Sunday, February 14, 2010

Dodge-y Commercials

Due to the fact that I don't know anything about football, I don't watch the Super Bowl--which means I may be one of the last people in America to hear about the annual controversies. The Janey Jackson thing? I heard about it three days later from an old co-worker who was just a little too excited that many days after the show. Calm down, Grandpa! It was just a woman.

That's why this year, I had no idea about the Dodge commercial that may have been offensive or just plain stupid, but still managed to inspire a video response. I had to watch it on YouTube when some friends had posted the women's response.

My first reaction was that of annoyance. I mean, really? Walking your dog and eating fruit for your own well being needs a reward? Is carrying lip balm in your pocket is that much of a burden? Or perhaps, holding down a job is so difficult that you need a car that goes vroom vroom to make you feel better about your life (and if so, will a car actually make you feel better)? The implication being that men suffer so because of the women in their lives. Which makes one wonder, why the hell do they stick around to live life as soulless zombies? Are they masochists or just passive-aggressive?

But the more I thought about it, the more I was offended. For my male friends. Most of the men I know are responsible, work hard and enjoy the company of their companions. Sure they have their toys and make fun of our love of jewelery or shoes, but they're not whiners. I come from a family of men who had plenty of faults, but whining about waking up at 6:30 was not one of them. (Actually, both my grandfathers always woke up before four every morning to go to work; did manual labor for more than fourteen hours a day; each raised five children and worked into their 60s. I'm pretty sure I never heard either of them complain about eating fruit with their breakfast.) So I'm left to wonder, what do men think about the commercial? Do you really resent your partners so much? Is your only refuge your attention getting car? Or do you find it insulting to be called entitled man-children whose only escape in life is expensive toys?

Now, in the interest of fairness, I'll link/post the response to the original commercial, which addresses the original as a bunch of annoying children. Quite appropriate:

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Fashion Police On the Beat

I have no idea what that title means, except it implies a judgmental person offering unsolicited fashion advice. And that is exactly what I'm about to do, because I'm helpful. I'd also like to add that it's not really me being judgmental as much as it is a predisposition of sorts; a genetic condition that is passed down the matrilinieal line in my family. A superpower that I'm trying to use for good.

  • Velour track suits, no matter how outrageously priced, are still comfort clothes. If it has been attacked by a bedazzler, it does not become any more formal. Adding high heels does not change the equation either.
  • 'Juicy', 'Pink' or letters from the Greek alphabet across the bum in any material is not flattering, no matter how nice the bum. If you are over 60, it is wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong.
  • Showing your underwear in public is kind of tacky. Especially in church.
  • High heels and mud are a bad combination.
  • Ed Hardy: No. You'll look back at that phase of your life and wonder what the hell you were thinking. You'll question the judgment of friends that didn't stop you. Or you won't wonder and you'll still be one of those people.
  • "Subtle" is not a dirty word.
  • Louis Vuitton purses don't 'classify' tube tops and cut off jeans. Also, 'classify' doesn't mean what you think it means.
Your friendly neighborhood fashion cop,


Monday, February 8, 2010

Fake Generosity

If I were to list my pet peeves, I'd have a little peeve zoo. The list is honestly endless--to some people (my brother) quite entertaining: poorly assembled sandwiches, water in plastic gloves, open closet doors, willful ignorance...I have a hard time keeping track of them myself. But high on that list is fake generosity. If you're not going to give it with meaning, just skip the gesture.

When I was in San Francisco for Nike, there was an Expo as there is at all big marathon/triathlon events. The sponsors have booths and give away free things. In 2008, Kaiser had free massages (bless them many, many times), JetBlue had manicure tables set up, BearNaked had free granola...It was really a wonderful treat. This year, due to the economy there were fewer sponsors and the gifts were more modest. Still, all of the participants loved the festivities and appreciated the goodies. One of the sponsors was new beauty product company that was handing out shampoo, conditioner, face masks etc. I asked to try the face mask, in case I was possessed with a sudden bout of girliness that required me to put things on my face. The girliness didn't hit me until yesterday while I was multi-tasking. After all, what could make a woman wielding cleaning agents more attractive than a carrot face mask? I was so excited! I opened the tub of goop and looked a petrified cylinder. There was no way it could be applied to skin without scrubbing layers off. I read the label, looking for instructions to soak it or otherwise revive it to its moisturizing nature when I saw the expiration date on the bottom: 9/09. It expired in SEPTEMBER! The Expo was in late October! They were handing out expired skin products. Is that not rude?! Why bother? I'm going to think you're a bunch of cheapskates trying to look good while dumping your crap on people.

