Discovering the Trinity

The one and only Trinity White.

This girl is on fire!

At 17, I packed up my life and moved it 1,000 miles south, to the fabled city of New Orleans. After spending my entire youth in a small, sheltered town on the North Carolina coast, I was ready to escape, and in doing so put as many miles in between myself and my hometown as possible.

The decision to move to the Crescent City was, like many things a 17 year old girl is wont to do, based almost entirely on romance. That year, my (now) alma mater, Tulane University, mailed prospective students a poster of all the cool things there were to do in NOLA. One of the photos was of Vietnamese dragon dancers. The red and orange dragon – long a symbol for me – caught my eye immediately.

I began my application package that night, having never visited the city or even really having thought about it before. I had no idea what to expect. I didn’t even research my soon-to-be home, but the one thing I was hoping for was radical difference. Adventure is always on my mind; I wanted something big and crazy and just a little messy. Boundaries were about to be obliterated, if my heart had its way. Guess I haven’t changed all that much in the last 15 years, huh?

My parents drove down with me and a small selection of belongings; we arrived the night before move-in day at the dorm, so we had to stay at a Comfort Inn in the CBD. That night, my parents went out for a drink and made me not only lock the door with every lock, but also slide a chair underneath the doorknob for added security. Coming from a town of 2,000 people, for them this place was a harshly lit, cacophonous abomination. They hated it from the moment the city lights broke the horizon. I, on the other hand, was in love.

The next morning we drove uptown to Tulane and unloaded my dad’s truck in the quad in front of my dorm, Monroe Hall (I was to become a Mo 6 girl). Up six flights of stairs, turn to the right, down a long, sterile hall, next room to the end on the left. Cinderblock and brick walls, crappy blue carpeting, each side of the room a mirror image of the other with a closet, bed, cubbyholes, and desk. Well, not an exact mirror image. On the right side of the room sat a six year old girl with chocolate skin and the sweetest expression of stage fright. “You’re not my roommate!” I exclaimed, grinning. The little one (Abby, Trin’s younger sister) giggled shyly, then informed me that she was “holding Trinity’s spot.” I knew that the mysterious Trinity was my roommate, but that was all. We were matched up at random by the Tulane housing department, and had only exchanged one letter over the summer. The brief introduction hadn’t been that revealing, and there was no picture in her envelope.

On my second trip down to get bags and boxes out of my dad’s truck, I took the time to scope out the other freshmen moving in. A decent subset of preppy looking dudes in cargo shorts and polo shirts (mental note to steer clear). Girls in expensive sundresses and leather flip flops, letting their dads do the heavy lifting (also not my target demographic for potential new friends). Some skater dudes (OK), a couple of goth kids (maybe), and surprisingly more kids who looked like me – allegiance as of yet undetermined. We were all looking for something, to be something, to feel something. A lot of us just had no clue what that thing was yet. I passed a tiny, strikingly pretty girl with a head full of wild, untamed curls, walking with her imposing, Rastafarian dad. She was wearing a little green tube dress, no bra – of course, she rocked it – and flip flops. She looked so exotic; I couldn’t recall having ever seen a girl who exuded such self-confidence. I thought to myself, “I’m in college now. This is what I’ll find here. This is who I can be.”

By the time my parents and I got back to the room with the next load of stuff, my new roommate and her family were there. At first, I remember just noting that there seemed to be a ton of people in the suddenly way-too-small room. Then I noticed that one of the parents was a hulking, serious-looking man with long dreads. Only then did it hit me that I was going to be rooming with the girl I’d seen downstairs. This was Trinity. I WAS in college. This WAS who I was going to be. We shyly introduced ourselves and got to setting up our respective sides of the room. Our parents made nervous small talk. My small-town folks were intimidated by her bi-racial, granola parents. Her folks were amused at my countrified, provincial guardians. To everyone’s credit, both sets of parents were trying hard to not make snap judgements (something I truly didn’t expect of my parents…I half expected one of them to go marching down to the housing office to demand a white roommate for me.)

Trin and I were both pretty pleased with the arrangement, though. We obviously weren’t the same – she was a gorgeous, confident skater chick and self-styled hippie, while I was definitely more self-conscious, a geeky semi-goth with a bleached-in Padawan braid and sparkly black JNCOs. But underneath it all, there were similarities; without meaning to coordinate, all of our belongings matched. Our bedspreads were the same colors. Our books and trinkets were similar – down to a teddy bear (Bruno) for her, and a stuffed rabbit (Frank) for me. Even our lava lamps matched – red lava in yellow liquid, with mine having a silver base and hers having a gold one.

My half of our dorm room, during one of its rare "orderly" moments. By the end of the semester the clothes and books were knee deep.

My half of our dorm room, during one of its rare “orderly” moments. By the end of the semester the clothes and books were knee deep.

Over time, we discovered our personalities to be decidedly complementary. Scorpio and Taurus are opposing signs – exact opposites, both fixed signs, but both brave and loyal, with eyes turned in to inspect spirit. I’m quiet and introverted, always the wallflower (except on special occasions when I lose my mind and sing and dance circles around the competition – it’s been known to happen). She’s always loud and fun, the life of the party, and the big sister who keeps everyone marching to the beat of her drum. We can always count on each other for a good time, but the way we color outside the lines is completely different. I’m happy to spend hours in a one-on-one conversation about books, or to go roaming in the graveyard late at night, while she’s more about sneaking into concerts and finagling her way backstage to hang out with the musicians. Day and night, but both our own kinds of magic.

I didn’t know this that first day, of course. In fact, we weren’t truly “friends” for our entire first year as roommates. We respected each other and lived around each other’s schedules, hanging out when it worked out, but otherwise basically following our noses to figure out where we wanted to be in this brand new hierarchy. For me, this meant boys, music, writing for the school paper – slightly more grown up versions of my old life. Heartaches and drama and almost flunking out and trying new things as often as possible. For her it meant architecture school, parties, pining for her boyfriend back home in Newport, and taking her natural position as mistress of mischief and instigator of all the best parties. She was, is, and will always be the “it” girl that people love to love. I’m more of a quiet sidekick who sees all and is seen by few. Only a few remember me after the party, but they remember that I’m funny and kind, and typically genuinely interested in who they are. I’m cool with that.

