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DSCN5164I recently read an article that said DIY is in decline because today’s men are too soft.  Men are taking on less traditional gender roles, and doing less home improvement.  We recently moved to Texas, and the house we moved into has several questionable repairs, one of which was some improperly installed can lighting in the kitchen.  When my husband realized the extent of the strangeness of the “repair,” I think his head spun around a few times a la the Exorcist.  I recently traveled back to Arizona to complete some light plumbing, concrete, stucco, and electric repair.  People professed their amazement that I knew how to do all that.

So, are today’s men too soft or too wimpy?  Before I give my opinion on that, let’s talk a little about the role of yesterday’s man.

One hundred years ago, most men were involved in some sort of physical labor: factory work, farming, auto industry, to name a few.  We didn’t have the same level of automation or machines to do our work, so men had to be strong.  Many people built their own houses a hundred years ago.  Today, there are many, many jobs for men (and women).  Most of them are “specialty” type jobs.  What I mean by that is that a hairdresser doesn’t need to know how to wire a socket and a plumber doesn’t need to know how to grow a tomato.  Many people are specialists, and know how to do one or two things.  I would also argue that in some ways, hobbies are dying slow deaths, murdered by cable and Netflix.  Most people don’t come home and tinker with the car or try out new recipes anymore.  They watch something.

I read stories on the internet about how mothers want their boys to play with dolls and their girls to play with trucks, or both of them to play with blocks, and I get worried.  I don’t see what’s wrong with boys and girls (or men and women) being different.  I don’t see what’s wrong with stereotypical gender roles, as long as both people are on board.  Now, if either party doesn’t want those stereotypical gender roles, then they shouldn’t have them.  People need to do what’s right for them individually and in the relationship, not what’s right for everyone else.  Every person is going to be different, and every relationship is going to be different.  I believe that men and women are equal (or should be) even though they may be different.  For example, physically, I’m weaker than my husband.  So when I need him to tighten a bolt or lift something, I don’t feel threatened by that.  I don’t feel like I’m lacking anything.  Similarly, I keep everything organized and handle the money.  Rather than feeling upset by that, he’s glad I have skills he doesn’t have.

I had dolls growing up, but I preferred to read books or wander in the woods and pretend.  I wrote stories.  I also liked video games (original Nintendo, woo hoo!).  When I did play with dolls, it was more about making up stories for them than it was doing their hair or any of that stuff.

So, are men today wimpy?  Maybe.  And women are no longer Suzy Homemaker.  Are either of those things bad things?  Yes.  And no.

Personally, I like that I don’t have to call a professional for many things.  I like that I can fix many things by myself with some help from the trusty Googles.  My husband also likes being able to fix things around the house.  We’re both handy, and many a pleasant Saturday has been spent doing projects.  But we like doing that.  Not everybody likes doing projects.  So, my thought is that instead of making a blanket statement that today’s men are wimpy, maybe we should just consider that they don’t need to do those things for themselves anymore.  And if they want to call someone in to do it for them, that’s great too.

Personally, I’ll save my money.

Where do you stand on do-it-yourself?

thHappy Friday, everyone!

Bus driver saves a woman from jumping off an overpass.  This article is about a year old, but I only saw it this week, and liked it so much that I wanted to share it.

Teen invents device to help people with Alzheimer’s disease stay safe.

Actress Laurie Holden goes undercover and helps save young girls being sold as sex slaves.

Taylor Swift does nice things for fans.  No matter what you think of her music (and personally, I like it), she is a nice girl.

Man who smuggled children out of Germany before WWII has 105th birthday.

 

*This was supposed to be posted right after Halloween but uh… I forgot about it.  :)

Zombie bride, 2014

Zombie bride, 2014

I read this article in the Huffington post about a woman who realizes that her son is too old to trick or treat at 17, but that he doesn’t want to be too old for it.  

This struck a chord with me.

I don’t remember ever getting to trick or treat as a kid, not really.  I got dressed up for school, and I might wear my costume to visit relatives, but our neighborhood was somewhere between rural and suburban, not like these sanitary neighborhoods you see today.  We didn’t have sidewalks or HOAs.  And I had two girls within walking distance of my house.  I also had two boys, but the one was a jerk, and the other was too young to hang out with.

