Thursday, August 15, 2013

A Tiny Person Emerges

I have two handsome, intelligent, and serious men in my life. They are so much alike; so introspective, so dignified.

I also have Sloan and Ward in my life.
Wait, you thought I was referring to Sloan and Ward at the beginning? HA! HAAAAAAAAAA HA! No no no no no not THEM! I was talking about my dad and father-in-law! They were the two men I was talking about. HA! And ya know what? That's actually a joke, too, because my dad and father-in-law are a couple of chuckle heads!  HAHAHAHA WHEW! *wipes eyes* Oh man, I gotta catch my breath! Handsome, intelligent, and serious?! Those guys?!?!?!? You got 'em good, Julia!

All (super funny) joking aside, I really miss Sloan right now because he has been dealing with finals which means he's running around the house flipping open books, talking to himself, and generally acting insane like Doc Brown from Back to the Future. And since Sloan's going all YOLO on his finals (Did I use that right? I feel like I didn't use it right) I'm the only parent taking care of Ward most of the time. GREAT. It's bad enough that I'm not the one to bear the entire financial responsibility of our family by attending dental school, but now I have to spend all of my time with a happy, smart, healthy baby who I love more than anything? NOT COOL, UNIVERSE. And you can believe me when I say my life sucks because I'm not here to sugarcoat things...unless I'm about to eat those things...because then, yes, I will sugarcoat things.

Ward is getting stranger by the day, which for the most part is cute. However...everything is a constant guessing game because he's caught in this sort of baby purgatory where he's old enough to have specific desires and opinions, but he's still way too young to effectively communicate those desires and opinions. Every time he gets upset, I'm running all over the place like on Supermarket Sweep and grabbing any old thing to offer to him, and if that's not what he wants he gets angrier so I just fling it behind my head and go for the next closest item because IS IT THE FIRETRUCK DO YOU WANT THE FIRETRUCK HOW ABOUT THE RACE CAR WHY ARE YOU POINTING AT THE FRIDGE OH YOU WANT A POPSICLE! NOT THE GREEN ONE? MKAY WHAT COLOR?  RED? YOU WANT RED? NO? YOU CAN JUST HAVE THEM ALL PLEASE MAKE THE SCREAMING STOP. This happens probably thirty times a day.

And there are things that I do to/for/with Ward every day and HAVE done every day of his life that he still fights. One of those things is cleaning off his face.
Sometimes it's just a runny nose. Other times it's...mascara. No matter what it is, if Ward senses I'm about to wipe his face, he acts like a cat that just got tossed into a kiddie pool. The key is surprise. If I want any chance of keeping Ward still long enough to drag a wet paper towel across his crusty face, I have to sneak up behind him and attack like a kidnapper chloroforming their victim. This (also) happens about thirty times a day.

As annoying as it is for Ward to fight me like a chimp whenever I'm trying to wipe refried beans off his forehead, it's somewhat understandable. I'm violating his personal space and that's annoying. There are other things, though, that I don't understand. Like how he insists on wearing his pool floaty while we play inside.

Or how he sleeps with his feet on the wall.

I don't understand why he can't keep his diaper on for more than ten minutes.

Or why he shoves pancakes into our water bottles.

I don't get why he intentionally pours out his drinks, then cries about it.
(And no one understands why he
wears that stupid hat.)

I DO, however, understand his desire to pull as many donuts out of the case at Walmart and eat them before the store employees notice.

I think we all understand that one.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Ten Things Women Should Stop Doing (But Probably Won't)

There's a lot of rejection in the writing business, especially when you're a bad writer like me. It hurts to hear the words, "Unfortunately, we are unable to accept your submission for publication..."

Don't these people KNOW WHO I AM? I spent forty minutes on this! GIVE ME SOME MONEY AND PRINT MY STUFF.

Still no? Well,, no it's not a big deal. I appreciate your time. You have a really nice office *picks up picture frame* Are these your children? They're really beautiful. What a beautiful family. So, you're still sure that this article isn't a good fit? Okay, I totally understand. No need to explain! Different strokes for different--*jumps up, swipes papers off of desk, runs out door* Ha! Sucker!!! I DON'T NEED YOUR CRAPPY ONLINE MAGAZINE! I'll just post it on my blog, which has ONE HUNDRED FOLLOWERS!

By Julia Rehder
Note: Before you read this, you should know that as an average American woman myself, I also do all of these things. And I, too, should stop doing them (but probably won't).
Another Note: If you recognize some of this content, it's because I plagiarized it from a previous blog post of mine, which actually means it's not plagiarism but nice try J. Edgar Hoover.

1. Stop Idolizing Marilyn Monroe (for the wrong reasons)
When my elementary school teacher asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I didn't answer "I wanna be pretty!" because, while that was true, even as a little kid I knew to be embarrassed of that answer. (And besides the real answer was trash man because hello hanging on to the back of a truck!) Marilyn Monroe was an icon for beauty and she was a mediocre actress, but that was about it. Why, decades and decades later, do we still hang her poster in our rooms and quote her continuously on Pinterest? She changed nearly every part of herself (her name, her hair, her body) to make Hollywood happy and she led a miserable, tumultuous life full of self-doubt and failed relationships. Only later did we find out what a creative and deep-thinking woman she could be because those were not the parts of her that were as valued, and still aren't today.

2. Stop Shaving Your Armpits
When I had my first baby a couple of years ago, between the hospital stay and the postpartum home recovery, I neglected to shave my legs and arm pits for about ten days. And let me tell you: my armpits have never felt better. What used to be itchy, irritated and dry pits had become smooth, happy skin beneath a soft meadow of (gross-looking, but great-feeling) pit hair. Shirt sleeves didn't chafe, deodorant didn't crackle, and I didn't feel as sweaty because nature's own pit stain defenses were in place. Good gracious, it was so liberating. But like most other people, I quickly went back to the daily razor burn of social acceptance.

