A Woman Visible

Search for beauty. Search for adventure. Search for the visible you.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

How Visible is Too Visible?

Yesterday, I saw a couple of things that made me consider how far we should go to be visible, and what should we be modeling for young girls. First, there were the Olsen twins. Remember them? The two cute little girls that we vicariously watched grow up on tv. Remember the awful little movies they made? Remember when they went off to college and became media mogels? Take a look at this latest photo spread of the girls on People's faboo website.

Is it just me, or are these photo's disturbing? Designer James Mischa (who apparently is the one that designed the napkins the girls are wearing) says,
"They are definitely young women who are coming into their own." Into their own what? They look like couple of Dracula's vampire women waiting for their master to return with someone to feed on! All they need is fangs! I thought they were trying to be role models for younger girls. I just wonder what message they're trying to send to the young girls they are attempting to influence. Is it, if you're rich enough, you can dress and act anyway you like? Or maybe, once you make your millions by being cute, you can wander around a big, huge, empty mansion, and stare at the mirrors and cameras with equally big, empty eyes as a testament to how much you've accomplished. Why can't we celebrate girls becoming women without dressing them up like high-priced call girls and then giving lip service to their "accomplishments." I believe in women learning to accentuate their outer beauty, but not at the price of their inner beauty.

In a related story, CNN ran an interesting story this week concerning the latest Vanity Fair cover. Amanda sent this to me and I just couldn't stay silent about this. Another one of my favorite blogs, Judith HeartSong also had comments related to this story. Now, I understand Judith's opinion. The human body as art is perfectly beautiful--male or female. I have taught my children to respect the nude in art. My daughter has even been known to draw nudes (though I have warned her against doing this at school). This being said, I have to agree with the CNN article--"where are the naked men?" We can watch movies and see women in all their naked glory, but we only are given men's butts when they are nude. Now, I'm not saying I want to see more naked men in the movies. As much as I have enjoyed Mel Gibson's naked butt for many years, I'm not pushing for more than that. What I am pushing for though is for us to consider how Hollywood approaches women's visibility.

The cover in question has two rather successful actresses in their altogether, while the male in the photo is nuzzling Keira Knightly with his clothes on. These actresses don't need to show themselves in this way. This will in no way help their careers, and to make matters worse, they are so skinny looking it's almost scary. Once again, I ask, what does this say to young girls and young women who are trying to figure out how to be visible in our society? Does it say that society only values women's visibility as long as it's physical visibility? What if you're like the majority of American women who fit the neo-classical version of physical beauty, rather than the 21st century stick-waif version of physical beauty?

I have to wonder if, after all our talk of "I am woman, hear me roar," no one really wants to hear us roar or see us in all our powerful, marvelous glory, especially when they seem satisfied to see woman naked and vulnerable, or trying to look older, or younger, or not like who we really might be under that sheer excuse for a dress.

I'm not a prude, but I do think we should show more pride about being total women, and not settle for what society (especially Hollywood and the media) portrays as beautiful and visible.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

And Now the Rest of the Story--Trip to Philadelphia, Part Tre

I got so caught up in my trip last week that I never shared the rest of the story. I enjoyed Philadelphia a great deal! It was a remarkable city! I did not like the fact that it was dirty, but I guess all cities are dirty to some degree. What I liked about the city outweighed the dirtiness, I assure you.

Friday I got up to rain. It was 54 degrees, and I knew that I wouldn't be able to do anything until after lunch, so I did the good teacher thing and attended part of the conference. I tried to go to a session, but because I got caught talking to a book rep about some upcoming technology for the classroom, I didn't make it. So, I loafed around a bit, went back to my room, watched some tv, and then came down for lunch. I also went to check on the ipod I had signed up to win (it was a silent auction and the price was good) and discovered that I had won the darn thing!