At the end of that first tumultuous year, we began talking about living situations for the next year. What would happen? I’d lost my scholarship (and my virginity) and I wasn’t really ready to go back to North Carolina to face the music at home, so I stayed. Since 1999, I’ve only been back home for a week or two at a time, max. My home was here now, and I intended to make the most of it. Somehow, it was decided that Trin and I would room together again the next year, and we’d move into a house with a few more girls from our dorm. To save money, we would be the only two once again sharing a room. It seemed like a good deal. I moved both of our things in over to the new house at the beginning of summer. Life as a New Orleanian started for real for me at a house on Calhoun Street, just off of St. Charles Ave.

It’s a whole other story, but sophomore year was the beginning of what I know now will be a lifelong friendship. You can’t pack two queen-sized beds in a small bedroom without drawing a line in the sand – one side means friends forever, and the other side means that one of you is going to end up dead in a swamp somewhere. Luckily, we both kinda gravitated towards the former option. We lived together for another three years after that, then for another two years after Hurricane Katrina. I’ve only ever had one other female roommate (KT, another of my best friends), and I don’t intend to have any more, ever. I lucked out that day in Monroe Hall, snagging a great living situation and a best friend. I’m not going to be dumb enough to expect a repeat performance.

From right to left: Trin (with her son), me, and our other roommate, KT

From right to left: Trin (with her son), me, and our other roommate, KT (pregnant with a daughter) last summer at the beach


The Leavings Of My Finger Sandwich

The game is afoot. Things are a’changin’. Life is about to kick me in the face, probably. Hopefully not, but most likely. And it’s quite possible that I deserve it for having been such a fucking coward for the last great portion of my life.

Thursday night, I broke up with my boyfriend of 7 years and a handful of months. I “talked it out” with him over the weekend, then gratefully accepted his offer to leave the house for awhile while I “thought about it,” knowing that I’d been thinking it over for way too long already.

In my mind, it had had been a year or so since I’d come to terms with the fact that we were not working as a couple. A year is a long fucking time, right? Well, tonight, I was going through old photographs on Facebook.

That’s a lie.

Tonight, I was hurriedly downloading all of the photos that the ex had ever taken of me that were tagged on Facebook, just in case he decides in a fit of pique to maybe destroy them all. Anyway, I’m downloading photo after photo, moving back through the years, looking at all the images of happier times, yadda, yadda, yadda. (Really, I was looking for the ones where my cheekbones are most defined and you can tell that I’ve inherited my grandmother’s green eyes.) Then I get to a photo of a karaoke party that I attended – alone – in 2009.

My old a capella buddy from undergrad, Shane, invited me to the party after I moved back to Chicago. It was all his med school friends, and I should have felt out of place, except that they played Guitar Hero all night, and everyone learned my name, and for a few hours I was friends with the cool kids. It was a fun party, despite my initial misgivings.

There was good food, too. Little finger sandwiches. I used to love them, back before gluten became a no-no. I remember snagging what could have possibly been a handful of little sandwiches in the kitchen, then running into Shane as I was stuffing my face. He’s painfully handsome, like a young John Travolta, so it’s always been tough for me to take him seriously. But he’s also dreadfully kind and sincere. He basically belongs in a romantic comedy as the “other” dude. The good catch that gets dumped in the end for the funny dude with issues. For a girl like me, guys like that are just eye candy – and I need my brain to be working to make everything else line up just right.

Shane’s adorable and kind, and I’ve looked at him more like an older brother ever since he got me into the a capella group during sophomore year of college. So it’s really no wonder that at this party, as I’m trying to shove sandwiches down my gullet, he starts talking to me about relationship stuff. At some point he asks me about my relationship with my boyfriend (now ex). He asks how long we’ve been together. By this time, it was over 3 years. Shane asks, “Do you think you’ll get married?” And I remember quite clearly how I felt.

There was a pause. I looked at him. My eyes narrowed, the way they do when I’m considering if I should tell the truth or not. I still remember how it felt to be mid-swallow, to feel the Bunny Bread triangle getting stuck in my throat, and how that was somehow less uncomfortable than me answering, “Maybe. I dunno, haven’t thought that far.” Meanwhile, inside, my little beast, the real me, was screaming “NO!”

So I knew, in 2009, that it wasn’t working. What is it about me that I’d take that visceral reaction and turn it into non-action for the next FIVE YEARS?????????? (I’m feeling dramatic, but my pinky’s getting tired. Do me a favor and imagine that the question marks just keep going.)

Now I’m starting to wonder if Shane knew this, too. Have I underestimated him? Did he see something that I didn’t? I’d ask him, but he’s probably elbow-deep in pussy right now. No, seriously – he’s an OBGYN. No, I’m not making that up.

Either way, it’s all over now. The relationship is over, and I’ve stopped downloading photos. I don’t really care what I looked like prior to 2009, or if I have those shots for posterity. I’m only interested in what happens next. From now on, it’s all about today. Well, not tomorrow – tomorrow’s going to suck. So much work at the office. But you know, after that.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Black-and-white mood | The Bliss of Reality
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  4. 1970 – Volkswagen Beetle | The Bliss of Reality
  5. Night is young | Perspectives on life, universe and everything
  6. Crossing | Perspectives on life, universe and everything
  7. 1969 – Volvo 142 | The Bliss of Reality
  8. Tetris | Crazy Art
  9. Daily Prompt: If You Leave -Living Simple Life and the Obstacle | Journeyman
  10. Droplet from water tap explaining to its brothers and sisters structure of the world ocean | Crazy Art
  11. Leaving for the Normal | Mara Eastern’s Personal Blog
  12. Daily Prompt & The Button (short story) | The Jittery Goat
  13. Dp Daily Prompt: If You Leave | Sabethville
  14. of last straws | Anawnimiss
  15. dulu dan nanti | The Frozen Tears
  16. Leaving | Attempted Human Relations and Self
  17. I’ve Had Enough of This Utah Place
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  19. I’m a Writer, Yes I Am
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  21. Who Really DECIDES? | I’m a Writer, Yes I Am
  22. Harry Potter, Famous Dads and Stoke Newington | AS I PLEASE
  23. Dear John: a fictional letter | ALIEN AURA’S BlOG: IT’LL BLOW YOUR MIND!
  24. Daily Prompt: Leave an old and start a new! Can I ? | seikaiha’s blah-blah-blah
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  27. DP: Leaving – Autumn by Ruswa Fatehpuri | aliabbasali
  28. We Gathered Yesterday | Exploratorius
  29. Daily Prompt: If You Leave « Mama Bear Musings
  30. Crossroads | Inks and Scribbles
  31. A Letter To Say Goodbye | The Magic Black Book
  32. Too literal? Maybe, but I like the image…! | thoughtsofrkh
  33. Heartbreak | Flowers and Breezes
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  69. Mild Reflections on Higher Education. | A Wiser Fella Than Myself Once Said…
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  73. Daily Prompt: Can I leave it behind? No! | Random & Real
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  90. A different kind of goodbye. | Tales of a slightly stressed Mother!
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  98. The Psychological Journey of Leaving One’s Country and the Act of Acculturation | Institute for Hispanic Health Equity
  99. Totally Cliched Life of a Troubled Teen. | B.Kaotic
  100. Lost in the maddening crowd | vic briggs

