Monthly Archives: December 2012

Cool Gaming Chicks

Who knew they were out there? I sure didn’t. I wonder if this was even a classification back in my gaming days. Probably not, since my gaming days were way back. And even then, I gamed in spurts.

Where is this coming from? Well, it was a cold (for H-town) and dreary weekend in the ‘burbs. Blah. Took the minions to the bookstore to spend their gift cards from Christmas and scored some new books for myself too. Real books! With actual pages! But then the Y-chromosomes kicked in at home.

The G4 Network. Top 100 Video Games of All Time. Five hours of clips and commentary about each and every game. Total suburban testosterone-fest. It was like a siren song for the three Y-chromosome peeps in my house. And I must admit – my former gaming side got sucked in. I’ve probably never even heard of 75% of the games there, but once you start watching you just can’t stop. I mean, it’s akin to admitting failure to NOT watch all 100 games and see the entire list, right?

Right. At least, that’s what my Saturday-afternoon-rain-fogged-brain told me. And you know what I found out?

Apparently, it’s cool to be a gaming chick today. Who knew? Back in my closet gaming days (we’re talking Leather Goddesses of Phobos, Wizard and the Princess, Zork, Bard/s Tale and a few of the other text games) it was hard to tell if there were any gaming chicks. At least in my neck o’ the woods. If there were, they looked the same as the guys, for the most part.

They never looked like this:

This is Morgan Webb. Apparently she’s something of a big deal in the tech/gaming world. And she and her Keira Knightley lookalike self were featured commentators for the 100 Top Video Games series. So I got to look at her. A Lot. But seriously, a gaming chick with a sense of fashion? To-die-for-hair? Heck, if I’d known that I could actually look like a girl, play computer games, talk intelligently about them and earn a living – I’d have had a totally different outlook on my career path. Really. But back in the day my need for conformity (let’s face it, my need to NOT be heckled) kept me from going down that road. Well, that plus the fact that most of the gamers I knew were also hugely into D&D, which just wasn’t my thing.

Oh, I picked up the gaming bug here and there. Myst. Zork Nemesis. Civilization 2 and 3. All huge time-suckers. And I loved it. But honestly, am I the only one who has a stereotyped picture of a gaming chick in my head? My personal vision involves anything hipster-ish, multiple piercings, lots of black and skater-boy beanies. Think Lisbeth Salander. But without most of the psychosis.

Heck, I just finished pondering my lack of a hobby the other day. Maybe I need to embrace my inner technogeek and let my true colors show. Whaddaya think??

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Filed under Hobbies, Uncategorized

Nemesis

Now there’s a word you can’t just say normally. You have to use a gravelly voice and draw out the ‘s’ sound. Nemesisss.That’s better. And let me clear one thing up for any of you non-sci-fi peeps who happen to be reading today. If it’s not obvious from the pic, I’m a Trekker. Not a Trekkie. Yes, there is a difference. While I have nothing but the utmost respect for Spock, Chekov, Sulu and Kirk, I definitely prefer Jean-Luc Picard and crew. And speaking of Picard, this is his nemesisss – Praetor Shinzon. Creepy huh?

 

Back to the topic now. Sorry about the minor tangent, but I had to clear that up. Growing up in the ‘burbs and living there now, it seems that I’ve pretty much always had a nemesis of some sort – because being in and around the city so much has exposed me to all sorts of people with all sorts of talents. At least since middle school. It has to do with my competitive streak. See, I’m an only child, a perfectionist, and extremely competitive. Always have been. No matter what it was, I’ve always wanted to be at the top of the heap and have focused insane amounts of energy to get there. Which, for some reason, has always put me in a position of having a nemesis – real or imagined.

