Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Bucket List

Like most moms, I don't really spend enough time on myself. As I noticed that I was depressed and bored with the minutiae of my life, I began to seek ways to break up the tedium.

A few years ago, my friend Christa bought me this book called "You can do it! The merit badge handbook for grown-up girls." It's a really fun book with about 60 chapters, each chapter detailing a potential goal to accomplish - hobbies to try, dreams to pursue - and gives you a detailed way to try to accomplish this goal. Each chapter includes a "advice on how to get started" interview from someone experienced in that field, realistic checklists on how to get started, list on potential steps you might want to achieve (how to just try it out, how to get good at it, how to do it as a career), and a list of resources (websites, books, magazines, organizations) to check out for more information.

I've been tackling this book for the past month or two, chapter by chapter as they interest me. (I skipped right over "Starting a rock band" and "quilting" because they're of no interest to me, for example.) It's a really cute book, and it's definitely come a long way toward giving me a clearer picture of the goals I want to accomplish in my lifetime.

So, in the name of trying something new, this is the list I've made both from the book directly and inspired by my hobbies. These are things I want to do someday:


  1. Write a novel. Complete it.
  2. Get published online - opinion pieces, satire pieces, short stories
  3. Knit a damn scarf and actually finish it and wear it
  4. Tour America by car. Visit the Grand Canyons, the Pacific Ocean, and the Great Lakes for the first time. Revisit Yellowstone, Devil's Tower, the Black Hills, New England, and the deep south again. Mingle with the locals. Pick up an accent temporarily.
  5. Write my life story. Let people read it. - WORKING ON THIS SLOWLY AND IN PIECES
  6. Try out for a play - community theater
  7. Act in a play
  8. Take an improv class - DOING THIS NOW!
  9. Take singing lessons
  10. Take a bellydance class
  11. Sing karaoke, in public. This terrifies me.
  12. Learn a new language - I'm thinking German
  13. Join the NRA. Buy a gun and practice target shooting. Become proficient with its use. GOT MY SMITH & WESSON M&P COMPACT 9MM IN 2013. RECEIVED MY CONCEALED CARRY PERMIT IN 2013.
  14. Learn to play pool 
  15. Play guitar again
  16. Play volleyball again
  17. Sell some of the jewelry I've made - somewhere, anywhere
  18. Attend wine tastings. Discover which wines I love
  19. Throw a truly great party - wedding?
  20. Learn to play chess
  21. Try yoga - I'm gonna fart, I know it
  22. Go fishing with Dan's Granddad ( :'( this one never happened, Granddad passed away in 2013.)
  23. Be comfortable with jogging in public
  24. Learn to change my car's oil and do other routine maintenance
  25. Go camping. Sleep in a tent, build our own fire, fish and relax for days. Don't die.
  26. Discover my family tree on both sides; trace my lineage back as far as possible
  27. Learn to salsa dance - might as well put these hips and this Mexican heritage to good use
  28. Learn to swing dance. Again, hips.
  29. Visit Europe, don't die in a bathtub full of ice without my internal organs
  30. Go to a concert festival
  31. Go hunting with my dad
  32. Read through the classics that I haven't read before
  33. Give a public speech with a large audience, just to feel the rush
  34. Study a topic that interests me. Write reports on that topic. I miss college.
  35. Buy a brand new car, be the first person to drive it
  36. Go scuba diving; don't get eaten by a shark or other marine creatures
  37. Buy a house with my man. Make it our own.
  38. Re-pierce my nose or dye my hair a crazy color
  39. Spend a day at the spa and truly relax.
  40. Learn painting techniques. Attempt to paint something half-decent
  41. Learn to play poker
  42. Go on a cruise  - this is what we plan to do for our honeymoon
  43. Spend a weekend away at a nice hotel. Drink, sleep in, have loud sex, wear comfy robes, steal the toilet paper.
  44. Go to a major league baseball game and a Steelers game
  45. Pay off my student loans - almost there!
  46. Set up an investment portfolio. Profit at least $5 when it's all said and done.
  47. Get front row seats to a band I truly love (done this with a few bands such as The Airborne Toxic Event - thanks Luke! I'm still sad that you were sick for this - but I want to do it with more!). Met Hanson in 2013 and Taylor dedicated MMMBop to my daughter - best day of my damn life.
  48. Sponsor a child and actually make the payments. Sorry, Abusa from Ethiopia! I hope you're still alive.
  49. Drive a boat. Steer a boat? Whatever it's called. I'M ON A BOAT.
  50. Go to a good play.
So, who's doing what with me? And what's on your bucket list?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A Church Sign Double-Whammy!

My favorite church has a double-sided sign, and yesterday I actually pulled over to take a picture because the irony was just too great. I'm sure I'm using the term "irony" incorrectly but I don't even care. This is too good.

On one side, the sign says, "To belittle is to be little." Basically, they're saying that if you insult and belittle people, you are weak. A fair point. 


But then on the other side, they actually belittle you as you drive by:


"If you are unkind, you are the wrong kind." I get it - they're trying to make a play on words and give a little inspirational message about kindness. But using your church's billboard to call passersby "wrong" is probably not the best way to get them to step inside your doors. It probably IS the best way to get them to roll their eyes and join a cult. Probably. I dunno.

I've proposed some alternate church signs that they'll probably use in the future, if they finally decide to stop beating around the bush.

Romans 8:31, Victory Baptist Style.


JOIN OUR CLUB AND WE'LL BE NICE TO YOU!
Verily, verily, I sayeth unto thee, thou shalt speaketh in terminology that confuseth the average man so that he might see the errors of his ways and come unto you, humbled, and shall be washed in the blood of the lamb. Macbeth.




Monday, October 15, 2012

Cohabiting: Is it okay?

As an unmarried mother, I've endured plenty of judgmental comments from people, both Christian and non-Christians alike, because I'm not married to my child's father. I've also gotten comments because I "claim to be a Christian," yet I live with the man I love despite the fact that we aren't married. My best friend was recently insulted at her bank, where the bank employee essentially told her that having a joint bank account with someone you're not married to is a major risk - strongly implying that any issues with her joint bank account that she has with her boyfriend are a result of them being unmarried. This same best friend was also insulted by a former close friend that she used to nanny for, who made her feel like a bad Christian for living with her boyfriend before marriage. I myself have been lectured, insulted, and have received various 'loving hints' from Christians about how I'm clearly not trusting in God  because I'm living with my fiance before marriage.

It turns out, those Christians who insulted me were right. These are the things I've learned from searching the internet for websites debunking Cohabiting as being non-Biblical:

  1. Every time a couple lives together before marriage, they have sex. The term "cohabiting" (living together) is absolutely synonymous with "sex before marriage," 100% of the time. According to this website, at least.  If you live with your boyfriend or girlfriend, you're gonna bang, even if you've decided not to. I think there's like, an evil demon-elf that sneaks in to cohabiting couples' houses and makes them 'do it' when they're asleep. I hear it doesn't feel as nice as when you're awake but at least the little guy cleans up for you both afterward.
  2. People who live together before marriage are bad with money.  Obviously you moved in together because it was more affordable, but "the majority of cohabitants do eventually break up and economics are obviously not an overwhelming impediment then, so why allow it to become a controlling factor from the start[?]"  Basically, you moved in together to save money, but you WILL split up, and money doesn't keep you together then, so you're stupid and bad with money.
  3. Conversely, when you get married, you automatically become good with money. You never overdraw your checking account, and you always pay all of your bills on time. You always consult one another and various websites and experts before making any financial decisions, and you never regret purchases. Marriage is awesome for your wallet! And financial problems are definitely not the number one reason for divorce. Nope.
  4. Living together is an insult to the institution of marriage. And interesting note about that institution: you and I were probably unaware of this, but even when Jesus was walking the earth, people were actually still required to get a certificate of marriage in the United States of America. Their marriages were only valid with that certificate from the U.S. government. All marriages that took place without a United States Certificate of Marriage were invalid. Pretty cool, eh? Go 'merica!
  5. Living together before marriage is stupid. Trying anything out before you 'buy' it is obviously a bad idea. Anyone who has purchased a car sight-unseen from Craigslist can attest that if something appears to be great upon first sight, it's going to be great; no questions.

    Obviously, if you both love God, then you're 100% perfect for each other. Personality differences, personal beliefs, financial differences, sexual mis-matches, bad habits, and other incompatibilities don't exist. All it takes to make a marriage work is for it to be "right in God's eyes" which means that you have a United States Certificate of Marriage BEFORE you get naked together. Even if he's verbally abusive or an alcoholic, or if she's a withholding jerk or if she has emotional issues that cause her to be unstable, it doesn't matter. Because you are married in God's eyes! Make it work!

