Thursday, December 24, 2009

Stephen and I, like many of you, have been receiving Christmas cards over the past few weeks.  I myself never send them out.  It's just something I don't think of.  But if I did, I would make a point of addressing each envelope the way I like to receive them.

When Stephen and I got married, I was hesitant to take his last name.  Honestly, one of the reasons* I did is that it's much simpler to spell than my maiden name.  I'm very proud of my maiden name, and I'm very much my own person, so it was difficult to change a part of what used to identify me.  So on our wedding day, I was insistent that our pastor introduce us a certain way.  I drilled him about it for weeks so that he would remember.  Because, on my wedding day, I didn't want to become Mrs. Stephen LastName.  I'm becoming his wife, but I'm retaining my identity and individuality.  So my pastor introduced us as Mr. and Mrs. Stephen and Rachel LastName.

This is something I'm pretty passionate about, and the Christmas card thing always brings it out of me again.  A few people (those not of my generation) have sent cards addressed to Mr. and Mrs. Stephen Lastname.  I know it was considered proper back in the day... but why can't we just be Stephen and Rachel?  Why do I have to lose my first name, too?  Every time I get a card addressed this way, I feel like feminism never happened.  My husband would never relegate me to an extension of himself- why does it seem like so many other people do?

Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Christ, who is the true source of my identity, and no one can take that away from me.  I look past the envelope and appreciate the card and the thought behind it.  It's not even the individuals that sent the ill-addressed card that I'm offended by.  It's the whole concept of "Mr. and Mrs. Man" that offends me.  Thankfully, this concept seems to be on its way out.

Sort of a strange thing to write about on Christmas Eve... it's just where my mind is this morning.

*Mostly, I took Stephen's name because I love him, wanted to honor him, and I believe in biblical submission to my husband.  This means he does everything with my best interests in mind and puts me before himself, so when I defer to him I can trust him to make wise choices for us.  It does NOT mean that he treats me like shit, takes advantage of me, or acts as my ruler and master.  Ephesians 5:22 says, "Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord..."  But a few verses later, Paul instructs husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church, who gave himself up for us: "...husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies."  Lots of people know that Christians believe the wife has to submit and respect her husband.  What most of them don't realize is that he has to sacrifice himself and love his wife unconditionally.  The wonderful thing is, I married a man who really lives this way.

I guess this post turned out to be more Christmas appropriate than I originally planned.  Jesus was born for the sole purpose of dying for you.  He gave up His throne, became a man, and lived a perfect life, just so He could die and rise again.  He did this because He loves you (YOU!) and He wants you (yes, YOU!) to be with him forever.  He's not pointing His finger at you, or shaking His head in disappointment, or angry about the things you've done wrong.  Maybe that's what your dad did... but Jesus isn't like any other man!  He's 100% filled with unconditional, unchanging love for you.  I hope you encounter the real Jesus this Christmas.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

If you've been following my blog for very long, you will understand why the name is so appropriate.  One of my (many) talents lies in always being able to find something to complain about.  It makes me feel better.  And I often contradict myself, which I accept and am ok with.  Stephen has on multiple occasions reacted with surprise when I declare my vehement love/hatred of a certain thing.  "But a few weeks ago, you said the opposite!"  I'm given to passionate diatribes which match my feelings at that moment.

However, many of my pet peeves have remained the same since I developed a personality.  As a writer, unsurprisingly many of the things that make me crazier than a monkey in a knife fight have to do with words.

Shortening words
For a while I thought only teenagers said things like "whatevs" and "phenom", but in the recent months I've heard adults use this kind of language, and not in an ironic way.  I realize I might be stepping on some toes here, as a handful of friends and family members have embraced this sophomoric slang vocabulary.  But seriously, everyone.  If you're over 19 and you don't wear skinny jeans, I promise people are laughing at you.  Or at least whispering behind your back.

Adding "-y" or "-ies" to the end of words (often to children)
For example, "Did you get an ouchies?" (this doesn't even make sense!) or "I'll pour you more juicy."  I find this infuriating and not in the least cute and charming.  Children can comprehend long before they can form sensible responses and relate them to you, and they certainly won't be forming sensible anythings with their parents talking like this all the time.

Text language
I lament the gradual deterioration of the written word in today's society, and I place the blame squarely on text messaging.  I frequently receive text messages from well educated adults who use "4" and "u" and other abominations in place of actual words.  This, I cannot forgive.  I can bury it deep inside me and try my best to cover the alarming twitch I seem to be developing.  But when language (I hesitate to even call it that) like this is used in more legitimate mediums of communication, like email... well, don't be surprised if you never hear from me again.  I can't take the risk of my twitch* becoming permanent.

Excessive exclamation marks
I always say that exclamation marks are like garlic, to be used thoughtfully and carefully and never ever overdone.  Now, I like garlic as much, or almost probably more, than the average person.  This is probably why my husband always chuckles quietly to himself when I recite my wise exclamation mark adage.  But that's beside the point.  Women are overwhelmingly the common abusers of this potent form of punctuation.  When reading, say, a facebook status in which 80% of the sentences end in one or more exclamation points, you almost have to read it with the mental voice of a 17 year old Twilight fangirl with ADD.  And that's just tiring.

