Tuesday, November 18, 2008

On 30

I recently received a forwarded e-mail containing a "poem" attributed to Maya Angelou called 30 Things Every Woman Should Know by 30. I usually delete that forwarded clap-trap immediately, but as the momentous birthday approaches, I decided to see what it had to say. As I read, I became suspicious that this was not in fact the wisdom of Ms. Angelou. Some light Googling revealed that it was actually an article by Pamela Redmond Satran and first published in Glamour magazine. The actual article 30 Things Every Woman Should Have and Know by the Time She's 30 is worth the two minute it takes to read. Some of the items seemed a little cliche or sexist even, but it made me think about what advice I'd give on the subject...

By 30 you (or I...) should be able to:
1. Change your own tire, set up your own home wireless network, do your own taxes, and put together your Ikea entertainment center without having to call a brother, father, or boyfriend.
2. Dine, travel, or see a movie alone without feeling self-conscious.
3. Coherently articulate your position on the political/social/religious issues that are important to you without simply regurgitating what influential people in your life believe.
4. Cook at least one signature dish extremely well and contribute it to family gatherings.
5. Get what you want from a customer service rep without crying or having your mother call for you.

By 30 you (...I) should have:
1. Relationships with people (family, friends, significant others) that you know you can count on.
2. Clothes that are age- and body-appropriate...remember, great style evolves.
3. A 401k, savings account, and checking account that you contribute to more regularly than you withdraw.
4. An new outlet for that creativity, athleticism, or whatever that you haven't had since high school or college.
5. A tentative plan for the future...When someone asks you where you see yourself in 10 years, have an answer, even if that answer changes over time.

By 30 you (...I) should know:
1. The past, good or bad, doesn't define you now. It's what you're doing right now that matters, so don't live in the past.
2. What you're looking for in a job and a relationship so you'll know a good thing when you see it.
3. How to say no gracefully.
4. How to be alone and be completely entertained by your own company.
5. When to trust your gut instincts...which, by the way, is almost always.

By 30 you (definitely I) should try:
1. Living alone.
2. That food you refused to touch when you were a kid.
3. Exercising twice as much as you did before your metabolism turned on you.
4. Reading more books...maybe even some nonfiction ones
5. To make "you" time regardless of how crazy your day is...if you can't give yourself at least 30 uninterrupted minutes a day, who will?

That's just my .02. I'll be honest--I'm more excited than apprehensive about turning 30. Maybe it's true that life begins at 30...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

From the Blogosphere...

There would have been a time when I would have been loathe to admit that my daily intellect is sustained by a large variety of blogs I read regularly, even more than those listed in my blogroll. But I'm not ashamed. The blogosphere had evolved from merely a forum for ignorance (although it has it's fair share of that too) to a place where thoughtful people are exchanging ideas, really talking through ideas with each other. When I don't have the heart to write, their words inspire me to at least compose responses in my head. Lately, I've been immersed in reading (and sometimes tentatively participating in) philosophical discussions of social issues on a former professor's Facebook blog. I've commiserated with women discussing how difficult it is to meet and make friends with other women in your post-college years. I've been hooked on a fiction writing blog where three contributors chronicle the trials and tribulations of their fictional hero.

Today I was inspired by yesterday's post from one of the Glamour.com dating bloggers. Ryan Dodge wrote about what fictional characters he found inspirational. It got me thinking about the fictional heroines who inspired me from childhood and beyond, and what those characteristics meant to me. These are some of my favorites in no particular order...

1. Laura Ingals Wilder (of the Little House books)
2. Cadie Woodlawn (of a book by the same name)
3. Jo March (of Little Women)
4. Nancy Drew (of the old ones more so than the newer ones)
5. Molly (of the American Girl series, which I may or may not have been too old for at the time)
6. Claudia & Stacy (from the BabySitters Club books)
7. Elizabeth (from Sweet Valley High)
8. Elizabeth Bennett (of Pride & Prejudice)
9. Scout Finch (of To Kill a Mockingbird)
10. Edna Pontellier (of the Awakening)
11. Elinor Dashwood (of Sense & Sensibility)
12. Hermione Granger (of the Harry Potter series)
13. Offred (of the Handmaid's Tale)
14. Evie Decker (of Slipping Down Life)
15. Various (usually doomed) Shakespeare characters...Desdemona, Lady MacBeth, Ophelia, etc.

Other than the conflicted heroines of the adult books in the list, I think most of them share the same inspirational quality of independence, creativity, and ambition.

What about you (those of you who read)...Who are your favorites?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Basic Argumentation

Over the weekend, I read the article about Palin accusing Obama of "palling around with terrorists" because he and Bill Ayers, founder of the radical anti-war group Weather Underground, live in the same Chicago neighborhood and have served on a couple of the same committees and fundraising campaigns. I read similar articles on no less than six news sites and did some searching on my own. My conclusion was that while Ayers may or may not have done some extreme stuff in anti-Vietnam demonstrations in the 60's, charges against him were dropped, he's no longer in hiding, and he's a professor at U of I Chicago. Being board members together and socially cordial hardly seems like "palling around," and "terrorist" is a relative, inflammatory term in this case. In any case, this situation isn't analogous to, say, inviting the bin Ladens over for a 4th of July barbecue.

As I shut down my computer, I shook my head. In politics it seems like people can say anything they want, regardless of the veracity of their comments. Even when fact checkers uncover half-truths or total fallacies, the damage has already been done. The lie lives on in the mind of the average person as truth. How many people do you know that take the extra step to check the validity of the political commercials, debates, and speeches they've heard? A very sad few. Just once, I'd like to see arguments from either political party that would hold water in even a freshman composition class.

