Anything but pedestrian

It may not take a genius to sit in quiet contemplation while staring at a body of water; but you may be one for taking that time to do so. I think that Nigerian-American writer Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu said it best when she said that she, “go(es) to the ocean to calm down, to reconnect with the creator, to just be happy.” Ever since I can remember, I have had a love affair with the ocean. I would surf the waves when I was a teenager and the older that I get, the more I love just staring at the endless waves, cascading on the sandy shore. Being from Eastern North Carolina definitely has its perks because in my opinion, the beaches are some of the most beautiful in the world. But the beaches are not the only place that has been a place of quiet contemplation.

I have mentioned before that my parents house was built 50 yards from a creek that is a tributary to the Northeast Cape Fear River. This creek connected to another small tributary that flows from a wetland area south. These tributaries met behind my parents house and the smaller tributary had a small waterfall. Over the banks of the small creek lied a huge fallen oak tree. I would sit with my back against this tree for hours listening to the sounds of the waterfall and watching a beautiful aspect of nature. There was nothing pedestrian about the situation. The sensory overload was anything but lackluster. This spot in the middle of a wooded area was my secret oasis; my serenity. I would grow older and hurricanes would tame the landscape as they saw fit. Water erodes. Trees fall down and rot. The spot does not look the same anymore but there are other spots that I frequent to try to find a break from the mundane.

On the banks of the Hollands Shelter Creek (a tributary of the Northeast Cape Fear River) sits Hollands Shelter Creek Restaurant. My family took me there when I was a kid and now that I have a kid of my own; we enjoy taking him. Daniel has always been fascinated with the river that flows by the seafood restaurant, so it seems only logical that his favorite place to go is to sit on the dock on the river, eat some ice cream and hopefully spot an alligator.

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A new Grainy Orange Drink

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If you were a child of the 80s, you will remember that Metamucil commercial where the guy takes a spoon full of the orange flavored granules and mixes it until it looks like the delicious drink that it ‘should’ be. Well there was a time that I guess that I missed seeing that commercial.

I remember being in love with Tang and Country Time lemonade when I was a kid. I would take spoon fulls of mix them in the tap water at my grandparent’s house on the hot summer days that I would spend with them. One summer in my youth, I remember seeing a new type of ‘orange flavored’ granule on the counter of my grandparent’s kitchen. I got out my favorite octagonal shaped glass, filled it with tap water and began to mix in the new orange flavored granule. It wasn’t as delicious as Tang but when you are thirsty, it wasn’t that bad. I must have left a small amount of residue on the counter after I had created my mixture because she immediately became inquisitive. She asked my cousin, who said that I had made the mess but the mess was not what was on my grandmother’s mind.

She asked how many spoonfuls that I had used and I reluctantly answered, ‘two’. She walks over to the phone to call my mother at work and I hear a chuckle from my mom on the other end a stern ‘it ain’t going to be funny to him in a little while’. I thought I was about to get a spanking due to using this new orange drink without permission but boy was I wrong. I realized what my grandmother meant by ‘I’d know in a little while and I will spare you any details of the pain and bathroom agony that ensued for the rest of the day. All I know is that it will still be a cold day in Hell before I drink Metamucil…or a really constipated day in hell rather.

via Daily Prompt: Grainy


Images: Metamucil advertisement Photo Source is the National Cancer Institute and company of ownership is copyright owner, fair use.

“I don’t think I can parent today.” Guilty as charged.

Father_and_son_surf_lesson_in_Morro_Bay,_CA.jpgI was sending silly Snapchat videos back and forth with one of my best friends yesterday, like we usually do; and he, in jest, said that he was so tired after his day of work that he didn’t know if he could parent anymore today. He was on his way to pick up his daughter up from preschool and he was hoping that she wasn’t going to be too hyper when she got home because he was just plain tired. SO should we as parents feel guilty about…well…about being tired?

