All posts by Planet Noun

Episode 9a—Bonus!  Perfect pad bags, praying the ‘broids away and finding connection

The best sanitary supply bags are hidden in plain sight…

Cute.  Jazzy.  Snazzy… with a little bit of flair or not—depends on what floats your boat and makes your heart sing.  Because your uterus isn’t singing during your period. It’s weeping blood.  

In this bonus episode of Planet Noun, Liz and her sister, Lea, pick up with their discussion about stuffing the perfect Pad Bag. That’s just another name for a to-go sanitary/feminine supply bag.

In a nutshell, here’s what you need:

  1. A cute bag.  Animal print is recommended, but whatever design or color makes your heart sing.
  2. A pack of pads in a size that suits your needs.  
  3. A pack of tampons that suit your needs.  For example, I’ve been trying organic tampons by L.
  4. A ‘backup to the backup’, is needed.  Back in the day, Le-Le and I used Depends, which are diapers for incontinent adults. There are other brands available as well.  A really good friend of mine recommends Always Discreet.
  5. Wet wipes, towels, soap, and “smell good.”
  6. A portable shower (kidding…but if you can swing this, we ain’t mat atcha!)
  7. Shoot, you might as well pack a doggone overnight bag.

From there, we also talk about praying the ‘Broids away, and whether we think that works…to how social media can be harnessed to find  connection with others grappling with uterine fibroids. 

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Bastards never come in human form…trust me

Dedicated to anyone who’s ever held a grudge against their uterus.

Fibroids ain’t nothin’ but a bunch of dirty bastards.

This ailment, this uterine scourge, these uterine fibroids have had me exhausted, tired, fed up and have pushed me over the brink to tears more than once.

Bastards.

Some women are blessed (?) to have only one fibroid. Blessed, I say. But that’s the perspective of a woman who grows them like womb weeds and has multiple surgeries under her belt (literally) and a surgeon’s designer scar to prove it.

At times, I’ve internally scoffed at women who tote around one bastard. Internally. It would be too insensitive to let that half laugh escape my lips.

Uterine fibroids are actually—BASTARDS. No daddy to know, no sperm involved. But somehow, they rise from the walls of countless uteri worldwide and can figuratively turn a woman’s baby incubator into ashes. Click To Tweet

“Once upon a time, I had 25 fibroids removed from my uterus in one surgery alone,” I find a way to slide in that factoid during fibroid-related conversations. Not as a bragging right. No-never. Brag for what? These monsters are for the birds. Actually, they’re so bad, I don’t even want actual nasty pigeons to deal with them.

“Wow” is usually the reaction I get to that factoid—or something in that neighborhood. No one could figure out where all the bastards all hid. But my hacksawn uterus knows. It’s hiding and growing a crapload more.

Bastards.

But then my internal scoffs turn into “Oh damn”s when the uni-broid women share tales of pain…They ask me how much pain I grapple with or what’s my go-to pill to ease the pangs…or how many hot water bottles or lavender-smelling microwaveable beady heat pillows I use for comfort.

Truth is…my bastards aren’t horribly painful most of the time. There’s pressure and some discomfort, but for me, it’s the bleeding that’s the beast.

Bastards.

Flow gushes.

Bastards.

Bathroom rushes to beat the leaks.

Bastards!

Passing clots the size of a quarter or silver dollar…and bigger—multiple times daily.

Bastards!

The exhaustion and toying with iron deficiency anemia.

Bastards!

Surgeries for relief.
Knowing the blobs will return with time.
Being told the only way out is a hysterectomy.

Bastards! Bastards! Bastards!

The heaving sobs and tears.
Bastards soak what they soak best…and tears stain my face, my pillow.
Whatever normal life I wanted…the Bastards wove their way in and tainted it with overstuffed pad bags, baby and other types of wipes, extra changes of underwear and a towels—just in case things get too messy for disposable wipes.

The literal bastards.

See, an old meaning of the word bastard—is a person born of two folks not married to each other. It’s, like, 1,000 years past old school meaning, and I reject the whole illegitimate child idea. ALL children are legitimate. They’re here, alive, breathing=legitimate. Daddy known or unknown=legitimate.

