Things About Feminine Hygiene (rated NSM [not suitable for mother])

Dear Bethany:

John told me you were toying with the idea of getting a pee-valve for your dry suit. I thought I would share with you some of the finer nuances of hair removal and outdoorsiness as it relates to your crotch. This being my tenth season in wildland fire, I don't think it differs terribly from scuba diving, in the sense that I am completely immersed in a sea of grungy males, usually devoid of space to pee without an audience. I have often bemoaned the lack of the apparatus for discreet relief that doesn't force me to wander several miles from working crews. Listening to his description of a pee-valve, I am curious about the prospect of retrofitting such a device for hiking/ camping adventures. I know that these exist already in some form, but obviously I am much too prudish and/or embarrassed to go into REI and inquire about such. After ten years I have adopted the mindset that whatever the fire grunts happen to see when nature calls is really enough consequence for their sin of looking, but I can't help but think there must be an easier way. Like being male, or something. In discussing the dry suit contraption, aside from the worry of the occasional trailer floor spill incident (eww) I would share your concern for allergic sensitivities to glues and plastics Down There. I am also of a somewhat delicate makeup in this area.

You'll have to let me know how the female pee-valve works out for you, and which drug combination you use to cure the burning reaction to the glue. In discussing hair removal, I can't recommend the Brazilian wax highly enough. The momentary pain, something akin to getting a tattoo, but less permanently gratifying, really is worth avoiding weeks of razor burn, ingrown hairs and missing those hard to reach places that make up most of the crotchal region. In terms of outdoor hygiene, this fire season has been a severe reminder for me that nothing beats the Brazillian for long term comfort and cleanliness. Except maybe laser removal, for which I have recently seen Living Social two-fer deals lately and would be totally down for a girls outing one of these days...  But if you decide to go the wax route, I cannot stress enough that the do it yourself kits at home are a TERRIBLE IDEA. I tried one once, and probably lacking the resolution to pull firmly or quickly enough, I was left with a bloody, hickey looking type wound, and most of my hair intact. Pay the money for professional help. I would also recommend researching Yelp or some other source to find a good waxer, because the bad ones are, well. Bad. I could share some experiences with you, but I have happily blotted them from my memory. A good waxer should be personable, but not invasive. For example, it's kind of disconcerting to have a deep conversation about father figure relationships when you are getting a Brazilian. My favorite topic of conversation when in this very vulnerable and compromised position is the the waxer's experience level, which can also be nerve-wracking if the experience is revealed to be less than two weeks in evolution, but if you've done your Yelp homework, you should be safe. Always ask the waxer is she does male brazilians. This question serves two purposes: 1. It provides a distraction for both parties that alleviates insecurities about body image (if she's waxed guys, any girl looks "normal") , and 2. It gives you insight into the skill of your waxer. Clearly males would be more difficult, and require more skill. Plus the question usually cues some fascinating, if not hilarious stories.

If you're too discreet to go and get waxed, then spare no expense shaving. I have long been an advocate of Venus razors,  the ones with the built in shaving cream, as well as some good shaving gel (I like Aveeno's sensitive skin one, it serves double duty with Josh's baby face), and only go "down there" when the razor is new-ish. I am sure there are cheaper razors that would work, but I haven't found them. I just stock up at Costco on the best ones. Unless I forget to. I did that enroute to this last fire, as well as frugally skipping the wax, and had to send Josh into town for a razor for me. I used an old disposable one of his once, and paid for that for days and days.  He was really excited that he scored a deal on the Venus Spa razors at the local grocery store, proudly boasting that he got them for way less than I do at Costco, 5 blades for $12, til I pointed out that all five blades he had purchased were on one razor head. He was quite perturbed, and rightly so.

In recovering from the desperate use of Josh's dull disposable razor in the nether regions, I used a balm that I don't think I will ever be caught without again. It's called Herbal Savvy ($5.40 on Amazon!), and I originally got it to help with scars and acne on my face. It really heals and soothes, and it's not super expensive. I slather it on after every shaving now.

I know that preceding generations couldn't (and don't) understand hair removal in these regions. I think that there is a scandalized mindset that brazilians are the new Nair, justifying short shorts and high-cut bathing suits and feeding into a sex oriented vanity that should never have become an issue for civilized humans. For me, I will admit that my first Brazilian was about impressing a guy, but now, it is 100% comfort and hygiene driven. And so I never have to worry about the stray hairs sneaking out of even the most modest swimsuit. Which is a heinous and nearly unforgivable social violation.

Good luck with your pee valve. Please let me know how it works. And your hair removal,  however you choose to accomplish it. And don't forget, I'm totally up for that laser two-fer....

Yours in feminine hygiene,


Things I Think About

There is a task force leader here named Rattan. Is he named after porch furniture?

I had josh go to the store and get me celery and blue cheese dressing to eat here, because fruit is plentiful and vegetables are found only in the salad bar at dinner. I have been dutifully eating the fruit, at the expense of my stomach, to the point that it tastes like poison to me. The celery is awesome. Especially since Josh delivered it with a bouquet of bright flowers. AND blue cheese. He is, as always, my hero. But chewing through giant crispy stalks of celery, even with the not-fat-free dressing, leaves me feeling like maybe I just did an aerobics routine. 

When one ear is burning, does that mean that people are sort of talking about me? Like peripherally? 

Yesterday as we were driving off the fire line, josh decided, perhaps prematurely, to take off his yellow Nomex shirt. Technically we were still inside the fire, and yellows are supposed to be on in ANY proximity to the fire, but Josh was having shirt difficulties. Apparently he decided that it's too hot to wear a t shirt under his Nomex, but the Nomex on skin is kind of itchy and uncomfortable unless you have stolen some of the old school shirts, which he hasn't. So he's always in a hurry to get out of his yellow. Josh made several mistakes here. 1. Wearing Nomex without a t-shirt underneath. 2. Deciding to remove Nomex while still inside the fire 3. While driving 4. Without knowing where his t shirt was 5. Or knowing it was inside out 6. Or realizing the entire night division (12 or so vehicles) was coming around the corner of the Very Narrow Road. 7. Getting his wrist stuck in one yellow sleeve 8. Trying to hide his nakedness behind a narrow seatbelt 9. Looking extremely guilty when the safety officer drove by 10. Not just waiting til we were stopped outside of the fire to switch shirts. I feel like I probably looked like a deer in the headlights, riding through smoke and flames next to a naked man. The seatbelt really didn't hide much. I hope josh learned his lesson. It's just lucky we didn't have to stop and get out since I was already out of my fire boots. ;) 

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