Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Political Season & Why You Won't Win My Vote On Facebook

A long time ago when I was in elementary school (so a very, very long time ago), I remember asking my mother who she was planning on voting for in the upcoming presidential election.

"It's not polite to ask," she told me.

I don't know if that rule was just in my family or if that was part of a bygone era, when asking someone about their political affiliation was akin to asking about their weight or their actual age.  But in my immediate family, politics were rarely discussed and considered somewhat private.  I don't even know if my parents told each other who they were voting for.

I miss those days. 

When people thought that sex was private and so were political attachments. 


I've seen a lot of mixed feelings about sharing political beliefs on the social media pages - some love the debate and some feel like it's the same thing as getting a campaign call in the middle of a dinner you've been waiting all day to have.  Which is to say, they find it incredibly annoying.

I fall into the latter category.

This is mainly because the people who are talking about it just won't shut up.  It's one thing to post one informational article a day.  It's quite another to post 12 in a row so that my newsfeed is jam-packed with headlines like

Obama Will Welcome Destructive Aliens from Outer Space if Elected 
& Plans to Give Them Florida as Incentive to Vote for Him!


 Romney Offers Wife to Donald Trump if He Can Secure a Win!

Rosanne Barr is looking better and better.

When I see these headlines, it makes me skim and scroll down to one of the innocent (but previously annoying to me before the political season started what seems like 500 years ago) pictures of a kitten or a photo of someone's dinner the night before.

The funny thing about all of this is that I'm the person that all of these people are targeting:  The one who hasn't completely dug her heels into the ground on one political side or the other.  The one who just wants the best person for the job.  But after months and months of outrageous headlines, phone calls, and emails from people I don't even know...would you like to know what I would like to do on Election Day?

Go get a latte, a pedicure, and skip the whole messy business of voting.

You've worn me down, but not the way you think.  You haven't won me over, you've made me want to move to another country.  You've made me believe, through your ranting and raving, that there just isn't a good person to vote for.

So I won't.

I discussed this with my dad the other night (a non-Facebooker) who said, "Maybe that's the point.  Maybe that's what they're trying to do.  They're trying to talk you out of voting at all - if you're not going to vote for the person they want you to."

Hmmmm.  Food for thought.  And I'm not stupid.  I know that there are people out there who want to confuse the American public as much as possible, in the hopes that whoever they're pulling for gets put into office because Kermit the Frog got 1,000 votes and screwed up the whole kit and caboodle.

And if that's your goal...I think it's working.

When it comes to emails, I find it interesting that the ones I usually receive are from people I don't know very well.  I find it kind of...well...ballsy...that people will send emails out to their entire address book, most of whom they have never had a political conversation with before in their lives.  I have gotten emails that are obviously racist, bigoted, and then there's the downright stupid.  And do you know what that makes me want to do?

Hit delete on that relationship.

The interesting thing is, the most well-informed and well-educated people I know would never think to send me that stuff.  I know that if I actively engaged one of them in a political discussion, they would tell me their thoughts.  And I would listen to them.  Because they're not being rammed down my throat.

Years ago, my late husband and I witnessed a political argument between two people who were so completely opposed in their beliefs...I couldn't even figure out why they were having the discussion.  It was obvious that no amount of "facts" would make either one change their mind and they should have just shook hands and gone to their separate corners.  And my husband - the one who had been in the military and worked for the Department of Defense and who had first-hand knowledge of the topics that were being argued - sat there in silence with a little smile on his face.

"Why didn't you say something?"  I asked him later.  "You know about that stuff more than either of those two."

"Because there was no point in getting into it," he said, calmly.  "They both believed what they were going to believe.  And in an argument that heated...I wouldn't get anywhere."

I know that some people will relate to this post and some won't.  Some will be annoyed and some will nod their heads in agreement.  And that's okay.  I'm going to post it once - not 15 times today.  I won't email anyone about it and I won't call anyone at dinnertime to see if they've read it.  Because, when it comes to voicing an opinion, there are times when less is more.

