March 29, 2009

How to Ask for or Accept Help From a Man

This may have something to do with growing up in the midst of the gaining strength of the feminist movement which taught America that men were all pigs or dogs (I happen to love dogs) no matter what they did and women didn't need a man. So here I am growing up in this culture throwing this message at me left and right while my mom was teaching me independence. So I'm sure my brain mixed the messages up a bit rather than filter out the ridiculous one.

I have always been proud of my independence and had an interest and ability to learn things that have always been traditionally "male" responsible task. For example I love mowing lawn, I got my dad to teach me how to work on my car when I owned American, as well as basic maintenance things that apply regardless of your car's country of development. I didn't need any man's help for anything and if I did, I would call my dad. He was the only man capable of helping me. Not to mention stranger danger, and don't trust a stranger to help, you because they will probably tie you up, throw you in their trunk and you'll disappear from the face of the earth and no one will know what happened to you.

My trusty friend, who I can look back and say she and I had our heads on straight for the most part, discussed this and how we felt it was actually a weakness of ours rather than a strength. How can a man prove he's a man to you if you won't let him be a man and help you when you are in distress, even if you don't really NEED him to help you.

A perfectly great example of this happened when I was driving my car full of friends and we were probably out to go to dinner and a movie. I do believe I was in a hurry driving and I jumped the curb (I don't know how else to say it) and ended up cutting my tire and it went flat. I was myself for being so stupid. At least two of my friends had cell phones and between the two of them either had road side assistance or AAA or something that would have come and changed my tire for free since it didn't matter who owned the car. Stubborn me already knew good and well how to change a stupid tire and I didn't need anyone to come out and change my freaking tire. I just need to vent my anger while I changed my tire. The whole time they are telling me that it's really no big deal to call someone. Well what they didn't get at the time I think, is that my ego was shot for being careless and causing my own flat tire. I had to redeem myself by proving that Yes I Amber Sunshine could change my own tire, with a few choice words, without the help of a professional. So I did and we laughed about how silly I was for years.

I knew this was an issue I needed to work on, but pride is a hard thing to set aside. And I do believe that was at the core of my problem. I'm trying to remember how my friend and I decided to handle it. I think we just decided to be more conscious of it and to make more of an effort to let people help when they offered.

An example of this came sometime in college again related to a flat tire. I was driving up to my dad's house by myself on Thanksgiving or Christmas, and I'm not sure what happened but a few exits before his house, my tire went flat and I pulled over. I wasn't mad this time, it was no big deal. I would just change my tire and be on my way. Before I could even get everything out of my trunk some strangers (OH NO!!!) stopped and offered to help. I was dressed nicer than normal and I knew they were being nice on such a holiday and didn't have to stop. Rather than freak out and run screaming "STRANGER DANGER" down the road, I graciously said thank you and let them take care of my tire and about 10 minutes later I was on my way. Not stuffed in anyone's trunk if you can believe it!! I didn't have dirty hands, and I had accepted help. There was at least one other time that I was stranded, maybe for gas, at night that someone did stop and help. It's much scarier at night than during the day. There have also been other times I was stranded that people weren't so kind to stop and help and I had to hike it to the nearest gas station (before I had a cell phone) to call for help.

What I learned was that accepting or asking for help is not giving up my independence. It is in fact being resourceful and getting by even when mommy and daddy are no longer around to bail me out when I'm in trouble. And that's just as important as being independent.

March 22, 2009

How to Dance

I grew up in religious home that believed dancing was a mortal sin punishable by death. (I'm exaggerating, my church doesn't believe that nor do my parents.) I also went to church school where we had banquets, hence why I didn't have dances or proms in high school to go to which I guess is where most kids learn how to or perfect the art of relaxing and dancing. That said I will agree that there is a lot of dirty dancing going on that is just ridiculous and simulated sex on the dance floor. But you don't have to dirty nasty dance to have a good time on the dance floor. And this is something that my parents really couldn't teach me because my mother didn't grow up dancing and I'm not sure that my dad was the kind of guy that danced in high school. He just hung out.

Even though my parents didn't teach me to dance that doesn't mean I didn't turn the radio up in my room and flail my arms and legs about in some thrashing manner to the beat of the music. I have rhythm and hearing the beat and moving to it has never been the problem. Here's where the problem was; in my room only I could see myself in the mirror, there was no audience around to look at me and see just how silly and ridiculous I looked. When no one was watching, I didn't care how I looked, I was having fun and expending loads of energy all at the same time without the fear of of laughing and pointing at me by a whole dance floor or room of people. As a result of my private sessions, let's just say I can do a mean running man which took lots and lots of practice. And now when the Office theme song comes on TV, I tear it up on the living room floor much to the entertainment of my husband who refuses to join me.

