Memorial Day: Thank You to Our Military

Thank you, all.

Here in the States, Memorial Day weekend is usually celebrated with a cookout with family and friends. This is where people grill burgers and hot dogs and similar offerings and people bring cute cupcakes or pie and everyone sits down to eat at wood picnic tables outdoors while the children run around and play and men drink beer and the women…well, I don’t know what they chug, but some kind of cocktail or beer, too, I suppose. If they have to deal with their husbands and kids, as well as bring delectable yummies, they absolutely deserve some kind of libation.

Obviously I have attended zero Memorial Day cookouts. This is, to me, some kind of urban legend. I have heard of such things, but never actually experienced one. Or witnessed one. And I see it on tv, where companies flash their Memorial Day sales on the screen interspersed with images of said family fun. Where are these gatherings? Do they still actually occur?

My gut instinct says that they do. And the strange thing is that in my opinion, Memorial Day really is more of a somber occasion than anything else because it is the day (and weekend) during which we honor and celebrate the sacrifices members of the military made for this country. I guess one could say that to enjoy life, in a way, confirms all that they have given up and done to continue our American lives, but this is also the time of year when I usually call people I know who have lost family members in combat to say, “I’m thinking of your X family member on this day, hope all is well.”

It is actually quite a serious holiday, to be sure. So in the midst of all the hoopla and sighs of relief from having time free from work, please remember that this weekend is really about giving a nod to all the people who have given their lives for us. They would all love us to enjoy our cookouts, I’m certain, but also appreciate a little bit of a shout-out.

So, have a great Memorial Day weekend guys!

Most Husbands Would Love Two Wives. Most Wives With One Husband Would Also Want Another Wife.

Dream on!!! Working, doing laundry, chatting on the phone, AND ironing at the same time?!!? Let’s see you try that.

Look at that picture above. Insane!! I don’t think anyone can do laundry, touch base on the phone with their friends and family, and type emails/work on documents AND iron while looking perfectly put together with a smile on their face all at the same time. And look at those books on the shelves. All the same height. Color coordinated. Matches her shirt.

Forget that shit, people!! Dream on! It would NEVER EVER happen. Just saying.

I’m pretty liberal when it comes to family dynamics. I’ve known people from all walks of the road. And in my opinion, if it works for you and you’re happy and healthy, good for you. So, hey, if you’re a man who actually has two wives, hooray for you! But let me tell you this: you will find it tough to find a triad where there is a woman with two husbands. I wouldn’t be in one. No way. My friends asked me, “Why?” to which I answered, “I had a tough enough time dealing with one husband, why would I want two? Are you crazy?”

Although women’s rights have come a long way, there are still some dynamics that stick to this day. And I’m not sure if they are going to fade anytime soon. Indra K. Nooyi, the CEO of PepsiC0, at the Aspen Ideas Festival back in 2014 stated that “I don’t think women can have it all. I just don’t think so. We pretend we have it all.” And I think that is absolutely true.

In my opinion, the surge of women empowerment in their professional careers came in the 70’s and 80’s. That period of time was essential to the advancement of women’s rights, without a doubt in my mind, because it paved the way for women to actually hold jobs without stigma in fields where we were not administrative assistants, nurses, teachers, flight attendants, and waitresses. Suddenly, it was acceptable to achieve to a standing in other fields, to strive to settle on an equal footing with our male counterparts on all levels of the corporate and executive ladder in a wide array of opportunities in the arts and sciences.

But then I think we were tricked somehow with movies like Working Girl and all the hype, where we were being told, “You can have it all!” No, no we can’t.

And if you think I’m a little housewife type, I’m not. I was raised by a mother who gave my sister and me a healthy dose of feminism at every turn. But I’m starting to suspect that we, as a species, have not evolved too far beyond the basic assumption that this is the man’s role in your typical family structure:

Here is food, cavewoman! I provide, you do the rest!