    Trust me, every single thing that you need to know about the person you're dating can be ascertained without having to commit the atrocity of living together. You actually don't ever need to set foot inside of the same building as your partner. Simply ask your partner's mother if they were neat and tidy, and quiz your partner's exes and you'll know everything you need to know about how easy this person is to live with. You don't need to be a heathen to find out if you're compatible!
  6. The issues that plague non-married couples don't even affect married couples. There have been 0 documented cases of abusive husbands in the history of mankind; there are only abusive boyfriends. Never in history has a man treated his wife badly. Not once has a wife cried herself to sleep due to abject loneliness. That kind of thing only happens to the Unmarrieds (especially The Gays).
  7. If you marry someone, you automatically become sexually compatible. I know I have never met a married couple where the man wanted sex more than his wife was willing to give it to him, and who either felt lonely or gypped or cheated because of this. That simply doesn't happen. Apparently when both parties put on their matching wedding rings, a special hormone is released in each person's Dirty-Before-Marriage Parts that causes instant, whole, complete sexual attraction and compatibility, forever and ever, til death do they part.
  8. If you were such a heathen that you had kids before marriage, your bastard child will automatically become a menace to society with no moral basis and no ability to contribute to society. Keep your legs closed until after marriage or you'll give birth to the next Hitler or Housewife of New Jersey.
  9. Until you have a marriage ceremony, you're not committed to one another. You're only kinda-sorta-barely-into-each-other. Only people who have paid for a $20,000 party complete with flowers and catered meals are committed to each other. Everyone else is a jackass who's faking it.
  10. Remember that kid in your Biology class who threw off the curve for everyone else, because he studied or was a friggin' genius and somehow managed to get like a 99% when everyone else got like a 72%? You hated that asshole because, if he hadn't scored so high, everyone would've gotten a better bump in their scores. But because that jerk was so smart, everyone else was screwed.

    People who live together before marriage are just like that jerk who scored so high. You see, they don't have to do all the stuff that the "good" students of marriage did. They didn't stay pure until marriage (because as we noted above, every couple living together before marriage always screws like bunnies, like 30 times a day), they didn't go bankrupt to hold a wedding, they didn't wait to kiss until their wedding day. They cheated, and they still get all the benefits of a relationship! That's NOT FAIR! HOW DARE THEY still claim to be happy, despite the fact that they aren't legally married? How DARE they pretend that they're emotionally fulfilled with their partners? It's disgusting.
So basically, if you even THINK of living together before marriage, you:

  1. Are slutty
  2. Are definitely bad with money
  3. Are a bad Christian
  4. Are a bad American
  5. Have no faith in God to pay your bills for you
  6. Are too concerned with sex to be a good spouse anyway
  7. Are destined to have a child out of wedlock
  8. Are a bad parent
  9. Are uncommitted to one another
  10. Are cheating at life.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Me.

Do you ever just get sick of pretending? Sick of pretending to be fine, pretending to be a better person than you are, of pretending that things are perfect when they're not? Don't you get sick of holding on to what you know you should, of balancing everything of yours while juggling everything that belongs to others, while standing on an impossibly-small, tilted pedestal that you built with your own two hands, that you balance on while painting yourself with primer just to cover up your flaws? Don't you want to just turn everything upside down and shock, disappoint, scare, disgust, hurt everyone you know, just to say that you finally did what you wanted to do? Don't you just want to be YOU, only you?

Don't you ever just want to be your base, carnal self, doing exactly what you want to do, just for yourself...Bucking the societal norms and tossing caution to the wind? Don't you want to just indulge, try something new, make some big fucking regrets? Don't you want to break the law, break some hearts, and break out of yourself for the first time in your life? Don't you want to get so high that you can't even complete a thought, but you can laugh and laugh until you can't even imagine crying?

Don't you want to get so far out of yourself that you don't even remember who you used to be, if only for a time period? Don't you want to escape everything and be free and clear of constraints and pain, of fear and folly, of ideology and creeds?

Don't you ever just want to scream "FUCK IT!" and just throw it all out there: everything you are, everything you desire, everything you are unhappy with, everything that hurts you... Just put it right the fuck out there, for the world to see, and if they judge you, so fucking what? Fuck them. Fuck them and their conditional adoration. Fuck them and their expectations. Fuck them and their beliefs, their seriousness, their cookie-cutters. Fuck everything.

Don't you want to run the fuck away and lose contact with every single person you know? Just disappear, reinvent yourself completely, and never look back? Don't you want to throw away all of the bullshit and the rules, the ideas and the promises, the responsibility and the ties holding you down, the lies and the painful truths, and just BE? Don't you want to disappear so that you can meld and mold and redo and restart, try and test and fail and flail, scream and dance and cry and be exposed? Don't you want to be gone from where you used to be? Don't you want today to be history?

I do.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

My disenchantment with Christians

One of the many experiences I've had that made me lose my faith in Christians as the 'good people' I always thought they were.

I was in college. I was driving home from the store when I saw an ambulance in a yard. It had been raining that week, and the ambulance was stuck in the mud. There was no immediate emergency - they had responded to a distress call and had taken care of the person they had been called to check out. They didn't need to get her to the hospital; they needed to resume their shift. But the ambulance was stuck in her muddy front yard.

I pulled over and asked if I could help. The guy responded "Do you happen to know where you can find about 5 strong guys?" In fact, I did. I was attending Christian college about two blocks away. I told them I knew a bunch of Christian guys who would be glad to help. And I thought I was right.

I drove up the road and went to the dorm right next to my dorm, our 'brother dorm.' In the lobby, I asked the dozen or so guys if any could come help push an ambulance out of a yard a few blocks away. Nobody came. I stayed there for about 20 minutes, asking around, to see if I could get just a few guys to come push the ambulance out. It would only take about 10 minutes if a few guys came!

Out of the 30 I asked, one came. The rest were "too busy." One guy even said "I just don't feel like it, they'll be fine." His name was Joe V. He recently married a friend of my sister's, one of the sweetest girls I'd ever met. Lucky girl.

I went back with that guy and he, and I, and the two EMTs, pushed the ambulance out of the mud. No thanks to my Christian college classmates.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Christianese: Church sign

The latest church sign on my commute:

"If God is your co-pilot, switch seats!"

What they mean to say is:
"Let God take control!"

What they're actually telling the world:
"You should be a helpless body, just giving all your decisions over to a higher power. Do nothing yourself. Just let God handle it. Lay down and shut up. God doesn't help those who help themselves...God only helps those who let him do everything all the time."

Monday, September 24, 2012

My Character Flaws

One of the biggest lessons I'm trying to instill in my daughter is the danger of keeping secrets. Hiding the things I've felt and done over the years was one of the biggest reasons for my isolation and for bigger mistakes.

If I had been in an environment where I felt comfortable sharing my faults, my fears, my problems, my mistakes, and my questions with my parents and my friends...without judgment...well, I don't think that my life choices would have come out the same as they did. I think I would've been a much better person much sooner.

But hey, you live and you learn, and my life lessons have been instrumental in bringing me to where I am today. I hold no regrets at this point in my life.

However, where I am today is still very imperfect. After years of struggling to keep up a "perfect" face, I'm finally ready to break out and be openly imperfect. It's been years in the making. My biggest fear with transparency and honesty was this: "If I tell the truth about the 'bad' things that I feel and do, then I'll have to commit to changing. And if I commit to changing, and I fail, then I'm not only a failure, I'm a public failure."

This mentality - this fear of being mocked, judged, or shamed  - has been one of my very worst character flaws. It's my de-motivator when it comes to exercise. It's my reason for attacking people I love. It's my reason for self-doubt and hatred that I harbored for years.

Enough of that crap. If I can't be honest with myself and with the people who care about me, I shouldn't bother to call myself a genuine person. I hate fake. I've been fake. Hell, I've probably been fake for more of my life than I've been real.

So in the interest of abolishing facades, I'm going to share a diary entry that I wrote during a very emotionally-introspective period this past weekend. I curled up against a tree and just thought, and wrote, about all the things that I don't like about myself, the things that are ruining my life, the things that need to change about me. I thought about the relationships I've sabotaged and the horrible ways I've treated myself over the years. I figure the first step toward change is awareness of the problem. So here's the list I came up with, in no particular order except that this is how they came into my head.

My Character Flaws:

