Friday, May 26, 2006

Women are from Mercury and men are from Pluto

Editor's Note: I am a member of Toastmasters, an international speaking club. I've been in three clubs so far since 1997 and I am working towards the highest designation you can earn, the Distinguished Toastmaster. Currently I am an Advanced Toastmaster - Silver, and I am almost done with my Advanced Toastmaster - Gold. What you are about to read is from an advanced speech I gave today. It is from the Professional Speakers program and is meant to be an entertaining speech. I hope you enjoy it!

John Grey, the famous author of "Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus" made great strides in the male to female relationship realm and much of what he said makes sense. However, I think that, while he got a good start, he got it wrong. Venus and Mars are only two planets apart. If you ask me, he didn't make the chasm wide enough! The truth, my friends, is that women are from Mercury and Men are from Pluto. I have proof. It all comes down to the facts of territory, temperature and time.

When a man marries a woman, they become one. The trouble starts when they try to decide which one. It doesn't take much to figure it out, though - just the powers of observation. I know as I explain this that you will think I am just supporting a stereotype. Maybe I am. You see, stereotypes exist for a reason - because they are true. No one would make joke after joke about Imelda Marcos' shoes if there weren't a gazillion other women out there storing shoes in every unseen corner of the home, relying on her significant other to look at her feet and say "oh, black shoes" instead of differentiating between the black pumps with the bows, the black slingbacks and the black mules.

So, for the next few minutes I would like you to step out of the socially acceptable politically correct mindset and instead, step into my marriage. I am a true Mercurian and my husband the ultimate Plutonian.

When I say that women are from Mercury and Men are from Pluto, my first reason is the temperature of the respective planets. You see, being so close to the sun, the average daytime temperature of Mercury is about 350 degrees. That sounds about perfect to me. If I were on Mercury, I might finally feel warm! I don't know why, but I am always, always cold. I've lost a lot of weight and since that 100 or so pounds went away, it seems that I cannot get warm to save my life. I am always cold; cold to the point that, if the maracas were missing, you could use my chattering teeth to keep time. Actually, I'm so cold, normally, that my husband would tell you that I am devoid of life. He seems to think that I am a cadaver walking around; something akin to a modern day "Stepford Wife". And there is the distinct possibility that he is correct.

I have become a heat-seeking missile of sorts, looking for sources of warmth to which I might attach and leech out the heat. In the summer, when we are lucky enough to have 95 degree days, all my friends are rushing indoors to the air conditioned comfort of the office while I can be found outside, cheerfully warming myself on a rock. I type for a living and I find that if I stay in the air-conditioning too long, I work up a wind chill on my hands.

It's sad, really. The other day Champs and I were at a band tournament. There were stage lights, food prep machines and over 200 bodies all working together to make the club warm. Of course, they had to turn the air conditioning on. While no one else was even aware of it, the vent some 20-odd feet away from me soon had me shivering miserably. I leaned forward and placed my hands on Champ's thighs. I could feel his warmth - but he could feel my cold through the denim of his jeans! He looked at me in shock and even over the loud rock music, I could hear him exclaim, "good god woman, are you even alive?!?" When I get cold, my skin pebbles with goose flesh so badly that I look like a freshly plucked chicken. Just dip me in 11 secret herbs and spices and fry me up.


Champs, on the other hand, likes it cool. He would flourish on Pluto. The temperature there is about minus 350 degrees. Just think, permanent air conditioning and you don't even need to have a saver's switch installed to keep the cost down. In winter, Champs sleeps in his underwear only, a stark contrast to my full-on flannel. He is like a furnace putting out an extra 1500 BTU's per hour and I am powerless against the lure of free heat. He finally found a way to keep my cold feet off him at night when he bought me an electric blanket and started "pre-heating" my side of the bed each night. It worked, too. See, all winter long when I got into bed, I would luxuriate in the warmth of my 2 foot wide heated "safe zone". I tried to put my feet on the back of his knees, but it meant moving out of the safe zone, so I stayed where I was. Champs still considers it the best money he's ever spent.

