Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The thing about men and pants

The other day, we were sitting in the conference room eating lunch together, and a guy who works in another department walked in to say something to us. As he chatted for a few minutes, I noticed that he was wearing some nice jeans - the dark wash kind with a light stitching. I liked them. They were good jeans. If he had been a girl, I would have immediately told her I liked her jeans.

After he left, I turned to my co-workers and asked a question that I thought was perfectly normal to ask (read: I AM AWKWARD).

"Is it okay to compliment a man's pants?"

They stared at me, slightly horrified that it would even occur to me to do such a thing, and responded with a resounding "NO, THAT'S WEIRD."

This led to a discussion about why it was weird (men will take it wrong if you compliment their pants, apparently) and it made me sad for the world.

I mean, obviously, if I was all "Hey male co-worker, your butt looks great in those jeans," I realize that would be inappropriate. But why can't you say "Those are great jeans!" without implying "AND I ALSO WANT TO HAVE YOUR BABY!"?

I don't like living in a world where you can't compliment somebody's pants.

And even more, I don't like living in a world where men are afraid to compliment women for the same reason. My three male co-workers unanimously agreed that they would feel uncomfortable complimenting a woman on something she was wearing because she would likely think he was creepy or hitting on her.

What?

I have decided that we have two groups of people to blame for this:

1) Creepy guys who only compliment women to get them into bed (Is that all men? Please say no! Please say some men want to talk about your book!)

2) Women who overreact or over-interpret innocent compliments from men.

Women, in general, don't take compliments very well from anybody. Have you ever had to argue with a woman about a compliment you gave her? It's infuriating. Say "thank you," ladies, even if you don't agree with the complimenter. I know, it goes against a lot of our instincts to just say "thank you" instead of pointing out all the flaws that we see in ourselves. But that's what we should do. Practice it right now. "Thank you!" See? Was that so hard?

So, yeah, I have to think we're partially at fault for this lack of compliments. I've heard of male friends who held doors for women and been chastised because "I CAN OPEN A DOOR MYSELF." And yeah, we burned our bras for this whole equality thing, but I'm not going to lie, I like it when my husband stands up on a bus for women or opens doors for me. I can do all of these things myself (I am woman! HEAR ME ROAR!), but you know, chivalry is nice too.

Maybe chivalry didn't just die; maybe we MASSACRED IT with our insistence on pushing people away at the slightest show of special respect or attention from men.

I don't know, really.

But what I do know is that Owen said he is afraid to compliment women even though he thinks it would be nice to be able to innocently do so.

And that's when I quoted Gandhi. In conversation.

"Be the change you want to see in the world!" I urged him. GOLD STAR FOR MANDY.

I think that's when he shook his head and walked away. I don't think I quite got through to this particular group of guys.

Oh well. I'll be that change I want to see in the world. I'll go ahead compliment your pants, gentlemen.

But just know - it's not because I want to get in them.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

And then he laughed out loud

Jack, in the parking lot at Men's Warehouse: "Come on, Mandy, let's go inside."

Me: "I don't want to go in yet."

Jack (jokingly): "WOMAN. You'd better come right now."

Me (also jokingly): "I DO WHAT I WANT! DO YOU WANT TO FIGHT!?"

Jack: "Alright, Crawford, let's go. I'll fight you."

Jack starts walking toward me, and I start backing up.

Jack: "If you want to fight so much, why are you backing up?"

Me: "Because I need a lot of room to KICK. YOUR. AAAAAAAASSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!"*

I don't know what he thought was so funny about that.


--

Dear Mandy's Work, I did not really say "ass." And if I did, it's only because we've been reading the Bible every night and they say "ass" a lot in there. And it's the CHILDREN'S Bible. So, it doesn't count as a bad word, mmmk?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Eric's Question

"What do you think you're really, really good at? Like, probably better than anybody you know at?"

My friend Eric asked me this question on Monday.

I didn't quite know what to say.