IMG_0284Daniel decided that he didn’t want to play baseball this year. He has usually been a three athlete kid but he decided that he wanted to concentrate on two sports instead of three. We respected his decision and have been patiently waiting for Football season to start. As the baseball season has been in full swing, I have noticed all of my Facebook friends talking about how tired they are from working all day and then flying down the road to get kids and drag them to this practice or that next game. So why do I feel guilty about being happy of his decision not to play baseball? We as parents are conditioned to believe that we have to do everything for our children and be happy about it…or we are bad parents. You feel as if there is something wrong with you if you really just don’t want to watch another episode of Spongebob Squarepants.
Yesterday, Daniel was following me around reading his new video game magazine and
all he wanted to do was tell me about a contest that they were advertising in the magazine. We had just walked in the door and between changing clothes to head to the gym and talking to my wife, I had yet to even take a breathe to relax. I lost my cool and told him to ‘please stop talking about video games for 5 seconds’. To a 12 year old, who was excited to talk to his dad about something that he is passionate about, it crushed him. I immediately felt the guilt and my face flushed red and I could feel myself welling up with tears. His unhappiness is the last thing in the world that I would want…and I know that I am not the only parent who just wants 5 seconds to chill. I want to tell you that you are not alone. Well moms and dads, here are some things to NOT feel guilty for but it may be a topic that you need to address.

Guilty as Charged:

  1. Yelling – I’ve done it. You’ve done it. According to Devra Renner, co-author of the book Mommy Guilt, says that yelling is the one thing that that was the #1 thing that all of the 1,300 women that she interviewed for her book revealed to be the thing that caused them to feel the most guilty. Some parents have elevated levels of communication. That’s just how they roll. Some kids know that when Momma starts talking with her teeth together and her voice is low….its time to leave Momma alone. The decibel of your communication is something that accidently comes out. We lose our temper. Sometimes, we as parents, get frustrated and loose our cool. We yell out of frustration. But when that is all our child knows…then there is our problem. If you always yell at your kids, then you need to take a step back and evaluate your manner of communication.
  2. Work – Someone in the family has to work. Money doesn’t grow on trees. I’ve had conversations with many of my friends and they always express to me that they feel like they are losing out on pivotal moments of their child’s life because they are working so much. What can you do when your trying to balance being a spouse, parent and a demanding 40+ hour-a-week job? First off…don’t let it get you down. Realize that your kids love you and after they are grown, they will realize how hard you worked for them. Take advantage of the precious time that you have with them. Know that work is important but your family needs to be a priority as well. Take time to support your son at his Karate tournament, your kid at their dance recital, or to watch your little girl at her first softball game. Take time to play with them. You don’t have to dedicate hours to playing with them or buying expensive toys or going to expensive water parks every day. Memories are made right in your living room playing pretend or by kissing your child on the forehead after reading them a bedtime story. Basically, just create a work schedule that is flexible enough for your family to realize that they are just as important to you.
  3. Taking a Break – Sometimes you just need a break. I don’t mean a Kit-Kat Bar (even though I need one of those right now), but what I mean is that sometimes you just want to walk away from the crying babies and the chaos of our lives. You of course feel guilty about it because you love your family BUT it is important to take some time to recharge. Whether it is something as simple as a bubble bath while your husband takes the kids to the park, a couple of afternoons a week at the gym, or a night at Hooters with your buddies to get some chicken wings and a beer. Some people need that recharge and you shouldn’t feel like you’re not making the right decisions. Just because you’re a parent, doesn’t mean that you give up being a person. You need to care about your own mental well being as well. Your spouse should respect that and not think the worst of you when you want to have some ‘you’ time (and no I’m not talking to my friend’s ex-wife…or am I).
  4. Play – I touched on spending time and playing with your kids earlier and I just wanted to touch on it once more. I know that in today’s crazy life, actually taking the time and slowing down long enough to play Legos with your son or to have another tea party with your daughter. Before you feel guilty about seeing your son or daughter playing by themselves or them complaining about being bored; I want you to remember that YOUR CHILD DOES NOT HAVE TO BE ENTERTAINED EVERY SECOND OF EVERY DAY! BUT you should dedicate some time to your child, even if its for only an hour. Some parents are the ones that will get down in the floor and give horse back rides or will pretend to be Princesses with their daughters for hours…but some are not. You should not feel guilty about that. Find something that you and your child both enjoy, so you can build a long lasting memory with your child.
  5. Acceptance – I’m not in your house but I’m assuming that you are a good parent. So you need to accept that fact. You are a good parent! Being a perfect wife, husband or parent is impossible. What we can do is realize that the photo-shopped, Susie home-maker, super-mother is a fallacy. Realize that we will fall short of scaling the mountain of tasks that it takes to reach perfection. Besides being tired from our normal lives, the last thing that we need to be is riddled with anxiety and guilt-ridden by some cookie cutter expectation. If your child goes to school wearing two different colored socks…its not the end of the world. Remember to try and be a positive role model for your children by handling the things that life pushes our way with a happy, good-humored demeanor.

