Friday, February 27, 2009

Friday Video! Oscars and Apocalypses

I've been kind of girly lately so I thought I'd post a video for the two men who read my blog. Who have both no doubt already seen it.

For all the ladies, here's the video I really wanted to post, but it's not on YouTube, so you'll have to follow this link.

Are Violent Video Games Adequately Preparing Children For The Apocalypse?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Mean Girls

So, I talked about It Girls the other day, and now I want to talk about Mean Girls. But I don't mean the mean girls you think I mean.

There is this unspoken attitude in the competitive realm of womendom that it's OK to be mean to hot girls. The idea being, "She's pretty, guys like her, her life is probably made, so I can be a little snarky to her because I'm the underdog." This makes a lot of us Mean Girls.

I myself am a recovering Mean Girl. Growing up, the prettiest girl in my grade was my best friend. She was get-offered-free-stuff-all-the-time pretty. She was so pretty that one time at a carnival, the ride operator would not let us off the Tilt-a-Whirl because he was using each time around as a chance to jump out at her and scare her. (An odd and ineffective way to flirt.)

Anyway, once I was a bit older, I realized that I was sometimes mean to this friend. I treated her differently than other girls, less privileged girls. I would condescend to her and be less generous and kind than I would be with a less genetically blessed girl. Subconciously I figured she could take it, hey, the world adored her. (She also called me an ugly duckling once, that helped.) I apologized years later to her for my snarkiness.

I think this snarkiness is the insecure women's security blanket. We subtly mentally place ourselves as superior to the pretty girls because we've had to battle it through without the world throwing itself at our feet. My personal security blanket has always been my intelligence. In my mind, I used it as my steel wall against other women, "You may be pretty, but I'm smarter than you." (I told you, I'm snarky.)

I have a friend, we'll call her Sally, who is oppressed for being a hot chick. (I have advised her to write a book entitled, "Oppressed Hot Chicks." If she doesn't, I will.) Someone in Sally's life told her that she was too intimidating because of her looks, and she needed to try harder to be more approachable. This may seem like not a big deal, but it shows our unfair attitude toward pretty people. They should have to try harder to be extra friendly so us ugly ducklings don't feel so bad. This attitude rests on the myth that pretty people do in fact have it better, and therefore owe the rest of us something. But the pretty people have just as many problems and insecurities as the rest of us, sometimes more.

When I lost some weight a couple of years ago, I noticed this subtle shift in attitude toward me in some of my interactions with women. I went from the non-threatening chubby friend to the...I don't know what...The one it's OK to be occasionally snarky towards. (I have since gained some weight back so my size 4 tushy isn't quite as intimidating.) But it was odd how some women suddenly treated me as if I was one of them. One of those skinny women you can "tsk, tsk" at and be annoyed at because life must just be easy for them. I would get snarky comments about how it's just so easy for me and I can't understand. Yeah, right. They had no clue the inner turmoil I was going through to be skinny.
Point is, life isn't easy for any of us. We're all in the same old mess. Pretty women are just as insecure about who they are as everyone else. We're all dealing with the same old issues and insecurities and problems and struggles. It's just not easy no matter how you slice it.

So, in conclusion, play nice, be fair, and love one another.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

I'm Not a Stripper

Why is it that every Amber on TV or in other media is either a cheerleader, masseuse, or stripper? The perception of Ambers seems to be that we're pretty, vapid, sweet cheerleader/call-girl types, much like Tiffany Amber Thiessen--"Kelly Kapowski" on Saved by the Bell. (Who, by the way became famous by winning Teen Magazine's Great Model Search, and who has since then, sensibly, dropped the "Amber" from her name.)

Some guy once said in regard to my name, "You sound like a German supermodel." Score! I guess that's better than a German stripper, but still. The Ambers of the world are facing name discrimination. I'm pretty sure there are several promotions I didn't receive that went to "Elinors" and "Maudes" instead.