Uterine fibroids, on the other hand are actually—BASTARDS. There is no daddy to know, no sperm involved anywhere in the creation process. But somehow, they rise from the walls of countless uteri worldwide and can figuratively turn a woman’s baby incubator into ashes.

Bastards. All of them.

But women and uteri containing people…of all stripes, colors, and with all ailments—Still. We. Rise. Rolling with all sorts of punches.

Even from no-class, disrespectful bastards.

This post has been updated to include an audio version of this blog post.

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Episode 9: Uterine Fibroids—Disrespectful & monstrous body bastards

Meet my sister Lea. She tried to keep her mouth clean during this episode. So did I. She’s a hoot and a half…and my guest for this episode of Planet Noun….where it’s all about people, places, things, ideas.

So this time…. It’s a thing… well—depending on how bad you’ve got it, it’s a whole bunch of things….

It’s also about a place that all people encounter during life’s dawning days. The human uterus.

So it’s the last day of Uterine Fibroid Awareness Month… And Lea and I know about these benign tumors very well… They’ve been our fairly constant companion—for some YEARS now.

We want to be free of the monsters—that’s what she calls hers. But we’ve learned to live with them… Mostly in the shadows…mostly quiet about them. But we’re tired… Let me speak for myself…. I’m tired… woe’ out….and want freedom from the secret.

Hello there….My name is Liz… the host of Planet Noun…
And I have uterine fibroids that beat me up on occasion.

According to a National Institutes of Health fact sheet on Uterine Fibroids…
Most American women will get them sometime during life. They say one study showed by age 50…. 70 percent of white women and 80 percent of African-American women were graced with these bastards.

I saw one place that upped it to 90 percent for African American women…

My sister and I are NOT 50, and we have them. So we’re part of that number.

The fact sheet continues:
“In many cases, fibroids are believed not to cause symptoms, and in such cases women may be unaware they have them.”

We wish ours were docile. But nah, we’re all symptomatic all up in this joint.

This is a fragment of our story:

We’re also not alone in wanting freedom from these things.

From The National Uterine Fibroids Foundation to The White Dress Project
to the Fibroid Foundation… and also the doctors who are coming up with innovative, less invasive treatments…. There’s company on this journey.

Guest: Lea (with no ‘h’) Anderson—My lovely sister!

Hosted by: Liz Anderson

Links either referenced in this episode or for more information :

Fibroid fact sheet from the National Institutes of Health

The disturbing reason some African American patients may be undertreated for pain

Examining the Relationship Between Symptomatic Burden and Self-reported Productivity Losses Among Patients With Uterine Fibroids in the United States

A common problem few women want to talk about: Fibroids cause more than just pain

Related blog post:

 

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Episode 8: Sixahwe Naturals–hand-making the future with vegan body products

Small business owners are fascinating because of their courage… or what I perceive as courage. Who knows, maybe some are faint of heart. 

But I doubt that. 

Why? 

Because when anyone ventures and goes against the grain of employee-dom (did I just make up a word?) there’s a risk of failure. Yes, there’s a risk with being an employee, but in my mind, it seems the uncertainty is greater for business owners. If you get fired from your job you can blame your wack boss…your fellow employees who are trying to do you in (whether that’s perceived, real or downright wrong). But absent environmental disasters, floods or other things out of your control, who you ‘gon’ blame if your business flops?  Seems that  losing a company of any size would be a hit to the spirit…so hard you’d need to duct tape and air pump your poor spirit daily just to get out of bed in the morning. 

That’s why small biz owners fascinate me. They’re willing to confront that risk every-durn-day. 

Like Ayanna Alexander of Sixahwe Naturals.  She makes products to keep the skin away from the throes of crust-ashiness.

Learn about the origin of the company name, why they decided to go into business, and an important lesson she learned about how to avoid getting pissed-off at your passion.

During this episode, there were a couple of references that you may or may not be familiar with. Ayanna mentioned two schools during our talk. One was an HBCU called Oakwood University,and a private high school based in Takoma Park called Takoma Academy.