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I’m not a registered family therapist. I’m not even a perfect parent. What I do is I know a couple of things. I know that you don’t need to feed into the guilt mongers. Don’t worrymcdonalds happy meal about the judgement of the pretentious parenting police who judge you when you get to baseball practice five minutes too late with a kid whose shirt is untucked and hair is unbrushed, all while he’s taking his last bite of his McDonald’s Happy Meal cheeseburger that you picked up on your way to take kid number 3 to dance practice. We’re busy. It’s life. Just remember that it’s not about the quantity of the items that your child has or how many times that they have been to Carowinds. What matters most is the quality of the hours that you spend with your child. That is what makes the difference when they grow up and look back on their lives.


Images 

Feature Image: Father and son Surf lesson image by and accredited to “Mike” Michael L. Baird, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9176643

Reading a Bedtime story to my Daughter image by and attributed to Ludwig Bemelmans, Ldorfman – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18437032

Boy with McDonalds Happy Meal image attributed to uploader. Own work. Fair use.

Big Man + Little Dog = Perfect Combo

FullSizeRender-3Image-1-1I was always a ‘big dog person’. Despite at one time having a chihuahua, I always had Country Bulldogs or I would domesticate one of my dad’s big hunting dogs as a pet. I would grow to hate little dogs due to my grandmother’s half chihuahua – half feist – all demon possessed Hellhound that would growl at us and bite at our ankles if we moved too quickly around his aging food bowl. In my adulthood, I began to make fun of Paris Hilton and her little Chihuahua accessory dog whose little head we would occasionally see pop out of her Gucci purse. So when my son asked us for a dog that would ‘always stay puppy size’, I knew what that meant. My worst fear of having a yelping, ankle biting tiny demon dog would now come to fruition.

I was against it, as you can image, but you do what you have to do for the happiness of your children. So to make my child happy; my wife & I settled on a respected small dog breeder (ensuring that they were not a despised puppy mill) and went to visit her facility. In the entryway to the facility, the owner’s husband greeted us and Image-1asked us to dip the bottoms of our shoes inside of a shallow container of miscellaneous liquid; whose Bitter solution would keep us from bringing in outside contaminants into the dog’s sterile environment. The air conditioned building’s walls were a dull gray and instead of a cages, the puppies lay on nicely padded beds inside of their own 4 foot walled rooms. As we rounded the first corner, we found the area where a Mini Yorkshire Terrier and her newly born puppies lay. Most of the tiny black and brown puppies were barking and  jumping up as high as they could on the 4 foot cinder block wall that kept them from running around the facility. Five tiny female puppies were energetically trying to gain our attention….except for their little runt of a brother who sat alone in the corner staring up at us. We asked about him and the breeder picked him up and gave him to us.

As I held him in my hand, he laid his tiny head down on my thumb and went to sleep. IMG_2254Tears filled my eyes and my heart was broken. The walls of animosity towards tiny dogs was gone. The angst and fear of having a yelping ankle biter had dissipated. As a tear rolled down my cheek, I looked over to my wife and we instantly knew. We knew that we had found the furry addition to our family and that puppy that would never grow too big for Daniel. Seven years later, our little Deacon (that’s what we named him) has been joined by another Yorkie that we rescued named Ginger; a fat, energetic English Bulldog named Annie; and a skittish, fawn colored Chihuahua named Cookie that we rescued from an abusive family. I went from closing my heart to little dogs to having a wife that laughs at me because the ‘big tough man gets out of his big four-wheel drive truck after working out at the gym after work, sits down in his big manly recliner only to pick up, hold and commence baby talk to a 2 lb. dog in his arms’. Sounds like a perfect picture to me. 🙂

via Photo Challenge: Friend

In the Skein of Things: The interview with my crocheting wife

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So the topic of Yarn came up on The Daily Post (a daily topic suggestion blog) and I knew that I had an expert in my corner. Even before I married her, Chastity, my now wife has impressed me with her extensive knowledge and amazing ability to create. She is most definitely the most creative person that I have ever met. I’m very excited for her to join me and Daniel in our blog on this special occasion: The interview with my crafty wife.


Me: So even though I know a lot about you already, can you tell me when, how and what got you into crocheting/sewing.

IMG_5646Chastity: I remember whenever I was a child, and my grandmother used to babysit me. I remember her sitting in her rocking chair crocheting stuff when I was young. But it wasn’t until I was in my teenage years that I went to stay with her some summers, and I asked her to show me how to crochet because I was so intrigued by it.

