July 30, 2011
I can be naivé. I believe Darcy and Elizabeth lived happily ever after. I believe Johnny Depp is as charismatic in person as he is in Pirates of the Carribean. I believe that Vaseline may be the fountain of youth. I believe that forty is the new thirty (that’s more wishful thinking than belief).
But I don’t believe everything I’m told. I can be a realist. I do not believe that the little black dress is a wardrobe staple. I do not believe he didn’t inhale. I do not believe anyone wins the McDonald’s Monopoly game. I do not believe I will ever look like Jennifer Lopez.
But, there’s wiggle room between naiveté and skepticism. I know when I see a picture of a model or celebrity, I’m seeing her at her airbrushed best– unless it’s the cover of the National Enquirer. But seeing is believing, so it’s easy to forget the stylists, and believe that J.Lo, Beyonce and Keira roll out of bed, hop into the shower, fuss with their makeup and hair a little and grab something out of the closet, before heading out the door for a day of shopping on Rodeo Drive.
I think it’s great when people want to look their best. But everybody’s “best” is different, covering the gamut between dressing to the nines or opting for the beauty of one’s natural complexion. Yet, if photos of celebrities are the standard it can be a heavy (not to mention expensive) burden. These photos can give the impression that all women can easily look like this. It’s easy to believe that’s how I’m supposed to look and to want to imitate it.
Don’t despair; I have a solution. Every magazine cover can be required to print a before picture along side the un-retouched, retouched, airbrushed, finished product. Think of the implications, not to mention expectations. Even celebrities would benefit. They could go out in public looking how they want to look, without worrying that they’ll end up featured in a “Stars Without Their Make-up” exposé.
By the way– I do resemble Jennifer Lopez in the photo below. Especially the hairstyle.
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July 26, 2011
Imagine we’re at a picnic and we come across a discussion about short people.
Person A: Short people got no reason to live. They got little hands and little eyes and they walk around tellin’ great big lies. Don’t want no short people ’round here.
Person B: There’s nothing wrong with short people. They just need a little more help than the rest of us. And I don’t think all of them lie. After all, all men are brothers until the day they die.
Person A: I don’t have any brothers. Besides, short people got little noses and tiny little teeth and they wear platform shoes on their nasty little feet. Short people got no reason to live.
Person B: No, no. You’ve got it all wrong. We’ll send them to dentists and have their teeth enlarged. And we’ll make it mandatory for stores to put steps in front of all the shelves so short people won’t be discriminated against. As for nasty feet, they just need to be taught how to wash them.
Me: Hey, I’m short and except for my height, I’m just the same as you. I’ve been grocery shopping for years and I really don’t think mandatory steps are necessary. As for my feet. You’re way off there. I pumice, moisturize and polish them. They are very presentable, in spite of the platforms.
Person B: Wow, a short person. I’ve never met one before.
Person A: I’ve never been this close to one. See. She does have little baby legs. Don’t want no short people ’round here.
Person B: Yes, the baby legs are exactly the reason for the mandatory steps.
Have you ever been judged without being given the opportunity to explain or defend yourself? It happened to me the other day. I read that I, Dawne Webber, believe, among other heinous things, that members of a certain group of people should be killed. Well, my name wasn’t used, but every member of a group that I belong to was accused, so my name could have just as easily been substituted.
Your name could be substituted as well, because no matter what group in society that you belong to– homosexuals, Christians, Muslims, Jews, rich, poor, man, woman, young, old–others are judging you and your group without having ever had a conversation with you or anyone in your group. The people concerned are getting talked over not talked with.
Take abortion for example. Everyone has a belief concerning it. What side of the fence you’re on is irrelevant to the point of this post. What is relevant is that the persons affected have gotten lost in the rhetoric. And the rhetoric has become so cliche that neither side listens to the other anymore.
I wonder how many of us on either side have ever talked to a woman who has had an abortion, a woman in a crisis pregnancy situation, or a person who has survived an abortion? I’ve been in social situations in which abortion is hotly debated. The people involved in the debate gave no thought to the fact that given the statistics, at least one woman at this social gathering has personally experienced abortion or is currently facing that decision.
