Monday, August 26, 2013

Don't Yuck My Duck

A week ago, if you’d asked me about Duck Dynasty I would have shared my canned opinion on reality television. In fact, I’ll share it now; I hate it. The writer in me longs for old-fashioned story-telling: the kind with well-developed characters and a stimulating plot, with rising and falling action, and a setting that leaps off the screen. But this was all before I sat down last week and watched three straight hours of sweet tea swillin’, duck killin’, good ole boy shenanigans and hijinks. Now, it’s safe to say I’m a changed woman.

Duck Dynasty pleasantly surprised me. I won’t lie and say that I would have ever thought a show (which I assumed was) about a bunch of bearded guys making duck calls would be my kind of show, but life’s full of surprises. I don’t know exactly what it is that won me over. Maybe it was the way Si charms the ladies or the way the boys in the warehouse are constantly getting out of work or the way Phil delivers a line, Jack. Maybe it’s all of it. Maybe it’s refreshing to watch a show with family values and good, clean laughs. Maybe it just makes me happy, happy, happy. Whatever it is, the spell has been cast. I’m a non-believer no more.

I feel kind of bad now though. For all the times, I dismissed the show. For all the times, I crinkled up my nose when it was mentioned. For all the times, I thought, who would want to watch a show like that? It’s just another reality show, another Jersey Shore or Keeping Up with the Kardashians. Another, dare I say, Honey Boo Boo? Gasp!

But at the end of the day, what’s wrong with any of these shows? What’s wrong with reality television for that matter? Other than the fact that I just don’t happen to care for it myself. If I gave it half a chance, a chance like I gave Duck Dynasty, who knows? I might just like it after all.

I try to live life with an open mind. I would hate to miss anything in life because of my own misconceptions or stubbornness, but even in trying to do the right thing and live the right way, I often mess up. I often yuck other people’s yums.

What do I mean by yucking a yum? Well, back in March, Jeremy and I were watching television, which for us means hulu, Netflix, and lots of random web series on youTube. One of the random web series we watch is by a very insightful comedian named Ze Frank. Ze did a video on yucking yums, and since then, I’ve tried to be more aware of my interaction with others, particularly when it comes to something they love.

For some unknown reason, when we hear that someone we know is listening to a band, reading a book, doing an activity, or watching a TV show that we don’t happen to like, we jump on an opportunity to yuck their yum. We criticize them for watching something so silly, stupid, outdated, “insert your worst insult here.” Even when we know that that thing brings them great joy, we make it a point to share why we don’t think they should like it anymore. I did this every time I rolled my eyes at someone for watching Duck Dynasty.

“You don’t watch that, do you?”

Well, what if they do? Why does it matter? If the yum is harmless, what harm could possibly come from its enjoyment? Ze Frank reminds us to not steal someone else’s joy just because we might not have the same tastes, and I’m here to remind myself to not dismiss these yums quite so easily. Because someone else’s yum, which I may think of as a yuck, may eventually be my own yum and source of happy, happy, happy. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

A Monday Romp

It was time for some retail therapy. The morning had been your typical Monday with fires popping up left and right and us with neither the time nor the energy to put them out. We were both grumpier than usual, and by the time lunch rolled around, we knew we needed to get the heck outta Dodge.  

Allyson, my fashionable coworker and fabulous friend, suggested a trip to a trendy boutique just down the street from us. “They’re having a sale,” she urged. “It’ll be great!”

Considering the morning we’d had so far, I readily agreed to this little adventure. Truth was, I wanted to buy something cute for myself and restore that always great weekend feeling that had been stolen away, per usual, late Sunday afternoon…

The words “trendy boutique” should have been my first hint that maybe this shop wasn’t for me. Not surprisingly, my nerd senses started tingling the moment we walked through that door and into the land of sheer pastels and flowing maxi dresses and strange creatures called bandeaus. Everything inside me screamed, “Get out!” And the snooty looks on the employees and patrons faces should have sent me running.

But y’all, shopping at thirty isn’t easy. You’re caught in some sort of no-man’s land between the youthful, trendiness of your twenties and the more mature, chic wardrobe of your thirties. You haven’t quite decided that you want to give up things like unicorn tank tops and skinny jeans and sparkly Toms. Or at least, I haven’t.

This boutique seemed as good a place as any to search for that elusive sort of clothing that was both youthful and chic, both mature and trendy, and to heck with snobby women who think they possess some secret membership to the “I’m cool” club; in true Pretty Woman fashion, I was going to show them that this nerd had money to spend and bandeaus to buy!