  1. I assume I already know what people think of me, whether they've indicated so or not.
  2. I hold conversations and feelings in my head and I hold them against people even if they've never happened
  3. I push everyone away to see if they'll care enough to try to get back in
  4. I automatically assume people don't care about me
  5. I only feel guilty when I get caught
  6. I want people to like me, so I'm too nice to them, at my own expense
  7. I put everyone else's feelings before mine. In Sunday school, they taught us to practice JOY in our lives: "JESUS-OTHERS-YOU = JOY!" meaning put Jesus first, others next, and put yourself last. Great in theory, but I took it quite literally - taking it to the point that I never spent a moment worrying about myself.
  8. I never forgive myself for any mistake
  9. I'm lonely when I'm alone. I don't know how to enjoy my own company except when I'm enthralled in a project such as crafting or writing.
  10. I'm different around different people
  11. I do things I know are wrong, still do them, and then am disgusted by myself later for having done them. Yet I don't stop doing them.
  12. I am obsessed with punishing everyone for doing anything wrong. This is why I get so angry driving in traffic, or why I get annoyed when other people do thing in a way that I find to be wrong, such as parenting 
  13. I please everyone but me - even people I dislike or owe nothing to
  14. I assume i'm on the outside of everything and I don't try to get involved because of that. I rationalize my lack of involvement by saying "I'm not a ____ girl" or "I'm not a real ____ fan" so I can't join the group.
  15. I hide my feelings from people who care about me because I assume they don't actually care. I will lie to your face and tell you that I'm fine. If you don't believe me, I will continue to lie. Only a few people have ever seen through the lie.
  16. I avoid being friendly to people (neighbors, church members, etc) for fear of becoming obligated to be around regularly/join a group/put on a fake personality/have people rely on me
  17. I assume that trying to behave better is the equivalent to being a fake, so I don't try to behave better
  18. I assume random behaviors and actions are fake in others
  19. I love attention. I live for it.
  20. I judge myself way too harshly
  21. I draw arbitrary lines in the sand, constantly, about everything.
  22. I HATE being wrong
  23. I avoid introspection because it causes change. Then I still think about what I need to change (There I go with the introspection! damnit!), but I don't change, then I feel guilty about not changing
  24. I don't do things if I'm told do them. I don't do things BECAUSE I'm told to do them. My feeling is, I don't do things to prove myself, so stop telling me to do them. I'll do them on my own. Basically, I'm a teenager.
  25. I thrive on a constantly-full to-do list. It's boring if there isn't a pile of stuff to do. I think I like to feel overwhelmed because it gives me purpose.
  26. I eat too much and get angry with myself for doing so
  27. If I don't have unlimited portions of food available, I feel like I'm going to starve so I gorge myself
  28. I like people at least a little bit less if I disagree with them politically
  29. I like to see people angry because that's the only time they're honest with me
  30. I share nothing with people, then get angry when they don't know me well
  31. I share too much with people, then get angry when they're offended or bored
  32. I want deep friendships, but I sabotage them
  33. I hold people to impossible standards in my head
  34. I hate complete strangers over stupid things like their looks or their public actions
  35. I get very angry over very little things
  36. I lose control of my emotions regularly and without regard to how it affects the people around me
  37. I abuse the life out of the people I love
  38. I pre-sabotage my own happiness by talking myself out of trying things
  39. I care too much about what people think, especially people I like
  40. I don't like myself sometimes. Other times I adore myself. Why?
  41. I intentionally espouse opinions that are the opposite of people I dislike, out of spite. They don't care.
  42. I don't discuss my feelings until I blow up
  43. I don't spoil myself ever, because I think it's selfish. But I think it's healthy when others spoil themselves.
  44. I only do things I want to do, when I want to do them
  45. I bite my tongue to avoid conflict when sometimes conflict is necessary
  46. I am disgusted by myself, and I don't know why
  47. I am not nice to myself. I speak to myself in a very mean voice, saying very mean things. I don't forgive myself.
  48. I don't know if I'll ever feel like an adult, no matter where I am in life. I resent myself for this.
  49. Responsibility terrifies me because I'm scared I'll fail
  50. I lie to myself in order to live with myself
Some of these are redundant. Some aren't character flaws. And some contradict and are still true. Some are only true sometimes. Some are so true, they're painful.

But, this is me. What now?

Monday, September 10, 2012

Christianese: The latest church sign

As I mentioned on a previous blog entry, there's a church on my commute that always puts up church signs that they think are effective in reaching the secular community, but are actually super-douchey.

This week's sign:
"ETERNITY IS A LONG TIME TO BE WRONG"

The message they were intending to send:
"In case God really is real and the Bible is true, and you don't believe in him, that means you will not go to heaven. Hell is a horrible place. We don't want you to go there. Consider checking into Christianity so you can save yourself from hell. We care about you."

The message they're actually sending:
YOUR BELIEFS ARE WRONG
YOU'RE AN IDIOT
YOU'RE GOING TO BURN IN HELL FOREVER

Friday, September 7, 2012

Keep Out

I don't understand why people are private, guarding their feelings and opinions.

I mean, I understand if you don't want to hang your underwear on your outdoor clothesline or if you don't want to discuss your childhood traumas with strangers.

But privacy? It just seems weird to me.

I'm completely open about everything. I see no reason not to be.

I've been known to be extremely open and up-front about everything from discussing personal issues, family histories, sexual experiences, my irritation with my child, everything. Obviously I try to keep my discussions to an appropriate audience.

But I just feel like other people are so tight-lipped about everything. And my response to that is: Why? What is your big secret? Did someone tell you that you have to remain quiet to retain an air of mystery? Mystery is overrated. Do you know what mystery is? Mystery is a lie, an illusion. Be open about who you are, what you're thinking, what you're feeling, what you want, and what you want to talk about, and when you need to fart. That way, your friends will be real friends. Your discussions will be deeper, or at least more interesting.

I think part of the reason I'm so open is that I wish everyone was. I want to know everyone's opinions on everything. I want to know where you've been and how it affected you. I want to know your dreams and who you wish to be. I want to see your wedding pictures and hear about how your kids behave. I just care about that kind of stuff. Not to say that I'm an overly-caring, sweet person...more so to say that I'm an observer, a watcher, probably a stalker on occasion.

I wasn't always this way. In fact, I used to be extremely tight-lipped about almost everything. I used to never cry, never talk about my feelings, never show myself. I wasn't quiet by any means - in fact, I was loud and obnoxious, probably to cover up my insecurities.

But now that I've been through so much shit in life - and excuse my language, but that's what it was: shit - I've grown far more confident in everything about myself. I know my strengths and my weaknesses and I know that my weaknesses don't diminish my strengths. I know my fears, dreams, hopes, and desires and I know that they are right for me, they're not just things I was told to do or be or want. I know my role as a mom and as a fiance and I know more of what lies in my future. So I don't need to hide. I don't need to be quiet. I don't need to apologizing for what I feel or what I want.

I also don't feel the need to be reserved or emotionally detached anymore. It's a weird, nice freedom. I think someday I'll become accustomed to this openness and I'll finally find a happy medium between the old, loud-to-cover-up-vulnerability me, and the current over-sharing hyper-opinionated me.

Damn.... this entry would never have even been slightly true just a few weeks before I met Dan. What the heck?

Friday, August 31, 2012

Baby Names for the Modern Family


There are an abundance of interesting baby names that are popular today. I work in an industry where I process a lot of paperwork for families throughout the country, so I come across some interesting names every single day. As a country that's been around for over 230 years, people seem to finally be getting tired of common names such as Jonathon, Elizabeth, Mary, and James. But now, nobody wants the same old name as the other kids on the block (Am I right, every Jessica or Ashley or Michael or James born in the 1980s?).

Instead, people want something fresh, something new. Baby names are useful for making your child stand out in a crowd, for getting your politics heard, and they seem to be the best place to express your personality as a couple.


Enjoy the list!

Baby Names for the Modern Family:

  1. LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION   Name your child after a place. This is the simplest way to tell the world that "we had sex in this city, and that's where the wife got knocked up with this child" or "we've never been to this city so we're living vicariously through our kid's name." Talking to you, parents of kids named Paris.

    But sometimes, a lot of other people have used the exact same name as you. Because they too want to enjoy the sights and sounds of Denver through your kids names. So why not switch it up a little? Make your kid stand out!

    If your current name choice is Madison
    Choose an accurate alternative that means the same thing: Bland
    Or, go with a modern twist: Midwesterner Lee (Because every midwesterner's middle name is Lee)

    Current Name Choice: Brooklyn
    Accurate Alternative: Bad Accent
    Modern Alternative: Gang Fight

    Current Name choice: Dallas
    Accurate Alternative: Cowboy
    Modern Alternative: Republican

  2. FOLLOW THE STARS! 

    Name your child after a movie star. Because nothing says "I put my family first in my life" like naming your child after an actor who will be a has-been by the time your child is old enough to find out who his namesake is.

    Also, apparently naming your offspring after a celeb's last name is a popular idea in some groups of women who have no hobbies. So, here are a few ideas to get you started:

    Current name choice is: Ashton (after that guy who was in that show, you know?)
    Accurate Alternative: DoucheBaggery
    Modern Alternative: Dimples

    Current name choice: Pattinson (after that "guy" who was in that vampire thing with the girl puppet Kristen who has dead eyes?)
    Accurate Alternative: Ghastly
    Modern Alternative: Glitter

    Current name choice: Mischa (after that girl with the face)
    Accurate Alternative: Cheekbones
    Modern Alternative: Who Fucking Cares

  3. LET IT GROW!  Plants make great namesakes for kids, but typically the market has been cornered by female names such as Daisy, Rose, or Fern.

    I'd like to propose some foliage names for boys:

    Skunk Cabbage
    Lettuce
    Birch
    Crabgrass
    Acorn

    ...or even some names inspired by foliage, which can be used for either gender:
    Photosynthesis
    Stem
    Xylem
    Rhizome
    Frond
    Vascular Bundle (You can forever refer to him as your bundle of joy! OMG that's so cute like seriously I can't even)

    Or maybe, if you're not a green thumb, you could name your child after an animal!
    Dromedary (Guess what day it is!?)
    Aoudad (exotic!)
    Woodchuck (call him Chuck!)
    Quagga (or Q for short)
    Jerboa (add a 'qua' at the end for girls)
    Chameleon or Chamelia (she'll probably blend with the crowds in at school though...)
    Porpoise (they're so cute, your kid will be too)
    Mammal (because it's like sooo meta)

  4. DRIVE TO SUCCEED

     You drive one, why not name your baby after one? Apparently there's an entire list of car names for babies. I kid you not.  Surely if your child attends daycare, you've met children with names such as "Mercedes" "Porsche" and the much less expensive but still classy "El Camino With Pimped Out Rims" who was in the dusty corner of the playground.

