This issue is packed with happiness: How to wear the wittiest surprise-sexy trend of the season, basketball shorts; accessories abloom with 3-D and 2-D flowers; outfit-making umbrellas (!); a recipe for turning Easter’s best carb, hot cross buns, into hot cross bunnies. And, of course, the definition of joyful modern chic: Diane Kruger embodying spring’s fresh take on lovely classics. But I find these days that the nitty gritty of real, felt experience can be as welcome a pleasure as looking at pretty things and people. So I was floored with a sense of gratitude for “Bloody Mess,” Liz Allemang’s response to the news that extreme PMS, known as PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder) has gained official mental illness status in the DSM-5, psychiatry’s bible. How generous of this writer to open up about her largely private monthly tornado. As someone with powerful moon times (as a FLARE staffer once called them, to my delight), I found identification and relief reading about her attempts to front at work and with friends while her mind went chaotic.
These days, though, my symptoms have been tempered by the miraculous chemical alchemy of breastfeeding. I now know both what life is like managing the cyclical dive into the dark, and I’ve experienced the wonderful freedom of being able to rely on a more or less consistent self. The latter is far easier, I assure you, and it is only from this perspective that I can make the following statement: If PMDD is going to be pathologized, there is a profound value in it that needs to be accounted for as well.
Troubles crop up with Allemang when she has to interact with society: get dressed to go out, maintain the pace. It was the same for me. But I found on those rare occasions when I could make my own schedule, I’d have a different response. When the 3 a.m. insomnia hit, I’d get out of bed and read or write, then sleep again from 7 a.m. until noon and exercise shortly upon waking (at a mello tempo). Instead of eating junk, I’d crave local produce—the colours of which would pulse into a psychedelic, lit-from-within dream as I sautéed. I’d finish an overdue heartfelt letter, sew on missing buttons. Humbled by my fragility, I saw all human enterprise with empathy. It wasn’t a dysphoria, it was a euphoria.
For Spring 2013, Sarah Burton brilliantly added the bee to Alexander McQueen’s skull as another house motif. Her honey-drenched show buzzed in my ears as we hummed along on this issue. A society run by a queen. As Wing Sze Tang notes in a sidebar to her profile of the Burt’s Bees founder, honey bees are at risk. I’ve heard we wouldn’t be able to survive if they become extinct, so essential is their pollinating prowess to our food chain. Sure it’s an extrapolation, but sometimes I wonder if it isn’t all connected. A world that won’t adjust its pace to nature’s cycles, that classifies our moon time but doesn’t listen, puts itself in peril. I’m not suggesting women should rule the hive and men should be our drones (or am I?). But maybe we can learn a few lessons from our tiny matriarchal friends. As spring cycles one more time (phew!) please consider our April FLARE an offer to slow down, escape, and savour your feminine truths.