There's another reason that I can prove that women are from Mercury and men are from Pluto; it's a matter of territory. Just look at it's name - Mercury is the god of commerce. Um, hello? This is a guy who understands a woman's prime function in life: shopping!

As the second smallest planet, it is the perfect size for shopping, and shopping is definitely part of my territory. I have a world to decorate, people! Now, like I said, I am dealing in stereotypes here, but they are stereotypes into which I fit like a glove.

I suppose there are a few women out there who don't enjoy shopping, but I have never met any of them. Food, clothes, shoes, beads, crafts; it doesn't matter. We all love and need to shop. Champs has figured this out and pretty much leaves me to my own devices. He has learned to give me a list of what he needs and then wait for me to bring it home. It is much less painful for him than going shopping with me. In fact, there are only two places that he will happily accompany me shopping: Cub Foods and Home Depot and that is only because they fit firmly into his territory.

Let's face it, men are all about the food and the tools, and when you can combine the two, you've pretty much reached nirvana. What, you don't believe me? Just watch any man grilling up brats or a steak. He is in his element. He is in his territory. It fits; Pluto is the god of the dead and the ruler of the underworld. Sounds like a dead cow sizzling over flames to me.

Not to mention, Pluto is the name of a famous dog. Doesn't every husband want a dog? Oh yeah, and then there's the spiders. Correct me if I am wrong, but it is every husband's job to kill any and every offensive bug that creeps into his territory, isn't that correct?

Yes it is.

God of the dead, I tell you.

Another thing about this territory issue is the size of the territory. Pluto is the smallest planet and Mercury is a bit larger. This is appropriate. If you look at the average house, it is clear that the woman has the larger territory. The garage? That is Champs' territory all the way - but I have the house and I mean just about all of it. Every closet, no matter whose clothes are hanging in it, is mine. The bathroom is mine. OK, yeah, you've always heard that the bathroom is the man's, but if you really think about it, the toilet is his. Everything else? My territory. Here's how it works: if I clean it or I decorate it, it's mine.

When you look at the territory of men, what one word comes to mind? Tools. Yes, tools. Home Depot is Mecca to my husband. He has a list of power tools that he needs. This is a man who really doesn't want to build anything, he just wants to know that he could be ready to do it at a moment's notice if so inspired. I didn't understand this at first.

I've come a long way in my understanding, however. When Champs first started explaining all the tools he "needed", I couldn't begin to grasp why the man would need 5 saws. A jigsaw, a handsaw, a miter saw, a reciprocating saw and a table saw. Um, isn't a saw supposed to cut? How many ways to cut are there, anyway? But then I got it; it's like shoes! Just like I could not expect one pair of shoes to meet the needs of my cute feet, Champs could not expect one saw to meet his cutting needs. And now we understand one another: I get shoes, he gets tools. The secret for us Mercurian women is to truly understand the pull of the power tool on our Plutonian men.

Case in point: This last Valentine's Day was the first time in our marriage that Champs and I had enough money to actually buy presents for one another. Since he was going to be out of town on the big day, I asked him two days earlier what he wanted to do about the holiday. I expected him to say something like leave Sweet Girl with Grandma and go out to dinner that night. But he pulled the rug out from under me. He said he already had something planned. After a bit of drilling, I found out that he had spent about $100.00 on me and I would get it when he was out of town. Auugh! I had to figure out quickly what to do for him that would equal what he was doing for me - and have it ready by the next night. It had to be loving, meaningful and above all, romantic. I could not think of even one thing that was romantic and would fit the spending limit! I thought of a bracelet I had seen at the jewelers, but I knew that, while I always think jewelry is a good gift, it would not mean much to Champs. If it were Christmas or his birthday or anytime when I didn't have to be romantic, I would have no problem; power tools all the way, man. But this was Valentine's Day! Unless Cupid uses an air-compressed bow and arrow, I couldn't see how tools would be romantic.

