Friday, August 28, 2009

How are you? No really, how are you?

"How are you." That's what the clerk asked, or I guess stated. How are you. Period. No question mark. No lilt in the voice. It begged not an answer, but rather the end of the conversation. Even worse, just as I was taking a breath to answer her supposed inquiry into my well-being, she said "Fine, thank you." Wait, I didn't even ask you yet! It wasn't like I was going to give her my life story or anything, but at least hang out for the answer. It made me think. Somewhere along the way "How are you?" has adapted to our society's me-centered lifestyle and dropped the upper part of the question mark to leave a dull period. It's lost its interrogative angle.

Everyone is waiting for a pat answer of "Fine, how are you?, or Great, thanks and you?! I'm completely guilty in this respect and have become conditioned to respond to the positive. But do you ever have the Pavlovian answer on the tip of your tongue and think ok, actually I'm not having the best day, but who wants to be a downer so I'm just gonna say I'm fine? Heaven forbid we tell anyone how we're actually doing. We've been conditioned to not get too personal. Keep up appearances I guess. It's like a game of Greeting Ping Pong. It's so much easier to lob a nice little volly back and forth and we really don't know how to return hard serves. So nobody actually plays. We're not being honest, because an honest answer isn't really expected.

Well I'm challenging Me. You. And Pavlov's dog to quit with the conditioned response. Ask how are you and dig beyond a "Fine, thank you". Now if we're to do this we're going to have to be ready for the response. The real response. Chances are not everybody's having a Fine,Thank-You day. Of course, not everyone will really want to tell you how they are doing seriously and that's completely ok. But the point is that you're intentionally inquiring into someone's life which gives you a chance to serve and to meet whatever needs that are outstanding in those folk's lives who are not having a Fine,Thank-You Day.

So when I ask, I'm really asking because I want to know. How are you?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Dress Girl

There is a girl that I see when I'm out and about on occasion. In every instance, she has worn a dress. It doesn't matter what she's doing or where she's going it's always the same. As I did not know her name, I labeled her to myself, The Dress Girl. Cute dresses. Usually above the knee. Various colors, patterns, and styles. But always a dress. She looked perfectly at home in a dress. The Dress Girl has inspired me to reconsider The Dress.

This may not be big news to you, but to one who has spent her entire life trying to find ways to avoid wearing dresses, this was a thought of 180 degrees. In fact, if I wear a dress other than to church or special events, people say things like "Why are you so dressed up?" or "What's the occasion?". It's quite possible that The Dress Girl has labeled me The Jeans & T-Shirt Girl.

I have always thought of dresses as restrictive and to have this amazing ability to confine you to certain proper behavior. Uncomfortable, knees together, you can only sit in certain ways, have to watch the wind, bending over's a potential risk, etc. As you can see, I have built an inward solid case against The Dress.

As usual, you can generally find the roots of your mentality in your childhood. As a child, I wore dresses to church services, weddings, and funerals. My sister, JoAnna and I always had to wear dresses to church. Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night. No exception. You stuck one toe across the church threshold and you better be wearing a dress. Which is fine and dandy for sitting in a pew, but what about when you want to go play with the other kids and there was afterward a pick-up game of Wall Ball or kickball or something? This is where dresses got a bad rap in my head I guess. I didn't dare ask to wear pants on Sunday morning, but I did try to get out of wearing a dress during the evening service. "Mom, So-and-So's mom lets her wear pants to night church." This was a clever plea in hopes that maybe Moms succumbed to peer pressure from other Moms too. Answer: "Well, you are not So-and-So and I am not So-and-So's Mom and our family wears their best clothes in God's house." And then handed me my plaid jumper. Well, I gave it a shot.

So you can see how a tomboy becomes averse to wearing a dress. But let's face it. I'm not so much of a tomboy anymore and I don't remember the last time I played Wall Ball so maybe I should give The Dress another chance. After all, the dresses that I have are not necessarily the casual type so maybe I should try the kind you can wear all the time. So I did. And I have found some positives about The Dress.

The Dress is so breezy and perfect for Texas summers. Oh my gosh they are so comfortable and cool.

As it is so hard to find shorts these days that aren't too short, The Dress is the perfect way to get around that problem while still participating in the summer dress code.

The Dress tends to hide "problem areas" that would otherwise be accentuated in shorts. It's surprisingly not as constricting as shorts or pants that are tight around the waist. Well, provided you're not wearing a skin-tight one. I'm going to assume all of my 5 readers are not wearing one of these.

It's all one piece and you just zip it up or throw it on and you're done!