I’ve had friends whose lives have been intimately affected by abortion, experience situations like this and will never forget the pain caused by advocates of both sides of the argument, who are so intent on being right and winning the argument, they forget that real, fragile, human beings are involved.
July 21, 2011
I’m not anal. I can let things go. I no longer care which way the paper towel or toilet paper faces when it’s in the holder. If towels are folded neatly and fit in their assigned place, I don’t care if they’re folded long way or short way first. I’m learning to ignore the twenty-three PAIRS of shoes (do the math; it’s a staggering number), scattered around the front and back doors.
Now for the anatomy. Not as in human anatomy; it’s not going to be that fun. Not as in “anatomy of a murder”; it’s not going to be that exciting. I’m talking dishwasher anatomy– not fun or exciting, maybe, but crucial.
Seven people live in this house (fondly known as my bubble). SEVEN. Three meals per day per person on average. Cups and glass usage expands exponentially for those of us under the age of forty. On a typical day, the dishwasher is run twice. That is— if I’m loading it. If I’m not the person loading, the number rises to an water-meter-spree of three or four times a day.
The purpose of loading a dishwasher seems obvious to me: to fit in as many dishes as possible, in a way that ensures they all get cleaned. Unfortunately, this logic has failed to impress itself on others in this family.
Putting the large pot where glasses belong (keep in mind the large volume of glasses used), seems a glaringly inefficient use of prime space. Putting a Tupperware lid in the optimum frying pan space also seems obviously WRONG. On the other hand, stacking three cups on top of each other may allow more dishes to be stuffed in, but the consequences are disgusting. The level of annoyance displayed by certain people in this family, on finding a dirty glass in the cabinet is ironic.
Am I the only person in this house that can look into the dishwasher and know intuitively how to load it? I can’t put together a jig-saw puzzle, but I can load a dishwasher. I’ve tried to teach this skill to others, but it is usually met with eye rolling or “I know how to do it better than you.”
I’m not alone in my zeal for a well-loaded dishwasher. The first three minutes of the following clip will explain:
I’m thinking of contacting Bill Engvall’s wife (my hero). Together, we could lead the crusade against poorly loaded dishwashers, and save the world’s water supply.
July 18, 2011
Think of the person,
preferably your child or your parent, who has a certain trait or habit that frustrates or annoys the heck out of you. Our nine year-old D ³comes quickly to my mind.
very tenacious. When she was three, she’d leaf through a book, typically something thick, such as The Grapes of Wrath, put it down and announce that she’d read it all. And she believed it. Try teaching a child to read who insists she’s a proficient reader. Now it’s the guitar. She insists she knows how to play. Her uncle offered to teach her and she graciously accepted the offer (although she already knows how). He supplied her with a small electric guitar, amplifier, stand, books, cds. For the first two days, she loved it. I heard her playing improve. Soon practicing became monotonous and she decided she didn’t need lessons.
Which of her parents supplied her with the “I know how to do everything” chromosome? I was sure it came from her paternal genes— until I started reading Stephen King’s book, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, and the true source became obvious. Damn if she didn’t get her most annoying trait from me.
My husband is a great fan of self-help books. He’s
always recommending them to me. I smile and say, “I don’t have time right now. But someday…” Because I hate them. They’re dry, and boring, and there’s nothing in them I need to know. Besides, how do I know the person writing them isn’t some crackpot who made everything up. The “I know how to do everything” chromosome was in me, hidden beneath the hubris.
never read any books about writing for those same reasons. Books about writing don’t fall into the how-to category. Writing is too subjective to be classed with the more straightforward how-to sew or how-to install a carburetor books. I have a talent for writing and I didn’t want some self-proclaimed expert to mess up my style, to make me question my ability, or to make me so paranoid that I’d question every word I wrote. Consequently, I taught myself to concentrate on what I deemed the most important aspects of writing:
- Description— Lots of it, using adjectives and adverbs galore.
- Complication— Simple is too easy; complicated is more literary.
- Details— Describe important details minutely, so the reader can imagine precisely what the writer imagines.