3. Stop Thinking Men Notice Your Clothes and/or Makeup
For the most part, they don't. So only do those things for yourself, not for them.

4. Stop Not Considering Work in the Software Industry
When I first came onto the software scene, I was an English graduate who was apprehensively trying out technical writing. Like most women, I was pretty convinced that I'd go nowhere and that I'd hate it since I had only a moderate amount of technical knowledge and would feel totally dumb and overwhelmed. Well, it turns out that everyone I worked with/for was just so happy that I was even there to ask questions in the first place (even if those questions were things like “So...that's the power button, right?”). I wasn't treated like a some dumb girl who was unrelatable and therefore useless. I was just another person on the project. Also, software development is such a vastly flexible and stimulating industry, it's a shame that more women don't consider this an option, as it can be especially conducive to the stay at home parent lifestyle. The industry is so full of people excited and willing to tell you everything you need to know. I don't think I'll ever be an engineer myself because I'm happy working in the gap between tech and writing, but I would've never even gotten to this point if I had just looked at the societal influences of women-in-tech news.

5. Stop Taking Thirty Years to Back Out of A Parking Spot
WOMEN, YOU CAN BACK OUT OF A PARKING SPOT MUCH FASTER IF YOU TURN THE WHEEL SOONER. If you cut the wheel hard right as your front tires reaches the back tires of the car parked next to you, you'll turn out faster and rest assured you (probably?) won't hit that other car. No more of this “back straight out of the spot until your car is completely cleared, then attempt a five point turn to change direction" business! It's embarrassing!

6. Stop Underestimating Your Physical Strength
I've heard people talk about old man strength before. You know, how old dudes look kinda out of shape, but will nonchalantly snap a two-by-four in half over their knee while doing yard work or whatever. Well, there is a little-known woman equivalent of that: mom strength. Yes, having a kid has definitely made me look more out of shape; everything on my body is sagging and jiggly, but I swear I'm three times stronger now. That's because motherhood can actually be incredibly physically demanding. Having to hold on to a flailing 30 pound kid while pushing your shopping cart through the grocery parking lot takes major upper body strength, as does pinning down a squirmy kid to change their diaper. I even once had to restrain my kid who was mid-Tasmanian devil tantrum with one arm while I caught and righted a falling clothes rack (full of prom dresses) with my other arm in Dillard's. My trapezoids were sore for days! Yes, like an old man, women bodies can be easily underestimated. Now when I look at any pre-baby woman's body, I think two things: 1. Man, I wish I looked that good. 2. I bet I could bench press her.

7. Stop Hating Sluts
Why does slut have to be a bad word?! Let sluts do what they want, they aren't trying to hurt you! Besides, if those women didn't enjoy promiscuity, then the men that they are currently satisfying would be bothering the rest of us and may even be forced to go door-to-door. Somebody's gotta do it, and it sure as heck won't be me! Why not just applaud them for being on the front lines?

8. Stop Assuming You Can't Be Funny
I know this is hard to do. I, like a lot of women, have the tendency to simply clutch my pearls and giggle when I'm with the dudes as they joke around. But as I'm feigning demure woman-ness, I'm actually coming up with awesome burns that I'm just too embarrassed to throw out there because it might not sound as funny coming from a chick. However, one element of comedy is delivery something unexpected, and there are a lot of things that people don't expect to come out of a woman's mouth. Take advantage of that! Women like Carol Burnett, Bea Arthur, and Amy Poehler (I could go on and on) are great examples of this. Sure, there are other woman (and, of course men) who take this too far, and lean on the crutch of vulgarity to do the heavy lifting for them, but I'm not talking about them. You CAN be a lovely and proper and funny woman. You CAN have it all!

9. Stop Wearing Heels
They hurt! They're bad for you! The good ones are crazy expensive! High heels are the most unnecessary of unnecessity. Not mention, they make you slow and vulnerable.

10. Stop Looking at Entertainers for Anything Besides Entertainment
(This one applies to men, too.) I'm all about celebrity news. I love it. I feed off of their personal dramas, I fawn over pictures of their babies, and I used to even listen to their life advice, until I realized that was akin to asking my dog for writing tips. Why the heck am I giving any modicum of relevancy to Lady Gaga's opinion on gay rights or Gwenyth Paltrow's thoughts on carbs? Why is anyone listening to Jenny McCarthy and her terrible parenting ideas? Whether right or wrong, these people are not the professionals on those subjects. And it pains me to say this (because I really love pop music and hip hop), but pop music and hip hop are especially terrible places to turn for social commentary. Have you heard what Jay Z has to say about women in his lyrics? And have you heard what Kanye West has to say about, well, anything? Sadly, although both grew up facing the same challenges, when it comes to the plight of urban youth, Jay and Ye are now more out of touch with that than Paris Hilton. Even one of the greatest cross-over entertainers/civil rights activists, Harry Belafonte, recently said that today's hip hop artists are squandering their chances to encourage positive social change to the very demographic that they struggled to escape from. Don't give these people the credibility they don't deserve. At best, most entertainers are hypocrites, and at worst, they're a-holes.

And that's the end of my list! Man, this will probably get so many hits that those yahoos over at Aunt Janet's Sewing Tips Blog will be kicking themselves over my rejection! REVENGE IS SWEET AND IS ALSO A DISH BEST SERVED COLD.