When I taught college writing courses, this was about the point in the semester that we started talking about their argumentative research paper. We spent a lot of time talking about what constituted a valid information source (i.e., not Wikipedia or your friend's blog) and how to analyze those facts to construct a solid argument. Inevitably we covered things like not twisting facts to support your agenda. We discussed how to respond to those who disagree with you and what constitutes an appropriate rebuttal. I responsibly taught them that a logical, valid argument doesn't indulge in ad hominem attacks, rely on straw man arguments and sweeping generalizations, or make irrelevant appeals (to fear, force, pity, etc.). I told the poor schmucks that this was the kind of critical thinking the professional world expected of them. Some of them were a little annoyed by the whole concept of logical argument and the extra time that would be consumed by weeding out those pesky logical fallacies. Why bother when one can build an entire political campaign (and an administration, come to think of it...) out of an array of artistically spun logical fallacies and outright lies?

Friday, October 3, 2008

Just a Note...

I watched the VP debate last night. And, I'll be honest...I expected a lot more excitement than it provided. I was surprised, though, that a few commentators were impressed by Palin's you-betchas, golly-gosh-darn-its, and precocious winking as having really connecting with "the people." What people?? As someone who is neither a "Joe-Six-Pack" nor a hockey mom, I found her wide-eyed, feigned ignorance (i.e., "Wow--I really am a Washington outsider because blah, blah, blah...") to be the ultimate play of the sweet, harmless female card. I didn't buy it for a second. Why?
Remember what we got last time we chose a leader based on his ability to play the good ole country boy language card? Surely America (even notoriously naive middle America) won't be fooled by that again!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Hey, Sarah...

As someone who writes frequently about feminist topics, I'd be remiss if I didn't at least comment on the Sarah Palin issue. Let's leave out the fact that I disagree with absolutely everything she believes in...Really, EVERYTHING...and stick to how I feel her nomination affects the role of women in politics. In answer to what someone (who clearly doesn't know me very well) asked, No, I'm not excited about the first Republican presidential ticket with a female vice-president nominee on it. Would I like to see more women in highly visible political roles? Absolutely. Qualified women. Trustworthy women. Women who can make it through an interview without sounding like bumbling idiots.

There were many other viable female McCain could have chosen if he was really interested in having a woman's perspective in the White House. John McCain's choice of Sarah Palin was nothing more than an attempt to gain some street cred with the right-wing conservatives for whom he wasn't conservative enough. Everyone knows that crowd will overlook a multitude of deficiencies of character and ability (see George W.) as long as he/she loudly proclaims a devotion to "God's will (a.k.a., ending reproductive choices, creationism in science classes, abstinence education, and keeping those gays in check). And in that regard, Palin fits the bill.

However, many of us have a tougher criteria for a candidate than that. For instance, I require someone with the knowledge base to handle the job. As she's proven every time she's been interviewed (and the McCain camp has done its very best to keep her quiet since), she has a very low level knowledge of big politics (and doesn't think well on her feet). Sweetheart, even I know what the Bush Doctrine is! And, when Katie Couric looks at you like you're an imbecile, clearly something's wrong.

While I'd love to see more women in high levels of politics, I can't stand to see those who have risen without deserving it. We've worked too long and hard to be taken seriously in politics to ruin all that with a vice-presidential nominee who's best quality is that she resembles Tina Fey...who'd make a MUCH better nominee by the way...She's picked up a lot more foreign policy doing Weekend Update than Palin apparently picked up governing a state with fewer people than many medium size cities.

Step down, Palin, you're making intelligent women look bad.

Friday, September 26, 2008


It's becoming a regular occurrence in the parking lot of my gym to find several cars parked at the ends of rows, making it difficult to even navigate the parking lot. This is not because the lot is full, mind you. There are tons of open spaces, just not the ones closest to the door. The handicapped parking spots were still open, so it couldn't be that some disabled person was desperate for a closer spot. In fact, I saw a very able-bodied, middle age man, pull his Suburban into one of these non-spots, hop out of the truck, and head for the door.

I find it amusing that if your intention is to go to the gym for the purpose of working out that you can't stomach the idea of walking a few extra yards to the door. Because that would be just way too much exercise...

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Do Me a Favor...

Don't bring your toddler to Starbucks. Really. Please.

I know, I haven't blogged in a month, and this is what I choose to discuss? I'm really just trying to avoid exploding into a ball of political fury between now and November.

Back to my current reality...it's mid-morning at Starbucks. The one with the cozy booths in the corner where I like to camp out for hours at a time. Someone was in my booth this morning, but all was going pretty well. Then came mommy #1. She apparently decided that feeding her one year old breakfast at Starbucks would be appropriate. He thought it would be appropriate to spit it back out and snatch the spoon away to throw on the floor...in all to close proximity to me and my laptop. "Hahahah, he's eleven months old and has just started doing this when I feed him," she said, not the least bit apologetic. Uhm, I didn't ask how old the little monsnter was...all I want is an oatmeal free laptop.
Then mommy #2 and #3 showed up...None of them knew each other previously, but all congregated next to my table to introduce their children to each other and compare impromptu mommy notes. I guess it's never too early to indoctrinate the next generation with our upper-middle class aspirations for daily $4-a-pop caffeine consumption.