And people who speak softly are often heard the most.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

I'm Just a 6 ft. Woman Living in a 5'8" World

I stopped shopping for clothes with my friends many years ago.  I think it was the day, as I scanned a display of jeans hoping to find that one pair of "talls" in a haystack of "shorts" and "averages" and my 5'8" friend complained, "I have the hardest time finding pants that fit."

Let me tell you something:  If what you're looking for is an average length in, you have no idea how good you have it.

I've never minded being tall and I hit my 6'0" stature early in life, way before the boys did.  I come by it naturally, on both sides of the family, and usually the only reason I have to look up at someone is if I'm at a reunion.  I'm constantly asked to look for people in crowds and grab things off the top shelf at the grocery store.

I've come to the conclusion, being the wise and seasoned adult that I am, that the reason why men will always have more power is because their pants always detail the specific waist size and length.  They can quickly flip through a rack and determine in two minutes whether or not there is something there that will fit them.  And if they're really tall, they have the advantage of stopping by one of the many "Big & Tall" shops to find what they're looking for.

As a 6' tall woman living in a country that apparently thinks that all females should either be 5'7" or we should just cut our feet off...that has me a little jealous.

You wouldn't know it from my closet because it's actually stocked with pants.  The problem is that most of them don't fit right on other areas of my body.  But when I find that rare "Tall" on a rack, I feel like Columbus discovering the New World and they have to be mine.  It's quite possible that they're too tight in the thigh, highlight my muffin top, or, if I'm not wearing the right shirt could show (as my friend calls it) "Krakatoa"...but if the bottoms at least hit the tops of my feet, I'm getting them.

My sister taught me a shopping shortcut years ago.  She and I are the same height, but she has the same inseam as my dad who is 6'4".  This is great when you're looking at bathing suits and I've often cursed her when I see her walking into the room in a cute little dress I could never pull off.  But when it comes to shopping for pants, she has a harder time than I do.

"Don't even take them into the dressing room if they don't pool at your feet when you hold them up against you in the store," she advised me years ago.  "It's just a waste of time."

My younger self did not realize that this was going to be a life-long battle because when I was in the process of reaching my full height, I had the advantage of growing up during the era of tight-rolled jeans.  While this trend was wildly unattractive, I'm betting it saved my parents a fortune in pants because it really didn't matter what length they bought them in.  As long as I could peg them at the bottom, making my lower half look like an upside-down triangle...we were good to go.

But then the late 80s/early 90s happened and the styles changed drastically and any woman over 5'9" was going to have a major problem.  You guessed it.

Stirrup pants.

I'd really like to meet the moron who came up with this idea, because the truth is...they didn't look good on anyone.  But, speaking on behalf of my people - when you take a pair of pants that attach to your feet (which, for a tall person are extremely far away from your waist), there are going to be issues.  And, in my case, those issues happened to be broadcast throughout the greater Denver area.

I'll never forget it.  I'd been asked to model some "junior apparel" on the local news right around the time I turned 16-years-old.  Now, I hadn't worn junior sizes since I was about 11-years-old because after that, I shot up 5 inches in the space of a year.  But I'd gotten away with it before that because I was usually assigned long skirts while the other "cute as a button" girls got the pants.

That day, I showed up to the studio late, out of breath, and sweaty from trying to parallel park my non-power steering car downtown.  As I ran into the studio, I thought I couldn't possibly look any worse.  And then I was handed my outfit and was sent to the dressing room to begin living my worst nightmare.

Wearing junior-sized stirrup pants.  On TV.

I pulled them on, and sure enough - with the straps around my feet and the pants pulled up as high as they could go, the pants didn't even come close to hitting my waist.  I scrambled to find the assigned shirt and was relieved to see that it was over-sized enough to cover the uncovered area and they were even nice enough to throw in a sweatshirt to tie around my waist.  I quickly pulled it and took a look at myself in the mirror before I was rushed to the camera.

And that's how I ended up on TV at 16-years-old, sweaty and disheveled - in stirrup pants that were too short and a gigantic Mickey Mouse t-shirt.

I gave myself a pep-talk on the way home that day, reasoning that none of my friends watched the news.  No one would see this.  So, imagine my surprise when I walked into my first period class the next morning and was greeted with, "Hey!  We saw you on TV last night!"

