Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year? New Me? There's Hope Yet.

I was thinking about the New Year and what I wanted to be my theme song for the year, and as I was scrolling through my music I came across this lovely India.Arie song and thought, this is it - "There's Hope."

I've had a tough year. At the end of last year I lost my father, and though we weren't exactly close, he was my dad and there's a sadness with that loss. My oldest son was coming out of some serious struggles at the beginning of 2008, and just as he was getting better, my mom got sick, and died several months later. All in all not a banner year. But, as I am wont to do, I got thinking about what I've learned and what I'm grateful for. So, before I make my list of goals for next year, I wanted to spend a few minutes reflecting on the last one.

1. I learned that no one can ever love you like your mom. No matter what the ups and downs of that relationship are, it's a bond unlike any other. I was lucky that my relationship with my mom was closer than many, it had it's issues, like any relationship, but I was blessed.

2. I learned that we are all a lot stronger than we think we are, and when pushed to the max, we usually can pull it out. We might collapse afterward, but we're a resilient little species.

3. A sense of humor can get you through the toughest times and save your sanity. I thank God I come from a funny family, without our ability to laugh we'd all be in a padded room somewhere, not that we shouldn't be anyway.

4. It's okay to be alone. There's no shame in being single. As the lovely Adrienne Smith used to say, "Better to be alone than wish you were alone." When I bought my Christmas tree by myself, got it in the stand alone and decorated, I didn't feel sad, I felt empowered.

5. As bad as things can get, they WILL get better. You just have to have that faith that it comes around again. It's the natural order of things.

Some of my goals for the upcoming year are just for me and maybe those closest to me, but there are three things I'll put here:

1. To live life wide wake. No sleepwalking through days: be aware, conscious and grateful for every single day.
2. Say yes more than no.
3. Stop trying to be a round peg trying to fit into square hole relationships. If it feels like work, it's not right.

As India says in that song: "There's hope, it doesn't cost a thing to smile,you don't have to pay to laugh, you better thank God for that."

I kind of lost my optimism this year. It was a pretty dark time, but something tells me that it's coming around again. Ah, there's hope.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Gossip Girls And Guys Take Smack Talk To A New Low

All right, so gossiping and talking about others is nothing new. People have talked about each other since time eternal. But, at least back then it didn't go further than the general store, the classroom or hometown.

Now however, thanks to the Internet gossip can make its way around a campus in seconds.

Threads that circle campuses are bad enough, but add to the mix the toxic dump known as Juicy Campus, and well it takes gossip to a whole new, very low level.

In the Boston Globe today they did a story about this site, and it was completely dismaying.

In the article they talked to several students who had been talked about on the site and the words they COULD print (there were many they couldn't) were things like whore, fag, ho, disgusting and more. This isn't your mother's gossip for sure.

I've noticed when people are allowed to comment anonymously that all sense of propriety and kindness seem to disappear. At the newspaper I write for I've noticed at times that the comments can be mean spirited and downright cruel because no one knows who you are.

I've also noticed that no matter what the year - 1950 or 2008, that women will still be awful to other women, and that a double standard for sexual activity amongst the sexes still exists. Men are still glorified for all their conquests while women are still labeled whores, skanks and hos. Especially by other women, even when those rumors aren't true.

Juicy Campus was started by a former frat boy and graduate of Duke University a year and a half ago. It's clear that by what he said about how much he and his frat buddies loved gossip when he was in college that he didn't evolve much while he was there. How sad that he's chosen to make his living by encouraging others to disparage and hurt others. As a believer in karma I think he'll get his just desserts, but in the meantime we can do our bit to not fall into that horrible trap of gossiping and speaking ill of others. Let's face it, we all do it sometimes, but maybe it's time to try a lot harder not to.

I have a visceral response to women being mean to each other. I am a true believer in the sisterhood of women. I think we should support not malign, I think we shouldn't cheat with other women's boyfriends and husbands, and should always have each other's backs. Life's hard enough without being called whores and sluts. Especially by each other. And let's make a vow to punch any guy in the wiener who says things like that!

In the meantime, don't support sites like Juicy Campus. The only way to stop it is not be a part of it. The buck and the ugly rumor truly stop with you.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

To Hell With FemBots How About A HimBot?

There was a piece in The Sun about a female robot named Aiko. Aiko doesn't nag, cleans, reads to her owner, and apparently, with a few "tweaks" could be made to be a sexual partner as well. Yikes!

I got thinking about what I would program a male robot to do if I had a degree from MIT and was able to do something like that.

