SHE SAID: Uniforms

July 15, 2010

I never had to wear a uniform while in school.  For years in grade school I was governed by a dress code requiring collard shirts on the boys, plain shirts with no writing and no jeans, but that was about as serious as it got.  Most of the reason I didn’t apply to a certain boarding school was because, if my memory serves me right, the girls had to wear dresses or skirts one day of the week.  Just to give you a idea of how little I thought of being told what I could and could not wear.

Perhaps I could have used some more structure in the wardrobe department and I might have avoided some catastrophic combinations (all of which seem to have been captured on film and haunt me still).  Instead, I was allowed to roam free in whatever horrendous trend my peers and I celebrated at the time.

I understand the ease of a dress code.  There is less fussing about what to wear, less picking on kids who aren’t wearing the latest and greatest, less of a chance the girl in front of you in biology is displaying her new thong and thus more focusing on the topic at hand, and easier shopping for those who can’t last more than 30 minutes in a store and get tired from trying on clothes.  I’m sure there are more benefits I am forgetting.

And I also understand the flip side: that it’s important for us each to demonstrate our individuality be it through clothing, music or hairstyles, that we don’t all look good in plaid, and that comfort often times carries confidence.

But having worn a uniform of sorts for the last few weeks, I will tell you a few things.  One is that you get bored of your limited clothing options pretty quickly and second, wearing a uniform makes accessorizing ridiculously important.  Watch or no watch becomes a huge decision.  Gold jewelry or silver?  When you have a limited selection of tops and bottoms, it’s the tiny details that take up the rest of my time.  So the theory that a uniform results in less fuss is moot.  The fuss is just being focused elsewhere.  If I were in high school, I would be spending a large amount of time finding ways to make my uniform more demonstrative of my personality.

Add the restriction of one color to a uniform, and the morning wardrobe selection process that I used to adore seem a heck of a lot like ground hog day.  I’m not getting to the point where I’m more comfortable in uniform, although I could see that happening since I don’t really have to think about it and I’m getting used to it, but it makes me wonder if getting comfortable in it means that I am changing, or my perspective on the uniform is changing?

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SHE SAID: Case of the Mondays?

June 10, 2010

So, in keeping with my epic late-ness, here is my case of the Monday’s post … on Thursday evening.  And here is my list of excuses.

1. I’m in the middle of moving.

2. My son is graduating from nursery school tomorrow.  Yes, now they have graduations although the cap and gown have yet to make an appearance.

3. I was planning to write Sunday night, only we got delayed on our way back from this awesome wedding in VA (the entire wedding was in the pool at the end of the night – in full wedding attire).

4. I’m always always late.  It runs in my family.

I’m done with the disclaimers.  Onto the links …

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I think I could pack this site with awkward photos, but they seem to be doing a great job without my input.

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Now the biggest spill in history, here is a way to gauge the size of the catastrophic Gulf oil spill in a way that hits home.

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“At 51, I have decided fantasy should be limited to sex, not football.”
David Remnick comes out against fantasy sports.

courtesy the Awl

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Forget bungee jumping and sky diving.  This looks pretty awesome.  This was shot in Bermuda.


SHE SAID: Navigating and Directions

May 13, 2010

Gentlemen.  Jeremy.  Let’s talk.

do you have any idea where you're going?

What is it with directions?  And not just directions, but navigating in general.  Not to be too specific as I get too specific, but I went on a trip once with a friend in college, a male friend who had not only gotten into a great school, but completed the necessary requirements and was about to graduate, and he thought the towns were located where the name was written on a map, not where the convenient little black dots littering the map were placed.  I wish a recording of this trip existed.  Because while I was confused and progressively more frustrated at the time, I think I would laugh hysterically were I to hear it played back now.

All stupidity of this specimen aside, his example does demonstrate the refusal to ask for help.  He knew, as we circled around for the second time, that the town we were looking for wasn’t where he thought it was.  It wasn’t, like Hogwarts, visible for a select few.  But still, he refused to say anything, and continued to lead me around for a third time all the while declaring his amazement at our inability to find it.  Yes, at this point you can point out my own idiocy for not grabbing the map and hitting him over the head with it, but I was trying to be patient and a good team player … for once.  Plus, I was driving.  Two hands on the wheel.  Ten and two.