I polled all my friends. I was asking one friend on the elevator for her opinion when a man who was couldn't help hearing our conversation spoke up. "Go with the tools", he said. "You can't go wrong with tools". My friend nodded in agreement. Soon I was asking every guy I could find; bracelet or power sander? Without reservation, every guy said how cool a power tool would be. "But that's not romantic!" I would exclaim with dismay. One guy finally cinched it for me:
"Do you love him?"
"Does he love tools?"
"Well, yeah."
"O.K., then get him what he loves to show him your love."

With a sigh of resignation, I bought Champs a hand held screwdriver and a power palm sander. I wrote on the card "you smooth out my rough edges" (I didn't mention the screwdriver since that pun would have been a little over the top). He loved it! Funny me, I thought the dozen roses he had delivered to my office were pretty romantic, but to him, that was romance. Go figure.

Now, if you still need proof that women are from Mercury and men are from Pluto, all you need to do is consider the element of time. Did you know that a year on Mercury is only 88 days long, but a full day (from sunset to sunrise) takes 176 days? How typical is that, ladies? Your day is ALWAYS longer than your year!

Not only that, but of all nine planets, Pluto is the only one that doesn't orbit around the Sun in an orderly fashion. Pluto orbits the Sun on a different plane than the other eight planets, going over them and below them. While all the other planets are going around in an orderly circle, Pluto has this elliptical orbit, where it goes around the sun in an oval shape so that it can quickly run ahead of its neighbor, Neptune, every hundred years or so and try to get there quicker. Now, I ask you: Won't ask for directions or follow the map and is always trying to get there quicker... Who does that sound like? I'm telling you, men really are from Pluto!

It has been said that too many couples marry for better or for worse but not for good. You can be married for good. All it takes is a true understanding of the unique traits of the man and the woman in the marriage. I mean, women may be from Mercury and Men may be from Pluto, but thank God we are at least in the same solar system!

Here are some comments from this post:
Mom Nancy said...
That's an amazing essay. YOu should send it to a woman's magazine or something!

princssis said...
OK. How in the WORLD do you come up with this stuff? Either you have a very vivid imagination or you do a lot of research before blogging!
I had to laugh about the "Pluto is the god of the dead and the ruler of the underworld. Sounds like a dead cow sizzling over flames to me." However, I have to disagree with you about the spiders. I am the spider killer in our household! Who would've thought a 6 foot tall man would shudder when a spider is in sight and call for his wife to kill it!? Ahem. HERE!

kenju said...
I have decided that men will not ever understand women in the same way that women understand men. Mine wouldn't know a tool if it bit him, so that doesn't work as a gift in our family....LOL

Geekwif said...
You're too too funny. Good speech. I hope your fellow TMers loved it.

Shannin said...
Very, very funny... I may have to print this out for my husband, although he's not a tool guy (deathly afraid of anything that has to be plugged in - some deep, dark trauma from his childhood I think).

Guppyman said...
Tools are ALWAYS good. And you should have gone with the screwdriver pun.... that's always good too.
Oh, and by the way... I actually use my garage full of tools.... Most women I see NEVER wear half the shoes they own.

princssis said...
Oh, I see you added the editor's note! That 'splains all the "research". You changed it a little, too, didn't you?
It's still very good!

Blond Girl said...
Very observant, Princssis; not on the "editor's note" - that's pretty big, but on the other changes. Yes, I added some things from the actual speech that got some good laughs as well as edited out some little problems that I created by cutting and pasting from Word.
I'm so glad you liked it! Now I just need to get my butt in gear and write another post....

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Corporate stupidity sent me home

I had planned to work until 5:00 tonight. I left the office at 4:30. I gave up; corporate stupidity had done me in.

As a Communication Specialist, I do at least 90% of my work in Microsoft Word and PowerPoint. I store all my documents that are being developed or are legally approved in a shared drive on the company network. Our shared drive is running out of room.