Not my proudest moment.

I've always been the taller one in any serious relationship I've had because most men 6'5" and up prefer women who barely reach 5'.  And I don't mean to be rude to my gender, but I consider that a huge waste.  If you are short and dating a tall man, you should have the decency to break-up with him and just say, "I can't, in good conscious, date you.  Please go find a woman who is only three inches shorter than you are.  They need you so they can wear heels and not dance with someone in their cleavage."

But being taller than my significant other does have it's advantages.  I don't mind always getting the aisle seat on a plane because someone else can more comfortably sit in the middle.  I don't mind having a better reach across the pool table date.  And I don't mind staring someone down in an argument. 

The problem is that it doesn't matter who wears the pants in the family if the pants are always an inch too short.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The 1st Day Of School & My Honeymoon With Freedom

It's finally here.  The first day of school.  Today I packed three lunches, took pictures on the front porch, gave three great big hugs....

And then barely slowed down my minivan before I hit the "open" button on the automatic doors and sent them all - all of them - for their first full day of school.

I can't believe I'm the same mother who cried on the last day of school last spring.  Who saw the beginning of this school year as an end to something (which it was) and not the beginning.

The beginning of the first series of full free days in over 10 years.

It helped that my kids were as excited about school as they are when they run down the stairs to see what Santa has brought them on Christmas morning (I'm choosing to ignore the fact that they were that happy to get the heck out of here and focus on the fact that they love school).  I know this excitement will be fleeting and that while we were 10 minutes early for the drop-off lane this morning, by next week they will all be dragging their feet and we'll be 10 minutes late.

I don't care, as long as we get there.

It also helped my own state of mind that I hadn't been away from one or all of my children in probably about a month.  Someone has always been with me.  So the second they were out of the car, I turned up the radio to music that I wanted to listen to and hit the road.

And what did I do, you ask?  (I know you didn't, but I'm going to tell you anyway.)

1.  My first stop was the gym.  My excitement escalated when I realized that I could head straight to the women's locker room without stopping at the kids center and I wanted to pat all of those women on the back who were struggling to get their toddlers from the parking lot to the day care and say, "It's okay.  Look at me!  No kids!  You'll get there." 

Even though the treadmill looked at me like, "Who the hell are you?" I gave it a hug and told him it was nice to be back.  He forgave me and then complimented me on my new tennis shoes.  The weights were less forgiving and I think it's going to take some time for us to get back to our old relationship.

2.  After leaving the gym, I couldn't help but notice that I had left just in time to run into my favorite local antique shop, the one I had abandoned 2 months ago.  I pealed into the parking lot so that I could spend 20 uninterrupted minutes wandering around breakable things, just because I could.

I then bought 2 pieces of jewelry I didn't need and I have no idea when I'll wear them just so I could watch my credit card being used without someone standing next to me saying, "How come I didn't get anything?"

(Incidentally, the owner of the antique store told me that she thought about doing something special today for all of the mothers who had just dropped off their kids at school.  I suggested a 20% off sale with a Bloody Mary bar.  She thought that was a good idea.)

3.  I ran into a department store to buy a birthday present and noticed two things: 

             ~More mothers struggling with toddlers as they were desperately trying to buy themselves underwear that they will realize when they get home are the wrong size because they were so distracted by the screaming child. 

            ~Women who looked like me, sweaty and disheveled after their workout this morning and flipping through racks of clothing, not because they needed anything but just because they could.

4.  I went to the bathroom which I know is TMI, but I was so excited to do it in peace, I just had to share it with someone.  For the first time in over 2 months, I was able to go without someone screaming, "Mom?  MOM?  MOM????" 25 times the moment my butt hit the porcelain.  I'm sure that my neighbors were relieved that this morning passed without me screaming at the top of my lungs, "I'm in the BATHROOM!" with all of my windows open.

5.  I took a shower without being scalded by someone in my house who has impeccable timing and never fails to flush just as I'm rinsing out my shampoo.  This is something I know I should correct, but right now I'm just happy when they remember to do it. 

