Tuesday, September 3, 2013

She's Jus' Bein' Miley... (Blurred Lines, Part 1)

O.K., O.k., I know I'm late to this party.

You know, the week-long party everyone else has already checked into and moved on from?  The Potluck where the guests have brought everything from Slut Shaming Soup to Twerking Tacos, washing it all down with sips of Billy Ray Blaming Brewskis.  Yes, the 2013 VMAs are in the history books, and I, being of middle-age and motherhood,  was wrapped up in other more important things, like back to school shopping and Game of Thrones, to tune in on that fateful night in television and music history.

I heard about it, like I hear about most things, after the fact.  I've often joked that if it doesn't happen in my house, I don't know about it.  So, the morning after the VMAs I woke up to find all of my Facebook friends up in arms about Miley Cyrus' scandalous behavior.  Everyone was all "what was she thinking?" and "OMG! Why was that allowed on tv?"  So I pulled up YouTube to see what all the fuss was about and soon, I too, was all "Jesus, Mary and Joseph in a Manger, this country is going to hell in a handbasket!"  And, that should have been the end of it.  For me, that usually is the end of it.  For in my Real Housewife of Berks County world, there was laundry to do and a cat box to scoop.

Days have passed here in the real world, which, in the rarefied air of the the entertainment and media worlds, translates into decades.  The cameras and talking heads have moved on to other topics of import (actual import, such as Syria, and who has been cast to play Christian Gray in the new 50 Shades of Gray movie.  By the way, my guy, didn't win the part.)  And yet....

And yet, I can't stop thinking about it.  I can still see young Miley, with her tongue hanging out (what??) and bent over her big foam finger (why???)  ...I just don't get it. Back in my day, Madonna stepped out onto the stage in her half a wedding dress, rolled around on the floor singing "Like a Virgin" and that was it.  That was all we had, we didn't know any better and we liked it.  (shout out to Mr. Dana Carvey) Show's over and we all went home happy.

I could join the chorus of voices decrying the vulgarity on display that night and nearly every night on MTV and other channels.  I could (and did) shake my head in sadness as another young lady fell victim to our society's insistence on hypsersexualizing it's little girls. My daughter was too young to worship at the altar of Hannah Montana, but I commiserate with my fellow mothers who had to try to explain Miley's behavior to their teens and tweens last week.  I know my time is coming as Selena Gomez comes of age and embarks on her R rated movie career.  Another sweet one bites the dust.

Is there blame here?  Where should it be placed?  We have been quick to blame Miley, but I have to point out, and don't know why I have to point this out, Miley wasn't the only one on stage that night. It was a HUGE production on a HUGE TV broadcast, put on by a HUGE worldwide company. Thousands of people were involved in this production on stage and behind the scenes.  Months in the planning, myriad executives, dancers, singers, advertisers, Miley and....Robin Thicke.  While we are so quick to judge Miley a slut and say she has behaved in an "unladylike manner".  Very little has been said about Robin's performance.  He was kind of hard to miss up there on stage, the guy in the tight black and white stripes. Allowing his very married crotch to be twerked upon by our girl Miley.  Where are the people decrying his behavior?  I have to wonder if this is OK with his wife?  Why is it ok with him? And, in my own, middle-aged naivete, I must wonder, why was he not enough of a gentleman to step up and say it's not ok for Miley?

I have more questions than answers here, I realize.  I'm surprised that so many of us, and I include myself in this, still have the knee-jerk reaction to shame Miley and and take Robin's behavior in stride. But upon second and third look, other questions come to mind--why do we build our celebrities up to such a level and then stand back to enjoy the free fall?  We can say we didn't see this coming.  Really?  We didn't see this coming?  Remember how quickly Britney Spears went from warbling "I'm Not a Girl" to the wild-eyed, shaven-headed crazy lady who attacked a truck with an umbrella?  How do we stop the objectification of our young ladies? How do we teach them to value and advocate for themselves? How do we teach our young men to value our young ladies and yes, even advocate for them?  And don't even get me started on Billy Ray Cyrus.  To paraphrase comedian Chris Rock, Billy Ray had ONE DAMN JOB as a father, and that was to keep his daughter "off the pole."  In this he has failed.  I hope and pray there are still fathers in the entertainment world who look at their daughters as a treasure to be jealously guarded rather than a commodity to be sold on the cheap.  I'm looking at you, Joe Simpson and Michael Lohan.  Yes, let's remember, Miley's not the only little girl gone shockingly wild--she's merely the latest.

Because unfortunately, from where I sit, the world still looks like a man's world.  And Miley's just livin' it.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Heart Wants What the Heart Wants. (Not That There's Anything Wrong With That ...)

One of the best, if not THE BEST thing about being in my 40's is the fact that I know my own heart.

I know, with great certainty that I choose chocolate over vanilla, red over grey,  Clooney over Pitt, Bennett over Sinatra.  Given the choice I would spend a night in with a few friends over a night out in a crowd.  I have no trouble choosing toothpaste and toilet paper.  I've lived.  I've tried. My heart, my taste buds, my ears, eyes and bum--we know what we like.