Another time, quite recently while driving in a city, I was given no indication whatsoever where I should steer the car until about twenty seconds after I had passed through an intersection by the gentleman holding the map (it was actually a smart phone with a mapping application, but it’s easier to say map).

I realize these are two specific occasions both bordering on the ridiculous … but the stereotype of a man refusing to stop to ask for directions as he steers his vehicle into the great unknown stems from somewhere and I would love to hear your side having experienced it more than enough.

Yes, we women might take forever to get ready and we might have to ask you a few times what you think of the outfit we’ve chosen and then ask you to carry seven items in your pockets because we cannot fit our license, debit card, extra hair tie, tampon, phone, lipstick and keys into our minuscule/non-existent pockets … but once we get our act together and open that door, we know where we are going and how to get there.  Maybe, while you’re waiting by the door, tapping your foot and reminding us what time the get together started, you could use that time constructively and figure out the route to said destination.  And no, I do not have someone waiting by the door and tapping his foot, he is far more patient and supportive than that, which is why we’re still together and he is still sane.

So what is it?  It must be something more interesting than not wanting to admit you don’t know something.  Is each trip a rite of passage in which you, equipped with a steering wheel, pedal and the sun, are to prove your competence to your tribe?  Do you say nothing and ask no questions because you want us sitting next to you, badgering you about whether or not you know where you’re going so you can crack a beer with your teeth and tell all your BBQing buddies about how your old ball and chain nagged the heck out of you on the way over because she didn’t think you knew where you were going?  Boy did you show her!  Seems like a lot to go through for a remedial story.  Is it some territorial thing?  Would you prefer to be peeing out the window and marking territory periodically while we’re moving along and that’s what’s distracting you?  Is it that you lose interest in the task at hand and move on to figuring out what athletes you should drop or shift on your fantasy team roster instead?  Because, while I get that other topics might distract you (ooh, she’s hot; I’m hungry; oh, I love this song), I’m able to both consider my next nail polish color and figure out how to get from point A to B, and I would expect you to as well.  Or is it that you want to deliver us helpless females, unharmed, to a destination needing no help at all from map, or navigator or smart phone?  Am I missing out on a competitive conversation that happens regularly between men about who had the easiest time arriving somewhere with the least amount of information?

I know we don’t tackle too many of the obvious male and female stuff on here, odd given the name of our blog, but this time let’s dive in.


SHE SAID: Nicknames

May 7, 2010

My mom always said that nicknames meant you were well liked. This theory arose coincidentally around the time I was dubbed “sniffer” and I have a sneaking suspicion they might be related. My nicknames included Fire, Snifter, Brandy Snifter, and Kid Sister. I’m sure I’m forgetting some.

I tried to drop my lifelong nickname freshman year in college. I had everyone calling me by my given name, the unused one typed in on my birth certificate, for two whole weeks. It seemed, and still does, like someone else’s name and going by it was kind of like stepping into someone else’s skin, albeit briefly. My brief flirtation with normalcy was cut short when my dad came to visit and let the cat out of the bag. I see people from elementary school who are surprised I still go by my nickname. One of them said, “I thought you’d have grown out of that by now.” It appears I have only grown more and more into it.

I had friends called names that would make my mom blush. Names they would accept as monikers despite me being embarrassed to say the word aloud, much less address someone as such. I have had friends name their significant others something lame and terrible and oh-so-cheesy. I’ve had friends name their or someone else’s body parts, which I don’t really think is all that necessary. I had friends that fought nicknames tooth and nail, a tact which seemed only to make the name stick with more zealousness. And yet, I’ve had friends lament their nicknamelessness.

But if we are going to do a High Fidelity type list, as my co-writer is so fond of doing since everything seems to be rateable in his book, my favorite nicknames of the peer variety in no particular order are:

Log. One of my good friends was called Smokey after alerting the authorities to a fire. Since I was already called Fire, we got a kick out of the link. Our third friend, wanting to get in on the action, suggested we call her spark or flame. Smokey decided that no, Log was a much better idea.