It's been said I hate kids...Okay, maybe I've actually said that before. But, really it's not true. I enjoy (limited) time with the children of friends. I've even seen a cute baby or two lately and thought, "Maybe I should get one of those in the next decade or so." Granted, I say the same thing when I see a puppy, but still. It seems like a step. I just think there's a time and a place for small children, and I'm pretty sure that's not a Starbucks full of working professionals on their laptops. That's why they invented drive-thrus.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Just When I Thought I Was the Only One

I don't think I've ever mentioned it here...my great aversion to the shoe fashion travesty that is Crocs. I'm not talking about their kinda comfortable-looking flip flops. You know exactly the ones I mean...those horrible plastic/foam clogs. When were clogs ever a positive fashion statement anyway? I can't explain the reasoning behind my visceral reaction to them, but really, when I see people walking around in them, I kind of want to trip them, which would be easy enough to do in said footwear....

Today, however, I discovered that someone else hates Crocs as much (if not more) as I do! This Newsweek article is quick, funny read worth your five minutes. As much as I would like to reiterate how much I hate them now, the author did such a good job, there's really nothing left to say. I immediately checked out the website the author mentioned, I Hate Crocs Dot.com. While there are probably more worthwhile things to rail against in this world, I have to admire the dedication of this particular blogger to their cause of choice. What was funnier when I did the Google search for the I Hate Crocs site was the other blogs I found defending the wearing o' the Crocs with classics such as "Don't knock 'em 'til you've tried 'em." Got to love the blog-o-sphere.

My question is when are we going to take on the Ugg/shearling boot fad that just won't die??? I'm game when you are.

Monday, August 4, 2008

The Value of Girl Talk

Over the weekend, I got to catch up with one of my best girls one-on-one. Hot Mommy, as I like to call her, and I decided spur of the moment to meet at her house for a pizza & movie night. The movie part never happened...we got caught up in "girl talk." The next thing we knew it was almost midnight and we'd covered everything from relationships to politics to religion to friendships to careers to self-knowledge and back again.

I've known the Hot Mommy since she was a 19 year old non-mommy and we were both lowly hostesses at TGIFridays. We've been famous for our nearly life-changing convos ever since. Maybe it's because we're coming from similar life experiences. Maybe it's because we've been there to see each other's essential transformation into the people we are today. Whatever the reason, I leave those intensive conversations enjoying the emotional recharge that comes from spilling your guts and knowing that the other person totally got it.

By the end of the night, a theme had emerged. We've known each other a long time. Life has developed in ways we could never have expected. But the beauty of change is its power to transform us if we let it.

Friday, August 1, 2008

I Need to Get a Life

By "life" I mean a hobby. It's no secret that I'm very easily bored. I'm easily entertained but the entertainment factor never lasts long. So, I find myself searching for something new and fun to do. Specifically, I'm looking for something to do on weeknights, when I don't want to make plans with friends, on those nights that B. is engrossed by PS3 baseball, actual baseball, or eBay. Lately, I've been devoting lazy evenings to working on freelance editing projects. Umm, can you say nerd? Seriously, what do normal people do for fun???

I don't think any of my previous interests can rightly be labeled hobbies...
Reading...that's more of a pleasure than, say, a hobby.
Blogging is fun, but I don't want to do it after I've spent an entire day working in the world of words...not relaxing.
Volleyball...a little hard to play alone (and for reasons I don't want to join a league, please see below)
Yoga...Part of the fun of a hobby is getting better, and I'm as good at yoga already as I ever care to be.
Shopping...I could fill countless hours creating "looks" if someone wanted to finance it....yeah.
Karma...She really hates everyone and plays for about three minutes before she bites and runs away.
Watching television...who are we kidding here?? My brain is already reality tv rotten.

Before you pipe up with great suggestions for new hobbies, be aware that finding a hobby is more difficult for me b/c I have some very very specific criteria for what I am and am not willing to do in the name of fun.

1. I don't want to take a class in anything
2. I don't want it to be an exercise...I do enough of that on my own.
3. I would prefer an individual activity.
4. I'm not up for making anything (crafting, knitting, beading)
5. I don't want it to be a regular event I have to attend every single week.
6. I don't want to invest a ton of money in it.

I'm sure there are more, but that's where I'm at for now. From there, I tried to identify if any of my friends are into anything I'd like to do as well, but I discovered that:

1. I don't scrapbook (I'll never be that bored)
2. Cooking classes violate above stipulations 1, 4, and 5.
3. Rollerderby is cool to watch but not this pansy-ass's cup of tea
4. Watching sports or going to sporting events qualifies as torture rather than entertainment in my book.
5. I don't play video games.
6. Photography sounds like lots of fun, but I'm not up for buying all the equipment to do it properly.

I think the answer here is simple. A puppy would be a great hobby (or perhaps puppy ownership would be the actual hobby). Too bad they aren't allowed in our building. Anyway, I'm still looking.
What options am I missing? Any ideas?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Calling All Metaphors

I realized yesterday that I'm apparently in the wrong profession. I'm missing out on my very own opportunity to make millions.

It all started with a project I'm working on. It's basically a development course for our call center staff to teach them how to manage "difficult" callers. One section of the training is about recognizing bad behavior in a caller for what it is and learning to let it go. While I was writing that section, I remembered a bulletin I'd read on MySpace. It was a reprinted editorial some guy had written comparing people with bad attitudes to trash trucks. It was a little over the top, but I figured by this point in a day-long seminar, the students might be up for a little story time. So, I tracked down the author's email address and wrote to get permission to reprint his article, b/c you know how I feel about plagiarism...

