That’s not a corset, mate. THIS is a corset.

Gone with the Wind

When I was a kid and teenager, I watched Gone with the Wind at least a couple of times a year. (I read the book for the first time at age 14 or 15.) And every time, I viewed it with an odd mixture of enjoyment, disgust, fascination, and horror.

This isn’t a post about slavery or bigotry or racism or women’s equality or war or politics, though Gone with the Wind contains plenty of fodder for each. (Not to mention a kaboodle of interesting stuff relating to the psychology of Scarlett O’Hara herself; man, did I ever get a doozy of a shock concerning her when I finally rewatched the movie as an adult! Also: Vivien Leigh? Brilliant.)

No, I’m not delving into any of that today. What I am going to talk about, though, is corsets.

scarlettmammycorset

As a kid and a teen, I watched the corset-lacing scenes with horror. How could any woman do that to herself? How could she breathe? No wonder she couldn’t eat. No wonder there was fainting all over the place. These women had to be crazy to think fashion and other people’s opinions were worth putting themselves through this kind of torture — putting themselves into this kind of torture device.

Corset. Torture device. Every bit as effective as the iron maiden, thumbscrews, and the rack, I had no doubt.

Oh, and then there was this:

Mammy (referring to Scarlett’s waist measurement): Twenty inches.

Scarlett: I’ve grown as big as Aunt Pitty! You’ve simply got to make it eighteen-and-a-half again!

Mammy: You done had a baby, Miss Scarlett, an’ you ain’ never goin’ to be no eighteen-an’-a-half inches again — never. An’ there ain’ nothin’ to do about it.

Eighteen-and-a-half inches. You know what that is? That’s the circumference of…of…well, of I don’t know what. Something very small. Like maybe the head of a small child. Or my cat. (The whole cat, not the head.) Definitely not the waist of an average-height, adult, human female.

Corsets, thought I, shaking my head in amazed disgust. Those are for crazy people. NO DOUBT.

Down with the Corset!

Now. By which I mean, give heed, dear inklings, to meanderings mine as well as in the context of this narrative, we find ourselves in present day. If you recall, I recently gave you a candid look, both in description and in photographic evidence, of my post-pregnancy body. If you recall, in that post I jokingly used the word “corset” to describe the bodysuit thingamajig my physical therapist wanted me to wear in order to help heal my separated abdominal muscles (diastasis recti).

That bodysuit corset thingamajig is this:

Ooh la la. #no #notreally

Ooh la la. #no #notreally

I didn’t like it. It pulled on my shoulders, making them sore and straining my upper back. It slid down. It rode up. Sure, it slimmed down some of the fat pockets on my back and sides, but was a slightly (SLIGHTLY) streamlined silhouette really worth the discomfort? Nay, said the horse. Not to mention the part where I have to unhook it when I want to pee, which makes me feel like I’m wearing a superlarge version of my toddler’s onesies. Great, not only am I out of shape and in pain, I’m also reduced to wearing gigantic baby clothes. I CAN’T WIN.

I wouldn’t wear this thing if I didn’t have to. But if I ever want to heal my abs, get my back into shape again, and return to exercising with any semblance of gusto, wear this gigantic toddler onesie wedgie corset-thing I must.

I had no idea what was coming next.

gwtw-intermission

Physical therapy was still progressing, at least as far as my mobility was concerned. But the pain had plateaued, meaning that it wasn’t getting worse (most days), but it certainly wasn’t improving. My physical therapist suggested placing a sheet of plywood under my mattress. The husband installed it. I also started wearing my mouthguard at night so that I wouldn’t clench/grind my teeth. (Bruxism can contribute to back pain.)

Plywood and mouthguard helped a little; the pain dropped a notch. Then it plateaued again. My therapist was at a loss. My frustration level went up. The toddler kept doing this weird thing called getting bigger, which also meant getting heavier. Soon, every morning began with numb spots on the bottoms of my feet. I couldn’t turn my head.

My mother, wise woman that she is, suggested X-rays. My general practitioner, all-around awesome that she is, agreed. The X-rays showed something that shouldn’t have surprised me but was still fairly depressing:

Mild arthritis in my neck.

Mild scoliosis in my back.

Arthritis. At 36. I know it’s not unheard-of for someone my age or even younger to be diagnosed with this, but still. I figured out a long time ago that, powerful genes considered, I’d probably develop arthritis just the way my mother and grandmother did. But I thought that would be distant future, not imminent. I mean, seriously. Arthritis? Wasn’t I supposed to be at least 55 before this party started?

And scoliosis. Is this a new thing? Did this just develop during pregnancy? Can pregnancy cause it? Or have I always had it, and nobody ever realized? Isn’t this something that crops up in childhood? With all the bajillion doctors I’ve seen during the course of my too-short-for-arthritis life, if I’ve had scoliosis the whole time, how is it possible that nobody ever noticed?

It’s been a few days since the diagnoses, and I’m very definitely still *SIGH*ing over this. And feeling way older than any of this merits.

Done with the Corset; Or: That’s not a corset, mate. THIS is a corset.