At first these nemeses were purely musical in nature. My Number One Competitor in middle school actually had the audacity to be better than me. She beat me in not one, but two auditions. How dare she?? My overachieving brain couldn’t handle that, so I threw everything I had into practicing and becoming a better musician. But it became more than that. It wasn’t enough to just improve – I had to beat her. And not just musically. Looks, popularity, dates, all of it – I was determined to be better than her.
Of course I failed miserably. My short, skinny, dorky mouthful-of-braces self couldn’t compete with the tall-blonde-blue-eyed-outgoingness of her personality. But that didn’t stop me from trying – for about five years. And – go figure – when I finally did finish ahead of her in an audition, she wasn’t friendly anymore. Go figure. Should have been a life lesson, right?
Wrong, of course. Other nemeses followed. Not just musical – social as well. That dumb competitive streak outgrew the musical side of me and extended to everything. Boys? I’ve gotta admit, I gave it my best shot – but always lost out there. Seriously. I’m not kidding when I say that my First Date Ever – to homecoming – asked me to take his mom’s place selling Cokes in the corner so that he could dance with her. No lie. You can’t make this stuff up.
And as an adult – once I quit the music scene – there was always someone I had to beat. Can you say ‘competitive streak run amok?’ I can. Try it five times fast. The person who always tried to be the center of attention at work-related gatherings? I’d get mad every time, feel slighted and try that much harder to get more attention. Just like a kid – negative attention was ok, as long as it was attention.
Even today. One of my coworkers jokingly asked if someone I mentioned in a conversation was My Nemesis. When I stopped to think about it – I realized that he was right. There’s someone out there right now whose every word and action just burns me up. They love to toot their own horn, and often! Really. You can actually see the steam coming out of my ears – I’ve looked. And what’s my natural fight-or-flight response? Competition, of course. Some part of my Id (wow! A Freudian reference! Some part of Ed Psych must have stuck!) kicks into high gear at the very thought of this person and acts out – to be smarter, more talented, more positive, less narcissistic, prettier, a better parent, you name it – just so I can feel like I won. It’s driven me to some pretty petty acts lately. Not gonna go into specifics there – it’s too embarrassing.
So what gives? Why is it that my stupid competitive streak can’t just find a POSITIVE outlet for once? Just once? Because I’m tired of competing over things that don’t matter to anyone but me. Very tired. I mean, it’s not like someone is going to give me a medal for this. Wait, they actually might. Biggest Crazy Idiot Trophy.
Am I the only one out there with this problem? Is it, as my spouse so tough-lovingly says, ‘a woman thing?’ How do you deal with competition run amok? Any and all comments welcome please. Hey, if there are lots of us, maybe I could start a support group. Thoughts?

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Filed under Competition, Moms, Musicians, Parenting, Self esteem, Women's Issues

"You Need a Hobby"

So I have been told – more than once – that I need to get a hobby. Sure. Easy enough, right? Just get a hobby. Right. Just pick one up and do it. Easier said than done. To me a hobby needs to be something for which I have a passion and truly enjoy – not just something to do. And that’s a real problem because I have this nasty tendency to overthink everything. Yes, everything. Well, ok, not everything. Certain decisions, like what kind of toilet paper or laundry detergent to get, are just no-brainers in my book. But everything else? Big problem. Lots of overthinking going on. And overanalyzing too.

So, hobbies. Right. That’s where I was going with this. You’ll have to excuse me today – brain is still coming back from the fog of Christmas and a few days of vacation with the entire boy-clan at home. Anyhoo, I started thinking about my past hobbies. Aerobics. Weight lifting. Running. Pilates. Yoga. I spent years doing those. But, really, shouldn’t a hobby be something you like doing? Yup. And I really hated most of those – except when I was able to tell someone that I ran X miles the day before. That felt kind of good. But still not really enjoyable.
About the only kind of exercise I ever really looked forward to was Zumba. Yes, Zumba. Even though I’m sure watching my uncoordinated self try to do some of those moves was pretty entertaining for everyone else in the class, I loved it. But the budget wouldn’t hold up to the gym fees, so that went out the window. The Spouse even got me Zumba for the Wii. Have I cracked open that box yet? Heck no. Maybe it’s time.
I know plenty of people with hobbies. I do. One of my friends designs and screen prints t-shirts. Yep – you read that right. She actually went out and bought a real live screen printing machine to speed up her work. And she won’t go into business with it, because she says she wouldn’t enjoy it then. Makes sense. But I definitely don’t need a hobby that would bring lots more stuff into my house. There’s too much crap and clutter there as it is.
Last year around the holidays I spent lots of time with a group of women who crocheted. Couldn’t be too hard, right? If that many people were able to do it and talk/listen/carry on entire conversations and watch TV while doing it?
Wrong. I tried. Something about the little bitty needle, written directions that made no sense and YouTube videos that all seemed to feature right-handed people. I’m a lefty. The world is made for right-handers and it stinks. Plus, just when I thought I was getting the hang of it, my cat decided to jump right in and gnaw through my yarn. Another bust.
I’ve talked with knitters. I used to knit. My mom taught me as a kid, and we had a rocking collection of handmade potholders if I do say so myself. But just reading about charts and repeats and numbers – that sounds too much like math for me. Don’t get me wrong, I like math – on my own terms. But we didn’t get along well in school. At. All. So that kind of takes away the enjoyment factor that should be important in a hobby.
Tennis? I used to teach at a school with a large population of ‘tennis moms.’ These were a rare breed. I never knew that it took so much time and effort to get all made up with full hair to go and play tennis. Not to mention the designer shoes and sportswear. Who knew? But apparently it’s fun. A colleague’s husband was a tennis pro at one of the clubs frequented by these mommies, and he always said they were the easiest to teach. Show them a few tips, and then spend the rest of the hour listening to their gossip about who was doing what on Facebook. Seriously. Not sure that fits my budget or idea of a good time either.
So that brings me back to writing. Sadly, I get most of my ideas on the drive to the office. So I want to immediately get them down in writing when I get in. Bad idea. Not sure the office people would understand about that one. But I do carry a journal and write stuff down when it hits me.
Ok, so I’ve got a hobby. But writing is also a dream of mine. To Write For a Living. To Be Published. I’ve sent off a couple of things here and there. I have. I’ve got the rejection emails to prove it. One online site told me that ‘personal statement essays’ are not considered by their firm. Personal Statement Essay? Never learned that genre in school. Somehow I think it’s a made-up name, kind of like ‘literary nonfiction’ in the district where I taught. Hmmm…
I’ve looked at other options too. Wrote a piece that – in my opinion – was at least as good as some of the junk I’ve read in magazines, and looked for contact information to send it in. I found these guidelines on a popular women’s magazine site. They look for:


Marriage articles with an emphasis on strengthening the relationship

Short parenting features on how to deal with universal health and behavioral issues

Reporting on exciting trends in women’s lives

“Writers are advised to read at least the last six issues of the magazine (available in most libraries) to get a better understanding of appropriate subject matter and treatment. We prefer to see detailed queries rather than completed manuscripts, and suggest that you provide us with some ideas for sources/experts. Please enclose two or more samples of your writing, as well as a stamped, self-addressed envelope. “

What’s a query? No clue. So I guess my piece about a woman trying to escape her abusive polygamist husband while battling an addiction and searching for her soul mate wouldn’t be a good fit. Dang it. And I thought I had a good hook, too. And other web sites have been just as discouraging. Apparently you have to be published in order to get published. Kind of like looking for entry-level jobs that require experience when you have to work the job in order to get the experience.
Guess I’ve got a LOT of learning to do. But hey, at least I’ve got a hobby now, right? All I need is unlimited time to explore it…

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Filed under Blogging, Careers, Hobbies, Moms, Publishing, writing

Proving My Point – and Back to the Grind

Yesterday was Christmas. We had a fabulous day, just the four of us. Family visited over the weekend, so the actual Christmas Eve and day were just us. Perfect. Since the kids are still little enough to do the whole Santa thing, it’s nice to be in our own house for all of that. Less stress and trouble. And we were able to do all of our family traditions on our own schedule.

One of those traditions is hitting the mall bright and early Christmas Eve. I know, I know – crazy, right? But that’s the fun of it. Aside from any little last-minute things I might see, my shopping is usually done by that point. Besides, it’s fun to watch all of the crazed people who waited until the day before to even START shopping. To a point.

Example 1 – This is what the Apple store looked like at 9:15 AM:

 
If you’re like me, you didn’t even recognize it. Empty except for the red shirts waiting hopefully for a guinea pig – or someone with a last-minute issue. Not so at the other end of the mall.
 
 
Example 2 – If you’ve read either of my posts here or here, you know that these guys have NOT planned ahead. More ammo for my argument about buying women lingerie for major holidays. Not only were the only shoppers in here men, the majority of them were completely shell shocked and clueless.
 


These guys were the lucky ones, I guess. More often than not, they usually look like this guy:

I know, I know. He’s sideways. Can’t figure out how to fix that at the moment. But what you can’t see is the entire drawer of bras he just finished decimating, looking for something for his girl. And when the clerk offered to help, he couldn’t even tell her the girl’s size. See?? It’s just like I said!!

Example 3 –  I did find this lovely dress. But even though it meets the ‘less than three inches from the knee’ rule, I’m pretty sure it doesn’t meet the office dress code. I’d probably be sent to work down the hall.

And now it’s sideways too. Dang it! I promise these pics are NOT sideways the way I have them saved. Getting frustrated with technology now…

And finally – since I’m an editor – I couldn’t leave you on this Boxing Day without yet another reminder of why my job is necessary. I’m thinking I should start collecting these and publish a book. Yeah, that’s exactly what I’ll do. If someone (has to be a former teacher) can go out and publish a book of wrong test answers, surely I can put together a collection of these babies. Because they are everywhere!!

 
See, before I can even consider buying anything here, I need to know a couple of things. How much does Mark cost? How big is he? I want to make sure I get the most bang for my buck.
 
Can you tell I’m back at work today and editing madly??

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Filed under Christmas Traditions, last minute shopping, men shopping, spell check

A Bit Off Topic

I was watching the movie Sweet Home Alabama at two o’clock this morning. Couldn’t sleep – too much caffeine last night to get everything done. I’ve always loved this movie – or maybe it’s just Josh Lucas. And Reese Witherspoon is so darn cute! Anyway, I know it’s just a movie, fiction, Hollywood-type story without any basis in reality. But it does make me wonder. I mean, my parents met as children. They’ve been married just over 47 years.