I did just fine with this in junior high and high school. But then college came and I made a trip to Austin with a friend to visit a friend. We decided to go down town to the world famous 6th street to hang out and catch any random band playing. So we went into a place and a reggae band was playing. We were just standing there enjoying the music (standing room only) without moving a muscle. After a bit we started to notice everyone around us was relaxed and moving to the music. It didn't really come to my mind at this point in time that they were either drunk, high, or both so they were chemically relaxed. Instead, it occured to us that we ought to relax and enjoy ourselves and not be so stiff. So there we were doing our best to sway to the music while feeling awkward and stiff. Do you know what a board looks like swaying to music? Well that was me. I was also fighting a look of shame and embarrassment on my face at the same time too. Luckily it wasn't brightly lit but in my mind that didn't matter. My face was glowing red and lighting up the room and it was as if somone was yelling through a bullhorn telling the room to look and how dumb and silly I looked stiffly bopping and swaying to the music. This wasn't even dancing. This was attempting to do something that should be easy. But not so much much for me.

Later in college I went to establishments prime for dirty dancing. It took a few times to build up the courage to go out on the floor with a female friend and just jump around. In fact that might have been the song to get me out there, I don't really remember. Jumping is a good way to start loosening up though. As time went by and I realized that people cared more about drawing attention to themselves than looking at me, I relaxed and embraced my inner dancing queen since most people looked as or more ridiculous than I did.

Whenever a country song came on, slow or not, I'd leave the dance floor. This is because, 1 I hated country and more importantly 2, it usually involved coordinated steps, which went against my nature. One time, one of my friends convinced me to go out there and he was going to teach me to two step. Awkward. This was my first attempt at dancing where you follow someone else's lead. So he told and showed me what my feet needed to do and where my hands went and we were off. This kind of dancing actually makes much more sense than my way, but requires much more discipline, control, and relaxing I think than I have. Anyways I generally spent the whole time counting my steps and looking at my feet, because when I wasn't doing those things, I would get off step and so it was just best if I concentrated. Besides, what are you supposed to do with your eyes?? Make googly eyes at each other. He was hot but he had a girlfriend and I wasn't about to step in on someone else's territory. So that added to the awkwardness. So I decided feet were better than eyes at this point. I was glad I tried and learned it though because it gave me the ability to try it a few other times. Even though I remained somewhat stiff, I still did it. Which was better than not trying at all.

I usually danced with my female friends or a few guy friends since they were "safe." If a guy I didn't know wanted to dance, I would give him an opportunity, but if he tried to put his hands on me or invade my personal space, I was out of there. As time went on, I found out that I had a sign flashing on my forehead that said "back off." Or something along those lines. The older I got, the more I made sure it was flashing when I went into a facility of drinking and dancing. This is because I had more fun dancing with my friends than fighting of some drunk guy rubbing his business up against me. That was not my idea of fun. And I found myself not getting asked to dance nearly as much as my other friends. And I was quite alright with this especially since I wasn't there to find my husband. Anyone that thinks they can find a quality mate in a bar or a club is crazy. I'm not saying it doesn't happen, I'm just saying that wasn't the place to find someone with similar values as mine and it wasn't my intention either. My only intention was to have fun and get some good exercise.

I once took free or cheap dancing lessons with a friend and it was us and some women, and some smelly unattractive older guys. I don't remember but there may have been one or two dirty (pervy) old men there. If I remember correctly there were more women than men and my friend and I ending up dancing together a few times. I think I was usually the man. Because I'm taller of course. Anyways my suggestion is if you ever go to dance classes, take a partner of the opposite sex with you. Because if you're like me switching from leading to following is simply not possible in such a short amount of time. It was still fun though.

I think the trick is to take multi-purpose dance class when you are little. Then you can get over the anxiety of looking like a doofus because you have the confidence of a trained dancer. At least for girls.

March 15, 2009

Your Neanderthal Eyebrows...Well They Don't have to be

This kind of fits into some of the previous posts dealing with bodily hair and grooming, however as they deserved their own post, I figured I'd give the eyebrows their own post too. How old were you all when you started grooming your eyebrows? Did you even need to groom them or were you born with perfect eyebrow size, length, and shape?

