Sunday, April 13, 2014

If You're Gonna Play in TEXAS...

Randy Owens of the legendary country group, Alabama, said it best..."If you're gonna play in Texas, you gotta have a fiddle in the band."  Even though these lyrics were introduced in the mid-1980s, I don't think Mr. Owens had any inkling as to the ultimate direction country music was headed and where it would inevitably end up some thirty years later.

Country music has unquestionably morphed and changed over the years from its down-home, backwoods roots--featuring "raw," heartfelt vocals and fiddle-heavy background music--to the polished, over-produced, pop-like radio "ear candy," as my dad likes to call it.  The likes of Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, and various other legends are now only a faded memory for those of us who were raised on traditional country music.  Even the superstars of yesteryear were heavily influenced by these old-time greats.  George Strait,  Randy Travis and Alan Jackson were  influenced by the likes of Lefty Frizzell, Merle Haggard and George Jones, who were themselves influenced by those older ghosts of country music past.  But with each generation comes new influence.  The stars of today, who were raised on George Strait and other singers of the 1980s, have begun to crank out albums that hardly reflect a true country music sound.  With each passing decade, country music sadly deviates further and further from its roots.

Now I'm not saying that all country music of today is bad--I'm simply stating that it has changed.  The long-lost haunting fiddle solo and soul-soothing twang of a steel guitar has been replaced by modern, computer-generated sounds.  You can catch me driving down the highway with my radio set to 99.5 or 96.3, and I'm most likely tapping my hands on the steering wheel, singing along with Luke Bryan and Blake Shelton, but that's not to say that I don't miss the "old" country music of my past.  What KLUV's "oldies" are to rock 'n roll, I fear true country music will eventually become to today's "young country"...and that makes me a little sad.  While I find today's radio music to be lacking, I'm glad to know I can always pop in an old CD and sing along with my childhood heroes, tapping my foot along to the beat of a hearty fiddle solo with a smile on my face.  It just brings back good memories.

So say what you will, but I wholeheartedly agree with the lyrics of Alabama's 1984 mega hit.   It's hard to argue with a band declared "artist of the decade," (in the 1980s) who also happens to have over 30 number one hits to their name.  And each time I hear that old song come on the radio, I'm gonna crank up the volume and declare my rights as a true southern girl...that if you're gonna play in Texas, by God, you gotta have a fiddle in the band.




Saturday, February 22, 2014

Skis that (Don't) Please



With the click of the "ok" button, I was giddy at the thought of owning a brand new pair of snow skis and could hardly contain my excitement at the anticipation of their arrival within the next seven to ten business days.  You see, these weren't just any ordinary skis I had just purchased online.  They were fashion K2 Super Sweet snow skis in pink, purple and white (of course).  Now I would look like the bad-ass skier I had become over the course of the past twenty years--even though I'd only actually skied less than a dozen times in my life.

It didn't matter.  For someone as unathletically inclined as I, I skied like an Olympics gold medalist.  Okay, so maybe that's a bit of a stretch--but not much.  I reveled in my intermediate-level skiing and was anxious to prove to Jeremy, yet again, that I am not as uncoordinated as he thinks.  I impressed the hell out of him last year at Lake Tahoe, so I know he'd be equally awed as I carved those fluffly Colorado slopes like a Thanksgiving turkey with my very own equipment this time.

Mom and Dad tried to warn me not to be overzealous and order the first pair of shiny skis I saw.  "You'll hate hauling heavy skis through the airport.  Just rent for awhile until you decide what you really want."  Pish posh!  I am gonna love these skis.  How could I not enjoy skis that bear my signature color?  I don't even mind lugging them through the airport.  It will be good exercise before I hit the slopes!.......famous last words.

So the week of our ski trip arrived and it was time to check out the rental place so Jeremy could get all set up with his boots and skis for the week--the amateur.  When the rental guy looked at me and asked if I needed skis as well, I turned up my nose just a tiny bit and replied, "No thanks, I've got my own."  I think I saw a hint of surprise in his (probably stoned) baby browns.  Surely he was impressed that I was an owner...or maybe it was my imagination.  But there comes a certain satisfaction in assuring a twenty-something stoner who lived for the sport that I don't need his crappy rental Salomons for the week.