Chastity: I idolized my grandmother. I always thought she was probably the most wonderful woman that I’ve ever known so I always wanted to do everything that she could do and do it with her.

Me: What has kept your attention to that aspect of crafting more than any other that you have encountered?

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Chastity: To me, crocheting is very simplistic. All you need is a skein of yarn and hook. And from one simple strand of yarn the end result feels like such an accomplishment.

Me: Is the gratification from completing a project with your hands intensified if the person that you are making it for truly appreciates the hand-made item?

Me: And why do you think that there has been a reduction in the amount of people producing/making homemade gifts?

Chastity: Oh yes, it’s greatly intensified. Whenever you make something handmade you’re doing it with love. FullSizeRender-5It’s almost like knowing that your love is appreciated.

Chastity: I just don’t think that people appreciate handmade gifts anymore. I
think in the way that this world has grown, greed and the desire to be cool or popular is a big factor. Handmade doesn’t come with a brand-name. Handmade gifts are also a lot more expensive than fast fashion or buying bulk overseas. Most people don’t see the point in paying more for something handmade when they can just go to their local Walmart and pick it up for cheaper.

Me: What would it take in our society for people to start utilizing tradesman instead of looking towards the big name retailers?

Chastity: I’m not sure the right answer to that question. However, I believe that if we learn to grow as a society of people that reuse or repair instead of throwing everything away just because it has the slightest flaw, that we could learn to fix things instead of throw away and buy new. We might learn to value quality over quantity better.

Me: Excellent point. What is something that you enjoy repurposing and bringing new life to? What would be the easiest and most fun repurposing craft project for someone who doesn’t have as much crafting experiencing as you do?

Chastity: I personally would prefer to repurpose things that she wouldn’t commonly expect to see repurposed, like the neck tie chair that I made. And my next project will probably be to sew in a hand crochet embellishment in a cut out on the back of a shirt. I also have seen people use the ends of rakes as jewelry hooks or all door knobs on wood pieces as coat racks. All of those things would be very good for someone without a lot of experience.

Me: So the necktie chair is one of the focal points of interest when people walk into our living room. Can you tell me more about the thought process that went into its creation? How did you come up with something like that and can you describe our investigation and what we found out about the chair itself.

Chastity: Ah, the tie chair. Crochet actually inspired my idea of the tie chair. IMG_5656.JPGCrocheting itself is just a series of woven Yarn in a particular way. I saw this chair at an auction and noticed that the seat part of it was very damaged, but the back rest was flawless. I hated to see such a beautiful chair be cast away. I think we won the auction for the chair at a measly $3 bucks. I decided before anything I was just going to removed the bad seat part and go from there. After I had it cleaned up and chose the neckties for the project, I began by tying them one at a time horizontally. Then, weaving them over and under vertically. I secured the under side with some staples and done! Seriously, that is all there was too it. Any beginner could rock that.

Me: So since I’ve gotten you way off topic and we’ve already talked about your other crafting projects, what is your favorite thing to crochet. Do you have a favorite brand of yarn?

Chastity: Ha! I was thinking that this had gone a little off IMG_5648.JPGtopic as well. My favorite thing to crochet would have to be dolls or baby dresses. I like to do blankets but I find that after a while it’s so repetitious that it gets boring. And anyone that crochets or knits seriously will tell you that they always have a favorite brand of yarn. My go to yarn is I Love This Yarn from Hobby Lobby or Caron Simply Soft. I have found so far, that they are the easiest yarn to crochet with.

Me: So thank you for answering all of my questions. Do you have any words of wisdom to anyone wanting to get into crocheting? 

Chastity: Learning to crochet was actually, at first the scariest for me to learn. It looked so intimidating. It is an art that quite literally comes with its own language. I just knew I could never do it. My advice would be to ignore that little voice, it’s not as scary as it seems and is and has been a huge stress reliever for me. I joined a bunch of crochet support groups that have lots of very experienced crocheters and they have always been more than willing to offer assistance so go find some groups as well!

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Images: Courtesy of Chastity Brown, own work. Not for redistribution.

Prompt: Courtesy of Daily Prompt: Yarn

“I’m so tired, I haven’t slept a wink”

via Daily Prompt: Knackered

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The Beatles 1968 self titled album houses a song that has resounded in my mind all day long. “I’m so tired, I haven’t slept a wink/I’m so tired, my mind is on the blink”. I slept very poorly last night….and I know who/what to blame.