Lunchtime came, and my travelling companion and I decided to walk the six blocks to Independence Square. We also decided that we'd wait till we got there to eat. We wanted Philly Cheesesteaks, but we also wanted to eat inside. Lucky for us, we got to Independence Square before we were too hungry to care. At first we didn't know where to go for lunch, but then we found The Bourse. The Bourse originally housed a stock exchange, but was converted into a shopping area and food court. It was there that we found our Philly Cheesesteaks. All I can say is, "WOW!" We watched as they cooked the steaks and onions with the can of Cheese Whiz on one side of the grill staying hot, and then as they put our sandwiches together. I know some folk warned me about people behind the counter being rude, but I didn't find that to be the case here. If anything, the man behind the counter (I assumed he was the owner) was quite interested (especially in yours truly) and chatty. We talked for several minutes while our sandwiches were being prepared, and he was very curious about the South. It was a fun moment. The sandwich was to die for. Absolutely one of the best things I've ever eaten. So, if you're ever in Philadelphia, go to the Bourse, go through the revolving doors, and head straight toward the back of the building. I believe the place was called Rick's Philly Cheesesteaks. Yu-um!

After filling our bellies with Cheesesteaks and some of the best fries I've ever eaten, we headed out to see the Liberty Bell. It was like going through airport security. Before we could see the museum and the Bell, we had to be scanned, and so did our bags. I guess it's all part of that homeland security thing now. Anyway, we finally made it through and got to look at the museum. I love all the history, it gives you a real sense of why this is an important American icon. Then I laid eyes on it. All things considered, it's not that big of a deal. Really...I guess that's why I almost cried when I stood next to it. It was amazing. I wanted to touch it but couldn't, of course. It was broken, and the wood supporting it was obviously old, and in all that, it was one of the most moving things I would see that day. Took my breath away...

Once we were done paying homage to the Bell, we crossed the street to Independence Hall (also known as the Pennsylvania State House, thank you very much). Unfortunately, we were number 86 and 87 and ended up having to wait for thirty minutes to get inside. This wouldn't have been a big deal, except that the temperature was dropping outside. When we started at noon, the temperature was right at 54 degrees, but by this time, two hours later, it had dropped to a stiff 40 degrees. Fortunately, we met a family that was also waiting to get in, and we talked for the longest time. I also got to examine the statue of Washington and see a few other smaller things while waiting. I learned that Washington actually had a house right where the Liberty Bell stands now.

We got to see Independence Hall, finally. It was worth the wait. All I could think of is how much my dad would have loved the place. Even though most of the furniture is reproduction, it's still really cool to see. Also the flooring is cool. Yes, I look at the flooring. It was either pegged or put together with hand made nails. Very cool! All of the rooms were really small, and the furniture was too.

Finally, we spent our last half hour at the Franklin museum. It was so great. There was furniture from his house, comments by people from his period, and then, outside were the foundations of his house. I even got a look at his privy. I would have taken pictures there, but my battery died while I was on this excursion, so I have to deal with memories.

We left for the hotel at around 4 and it was 38 degrees outside. To say we were glad to see the Marriot was an understatement. Overall, the trip was well worth it. I learned a great deal, and I enjoyed what I experienced while I was there. I would love to go again!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

How Should a Woman Lead? A Few Tips from Galadriel

I woke up this morning thinking about some things that are happening where I work (I've been doing that a lot lately) that are less than pleasant, which led to me considering what it is that differentiates a good leader from a bad leader. More specifically, I began to think about what it is that differentiates a good female leader from a bad. In doing this, I thought of a list of things that make females in leadership positions less than desirable to work with, or "too much" to deal with. Some of the things I came up with included attributes such as being controlling, becoming self-serving, and acting condescending. I've seen these same problems with male leaders, but in women these attributes seem particularly upsetting. I guess we expect something different.
These thoughts led me to consider good leadership qualities in women. A good leader is open to many ideas and allows her workers to do their jobs in their way (as long as the way isn't destructive), she does things to benefit everyone in the department, and she gives gifts back to her workers that will enhance what the workers already do (these aren't necessarily gifts that are tangeble). Then it hit me--Galadriel is the icon for the great female leader. Galadriel is the "Lady of Lorien" and the queen of the Elves in J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy. In Fellowship of the Rings, the fellowship (a group that is all male, I might add) come into her country not long after Gandalf is taken from them. She and her husband, Celeborn, allow them to take refuge in her forest for a season.
Even though she is married, it is clear that Galadriel is the one that is important here. She has a strong partnership with Celeborn, but she is clearly the leader in the relationship and in the politics of Lorien. She is not, however, a shrill, exacting leader. Instead, she is graceful and commands (but never demands) the respect and love of the people around her (even Gimli the dwarf comes to love her), she never condescends because she doesn't have to, and she understands the gifts of each person she encounters, and knows what their best is. Even when she's tempted to lead in a different, more harsh way, she turns from that temptation. When faced with taking the One Ring and using it to bring her dream of peace and harmony to fruition, Galadriel responds:

And now at last it comes. You will give me the Ring freely! In place of the Dark Lord you shall set up a Queen. And I shall not be
dark, but beautiful and terrible as the Morning and the Night! Fair as the Sea and the Sun and the Snow upon the Mountain! Dreadful
as the Storm and the Lightning! Stronger than the foundations of the earth. All shall love me and despair!

