Wednesday, June 26, 2013

I Saw Dead People. Literally!

A couple of weeks ago hubby, I and some friends went to the Body Worlds exhibition.  If you have never heard of it before it’s an exhibition of dead people.  And no, I am not fucking with you.  It’s an exhibition where people who donated their bodies are put in weird poses, no longer have their skin and you can see their muscles, veins, organs and dangly bits.  Also, they are not called corpses they are called plastinates.  It is the brainchild of a very weird guy called Gunter von Hagens who is an anatomist.  I am not sure how exactly he got the macabre idea for this.  Maybe he was standing next to a cadaver while eating a sandwich and was all like “Hey, wouldn’t it be cool if we skinned this guy and a horse and pose them together like the guy is riding the horse?”  Who knows?  But having been to the exhibition I have some opinions about it that I would like to share with you today.

When I first heard of this exhibition I was really concerned about the people we were going to be gawking at.  I mean how could I be sure they weren’t some homeless people who got tricked into donating their bodies with a Big Mac and a milkshake.  I was also thinking about their families.  What if you go to watch one of these exhibitions and you stumble across your grandpa’s head that is sawed in half.  How do you explain that to your kids?  “Hey kids look at grandpa.  His head is doing so much for science.  Aren’t you proud of how nice grandpa’s brain looks?”  I wondered what the families of these plastinates did at their funerals and whether they got told what happened to the bodies.  You know, so that they don’t go to an exhibition not knowing it’s their grandma in the sex pose with a twenty one year old.

Speaking of sex.  I found the sex pose rather disturbing.  Not because it was a man and a woman but more about how the set was constructed.  Both plastinates were skinned but both had wigs on.  Wigs that looked like a raccoon had slept in them.  The woman had earrings in her ears that clashed with the ugly boots she was wearing.  There was also some liquid on the floor that could have been semen and it didn’t look like either of them was enjoying it.  Maybe the guy suffered from premature ejaculation and she was pissed because she knew that she would not get an orgasm.  There was also an x-ray of a man and woman having sex with him penetrating her.  When I saw that I first wanted to know who the hell would pose for an x-ray like that.  Followed by thinking how awkward that must have been for the person taking the x-ray.  All-in-all, the sex pose left me underwhelmed and pretty glad that I was gay.

Another thing I found strange was how perky all the women’s boobs were.  Taking into consideration that most of the plastinates are old people, I was expecting to see a more realistic exhibition.  You know with sagging tits, but no.  All the women had C to D cup perfectly perky boobs and it kind of freaked me out.  As for the guys, it is really difficult to judge how big their penises were without their skin and if you didn’t know this yet, the male sex organ as a whole is rather complex and I will never look at balls the same ever again.  I must also admit that while we were there I felt a bit self-conscious about looking at all the genitals.  You don’t want to look like a pervert and outright stare at them.  So you try to do it as casually as you can.  And by casually I mean pretending that you are a biology major inspecting a specimen for scientific purposes and totally not looking confused while looking at a vagina.

Something that I noticed while walking through the exhibition is how damaged some of the items were that were on exhibit.  Some of the veins started to break off, some bones were cracked and you could tell that some of the plastinates were quite old already.  You cannot really expect them to stay pristine forever, especially when they are moved around quite a lot.  I also wondered how long a plastinate is kept and what they do with them when they are no longer in a condition to be on exhibit.  Do they give them back to the families to bury?  Do they get rid of it themselves?  I really would like to know and this lead me to wonder who on earth would donate their bodies to become a plastinate.

On their website there is a section that deals with donating your body.  This is something that I personally will never do.  I am not sure if you can specify what they can and cannot do with your body after you die, but the mere thought of it makes me cringe.  I also watched a couple of episodes of this Gunter von Hagens box set called “Autopsy” in which he performs live autopsies on cadavers in front of an audience.  I should also mention that the audience consisted out of people who are donating their bodies and these people’s family members.  How do you sit and watch how that man saws a frozen body in half, skin a cadaver and removes a woman’s pelvis knowing that he is also going to do that to you one day?  Look, I have a strong stomach and I have been to autopsies before where the bodies were not embalmed and where there was lots of blood, but this was just creepy.  Gunter von Hagens and his creepy black hat and German accent reminded me too much of Nazis which scared my inner Jew.  I could only watch two episodes and since then I have been completely off eating chicken.  If you watched it you’d understand why.