What I didn't realize was this thing was WAY bigger than just an article in some newspaper. This guy had turned his metaphor into a whole organization devoted to promoting happiness through the power of "positive psychology." He even had a degree in it. So, after a million emails and one phone meeting, I receive the proposal...Yep, reprinting this story was going to cost money. I just had no idea how much. The proposal listed several options, the most expensive being a day-long seminar hosted by the author, all of which could be ours for just over a hundred grand. To reprint just the article? A couple thousand plus a yearly renewal fee.

Needless to say, we don't quite have the budget for that on this particular project. But seriously, this guy took a metaphor (which according to the article was part of a story that someone else told him), stretched it out (too far in my opinion), and turned it into a business where one speaking engagement can make him twice as much as I make working a whole year. How do I get in on this?

I'm clearly the one who's got it all wrong. I need a metaphor, and I need one fast!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Something I've ALWAYS Wanted to See

Yesterday, pushing my cart around a very crowded Schnucks, I got to see something I've only dreamt of. I got to see the annoying kid on roller-shoes (there's at least one in every store), the kid who nearly ran over my foot a few minutes earlier, biting it big time and skidding all the way across the aisle into the yogurt case. I giggled. Out loud. His mother gave me a dirty look. What? He was fine. No blood. No tears even. I'd have tripped him myself if I could. I hate those shoes almost as much as I hate Crocs. Almost...

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Saturday Night Notes

It's been a long time since I've been at home all by myself on a Saturday night, deep at the bottom of a Reisling bottle, with a deep desire to write, possible at Denny's drinking coffee at 2 a.m. Actually, I'm really watching Grey's Anatomy. I started viewing at the end of season three...the episode when Meredith "drowned" at the ferry accident. So, there's been a lot of backstory that I've had to guess on. So, on my vacation, I decided to begin at the beginning and rented season one. What I've discovered so far is that I had all of the backstory pretty much figured out, and even thought I will continue watching, I've never met a cast of characters I liked less. Especially, Meredith. And Izzie...and George...and Alex...and Shepherd. I do, however, like Yang. She's so over the top I believe it.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Waking Up Is Hard to Do

Today I'm back at my desk after a beautiful, sweet week of vacation. A much needed vacation. I could have dealt with another week off actually. Since that's not going to happen, I'm trying to transition back to work mode slowly...very slowly.

I didn't actually go anywhere on my vacation. I wanted complete and total relaxation, without the travel or returning home exhausted. Instead, I fully intended to spend last week blogging every day and catching up on my reading on a sunny patio somewhere. That didn't happen per se. I did work out almost every day, but the rest of my time was spent sleeping extremely late, shopping, and watching the first two seasons of Grey's Anatomy, since I started watching mid season 3. Whatever...I totally deserved it.

Right now I'm trying to figure out how to become independently wealthy and make every day a vacation day. I'll let you know how that works out.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

What's the City Without a Little Sex

**Spoiler Alert--I'm going to talk candidly about the movie, so if you haven't seen it, stop reading now**

While I didn't make it to the opening night of the Sex and the City movie (I was at the Eddie Izzard show downtown), I managed to roll into a theater on Saturday evening to view what I fully expected to be a theatrical monstrosity.

I tried to go in with an open mind. Open, as in, I was going to revel in the smorgasbord of designer clothes and shoes. In that respect I wasn't disappointed at all. Carrie's Vogue photo shoot for "Beauty at Any Age" is worth the price of admission alone, as is her impromptu fashion show in her closet. The wardrobe choices for all four characters were impeccable; their personal style was still evident but had matured with their characters.

Before I launch into my critique, let me say, my parting words walking out of the theater were, "Cheese-factor aside, I fucking loved it!" But, I think you can love something and still think it needed improvement...

One of the criticisms I'd read about the movie before I went was that the movie played like a season's worth of episodes projected on the big screen. That much was true. But that's what I liked best. I could almost imagine that I was curled up on my couch watching my favorite show, just like old times. After all Darren Starr is a television producer, not a movie producer. In fact, the places were the movie fell flat to me were the ones with dramatic music and dreamy cinematography. It felt fake, and I kept thinking, "Get back to the show already!"

The storyline was what concerned me most going in. The story lines that were most satisfying were those of Charlotte, Miranda, and Samantha. Theirs rang true. You could see how they got where they were. And, Charlotte, who used to be my least favorite character, has really become balanced and well-rounded, and ended up being one of my favorite parts of the movie.
It was Carrie's story that felt false in its melodrama. For starters, Chris Noth was totally phoning in his performance...there wasn't one gradation of personality in his character. Then, I couldn't believe that she and Big were really so drama free in the beginning. I couldn't believe the way either of them reacted at the wedding. And, if that scene was to be believed, I couldn't believe the way the movie ended. I also wasn't a fan of the addition of Jennifer Hudson as Carrie's assistant. The girl can sing, but she really needs to learn to deliver a line without assuming the, "I'm about to act" expression and reading it from a cue card. It was an unnecessary, distracting addition to the storyline.

My biggest gripes about the movie were philosophical ones. In Miranda and Carrie's relationship crises, the big "A-ha" at the end is both of them having to take responsibility for their (non-existent) role in the conflicts. Miranda has to learn to believe that she's somehow responsible for Steve's cheating before they can reconcile (What?! Really??), and Carrie has to come to the revelation that if she hadn't wanted such a big wedding, Big wouldn't have gotten cold feet and run away (Umm, if that's all it takes to scare him off...).