I mean, obviously the first word that popped into my head was "RIVER-DANCING!" but after the river-dancing, it was a difficult question to answer.*

Because the thing is, I don't do most things long enough to become better than anybody else at them. I go in cycles where I need to do something until I burn myself out on it (See also: couponing). I do come back to it eventually, but I haven't quite perfected any one thing because of this, I think.

I ended up sitting there silently stumped for a few moments, and then (heaven help me) I quoted my dad to him, who always says "life is a collection of experiences." And I have been collecting.

I'm learning to sew. I have gotten good enough to sew fancy little camera strap covers and make curtains and pillows and alter dresses and hem pants and things. Most people my age can't do that.

I am loving learning to cook. Thank you, Pioneer Woman. And thank you, pretty kitchen that I want to be in all the time. I've made some dishes I can be proud of now, and I'm always getting better.

I'm getting better at photography. Partially because it's a part of my job, but mostly because I love documenting memories. That's the point of all of this blogging, tweeting, and scrapbooking, really. I love documenting memories.

I'm a good editor. I make things they put on the radio, so I must be good enough. I know many technical things and can talk super-nerdy about storage solutions and RSS feeds and the proper way to coil an XLR cable and which DSLRs are on the market right now and the ridiculousness of Final Cut Pro X. I'm really good at figuring out how to automate things using technology. I am willing to work hard, and I know my way around a studio just as much as the boys do. I kind of like that about myself.

I know musicals inside and out and so, so appreciate live theater. And even though I can't sing, I can quote and reference most any Broadway Musical you throw at me. That's probably not really all that important of a trait in the scheme of things, but it does fall under the "things Mandy is good at" category, so I'm counting it.

I feel like I finally "get" fashion. Not that I can afford the things I want, or that I'm always dressed right, but you know, I'm at the age where I at least understand what looks good and what doesn't and I just don't give a crap what people think about me anymore as long as I feel good in what I'm wearing. I like this age.

I'm good at managing money. I'm good at staying within budgets and saving, but I also know how to spend the money I need to to enjoy life. I think that's important.

I can make pretty things out of not much of anything, really. I've always enjoyed scrapbooking, cardmaking... creating anything really. It makes me feel relaxed and loved and centered.

I don't care what people think most of the time. I have a self-deprecating sense of humor and I think that's probably healthy. I am a ridiculously bad dancer, but I do it anyway. I am awkward and silly and nerdy and I think that's just fine.

In some ways, I'm a really good wife. I get excited about making dinner for my husband, and I make sure we have the things we need in the house, like batteries and light bulbs and toothpaste. I think ahead and always remember to bring his phone charger on trips when he forgets it. I make him laugh, and I try to tell him often that I'm proud of him and how much I truly adore him. Our relationship is far from perfect, but I do some things right.

I can communicate clearly through writing, which I think is an incredibly important asset to have, especially for a person of my generation. I love to tell stories in writing, and hopefully, people think I'm as funny as I think I am.

I try to make other people feel good as much as possible. I don't hold back compliments and I hardly ever forget birthdays of friends or anniversaries of close friends' loved ones' deaths. I do my best to let others know they are important.

I'm good at getting things done behind the scenes for our business. I'm efficient and useful at Whatever-My-Title-Is at our karate school, and I like to think I improve it with my web design and bookkeeping and office work and marketing. Or, at least, I improve Jack's quality of life by relieving some of the pressure for him at work (see point above about sometimes being a good wife).

I am really good at raising money for the MS Society. I lead my BikeMS team as best I can, and I am absolutely shameless when it comes to asking for money to cure my mom's disease. (You can donate here. See? Shameless!)

I don't know if I can answer Eric's question, really. At least, I can't answer the part about what I'm doing that's better than anyone else. But I can answer the first part at least. Those are some of the things I'm good at.

And really, it was a nice question for him to ask. Because it's probably a good exercise for everyone, especially women, to think about sometimes. We spend a lot of time thinking about what is wrong with us, and God made us into pretty fantastic people in so many different ways. It's nice not to focus on our faults sometimes.