Anthony Burgess, author of one of my favorite books “A Clockwork Orange” said to “Laugh and the world laughs with you; snore and you sleep alone.” As I feel a light punch at my arm, I have heard my wife through gritted teeth IMG_0331say “Chris, roll over! You’re snoring was so loud it woke me up again. You’ve gotta do something about this!” So…why do we snore? My English Bulldog even snores because she has a short nasal passage. Even though I find it quite adorable, it gets annoying right in the middle of my 80th viewing of Roadhouse. So why does something that happens to almost all of us, end up being something that could not only be potentially dangerous to your health but could quite literally kill you added to the fact that it is completely annoying to the 59% of questioned adults who say that their spouses snore. With most of the tested subjects snoring at an estimated 38 decibels, why wouldn’t we as the listeners complain about hearing something that is as loud as your kitchen’s refrigerator? Well the answer to how we stop snoring is convoluted. The answer of ‘why’ can be easily answered.

Snoring is essentially the sound that is produced when your upper airway structure vibrates during inhalation and exhalation. Any membrane that is in the pathOsa_cycle
of this airway (including your tongue, soft palate, uvula, tonsils and throat wall can vibrate during this act. While we are asleep, the muscles throughout our body relax. Your throat and tongue are muscles, therefore your airway also relaxes and causes the space that the air has to travel to become tighter and this tightened air space combined with the vibrations cause the lion’s roar that our pets, family members, spouses or room mates hear every night during our time of slumber.

Snoring is not a sickness.  Its not a disease. Its a symptom. Just as a cough is a symptom of the common cold, snoring is a symptom of obstructive sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is however a disorder. The restful slumber of a person with sleep apnea is riddled 8TzKqRrXcwith the loud roar of snoring as well as the labored breathing that usually is also riddled with pauses or gasps during the person’s slumber. This obstructed pause results from a COMPLETE obstruction of the airway and sometimes even causes a decrease in our body’s oxygen level. Just like our reaction to someone pinching our noses in the middle of the night, we sleep apnea sufferers terminate this obstruction by waking up. This constant waking and restless slumber leads to fragmented, less restful sleep. Sleep apnea can cause excessive daytime sleepiness, loss of attention span and poor concentration levels.

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And if you didn’t catch it earlier, I inferred that I have sleep apnea. I have snored since I don’t know when and I have tortured friends, parents, family, a roommate, my wife, and my child with thunderous snores for as long as I can remember. As I mentioned earlier, obstructive sleep apnea can cause a loss of oxygen in the body but it can also cause increased hypertension and over time can cause extreme damage to your heart and vascular system. I, for one, want to live as long as possible so that I can see my son grow and live out my ‘happily ever after’. The other consequence of the fragmented sleep that I spoke of earlier is daytime sleepiness and poor concentration levels. These symptoms 8cAEdBxMican sometimes take effect while driving. Now I don’t know if you realize this or not but sleeping and driving is not advised to be done at the same time. Ever. Ever. Ever. By anyone. Falling asleep while driving is a risk factor that I met in an all too familiar way. Sleep apnea almost caused God to claim my forgiven soul a little earlier than I figured that he would. While driving home one night, a symptom of sleep apnea crept up on me like a pouncing tiger. I fell asleep while driving. I flipped my truck multiple times and ended up with a totaled truck and multiple points on my insurance.

Now before you go judging me and refusing to ever get in a car while I am driving, let me freak you out by saying that there is no real cure for sleep apnea. There is no cure-all pill for the 22 million of us that suffer from sleep apnea. And the possibility of someone snoring and/or developing sleep apnea only increases when we as a populous add in our weight gain, consumption of large quantities of alcohol, allergies, drug use, use of muscle relaxants or sedatives, and most importantly smoking; but there is supposed to be hope. Now by hope I am referencing the gamut of simple, noninvasive items that open the nasal passages to that truly invasive surgical procedure. I have tried Breathe Right Strips and I still snored like a freight train. These strips work by gently lifting the nasal passage from the outside. But alas these strips did not help me. I’ve even heard home remedies of sewing tennis balls to the back of your night shirt to keep you from laying on your back because unless you know this from personal experience you snore A LOT worse on your back. This is caused by your neck being at a different position; thusly causing your throat to have an even worse obstruction.

