Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Art of Being a Housewife

No I'm not asking you to identify which one doesn't belong, I'm asking if these words really go together. I mean is a career outside of the fashion industry something expected of every woman? I'm not stating this because I'm not 100% a feminist. I'm stating this because the more I grow up, the more I've come to the sad realization that there isn't much expected from many women, as much as we like to believe there is.
Growing up, I was taught to believe there were two possible careers for me to pursue; a ballerina or a princess. Both of which at the age of five seemed like very attainable goals. And while I did have  some friends who enjoyed playing with toy racecars and squirt guns with all the other boys I had a word for them...tomboy and also, weird. Much to my surprise that as I grew up, I discovered that in order to be a ballet dancer I would have had to begun grueling training around the age of four and have spent a copius amount of energy and money I didn't have. Now my second option as a princess didn't seem to be panning out too well either; a handsome, rich bachelor didn't seem to be climbing up to my second story room anytime soon. (Although I still sleep with a rose clasped between my palms adorned in my finest wears...hey. you never know). It seemed those weirdo tomboys had the right idea all along.
And so I fear that all girls wishing to pirouette or leap in front of a crowd who never actually took dance lessons, become strippers and those who rely on a wealthy man to rescue them become house wives. Okay, yes there are tons of women out there who have broken the mold and have done amazing things with their lives. And I admire them for it. But what do we call these women? Career-women. If a man goes on to pursue and achieve a great life what do we call him? A man.
There seems to be a rarity in the breed of successful women in the corporate world. Why? Because society has been conditioning these women to become house wives and exotic dancers. I believe that growing up, girls and boys are conditioned differently. While a boy is brought up to idolize firefighters and police officers a girl is off playing house with her dolls hoping to marry one. Now let me clear something up, I don't have a problem with house wives or girls wanting to be mothers. Everyone has something they're meant to do.  But I do believe there is a problem when girls are raised to believe this is the only way to exist. If a girl were to be handed a toy gavel rather than a magic wand every once in a while, would there still be a major lack in gender neutrality? Are women really given the same ideals as a man? I've met one too many women who are relying on a man to "take care of them." I have to wonder, is it wrong for a woman to rely on herself? I just have this bad feeling that too much emphasis is being put on being saved, rather then investing in savings bonds.
Now I'm not doing this to go on a feminist rant. I realize that even in the past 60 years gender roles have evolved beautifully. So I'm not saying that we should have more women that are like men, but more women with balls. It wouldn't be such huge deal for a woman to have a career or be into sports if society had always been leading her in that direction. But I fear the endless supply of plastic kitchens and glitter tiaras are sending our young women the wrong message. If girls didn't expect so much out of a man providing for them maybe they could expect more out of themselves.  While being pretty is a big part of being a little girl, being pretty broke is the harsh reality of many single mom's who were hoping for a college-educated man to come in and sweep them off their feet.
So maybe if we focus a little less on raising baby dolls in the developing years we can raise a generation of women who know nothing of gender inequality. Women who get paid just as much as a man, and still look darn hot in their stillettos doing it.
So bottom line: continue giving little girls glitter ponies and a Barbie Dream House. Just let it be on the record that Barbie bought the house all on her own, without a single swipe of Ken's credit card.  

Image: Princess Peach from Nintendo's Mario/ Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Word From the Not So Wise