So, now it's your turn.

What are you really, really good at?


--

*No, I've never river-danced. Let me just remind you what happened the last time I was near a river, okay? There will be no dancing in this place.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

You're not from around here, are you?

Today I was walking into the grocery store after work when I happened to notice a man opening up the hood of his car a few spaces away from where I parked.

"Awwww maaaan!" he said to himself as he fiddled with the battery. I stopped walking and glanced over.

"Do you need a jump?" I asked.

He whipped around and stared at me, wide-eyed and open-mouthed.

Like, stared for a long time.

An awkward amount of time.

I started to worry that I had said something weird. Maybe he was taking it dirty or something. Maybe I shouldn't ask random men if they want a jump.

"Like, for your battery?" I continued, slowly, after many awkward, silent seconds. "Of your car?"

After another moment he finally snapped out of his stupor.

"You would DO that!?" he gushed.

"Uh, yeah, it's no problem," I said, eyeing the car in between my car and the guy's car, "though I'm not sure if the jumper cables will stretch that far, so we may need to get this car to move..."

"I just... can't believe you would do that!" he said again, extending his hand and introducing himself. Did he think I was offering something very different than I was? He didn't seem as concerned with the logistics as I was.

"No worries," I said again. "So how do you want to..."

"Do you want a beer?" he asked, gesturing back to his non-working car. "I just bought some cold Bud Light."

"Uh, no, I'm good, thanks," I replied. Let's just open one right up in the grocery store parking lot, shall we?

Just then, another guy came out of a store in the shopping center, who, thankfully, knew Beer Guy. They started talking, and then Just-Came-Out-Of-The-Store Guy said he would make sure Beer Guy got all set up, so thanks for the offer but they wouldn't need my help after all.

Beer Guy shook my hand one more time and thanked me profusely again. As I walked away, I heard him telling Just-Came-Out-Of-The-Store Guy about the AMAZING turn of events in which SOMEBODY OFFERED TO GIVE HIM A JUMP WHEN HIS CAR DIED(!!!!!)

Uh... ooookay.

"Man, it was crazy! Nobody would have EVER stopped and helped when I lived in L.A.!" he gushed.

And then it all made sense. His crazy, crazy stare when I first asked. His copiously thanking me and even offering a [weird] gift in exchange for this CLEARLY OVER-THE-TOP offer.

He's not from around these parts.

Well, you are not in Los Angeles anymore, sir. Welcome to Dallas.

Welcome to Dallas.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Intense

Today was intense.

INTENSE.

For so many reasons.

But one of the ridiculously good reasons it was intense is because my friend Erin asked me if I wanted "a few pairs of jeans" she was getting rid of since we're the same size and we're both tall.

"Sure!" I replied. "Thanks for thinking of me!"

And then she brought in a TRASH BAG FULL OF JEANS.

I mean, you guys, a trash bag.

(I just heard Sara's heart go pitter-pat all the way from Iowa.)

And this girl? Buys really nice stuff.

The bag of pants stared at me all day. I was dying to open it up and try them all on.

And then I went to work at the karate school after work.

So I had to wait even longer.

I MEAN. TORTURE.

But I just got home. And I opened the bag. AND YOU GUYS.




NINE PAIRS.

And they all fit perfectly.

Like I said.

Today was intense.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

In which I do not put my hands down my pants at work

A bug flew down my pants today at work.

And the thing is, I was sitting in my office talking to my two male co-workers, so as soon as I felt the cold, hard bug (Probably a cricket! They're everywhere in this office!) hit my lower back, I thought, "Stay calm. STAY CALM. You cannot react to this. I repeat: YOU CANNOT PUT YOUR HAND DOWN YOUR PANTS RIGHT NOW."

Evidently the guys saw me immediately straighten up in my chair, eyes wide, because both of them looked at me quizzically and asked what was wrong.

