.

Narrator: In both cases, the mother of the groom did not like the bride.

But Mr T did not know why it was bad that Paul’s mom wore white to his wedding.

I asked my friends if I could use the story, anonymizing it of course.

Paul replied, “No, it’s OK. Use ‘Theresa [LastName], Founder Of The [Nice Thing To Do] Foundation.'”

(I didn’t.)

(But I wanted to.)

But – equality!

I mean, do we want equality with men er no?

From this post on twitter

Neal O’Kelly is a piece of work. Women with a broken-done car alone on the highway or a back road deserve no special treatment. We’re equal now, right? And how long does it take to change a tire, really?

Honestly, it’s our own fault if we get murdered.


Years ago – before cellphones – I was driving from Texas to California and I don’t even remember why. I was on a highway in Arizona and blew out a tire, which is not something I wish on anyone going 65 mph in a Chevette.

I managed to make it to a truck stop, driving on the rim, which yes I know you are not supposed to do but I think there wasn’t much of a shoulder and I didn’t feel safe pulling over to the side of the road.

I was in a truck stop.

It was the middle of the afternoon.

The sun was out.

I pulled out the tire iron and started working on the tire, to no avail. I could not loosen the lug nuts.

Two men in a pickup drove up next to me.

They got out.

They said nothing as they watched me trying to remove the wheel.

They looked as if they hadn’t bathed in a few days. Or shaved. Shaved maybe ever. Long, scraggly hair with dirty gimme hats, t-shirts with the sleeves cut off, dirty blue jeans.

Sullen.

I was concerned.

I stepped back.

No, I was scared.

I looked at them and looked at the convenience store, wondering how fast I could run.

(Not very. I am a very slow runner.)

They approached me.

I stepped back again.

They looked at the tire and at my tire iron.

“Got a four way?” one asked.

What on earth is a four way? Was that what they wanted to use to kill me?

“No?” I squeaked. I would not be a party to my own death.


A few years later, when cellphones were a bit more in use but still not something everyone had, my car broke down in the middle of nowhere on a rainy night. It wasn’t a flat tire – I could have fixed that, so I was just – stuck.

A car finally drove by and stopped.

A man got out.

He stood next to his car and called out to me: “Do you need help?”

I cracked my window and said, “I need a tow but I don’t have a phone.”

He said, “I have a phone. I’ll put it on your hood and then come back here while you use it.”

He paused.

“I have sisters.”

He knew.


Turned out it was the water pump of that car.

Actually, it was a bad rubber seal – a part that probably costs a dime or less to make but Toyota cheaped out on, which caused a $400 repair.

When they were replacing the pump, they asked if I also wanted them to replace the timing belt as well.

If anyone ever asks you this, tell them yes! Because the belt itself is not that expensive – it’s the labor to get to it, which is the same labor as replacing a water pump.

Say yes or otherwise, a few months later when your timing belt breaks, you will be spending another $350 in labor, an expense you could have avoided.


One of the Arizona highwaymen sighed and returned to the truck. He pulled out a metal thing that looked like a cross.

He returned and within three minutes, these wordless scruffy men had removed the bad tire and mounted the spare.

They grunted in reply to my effusive thanks. Thanks tainted with guilt that I had assumed the worst about them.

But – we never know.


We never know which is why I now keep a four-way in my trunk.

This is why we are furious all the time

All we want is for women and girls to be able to exist in peace. Is that too much to ask? (Apparently it is.)

I watched this video – of a grown man hassling a girl – and began to seethe with rage.

Do men know how angry we are? Do they know how much we hate men like this? Men who will not leave us alone?

I’m not hassled much these days. I’m older and I’m not going out of the house much.

But I have been this girl.

Haven’t we all been this girl?


I watched the girls at the smoothie shop who stood up to the (now-fired) Merrill Lynch investment advisor who screamed and threw something at them. He tried to get behind the counter.

He could have hurt them.

He has been arrested.

I am so proud of these girls for standing up to him. But why should they have had to? He never would have dared to treat another man like that. Never.


Girls today have tools we didn’t have. They can record these interactions.

But all that does is help us identify the perpetrators.

It does not prevent them from preying on girls and women.

It does not prevent the assaults, the rapes, the murders of girls and women.

It doesn’t help any of us feel more safe.


What can we do? I felt so helpless last summer when I watched that grown man hassle the girl in the coffee shop. Some of you gave me some great scripts and I appreciate that.