The authors of Freakonomics would say it's because of the socio-economic status of the parents. Names filter through the ranks of society. First Amber is the name of a wealthy, highly-educated family. Then a decade later, a middle class, highly-educated family. And on and on, until it reaches the trailer park. When I was named Amber, it was at a time that indicated that my parents were well educated middle-class. But it's apparently now in the soft arms of friendly escort women.

It's really OK. I suppose I'd prefer to be an Amber or Krissy or Heather than some stodgy and uptight Prudence. But just you wait all you "Madisons" and "Emmas," you'll be seen as simple call-girls soon too.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Offer Accepted

The offer we put on the home was accepted! We weren't really expecting them to accept it; we bid low so we could negotiate. But they called by 10 am to accept! Now we'll have an inspection this week to see if everything is ship-shape.

Here's what the home looks like from the front. That looks very respectable and grown-up, doesn't it? It looks far more white bread than I would picture me in, but there you are. You can take the girl out of the suburbs, but you can't take the burbs out of the girl. As you can see, it has an enormous lot, which is funny, because we didn't want to maintain a yard...
Here's the front room that I love. Have no furniture for it, so will turn it into a meditation den for me or maybe an opium den for Mike.
This photo is taken from the front door. Hiding behind the evergreen is Blodgett Peak, which the backyard has a great view of.
The home is on Hanovertown, which is a silly name. From the start, I told Mike I couldn't live in a home on a silly street. Bryan, my clever brother-in-law slash forever-frat-boy has already dubbed it 'Hangovertown.' Clever. I'm looking up the history of Hanovertown, Virginia so it will grow on me.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Gon' Do It

Did you know that I grew up in Aurora and still have a penchant for rap/hip-hop? (And Mexican polka music, but that's another post...)

So, in the words of Ice Cube: Gon' do it, gon' do it, gon' do it, do it, do it.

If you couldn't already tell, the subject of this post is that we're putting an offer on a home. Not the one I showed you a week ago, but one just a couple homes away from that one. It was initially too expensive, but they've just brought down their price. So, we're gon' see what happens. They have to counter-offer or accept ours by Monday night.

In honor of the Oscars, which I'm watching right now, here's a clip from the British comedy Extras about Kate Winslet and Oscars.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Video Friday: Yogurt!

Here's a fun internet show I ran into recently. She makes fun of advertisements targeting women, such as the uncomfortably orgasmic chocolate commercials or such as cleaning commercials that make husbands out to be bumbling baboons. Our clip for today is yogurt.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Please Make It Stop!

It's like Cher. It won't go away, no matter how many times it promises it will.

Let it be known: I hate ER. With more passion than I can express. It's been plaguing me ever since my college years and Thursday night TV, on whose much worthier coat-tails it annoyingly drags its long-dead corpse. (Too dramatic a sentiment? I think not.)

Every episode seeks to trump the previous: This weeks' ER is like nothing you've ever seen. You won't believe what happens when the staff has to deliver the twin babies of a homeless parapalegic psychic man who turns out to be Dr. Romano's college lover. While Dr. Carter returns to find Abby in love with another nurse.

Next week: This week, ER is the most explosive, the most unbelievable. A surgeon goes blind the exact moment he must surgically remove a bomb from a midget's stomach. While Luka falls in love with the new intern.

Next week: This is the last year of ER with the most mind-melting, the most soul-squelching, the most chilling episodes you've seen yet. A long lost beloved doctor returns for the third time since he left two years ago, and the staff must exorcise Dr. Neela when her curry lunch turns out to have contained trace elements of arsenic and aliens. And Noah Wylie returns for the last, final, ending 17 encore episodes before the end.

No! No! No! Please make it stop! I can't handle watching one more commercial for ER, let alone one more episode of the ridiculous, over-the-top drivel. Would that the hospital would have blown up already, as it has promised us to do so many times in the past.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

It Girls

I think 90% of all the females I know are doing the same thing. I don't get out much, so that's not saying a lot, but it seems many of us women are so generous in our estimation of each other and pretty dang stingy with ourselves.

