shanmonster: (Tiger claw)
I have worked on writing the following over the past couple of days when I've had spare time. It's part of my application to be part of an ocean expedition. The theme is reconciliation, and how it affects me personally.

Critiques and comments are encouraged. I still have another short write-up to create before the deadline, but what do you think of this bit?

I am part of a lost generation, the child of an indigenous parent who did not know he was indigenous himself. I grew up in a gatherer/hunter family, living off the land using a lot of traditional ways. I gathered mushrooms, berries, and fruit. I picked Labrador Tea for medicinal use, and smeared black alder mud on bee stings and scrapes to bring down swelling. I helped harness the dog team to haul in the winter’s firewood. I ate bannock by the campfire, smacked my lips over moose meat, and I helped with butchering and with cleaning and gutting fish. I delighted in tales of Glooscap, and although I turned my nose up at seal meat, I enjoyed throat singing and playing in little igloos. I experienced so many trappings of a culture I had no name for, yet spoke none of the languages of my ancestors. I was raised to think of “Indians” as other people

My ancestors were people of sea and snow, tundra and forest. I am Innu; I am Mi’kmaq; I am Lnu. And yet, through no fault of my own, I was far removed from this.

I am working at reclaiming my lost heritage. I wrote a play about Inuit folklore. I attend powwows. I consider getting an Inuit women’s tattoo. I share what I learn with other people through my blog and through conversation. I need to know more, learn more, share more, and experience more. I want to embrace a tradition which has been all but lost due to generations of cultural genocide.

Last year, I downloaded the Truth and Reconciliation report. Reading it helped me understand why my grandmother never spoke to me about her history and upbringing. So many of my family were taught to be ashamed of their traditions. So many hid who they were. The only thing I know of my grandmother’s younger days is this: she was so light and swift of foot that she appeared to fly when leaping from ice floe to ice floe across the sea’s frozen skin. My grandmother walked on water.

I yearn to visit the sea again. I will see it through her eyes as well as mine, and then I will share what I have seen. I will reclaim what was taken from us and be a part of setting things right.

An Apology

Feb. 1st, 2017 02:06 pm
shanmonster: (Zombie ShanMonster)
I remember not having empathy. Or, I remember having far less, at least. I suspect it was a coping mechanism. My religious upbringing made me think everyone was doomed unless they recanted their ways and became a Jehovah's Witness. Not a single person I met was ever convinced to become a JW, which meant that everyone around me was going to die in Armageddon. Rather than despair, it becomes easier to just not give a shit. It wasn't even a conscious thing. Looking back, I cringe at my callous behaviour.

The most egregious example is how I dealt with a coworker. I knew her from high school. She was neither a friend nor one of my bullies, ergo she was neutral. She was 17, going on 18 years old. I knew that her birthday was coming up but paid it no heed. Jehovah's Witnesses don't celebrate birthdays. The day after she turned 18, she came into work in a state of distress. My other coworkers asked her what was wrong. When she'd come home from celebrating her birthday, she was locked out of her house and no one would let her in. Her father had changed the locks and evicted her. In his distorted reasoning, once someone turns 18, they should live independently. Unfortunately for her, she'd had no warning. She wasn't allowed to get any of her belongings. She wasn't given so much as a quarter for a pay phone to call for help.

She managed to find a friend in the city who let her couch surf temporarily, but she had no way to get to work. She had to hitchhike 25 miles there and back to get to work. I listened to all this dispassionately. It never even occurred to me to offer to put her up at my place.

As time went on, she was becoming more and more desperate. She started carrying mace because she was so frightened about hitchhiking. After a while, she started sleeping on the floor in the back room at work rather than hitchhike every day. We worked at a campground, and some of the kids from the campground would bring her food to eat. Again, it never occurred to me to share my food with her, even when she commented on how good it smelled. I didn't think to give her clothes or offer to clean her work uniform at home. I did nothing for her. Nothing at all.

When I look back at this, I feel shame. How could I be so blind as to someone else's suffering? And yet I was.

For what it's worth, she did end up ok. I'm glad for this. I'm also glad that I'm no longer the same person I was then. Sometimes people tell me I don't have to save everyone. While I realize this, I know I have a lot of making up to do. I'm sorry, Andrea. I let you down.
shanmonster: (Tiger claw)
In the mid-80s, I was a high school student raised in a Christian apocalyptic cult in a rural, conservative part of Canada. I was a homophobe, because I'd been raised to be one. My parents did not believe in public sex education, yet were supportive of my self-motivated learning. I was an unpopular child, and threw myself into academic research. I was fascinated by AIDS, and I read everything I could find on the topic.

I read everything from tabloid articles (Rock Hudson and Liberace had reams of articles written on them) to medical journals. Where most kids I knew would hang out with one another and play hockey or chat on the phone, I would beg to be taken to the university an hour's drive away. There I'd sit and read articles in the Journal of the American Medical Association and the New England Journal of Medicine. I had a written correspondence going with the World Health Organization, the science editor at Time magazine, and the head of AIDS research in Canada (I've long since forgotten his name). I talked to doctors, nurses, and professors of virology. I researched everything from social ramifications to medical testing and treatments to safe sex practices.

This latter topic was the one which landed me in the most trouble. I purchased educational pamphlets from safe sex organizations in San Francisco. Here I was, a homophobic virgin, reading about anal sex, fisting, docking, poppers, and all sorts of things for which I really had no understanding. Poppers were as mysterious to me as retroviruses, but I kept reading, hoping that eventually, I'd be able to understand what it all meant.

As a result, I ended up becoming one of the most educated people on the topic of AIDS in Canada for that short period of time. Professors started coming to me for information and my opinion. I put together an education system on teaching about AIDS in junior high schools. Suddenly I was introducing safe sex topics to rural New Brunswick. The principal accepted my program, with the exception of any sympathetic talk about homosexual behaviour. I accepted this because I figured some education was better than none. There was already one reported AIDS case in the region, after all.

I wrote up a survey to be given to the students before and after taking the lessons on AIDS education. It demonstrated that the message was getting through to the kids, and that they were learning about AIDS transmission, safe sex, blood transfusions, and IV drug use.

I took my findings to a regional science fair, and that's when things got nasty. Some of my materials (ie. the safe sex pamphlets from San Francisco bath houses) was sexually explicit. One kid kept showing up and taking my materials, taking off with them to snicker and show his friends. I had saved up my allowance to purchase these, and didn't appreciate having them taken, let alone to have them being laughed at. I managed to get them back, and put them away in my purse.

While I wasn't looking, the kid came back and stole them from my purse. I had no idea anything was wrong until an angry mother stormed over to me with my pamphlets. She screamed at me, told me I was a pervert who was corrupting her son, and then she tore up my pamphlets and brought over science fair staff. They went through my materials, ensuring there weren't any more "dirty" materials.

I was not reimbursed for my stolen and destroyed property.

I received an honourable mention for my science fair project. I was invited to address a class at a local university (I demurred, because I thought that since I was just a high school kid, I'd have nothing to teach to university students). And when I went on to the provincial science fair, I had all my materials searched for contraband perversion before I was allowed to set up.
shanmonster: (Tiger claw)
I worked at a crappity retail location selling knock-off Tommy Hilfiger sweaters, tiny Hong Kong women's fashions, and cheap bongs years ago. The store was in a mall, and I frequently worked the opening shift. My boss frequently set up little tests of my loyalty and competence. He hired what he called "mysterious shoppers" to check out my customer service skills. He was a strange and suspicious man.

One day, I showed up, opened the folding security doors, and was met by a scene of chaos. Pretty much the entirety of the floor was covered by heaps of plastic coat hangers--I'm talking at least a couple of hundred coat hangers. They were in tangled heaps, and there was no way the shop could be open to the public in this condition.

I hastened to tidy up the mess wondering why my boss thought it necessary to test me so. I'd pick up one hanger, and a bunch would come attached like Bizzaroland Barrel of Monkeys. I eventually got them all picked up and stashed in two giant garbage bags. The store didn't have any storage space, so I eventually stashed them in the change room. I figured that if someone wanted to try something on, I could just haul the bags out of the way.

A few hours later, my boss strolled in. He looked around the store, nodding contentedly, then said, "Good" before leaving again.
shanmonster: (Tiger claw)
For a few years, while my family lived on the other side of the country, we rented our home to a destitute family for a pittance. Dad knew they didn't have much money, so charged them a mere dollar a month to live in our house. He figured the place would be in better shape with someone in it, plus he'd be doing these people a favour.

Unfortunately, Mel, the patriarch of the family was the sort of person so rotten that he seemed like a cartoon villain. He was an abusive man, dispersing torture to humans and animals alike. Our house was hacked to pieces and filled with feces, mouldering garbage, and slime. When we moved back home, he was evicted, and for quite some time, Dad stood outside our destroyed home with a match and a can of gasoline. To this day, I don't understand why he didn't burn the place.

But this story goes back a bit before Mel's eviction. Mel had a dog. It was a poor, wretched creature. Mel never bothered feeding him, so he subsisted on mouthfuls of grain and plundered garbage. Guy, the WWII vet who lived next door, took pity on the poor animal and put out a bowl of dog food every day. The dog began spending more and more time at Guy's place. After all, he was being fed there, and not kicked and whipped.

When Mel was finally evicted, the dog suffered the most. Mel decided that he was through with the animal. He got liquored up, got out his gun, and went hunting the dog. Terrified, the dog tore off to Guy's house. Mel managed to shoot the dog, but the bullet passed through its cheek. The dog cowered in Guy's porch while Mel struggled to reload his gun.

That's when Guy came out of his house with his gun in hand. Guy was a sharpshooter, and a damned fine one, at that. At first, Mel blustered about having the right to kill his own dog, but Guy, cool and icy as a November evening, told him the dog was his now, and if he ever saw him on his property or near the dog again, he'd shoot Mel the same way he'd shot the dog.

Mel left, and never came back. Hobo, as Guy christened the dog, made a full recovery and went on to be a great dog.

(More at The Sharpshooter I)
shanmonster: (Liothu'a)
When I was a kid, my Dad told me many stories about growing up in rural Newfoundland. One story stuck out in particular. There was a schoolteacher or a pastor, I can't recall which, who was sexually abusing children. Dad was one of the kids attacked by this guy. The grownups didn't believe the kids because he was an upstanding community member. So the kids decided to take matters into their own hands.

Bonfire Night, or Guy Fawkes Night, was a big holiday in 1950s Newfoundland. The kids timed their vengeance for this night. They waited for the pedophile to go to the outhouse, and once he was there, they quickly bound the door shut with rope and proceeded to build a great bonfire around the privy. They got a fire going, but the man's screams drew the attention of other grownups and he was freed.

He packed up and left the town. I have no idea if he ever molested another kid again, but he never bothered these ones again.

20 Things

Oct. 3rd, 2014 11:43 am
shanmonster: (Purple mohawk)
1. I've never smoked a cigarette in my life. In fact, I haven't taken as much as a single puff off one.
2. I have, however, smoked a pipe and part of a very expensive cigar.
3. I think cheesecake tastes like sweet, flavoured lard. Yuck.
4. I am sizeist when it comes to cats. I do not like obese cats. I don't know why this is.
5. I'm racist when it comes to goats. Nubian goats are idiots, albeit cute ones. I know why this is.
6. Probably due to being an outcast for the duration of my formative years, social interactions and rituals often mystify me.
7. Due to spending a lot of time with poultry, I became able to communicate certain simple things with birds using body language.
8. The 1990s is the decade I remember with the most fondness.
9. I'm scared of a lot of things but do them anyway.
10. When people are nice to me, unless I know them well, I can't help but be suspicious that they're setting me up for something. Thanks, grade school bullies, for making me so paranoid.
11. I do not like watching wipe-out videos where people are injured or killed. For some reason, this surprises a lot of people.
12. I am fascinated by cruelty in general, and the amount of creativity that goes into causing suffering.
13. I have an iron grip on my emotional response. Some people say crying is cathartic. I mustn't let myself cry. If I do, it triggers an asthma attack and sometimes also an anxiety attack. Crying has *never* made me feel better. It always makes me feel much, much worse.
14. I am fairly sure I developed asthma because of Irving spraying Agent Orange over my house when I was a kid.
15. I am fairly sure my gut issues were caused by antibiotic use in my childhood.
16. I have an iron grip on my breathing. If I start sucking air, like many people do when they are exerting really hard, I get an asthma attack. Therefore, when I exert, I am always focusing on my exhalations, timing them, and doing all my inhalations through my nose. As a result, I've had a classical voice instructor tell me with admiration that I have "lungs of steel." Not bad for an asthmatic....
17. I learned at a very young age that I have a strong ability to manipulate people. After experimenting with it briefly as a kid, I decided it was unethical, and now I only ever use this ability within roleplaying situations.
18. I have learned I am very good at stealing physical items, even right under the nose of others. This is a skill I only ever use at LARP.
19. I have been trained in techniques of how to kill and maim. I do not use this anywhere.
20. I cannot bring myself to personally put an animal out of its misery. I consider this to be one of my greatest shortcomings.
shanmonster: (Liothu'a)
Years ago, when I lived in the Rocky Mountains, I stared overhead at the lurid green glow of the Aurora Borealis. Dad told me that when the night was cold enough and the air was still, I could make the northern lights move with a sharp noise. And so on those bitter, biting winter nights, I would stand outdoors and strike over and over again with a hammer hoping to make the lights dance. It didn't work, of course, although sometimes I pretended to believe it did. My attempts to influence the goddess of dawn were fruitless. Even the dog watched with disinterest while the sky glowed like something out of science fiction.

Years later, I would stare intently at the exact same coloured glow of the text on a Commodore PET screen. Sometimes, I even wished I had a hammer.
shanmonster: (Purple mohawk)
I remember when I had no difficulties learning how to use devices and software. I was a quick study, and could do complex combinations after being shown them. As an example, when I was volunteering at a charity shop, I was able to do a complicated return on the glitchy, tricksy retail software months after having it demoed to me. No one else at the shop knew how to do that, but had to consult with the manual every single time.

Just a couple of years later, I was put on propranolol for my chronic migraine headaches, and my ability to comprehend multi-step procedures vanished. I could no longer do certain things I'd always taken for granted, and my abilities to comprehend continued to dwindle as my dosage increased. During the height (depth?) of this, I was working at a radio station. I hosted a weekly show, and was supposed to record each show so that it could be rebroadcasted later in the week. I was never able to figure out how to do this despite being shown how on an almost weekly basis. For years, I had been a sound technician for theatre and radio. I had once created radio commercials, teched shows, and multi-tasked like a pro. Now I couldn't operate the machinery to record my own radio show. I often couldn't even follow a simple conversation because of the mental fog in which I was mired. I was fully aware that my IQ had dropped precipitously.

I felt like I was in a Flowers For Algernon situation. This decline in my cognitive abilities distressed me. I was terrified I'd continue to descend in a dull, mental fog. It was made even worse by some of my co-workers who berated me for what they perceived as willful stupidity. I tried to explain that my migraines and the medication I was on made it impossible for me to do what I'd once been able to do quickly and efficiently, but my words fell on deaf ears. While they touted the importance of affirmative action, they made it apparent that my particular circumstances didn't count. I had become disabled, but the people around me did not recognize this because I didn't look any different than before.

In the years since, I have made a full recovery from the physical debilitations. Although the mental fog abated, I don't have mental sunshiny days. I have not regained my prior mental acumen, but this does not stop me from making the attempt to get it back. I keep my brain active. I regularly take classes on a wide variety of topics. The material in scientific and technical courses continues to confound me, but I sign up for them anyhow.

While some abilities have diminished, others have increased just as dramatically. My dexterity and hand-eye coordination continues to improve. I went to a juggling workshop on the weekend as a rank newbie, and the instructor was shocked at how quickly I picked up the rudiments of basic 3-ball juggling. Apparently, I caught on far more quickly than the average Joe. For years, I was unable to learn choreography. This inability has been leaving, although I don't think I'll be giving up improvisation any time soon. My artistic abilities continue to improve, as well, and I catch on to new techniques in new media much more adroitly than ever before. I guess my neural pathways are rerouting stuff. I may be weaker in some areas, but I'm far stronger in others.

This gives me hope.
shanmonster: (Tiger claw)
“I was admonished to adopt feminine clothes; I refused, and still refuse. As for other avocations of women, there are plenty of other women to perform them.”
― Joan of Arc

She was old. A gift to my mother from her mother from her mother before. She was taller than most dolls. Tall and lean with peculiar creases where leg met torso. The legs didn't turn in their sockets. They didn't have sockets. The legs would tip back and forth with the stiffness of an arthritic swimmer, skin a pale peachy pink, slight dimples behind the knees. I think her hair was real. It was thick and curly and dirty blonde. She was my mother's bridal doll, and I was about to kill her.

In the late 1970s, when I was about six years old, I was a weird kid. I didn't like to wear dresses, and I didn't much like playing with dolls. Most kids I knew played games like change the diaper or feed the baby. This mystified me. I already had to help do that stuff with my little sister and babies of my parents' friends, and that wasn't much fun at all. The way I figured, people who liked changing diapers were crazy. Very occasionally, I'd pick up my dolls and play with them. Sometimes I played terrible car accident. That limbs could be removed from the torso of a Barbie knock-off was an amazing feature. Arms and legs would litter my room in gory disarray while I ran around making ambulance noises. Other times I'd play mating season. Since I didn't have any boy dolls, I'd fashion a makeshift penis by jabbing a safety pin into the crotch of one doll and then have it hump another, doggy-style. When you grow up on a farm, that's just the way things are done. Captured spy was another fun game. Mom got pretty mad when I broke a bunch of straws off her broom to jab under the fingernails of a trussed-up doll exhorting it to reveal the top secret plans.

I had special plans for the bridal doll. This would be a one-time-only affair. Today I was going to play Joan of Arc.

What was anathema for city kids was commonplace for me. No one hid the matches or knives from me. Although I wasn't big enough to wield an axe safely, I knew how to strip tinder with a pocket knife. I knew how to build and tend a fire, and if I let the wood stove go out, I was in trouble. Today wasn't about cooking stoves, though. Dad was burning brush in the back yard, and I was going to play with fire.

I suppose I knew about Joan of Arc from tv and from Jehovah's Witness literature. I liked to look at the line drawings in the magazines and books while the elders droned on and on at meetings. I remember seeing drawings of people being burnt to death at stakes, Bibles chained to their chests, flames licking at their upturned faces. Although Joan didn't have a Bible strapped to her chest, neither would the doll.

And so I gathered up sticks and branches and dried old weeds. Since my little sister wanted to be a hairdresser, she cut off all the doll's hair. The doll looked up at us with blank glass eyes. She accepted her fate. I jammed a stake into the ground, tied the nude doll to it with baling twine, and built up the pyre.

I watched in morbid fascination. It looked exactly like what I imagined a real person would look like going up in flames. She didn't burn like a bit of wood. Her skin begin to melt and then slough off while smoke poured heavenward. Her glass eyes rolled in her head.

My reverie was interrupted by the angry shrieks of my mother. Play time was over.

Make Room

Dec. 3rd, 2013 12:08 am
shanmonster: (Tiger claw)
When you're a kid, you know it's time to go home when the streetlights come on. I know this because of multiple self-congratulatory memes from people who think they've been brought up right, unlike kids nowadays. Well, I have a hard time relating to these sorts of memes. The streetlights didn't pull me home. Streetlights weren't exactly ubiquitous to my childhood.

When I was growing up, I didn't always have bedrooms, electricity, or plumbing. My family lived in campers and travel trailers, strangers in strange lands where the people viewed us, the aberrant interlopers, with fear and distrust. People broke into our homemade camper looking for loot we did not have, peppered our livestock with pellet guns, stole our bony old gander, and destroyed an old dory my dad was fixing up. We had to drive to a neighbouring town for potable water because the livestock wouldn't drink from nearby streams. The water was poison, and we couldn't drink from the town well. The locals polluted it with used maxi pads and other filth. We grew our own food in frigid fields. I spent hours picking and planting potatoes. I was allowed to pick out a packet of seeds for a garden row--so long as it was for food and not for wasteful things like flowers. I picked out rape seed because I thought it sounded exciting and dangerous. I was nine.

I've seen people discussing how only rich, spoiled people can afford to have horses, and I'm boggled by such a one-sided view. People who say such things must presume horses are just four-legged toys that you wear fancy clothes to ride. Perhaps they don't think Mennonites, Amish, cowboys, or seaweed harvesters are real people. Maybe they don't know that people like me have relied on horses and ponies instead of cars for transportation, or that we used pony teams to bring back wood necessary for our survival. Several of the places where I've lived were heated by wood stove. I cooked on a wood stove, too. I know soft wood doesn't burn as hot as hard wood, and if you burn wood from apple trees, it'll burn so hot the cast iron stove will glow a bright cherry red. Don't burn too much of that. It's scary.

I didn't live in a place with streetlights until I was ten, and that wasn't for very long. I lived in a campground/trailer park. We lived in a camper, all six of us: Mom, Dad, my sister, my dog, and my sister's cat. The livestock had been sold or given away. We couldn't bring the animals across the country with us. I was allowed to bring three books and two toys. There was no room for anything more.

There's no such thing as privacy when you live in a camper. There are no bedrooms. The only possible escape is a bathroom big enough for a tiny camp toilet.

Lately, I've been seeing a lot of people posting links about people living in tiny little homes: places about the size of the camper where I was squashed together with my family. People romanticize this. They say how nice it must be to not have many things, to not be materialistic, to have only what you need. Life would be so much richer. It looks so cozy.

Maybe, just maybe, if you've grown up in suburbia, or in places with large public spaces like libraries and community centres and malls where you can escape when the weather is bad, maybe then, you could fantasize about living in such a tiny space for a while. Maybe the cabin fever won't seize you harder than it did me. The closeness of space packs you in tighter and tighter, and a band of stress wraps and pulls around your chest until breathing is strenuous, your heart pounds like war drums in your ears, and all you want to do is run and run, gasps of burning air stabbing down your trachea into your lungs. Just run until there are no people for miles. But you can't do that if you live in a little camper in a little campground. There's nowhere to go but the little laundromat, and you'll be kicked out for loitering. Or maybe, like I did in other times, you'll live in a travel trailer in the wilderness. Then there is no other building where you can take shelter. If you run, you've got to come back. Unless it's the right time of year, you will succumb to the elements. You have to come back. And so you return to a one-roomed squat that smells of portapotty, damp boots, hot food, and wet dog. You do your homework in your shared bunk with your sister who has the flu. You hear your parents having sex a foot or two away and be too young to understand, but know just enough to realize it's supposed to be private. You sleep with your fingers in your ears a lot, pillow pulled uselessly over your head. You fantasize about someday having your very own room.

Do you really think that little house is so wonderful?
shanmonster: (Tiger claw)
When I was about six or so, I remember hearing my cat Siam making a ruckus in the porch. I went to see what was going on, and to my horror, I saw her chasing a bat. The bat flitted in desperation from one end of the porch to the other, and I screamed at the cat to stop. I flung myself on top of Siam, trying to hold her down, and the bat continued to swoop.

It was obviously a vampire, and my cat didn't know it was in mortal peril. She just thought it was a mousebird.

Siam squirmed beneath me, determined to resume her hunt, and I held the cat even tighter, determined to save her from becoming the undead. I was also scared, myself, because the vampire might turn me, too.

I screamed for my Mom, and eventually, she came running. I think she'd been working in the garden or something. She opened the door, the bat flew away, and Siam gave me stink eye.

And then my Mom sat down and told me a bit about different kinds of bats, and how vampires weren't real.

It was a bit anticlimactic, somehow, to realize vampires aren't real, this kind of bat only eats bugs, and the worst possibility was only rabies.
shanmonster: (Tiger claw)
When I was about four or five years old, I was hard at work at my grandmother's house in Fredericton, NB, making mud pies. I had a few implements: a saucer, a bowl of water, bucket, trowel, and rake. I had already picked a bunch of the brilliant red berries which grew on the deadly nightshade vines growing rampant, and now I was digging away at the dusty ground collecting "flour" for my cakes. Although I'd made mud pies many times in the past, this time I decided to dig a deeper hole than ever before.

That's when I started finding things.

The first strange thing I found was a bone. I wasn't sure what sort of bone it was, but it looked like it might be from a chicken leg. This was strange. Normally, the ground only offered up such things as rocks, worms, and ants rushing to carry away little white oblong eggs that I'd unearthed. I'd never found a chicken bone before. That's the sort of thing normally scraped off the plate into a compost heap. It was discoloured. Pleased with my find, I ran up to show it off to my grandmother. She made me throw it in the garbage and wash my hands.

After I'd done this, I ran back down to the backyard and kept digging. In a lower stratum, I found something inorganic, faded, and red. Curious, I kept digging, and finally I'd pulled up my greatest archaeological find, yet: a chewed-up rubber dog bone.

Why was a dog bone underground? Although my grandmother had a dog, I knew this hadn't been one of its toys. I took the artefact back to my grandmother, and once again, she made me throw it in the garbage and wash my hands.

I dug more, afterwards, but I didn't find anything else of interest in the soil. I celebrated my great find by finally finishing my mud pies.

Now, several decades later, I'm studying archaeology again, but this time, my grandmother isn't making me wash my hands.
shanmonster: (On the stairs)
I was just reminded of something that happened long, long ago, back when my own personal plumbing equipment was first starting to do its adult thing. In those days, my Mom cautioned me against tampons. In her mind, using a tampon was like being fingerblasted by Satan himself, and she'd have none of it for herself or her daughters.

And so I was stuck riding the fat cotton pony: maxi pads approximately the same size and shape as size as a crappity sleeping bag. These were the sort of thing that announced to anyone who glanced below waist level that you were most assuredly on the rag. No matter how baggy my pants, the damned things would often poke out from the back, giving me the appearance of a poorly-hidden rudimentary tail. To top it off, when I sat down, I'd be about an inch taller until the squelch kicked in.


