A Man Day

Regardless of your gender, do you consider yourself more masculine….

….or feminine?

I fall centerline.  Hanging out with the LADIES is fun, but I don’t do bake sales or pilgrimages to the mall.  Being with the MEN FOLK is awesome, until the conversation turns into a debate about some ridiculous man-topic…like how to free yourself from a seatbelt with one arm if your Ford flips over on the highway.

Sports-talk is another area where I don’t quite click with the guys.  So, when I told my husband that I had an interest in going to a football game, he almost didn’t believe me.

MAN DAY began with a walk over the Roberto Clemente Bridge in downtown Pittsburgh, with about 60,000 other people wearing matching outfits.

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There was man-stuff everywhere!

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Finally, after a long journey though the urban jungle…

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…we entered through the iron gates of man heaven….

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 …and saw a bright light.

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And the men where happy.

Cheer!

Very, very happy.

Kick

Are you more comfortable around women or men?

The Truth and Tyra Banks

Truth.  Truth is such a virtuous word, isn’t it?  After all, everyone wants to hear the truth.  Or, do they?

Sometimes I do.  If there was a piece of Charmin stuck to my shoe, I’d want someone to tell me the truth.  Or, if there was parsley in my teeth.  Or, if I accidentally dropped a few Benjamins out of my wallet. 

Other times, I’d rather that people kept the truth (or their perception of the truth) to themselves…unless I ask…or unless it’s totally positive…or unless it’s given as constructive criticism with a tactful and respectful delivery. 

A lot of times people tell me to stop talking and listen…to be more contemplative…and less direct with my choice of words.  I know they’re right… it’s the truth…and I’m working on being a better listener.

Listen Up MuleThat’s called ear to ear communication.  Oops!  Maybe I should be more serious in my efforts to improve.

With the wrong delivery, or inappropriate timing, or the lack of discretion when speaking the almighty truth, the words free-flowing out of your mouth can be ugly.  Sometimes the truth can hurt.  Sometimes it can scar.  Sometimes it does not need to be said out loud.

By now, you’re probably wondering how former supermodel Tyra Banks fits into this topic.  I’m sure that Tyra never gets tired of people speaking the truth about her beauty and success.  But, she probably didn’t like reading all of the media reports last year about her weight gain…even though it was the truth.

Take it from Tyra

This reminds me of something that Tyra  said about THE TRUTH on the spring 2011 cycle of her reality TV show, America’s Next Top Model. I’ve never forgotten her words.

Two of the contestants were arguing.  Girl #1 said that Girl #2 was shallow and undeserving of winning a spot to model in a PSA campaign.  It was true…the girl seemed shallow.  But, was announcing it to the world on national TV in full attack mode the right thing to do?  I’m not so sure, and Tyra agreed.  Said with confidence and poise, Tyra made an excellent point about how telling the truth can be outright rude.  She said,

A lot of young girls think that the opposite of fake is rudeness. And just as ugly as fake is, so is saying whatever is on your mind just because it’s the truth.

– Tyra Banks, 2011

I agree with Tyra.

Do you think the truth should always be told?

Excuse me….but I think there’s a hole in your underwear

Labor Day was dreary and rainy here in Pittsburgh. 

With some time to kill, no sunshine to be found,  and no laboring to be done, I headed to a trendy section of the city to window shop. 

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Some of the stores were closed for the holiday, but many were open.

Victoria’s Secret had panties on sale….

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…and it was hilarious to watch people walk past the sign shaking their own badonkadonks.

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I don’t shop at Victoria’s. 

I USED to shop there…but then along came the moment when I realized that 1) their product line might be TOO YOUNG-STYLED for my age; and 2) the big “secret” is that Victoria is laughing the entire way to the bank.

I’ll risk embarrassment and share the exact moment of this realization…

Flashback

Laundry is the household chore that I hate the most….because laundry never ends.  Just as soon as all the laundry is done, you change your clothes, and POW, there’s more laundry.

So, it was laundry day.  The dark cycle, to be exact.  Trying to beat the laundry demons, I slipped off the shorts I was wearing and threw them in the washer.  “Smart thinking,” I said to myself, “one less thing to wash next week.”

Mr. Backbone’s eyes were glued to The Golf Channel and I could easily sneak past him without ever being noticed…or so I thought. 

And just as I was starting up the stairs…

Mr. Backbone:  Hey, there’s a HOLE in your underwear.

Me:  Yeah, I know. 