The first time I met Becky, I thought she must be the girl everyone wanted to be friends with. She came late to dinner (automatic cool points) and was late because she'd been at photography class (triple automatic cool points). She seemed to know and be known by everyone. Definitely too cool for me.

The first time I met Heidi was at prayer group, and I thought, "This chick's too hot for me, and her accesorizing skills are way out of my league." (She wears great necklaces. And she is smart and succesful to boot.) I kept my head down at the meeting, and tried not to embarass myself too much.

The first time I saw Kate, I was speechless with intimidation. She oozed confidence and intelligence (and good hair). If ever there was an It Girl, she was it. I was sure she'd want nothing to do with me.

The first time I came across Brandy was her writing, and I wished I could be as good as her. Clever witticisms flow from her like [Brandy, can you please help me come up with a good metaphor here?] I roomed with her at a writing conference and knew she was too cool for school and probably too cool for me too.

Now, I won't be unkind to my sex and say you're all as insecure as I have been in my days. (I know some women who don't have an insecure bone in their bodies.) But I still see myself as a chubby girl who got picked on in middle school and said a sum total of 10 words in all her classes growing up and had a 0.0001% chance of finding a real job with her liberal arts education.

But innocent bystanders don't see this chubby, quiet girl in the front row anymore. I've grown confident enough to say that when they see me, they see a woman who seems intelligent, successful, and put together. (OK, it's still hard for insecure me to write those words.) And they might just be intimidated by little ol' me.

When I was worrying that Becky or Heidi (or sooo many other incredible women I know) were too good for me, they likely were not thinking about how I was, indeed, not good enough for them, but grappling with their own insecurities.

So many of us are afraid of one another, thinking, she's so smart or pretty or whatever the heck. But most likely, we're all thinking the same of each other. So, in conclusion, be nice to yourself, at least as nice as you are to the rest of us It Girls.

Monday, February 16, 2009

V-Day Re-View

Mikey and I spent Valentine's weekend in Estes. We drove up Friday night and made the obligatory stop in Longmont for a Glacier ice cream binge.

Saturday, we got out early to begin snowshoeing. We snowshoed to Nymph Lake, Dream Lake, and Emerald Lake. The weather was all over the place. It was sometimes sunny, sometimes windy, sometimes snowing; but always freezing. By the time we got to Dream Lake, it was quite snowy and freezing. This is Mikey standing on Dream Lake. Crossing this lake was like crossing a huge wind tunnel. My face had been blown off by the time we reached the other side of it.
We kept on our way up to Emerlad, and the weather was pretty vicious by the time we got there. It was gorgeous, but it was hard to even look at with the freezing blowing snow. You can just barely see some skiers on their way down the glacier in the picture below.
That night, we went back to our cabin and were surprised by a visit from Casey and Robin. So we spent the evening with them, a casserole, and an apple pie. The next morning was clear and beautiful, though so windy, you could barely stand up. It was too windy for wimps like us to snowshoe, so we just slid around on Sprague Lake like seals. I did some mad slide moves myself, but I was too fast for Mike to catch on camera.
Then we drove home after the second obligatory stop at Glacier ice cream in Longmont. In the Springs, we stopped by the home we're considering buying. Here it is, the one in the middle. It backs onto nothingness, which is why I like it. It's 2 minutes to Mount Blodget, 2 minutes to Ute Valley Park, and 5 minutes to Garden of the Gods.
We took a hike from the trails that start at its backyard. You can see from the picture below how close it is to good hiking. You can also see that patterns on the back pockets of jeans are almost always a bad idea.

We hiked for about an hour and just got deeper and deeper into the forest. Love it. If I lived here, I'd be the fittest person around and would need knee replacements at 40.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Meeting Sarath

I wrote a post for Compassion today, about meeting the boy I sponsor in India, Sarath.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Looking for a slim, beautiful, family oriented, educated, homely, non working, Benglai Mangalik girl

I don't know what to write today, so what could be more fun than quoting from the matrimonial section from the Calcutta newspaper? You know how we have personal ads to find dates? Well, Indians have matrimonial ads to find arranged marriages. 