The following morning (day 1 of skiing), Jeremy and I boarded the gondola that swiftly rushed us up the mountain, and I clicked into those K2s with ease and anticipation.  I was ready to start on the nearest blue run I could find.  Why waste my time on a menial green?  Those were for "beginners."  Off I went!  I was a little surprised to find moguls on the first blue I encountered, but by God, I got this.

Then...uh oh, why aren't these skis turning with the ease and smoothness I remember?  I proceeded to make my way down the mountain with arms and legs flailing, much like that of a cat being submerged in a bathtub of tepid water against its will.  I'm not sure what took more of a beating--my out-of-shape, 32-year old body or my overinflated ego.  Either way, I realized with resentment that (sigh) Mom and Dad were right.  I rushed into this decision with reckless abandon.  Now I have to unload $700 worth of ski equipment on some other unsuspecting sap with delusions about her own skiing ability.  Well (insert colorful expletive here).

I rarely admit that my parents were right--and certainly not in a public forum such as this blog.  It's amazing what a $700 "live and learn" experience can do to break one's will.  If there hadn't been such a sizable chunk of money invested in those damn skis, I would have offered them to a random baggage handler at the airport for a measly hundred bucks just so I wouldn't have to cart those bulky SOBs home only to have them mock me while resting in the storage closet upstairs.

I honestly hope to make at least some of my money back on those wretched skis, which I can then turn into a pair or two of shiny new shoes.  I'll surely get more use out of those anyway.  Besides, I'm willing to endure physical pain for an accessory that makes me at least look good--unlike those clunky Robocop ski boots that pinch my toes in places I wasn't even aware I had nerve endings!

In the meantime, if anyone is interested in buying a pair of hardly-used, high-fashion skis, I will make you a GREAT price.  I guarantee you're gonna love 'em!













Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Child-Proofed Society

halloween-candy

When I was a kid, the day following Halloween consisted of dumping the contents of my plastic orange pumpkin on the living room floor and eating mini Butterfinger after mini Snickers until every last piece was gone…or until I felt sick (whichever came first).  Of course, I would be sure to first pick out the Almond Joys and any other gross candy I could pawn off on Dad–including those orange and brown wrapped peanut butter candies that NO KID EVER ATE.  Why do they still sell those??  Anyway, I look back on my past Halloween memories with fondness and nostalgia–and also with a bit of a sweet tooth!
I was disturbed to discover recently that my mom’s friends carefully monitor the candy intake of their kids and after a few pieces, toss the remaining treats in the trash.  Oh, the horror!  All that perfectly good sugar gone to waste–not to mention the $30 or $40 each household shelled out to stock up on said treats.  Now I’m all for preventing your kids from running amok and eating everything in the house (are you aware of the ridiculousness that is childhood obesity in this country??).  However, can’t we reserve a single day of the year to let kids indulge their desires until they puke?  I started thinking about how much has changed since I was a kid in the early 80s.  (Pause for a moment as I climb up here on my soapbox.)  Hello, down there.  So as I was saying, it’s amazing how times have changed in the past 20+ years.  When I played  tee ball as a kid, we kept score.  What a concept.  There was a winning team and a losing team, and no one gave a crap about how losing the game might affect our future self esteem.  So we all got to play regardless of our skills (we were three years old, after all–so we all pretty much sucked).  My point is, though, that no one tiptoed around our feelings by preventing us from failing.  There were three strikes and then you were out.  Period.  None of this “you get as many strikes as it takes” business.  My goodness, we would still be sitting in the bleachers at that ball field, waiting on some kid to finally make contact with the ball, perched atop the rubber tee.  How do I know this?  BECAUSE I STRUCK OUT.  Looking back on it now, I laugh at how I managed to strike out in tee ball.  What does that say about my eye-to-hand coordination that I couldn’t hit a stationary ball off a tee?  Even still, striking out at age three hasn’t hindered my adulthood success in any way.  If nothing else, it taught me that I am not going to achieve pro status at everything I try in life, but the point is to simply try.

tee ball

Whenever I visit my child-rearing friends’ houses, I can barely open the fridge or a cabinet for all the child-proofing devices.  God forbid I need to plug in my iphone to charge because I’d first have  to remove the protective cover to the electrical outlet.  Please don’t mistake me–I believe in protecting kids from danger.  I wouldn’t allow my unborn children to play with matches or juggle knives, but I do  think we’ve taken protective practices a tad bit too far.  You may find it interesting to know that I once stuck a metal key in an electrical outlet when I was about two or three years old.  It shocked the $#&* out of me, but you know what?  I never did it again.  Live and learn.