In this day and age, we women are usually expected to contribute financially to the household (because now we’re all equal, right?), but it seems like we’re still shouldering most of the household chores as well, such as cooking, cleaning, doing the laundry, washing dishes, grocery shopping, keeping an eye on everyday spending, acting as the primary caregiver for the children, straightening up knick-knacks around the house, and all the usual.

Unless you are lucky and earn enough to hire a cleaning service or nanny or personal assistant, to do all that with a full-time job is not easy, people. Actually, pretty much impossible, if you also want to spend quality time with your family without tiredly collapsing onto the sofa or into bed. And let’s not forget, pay attention to your man. You know what I mean.

I’m not saying that men don’t pitch in more than they used to compared to, say, in the 1950s. My boyfriend, John, does most of the laundry because I suck at it; I tend to leave clothes in the washer and then forget to transfer them to the dryer so have to run another cycle when I realize that they’ve been a sodden mess for two days. He also goes grocery shopping from time to time and happily volunteers to grill. But I would say that I do the majority of the household stuff, not only because I have a flexible schedule and can work from home often, but also because he has more of an “I am man” attitude. It’s sexy in the bedroom, to be sure, but not always with the day-to-day stuff.

I believe he’s not unique in this regard. Sure, most men SAY that they’re all about gender equality, but they say it as in, yes, of course we accept women as equals in the workforce and that they should be accorded the same legal rights, not in the let’s divide all the daily chores 50-50 irregardless of gender norms! Because, ultimately, what unfolds is that there are still mainly male vs. female chores or responsibilities that seem to fall onto one side or the other of the gender divide.

I’m not playing the blame game. I believe that most of us would like to say that we can, without bias, allocate household activities without internally referring to some prevailing social structures. But as a whole, I don’t think we’re there yet. As referred to in a previous blog entry, I like it when John does manly things for me. Such as install a handrail next to the front steps of our house. Or try to figure out what’s wrong with my car (many, many things). Or tug playfully on my apron strings while I’m cooking dinner.

I also like to prepare meals for him; it’s domestic in a way I never experienced in my childhood (we had a housekeeper who cooked our meals while my mother worked). Sometimes I even chase him out of the kitchen while waving a wooden spoon. And yes, there are times I like to play the housewife (until I slide into periodic fits of rebellion).

But, even without a child, I sometimes feel as if there is a lopsided allocation of chores that are within vs. outside of the home. And I’m not sure how to resolve that or actually if there is anything to “resolve”. Except, as the title of this post suggests, I think everything would be much, much easier for me (us) if I (we) had another wife.

We could share chores and run errands simultaneously! She could be a clone of me!

But…maybe not as surly. Perhaps more obedient? And nice? If so, this person would not be my clone, it would have to be someone else entirely. I don’t know what that says about me.

It kind of just is the way it is, I guess, and all of us have to figure out a way to make it work the best for us. It’s just frustrating, to hear about how women and men can “have it all” when we actually, really can’t. Because if we could, we would all wish to win the lottery and pay a staff to cater to us and travel the world. THAT, my friends, is having it all. No work and all play.

Okay, some work, at least for me, because I don’t want my brain to rot. But you know what I mean.

Big Hello, My Alaska Readers

Hey Alaska! Stay true!

My site stats tracker is telling me that I have a (very small) readership in Alaska. This is probably due to one of my previous posts about the summer I spent in the state, back when I was in college and much more idealistic and thought that I could actually hack it there full-time. This was way before all those reality tv shows such as Deadliest Catch or Alaskan Bush People. What I knew about Alaska was mainly gleaned from books and research and as I stated before, it stirred my imagination and yearning for an independent, solitary life.

