An Open Letter to McNeill-PPC to Continue Production of o.b. Tampons–or Next Week Is Going to Be One Bloody Mess

The following is a letter I just wrote to the makers of o.b. tampons, my tampon o’ choice for the 5 days of every month that suck the most for me (and Chris).

However, when I tried to submit my comment to McNeil-PPC, Inc., it kept giving me an error message stating that “Special characters are not allowed,” which I can only assume means ANY alpha-numeric character, because I went back through my letter and removed everything that might ostensibly be considered “special”–i.e., dashes, a % sign, a couple of //, all paragraph breaks, etc.

Clearly I will just have to mail this letter to them.  But I’m posting it here because I’m angry–forgoddess’s sake, I’m pre-menstrual and extremely annoyed at the company right now–and because I’m tired of people nagging me about making a new blog post.  Apologies if you’re squeamish about such things.

Anyway, without further ado, may I present my open letter to o.b. tampons:

Dear McNeil-PPC, Inc.–

I am about 3 days away from my period, and I cannot find o.b. tampons ANYWHERE.  I have looked at Wal-Mart, Target, and Walgreens, and I’ve looked at online drugstores and even

Where are they?  Why aren’t you selling them?  I have used o.b. tampons since MY VERY FIRST PERIOD 24 YEARS AGO. That’s an estimated 5,760 tampons over the course of my life.  Assuming I hit menopause the same time my Mom did (and she used o.b. too)–at age 55–that’s another 4080 o.b. tampons I’ll use.  If that’s not product loyalty, what is?

I have read blogs online, and women everywhere are discussing this.  One blog even quoted a response you made saying that o.b. tampons ultra were being discontinued for “manufacturing updates.”  I don’t know what “manufacturing updates” means.  What about your product needs to be updated?  It’s been fine all the years I’ve used it.

I don’t want to use an applicator.  It adds landfill waste; it’s awkward; and it’s hard to conceal.  I sure as hell don’t want to use a Diva Cup–I’m not that envrionmentally enlightened.  Moreover, o.b. is perfect the way it is–I can tuck it in a pocket, in a wallet, even in a lipstick holder.  It’s practically invisible to carry–and to use.

It fits.  It works.  And I need you to recognize that you have loyal customers who count on o.b. to get us  through a painful, cranky, generally icky week every month. I can–almost–forget I’m having my period, because I am secure that my trusted o.b. tampon will come through for me.

Tell me how I’m supposed to survive the next 2 decades of my life without o.b.?  Why are you condemning me to finding some other product which will inevitably disappoint me?

Don’t you care about women any more?  Don’t you care that women have the most buying power?  Don’t you care that you don’t even have to advertise your product because you have so many, many loyal women supporters?

I’d even be willing to pay a premium upcharge to get o.b. tampons.  Raise the price by 50%–I guarantee you, I (and other loyal o.b. users) will gladly pay.

I am submitting my plea to your company to continue production of o.b.  Please.  I will be calling on Monday, and I am going to be posting this letter on my blog,

Believe me, I am not looking forward to experiencing my first period in three days without o.b., and I’m angry that even on your o.b. website, you have not addressed why women can’t find your tampons.

An explanation about this tragedy on your website would be nice.  Restocking the drugstores with o.b. would be even better.  Show that you care about your customers, show that you support women, and BRING O.B. TAMPONS BACK ASAP.

JC Reilly


And, in other news, I’m reading at the First Annual Poetry Day at the Atlanta Writers Club tomorrow.  (So you see, this post wasn’t just about my time of the month–I managed to tie in poetry.)

She on Honey-dew Hath Fed

Because of the hard freeze after the snow last night, there is a good bit of ice on the roads, and Georgia Tech, in its infinite wisdom (and, as a great morale booster after the obnoxious furloughs last month), decided to delay opening campus until noon.

That was very nice, but I was planning on staying home to work today anyway because my office, with its one 100% busted heater and its other 87% busted heater, has been like Superman’s frozen Fortress of Solitude this past week.  (I suppose, to be more poetic, I might have compared it to Coleridge’s “sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice!” but my office is neither a pleasure-dome, nor sunny, though the caves of ice bit is real enough.  Anyway, the week before school, my office is pretty solitudinous.)  Then, I just happened to go back to the GT website, and lo and behold, they’ve closed the campus for the day.  So, ta-da!  We have a genuine snow day.

Despite a rejection I just received, I’m feeling especially inspired to write today.  Chris just said of the snow on the ivy, “It looks like tiny little white flowers, doesn’t it?”  And it does.  When I lived in Nebraska, an inch of snow would be de rigueur, and people would practically walk around in shorts.   Here, an inch of snow closes down the city, and I find myself looking out the window in my sunroom at the “tiny little white flowers” and the sun through the kudzu-covered pines and feeling a lightness in my heart that I haven’t felt in a while–and a desire to write about the wind, and the black birds thronging the trees in the distance…

Speaking of “Kubla Khan,” I just read the last few lines (which I love, love, love) out to Chris and commented that they (meaning the Romantics) really knew how to use sound.  And he said something that was really insightful (don’t be so shocked, Bob!)–“That’s because they didn’t have the white noise that we do.”  And I think that’s absolutely right.  I don’t think poets use sound to its best effect any more–the musicality of poems just doesn’t seem to be there.  And I am as guilty as my other poet peers.