child_proof_plug

You’ll be happy to know that I’m a strong proponent of seat belts.  In fact, I never ride in a car without mine buckled, but I find it interesting that many cars didn’t even come equipped with seat belts back in the day.  We would climb over our siblings in the backseat, all the while yelling and fighting on long road trips.  God bless my parents!  If I was feeling particularly bratty (oh, how I reveled in aggravating my big brother), I dared cross the unseen but very real “dividing line” in the backseat that was put in place to keep us from killing each other (and of course, to keep my parents remotely sane).
I also spent the better part of my childhood riding my bicycle up and down potholed-riddled streets, and not once did I don a goofy-looking bicycle helmet.  However, I’m yet to drive through my current neighborhood and cross paths with a child riding his/her bike helmetless.  I just feel like parents are overly protective of their children these days.  A child may fall off his/her bike, but chances are, they won’t sustain life-threatening injuries as a result of scrapes and scratches.  Such experiences and minor injuries help build character.
Perhaps someday, when I have my own children, I’ll be forced to eat these very words.  It’s possible I could become an overbearing, overprotective mama hen to my kids–the exact type that currently annoys me to no end.  But for now, my biggest personal concern is not raising a future generation of whiny, sissy kids that feel a sense of entitlement and demand an easy life with everything handed to them on a silver platter.  To the contrary, it’s keeping my dog, Charlie, from falling into the swimming pool.  But please know that, in order to prevent a potential drowning, I once threw him in the pool and forced him to become familiar with the tanning ledge step, should he fall in someday when we aren’t home.  He needs to know how to swim to the edge of the pool if an accident occurs.  You can’t teach a baby bird how to fly without pushing him out of the nest and forcing him to spread his wings.  It may be harsh, but it’s true.

Baby-Bird-Learning-to-Fly

Friday, September 6, 2013

Shoes, My Solemate



Much like the proverbial tree falling in the woods with no one around to hear it, I find myself wondering...if my fave department store holds a shoe sale and I'm unable to partake, did I really just lose out on hundreds in savings???  I pity the thought!

In case you know absolutely nothing about me at all, I will sum up my biggest downfall in a word: shoes. I know what you're thinking--all women love shoes, right?  Well, that's a fairly accurate blanket statement; however, I don't know many women who adore shoes to the extreme level that I, myself, do.  Some might say (more specifically, my mother) that my love affair with shoes borders on obsession.  To which I respond, "Po-TAY-to, po-TAH-to."  Call it what you will, but no label will deter me from my goal of accumulating pair after pair of  fabulous footwear to fill the shelves of my "pink room's" closet.  (That's right--my shoes have their very own home in my private, pink-walled, girly room upstairs).  Did you really think Jeremy would allow my strappy Calvin Klein sandals, Betsey Johnson platform wedges and  Guess studded stilettos to displace his raggedy T-shirts and worn-in Levi's, rendering them homeless?  Gasp.

But it's really okay.  I honestly don't mind the final step of getting dressed in the morning, which includes my ascension to the top of the stairs to select the "shoes of the day."  If it means I can have a whole closet dedicated solely to my footwear (pun intended), I'd likely trek across the state of Texas in 102-degree heat.  In all actuality, you should know that more often than not, my shoes determine my outfit.  Most of my wardrobe was acquired to match a pair of fabulous shoes I had already purchased (most likely on impulse).  Call it the "chicken vs. the egg" quandary if you will.  I, however, happen to know that the chicken came first---and so did my shoes.



I'm a firm believer that shoes can totally make the outfit.  I will subject myself to what others deem sheer torture as I stuff my feet into a pair of constrictive sandals that look like a device to force information from of a prisoner of war.  Some even call it sheer "shoe-pidity."  I, however, am willing to suffer the pain for the overall look of the ensemble because I simply don't believe in "sensible shoes."  Honey, we all know that if they don't hurt, they ain't worth wearing!  Repeat after me, "If the shoe hurts, it must be fabulous!"




