The Very Real Conversation That Occurs Between Brain and Uterus Every Month by Me, Rebecca

I am turning this into a two-woman play. Watch out, World! Menstruation is coming to a stage near you!

Maybe.

Possibly.

Many years in the future, probably.

LiteraryBex

Brain Plushie available at IHeartGuts.com

The Very Real Conversation That Occurs Between Brain and Uterus Every Month

Most days the two organs don’t speak to one another, though they are actually very close friends. One is too busy managing the rest of the body that it just doesn’t have time to chat. The other is often too busy socializing with the various other bits that want the same things in life that she wants. She and these others agree Brain sometimes needs reminders of what’s what and, as she is the loudest of them, they have elected Uterus their spokesorgan.

Although, sometimes, I suspect Uterus is merely Vagina’s puppet.

  • Five days before menstruation

Uterus:

Heeeeeeyyy!!!! Brain! Guess what’s coming!

Brain:

I’m in the middle of something important, Uterus. I’m going to have to get back to you.

  • Four days before menstruation

Uterus:

Heeeeeeeyyy!!! Brain! Guess what’s coming!

Brain:

Uterus, I’m…

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#LegoFriends: For Boys and Girls.

Someone gave my niece a Lego Friends kit for Valentine’s Day.  Lego Friends, for those of you who don’t know, is the “girl” line from Lego.  The Lego people are all girls and the kits are all geared toward “girls’ interests”.  Now, I, personally, have never had any desire to climb up onto a large quadruped or build a hotel, but Lego must know what they’re doing, right?

The kits aren’t really any different from the rest of Lego’s kits.  Buildings, cars, boats, etc.

There’s really nothing offensive about Lego Friends, not in actuality.  The line actually opens up options for people inclined to build Lego kits.  Friends provides builders with swimming pools, horse stables, hair salons, and veterinarian offices.  After all, not everyone wants to build Police stations, Fire stations, speedboats, and construction sites.  Lego Friends works to reach a certain demographic heretofore not included by the toymakers.

A little personal history: I didn’t know Lego made kits until I was about ten years old.  I knew Legos, I played with them often.  We had a Tupperware container (a large one meant for cakes) filled with bricks and five or six Lego people in various states of disarray.  I built all sorts of things throughout my childhood, both with my sisters and alone.  Our Lego people were a little sad; some were missing hands, some of them had their faces rubbed off, one was even missing an entire leg.  All of their hats were broken, the ones we still had.  They were the 1980s Space Adventure Guys, the one The Lego Movie portrayed as an excitable fool.  The space ship building kits were long since incorporated into the general Lego brick collection, their instructions lost to the annuls of familial history.  Sometimes we still built flying machines with the wing pieces, but never once in my memory did I see the pieces assembled as intended in the kit.

Mostly my sisters and I built houses.

Really.  We had  a large, green baseplate that we would line with multicolored one by whatever sized pieces, We’d make doorways and section off rooms to create bedrooms, kitchens, and living rooms.  Red slanty pieces and flat four by eight pieces became beds, sometimes bunk beds.  Often there was a room that was built up with two by four and two by two rectangle and square bricks, the bed would pull up revealing a hole underneath it for storing treasure and secrets.  Once we’d built the houses, we’d play with them.  The Lego Space People being boys or girls as needed, doing whatever whimsy popped into our childish minds.  (We did the same things with our blocks.)

By the time I realized Legos sometimes came in kits with instructions to make specific things, I was already phasing out of Legos (which, unfortunately weren’t replaced by robotics kits or other more sophisticated building toys).  I was in middle school, and it was dawning on me: other kids had Lego sets.  What a concept!  Youngest kid, it never occurred to me to ask for more Legos.  As far as I was concerned we had exactly the right amount as I was always able to make whatever I thought up.

Fast forward twenty years, my nieces and nephews are discovering the world of Legos.  My six year old niece is happy to sit in her play area and build tall Lego cars complete with bathrooms, but she will also, Emmet-style, flip through the instructions and build exact replicas of what Lego intended those 250 pieces to make.  Both are admirable and I commend my small friend for her ability to do both open-ended play and structured play (is that the right term?).

That being said, I think Lego Friends is stupid.

Reason 1: It’s specifically marketed toward girls.  I’ve already mentioned I was never a horse girl.  In fact, I only knew of two girls growing up who had a deep interest in riding horses.  Two out of the dozens of girls I knew from school, church, Girl Scouts, and summer camp.  It’s possible some of the others were interested, but their families were too poor to support such an activity (we were a mixed community, socio-economically speaking).  But only two girls in my memory took horseback riding lessons and/or rode regularly.  Neither was I all that interested in Princesses or shopping or malls or hair salons or horse shows (there’s a lot of horse related Lego Friends stuff).  I wasn’t that kind of Girl, and I’m no original: there must be plenty of girls turned off of Lego because of what Lego is telling them their interests should be.

And what about the boys?  The boys who would love a Lego hair salon set, but feel like they aren’t “supposed to” want the hair salon Lego set because it’s a girls toy and therefore “unmanly”?  Because it’s one thing for a girl to want to build the Lego Millennium Falcon (who doesn’t want to build the Lego Millennium Falcon?), but for a boy to want pink riding stables would be a bit…. queer.

Reason 2 (somewhat related to Reason 1): Pink, pink, pink, pink, pink!  I like pink.  I did not like pink when I was nine years old.  I put up with it… because I was a girl… but I preferred purple: the color of royalty (yeah, I was that girl*).  When I was Lego building age, marketing things in pink would have made me wrinkle my little nose and heave the sigh of a thirty year old spinster who’s seen it all.  My cousin’s daughter, a charming young woman, began her pink-hate at the tender age of three.  My lovely, well-meaning mother gave the child a casual pink summer dress for her birthday that year.  The kid took one look at it, wrinkled her little nose, and dropped it on the ground.  This pink marketing crap is equally lost on her.  A boy one of my sisters used to babysit, however, loved him some pink.  In fact, his most treasured toy was a Barbie hair styling head.  Had the Lego Friends line been a thing when he was little, he might have been attracted to their bright colors and “fun” things to build.

Reason 3, and probably the biggest peeve: No crossover.  Or limited crossover, at least.  I’ll start here: I don’t think Lego Friends is an entirely evil concept.  As already stated, I think the Friends line fills a gap previously unfilled.  The kids who don’t want to build Lego emergency vehicles, and space ships need something to build too.  And if a child is interested in Horse Shows and building Legos, then why shouldn’t he or she have a Lego Horse Show kit?  And if a kid needs their doll to come with a name and a vague backstory, why not have them come with names and have families and all that?  (Instead of, say, encouraging the child to make up their own — ok, maybe I’m not as cool with that aspect…)  Some kids need a larger story in order to have effective play (some big kids need that too ;).

But why do the Friends characters stand head and shoulders over the regular Lego people?

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These two are the epitome of a middle school dance!  One of his friends asked her to dance with him, she says sure, then proceeds to awkwardly pretend she’s about to make small talk while she stares over his head, and he pretends he’s about to make small talk while awkwardly stares as her developing breasts.

Why aren’t these characters the same size and shape?  There isn’t a chance the Friends character will fit in the Regular character’s spaceship, or airplane, or Batmobile.  She’ll have to sit awkwardly half out and the kid will probably spend most of the play session putting her back into the vehicle while she tries to swoop in and blast the oppressive Storm Trooper out of the sky and off the Rebel’s tail!  Making the Friends characters entirely different from the standard Lego person further removes the Friends line from the rest of Lego.  And, really, aren’t the two already segregated enough?

Why is the Lego Friends line only marketed to girls?  And why is acceptable for girls to have the other Lego kits, but “wrong” for a boy to have one of the Friends kits?  Why even make a distinction like that?  A Lego ad from the mid 80s has been getting a lot of attention lately, you know the one: adorable redhaired kid with her Legos and the tagline: What it is is beautiful.

Is that girl ever upset with the current marketing trends Lego has fallen into?  She’s so annoyed, grown person and practicing doctor, Rachel Giordano participated in this comparison advertisement:

Giordano’s ad was, in fact, one of many Lego produced in the 80s.  The others were equally neutral and non-gendered.  They even provided encouragement to build whatever the fuck you want to build.  Mazel Tov, children!  Build away!

What happened Lego?

Eventually, in the lives of the individual toys, none of this will matter.  Eventual the parental person will become sick of all the kits winding up loose and underfoot (little bastard pieces hide out in the carpet fibers just waiting for the unsuspecting barefoot adult to come ambling along, plotting little plastic fuckers…) and will toss all the Lego pieces into one bin (“There!  Doesn’t that make everything easier?”)  the Friends line pieces and the Regular Lego pieces become homogenized in the large Tupperware cake bin.  The youngest kid, unaware of “sets” and “kits”, will build houses and cars and spaceships that fit the people characters no matter their size and they’ll put the Friends hair on the Regular Lego person and the Regular Lego Person hat on the Friends character, never thinking there’s anything wrong about it until they’re thirty and they ask themselves: Yeah?  Why is the Friends Character a Lego-Foot taller than the other Lego People?  What the fuck, Lego?

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**My six year old niece put the Friend hair on the Regular Lego Person, showed it to me and snickered. Snickered. She thought it was so funny!  True Story.  I put the hat on the Friend character.

*If you do not know what sort of girl I mean, it’s this: I was the girl who didn’t want to be a Princess, I wanted to be a Queen.  It was my understanding of the hierarchy that princesses would maybe one day be queens, if they married the right prince, but most likely they’d remain just a princess with few duties but to look pretty and sing or weave tapestries or some shit.  But Queens, them bitches could make decisions and effect change.  Queens had power.  Why be a useless princess, I thought, when I could be a Queen.

From the White Notebook

VI

Hero’s Lament

‘Die to live’, is what he said.
‘Die today to live tomorrow’.
Hide myself away,
be miserable under cover,
out of sight,
somewhere he can’t see my pain.
The Pain he caused.

‘Die’, he said, ‘die to live’.
Hide myself away.
Make him suffer as I have suffered.
Tell him I am dead.
I must agonize in private,
cry away my sorrow.

And sorrow have I;
False accusations, a father’s betrayal,
loved ones so ready to believe
the lies.

Die, hide yourself,
don’t let him hear your wails.
Don’t let them know how much
they’ve torn your soul.
Don’t let the pain show.

Die. Today, I die.
Tomorrow I live.
I cannot live today.
I cannot live,
express my anger,
show my utter desolation,
let them see my disappointment,
do not let them see my sorrow.
That, I must not do. Today
I must die.

The play’s the thing!

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The play's the thing!

Plays, musicals, skits, pantomimes, drama, all are used time and time again to tell a story, share a message, and educate the masses about one thing or another. Churches have been using drama for centuries to tell bible stories and morality tales. A tradition that has not died, but fallen out of fashion. Except around Christmas, and sometimes Easter.

The Christmas Eve pageant was always something we children looked forward to every year at my church growing up. Two lucky girls got to play angels in the third grade, four or five fourth graders got to look forward to being shepherds, three special fifth and sixth graders were wise men, and a boy and a girl from the seventh and eighth grade Sunday School class could be Mary and Joseph. We did the same tableau every year until I was in the fourth grade. (You have no idea how excited I was to be angel that last year.) After that we did a few really cheesy musical plays that called for rudimentary dance numbers, costumes, and lines.

I’ve always sort of missed the traditional tableau pageant. My favorite Christmas book will forever be The Best Christmas Pageant Ever (I’m bummed I’ll never get to play Gladys Herdman); I even sort of like the movie with Major “Hotlips” Houlihan and the chick from The Craft. I love a simple Christmas pageant, with a simple formula, and a simple story. But the musical plays have their place and their purpose.

The performers’ intentions must be considered when choosing what sort of production to put on.  A simple tableau is great for the church family to contemplate what happened the night Jesus was born and the miracle of His birth and the reason He came to us in the first place, but it doesn’t necessarily do much for a person who doesn’t know what’s so important.  If the performers are looking to educate people about the birth of Christ, then a cheesy, musical performance that details the message in the simplest of terms as a Scrooge-like character learns about the ‘true meaning of Christmas’ is the way to go.

My parents’ church this year put together a production of ‘A Time For Christmas’.  We went to the final performance the other night and it was cute.  Bearing in mind it was an amateur, church production, my expectations for quality were not high.  The musical numbers and the singers were mostly excellent (something these people do well), but the rest of it was a little less dazzling.  The story itself was a bit much, a Christmas Carol ripoff, that follows workaholic Bill who is prepared to spend Christmas alone, working, his dad having split when he was young and his mother long passed, no siblings to speak of, or, apparently aunts, uncles, or grandparents.  A colleague, Mary, is the only person he even remotely cares about and she puts up with his petulance due to a naive, Luke Skywalkerish believe that there is still good in him… somewhere.  A single mother, whose exhusband is already married to someone new, Mary tries very hard to not let her frustrations weigh her down, or affect her daughter, especially around the holiday; and even though she knows it’s a long shot, she holds out hope for Bill and invites him over for Christmas.

Bill’s heart is mostly cold, however, and while he’s flattered Mary would invite him, he is determined to stay home and get his work done.  That is, until some obscure Christmas Spirit, who styles himself Bartholomew, appears in Bill’s dreams and takes him on an historical tour of Christmas celebrations.  You can figure out what happens next.

The play was cute.  I’m always slightly startled at how beautifully the man playing Bill can sing.  In his real life, he’s so nice and unassuming, but he really has the potential for greatness.  If only he knew what to do with his hands while on stage.  ‘Bill’ is certainly the biggest role in the play, followed closely by ‘Bartholomew’.  That man was unexpectedly good, except no one seems to ever have taught him how to cheat to the audience and his accent vacillated between a bad Dickens character and Ringo Starr.  And he too had some errant gesticulations.  But unexpectedly impressive was his performance all the same.

Despite the accents I would have nixed, some scenes I would have reblocked, missing acting exercises and character development on the part of the actor, a few poor lighting choices, and a couple of periods that kept the audience in the dark for a little bit too long, the play, I would say, was a rousing success.  (Remember: it’s being put on in a church sanctuary that used to be a basketball court.)  It was definitely cute, the children were enthusiastic, only one line was obviously (and hilariously) blundered, but the message was clear, and people responded to it.  The show ain’t hittin’ the road, but that was never the intention.

Unfortunately, some of my friends know me a little too well and were wondering what my critical mind must have been thinking, but I know better than to expect the quality of the performance to be high; and, I don’t think it matters.  In this production of ‘A Time For Christmas’, quality isn’t important, what’s truly important is heart.  And this production was overflowing.

Link

“Photograph 51” by Anna Ziegler directed by Daniel Gidron at Central Square Theater

Last Saturday night my best friend and I spent the evening at the theater.  We saw this play on it’s second to last performance.  It was truly magical.  If you follow the link above you can read my rambling review/response to it that I wrote (sleepy) between midnight and 3am Sunday morning.