They are made doubly fun by the Indian's chronic misuse of the word "homely." To them, it means "comely." If you don't know what homely or comely mean, go look it up. 

Looking for a slim, beautiful, family oriented, educated, homely, non working, Bengali Mangalik girl from a cultured Bengali family for a enterprising, qualified Bengali boy with a pleasing personality. ("Pleasing personality"...Do you think that means he's ugly? That's a pretty tall order for an ugly dude.) 

Wanted groom of high birth, well qualified for prof's daughter. Pretty, wheatish, etc. (I learned that "wheatish" is a good thing. It means light skinned; many of the ads request "fair" men or women. How sad. But if they're wheatish, does that make me oatish?)

Youngman, divorcee, no issue, Brahmin. 33/5'10". (No issue? Does that mean no babies? If so, I have no issues. Ha! Take that world.) 

26/5'3" medium built and complexion. Working, settled & resident in London. Requires professional Sunni Muslim groom. Urgent. (Urgent? What is so urgent? Does she need some issues? Medium build and complexion won't be able to dazzle any of our young men wanting "really beautiful, fair, really handsome, super pretty" women.)

Seeking beautiful, fair, graduate, homely match up to 27 /5'2" for handsome marine engineer. High income, own posh flat in Mumbia. Innocent Divorcee by mutual consent after one month having impeccable character. (5'2" is the max height? Dang. Short girls, go to India to get a posh flat.)

Now, I suppose it's time to put down the classified ads in my cubicle and get to work. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Love Day

Today was my surprise Valentine's Day! I got home from work and Mike had music playing (our wedding music), candles lit, a bouquet of flowers, and goo in his hair (which is what he does to dress up). He had driven all over town to create a tasty dinner from all my favorite places: Entree from Garden of the Gods Gourmet and fresh baked bread and a key lime tart from Marigold's. He even put together the flower arrangement himself. I can really dig a guy who does that.

Then we checked the mail and got a package from Mike's parents containing a poem written just for us by Mike's father:

With the poem was Mike's mom's homemade peanut butter buckets...Mmm. We also got my parents' Valentine in the mail today. So it was one big love fest. This weekend we're going to Estes Park for Valentine's Day as my parents' Christmas gift to us. Going to Estes in February has become one of our traditions, and we're looking forward to snowshoeing and maybe dinner at the Dunraven.

I'll leave you with one parting image: Valentine's Day 10 years ago.

Sarah, Erica, Beth, Becca, Amy, Amber, Erica, Melanja, Christine, Katy, Alex

When I saw the date on the back of the pic, I couldn't quite believe it had been 10 years. (It seemed both too long and too short.) 10 years ago seems so far away now. I couldn't have imagined how different my life would be today and how much has happened. I remember wondering if I'd ever find the man I wanted. Now I've been married over 5 years to a man who exceeds all my most fanciful expectations. And who knows where we'll be in another 10.

Monday, February 9, 2009


If you have traveled through Denver International Airport of late, you'll know what I'm talking about.

You're sitting nervously in the passenger seat of the car, fingering your tickets to make sure you know which airline you're on, feeling a bit anxious about the flight. Will you be on time? Will you crash? Will you spill orange juice on your neighbor in a drug-induced stupor?
When you look up and see it. Bluecifer. The Demon Horse. A 32-foot snorting blue mustang with glowing red eyes. You wonder if he is there to usher you into the underworld. You feel anything but comforted on your way to the airport, and wonder if you've somehow wandered unknowingly into Napoleon Dynamite's Trapper Keeper.

This horse is so ugly and demented it has drawn national attention and there is a facebook group solely devoted to hating it. It has even reached the pinnacle of being considered an offbeat tourist attraction, right up there with the Giant Hot Dog in Bailey and Mike the Headless Chicken in Fruita. Go, Colorado!

This horse is so evil, it killed it's sculptor. Really. He was sculpting it and part of it fell and pinned him to the ground. Is not this a hint to us?

