How to: Master a Menstrual Cup

Welcome to this super quick and easy guided tour of twenty steps in your first three (or four or five or six or twelve) months (and mishaps) of using a menstrual cup.

Step one: Decide that spending a wad of cash up front to save on at least five years of tampons is an excellent idea indeed.

Step two: Become overwhelmed by choices. Diva. Ruby. XO Flo. They’re cutesy-wutesy and sound like something Barbie would want to have.

Step three: Wait ever-so-impatiently for it to arrive in the mail. If you’re like me, your cup will arrive precisely one day before your period begins. That’s what we call fate, baby.

Step four: Tear open the package and assume you don’t need to read the instruction manual! You watched SO MANY menstrual cup videos before purchasing one! You know EVERYTHING there is to know about menstrual cups! Easy peasy!

Step five: Realize it is not easy peasy. Nor intuitive.

Step six: Make your entire vulval area sore from unlubricated activity involving silicone that bends and snaps RIGHT ON YOUR LABIA. That’s worse than breaking the UPS guy’s nose, y’all.

Step seven: Text your girl gang (after washing your hands, YOU ANIMAL) asking for prayers. Smile through tears at a deluge of images of kittens frolicking through fields of wildflowers.

Step eight: Give insertion one last try before calling it quits. Leave it in there even though it’s hanging out a little bit and go take a nap.

Step nine: Don’t actually nap. Instead, read horrifying articles about people who have tried cups and LOST THEM FOREVER. Okay, not forever. But. Someone got it suctioned to their cervix and had to go to the hospital to get removal help. So. Try not to do that, k?

Step ten: Pace around your apartment for a few hours because you’re afraid there’s been too much movement around your junk and cups are supposed to be safe all day and what if it doesn’t want to come out yet?

Step eleven: Take calming, meditative breaths before diving in. Fiddle around in there for the stem (some have ridges and some look like anal beads! Fun!) and pull ever so gently.

Step twelve: Listen for the slurp.

Step thirteen: Keep pulling.

Step fourteen: *sluuuurrrrrrrrrrrpppppppp*

Step fifteen: Keep going. Be gentle. The cup o’ blood is coming out soon and you don’t want to spill it, do you?

Step sixteen: Look! Look at that beautiful cup you’ve filled with blood! Oh. It’s not filled. There’s … not a whole lot in there? But you SWORE you bled like at least 3 gallons in a period, right? This is just a sneeze of blood!

Step seventeen: Snap a pic for posterity and dump it like a dump truck, dump truck.

Step eighteen: Rinse. It. Out. I swear to god. Rinse it out in the sink right now. If you’re in a public bathroom, I’m so sorry. Wipe it off with some TP and promise me you’ll wash it with warm water and unscented hand soap when you get to a private bathroom.

Step ninteen: See steps five through seven and hope for a better outcome (and OUTPUT, amirite?).

Step twenty: After three or four successful-ish cycles, throw all your tampons and pads like party confetti at your friends, because you have transcended to a better menstrual world.

Best wishes.

This post was originally published in August 2017 at the now-closed Burn Your Faves.

How To: Create Less Waste

The world has been a scary place since November. Sometimes I feel helpless about it. But some dear friends and I have been more earth-conscious lately, feeling like it’s the only way we can help the planet and feel like we’re making a difference. Even if it’s just a tiny one.

Here are the ways I’ve been working on creating less waste. They’re easy and relatively inexpensive and will save lots of money in the long run.

Continue reading “How To: Create Less Waste”

How to: Survive a Second Year

Year Two of Adulthood!

Huzzah! We made it another year on our own-ish! This one was much busier than last year, and while we may feel like we have this adulthood thing down, there are still plenty of things we learned. So let’s get to it.

Realize you need introvert time. And schedule said introvert time. Since I work nights, that means most mornings are my introvert time. And one of my weekend days is spent with a nice afternoon (three- or four-hour) nap.

Travel. Even little trips into the nearest city are nice. Do things that get you out of the bubble of your apartment, your front porch, your commute to work. Adventure and happiness is all around.

Do the self-care thing. In an evening, on a weekend, whenever you find a pocket of time, just relax. Breathe. Drink water. Eat something healthy. Take a bath.