Thanks for listening to Planet Noun!  The next episode drops in a couple of weeks!  

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Guest: Ayanna Alexander, founder of Sixahwe Naturals—handmade soaps, lotions, body butter and more!

Hosted by: Liz Anderson

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Episode 7: Uncovering history that was hidden in plain sight

What’s your assignment? That’s something you may hear at school or at work, and some other places. Another way to ask this question is—what’s your purpose? Sometimes folks learn it at a young age. If you’re like me, you figured it out while fairly young, but maybe it took (and is still taking) a circuitous path to get there.

Our next guest didn’t figure out this particular “assignment” or purpose we discuss until she was good and grown. Meet Pastor Michelle C. Thomas of the Loudoun Freedom Center in Episode 7 of Planet Noun. Learn more about what she’s doing to help preserve African-American history in her community.

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Friends get friends out of the house: Gallery dash for Obama portrait sightings worth the brief jaunt

SOMEWHERE IN THE DMV—Why in theeee WORLD does it sometimes take friends and family coming to visit before I venture out and about the these D.C., Maryland and Virginia streets?

When friends say they are coming into town and that they’d like to visit some spots around the city, that’s when I usually remember “OMG, I have zero idea what to show them!”

And then the internal questions: Should I show them this place? Should I show them that spot? Should I take them here… Or what about there? Will they think this is fun… Or will they fall asleep standing up?

via GIPHY

That was a recent predicament before a pal of mine came to town for business. Now, lookie here: I have lived in this area for a decade. And when Friend conveyed a desire to see parts of the town, I drew a blank.

It’s that whole idea of living somewhere for so long, you eventually slack off on exploring new local terrain on your own…and when you do, it’s because family member or pal visits the area. Well, maybe this isn’t your issue, so I won’t put my -ish on you, lol.

Weather woes
After wheel-traipsing around the National Mall monuments in pouring nighttime rain, and with more showers in the forecast, looking into an indoor activity option seemed a better bet for our next brief jaunt. Driving around trying to see the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial and the MLK Memorial can be pretty awe inspiring past the Golden Time of Day, but isn’t the best during inclement weather. Washington Monument is best for a drive-by view… but one needs to walk up to the Lincoln and MLK memorials to get the full visual and inspirational experience. T’wasn’t happening that weekday night.

Didn’t want to chance that idea again—especially on a Friday with rain forecasted… so the National Portrait Gallery it was.

I’ve seen the Obamas’ portraits reproduced online, so it really didn’t occur to me to visit them in person. But I figured Friend would want to see them—and I was right!

So we had a National touristy mission: to see the images of POTUS 44 and Michelle Obama, get to the MLK memorial if it wasn’t raining too hard, and to the airport. But I’m not here to talk about all of that—just the Gallery.

The Portrait Gallery is located in the Penn Quarter of D.C., which overlaps with the historic Chinatown neighborhood. The Gallery is right across the street from a major Metro stop (Gallery Place/Chinatown) and across from the Capital One Arena and less than a mile from the National Mall. Its really easy to find… and a walk to the Mall might be nice for a spring day, sans rain.

Anyhoo, our mission at the Portrait Gallery was accomplished quick-fast, thanks to the greeters at the Gallery’s door—this older brotha and sista. He reminded me of a loving uncle who crafted creative cussing combinations—the same one who would offer me popsicles at each visit—even when I was thirty-damn years old. Brotha-Unc pointed us upstairs and to the right before we could even form our lips to ask. We all had a good laugh over that. Thanks, Brotha-Unc and Aunty-Ma’am.

Up the stairs and to the right—Brotha Unc’s directions were spot on… To the presidential portraits… and it wasn’t too hard to find a line of folks waiting to see 44’s up close—and to snap photos.

After taking in portraits of Bill Clinton, which is on loan to the museum (I really liked his), JFK, and quick-peeping those of Daddy and Dubya Bush, Jimmy Carter, and quick glances at folks like William Howard Taft and Ronald Reagan, it was on to Ms. Michelle. We left the presidential portraits through a pod of youth wearing MAGA hats, then through a diverse showing of humanity… up the stairs… to the right… and merging with a casually, but thickly scattered group—each person, dyad, triad or more waiting for turns to behold Michelle’s portrait.