There was a time in my life which wasn't so long ago that I was a very insecure person. I had trouble keeping friends, I struggled majorly with body image, and getting the attention of a senior boy was of the utmost importance. In other words I'm talking about my freshman year of high school. Now let me just tell you if you thought that you were awkward freshman year I guarantee I'll have a story to make you feel cooler then a coffee drinking artist with a pipe in his mouth.
So I'll paint a picture for you--I had recently that summer had seven...yes seven of my teeth removed and atop my remaining teeth I had freshly installed braces that looked more like poorly constructed railroad tracks at that point. My hair was cut short at my shoulders by a non-English speaking hairdresser who throught I had instructed them to cut off four inches rather than one (Not that I have anything against foreign hair dressers I mean I HAD been in a different country at the just was something that wouldn't help my cause). And to top it all off I had a group of friends who didn't really want anything to do with me and a good friend of mine. And looking back, that may not have been entirely their fault.  So what I'm tying to say in a nutshell is freshman year was the greatest time of my life.
Nevermind that I had to take swim class, okay let me just say first of all, whoever came up with the idea of high school swim was somewhat of a sadist. Who makes gangly adolescents get in their bathing suits and swim across a pool (which is mostly a mix of saliva and various STD's) in front of all their friends? Not only that, but adorn them in caps and flippers to "make you swim faster" but really, I think it's so the swim coaches can take their passive aggressive feelings out on their fourteen year old pupils. I didn't look anything like Michael Phelps. I looked like a loser. And something that really didn't help my cause was I was in the beginner lane. Aka the row for those so physically uncoordinated that just the simple act of propelling oneself across water made one queasy and ready to give up on high school all together. My advice for swim class? Bring a duck floatie and some penicillin, it just may help you survive. Also, be a boy if you can help it and avoid having your hair turn into icicles as you walk back to class.
Now to make matters worse I was deeply and embarrassingly infatuated with a boy. The only kind of deep infatuation that comes with being fourteen and lonely. He was a senior I was a freshman. He was outgoing and hip, I was out of place and searching. Every girl within  a four mile radius of him was the enemy and I would try to convince myself that we were perfect for eachother. I was coincidentally reading the same books he liked, and I would proceed to coincidentally bring them up around him. I pretended to like things I didn't just to make myself appear more educated. I could learn to love the loathed if the loathed could lead me to what I loved...or thought I did anyway. Looking back, I wasn't cute, or charming...I was creepy. Yeah I said it, I was like one of those examples teachers would use as the bad guy in "Stranger Danger" lessons. The endless charade of Facebook stalking and personality changes made me become nothing short of pathetic. And as The Verve Pipe would argue I was merely a freshman but I was one in dire need of a reality check.
You're probably reading this either laughing or calling Social Services because you're deeply concerned, but all I can say is I think everyone goes through an identity crisis in high school. Maybe not one as drastic as mine, but I'm sure everyone has stopped more then once in their life and asked themselves if they really like who they are and if not, how should that change. So yeah, I was kind of an embarassment of a person back then, but the gap-mouthed out of shape me is still buried beneath me somewhere and she really knows what it's like to just get by. So my advice for incoming freshman?  Here it is--Nobody can prepare you for high school. No amount of watching Mean Girls can prepare you for the female drama you will face , not any amount of chocolate will keep you from tearing your heart out over a senior. But nothing can really prepare you for the overwhelming pride you will feel when you overcome it all.
And always remember, no matter what, your mom thinks you're cool...I know mine did.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

My Mosaic

I don't know about you, but whenever I am in the middle of a good novel I can always find one character that I feel I clearly relate to. Right now it is the witty and observant Elizabeth Bennett, heroine of Pride and Prejudice. But it isn't always her, somedays I'm headstrong yet sensitive Bridget from The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. Others, I'm the sarcastic and misanthropic Holden Caulfield and more times then not I'm Oscar Wilde's very own obsessed and fragile Basil Hallward who finds art in the strangest of places. Now before you begin believing I'm a schizophrenic in desperate need of being committed, I think it's important for everyone to stop and understand that people are more then just a single toned facade. We really are mosaics-- a multitude of shattered pieces brought together to form a complete work of art. And when it comes to Mosaics, much like people, there is much more then meets the eye. If each piece were to be observed individually one would admire that some pieces are more significant then others, more jagged, more vibrant. While others are rounded and draw little attention to the eye. But when the observer steps back they notice that all the broken particles create something noteworthy and complete. In my opinion, these works of art are proof that it is necessary to be broken in order to become whole. Moments that are soul-shattering or world-moving typically tend to define a person not something that lets them be comfortable in the place they're constantly in.
I like to think that people can be walking contradictions, whether it be a charming pessimist or a teacher who actually has a sense of fashion- a human can't be defined simply with one, definitive statement. I've had the pleasure of meeting some Hermoine Grangers combined with a Dorian Gray or some simultaneous Everdeen-Gatsbys. These are humans who resemble fragments of an author's imagination who would argue in the real world yet somehow reside harmoniously in a functioning human being. I doubt that everyone pulls their personal inspiration from fictional characters as much as I do but I will admit, sometimes these characters are as much apart of me as anything physically present. This very moment I can feel the aura of Miss Bennett urging me to be sly yet likeable. Although so many times I feel Holden criticizing me for being a "phony" or Bridget, who pushes me and makes me braver then ever. These characters lived within me even before I read about them but the fact that they existed on paper sculpted and refined my similarities in them, or rather their similarities in myself. Somehow these conflicting characters have the ability to inhabit my body without totally conquering one another.
I believe that everyone has a striking resemblance to literary humans but what's special about us is we can challenge those people in  ways their creator couldn't. We can take their ideaologies and charactersitics and apply them to the real world. They make us realize that it' s okay to be something different for a while, our general character will bring us back to the center of whio we truly wish to be. So now I'm just getting by while my mosaic comes together one slow, and very real piece at a time.

