Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Real Ladies Don't Poop

Real Ladies Don't Poop
 ...how farts changed my perspective on life

Social norms have always confused me. The things that are the most universal, the most human, the most normal are all too often deemed "inappropriate" or "sophomoric to scoff at". Farting, body hair, female breasts, queefs, circumrot (the gunk that builds up inside an uncircumcised penis), burping, odors from within...everyone has an opinion on the properness of these things yet few feel that they are worthy of public consumption. "Ew, don't talk about that, it's vulgar. You're a lady." 

In a world that seeks to define and separate us at every bend, why would we mute the very things that unequivocally tie us together? We might never see eye to eye on politics, religion, favorite authors, sexual orientation or when it's ok to laugh about death (I generally lean towards the "too soon" side of the spectrum, this does not win me many friends at funerals) but no matter who you are or what you believe common ground for the human race is always but a breeze away (read: farts are universal). When we look within on a biological/chemical level we are all virtually the same. The same processes that occur within my body (digestion, hair growth, blood pumping, etc.) occur within yours. No matter what sensation we experience in this life, emotional or otherwise, someone somewhere has felt something similar.

Have you ever experienced a bowel movement that urgently wanted to escape your body? The pressure from all the waste within you boring down on your fanny hole, filling your chest with the slight pang of anxiety, "Will I make it in time? Will I unleash unto this world a smelly demon or just mess my pants?" 

Have you ever upon defecation gotten goosebumps along the upper side your thighs, as if your entire body was rejoicing in you and a job well done? 

Have you ever had a belch so potent and pungent that you could identify all portions of your most recent meal? Have you ever secretly enjoyed revisiting those flavors, sniffing the air wistfully while no one was looking? (I may be on a boat with that last one, but go with me here...)

Humans are capable of some disgusting things (bigotry, murder, self-loathing, malicious actions towards each other, etc.) but that which comes from within us all isn't bad and should not be vilified or be used as a tool to oppress. 

I am a woman who appreciates "fart-humor". No, I won't rip one whenever a rumble rolls down south. I do practice discretion when I expel gas because like most things in life it's funnier on occasion. If I went around doing nothing but farting and laughing it wouldn't speak of my wit so much as my gastrointestinal distress. The art of comedy is in the timing. Like the phrase "that's what she said" or "YOLO", farts are a bold spice to life meant to be peppered-in sparingly. If you use it all the time it's not funny, it's hack.

In efforts to lead an ego-less existence, I accept all that I am and unabashedly so. Not only do I fart but I am among a growing group of women who proudly state, "I poop!" For years I was told by men and women alike that  "real ladies don't poop" and "that hole is for when the other one gets stretched out". When I was born my mother pushed so hard that she literally shit me out of her womb. Covered in fecal matter and blood, I came into this world pre-soiled. I was born a dirty bitch who didn't quite fit in with all the immaculate-looking gerber babies.

Twenty-five years later and I'm still pulling chunks of shit off myself. The excrement that now coats my skin isn't from my mother but from society as we know it. Here in America, the land of the free and brave, we are saturated in shit. Turn on your TV, log into Facebook, or get on your cellphone- you'll feel/see/hear it. Everyday we are bombarded with messages on how frightening and terror-filled the world is; on how we compare to others; on what is in and what is out; OPINIONS OPINIONS OPINIONS! The media's job has transformed from one of informing the public to now manipulating and influencing the masses. The idea of using propaganda to get people to think like you want them to isn't a new tactic but the level in which we are subjected to it has expanded in a major way. These aren't a couple of posters on the sides of building telling us to turn in our gold for the war effort, modern day propaganda is an unrelenting stream of shit that even the most skilled individuals have difficultly wading through.

There was a time I believed that all the negative voices I heard in my head were direct reflections of my own insecurities. It couldn't possibly have been the work of some clever marketing campaigns that wanted to make me feel low in hopes I'd buy their products. No, no, no...it was all in my head and no one else's. No other person could possibly feel the way that I do if only because my life experience (and everyone else's for that matter) was unlike anything that had ever existed before or would exist again. I know within each of us is a world of possibilities and perceptions. Early on in high school I became concerned about my weight. Not because runway models in Milan made me feel inferior but because I was a late bloomer whose thighs would get chafed when I ran and because I had a giant dumper before it was fashionable. Yet turn on the news and story after story would suggest that the models themselves were responsible for every child with insecurities regarding their body. It wasn't the fault of the major corporations who's commercials spoke of being beautiful and desirable and sold make-up or diet pills or "body enhancing clothing" to men and women who CLEARLY were awful without them. Nope, it was the models they hired to hawk their products.