Galadriel understands that power used without considering her people, without thinking of what will make things better in the long term, is power that may be used in a positive effect, but ultimately will demoralize the very people that she should be helping and leading. She also understands that this power will not only harm her people, but change her in a way that would cause her to lose herself:

She lifted her hand and from the ring that she wore there issued a great light that illumined her alone and left all else dark. She stood
before Frodo seeming now tall beyond measurement, and beautiful beyond enduring, terrible and worshipful. Then she let her hand fall, and
the light faded, and suddenly she laughed again, and lo! she was shrunken: a slender elf-woman, clad in simple white, whose gentle voice
was soft and sad.

'I pass the test,' she said. 'I will diminish, and go into the West, and remain Galadriel.'

By remaining Galadriel, she maintains her ability to lead in a gentle, feminine way. This allows her to be more productive as well as grants her people the opportunity to be more productive. Not only does she lead in a gently, instinctive way, but she also notes and supports the gifts of the individuals. When the fellowship leaves Lorien, Galadriel eats with them and then gives each of them gifts. No gift is given lightly, and no gift is an empty gift. Each gift is an amplification of something that each member already has inside himself. For Sam, she gifts him with a box of earth and a Malloran (a tree) nut because he has the gift of renewal and growth (and he uses this gift to great advantage when rebuilding the Shire later on). Frodo receives a vial of light from a star, reflecting his own inner light that makes him the perfect candidate to bear the Ring. With this ability she can be not only a strong leader, but one that is supportive without being controlling (notice that she doesn't tell them how she wants them to use each gift), that is concerned with knowing the strengths of her people, and knows that she has no strength without the strength and genuine love of her people. It is this that makes her not only powerful, but beautiful, and visible as a true leader.
I know that this is the type of leader I want to work for, and that I want to be.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

My first day in Philly--Part Two

After this, I went up to begin my day of conferencing. The sessions were actually interesting, but I was more than happy when lunch came. One of the teachers I travelled with and I went to lunch at Reading Market (pronounced red-ding). Reading Market
is an open market that sells just about everything in the universe, especially food. Going there for lunch is a bit overwhelming. I just wandered and stared for a while. Then we found the place that sold fresh seafood, and served seafood lunch. I had the best restaurant crabcake I've ever eaten, and paid a reasonable price. I then proceeded to find every chocolatier in the market. I bought some lovely "blueberry clusters" (chocolate covered blueberries), and came back for more conferencing. This evening, we went to Maggiano's, a lovely old-style Italian restaurant that is actually a chain. We have one in Atlanta, but I've never eaten there. The Chianti was a perfect compliment to the mushroom ravioli al forno I had for dinner. The cup of coffee completed the experience. Unfortunately, I did not have room for tiramisu or anything sweet.

Something curious, but not surprising, I suppose, happened yesterday afternoon, not long after I arrived. In a part of town called Germantown, a stone steeple from a 150 year old church building fell. This might not have been a big deal, except there were children at the church at the time. Thankfully, the children were evacuated, and no one was injured. Still, it was a big enough deal that the church has vowed to tear down what's left of that steeple. The church is an old gothic-style church, and it is a shame that it is apparently in enough disrepair that the structure is beginning to deteriorate.

Another weird thing that happened tonight: a guy walked into a pizza joint and swore he had a bomb strapped on. He told the crowded restaurant that someone had better call 911. Someone kindly complied (out of fear, no doubt), and the cops arrested him. Very scary.

Well, it's time for me to go to bed. I have a busy day tomorrow. I just wanted to catch up. Tomorrow and Saturday, pictures, I hope. I haven't taken many today because I was mostly in sessions, and I doubted very seriously that you (or my children) would be very interested in seeing a bunch of teachers talking shop. We find it stimulating, but we only account for less than 1% of the population, so I'm not going to bore you with silly pictures.