Ahem. In conclusion, I do not like people who try to score generosity points while being exceptionally cheap. Sadly, my beauty regiment is so marred by this event that it could be YEARS before I think of exfoliating again.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Serious Commitments

I am writing now, only because I have promised myself I would write every day of this month. And technically, it is already Sunday morning, but I'll pretend it's still Saturday. A Saturday when I woke up when I normally go to bed, suffered a bus ride through windy, icy mountains and went to a ski resort where I proceeded to not snowboard (or ski), but rather sat in the lodge as close to the fire place as possible.

Which brings me to something I realized about myself. I can talk to just about anyone. Not at networking events that are made for such things or at parties where I don't know people. But in random places like the grocery store, airplane or ski lodge. I spent about three hours talking to two families (grown-ups and children alike) and ended up exchanging numbers and email addresses. If they had brought the family dog, I probably would have conversed with him as well. As if that wasn't enough, on our way back, I noticed a fellow traveler with a Team In Training vest. We spoke over people for almost an hour, reliving the glory of distance training, mentoring and injuries. When we were done, M just looked at me and shook his head. I baffle him, poor man.

On a slightly random note, I thought I'd share a life lesson with everyone: Trying to emulate the dance moves from this video as you sing off key in the shower may lead to bruising and/or other unsightly injuries. You're welcome.

More after sunrise on Sunday.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Out of Respect

I'm going snowboarding tomorrow. It is our annual trip, during which we get a lesson, fall down the barely sloping hill as 5 year old children point and laugh at me and gladly return to the comfort of home where we forget everything they told us until the next year.

But I'm writing something today 'out of respect'. Here's the story about that phrase:

I have a co-worker who is ridiculously funny. She enjoys food so much, it is entertaining to watch her talk about it. One day, we went to a Brazilian steak house--the kind where it's basically all you can eat as servers walk by with skewers of assorted steaks, sausages, chicken and pork. It was our first time, but Nadine had been there before and decided to act as our guide. On our way there, she taught us her strategy: what to eat first, what to skip, how to make sure you got your favorite cut of meat prepared to your liking...And then she mentioned the salad bar.

"It's actually a very nice salad bar with cooked vegetables and appetizers. I usually stop by and take a few things. You know, out of respect."

"Respect for what?"

"The vegetables! You don't want them to sit there, ignored by everyone because they're too distracted by the meat."

"You're going to the salad bar to eat vegetables so they don't feel neglected? You know they don't have feelings, right?"

Looking at us impatiently, "I just know, I wouldn't want to be ignored after getting dressed up for a big party. Just take a couple of things! They're really good!"

So out of respect, I'm not ignoring my daily blogging, even though there are bigger events looming.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

It's Raining Babies (Wheee!)

A brief note on the state of things around me now: I have 9 friends who are either pregnant (and due soon) or have given birth in the last year. I am possibly claiming a pair of twin boys amongst them as my own. I mean I'm happy for everyone, but the twins (and their parents) make me do the happy dance just about every time I think of them. Under the guise of 'niceness' and 'being a friend', I have been slowly bribing the parents with food and baked goods for access to cute, cuddly babies when they arrive. My plan is going quite well so far. I don't even mind occasionally sharing said babies with other friends and aunties.

Speaking of babies, everyone in my family is asking about them. My grandmother, aunt, uncle, cousins...the parents have been asking for years and I ignore them as best I can. Which brings me to an odd(er) exchange I had with my mother over the last few days.

We were talking about my new sister-in-law who had gone to apply for papers/visas to come to the US to visit their family. They're a very extensive, close-knit family. Apparently, their typical Friday lunches involve a good 80-100 family members. I find this impressive, if for no other reason than the fact that that many people can get along well enough to not want to gossip, back stab and out-rumor each other. I'm also amazed that we have married into such a family. I'm not saying we're the gossiping and rumor mongering type (we kind of are), I'm just saying I find it interesting that my almost hermit family has been joined by the bonds of marriage to such a people.

Back to my conversation with my mom: her advice to the in-laws was to skip the trip and the paperwork, just stay home and avoid the hassle. After all, it would be so expensive and even if everything worked out and they got their papers and came to the US, it would be so depressing. They'd be stuck in their relative's houses during a time of economic hardship, surrounded by bad news and reminded of how bad things are every time they went out and saw all the closed shops and businesses. My mother is nothing if not an optimistic ray of sunshine. "But, what can be done? They're the kind of people who just can't get enough socializing. I mean they LOVE spending time together. It makes them so happy..."

Which got me thinking, what makes my mother happy? She has had a very difficult life and endured great sorrow, but there should be something that brings her joy. So the next day, I emailed her and asked, "I don't think I've ever asked or known, what makes you happy."