Does anyone really meet their soul mate when they’re ten years old?? What do you think? I’d love to hear your opinions and comments on this one!

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Teacher Gift Update: Trumped!

So, I have to amend yesterday’s Top Ten Interesting Teacher Gifts that I’ve received. My Spouse teaches eleven and twelve year-olds, and he brought home a gift from a kid that truly surpasses anything I could have imagined. Ready??

Now keep in mind that the kid who gifted this is twelve. So he’s probably thinking that this will help Mr. Spouse up his swag quotient with the ladies (namely, me). Personally I’m dying to find out what ‘Really Ripped Abs’ smells like. But it wouldn’t be fair to leave you without the whole picture. Here ya go:

Merry Christmas!!

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Filed under Awkward, Christmas, kids, Teacher Gifts

An Elf Conundrum and Teacher Gifts

I’ve got a dilemma. An Elf dilemma. I’ve said before that I totally agree with Jenn about the uber-Elf-mommies. And you all know how I feel about our underachieving Elf on the Shelf. I love him. He does the best he can with what he’s been given. After all, we can’t all be the sharpest knife in the drawer. To his credit, though, he’s given us some real gems this month.
Case 1: The Elf appeared on the shelf in the hallway just outside R and V’s rooms. Boys were taking care of showers, brushing teeth, etc. Normal bedtime stuff. All of a sudden we hear a scream, then a smack, and then all hell breaks loose in the hallway. The spouse and I went running and got the boys separated (one in pajamas, the other buck naked, having a tug of war with a wet bath towel). V – the one crying – wails, “R tried to pull off my towel so the Elf would see me naked!” Guess R wasn’t thinking that the Elf would also report his behavior back to Santa.
Case 2: Spouse had gotten fed up with R and V trying to get out of brushing their teeth, so the Elf appeared in the boys’ bathroom the other morning. The result: both kids refused to go in there ALL DAY. I finally caved and got their toothbrushes out so they could brush their teeth – in the kitchen. And the toilet? Forgattabout it. The four of us shared the one in our bathroom ALL DAY LONG. Spouse has backed off using the Elf to try and prove a point. Lesson learned.
So here’s my conundrum. R and V have been seriously challenged in the behavior department this week. I’m tired. I want a quick fix to the random dirty socks and juice boxes I’ve been finding in weird places every time I turn around. Last night the boys left a note for Austin (they named the Elf). I’m really tempted to take a leaf from my friend’s book and have our elf write a letter like this one back:

Should I do it? Part of me really wants to just to send a message. We’ll see. We’ll just see how much Elf energy I have left tonight after running my errands, long commute home to the ‘burbs and R/V energy.
What errands do I have to run tonight, you may ask? Well, I’ve been pretty smug about having finished all of my shopping last week. Then last night it hit me. Two days left of school. Crap. Teacher Gifts. And for me, a former teacher, to NOT send teacher gifts is right up there with the seven deadly sins.
I have to take a minute and talk about teacher gifts here. Really. With all honesty, the most precious gifts I ever received from children were the handmade cards, notes, pictures and random crafts. I have an entire scrapbook of these treasures that I’ve saved over the years. I’d be willing to bet that any teacher worth their salt feels the same.
So why do some mommies feel the need to go all Pinstrosity on this? It’s like a competition. Seriously – one year I got a hand-painted ceramic popcorn bowl with each kid’s name on it. When I looked closer, I realized that the mom had gotten each kid’s thumbprint and painted them to look like kernels of popcorn next to their names. I’m not kidding on this. I’ve known teachers who have gotten Coach purses for gifts. Me? This year I’m resorting to gift cards, and that’s OK. But I have to stop here and give a list of the most interestinggifts I’ve ever gotten from kids and their parents:

Top Ten Teacher Gifts
A Sacred Heart candle (We’re not Catholic, so I had no idea what this was or what to do with it. I think I offended the kid when I said it would look nice on my fireplace mantel.)
A copy of the Book of Mormon
Pajamas – not the flannel kind, these were more of a sexy babydoll set.
A bottle of wine – yes, a real one. The AP freaked out and made me take it immediately to my car so that I wouldn’t get busted for having alcohol on school property.
Some sweet-tasting Jolly Rancher flavored lip gloss
Lip plumper – sensing a theme here.
Jewelry – the kid said it was his mom’s, and I thought that was sweet. Until the mom showed up at school. Turned out the kid had ‘borrowed’ the necklace without asking.
A Spec’s gift card – Spec’s is a local liquor store.
-and of course-

A really lovely Christmas sweater, embroidered with silver thread, seed pearls and sequins.

One thing about teaching – it’s never a dull moment!

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Filed under Elf on the Shelf, Moms, Pinstrosity, suburbs, Teacher Gifts, working moms