"Uhhhh..." I began, inwardly freaking out that A BUG JUST FLEW DOWN MY PANTS AND I CAN'T GET IT OUT BECAUSE I AM ENTIRELY TOO PROFESSIONAL TO DANCE AROUND WITH MY HAND DOWN THE BACK OF MY PANTS AT WORK.

I mean, that's not all that high of a professional standard to set for yourself, really. Hands not in pants? CHECK. Am professional!

But, you know, A BUG! A BUG IS IN MY PANTS!

Oddly, it wasn't moving, so a thought popped in my head as I was trying to figure out what to tell the two confused men in my office. I felt around the ponytail in my hair and noticed that one of the bobby pins that I had placed there this morning was now absent.

And then I PRAISED THE LORD because there was no bug. A bobby pin had fallen out of my hair and down my (now loose because I am so skinny! I don't wash them every time I wear them and they stretch out) pants.

But by that point, I still had to tell my co-workers what had happened - that there was a bobby pin down the back of my britches. Which... was awkward.

But I'm still going to count that as a professional and personal win.

Because (and you can file this under "lessons I never thought I'd learn at work"), admitting there's a bobby pin down your pants at work is better than having a bug fly down your pants and being caught trying to get it out.

And now I know.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Master Stapler

I have a new schedule.

It will, of course, solve all of my problems and stress. Because that's what new schedules do. New schedules are full of hope and structure and magic.

It's one of the many things that I have decided will simplify my life and relieve my stress. Along with:


  • Carrying a smaller purse (Less clutter!), 
  • Making a meal plan and shopping ahead of time (Dinner? No problem! I planned ahead because I am super-wife! HEAR ME ROAR!), 
  • Paying with a debit card or cash (No credit card bill coming this month! Weee!), 
  • Talking about serious subjects to friends via awkward word vomit (I'm an open book, ladies and gentlemen!),
  • Listening to the Bible on the way to work in the morning (I mean, LISTENING to it! Like an audiobook! WHO KNEW!?), 
  • And of course, refusing to be mad about anything at work (It's just work! It's not life!)


Of course, all of this has lasted about a week and a half, and yes, that week and a half was blissful and all, but you know,


  • I'm not taking as many pictures when my purse doesn't fit my DSLR (sad), 
  • We're out of milk so maybe I'll skip tonight's meal (and we can't even have cereal! Because, no milk!), 
  • Really I just haven't had time to find my new credit card (did I mention I lost my credit card overseas? Am responsible!) 
  • I am so not mature enough for serious conversations sans joking around and ruining it (also, talking about feelings makes me panic. See? Panic. That's a feeling. I'm growing.),
  • That data connection for the audio bible app goes in and out in the car so I will probably die in a car crash trying to reload it someday, 
  • And, you know, not much is happening at work to be mad at yet.


But the new schedule! Will surely stick. And will be the secret to my happiness for sure. Hope! Structure! MAGIC!

Part of this new schedule of mine includes working at the taekwondo school after work a few times a week, which may sound like more work and stress (it is!) but I think it'll actually relieve some of the time I usually spend working (it probably won't!) by allowing me to get everything done those evenings and having the rest of the week for myself (I'll find more things to do!)

So Jack has been training me in areas of bookkeeping (Man, there are a lot of k's and e's in that word! Look! Look at all the k's and e's!) and data entry and all the other Things Which Keep the School Running (which in turn keeps me eating and buying pretty things like shampoo).

It has been... fun. My husband? He is good at what he does. He is an excellent teacher. He is an excellent salesman. He makes really good burritos. And he is one of the kindest people I know.

But learning this job from him? Reminds me of um, how very different God made us!

You see, he is a details person. As in "open this dialog box and type the student's name, then change the date in this box and then type a four in this box and then check this box and save it by pressing these keys."

I? Am a "big picture" person. Because in the meantime I'm like, "Oh hey, what are we doing here? Bookkeeping? Is this an invoice? Are we entering an invoice?"

It is an interesting experience.

Especially when he is so detailed about the things he does that, had I been teaching somebody in that manner, I would have been incredibly condescending.