Don’t get me wrong.  I am not trashing the Body Worlds exhibition or the work von Hagens is doing as it was interesting to go and look at the human body in a different way.  It also forces you to think about your own mortality and impresses upon you how extraordinary the human body really is.  I also saw diseased lungs that momentarily made me want to quit smoking again and I saw more vaginas than I care to admit to.  What I did find disturbing was not so much the exhibition itself but, like I said earlier, the people who made this happen:  The folks who donated their bodies and the people who are now making money off of them.  It is a very macabre way to be immortalized, if that is what they think are doing.  But even a plastinate can’t live forever.  In the end we all return to dust.

Till next time.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

My Dirty Little Secret

We all have secrets.  You know the kind of things you don’t want the world to know.  The kind of things you do your best to hide from people.  We all have secrets and I am no different.  My secret is something that only those close to me know about and it is something we rarely talk about.  Because if we talk about that thing of which we dare not speak its name, it will awaken and it likes to torture me.  That thing is major depression.  For the most part of my life I have battled with it.  I know most people cannot tell because I use humor to disguise it.  And when it’s really bad I withdraw from society and often times also from those closest to me.  Even though depression is always lingering in the shadows of my mind there have been four times in my life that I had serious relapses and they were really bad.  I decided to share my story with you today in the hope that if there are any of you out there who share my battle, I want you to know that you are not alone.  It will get better.

According to the World Health Organization about 121 million people in the world suffers from some form of depression and only 25% of those people have access to effective treatment.  This is a scary thought.  Depression for me is like a toxic cloud that draws over your life sucking all the joy out of every fiber of your existence.  It leaves you immobilized, unmotivated and wilted.  You go through your days just going through the motions, much like a robot, and even breathing feels like an effort.  You lose perspective on your long term goals and become shortsighted with an inability to feel anything.  Some people believe that you can just simply snap out of it, but you can’t.  You desperately want to but it is near impossible.

Depression is not just feeling blue and it’s not just feeling sad.  When you are depressed you don’t feel and that is the problem.  Your emotions become one monotonous string of nothingness.  It’s an experience alien to those who have never experienced it before.  It’s somewhat similar to having to eat the same bland meal everyday for the rest of your life.  It’s difficult to connect with people who have feelings because when you are depressed those people seem strange to you.  It’s a bit like watching a movie about your own life without actually participating in it.

Many times you will pretend to have emotions.  You will fake a smile, fake a concerned look or fake surprise.  Often times when I do this I worry whether I correctly matched the correct facial expression to the correct socially acceptable emotion.  Sometimes I don’t because you know with Botox these things can become confusing.  When you are depressed you learn a lot about serotonin and dopamine and just recently I had it explained to me again by a doctor like I was a six year old.  It’s not like I studied this shit before and know exactly how depression presents in your brain chemicals, but I was depressed and probably behaved like a six year old emotionally disturbed child so the doctor felt the need to refresh my memory.

Depression is also a sneaky fucker.  It’s not like you wake up one morning and realize you are depressed.  It’s a process that happens unnoticed and it is a gradual downward slide.  When you have reached the bottom it is very hard to get out and you are sometimes incapable of reaching out to call for help.  In my case I have learned to see the warning signs.  These signs are different for different people.  In my case I have learned that once I no longer look forward to activities I once enjoyed, when it starts getting physically difficult for me to get out of bed and when I actively start avoiding social contact then I am sliding towards the precipice of depression and it’s best to get help before I fall.  This is also when I become less of a diva and more of a muttering hot mess.

Luckily I have a husband that understands and can see the warning signs.  Not that I always listen to him because I am a stubborn bitch like that, but he is persistent and can be very convincing in a Tim Gunn kind of way.  So when I have slipped into the firm grip of depression I usually see my therapist and start with some meds.  We are fortunate to live in a time where great medical advances have been made in treating depression.  No longer do you need to have the shit shocked out of your grey matter, now you can just drink a pill.  And there are some great antidepressants on the market right now.  But unfortunately none of them are a quick fix or overnight cure.  They take time to work and most of them have side effects.