I also saw this site: Hollaback, which offers suggestions for how to help when you are a witness to harassment of any kind.

Notably, it’s not until the last option that you get to direct confrontation – of telling the harasser to stop.

Why shouldn’t we confront the harassers about their behavior?

We all know why.

But RELATIONSHIPS!

How do we know if your work is good if we can’t see you in the bathroom next to us?

1. Seats – as if men ever have to wait. 2. What really happens in there? Transitions of power, I think.

Finance needs face-to-face interactions. You need to develop human trust along with conventional technical understanding.

Random very bad manager on twitter

My friends. This claim – that people cannot have successful careers unless they are in the office with their co-workers – is moot for me, as I hope to be part of The Great Resignation until I can get on Medicare, when I will devote my time to fostering cats and volunteering in literacy programs.

(By then, I hope we will be able to – voluntarily – see each other in person again. By then, I hope everyone vaxxable will realize that Fox news and the Former Guy lied to them and that vaccines are GOOD and that if nothing else, they won’t get normal life back until they suck it up.)

You know what face to face interactions do?

They perpetuate privilege.

They perpetuate systemic racism.

They perpetuate systemic sexism.


I hear the sorrowful cries of, “But how will people develop relationships – how will they develop trust – if they are not in the office?”

I don’t know. By talking to people? The same way you do in the office?

I spent seven years in two different jobs working with people around the world, most of whom I never met in person. Or, if we did meet in person, it wasn’t until we had been working together for a while.

Guess what?

I developed relationships with them.

It is possible to develop a relationship via the phone, or skype, or zoom, or whatever the means of communication.

You just have to show a tiny bit of interest in the other person.

Me? I have to hold back. I am nosy and want to know everything about everybody, but I don’t let myself ask too many questions because then people think you’re weird.

But I do want to know. Are you married? Kids? Where did you grow up? How many siblings? What did you study in college? What do you do for fun? What do you want to do when they retire? Where did you go on your last vacation? What are you reading?

See? You probably wouldn’t want all that coming at you at once, but I WANT TO KNOW ALL THE THINGS.

And trust?

Here is how you develop trust, FINANCE INDUSTRY: Don’t screw people over. Sheesh.

(At a more practical level: Do what you say you will do. Meet your deadlines. Help your coworkers. This is not a complicated concept.)


I hear some of you saying, “WTF Texan? What do you mean face to face perpetuates privilege, racism, and sexism?”

Simple.

People like to promote – and this is not always a conscious decision – people who are like them. The people they pee next to. The people they golf with. The people they’re in the locker room with.

How often do white male executives in the US pee with golf with, or change clothes with women and/or people of color?

In 2021, a whopping 8.1% (that “.1” is critical, I guess, when the number is that small) CEOs of Fortune 500 companies were women. (Fortune)

There were only four Black CEOs in the same group, a percentage that I am too lazy to calculate but (4/500) is very very small.


You know what work from home does?

It forces management to evaluate people on what they accomplish, not on how well a person can BS with the boss or on how familiar and comfortable the person seems to management.

Yes, I know the ability to schmooze and be political is necessary for some jobs.

But even if it is, it shouldn’t be the only thing. It shouldn’t be prized about actual ability, but that’s what seems to happen sometimes: the political people are valued over the competent people.

It’s not that everyone wants to climb the corporate ladder. But – it would be nice if those who do would have a shot.

(And also – even if you don’t want to climb the ladder, in many cases, you have to pretend that you do.)

When you evaluate people on what they actually do as opposed to what they look like, women are picked more often.

A number of studies have found that female-authored papers are accepted more often or rated higher under double-blind review (when neither author nor reviewer are identifiable).

Invisible Women, by Caroline Criado Perez

[A] number of orchestras adopted “blind” auditions whereby screens are used to conceal the identity and gender of the musician from the jury. In the years after these changes were instituted, the percent of female musicians in the five highest-ranked orchestras in the nation increased from 6 percent in 1970 to 21 percent in 1993. 

American Economic Review, September 2000

This is not a new concept. When I was in grad school, my organizational behavior professor (thank you, Dr Janet Duckerich for teaching this to me), asked that we identify ourselves on our papers and tests by our social security numbers, not by our names.

She wanted to eliminate as much potential bias as possible, she explained.


What if management thought about how to serve customers and employees in the best way possible instead of about how to perpetuate power?

That would be weird.

Side effects

When you finally aren’t subject to drug testing at work but don’t know what to do next

Technically, I am high.