FurPud. A guy I knew, called Pud by all who knew him, moved out West and dropped the nickname in the move. When some friends came to visit him, he reminded them that they were not to call him Pud since he didn’t want it catching on out West. His Eastern friends discovered, however, that his Western friends called him Furball, due to his extensive body hair, and when they all got together, Pud/Furball became Furpud.

Pearsie. When I was growing up, my best friend’s parents called his brother Pearsie. They said it was because he had looked like a pear when he was born. It always struck me as incredibly sweet, maybe it was the way they said it, and I remember it fondly to this day.

Kat-breath. I don’t know this woman, she’s a friend of a friend. But all her friends call her this both behind her back and to her face. Seems a bit … too specific. I hope she’s not a close talker.

America’s Guest. He came. Sometimes invited. He bummed a ticket, invite or twenty off of you. He was adored, stayed too long and entertained everyone the whole evening. Again and again and again.


SHE SAID: Case of the Mondays?

May 3, 2010

I’m not a fan of the finger quotes.  Sure, sometimes it helps delineate a speaker in an orally recounted conversation, but overall, I think they are abused and overused.  Kind of related, someone has taken the time to photographically document the misuse, overuse, and abuse of the quotations all around us. Check it out. It’s highly entertaining and also kind of upsetting.  My sixth grade teacher, owner of the self titled grammar bible, would have been distressed to see this site.

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Wow.  Sir Mix A Lot.  I like Butterfingers too, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to sell out.

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Someone awesome cataloged every single Calvin and Hobbes cartoons online using AJAX.  Best part is you can search for your favorites using dialog.

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How much do you think Britney is kicking herself for not recording Lady Gaga’s Telephone?  She did a demo and then passed on it! Yet another example of her terrible decision making ….

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I don’t know if everyone on earth has seen this video of the kids acting out the hills, but the little girl who plays Audrina should get nominated for whatever awards show recognizes mock-offs.


SHE SAID: DJ or band?

April 29, 2010

Jeremy and I have already posted on our love of attending weddings and I can vouch for him being one of the more entertaining wedding guests OF ALL TIME.  Actually, I lie.  Jeremy and I have never attended a wedding together and so I cannot regale you with tales of his chicken dancing, his talent for toasting, or about that time when he tripped while coming off the dance floor and had to be rushed to the emergency room to get a splinter taken out of his palm.  But we both have some weddings under our belts and I know that he enjoys partaking in the merrymaking as much as I.

This past weekend I went to a family wedding and was a little disappointed, at first, to see a DJ’s table in the reception hall.  I don’t mean to offend any DJs or aspiring DJs out there, but I have to confess that when I get to a wedding, seeing a DJ setting up is almost as bad as seeing that the lead singer of the band is sporting a serious mullet and white platform patent leather boots.  You can’t help but start conjuring exit strategies and calculating how much time is appropriate to spend tolerating the music before you can ease out the side door without offending the new couple.  Things could be worse, I’ll admit; a cash bar or some Disney theme …

After the cocktail hour (during which my date and I dominated the bar and thusly were the most obvious candidates to welcome a DJ enthusiastically), we headed into the main room to welcome the bridal party fresh off their photo shoot, toast the couple, eat, and ultimately, dance dance dance.  Only, before the toasting commenced, the DJ had us twirling our napkins over our heads while he paraded around the room in a chef’s hat and managed to get one unlucky fellow (who happened to have said yes when I suggested attending a spring wedding in Connecticut) doing the twist as a demonstration for the whole table.  I was downing drinks faster than a pre-teen who had just discovered virgin piña coladas and anticipating high tailing it after the cake.

And then somewhere in there, the DJ became totally okay.  It was fun hearing songs I hadn’t heard in forever.  It was fun spending the entire night dancing.  I saw my date’s face light up with unbridled enthusiasm when a country favorite was played, my niece jumped at the chance to dance to some Train, and my mother almost cried when Lady in Red started to play.  There was some line dancing, some twisting, some Charleston-ing and some confusion explaining to my mom that it’s okay for two women to dance together – thankfully she got over it and I was able to throw her around on the dance floor a little.