Then, when Samantha is unhappy in her relationship with Smith and turns to food to keep her from cheating with the hot neighbor, I wasn't a fan of the way her friends called her on the weight gain, which was then couched in the "It's not about the weight, Honey, but are you happy?" Nice message. Along with a thousand other messages that suggested that life was nearly over for these 40-year-olds, that one pushed me over the edge.

I also didn't like that Carrie's old friend Stanford was almost completely ignored. There's implication that maybe he and Anthony (Charlotte's friend) may have gotten over their hatred of each other and are (possibly?) hooking up. But other than, bit parts here and there, his story is non-existent. For a show that has always been so gay friendly, it seemed negligent that they avoided exploring the other side of love.

All in all, just like the original show I guess, it was full of mixed messages about female power, sexuality, and relationships. When I shared those misgivings with B., he said, "Well, that's where you went wrong...thinking too much. They didn't write that movie for smart women who think deeply about messages; they made it to make a buck off silly girls who will go to see anything with the Sex and the City label on it."

I'd just like to have the best of both worlds...a designer costume extravaganza and something thought provoking.

Friday, May 9, 2008

A Room of My Own

Growing up, my family lived in a small ranch house with one bathroom...for 6 people. I had my own room, though, and it became my oasis from the noise and activity. The walls were painted a soothing peach (that I'd never pick out now), and the decor was all pastel. I spent hours reading teen romance novels, writing in my journal, and listening to music behind those four walls. My little sisters were sure to try to sneak in and read said journal or listen in on my oh-so private and important phone calls, but all in all, it was where I went to be alone and soak in the silence.

Granted, living in an apartment, all the rooms can essentially be my own. In my digs in the hood, however, I never felt really at home. The apartment was old, and no matter how much I cleaned, it never felt sparkling. I and my sundry possessions were cramped in a tight space. I always felt a little claustrophobic.

Not so in the new place. The comment was made earlier this week, "What's your deal? I haven't seen you in this good of a mood in ages." I think it's all the space in this new apartment. I have room to wander around when I'm stuck on a writing project. There are tons of windows to let in the light. It's quiet--there's no marching band practicing in the parking lot. I can go for a walk at dusk without fear of getting assaulted. That would make anyone smile.

I've been here for one week, and I'm starting to feel at home. There are still boxes of various cables that I'm not sure attach to what. There's nothing on the walls yet, and the bike still needs to be put in the storage area in the garage, but all in all, I feel pretty moved in.

Take a look:

Look, no more yellow duckies! So very grown up.
Need some bedroom furniture now that I have room for it.
Yes, friends, that IS a dishwasher.
Livingroom furniture courtesy of Hadley.
My little writing/designing space in the office...decorations coming soon.

The outside of the building is pretty awesome too, but it's raining, and I don't feel like standing in the street in the rain to get a photo...

Friday, May 2, 2008

1/3 Done

Yesterday after work, we started moving the boxes that had been piling up around the apartment. Between B. and I, using only our cars, we made five trips to the new place, and managed to get most of the boxes over there in only one day. I still have half a closet of clothes left to go and various odds and ends that can't leave until we're ready to sleep there. I foresee another 3-4 trips this afternoon (in the rain...boo!). I can't wait until Sunday when we are basically done, and I can clean up the old place and decorate the new one.

When I rolled out of the bed this morning, I hurt like I had a 5 hour workout yesterday, which I guess technically I did. I foresee the need for LOTS of Advil and maybe even some of those heat patches for my back.

This just in: I'm OLD.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Numbers

Like any good math-phobe, I'm not a fan of keeping track of the numbers.
  • I'd rather just celebrate all birthdays in grand style and forget the number associated with it...especially this year.
  • I don't have any idea how many guys I've dated, made out with, etc.
  • I'm not the type to be able to report exactly how many calories I've consumed down to the 7 sour Skittles after lunch...that's no way to live.
  • I have only the vaguest idea how many miles I ran yesterday.
  • I have no idea how many hours a week I spend online or watching bad television...let's just say it's probably a lot.
  • I haven't balanced my checkbook...well...EVER.
  • I'm not even entirely sure how many pairs of shoes I own...also a lot.

But the biggest, baddest numbers in my life, I can't seem to shake. This past week, I've started packing my apartment, and the first order of business was to rid my closet of all the things I don't wear (ie, don't fit). I tried on pair after pair of pants--just to make sure. Sure enough, they were all still too snug. Damn.

That was hard enough. Then while I was cleaning out drawers and bookshelves, I ran across pictures from high school and college, where I was all rail-thin arms and legs. Even B. said, "Wow, you were so thin...and your boobs were so tiny." He meant this in a good way, as in "I like you better now." But, I still couldn't help wishing I could turn back the clock, if only to slip my ass into a size 4 again.

The thing is, I love my life so much more now than I ever did then. I wouldn't go back to high school or college even if I could. Even then, I worried about the numbers on the scale and my clothing tags and pinched little (possibly non-existent) rolls of fat and moaned about not being thin enough.

People always say it's not about the number on the scale but how you feel and look. I don't feel good about the way I look, and I haven't in awhile. Viewing myself as thin had been a part of my self-perception for a long time, and now that I look in the mirror and don't see that, some of my innate confidence has disappeared. I desperately want it back.

But don't know if my insecurity really entirely about how I look, or that elusive number I want to see when I try on a pair of jeans at the GAP.

I've made a deal with myself: Run a total of 50 miles by July 1, and I will treat myself to the pair of custom New Balance running shoes I've always wanted. You better believe I'm counting...