I have never gotten high.

I’m not morally opposed to drugs. If you want to destroy yourself with heroin, go ahead. People destroy themselves with alcohol and that’s legal. Your body, your choice.

I think maybe it’s because I’ve never had the chance. That is, nobody has ever offered me any.

Except for that time in New York City, when I was 22 and a co-worker and I were walking to a club one night. A man in the corner looked at us – in our pink polos and khaki skirts – and said, “Smoke! Smoke!”

I was offended.

“DO I LOOK LIKE I SMOKE?” I asked my co-worker.

Turns out he was trying to sell, not trying to bum a ciggie.


I would like to try.

I would like to try getting high.

I would like to try getting high as long as it doesn’t involve needles. Or smoking. Or losing control of my actions.

Or if it would actually work and not just make me sick.

After a dental surgery, the doctor sent me home with 25 Vicodin tablets.

I took one right away because even though someone had just cut my gums open and done stuff in my mouth that required me to spit out blood, I was excited about the possibility of getting high. A new experience! An experience for which I had a prescription just in case I got tapped for random drug testing at work!

Twenty minutes later, I was throwing up everything in my stomach.

I didn’t touch vicodin again until years later when another doc prescribed it. I told him it made me throw up. He told me I needed to take it with food (information on the label that I had ignored because of course it didn’t apply to me and I had just had dental surgery so how was I supposed to chew?) and that my reaction meant I probably would not become addicted to it.

I tried it again.

It took away the pain but did not make me high.

(Also, it made me sleepy but wouldn’t let me sleep.)

So I still didn’t know what high was like.


I tried valerian. It’s supposed to help with hot flashes and is also supposed to help you sleep.

Didn’t work. I mean, I will never know if it works for the hot flashes because do hot flashes even matter if you can’t sleep?

Walgreen’s clerk: What’s the reason for the return?

Me: Well, valerian is supposed to help you sleep, but there’s the weird possible side effect that maybe two people in the whole universe might get that instead of making you sleep, it gives you insomnia and you’re wide awake at 1:00 a.m., wondering if you were a really bad person in your previous life and now you’re being punished. I am one of those two people.

Clerk:

Clerk:

Clerk: So I’m just going to select “other.”

Me: OK then.


A friend suggested I try melatonin to help me sleep.

I took one tablet and was up all night, ready to jump out of my skin.

I had always thought that was an odd expression and had wondered how it came about.

Now I know.

Now I know what it feels like to be ready to jump out of my skin.

I never want that feeling again.


If there is a weird side effect to be had, I will get it

If there is anything weird that can happen to someone – any bizarre, rare side effect, it will happen to me.

Lyrica, which cost $1,400 for a one-month supply – my co-pay was $140, made my hair fall out.

Topamax killed my appetite, which I liked, but also made the food I did eat taste awful and gave me double vision.

Blockers made me feel like my body was made of lead.

None of these stopped my migraines.


All I wanted was to be able to fall asleep at night and maybe not have hot flashes at 2 a.m.

A friend suggested CBD.

So I tried it.

The stuff I got at the CBD store didn’t do anything for me, I don’t think.

When I was visiting my mom in Colorado, I missed my chance to get some edibles with THC. Mostly, I suppose, because I was lazy and how do you ask your mom to borrow her car so you can buy pot?

Maybe I blew it. Maybe I needed something stronger than the Wisconsin CBD.

Maybe I need the Strong CBD.

So I bought some.

And have been trying it for the past ten days.

Every morning, Mr T asks me how I slept.

“I don’t know,” I’ve been telling him.

Because I still lie awake trying to sleep, but once I am asleep, it’s weird. I don’t even know how to describe it. I have memories of things happening in the immediate past but when I think deeply on them, I realize I might have been dreaming – that it didn’t really happen.

And even though it turns out that CBD helps many women who have bladder pain, it can sometimes cause bladder pain.

Guess which category I am in?

Yeah.

Awake, bladder discomfort, and bad dreams.

I think the universe is trying to tell me something.

We keep our pain to ourselves because we’ve learned the world doesn’t care

Both “penis” and “pain” start with “p.” Coincidence? I think not.

“This tool is used to stabilize the cervix when they place an IUD. So if you’re like me and have been repeatedly gaslit about how you can’t possibly be in so much pain, here’s why you were in so much pain, and why they DEFINITELY knew it right then and there.” Source

The other night, Mr T sprained the top of his foot. Or something.