Have a blessed evening!

Observations of the City of Brotherly Love

I have been in Philadelphia for twenty-four hours (roughly), and so far, it’s been great! I do have pictures, but I probably won’t post them until tonight after dinner. Right now I am sitting in the lobby of the Marriot watching people move in and out of the motel. It’s a curious thing really. I don’t remember seeing this many people last year in Albuquerque, but I’m sure it has everything to do with the size of the town.
One thing I have yet to adjust to is the fact that I am living, for the moment, in a tower that is one part of the huge system of man-made canyons that makes up central Philly. I never new a city could be so large. Atlanta is a big city, but not in the fashion of Philadelphia. I’m not sure I can really quantify the difference except to use the logic of a child and say that it’s just different.
This morning I made my way down here to sit at Starbucks and use their wireless connection. This Starbucks has a rather colorful person that is apparently a regular in the early morning. Her name is Rose. I have not formally met Rose, but she seems to be a fixture at this location. I’m not completely sure, but I think that Rose is a bona fide bag lady. She was wrapped in an old coat and a scarf that had seen its better days. Her lips were smeared with pink lipstick, as if she was trying to hold on to at least a little bit of civility. All around her chair were bags. We’re not just talking shopping bags, or plastic bags, but what looked like make up bags, and bags that glittered, and bags that were beautiful. For a while she snoozed as I worked on my paper that should have been posted last night, and then an old man, who must also be a regular, sat down and began to talk to her. That’s how I learned her name. I wondered what Rose had been through to come to this point in her life. They talked about the weather. She observed that last night wasn’t as cold as nights earlier in the week. I wondered where she had slept, and wondered just how cold she had been. My first reaction was to feel pity, but then she just didn’t seem to need pity. She seemed ok with her life. People seemed to see her as someone special enough to ask how she was doing and address her by name. I found that mildly comforting and nice. Now I have a better understanding of what “City of Brotherly Love” might mean. As the city came to life, and the sidewalk snow dunes began to melt, Rose picked up her bags and entered the morning.
Tonight, I’ll be back to tell you of my experience at Reading (pronounced red-ding) Market. I hope to also post some pictures. The architecture in this city is fabulous. I’ll also share how one landmark in Germantown is literally disintegrating and causing people to run in fear.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

A Woman Visible Goes to Philadelphia

For the next few days, A Woman Visible will be broadcasting direct from Philadelphia, PA! I will be conferencing in Philadelphia until Saturday of this week. I will share some pictures, and continue to find interesting tidbits and articles that point to women being visible. I may even post a few photos from my trip as I find moments to visit certain sites around the city.

Can't wait to get started. See you in Phillie!

And We Thought Valentine's was Tough in the US

This morning as I was driving to work listening to Scott Slade of WSB (as I do most every morning because of the traffic reports), I learned something very curious. According to Scott (who I trust implicitly), 70% of Japanese women hate Valentine's Day. Why is this? Is it because Japanese men are not romantic? Is it because Japanese women hate chocolate, diamonds, and flowers? No.

I did a little research and discovered that in Japan, Valentine's Day is celebrated twice. Yes, it's true. The Japanese celebrate Valentine's Day today, and then they celebrate again on March 1st (they call that day "White Day.") The rub is that on February 14th, the women have to gift the men in their lives with chocolate (this includes co-workers). Then the women have to wait a full two weeks to be gifted by the men on "White Day." The traditional gift for the women is white chocolate or lingerie. It's no wonder Japanese women dread today. Poor girls.

It would seem, however,
that the younger generation of Japanese working women are taking a stand. According to Yahoo news, more and more women are taking the day and buying cheap chocolates for the men, but keeping the expensive chocolates for themselves. I don't support being selfish, but a girl's got to draw the line somewhere, right?

The Japanese themselves blaim the confectionary industry for this cultural Valentine's travesty. Apparently, the confectionary manufacturers created this double-edged sword for Japanese women to deal with back in 1947, when business was really rugged for them. The industry still counts on these two holidays to support their finances because, unlike Western candy companies, they don't have a booming Christmas or Easter rush.