I remember one year, after I had graduated college, I was working with some small children, and I took them to the mall to trick or treat.  I dressed up and held my bag out too.  I got some funny looks, but I pretended not to notice.  Here I was in my early 20s, graduated from college with a full time job, and I was asking for free candy that in all likelihood, I wouldn’t even eat.

Why?

I think I didn’t want to admit I was too old to trick or treat.  I didn’t want to let go of my childhood and everything that meant.  I wanted to dress up and grip and old pillowcase in my hand.  Never mind that I could have bought candy myself if I wanted it.  My parents certainly weren’t going to tell me not to.  It wasn’t about that.  It was about capturing something ineffable.

I didn’t dress up in costume for many years.  What’s the point, as an adult?  If you don’t like loud music, there’s no point in going to a bar, and unless someone you know is having a Halloween party, that’s out.  Sure, you can dress up for the trick or treaters but… I just never did.

Recently, I’ve started dressing up again, just to go out to haunted houses.  I’ve also been lucky enough to go to Halloween parties for the last few years.  Halloween is my favorite holiday, and I always did love dressing up.  That’s not likely to change anytime soon.

Do you dress up for Halloween?

IMG_2836Sometimes I don’t feel entirely like a member of the human race.  There are so many things that other people get their panties in a twist about that just perplex me.  I wonder, “Am I supposed to care about that?”  Some people see me as cold or uncaring, but it’s not that (at least I don’t think so); I’m just not going to waste my valuable energy caring about something that doesn’t affect me directly.  I’m not talking about Important Things, like homelessness or world hunger.  While those don’t affect me directly, I do care about those things.  No, I’m talking about little things, like weight and skin color and sexual orientation and what kind of job you have and what you drive and how you dress and how pretty or attractive you are and whether or not you’re socially awkward and…  There are so many issues I read about that just perplex me.

I’m a fan of Meghan Trainor’s All About That Bass, but a friend of mine recently posted, “How is it okay to teach our daughters it’s okay to be plus sized?”  I was taken aback.  I’m plus sized and I wasn’t aware that I “wasn’t okay.”  Sure, I’d like to lose some weight, but it’s not the grand passion of my life.  Before I move losing weight to the top of the list, I’d like to have a book published, travel to Ireland, take more pictures, visit with friends, read all 100 books on my Classics list, visit my husband’s family in Poland, play with my dogs, take a cruise, unpack my house, have a party, visit my uncle in Virginia, adopt another shelter dog, get more exercise, party with my neighbors, watch the next Star Wars movies, go to the library, try new places to eat, see the Congress Street Bridge Bats, learn my way around Texas without my GPS, to name a few things.  I mean, I eat right and get exercise.  In order to be thin, I feel like I’d have to dedicate my life to it.  And I’m not willing to do that.  If you care about that stuff, I’m not trying to put you down.  Different interests are what makes the world go round… I just don’t think you should do it because you’re “supposed to.”

This is the article that made me start thinking about all this.  It’s all about a girl who “isn’t fat” but “isn’t skinny,” and how she wonders all the time what others think of her.  She wonders if people think she’s fat and she’s afraid to eat in front of other people so they don’t think she’s fat.  I think that sounds exhausting.  I mean, who cares?  If you don’t like me because I’m overweight, that’s your problem.  I’m one of the most interesting, loyal, funny, kind, witty, optimistic people you’ll ever meet, and if all you see is my weight, then it’s your loss.

You know all those attributes I mentioned above like skin color and sexual orientation and job status and attractiveness?  Yeah, the same goes for all that stuff too.  I don’t care about any of those things.  I care about: Can you play the most awful combination of cards in Cards Against Humanity?  Will you go hiking with me?  Do you like Star Wars?  Will you text me just to keep up contact?  Will you take silly pictures with me?  Will you go to a haunted house with me?  Will you read what I’ve written, even if you’re not a reader, because you want to support and encourage me?  Do you like my dogs?  Will you make me laugh?  More importantly, will you get my jokes?  (You don’t have to laugh at them; just getting the reference is enough.)  Can I call you when I’m down and know I won’t be judged?

I see Facebook posts about the drama everyone seems to have in their lives, and I just don’t have that kind of drama.  I have to wonder if it has something to do with me choosing friends for who they are, and not all that surface stuff.  I’ll never compete with my girlfriends and silently compare who’s prettier or who looks better.  I’ll never judge you because you have stains on your clothes or you went back for a 3rd piece of pie.  I don’t care what color your skin is or who you love.