We are still in our COBRA election period (we don’t want to elect and pay the back premiums) and our ACA insurance doesn’t start for a week yet. So we do not have an official diagnosis because that would require going to a doctor and our doctor’s group won’t tell us how much an office visit costs and of course there is NO WAY we would go to the ER because that’s like giving a blank check to an alcoholic and pushing him into a bar or a liquor store, so we used the Doctor of Google to figure things out and it looks like a sprain, which isn’t something a doctor can do anything about anyhow.

Mr T sprained his foot.

It hurts.

I guess.

I have never sprained anything, but I have broken my toe three times and I know these things can hurt.

But he spent the immediate post-injury time explaining his suffering to me VERY LOUDLY.

And he spent the next day sitting in bed with his foot elevated – which was the right thing to do – and explaining more of his suffering to me.

It was like a Man Cold. Only it was a Man Sprain.

I now know ALL THE PAIN THAT COMES FROM A MAN SPRAIN.


I have endured migraine headaches for days.

I have had menstrual cramps that made me throw up.

The people around me never knew.

Why?

You know why.

I stayed silent.


On Day 3 of a headache, if I mention it to Mr T, he will express shock. Why didn’t I tell him?

Because telling him doesn’t make the headache go away?


When I was in high school, my mom took me to the doctor for my cramps.

The only option the doctor gave me was birth control pills, which I thought (at the time) to be only for Bad Girls and I certainly was not one of those.

The doc did not attempt to convince my mom – who also had very painful periods – that this was a medical intervention and I spent the next few years just sucking it up.

It wasn’t until I was in college that another doctor offered ibuprofen to me. It was by prescription only back then and I was supposed to take 1600 mg at a time.

You were supposed to take it before your period started but of course I wanted to preserve the pills for when I actually did have cramps – I didn’t get them every month – so would wait until the cramps started to take them. They didn’t work so well as a catch up, so I still had bad cramps.

But I stayed silent.


I didn’t see a doctor about my headaches – which started when I was in junior high – until I was almost 40.

I thought everyone got headaches and having a headache was just part of life.

Yeah I was in pain – so what?

Wasn’t everyone?

I got headaches and I took aspirin and sudafed – I thought they were sinus headaches – and joked about my sinuses but never complained about the pain.

I stayed silent.


I needed a biopsy for something. Bad periods, probably. By now, I was an adult and had jumped on the birth control bandwagon, only I had a hard time finding a formulation that did not give me unpleasant side effects.

By “unpleasant side effects,” I mean

  • a splotch of discoloration on my forehead so bad that complete strangers stopped me to ask me what was on my face
  • breakthrough bleeding (“Stick with it! It will stop!”)(It didn’t.)
  • still getting cramps.

Yay womanhood amirite?

Do you remember the image at the top of the page?

Wait. I’ll put it here again.

That’s the tool a doc uses when he places an IUD. I am guessing – docs and nurses, chime in here – it is also the tool he uses when taking a biopsy.

BTW, I am using “he” as my default pronoun for the doc here because I cannot believe a female doctor would do this to me. And the doc I had was male.

Anyhow – my doc warned me I might feel “a pinch.”

I passed out.

I stayed silent, but – I passed out from the pain.

My doc dismissed it. “You have a highly-developed vasovagal response,” he told me.

Yay.


After a day in bed with his foot elevated, Mr T’s calf suddenly cramped.

“OWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!” he yelled. “OOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!!!!”

He was – LOUD.

LOUD.

I rolled my eyes.

It was a cramp.

Everyone has cramps.

“OW THAT HURTS!!!!!” he yelled.

And so on for the next 45 seconds.

Mr T did not stay silent.


I have only my own experience to draw from. I am one of the luckiest people in the world: I am white and educated with some degree of financial security. I am a woman, which makes me a little bit less lucky than a white man, but as a white woman in America, I am still at the top of the list compared to women in other parts of the world.

I know that.

But I also know that we women share – or seem to share – certain experiences, experiences we have simply because we are women.

Our pain is not taken seriously. Not in the US and probably not anywhere else.

It gets worse for Black women (for all Black people, actually), even in the US.

And maybe this is something I can help fix. I can’t solve period poverty. I can’t solve child brides.

I can solve human trafficking and domestic violence and rape in the US by paying attention to elections.

And maybe, we women in the US can solve the pain problem by getting loud. It’s the only way they’ll pay attention.

Be. Loud.

BE LOUD.