The Dress makes you feel really feminine and put together. Have you ever noticed there's an air about women who wear dresses? I think this must be their secret. They put on a dress. There's some kind of magic too it.

It's not so bad. In fact I like it. So what happened to The Dress? I guess we got too caught up in Women's Lib and equality with men that we forgot why we liked our femininity. Like me trying to get out of wearing a dress to church, nobody likes to wear something they have to. All the same, is it possible to have lost something so dear to us and not know? Apparently so.

So if you see me wearing a dress, this is why. Right now, I don't have enough dresses to be labeled a Dress Girl, but I hope to slowly build up my inventory. I also don't see myself entirely giving up The Jeans & T-Shirt. Too ingrained, too comfy, too familiar.

If you are like me, and have counted The Dress out except for special occasions, I am suggesting that you might reconsider. Try it. Just once. Wear a dress when it's not expected. See what happens.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Cardio Induced Death

I think I might be dying. No, really it's a possibility that I'm dying. My fingers are the only part of my body that can move. And even they are in defiance.

Monday I started P90X. Have you heard of this death by 13 Set DVD work out? I first heard about it a few weeks ago. Everybody at my office seems to be doing it and after a few weeks of rave reviews they convinced me that I needed to try it out as well. I have been having a hard time fitting a run to the gym into a busy schedule so I thought maybe a work out at home would be a good idea for a while. So I hopped on over to eBay and bought it. Took a trip to Academy and bought the "supplies" - a few sets of dumbbells, workout mat, and a chin up bar and I was all set. What a sucker am I?

I watched the intro video on Sunday entitled "Bring It". Cheesy, right? It's the kind of video that has a deep voice in the background saying P90X-x-x-x-x-x-x as the echo fades. It said that after 90 days P90X I should be a transformed person. The guy on the video was totally ripped. I'm thinking, I'm sure this isn't the only work out this guy does. He's probably in the gym too, cross country 7 days a week, takes steroids, etc. and then gives P90X all the credit. I skimmed the material that came with the package and it showed pre- and post-P90X pictures of folks that seemed nothing short of miraculous. Yeah sure, me in 90 days - I bet. Hmm...did I miss the breast and 8 pack ab implants in the box? Nope, I guess those weren't included in the starter kit. Bummer.

Monday comes. Chest and abs. It's an hour long chest workout and then 30 minute ab routine. I didn't even get to do the ab routine due to a change in schedule. Joey forgot to tell me that he committed us to dinner with friends so I came home and did my hour chest workout and then hopped in the shower for a quick scrub down. I shouldn't have used the word "hopped". That is inaccurate. It was more like "limped" and the shower was not fast, but rather slow and tedious. I couldn't move my arms to suds up like normal so I ended up just looping my finger around my soapy shower puff and tossing it over my body in hopes that the momentum would do the work for me. This is where Scrubbing Bubbles could've really helped me out. So that was day 1.

(by the way, Joey at this very moment is making me get out of his favorite chair because I'm all sweaty. I'm now on the floor typing.)

Day 2. Plyometrics. I think "Plyo" must be fancy Latin for "pain". It's basically jumping for an hour. By the end of it I was just flailing my legs around in hopes of getting them off the ground. I will liken that to what Tony, the instructor, calls "modifying" it for your personal level. Modifying...flailing...all the same for me at 35 minutes into plyometrics. I was absolutely drippng with sweat. My legs felt like lead and Jello Jigglers all at the same time.

Today, Day 3. Dying. I just did an hour of shoulders and arms. Still sore from Chest Monday and Pain Tuesday. I did not completely make it through the extra 20-30 minutes Ab Ripper X which is supposed to be I think 2-3x/wk. I tried, but I couldn't physically DO half of them. Again, modified. But I made it, dying quite possibly, but Day 3 is down.

Tomorrow is Yoga. I heard it's really hard. I have never really done yoga except a video or two with a friend during which we laughed at ourselves the entire time. I don't think that counts.

And back to my original statement, about P90X being all that Tony does. I believe it. Well duh, you're going to in crazy shape if you're put through boot camp like this every stinking day of your life! This is not something new. Fancy it up and call it "muscleconfusion" all you want to try to repackage it, but it's just plain hard work. Really hard work.

Alright, so I've whined enough, but I can't say enough about the work out. It IS a workout and I DO expect results. I don't think my body has a choice. The trick will be sticking with it. It's definitely a time committment, but I can do it on my terms at least.

I'm beginning to regain a little movement in the rest of my body, so I better take advantage of it now. I will let you know how yoga goes.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Canine Criminal Minds

This is what I came home to at lunch last week.

