Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Things I Learned From Disney Princesses

I have read several articles and blogs lately that blame a number of things on the Disney Princess line. People are starting to blame these animated movies and the products, toys, etc that go along with them for the body image issues that young girls have, along with a number of other problems. In my mind Belle, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Pocahontas, Mulan, Jasmine, The Little Mermaid, Rapunsel, and Tiana are just the next scapegoats. Barbie went first.

People blamed Barbie for a number of things, and while it is true that her dimensions are a little unrealistic, I had a number of Barbie dolls as a child and whatever body image issues I have had throughout my life, I don't blame the dolls for any of them. I feel the same way about the Disney line. Actually, I'm a little more defensive about the Disney line because of all of the lessons that I did learn. And those lessons? Every single one of them has held true throughout my life. I have also enjoyed some of the lessons offered up by the newer princesses. I am happy to share some of them with you.

1. It is perfectly okay to be a woman who thinks for herself. Belle was an outcast in her town because she was different, but she didn't hide who she was just to fit in.

2. You're not always going to like your boss. In fact, sometimes they might even be a real witch. The wicked stepmother in Snow White was an actual witch. Snow White didn't much like her, but this witchy woman was the queen, so Snow White had to do as she was told. And she did.

3. Sometimes men will lie to you to try to impress you. Have you ever seen Aladdin?

4. It is also perfectly okay to be a woman who is strong. Mulan pretended to be a man a joined the army in her father's stead in order to save his life. Yes, when they found out that she lied and she was actually a woman they kicked her out, but she remained strong, saved the emperor and brought honor to her family.

5. It's important to know self defense. Even if your primary mode of self defense is to hit intruders with a frying pan. Nice shot, Rapunsel.

6. You have to work hard for what you want. Sometimes it will seem impossible to realize your dreams, but you if you give up and stop working hard for them, then you are certainly never going to get what you want. Tiana worked multiple jobs to save up enough money to buy her own restaurant, just to have it bought out from under her, but she didn't give up.

7. Just because someone has a different skin color, a different language, or different customs from you, doesn't mean they are crazy, weird, or a savage. Thank you, Pocahontas.

8. Sometimes all you need to put you in a better mood is a new pair of shoes. Now if only they would appear for free as a gift from a fairy godmother, that would be even better.

9. Not everybody is going to play fair. The Little Mermaid learned that one the hard way.

10. Yes, pretty girls get treated differently. It's not a fun lesson to learn, but it's still true.

11. But don't worry, because looks aren't everything. Just ask the Beast.

12. You shouldn't go around touching things that aren't yours without asking. You never know when one of them is going to be a poisoned spindle.

So while other people may complain that the princesses teach girls to sit around and wait on a prince who may never come and that they need to be skinny and pretty, I beg to differ. I say that while the lessons I learned were fun to see played out on the screen, they were backed up by things I was taught at home. So maybe instead of always looking for a scapegoat to point the finger at, some people should just let their kids be kids sometimes.

And by the way, if your five year old has body issues, I HIGHLY doubt that she got that from watching a cartoon character. Now if you want to cut off her exposure to the entire Kardashian family, anybody with the last name of Lohan, or fashion magazines until she is old enough to stand the general absurdity of it all, that I'm all for. But back off when it comes to Disney animation.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

It's The Bottom of the Ninth, Detroit, And You Just Struck Out

So I'm not the biggest fan of GM or its line of brands. I will be completely upfront about that. But when I read this article by David Fleming, GM actually does come out as one of the good guys. The Detroit Economic Growth Corp. comes across like snobby jerks.

For those of you who won't follow the link and read the article, here's what went down. David Fleming wrote an article (not the linked one, but one that came before that) that basically called out GM and told them to step up to the plate and act like they cared about their city and to refurbish the field where the old Tiger Stadium was located. He challenged them to clean it up and turn it into youth ball fields so that kids could say they have played where Ty Cobb once played (those into the game enough to know who that is, anyway). And the crazy thing? GM listened. They got enough employees to volunteer to clean up the area and presented a plan to the city. The plan was to use all those employee volunteers to clean up the space and then to make the area into Little League fields.