Image: goodreads

Thursday, March 8, 2012

What Women Want

I can still remember my first crush, his name was Lawrence and we were five. I remember that whenever someone brought donuts to class he wanted the one without sprinkles (how hipster and new age was he?) He had blond, spiky hair and he didn't know I was alive, a fact that made me want him more. I tried to woo him with my knowledge of Britney Spears, I picked flowers for him in the play area, and I literally would chase him around the playground even when he politely asked me to stop. Why he didn't like me, to this day, remains a mystery.
I like to think that I've changed a lot since my flower picking days but when it comes to the root of it all I haven't- I still lust over those who don't know of my existence and I can still attempt to impress a boy with my unorthodox knowledge of popculture. Maybe  I tend to pursue men in the same fashion because my basic wants haven't really changed. I always seem to be attracted to the one's I can't have (hey who isn't?) but it's more than that. I like the quirky ones who can make me laugh. I've had plenty of people approach me to say "Jess, you have the weirdest taste in guys." Touche, but this got me wondering why my preference for men is so unique. Sure I go for the funnier, off-beat guys, but I think at the end of the day most women have the same non-negociable qualities when it comes to a man. Strange or not. So I came up with five that I believe everyone in posession of a single X chromosome can agree on. Whether you like the artsy guys, jocks, preps, thespians, guidos, or skaters we all look for similar qualities when looking for a mate.

1. Confidence- I can't stress the importance of this quality enough. Women like to know that you can make decisions on your own without constantly second-guessing yourself. They like to feel secure in the fact that you're confident that you love them. Dudes with high self esteem laugh more, stand up straighter, and aren't afraid to act goofy in public. They like themselves, and don't need a myriad of self-help casettes to tell them that they're worth while. Whenever you see a man with no self confidence it's quite evident that he's getting little to no action. The sexiest type of man can look you straight in the eye, and tell you who he is without a hint of apology in his tone.

2. Sense of Humor- Now this kind of goes along with confidence. A guy needs to be assured enough in themselves to know there's a chance that nobody will laugh at their joke. I love a good That's What She Said line as much as the next guy, so even if your humor is a little more on the PG-13 side its easy to make a girl laugh. Once, I was hanging out with a guy friend at his house, we were listening to crude, funny songs on the computer and it got to the point he and I had tears in our eyes, we were doing that sort of silent laughter that is the best and most painful. Then we just looked into eachothers eyes and laughed together. Comedy, I swear, is one of the best human connections to have.

3. Kindness- So I know it's cliche and it doesn't sound very masculine, but a kind, and thoughtful boy is the best. I'm not talking about a doormat who let's people walk all over him because he's too much of a pushover to say anything. I'm talking about the one who is rare to find, a guy who doesn't have his head shoved up so far where the sun don't shine, and he actually feels empathy towards others. One that thinks about the words he says before they come out of his mouth. These are the guys that were raised right. There's proof that even the smallest of gestures can make the largest of impacts. A while back, I loaned out a favorite CD to this guy I knew. This was a country-pop crossover and the cover had a large crack in it. He wasn't afraid to admit to me that he didn't really like the music (back to the whole confidence thing) but when he returned the album the case no longer had a crack in it. He had replaced the case for me simply because he knew I loved the CD so much. Was it romantic enough to be adopted into the next Ashton Kutcher flick? No. Was it incredibly sweet? Yes.

4. Innovative- This is someone who cares about more then his World of Warcraft score or his new haircut. A person who goes out into the world and seeks answers. I don't mean the pretentious guy who walks around in his granola sandals with a huge  superiority complex because he shops at healthfood stores and has a rescued vegetarian Anaconda named Ralph. Someone who is just well informed and can have political debates--I once dated a guy who didn't know President Obama's first name was Barack. (Yeah...Stop judging me!) I just think its wonderful if someone is strong in their beliefs and has an education to back up those ideals. Simply someone who realizes there is more to life then their group of friends and does something about it.

