Michelle Tea: Don't Leave Your Spermy Bowls in the Sink

My period comes and now it’s a tragic thing, when it comes people say "I’m sorry" -- which on the one hand feels like a bit of justice. But now of course my period signifies dashed hopes.
Publish date:
February 9, 2012
pregnancy, periods, insemination, sperm, M

An LHB is a long-haired butch, a butch person who has very long hair, usually of the metal of biker persuasion. One I know pledged to do a special Butch Fertility Dance in her home for me, some mystical moves that helped other women get pregnant.

The Russian witch who cuts my hair in her salon that looks like an olde-tyme forensics lab puts her hands on my belly and says something magical in Russian. Despite these efforts, I am not pregnant.

My period comes and now it’s a tragic thing, when it comes people say "I’m sorry" -- which on the one hand feels like a bit of justice, like I’ve been waiting for SOMEONE to apologize for this monthly blood show ever since I got my very first menses in a fit of crying hormones while eating a box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese at the tender age of twelve. So, THANK YOU for the sympathy.

But now of course my period signifies dashed hopes, and people ask me how I’m feeling and if I’m OK, or sad, which is terrible because then I have to think about my feelings and wonder if I’m OK or if I’m sad, and I don’t want to be sad and if I am I certainly don’t want to have to TALK about it, and so what I do feel is a flare of embarrassing, irrational anger at the sweet people who love me and want to make sure this annoying, frustrating process hasn’t gotten me down. Clearly I need therapy.

But I’ve HAD therapy! The thing about therapy is you have to keep going. For your whole life. So, in case you’re wondering how I’m doing, I’m annoyed and frustrated, and haunted by the possibility that I might not even be fertile, despite the assurance of a fertility pee stick.

I started out this whole process thinking, win-win! If I have a baby -- win! What an adventure! If I can’t have a baby -- win! I go back to my totally amazing, routinely magical life, more magical now than ever before with the addition of Dashiell. But, once you start doing something like this it is hard to remain casual about it. It’s hard not to get invested.

And it’s hard not to have feelings when your period comes. And it’s hard to talk about the feelings, because they make you feel vulnerable and gross and also get in the way of your POSITIVE ATTITUDE.

Anyway, the good thing about all this is, a few days into your period and it’s time to get a new insemination plan together! You don’t have time to shuffle about, sulking and eating hormonal bags of Jelly Bellies. You got work to do and a team at the ready.

My team is heading south for the holidays. First Rhonda will hop into a claptrap VW camper van with two skater bros (one, thank god, a VW van mechanic), a lady, a 12-year-old mini-skater and a big dog. They will all go to Baja, Mexico, taking a scenic route that involves stops at crumbling, legendary punk houses with skate pools in the back yard and no toilet paper in the bathroom, and also various skate parks.

After that, Quentin will fly to Mexico City with a pack of gay boys. It seems that Quentin will be here for my fertile times, but Rhonda, carrier of the bowl, plunger of the spermy syringe, will be gone! Rhonda has a talk with me and Dashiell. It is very tender and thoughtful, as is Rhonda. That she’d been thinking that, now that Dashiell is in the picture, maybe I would want her to be the plunger of the spermy syringe.

Maybe I would want that but wouldn’t know how to bring it up, so she thought she would start the conversation. Rhonda bravely investigated her FEELINGS, and found that her core desire is just to be here, to be part of the insemination celebrations. Rhonda goes to therapy. Look how ace she is managing her feelings! Therapy works!

Of course I had thought about Dashiell being the plunger of the spermy syringe. After all, she is my man, shouldn’t she be knocking me up? But that’s just not the way this has gone down, naturally, and though I don’t know how much I care about natural childbirth (drugs and a cesaerian timed to give my child the optimal astrological chart seem like a pretty cool option) I do like the way the universe has arranged this sweet cluster of people to be here for me, and I want to keep them all!

Everyone has their duties -- Quentin barricades himself in the kitchen, a chair propped against the door to keep out the cats; I get Rhonda a pair of gloves while Dahsiell closes the blinds; Rhonda grabs the bowl from Quentin, I hold it while she sucks the sperm into the syringe, she courageously faces down my vagina and then leaves me with Dashiell who says hot, sweet things to me while I ride my vibrator. Everyone has a role!