At this point you just get a little warm and fuzzy inside, don't you? The thought of kids in Detroit getting to play ball in an iconic place, and more importantly, having a clean, fun place to play. But alas, as Robert Burns once said (and then was ripped off for the title of a John Steinbeck novel), "The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry." Well, to be fair, these plans didn't so much go awry as the Detroit Economic Growth Corp squashed them like a bug. The reason? That land is prime real estate for companies who want to come to Detroit and it would be foolish to throw it away on ball fields.

Time Out. How many companies are actually coming IN to Detroit these days? And as the article points out, what about using the other "40 square miles of available vacant land?" This would be an opportunity to build something in your city, to give it the tiniest hint of a face lift, at a historic site, in a time when your city is hurting for some good publicity in a bad way. And you throw it away because someone else might want it someday? Did I forget to mention that the GM plan to transform the space would be at NO COST to the city? You need the good publicity, GM is hurting for some good PR, too, and this was a chance for you to both get that.

This whole situation cries out for my signature answer of "Oh, Honey, no."

I get that I'm not from Detroit and so I have absolutely no say in what should or should not go down there, but I do have some common sense that says turning down this proposal was a bad idea. The population of Detroit isn't skyrocketing, it's decreasing. Companies aren't flooding in, they are leaking out. It might have been nice to turn this empty lot, one that has been empty for twelve years, into something nice for the people who have stayed. The ones cheering on your teams that have risen like a Phoenix out of the ashes. The ones who want to hold on to a past that has had its ups and downs, but was something they could be proud of. But you didn't. You basically said that community pride, and the preservation of a baseball field that has meant so much to so many over the years isn't worth as much as the POSSIBILITY of someone wanting to bulldoze everything and build who knows what at some unknown point down the road.

It's the bottom of the ninth, Detroit, and that was strike three.

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Sleep Study A.K.A. My Night As A Lab Rat

So last night was my sleep study. In case you want to know what it's like, here's how everything went down.

I arrived a few minutes before my appointed time of 8:30 PM and had to ring the doorbell to be let in. They keep the place locked for security purposes and will only let in people who have an appointment. They let me in and lead me to my room for the night. It had a private half bath and was basically a mix between a hospital room and a dorm room. There was a TV, but since there was no remote and it was higher up on the wall than I could reach, it stayed off. Luckily, I had a great C.S. Lewis book to read, thanks to a friend who lent it to me (which is good because my book budget for the month won't cover anything else). I filled out all the paperwork and then read for about an hour and a half before the technician told me through the intercom in my room that I needed to get in my pajamas and get ready for bed because I only had twenty minutes before they were going to wire me up. He put it a little nicer than that, but that was the basic gist.

So when my time came, the tech walked me down the hall and I was hooked up to so many wires that I kept getting tangled up in them. And then I walked back down the hall, and was given extra blankets because the room was like 40 below. I was hooked up to another set of wires that were actually attached to the bed. The tech told me he knew this was not going to be the best night's sleep of my life, but to just try to relax and to get as much sleep as possible. Then he turned out the lights and left me there to stare at the ceiling. OH, actually I forgot the best part. If I needed to get up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night, I had to tell them. I didn't need to press a button or anything, there was a microphone taped to my throat, so I just had to say it out loud and they would come unhook the wires that were attached to the bed and I would be free to go and then come back and get hooked up again. Again, the staff was SUPER nice about it, but it was humiliating.

Before I could go to sleep they had to calibrate the equipment. I had to blink on command, look to the left and right, up and down, point my toes, the whole shebang. So this means that for the rest of the night they could tell how I was moving, whether or not my eyes were open and measure my brain waves. I am officially a science experiment. Literally.