    But what if you want to step away from the common car names? I give you a few matching first and middle names for the baby being born into your road-trip loving family:

    Shelby Danica
    Camry Jetta
    Lexus Aston
    Tie Rod
    Leather Interior
    Fossil Fuel
    30-MPG
    Pretentious Hummer
    Never-Taken-Off-Road SUV
    Reliant Chevette

    And while we're at it, let's name our kids after some other things we can't afford:

    Diamond Ringue (or her more affordable QVC cousin, Diamionique, which I have seen as a name. Seriously.)
    Mortgage
    Second Mortgage
    Payday Loan
    Extravagant Wedding
    Painful Divorce
    RV Retirement
    Term Life Insurance
    New Boobs
    Vaginal Rejuvenation
    Socialized Medicine
  5. WORK IT!

    Many people prefer classic names, and long ago, we named our children after professions. You've seen:

    Hunter (he who hunts),
    Carver (sculptor),
    Fletcher (an arrow-maker),
    Sawyer (a wood sawyer),
    Ward (a watchman),
    Bailey (a bailiff)...

    ...but most of those professions are out of date. What about some modern names based on professions that people work today? I've added some cutesy endings for the kiddo in your life.

    Secretarierre or her modern sister, Administrative Assistante
    Salespersonne
    Cashieriqua
    Nurse (boy OR girl name!)
    Janitor, or Yan Itor  depending on your country of origin
    Small BusinessOwner
    Direct Market'er
    Jamberry Wrapper

  6. MAD LIBS POPULARITY

    If profession-based names aren't your forte, what about verbs? You're surely familiar with many classics:

    Chase
    Grant
    Pearce
    Duke
    Cruise
    Journey

    But what about some new verbs, you know, to keep it fresh?

    Slap
    Flee
    Irritate
    Laze
    Forget
    Defend
    Flagellate
    Birth
    Explicate
    Abbreviate
    Implode
     
  7. SPELLING CHANGES EVERYTHING  

    Some people prefer to stick with classic names, but with an alternate spelling. Why not? It alleviates the hum-drum and takes a classic, plain name from boring into magical - it becomes something that not even the most astute Professor of Ebonics ("African American Vernacular, natch) can pronounce. It's a great way to make your child stand out in school.

    Here are some cute alternatives!

    Anne becomes: Aynne, Ahn, Eyn
    Ruth becomes: Ru'the or Roothe
    Jessica becomes: Jesikke or Jessahkeh
    Jennifer becomes: Gynquiffeur or Jennafurr'kolandah
    Stephanie becomes: Stefani, Stephaknee
    Jason becomes: Jaysen, Jaehsonn, Jasn
    Robert becomes: Rabrt, Robbort, Rob'rte
With this go-to list of baby names, your child will surely have the most modern, talked-about name on the block! And isn't that what having kids is all about? Getting people to pay attention to you?

You're friggin' welcome, moms-to-be.


~Re'Bekahh Denver Sunflower Subaru OfficeClerk Pontificate Su'

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Setting a date

Everyone is asking if we have a date picked for our wedding.

These are my goals before we even set a date:

1. Have a long discussion about what type of wedding we envision. My vision?

  • Large venue with ample lighting (I LOVE BRIGHT LIGHT!)
    No more than 200 guests
  • Local to Phoenixville  - not a destination wedding because destination weddings scream "I don't want you to actually come share our day with us, I just want the gifts"
  • I prefer ceremony and reception at same venue - and I don't want a church wedding
  • I do NOT want an outdoor wedding (I'm far too unlucky, it'll be horrible weather)
  • How many are in bridal party (I'm going with a maid of honor - Laura! and I have 5 bridesmaids that I've asked at this point, that should be it)
  • DJ or band? DJ in my opinion, unless we can get the Foo Fighters - haha
  • NOT a winter wedding (I hate cold) or a fall wedding (I hate fall colors) - so late spring or summer but not too hot (so basically the most expensive wedding season)


2. Get a rough price estimate for each detail of the wedding -

venue rental, photographer, DJ, cake, catering, honeymoon, bridal party gifts, bachelorette/bachelor party costs, pre-wedding pampering for bridal party, etc

3. Based on the price estimates, we will then budget to be able to afford the wedding in a timely manner. I'd like to avoid taking out a loan but I'm sure we'll have to, I'd just rather pay as much as we can without a loan. I realize this might be a pipe dream, but I refuse to go into massive debt over a wedding when we still have a house to purchase someday soon thereafter, and we plan on popping out 2 more little Hubers someday

4. Based on the budget, we will then set a date.

It is now August of 2012. I'm sure the wedding date will be set for sometime in 2014 at the earliest. I'm in no rush :-)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

A Letter to my Bridal Party:

I just wanted to say a few things to the ladies that will be sharing my big day with me. Despite the fact that I don't ever watch those Bridezilla type shows (because I want to pretend that all my wedding ideas were originally mine, and watching those shows would shatter that illusion. It's the same reason I can't watch Martha Stewart...I'm pretty much set on the idea that she stole all her ideas from me.), but I do know that Brides tend to be a bit Crazy during their wedding planning.
And guess who bears the brunt of that Crazy? It can't be the groom - we're in the home stretch, can't scare him off. No, no...I've gotta keep my Crazy Monster Side locked away until I have him tied down to the altar.

It's the bridal party. The bridal party deals with the bride's crazy and her emotional highs and lows and her losing her mind about EVERYTHING. And since every bride seems to give herself the green light to stomp all over her best friends just because she's the bride, I've decided to write a letter to my party now - before my Bucket-'O-Crazy comes out. Let's hope they hold me to my word.

Dear Bridesmaids,

First of all, I chose you to be in my wedding party, so this means that we're close friends who adore one another. Please keep this in mind over the next few months. You like me. More importantly, I like you. I really do. You know that I'm a level-headed (when sober), caring person who just wants to have a fabulous, simple wedding day. But you also know that, like many of us ladies, I have a whole bucket of Crazy at the ready, at any given moment. I promise to do my best to keep this Crazy in check, even when things get hectic. Feel free to point it out of it starts showing.

They say that every bride should be the most beautiful girl at her own wedding. While I agree with this, I don't think it's cool to create a juxtaposition by putting the bride in a beautiful, flowing white gown, and standing her next to a chiffon overload of brightly-colored bridesmaids who look like they're wearing a pastry chef's rejected first try. Therefore, I promise that I will include your opinions and body types in *our* selection of bridesmaid dresses. You will look hot, I promise, in a well-fitting dress with a beautiful, simple color scheme. Also, affordability and rewearability will be a huge factor in our bridesmaid-dress-picking process. You're welcome.

Oh, you should also know: I'm cheap. If I can't get it on sale or clearance, I won't get it. I've been trying to kick this exhausting addiction to frugality, but sometimes it's just more sensible to be cheap. And at weddings, one fabulous way to go "cheap" is to do it yourself with wedding favors and decorations. I have a million ideas (I came up with them ALL myself). I would love your help. (Please help. I didn't realize how big this task was and I can't do it. Oh dear God, I can't do this alone!)

I promise I won't get drunk at my own wedding. You, however, feel free. If you're single, I'll try to invite as many hot single guys to drink with you. I will force you to have fun, not work your butt off, at the reception. I promise, you won't be stuck doing grunt work. We'll hire someone for that. Also, I promise to have the photographer get tons of pictures of you looking smoking hot for you to put on facebook. Again: you're welcome.

And now a few requests, if you don't mind? I love the cheesy thing where you clink your glasses until the bride and groom kiss. It's cute. However, I have something that is both cute for the newlyweds AND embarrassing for the guests: I have an aunt from Newfoundland who had a great wedding tradition: to get the bride and groom to kiss, someone must stand up and belt out a line from a song with the word "LOVE" in it. Oh yes - it's like wedding day Karaoke, but better. Also, I lied about it being my aunt's Canadian tradition. I thought of it all by myself. You're welcome. (Okay, fine, it's a Canadian thing. Whatever.)


Another request: I want toasts, and lots of them. Cheesy, embarrassing toasts that make the guests laugh and the bride and groom blush. If you can't think of any, we need to hang out so you can build up some embarrassing stories. Get on it. On that vein, I also want a really fun bachelorette party - drinking, laughing, dancing, but no guys. I'm pretty darn happy with Future Husband. And if we have male strippers, that gives him a ticket to get female strippers - and we all know that's never a good idea. Nobody wants to smell like stale used stripper at their wedding.

Also: Who's down with doing a fun, funky bridal party dance that surprises and amuses the guests? Come on. Let's embarrass ourselves. Let's make it a night to remember. As you know, I also thought of this idea and we'll be the first bridal party EVER to do this. Again, you're welcome.  Also: if we're all not comfortable with this, it's all good. I can't dance anyway.