Some of my least favorite side effects are headaches, dry mouth, tremors and diarrhea.  Fortunately they rarely last longer than a couple of weeks.  I remember the other evening when I came home from work waiting for my 6 o’clock headache to take hold.  I was sitting on the couch having a pity party of one thinking to myself “For fuck sakes, I am depressed and now I have to deal with fucking migraines to get rid of the fucking depression.  Maybe I should just stop taking the pills and see what happens.”  I did that once before and it did not end well.  But even in my depressed “I feel sorry for myself and the world hates me” state I knew better than to be that stupid.  So I drank two headache tablets instead.

Many people become suicidal when they go through a depressive episode.  I have been there too.  I totally understand how people can get to the point where they think that suicide is the only choice left for them to make.  I don’t judge those people.  I also stood on that doorstep twice before but I chose to live.  I wouldn’t lie and say that I haven’t regretted choosing life because quite frankly the world does suck sometimes, but when my mind goes to those dark places I remind myself that I have a future, I have people that love me and care for me and that it is just the depression talking, it’s not me.  Depression fucks with your mind, clouds your thoughts and makes you believe things that simply aren’t true.  It is important not to give in to those negative thoughts and to fight even though it is hard as fuck to do so.

There are people who believe that if a person suffers from depression that they are weak and that it is something to be ashamed of.  But I am here to tell you that simply isn’t true.  Some of the strongest and most creative people I know battle with depression.  It’s nothing to be ashamed of.  I never before today thought it was important to tell people about my depression because I felt it was a very personal thing.  Something I wanted to keep to myself.  But then I realized if I could blog about the day I shit myself, why shy away from this.  After all depression is a bit like shitting yourself but mentally and it doesn’t require a wardrobe change.  So there you have it my dirty little secret is out for the world to read.  Hi my name is Pierre and I suffer from Depression.  I am having an episode right now.

Till next time.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

How many are too many?

My husband is understandably anxious.  You see my obsession with getting a alpacas and/or a gay donkey must by now be haunting his dreams.  Waking up in a cold sweat after dreaming that our property was transformed into a fully fledged zoo, us drowning in animal dung and being in violation of almost all municipal bylaws relating to animals would stress out most people.  But not me.  I get super excited by the mere thought of it.

Look I know I may have a problem.  Even my therapist told me last week that he does not feel he is equipped to treat me.  Not many are, but what is wrong with loving and collecting animals, especially when you take better care of them than most people do their own biological children.  It’s not like I am harming anyone, apart from my brother-in-law who no longer comes to our house because he is allergic to the bunnies.  But there are pills for that and I have a stockpile seeing as I am the one who is allergic to planet earth and sometimes people.  After having had some time to reflect on my ever expanding menagerie while cleaning the bunny mansion I did ask myself the question – how many animals are too many?

At first when I started writing this blog post I decided to coherently interrogate this issue in order to come to an objective and logical conclusion.  Then I got bored.  So I decided fuck it!  Objectiveness and logic are for pussies.  So I decided to deal with this blog post by way of example.  You see it is very difficult for some people to see the world through my eyes because I sometimes have a more, how shall I put it, unconventional way of looking at things.  For example, where some people think the crooked teeth of a alpacas are ugly, I find it an enduring quality.  Some people are disturbed by the amount of poop bunnies can generate, I see it as a business opportunity.  Bunny poop really is a great fertilizer after all.  If you don’t believe me I will send you some in the mail or you can just buy yourself a bunny.  But I digress…

As you my dear readers know by now hubby and I have five cats, two bunnies, a tortoise and we may still or may not have a fish.  It is difficult to tell with the fish as we rarely see him because he lives in a constant state of fear and is always watching out for Killer Pussy who wants to eat him.  I won’t lie; having so many animals is a lot of work.  The bunnies alone have three litter boxes.  The cats also have three litter boxes and the garden and sometimes the bathroom sink.  Our oldest cat has also recently developed urinary incontinence and has peed on the floor a couple of times.  Don’t judge her, she is old.  So many Saturdays we are knee deep on bunny poop, pee and cat shit.  But I don’t mind because I love them.

