I’m trying to get into Twitter.  It seems like all the cool kids are doing it.  I got an account (mrs_abbywhatsit), but I really haven’t been active on it.  Then it occurred to me today that it might be a good place to put all of those random thoughts that occur to me throughout the day that I have no one to tell because I’m home by myself.  So, I’m going to try it.  We’ll see how it goes!


I have a relatively minor problem that has been eating me up inside for the last couple of weeks and I have finally decided to bring it to the blog, if only to just get some thoughts down somewhere about it.

Several months ago, I signed up for Science Online 2010, aka the science blogging conference, even though I’m not as into science blogging as I once was.

See, I have this problem.  I have no idea what I want to do with my life.  Nothing sounds good.  Things that once interested me, such as science education and outreach, have little appeal for me these days.  But then, nothing really appeals to me anymore.  I think, I hope, that it is a lingering symptom of the depression.  That possibility is more appealing to me than the idea that I have completely lost all the ambition I ever had.

Related aside:  This complete lack of ambition and motivation is distressing.  Wait, that’s too mild a term.  It is completely, absolutely one of the most fucking upsetting things ever in the worst possible way and makes me cry buckets everytime I think about it which is frequently.  Like right now, for instance.  It also makes writing my thesis terribly challenging directly and indirectly.  Since I’ve lost all of my ambition, I have no ambition to get a PhD and I have no ambition to get a job which means I have no use for a PhD which reinforces my lack of ambition to finish my PhD.  Frankly, just about the only thing motivating me to write my thesis at the moment is the horrifying thought of telling everyone who knows me that, despite being less than one hundred pages and one public talk and one private grilling away from getting my PhD, I have just up and quit.

Right, back to my dilemma.  So, you would think that, what with not being interested in science outreach, education, or just science in general (or anything at all for that matter), I would not want to go a conference about science online and science education and science journalism.  But, since I’m not interested in anything at the moment, I am holding out hope that one day I will again find things interesting and one of those things will be science outreach and education and in the event of that happening, it would behoove me to go to this conference.  In fact, I have been hoping that this conference would spark something in me and I would start to feel jazzed about science stuff again.  I am hoping that this conference will revitalize me and I will once again be a person who cares about science and outreach and education.

So, what’s the problem?  Money.

Ever since I found out I will need to pay tuition for my last quarter, I have been freaked out about money.  This has gotten worse due to medical expenses and being unsure of exactly how much our insurance will pay and there is a high deductible.  And, of course, going to the conference is an unnecessary expense (I’m paying for it out of my own pocket, of course).  So, now I wonder if I should be going or not, knowing that I have no real interest in any career at all and maybe once I do have an interest in a career, it won’t be science-related (though, logically, that seems unlikely).

So, I worry.  I think about whether or not I should be going to the conference every morning when I wake up and every night when I go to sleep (if you think I’m exaggerating about that, I assure you I am not).  I am filled with anxiety because I know that if I am going to cancel I need to have done it yesterday because there is a waiting list for people to attend.  If I cancel, it will still cost some money because it will cost money to change my airline tickets.  And, if I cancel, I will lose this opportunity to potentially become revitalized.

If I don’t cancel, then, of course, it will cost more money than if I do cancel.  My husband assures me that we can afford for me to go to the conference.  I should just accept this.  He handles the money matters in the marriage and he’s very money conscious (which is why he handles the money matters; please no comments on whether it’s appropriate for a liberated woman to allow her husband to handle all of the money concerns for her, I have enough to deal with).  So, I should just believe and trust him and stop worrying, but I can’t quite bring myself to do that.  What if there is an unexpected medical expense and our insurance won’t cover it?  What if there is a problem with the car?  What if we get pregnant and we need the money for the baby because, well, babies cost money?  What if we really should put that money into savings or a retirement fund because I have almost no money set aside for retirement and when I get to be 65 I have no money to live off of because I never was able to get a job because I never recovered my ambition and there’s no family to take care of me because we were never able to have kids?  What if I go and I have a horrible time and I have so much anxiety, I can’t leave my hotel room?  What if I don’t go and I never recover my ambition and I always wonder if I could have been revitalized by the conference?  What if I go and regret it?  What if I don’t go and regret it?  What if, what if, what if???????  The What Ifs become more and more far-fetched and unrelated but they just keep popping up in my mind over and over and over again until I go crazy from it.  Literally.

So, I worry.  Should I go, should I not go?  Every night.  Every morning.  Most afternoons.  I make a decision and then am immediately filled with so much anxiety that it’s the wrong one, I think I’m on the edge of a panic attack.  So, I have to calm myself down by not thinking about it.  But, I have to think about it because if I’m not going to go, I need to tell someone now.