Another point: please don't be overly critical of the things I choose to do and use in the wedding. I'm highly opinionated myself so I know that stating opinions can sometimes hurt people. You probably know that I'm a super wimp who takes things personally and can't get criticisms and fights out of my head. Let's avoid this possibility by only expressing constructive criticism if any at all. I'm also a bit of a control freak, so let me take the reigns even if I'm asking for opinions. I probably won't ask, but just in case, don't get upset if I ignore your idea and go with mine. I'm a bit of a flake.

In conclusion, Bridal Party, I love you ladies. Thanks for being in my bridal party. Thanks for being part of the most epic wedding party to ever have existed. Let's make this a fun day.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

He Proposed!


On August 22, 2009, two weeks after we met one another, I was curled up on the couch with Dan and our daughter, watching a movie at his old apartment. He had intentionally set it up: a great movie that we all loved (Wall-E!), all of us curled up on the couch, a smile on my face... and that's when he asked me to be his girlfriend.

Three years later, I left work at 5:45 as I usually do, and on my way to pick up the kiddo from summer camp, my boyfriend Dan called and said that he had picked her up. Usually he works 2pm-10pm, but he'd had to go in early to interview someone yesterday, so he worked a 9-5 shift instead.

I got home, and he was already there with our daughter and my sister, who he had apparently asked to babysit. "Let's go! We've got reservations!" he said as he rushed me out the door.

He drove me downtown, and took me to the same restaurant where we had gone on our first date, PJ Ryan's Pub. He led me to the same table as our first date, where a vase with roses was waiting...and as soon as we sat, the waitress arrived with our meals: the same thing we had each ordered on our first date.

We talked and had a great dinner, reminiscing about how different things were from when we first met. Since then, we've each gotten new cars, I've gotten a new job, he's moved up at his company, I moved out of a horrible apartment with horrible roommates and he moved from an hour away to the house that we now share. Everything is different and all for the better, since we met.

We finished our meal - him not eating half of his, mine completely gone because yummy - and the waitress took our plates and left the check. He scooted our empty glasses to the side and took my hand across the table.

He said (and I'm paraphrasing, because I was in shock and I don't remember exactly what he said), "So, I couldn't take you back to the place where I asked you out the first time since I don't live there anymore, but I thought the place of our first date would be nice. Three years ago I asked you to be my girlfriend. We've been through a lot together."

I think that's when I realized a proposal was coming.

Then he got down on one knee (at which point I noticed the waitress was behind me, videotaping the entire thing with Dan's video camera), opened the little box with a beautiful ring inside, and asked, "Rebecca Sue Simmers, will you marry me?"

I don't remember if I said yes out loud. I think I did. I nodded and my eyes were filled with tears...and we hugged, and kissed, and everyone clapped and said "congratulations!" at which point the whole story came out with the waitress and Dan laughing over their shared secret planning.


It turns out, Dan had coordinated the whole thing with the waitress, Alika, days before, who was actually not a waitress, but the head bartender. She had stayed well past the end of her shift just to help orchestrate the whole thing. She had the meal ready, the flowers ready, and the camera waiting. They had worked out a signal system for her to sneak in and start videotaping. She went way out of her way to do her part in all this and I can't believe it.

I can't believe how much thought and planning went into everything...I am so amazed.

It was absolutely perfect. We went on a little walk afterward, because I was still shaking and needed to calm down, and we stopped in to our favorite shop in Phoenixville, Bridge Street Chocolates. As always, Gail was so nice and the chocolate was perfect. She gave me a big congratulations and a hug :-)

And looking back, he was clearly nervous. He picked at his food and was relatively quiet the whole time. (But to be fair, anyone in a conversation with me is relatively quiet since I babble.) He hadn't needed to go in to do an interview that morning, but instead had planned the entire thing around our anniversary date. All his coworkers have known about this for weeks.

Apparently he had the ring in his pocket the whole time, which he took care to hide. He also had the waitress' cell phone number and name in his pocket the other day, and panicked when I started poking at the paper in his pocket. "You're tickling me!," he had claimed, and I had stopped. Oh, silly, trusting me...




The Ring


I can't imagine a more romantic, well-thought-out proposal. I never ever told him that I wanted a big public, down-on-one-knee proposal, but he somehow knew it was my dream. I don't recall telling him the cut and color and size of the diamond that I preferred, but he knew exactly what I wanted and it's so far beyond perfect. It's a certified diamond that he picked out by hand, and it's ethically sourced and certified by the GIA. I'm still unable to stop staring at this beautiful thing on my finger (which also happens to fit perfectly, despite the fact that he never measured my finger. He did, however, "hold hands with me and compare our hand sizes" at one point to get an idea of my finger size....sneaky sneaky!)

My handsome man, after the proposal
I am so, so lucky to have such a thoughtful, sweet man! I love you, Dan.

Monday, August 13, 2012

5 Steps for Guys to Avoid Serious Relationships


Gentlemen, are you meeting girls who take you seriously? Are you accidentally getting dragged into relationships with girls who fall for you and see you as a potential boyfriend? Are you comfortably stuck in a groove that you just don’t want to leave, but those pesky booty-calls are interfering with the mediocre lifestyle you’ve worked so hard to achieve?

Here are five easy tips for meeting girls for casual encounters only. These tips will ensure that you don’t find someone worth dating because – and here’s the secret! – by following these easy steps, you’re ensuring that you’re not date-able! That’s right, just follow these five easy steps and you’ll be single for the rest of your twenties and well into your thirties, until you meet a worn-out shell of a woman who is desperate enough to settle down and procreate with the balding failure you’ve become.

(Remember the girl you blew spitballs at in high school, the one who was kind of pretty but needed to lose about 40 pounds and bleach her mustache? Yeah, her. She can be YOUR future wife!)

But until you reach that elusive perfect marriage, these steps will not only dissuade a woman from becoming genuinely interested in you, they will actually repulse her, thereby ensuring that you get to remain the single stud-muffin that you are.

Step one: Be a mooch.
Remain financially dependent. Whether you’re living with your parents, six roommates, or an ex-girlfriend, you’re sending a clear signal that you’re not ready to strike out on your own yet. If you do happen to live alone, make it clear that your parents subsidize your rent and that you still go “home” for mom to do your laundry. Make sure you’re on someone else’s cellular and car insurance plans. The modern grown-up woman most likely doesn’t expect to eventually be your little housewife while you’re off being Mr. Breadwinner. She probably has career goals, life dreams, and the ability to be financially and emotionally independent. So if you can show her that you have none of those things, she’ll pass – leaving you to sit back and let the intoxicated, sexy hook-ups come to you.

Step two: Know nothing; do nothing.
Exhibit absolutely no skills for daily living. If possible, have someone else cook your food, do your laundry, and clean up after you.  Keep as few amenities in your place as possible: your fridge should be empty, your toilet paper should be sparse and as thin as possible (think: the last four squares on the roll of Scott toilet tissue), and your kitchen sink should have a yeasty odor at all times. While every woman supposedly has a maternal streak, women aren’t usually into dating someone who comes with the same responsibilities as a child because it makes them feel icky when they touch your pee-pee.

Step three: Who needs a budget!?
If you find yourself getting serious about a girl, quickly overdraw your bank account, or default on your auto loan. Nothing says “not boyfriend material” like phone call passive-aggressively asking for $300 and a ride to the impound lot. Live above your means and ask her for help to get out of the mess.

Step four: All that glitters really IS gold!
Show her that you’re just a good time by spending at least 25% of your income on “entertainment expenses.” This means that you should attend every big-name concert that comes to your city, go out on the town at least twice a week, keep a constant supply of alcohol and recreational drugs in your place, hit the movies for every new release, and regularly purchase the latest electronics. Spend a lot of time online and on your xbox. Make sure you have the latest iPhone and all of its overpriced accessories.

Step five: Belittle, belittle, belittle. 
If all else fails, here is your Hail Mary to lock yourself into her mind as a single man who is not, was not, and will never be “Boyfriend Material:” Assume that she couldn’t possibly enjoy your hobbies. Don’t let that girl jump in on a round of Left4Dead; there’s no way she could possibly kick zombie ass as well as you do (ignore the high scores she leaves on your Xbox when you’re sleeping). Don’t teach her how to shoot a gun, understand the basics of football, or appreciate your favorite craft beer. If she asks a question about something you love, give an overly-wordy and drawn-out explanation ending in “But it’s much more complicated than that; you wouldn’t understand.”

 Make it obvious that you see her as just a little girl in a man’s world. Obviously, she’s below you and won’t ever have the right to be a part of your world.


If you do all of these things, I promise that you will be left alone to have all the hot, dirty hook-ups that you want with none of the responsibility and drudgery of being a purse-holding, pussy-whipped boyfriend.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Not-Quite A Book Review: 50 Shades of Grey

There are some books that you just can't bring yourself to read.

Cookbooks, for example, or the dictionary...or books describing Hitler's sexual obsession with feces, or your mom's diary detailing her first sleepover date with Dad.
 
Or the Twilight series, which was written for 12 year old girls with no grasp of what an actual romantic relationship is like. And now, 50 Shades of Grey...which I just heard is apparently a fan fiction of Twilight? God kill us all. Please. Do it now before this gets made into a movie.

"Everyone" is reading it? No. Unsatisfied, bored housewives and bondage fans whose preferred genre is clearly lacking in variety are reading it. That's it. Everyone else is backing away slowly while snickering.