So, ladies, as you pick through the box of Godiva's that your sweetie gave you on this day of days, or as you model the new diamond to your girlfriends, give a thought to your Japanese sisters, and the sacrifices they are making in anticipation of March 1st.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Kwan Chose the Best Thing in the End

I am a huge Olympic fan, and especially love the winter games. This is funny because I'm not a winter person at all. Yesterday turned into a bit of a bittersweet day for this fan. On one hand, the US team won it's first gold medal when Chad Hedrick skated to victory in the 5000m event. What a start! Then I watched as Scott Hamilton commented on how early Saturday practice went for the figure skaters and he revealed a nasty fall that Michelle Kwan took during that practice. I'm sure fans all over the world took a breath as she crashed on her side. I knew what was coming, but somehow there was a part of me that hoped it wasn't a bad fall.

I was wrong. This morning, Michelle Kwan withdrew from the Olympic games. The part of me that's a mom was relieved. I had worried about her since I saw her fall. The part of me that is the competitive woman felt deep sorrow as I knew that her dream was being bent in a direction she didn't necessarily want to go. I wanted to reach out to her and tell her that there was more to come. She's only 25, she has the world at her feet. Somehow, however, I knew that would be small comfort compared to what she must be feeling.
What is a great thing in all of this is that she managed to keep herself together and make a very difficult choice with the best attitude. She could have been arrogant and refused to admit that she was in pain, and make a fool of herself in front of millions. Instead, she did the best thing for herself and withdrew. Now others will take their shot, and perhaps, go home with a medal. What she will go home with will be so much more full of impact. She will have her health and her determination to apply to what ever she has coming to her next.

Michelle, you are a beautiful, graceful, and gracious woman. It's good to know that there are women in your sport that are visible in all the right ways. Godspeed.!

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Where Have All the Women Gone?

ABC News posted a story about couple of hours ago that caught my eye as I scanned my Google desktop during lunch. Apparently a study of G-Rated movies revealed that "male characters outnumbered females 3-to-1" in the 101 movies that were surveyed from 1990-2004. What concerns the sponsors at this study is that "the disparity diminishes the importance of women in children's eyes."

The goal here, according to the article, is to push Hollywood toward a more "balanced gender representation" in movies. Geena Davis, star of Commander in Chief and founder of SeeJane says, "By making it common for our youngest children to see everywhere a balance of active and complex male and female characters, girls and boys will grow up to empathize with and care more about each others' stories." Their claim is that this disparity matters because it is one part of how children learn what it means to be male and female.

Women's visibility in the media has been a concern for decades. How are they depicted? How many strong roles vs. empty roles are they afforded by producers, writers, and directors. I wonder if the lack of visible roles is as important as a lack of positive female roles. The study only looked at G rated movies, but how many children are allowed to view movies that are PG13 or R rated and how do those movies measure up? I feel more concerned that children are learning male and female lessons that involve women being very visible in very negative, demeaning ways. Do our young males disrespect women because very early on women are minimalized in their stories, or because the women they do see in the media are exposed in demeaning, unflattering ways? I could ask the same about our girls and their views on men.

I also wonder how this group wants chldren to see women portrayed once they do get adquate screen time. Most of the G rated movies I've watched portray women as

a) The mom

b) The evil witch

c) The clueless mom

d) The wise grandmother

e) The woman in peril/fairy tale princess (Disney is strong in this category)

f) The spunky younger sister

What about the girls that are looking for visibilty, but don't fit the categories presented? Ah, now I see what Davis means. Such limited options can diminish a child's options--if that's the only influence she has in her life. Children have so many other influences that are as strong or stronger than what they view in movies. Girls look to their mothers, grandmothers, fathers, grandfathers, family friends, and each other to find their own visibilty. I think we have to look at the whole experience, and measure accordingly.

So, should we worry about the disparity that Hollywood seems to support? Maybe, but we should also understand there is more than movie magic that grows a girl's (or a boy's) identity, and allows them to journey to their ultimate visibility in society.

You can read the study yourself: Where the Girls Aren't: Gender Disparity Saturates G-Rated Films .

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

"This Will Be An Everlasting Love" and Other Societal Fallacies

My best bud and fellow single, Amanda and I have noticed an ugly trend in advertising here in the Atlanta area. It could be that this is a nationwide phenomenon, but I'm not sure. It's those damn EHarmony commercials! They show happy couples mooning over each other, and gushing about how EHarmony saved them from the eternal damnation of being single and lonely. Ok, they're not really saying that, but the message is clear: You have a soulmate, and for the low, low fee of $50 a month, we can find him for you.