Mr. Backbone:  Just checkin….didn’t know if you knew.

Me:  They’re VICTORIA’S SECRET.  It’s a DESIGN.  The hole is SUPPOSED to be there.

Mr. Backbone:  Huh?

Me:  I said it’s SUPPOSED to be there.  Can’t you TELL?  It’s ON PURPOSE.  There’s a cute little BOW on the top.Undies

Mr. Backbone:  Oh, I didn’t know.  Usually when your underwear gets a hole, it’s time to throw them out.

Me:  It didn’t GET a hole.  It HAS a hole.  There’s a difference.

…and that, my friends, is how this story ends.  Any smart husband would do exactly what mine did…turn his attention back to the TV and pretend the HOLE conversation never happened.

The Summer of Becoming Friends

This morning as I sat outside sipping a hot cup of coffee to jump start the day, a cold breeze whipped through the air. 

The news reporters say that Pittsburgh is experiencing residual wind from Irene, but I’ve felt these breezes before.  A chilling morning wind is always the first indication of  summer birthing into fall.  Autumn is my favorite season, but this year, I don’t want summer to end.

The End of Summer

This summer has been VERY interesting to me for a lot of different reasons, all rooted in the circumstance of it being the first summer without my mom.  

As many of you know, my mom passed away in March after a long, horrible illness.  When I think back about our relationship, one of my biggest regrets is that my mom and I never had the chance to be friends.  I left home at 17, went to college, moved to the west coast, and lived away from my family until I came back to Pennsylvania at age 35.  A few months later, my mom got sick.

Home Cooked MealBefore leaving home, I was the kid and she was the mom.  Shortly after moving back, she got ill and needed me…like I needed her so many years ago.

There is only one thing that I would have changed about our relationship.  I would have made time to get to know my mom as a woman and a friend. 

At her funeral, people said some wonderful things about her that I never knew…like how she was so compassionate that after her nursing shift ended, she’d punch out , come home, change her clothes, and go back to her workplace to be with a dying patient…because she believed that no one should die alone.  You’d think that I would have known that about her….but I didn’t.  After all, I was the kid.  She was the mom. 

I vowed not to make the same mistake with my dad…not knowing him as a person and only as a dad.   

Being Friends with your DadThis year has been the summer of becoming friends.  Yesterday, we made the time to go golfing together.  When we got to the 11th hole and he lit up the cigar I gave him for Father’s Day, I wished that time would stand still.  I wished that the moment of knowing and loving my dad as a friend would never pass.  I wished that I could find the right words to tell him that even though I still need him to be my daddy, I love him for the person he is, in a non dad-ness kind of way. 

As our team’s putt plunked into the last hole, he held up his hand and expressed the universal sign of friendship.  With a wide smile forming across my face, I raised my own hand to meet his.  And there under the blue, breezy sky of a Pennsylvania summer was a father and daughter engaged in a high-five as he said, “Good one, girl”  and I responded, “Good game, dad.” 

Can parents and kids be friends?

# 5 – Finding Hell in a Drawer

Continuing on with the Battle of the UNs, I backtracked to complete Task #5…the purging of a closet or drawer as suggested by Sidney.

IMG_2556There is one particular drawer in my house that was nearing an overflow explosion of great proportions.  It’s the one that I fill with papers that are “not important enough for the safe deposit box, yet way, way, wayyyyy too important to mix in with anything else.”

I purged its guts onto the floor…

and started to to rifle through the contents. 

Among paperwork about insurance policies, retirement accounts, and other legitimate important-ness, I found THIS little gem:

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Seriously.  There it was.  Right under my Social Security Statement.  This little 23-page pocket guide to hell was stored in a drawer side-by-side with the Social Security Administration’s verification that I earned $3.35/hour in the summer of ’88 working as a “salad bar girl” at the local rural airport.   

I have no CLUE why this pamphlet was in my “important stuff” drawer.  I obviously put it there, but why?

Did I have a good reason to think that my soul was destined for eternal destruction?  If so, did I honestly believe that having a pocket manual to punishment was going to make things go a little easier?  Did I need directions for the damned? 

I want to read it, but sub-headings like…

  • Where is Hell Located?;
  • Punishment by Cold; and
  • Greatest Pain of Hell

…have me a little freaked out tonight. 

Plus, I  hate the cold and I don’t particularly want to know where Hell is located…although I have a pretty good idea that it’s somewhere near the storage locker at an airport salad bar in Pennsylvania.