People say it's an erotic novel...but from the many reviews I've read (both good and bad), it appears to be the literary equivalent to a book with Fabio on the cover - hardly worth calling a novel, and certainly not worth more than $1.99 on your supermarket checkout rack. I'd sooner consider "Barney's Art Project" literature than this drivel.

It's certainly not hailed as "literature" by anyone who has read a grown-up book.

I did find about 4 positive reviews which ultimately made it sound like nothing more than sad, pathetic dross, written by someone who doesn't understand plot or character depth, decent dialogue or emotional growth. But according to its fervent (probably unemployed) readers, the plot holes were nonexistent and the characters were intriguing - and the book was excellent because it was super duper fascinating to see how the relationship played out. Really now? I consider watching someone lose her entire miniscule-to-begin-with personality to be rather depressing, not enthralling.

Ultimately, I found this gloriously hilarious review which pretty much sums it up as the piece of crap high school girl chick-lit that it is...And I just don't understand why people subject themselves to this type of BS when there is actual good literature out there, or even just fun chick-lit that doesn't make you want to simultaneously masturbate with kitchen utensils while crying into a box of Kleenex and vowing to stop hating yourself someday.

I'll leave you with the words of Katrina Lumsden of the above review:

"It's this kind of ignorant trash that sets feminism back decades. Women who defend this book are, however unwittingly, participating in some of the most blatant misogyny I've ever witnessed, giving the impression that some women enjoy being debased, abused, and controlled (outside of a consensual dom/sub relationship).
This is not a book about BDSM, this is a book about one sick, abusive man and his obsession with a young, naive invertebrate. It's a book about a girl who has absolutely no sense of self, who sacrifices any pretense of individuality in order to hold onto a man who doesn't even show her the faintest glimmer of respect. It's about two attention-starved individuals with the emotional maturity of toilet paper convincing themselves that their relationship is 'like, the best thing ever, OMG'.

It's trite, insulting, and dangerous. I fear for any impressionable young women who read this and think that this is how an ideal relationship should operate. If nothing else, it should be issued as a guidebook to mothers around the world to show their daughters the kind of man to avoid at all costs. This book does good men (and indeed, all of humanity) a disservice."

No thanks. I'll stick to books with characters who have souls.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

My Stupid Commute: Stupid Church Signs and Christianese

On my commute every day, I pass this church which apparently has a pastor that only speaks Christianese. If you're unfamiliar with the dialect, Christianese is a language spoken exclusively by lifelong churchgoers.

Some of the common phrases in Christianese are taken from Bible verses or old hymns, and they require that you know the verse or idea that is being referenced in order to understand the phrase you're hearing. But if you weren't raised in a church and you don't know the phrases, you're bound to think that anyone speaking Christianese is a part of a weird, freaky cult. 

I'm pretty sure the Bible says that the purpose of church is to reach out to the world for God. But time and time again, I come across churches that are completely ineffective in this, because of their Christianese.

Listen, if I were to start a secret club with its own language, and if I wanted to recruit members of the community to join my club, I wouldn't do all my advertising in my secret language, would I? Of course not. Because until you're a part of my club, you'd have no idea what I was saying. So why do these churches feel the need to speak in a dialect that is completely unfamiliar and perplexing to people outside the church?

If I were at a church and they started talking about being "washed in the blood of the lamb," I would leave, because I'd be pretty sure those people were drinking the funny kool-aid at the end of the service. And then if they broke into an emotional rendition of a song that includes lyrics like "He touched me, and oh, the joy that floods my soul...," I would get my kids out of there, *fast*, because I'm pretty sure that song is about someone losing their virginity to an older man.

One time I was at my town's First Friday event and a church was handing out bread wrapped in paper that said, "Jesus is the Bread of Life." As a church kid, I know that Jesus referring to himself as the bread of life was originally a message to his people about how he is their provider, but I nearly walked up to those church people and asked them, "Is there some kind of human blood in this bread? I don't get it." just so that they could see that their phrase was not only ineffective to the general public, but it was also super, super creepy. 

 The church that I mentioned above has a history of posting their sign almost exclusively in Christianese. A few weeks ago, their message was "A dusty Bible leads to a dirty life." Their message to the world? "If you don't regularly read our church's literature, we find you to be dirty and repulsive." Of course that wasn't what they meant, but they certainly weren't considering how their words would be taken by the world.

This week, their sign reads, "Only Jesus Satisfies!" Insert sex joke here, because this phrase has absolutely no logical appeal to the non-Christian, and brings to mind some pretty offensive subtext.

My proposal is that every church hires a non-Christian to evaluate their marketing. It's going to be called "Hire-A-Heathen." I'll find a bunch of objective pagans who are very good at analyzing marketing campaigns. They'll tell the church whether the things they're saying and posting are terrifying to the general populace. And in most cases, it probably is weird and creepy.

Beer Review: North Coast Grand Cru

I'm lucky enough to work at an office of a small company where the owners are total Guys' Guys... which means a lot of beer and wine are consumed between 9am and 5pm in our office.

Today I heard the boss talking about an odd beer he pulled out of the well-stocked fridge, wondering who bought it.

I'm going to be honest here: I don't love beer.

I like beer. I enjoy a beer now and then when the boyfriend cooks up a good venison steak, or when I'm out and in the mood for a relatively cheap-alcohol-content-for-your-dollar buzz. I most certainly love a man who loves beer. But I'm definitely not a beer girl. Give me a cheap mixed drink, a malt beverage or a white wine any day. So when the guys offer to pour me a glass, my response is usually "No thanks."
 
But today, when I overheard the phrase "agave nectar," I dropped what I was doing and poked my head out of my office like a kitten that smells tuna. "What are you talking about?" I inquired, like a little kid asking if that neat wrapped present in the corner was for him. My boss read me the description:

"North Coast Grand Cru is brewed exclusively with Pils malt, with an addition of agave nectar in the kettle. It’s subtle, complex, and lightly hopped with a deceptive 12.5% ABV, and aging it in oak gives this unique beer an extra dimension. The result is really champagne-like."






So, I tried a glass. And this beer? This beer is different. They weren't kidding when they said it had a champagne-like taste, except this is less dry and easier to drink in my opinion than champagne. It comes in at a pretty hefty 12.5% and I'm definitely feeling it already, but it's so easy to drink that I don't even notice.
Couple the sweet, easy taste and light hops with the bubbly drinkability of this brew and I must hereby declare: this is the best beer I've ever tried.

I'm not sure if that's a compliment to the brewer or not, but I'm most definitely having a second glass.

Who wants to drive me home?

Monday, July 30, 2012

Women's Favorite Power Tool: Sex

When you withhold sex from your husband with the intent of punishing him for not being nice/not doing chores/being too busy for you, you’re actually accomplishing these three things instead:

 1. You’re treating him like an animal. While puppies learn from Behaviorism, adult humans don’t learn well from a rewards/punishment system. Keeping sex from your man because he did something you didn’t like is EXACTLY the same as smacking your dog’s nose when he poops in the house. And FYI? If you do this, you’re the bitch.

2. You’re treating yourself like a prostitute.  You cannot complain that you get unfair wages and treatment because you’re a woman, and then use your womanhood (you know, your vagina and your boobs) in order to get something that you want. When you do this, you are also reinforcing the stereotype that women are stupid and un-creative. You’re also giving men full permission to use sexual harassment and gender manipulation in the workplace, because you do it at home. Is that your intent?

3. You’re insulting sex. Sex is not a bargaining chip, it’s not a currency, and it’s not a tool that you can use to manipulate your man. It’s something that, at the very least, two people engage in because they want to enjoy one another’s bodies and at its most, it's a process that creates a human life. Sex was not created for you to use to hold your husband's head figuratively under water until you get what you want.

Stop.

Stop making your gender look bad.
Stop manipulating your man.
Stop using your body like currency.
Just stop.



My new pen holders

Awesome cowboy boot shot glasses my sister gave me

plus

the few cute pens that I use regularly

equals

two awesome little pen holders!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Thrift Store Finds

Yesterday I hit the local Goodwill to try to find some pieces on a craft I'm working on. I did find the main piece that I wanted, but I also found some other fantastic goodies!

A fabulous large bag from Target $38, paid $7:


Ten (10!!) rolls of calculator tape for a whopping $1.97. Not sure what these usually cost but here they are...:


And here's what I plan to make with them, for the office and for the fridge:

Found at this tutorial here.

And an adorable Target dress, originally $40, for $5! Sorry for the cheesy Myspace mirror pic, but I don't have an automatic timer on my phone.





Thursday, July 26, 2012

Should we stand up for Joe Paterno?

With all the talk about Penn State University in the past year, it's clear that everyone has an opinion on this issue. Regarding who should take the blame for the abuse and for the scandal, people are divided into two camps: the "THE ENTIRE COLLEGE IS CORRUPT!" camp, and the "PSU is great, but Sandusky is evil" camp.

There's no camp that stands behind Sandusky, fortunately. But we are seeing gray areas: some people say a handful of higher-ups from PSU are also to blame (and they are), some say even Joe Paterno is very much personally responsible for not doing his part to report and prevent future crimes.