For those who have never been to Alaska, let me tell you right now, as a brief visitor many years ago, it is pretty awesome. The communities I came across were tight, but in a good way. Close. I have never been in a state where I could simply wave down a public bus on its route, regardless of whether I was at an official stop, and the bus would actually stop. Or let people off whenever they pulled the cord or simply shouted to the driver, “Right here!”. Or where so many pedestrians hitchhiked and cars would pick them up. Especially where I was staying, in Fairbanks, where it would rain at least once a day (only around 10-15 minutes each time), cars would often slow down to allow those being rained on to climb in (which happened to me).

I remember distinctly during one of my one-night stays at a cottage (it wasn’t a B&B, it was one of those stopover residences) on my way to one of the national parks, everyone staying there was sitting down to eat the dinners they had brought.

One of the guys said that he and his son have been hiking the Appalachian trail and his son had just veered off on his own so he was continuing solo. He unwrapped his aluminum foil-wrapped meal which revealed about ten hard boiled eggs, one neatly nestled next to the other forming an entire roll.

He sighed. “I’m so tired of eggs. But they keep so well.”

“I have two ham sandwiches,” a woman said. “I’ll trade you one sandwich for two eggs.”

The man said immediately, “Done!” They happily chowed down as I ate my sad PB&J (I was on a pretty tight budget, obviously).

I was reminded of those school lunches where kids examined each others’ lunchboxes to see what they could swap. It was endearing, reminiscent of a time when communal good nature still existed. Unlike many places I’ve been, almost all the people I met who lived in Alaska exuded a sense of trust or a togetherness that I’ve never experienced anywhere else here in the States.

People there looked out for one another and had not only a pride of being Alaskans, but being residents of their individual cities or towns. And although they looked askance at tourists and people from “the Outside”, it was well deserved, since those like me arrived with a romantic vision of what life there was like versus how it actually was (oh, bears! Nature! Glorious landscapes! Frontier living!). It can be a tough life there, where only the hardy and handy survive and thrive. But it was also a place where people always seemed to lend each other a helping hand in order to do so.

So, hello to my Alaska readers! I hope you guys are continuing to have fun in those perpetual daylight summers and nighttime winters and enjoying life in a very unique and special state.

I Am Free From Political and Economic News!! (For Now)

One of the best things about my move and associated crazy activities is that I have had zero time to read any news. Which means that I am currently completely ignorant of what is happening in the U.S. and the rest of the world.

This would typically bother me, but with all the insanity that has been happening with the global politics and economy and depressing stories of terrorist attacks, I have to admit that it has been a relief to have a valid reason to be oblivious to what is occurring outside the small bubble of my world. I’ve been busy moving dishes, kitchen utensils, clothes, shoes, books, bathroom accessories, and so on and so on and therefore have an irrefutable reason to not be tuned into what are the hot button topics of each day’s news cycle.

Of course, I still hear about them from friends and colleagues, but I am able to, like a child, plug my ears with my fingers and say “la la la la, I don’t hear you! I’m busy right now!” and get away with it. I am like these bunnies:

Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil, See No Evil! Yay!!

All the troubles of the world and our actions as Americans have been temporarily lifted from my shoulders (and mind). Even though I have been stressing about my “to do” task list, I’ve been appreciating the fact that I am focusing on something that is more personal and dear to me than what the leaders of countries are doing. These deliverables may seem trivial to some, but it reminds me that at the end of the day, what matters is what I come home to.

Refinancing Sucks Ass!!

I am refinancing my mortgage to free up some cash to make renovations to my home. I refinanced a few years ago during my divorce since apparently, for no discernible reason to me whatsoever, I can add someone to the title of my house with very few issues, but to remove the same individual takes a whole lot more work. Such as refinancing. So I have gone through this process now twice within the last five years.

And let me tell you, it SUCKS. The stupid lenders ask for a gazillion documents and ask you a whole bunch of – to put it honestly – somewhat offensive questions such as whether or not you are actually being honest with your finances and that the underwriters are wondering if you will be able to make the mortgage payments since there is no certainty that you will be making the money that you are now for the foreseeable future.