Now, honestly I've been tempted by the EHarmony thing. I have. According to the founder, Dr. Neil Clark Warren, all you have to do is fill out a compatibility questionaire, and send it to his firm. They will match you with people that you should be compatible with. It sounds simple enough, but it also sounds too good to be true. In an inteview with Rebecca Traister for Salon, Warren "boasts more marriages per match than any other Web site; 10,000 can be documented. But Warren and Forgatch (co-founder of the site) both suspect the number is closer to between 30,000 and 50,000." Wow. With a rate that extraordinary, how can you lose, right? I even know a couple that ended up marrying after meeting on the site (the cool thing is that they are soul mates), but even they have told me that it was one of those longshots. They both had gone out with several others the site matched to them with limited success.

That's my argument with EHarmony and other sites that boast the ability to make that "perfect match." How can a group of people that have never even met me know how to connect me with my soul mate? Of course, Dr. Warren would say that his 436 question survey is constructed to make my match a scientific one. I have to wonder if this "scientific" approach will take into consideration my ability to draw weirdoes like moths to a flame. What if my compatibility rating only connects me with those same weirdoes? It would be my luck I'd end up being compatible with Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons. I've had a hard enough time finding "the one" on my own, and now some guy with a theology degree is going to match me up. uh huh, right...

I've been reading around the net about EHarmony, mostly because I wanted to see what other people were thinking. If there were really 30,000 to 40,000 success stories from this site, you'd think that there would be loud, racous rejoicing coming from the Internet peanut galleries. What I found, however, was quite the opposite. For every "success story" that is displayed on the EHarmony website, it would seem there are stories of incompatability (Rebecca Traister tried it, but after five bad experiences, she stopped trying), and worse, stories of not meeting anyone. This idea of "this will be an everlasting love" seems a bit over-optimistic to me. No one can guarrantee you will get that everlasting love. All they can do is give you the chance to meet men (or women, if you're a guy) that might, possibly, maybe, oh heck, we don't really know be THE ONE. The operative word here is chance. To say that you can guarrantee more is a blantant untruth.

This is not to say that we should just give up, or not try at all. I just think we need to take a pause before we jump off and pay $50 a month for a glorified matchmaker. It is hard to go through the necessary work to find a good relationship, and I know that online services can help. Perhaps my reticence comes from the fear that lies just below my personal surface. Maybe I'm afraid that by trying a site like this I'm admitting my own ineptitude in the relationship department. I'm not sure.

I'm also not sure that I'm not being manipulated by society in general into believing there's something wrong with my being single. There seems to be a push this time of year to get a mate if you don't have one already. I'm sure this is connected with Valentine's Day. It's a vicious cycle that goes like this: companies want to make more money, so they go to the advertisers, who create this series of ads proclaiming the advantages of being goo-goo eyed over someone who is your 'soul mate.' Then the consumer (i.e. you and me, oh single readers), who is lonely and empty here at this most important holiday, will buy into the idea, and find a mate. All in time for the new mate to purchase some of that jewelry I mentioned a couple of entries ago. It's a huge jewelry conspiracy! That's what it is!

All jests aside, there is this underlying message in all of these sorts of ads that singleness is not a desired life possibility. Maybe it's not for some. Maybe it's not the exact desired life path for me. Nevertheless, should I be beat on by the media or society because, at least in this part of my journey, I am single?

It's hard enough being single without being told that there's something wrong with you because you are single.

Perhaps, one day, I'll break down and cough up the $50 a month--but I think I'd rather take my chances, learn how I draw weirdoes, and try to change that before I make a commitment to a faceless matchmaker.

"Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match..." as if.

Anyone for a Little Coffee?

Gather around, girls (ok, guys are invited too), grab your cups and let's talk.

This week's "Coffee Klatch Discussion" stems from something I've been thinking about since last week. A new friend of mine and I were talking last week, and we discovered that we have the same taste in men. What allowed us to make this discovery is the joint admission that we had a crush on a mutual acquaintance for a lot of the same reasons. I felt validated that someone else valued this man, but I also felt a bit silly. A crush? It's admissions like this that make me sense that twelve year old girl that I know lives inside me making herself known.