We pay money for these things that I say don’t matter, to lose a few pounds or for a clearer complexion.  For the “right” clothing.  We worry about what we say, not to be kinder or gentler, but to make sure that it’s politically correct, that it won’t offend.

Does it seem odd that I’m okay with offending people, yet I want to be kinder?  I’m okay with offending you if I say something about an issue that you take personally.  My solution: it wasn’t about you; don’t take it personally.  Yet on a one to one basis, I’d like to encourage you and won’t judge you.  Even if you don’t agree with me.  I can disagree with you and still think you’re an okay person.  Unless you advocate hurting puppies.  Then, I’m going to judge… sorry.

When someone dies, no one ever says, “Gosh, she was so thin and always wore the latest styles,” or “He had the best muscles, and I admired his dedication to making money.”  We remember people for how they made us feel.  I had a friend at Wal-mart, a young man with Cerebral Palsy who walked with crutches and died in a tragic accident.  You know what I remember about him?  He was funny, always happy, and he never said “I can’t do that.”

My personal goal is to always try to be kinder to everyone.  Anyone who knows me knows that this is both easy and difficult for me.  As an introvert, I’d prefer not to be bothered.  But as a member of the human race, I have to constantly remind myself that others may believe that my characteristic standoffishness is personal, and so I need to smile and say a kind word, even if it leads to a conversation I didn’t want to have.  Why?  As a member of the human race, I take my responsibility to make the world a kinder place very seriously.

My suggestion for everyone is to try to be just a little kinder than you were yesterday, to others, but more importantly, to yourself.  How will you make the world a kinder, more accepting place today?

This week, as I was gathering stories for Feel Good Friday, it struck me that there is a lot of bad stuff in the world, but the bad stuff is often an opportunity to do good things for others.  Too often, we don’t notice the people around us.  We’re kind of all ships passing in the night.  But when something terrible happens, it’s an opportunity to see one another and come together.  It doesn’t make the awful things less awful, but it does make the good things that much sweeter.  I know not everyone believes it, but I believe there must always be balance.  If we only ate chocolate ice cream all the time, even that would become boring, and we’d take it for granted.  As much as I hate to say it, the world must have Brussels Sprouts.

Shelter dog gets a second chance as a service dog.

List and pictures of all sorts of good deeds and good people.

You’re never too old to cross things off your bucket list.

Cops buy groceries for great grandmother after her purse is snatched.

US and China come to a historic agreement on climate change.

Happy Friday!  And remember…

th

Superstition Mountains, Arizona Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Superstition Mountains, Arizona
Photo Credit: Doree Weller

I moved over two months ago, and I haven’t gotten nearly as much done as I wanted to.  I’d hoped to be further along in unpacking and writing than I am.  I had set a goal to get my novel out to as many agents as possible, until I realized that my novel still needed some heavy editing.  *sigh*  I’ve just been “too” to get anything done.  Too tired.  Too busy.  Too unmotivated.  Too everything.

I expected last week, the first week of NaNoWriMo, to be more of the same.  I was determined to keep going through the entire month, even if I didn’t meet the goal of 50,000 words, just not to give up.  I was also determined to get some things done around the house.

I was pleasantly surprised to feel motivated and to get more done than I expected to.  The unpacking went well, and so did working on my novel.  I’m forcing myself to work on it even when I don’t want to, and it will definitely need rewriting, but at least I’m getting the skeleton on paper, which is the point of NaNoWriMo.  I also managed to do some editing on my completed novel.  My writer’s group gave me positive feedback, and I feel really good about the edits.  I’m changing some minor things in the novel to make it better.  Finally, I feel like I’m on the right track.

Getting things done feels good, and for the first time in two months, I actually feel like I’m off work.  I haven’t worked a job for pay since the beginning of August, but I’ve been so busy and stressed that I haven’t felt like I had any “time off.”  Now, it’s finally starting to feel that way.

As an added bonus, I’ve decided to try doing yoga again.  I did my first session last night, and it was wonderful!  At first I had trouble keeping up (for those of you who don’t use yoga, it moves faster than you’d think), but once I got into the groove, I feel like I did pretty well.  I got a very good workout and I stretched out all those achy muscles.  Of course, I have new aches today, but that’s the good workout kind of ache.