If you will notice, this is not our fenced backyard, but rather our front doorstep. How did this happen?


And Bo was kind enough to do a reenactment.

If you will recall, from a previous post, this is not Gus' first break out. See The Escape Artist. I believe they must have worked as a team. Bo, the little one, was the brains of the operation. He would sniff out the right fence slat for weakness like the guy who tells you where to drill for oil. Gus, was the brute strength. He just butted up against the chosen fence slat until the old nail was forced to surrender. And viola.

Well, this is what it got them. Behind bars for the rest of the day.

Repeat Offender & Seasoned Criminal: Gus Perot

The Rookie: Bogart Perot

As you can see from the mugshots, Gus has the look of a hardened criminal. Bo, is giving me the eye and licking his chops as if saying "When I get outta here...". In addition to community service, they will be required to watch SPCA videos of all the dogs who are homeless and hungry. Hopefully, this will change their attitude.

In the meantime, I think we will be investing in a new fence soon.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Trade Days

We're in a recession right? Sometimes it's hard to tell. It seems that people, at least in Houston, are going about business-as-usual with no change in spending habits. But goodness, do you remember when the term "recession" first hit us? Everybody was frantic and I heard people bringing up things like the Great Depression. Images of people standing in breadlines and scenes from Cinderella Man come to mind. If you haven't been able to tell, my mind can tend to have a flare for the dramatic if my imagination is allowed to run. I try to reel it in for the sake of everyone else, but honestly, there are times when untethering yourself from reality can have its moments And sometimes the imagination can reveal a reality that you are not quite expecting, but has its merits for being considered.

Case in point. I had let my imagination go with the above mentioned Great Depression of 2009, just for a moment. What if it happened? You always see yourself being able to get a job, whether it's a career as the one I have or one at Starbucks, sacking groceries,etc. But what if there really weren't jobs to be found? When civilizations experience a financial crisis and currency becomes weightless, societies revert back to the bartering system and trading of services.

Trading of services. This got me thinking. In the Great Depression men traded skills like carpentry, mechanical, or physical labor and women took in extra washing, ironing, cooking, sewing, etc. With wrinkle-free clothes and washing machines, two of our options are no longer applicable. So what skills would I rely upon?

Let's look at a few of my blogging friends. There's Jana. Jana's skill would be baking and decorating cakes and if for some reason party cakes were not in high demand during a recession, she could fall back on her amazing gift for making crafts and all things beautiful. She'd survive, definitely. Kris, aka Mary Poppins, if found in dire financial straits would become a nanny as she has this incredible ability to watch 25 kids at once with one eye closed and with Babysitter Club creativity to boot. If it got that bad in the States, she'd become an au pair in London. Kristen has a blog dedicated to cooking with a beautiful picture of one of her homemade pies on the front. Need I say more? Stephanie is a nurse - skill set jackpot. And then there's Krystina, who is a childhood friend and whose blog I have only recently discovered. I can't quite figure out what she can't do! Photography, cooking, crafting, sewing. Martha Stewart would be shaking in her homemade, self-embroidered boots if she took a look at Krystina's blog.

And then there's me. I'm in marketing. I can see it now. If you repair our roof, I can um...tell everyone about it. Not exactly the best for trading. I'm not really sure what I do as far as pinned down skills go. Let's break it down. Cooking. I love to cook, but I seem to make mistakes like the last batch of brownies that I misread the directions and instead of 1/2 cup of oil, 1 T water, I swapped the measurements. This left me running to the sink to strain out the water after I realized my mistake. Classic. I could do it, I just am not sure there would be a line out the door waiting to buy, you know what I mean? Sewing a button on is a stretch so that's out. What about crafting? All girls are good at that right? Well, let's just say it's an untapped skill. Gardening. I could grow our own produce maybe and then sell it. I hear my numerous potted plant casualties crying from the grave "No! Spare the others!". Cleaning. We have a winner. I AM good at cleaning. I would become a maid.

All this has led me to the conclusion that I need to develop a trade. I'm just not sure what yet. I know I need to have some of the skills above anyhow for the sake of my children in the future (and by future I mean years) in order to provide a touch of domesticity that makes a home a haven for kids. I never really needed them before, but now that I'm married I can see just how useful they would be (I'm talking about the skills, not the kids!). Why didn't I learn these things before? Now it's going to be like cramming for a test. Hopefully, bartering will not be in any of our imminent futures, but parenting is at least around my next few years' corner. Yikes! I think I need the Cliff notes...