The Terror of Knowing

I’m riding the edge of delirium. Over the course of the last five days, I’ve slept maybe 15 hours total. Everything is changing, and I’m feeling simultaneously ecstatic to be swept out to sea, and not just a little terrified to be losing sight of the shore.

This life change is unprecedented, and I’m amazed to find that against the seeming odds, I appear to be standing tall again at last. For so long, I was wilting in the shadows. But then all of a sudden there was this unexpected twinkle of sunlight. It was faint, but it was there. And I could feel myself starting to bloom.

For awhile I fought the urge; I tried to tamp down the need to glow, to become. I know it sounds strange, but I didn’t want to be selfish. I wanted to do what was expected of me; I wanted to be a good (dead) flower. So I ignored it and turned my face away. But each time the sun appeared, it felt a little stronger. It felt so good to feel alive, and before I knew it, I couldn’t stop.

Yesterday I glanced in the mirror and almost didn’t recognize myself. It’s in the eyes, you see. I’m afraid everyone will notice, and they can’t be allowed to – not yet. Because now I’m shining. I’m full to the brim with light, and bursting over. I’m genuinely happy for the first time in so very long, just at the moment when I’m supposed to be sadder than I’ve ever been. It’s a cruel joke, I guess. But not on me. Not this time.

The novelist and playwright James Baldwin said, “Love takes off the masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within. I use the word “love” here not merely in the personal sense but as a state of being, or a state of grace – not in the infantile American sense of being made happy but in the tough and universal sense of quest and daring and growth.”

It isn’t all sunshine and roses, of course. There are definite hardships ahead. This might end up being as emotionally trying as my last big hurdle in 2005. But the more the sunlight hit me, the more I bloomed, the stronger I grew, the further my mask stretched. It couldn’t help but fall off. I don’t know how I even imagined for a moment that I could prevent it. And now that I’m dangling in this uncertainty, I find I’m feeling at ease with the idea of my impending fall. Could he have been right – might it be because I’m actually on the verge of flight?

Weirdly, I think that the insomnia thing and the crazy emotional roller coaster my breakup has put me on might be mostly unrelated. I think I’m having trouble falling asleep because I’ve been so, well, giddy. Someone told me today not to worry about falling asleep – I wouldn’t miss anything. I’m starting to wonder if that’s the real reason I’m still blinking my way through this blog post. I’m starting to wonder if maybe I’m frightened that I can’t possibly feel this happy in the morning.

But I’ll leave this page, and plug in my headphones, and try to drift away for awhile. No pressure. Just me and my mix tape.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Pressure | The Magic Black Book
  2. Daily Prompt: The Heat is On | Basically Beyond Basic
  3. Time | The Bliss of Reality
  4. Umbrellas | Crazy Art
  5. Introspection | Perspectives on life, universe and everything
  6. Concentration aka eating alone :-) | Perspectives on life, universe and everything
  7. Ilya Fostiy. Is There a God? | The Bliss of Reality
  8. Smile! | Crazy Art
  9. My List-less Life | DCMontreal: Blowing the Whistle on Society
  10. My List-less Life | DCMontreal: Blowing the Whistle on Society
  11. The Farm | My Little Avalon
  12. The Daily Prompt & Eric’s Aria -Part 1 (short story) | The Jittery Goat
  13. Procrastination Insults My Intelligence | I’m a Writer, Yes I Am
  14. The biggest appointment | MC’s Whispers
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  19. the pressure is the same | y
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  21. One Crazy Mom » The Heat Is On
  22. Student hurrying to catch the bus (Daily Prompt: “The Heat Is On, Show Us Pressure”) | Photo0pal Photography
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  30. Pressure Points and Implosions | ALIEN AURA’S BlOG: IT’LL BLOW YOUR MIND!
  31. 400 Pound Burden | Rima Hassan
  32. Live and Don’t Learn | Bright Tuesday
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  35. Today’s To-Do List for the workplace: Don’t do the following if you want to survive « psychologistmimi
  36. Daily Prompt: The Heat is On-Pressure | A Day In The Life
  37. I’m blessed with a system on revolt. | thoughtsofrkh
  38. In Preperation | Flowers and Breezes
  39. The Heat Is On | Step Into My Head
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  49. Deadlines and Commitments: What to Leave In, What to Leave Out (B. Seger) | meanderedwanderings
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  51. Daily Prompt: The Heat is On | Chronicles of an Anglo Swiss
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  53. Daily Prompt: Pressure (Nonet) | Morrighan’s Muse
  54. THE DAILY PROMPT: PRESSURE | Francine In Retirement
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  57. Daily Prompt… So what IS Pressure? | Eden’s Effort
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  59. Daily Prompt: My reliable mate | one hundred thousand beats per day
  60. Daring to Fear | snapshotsofawanderingheart
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  63. The Illusive FEAR of Getting Old | Musings | WANGSGARD
  64. Deadlines… | Kate Murray
  65. Daily Prompt: The Heat Is On « Mama Bear Musings
  66. Live and Let Live. | melissuhhsmiles
  67. Procrastination | Real Momma Ramblings
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  69. Under Pressure: Fight or Flight | Edward Cares
  70. Functional Procrastination… | …Properly Ridiculous…
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  72. Daily Prompt: The Heat is On | LoveAndDeathAndEverythingInBetween’s Blog
  73. Procrastinators Unite… Tomorrow | Green Embers
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  75. Daily Prompt: Being Under Pressure! | All Things Cute and Beautiful
  76. Pressure relief valve. | Trucker Turning Write
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  80. Yeah, I will (not) be there in a minute. | meg lago
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  83. Eiffel Mosaic | Antoinetta’s Mosaics
  84. Daily Prompt: Last minute costuming, the pressure is on | @ The West Gate
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  87. Daily Prompt: Pressure..? | Lady K’s Lounge
  88. Betty, Please! | 365 Days of Thank You
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On Lady Shame and Menstrual Cups

I promised you guys this post back in January, and have been thinking about how to word it ever since. Part of writing blog posts like this is to help me get more comfortable with admitting I’m a woman to the world. Yes, I know that sounds strange, but bear with me.