Still, Rhonda will be gone soon, so Dashiell will need training. The plan this month is to take full advantage of Quentin’s generous spirit and get sperm up there like every other day during my fertile period, bumping it up to every single day once I get a positive ovulation pee stick.

Oh -- about my ovulation pee sticks. I have bought my local (homosexual) Walgreens out of ovulation tests. My preferred brand in its bracing pink box is gone, as is my second choice in its serene blue box. All that is left is Walgreens brand pee sticks, which I suspect might not only malfunction but could somehow harm my fertility or even impregnate me with a "Geek Love" baby.

Once, when I was broker and punker, I did a zine which featured a Walgreens Product Review, as I was frequently forced by economics to turn to their cut-rate options. Some of their items were OK, but products that you really need to have a certain standard of quality -- say, tampons -- were tragic failures.

The Walgreens ovulation kits are not pee sticks, they are dunk sticks. Meaning you don’t pee onto them, you pee into a cup and then dunk the flimsy little stick into your cup o’ urine. They do provide you with a tiny plastic cup for peeing, but of course mine was cracked and unusable and was swiftly repurposed as a hockey puck for the cats.

At this point, half of the dishes in my sink are stained with food, half with body fluids. A cereal bowl stuck with granola aside a bowl stuck with dried semen; a juice glass with a ring of tangerine juice beside a juice glass dribbled with urine. Not to mention the robe and blanket I keep laundering due to the daubs of sperm that occasionally fall out of my vagina. And, actually, not to mention how it sometimes takes me a day or two to get the sperm bowls into the sink, days when they can be found stuffed with latex gloves and used syringes, littering my nightstand.

I have made a certain peace with this. Just because I’m getting inseminated doesn’t mean my housekeeping abilities are going to improve.

I do try to get the bowls out of the bedroom before Dashiell comes over, though, because Dashiell is a very tidy person, a Virgo, and when I tired of telepathically expressing my love to her and finally burst and told her that I did in fact love her and she responded with that she did in fact love me as well, she added the incredible flourish "I’m going to buy you a house," which is totally the NICEST thing anyone has ever said to me, and the house that flashed in my mind when she said this was not a house at all but a chateau, a castle, probably because Dashiell is a prince, and so now I feel sort of like Cinderella and like I have to show my prince that I am worthy of living in the castle she will someday purchase for me and I can’t FUCK IT UP by leaving spermy bowls around my bedroom.

Anyway -- the Walgreens pee sticks, as it turns out, are the kind of pee sticks they use in doctors’ offices. My sister who knows everything told me so.

I open my heart to the budget dunk sticks. I begin to oddly enjoy the dunking of the stick, like a little science experiment each morning. My old, brand-name pee sticks begin to seem like the Hummers of ovulation tests, bulked up in so much needless plastic, destined for a third-world landfill to be used as toys by the impoverished children who play in such places.

These slim, trim dunk sticks are easier on the environment and the only beings who will ever use them as toys are my cats, who do like batting them around the house.

Back to Dashiell’s training. After Quentin hollers, I hold the bowl and Rhonda demonstrates, pulling the plunger gently, sliding the nose of the syringe around the gloppy pool of semen.

"I can smell it," Dashiell says, sounding surprised that semen has a smell, and that it’s smellable.

"Yeah, it has a smell," Rhonda agrees.

I’m surprised, too; it’s been a long, long time since I’ve been in smelling-distance of sperm and I’ve forgotten it has an odor.

"What does it smell like?" I try to remember.

I guess it carries a faint, earthy smell. Dashiell is fairly familiar with my vagina, so that part is easy. Rhonda shows how to get the syringe in there and give the plunger a good smack. You want to shoot that stuff right up there!

Even though it’s all pretty simple, I can tell Dashiell is a little nervous. She’s a perfectionist and wants to do a really good job. She’s so focused on her tutorial that she forgot to close the blinds.

My team leaves for the night, and I am left alone in my home, cats purring on the bed beside me. I discover that if I hang my head off the side of the bed I can really get my legs high in the air and I’m almost upside down!

It seems like a really great way to get all the sperm running right into my cervix, until I lose my balance and basically flip backward off my bed with my nude vagina in the air in front of my open blinds, knocking a lamp, the empty sperm bowl and a deck of tarot cards off my nightstand and landing on my head on the floor.

NEXT WEEK: My nourished uterus!