Now of course, there are easy solutions: lose excess weight, don’t smoke, don’t drink lots of alcohol, take allergy medicine to prevent having complications from allergies; but as before, these are merely bandaids to help fix a gushing wound. They do not repair the problem. There is always the other solution…me going under a surgeons knife and having some of the vibrating tissue removed from the back of my throat but that seems a bit too drastic for me, especially since the success rate is usually only a 50% reduction in snoring.

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For me, help with my snoring problem came in the hands of a Sleep Apnea Breathing

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My sleep study gear…

Machine. I had spent many years, waking my wife up from her beauty sleep to know that something had to happen. I also was having complications with being sleepy during the day and I did not want to have another one of those falling asleep behind the wheel episodes. I had the appropriate breathing test done at a sleep clinic and found out that I stopped breathing an extremely dangerous amount of times during the night and my oxygen level at night was dangerously low.

After trudging through years of not being able to breath and torturing those around me, (sorry about that everyone) I finally can breath easily and others around me can sleep soundly through the night.

If you can call wearing a constricting and uncomfortable Darth Vader-esque mask that forces air down your throat ‘breathing easily’.

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Images: 

Featured Image – “Sleeping Man” Felix Trutat painting uploaded by Yelkrokoyade – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=35035960

Apnea Cycle image by and attributed to Timt775 – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5094422

Japanese Snoring Man drawing by Teisai Hokuba (Japan, 1771-1884) – Image: http://collections.lacma.org/sites/default/files/remote_image/piction/ma-31795085-O3.jpg

Sleep Apnea Display image by and attributed to John Ramspott from Oxford, GA, USA – Uploaded by High Contrast, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=27650452

JOYCEone Nasal CPAP mask image by and attributed to Pfrieda – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=32855398

 

Women: does pop culture constrict them behind the Yellow Wallpaper?  

Housewife_cartoonWhen I was little I knew that I loved women. At that age, I thought I knew a lot about women. I watched Golden Girls and Designing Women. I had a crush on Cindy Crawford and Jennifer Love Hewitt. I watched Pipi Longstockings fight pirates and He-Man’s sister She-Ra crush the evil Hordak and his minions. I knew that I loved my momma and grandmas. I knew to respect women based of what my parents taught me. As I grew up, I respected women as individuals and viewed them as equals in the workplace. I thought I knew the right things to say and the right way to act; but like most things in life, knowing what something actually is is usually plagued by our misinformation. Could this misinformation be a symptom of years of certain aspects of the media and pop culture failing us? Could negative gender stereotypes have been subliminally conditioning us to accept and misconstrue what we would ultimately believe?

The entertainment industry has came a long way since the days of the dimwitted damsel in 343px-Wonder_woman_cosplay
distress that must be saved from some sinister scoundrel by a plucky protagonist. Or have we? Gender stereotypes seem to be prevalent in almost every facet of the media and pop culture yet most of us overlook it. Despite the new Wonder Woman movie and her undeniably formidable addition to the Justice League…people still complain that her character is overly sexualized. Despite women playing pivotal roles in the world (examples like Joan of Arc, Marie Curie and even female astronaut Valentina Tereshkova); negative gender stereotypes will still pop up. Whenever we see an activity linked to a specific sex and the association that it subliminally constructs in our psyche alters our perception; then we are experiencing a gender stereotype.

In college I was an English major with a concentration in literature and a minor in creative writing with a concentration in poetry. This led to me taking a lot of classes where the texts that I would read forced me to venture outside of my comfort zone. That comfort zone  was hit 640px-Operation_Crossroads_Baker_Edit.jpgwith a two-and-a-half ton nuclear bomb explosion of feminism when I walked into my Feminist Literature course at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. As I stated earlier, I knew that I loved women but the respect for women that was engrained in me since I was young would soon be questioned. Not so much questioned…but put in the midst of the nuclear blast. The first day of class, I held the not secured door for a short, young white woman whose thick dreadlocks fell atop her loose fitting flannel shirt. Her eyes squinted behind her thick framed glasses as I was met with a spitefully resounding, “I can get the door for myself.” So to not cause a fuss, I respectfully let go of the door and told her know that ‘I didn’t mean any disrespect; but it was just how I was raised’. I sat down in the circularly configured desks and I already decided that this class wasn’t for me. In an already very liberal minor, I decided that I didn’t want to deal with the confrontations that could occur from a man being in this class. Associate Professor “M” walked into class and we all began to say why we were taking it. I don’t remember what I exactly said but it sounded a little something like ‘I took this class to get a different perspective on literature and people’. I also began telling her (in front of my dreadlocked classmate) that I felt like my presence might make people uncomfortable because I had already had a negative altercation with a student. This explanation began a conversation which led to the instructor begging me to stay in the class to offer another perspective. Should I have been so brazen in our discussion? Probably not. Should she have reacted so negatively to my genuinely sincere gesture? In my opinion…no.