"Now, you're going to staple these two pieces of paper together. To do this, you will line up the front and back pages, making sure you line up the very edges and the corner, and then you will reach into your drawer, grab the stapler, and put a staple in the top right corner of the two papers, making sure that it is completely straight and not at all angled."

(THAT WAS A DIRECT QUOTE FROM YESTERDAY.)

(See also: HE HAS THE CRAZY.)

I'm keeping my mouth shut (as a good wife should!) because I know this is how he thinks and it's really not condescending at all coming from him, and really, when it comes down to it, I am getting ALL of the information I will need (and then some).

Plus, by the end of this training? I'm going to be a Master stapler.

Just like him.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

She got a donkey

So, they have this thing they do in Santorini.

Well, wait, I should rephrase that. They have this thing the tourists do in Santorini.

You see, Santorini is built on a big 'ol cliff over the ocean, like so:



See also: Mandy still hasn't bothered getting real pictures from the external hard drive so you're still looking at cell phone pictures.

And when your town is built on a big 'ol cliff over the ocean, and it's 1821 or you are a character in "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants," I guess you take a donkey up the cliff.

So that's what we did. We took a donkey up a cliff.

Video evidence:



May I just say? I belong in the city. A city, preferably, where my primary (or secondary, for that matter) mode of transportation is not living. I'M NOT THE GIRL WHO SHOULD BE RIDING A DONKEY, IS WHAT I AM SAYING.

Of course, I got the suicidal donkey, who loved hugging the edge of that cliff any chance he got. 980 foot drop? YES, PLEASE! Hey, donkey friends! This'll be funny! Watch as I jump off this 980-foot cliff with this dumb city-girl on my back! HA! HA HA HA HA HA!! HAAA!

I guess he lost his nerve at some point, because we did indeed get to the top of the cliff without falling off, by the grace of God. Our little herd got there just before Eric, Owen, and Dusty's did, so I moved to the side and began to take pictures of them on their donkeys coming around the corner.

And that's when things went very, very wrong.

You know that phrase "what goes up must come down?" Evidently, it's true of donkeys. Because as I was standing there, trying to get the perfect shot of my stupid friends on their stupid donkeys, another herd came barreling down the hill on one side of me. Just as I was trying to move out of their way, I realized that Eric's group had caught up with me, going up the hill on the other side of me, trapping me in between the two herds of stampeding donkeys.

I reacted completely sanely and calmly, obviously, because I have such a great track record of that.

Oh wait, no, that doesn't sound like me.

No, I FREAKED THE HECK OUT as soon as I realized I was trapped between the two running herds.

I began running uphill through all kinds of fun things that had come out of donkeys earlier, trying to outrun Eric's group of donkeys, which I'm sure is definitely the thing you're supposed to do when you're about to be trampled by two herds of donkeys. "LOOK! SHE'S RUNNING UPHILL! LET'S ALL RUN TOO!"

I would get a little ahead and then more donkeys would come downhill, putting me right back in the middle of them again where I was sure I would either be trampled or pooped on; avoiding both was absolutely impossible. I began repeating "I'VE GOT TO GET OUT OF HERE!" over and over as I ran, which, surprisingly, did not magically remove me from the situation.

It wasn't super-productive, let me tell you. Also, if you freak out because you're being trampled by donkeys, your friends will make fun of you later.

Somehow, I made it out pretty much alive, albeit covered in donkey smell and, hmm, let's call it dirt. This was a great way to start the day in lovely Santorini.

While I'm of the belief set that every experience, good or bad, is a valuable one, and this was definitely something I'll remember?

I think I'll take the tram next time.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Five Minute Friday - Whole

It is a whole lot different from home here.

A whole lot less hot.

A whole lot prettier.

A whole lot more work.

A whole lot more fun.

A whole lot longer than I thought it would feel.

Because I miss my friend a whole lot too.

But he's picking me up from the airport on Tuesday night.

And that will be a whole lotta happy too.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Yesterday

Was here:



...and looked like this: