Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Nicole's Guide to Dealing with Nicole when Nicole has PMS

Dealing with a PMS-crazed individual is challenging at best, and extremely painful at worst. Avoidance is typically the most recommended strategy for those who must live with those who go through "that time of the month." However, certain circumstances make it impossible to implement that strategy.

In this post we will discuss very specific ways to deal with a specific PMSing individual: me. For the purposes of constructing a misleading sense of objectivity, I will refer to myself as "the subject." Those who tend to be in the subject's presence during PMS will be designated "the targets."

1: The Subject's Default Modes

The subject exists primarily within the range of two default modes, namely (1) unconscious; and (2) amused. These modes represent a spectrum of emotions that includes: (i) hungry; (ii) annoyed; (iii) smug; and (iv) chatty. When in the two modes, the subject is generally harmless and may actually be considered good company.

2. PMS

However, when the time comes nearer to the subject's luteal phase immediately prior to hemorrhaging, the subject becomes severely agitated, stressed, and combative. Typical warning signs include death glares, an angry tone of voice, cravings for particular foods, fatigue, and an urgent need to have a soft kitty on lap. Snarling for no reason at all is the single most obvious clue that PMS has begun. This stage may last up to two weeks.

3. Coping Strategies

Again, the best method is avoidance. When this option is not viable, be as pleasant and accommodating (BPA) as humanly possible. For example, changes in the subject's environment can cause undue amounts of volcanic fury, changes such as leaving an item -- any item -- on the floor, or leaving unwashed dishes on the table. In this case, the target must take care to be extra neat, or be classified in the subject's mind as a complete waste of space and oxygen, and treated accordingly. This strategy works for targets who are relatives of the subject.

If the target is in a romantic relationship with the subject, the PMS Hug is an excellent addition to BPA. The PMS Hug is not the weeny, pathetic hug you give people when you pretend you're delighted to see them but don't really remember their names. That type of hug will get you punched in the stomach. The PMS Hug is significantly more robust, and has been carefully designed and field-tested. It consists of the target imagining himself as a human straitjacket and clamping his arms around the subject until the subject has sufficiently calmed down. Again, the PMS Hug is an addition to being pleasant and accommodating, not an alternative.

Parents and pets are exempt from the consequences of PMS, and so have no need for coping strategies.

4. Motivations

One question that arises is: why bother? Why is the subject entitled to special treatment during her time of the month? Why not just act normally and let it blow over? Naturally, you are free to choose how to behave when the subject becomes crippled by overwhelming hormonal changes that often cause nausea, migraines, and fatigue. You may choose to join your friends for a drink as the subject weeps softly into her pillow because picking your socks off the floor was nowhere on your priority list. You have the option of throwing a huge party when the subject just wants to sleep because PMS has given her insomnia for three straight nights. You can do all these things, obviously.

I hope you packed your bags for that guilt trip.

5. Conclusion

PMS sucks. For everyone. But mostly for us girls. >:(

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Book Review: Tar Baby (1981)

"...underneath her efficiency and know-it-all sass were wind chimes. Nine rectangles of crystal, rainbowed in the light. Fragile pieces of glass tinkling as long as the breeze was gentle. But in more vigorous weather the thread that held it together would snap. So it would be his duty to keep the climate mild for her, to hold back with his hands if need be the thunder, drought, and all manner of winterkill, and he would blow with his own lips a gentle enough breeze for her to tinkle in."


Tar Baby is so rich in imagery and symbolism and anthropomorphism and thematic characterization and epic run-on sentences as to be the literary equivalent of a Swedish butter pastry, the kind that makes your arteries go "clang!" as soon as you lay eyes on it, but is so good for your soul that you gobble it up anyway and beg for more.

The novel revolves around the Street household, self-exiled to the Caribbean: Valerian Street, the aging and still imperious candy magnate; his beautiful wife Margaret, once a child bride; the butler Sydney and his wife, the cook Ondine; and finally, Sydney and Ondine's niece, Jadine, recently fled from a modeling career in Paris after a scene best described as a waking dream dredged from the soul of ancient ancestral shame. It's shaping up to be another non-fun Christmas at home, and the appearance of a stranger, filthy and starving, with dreadlocks that go past the Bob Marley horizon, throws everyone off. By the time Son appears, members of the Street household are already well developed and sympathetic. By the time he's gone, we learn about secrets and sins and innocence.

Toni Morrison is a queen of description, and here she applies equal dramatic feeling to trees and ants as to humans. Branches wrap protectively around fruit; monarch butterflies flit past Jadine's window, hoping to catch a glimpse of her rumored beauty. Morrison's skill at engaging dialogue is also alive in Tar Baby, especially in the beginning of the book, as Valerian and Sydney banter easily, with the familiarity of two people who've known each other for decades, but always with the awareness of their respective social standings. Margaret, as the unstable character, adds an unsteady beat to the conversational rhythm. And Jadine, a blindingly obvious representation of the educated and cultured African-American, levels everything out with her reason and self-control.

The themes in the book run rampant: the relationship between master and servant, and black and white; tensions within the black community; the insularity of island blacks; education against memory; the true meaning of debt; the value of beauty; the wilderness inside; power and helplessness; and so on. The narrative is composed of parallels, juxtaposing the competing myths in the minds of the characters. The main question of the book might be, who/what is the tar baby, i.e. who/what is the trap set out to lure the rabbit, the trap that sucks you in when you touch it? Is it Jade, with her tight restraint, sharp mind, and industrious planning? Is it Margaret, whose extraordinary beauty kept everyone away? Also, who is the rabbit? Is it Son, with his refusal to let go of his tiny hometown in the country? Is it Valerian, finally knocked from his perch by the secret everyone has kept from him?

The unexpected ending, courtesy of an old blind woman, suggests another answer: the tar baby is the walking legend made out of your own true desire. It will have you no matter how you struggle, or what path you take. Just like this book, hey?

Friday, June 24, 2011

Nikki 1:1, or #blasphemy

In the beginning there was the Egg, and the Egg was with Boss, and the Egg was NOT Boss. She was with Boss in the beginning. Through Boss all funds were raised; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was vision, and that vision was the light of the company. The vision shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

There was a woman found by Boss whose name was [censored]. She came as a top administrator to implement that vision, so that through her all might believe. She herself was not the vision; she came only as an advocate for the vision.

Then the Egg became a chicklet and received an office also. Where before she possessed no ears and no voice, now she was a glorious cross-eyed phoenix stretching its stubby wings to the ceiling.

Now this was chicklet’s testimony to her fellow chicklets after the company executives (mostly from New York) came to tell them that Boss plus Rapture equals new management. Chicklet did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, “OMGWTFBBQ.”

They asked her, “What's going to happen now?”

She said, “IDFK.”

“Are we fired?”

She answered, “No.”

Finally they said, “Should we get drinks? I think everybody needs a drink. What do you say about yourself?”

Chicklet replied in the words of Jerome Morrow from Gattaca, “We have to get drunk immediately."

Now the mid-level managers who had been around for a while questioned her, “Why do you think you can get away with drinking during office hours?”

“I'm drunk right now,” chicklet replied, “and I bet you all are too. I slipped roofies in the orange juice.”

This all happened at [censored] on the other side of [censored], where other things were happening.

Excerpts from the Book of Nikki 1:1-28

Movie Review: Hereditary (2018)