5. A Beautiful Soul- Now there are old souls, new souls, good ones, bad ones. But it's very rare that a beautiful one is uncovered. I think a beautiful soul is a combination of the qualities listed above. I'm not exactly sure myself what I mean when I say beautiful soul. I think this all just comes down to chemistry, if two people really somehow get along together, it doesn't take much to see the beauty in eachothers' lives. If two people are polar opposites but have the ability to point out extraordinary qualities in eachother it is evident  they see the beauty within eachother. Maybe this isn't what a beautiful soul is at all, all I know is I would rather spend time with an amazing personality then someone who is really, really, really, ridiculously good-looking. Although looking back, I guess Derek Zoolander was pretty philanthropic with his school for children and all.

Now I do believe every woman would like to find these qualities in a man. And ladies, I'm sure men are looking for these qualities in us, too. Amazing qualities aren't always easy to find; Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it, as Confucious would say. Now I'm just getting by until I see these qualities in a person and they see them right back in me. And hopefully it wont take a handfull of wilted dandilions and a rendition of Oops I Did it Again for them to realize it.
My dear John Krasinski, whom I like to believe is a beautiful soul. And a person many women want.

Friday, March 2, 2012

My Heart WILL Go On

If today cancer was cured, world hunger eradicated, and a remedy to completely erase PMS was discovered, these events would not nearly equal my excitement for the re-release of Titanic in 3D.  I think it's an understatement to say that I've been waiting for this moment since I was 12. That's when I was first introduced to the 11 Academy nominated film, and I've never looked back. Needless to say the moment the soulful music began, and the Keldish plunged deep into the depths that were the remains of Titanic, I was hooked. The moment when the movie entered 1912 with beautiful cinematography and high budget costumes adorned by high budget actors, I was obsessed. The moment Leonardo DiCaprio's face appeared on screen, cards in hand, cigarette in mouth, I was completely fixated to the point my mom should have promptly enrolled me in a 12-step program. After watching the movie three times (let it be on the record this is a 3 hour film) I began doing obsessive research--I was very much like the movie character Rainman except with a much lower IQ and my research was based off of completely fictional characters voyaging on a (spoiler alert!) doomed ship. I even began to do research on how I could get my own Heart of the Ocean necklace, so I could find a homeless artist to draw me wearing that.. only that. Yeah I'm joking about the artist part, but I would be lying if I told you I didn't spend hours on eBay conjuring how I could get my very own necklace/signed movie script/ anything that remotely had to do with the film. I even considered getting a costume made just like the character Rose had in the movie. These outfits cost around $600- the same cost as my car. (This may come as a shock to any of you who have seen my car, because it's obviously worth around $625 but as they say one man's trash is another man's treasure)
After about the 6th or 7th viewing I went to the Titanic exhibit at the Denver Museum. I was given my own ticket to travel on the RMS Titanic and the halls were decorated just like the 19th century ship. There were even live actors in full costume traveling amongst the exhibit in order to liven the experience. Now this was  the equivalent of giving an alcoholic a bottle of Tequila and some shot glasses. My Titanic addiction was rising like her helm that fateful night, April 14th 1912 whilst plunging into the depths of the North Atlantic. (Yeah...that previous sentence gives you a glimpse of my middle school self, only it wasn't funny).
Somewhere around the 9th time watching, I began converting people into my obsession-- old friends, new friends, boyfriends-- If they had never seen the film that was an ice breaker (its funny because Titanic hit an iceberg) -"Hey wanna come over and watch Titanic?" Was my catch phrase. I bragged about my 3-disc boxed collectors edition, how could anyone resist? I would sit there and watch their reactions, impressing them with my knowledge of the movie dialogue. I'm pretty sure, looking back, they weren't laughing because they were impressed...they were laughing because they were concerned about the poor girl who could point out all of the movie mistakes before they occured. She knew all the music queues, but obviously didn't know any social ones.
My most recent Titanic viewing was about two months ago with a friend who cried pretty well at the end.  I will admit to you this was probably my 15th viewing. If you've done the math that's almost two days of my youth spent watching a handsome artist pursue a ritsy, confused woman.
Now, the movie has sort of lost its magic on me, I can see the special effects and past Jacks' charming speeches. Nothing is a surprise to me anymore but this will always be a movie that sort of defines me. Currently, I await the time I see this movie in all its 3D glory--because then I'll be that much closer to my first love, Jack Dawson. So right now I'm just getting by, until the moment I can sit down in that theater chair, put on my 3D glasses and confirm that I've spent an even 48 hours enjoying the beauty that is Titanic.
In case you didn't know, this is what The Heart of the Ocean looks like...don't know where I thought I was going with one of these on.

(Image courtesy of Rakuten Global Market)