I was brought up to believe that “ladies” don’t talk about their “private parts” and “lady-time” – i.e. vaginas, blood, secretions, cramps, smells, feelings, feminine care products, the whole kit and kaboodle. But here’s the thing: the ability to conceive and hold offspring inside of our bodies (whether or not a pregnancy ever occurs, for whatever reason) is one of the biggest differences between men and women. And if we can’t talk about the signs and symptoms (physical and mental) that come along with that difference, we’re denying a major portion of our experience.

Throughout history, many cultures found ways to write women off as unclean and shameful. My mind always goes back to the Church fathers of the early middle ages, who expounded upon the Mary Magdalene story to create a character who was not only flawed, but filthy. Yes, she was ultimately redeemable, but in her rewritten state she was a symbol of femininity’s lowness. She was also conveniently a way for the Church to give men permission to have sex with prostitutes outside the bounds of matrimony – allowing wives to remain as spiritually clean as possible through limited sex, only for procreation, while prostitutes were equated to sewers, existing as vessels that helped men empty themselves of sin, by way of semen. (For more on medieval prostitution and the Church, here’s an essay by Vincent M. Dever on the writings of 13th century theologian Thomas of Aquinas.)

Anyway, I’ve gotten off topic. But just remember next time you feel ashamed to talk about your lady bits that there’s nothing to be ashamed about. It’s not a dirty secret – it’s a beautiful part of who you are. Unless you’re a guy, in which case, sorry dude. You missed out.

So on with the show!

I bought a SckoonCup, for reasons you can read about in my post about choosing a menstrual cup. I took it out of its cute package, boiled it in water, and marveled at its squishyness. A few days later, it was time to try it out, and that’s where the learning curve got pretty steep. It suddenly dawned on me that I had never voluntarily touched menstrual blood before, and now here I was, not only getting ready to maybe get blood on my hands, literally, but also I was going to have to root around in there. This was going to get messy. I’m ashamed to say it now, but I almost gave up before I began. It took giving myself a pep talk that sounded a lot like the first few paragraphs of this post before I willed myself to get on with it.

Just gonna say this right now: I’ve read quite a few stories about how long it takes to get the hang of using a menstrual cup. It seems like most women get it all figured out within a few days. However, it took me longer…almost three months to stop having spills and literally making a bloody mess out of things. What can I say – I’m not that coordinated.

At the time, my built-in shame machine kept telling me that it was my vagina’s fault. Maybe it wasn’t shaped like other people’s, or maybe it was too shallow, or too deep, or it didn’t have enough traction (huh?) to catch the cup, or maybe every time I shifted around or did something active I was making the cup move, etc. All of these half-assed excuses were just ridiculous ways to make me feel bad about myself, because that’s what I do (and am obviously working on not doing in the future). Yes, vaginas are all different, but not THAT different. If they were, we’d be seeing more square, triangular, or hell, even star-shaped menstrual cups (or – let’s face it – penises) to handle the issue. As it is, menstrual cups are all round because, surprise of surprises, basically so are our vaginas. Our inner workings are also intended to stretch and shift shape to a degree, so worst-case scenario, soft silicone menstrual cups bend a little bit and become ovals to make the most of the situation.

My problem, as I’ve discovered is the case with a decent subset of new menstrual cup users, was inserting the cup and not allowing it to open. After years of using a tampon, you get used to just shoving something up there and letting it do its thing. But when you’re putting a cup in place, you’ve got to think about it getting into position so that it can not absorb fluids, but rather catch them. If the cup doesn’t open properly inside of you, some of the blood will probably still get trapped in the cup, but more will make it past the cup and down the sides, and then – you guessed it – onto your fave new knickers.

If you’re like me, you haven’t felt that “uh oh, something’s going wrong up there” feeling since middle school and the days of pads (blech). Getting to the point where you feel basically in control of your period is a major stepping stone on the path to adulthood, so suddenly backtracking now, so much later, is a huge bummer. Needing to run to the bathroom to try to rectify the problem a couple of times each workday will make you want to seriously just give up, but don’t quit. Keep trying. You WILL get there. Some of you (you lucky, perfect bitches, you) will get there within the first cycle. Others, like me, will be much less coordinated. Here’s what you do:

1) Learn the different ways to fold the cup prior to insertion. You’d be surprised how many folds there are to accomplish this. I’m into origami, so this was a mildly interesting process. (Click here for photos of menstrual cup folds.)

2) Make sure that once the cup is in, it opens up. Many women say that the key is to rotate the cup once it’s inside of you, and this will help it to open. I don’t find that this helps at all. I’ve never given birth, and things are pretty snug up there, so turning the cup just rotates it without opening it. For me, the best thing has been inserting the cup a little way in, and letting it open almost as soon as it gets into the vaginal canal. At that point, I push it in all the way and it suctions pretty quickly. I can both hear and feel it suctioning, which is more than a little odd at first. It took me about three months, but once I got the hang of it, no more “accidents” and my period became about 99% stress free and not nearly as messy.

3) Remember to empty it. For the first couple of cycles, I wasn’t certain when this needed to occur. Though I’d been having my period monthly for almost 20 years, I hadn’t ever made note of typical blood flow each time. In fact, from what I can gather about myself in the old days, it seems like I did my best to completely ignore everything that was happening below the belt line for one week a month. One of the less-obvious things that I learned when I switched to a menstrual cup is what days of my period tend to be heavier, and just what “heavy” means for me.