- Active versus passive verb– who cares.
- Grammar— I did well in English classes; I know enough.
I started reading other writer’s blogs. They were filled with advice, tips and information. I was
unwittingly learning about the craft. Then I began seeing these phrases:
“The adverb is not your friend”
Huh? Yes, he is. He’s my
wonderfully, superbly helpful friend.
“The road to hell is paved with adverbs.”
As for adverbs and hell, there is
absolutely, positively no way my trusted go-to friend, the little adverb, would willingly, knowingly lead me there. But evidence against the adverb piled up, leading me to read Stephen King’s masterpiece, On Writing. I’ve learned many things. Not only do adverbs lead to hell, but every one of my self-proclaimed rules is suicide for a writer.
Admitting you have a problem is the first step in overcoming it— I admit, I don’t know everything about writing. In fact, what I don’t know far outweighs what I do know about it. But I’m willing to learn and my writing will improve, despite using the occasional adverb (“…to write adverbs is human.”- Stephen King).
I hope it doesn’t take D³ as long to overcome the “I know how to do everything” chromosome.
I’m sure I’m not alone. Is it possible you and the person you thought of at the beginning of this post share the same annoying trait?
July 13, 2011
A few days ago I was replying to a blog comment. The post, Real Men, and the photo of Gabriel Aubry were visible on the screen. My two older daughters (D¹ and D²) happened to look at the computer, and D² asked who it was. I told her, then commented on his remarkable good-looks.
To my surprise and complete dismay, both girls laughed. “He could be a girl except for the scruff,” and “Any man that conditions his scruff is not a manly man.”
D¹ even had the audacity to say, “Mom, he looks like a Barbie. And I don’t mean Ken. I mean Barbie.”
At first I was mortified. How could I write a post on “real men”, and use an effeminate man as an example? Then I was offended. I was right; he is attractive. They were wrong; he is not girly. Then: “AAAAAAAAAAAA!” Had these girls learned nothing about men from me?
The three of us went back and forth with suggestions for manly men. One of us would say, “So and So’s a manly man.” The other two would laugh— or gag. Of course, I think my husband is very manly, but for obvious reason, we took him off the table.
After literally a hundred suggestions, the three of us agreed on only two examples of “manly men”.
But something didn’t feel right. After some thought and discussion with my husband, it became head-slappingly obvious. The girls and I were basing our opinions on appearance. How furious do we, as women, get when men base their opinions on our appearance? Will I never learn?
When I told D¹ I was going to write a post about our disagreement, she insisted on posting someone she thought was a manly man. She didn’t want only the photo to be posted; she wanted to write a few lines to explain her reasoning. I asked her why she needed to explain.
“Well, it occurred to me that we’re just basing our opinion on looks and there’s more to it than that. Take Mel Gibson, for example. He looks like a manly man, but he doesn’t act like one.”
Maybe they had learned something from me after all. Or they had known it all along, and I’m the one beginning to learn it.
D¹’s explanation and pictures:
One of the things I’ve always known on an instinctual level that I’ve never really had cause to consciously consider until now was this: what sort of person someone is has a hell of a lot more to do with THEM than it does with their LOOKS (or anything else). Deciding who is, and who is not, a manly man based solely on a male’s appearance is wholly impossible if you know the least little thing about him. Take Mel Gibson, for example— there’s a guy who, especially twenty years ago, looked quite manly. However, at the moment I wouldn’t even venture to call him a man, much less a manly man. Then there are people on the other end of the spectrum, like Dr. Reid (Matthew Gray Gubler’s character in Criminal Minds). He’s a VERY manly man— but he also happens to look like a falling leaf could break him in half.
What to do? How to prove to my insane mother that I do, in fact, know what a manly man looks like, when even my friends meet my every example with arguments based on his voice, or clothes, or intelligence? How to prove to my insane mother’s friends that I’m RIGHT about what a manly man looks like, when it’s impossible to divorce one’s opinion of someone from their physical appearance?
More than that: how to prove to all and sundry that the only way to judge whether a guy looks like a manly man is to not know anything at all about him?