I’m not saying we need to go back to rhyme, although I’ve been noticing a trend lately where rhyme is becoming retro-cool, but where is the music in poems these days?  Why aren’t poems as sonorous as they used to be?  Why have alliteration and consonance and repetition fallen from favor?  (Assonance is perhaps the last hold-out of sound–I know, for instance, with the DYPS, Blake is always looking for ways to repeat vowel sounds in his poems and ours, and I appreciate it.)

I think, in some ways, white noise really has dulled our ears.  We are inundated with the sounds of “progress” and technology, and so maybe we don’t want to have to hear anything else.  As a culture, maybe we’re all a bit ADD.

Anyway, the approach to poetry has shifted.  Because it’s become a reading activity, as opposed to a hearing activity, writers place less emphasis on how a poem sounds, and more on how it looks on the page.  The only time we ever hear poetry out loud is at a “reading”–a formal space where the Poet (TM) delivers a set of her poems to a passive audience, and who then offers her books for sale, so the poems might be read silently, in the privacy of the audience member’s own home.  It’s not really a communal activity any more…  Maybe I’m waxing nostalgic for the pre-industrial days (you know, like 200+years ago, when none of us were around) when families and friends sat in their drawing rooms or libraries and read poetry to each other.  (Although, perhaps that is an idealized image, brought on by watching too many Jane Austen movies.)

Anyway, I blame academic poets for this shift.  Since poetry on the page is more important than poetry out loud, poetic musicality is passe.  I think my fellow academic poets (and me, to an extent) are afraid to use some of those literary/ sound devices for fear of being thought quaint or, Goddess forbid, Longfellow- or Poe-esque.  (Eep!  Can’t have that.  Our collective response to that thought–it must be said–is “Nevermore.”)

About the only place where I consistently hear poetry that pays attention to the way the words sound is at the quarterly Georgia Poetry Society meetings–and these aren’t academic poets by a long shot.  Now, many, many of those poems sound bad–they use rhyme, meter, and repetition criminally.   I won’t lie.  But for the ones that are well done, the attention to sound really elevates the work in a way that I always find surprising–which tells you how infrequently I hear poems that are written to please the ears.  Those are the poems you want to hear out loud, could listen to more of.

We academic poets could learn from that, but we fear, we fear, we fear.

CVWC Recap

Friday afternoon and all day Saturday, I was at the Chattahoochee Valley Writers Conference in Columbus, whose focus is both to celebrate the literary heritage in the area (i.e. Nunnaly Johnson and Carson McCullers), and to engage and develop the literary talent of the future.  I’ve attended all three years, not only because I have several friends who live there, but also because I find workshops to be energizing and creatively rejuvenating.  I long for the days of the Sewanee Writers Conference and the Kenyon Writers Workshop, which were both extended retreats, but these days I have neither the money or the time (off from work) to go to such things, so I have to make do with CVWC and other little minicons when I can.

Jill McCorkle was the keynote speaker on Friday night.  She was just as pleasant and delightful as she was when I met her at Sewanee, but I confess to being disappointed that she read her prepared speech instead of partially extemporizing (because she’s pretty funny), or honestly, just reading her fiction.

It was amazing–sometimes I was really engaged in what she was reading, about memory being fluid and the importance of reconnecting to your emotional core, and then other times her damn monotone zonked me right out.   CVWC was incredibly lucky to get her–she sort of squeezed us in because an old high school friend of hers was on the steering committee, but she was really on her way to some other literary festival to promote her books–and she stayed through the dinner afterwards, although I wasn’t at her table.

Of the dinner at one of Columbus’s “finer dining establishments” (finer my ass), I will say only that it was awful, and that I complained bitterly on the evaluation.  Although, to be fair, the company I was sitting with was great.

Saturday, I attended four workshops:  one of family history and genealogy which really isn’t my thing, but the other things being offered were of even less interest to me; Nick Norwood’s poetry workshop, which was better than his one last year, but again, he really didn’t say anything at all about my poem, and there was hardly any discussion about it at all (less than the one I sent last year, and there was 2 words about it last year), unlike on EVERYONE ELSE’S who got at least several comments both from him and from the class–that kind of pissed me off, but whatever; Clela Reed’s poetry workshop which was nice because for one thing, there weren’t a cast of thousands in it, and for another, she let us do some writing and this morning I turned it into a poem; and last, but not least, Karen McElmurray’s memoir workshop, which was a delight at all points.