The young-us sometimes say representation gives them life. Methinks I know what that means. I felt it when I saw the Obama’s portraits. It’s a buoyancy that allows the spirit to take flight and soar… or just stamps a cheesy grin or hallelujah shout into your soul.

Info:
Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery
Admission: Free-99!
Open 11:30 a.m.-7 p.m. every day…well most days of the year.
If you go on Christmas Day, you’ll be SOL.
(Forgive me for that, Baby and Grownup Jesus…Amen.)

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Hitman tour leaves behind musical slayage in D.C.’s Warner Theater

WASHINGTON—God created music, dammit. I’m convinced. And he, she…or he and she…or it or them-there… they put a bunch of it on display last night when David Foster’s Hitman Tour hit D.C.’s Warner Theater.

David Foster is not, as James Comey might say, “out breaking legs and– you know, shaking down shopkeepers.” Nothing like that. This Hitman slays our hearts by taking shaped notes and cranking out hit after hit over decades—so many that you might not know how much this man’s musical footprint has pitter-pattered over your life’s soundtrack.

And it was a great show—aptly titled “An Intimate Evening with David Foster.”

An intimate feel it had with the Warner Theater’s ornate architecture and cozy seating.

Foster accompanied all of us down memory lane with with a team of fantabulous singers. They were EXCELLENT. “I wish I could sing like that,” Foster joked during the set, “then I wouldn’t need them.” He did croon lines from some of his beloved hits as well. And he’s needed, because no one can write what he writes how he writes it.

LAWDY-BE it was a good show! I just hope the adorable 70-something year old blonde lady sitting next to me didn’t think I was too loud when I got all happy and started shouting “YAAAAASSSSS” like I was up in church or something. She didn’t complain.

She also didn’t look 70. But she did tell me she retired from the CIA. #random

Sooooo… I’m a little biased about which of Foster’s guests I enjoyed most. Don’t get me wrong—I enjoyed them ALL. Fernando Varela and Pia Toscano can sing like NOBODY’s business! Whew! But Shelea blew the roof off the motha-sucka!

“I don’t understand why someone like her doesn’t have a show in her own right. She’s good,” CIA seat-neighbor told me.

“Best of all,” I replied, “she’s a genuinely nice person.”

Of course, of all the people on that stage, she’s the only person I have any experience with…  I don’t count the 25 seconds I stood next to David Foster–long enough to take a photo after a session at the NAB Radio Show in San Francisco in…2000, I think. Still have that photo somewhere… ##random

Lookie-here
The Hitman tour isn’t over. There are still some dates coming up in Florida. If you’re nearby—or not—airplanes still work, lol!

And if you can’t make it, just Google samples of Varela, Toscano, and Shelea. If you ever see them live—methinks it’ll be worth it.

Shelea:

Fernando Varela:

Pia Toscano:

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Netflix release explores a modern-day heretic’s journey to spiritual liberation in “Come Sunday”

NOT HEAVEN—OR HELL–So. What happens when the faith you’ve had for years slams into the realization that “it ain’t necessarily so?”

What happens when the faith you’ve cultivated or the spoon-feedings you’ve accepted since youth crashes head-on with a musing-turned hard-core question: “what if we’re getting it all kinds of wrong?”

And what happens if you share your changing views with folks who aren’t ready or willing to give another perspective mental due process?

Come Sunday, a recent Netflix release produced by This American Life  (yes, the WBEZ originated show and podcast) is about all of that. Bishop Carlton Pearson was an evangelical rock star…until he shared questions with his mega-church congregation about what he saw as a biblical contradiction…. Namely the subject of God’s love vs. what his church taught about the existence of an eternally burning hell… and the idea that all who don’t believe and accept Jesus as savior are doomed to roast in the afterlife. He couldn’t reconcile a loving God with teachings about an eternal rotisserie. Pearson says he heard God’s voice say Jesus is enough for all the world’s salvation, even those who don’t ever hear his name… which led him to figuratively say, dammit to hell. Pearson tossed the hellfire doctrine from his trove of beliefs and embraced a new theological worldview—the Gospel of Inclusion. This American Life told his story in a 2005 episode that was entirely dedicated to sharing his story.