Through all of this media attention, somehow Joe Paterno has become the scapegoat for Graham Spanier, Tim Curley, Gary Schultz, the Board of Trustees and Governor Tom Corbett. He is the one that people argue about.

Is it right for us as the American public to be upset with Joe Paterno?

He was revered in central Pennsylvania and in college football in general. I know this very particularly because I grew up in the shadow of Penn State, in a tiny town called Coalport, Pennsylvania which is tucked into a valley about an hour away from State college. Everyone loved Penn State football, and everyone knew who Joe Paterno was. I cried watching THON and I gave money to the people bouncing basketballs at Altoona intersections during PSU's Bounce Marathon.

One of my favorite family traditions was watching the fireworks right across the street from the Bryce Jordan Center every year on July 4th. I even have a photo of myself from a few years ago with the recently-removed Paterno statue at Penn State - I'm hugging what I thought was his waist but what turned out to appear to be a crotch-groping due to the height of the statue:


My original facebook caption, from July 2008:
"As I wrapped my left arm around his waist, I assumed my right hand was on his manly abs.
Instead, it was on his man-berries. Sorry, Mr. Paterno. (Sorry, Mrs. Paterno!)"


I know what it's like to worship the institute of Penn State because I too worshiped at the alter of PSU.

Nobody likes to see their idol fall, but if someone is in a high position of power (and make no mistake, Joe Paterno had power), they need to be held accountable.

It seems that some of the people being hit the hardest with this molestation scandal are parents. I am a mom who takes my role of parenting very seriously. I analyze everything at an attempt to see what message it's sending to my child. I have her believing that water heals most ailments such as headaches and tummy aches (and it does!) and she is excited about reading because I am an avid reader. When someone treats me badly in front of her, I stand up for myself so she learns to do the same, hopefully with a little grace.








Despite or maybe because of the atrocities committed against my family members when we were children, I am firm in my belief that it is every adult's role to care for the children of their community. I do believe that "it takes a village to raise a child." If you see a child mistreating another, stop them. If you see a child with bruises and fear of their parent, talk to the authorities to have it taken care of.

When something like a child molestation scandal hits headlines, some people put all fault on the molester, saying that he is the only one at fault for his actions. But this is inaccurate thinking. A child's safety is the responsibility of everyone who comes in contact with a child. You wouldn't walk away if you saw a toddler walking alone down a city street. Why would you walk away if you suspected an adult - and one of power, at that - was doing something inappropriate with to a child?

A child molester obviously shouldn't be the only one being held responsible for a child's welfare. There need to be checks and balances in any community. Even as a mom who tries my hardest (most days), I need my daughter's dad to step in and keep me in check when I'm too tired or too lazy or too upset to edit the bad message I'm sending to my daughter. And in the case of molestations and child abuse, in every situation, I believe we should hold every adult responsible for watching for something out of the ordinary, then speaking up to the correct people until the situation is resolved.

I recently came across this article, "My Message to the Penn State Community and the Ignorants", which was written by a PSU student who clearly adores the college. While I'll admit the article is well-written, it simply reeks of unadulterated PSU-worship.

The worst thing about this pathos-laden article is that the author possesses an awareness of the situation that blatantly says "I know this person or this group did something REALLY BAD but they also did other things that were REALLY GOOD so the REALLY BAD things aren't as big of a deal." Case in point, a quote from the article: "He may not have practiced what he preached at all times, but he still preached it and in turn made this university what it is today."

Really? 
 
I'll admit, some of us may be going too far by saying "Screw JoePa!!" and "PSU should be punished more harshly," ... after all, if we write off JoePa for making one mistake despite years of good within his community, doesn't that mean we should write off EVERY PERSON who ever made a bad choice? That would be everyone. We would effectively be dismissing every person who did good things simply because they also did bad things.

However, this article is using the argument that JoePa did good things for the community. Quote:
"Penn Staters support Joe Paterno because he made this school into what it is. He built numerous academic buildings, funded academic programs, supported students maintaining a close relationship with their religion on campus and taught us what success with honor truly means. He may not have practiced what he preached at all times, but he still preached it and in turn made this university what it is today."],

If that is the case - if we are going to defend Paterno by point out the good things he did for the community - then we must also show the things that he did that were detrimental to the community as well. As you can see in an article which summarizes the trial (found here),
"Some of the most damning evidence against Paterno consists of handwritten notes and emails that portray him as deeply involved in that decision. According to the report, Spanier, Schultz and Curley drew up an "action plan" that called for reporting Sandusky to the state Department of Public Welfare. But Curley later said in an email that he changed his mind about the plan "after giving it more thought and talking it over with Joe." Instead, Curley proposed to offer Sandusky "professional help."
The article further goes on to state the excuses given by Paterno and other higher-ups:
Paterno and the others gave various explanations for their decision, saying among other things that they misunderstood the allegations, that they did the best they could and that this was the "humane" way to handle the matter.
I know I may sound like I'm digging in my heels when I say this, but I don't care if they didn't fully understand the allegations. I don't care if they thought they were making a good choice by not going further with their reporting. Whether or not they should press the reporting of the abuse was not their decision to make.

It's your legal and ethical responsibility to report suspected child abuse at the time that it is suspected.
How do I know this? I go to the law. I came into contact with this law as a child care worker in Pennsylvania. When you work with children, you are trained about something called "mandated reporting." If you suspect child abuse, you are required to report it to your superior, who is then required to report it up the line until it reaches the proper authorities, who will then investigate the matter and take it to child welfare authorities/the police/the courts et cetera if necessary. Joe Paterno didn't directly work with children, but he was the superior of someone who did. And that's where the chain of command broke. Was this Joe Paterno's job to report it? See the Pennsylvania law regarding mandated reporting:
"...any persons required to report suspected child abuse who, in the course of their employment, occupation or practice of their profession, come into contact with children shall report or cause a report to be made to the Department of Public Welfare when they have reasonable cause to suspect on the basis of their professional or other training or experience, that a child coming before them in their professional or official capacity is a victim of child abuse.
There should be no doubt that PSU is an excellent school. They are renowned for their excellent programs in various fields - I've heard a ton of wonderful things about their education majors and their agricultural developments over the years, among many other developments. Anyone who graduates or graduated from this institution holds an excellent, worthy degree.

But as these Sandusky trials have proven, this college's power players had a flawed system of treating football players and their coaches with exception and that's simply a bad thing - it resulted in the loss of innocence for handfuls of young children.

I watched an entire community excommunicate my friend when she turned in her sexual abuser. I watched them stand behind the preacher who kept it a secret when the abuser confessed because "the preacher was a great man." I watched them tell her that she wasn't a Christian because she didn't just forgive her abuser because he claims to be a Christian and says that "God already forgave him."

I hate to be the one to break this to you, everyone, but anyone who stands behind someone who helped to stop punishment of an abuser is party to the abuse themselves. 

If we are going to revere Joe Paterno for the great things he did, we must balance this with an awareness of the bad things he did. The bad thing he did was to not take an active role in protecting those children. His reasons for not doing more are irrelevant.


 “It's the action, not the fruit of the action, that's important. You have to do the right thing. It may not be in your power, may not be in your time, that there will be any fruit. But that doesn't mean you stop doing the right thing. You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result.”-Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

What makes a great man? What makes a great majority group? What makes a great society?

"The majority, oppressing an individual, is guilty of a crime, abuses its strength, and by acting on the law of the strongest breaks up the foundations of society."-Thomas Jefferson

I believe that Joe Paterno forfeited the right to be thought of as a great man of strong character when his true character came out: he has the character of one whose heart wasn't broken for those children. If his heart had been broken for those kids, he would've done everything to protect them the very second that a suspicion was raised. He did not.
Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing. - Abraham Lincoln

Thursday, June 21, 2012

My Life Story in Pieces: Now I'm Pregnant

I was unable to say goodbye to J, who was living in Philly only half an hour away, because he was in another state training for a new job as an over-the-road truck driver. My dad, siblings, and C came to get me. You see, during a previous summer, C had been booted from where he was living with family for some reason. He moved in with my family. He'd needed a place to stay and would help pay expenses. He was a nice guy and my parents took him in. He took my old bedroom.

C and I had spent the past summer together. He had dreams of having a family with me. It was all he could talk about. At this point, neither of us acknowledged the existence of J. He was already the parent to a child he was unable to see because he was 4 hours away from the kiddo. He regretted that the relationship with the kiddo's mom hadn't worked out. He'd even bought me this adorable, soft little teddy bear "to represent the babies we're going to have together someday." It was something he always talked about. He knew I'd dreamed my whole life of becoming a mother, of raising a family and being a wife...I had told him all about it when we first "met" on the phone years ago. He always said that his first dream family didn't work out, but we could have one ourselves. I didn't want that, but I never had the guts to say as much and risk hurting him.

When we would go on walks, he would sketch me drawings of houses and tell me we would have my dream house someday. One time we were sitting in the cemetery above town (the place where our relationship would eventually end up, symbolically...), talking about being together, and in a grand gesture, he built a little tiny house out of rocks and sticks, and said that we could live there. The song "Somewhere only we know" by Keane became the theme song for our alternate universe.

