Elizadrool


I work at a relatively large office, in a relatively large corporation. In my corner of the building alone there’s probably around a hundred people. A hundred people that are allowed the luxury of three separate toilets. Three. They are *always* busy, which forces me on a regular basis to reflect on office etiquette and human nature.

It’s easy math, really. If we’re on average a hundred people that spend seven hours in the office during the span of nine hours, peeing or pooping say for five minutes a time, in average 3 times a day – the three toilets will be occupied for 95% of the time. Pure math: there will be trouble. Add to this that human toiletry routines are very predictable, bound to be extra urgent after morning coffee, lunch, afternoon snacks – or before the start of meetings on every hour. And so on. Queues, I tell you.

Now let me say this, I work with decent people. There are no floater issues in this post, though the occasional skidmark or explosion scene is encountered. Neither is there obscene behaviour – like in one of my earlier workplaces, where the joyful remains of male auto-eroticism was deposited neatly, like cake decorations, on the rim of the seat of the women’s toilet (I’m glad to report that I was not the woman who sat in it).

Perhaps the queuing is the reason for this decency – you’re bound to meet a line of dancing colleagues when exiting, and generations of cultural shaming obliges you to do the little whinge of shame, the apologetic smile, perhaps an actual cry of it wasn’t me! complete with hands thrown up if the stink is too bad. That akward nod of recognition: hello colleague, I see you’re there, but I really wish you weren’t. Now you know that I am human and process my food in this unappealing manner.

Combined with this cultural denial of what’s actually happening, I must admit to a practically feral behaviour when on my way in to do my business.

When I’m allowed into a newly used toilet I can’t help but to willingly catch a big gulp of not so fresh air, inhaling and enjoying the essence of my dear colleagues, sniffing out their secrets. It is, after all, like turning someone inside out, so it’s a pretty organic experience. I have no idea why I do this, as it’s frequently followed by me faking pukety faces to myself in the mirror and miming at myself with an astonishing look, like I had no idea what they were doing in there – or that I’m about to repeat the number. Too much essential information, so to speak.

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It’s like I’m a dog taking the opportunity to sniff another dog’s ass, and proudly taking the opportunity to spray the toilet with my signature smell to own the toilet until someone else comes along.

This must be the explanation for men refusing to hit the toilet bowl or to put down the seat – and women refusing to SIT DOWN when peeing (urinating in the manner of a lawn sprinkler and, if possible, less precisely than men).

Closing that toilet door we return to our animal beings, far from office protocol and only matched by the desperation over a printer breakdown closing in on a deadline.

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After sharing my recent thoughts on breast cancer campaigns with a friend – how great is it that my friends get to not only read my grievances but also hear me moan for hours after they’ve agreed with me? – mr. Friend dutifully chimed in: And how about prostate cancer? Big killer! But no one wants to sport a hairy ribbon!

True.

But if we did, I know the perfect spokesperson for the campaign:

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PS: Please don’t google ‘hairy ass’ for illustrations of this post, like I just did. Please.

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I’m not very proud of it, but I am tired of Barack Obama, the movie, now. We got inspired, they got ignited, you got elected, all right! Next story please.

A bulimic consumer of politics, I am not alone. Everything is a story, in this case: a drama series where we just watched the most fantastic season finale ever. And now I need the summer hiatus to catch my breath and work up an appetite.

Or perhaps it’s just that I fear what the sequal might contain. Divorce, failure to lead, daughters on drugs… There’s no end to my speculation. Didn’t we feel the same way about Clinton back then? Don’t you wish that movie had ended with his inauguration speech, at least the second one?

And if not failures in life, then the story logic itself begs for drama. He’s risen so high, the fall is inevitable. Don’t blame the journalists for tearing him down, we’re the ones that change. Our perception of that boyish grin, suddenly too smug, the bright mind elitist, eloquence empty. To the lions. Next.

Perhaps we can have a little Christmas hiatus and turn back on January 20th? It would be good for him, good for us, good for the story. A breather.

I’m high on hope and I want it to linger. And then you can get on with the story. I promise.

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Do you remember how it started out tiny? A small metal pin worn discreetly on ones lapel.

Then it started growing, a subtle reminder of the horrible nature of cancer itself. October was declared Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Ribbon imagry was used on merchandise and we got slogans like Think pink and Real men wear pink.

The ribbon itself quadrupled in size. It was transformed from metal to a piece of neatly arranged silk ribbon. Not only more soft and feminine, it’s also smarter, fundraisingwise, the fabric will get frazzled and bent in your pocket or on your lapel and you have to get out shiny new dollars to buy another one soon. Generating more money to research the disease.

Funding science is good, right? I guess. And still, I seem to object. I’ve been annoyed for the better part of October by the pink ribbons all over town. In magazines, on tv, in shops. Pleading for support. And me, resisting to join in.