Charlotte_Perkins_Gilman_3I learned a lot in that class and we had some amazing discussions. The instructor gained a lot of respect for me and one of the biggest things that I learned was that I knew absolutely NOTHING about women. The things that I thought I knew by my upbringing or the things that I viewed in the media/pop culture, whether positive or negative, did not reflect the reality that surrounded me. One of the biggest guides in my understanding of women was Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper. In this story, the narrator thinks that the wallpaper in her room symbolizes something and she must interpret it. She must internalize this because it impacts her and her alone. The story’s deeper meaning is that the wallpaper itself symbolizes the entrapment that encapsulates her in regards to her family, the medicine that is forced upon her, and the patriarchal traditions that she endures. By the end of the story, the narrator has stripped all of the pretty wallpaper off of the wall thusly ‘stripping’ herself from the bonds that have held her captive. Her husband faints when he walks in the room and sees her in her mental condition, thusly showing him in a moment of weakness THUSLY bridging the gap between he and his wife. The husband’s assumption of not only his authority but his superior knowledge dominates his wife. This dominance causes her to retreat into the obsession over the wallpaper. This book allowed me to question the mental constraints placed on women, viewed stereotypes that I never even thought about, and realized the seriousness of women’s rights (and also the seriousness of depression).

640px-F-15_pilots_ElmendorfWomen are men’s equals in regards to their intelligence and should be given every chance that is given to a man; but as men, we need to realize that sometimes a stereotype that we see on TV and/or the media does not perpetuate reality. Being a woman is tough. We as a society and a world have a lot of work to do. As long as women are still being viewed as sexual objects instead of our fellow employees…then we have a problem. If a women is being paid less for a job where she is doing the same exact thing as a man…then that is a problem.

Me opening a door for you however is not adding to your problems though. I know that you can open the door yourself but as a sign of respect to any human being; I’d want you to open the door for me as well. So like I always preach, we must learn to live together as a cohesive unit in this world. Women will come in all shapes and colors. We will have women as MMA fighters, astronauts, lawyers, or homemakers. We have to be diverse to make the world go around. Is everything going to be perfect? No way…because just like everything else in life; it’s not going to be exactly like it is on TV.

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Featured Image: Housewife cartoon image by and attributed to JosephineRN28 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=53894269

Black Canary with Wonder Woman cosplay image by and attributed to GabboT – Flickr: 070, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=22490446
The “Baker” Explosion image by and accredited to the United States Department of Defense (either the U.S. Army or the U.S. Navy)derivative work: Victorrocha (talk) – Operation_Crossroads_Baker_(wide).jpg, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6931019
Charlotte Perkins Gilman image by and accredited/published by Barry and Marble, San Francisco, 1895 – Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12150582
Four F-15 Eagle pilots image by and attributed to U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Keith Brown – http://www.af.mil/weekinphotos/wipgallery.asp?week=175, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=929600
Hesquiat Woman image by and accredited to Edward S. Curtis – (This image came from The North American Indian by Edward S. Curtis. These images were published between 1907 and 1930.The digitization of this image was done by the Northwestern University Library, sponsored by the U.S. Library of Congress.) Credits: Northwestern University Library, “The North American Indian”: the Photographic Images, 2001., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=29025

Stairway to Heaven

322px-Jimmy_Page_earlyMy older cousin was in a heavy metal band that opened for a lot of big named bands in the 80s and 90s. I remember when he would come home from being on tour in his Porsche 911; we would all sit in his bedroom and ask him to play his guitar for us. He would sit on his oversized Peavey amp with his legs crossed at the knee; his long brown hair cascading down onto a cut off Guns N Roses t-shirt while his boney fingers flowed across the strings of his white Fender guitar. It was from him that I fell in love with rock music but he wasn’t my only musical influence. I grew up surrounded by all forms of music.

I lived in a house with a Motown loving father and I remember the nights, laying on his bed with him while we listened to The Temptations and The Four Tops. I also remember riding with mother to garage sales and flea markets; along our way, who despite being a renowned Southern Gospel singer, she made sure that I was introduced to Elvis, the Righteous Brothers, and Simon & Garfunkel. I spent my summer days with my grandparents and my grandpa introduced me to Country Western greats like George Jones and Merle Haggard; along with concreting a passion for Bluegrass music.