So, eventually I did fall asleep. It didn't last. Some of the other patients were sleep walkers and one next door to me had to get up to use his or her private bathroom a lot. And I heard the door open and shut every time. They gave me a white noise machine, but it wasn't loud enough to drown out all the weird sounds. And the worst part? Now I needed to use the ladies' room. I tried to just go back to sleep and hold it. No good. But I was so humiliated to have to tell someone that I had to go that it took me a good five minutes to actually say it out loud...to myself...in a dark room with no one else in it. But the tech's voice came over the intercom that he would be there in a second. He came, he unhooked a few of my wires, and when I came back he hooked my back up. Thankfully it was still mostly dark so I didn't have to look him in the eye. It was weird enough. I'm a grown woman, to have to ask permission to go to the bathroom was just wrong.

Anyway, eventually I fell asleep again. And then? I opened my eyes for just a second. There were no windows and no clocks in the room, so I had no idea what time it was and decided I should try to go back to sleep and closed my eyes again. But it was too late. Their little machine told them I had opened my eyes. The tech came over the intercom and told me that they had enough data and they would unhook me and I could go home. It must be later than I thought. Okay, I'm up. Up and at 'em. The tech unhooked me from all the bajillion wires that were attached to me and left. I was free to get dressed and go home. I began my process. And as I packed up my things, I got my cell phone out and turned it on (I had to turn it off during the night because the signal can sometimes interfere with the equipment. So they say, anyway. I just think they didn't want me to have a clock). It was just after 5. FIVE.

I don't have kids yet. I am beyond the stay up all night phase and not yet to the get up to take care of the kids phase. I am not a runner. I am not in the military and required to do morning PT. Five in the morning shouldn't exist to me. Ever. EVER.

I got dressed, filled out my departure paperwork, was told the paste they put in my hair to make my wires stick would come out with hot water and shampoo (it did, I just had to shampoo twice. That stuff is icky, by the way), and that my results would be sent to my doctor in a few days (along with a video recording of me sleeping for additional reference - that's right, they video taped me) and I would receive a copy of the paper report within two weeks. Then I drove home and had to call and wake up my husband before his alarm went off so that he wouldn't freak out when the alarm went off as I walked into the house. Even the dog was tired and dazed when I came in.

We all ate breakfast, I showered and worked like mad to make sure the electrode paste was out of my hair, and then my dear husband went ahead and got ready for work and I got in the bed to actually get some sleep. I only needed a couple of hours to prepare myself for the rest of the day, and it was a lot easier without being wired to the bed with an infrared camera pointed at me.

The point? I have a new respect for lab rats.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Food for Thought

A few things I've been thinking about lately:

1. I recently read an article in which the author stated that there are only two kinds of people in this world, the people who will wheel their grocery cart (or buggy, as I call them) back to one of the collection spots, and those who will simply leave it in the open parking space next to their car. I fall into the first category.

2. I think you could also argue that, if you are going to argue that there are only two kinds of people, the categories are more like the kind of people who will park in a handicapped spot even in perfect health on a sunny day just to be closer to the door, and those who would rather swim through the parking lot when it is raining cats and dogs than take a handicapped spot when there might be someone who actually needs it. I fall into the second category.

3. When I call the customer service number, I would rather wait on hold for five minutes than spend five minutes trying to navigate the automated system that can't understand my southern accent. If I'm calling the customer service number instead of sending an email to customer support it is because I desire to speak to a real live, sho'nuff human being, preferably one who can either answer my question or point me to where I can find the answer myself. I did not call customer service to hear an automated voice give me four options, none of which actually pertain to my specific question. And if you ask me to type in my account number, social security number, or anything else, I know it is because you want to answer my line and speak to me by name, but really I would rather you just answer the phone and let me give the info to you then. I want to speak to a person, is that so wrong?

4. I have to do a sleep study tonight so they can document that my enormous tonsils interfere with my breathing while I sleep, so they can then surgically remove them. I have to go to the sleep clinic, they will hook me up to a plethora of wires and belts and then I'm supposed to go to sleep and let them study me. Call me crazy, but I think it will be a little hard to sleep when I've got more wires attached to me than a computer and am being watched and monitored like ET in captivity. Anyway, I hope I get enough sleep for them to get the data they need.