It should be said that I’m not one for collective action. I have trouble standing in line waiting for the bus, for the risk of being mistaken for anything but a very individualized individual. A deeply unoriginal fear, and of course I realize that collective action has its benefits.

I just can’t stand the smug self-inflicted collective of obvious causes. You want to donate a few bucks to science? Go right ahead. You want to tell the world about your infinate generousity? All right then. But what do you think it means, pinning the ribbon on your chest or wearing the pink t-shirt? And what is the underlying assumption about everyone else? Are we for breast cancer? Do we simply not care?

Of course I care.

Hey, I hate when people use this card but it always works, so I will tell you that my grandmother and aunt have survived breast cancer. I suffer from breast cancer too, every time I try to do a self-scan I find giant lumps and the last time I went to my doctor with my lumps (actually I just casually mentioned the lumps when seeking advice for my imaginary goiter), he told me that with my condition I should keep my hands off my mammas and stop googling symptoms.  My condition being hypochondria, that is. Or having a vivid imagination, as my doctor kindly put it.

Just to point out that it’s not that I don’t take the disease seriously.

Here, my brain kicks in and I think myself into trouble. Is breast cancer a disease? Isn’t cancer the disease and breast cancer only one form of it? Is it really helpful to have the different body parts fight each other for funding in stead of campaigning the need for science in general?

Breast cancer isn’t the leading cause of death in women. Heart disease is. Cancer is number two. All kinds of cancer. Lung, pancrease, skin. And breast. The only one we escape is the prostate one.

This rant is self-evident. A collection of clever and cerebral facts. But my annoyance of the fluttering pink silk goes much deeper, like the fear it generates.

I mentioned that it’s not that I don’t care. If anything, care too much, I take all symptoms too seriously. I’m the worst kind of patient, a sponge for trends, seeking information withouth the knowledge needed to prosess it or put it into perspective. That makes me a good indication of society’s current nightmare. I had AIDS for a long time, but that’s subsided. Skin cancer, of course, but that is so 2002. Now I’ve started to worry about chemicals in cosmetics subtly melting from my skin into my bloodstream and DNA.

I’m like the tip of the thermometer, the first part of molecules of quicksilver reacting to a little information that will send shockwaves of fever through the great masses. I twitch a lot. I get scared really fast.

Which is why I get really mad when someone triggers my fear. And breastcancer really knows how to do that. Breast cancer is easy to sell, compared to AIDS, skin cancer or other diseases.

It can be championed by mature and dignified survivors with bald heads. Its symptoms are hidden to the world, survival symbolized by smooth silicon prosthesis and a life almost the same.

Its horrors go right to the core of being a woman, a mother, not only fear of dying but our identity. What kind of woman are you without your breasts? (A living woman, that’s what!)

It’s easy to spin: Supporting breasts. It’s easy to explain to men: Protect your woman!

I understand the need to raise money.  understand the need to take advantage of emotions and current disasters. I donated money during the tsunami even though I’m aware that there is suffering every day. I’m ashamed to admit that every day suffering doesn’t quite do it for me, it takes a wave of identification to open my wallet.

But this smooth and candy coloured campaign doesn’t only ask me for support or awareness. It triggers my fears to be able to offer me comfort. It sells me protective trinkets, good luck charms, a tiny life insurance. I want to buy this cute little ribbon. Just in case…

So when I see the pink ribbons everywhere in October, I don’t see funding research. I see the fear. – They got to you too, sister, I think. But I will resist. I donate money to general research that benefits us all, not a fear mongering campaign that tries to adress me as a woman.

Please do the same. If for nothing else than to stop scaring me every October.

It’s just how it is. It is more fun to plan than to do.

To plan is to brainstorm for wonderful names (why, oh why, did we not end up with buttbrains.com?). To plan is to think out great thematic concepts and imagine hoards of readers, to write one’s acceptance speech at blog awards and to imagine having to turn away advertisers because we don’t like their products. And because [overbearing laughter], we just simply have enough money already…

To do is to think. To write. To be bold. To not delete your entire blog out of fear.

It really shouldn’t be that difficult. The world is filled with issues. Barack Obama was elected president this week. There is war, famine, violation of human rights, butter that’s not made of cream. The world is melting and the cod is almost extinct (Though Swedes are the only ones caring. Boycotting cod is big over here right now. I nod sympathetically, though I’m not sure I understand the problem).

Enough to start with, one might think.

And yet, my mind is filled with the very little things. My inability to work out. Wanting a new job. Craving cheeze doodles but not being bothered to go out in the rain (the corner 7/11 a mere 50 meters away).

Must sharpen mind. Must do better. Will just have a glass of wine and watch a seson of West Wing. Tomorrow is filled with promise!