My doctor says that if I have better back support, the pain of both conditions should/will decrease and go away. In order to gain better back support, I need core strength and stability — of which I’m clearly not getting enough via my onesie-corset-bodysuit. Those separated abs are THE BANE OF MY EXISTENCE. To heal the abs and reestablish core strength, the doc wants me to wear a thing. It’s called a “Belly Bandit.”

bellybandit

The Belly Bandit is supposed to be THE BEST for getting one’s stretched, now oddly-proportioned, post-pregnancy belly back into shape. It flattens and compresses. It squeezes separated abs back together so they can heal. It produces whangdoodles and zippetybobs, and it will most definitely endow one with those ever-elusive vorpal unicorn morphing powers. I guess it’s called a “bandit” because it steals away one’s oversized post-pregnancy belly. I guess.

I buy one. I haul it home and pull it out of the package. It’s a ca. 3-foot-long, 1-foot-wide piece of cloth-covered elastic with front panels of what feels like industrial-strength Velcro. I suck in the belly, flex what’s left of the abs, and wrap my new belly-thieving friend around my waist. I secure the Velcro that would make the Acme Corporation proud. I relax and immediately notice two things:

1. I suddenly feel like my top half and bottom half are finally connected again.

2. Gasp and egad, I AM IN A CORSET.

PRETTY.

PRETTY.

I can’t breathe. Did I get it too tight? I can’t sit down. Oh dear, it’s bunching up in the small of my back. But the package insert says it’s supposed to do this. I can’t breathe. And later, I will pull a Scarlett and eat like a bird because my stomach is too smooshed for more than half a meal to fit into my abdomen.

I remind myself that this is a good thing. I use all the force of my fingers, hands, and arms to pull the Velcro apart and strap the thing back on a little looser. Breathing recommences. A little. I pick up the baby, and my back doesn’t scream at me. Okay, Ms. Bandit, maybe we can be friends after all.

After a lifetime of looking down my nose at those frivolous, 19th-century Southern belles, I now am not walking around in their shoes, but in their underwear. The Belly Bandit slims my waist. I ain’t never goin’ be no 18 inches (never was in the first place; nor 20, nor 25…ET CETERA), but at least the waistband of my jeans now rests comfortably on my hips instead of pinching my flesh. Sure, sitting isn’t comfortable, but the moment I strap on my torture device, I feel my posture improve and my whole body stabilize. For the first time in over a year, I don’t feel like my top half is gonna slide all janky to the right when my feet are leading my legs and hips to the left.

The best and weirdest part is that I can actually feel my abs touching under my skin. I mean, what a testament to how messed up my body is. You’re not supposed to be able to feel your abs touching. What manner of crazy is this? And yet, I do feel it, and in addition to bizarre, it also feels like hope.

Maybe I can feel normal again. Maybe I can live without pain again (because, yes, after a week of wearing the Belly Bandit, I definitely have less pain, and my next pt appointment isn’t until the end of the week). Maybe I can get my abs back.

Maybe, just maybe, I can get my body back.

I am the Samson of the Sock World

So, the husband got himself a bad ankle sprain at work last Thursday. Two nights later, after he was already half-asleep, I crawled into bed and kicked his sore ankle.

Ed (muted whisper so as not to wake the baby): OW!

Me (muted whisper so as not to wake the baby): Oh no! I’m so sorry! I didn’t mean to!

Ed (still whispering): It’s okay.

Me (still whispering): I’m really sorry. I’m wearing socks, so I don’t know my own strength.

Ed (whispering): What are you, the Samson of the Sock World?

(Imagine we whisper the rest of the conversation, because I’m already tired of typing the word “whisper.”)

Me: Yes. Yes, I am the Samson of the Sock World.

Ed: So, if we shave your head, you’ll lose your ankle-kicking sock-powers?

Me: You’ve uncovered my secret. Shave my head, and I’m just like any other mortal.

Ed (whisper-singing a parody of the spiritual “Witness”**): Shave your head with a Bic in my hand and your strength will come like a natural…woman?

Me (whisper-singing): ‘Cause you make me feel, you make me feel, you make me feel like a natural woman!

Ed: Stop that, you’re gonna wake the baby.

Me: You’re the one who started singing.

Ed: Only because you kicked me!

Me: I can’t help it! It was the socks!

Ed: I’m going to sleep now.

Me: If you come at me with a Bic, I’m going to scream.

Later….

Ed: *snoorrrre*

Me: Stop snoring! *kick*

____________

“Witness”, relevant lines at 1:37 – 1:48.

Schadenfreude Unicorns and Dropping Acid

So, when you’re a writer, you get together with other writers.

When you get together with other writers, you talk about writerly things together.

When you talk about writerly things together, someone mentions the genre “dystopian.”

When someone mentions the genre “dystopian,” conversation concerning the various types of dystopia ensues.

When conversation concerning the various types of dystopia ensues, “dystopian fantasy” comes up.

When “dystopian fantasy” comes up, the consensus is that it should contain unicorns who are happy about everyone’s sadness.