And now C was there again, to help pack me up and bring me home, no longer a college student.

I left that campus embarrassed, defeated, shamed. A few of those great, upstanding Christian students muttered "good riddance" as they saw me packing up the car. By the time I got home, my mom had told all my friends, church members, and family that i had "gotten kicked out of Christian college." I genuinely wanted to die but once again, didn't have the nerve or the energy.

My dad bought me a car so I could get a job until fall semester started. C was psyched to have me back. I applied to ESU's honors program, which has fantastic housing for transfer/honors students, more like a condo and less like the cinder-brick dorm rooms that freshman "lived" in. Since i'd gotten a 1200 on my SATS and had completed a certain # of credits, i was qualified for the honors program; I would find out in a few weeks if I had been accepted into one of the few slots left.

J was unreachable. It didn't matter. C was there and he was the only person in the world who wasn't ashamed of me. He was the only person who didn't think I was a heathen. I cried on him a lot those first few days, barely able to get out of bed.

After a long afternoon of me laying in bed crying and him laying there comforting me, we had sex. I cried afterward. That wasn't how it was supposed to be. Nothing was how it was supposed to be. I was supposed to be halfway to a degree in college. I was supposed to have friends and good times and fun. I was supposed to be a virgin until marriage. I was supposed to be a normal 20-year-old. I was supposed to be able to look Jesus in the eye someday and say, "Yes, I did do what you wanted me to do with my life."

A few days later, my boobs started hurting. I smelled someone making a sandwich in the kitchen at the other end of the house. My ... down there area... began to hurt. I fortunately had already scheduled my annual OB-GYN appointment at the local med center, so I waited it out. Something wasn't right.

The day of my pap smear appointment, I got a letter in the mail from East Stroudsburg University. I was accepted into their honors program and my slot was reserved in a dorm for the fall.

C went with me to the appointment. They made him stay in the lobby, thinking it was a routine appointment. They asked, "Before we start the exam, is there any possibility that you might be pregnant?" I said yes. The nurse took a urine sample and came back about ten minutes later - obviously, the longest ten minutes of my life. I wanted to run out to the waiting room and get C, but I was already in a paper gown and didn't think all of town needed to see my girly bits.

The nurse came back in, plunked down onto a stool, and said matter-of-factly, "Well, you're pregnant." I don't remember what I said or what I did, but I do remember sitting there, wailing in misery. She brought Chris in and he held me while I cried. I was so distraught that the entire medical center heard me crying. I didn't know what I was going to do. College was out the window. Everyone was going to judge me. My entire life was going to change. I was going to be a mother.

I pulled back so he could wipe tears from my face and he was smiling. He was happy that we were pregnant.

We told my parents a few days later. It was your typical, cliche movie moment. "Mom, Dad, we need to talk to you." Of course they knew what I was going to say before I said it. "I'm pregnant." My mom said, "I'm going to be a grandma!"
Part one: My first and second boyfriends
Part two: My first and second boyfriends part 2
Part three: Welcome to Bible College
Part four: Kicked out of Bible College
Part five: Pregnant

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

My Life Story in Pieces: Unceremoniously tossed out of Bible College

I have other memories of people treating me like shit on that campus...I don't care to relive them. I know I myself wasn't very nice. I made fun of the home-schooled kids (they had no social skills and were WEIRD! And not very intelligent...they were like little church zombies) and the student government kids who thought VFCC was, golly, the best-est most wonderful-est place in the darn-tootin' world. There was a guy who was unabashedly a woman-hater, who hit on anything attractive and very effeminately mocked girls who weren't as stylish as him. There were anonymous hate groups created about him online because he was such an obnoxious asshole. I myself grew a pair and decided to mock the jerk outright - well, online, not to his face. My balls weren't that big. The pretty girls made fun of me because I wore ponytails instead of The Rooster to chapel. There were the people who said they hated it there but never left...the ones who were miserable but never said so to anyone except me, it seemed.

Ever since my first day there, I had people giving me horror stories about the place, things they or their family and friends had endured that no one had spoken up about. People rolled their eyes with me at some of the ridiculous things that went on there. But when it came down to it - when I opened my mouth and (crassly) called out the college for its glaring inconsistencies, nobody stood behind me publicly. People turned me in to student life for being an abomination to VFCC and therefore to Jesus Christ Himself. A girl, Melanie Hickey, was the IT specialist on our floor. I made fun of her extremely uptight group of friends, so she used her paid position at VFCC to hack into my computer and change my password with the intent that I would fail my finals that semester. I almost did fail because of her - but I got in on time and was able to turn my papers in. A guy named Josh Sieb turned in my xanga blog to student life in an attempt to get me kicked out - FYI, I still, to this day, have NO IDEA who he is and am positive I never met him in my life. I hear he still works at a pizza shop in town and his massively obese. Glad he's doing so well for himself.

People I thought were my friends in private unfortunately never stood by me publicly. My own sister was ashamed of me. She told me to stop with my blogging, keep my head down and shut my mouth because I was embarrassing her. I skipped classes and chapel because I couldn't bring myself to wake up. Being awake was being in misery. I gained and lost weight constantly. The only person I really spoke to was C, who made me feel like the only sane person in a boat of psychos. I was still dating J, but he was MIA with a new job. When we did talk, he also didn't support me. He agreed that I should keep my head down, grow up, and stick it out. I constantly considered killing myself. My girl Jess helped me research other colleges. I made the decision mid-second semester that I would switch colleges after I finished my third semester. I decided on East Stroudsburg, a college known for its Education program and even had a concentration in my major on my dream job: administration (daycare director).

If you can see where this is going...I never got to finish my third semester. A week or two into the semester, I was called in to Student Life. The report of my blog had gotten back to them. Instead of siccing the Dean on me, it was a woman this time, not an RA but the next stage above it. She was extremely compassionate and just asked me, "If you're so happy here, why are you here?" It hadn't occurred to me that I could leave. I told her that I would think about it.

A few days later, The Big Bad Dean scheduled an appointment. I walked in to the principal's office with my tape recorder, which I never ended up turning on. As soon as he started talking, I began crying. I hate getting in trouble. I hated everything. It was like everything I wanted so badly was shattered, and here I was with one of the most-hated members of that college's faculty, and he was about to yell at me. I sat there, sobbing, unable to form a word.

He started telling me about how he had read my entire blog, and how there were members both inside and outside the VFCC community who read it and participated in it. He pulled out some printed pages and read them to me...he had them all stapled and highlighted. He said that the entire campus was ashamed of my behavior and that I was single-handedly putting a bad image on the college. "There is not a single student here dissatisfied with this institution," he told me, and he genuinely believed it. How far his head must have been up his ass to believe that.

I was livid. I wanted to shout, "Are you fucking serious!? Other than the small handful of student government and music performance team students that YOU associate with, NOBODY loves it here. We all hate the rules, we all feel trapped, and we all are acting like martyrs because we all thought this place was heaven when in reality, it's purgatory at best. The only difference is, I am the only one who has the balls to say a SINGLE WORD about it. Everyone else just wants to graduate and get the hell out because most of the credits they started here won't transfer to a real college. You want to whitewash this place and put band-aids on gaping wounds but you won't admit there's even a problem here!" But, like a bad 80's movie protagonist, I just sat there, and didn't say a word. I was just trying to hold in my boogers and tears.

With no hint of compassion, he peered at me and said, "Why are you crying?" I unloaded on him in a blubbering, sobbing mess of an answer told him how miserable I was, how this place wasn't what I thought it would be, how people were mocking me and refusing to sit near me in the cafeteria, how I'd heard whispers of threats against me throughout campus, how even the nice Christian girls wouldn't speak to or look at me. He tossed a box of tissues into my lap and leaned in, much in the fashion of a 1950's film noir police detective interviewing a hardened criminal, and told me I had two choices and two choices only:

1. I could remain at VFCC, under one condition: I would agree and sign papers stating that I would never at any point speak, write, type, text, or THINK a bad thing about that campus, its students and faculty, its policies, its appearance, or its curriculum. If any word got back to him - "And be assured, you will be monitored closely by both IT and administration" - that I wasn't 100% glowing happy about this place, then I would be instantly and without regret booted from campus without a refund.

2. I could make the choice to leave, and he would kindly refund the 3 weeks of tuition I'd accrued on the current semester. I had to be off college grounds within 48 hours.

I chose to leave. Looking back, I realize I could have a lawsuit on my hands. They kicked me out for stating honest, heartfelt opinions, in this amazing place called America. Who knows, it's a private college and they probably had every right to mind-control their students. Or maybe I could have found a lawyer who would have taken my case and embarrassed the shit out of that place. Either way, I was done. I had no fight left in me.

I packed up my entire dorm into hefty trash bags. My sister planned a GOODBYE "MOOSE" (that was my nickname, cuz i LOVED Canada) party for me and most of friends were able to come to say goodbye. We played Super-Nintendo on my SNES emulator, sat around singing, J-vo made a boob joke, and everyone laughed and hugged me goodbye. It was a nice send-off. I still have the card they all signed for me. <3

Part one: My first and second boyfriends
Part two: My first and second boyfriends part 2
Part three: Welcome to Bible College
Part four: Kicked out of Bible College
Part five: Pregnant