The other day, my mom went out of her way to clip a newspaper article specifically for me.  The article was written by a podiatrist advising readers against wearing sky-high heels, lest they suffer future foot and back pain and require invasive surgery.  Evidently, the human body was not made to hold its weight on a 4-inch peg nor be forced to walk at an awkward angle.  Um, duh!  I already know this.  Did the article succeed in scaring me into flat shoes--or worse, shoes with a shorter, more sensible heel?  Of course not.  Much like the smoker knows the dangers of the cigarette or the sun worshiper knows the consequences of exposure to ultraviolet rays, the fashionista is acutely aware of the dangers associated with wearing high heels.  The truth is, we're all gonna die of something.  And frankly, I'd rather go looking stylish (instead of with blackened lungs and sunspots all over my face).  So the moral of this story is: there are worse vices to have.

Rather than avoid ridiculously tall and incredibly uncomfortable shoes, I embrace them.  In fact, I like to think of my shoes as my dear friends.  I love them, and in turn, they lift me up and offer me support.  Plus, they make me feel great about myself.  After all, isn't that what friends are for?  Do they hurt me at times?  Sure--but then again, what lifelong friend hasn't done his/her share of hurting us?  We never stop loving them despite their flaws.

So to any gentlemen reading this, please take note......the next time your girlfriend/wife emerges from the bathroom in a pair of absurdly tall high heels, don't you DARE say a word to her about practicality--even though you know at the end of the evening, she'll curse them for the pain they've caused and sweetly ask you for a foot rub.  Grin and bear it--and know she's making an effort to look sexy especially for you.

Also, the next time you shake your head as a woman dangerously teeters on 5-inch stilettos while slowly and carefully crossing an uneven parking lot, please slow down and allow her ample time to pass safely by.  That fall is a long way down.  You can think to yourself, "those high heels are ridiculous" if you want.  But I assure you in the same breath you'll also utter, "Damn, she looks good in those!"




Thursday, August 22, 2013

Under the Gunn

Each Saturday morning, you can find me curled up on the couch with my dog, Charlie, catching up on the previous Thursday-aired episode of Project Runway. Regrettably, I'm unable to watch it live as Jeremy is vehemently against my favorite show.  He can't stand all the drama, yet he watches Cops on a semi-regular basis. Hello, hypocrite!

Anywho, I'm thrilled that the current season has welcomed back Mr. Tim Gunn as the contestants' mentor (the All Stars version of the show excludes him, and is, in turn, quite lacking in appeal).  I would love to meet him someday.  In fact, Tim Gunn is one of my top choices for famous guests at a hypothetical dinner party.  Oh, the pressure to dress impeccably!

I admire his kindness, authenticity, immaculate style, and candor delivered in a tenderhearted tone.  He seems like a genuinely nice guy who is committed to helping each and every contestant deliver his or her best work. His trademark "make it work" mantra encourages contestants to rise above any challenges, whatever they may be, and press on to deliver a winning garment--or at least one that is indicative of their talent and personal aesthetic.

Tim doesn't hold back during his one-on-one critiques in the work room, yet he delivers constructive criticism in an honest manner that is not harsh or snarky (unlike some of the judges). While I don't always agree with the judges' opinions and criticisms, I often find myself nodding along as Tim imparts his wisdom and shares his thoughts and critiques with contestants. 

I can just tell that Tim is a total sweetheart with nothing but good intentions.  He's well spoken, stylish and polished, yet down to earth.  I'm fairly certain that if we were to meet in real life, he could easily become my BFF--and oh, what a shopping buddy he'd make!



Thursday, August 8, 2013

Grammar School

This blog post is a public service announcement brought to you by the grammar police.

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Specifically, it's geared toward those of you who happened to be home sick the day in second grade when the teacher explained the difference between your and you're and other various homophones. You obviously don't know who you are, or else I wouldn't be forced to go on public record with this information. 

Please take note....as Ross from Friends once stated to Rachel, "Y-O-U-R means your. Y-O-U apostrophe R-E means you are!"  I can't tell you how many times I've come across the incorrect versions of these words while reading various articles, social media posts and the like.  It literally makes me cringe.

Now I realize not everyone is as acutely aware of grammar rules as I am, and many others are not blessed with the gift of spelling (6th grade spelling bee champ here--holla!)  So please don't take offense at my schooling you on the subject.  I am a writer, after all.  Now before you attack me for my blunt approach, let me first say that others of us are mathematically challenged and have difficulty adding and subtracting without utilizing our fingers. (Guilty). 

