PMS

In the 1970’s and 80’s no one talked about PMS, Premenstrual Syndrome.

I had gotten into photography, taking classes at the community college where I taught art.  Photography wasn’t as easy then as it is today.  Everything was on film.  We took our film out of the camera in the dark, hoping to not drop it on the dusty floor.  We developed our photos in dark rooms with red safe lights and toxic chemicals.  I sat up a dark room in my bathroom at home.  My husband cut some wooden strips that fit around the door so that there would be no light leakage.  Our children were young, so everything had to be put away safely after each session.

PMS was a condition I had suffered with since “becoming” a young lady.  Every month, I had to remind myself, as menses grew near, that my excessive anxiety, fearfulness, and general feeling of “being on-edge” was a physical condition that I had to manage for a week out of every month. It occurred to me that this was one quarter of my life.

One day I took my rather expensive camera and set it on a tripod in the backyard.  I arranged my chair across from it and, with a cable release, took a series of self-portraits in the various moods I might experience during a month. Between takes, I would change my outfit and earrings to convey different days.  These became my PMS calendar.  My art was never a commercial success.  However, this calendar was somewhat popular with beauty shops, and even gynecologist’s offices.  One day I was shopping for groceries and a woman ran up to me and said, “I know you! You are on the ceiling of my GYN’s exam room.”

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