I wasn't. Neither was my brother. I suppose he had it worse than me but guys usually get a pass for longer than girls do I think. He pretty much had the unibrow look going on. I'm not sure when he started to fix that but I'm sure it had to do with a chick he was dating at the time. It definitely was not my mother. And he solved it by shaving down between his eyes. I wish it were that simple for girls. My problem was more so in shape. I think it was like having two hairy rectangles. They may have been more like triangles. Either way they weren't attractive.

I remember once my dad took me to get a haircut from a lady we went to church with and she decided to experiment on my eyebrows. With my dad's permission of course. I suppose it was gratis. This was when I was about 12 I believe. The pain was not nearly the pain experienced from previously discussed bikini wax, but I do recall some pain. Also I distinctly remember the waxing missing a whole load of eyebrows which meant she followed up with what seemed like a marathon session of tweezing. Every once in awhile the tweezing caused more pain than should be inflicted on a 12 year old child. I knew this was more work than I cared to keep up with. I also decided that if beauty was this much pain, I wanted no part of it. Come to think of it, this might also explain my previously discussed difficulty with getting dates in high school. hmmm funny how writing about somethings can bring enlightenment about other thing...

Sometime during high school, I started to notice that my friends had shapely, girly looking eyebrows. Kind of like what you see in magazines. I vaguely remember having a conversation about it with one of my friends. I also remember reading about shaping your eyebrows in magazines. Between the two of them, I decided that tweezing was going to be my best option, and that I should tweeze bottom up and never top down so as to open up my eyes. But I must say, I wasn't looking forward to it based on my experience years before. This must have been the moment that I decided beauty was worth a certain amount of pain. My hope was that I'd get used to the pain. I suppose I did although it still hurts a little.

If I remember correctly I took a little at a time off the bottom since my impression was that it was labor intensive to do it all at once. Plus I might screw up if I did it all at once. One thing I learned was that I didn't have bushy eyebrows. They were kind of thin. So at one point I tweezed them so much that I had a short line of brow that didn't cover the length of my eye. To the point that most people in the know about all things beauty would have figured out how to draw them in. But not me. Nor did anyone teach me about this. I put up with this for the longest time and figured that was normal looking.

A few years later I decided to go through the painfully awkward process of trying to grow them out. I'm really lucky they grew back. I say painful process because you get used to a look and you have to keep yourself from compulsively plucking hairs that are out of place until you have eyebrows again. Mine aren't the most beautiful, but they are better than they once were. All of this I learned without the advice of my mother. I think she may have been born with perfect eyebrows. That must be why she didn't think to help me with this. That's ok, I had to choose when I was ready to endure the pain of beauty.

March 8, 2009

How to Stand up to Sexual Harrassment in the Work Place

This isn't really a topic that's funny other than the fact that it still happens. But it's definitely awkward for anyone that has had to put up with it or deal with it. They don't teach this in college and my mother definitely never had a chat with me about how to deal with perverts in the work place. When I say perverts I mean the men that intentionally look you in the boobs instead of the eyes, or look you up and down a few times in the midst of conversation, or tell sexual stories to you. Women can be offenders too, I just haven't experienced or witnessed it so I'm not sure what they do. I suppose those of us with common sense think that it's common sense not to do those things, but that's where the exorbitantly high expectations I have are apparently flawed. I'm not even calling a man noticing a good looking woman sexual harassment, just the things I described above. Because men and women with eyes are going to notice someone they find attractive, but that doesn't mean they ogle them every time they talk to them or work with them. But apparently some do and get away with it.

Here's the problem, when young women are still very early in their careers, they don't want to "rock the boat" or establish themselves as the "whiny bitch" that complains about anything and everything. Well some do, but I'd say the reasonable ones don't. So they let a lot of things slide, or they assume or maybe hope that the women or men that have been there for awhile will step up and shut that kind of behavior down, especially if they are direct witnesses to the behavior or know that it has been a problem before. But that doesn't always happen. Why I don't know since there are sexual harassment policies anywhere you work. (in the U.S. I don't know about the rest of the world).

There's another problem, some people apparently like the attention irregardless of the creepiness of the giver of the attention. Really?!?!? Yuck!!! So when no one comes to your rescue you have 2 options, go to the boss or handle it yourself. But going to boss my come across as whiny or bitchy, especially if the offender does all kinds of things to give off the impression that he (or she as the case may be) doesn't have a clue about anything and only says or does things innocently.