And his chu’ch* folks weren’t having it. I don’t want to tell all the ups and downs of the story, but let’s just say he was an outcast’s outcast. Pearson is convincingly played by Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave) and his minister of music at that time, Reggie, is played by Lakeith Stanfield (Selma).

It’s a convincing story, to me, because I can relate to the journey and realization that yes—you may still believe…but you know you can no longer abide by all of the ways in which you were taught to believe…when your views of right and wrong are being encased in a chrysalis, surrounding you with mid-life metamorphosis… but you aren’t quite ready to tell all…Definitely not to anyone who might dissuade your self-inquisition.

Pearson didn’t have that luxury. He, convinced it was God’s voice, was compelled to tell his congregation. After all, as a purveyor of “Good News,” how could he stay silent and smother what was so liberating to his spirit? He lost his church and more before it was all over. His journey is depicted as rough and tear-stained, but the consequence seems to be a peaceful conscience.


*bet you didn’t know chu’ch was a contraction for church. Not really–but it exists now. Say it.  Chu’ch.

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Should I get down and derby?

(PLANET EARTH) — Sometimes work takes me to unexpected places. So a couple of months ago, in the cold-@$$ clutches of winter, I met a few ladies with no pants on.

My pants were on. I was working, yo. Yes, I understand that some professions don’t require pants—but this wasn’t that. Hark! Retrievest thy mind from the gutters.

So every year in the cold-stale crust of winter, folks get together to ride subways around their respective cities. With no pants on.

I’ve had the vicarious joy of covering this event at work for two years in a row.

Even though the three ladies were riding the Metro in their underwears (shout-out to little kids who say it plural because—two leg holes), it was for a kinkyless purpose.

The trio was from the Free State Roller Derby team, and they were pretty kind and friendly. We chatted, I got some sound for work, passed out a business card or two.

Months later, one of them dropped me an email inviting me to cover their season opener in Rockville, Md.–and a reminder to think about joining the league.

So I pitched the season opener story idea to the weekend managing editor–and it was a go!

Here’s what I learned in a nutshell—FSRD is almost nine years old, and they have a training program for newbies to get acclimated to derby-style skating. The new folks are called Fresh Meat, and before they can bout, they have to be able to skate a certain number of laps around the derby track—I think it’s 27 or so. Fresh Meat members are also taught other things, including how to fall–kind of like boxing, where you’re taught how to take a punch.  They assess their skills before letting them join a bout.

A couple of the ladies I spoke to said they were turned on to roller derby from the Drew Barrymore-directed movie Whip It. I’ve never seen it, but I must do so after the raves I heard today!

So question is… Should I try to join the league? It’s been several years, but I know I can hold my own on some skates…but derby style? I’d probably fracture my whole clumsy body. I’ve been described as lithe and graceful, but do not be deceived. Clumsy has always tread just beneath the surface.

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On My Block: A peek into the neighborhood with humor and gravitas

(LA -LA STATE OF MIND)—Hometown is a big place for me. Heck, I’m from Los Angeles. Ain’t nothin’ small about it. I live in the DC area now, but whenever I get homesick and am stuck between plane tickets, count on me looking for movies with those damn trees in the air.

But the Netflix series called On My Block dropped into my lap instead. And I let it stay awhile. The opening track by Daye Jack had me at hello.

On My Block immediately gave me the Friday feels—with a lado de la vida en South Central Los Angeles. And the first two minutes hooked me.

However, and this doesn’t happen often, nine minutes in, my thoughts degraded quick-fast. “This show is corny AF. What’s up with this dialogue. Ain’t no way these characters come up out the hood,” I scrunched my face.

Continue reading On My Block: A peek into the neighborhood with humor and gravitas

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