August 4, 2006

In which My Life Becomes Dull Beyond Your Wildest Imaginings

HI! I am become a hermit. I am quitting everything I can quit, backing out of everything I can back out of, dodging the phone calls of old friends and refusing to make new friends. Me and my laptop, we will be under the bed for the next three months should you need us.

Last night I went to eat humus and talk writing with Karen and Anna, and they SEPARATELY, one on either side, said almost the exact same thing at the exact same time about my work in progress. (Remember THE GIRL WHO STOPPED SWIMMING which we are fondly calling TGWSS? Or, to be phonetic, Togwiss?). Anyway---It was like a stereophonic message from the Lord, and A HUGE DANGLING MASS of CRAP that happens in the middle and that made NO sense realigned itself and fell into place in my brain. WOULD THAT it would ALSO spontaneously fall into place in my MANUSCRIPT. ALAS, the paper part must be done manually.

I have been up since four, ripping out great useless hunks of text like it was gelid, floppy meat and replacing it with bones and muscle, some veins and blood and other working bits. Maybe later today I will give Togwiss its first internal organ; Maybe start with something relatively simple. Maybe plop a kidney down in the middle and see how it attaches itself and what it decides to do. Maybe if I extend this surgery metaphor a LEETLE bit farther, it will get so gross I actually throw up in my mouth.

I love revisions.

From INSIDE this process, I am going to be having a high old time. From OUTSIDE... it is going be pretty much a 3 month long a view of a person squatting in front of screen, cackling to themselves. SO. SINCE I HAVE NO LIFE OF MY OWN DISCUSS starting now and up until November at the earliest, let's talk about reality television.

I am not a fan. Hate survivor. Hate Big Brother. Hate Bachelors and Bachelorettes with equal vim. Hate Elimidaters, Moles, Real Worlders and Road Trippers.... I think these kinds of shows bring out the worst in the people on them, and I get such HUGE sympathetic embarrassment as folks make COMPLETE asses of themselves and have only their worst moments edited together so they become a character that works for the show. I always think that SOMEDAY the former participants will attain spiritual enlightenment and when that day comes, they will hardly be able to LIVE with the shame of their immortalized hideous behavior being eternally available on Netflix.

It's that same sympathetic embarrassment that caused me to be a Lamaze Class drop out. When I was pregnant with Sam, we had a HORRIBLE HORRIBLE Lamaze Teacher. She wore no base or powder or lipstick or blush or mascara, NONE, but then, inexplicably, she painted her eyelids with iridescent powders to look like tropical fish. She'd stripe her eyes in turquoise and gold and purple from the lash line up to her eyebrows, and fan the colors out WAY to the side, far beyond the eyelid...Make-up like that should be listed along with hallucinations and cannibalism as a clear sign of mental illness.

At EVERY SINGLE STINKING LAMAZE CLASS! Without Fail! She would show us a birth film. So we could, you know, see some birth.

I hated it. I REALLY don't like to see birth. If you've been reading this blog a while, you know I have odd notions about biological functions and manners and what's proper. I had this horrid feeling that the ladies that agreed to have their births filmed had no idea that they would be rocking around stark naked and moaning like animals and spurting blood and other moist horrors and calling out, "I HATE YOU, YOU _$^^@@&(#)$#^*$$%!*!!" to their husbands when they agreed to let the camera crew in.

Watching the films, I imagined that right before the class, the featured birth mother had CALLED up the Tropical Fish Eyed Lamaze Lady and said, "Please don't show any more people that video. I feel, in retrospect, that I behaved with...impropriety. And I don't want people other than my husband and my doctor and the 45 nurses and interns that were in the room to see me in that primal and extremely private state."


I talked to Scott about it, and it was making me so UNHAPPY with sympathetic embarrassment that we decided I should not watch any more of them. BUT! I never knew when the films were coming! She sometimes played the film at the beginning, sometimes at the end, sometimes in the middle. THE ONLY consistent thing about the class was that we WOULD be watching a graphic birth. With screaming. And epesotomies. And sometimes poo.

So I went to her privately and calmly and sweetly and asked her to please begin showing the films at a consistent time, either at the beginning or at the end, so I could either come late or come early and NOT see them. I explained my reasoning and my reactions to her just as I have explained it to you, except I left out the part about her make-up causing her to look like an escaped mental patient. She was VERY displeased and was NOT open to me leaving and I started to get a little bit ticked and she got shirty and belligerent and I got defensive and retreated, as I generally do, into humor, and she would NOT hear what I was trying to say.

Her: But you are going to GIVE birth in five months. How can you GIVE birth if you can't even WATCH it?
Me: When the contractions start, I think I'll give birth whether I've watched a bunch of poor women I do do not know cry and scream and bleed and heave or not.
Her: But YOU will be doing it. You NEED to see it.
Me: Okay, but I won't have this "straight up between the legs" sort of ANGLE. Because my head is at the top, see. And I feel very embarrassed watching total strangers from that angle. It seems a little...personal.
Me: Right....well, I have a pretty good handle on what comes out of where. Can't I please just learn breathing and not watch the films? Think of it like sex. I'm pregnant, so you can guess I don't have any qualms about HAVING some myself, but trust me when I tell you, I have NO desire to watch OTHER people have some. Unless the other people are Johnny Depp and Someone Pretty, and the LIGHTING is good and the director is careful about angles, you know?