So it was with a certain amount of illicit naughtiness that I'd leaf through teenybopper girl magazines with their ubiquitous ads on feminine hygiene. There, between the ads for beltless sanitary napkins and floral douches, I'd find advertisements for the sexy, sexy tampon.

What was a pubescent girl to do when presented with this cure for pad-induced diaper rash? I read the ads furtively, and noted that most of them offered a sample kit with a free tampon starter kit and instruction manual which would arrive in the mail in a discrete, unmarked package. Since I couldn't afford to purchase tampons at the store, and had no way of doing so without it being noticed by Mom, I decided to write a letter to Tampax and get one of these magical kits.

One day, the package arrived. I felt a frisson of guilt and naughtiness. I had a tampon. Next time Aunt Flo came to visit, I was going to take that tampon and jam it right up my wazoo! Oh yes, yes!

Menarche is a crazy time, in case you've forgotten or don't know. Your monthlies aren't necessarily monthly, and with the hormonal shitstorm that is puberty, everything doesn't work in an orderly fashion. It's hit and miss. Sometimes you'll gush like an oil geyser without warning, and other times the pressure will build and build for weeks, and your damned endometrium just plain refuses to slough itself off. Or when it finally does, it takes its own sweet time and goes on for a few weeks at a time.

Have empathy for girls at this stage. It is a deeply unpleasant time.

Anyhow, the bloodgates opened, and I opened my mysterious guide to internal hygiene. I was confronted with an unattractive cardboard tube with a bunch of cotton jammed inside. I looked at it skeptically, then read the instruction manual. It seemed pretty straight-forward.

It wasn't.

Not everyone is built the same. I jammed and jammed that thing, but it was going nowhere. I ended up destroying it against my tender bits. I gave up in frustration and used another giant maxi pad.

*grumble grumble*

After a day or so, I decided I was going to give it another go. I opened another package. This one looked quite different. It looked like a plastic bullet. Bang bang.... This time, the thing was going in. I was determined.

I put a leg up on the bed and attacked my nether regions with the blood torpedo. It was hard work. It was painful work. But with perseverance, I finally got the thing in and voila! Cotton hypodermic. I had successfully injected myself with a wad of cotton.

By that point, it was quite late, and I still had homework to do, so I did some homework, forgot all about the tampon, and fell asleep.

The next morning, I was awoken by the shrill ringing of the telephone. This was back in the time when I used to wake up en route to the phone, and this time, I woke up running to the phone all while experiencing an utterly bizarre sensation while simultaneously hearing a strange farting noise.

I was farting! But not from my ass!

What the fuck? This was NOT in the instruction manual!

The whole time I ran to the phone, it felt like a half gallon of air was escaping from around the cotton wadded up inside me.

I didn't use a tampon again for years.

Bad Things

Jun. 24th, 2013 02:02 pm
shanmonster: (Tiger claw)
When I was 11, I think, I moved to a little town high in the Rockies. On the very first day of school, all of the students were called to an assembly. I sat in a plastic chair, surrounded by strangers. The elementary school was a cacophony of young voices, but some of the kids around me noticed me. "Are you new?"

I nodded.

"Stay away from Mr. Smith."

The cacophony was breaking into little parcels of comprehensible speech. All around I could hear murmurs about Mr. Smith.

I looked at the kid who'd talked to me. "What's wrong with Mr. Smith?"

"He does things to kids."


"Yeah," the kid said. "Bad things. Don't go anywhere with him."

Though I was young, I had a pretty good idea of what sort of bad things Mr. Smith might do. He might touch my bum or something.

The principal called everyone to order, and the ruckus subsided. "I have an announcement to make," he said. "I'm sorry to say that Mr. Smith is no longer with us. He has been transferred to another school district."

A mostly subdued cheer broke out all around me, and the principal shot an angry look at the students. I was relieved I wouldn't have to deal with Mr. Smith, but I couldn't help but wonder why he'd be sent somewhere else do bad things to other kids.

The Dive

Mar. 15th, 2013 06:02 pm
shanmonster: (Zombie ShanMonster)
When I was small, and my little sister smaller, Dad put in a basement and our mobile home was set on top of it. A porch was constructed, and a stairway was being built. From its time being exposed to the elements, there was still a fair bit of water on the concrete far below. Mom and Dad joked that it was our swimming pool.

One winter day, my sister, overstuffed and off-balance in a giant snowsuit and all the multiple layers, tripped and fell head-first down the unfinished stairwell. It was a strict free-fall to the cement twelve feet below.

The only thing that saved her was the stirrup-pant elastic of her snowsuit catching on a protruding nail. She was still so tiny that just this was enough. She shrieked and flailed, screaming, "I can't swim! I can't swim!"

Terror combined with relief is often hilarious. In our relief, we laughed that her terror was at the wrong thing.

She can swim now. It's a good thing, because that nail wouldn't be enough anymore.
shanmonster: (Purple mohawk)
The Close Shave

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn't go and doesn't suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we've no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I'm tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick the flowers in other people's gardens . . .
So maybe I ought to practise a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.
"Warning" by Jenny Joseph

This poem is more or less how I live my life, but the words are still missing something. They are missing the hideousness incipient in many old women. I used to look at some scary old ladies with beards, moustaches, and big dangling wattles with enormous black hairs, and I'd shudder. Now I know that if I make it to that age, I'll probably end up resembling them. Rather than fear the thought, I delight in it. I can't wait to be a hideous old woman. I want to be able to scare small children with a single glance. I want the power to shrivel men's dicks with a mere glance at my hirsute visage. I plan on being the ancient Medusa of hairiness.

My earliest memory involves hair. I was very young--I couldn't walk yet--and my father was holding me in his arms. I was staring at his face, and then I started staring up his nose. That's
when I saw the nose hairs. I didn't have nose hairs at this point, at least, not lustrous black ones like he did, so I was pretty fascinated. I reached up to yank them out, and Dad pushed my
hand away saying, "No, no." It's a pretty silly first memory, but the depilatory characteristics of it seem to have set the stage for my life.

Sometimes I think my life can be encapsulated as a losing battle against hair. When I was a little girl, I used to have long, glorious dark blonde tresses. I was an active child, and my hair was very curly, so my frustrated mother finally had my locks chopped off after too many tangles with my malevolent tresses and too many combs losing teeth in my scalp. My hair remained relatively short until I was in grade five and I decided to grow it out again. Then it became almost non-existent. I went to the barber shop for a trim one day back in 1981, and the barber mistook my ten-year old androgynous form for that of a boy and gave me a serious military brush cut. I went home crying, but was somehow vindicated when I became the first punk skinhead in my school.