5. One of the kids I tutor on Tuesday nights got an A on his math test this week. I can't take credit, he works hard and he earned every point he got on his own merit, but I was still so proud of him I think I was almost as excited as he was.

6. I've started taking a Zumba class once a week. It is so much fun! I am not the only one in the room who isn't a good dancer, so I don't feel embarrassed when I have trouble with the moves at first and it is a really good workout. I highly recommend it.

See you next week!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Who Are You Calling a Hussy? Part 2

So, thanks to a couple of readers who were able to clear up a few things for me, I now know that the Hussy Collection at Merle Norman was both named by a woman and that it would not be acceptable to anyone to disagree with her decision. Well, I DON'T work for her and I will be glad to express my sentiments.

Dear Marketing Disaster,

This is quite possibly the worst idea I have ever heard for marketing cosmetic products. Especially from Merle Norman. Just because other, cheaper make-up companies try to market their products using women painted up like cheap hookers, doesn't mean that we all want to look like that. There is reason I'm not buying their products. But if you would like to continue to get your kicks by poorly disguising your insults to your customers, I won't feel the need to disguise my insults to you at all. You're an idiot. And should have been more willing to listen to your employees instead of just assuming that absolutely always know best. So really, you're a stubborn, self-absorbed idiot. Good luck slowly driving the company into the ground.

Sincerely,

Me

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Tonsils? I Don't Need No Stinkin' Tonsils!

So when you have naturally large tonsils, allergies and colds can be especially brutal. Such is the case with me. I have tonsils that are too big and when they swell up when I get a sore throat, they practically touch in the back of my throat, making it difficult to breathe normally. Well, recently, they did just that and I went to the doctor so he could give me some medication. All I want to do is breathe like a normal human being, I really don't think that was asking too much. Well, neither did the doctor, because he is prescribing a tonsillectomy.

Wait, there's more. Not only will he remove my tonsils, but before that I have to spend a night in a sleep clinic. He will use the results of the sleep study to show that my tonsils cause breathing problems when I sleep. He also thinks it is possible that my jaw is too small and that causes my tongue to sit too far back in mouth, which would contribute to breathing problems, especially at night when I sleep. So he may get to do a little extra work on my tongue, too. Super.

I know my tonsils need to come out, but I'm not gonna lie, I'm not excited about this. Why? Because after the surgery I will have to spend several days speaking a little as possible. Anybody who knows me knows that I'm a talker. I like to talk to people. And talking when you tutor and teach ESL is kind of necessary. Thankfully, Fall Break is coming up and I'm hoping my recovery period will coincide with the time off from those activities so that I won't have to miss much. The group leaders from both activities are very understanding about my situation, but I don't really want to miss out. I like my volunteer work with them.

In fact, in my ESL class this week, I got to know one of my students a little better because she was early for class and we were able to spend a little time talking. She is from India, but her husband is from the US. He travels a lot with his job, which is how she met him, but now she lives here and needs help improving her English skills. During our class we always end with a lesson from the Bible. We have the same translation for everyone in the class and we use this opportunity to let them practice their reading and pronunciation skills, while also teaching them about the fundamentals of Christianity. Many of my students grew up in Christian families, but this student was raised Hindu and she told me that this is the first time that she has ever read any part of the Bible. She was shy and embarrassed to tell me, but I think she is really enjoying her experience with it in the class. I don't want to miss a class because then I would miss the opportunity to see how she drinks in the lesson. She is always so focused on it, it is truly a blessing to see and maybe God will give me the words to help her truly understand His message. And I know God could just as easily work through a substitute as He could through me, but I really want to be there for her.

So here's hoping for a speedy recovery that will help me not miss teaching my class or tutoring the kids...and that I won't go crazy not being able to speak for several days.