Agulha_record_playerMy grandpa had a wooden rocking chair with a green cushion and a big Record player console in the back bedroom of his house. I would spend most rainy days or lazy afternoons sitting in that rocking chair listening to old records. I would listen to his classic George Jones, Buck Owens or bluegrass albums but occasionally I would bring some of my records from home. I would bring my favorite rock albums and play them quietly on his vintage machine, while rhythmically rocking in the cushioned wooden rocking chair. I went through a period of time in my childhood where I was obsessed with Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin (an obsession that has carried itself into my adulthood) and I would listen to my Led Zeppelin IV album at my grandfather’s house on that old vintage germany_atl10103_bdmachine. I remember one time in particular when I was listening to Stairway to Heaven and my ‘Papa’, as we called him, came in and asked, “What in the world are you listening to?” Not sure how he would respond, I told him that I was listening to a song called “Stairway to Heaven”, so he sat down on the bed that sat at the other end of the room and asked me what the song was about. I explained the premise of the song and being the religious man he was says, “well thats not really how going to Heaven works but it does sound like a nice song.” He smiled at me and walked away.

640px-BEOGRAM_1202_(19218616158)I think about him every time I hear that song now-a-days. Despite the amazing singing and playing ability of the members of Led Zeppelin, I am reminded of the sweet disposition of my grandpa and despite his disapproval of the type of music that I listened to, he always supported and loved my individuality. I wish for that day that my Stairway to Heaven comes, so that I can see that sweet man once again.


Featured Image:

The Led Zeppelin LZ 129 Hindenburg catching fire on May 6, 1937 at Lakehurst Naval Air Station in New Jersey image by Gus Pasquerella – http://www.lakehurst.navy.mil/nlweb/images/1213d.gif, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=632191

Jimmy Page with Led Zeppelin by and accredited to Dina Regine – http://www.flickr.com/photos/divadivadina/465006376/, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8005350

Aguhla Record Player image by and licensed under the Creative Commons Attibution 2.0 Generic License, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=52890

Led Zeppelin IV album cover image by and accredited to Atlantic Records, http://www.ledzeppelin.com/photos/memorabilia/45s-7-sleeves?page=1

Full resolution macro shot of vinyl record image by and accredited to Project-128 – BEOGRAM 1202, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=46688419

I knew it was only a matter of “Time”

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600px-SDCC_2014_-_Masters_of_the_Universe_(7752978172)Sometimes the only thing it takes is just time for all of the things that you dreamed of getting as a child, to be available to you when you are older. Unless you dreamed of owning a dragon or wanted to become a super hero, then you can pretty much fulfill your childhood dreams. GI Joe fans can join the Marines. Masters of the Universe fanatics can purchase He-Man’s power sword or Star Trek’s Trekkies can learn Klyngon while wielding the infamous Bat’leth. We can cosplay as Deadpool all day long while visiting our favorite Con. If we have the money can rock a mustache and black cowboy hat while driving 100 MPH in a black 1977 Smokey and the Bandit style Pontiac Firebird or sit back playing an Atari in a 1986 KITT Pontiac Trans Am. Carpentry ready fans can build a TARDIS in their backyard. Or those of us with a big imagination can travel back in time after they hit 88 MPH in their own Delorean. Is it exactly the same as we dreamed? Definitely not. But things usually are different than they seemed when we were little. Reality usually sits in but that doesn’t mean that we can’t have fun a little!

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For those of us born in the 80s, the realization of fulfilling our dreams is a little bit closer thanks to O’Reilly Auto Parts. Well….kind of. Anyways, go to the O’Reilly Auto Part’s website and search for Part #121G. Trust me!!! You won’t be upset that you did.

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Featured Image: He-Man is a TimeLord image by Chris Favero from USA – He-Man is a TimeLord?, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=34364586
Smokey and the Bandit Trans Am image by and accredited to Pat Loika – LBCC-1, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=42451758
He-Man, She-Ra and Teela cosplay image by and accredited to Ryan Quick from Greenbelt, MD, USA – Masters of the Universe, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=42384853
Knight Rider KITT car image by and accredited to Thomas R Machnitzki (thomas@machnitzki.com) – Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19551841
Delorean image by and accredited to Spanish Coches – DMC Delorean, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=38114628