I've had crushes off and on all my life. As outgoing as I seem in real life, there's a part of me that goes all silent and a bit scared when it comes to addressing my feelings for a man that may or may not acknowledge my existence. I know, you're waiting for my question. "Jess, where are you going with this? This isn't a whinefest is it? Isn't that what your third blog is for?" The answers are 1) I am leading to this week's question. 2) No, this isn't a "poor, pitiful, single Jess" entry. 3) Yes, whining is what my third blog is for, and I promise this will not lead to me wallowing in my own ridiculousness.

Here's the question, for your approval, and hopefully, your response.

Coffee Klatch Discussion Question #2:

Have you had an "adult crush?" What did you do about it? Also do you feel that there is an age when having a crush is a bit ridiculous?

Here's my answer:

Like I said before, I have had several "adult crushes." What I find most frustrating is that I see other women just step up and either voice their attraction openly, or go on what I call "hot pursuit," but I'm not so bold. I feel silly because I'm bold in other areas of my life, just not this part of my life. So, I usually don't do anything about the crush except suffer with the idea that I'm crazy about this person, but I don't have a clue what they think of me. Then I create a whole idea that maybe they don't see me at all, thus the whole invisibility thing I'm trying to get past. It's a vicious cycle really. In the last year, I've had three crushes, and how many of them know how I feel--you got it, zero! They are all fine, great guys, but I just didn't have the guts to say or do anymore than be nice. That's how I deal with this sort of thing--I just be nice.

Honestly, I don't feel that a crush at any age is ridiculous. You feel what you feel. I am beginning to learn it's really about what you will do with those feelings that count. If you stew in your little crush, then maybe it's not so healthy. I think that when you do that, you miss the boat so to speak. What's the worst that could happen? Oh yeah, they could say something like, "No way." But is that really so awful? Can't we revel in the fact that we were bold? I think the answer is "Yes." So raise your cups, take a sip (who put rum in this coffee?), and go out and be a bit bolder. Maybe the rum in the coffee will help.

Disclaimer: Let it be known that all readers are welcome to comment in the Coffee Klatch. While I do tend to aim toward a female audience, male participation is encouraged and welcomed. Simply add a comment here in the comment box, or comment on your blog and then leave a link to share your thoughts with the rest of the known (and unknown) universe. My only request is that you keep it clean and on topic.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

P.I.C.K.ing a partner? Let Uncle Sam help you!

One of my favorite journalers in J-land (AOL's journaling community) is John Scalzi. John will write about anything and always has something amusing or interesting to add to the subject. Today, John mentioned that the U.S military is now doing something to help their soldiers to build strong, long-lasting relationships. It's no secret that military marriages often don't survive for very long or are very rocky. The official name of this program is Premarital Interpersonal Choices and Knowledge, but it's also called (and I love this title) How to Avoid Marrying a Jerk(ette). Apparently there are lots of people involved with making this happen, but what I find impressive is that the program gets couples to slow down and think past the that first blast of hormones, emotion, and lovesickness. What I find particularly interesting is that P.I.C.K. not only dispenses good advice to couples, but offers support groups not only locally, but also right on the website.

I wish there had been a program like this for civilians before I got married. I have to think that there are others that wish the same thing. I did have some advice in this area, but it wasn't exactly the clearest or the best. Most churches have some form of premarital counseling , but sometimes I think the ministers are often either too close to the couple to be honest (like the minister that married me and my ex), or they have never seen the couple before and just do the wedding ( I know of a couple whose "premarital counseling" consisted of meeting the man doing thirty minutes before the wedding. He then prayed for fifteen minutes during the service about the ills of divorce. Ten years later, well, the couple divorced...). It took me years to really understand what marriage was all about. A program like P.I.C.K. could have better informed me about picking a mate. That doesn't mean I wouldn't have made a mistake anyway, but I might have actually engaged something other than my heart and hormones before I got engaged and married myself.

It's an encouraging idea and it's good to know that Uncle Sam cares so much!

Friday, February 03, 2006

Do You Have an Office Spouse?

I was listening to Neil Boortz this morning while attempting to work (it's Friday, how do you think it's going), and he started talking about the idea of an "office spouse." According to John Intini, "A good office spouse can read your mind and your mood -- almost as well as your real husband or wife." This is a relationship that is totally platonic--sex never enters the picture. Belinda Skelton, Neil's producer, observed that it sounded like a friendship to her, but according to Intini it is a relationship that runs deeper. An office spouse is your closest confidant at work, and is, at the same time, someone you can comfortably introduce to your spouse.