**On a side note, I may struggle with addition and subtraction, but by golly, I can multiply like nobody's business...and I guarantee you the only reason for that is because Dad drilled me with those damn flash cards 'til I was blue in the face and tears were shed.  But it sure pays off when I'm shopping and need to calculate the 40% off sale in my head--thanks, Dad!

My point is...there are calculators for us math idiots; however, if you live in America and speak English, you SHOULD KNOW the basic spelling of everyday words and their appropriate uses.  Please pay attention and feel free to take notes if you must:

In addition to the your vs. you're conundrum, there is also the concept of distinguishing between to, too and two.  This is a BIG one. 


Example:

I am going to the store.

I am too tired to keep my eyes open!

I have two mosquito bites on my arm.


Get it right, people.  There's nothing that makes you look more ignorant than the misuse of these basic words.

Another example:

Does she live there?

Bob's Steak & Chop House is their favorite restaurant.

They're going to the mall this weekend.

I also have a problem with people who cannot seem to distinguish the difference between its and it's.  I realize that an apostrophe is typically used to show possession; however, with its, the standard happens to be opposite.  It's is a contraction of it is.

Final example:

The dog has a bone in its mouth.

I really hope it's not going to rain this weekend.


I realize that most people in this country read and write at a 5th-grade level.  That is just plain pathetic.  If you're a teacher, PLEASE for the love of God, enforce these grammar rules to the next generation, or else we're grammatically doomed.  Hooked on Phonics worked for me, but I'm afraid it didn't for most others...and now they don't even teach phonics in school anymore!  Ultimately, I'm just tired of reading Facebook posts that are incorrectly written. So as summer draws to an end and kiddos head back to school, please keep these grammar and spelling rules in mind.  If your kids can learn them, so can you!

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This concludes the public service announcement--please don't shoot the messenger.
 


Monday, July 15, 2013

Packing on the Pounds...Pound the Pavement!

A couple weeks ago, I stepped onto the scale (completely naked, of course, so as not to add the bulky weight of my t-shirt and boxer shorts) and the unexpected readout provoked me to shout, "You lying sonofaB*%#!" at which point, Jeremy looked at me like I was crazy.  I admit, I've always been a little obsessive about my weight--especially lately since I seem to have unknowingly gained a few pounds out of absolutely nowhere

I'm actually more perplexed than anything.  I thought back over the past month and decided I haven't really changed any part of my lifestyle.  I continue to eat (remotely) healthy and I'm just as inactive as I've always been, my medicine/vitamin regimen has hardly changed.  So how is it possible that these three or four pounds have come out of literally nowhere?  Have I reached the dreaded point in my life that my metabolism is starting to slow down?  Gasp.  But I've always had the metabolism of a high school boy!  Uh-oh.  I may be in trouble if, at age 32, my metabolic rate has, in fact, begun to slow.

You see, I absolutely hate exercise with every fiber of my being.  Sure, I take the stairs almost everyday at work and go on the occasional jog, but that doesn't seem to be cutting it anymore.  If you've not heard of the Smartphone app "My Fitness Pal," I warn you not to download it.  It is the devil!  It helps you track your daily caloric intake and counter it against your exercise routine.  All I have to say is "Ignorance is bliss!"  I used to make a meal out of Mexi-Dip and chips from Taco Bueno.  I always thought, "How unhealthy can that be?"  Well, thanks to this handy little app, I now know that such a "meal" is worth my DAILY ALLOWANCE of fat/calories.  My Fitness Pal is most definitely not my "pal."  Thanks to said app, I have become one of those people I hate...the ones that count calories and all but weigh their food and then keep a diary of everything consumed for the day. Although, I'm too lazy to continue such compulsive tracking, so I'll probably just keep that knowledge in the back of my mind.

Perhaps this recent fluctuation in weight should be more of an eye opener for me than an obsession.  I am just going to have to choose healthier options and make a concerted effort to turn of Dexter, get my lazy butt off the couch and get some physical activity.  If I only end up a few pounds heavier, big deal.  At least I'm still hovering around my high school graduation weight.  In all actuality, the scale's readout shouldn't define my overall health.  As long as I still fit into my clothes, I'm okay.  My biggest fear is not being able to fit into the TONS of clothes that fill my closet.  But at least I'll never outgrow all my shoes, so there's the silver lining.  Going forward, I just have to embrace a healthier lifestyle...and perhaps move our scale out from in front of the office window if I continue to weigh myself in the nude.