You never know how new art forms will impact you. For the longest time I avoided jazz because I thought it was inaccessible and a little bit exclusionary, but that all changed when I sat down with an open mind, put on some Coltrane, and let myself be moved. And moved I was because I listened to jazz just once and now my period cycle is unpredictable and largely improvised.
Like they say, jazz is all about what happens between the notes. And now, so is my period.
The improvisational style of much jazz lends itself to a kind of music that feels alive: always breathing, changing, adapting. In jazz, you never know what’s coming next, and since I listened to it, I never know what’s coming next with my menses, either. Just as the horn players of a great jazz band playfully bounce off of one another, reaching for unexpected notes, so too does my period playfully bounce from light to heavy days with no regard for the “rules” of a more traditional cycle.
Most songs start and then continue with a series of verses, choruses, and perhaps a bridge, but as I learned the one time I listened to jazz music, it’s different with the true American art form. A song might start, have a lot of loud music noises, then be quiet for a while only for more sound to happen later. It’s unpredictable, frightening, and never dull. The same can be said of my uterine lining, which, since giving my ear to jazz music, seems to answer to no one and no law of nature. Beginning, middle, and end are just words, and my body is teaching me that every day while blood comes out of my vagina at the most unexpected times.
You never know where jazz is going. Think it’s over? Surprise! It isn’t. My own period is sort of the 13-minute jazz song of menstrual cycles. It’s long, it’s finding its way as it goes, and including it in sex is an acquired taste.
So though my unpredictable and largely improvised period has destroyed all of my underwear and more than one couch, I’m grateful for it. And if Emma Stone wants to star in a movie about it, this time that’s fine!