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

My 100th Blog

Part of me felt like I should save this 100th blog for something really special, but I can't do it (and really, shouldn't there be balloons and confetti like they have for 100th episodes of television shows?). I'm sitting in the sunshine at St. Louis Bread Co., drinking a soy caramel latte (no whip), supposedly writing for work. Spring has arrived in the StL at long last, and I couldn't be happier about it unless, of course, I stumbled upon a sale on shorts that wouldn't make Daisy Duke blush (and/or had the legs [and lack of shame] to pull them off). So, here I sit, actual writing to do, and I all I can do is: 1.) Make mental lists of things I need to do before I move...namely start packing. and 2.) Fantasize about my long weekend mini vacation...two more days.

My tiny apartment is filled to the brim with 2 years with of accumulated crap. Part of me really looks forward to the purge. Seriously. Clothes that don't fit that I wish might one day, books that sucked, cds that are an embarrassment to own, papers from graduate school and beyond (that also live on a USB drive), mangled cat toys, and a pleather couch that has seen better days--all of it hits the dumpster before I go. In conjunction with that, I also can't stop stalking CraigsList for great furniture deals to help fill my new, much larger apartment with pretty things. I foresee a definite nesting mode coming on. Exactly 8 days until I sell out on the hippie ideal of urban revitalization and move to Clayton. Frankly, I can't wait.

But on Friday morning, I'll leave all this behind for three beautiful days. In honor of our one year anniversary and our mutual love of the Decemberists, B. and I are roadtripping to KU to see Colin Meloy play and then spending the rest of the weekend hanging out in Lawrence and KC. Just having a day off work that doesn't include a doctor's appointment (or carrying heavy boxes come May 2nd-3rd) sounds like heaven. Now, if only the weather holds up.
PS: Who wants to feed my cat while I'm gone???

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

On 365 Days + Leap Day

Today is my one year anniversary with B. The funny thing is that it feels so much longer, and not in the interminable way. More like, in the time flies when you’re having fun kind of way.

I remember sitting facing each other on my couch, toasting our one month anniversary with champagne at 2 o’clock in the morning. I leaned in and asked, “No offense, but what’s the catch here. There has to be a catch, right? Things like this don’t just happen to me.” Turns out there wasn’t. Love just fell into our laps by chance, like most of the best things in life.

So, happy anniversary, B! To many more years together.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Freedom of Religion?

Amendments to the Constitution was not intended to be a new theme for this blog...
However, I was listening to Diane Rehm today; her guests were discussing the raid on a LDS compound in Texas and the removal of hundreds of underage children and women under allegations of abuse, physical, sexual, emotional and otherwise. As usual, she had guests from every side of the issue, including a man who thought this was nothing more than an attack on the LDS members' religious freedom.

It's a difficult line, discerning between protecting religious freedom and protecting the safety of those involved. Clearly, marrying underage girls ("spiritual marriage" or otherwise) to older men and forcing them to procreate is a form of sexual (and possibly physical) abuse. But, then there's the question of the "brainwashing" that goes on, convincing these children that if they don't do what they're told, if they question those in authority that they'll burn in hell. When does a parent's natural inclination to indoctrinate their children with their personal religious beliefs constitute abuse? Don't most devout parents go out of their way to immerse their children in their beliefs with the hope that it "sticks" when they are adults? When does the state have the right to step in on that? Is it abuse to instill a fear of retribution either by religious leaders in this world and/or by their god in the next?

Then there's the matter of the adult women who were removed. Another woman on the show, who runs what basically seemed to be a PR group to let people know that not all LDS members are nutty child abusers, was upset that people see these wives (underage and over) as abused when most of them are "happy" with their lives. It's a question I've asked myself a million times, how women whose culture or religion clearly oppresses them can live in that oppression without seeming to notice or feel it? Why do so few of those girls run away or report what's happening to them? The aforementioned fear? The genuine belief that they're doing the right thing and less than full freedom is the price they must pay to please god? Ignorance? Complacency? Brainwashing? A mixture of all of the above?

Just to play the devil's advocate for a moment though...
It's easy to demonize what's strange to the majority of us. It's easy to point at the LDS women or women who cover their heads/faces in compliance with their religion and talk about how they are being oppressed. But what about the subtler ways many religions and cultures sexualize females and then try to suppress them because of their perceived sexuality? I could give a hundred examples of these subtleties that were present in the religious atmosphere I grew up in, examples with the underlying premise of keeping a young girl from being a "whore" and other examples that were aimed at keeping a young girl in her place, firmly in the shadow of males. I couldn't stand it, but plenty of other women don't feel that way at all. Why the difference? How does that apply to what was happening on that compound in Texas? Granted the underage girls are below the age of consent, but what about the adult women who stay and subject their children to the possibility of abuse? Who's responsible for all of this?

It's a lot to think about.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Freedom of Speech

I hate forwarded emails (unless they contain pictures animals doing cute things--those I love). By nature they are full of misinformation masquerading to the masses as truth. Most of them are based on fear. I still check under my car when I'm walking out into a dark parking lot alone after reading the urban legend about the murderer who hides under women's cars and cuts their Achilles' tendon so they can't run away. Usually I just delete them, but every once in awhile I can't help myself.

I got one today about a supposed professor in Michigan who wrote a hateful letter to the Muslim association at that university for their protest of that over-discussed cartoon of Mohammad. It was of the "all Muslims are terrorists and hate Americans, especially Christians" variety, with the added bonus of citing the First Amendment free speech clause as support for the professor's letter. I rolled my eyes and pressed delete.