Maybe I didn’t get started as quickly as I wanted, but I’m finally doing all the things I wanted to do during my time “off.”  The clock is ticking until it will be time to go back to work, so I’m making the most use of this time that I can!

Atlantic Ocean, en route to the Bahamas Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Atlantic Ocean, en route to the Bahamas
Photo Credit: Doree Weller

It’s not that I’m against the word, “Ok.”  In spoken language, it has a myriad of meanings and subtle intonations.  It can express doubt, excitement, agreement, irritation, interest, or be a simple act of checking in.  But in text, the flexibility that spoken language gives it becomes a mire of uncertainty.  And quite frankly, it’s lazy.

“Ok” has its place in text messaging.

“Running late.”  “Ok.”

“Meet you at 7?”  “Ok.”

“Fajitas okay for dinner?”  “Ok.”

“Wanna watch House of Cards reruns tonight?”  “Ok.”

But when I’ve taken the time to share an entire thought with people, and they text back “Ok,” it sounds like they were too busy or disinterested to bother to type an entire response.  Even “lol” is a better response.  I know they probably didn’t laugh out loud, but that shorthand tells me that they at least thought my anecdote was amusing.  That they were paying attention.

Please, heed my words!  If you care about someone, unless you’re answering a direct question in which “Ok” is the appropriate response or a placeholder acknowledgement, think before you type those letters.  This has been a public service announcement.

thWow, this week just flew by!  How did it get to be Friday already??  Not that I’m complaining, mind you, but still.

Teens reinvent the selfie for beautiful self-portraits.

Rescued dog just wants to be loved.

Shelter dog becomes a seizure alert dog with no training.

Ghostbusters cast take a 30th anniversary picture.

Man working on visiting every country in the world.

Enjoy today’s dose of positive, and make today wonderful!

 

Cedar Park, Texas Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Cedar Park, Texas
Photo Credit: Doree Weller

I think that when you’re from an area that gets regular rain, you tend to take it for granted.

I get up in Pennsylvania, and we got rainstorms and thunderstorms, especially in the summer.  We had times when it would rain for a week straight.  It rained the day my sister in law got married in 2004, and the next day, the place where she got married experienced a 100 year flood, and was literally underwater.

When we moved to Arizona, I was excited by the idea of living where it doesn’t rain.  People leave things outside and leave their car windows down because… it really doesn’t rain.

At first, not having to use my wipers was a cool novelty, and I liked that pretty much every day was sunny.  I liked the long days and the baking heat.

Eventually, I started to miss the rain.  One of my favorite quotes is from V for Vendetta (appropriate for the 5th of November… Happy Guy Fawkes day, incidentally).  “God is in the rain.”

I’m not sure why I like that quote, other than that I’ve always felt a spiritual connection with the rain.  I love the sound and the smell.  I love the way it makes colors brighter.  I love how it washes everything clean.  I don’t even mind getting rained on.  (I do not love how I have to wipe dirty dog paws after they’ve been outside, but everything has a price.)

Texas had been in a drought, but we’ve gotten a lot of rain since I’ve been here, and for that, I’m very grateful.    Rain makes me want to sit in my house with a cup of coffee, and just write with no other sounds than the music of nature.  I have a window open just enough so I can hear, and I’m facing my big windows, which let me see outside.

What are your thoughts on rain?

DSCN5450I’m lucky; I’ve always been forgetful, so when something slips my mind, I don’t blame it on old age or anything like that.  No, I know that it’s just the way I am.

Earlier today, like 5 minutes before I started this blog, I remembered a really awesome blog idea that I had weeks ago and then forgot about.  I grabbed a pen to jot it down, and by the time I’d gotten a pen and paper, I’d forgotten it again.  I have no idea what the idea was, and I’ve tried reconstructing my thought process just prior to remembering it.  But no luck.

Welcome to my life.

I have 10 million notebooks laying around everywhere with little or no organizational strategy.  I jot things about blogs everywhere, and I have word documents dedicated to ideas.  After I write it down, I forget about it.  I love Pinterest, even if it does frequently point out my organizational shortcomings.  Pinterest is like the neighbor who seems to be able to do it all effortlessly.

I’m trying a new thing.  I have a journal, so I’m going to start writing story and blog ideas in there, and then tagging them with special Post-it notes so that I can find the ideas.  That way, it’s a very centralized location, and I’ll always know where everything is.

Sounds great, right?

Yeah, let’s hope it works out for me.  ;)

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