I love yoga. There is nothing in the world that grounds me like a good session does. Absolutely nothing. And I’ve found a lovely studio just around the corner from my house where the teachers are fantastic and the atmosphere is very healing. But they insist on doing partner work all the time, every session. Although I understand that connecting with your community is a huge part of yoga, and working with your fellow yogis to improve your practice can be worthwhile, I absolutely and wholeheartedly hate it. Full stop. When the instructor starts demonstrating what you will be doing with your partner, it’s all I can do not to storm out, pushing bodies aside and giving Ganesha the bird.
This anxiety and dislike of partner work all came to a head a couple of weeks ago. I partnered with the man next to me to do some position (it’s all a little blurry) where I had to lean over him and push down on his feet and then he had to reciprocate the position on me. I felt sorry for me because I had to grab onto this man’s sweaty feet when I didn’t want to (and, for me, looking at ugly feet is akin to having my vagina sewn shut), and I felt sorry for him because he had to grab onto my high-heel savaged feet (and that couldn’t have been pleasant either). If only that were it: I looked at his feet, gagged a little in my mouth, and smiled at him, ‘Is that pressure okay?’ But that’s only a small part of it. The other part is the huge sexual Ganesha in the room part. We’re all adults here – we know how minds work. When this sweaty man was peering over me looking at my exercise pants pulling over my vagina, I knew what he is thinking. I knew because I was thinking I similar type of thing when I saw his cock and balls being dissected by the seam of his shorts. ‘Hello, mate – focus on the horizontal smile, if you can!’
Sitting with about 20 people in a classroom the size of my bedroom, without air-con or a fan yet equipped with a ginormous flat-screen TV, I knew exactly where I was in the world: I was back in the near-decrepit John Medley Building at the University of Melbourne. The last time I participated in a coursework subject was 2009, which feels so long ago that I might as well be a different person. And yet, of course, I am probably exactly the same, with the same monotonic voice and awkwardly loud laugh.
In class on Tuesday, we did that god awful thing where you interview the person sitting next to you and then present them to the room. The girl next to me asked: what do you want to do? Well, I said, I think I’m sort of already doing it.
It quickly became apparent that I wasn’t in a soup of sweltering human beings, I was back in a classroom with people who live at home with their parents and do the graveyard shift at Woolies. And probably spend a good deal of time complaining about how poor they are over $8 pints. Which is fine – sure it is. Because the truth is that they are well read, interesting and, most importantly, interested in the same things I’m interested in.
I also consoled myself by acknowledging the fact I wasn’t in a room full of mature-aged students who are merely filling in time during their retirement – because anyone who has done a Master knows that there is a lot of those people. And they’re fine too – as long as they aren’t the horrible breed who wish to bestow all of their experience and wisdom onto you, correct the teacher and ask questions that no one cares to discuss. For example, do you think, when you edit hard-copy, you should use a pencil or a pen?
Laden with 20-odd kilos, the first step on is always the hardest, as though there is more than the load anchoring you to the earth, as though something real is pulling you backwards: Don’t go – stay here. Pleading in its force. But as your back leg becomes airborne, as your body gains momentum through the power of your front leg and the pathetic hauling of your arms, as a new force pulls you forward, some kind of internal smile cracks open. Moving across a kind of precipice, and as the ground begins to move under you and the bus moves ahead, you know you have made it. You are on; you are moving.
I wish it didn’t feel so good; that watching roads and cars and houses and fields and whatever else is on the other side of the dusty window pass by in a blur wasn’t so delightfully mesmerising. That my mind, in these moments, these hours, these days, didn’t become some kind of curious expanse of blankness, a pleasant place to be, where present/past/future didn’t fight for air time but just coexisted, naturally. Flipped and changed; tuned in and out. Flickered, flashed. My mind – the villain of the story – quietened but a wayward, speeding, unroadworthy behemoth of a retired school bus found its way to the back roads of some Asian country. Grinding and spluttering, bursting with life – with lives – with eyes focused forward.
Her clog-clad foot bounces anxiously. ‘I mean, the spelling and the grammar is not acceptable. It’s totes cringe-worthy. Like, shame.’
She says totally a lot. Sometimes she says totes instead.
‘It’s fictiony writing that’s grounded in things that matter.’ She’s young not unintelligent.
Her fringe hangs in her eyes and she peers out from under it and through her large tortoise-shell, thick-rimmed glasses. They make her look meek.
‘I sat the Lonely Planet editing test about a month ago. There were, like, 60 other people there. Sixty. I mean, who were they? Only five people got interviews. I mean, who were they? That’s all I want to know: who were they?’