4) Get comfortable with reaching up there. Most menstrual cups (all? I’m not sure) have a little stem at the bottom that you’re supposed to grab onto to pull the cup out when you need to empty it. Since the SckoonCup is made of silicone, the stem is very stretchy, and I snapped the bottom portion of the stem off of mine soon after I figured out how to use the cup correctly. Bottom line is that the cup works by suctioning in place, and sometimes that bond is going to need some help in unsuctioning. If you just tug the stem, you’ll either end up breaking it (been there) or hurting yourself (either by the suction pulling at your cervix, or by losing your grip on the stem and having it snap back at you in the vajayjay…so uncool). To avoid this, you’ll need to break the suction on the cup with your finger first. I’ve found that the easiest way to remove the cup, for me, is to reach in with finger and thumb, grab the bottom of the cup, and squeeze just enough to break the suction at the top, then pull the whole thing out from there. Some days that feels super easy, and others I feel like I’m undertaking a grand maneuver of some kind. Either way, it works, and weirdly, though I always expect a major spill, it’s mess-free.

Most of all, remember that there’s more to this process than just choosing a new whatsit to stick up your hooha. (Yes, I’m laughing that I just typed that, but it’s the truth). I’m gonna go all Earth Mama on you here, but stick with it – this is all about the journey. Take this time to relish the fact that you’re finding out more about yourself. For me, the biggest change that’s come out of deciding to switch to a menstrual cup isn’t that my carbon footprint is a bit smaller (true), or that I feel more comfortable during my moon (also true), but that I’ve grown into the kind of woman who can write a blog post like this, post it to Twitter, and look forward to comments.

Many of my friends with children have described having a baby as this incredible learning process, both about themselves and the child. The thing is, we shouldn’t have to wait until we’re pregnant to start learning about our bodies – and we shouldn’t stop paying attention after childbirth, either. We’re complicated and beautiful and messy, but that’s only a fabulous, empowering thing if you see it and accept it about yourself.

So here you are, ladies (and any brave, mature gents who’re awesome enough to be secure with reading something like this). Please share your comments. I want to know what you’ve learned about yourself – physical, mental, emotional – while switching to a menstrual cup. Feel free to share horror stories, if you’ve got them. I’d really love to see good stories about being able to worry less, or feeling comfier. Hope to hear from you!

Ending A Friendship

It’s tough to talk about, but I once called it quits with one of my very best friends. A and I met one summer in junior high school. He was dating a friend of mine, and I remember being intimidated by his husky voice and a short, but muscular, appearance. He just seemed very solid, and comfortable in his own skin in a way that I wasn’t yet. He didn’t seem at all like the kind of guy my friend would normally date, and he lived in the next town over, so after that initial meeting I wrote him off as someone I’d probably never see again.

A couple of years later, however, A’s parents divorced and he moved a bit closer, which put him in the right zip code to attend my high school. We were both in the JROTC program, since our parents couldn’t afford to send us to college and we both planned to enter the military after high school. From the start, we were close. Both of us were more bookish than athletic, unlike our peers. We didn’t naturally do well at many of the physical class assignments, like running relays or doing trust exercises. But we were both willing to take chances, to take charge, and to ask the questions that put us at the top of the class. We loved the boot camp portions of class, like learning how to do rope climbs, administer first aid, and tie knots. We both also really enjoyed looking our best, so we bonded over ironing our uniforms, blousing our boots, and shining our shoes. Along with four other kids in our class, we were immediately recognized as informal cadre (which became more official through the years in the program).

Besides being members of both the JROTC colorguard and drill teams, for which we traveled to competitions many weekends a year, A and I were also in a lot of the same classes and clubs. We went to a small school, and the group of academically gifted kids was pretty small. There were about 20 of us in my year of school that took many of the same classes together. A and I shared a particular love for our English teacher, who also taught us in Yearbook class (a special class just for the Yearbook staff) and coached us in Quiz Bowl (kind of like team Jeopardy for nerds).

Through the years, we got closer and closer. By high school, A was one of my very best friends. I adored him, and we were never far from each other. We even went on the same school trip to England, Ireland and Wales our senior year, so technically he was one of the first people I ever got drunk with. One of my favorite memories of A was towards the end of senior year. He was always a little like a yappy dog: talk, talk, talk, talk, all the time. He also liked to harp on a point, and one day he just set me off. I can’t even remember what the conversation about, but he pushed me to breaking, and I started choking him in the hall at high school. I fully intended to kill him; I was seeing red, and nothing else. Then he started to laugh at me, and everything was over. It sounds crazy, and it was, but we were both a little nuts. It was part of the weird fun of our relationship.

There was only one problem. A was a closeted gay boy on the brink of manhood. He was also an ultra-conservative Christian, every day becoming more and more of a homophobe. He was teased quite a bit in high school. To my knowledge, nothing that violent or cruel happened; our school was a little different than most, in that the “smart” kids were also the “cool” kids. Neither of us was at the top of the social hierarchy, but we were high enough that we managed to avoid getting picked on too much. The first portion of A’s name had a long “A” sound, so people used to rhyme it with “gay” in an attempt at name-calling. He always just laughed it off, and mostly it did seem like something that guys do to pick on each other in a very basic way, not like he was being singled out for any preferences. Plus, he managed to have a girlfriend for much of high school. Funnily enough, A dated another good friend of mine who later turned out to be a lesbian. Small world.

By the end of high school, A was starting to say derogatory stuff about gay people. He would quote scripture, and talk about how being gay was unnatural, and how gay people were going to burn in hell. The more he talked about it, the more uncomfortable I got. I didn’t know exactly what was bothering me, but I knew I didn’t agree with him. Our community was full of conservative Christians, and the thought that gays were bound for hell wasn’t anything new to me, but I’d never felt that way, and even at 17 I knew I couldn’t stand behind anyone who was determined to be such an asshole. I was surrounded by people who preached WWJD one moment, then used the next breath to spout hate. It wasn’t my scene, then or now.