She replied, in all caps, "BABYSITTING!!! I LOVE BABYSITTING!!!"

Nice try. So I responded as the optimistic and observant daughter that I am, "That's GREAT! Older Brother will be so glad to know that once he has kids, he can bring them to you. You'll be happy, they'll be in good hands and he can go about doing the things he does..."


And what is there to say to this kind of mania, really? "You should really be careful what you wish for mom. Of course, it's too late now, but for future reference you should think longer before you scream to the world that you want to 'babysit!!!'"

I'm such a good daughter.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

October 2009: Month of Awesome

It's been a few months now, and I realize I never got around to writing about the events of October 2009, which by any standard was an amazing month. I saw not one, but two bands I have wanted to see for more than 15 years; I ran (but mostly limped) through my second half marathon; I spent time with my college roommate and good friend, whose name I can't say here; and I made a fool of myself in front of Tall Lanky Guy, which really is just me reminding him of the good old days.

First with the concerts: I saw Pearl Jam, people. PEARL JAM! I realize I know nothing about music, but I know what I love. I fell in love with Pearl Jam when I came back to the States and have (im)patiently waited to see them for the better part of the last fifteen years. There was always an excuse to miss their concerts: schedule, finances, not having anyone to go with...but my day finally came. I went, I saw, may have made a fool of myself and I didn't care. I loved every note and word. The whole thing was surprisingly tame (we've all aged) and simple. The set wasn't fancy, there weren't flashing lights and video screens--just the band, the music and a mostly adoring audience (and perhaps a few slightly confused newbies like my husband who came along). Strangely, immediately after the event I couldn't remember the order of songs that were performed or the details--just the joy of having seen them perform live at last. And despite my very high expectations, they still managed to exceed it. Sheer bliss.

The second concert was completely unplanned and unexpected. When I met my former roommate at the San Francisco airport on my way home from the Nike Women's Marathon (woohoo!), she mentioned that she may end up with an extra ticket to the U2 concert that would be the following Saturday in Pasadena--did I want to go? Sure, why not? Because what kind of a crazy person would say no to a U2 concert with one of the funnest (and funniest) women around? And behold, the ticket became available. We went, we saw and picked up exactly where we left off from our college days. My least favorite part of the show? The Black-Eyed Peas opened for U2. Why? Everyone, including the opening band seemed a little confused. The best part? Sitting on the sidewalk, laughing hysterically as people walked by and wondered if we had both completely lost our minds (we hadn't).

In between these two concerts, I went to San Francisco and ran my second Nike Women's Marathon. Technically, I only ran the first five miles of a half marathon and limped the other eight in ridiculous pain. Technically, for the second time I did it for someone else. And technically, I felt happier then than I have doing just about any other thing in my life. Despite the joy, there was a sadness and tears. But despite the pain, tears and absence of people I cared for I wanted to bottle that day and take it out when I need a boost.

I'll write more about the details later, but for now, I needed a reminder that October was a wonderful island of time in a stormy and hectic time.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Sophomore Year: Year of the Awakening

If I were to name my college years, my freshman year would no doubt be called 'The Year of the Hermit'. I rarely left my dorm room if not for my class schedule and spoke to few people who weren't brought into my dorm room by my roommate. Despite that, I managed to establish a reputation of sorts and also make a few friends that I am still close to. That is the magic of college life.

By the time my sophomore year rolled around however, I was determined to change things. I had not come to America to lock myself in a dorm room. I was going to make friends and experience Life! I was going to learn the ways of the world for myself, and that couldn't be done from the safety of my dormitory. As a result of my New (academic) Year resolution, I started signing up on just about any sheet that was posted in the lobby. Dorm treasurer? Yes! Resident Hall Representative? Absolutely. Application for Resident Assistant? Yes, sir! I eventually signed up for a bunch of other things that actually didn't have to do with the dormitory system, however, I knew myself well enough to take small steps. This is how I met and was befriended by a motley crew of fellow dorm dwellers. Some of them were much older than typical dorm residents. 'Grandpa' was thirty two, but lucky enough to look as young as the college seniors who had long moved off campus. 'Dad' was twenty seven and a Wildcat for life, in that he didn't seem to be in a rush to graduate and move on with his life as a non-student. The rest of this group was also somehow tied to or directly involved with campus life and its 'government'. The best thing about it was the loud mix and politics of the group. Everything was cause for passionate discussion--including the number of washing machines in the boys vs. girls dorms, visitation hours and vending machine offerings. I could easily attend every meeting, get to know everything about these people and never need to talk or be noticed. This was the Life! Ironically, it was very similar to the last Life I had left behind in search of more involvement and participation, but I was in no rush...