Unnecessary quotation marks
This is less of a pet peeve than it is a source of mild amusement.  I like to read The "Blog" of "Unnecessary" Quotation Marks, but after a page or two of posts, I go from laughing to chuckling to glowering silently to growling and clenching my teeth.  You see these amateurish signs everywhere from gas station bathrooms to office breakrooms that say things like "Please" don't take my soda from the fridge, or whatever.  I can't decide if you're quoting from another sign or you mean it sarcastically.

People who put periods at end of questions
This is where my opinions really get heated.  Questions with no punctuation whatsoever on the end just make me disappointed.  But questions with a period at the end make me angry.  If you've taken the time to push the period key, you most certainly have the time to put a question mark.  For some reason, executives and important business types think they are exempt from this rule, and unfortunately, recipients of emails from these people are often left scratching their heads and wondering how someone with such questionable** communication skills managed to gain hold of such lofty responsibilities.

The word Irregardless
I maintain that this is not a word. will ask if you meant "regardless", and even Merriam-Webster, while acknowledging that it is a word (psh, what do they know?) will suggest you don't use it.  This is a perfect example of mass ignorance creating reality: if enough people continually use a non-word, eventually the standard conforms to idiocy.  This isn't meant to be social commentary.  Just throwing it out there.

The word Disorientate; -ed; -ing
I realize that this is an actual word, used mostly in the UK, but it still sounds so wrong to me every time Bear Grylls says "disorientating" instead of "disorienting".  No amount of hot British accent can remedy the downright weird feeling always I get.

* If you notice it, please, try not stare.  I'm sensitive about it.
** Questionable! Ha! Get it?

Monday, November 09, 2009

Studies in Machismo

Today we will be examining one of the more useful tools of the male chauvinist: the catcall. I'm sure I won't be alone in saying that I find this practice infuriating and demeaning, and it's unclear to me as to whether these are the objectives of the catcaller. However, a few recent instances have proven to be so humorous to me that I just wanted to sit down with the poor misguided chauvinist and instruct him in the art of objectifying my kind. And that's sad.

My cirumstances make me a prime target for catcalling: My husband and I are a one-car family, and as I work from home, he usually takes the car. Thus, I frequently walk along major roads to visit grocery stores, coffee shops, etc. My favorite form of exercise is running, which I often do outdoors at a park a few blocks from our home. On top of all that, I am a female between the ages of 13 and 73, free from major deformities or religious doctrines requiring me to wear a burka. So I've experienced my fair share of come-ons, to which I've historically responded with anything from an icy gaze to a direct physical threat.

Situation 1: A week ago, I was coming home from a run. A young gentleman was sitting at a bus stop across the street and whistled at me. Now, we're all familiar with the traditional two-toned wolf-whistle. The one that says, "damn, sexy!" Right? This kid gave me the two-toned "Hey, I'm trying to get your attention" whistle, the way you do at someone you know who's trying to find you at a crowded bar. Naturally, I paid no heed to his first attempt, assuming that someone nearby was trying to call their dog or something. So he tried it again, exactly the same way (at least we can admire his persistence). So I turned toward him, and he gave me the barely perceptible chin nod, indicating that he's too cool to wave but wants me to know it was him. I thought it was so funny and sad that no one ever explained to this poor kid how to whistle at a girl, I didn't even flip him off. I just shook my head with disappointment and ran on.

Situation 2: This afternoon I was crossing a major road, carrying a bag of groceries, and talking on my phone. A guy leaned out of the passenger window of a nearby car stopped at the light and whistled at me. Again, not the familiar wolf-whistle, but instead a single whistle, starting low and ascending. What is that? I ignored it, and you just know he sat back down in the car, confused and defeated, saying to his friend, "why didn't it work?"

Situation 3: Later, I was walking along the sidewalk and an SUV passed me by. Just a few seconds after going past me, he honked, but it was too late. He had just barely passed me already. That's worse than the ignorance of the other guys- that's just laziness, and it's not gonna get you a date. Today's woman is busy, busy, busy, and she doesn't have time to turn around to appreciate your gesture, so you've got to stay on top of your game.

These suckers are doing it all wrong, and that's a shame. But at least we can learn something from their unfortunate mistakes. First, learn how to perform a traditional wolf-whistle, so as to leave no doubt in the mind of the recipient regarding your intention. A louder, more effective whistle can be accomplished by placing the thumb and pointer finger between your lips- that way women from long distances will hear and come to you. Second, you can't lose your focus for one second. Always be on the lookout for attractive women to hassle, because your opportunity will have passed you by before you know it. Especially when your opportunity is a pedestrian minding her own business and you are traveling at even relatively high speeds in a vehicle. Third, take some cues from all of all the star-crossed couples you know who met and fell instantly in love after he honked at her while she was walking a cross walk in front of his car. Exactly. I haven't met any either. So, maybe, stop being a giant douchebag.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

I had a little miscommunication this morning with my sister-in-law about what time exactly I was supposed to meet them at the park. Obviously, before leaving (early, as it turns out), I thought it prudent to leave my phone at home, causing me to miss subsequent calls from said sister-in-law trying to tell me "See you at 9:30!". But I've found a silver lining in the cloud of our misunderstanding. Since I was at the park early, I was lucky enough to see the Corp of Stroller-Exercising-Mothers**. Have you heard of this? It's a thing. A scheduled, organized thing. If you haven't personally witnessed this curiosity, you are unfortunate indeed.