DUH. I mean, even I don’t know if I will be earning the salary that I am making now for the foreseeable future. That’s called LIFE, people, but apparently after the crazy subprime/MBS crisis that occurred about ten years ago, suddenly the banks are conservative and responsible. But what is a person to do? I need the cash to make renovations and all I see is that I am adding another X number of years to my mortgage plan, which is not fun.

All that money! Not mine. Totally the bank’s. Bastards.

I mean, I have a fantastic credit score, I’ve been gainfully employed my entire adult life, but apparently that counts for very little in the eyes of the lenders. No, they want to know every detail. During my last refinancing, Wells Fargo told me that the underwriters wanted to know exactly how I secured the X number of dollars to buy out my ex. “What do they care?” I remember asking, “It’s there in the bank, I could have earned it walking the streets.”

Wells Fargo was not amused.

Now here I am, undergoing the entire process again and answering questions about my tax returns and W2s and XYZ when I’ve never defaulted on a loan or had any of my credit cards cut off or been flagged as an “undesirable” by any bank. Why do they make it so hard for someone like me who has a pretty decent track record of financial responsibility? I don’t get it. Really.

Hey Guys! I’m Moving!

Yay!!! Wah!!!

I am going through some emotional, crazy shit right now!!!

That’s right, people. I’m moving from my beloved city of Baltimore to Woodstock (basically Ellicott City) to Howard County, home of the Maryland Stepfords. Which is why I haven’t been posting any entries recently and probably why I will be posting infrequently for the next couple weeks.

My boyfriend, John, and I are officially moving in together. We are behaving as if we are actual adults. Which we are. Technically.  We’ve been living together for a year or so now after he moved into my place, but this next step…I mean, we are moving into a brand new place TOGETHER. It will be our home TOGETHER. I love John dearly and deeply, but I have to say that this move is somewhat traumatic for me.

If you haven’t been able to tell already, I’m a huge commitment-phobe. I don’t mean it in the sense that I don’t like to commit to one person, it’s more that I hyperventilate and feel all suffocated at the idea of committing to a life path. My whole life then appears to unfold before me, predetermined, with one milestone after another already laid out.

For example, I’ve always shied away from the whole idea of finding The One, having the requisite 2.5 kids, Labradors, neighbors who shout over the white picket fence with phrases such as “How are you doing, Jim?” answered with “Great, Bob!”, and worrying about how I should wear the appropriate shoes with my outfit.

I know almost nobody actually has that kind of life. An ex of mine wanted it and as we became serious (and he spoke of potentially going into politics), I would sometimes wake up in the middle of the night sweating because I would have these nightmares of me floating in the perfect dress with my perfect hair and perfect makeup and say inane crap like, “Daaahling, you MUST try the canapés, they are divine!!! Piper Calhoun recommended this caterer, you know who she is, she is married to Dane, of the Connecticut Calhouns, she is so sweet, and the caterer is simply marvelous!!”

As if people still serve canapés anymore. But that’s beside the point.

In my mind and heart, I know most of the people living in Ellicott City aren’t like that. I’ve met many people who have lived or live there who are genuine, down-to-earth people. And it’s a great area, it really is. So my fear of Stepfordness is an extremely small part of the stress I’m undergoing now.

Most of it is attributable to the my sadness at leaving the place I have called home since boarding school. I always considered the town it was located in my hometown since I never felt safe or secure in the home I was raised in. I attended Hopkins and hated Baltimore at first, but after I graduated and stayed here and bought my own place and got to know the city, I finally felt like I had a place that I could call my home. A safe haven that nobody could take away from me. A place to which I could always return.

So as I’m packing up my things, sneezing and wheezing from the dust and sniffling at my mementos, I am mourning the fact that I will be moving from my home, even though I am excited to be creating a new one in the next stage of my life. Therefore, bear with me a little while, readers, while I wax nostalgic about the world I am leaving behind and stressing out. I’ll get back to writing on a regular basis soon.