And all of a sudden, my anti-DJ stance went out the window and I owned that dance floor, despite the pain my being out there caused any innocent bystanders.  And maybe the lesson here is that alcohol can make anything fun.  Maybe it’s that we shouldn’t let our stereotypes stop us from having fun or changing our hell bent stance on something.  Maybe it’s that with a little help (be it an informed friend, a strong drink, or an unexpected encounter), an experience we weren’t anticipating or even one that we were dreading, can be a hell of a lot of fun and even memorable.

Although, and this is the one draw back of a DJ, I come from a singing family.  An overwhelming, enthusiastic, and very loving family that happens to love to jump up on stage and start singing, especially at weddings.  My sister has one of the best voices I have ever heard and thankfully, it’s usually her that’s up there.  The one draw back of a DJ is that were one to sing, it ultimately sounds like karaoke.  No matter how stunning the vocals.  And that is where the band comes out the clear winner in this comparison.  Because while karaoke is fun at a dive bar with friends and a healthy sense of confidence, a wedding is neither the time nor the place.

And yes, I was most definitely trying to convince the DJ to let me up there for a few songs on Saturday.


SHE SAID: Superstition

April 15, 2010

I was heading out of town recently and at the last second, a black cat went screaming across the road right in front of my car.  While relieved I hadn’t hit it, I started thinking it might be a bad sign and it did make me wonder – if I had hit and killed the cat, would that still have been bad luck?  Since, technically, it wouldn’t have been able to complete crossing my path if I had been able to … stop it.

While not the most superstitious of people, I did spend one soccer season exposing myself to numerous potential infections and social spurning by refusing to launder my socks for the entirety of the season.  We lost in the state finals and I’m pretty sure I lost my faith in being superstitious somewhere around there.  Other than it being somewhat cool, in only the way it would be in the early years of high school, that my socks were formed to my calf and could stand on their own without any support or help, I had dedicated a lot of time, risk and general nastiness to superstition and without the somewhat instant gratification I sought, I wasn’t able to commit more long term to the notion.

But years, perhaps decades, later, I was wondering if I would regret not nipping the cat were I to have an accident or some unfortunate event occur later on that day.

Where is the line between healthy superstition and overt obsessive compulsive disorder?  How many times would we have tolerated Nomar Garciaparra adjusting and readjusting the velcro on his batting gloves for it to be diagnosed as superstition and when would that number have convinced us he was suffering from OCD?  At what point do I stop thinking my son’s resistance to stepping on cracks in pavement is endearing and start worrying that he has a bit of an issue? The line is fine, and the gray area is wide.

And if there is a line between superstition and compulsion, where is the line between superstition and desperation?  After my father passed away, my mom started seeing a lot of cardinals and now she believes that their presence or visibility in her life is my dad’s way of staying with her.  He passed away in the Spring and so there were a lot of cardinals around, but I also know that during important times in her life since his death, she has often seen a cardinal.  Is that the desperation of looking for a sign that someone we love is still active in our lives?  Or is that maybe something more than coincidence?  superstition, belief, flailing for a sign … call it what you will.

I feel more comfortable heading off into something unknown or risky, or even something I’ve done a million times but still want to do well or have go successfully when I can control some aspect of it.  When I was in high school, I was sure that controlling the skankiness of my socks was going to determine the outcome of the game.  It was a small contribution and one that brought my teammates much consternation during long van rides, but I wanted to believe that I had some control other than my performance on the field.  Nomar, having no idea what pitch is coming towards him or how the outfield is going to handle his hit (despite being an incredible player and being able to control a lot of that) felt that tightening his gloves a certain number of times was going to affect his performance.  My son probably feels more comfortable, more at ease, when his foot is squarely in the center of a piece of tile or pavement.  And my mom, devastated from the sudden loss of my father, needs to feel that he is still with her, because after choosing to live your life with someone, who wants to live it without them?

I understand that my considering killing the cat, even though it was after the fact, is insane and twisted.  But, I guess my point is that while some are more superstitious and compulsive than others, I believe we all have our little rituals.  And who wants a cat’s unintentional travel path to determine whether or not they are going to be in a massive 25 car pile up later on that day!?