Today I worked for over 5 hours on two letters that were not so much written as designed. Fully formatted with forms, information sheets, disclosures and the most carefully worded enhancement offer for our annuity clients. Lots of work, folks, and works of art, if I do say so myself.

I also worked on the updates to two financial statements that are set to go into production in one week. They are being developed but the developers realized they couldn't use some text I had written and had legally approved because our system couldn't calculate the date to go with the text. So, I had these two statements going through a rush (and I mean a mach 20 rush) legal approval.

In the midst of all this work, I went to access the statements and found that someone had DELETED ALL MY DOCUMENTS OFF THE SHARED DRIVE! People, we are talking about four years of document development! After I got my heart started again I contacted our technology desk. They said the documents were probably deleted because they needed the space for "regulatory documents". Um, people? Everything I write is legally approved and stored for NASD audit. How much more regulatory do you need?

I know they'll get my documents back. See, they did this two weeks ago, too. Apparently I didn't make myself clear last time when I said they couldn't delete my work. Tomorrow I am going to make them figure out who hit the delete key and I am going to personally visit them. Then, when they restore my files, I am changing the name of my folder to "Don't Delete These Documents if You Value Your Life". Maybe that will work.

I love working for The Big Company. But once in awhile, corporate stupidity can really put a crick in your week, you know?

Here are some comments from this post:

Geekwif said...
Just one of the many reasons why I hate working for big companies. I hope they are able to get back all your docs.

Shannin said...
Ha!! That's why anything I cannot lose/recreate I copy to my P drive as well. I know, I know - not company policy, but when a year's worth of data gets "accidentally" deleted that's not a good thing.

We Scare Me

Not long after Champs and I were married we found, like most couples, that we tend to think alike. It wasn't long before we were finishing one another's sentences. Before much longer, we were thinking of the same thing at the same time - things like Champs saying "you know, it's been awhile - we should go to Chevy's for dinner" at the same time I was thinking that going downtown for a mess of fajitas sounded like a good idea.

I think it was about a year into our marriage when I first said "We scare me". When we think of the same thing at the same time, we scare me.

Tonight we SO scared me.

First, the background: In January Champs and I bought two MP3 players which were, to put it mildly, pieces of crap sold by Samsung. We returned mine, but before we could return his, Champs accidentally dropped it from about 12 inches above the ground. The face cracked. This was four days after we purchased it. Best Buy couldn't take it back because it was "customer damaged". I called Samsung who refused to make good on their product. I explained (ad nauseum, to whomever I got on the phone) that an item made to be portable needed to be of higher quality. I can't tell you how many times I've accidentally dropped my Kyocera cell phone or my Palm Pilot - and they have emerged unscathed. As I explained to the Customer Service Manager, if the company makes a product that breaks that easily and the company will not support the repair or replacement of that item, what am I to assume but that they produce crappy products and they know it?

All to no avail. We still have the damaged Samsung player and no satisfaction from the company. As far as we are concerned, all Samsung products are crap and we will NEVER purchase anything made by that company again.

Fast forward to tonight. A cell phone commercial came on with two guys bragging about all their phones could do. Live TV, text messaging, video and theft deterrent. The "theft deterrent" came in when one guy threw his phone at the other guy.

Then the commercial broke to the product. It was a Samsung cell phone. Champs and I started laughing and had this conversation:
Champs: "That wouldn't stop a thief!"
Me: "Yeah, it would break the first time. Well, it is a theft deterrent, actually."
Champs (laughing) "Yeah, it's a Samsung. No one's going to steal it!"

Then he pretended to be a thief taking a phone and looking at it and pretending to return it to his victim: "Oh, man, I'm sorry. You can have your phone back. This is a Samsung. Here you go!"

And this is where we scare me: Champs and I then said, in almost exact candence: "In fact, man, here's another phone." (meaning that the thief would feel so sorry for anyone having a Samsung phone that he would give the guy one of the others he had stolen). Then we both looked at each other and busted out laughing. The same thought, the same moment.