However, our animals do sometimes do things that annoy me.  Every so often I come home from work to find a massacre has occurred in our bedroom.  One or possibly two of our cats like to catch birds and kill and then eat them on our bed.  It usually looks like a scene out of a horror movie but instead of human bodies it is birds.  The whole of the bed would be covered in feathers, blood and the odd organ or body part.

One time, not so long ago, I came home to find three birds murdered in this way at the same time.  What made that worse, apart from the fact that there was more than one, was the fact that whoever killed them then went and strategically hid body parts around the house.  It took me two days to find them all.  There were body parts in my study, all the bathrooms, my slippers, work shoes, on the couch and the kitchen to mention but a few places.  It took me about half an hour to vacuum all the feathers up which clogged up the vacuum cleaner which I had to clean multiple times.  I gagged a few times while the cats watched me and judged me.  Probably thinking “What the fuck is his problem?  We come bearing gifts and he says thank you by screaming at us and throwing up.  Ungrateful asshole! ”But it not just the cats, the bunnies are a whole different story.

Bunnies are adorable and their personalities are really comical, but this is just a ruse.  You see bunnies are super intelligent animals and super destructive and this combination can cause you some real headaches around the house.  They hide behind their adorableness whenever they are in trouble and they know when they are being naughty or doing something wrong.  They know but they don’t care and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it.  When you tell at them “NO” they will ignore you.  If you shove them away from chewing the carpet they will jump onto the couch and chew on the scatter cushions.

Bunnies are stubborn.  So you learn to compromise by providing them with acceptable alternatives to their destructive behavior.  Instead of chewing on the carpet they are allowed to chew on those Ethiad Airways blankets we stole.  Instead of chewing on the scatter cushions they are allowed to chew on toilet paper rolls, scrunched up papers and a variety of other toys.  At any given moment our house looks like we have a toddler living with us as there are acceptable chewing toys scattered throughout the house.  It beats having to rewire the surround sound system, replacing iPhone chargers, buying new remote controls and a new carpet.  However, it is not just their destructive behavior that makes them high maintenance pets; their potty training also posed a challenge.

It took us a couple of months and getting peed on a few times to potty train our bunnies.  They are now exclusively using their litter boxes to pee and decided that hubby’s chaise is their new communal latrine used for pooping.  It’s not a perfect arrangement but it beats them shitting on the couch.  Unfortunately the odd accident still happens.  Like last week when one bunny was playing on a scatter cushion next to me and all of a sudden he stood still as if he had seen a ghost.  Then I saw that he was peeing and he had this “What the fuck did I just do?” expression on his face.  Clearly it was not an intentional pee but it was an uncomfortable situation for the both of us and the scatter cushion.

And then there is the tortoise.  She is stoic, opinionated and a Diva.  Of all our animals she is the least work.  She goes about her business, don’t particularly pay attention to anyone and pretty much ignores us unless it is dinner time.  She has her routine which she made clear from the start is not to be fucked with.   The only issue we have is when she needs to take her vitamins.  Then her Diva shows.  Most times she refuses to take them even if they are hidden in her food.  She would eat around them and if one should end up in a mouth full she would spit it out.  So I had to resort to force feeding her.  It really isn’t very pleasant for either of us, but it is good for her and she knows it but she doesn’t need to like it.  At least it only happens once every two weeks and when it happens we both feel a little dirty and ashamed afterwards.

As you can see I love my animals.  I must admit that when I had my initial epiphany on extreme menageries I was high on white vinegar fumes and possibly wasn’t thinking clearly.  After all bunny pee is potent shit and the pee-vinegar combo can have an intoxicating effect.  My conclusion is that you only have too many animals once you can no longer afford them and no longer have room in your heart to love them.  Hubby can also relax because I will never do anything that is not in an animal’s best interest.  When I do get my alpacas and gay donkey we will have a property with the space to accommodate then.  My Zoo will happen one day and it will be the gayest zoo in the world!  Admit it; you are going to be so jealous.  Now go back to work and stop looking at kittens and porn on the internet.  Or better yet, go feed your cat.

Till next time.

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