I left for school in Louisiana, leaving A home in NC. We talked by phone pretty often during the beginning of our freshman year in college, also writing letters and sending postcards in an attempt to keep our friendship alive. But eventually things had to break, and one day while we were talking on the phone, they did. He started talking about how much he hated gay people, and about how awful they were, and full of sin, and how we should kill them. And I just snapped. It finally hit me right then that what really hurt me the most about his hateful talk was that not only was he bashing perfectly good people with complete bullshit, but he was talking about MY BEST FRIEND. For the first time, it just clicked that he was talking about himself, that he was hating himself, and that by listening to him, I was giving him permission to treat himself in a way that I’d never let anyone else treat my best friend. I listened to him until he finally drew a breath, and then told him that I didn’t want to be his friend anymore. I explained how I felt, and why I couldn’t stand by and listen to his diatribes. For a minute he tried to disagree with me, telling me that I should learn more about the bible, and try to get myself right with God. Eventually he just went silent, got huffy, and told me that if that’s what I thought, he didn’t want to be friends anymore, either. He hung up, and just like that, he was no longer my best friend.

A few years later, A came out. Things got a lot worse before they got better, and his life was changed forever. Eventually, he sought me out again. We had a heart-to-heart, and he apologized to me. I told him that I never expected an apology; I just wanted my friend to treat himself with the respect and love he has always deserved. Over the last ten years, A has worked tirelessly to support gay rights. He’s become an outspoken advocate for the LGBT cause, and has made me so proud. I love him so much. But our friendship didn’t survive. We still talk every now and then, and send cards on the holidays, but there’s too much life in between us. I often wish I could have made a different choice. Maybe if I had been older, and better informed, with more experience having gay friends, I would have known what else to say to help him expand his horizons without ending our friendship. But I was young and woefully unprepared. We both were.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Daily Prompt: With or Without You-Solving Conflict | Journeyman
  2. Daily Prompt: Complex « Vicariously Poetic
  3. Daily Prompt: With or Without You | Under the Monkey Tree
  4. Feuding Neighbors Create “Sno-Man’s” Land | DCMontreal: Blowing the Whistle on Society
  5. A Very Big Mistake | Knowledge Addiction
  6. Daily Prompt: With or Without You | tnkerr-Writing Prompts and Practice
  7. Brandon’s Mentor And The Daily Prmpt | The Jittery Goat
  8. When People Have More Faith in You than Yourself | Rima Hassan
  9. Drawing a line in the sand: Daily Prompt | alienorajt
  10. Streetlight | 365 days of defiance
  11. Daily Prompt: Till Death do us Part? | Anniemation Floe
  12. A Game of Picnic | My Play Nook
  13. Stop Telling Lies Or Else! – Writing |
  14. Torture of Four Years | Daily Prompt: With or Without You | likereadingontrains
  15. Daily Prompt: With or Without You | Sabethville
  16. Get It In Gear | The Shotgun Girls
  17. Where are your gods now (a tale) | Perspectives on life, universe and everything
  18. On the hook | Perspectives on life, universe and everything
  19. Putting it All on the Line Prayers and Promises
  20. 268. Ultimatum | Barely Right of Center
  21. A Day Different | Random Blotches
  22. The 19th of June 1982 – Hometown, Pennsylvania | Forgotten Correspondance
  23. Daily Prompt: With or Without You | theshamelesswanderer
  24. Daily Prompt : With or Without You | Valley Girl Gone Country
  25. Life Is Complex | Lisa’s Kansa Muse
  26. Me or him- it’s your choice | Animal Love
  27. Me or him- it’s your choice | A picture is worth 1000 words
  28. DP: Us or Them | Scorched Ice
  29. A picture is worth 1000 words
  31. simple (senryu in three parts) | peacefulblessedstar
  32. Job or It’s The End Of You and Me! | Views Splash!
  33. Ultimatums and Death | the TEMENOS JOURNAL
  34. Ultimatums and Triple Dog Dares! | meanderedwanderings
  35. Too late | Life is great
  36. Daily Prompt: With or Without You | Nola Roots, Texas Heart
  37. Daily Prompt: With or Without You « Mama Bear Musings
  38. The Forever Choice | snapshotsofawanderingheart
  39. i would repeat you | y
  40. Only With You | A mom’s blog
  41. My Brother, the Incorrigible Drunk | I’m a Writer, Yes I Am
  42. In Line Of Fire | Flowers and Breezes
  43. Daily Prompt: With or Without You | Chronicles of an Anglo Swiss
  44. Fighting Ultimatums | Ana Linden
  45. No More Contacts Please ! | My Life and My Career
  46. Nicki Minaj and A Free Fall. | meg lago
  47. Pointillism in Borneo | Mishe en Place
  48. Daily Prompt: With or Without You | Basically Beyond Basic
  49. yesterday’s snow lets | y
  50. You Stop This NOW! | Buzzy Beez
  51. Idyllic way of traffic or nostalgia | Le Drake Noir
  52. Ultimatums are bad. All the time. Just say no. | Curious Jac
  53. The Camino Plan | Exploring Assisi – The Unintentional Pilgrimage (Part 1)
  54. Daily Prompt: Complex | Occasional Stuff
  55. As For Me and My House… | The Christian Gazette
  56. Giving Ultimatums To Cats
  57. When your kid throws down the gauntlet | Parents Are People Too
  58. It’s Your Job Now, D’ya Hear Me? | Shades of Teal
  59. With or Without You | Destino
  60. Somebody Saved Me Today: But Who? | THE OVERCOMING
  61. a half-whispered | y
  62. It’s not over! | The Bohemian Rock Star’s “Untitled Project”
  63. Baby, you gotta pick | missmoodygirl

Weekly Photo Challenge: Objects & Oddities

Vintage Chinese Bobble Head Doll

I collect a strange mixture of objects and ephemera: vintage and antique tea tins (especially WWII era, preferably Meinl & some Russian brands), watercolor paintings of circus freaks, vintage and antique illustrated copies of Arabian Nights Entertainments and related books, porcelain from West Germany and Czechoslovakia, vintage and antique Asian jewelry boxes, black & white photographs of servicemen from any army, and odd cultural bits and pieces that I feel particularly drawn to, like a painted brass camel from the 1930s, a Polish mid-century mod wooden St. Francis figure, and now my latest addition, this 1940′s-era Chinese papier-mache bobble head Budai figure.