In my own belief, I think that there definitely is a Hell and that the choice to go there is made during life, primarily by outright rejecting God.  I can only assume that’s the point of the pamphlet and the reason why I decided to throw it in the important drawer.  After all, what can be more important than a reminder that after this mortal life, there is more yet to come?

Do you believe in an afterlife?

Thanks again to Sidney and her suggestion to purge a drawer.  Half of the contents were trashed, the other half were organized, and one little hellish pamphlet was…ahhh, I have no idea what to do with the thing…but I’m sure it will find a new drawer and shock the next person who finds it there.

Doing the Y.M.C.A. of Life

Step 1 – Go to any wedding in America.

Step 2 – Wait for the DJ to spin The Village People.

It’s fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A. It’s fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A. You can get yourself clean, you can have a good meal. You can do whatever you feeeeel.

Village People YMCA

I’m certain that you don’t need any further instructions.  In fact, you probably have your arms raised into the letter Y  position above your head already.  I do.

Too bad life can’t be filled with such unabashed, embarrassing fun every day of the week! 

Most of the time when we’re doing the Y.M.C.A. OF LIFE, it’s a little more serious than the song. It also doesn’t involve wearing plastic construction-worker hats while dancing with an intoxicated bride and groom.

Let’s break it down…

Your life is going along just fine until…it’s not.  A relationship ends.  A family member dies.  Your car catches fire at the gas station.  Your wallet is stolen and a stranger spends your life’s savings at Radio Shack. Get the picture?

When these things happen, they are easier to process when you realize that the Y.M.C.A. is about to play.

Stage 1 – WHY

You question what happened.  You are mad….upset….emotional…can’t understand WHY.

Stage 2 – EMMM

You step back and think about it…seek to find answers and gain understanding.  Emotions are calmed as you release an audible breath…EMMM.

Stage 3 – SEE

You begin to SEE the situation differently…realize that some good has come from it…or that you’ve grown stronger as a person…or that  it is beyond your comprehension and in God’s hands.

Stage 4 – AYE

Acceptance.

Sometimes the Y.M.C. A. OF LIFE can start and finish in a day.  Other times it takes years, with a person being stuck in the EMMM position for a very long time until they finally point both arms in the same direction and realize that…

Young man, young man, there’s no need to feel down.  Young man,  young man, pick yourself off the ground and….

Have you done this dance in  your life?  Do you ever get stuck at the EMMM?

When Things Go South

On Saturday night I headed to East Carson Street in the South Side of Pittsburgh to a bachelorette party.  The South Side is Pittsburgh’s party section of town, dating back about 125 years when there was a bar on every corner.  Pittsburgh was a “working mans” city and the steel workers were known to crowd the corner pubs and restaurants after every shift…morning, noon, and night.  The steel mills lined the rivers and the bars were just a short walk away. 

Although the mills aren’t around any more, many of the bars remain.  Some are converted into trendy places and others look like they have 100 years of beer spilled on the floor.

Ordering a few of these in the company of twenty-something-year-olds preparing for wedded bliss wasn’t the brightest idea I’ve ever had. 

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…but, after the worst Friday on recent record, I needed to get out.  The place was packed with humans who still legitimately get carded…and a few creatures on two feet who I seriously questioned might not be human.  Nonetheless, the band was playing some good tunes. 

Just a small town girl…… livin’ in a lonely world.
She took the midnight train……goin’ anyyyyyywhere.

The twenty-somethings call this an oldie.  Heh. 

So, on the South Side, I temporarily forgot about my life  taking a slight southerly turn on Friday.  If you didn’t read that post, I fell into a mini-panic after having a bad day and getting an e-mail at 4:55 PM from a client saying that my work wasn’t up to par. 

Being that a big part of my job is writing, I felt personally attacked.  When someone doesn’t like 100+ pages that you poured your heart and soul into, and asks for a re-write, then it’s hard to not take it personal.

I’m not sure if this is a strength or weakness in my BACKBONE, but when someone tells me I’m not good enough or can’t do something, I set out on a mission to prove them wrong.   So, after reading the e-mail over about 25 times and letting the message sink in, I started the re-write and have been at it ever since (except for the time-out for drinking with humans and non-humans in the South Side).

By the way, I was also once told that I would never start a blog.  I did.  Exactly one year ago today.  Proved THEM wrong, didn’t I!

Gotta get back to the re-write….I’m only on page 12.

How do YOU handle criticism?  Ignore it? Drink your problems away?  Turn the other cheek?  Get confrontational?