We SO scare me!

(I hope you can picture it - it really was a funny moment, but it's a little hard to describe it without facial expressions and vocal intonation...)

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

About a year ago I apologized to a friend for rescheduling the second time. I explained that I was just so busy I was juggling everything. She basically told me she didn't care how busy I was; I was copping out by playing the busy card.

It caught me up short.

Since then I've tried to not make "I'm busy" an excuse. And for the most part it has worked. The only problem is that I am now trying to cram even more stuff - work, time with the hubby, time with the Sweet Girl, appointments, friends, ideas, housework, move planning, free-lance work for others, worship team, etc., etc., etc. into the same about of time. I heard once that if you want something done, ask the busy person to do it, since that person is likely to find a way to do it.

I seem to be that person.

One unfortunate side effect of all this busy-ness is that my blogging has been suffering. While I think there are people who would read my blog faithfully if I wrote in it faithfully, I am pretty sure I've alienated them all. Sigh.

I'm not sure, short of cloning, what the answer is. I do know that I will be glad when we have moved to Another State and gotten everything settled. I am finding that this big of a move affects everything. Absolutely every aspect of my life is in flux right now.

Speaking of the move and being in flux, here is something you can pray with me about, if you will.

There are two reasons are family has not yet moved to Another State, although we've been officially planning the move for almost a year now. The first reason is that Sweet Girl is still in kindergarten and we didn't want to uproot her in the middle of a school year. That alone put our move out to summer.

The second reason is more complicated. Champs had a corneal transplant in his right eye on April 27, 2005. In order to move, we need to have his eye in good health and, preferably, with a special contact fitted for him. Well, he has been fighting rejection in that cornea since the beginning. That eye is the last piece to fall in place for us to move.

We just met with Champ's eye specialist on Friday. The last time he was in a couple of months ago, the doctor said the rejection was still there, but weakening. We were hoping for a good report when we went in this time, but it wasn't what we were hoping for. As it turns out, this cornea is still rejecting. However, it is only about a 30% rejection and is focally-located, meaning it is a very small, specific area of rejection. The doctor explained that this is unusual. He has seen it before and it can still be quelled. Essentially, Champs has too good of an immune system; you can't pull the wool over his eyes (no, that pun was not intended, really!)

So, we know that he won't have a special contact fitted before we leave. The question now is, can we quell the rejection so we can leave? The doctor gave Champs another cortisone shot beneath his eye (ouch!) to hopefully stop the localized swelling. He is also sending Champs to his internal medicine doctor for a new treatment; a type of anti-rejection medication used on other types of transplant patients. It has to be monitored carefully with liver tests and, apparently, is very expensive. This makes me worry about the cost of medicine after we move. Who knows what our insurance situation will be? Some jobs will insure a worker immediately, while others will make you wait six months or a year.

Yeah, I'm treading water - in more ways than one!

Thursday, May 4, 2006

I Feel Pretty

My hair has gotten very long and has been feeling pretty lifeless - that's the way a lot of life has been feeling lately. My friends have been complaining about my reliance on ponytails. I needed to cut off some of the length and give myself a reason to use some styling mousse instead of a scrunchie every morning. Not to mention, I'll soon have to go on a bunch of job interviews for our new life in Illinois. Clearly, it was time for a haircut.

I used to have a gal named Lisa do my hair at a salon back before I met Champs, but I stopped going to that salon when Lisa left and started going to another salon every 11 months whether I needed it or not.

Well, my friend Amy told me about her hair stylist, Lisa, awhile back. She said she does hair in her home and recommended that I go. Meanwhile, another girl at church, Sarah, kept telling me I had to have her roommate, Lisa, cut my hair. I planned to go see Amy's Lisa, but I kept forgetting and forgetting to get Lisa's number. Finally a week or so ago I remembered and got it from Amy.