God, I am so screwed up.  Somebody stop the crazy train.  I would like to get off it.

Of moxie and mangoes

I loved all of your suggestions for an appropriate substitute for “balls.”

Mad Hatter: I agree with you that Boobs doesn’t quite cut it. Besides which, if I said, “I don’t have the boobs to….” inevitably the person I’m talking to is going to glance at my boobs. I think it would be unavoidable. And I prefer if people do not stare at my boobs (“Hello! My face is a little higher up than that! I promise you if you look me in the eye, the boobs are not going to disappear so there is no need to scrutinize them that closely?).

ecogeofemme: I think ‘nads does just refer to male organs, at least that has always been my impression. However, since it’s short for gonads, it’s not inherently gender-specific. I think this may be a good alternative.

propter doc: I think “stones” would also be a good alternative as would “guts.” “Mangoes” is amusing and I would like it except that I think it would be interpreted as breasts (it’s a round(ish) fruit–it’s inevitable I think) and then I’m back to not wanting people to stare at my breasts. But, perhaps I could use it around women and not be in danger of them staring at my breasts.

PhysioProf: I think I like “moxie” the best out of all of the suggestions. It’s a fun word, a bit feminine (I don’t think you would ever say a man had moxie) and conveys the general connotation I’m looking for. It doesn’t have the vulgarity factor that “balls” has but I’m pretty much resigned to the fact that I will never find an acceptable gender-neutral or feminine equivalent to balls (you know, that I would be capable of actually saying.

Bora: I think your Serbian version comes a close second to moxie. But, I think it would sound better with the Serbian word rather than “eggs.” How do you pronounce “jaja” anyhow?

VWXYNot: Testicular fortitude. HAHAHAHAHA!!! I think I would giggle every time I said it.

Jenny: I think I would laugh if somebody told me I have OVES. Btw, I googled Oves and came up with this. Probably not what that person was thinking of.

Geeka: Illustrating fallopian tube location is probably better than him trying to point out where the vas deferens is (don’t, I beg of you, google vas deferens–you get some disturbing images).

Euphemistically Speaking

This evening, while walking home I was writing a blog post in my head (I do this a lot–most of them never make it to the computer because I don’t have the time to type them up) (that is probably weird, perhaps I shouldn’t have admitted to that) and I got to the point where the following phrase would be perfect:

“But I don’t possess the balls to go up to some famous, important person….”

At this point, that blog post stopped and turned into this blog post (maybe I’ll write that post some other day) because I started trying to come up with a way to say the above without using the word “balls.” It is the perfect word for that phrase except for one small problem.

I don’t have balls.

(Unless, of course, you count balls of yarn of which I have many, some of which are quite large and all of which are pretty hairy.)

(I can’t wait to see the trackbacks I get from this post.)

Now, I realize that a person is speaking figuratively when they say that they don’t have the balls for X thing. And, there’s no reason I can’t use the same phrase figuratively. Except that it feels wrong somehow. It doesn’t ring true. It doesn’t have the same bite to it as it would if a man were saying it. And there’s no good female equivalent. “Ovaries” might be the the biological equivalent, but it just doesn’t work as well. It’s too clinical. Too nerdy. It has too many syllables. Other words for female genitalia are no better (and besides which, it makes me uncomfortable to use the more vulgar ones).

(At this point, Zuska would probably say something very clever and profound about gender and society and how the slang for testicles is associated with courage, but that slang for female genitalia is associated with dirtiness and foulness and how this provides insight into how society views men and women and their purposes and worth and so on, but I don’t really feel like I can do that justice, so I’m just going to continue on with my search for the perfect euphemism.)

So, what are the alternatives?

Like I said, “ovaries” just doesn’t have the same zing to it, though I often use it when I’m talking to other women. I’m fond of the word “chutzpah” (Yiddish words are very satisfying to say; I think it has something to do with the way they often start in the back of the throat and get spat out). Yet, it doesn’t have the same impact as “balls” which has a certain amount of vulgarity associated with it, leaving you with the impression that the speaker has a certain amount of chutzpah just for using the word. Other words that are commonly used in that particular phrase are simply other euphemisms for testicles (kahunas for instance).

“Nerve,” “daring,” “arrogance,” are all boring and unsatisfying.

I want something clever, something with pizazz, something with impact factor. Something that gives people the same feeling as “balls” but not so, you know, masculine.

Does such a word even exist?