When the consensus is that “dystopian fantasy” should contain unicorns who are happy about everyone’s sadness, you say, “They would be Schadenfreude unicorns.”

When you say, “They would be Schadenfreude unicorns,” the whole tribe of writers starts plotting a novel entitled The Unicorns of Schadenfreude.

When the whole tribe of writers starts plotting a novel entitled The Unicorns of Schadenfreude, the protagonist of the novel is a little girl who brings pain and misery to her world so that the Schadenfreude unicorns will come back to it.

When the protagonist of the novel is a little girl who brings pain and misery to her world so that the Schadenfreude unicorns will come back to it, the novel ends with the little girl ripping open a portal and the Schadenfreude unicorns prancing happily through the portal into a world filled with death and destruction.

When the novel ends with the little girl ripping open a portal and the Schadenfreude unicorns prancing happily through the portal into a world filled with death and destruction, the writers decide that they could only write The Unicorns of Schadenfreude if they were on acid.

When the writers decide that they could only write The Unicorns of Schadenfreude if they were on acid, you realize it’s time for a blog post.

NOW I NEED ONE OF YOU TO DRAW A PICTURE OF A SCHADENFREUDE UNICORN.

GO.

Hey. Woman of immense worth. This one’s for you.

Honey, stop comparing yourself to her. Stop looking at her and thinking about everything that’s ‘right’ with her and everything that’s ‘wrong’ with you. You are of immense worth in and of yourself. You, just as you are, right now. Your beauty is beyond compare, so hold your head high and walk tall. Chances are pretty good that she’s comparing herself to you. And if she is, she needs to hear you tell her that she is enough, too.

Vorpal Unicorn Morphing Powers and an Ode to Vacuum Cleaners

Once upon a time, according to the wise sage that is Google Analytics, someone typed “writing a story about court” into the search engine and came up with my blog.

I assumed that this meant the seeker intended to write a story about me, so in a resulting blogpost that also included figs and the 9th Circle of Hell, I asked for vorpal unicorn morphing superpowers.

when i nerd out, things like this happen

So far, I haven’t seen anything on Amazon to indicate that anyone has written and published this story.

I hold out hope.

In the meantime, as part of my Blog-Every-Day August (BEDAug) experiment, I’ve been checking Google Analytics again to see if anything unusual is happening yet. So far, the only oddity is that I had a spike in blog visitors last Friday. It seems to have been in response to this post — which, interestingly enough, has yet to receive a single comment as of this writing.

The intarweebz is weird.

Anyway, nerding out over Analytics has me looking at keyword searches again, so I thought I’d share my three favorite recent ones with you. Here they are in no particular order:

1. what can i write on all my stars

How excellent a question is this?! It flips my bangerang switch but good.

I have no idea what it means.

But it makes me want to run outside and look up at the sky with a telescope to see who’s been writing what out there in the universe. This is incredibly inspiring and makes me fiercely happy.

Hon, those stars are yours. Write on them whatever you want.

2. what does meshare reth mean in rethana’s surrender

Sha-ZAM, y’all. You know what this means? This means somebody was looking for information relating specifically to my “kissing book” epic fantasy novel, Rethana’s Surrender. And by doing so, they found my blog.

I don’t think I’ve blogged about Lirren Eamnaya, the language I invented for Rethana’s universe. So the poor visitor did not find what s/he was looking for.

But s/he spent 32 minutes and 19 seconds on the blog anyway.

Thank you, dear Rethana fan. You just made me whole week. : )

And in appreciation, here’s the answer you sought: In Lirren Eamnaya, meshare reth means “beautiful lady.” It’s what Manases, Rethana’s unwelcome (?) suitor calls her. I’d hoped to make the meaning clear within the context of the story. But since I apparently didn’t do that well enough, there you have it spelled out.

Let me know if you want more. ; )

3. poems about vacuum cleaners

I never knew such existed.

And I have no clue why such a search string would lead to my blog. Have I written about poetry and vacuuming in the same blog post? My memory is not what it once was, ’tis true, so it’s possible I just don’t recall pairing these two unlikely subjects.

But in case I haven’t actually written about poems and vacuum cleaners yet, here’s something to satisfy the hapless seeker of such:

Ode to My Vaccum Cleaner

Dear vacuum cleaner: Look, my dear,
I really have to say,
You’re rather kind of bulky
And you oft get in my way.

I try to push you back and forth,
but you refuse to move.
Your stubborn lack of cleaning
Gets me right out of my groove.

Seriously — that pile of lint?
And those there kitty litter crumbs?
You’re supposed to pick those up,
My dear, my vacuumating chum.

But no — instead of cleanéd floors,
I’m left with piles of dust.
You seem to think your job is done,
Though cleaning is a bust.

(And by the way, that smell you make?
The one of burnéd rubber?
Why can’t you smell of lemon fresh
Just like the kitchen scrubber?)

O, vacuum! You perplex me
And you make me run amok.
O, vacuum! I abhor you.
Dear vaccum: Dude, you suck!