She didn't think that was funny. But eventually she agreed to start showing the films at the end of class, and Scott and I would quietly slip out early.

Except that was not how it happened. THAT VERY NIGHT! At the end of the class, she ANNOUNCED in patronizing and mournful tone, "JOSHILYN AND SCOTT ARE LEAVING NOW. We are going to watch our BIRTH FILM, and JOSHILYN is having PROBLEMS with witnessing this completely natural and beautiful act. SO, we will let JOSHILYN leave, and we will all hope she will soon EVOLVE to a place where she accepts the process."

Scott and I got up, took our pillows and left, me fervently hoping that she would soon evolve to a place where her leg was broken in the wilderness and wolves ate her.

We never went back.

Reality shows give me that SAME vibe. I can't bear to WATCH the naked pain and poor ethical choices of strangers, because even the most shameless among them, I suspect, will someday realize how BADLY they have behaved, and feel great gouts and spurting of FUTURE shame. I'm an optimist.

And I say all that to say, for some reason, that makes no sense, I LOVELOVELOVELOVE PROJECT RUNWAY! Project Runway is the best thing that has ever happened on television. I LOVE HEIDI! I LOVE TIM GUNN! The day Vincent gets Auf'ed I am throwing a party, revisions or no revisions. COME SOON! OH LOVELY DAY WHEN VINCENT IS FORCIBLY REMOVED! I ADORE for Uli and Laura and my very most especial favorite THAT BIZARRE GUY WITH THE BEARD, the one who says he is a sea otter bereft of oceans.

If you aren't watching this show, clear your schedule and start. This is the BEST. SEASON. EVER. of the best show ever made.

That is all.

Posted by joshilyn at August 4, 2006 8:29 AM

Y'know, I despise "nazis" of any sort. This is the rather inappropriate term that my buddies and I use for people who just are a little too psychotic about everyone else doing the way they insist upon. There's something about childbirth and rearing that seems to produce a large number of these people: There are the natural childbirth nazis, the Lamaze nazis, the breastfeeding nazis, the "well, I did it THIS way, so obviously it's the best way" nazis, etc. You can't be different, you can only be in line or WRONG.

On another note, let's hear a cheer for revision! YAY Revision!!!

Posted by: Kestralyn at August 4, 2006 9:57 AM

"Maybe if I extend this surgery metaphor a LEETLE bit farther, it will get so gross I actually throw up in my mouth."
-- had you extended it one word farther, *I* would have thrown up in *my* mouth.

Good luck with the revisions -- gotta say, the image of you squatting in front of your laptop and cackling fills me with glee, because I know at the end of it there'll be another book for me to read.

I totally agree re: reality tv in general (UGH!) and Project Runway in particular. There's very little on tv that interests me right now -- except Deadwood -- and I spent the whole week just salivating waiting for the next episode of PR.

Posted by: Aimee at August 4, 2006 10:25 AM

OMG OMG OMG... that is horrible. Can I just say this? I am a student "Childbirth Educator" so I have watched all the births, I've been a volunteer birth companion in my town for single moms and immigrant women who don't have a partner. I've seen every angle... lots of 'stuff'...and I LOVE talking about birth.

But HELLOOOO... it makes some people uncomfortable and so I do not put it IN THEIR FACE if they are blanching when I say the word 'perineum' or 'birth canal'...

I'm giving birth with midwives in... oh, any day now (my due date was yesterday!!) and I was worried that I'd gone from uber-medical doctors to birth nazis... but I haven't. My midwives are so NORMAL and ACCEPTING and I LOVE them. That's the way that I want to be when I teach birth classes. It's not about what I want to impart to YOU... it's about what you want from the class.

I attended some classes with my husband in July, this is his first and my second child and I wanted him to learn about the whole 'thing'... and we had the most amazing educator... she was the very same educator from my first classes five years ago! It's all about making the class feel comfortable, empowering the couples with knowledge, not freaking them out with horrible videos. Yes, we watched a couple. But she clearly said that if anyone wanted to leave, they could.

Oh your tropical fish eye woman makes me so mad. I have MY beliefs. I may even harbour some nazi-ish birth beliefs FOR MY OWN BODY and I have my own prejudices to deal with when I speak with other mothers... but as Kestralyn pointed out, there are THOSE PEOPLE out there... I do not want to be one of them.

(Oh and at the beginning of my little fascination with birth, I'm sure I was one of them for a while!)

Anyways... moving on...

YAY for revisions!!