If you insult this horse, the offended cry will be, "But it's art!" Art schmart, are you kidding me? When did we decide that if something is called "art" it is untouchable? There is such a thing as bad art. (Which will just lead the elitists to call you one of the small-minded masses if you don't buy into their latest ridiculous vogue.) But when did we all agree that we wanted art all over the place like so much tacky brick a brack? I didn't get that memo. There are lots of things that are good, like bacon and Ugg boots, but I don't necessarily want them littering up the lawn of my public space.

I mainly feel this way because I went to school at Colorado State, the capital of tacky lawn art. There was this one sculpture there that I would pass on my way from Newsom to Eddy. I'd be tripping along in my mini-skirt, gaily watching the birds build their nests on a clear spring day. When all of a sudden, I'd almost trip over it. A sculpture that looked like a dessicated human corpse in fetal position. Surprise! Call me small-minded, but I don't want to trip over dessicated corpses on my way to Linguistics.

But now, that big blue bear peeking into the Denver Convention Center? Now that's just cute.

A Picture of Poverty

Dag, yo.
I wrote a post for Compassion today.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Sunday Morning Adventures

This whole finding a church thing is hard. We visited another church this morning. By now, I could write a book about visiting a different church every Sunday and telling about our hilarious exploits. Unforunately, a very funny Jewish dude already used the idea, in a book I reviewed for Relevant this month.

In my search to find a church last night, I even typed my question to God into Yahoo: "Where should I go to church in Colorado Springs?" But I'm worried that maybe God uses Google, not Yahoo.

Finding a church would be so much easier if someone was actively trying to get you there. I think back to my Ft. Collins days when you would invite someone to church and sit with them and invite them to small group. How nice and easy. Oh, if someone would just invite me to their small group! But when you're the one trying to insert yourself into a church, unbeknowst to any of the regular goers, it can be awkward. It's not that everyone isn't very friendly, it's just hard to take that next step.

Mike and I have decided what we really need to do is to become pagans so that any given church will be more excited about recruiting us. It's no longer the days when counter-culture people are discouraged from church. Actually, you're far better off the weirder and more messed up you are. Many churches don't just want to recruit more Christians--you can sometimes see the disappointment in your eyes when they find out you're already saved; they want the lost. And Mike and I just don't make that great of a trophy--we've been Christians for over 20 years, we're not alcoholics, we don't have weird piercings. In short, we're too respectable.

So the next church we visit, Mike is going to wear black eyeliner and probably get a bull-ring for his nose. I'll definitely be wearing some mesh gloves and boots with lots of buckles. I'll probably say, "damn" several times in casual conversation. I think that will make me edgy enough to make the Christians want to minister to me. Maybe we'll even develop some other bad habits like hard liquor and democratic beliefs. (We're even considering pretending to be from Kyrgyzstan...that would totally leave them salivating over us.)

I jest. I know from the outside this makes me sound like a completely self-absorbed, self-serving Christian who just wants everyone else to minister to her. But going to a new church is hard, and finding a church that can become your church family is even harder.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

They'll Never Take Our Independence Day!

I had a rough day at the office. Doesn't that sound so 60's white male black suit of me? I like it. So after this doozy of a day, I think it's time for a Friday Video. This is stolen from a friend's blog because it's just too inspiring not to pass on.

Let us cut out their living guts one inch at a time, and they will know what we can do!

I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For

If I was clever enough like my sisters to figure out how to put a soundtrack on my blog, it would be playing, "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" by the best band ever, U2. (If you're in my near vicinity, I'll sing it for you so you can get the full affect.)

The house search continues. I want a home like yesterday. Like two years ago. So I'm not very good at this patience thingy. I didn't cover this waiting for a home in the Bible study about patience I wrote.

Two of the homes Mike and I were batting for sold. Stinkers. One of these was the home on Chokecherry that was our number 1 choice. There's still one home we're seriously considering, and it appeals to my nature-lovin' heart but isn't quite as sensible as other homes. (It's on the very tip of town and backs to open space and walking trails. If I lived there, birds would come sit on my arms and deer would eat from my palm. But there's not a bathroom on the first floor and certain family members said they'd have to pee on my couch because their creaky knees couldn't make it upstairs to the bathroom.