As a single woman, this is an interesting concept. There has been lots of discussion over the years about whether or not men and women can be "just friends" and not have a sexual relationship. Initi says that an "unwritten code of ethics that governs office marriages demands that never, under any circumstances (like, for example, after too much booze at the office Christmas bash) can sex enter the relationship." The only problem that I can see is if the code is broken, which apparently rarely happens. The office spouse relationship seems to point to the idea that men and women can be just friends--very close friends, but just friends. I have some experience with this kind of friendship. As of now I have a couple of guys that might qualify as "office spouses." We go to lunch, help each other out, talk office politics, and hang out (although not outside the workplace). They are both happily married and much older than me. We hang out because we are hall neighbors and we share a common sense of humor. I also appreciate them because I know if I have a work problem, I can go to them and deal with it in confidence.

It's almost a comfort that we can have relationships like this. There's no pressure and no problems that come with an office romance. When the relationship ends, there's no real fall out.

So think about it--do you have an office spouse? If so, how does your relationship work and what makes you close to that person?

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Welcome to the "Month of Luv"

The onslaught has begun, ladies. You know what I'm talking about. Turn on any T.V., radio, or computer that's connected to the Internet, and suddenly, in your face, is that all-encompassing symbol of the kind of love that lasts past the first date, the first kiss, the first--well, you know. Yes, it is the beautiful "diamond surrounded by rubies" set that every jeweler in town swears that you want for Valentine's Day.

I heard my first Valentine's Day ad on the radio about two weeks ago. It was Tom Shane,
a local jeweler who has made about a gazillion dollars off of men who are in love and women who encourage their men to buy them beautiful jewelry. Honestly, I like Tom. Tom is an "old friend" so to speak. He and I go way back to the eighties, when I was in college. He has a rather plain vanilla voice that is funny, mostly because it's very deadpan. I had a friend, Steve Elliot, who did a perfect, dead-on Tom Shane imitation. We would run announcements at the Student Center and he would do Tom's voice. It was great! I don't resent that Tom wants to sell his jewelry. If I had a serious sweetie, I'd even want him to shop with Tom. You have to admire a jeweler that travels all over the world and picks the stones himself.

The second Valentine's Day ad I actually saw on TV. It was from Kay Jeweler's(you know, "Every kiss begins with Kay").The thing that makes me crazy about the Kay ads is that they are actually romantic and nice. I usually cry over them and I am never really sure if I'm crying because I am moved by the romantic moments being played out before me or if I'm actually moved by jealousy because I know that this is going to be one more Valentine's Day when I won't get a box of anything from anyone except my kids and my dad.

In my move to be more visible, I have had to change my attitude a bit about Valentine's Day. This is a difficult shift for me because for a very, very long time I have loathed Valentine's Day and all things concerning its celebration. I deluded myself by saying that I hated it because it was a purely commercial holiday that pushed us to say "I love you" when we should be saying that to our partners, lovers, boyfriends, girlfriends, and everyone that means anything to us every day. Now, in 2006, I have to honestly admit it--I hate Valentine's Day because I am jealous. I'm so embarrassed, but I have to admit it. I want roses, chocolates, and yes, even the ruby and diamond sets that the jewelers push on all of us this time of year. Of course, to get any of that, I have to change my attitude, right? I don't want anyone to think I'm "cold" or "unromantic" (if you saw my office, you'd know I was far from unromantic). People tell me I need to open myself up for romance. The only problem is that I can't find the key to open the door. Maybe I'll find the key if I just keep looking.

As part of my effort to open myself to this holiday, I went poking around the net and found a whole history of Valentine's Day. I guess if I want to reconnect, I should at least understand the history of the holiday, right? Then I found it! The History Channel has a whole huge article on the history of the day. This is heartening (I think I made a funny). Valentine's Day has everything to do with a man doing the right thing in spite of a powerful Caesar, getting a girlfriend, and dying for what he believes in. So, this holiday really shouldn't be about romance at all! It should be about men (and women) doing their best, and standing for their beliefs. I can love Valentine's Day again! YES!

Still, a ruby and diamond pendant would be an especially nice way of having someone "do the right thing."