Posted by: Heather Cook at August 4, 2006 11:06 AM

I'm with you on reality TV. Ugh. If I wanted to watch real people behaving like jerks, I'd go back to having an office job. But I haven't seen Project Runway because my stupid cable system doesn't carry Bravo except on the super-special, ultra-expensive digital package with 100 other channels I have no interest in watching. But they traded Bravo for the Sci Fi Channel, so I am at peace with missing Project Runway as long as I have access to Battlestar Galactica, the Stargates and Dr. Who.

Posted by: Shanna Swendson at August 4, 2006 11:18 AM

OMG - I agree about Project Runway. I almost did a naked jig when Tim Gunn told Keith he would need to pack his bags and leave that night. YEAH!!!! There was just something too slimy about him. I love Uli and I'm kind of hoping to see Laura in the finale too. Michael is so funny. I love that he is a Georgia Boy so I'm rooting for him.

Posted by: Kristi Peavy at August 4, 2006 11:27 AM

And here I thought I was the only one who loathed reality TV for the same reasons you listed. To date, I've never seen an entire episode of any of those shows. But maybe I should give Project Runway a try.

Oh, and you're right about how you don't 'see' near as much giving birth yourself as you do watching one of those awful films. Unless, of course, you request the "special mirror," which I never did.

Posted by: Melessa at August 4, 2006 12:02 PM

Krestralyn is totally right about the Nazi term, but I warn her from experience the term always pisses someone off.

I blush and turn my head when someone kisses on screen. I sure as heck don't want to watch a woman give birth. Like you pointed out its personal and damn really embarassing. (amazing that a former slut could be such a prud, but I am.)

Heather congrats in advance have a healthy baby.

And Joss, one last thought, you were too kind and responsible to do so, but you should have warned her that her eyes were about to swim off.

I enjoy reality TV, Big Brother is a great lesson in psychology. But it is Rock Star SUPERNOVA that I am enjoying right now.

Posted by: Cele at August 4, 2006 12:08 PM

Love, love Project Runway! Anything that shows people that have a genuine talent that I couldn't dream of having fascinates me. And if you love Tim, you MUST MUST listen to his podcast after each show, which you can do directly at or download to your player. Tim is just so very wonderful.
Speaking of talents I will never have, can't sympathize w/ the revisions thing, but yay for you anyway.

Posted by: carolie at August 4, 2006 12:34 PM

You know what I got from this post? You won't be accepting my phone calls. I'm going off to pout now. Because it's all about me.

Oh, and's a little bit about Heather, because of the whole giving-birth-any-minute thing...Good luck on the birth and congrats on that brand new little person! And forgive me for saying, girl - better you than me. ;)

Posted by: Amy-Go at August 4, 2006 2:08 PM

Maybe you should put in some paws, whiskers, tail, fur and the like.

Posted by: Miss China Paws at August 4, 2006 2:54 PM

Joshilyn- you can go see the outfit that won last night at OUR MACY'S at Lenox Mall (one of 7 in the nation to feature it). Or you could, if you weren't buried under Tog. I will go see it for the both of us:)

Posted by: Chris at August 4, 2006 3:13 PM

Oh my goodness. EVERY CLASS? That is so much overkill and that woman... did you report her? Gah!

Posted by: Heather at August 4, 2006 4:16 PM

OMIGOD... that is awful. Funny story though! (We had a GREAT childbirth educator... funniest damn woman I think I've ever met in my life, other than Jill Conner Browne.)

Oh, but I love Project Runway too, but unfortunately I have to wait for it to come on NBC the following Monday because my stupid bassackward cable system doesn't carry Bravo or anything interesting to women (other than Lifetime) because they have to carry 15 different fishing and outdoor life-type channels. (Yeah, I'm pissed.)

Posted by: jenn (from park road books with the cute little boy) at August 4, 2006 6:36 PM

I'm all about me some Project Runway! What about the dude who sent this model down the runway with a basket with chains on her head. Oh, yeah, it's good...

Sorry you're in the writer dugout for a time, but hang in there. We'll talk at you around Thanksgiving?

Posted by: Waylon at August 4, 2006 8:29 PM

A couple years ago I wrote a piece where I said that sitting through those childbirth videos made me feel like I was undergoing court-ordered aversion therapy for a pornography addiction. Which is true but it also means that my name shows up in your Google results for "porn addiction."

Didn't really think that one through.

Posted by: Kevin Guilfoile at August 4, 2006 9:53 PM

Brith videos? I'm a doula (labor/delivery assistant) and unless someone really wants to watch those, I generally advise against it. I mean, you can see it all on the Baby show if you want. To force it on someone that doesn't want to see it borders on cruiminal. GOOD FOR YOU, for not going back. I would also have reported her.

Just had to gush that my friend Charity posted an amazing review of BETWEEN over on our duel book review blog. You can check it out here.

Like a few others, I totally don't get reality tv. Of any kind. Then again, I'm not real big on tv at all. If I have any spare time, my nose is in a book.

Posted by: dee at August 5, 2006 2:45 PM

Those reality shows have writers. If one of those writers gets a book published I wonder if that information would be touted on the cover or if a talk show host would use it in their introduction. Hard choices there.

Posted by: Gillian at August 11, 2006 3:37 AM