During one of the bi-weekly meetings, I was taking notes on the latest controversy and people watching when 'Dad' walked in--late as usual and looking solemn. After some whispers and tasteless teasing he yelled at everyone to shut up and this was no time for 'monkey business'! This was not the jovial 'Dad' we were used to. Over the next hour, he told us how his younger (19 year old)
brother, Todd, had suddenly moved out of their parents' home and in with his girlfriend. His 47 year old girlfriend, who was actually his best friend's mother. The relationship had already ruined Todd's friendship and their parents had sworn to wash their hands of him for good. 'Dad' was just confused and angry at everyone. We couldn't sympathize, hug or soothe him, so we all finally gave up and canceled the meeting.

As I packed up my bag and got ready to leave, George asked me if I wanted to grab a bite to eat from the Student Union. I said yes immediately, because I had a soft spot for George. We had become quick friends in a quiet way. He was surprisingly protective of my innocence around the campus debauchery, I was in awe of his brilliance. I may have also been in love with his beautiful blue eyes and smile. When he looked at you, you had his full attention and felt special no matter how bad your hair looked or how deeply you blushed at your own ignorance. He was in a word, lovely.

We walked towards the SU discussing the evening's events and their consequences. I said something along the lines of how strange the relationship seemed to me, but it wasn't right for the parents to basically disown him. If anything, he needed family around him more now. Suddenly, he seemed to be contemplating something; like he was tasting something for the first time and couldn't decide what he thought of it.

"GWCH, can I tell you something? Something personal?"

I nodded eagerly. I loved being confided in and to have George's confidence was something special.

"I know how he feels in a way. Telling everyone he loves someone he's not supposed to, being afraid. Do you know what I mean?"

I nodded again.

"You see, I'm kind of like him." Pregnant pause. Deep breath. "GWCH, I don't like girls. I don't know if I can tell my parents. They'll probably disown me, although I think they kind of suspect..."

At this point I had stopped in my tracks, literally in the middle of the bike path. My eyes may have been coming out of my head as I searched for the right words. I didn't want to hurt his feelings after he had confided something so personal. I tried to find the words and tone that would be kind and supportive, and finally I blurted, "YOU LIKE OLDER WOMEN, TOO?!"

It was his turn to stop. He looked at me closely, with an expression I would only later understand: confusion, trying to determine if I was mocking him or actually meant what I had just said; combined with pity at my simplicity. I don't know how long we stood there and looked at each other. I remember distinctly thinking, "But he's too PERFECT to fall in love with old women!"

He was the first to blink. He laughed his beautiful laugh, shaking as he said, "You are so different from anyone I have ever known. So different."

Of course I blushed, not sure if this was a compliment, a simple statement of fact or just something to say at an awkward moment. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean it like that. I think if you find someone that is good to you and you love, that's all that really matters. And I won't tell anyone if you don't want me to. I promise."

"Thank you," he said, chuckling.

We continued on to dinner, without a hint of awkwardness. We were friends again--in the same way we had been before the Great Revelation. His love life wasn't discussed and we went on for months in the same manner. It wasn't until summer session when he introduced me to his date--with dancing eyes and a mischievous smile--that the meaning of that conversation finally dawned on me. And it was only then that I understood the look on his face the night he bore his soul to me.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Hello? *tap tap tap* Anybody Out There?

It seems I overestimate my popularity. Which makes me sad, because I don't feel especially popular. Nobody sent me questions to answer, which means that my resolution to write something every day/night of the month of February will consist entirely of my over sharing. In a way, you all asked for it--indirectly.

Since I waited so long to post today, I'll just tell you what a lovely, lovely day I had.

It was a Monday, which means it is by its nature cursed. I went to bed at 5 am, on Monday morning knowing I had to be up at 7 for a meeting with my director. By the time I was talking to her, I sounded as good as I felt. I decided to work from home soon after I burned my neck with the curling iron. This may sound familiar considering how I burned my general chestal area a few months ago--scars still there. And just as I remembered, it hurt like hell. This time, I had aloe readily available, so I didn't completely lose it, but I still have a scar on my neck and am in pain.

Somehow I got work done (and yes, took a nap) and thought I had rested enough to get some cooking/baking done since I didn't make anything this weekend. Things were going fine until I cut my finger with a potato peeler and in my panic jumped back and burned my shoulder on hot cookie sheet. It was around this time that I decided to step away from the kitchen and plant myself on the couch until Monday is officially over.

If there is a Hell, I seem to be preparing myself for it. Either that or punishing myself for my sins.