Part of our problem is our field is just so wide. We're considering a wide variety of homes from teepees to castles. Now I feel like we're (I'm) just flailing about, not knowing what to do. Buying a home kind of defines what type of person you are, and I don't know who I am.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Making Friends

I don't know how to make friends. I didn't, in fact, know that one had to make friends in life until it was too late.

When I was younger, in elementary school, I had friends by default. Maybe my mom had sat me next to them as an infant on the floor, and we worked out that we'd be friends through complex baby cooing. Other friends my mom arranged for me to walk to school with or go to preschool with, so they were also default friends. She was kind of like a friend pimp, I think.

I still remember the first day of middle school, the beginning of the end for me. I walked to school with Julie and Susan and Gretchen, my long-standing BFFs. I wore a black balloon skirt and a kitty sweater. I thought I was so cute. Little did I know that kitty time was over.

I got to school that day in my kitty sweater, and the girl I sat next to in home room had a button on her jean jacket that said "shit." This was my first indication that I wasn't going to be cool anymore. As I walked home from school that day, Susan said, "So who did you all meet today?" Apparently they'd all gotten the memo that we were supposed to meet people and make friends. I didn't get this memo, and I was afraid of girls wearing shit buttons, so I hadn't talked to anyone. This was my second indication that I wasn't going to be cool anymore.

Susan and Gretchen and Julie had all made friends that day. Susan went on to be the prettiest, most popular girl in the school. Gretchen went on to be the musical genius, popular with the band. And Julie even found her own little niche. I didn't become anything. I became a silent girl in a corner. I was stranded, with no clue of how to make friends.

In high school my sister Tara became my new friend pimp. She hooked me up with all the friends she'd gathered the year before while I was still miserable in 8th grade.

Now that I'm away from home, I don't have any friend pimps, and I still don't know how to make friends. I get nervous, and I say things I shouldn't.

I've been slowly making friends with people at work, trying to mimic whatever friend making techniques they employ so they don't realize I don't know how. Today, I hit a new mark--I got asked to take a walk with the cool chicks. They seem to take walks together occasionally, so I think this was like cool girl gold.

But I still managed to muck it up. One of the girls, I asked her if her mom lived in a trailer, as we'd been joking about white trash toffee. Umm, well her mom does. Great. Another girl I kind of implied had a big belly. But only because she's clearly smaller than me. We all know that rule about being able to joke about the belly's of people who have better bodies than you, right? Right?

Maybe I better make a batch of white trash toffee to make it up to all of them. And maybe one of these days I'll make it out of the seventh grade.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Faltering in the Valley

"But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith." (Jude v.20)

I feel as though as I've been slowing slipping, slowly drifting off into a slumber; a slumber into whose arms of half-consciousness I long to sink into. Not thinking is sometimes so much simpler than living.

What happens when you pray for something and pray for something and pray for something, and on the other side of your prayers there seems to be silence, emptiness, nothingness? Perhaps if you're a very wise person, you become the stronger and wiser for it. But wisdom is an excruciating choice, and sleep is easier. To turn off the brain into a simple, quiet existence. To just stop troubling yourself with such difficult choices and thoughts all the time. But this is a deathly choice in itself.

I've been drifting, faltering, allowing my soul to linger in unthinking slumber's arms even though I belong to another. My soul was just too tired to rouse and prod to move on. But sleep's seemingly inoccuous fingers will slowly curl their bony unbelief into your soul and hook you there. I can either choose to allow my soul to slip off and shut off, or I can make the choice I know a wise person would make, to continue moving, to continue building, to continue believing.

How does one continue? Sleep has corroded and jaded my heart. I don't want a heart of hard green stone.

I remember, oh I can remember, my youth. Of dreams and running and no limits. Of hope and mystery and a full heart.

I can't simply jump back to another place and time. But I can put one foot in front of the other. Step, pray. Step, build. Step, believe. And perhaps one day I'll be striding from mountaintop to mountaintop instead of faltering in the valleys.