However, an hour or so later, I was gratified to see that one of the recipients respond to the group by reminding that the problem lies not with the average Muslim but with violent extremists, who btw come from all religions and cultures. Added to this response was also the First Amendment clause that ensures the right of the people to assemble peaceably.

It was a rare example of logic and thoughtfulness on the Internet. There aren't nearly enough of those...

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Reason #652 I Want to Move ASAP

The private school down the street from my building has a drum line that practices outside in the parking lot for an hour a day. As far as I can tell, they only know one song.
It really doesn't add anything to my work-from-home experience.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

My Two Cents

How is it that I don't want to do my writing for work, and all I want to do this morning is blog? Maybe I can write this off as a warm-up for the real writing to come later today...

I watched the video of Barak's speech yesterday on race in America. Words mean everything and absolutely nothing when it comes to politics, but whatever the outcome of the election, the man is an amazing orator. Maybe it's just the novelty of a politician who can pronounce all the words in his speech for once, who knows. To this thought, B., ever the incendiary, replied, "Yeah, so was Hitler." To which, belatedly, I reply, "And so was Bobby Kennedy." He went on to say that someone on NPR had worried that we "aren't allowed to say anything bad about him." There's plenty of room to criticize all three of the candidates, people just have to talk about real differences on the issues and not dismiss them based on sexist, racist, or even ageist attitudes that are so easy to throw out when we're too lazy to dig into the root of a problem.
Again, regardless of the outcome, it's a pretty exciting to live in a time in America when both a woman and a minority can be serious candidates for President. I cynically tend to believe that politicians can't really change anything and the best they can do is not make things worse, but I have to admit, the current state of affairs makes me hopeful.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A Change of Scenery

I just turned in my resignation letter...or something less dramatic (whatever you want to call the letter you give your landlord saying you aren't going to renew your lease). It felt good. I have hated this apartment pretty much since I set foot in it. And, I hate the management here almost as much. Yet, last year when the lease ran out, I was too lazy to pack up my many and varied belongings and schlep them somewhere new. No longer. I will pack, lift, and haul as many heavy boxes as necessary to get the hell out of here come May 30th.

And I'm done with the CWE...The area seems to be getting worse instead of better. No, I'm ready to sell out for the likes of Clayton or Brentwood. I want hardwood floors and a balcony/back porch. I want a second bedroom so I can have an actual home office. I definitely want a dishwasher and a washer/dryer combo. I want to trash my dumpy couches and get new furniture. I want to have room for a dresser and a dining room table. And, hope against hope, I'd love a yard in which to play with a puppy.

So long, hood...I'm ready to move on up to the west side.

PS: A shameless plug for my new favorite blog: Economy of Style. She's a fashion blogger after my own heart. Take it from someone who spends way too much time watching the Style network, she's awesome!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Bad Blogger, Very Bad

I know, I know. It's been ages since I've bothered to post.

I blame the new job...When I was an editor, I didn't feel like reading for pleasure after a long work day of, well, mostly reading. Now that I spend most of my days writing and designing web content, I can't say I feel like spending my free time blogging or even surfing the interweb (B.'s word). Even MySpace is suffering from neglect.

That said, I absolutely love my new job. It's challenging, and not in a way that I'll have mastered in six months like with editing. I can see this actually becoming a lifetime career/passion. Plus, I work from home (and am working to become the reclusive writer I've always dreamed of being) Yay me!

I have many a thought on my mind, but they'll have to wait for another time.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Things I Don't Need to See (But Sure Made Me Laugh)

I was foiled again by my lack of a Blackberry last night...

I had just arrived at Trendy Houlihan's in Brentwood. As I as gathering my things to head inside for my going away happy hour, I noticed the guy getting out of the car next to me. He dropped his scarf and leaned over to get it.

I did a double take.

No, not because he had an exceptional ass. Because I thought I saw something odd. I needed a second look.

And, yes, he did in fact have a tramp stamp tattoo. You know the one, the tribal design on the small of the back. The one made popular by uncreative girls everywhere. Girls...not men.

I gasped with glee and grabbed for my phone. But alas, my handbag is like a black hole for cell phones and once I found it, flipping it open and finding the camera button took too long. Mr. Tramp-Stamp was gone. I couldn't share my Don't spotting with the world...

I was left with many questions: 1. Did he know about this tattoo or was it a drunken prank? 2. Was I on a hidden camera show? 3. Did he in fact identify as female and perhaps even a "tramp"? 4. Is this the latest thing in men's tattooing (did I spot a trend and not a don't?)? I suppose I'll never know.

And, I apologize for lack of photo....really, it would have been great.

Thursday, January 17, 2008


I watched a new show yesterday online...it was Cashmere Mafia on ABC. I watched all three episodes available on the website and hated every minute of it. It's supposed to be network television's answer to Sex and the City or perhaps a nonsuburban, less lame Desperate Housewives. The premise? Four friends who met in business school are all high-power New York business women. They are powerful; they are winners. Except when it comes to relationships, with their husbands/boyfriends, with their children. In the pilot episode. One gets dumped because she's married to her job. One's fiance calls off the engagement because she beats him out of a new promotion. One has a husband who cheats because she's "as far removed from the idea of a wife he grew up with as one can be and still wear his ring and use his last name." The other one barely has time to deal with her passive husband, rowdy children, and delinquent nannies. The moral of the story? Women can't have it all.