Before I make fun of them, let me say this: I actually think it's fantastic. So many women have a baby and then get fat and bored, but not these gals. They all looked great, including one very preggo mama, and I think having your children involved is fun and sets a good example for them. In fact, were I in possession of a small child and an all-terrain stroller, I would have joined them. It really looked fun! But they have to know they make quite a spectacle.

There's a weird, slightly unsettling sameness about 2 dozen 20 and 30 somethings, all dressed similarly in their brightly colored spandex exercise outfits, baseball caps, and smart ponytails, with strollers, doing the same motions simultaneously. Picture this: a whole mess of strollers stand on the grass. Near them stands the woman who is obviously presiding over the session, shouting at her charges. The women are leaping and bounding-almost frolicking- across the field, they are lunge-walking back, they are walking sideways like crabs, they are shuffling backwards and trying not to bump into each other. Meanwhile, a little boy is chasing another through the sprinklers nearby, wielding a long stick, and one mother is forced to leave the festivities to discipline her charge.

Later I turned down onto the main paved path, and there they were, all gathered along the edge of the grass, jumping up and down. Then they started walking, and I can't even begin to describe what they were doing... the best approximation I can give is women's boot camp meets the Ministry of Silly Walks. The whole ensemble is very amusing. At this point I tried to pass them- they were squatting sideways while walking- but while I was in the middle of the group, they started high-kick jogging. I got caught up in the middle of the group and couldn't get out, and the woman is shouting at them to "Kick higher! Higher!" I had to bite down on my lip to keep from laughing (because I don't want to be discouraging... or get the crap beat out of me by a bunch of postpartum babes).

You know, there's power in numbers. I have been known to lunge walk and do push-ups at the park, and I always feel self-conscious. I'm fully aware that I look strange, even if it is obvious that I'm working out. But with 20 or so comrades and our kids, I can put a serious look on my face and crab-walk to my heart's content.

* This may or may not be the official motto of CoSEM.
** I totally made up this name.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Wow, it's been a while since I've looked at this screen- the empty field of a new blog post. A little intimidating. A little hopeless. Lots of font choices.

I haven't written because, for a while, there was no time. And now, because I don't think I have anything interesting to write about. I've been on a lengthy, undesired hiatus from gainful employment, and whilst job-searching my way around the internets, stumbled upon several websites that pay by the article. I joined a couple as a freelance writer but every time I sit down to do my 500 word writing sample, I get stuck. So I thought maybe I should pick up my blog again and do some low-pressure writing... because 500 words on my favorite city to visit is so high-pressure. Blerg.

Moving on.

We've been back from South Carolina for almost 2 months. We're living in my Grandmother's basement till' September 10th, when our blessedly private apartment will become available. Stephen, of course, got a job right away. We were here a short 3 weeks when he got an offer one Thursday, and he started the following Monday. He likes it, and they pay him. It's really a lovely arrangement.

I, still unemployed, have made a job for myself out of applying for jobs. Every day I sit down at the computer and check craigslist and for new job postings for receptionists and administrative assistants. There's LOTS of openings out there. The tricky thing? We only have one car. So I can either walk to work or work in the vicinity of Stephen's office, so we could drive together. The other tricky thing? Our neighborhood- and Stephen's new job- are not exactly at the epicenter of corporate America. Or even corporate Denver. So out of an average 30 or 40 new postings every day, 15 or so are in our part of town. I then have to weed through the sketchy ones ("send a photo of yourself with resume please") and the scammy ones (" WOrk from *HOmE* $100,000 a yEAr!!?!") and the just plain weird ones ("DO NOT send me a resume! I can't read a resume! I'm not a resume guy! Just tell me in a few paragraphs why you would like to be my assistant!"). That leaves me with a scant 3-5 postings I might be barely qualified for, which I dutifully apply for.

I also realized about a week ago that I had been sending my resume out with a word misspelled on it, and a major timeline mistake. Perhaps I could use it to my advantage.

Interviewer: What would you say your strengths are?
Me: Well, I'm very good at multi-tasking. For instance, did you know that I worked as a receptionist for two different companies at the same time? In different states? For, like, a year?
Interviewer: I see...
Me: I'm also an excellent proof-reader, and-
Interviewer: You misspelled the word "broad" right here. :::points to resume:::
Me: Oh yes, I'm also a liar.

Hopefully anyone who reads Rachel Resume 1.0 will be as lazy and ignorant as I was and not notice. Resume 2.0 has been in use for several days and I feel cautiously optimistic about it.

Updates will be posted as applicable, supposing I can apply myself to writing them.