As my hair grew out, the old battles with the comb came back. My hair was an enormous ball of frizz: a Caucasian Afro of magnificent proportions. When I'd go to a beauty salon, hairdressers
would stare slack jawed with their shears dangling helplessly by their sides. They'd make a few tentative stabs at getting my unruly hair under control, but it would invariably go back into its
giant poof.

Even in the 1980s when big hair was de rigueur, my mane would not fit into even the largest of banana clips. People would stop and stare, and I was often referred to as "Hey! You with the hair!" I tried in vain to make my hair conform to the styles of the time. I had my hair hacked into a mullet, and I tried to tease my fringe up nice and high. This only made me look like a puffer fish with a perm. Besides, I couldn't get the back of my hair flat to my head. This was the style of the day: skyscraper tall in front, and flat as a flapjack in back. The style was very similar to those false-front shops so prevalent in old Western towns.

It's just as well. This hairstyle is as ugly and ridiculous as any mullet could ever hope to be.

At some point in my mid-20s, my hair decided it was too old to rebel, and settled down into an easily-coiffed wave. I don't know what good thing I did to deserve this boon, but I didn't dare
question it. However, I was now left with all sorts of spare hair time. I took notice of other hairy bits which had previously escaped my attention, such as my unibrow. In folklore, a singular eyebrow is symptomatic of lycanthropy. Maybe I was a werewolf. Or maybe I was a muppet. After all, Bert from Sesame Street sports the same sort of facial hair. My attempts at plucking were uneven and sometimes resulted in bizarre divots. I was in modelling school at this point, and my instructor suggested I get my brows done professionally. I trooped off to a beauty salon and was introduced to the horrors of waxing.

The aesthetician sat me back in a reclining chair, much like a dentist would use. The similarities between dentist and aesthetician did not end there. The pain was also similar. First of all, she gently washed and massaged my face, then applied hot strips of wax above my eyes. Then, with a mighty RRRIPP! she tore the wax (and half of my face from the feel of it) off. My eyebrows felt like they had fresh half-moon shaped brands. My eyes filled with tears, but the aesthetician didn't stop this horrid torture until the job was done.

After she rubbed cold cream on my throbbing eyebrows, I looked in the proffered mirror to survey the damage. My unibrow was gone, and if I ignored the fluorescent swollen pink bits, the brows looked pretty damned good. The swelling only went down a day later. Now, I keep my eyebrows carefully tweezed lest I go through the wax torture again.

Ironically enough, I have since begun getting what is colloquially known as my bikini area waxed. Apparently, I don't have enough pain in my life. However, I do loathe body hair, and sometimes believe the world would be a better place if it had never been invented. I mean, whose idea was this, anyway? Did some great creator decide, hey, wouldn't it be funny if men could have more hair on their backs than on their heads?

The first time I had the timber line clear-cut off Mount Venus was early in the summer of 2001. I was really sick of my groin looking like a scalded and freshly-plucked chicken every time I went swimming. With a certain amount of trepidation, I made an appointment to see an aesthetician up at a mall. It was all rather seedy and tawdry, actually. I paid a woman to flip up my skirt and maul my crotch, and I didn't even get a half second's enjoyment out of the experience. I could hear mall muzak playing in the hallways, loud hip hop music in the trendy clothing shop next door, and the top 40 pabulum playing on the radio in the salon.

I don't think the aesthetician relished the experience any more than I did. Yanking the hair out of strange women's crotches just doesn't seem like a very rewarding job. Once again, I was plunked down on an inclined chair/bench. This time, my skirt was hauled up around my waist. The woman gave me a tissue. "Wrap this around the edge of your panties so I don't get gunk on 'em."

I did as she requested.

She dipped a spatula into a tub of warm wax and smeared it onto my upper thigh. She laid a strip of gauze over top, patted it down, then yanked it off. My eyes teared slightly at the sting, but it wasn't that bad. "That didn't hurt too much," I said.

She smiled grimly. "Good."

Then she moved in a bit closer to my grotto of love. Once again, the waxy spatula smeared itself onto my hirsute bits. The cloth was patted on, and then my leg and crotch were torn asunder. At least, that's what it felt like, to put it mildly. It was as if the top eight layers had been ripped off me. If Shakespeare had only known about waxing, he would have written it into The Merchant of Venice as a good way to obtain the pound of flesh.

Somehow, I managed not to scream or recoil. Perhaps I am a closeted masochist. I hope not.

Yet I stayed in position as this Torquemama repeated the process even closer to my holiest of holies. This time, my eyes teared up in anticipation. This was really going to hurt, I thought.

I was right.

The process was repeated on the other side. When the waxing was over, I felt both relieved and sore. Unfortunately, she wasn't yet finished. She reached for a pair of tweezers and began methodically tearing out all the survivors of the molten wax blitzkrieg. I'm sure she was pinching me in the process. Although the tweezing didn't have the all-over style of searing pain that the waxing did, it felt like she was grasping below the surface of my skin (catching skin in the process) before yanking.

When it was all through, she said, "How does that look?"

"Great," I said. The Black Forest could have flourished in my lap and I would have told her it looked dandy. The truth is, I once again looked like a freshly scalded and plucked chicken. The skin was red, and bumps showed where all my hairs had been pulled out. My skin was suffering from follicular dry heaves. Later, when I got home, I discovered she had missed several patches, but there was no way I was going back to see her.

Believe it or not, about a month and a half later, I went and did it again at a different salon. This time, the experience was much better. The hair no longer looked like a brillo pad, to begin with, and the yanker-outer-woman was much more experienced. The pain was nowhere near as intense. In fact, it was quite bearable, and although my skin was once again red and swollen afterwards, it looked fine by the evening. Also, she didn't leave any hirsute patches.

The experience was vastly superior to the time I decided to do my own depilation in a place I couldn't actually see. If you ever get the sudden urge to shave your butt cleavage, do not give in to it. It can only lead to a literal pain in the arse. Trust me on this.

Hair has also been a big part of my life as a dancer, and plays an important role in Zar trance rituals.

(To be continued....)
shanmonster: (Purple mohawk)
(I serendipitously discovered something I wrote in 2001 for a kinesiology class (of all things). It's something of a bio, and I hope you find it interesting. It covers a lot of eclectic ground. Some of the stories I've talked about here before, but you'll probably also find new material.)