That particular moral made me angry. You'd never see a show about four male friends who couldn't juggle their families and careers. Why is it only women who can't have it all? Aren't we past this yet? Yes, I get it...it's difficult to have a successful career, successful relationships, and successful family lives. But why are women the only ones who are expected to choose?

The part I hated most was how the show operated around tired stereotypes. The successful women were ice queens who ran their homes like boardrooms and the rich stay at home moms were out to ensnare their husbands. The men were even worse. If I were a man watching television, I would be angry that all the depictions of men are so uniformly negative. In this particular show, the men were wimps across the board, passive, intimidated, and insecure.

I once posited that we watch shows where we recognize parts of ourselves in the characters. For instance, I once thought of myself as a Carrie and my dysfunctional relationship as being like the one she had with Big. What a load of shit. But somehow, the level of dissatisfaction and dysfunction on this show reached a new low. I wondered who recognized themselves in these characters and who was secretly wishing her life would turn out like one of theirs. I just kept thinking, who are these people? I don't know anyone like them. And, I don't want to. If art is imitating life in shows like these where dysfunctional relationships are the norm, that's just depressing.

My True Nature

Someone asked me this morning what I would miss most about my job when I leave next week. I dutifully said I would miss my wonderful coworkers.

What I really meant was that I will miss having daily access to a Starbucks.

Seriously...there's not one anywhere near my new office building. I'm a little apprehensive about that. Where does one go when she wants to get the hell out of her office for a few minutes? On the upside, I will save myself untold amounts of money.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Inner invalidation

If someone had tried to tell me when I was an undergraduate (or in grad school for that matter) that my career would go in the direction it has, I would never have believed it. I would never have believed I'd get sick of teaching (...although I think a lot of other people could probably see daily interaction with students grating on my nerves in the long run). I thought I'd found a home in publishing. But, after less than two years at my current place of employment, I'm on to something new.

In a little under two weeks, I'll be starting a new position as an Instructional Designer for an up and coming local company. It's a move into a position that will do more than provide the basic necessities of life. Hopefully, it'll help me thrive professionally, financially, and creatively. All of my work experience has led me to this point...where I'll end up from here is anybody's guess. But, it feels good that as I near 30, I've finally made something of myself...or made myself proud, I guess I should say.

However, is it possible to have good self-confidence and still be insecure? That's how I'm feeling right now. Just a little bit intimidated. That's unusual for me. I like to be the one doing the intimidating. I usually feel as professional and corporate as anyone walking around Westport. Then, yesterday, I went to pick up my new-hire packet at my new place of business. Wow! It makes my current office building look like a pile of bricks. The people I saw walking around were far more dressed up than I get for work now. The first thing I thought was, oh my god, I've got to go shopping (a prospect, I'll admit, that doesn't sound half bad). It's like the first day at a new school, and I just hope I fit in, that I'm carrying the right briefcase, that someone will eat lunch with me.

I'm also generally pretty secure in my abilities (Let's be honest, what English major do you know that doesn't secretly think he/she is god's gift to the written word??). I put a ton of work into the writing test project and writing samples I had to provide for this position. I felt like they were top-notch, and apparently the managers hiring thought so too. But, there's so much of the position that's going to be a stretch for my talents. Which is what I wanted. Challenge was what was missing at my current job. However, I found myself lying awake last night wondering if I'll be able to cut it. This isn't the kind of place where they will tolerate less than outstanding results. That's what they are paying me for. It's been a long time since I've felt any sort of real pressure to succeed. I want this job to be everything I hope it will be. I want to love this job in a way I've never loved any other. I know that in reality, there will be amazing things about the job and things I hate, people I enjoy working with and those I hate, pluses, minuses.

But I don't want to think about that yet. Until reality sets in, I'm just excited and super nervous.

Wish me luck.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Not Just Another Resolution List

On NYE, I spent the evening hanging out (sober--I was driving later) with my favorite girls and various significant others. Rollergirl suggested we go around and tell our new year's resolutions, and I didn't have any to share. I, Ms. Constant-Self-Improvement-Plan, don't believe in resolutions. Who'd have thought. Like I told Hott Mama once, "The funny thing about turning over a new leaf is that both sides look remarkably the same."

Not that I'm perfect (damn close, but...). Not that I love everything about myself. But, resolutions seem to me a subconscious form of self-hatred or, at the very least, self-doubt. On my day off yesterday, I read no less than a dozen articles on how to whip up a new and better me in 2008, from my waist-line to my love-life. What I really heard was 101 reasons I should be monumentally unhappy with some tiny aspect of my bigger picture. No one wrote about happiness with my current circumstances. Not one person supposed that what I've already got was the stuff of contentment. Nope, unless I could whittle off my muffin-top, discover new levels of intimacy with my guy, and snag that uber-promotion, 2008 would be a bust.

I refuse to buy that anymore. If the mantra of 2006-2007 was "Let. It. Go." (sometimes a good mantra takes awhile to soak in), mantra 2008 would be "Love Whatcha Got" (revised from "Fuck What Everyone Else Thinks"). If my estimation is correct, all other things will fall in line behind that idea. If I love my body (as is), I'll surely try to take care of it and keep it healthy, whether or not Kate Moss and I can ever share pants. If I love my job (hmm, have to work on that one), the love should theoretically shine through and get me the credit I so richly deserve. If I love B, I'll put in the time and thought it takes to make our relationship fabulous. And so on and so on and so on.

If you don't love what you already have, you'll never appreciate what you could have. Ya think?

So, belated new year's wishes for 2008. May you be confident in your choices and abilities. May you learn to love life. May I blog regularly.