She’s positively positive all the time. She’s overworked and underpaid. But she is lucky that she gets paid at all. She works in an industry furnished by women and managed by men. She doesn’t know this yet – but she will soon enough. She saddles responsibility but never trust. She’s inexperienced, though she doesn’t believe that she is.
She chews constantly on mints, trying to disguise the stench of her diseased tonsils.
‘I think I’m going to start a film club.’ Her friend says: ‘Love. I love that idea. You should totes do that.’
She nods her head, lips pursed, chin raised. She will totally do it.
She submits short pieces of fiction to literary magazines and never receives responses. She scribbles poetry on the tear-stained pages of her black Moleskine notebook.
Her top button is done up. (It’s never not.) Her shoulders are rounded and her head juts out, just a little. She cradles her elbows and her arms sit up against her body. She stares away from her listeners when she speaks. False bravado lives in her voice.
‘That’s what I’ve learned about the publishing industry. Nothing about it is creative.’
She is an aspiring editor. Her income is unlikely to exceed 45k before she turns 25. And she’ll be lucky if it ever exceeds 50k. She is constantly evaluated and receives feedback from her peers and managers almost daily. Throughout her career she’ll attend countless meetings about desired pay increases and always be told the same thing: the line of people who want your job goes around the block. She loves the idea of editing much more than actually doing it.
Wait. What? Knitted uterus-shaped menstrual cup pouches. Where do I even begin to explain this? Well, let me start at the start. After I posted a little rant earlier in the week about not being about to find my preferred brand and size of tampon, I had a few friends get in contact: You should try the Moon Cup. Have you ever heard of the Diva Cup? etc
The Mooncup is a reusable menstrual cup around two inches long and made from soft silicone rubber. It is worn internally like a tampon but collects menstrual fluid rather than absorbing. Unlike tampons the Mooncup is not a disposable product, so you only need to buy one.
The Mooncup will hold 30ml of fluid, which is roughly one third of the average total produced each period. A light seal is formed with your vaginal walls allowing your menstrual fluid to pass into the Mooncup without leakage or odour. You will probably find that you need to empty your Mooncup less frequently than you currently replace towels or tampons.
Urban Dictionary also had a definition for Divacup: ‘Satan’s alternative to a tampon.’ Ladies, please!
A friend who lived in the UK brought this cup to my attention years ago and I’ve since met and heard about people who swear by them. They are environmentally friendly – ‘you only need to buy one’; imagine the emotional attachment to a lifelong menstrual cup, the things you would have been through together. They then obviously save you money. And you buy the cup in a size that is right for you (though I assume if you try, you buy).
Menstrual cups (on paper, at least) = double thumbs up. Seriously.
So, back to the pouches. While I was doing some research about the cups, a particular Google search result caught my attention. What it led me to opened a whole knew world of menstruation ‘accessories’. I’ve seen the cute purses and tins in which people stash tampons and pads, but have you seen what (some) ladies store their cups in?
Let me introduce you to the homemade crocheted or knitted ‘pouches’ or ‘cosies’ – terminology depends on which sister you’re talking to.
Not long after my arrival back in Melbourne I stocked up on toiletries. I was at Coles (Hawthorn) and I’d basketed the usual deodorant, body wash, whatever. Then, not needing them, but wanting to have them in my cupboard – you know, for whenever they were next needed – I went to the tampons and sanitary napkins section. I stood there. I looked, for longer than I really wanted to or should be necessary. Where were the Libra mini tampons? I’ll tell you where they were: they were not there. Not out of stock, just simply not there.
If you don’t understand why this might be somewhat distressing, that’s fair enough. I mean, you might be a man or you might favour the prehistoric pad. So I will help you understand what it would be like.
It would be like buying the same brand of bread for over ten years and then going to the bread aisle and seeing that the bread is now only sold in toast cut. It would be like that. You’d think: Oh OK, I can probably eat the toast-cut bread, but I don’t really need the bread that thick.
It would be like ordering a regular cafe latte and the barista apologising, ‘Sorry, we only sell large sizes.’ And then going to the cafe down the road and them telling you, ‘Sorry, darl, we only do large.’ (Because haven’t you noticed how baristas seem to think they are entitled to call anyone and everyone darl.)
It would be like going to Officeworks and looking for A4 paper only to be told that, ‘Sorry, we only sell A3 now.’ Darl.
It would be like going to the Bandaid aisle and there not being any small strip Bandaids – just bandages the size of your face.
It would be like all jackets only being sold with duck-down insulation. All or nothing.
Sure, you can can get by with the alternative size or brand, but they don’t match the specifications of your unique need. I want Libra tampons and I want them to be mini. Not regular, not super, not homebrand.