Which brings me to now.  My first day of freedom has started off with a bang and now it's time to buckle down and get a little work done before the herd is back.  It's 2:00 and everything is still quiet.

Too quiet.

I may have to go turn the TV on in the other room for a little background noise.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Back-to-School. Whew. I Made It.

It's back-to-school time which means that this week the kids and I have been to the water park one last time, have seen one last movie (Diary of a Wimpy Kid:  Dog Days - which wasn't as painful as I thought it would be), and they have hit my one last nerve.

As much as I was looking forward to the summer - sleeping late, lazy days, fun activities - I'm looking forward to back-to-school just about as much.  My brain can no longer handle hearing "He's touching me!" or "Stop copying!" 15 times a day.  If I hear the theme song to Phineas and Ferb one more time, I'm going to throw my TV out of the window.  And if I'm awakened, after sleeping like a dead person - because of packing in the zoo, the mall, the movies, and the bowling alley the day before - to a little face staring and me and saying, "What are we doing today, Mom?" I think I'll have to start my own petition to have myself committed.

But come Monday...I'll be able to say, "School.  You're going to school."

So I'll just put that petition away until Winter Break.

Every year around this time, I come up with plans:  What am I going to do when the kids go back to school?  The list is usually the same.
  1. Go get first pedicure of the summer.
  2. To the pool at least once by yourself and just sit (trashy magazine required).
  3. Sit on your couch for 5 uninterrupted minutes.
And even though, I'm never able to make a single one of those things happen, it just makes me feel better to know that I could. 

This year, what back-to-school really means for me is that I will actually be able to work for a few hours a day without someone screaming down into my office, "I NEED A SNACK" so that I can scream back, "THEN GET ONE."  I'll be able to participate in conference calls without someone standing 2 inches away from my face, just waiting for me to hang up so that they can ask me if we have vinegar for the latest exploding experiment they would like to perform in my clean kitchen.  I'll be able to finish a thought in an email without someone coming into my office, hysterically upset over a life-ending scratch on their hand that I can't even see, but needs a band-aid right now.

I think the kids are ready to go back anyway - I'm sure I haven't always been a picnic to be around this summer.  I think they're a little frustrated with my requests to do outrageous things like pick up a soaking wet bathing suit off the bedroom floor and hang it up before it smells so bad I have to re-carpet the house, thanks to that one mildewy spot.  It seems to come as a surprise to them every night that I need them to take a shower and wash off all of the homemade tattoos they've given each other before it all rubs off on their sheets.  And I'm sure they're getting headaches from the eye-rolls they've been giving me all summer when I ask them to clean up all of the Goldfish crumbs, popcorn kernels, and various other food particles off my sofa, coffee table, and carpet.

I know, I know.  I'm a tyrant.

For the last few days, I have been gazing longingly at the boxes of school supplies I have lining my dining room (by the way - liquor boxes are the perfect size for storing what they'll need for the year.  I knew my wine habit would come in handy someday).  The kids were excited about going out and getting their new pencils, notebooks, and flashdrives (yes, flashdrives for 3rd graders.  God, I feel old), which they are every year until they realize that they're going to have to actually use them. 

I take that back - my girls were excited to get their school supplies.  My son, on the other hand, gave me a tired expression as I was in the middle of a throw-down at Wal-Mart with another elementary school mom over the last Primary Composition Journal and simply said, "I'm bored."

At which point I wanted to send him to military school.

The only thing that really has me worried right now is looking at the calendar of after school activities and wondering if it is going to be physically possible to make them happen.  Boy Scouts, choir, art, piano, and ballet seem to be over-lapping in a frightening way in my Google Events.  From 4-7 PM just about every day, I will be in my car, whipping in and out of parking lots, trying to get everyone where they are supposed to be.  Two out of three kids will always be complaining that they have to wait for the other one to finish an activity and my car will be littered with granola bar wrappers and water bottles as I try and stave off hunger long enough to get them home, make dinner, do homework, and get in bed so that we can do it all over again the next day.

But I can handle that because, come Monday, at least 6 hours a day will be mine.

All mine.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Pursuing the Perfect Purse - The Quest Men Just Don't Get

Ah, yes.  The obsessive search for the perfect purse.