I had met Karen the night before when Linda (with whom I was staying) and I picked her up and drove her around Columbus.  I don’t care what anyone (Chris) says, Columbus is not an armpit–it is a lovely town that I wouldn’t mind living in.  We looked around the historic district, Linda stopping at all the historic marker signs so we could read them, and it was just a nice drive.  Afterwards, we attended the keynote address, and then we went to the horrid restaurant, but I got to sit with Karen M.   She seemed like a really open and generous person, and fundamentally positive about things, though hearing her talk about the subject of her memoir Surrendered Child–having to give up her baby that she had at 16 to adoption–you know that she has had a difficult life.  I would have bought it at the book fair at the end of the conference, but she asked me to get her second novel instead, The Motel of the Stars, and write a review of it on Amazon when I’m finished.  I told her I would.

We also went to the same sessions while she was waiting for hers, which was the last of the day.  And in her session about memoir, she offered us lots of book titles to check out, opportunities to read aloud some texts she brought with her, and gave us some directed writing to do.  She also said that if we develop what we started in her class, she would be happy to read it.  This is always a generous offer, because as all writers know, if you’re reading someone else’s work, you’re not writing your own.  Maybe she wouldn’t make this offer if she weren’t on leave this year–but I might return to what I started in there.  I’m always interested in memoirs, even if I don’t have the attention span to really write one.  (Hence, maybe this is why many of my poems are narrative, but more on that later.)  Karen was just such a nice person.  I would like to cultivate that acquaintance and make a new friend.

I also bought Clela’s book Dancing on the Rim, which I had been meaning to get since she debuted it at the July GPS meeting.

I was glad I went, although the drive back in torrential rain was at best, annoying, and at worst, terrifying.  And then when I got home, Chris had gone out to a party, and didn’t return until midnight, when I was long asleep.

Art, Poems, and Art-Poems

On Saturdays, I really need to get out of the house for a few hours, otherwise I begin to root to the couch, and get all depressive.  So today my husband Chris and I went to lunch at Desi Spice, one of our favorite haunts, and then we went to a shopping center in Buckhead that has a Kroger Fresh Fare, which is like the Whole Foods of Krogerdom (although we spit on WF’s anti-union, anti-worker policies).  A World Market and a Binder’s art supplies store are there as well.

We looked at art supplies first and were blown away.  The whole store is underground (basically, under a good chunk of the shopping center) and Chris and I went hogwild.  I’ve been wanting to paint some kind of blue-heavy painting or beach scene for the guest bedroom (which is the only place in this house that isn’t decorated in red), so I needed some supplies anyway.

And since about 85% of my worldly possessions, including all my art supplies, are still in a storage unit in Lincoln, Nebraska, I “had” to buy new.  I bought acrylics and canvasses; Chris bought some lovely colored pencils.  (We went to Michael’s to buy brushes because I knew there would be some inexpensive ones there–as much as I love sable brushes, I just couldn’t justify dropping $150 in brushes alone, although I did see some real beauties at Binder’s.)

Tomorrow I will do some painting, maybe some studies for the large canvas I bought.  As soon as we got home, I had visions of mixing paints and “getting all creative,” but alas, my duty was to poetry.

Which is ok, because I did get some work accomplished.  Day 17 is written, and considering it’s only 5 days past due and I should be deeply ashamed of my tardiness, I’m rather impressed with it.  The postcard is of Bertel Thorvaldsen’s statue Il Pastorello (why is the title of a Danish picture in Italian?), which is known everywhere else except on the back of the postcard as Shepherd with a Dog (1817).  So I entitled it “Pastoral” (that was a stretch, huh?) and it’s basically about the boy waiting on the tree stump to be relieved of his shepherding duties for the night.  It’s not great art, but I like it–maybe because of its simplicity.

My Day 18 poem, only three-quarters written, is based on German photographer Herbert List’s 1937 work, Greece.  I’ve been putting off writing about it until today, even though I kept coming back to it.  I mean, it was interesting to me, as b&w photography always is, but I couldn’t find a “way in,” if you know what I mean.

 It’s just a bare-chested guy with some phallic columns behind him.  What kept drawing me to the photo, however, was how disproportionately large the man in the foreground appears, compared to the columns.  That was what intrigued me more than anything–that the perspective was weird.  Not that (as usual) I have any language to talk about art, but the picture is visually striking because the man is so large.  I think the reason the poem isn’t quite done is that I’m still not sure what I want to say about it–I’m coming up against that age-old test of whether or not a poem is worthwhle, the “so what” question.  It seems dumb to write a poem about a man being big.  Hopefully tomorrow I will be able to come up with a pithy-yet-deep couple of last lines that makes the poem work.

In other news, I received word from Slapering Hol Press that I was not their 2009 chapbook winner.  But hey, as a contestant, I can buy the winning chapbook for the incredibly reduced price of $2 off!   Whoopdee do.  Can they afford it?  I like the chapbook contests that actually give you a copy of the winner for free.  It’s a nice consolation prize.

Oh, well, off to bed.