He was on Etsy, priced at a very appealing $8. He looked so cheery and fetching online, and I happen to love papier-mache items. I just knew he needed to come home to live at my house…or really, to live on my desk at work. He definitely livens the place up a bit, and as his character represents contentment and a mindful understanding of plenitude, I’m very happy to share my space with him.

The Camino Plan

After some serious thought, I’ve realized that my (greatly) varied interests can’t all be reflected properly on Compass & Quill. Sometimes it can be hard for me to see where one pastime or interest ends and another begins – I get sucked into wanting to talk about it all here, but it ends up watering me – or at least the me that you see – down. I’m trying to figure out how to get more focused, and part of that’s going to be breaking my thoughts down and putting them in the appropriate places.

To that end, I’ve started a new blog that will focus only on my upcoming pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, including thoughts on St. Francis, charity, travel, spiritual growth, practical concerns, book reviews, and any related research. If you’re interested in following along, you can find me at The Camino Plan, or click “The Camino Plan” in the menu, above. I hope you will.

My (Not-So-Super) Sweet Sixteen

Lots of little girls dream about the perfect wedding – the cake, the dress, the man. I was never into wedding planning as a kid, and surprise of surprises, not much has changed on that front over the years. Instead, when I was a kid I obsessively planned my 16th birthday party.

For some reason, I had a very concise picture of the big day in my head. There would be balloons, streamers, and confetti, everything in bubblegum pink. I’d be wearing a beautiful party dress. No clue why, but in my imagination, all of the fashion at this party was straight out of the 1950′s, with crinolines making all the girls’ skirts extra-flouncy, and all the boys wearing letterman sweaters.

We’d play some games: Spin the Bottle and Seven Minutes in Heaven. My boyfriend (because of course I’d have a boyfriend by that ripe old age) would always be on the opposite side of the bottle when it spun. We’d also listen to records, and dance long into the night, but the best part would be when my parents gave me my own car. True to form, the car was also a 1950′s-era thing, with fins. I loved fins – still do. I believe that the car was also supposed to be bubblegum pink, but that part of the picture isn’t totally clear.

Where I got this idea of a perfect sixteenth birthday, I have absolutely no clue. Maybe it came from a movie or book, or from something Barbie-related, or maybe it just came from having a great imagination. Either way, even after I had grown to realize that no one at my party would ever be wearing crinolines, and my demographic didn’t include guys who lettered in sports, I still held on to some vestiges of the dream. Maybe I’d have a boyfriend, and of course I’d get a car. Didn’t everyone?

“1950′s Coupe at a Drive In” by Cindy Lewis

Weirdly enough, I can remember this fantasy party much more clearly than I can remember the actual day I turned sixteen. I don’t remember if I had a boyfriend, but probably so; I went through a boy a month back then. I don’t remember if I did anything special to celebrate the day, or if I was working. I only remember one thing: my parents gave me a car. It was one of the cruelest jokes anyone has ever played on me.

Around the same time I originally came up with the dream birthday scenario, my mother was driving a 1976 Chevy Nova. By the early 1990′s, the car was toast, and came to its final resting spot on the side of our driveway, up on blocks. One of the windows was broken, and various wildlife – squirrels, opossums, and even the resident cat food-stealing raccoon – eventually made the car “home,” eating the wires, nesting in the seats, and otherwise hastening the car’s return to a more natural state. When I turned 16 in the late 1990′s, the powder blue Nova was more of a rust color. Moss was growing on the insides of the windows. My parents had been talking about having it towed away for years, but that seemed unlikely. After all, no one wanted to disturb the raccoon.

My birthday arrived, as birthdays tend to. Reaching sixteen was a huge deal for me, because I was finally allowed not only to go on unchaperoned dates, but I would also now be allowed to wear makeup, and get a job. I was a junior in high school, a straight-A student, captain of the Quiz Bowl team, a member of the cadre in ROTC, and there seemed to be no end in sight to my opportunities for making out with cute boys on school trips. Sure, money was really tight at home, and we’d just gone through a major hurricane a few months before that had obliterated the first floor of our house, but overall, things were looking up. I knew that the dream for my birthday party was a no-go, but I still felt hopeful that maybe, just maybe, there would be a car in my immediate future. It’s hard to describe just how it feels to know that there’s no way you’ll be getting a car, AND feel like it’s your right to have one, so of course it’s going to happen. The teenage brain is a mysterious thing.

I knew that something was really weird when I woke up and both of my parents were awake, waiting for me at the kitchen table. I don’t remember if my mother had baked a cake for me, but there would be one by that evening – a carrot cake. She always makes me carrot cake for my birthday. I’m not much of a cake person. She was still in her peach-colored fake fur robe. I don’t know what he was wearing, but it’s always some combination of jeans, work boots, and t-shirt. Just like me :-)

They wished me a happy birthday, and hugged and kissed me like normal, loving parents do. Then from her robe pocket, my mother produced a birthday card. The envelope bulged in a suspicious way…could this be a car key? Happiness burst through me – this was too good to be true! Sixteen AND a car!?!? I looked at them both – poker faces. But of course they were just waiting for me to tear open the envelope, right? Then they’d celebrate along with me, and we’d go out to the driveway to check out my new wheels. Everything was going so well!

I eagerly ripped open the envelope, glanced at the front of the birthday card (“Blah, blah, blah, you’re turning sixteen, beautiful girl, we love you, blah”), and opened it. I was right: A KEY! A key to a car! A key to a car that looked really familiar, somehow. A key to a…Chevy Nova that was up on blocks and infested with rodents of varying sizes. My parents started laughing. At me. On my big day. I didn’t start crying then, but I definitely cried on the bus on the way to school.