I sit in a state of limbo between youth and middle age. Okay, so maybe I’m not really sitting, but the limbo part still counts. With pelvis tucked under, head tipped way back, and snakelike undulations, I dance from one age group to the next. I used to believe time is a linear thing, but over the years have come to realize that’s not quite the truth. Time is not linear. Neither is it circular. For me, time encapsulates both shapes and is a sine wave or a moving spiral. My life has been a journey from one bizarre or memorable physical experience to another. Upon first glance, many of the events don’t seem to have much in common, but upon closer examination, recurring themes make themselves evident: hair, animals, pain, trances, and those ubiquitous spirals. These themes intersect from time to time, as travelling circles are wont to do.

Growing up, I suspected I was in no way a typical kid. Nevertheless, I was reading novels which told me all children believed that of themselves, so I thought maybe my oddness was all in my head. Looking back, however, I can see my original suspicions were bang-on. I was not a typical kid with a typical family. No, just about every aspect of my life and upbringing was peculiar. How many kids do you know who were raised in a fundamentalist Christian background, moved thousands of kilometres, read voraciously, were dependant upon horses for travel, sled dogs for firewood, and themselves for gathering food in the wilderness? And how many of these kids turned out as secular humanist, agnostic, belly dancers with penchants for writing and the martial arts? Not too many, I would guess. It’s been a weird and wonderful thirty years, and this is a cross-selection of my life, in no particular order.

The Life of an Amish Gypsy Wannabe

My family veritably lived the lives of Gypsies during the 1980s, travelling across Canada in an elusive search for employment. I was a latchkey kid when my parents worked, and a hard-working child when they were unemployed.

I started off living in Fredericton, New Brunswick, in the early 1970s, then moved to a little place way out in the boonies called Dorn Ridge. For a brief time, I lived in Saint John in a campground and in a Moncton apartment when I was about four or five. In 1980, we began our peregrination in earnest by relocating to a small coastal town in Newfoundland called Musgrave Harbour.

We had no running water, and local wells were contaminated with naturally-occurring carcinogenic minerals. This made food preparation very time-consuming, since we had to travel several miles to find a clean well. Sometimes wells believed to be clean were fouled by the actions of ignorant people. Once, while hauling buckets of water out of a well, my father found a used sanitary napkin and some bloodied panties. As a result, we had to travel even further to find a clean well. We also had to haul extra water for our livestock (geese, chickens, dog, cat, goat, and horses). We relied on our animals for food, labour, transportation, and protection.

For a few months, our only electricity was supplied by a gas-operated generator. This made things even more difficult. All our food was prepared on a wood stove, so I had to help gather firewood after school. Because we had to conserve our gasoline for electricity, we seldom drove anywhere in our truck. Instead, we went to our three weekly religious meetings with a horse and carriage. Luckily, our Kingdom Hall (a church for Jehovah's Witnesses) wasn't too far away, so the trip didn't take too long. It's a wonder people didn't think we were Amish instead of Jehovah's Witnesses.

Much of our time was spent picking berries or working the fields at an isolated garden patch. I picked blueberries, cranberries, partridge berries, and bakeapples. At the garden, I planted and harvested potatoes. The potato site always seemed dreadfully cold, and a windbreak and campfire were always set up to give us a modicum of shelter. We’d put the billy on to boil for breaks, and sat in the lee of the wind while sipping too-hot cups of tea and munching on raw potatoes. During the caplin spawning season, we’d go down to the beach and fill buckets with tiny, silver, glistening fish and take them home to dry. Sometimes, we’d walk out amongst giant soggy rocks during low tide and pick the purple mussels which hung in succulent clusters.

Shortly after moving to Newfoundland, we packed up just a few belongings, sold our livestock, and took off to British Columbia in our big orange truck with not much more than a camper, a dog, a cat, and the clothes on our back. We hoped there would be work for my father in British Columbia. The search for employment was why we’d moved to Newfoundland in the first place, but it just hadn’t worked out.

In times of near destitution, we lived off the land. When my family lived in the Rockies and the north coast of Newfoundland, I was sorely punished if I didn't pick rose hips/berries/mushrooms after school, gather/stack firewood, gut and pluck chickens, or help my mother with canning venison or rabbit meat. I was responsible for gathering wood for the stove with the dog sled. I also stacked wood and cut kindling.

These chores were a matter of survival. Several other Jehovah's Witness families in the mountain areas were in the same predicament. Paid work was scarce. Our families pooled resources and did the hunter/gatherer bit together. My father and another Jehovah's Witness in the area couldn't afford individual moose licenses, so they had to split one. Fortunately, my father bagged a huge bull--enough to feed both our families for the winter. He also had a snare line, and wanted me to accompany him on his patrols. I always demurred, though. Although I would help butcher, I didn’t want to do any actual killing or collecting. I didn’t want to watch my father twist the necks of bunnies. Neither could I bear the thought of finding them suffocated with bulging eyes or gnawed-off paws. In the meantime, another family raised domesticated rabbits for meat and fur. We traded moose meat for rabbit meat, rose hip jam for mushrooms, and fresh baked bread for pies. The women sewed slippers and bottled jam to sell at craft and farmers’ markets.

One way the families coped with the meal problem was by taking turns with the kids. One family had eight children, and gladly took on more. We just gave them food, and it was distributed to all.

Similarly, none of us wore new clothes, but operated a hand-me-down network. This was very unfortunate for the youngest children, who ended up with ancient, worn-out clothing.

Oddly enough, the most difficult bit wasn’t when we were living off the land in British Columbia or Newfoundland, but when we spiralled back to rural New Brunswick when I was thirteen or fourteen. My school bus arrived at my door at 7:10 am, and I didn't get back home until roughly 6:00 pm. The buses were extremely overcrowded, with three or more high school students per seat. On more than one occasion, I arrived at school with fierce cramping in my legs and buttocks from perching thirty kilometres on a scant ten centimetres of seat.

My family was still very religious, and we attended meetings three times each week. I sometimes had sandwiches on the hour-long truck ride to religious meetings, but molasses sandwiches are a poor substitute for a proper meal, especially for growing children and hardworking blue collar workers like my Dad. At this point, both of my parents worked in the city, so they had just enough time to feed/water the livestock, wash up and change, and return to town for the meetings.

By the time we got back home, it was well after 10 pm and far too late for a real meal, especially when I had to get up so early in the morning. I had to suffice with a bowl of cereal or a couple slices of toast. Obviously, there was no time for any homework or studying on meeting nights, but I somehow managed to maintain excellent marks and do very well in regional science fairs. I unexpectedly received a bursary to attend university.

In my early twenties, I continued the spiral pattern by moving back to Fredericton, and then to Moncton. Although I wouldn’t mind living in British Columbia once more, I do hope I don’t end up living in Newfoundland again. The cold, windswept, Eastern beaches don’t call to me in the same way as the mountains, rain forests, deserts, and tundra of the West.