So when you handle it yourself you have 2 options, be direct or limit the availability of the offender to offend to you. I'll admit being direct has got to be the better way to go, but let's not forget that the behavior shouldn't be happening in the first place, and especially when you find out that the offender has been talked to, or counseled about this very topic before. So the awkwardness is amplified when you attempt to deal with it either by direct comments to the offender or by attempting to limit the offender's opportunity to offend. Choosing the indirect method only helps with your own situation too, it can't help others in the office who are dealing with the same behavior.

If you don't make an effort to handle it or shut down an inappropriate conversation, you establish yourself as weak to the offender, and he or she knows they can get away with this in a worse way to the weaker people. I can't say if weaker people like the attention or not. I can't imagine they do but I can't imagine being so weak that you don't make some kind of attempt to shut it down or to get help from someone who has done a good job of shutting it down.

Mothers, teach your daughters (or sons) how to handle these situations, because they aren't teaching this in school. You also need to teach them how to not come across as a sexual deviant or how not to say or do things inappropriately in life. Otherwise there will be a varying degree of what various people will put up with and for how long. This has to be nipped in the bud because it shouldn't even be an issue.

Here's what my dad had to say it. The men (assuming it's a coed work place) need to act like men and get in the offender's face to shut him down whether they are the boss or not. The problem is feminism woosified a bunch of men so depending on where you work it's not easy to find a lot of men willing to make such a stand.

March 1, 2009

Just How Violating a Pap Smear Really Is...

So I don't know if it's normal practice for a mother to take her daughter to her first pap smear. I'm not even sure if it's normal practice for a mother to sit her daughter down and explain the who what when where whys and hows of a pap smear. I suppose it all depends on the reason and the age a girl starts these exams. My mother and I still have not had that talk, but it seems like a moot point now and I'd probably shut that conversation down pretty fast if she ever brought it up. It's too late for that discussion.

I had heard that you're supposed to start them at 18 if you hadn't already for whatever reason, so I got all the preparation fear stories from my friend. That should have been enough to put it off for awhile, but I have closet hypochondria for cancer, and I figured it can't be found if you don't let them search for it so I bit the bullet and went. I did however make an appointment with a female doctor who basically told me she wouldn't do them in the future if I stayed over with my other doctor for everything else. I don't blame her really because I bet as a female general practitioner, she got stuck with an exorbitant amount of pap smears, especially from first timers. So I obliged since all I needed her for was to continue writing prescriptions for my would be pizza face that my other doctor had been successfully treating.

Let me just say I have always always always preferred going to the dentist over the doctor because you don't have to strip at the dentist. Unless you have one of those creepy dentists that knocks you out and feels you up while you're out. But at least you're unconscious for that and you don't necessarily know it happened. (not that it makes it right) I'm just saying that stripping at the doctor was always what I feared most about going, and I could count on not having to do so at the dentist since we didn't have pervy dentists, that we knew of. So you can imagine the shear horror I felt not only having to strip, but having cold, metal salad tongs go where cold salad tongs where never intended to go. Well I suppose this might be someone's idea of a good time but it's not mine.

This is a complete violation of my privacy and dignity not to forget comfort. But this is all in the name of prevention right? So we should continue the practice of letting doctors violate us in this manner right? I still can't get used to it and dread it every time I go. I sure wish they'd find a better way to check us ladies out.

I've always wondered what the doctors that perform them are thinking. I always kind of thought when they look at the chart when they enter the room the thought runs through their head "dammit not another pap smear today, I've seen more vaginas than I care to see in my life time?" Or something along those lines. That's why had I become a doctor, I would have specialized in an area far from the hootie not requiring the nekkedivity of any of my patients.

I know guy's don't have it all good at the doctor, but at least they don't have salad tongs stuck in any of their orifices on a regular basis and at such a young age. So not only do we have to pop out babies through a tiny canal, we have to get violated on a regular basis, and a period every month (I don't know any woman that loves it, but if they do they are nutso crazy and I absolutely can't relate to them on any level). I suppose men have to put up with the mood swings and hormonal crazies that many women take out on them. Maybe that's punishment enough. I don't know though because that's a lot for a woman to tolerate. I suppose we can be a lot for them to tolerate.

Maybe this is a topic not meant to be discussed by mothers and daughters. Maybe you don't fully appreciate the horror that is a pap smear if your mother is involved. Or perhaps the horror is exemplified by the preparation and presence of your mother. So maybe my experience could have been much worse. I choose to believe this, for me anyways.