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Get a question-a-day journal. And get ready to watch your life change over the next few years. This Amazon review has a photo of a woman’s page asking “Are you in love?” and the answers go from NOPE to I’M MARRIED over five years. How lovely is that?

Find a planner situation you love. For me, that means Google Calendar (bless) and a few other apps for habit tracking and countdowns and to-do lists. Analog people dig their Passion Planners and bullet journals, but digital fits my life better. And I can still ogle people’s journals on Instagram. Win, win.

Set a book-buying ban. And do your very best to follow through, with the only exceptions being surprise visits to indie bookstores and attending author events. Realize that these exceptions mean the rule is broken at least once a month, but, hey. These books ain’t gonna read themselves. (Maybe write a tongue-in-cheek post about how you have royally failed your book-buying ban.)

Say hello. I go for a walk around my neighborhood most mornings, and it’s just more cheerful when I say good morning to the people I pass and they smile and say it back. Bonus: Friendliness means you might get to pet more dogs.

This year has been about finding myself and finding the things that make my world a little more comfortable and happy and peaceful. And now all the puzzle pieces of my life are coming together. It’s been a great year, friends.

How to: Be a Successful(ish) Adult

Hello, hello, I am following my dear friend Jesse‘s footsteps and celebrating one year of adulthood aka not living with my parents anymore. Important note: Jesse is the sister of my now-former roommate.

ANYWAY. I moved out on my own a year ago. I learned a lot. Naturally, I made a how-to guide so you can follow in my exact footsteps. Or, you know, not.

Here we go.

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Step one: Brag about it. I read a lot about how to learn how to be an adult. I’d acquired adulting books when I was in college and darted around the house on breaks, saying things like, “Did you know that the only part of your car touching the ground is the tires? How cool is that?” Because that’s a surefire way to make everyone believe you’re a grownup.

Step two: Cry when they leave. My parents and brother helped me move in, helped build furniture, helped hang things on walls. They were there all day. I cried as I waved them down the street. I curled up on the couch and cried and tweeted about how I just wanted my mommy, even though she just left, because I’m a big fat baby.

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Step three: Get a library card. Bonus points if you forget to bring documents showing proof of residence and you really wanted to read that one book and you walked all the way to the library only to go home empty-handed.

Step four: Dumpster dive. Bless my former upstairs neighbors who threw out tons of furniture when they moved out a week after I moved in. I struggled to carry a steamer trunk upstairs, only to find it was locked. Weeks later, we got a key made and the great reveal was better than anything we could have hoped for (because I was expecting a dead body). The trunk was filled to the brim with mom jeans.

Step five: Get a kitten (or two). This was really the only thing on my adulting to-do list. Sometimes I cry just thinking about how much I love my little fur ball. I wrote a love letter to him (and the real Ernest Hemingway) a few months after I welcomed him into my heart.

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Step six: Learn to feed self.  I spent a lovely afternoon going through my mom’s cookbooks with her and found tons of old family recipes. I also inherited a bunch of cookware from my family (shout out to Great-Grandma Rodi’s pans, seen above) and was desperate to get cookin’. Food is good, you guys. I never thought I’d like cooking, but MAN, do I like cooking.

Step seven: Build IKEA furniture without any help. Months after making my brother build all my bedroom furniture, I realized I was missing one thing: An extra bookcase. I got it into my trunk by myself and up the stairs by myself and built by myself. This deserves a gold star.

Step eight: Broaden your horizons. I always said I would never drive into the city. I’m just a small-town girl, living in a suburban world, y’all. But thanks to Siri and her magical navigational knowledge, I am no longer (as) afraid of city driving. The first was a spur-of-the-moment drive after work one night. I just kept going on the expressway until I hit downtown, then turned around. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

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Step nine: Go. Adventure. Explore. New home means new places to wander. I found tons of Little Free Libraries, street art, boutiques, restaurants. Life is a lot more enjoyable when you have these things.

Step ten: Appreciate. That’s all. Gratitude is important.

As for the next year, I’m staying in my adorable apartment, this time with a new roommate. I want to have more adventures, like learning how to ride my bike on the cobblestone roads in my neighborhood and going to cute festivals in the city. I want to cook better food for myself. I want to live more and write more. Onward!