My travels have given me the opportunity to meet countless people. They have also given me ample opportunity for self-reflection. I am an agnostic. This is not a decision I came to lightly, but upon years of reflection (and probably countless hours spent commuting to religious meetings). I don't begrudge religious people their beliefs, as long as they have applied honest thought to them. I have no respect for blind faith, but for examination, reasoning, and understanding. It was only when I began to apply these principles to my own life that I realized my life is what I make of it. Gone are the days of passive acceptance of life, lack of interest in my surroundings, and dreadful fear of annihilation in some literal, fiery Armageddon. In their stead, I have a voracious hunger for new knowledge and self-improvement. In this way, I am both a classic existentialist, dependent upon myself for just about everything, and an experiential junkie.
shanmonster: (Purple mohawk)
Yesterday, I got thinking about the time when I wanted to do something or another, and Dad said no. I was in grade one at the time. I pleaded with him, but he was adamant. Determined to get my way, I tried bribing him. "Daddy, if you let me do it, I'll tell you a dirty joke."

He gave me a singularly awkward look (which took me years to understand) before saying absolutely not, and that I shouldn't be telling dirty jokes, anyhow.

I still remember the joke. It is terrible, and about as accurate a representation of sex as you might expect from a six-year-old. And this got me thinking that there's an unexplored oral tradition of folklore out there: dirty jokes/stories by little kids. I imagine there are all sorts of ethical conundrums with trying to study this area, but at the very least, I can share my recollections of the awful, awful dirty jokes I used to think were hysterically funny.

So here's the first dirty joke I think I ever knew.

Enjoy, if you can.


Little Johnny was supposed to take piano lessons, and his teacher came to the house. He went behind the piano with her and stuck his finger up her bum.

His sister went looking for him. "Johnny! Where are you?"

He stuck his finger up a little further.

"Johnny, where are you?"

He stuck it up further.

"Johnny, where are you?"

And Johnny said, "Just getting to the gooey stuff!"


Dec. 21st, 2012 12:40 pm
shanmonster: (Purple mohawk)
In case you've been wondering what's with all the poetry entries lately, I've taken on another challenge: a poem a day for 66 days. I expect the stuff to be of varying quality, but I'm looking forward to the creative brain flexing.

In the meantime, my 100-day squat challenge is still a go. I missed a few weeks of the challenge due to leg surgery, so once I was healed I decided to do 100 squats a day until I was all caught up. I lost track, and out of a strange sort of laziness, I decided to just continue doing 100 squats a day for the rest of the challenge. I might just continue doing 100 squats a day when it's done. I think it's great for my general strength and flexibility, and really, I don't find body weight squats taxing. They're also making my pistol squats much easier....

Wait wait wait, you may say. Surgery?


About two years ago, I noticed a new mole a few inches above one of my ankles. A bit paranoid, I asked my doctor about it. He took a look at it and told me not to worry. He said it was just a mole. A year later, I asked him about it again. He once again told me not to worry. I didn't like the look of it, though. It didn't feel the same as any other mole I have. It felt slightly dry, and the edges weren't smooth. So I asked him to excise it. I could tell he thought I was being a hypochondriac, but he agreed to remove it with a punch biopsy. I've had a mole removed before (from my back). It wasn't a huge deal. It barely hurt.

This time, it hurt like fuck. The freezing needle must have gone right into a major nerve cluster, because I gave a good yell. Once the freezing set in, it was fine, though, and the punch biopsy didn't hurt at all. The doctor assured me that it should be healed up in less than a week.

It didn't heal for months. It never even got a scab. I had to keep it clean, moisturized, and bandaged all the time. I stopped doing aerial silks because the wound is in exactly the right place to be constantly re-injured by leg wraps, which are an integral part of aerial silks.

About a week before I was scheduled to leave for Peru the doctor called me. It wasn't just a mole. It was a basal cell carcinoma.

Fan-fucking-tastic. Cancer time. Luckily for me, this is an extremely-slow-moving cancer. An appointment was made for me to go in for surgery to have it removed. As you can imagine, I was pretty freaked out and filled with a plethora of what-ifs.

On the scheduled day, I ran to the dermatologist's office. I knew it would be my last time running for a while, so I made the most of it. I got to the office and laid down on the gurney, sock off and pant leg pulled up. The doctor prepared the freezing needle, and I prepared myself for the suck. This time, however, the needle wasn't that bad.

The freezing worked pretty well, but not enough. On the surface, the cutting was fine, but he had to gouge in deeper. He cut out a piece of me about the size of an almond, and it hurt like fuck. You know how it feels when you hit your funny bone? Well, I figure his scalpel hit the nerve cluster that first freezing needle hit, because all of a sudden, I was hit by the funny bone sensation if it were made of sheer pain. I yelled. I jerked. I tried not to, but I couldn't help it. I felt a wave of nausea and faintness. He apologized, but then it was over.

He plopped the excised flesh onto the table next to me. It looked like a little piece of raw chicken. Such a small bit for such a big pain.

He stitched me up. It took a double row of stitches, and I looked down at the site, aghast. It protruded like Frankenstein's monster making duckface lips. He told me that because of the location, the stitches would be under a lot of tension. I was therefore not to run, jump, or anything else which would increase the tension for fear that my skin would rip. Walking was ok, though.

I nodded. I felt faint. I called a cab and went home. For the next two days, I sat on my ass. It hurt too much to walk more than a few steps. I hoped and hoped that the surgery was sufficient, and that it had gotten all of that skin cancer out of me. I didn't want to go in for more excision. What if they had to dig it out of me with some sort of doctor shovel?

The stitches healed wonderfully. The wound no longer stuck out, but the skin had relaxed and settled back into shape. When I had the stitches taken out a week and a half later, I went right back to training. I'd lost a bit of stamina, but it was good to be back.

A couple of days later, I was all set to go training again when I was hit by a wave of nausea which I just couldn't shake. So I went home.

The next day, I clued in to why I felt nauseated. The wound had become infected once the stitches were pulled out. What had looked completely neat and tidy suddenly looked like an infected zombie bite. I went to the doctor, and he was afraid I had cellulitis. This scared the crap out of me. [ profile] knightky had that last year, and it was BAD. I was put on antibiotics and told that if the infection spread, to go to emergency right away.

I was lucky. The antibiotics worked, and the infection didn't spread at all.

And guess what? The excision worked. It got all of the carcinoma. I have a clean bill of health.

Take that, cancer. To celebrate, I'm living my life as fully as I can. Celebrate with me?

July 2017

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