There was only one answer: I’d have to choose a picture of a man who few, if any, readers of this blog would have the slightest recognition of. Ladies (and possibly gentlemen, but I’m guessing mostly ladies), I give you a manly man:
And, to prove that knowing something about a guy’s actions and personality does influence whether or not they look like a manly man. . . I give you the actions of manly men, in a picture of the crew of the Time Bandit (and, let’s be honest here, Whatsisface of the Red Sweatshirt is NOT hard on the eyes):
July 10, 2011
I’m going to share my deepest, darkest secret with you. I’ve never shared it with anyone. I hope I don’t regret it.
I am afraid of getting older.
Well, to be totally honest, I’m more than afraid. I’m terrified. Not of getting old. Of getting older. The difference is subtle, but it’s there. “Old” is an amorphous term. “Old” is always just around the corner. A ten year-old thinks twenty-five is old, and so it goes at every age. But “getting older” is a relentless, inexorable fact of life, affecting even the unknowing ten year-old.
You might think it’s a vanity thing (especially those of you that know me ). But that’s not really the problem I have with it. OK, I hate the little baggy skin that’s starting to appear on my neck, but really this fear goes much deeper than that.
If anything in my life is holding me back, it’s not the actual aging. It’s the fear of it. Take my writing, for example. I love the adventure of writing a book. Although getting it published is not my purpose in writing, I would love to have that happen someday. It’s the someday that panics me.
Here’s my thought process:
It will be exciting to finish writing this and start querying to find an agent. Of course, querying takes a long time, but maybe I will eventually get an agent. Then the agent has to sell it to a publisher and that usually doesn’t happen overnight. Once the publisher gets it, it can take two or more years until it hits the shelves.
OMG. I will be SO old by then. That’s way too old to enjoy any of it. I need it done now, before I’m too old, so I can enjoy it. It needs to be done Now. Now. RIGHT NOW.
Aging gracefully is not for me. I can’t even comprehend that concept.
Wait there’s more.
I have lots of cousins; over thirty of them. And we were very close growing up. When I think of them (and me) now at the age of our parents, and our aunts and uncles now the age of our grandparents, I get a knot in my stomach and I have to push the thought out of my mind. I hate the thought of my family and friends getting older more than I hate the thought of getting older myself. If I ever have a panic attack, this will be the trigger.
I’ve shared my deepest darkest secret with you, other than my age, which I try not to dwell on. It’s really not a vanity thing. It’s more for my sanity.
Now, I’m going to work on A Voice Among the Thorns. I need to get it done so I can enjoy it while I’m still young.
July 7, 2011
OK. I’m going to let you in on a secret. There is a vast conspiracy to turn men into–WOMEN.
I became aware of this conspiracy after watching the movie What Women Want. Male chauvinist, Nick Marshall (Mel Gibson’s character) is transformed, not from chauvinist to real man, but from chauvinist to real woman. In the end, it seems, we women want another woman.
Now don’t get me wrong. With the exception of my husband, my best friends are women. And I love them all. And we have great times together. But there is not one of them I’d want to be married to. And I guarantee none of them want to be married to me.
We women know guys can be jerks. Even guys are aware of their jerkiness. Unfortunately, guys don’t have sole proprietorship of jerkdom. The most painful broken heart I’ve ever had, was caused by my best girlfriend. And I know I’ve caused my share of migraines in my girlfriends. It has nothing to do with gender and everything to do with humanity.
There is a place is this world meant to be filled by men, just like there is a place in this world meant to be filled by women. To prevent extinction, society needs women AND men. Although their importance for the survival of the human species is equal, their roles are not the same nor were they ever intended to be the same. All you need to do is compare male and female anatomy to see the proof of this.
When did it become abnormal for boys to be masculine and girls to be feminine? Parents hiding the gender of their baby, women using their sons as transgender role models in advertisements in which their sons are made effeminate. It’s bad enough we females have to keep our toes polished and heels pumiced. Do we really want to place this burden on our sons as well?
As for me, I’m grateful I’ve never had to wear a jockstrap. Imagine the panty lines left from that contraption.