It hits all women at different times in our lives.  In my 20s, I watched in disbelief as a friend of mine bought a new one every week.  Her "big" Christmas present from her husband was a Prada purse she had been eying all year.  For the life of me, I couldn't comprehend how any woman could give up the possibility of jewelry for a silly little handbag.

And then my 30s hit and I could understand why some celebrities had separate closets just for their purses.

It started with trying to find just the right red.  I was sure that if I could find the right shade and size, my life would change and someone would walk up to me and say, "That is the perfect red purse.  Can I give you $1,000,000 just for carrying it?"

My mother's purse stage hit later.  In fact, she's in the throes of it right now. 

"What do you think of these?"  She'll ask me, as she brings out a garbage bag-sized shopping bag from Dillard's or Stein Mart, filled with purses.  "Now, I like this one because it's got more detail on it.  But this one doesn't weigh as much so it's probably more practical.  I'm not sure about the yellow, though.  Out of these 5 purses, which yellow do you like the best?"

She tries to justify it by telling me that she returns just about every one she buys (something that I'm glad she clarified because I was beginning to wonder if she and my dad would have to move in with me next year because they wouldn't be able to make their mortgage, thanks to her purse purchases, and I was worried I wouldn't have room for all of those handbags), so she's not actually keeping them.  But the mere fact that she has been looking all summer for the perfect orange...oh, yeah.  She caught the bug.

And it's not just the color we're shopping for.  Years ago, while watching "What Not to Wear," it was mentioned that a woman's purse should be proportional to her size.  That was an eye-opener for me and the reason why I buy purses that are, generally, larger than my head.  When my mom asked me why I was suddenly carrying such enormous handbags, I had a simple answer for her.

"Because it makes my ass look smaller."

Carrying a large purse does have it's disadvantages, though.  Last year, I began to have shoulder issues and it took me about a month to realize it was from carrying a purse the size of a Hefty bag (yes, my ass is that big).  I also realized that by carrying a large bag...things tend to get a little lost in there.  As I was sitting at a bar this summer, rummaging through my purse to find my lipstick, I pulled out 2 ponchos, a pair of swimming goggles, and movie stub from 2001.

And I never did find my lipstick.

Purses in general are a mystery to men and it's a mystery to me why it's a mystery to them.  They make fun of us for it, but I can't tell you how many times I've opened my purse to find an extra wallet, cell phone, and set of keys in there because carrying them in a pocket "didn't feel good when I sat down."

The problem is that men think that we only need one, just like we only need one pair of black shoes or one pair of sunglasses.  I know that men and women have many deep-seated issues that make us fundamentally different but I think the biggest one is what one considers an accessory, the other considers a necessity.  But let's face it:  If we started acting like men, wearing the same pair of tennis shoes for every occasion, they'd look at us funny when we showed up in a cute sundress, worn-out Adidas, and the same purse we've had since 1985.

For the men who are reading this, let me put it to you this way:  Purses are to women what those 2,000 t-shirts in your closet are for you.  It doesn't matter how many you have, you can always use more and it doesn't matter how worn out and holey they get, you'll never get rid of them.  Just like that t-shirt reminds you of that drunken trip to Panama City, Spring Break 1996...that purse reminds us of that one night you took off that damn shirt and brought us some place nice.

And for the women who are reading this and can't understand yourselves why you have so many purses, I can sum it up for you:  Purses always fit.  They don't care if you're bloated, if you're hips suddenly changed the second you hit 35, or your muffin top has expanded into a muffin stump (I had to look that one up.  Here's the definition.  You'll enjoy it).  After 2 hours of trying to find the perfect pair of jeans and we're walking out the door of the department store, wondering if we're on the road to Pajama Jeans, we will spy that one thing that will make us feel better.  And when we pick it up and sling it over our shoulder, it momentarily makes our fitting room humiliation disappear.

So, for all of you men out there who give your significant others a hard time about their penchant for purses, ask yourself this.

Did her handbag total last month exceed what it would cost to put her in therapy?

If it didn't, I suggest you roll with it.  Or start weeding out those t-shirts.