This story doesn’t end on a sour note; I was a pretty well-adjusted kid, after all. I got over the seemingly crushing disappointment of receiving a wildlife refuge for my birthday. It wouldn’t be long before my amazing grandfather gifted me with a real car of my own. The Nova was eventually towed away to make room for my 1984 Ford Escort station wagon. I’ve never figured out if my parents thought the joke was a funny one that I’d “get,” or if they really thought that giving me the Nova was an act of kindness. I do know that I never shared my ideal sixteenth birthday with them, so they couldn’t have known that they were stepping on something fragile and pure on that birthday morning. I’d still love to have a birthday in crinolines, and a car with fins. Maybe for my 40th…

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Watering pots | Vintage Photography
  2. My Floating Musings
  3. Bert Was A Thief (short fiction) | The Jittery Goat
  4. Daily Prompt: Sweet Sixteen | Under the Monkey Tree
  5. Daily Prompt: Sixteen « Vicariously Poetic
  6. Insert End of an Era Cliché Here | AS I PLEASE
  7. Daily Prompt: Sweet Sixteen | The Wandering Poet
  8. Inspiration of a Sixteen-year Old — A Haiku: Monday, January 20, 2014 |
  9. Sweet Sixteen | Geek Ergo Sum
  10. Not so Sweet Sixteen | Dance with the Rain
  11. Sixteen Candles and One Surprise Party | meanderedwanderings
  12. Daily Prompt: Sweet Sixteen | tnkerr-Writing Prompts and Practice
  13. It’s been an extremely long time since I was sixteen | thoughtsofrkh
  14. Daily Prompt: Sweet Sixteen | Vagabond
  15. Inside left blank for your own message | Kate Murray
  16. Sweet Sixteen – Quizmania | L5GN
  17. [M.M.X.I.V. 20] Hawai’i shirts | Never A Worry
  18. And this is why I lose my memories… | Rob’s Surf Report
  19. POEM: Sweet NOT Sixteen | Poetry by Nowelle
  20. 17 Again | Processing the life
  21. Was Hitler sweet at sixteen? | Mishe en Place
  22. Old and Wise… | Haiku By Ku
  23. Na segunda metade dos 15 | Sonhos desencontrados
  24. Sixteen Birthday | Flowers and Breezes
  25. Daily Prompt: Being Sixteen! | All Things Cute and Beautiful
  26. DP Daily Prompt: Sweet Sixteen | Sabethville
  27. Some Girls Got Mustangs/Daily Prompt | I’m a Writer, Yes I Am
  28. Daily Prompt: Sweet Sixteen | Chronicles of an Anglo Swiss
  29. Not so sweet sixteen | A mom’s blog
  30. Daily Prompt – Sweet Sixteen – You can always have fun | storyofmylife1993
  31. | all my likes
  32. Opening the Doors of Perception | The Silver Leaf Journal
  33. Daily Prompt: Sweet Sixteen | Poetry
  34. Sweet Sixteen | The Story of a Guy
  35. Sweet Sixteen – A letter to my 16 year old self | Stephen Chapman
  36. I’d Rather Remember My 39th Birthday
  37. Sweet sixteen | Sue’s Trifles
  38. The 5 worst pieces of advice I’ve ever gotten about high school | Never Stationary
  39. A Good Day to Celebrate | LenzExperiments
  40. Sweet Sixteen | Lead us from the Unreal to the Real
  41. Sweet sixteen, have you ever….. | bagofbuttons
  42. Daily Prompt: Sweet Sixteen | Winging it

Choosing a Menstrual Cup – One Girl’s Story


Seven months ago, I made the big decision to not only ween myself off of pharmaceutical birth control (read more about the FAM Method here), but also to make the switch from using disposable feminine hygiene products to using just one, reusable, menstrual cup. The latter of the two decisions was long in the making.

For years, I’d been uncomfortable with having to throw away so many used tampons and applicators each month. Research suggests that the pads, tampons, and packaging thrown away during a woman’s lifetime can add up to almost 300 pounds of garbage. Just as worrisome, if not more so, is the question of toxicity. Between the phthalates in applicators, bleach in the cardboard, and pesticides (plus more bleach) in the cotton, I was getting nervous about the chemicals I was exposing myself to, intimately, each month. When the only tampon I’d ever found that was actually comfortable and effective was discontinued this summer, I took that as my sign to move forward with exploring my options.

I’d heard that it was possible to get washable, reusable pads, but my memories of using menstrual pads as a girl are horrific, to say the least. The middle school-era embarrassment over the personal perception of the messiness and smell are just not something I’d ever like to revisit. A few years ago, I ran across mention of a thing called a “menstrual cup” somewhere online, and then about a year ago, a female family member basically sang praises to her DivaCup in conversation. I interrogated her on the product and the process, and learned that a menstrual cup is pretty much what it sounds like – a little cup that’s inserted in your vagina to collect fluids during your period. Depending on the brand and material chosen, the cup can last for years, they can be so flexible and comfortable that you don’t feel them, and depending on capacity, you might only have to empty the cup once a day during your period. When it came time to make my switch, it seemed like a no brainer.

Only one problem: which menstrual cup to choose? Since I had no clue, and the only one my family member had ever tried was the only one she knew about, I turned to an online forum for some of my answers. If you’re in the market for a happier cycle, I’d start at the really friendly community of, and also check out the menstrual cup reviews and photos at Both sites are chock-full of information on all sorts of questions typically perceived as embarrassing or risque, including FAQs like appropriate brands for different body shapes and sizes, tips for menstrual cup use on-the-go, insertion and removal issues…just about anything you’ve got a question for, someone else has the answer.

As for me, after lurking about the forums for awhile, reading testimonials and reviews, and looking through photos, I started to realize that I had some things in common with some women. I knew that I’d need something soft and ultra-flexible, suitable for sensitivity (no exposed seams or ridges that could cause irritation), something that has excellent reviews for staying in place while running/being active, a cup that had multiple sizes (most cups have a size for pre-childbirth and another, larger size for post-childbirth), and also important for me was a cup that was bright and pretty. Even though by its very definition, the menstrual cup is most likely never going to be seen by anyone else, I still wanted it to be something cheery and cute. If comfort weren’t an issue, I would have opted for something encrusted in Swarovski crystals – that’s just how I roll. :-)

In the end, I opted for a brand called SckoonCup. Made of soft, medical grade silicone, the cup is touted to be one of the softest and most flexible menstrual cups on the market. It also comes in a variety of bright colors, and is made of one piece of silicone, so no exposed seams. The cup is made in the USA, and comes with an adorable organic cotton storage bag that makes it almost a pleasure to “unwrap” the cup once a month. Also, unlike many menstrual cup companies, SckoonCup not only sells menstrual cups, but a variety of other products for women and babies.

Buying a menstrual cup is one thing – learning to use it is another. Click here to read more about my (unfiltered) experience using SckoonCup.