Yes, you guessed it - turns out Sarah's Lisa is Amy's Lisa who was my Lisa. Cue the Disney "small world" music... I had so much fun catching up with her! Her little girl and Sweet Girl played together while I got a triple foil color, cut and brow wax.

I took along a photo of Reese Witherspoon with the haircut she had in the movie "Just Like Heaven" as a starting point. No, I don't think I look like Reese, but we both have high cheekbones and pointed chins, so I felt that a cut that looks good on her will have a great chance of looking good on me. Lisa agreed, got out the scissors and, boom, 6 inches of my hair, GONE.

Now I have a shoulder length bob with lots of lovely blond highlights and lowlights. It has lots of layers and moment. I love it.

Plus, I got my brows waxed. It's been awhile. I won't kid you; it hurt! Especially the right eye. Those hairy little buggers didn't want to come out. I think my eyeball folded on that one it hurt so much. But I didn't yelp or cry or anything. Hey, I'm a woman. I've had 5 abdominal surgeries and I give myself 5 shots of insulin everyday. I can handle a little wax pain. That said, don't EVER ask me to get a bikini wax! Man, it just ain't happenin!

I feel pretty tonight. I needed this. Who knows? Maybe when the redness goes down, I might even post a picture of my new look.... Maybe.

Monday, May 1, 2006

The New Tot in Town

Here in the land of 15,000 (at least) lakes, we have a number of news stations. Most of my friends or folks I talk to tend to watch Kare-11. There's others, but none that are as happy. And you know, to Minnesota Nice, there is nothing so important as being able to find a happy place in the middle of whatever else is going on. Gas prices too high? Murder at Block E ("E" for execute, perhaps) getting you down? War in Iraq too much to listen to? Well, at least there are the smiling faces of Mike and Julie to soften the blow and Bobby and Belinda to tell us how to make our roses grow.

Now, I know I sound sarcastic, but I don't mean to. I can't help it, really; sarcasm is like breathing for me; sometimes it's fast and shallow and others deep and belabored, but it's always there. I digress. In spite of sounding sarcastic, the truth is I prefer it. If I didn't, I would watch a different channel. But I like Kare-11. And I like their new weekend meteorologist, Sven Sundgaard.

I was talking to my mom on the phone the other day when she mentioned Sven. Or tried to, anyway. Our conversation went something like this:

Mom: Have you seen the new weekend weather guy? (She doesn't attempt a word like "meteorologist". The woman has at least a cursory understanding of her limits)

Blond Girl: Yeah. I like him. He's young, but personable.

Mom: Yeah, he's young. What's his name? Seven? Sween? Sw....????

BG: Mom, his name is Sven.

Mom: Yeah, that's right. Sween. No, Seven... ????

BG: Mom, it's Sven, can't you pronounce that? (Insert amazed tone here - how many Sven and Ollie jokes has my father told over the years?)

Mom: Nope, it's too hard.

BG: Really? Mom, you're a native Minnesotan! You're half Scandinavian. "Sven" should be a no brainer to say - like "tater tot hotdish"!

Now, whenever I watch the weekend news on Kare-11, I'll be tempted to say, "Oh, there's that nice new weatherman, Tater Tot!"

Here's some comments from this post:
Geekwif said...
Holy cow! The guy looks like he's about 16! I guess you really meant it when you said "tot".

Shannin said...
I don't think he's allowed to do the 10:00 news - it's after curfew!!
I remember when he was introduced and Don and I, native Californians and all, had to make fun of Sven Sungaard... Hey, back home we had Fritz Coleman and Dallas Raines...

HolyMama! said...
ok, i don't know how to pronounce sven either.

Anonymous said...
I live in an apartment complex in West Minneapolis and was riding the elevator when one day is see Sven hop on. Wow, he is a pretty short guy... 5'3" maybe.

Moncrief Speaks said...
I sort of love your blog.
And you know Sven has his own blog, right?