I mean no disrespect to those slight-framed females but not once did I aspire to be them. Not once did I spot a woman traipsing down a long hallway and wish that I was her size and shape and had her life. What I envied in others in high school was something beneath the surface...something one could never truly determine with a simple glance. What I envied was what I perceived to be happiness in others. This is not to say that I was an unhappy teen, in fact quite the contrary. But from the outside looking in, everyone else always seemed to have it together in a way I couldn't begin to imagine. I might have been happy but I had no fucking idea what I was doing. They seemed to be so well adjusted and content...I wanted that too.

When I entered my college years I learned very quickly that I wasn't the only one who felt lost in life. One night a friend knocked on my door and asked if I'd join her on a walk because she needed to talk to someone. As we sauntered around the greenhouse and through the common-area she confided in me that she didn't know why she was in college. She felt like she was a fraud, wasting her parents money, going down a path she may or may not want for the rest of her life. "I'm an adult now, right? I should know where I'm going. I should have a clear vision of my future and be marching towards it but I- I don't know what the fuck I'm doing anymore. Everyone else here has a path, you know? They want something so their going after it. And here I am, barely able to deal with my emotions let alone be able to decide what I want to do with the rest of my life. I feel like I'm barely treading water. I'm so lost." We sat down by the fountain and she rested her head on my shoulder and began to sob.

This would have been a fantastic time for me to pull out my inner Oprah and spew some inspiring, transformative, life-affirming shit but instead I said, "I'm lost too. And I'd venture to guess that if we both, coming from completely different backgrounds, feel this way maybe a lot of people can relate...maybe everyone is pushing forward desperately seeking some sort of solid ground in their world. Maybe no one knows what they're doing...we're all just making it up as we go along." She had stopped crying by then and began to smile, "if that's the case someone should let everyone know that life is one big clusterfuck or put 'don't worry, you're fine...no one knows what their doing' on every billboard in America. How's that for truth in advertising!"

For the rest of the night we shared the stars and silence. I thought long and hard about our conversation and wondered how many others had similar exchanges in the past. My view of the world shifted that night. I learned that no matter how "together" everyone else appeared to be, those feelings of doubt and confusion were universal and human. They are what keeps us searching for more stimuli, more experiences, more interactions. They are what ultimately leads to a better quality of life. These feelings that I once loathed were now awash in the most beautiful, positive light. I saw them as tools to construct myself into the person I wanted to become instead of the tools that would lead to my personal implosion.

Those same old feelings have been bubbling up and over within me once again. Our world is changing at a mind-boggling rate and all too often I feel as if I'm not doing enough to engage with it. I want to run, run, run but my legs aren't quite strong enough. Our generation was raised on fast cuts, bright lights, and ADD medication...it's little wonder why we find it so difficult to sit still and be with self. Everyday I take baby steps towards becoming the well-rounded artist I know that I am. I remind myself that these struggles I face they aren't mine alone...others deal with the same sort of shit, we're all human after all. I have moments where my overactive mind takes over and tries to make me believe that I need to do it all RIGHT MEOW! But the reality is that all I really need in the "now" is a solid frame of mind, one that is positive and encouraging, one that dismisses the negative voices and all the distractions the media tosses our way, and one that remains connected to this moment...it will never happen again, right? I'm in a state of transition and I need to throw my hands in the air, enjoy the ride, and trust that everything is going exactly as it should.

Flatulence will always be is funny to me but it serves a greater purpose in my life. Farts act as a reminder that no matter how seriously you take yourself, you're still human. If you eat an entire burrito from chipotle, you are eventually going to take a massive dump. It's a fact. We can choose to deny the processes occurring within us in the interest of "social etiquettes" or we can drop our walls and embrace the fact that we're all capable of the same fears, insecurities, emotions and shit.