So I've come up with 10 things I'd like a HimBot to do for me:

1. Make money. Not earn it, I mean MAKE it, as in minting it. An endless supply of cash, my own personal ATM would be wonderful.
2.Clean bathrooms. If I never had to clean the bathroom again I would be very happy.
3. Do manicures and pedicures. How awesome would it be to have someone right here to make me look great?
4. Kill the big scary bugs. I'm not proud of the fact that I scream like a girl when I kill big spiders like the one I nailed yesterday. I was on the phone with my son when I did it and I could hear his eyes rolling at me over the phone.
5. Do yard work. Yeah, I could give this up as easily as the bathroom scrubbing.
6. Say "Danger Will Robinson!" when something is threatening. I know I'm not Will Robinson, I just think it would be awesome.
7. Read to me with a voice that sounds like George Clooney. That would be a very nice way to fall asleep every night.
8. Be a personal trainer who will work me out. But not in that "tweaking" the robot way.
9. Solve computer glitches in a flash. No longer will I be stuck on the phone trying to figure out how to fix the problem with an impatient guy who wants me off his back so he can go get some coffee.
10.Transport me to wherever I want to go. Imagine - no flight delays, traffic jams or weather issues. I'm sure my children will be thrilled with my new ability to pop in whenever I want.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Coming Soon! Boneless Women!

So I was just catching up on my Monday morning news, reading Jezebel, the Huffington Post and others, and came across this piece about Jessica Alba's new ad campaign for Campari.

Apparently the powers that be didn't think the beautiful Ms. Alba looked quite beautiful enough and shaved inches off her waist, hips, thighs and chest.

As I looked at both the pictures I couldn't imagine why anyone would think the original, un-retouched photo wasn't just perfect. Alba still looks very slim (especially for someone who gave birth just a few months ago) yet very curvy. She looks, gasp! Like a woman. A gorgeous woman. Somehow in the after-picture she looks like she's had ribs removed and has been dripped into that little jumpsuit like a boneless chicken cutlet.

I got into a discussion a while ago about where these ridiculous body standards women try to adhere to come from. I get confused because from what I know and understand - men actually prefer women who are curvy and womanly. They don't want to bed women who are built like 12-year-old boys. How good that nature works in such a mentally healthy way. So I wonder, why do women flog themselves into skin-tight size zero jeans, starve themselves and generally live miserable, very hungry lives? I think it's designers and other women pushing them to anorexia and bad body images.

This theory comes from well, nothing really, other than watching shows like "Project Runway" and "The Rachel Zoe Project," and being a woman.

See, this is a dirty not-so-secret thing: women can be the absolute best to each other, be there through thick and thin, and yet, all too often are just miserable, horrible, mean bitches to each other. The meanness of women to each other can take my breath away. I like to think I'm not that kind of woman, but I'm sure there's someone out there who thinks I'm a bitch. But I do try really hard to be kind and respectful of other women because I think we have to stick together.

As far as the designers go, hello! Real women do in fact have curves, and we need food to survive! Who ever said, "You can never be too rich or too thin," was well, probably someone like Helen Gurley Brown, who may be a very nice person - I don't know her, but looks in desperate need of a sandwich.

My hope is that there may be a day, somewhere in the not-too-distant future, where women will be encouraged to be healthy, not emaciated. Clothes will be designed for a woman's curves, not for middle schoolers who have yet to mature. In the meantime I'm going to keep shouting from my albeit very insignificant soapbox: Be healthy, be happy and love yourself, just as you are.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Sugar Daddy or john? Is There A Difference?

I was reading this post on The Daily Beast today by a young woman who is the "sugar baby" for an older man. She's a senior in college, he's a successful media mini-mogul who she said spends an average of $5000 a month supporting her lifestyle. In exchange she's accompanies him on trips, has sex with him and is his girlfriend for all intents and purposes, but I would think that since he pays for her it would be no biggie for him to fire her.

With things as tough as they are economically I've sometimes had the fantasy of how nice it would be kind of nice to have someone paying the bills while I toiled away on my next book. But this sort of arrangement is a little too skeevy and "Pretty Woman" for me. And yes, I'm well aware that I'm not exactly at the "sugar baby" age anyway thank you very much.

As I read the post by Ms. Beech (a pseudonym) I have to say my first thought went to my own daughter, a similar age and how disappointed I would be in her if she thought that was the only way she could make her way in the world. The author talked about the Manolos in her closet and the trips to Paris, the nice car and the spa weekends, but the cost just seems a little too high for me. There's a lot to be said for buying those things yourself and getting them in right time when you've earned it.

Today the third woman in a row was named Secretary of State. The dichotomy of reading this post after watching Hillary Clinton accept Barrack Obama's appointment was not lost on me. For every step I see women take forward, there's always a couple back.

We still live in a culture that for women is completely confusing. For every Hillary there's a Paris. For every Tina Fey, a Lauren Conrad.

My dream is for a world where women truly see their value beyond what they look like and the sexual services they can provide to a man. I also dream of a world where older men don't exploit insecure, financially strapped young women who might not completely understand what they're getting into. To me there's something intrinsically icky about a man old enough to be a young woman's dad having a relationship with her.

I hope that Ms. Beech makes it to the other side of this intact. I also hope that Mr. Media, her benefactor, grows up enough to realize that what really matters in relationships is the commitment and willingness to be there for someone else. Someone who's not there because you pay them to be, but because they want to be. And maybe he'll get that what's really important in life isn't what you earned, bought or where you live, it's showing up for those you love. And money can't buy that.