I know what my readers have been begging for - a post about menstruation! Oh, you say you only came here looking for Left 4 Dead pictures? TOO BAD.

Yes, right now I can feel the hordes of cramps thundering over the horizon, bearing down on me with their sharp teeth bared. They're bringing the pain. I've got the Aleve, though, so I'm not scared.

But for some reason I started thinking about my personal period past this morning - how things have changed. I got my period when I was 11, which is SO young to me. I got my period before we got the health classes in 6th grade, and for a voracious reader, I was pretty uninformed. I had read "Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret," and I was terrified of the idea of maxi-pads with crazy plastic belts attached... I really wish someone had told me that the crazy belts were defunct.

I also read a lot of inappropriate material for my age, a lot of VC Andrews. If a girl gets her period in the kind of adult books I was reading, it meant that she should be ashamed, and that grown men (possibly family members) would smell the blood and the shame and rape the girl. Seriously, if I could go back to my childhood and change one thing, I would have left the VC Andrews-type books alone. Those books were FUCKED.

Anyway, I was 11 years old on one sunny August afternoon. I was excited because my family was going to go to the beach at Lake Erie the next day, and I sure do love to swim. And then I was so confused when I went to the bathroom. I know I've written about this before: I knew that menstruation existed, and I knew that it would happen to me, but it was very abstract in my brain, the way that the future is pretty abstract now. So I was completely perplexed by the blood, and I was shocked by how red it was. And how much there was. And I was 11. And it would have made sense to run out caterwhauling to my grandma, and to call my mom at work so that I could caterwhaul to her, because it was scary, and it would have been nice to have two grown women who've been through it telling me that it was fine, it happens to most women.

But I was not a child of sense. I was quiet and anxious and weirdly secretive, so I didn't tell anyone. I threw away my underwear, and I hid my period for months. I must have stolen maxi pads from my mom, or left some other evidence, because one day I came home, and there was a giant package of maxi pads on my dresser, with a post-it note - "Why didn't you tell me?" Busted.

(My sister was even weirder, even more secretive about it. You couldn't even mention the word "tampon" around her for the longest time. Or "bra.")

Since then, I've obviously gotten over being secretive about it. I sincerely don't care who knows that I'm on my period, and I've graduated from maxi pads to tampons to the Diva Cup (great product, unfortunate name). I do like to be polite about it though - if someone asks why I'm grimacing with pain, I will reference my "lady troubles." I like the sound of it. It is better and more polite than "OMIGOD, SOMETHING IS EATING MY INSIDES! I DON'T EVEN WANT ANY FUCKING KIDS! WHY CAN'T I JUST REMOVE MY GODDAMN UTERUS?!?"

I've had my period for 22 years, and it still perplexes me in some ways. I've always had thundering hordes of cramps, but the pre-menstrual part is in constant flux. I went from no PMS at all for several, several years to "Um... did I just feel myself ovulate?" And then, maybe 6 or 7 years ago, I suddenly had "typical" PMS, the kind that stupid dudes joke about, with the mood swings for no good reason, and the extreme tiredness, and the bloating, and everything else. Since I had gone so long without the mood swings, they took forever to get used to, and it would take me way too long to think, "Oh yeah, it's time for the PMS."

But today, this very morning, I realized that the hordes were coming. And I totally skipped the PMS part this month, apparently. Perplexing, right?

Anyway, this has been a period post.


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