A bandeau, as I have learned, is an undergarment meant to be worn with the sheer fabrics that are apparently all the rage these days. Nearly every article of clothing I touched was some form of see-through; laces and tulles and soft, thin cottons crowded the racks and screamed, “You could never pull me off!” at the top of their little fabric lungs.

After being run off several times by pushy, confident twenty year-olds who seemed to think I was either invisible or not worth common courtesy, I finally settled in at a rack that seemed more my style. Within minutes, I’d gathered three adorable tanks that were more-or-less of a solid fabric and (mostly) age appropriate. Never mind that all three were probably meant to be worn as dresses…

Triumphantly, I presented my tanks, along with some jewelry selections, to the cashier. She eyed me, my frizzy hair, and my less-than-fashionable work outfit, doubtfully, then rang me up with a little smirk. The nerd inside me sang as I imagined how cute I would be in my new tank dresses tops and trendy little earrings.

When Allyson and I arrived back at work, I showed off my purchases to some of my other co-workers, all young women in their twenties. They oohed and aahed appropriately, and I beamed when I reached my favorite tank, the blue one with white dragonflies on it.

Ashley, one of the trendiest women in our office, sweetly interrupted my fashion show. “Uh, Katie, isn’t that a romper?”

A romper?! Wait, isn’t that something a toddler wears?

Shocked, I grasped around at the bottom of the garment and realized that it was, in fact, a one-piece, an adult onesie, if you will. In my quest to recapture just a bit of my youth, I had gone back way too far. I looked up at my friends and coworkers in horror and screeched, “I accidentally bought a romper!!”

The joke around the office now is that I should at least try it on, but I know better. Bandeaus and rompers and sheer clothing aren’t for me; it’s time to turn in the sparkly shoes and unicorn tanks. Adulthood, unceremoniously, has arrived.

The offending garment

Saturday, August 3, 2013

There's No Excuse

Our laundry room is in the basement. Fortunately, it’s not one of those creepy basements like you see in the movies, but I still avoid it like the plague. Primarily because the laundry room is down there, and to me, that is scarier than even the scariest basement ghosts and goblins.

Unlike my big sister, who infamously did a load of laundry while in labor with my nephew, I am not a fan of this the most mundane of mundane chores. I do it only when completely necessary, and usually when only granny panties are left in the underwear lineup. The excuses I can fabricate to evade laundry are both numerous and varied and, at points during my history as a laundry-doer, have included: 
  1. Well, I need to give some of my other clothes a chance to be worn anyway.
  2. I don’t want to go downstairs and risk aggravating my creaky, possibly injured knee on our reasonably steep staircase.
  3. I heard something in the basement and will wait until Jeremy gets home to investigate (at which point, I totally forget about doing the laundry and successfully put it off to another day completely).
  4. The laundry basket is too heavy and may cause me to fall down the stairs.
  5. Meh, it can wait until tomorrow. “After all, tomorrow is another day.”

Making excuses is easy. It’s one of the easiest things I do. If it’s something I don’t want to do, I can give you a list of at least a dozen reasons to delay it or to not do it all. You could call it a skill of mine. For the longest time, Jeremy and I made excuses for not exercising. The most common excuse? “We don’t have time.”

Strangely enough, we did have the time to sit around and watch TV, to play around on the internet, to immerse ourselves in video games or books. We could do any of those activities for hours in the evening after work and not even blink an eye, but somehow we didn’t have time to go work out.

In the last few weeks, we’ve attempted to stop making those excuses. We faithfully go to the gym three or four times a week and make a conscious effort to not talk ourselves out of it. But even as I write this, I can feel my need to start making excuses again bubble up. Especially in light of some of the recent and upcoming changes in my life.

I’ve had a writing breakthrough. After a long and complicated dry spell (fueled by more excuse making), a turnaround is upon us. I’ve committed to spending more time focusing on writing and making a bigger effort to finish my novel.

In January, if all goes well, I will begin Graduate School to complete my Library and Information Science degree.

Both of these goals mean that I will have to be more disciplined and determined than ever. I’ll have to quit making excuses and start making things happen. But with each new challenge, time becomes more and more precious and fleeting. The time that I devote to going to the gym will be time away from writing and away from studying. Because of this, I could continue to make excuses. I could give up something in the name of time. I could go back to being less than all I can be. That would be the easy thing. And Lord knows, we all need a little more easy in life…

But instead, I’m going to continue to fight against easy and excuses. I’m going to ask more of myself and expect more of myself. Time is precious and fleeting, that’s true enough, but that’s the exact reason we should not waste a second of it.

But hey, when you hear me still making excuses to not do the laundry, don’t judge. It’s a long way down that staircase…  

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