But, in recent days, with the Supreme Court in hearings regarding the DOMA and so many of my Facebook friends coming out on one side or the other of this Red Equality Sign: >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

I've been feeling a bit....I don't know,..unsettled, I guess.  Suddenly, my 40-something heart and aren't feeling so sure of ourselves.

I have a gay friend, whom I adore, no, not adore, ADORE!  The day we met he said something so funny I choked on the soda from which I had just taken a sip and for over twenty years he has continued to make me laugh so hard the soda still literally and figuratively shoots out of my nostrils. He is the devastatingly handsome West Coast "Just Jack" to my East Coast, only slightly less chemically imbalanced, Karen.  I have not seen him in decades, but through Facebook, we tease and "cheese" often enough that I feel I can confidently count him among my dearest of friends.  I hope all of you, my Readers Dear, have at least one  friend like that. Through the years and across the miles he continues to nestle in the little nook of my heart where he has always been. I wouldn't have it any other way.

But, I'm a Christian, hence my discomfiture.

While so many of my brethren roar their terrible roars and gnash their terrible teeth,  I hang back.  (Props to Mr. Sendak, who was also homosexual)  I have never liked crowds and am in no hurry to stand in line to be among the first to cast stones at people who have not done me or mine any harm.  As I've said before, stones hurt.  But, I wonder, what is my place here in this debate?  Which side of the Equal sign am I supposed to stand on?

For who among us, heterosexual or otherwise, can say we are without sin?  Haven't we all, in our dating or marital histories made questionable choices?  I know I have. Bad boyfriends?  Premarital sex? The guy my mother didn't like?  50 Shades of Grey?  Clooney lust?  Check, check, check, check and check.  

I mull this debate over and as it so often does in my walk, the cliched "WWJD?" comes to mind.  Well, what would He do?

The answer can be found in what He did do.  He loved us --with all His heart, all His soul and all His strength.  ALL of us. And so, that, that love, is what we, as His beloved are in turn charged with.  This love, His love, is kind, it does not dishonor others, is not self-seeking.  It does not delight in evil. It protects and trusts.  It hopes and perseveres.  Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)

Is homosexuality a sin?  Will it be the downfall of our society?  Will my gay friends burn in hell?  I don't know that it's for me to say.  I am not charged with judging the choices of others.  I am only charged to love them.

Love never fails.  Love is not mine to judge. I know my heart and I are sure of that.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

I Used to be Disgusted, Now I'm Just Amused...

This past Sunday I was talking to a man with whom I attend church.  He is very intelligent and highly placed in local academia.  During our conversation we both lamented the low, nearly non-existent spelling and grammar standards we encounter when reading the newspaper or an on-line article.  Yes, I suppose I could be referred to as a "grammar Nazi" , but, let me just say in my defense, that although I notice nearly every misspelling or shoddily assembled paragraph I read on Facebook or my other favorite Internet haunts, I never point them out to the writer.  I'm not perfect.  I'm not without sin.  I don't need to cast stones.  Stones hurt.  I usually just shake my head in resignation and disgust and move on.  Until today...

Below is a cut and pasted version of a recent discussion I had with a (and I can hardly say this with a straight face) "customer service" representative for a website from which I ordered some merchandise...

From: Stacey Shannon
To: Customer Service
Sent: Friday, February 08, 2013 5:17 PM
Subject: Orders/Shipping - Order #776594

Hello, I placed my order on 1/22/13 and am still waiting for it.  I 
understand it was damaged during shipment and has been reshipped.  I am 
requesting a refund of the $6.95 shipping fee.  Thank you.

From: customer service
To: Stacey Shannon
Sent: Tuesday, February 12, 2013 2:15:34 PM
Subject: Orders/Shipping - Order #776594

Dear Ms. Shannon,

  I regretfully must inform you that we are able to issue you a refund. The 
package was sent in a timely manor. We have reshipped your package due to 
the damage that was done to it by the shipping company that was used, other 
then that I am sorry ma'am but we are unable to further extend our services. 
The package that was reshipped to you is out for delivery today.

Customer Service

From: Stacey Shannon
To: Customer Service
Sent: Tuesday, February 12, 2013 12:55 PM
Subject: Orders/Shipping - Order #776594

The package did arrive today.  However, I paid $6.95 for UPS Ground Shipment, expecting it to arrive within the specified 1-5 day period.  This did not happen.  While I understand your company may have shipped the package in a timely manner, it was not delivered in a timely manner.  Surely a refund of less than $7.00 would be a shining example of excellent customer service.  Perhaps your company could recoup that amount from UPS as they are to blame for the damage and unreasonably slow delivery of the package.  

Put yourself in my shoes--would you be happy if you paid a fee for shipping and then had to wait 21 days for it to arrive?  Without so much as an apology or other accommodation from the company you ordered it from? I am not making an unreasonable request.  I'm just asking for some customer service from the Customer Service department.  Thank you. 

From: customer service
To: Stacey Shannon
Sent: Tuesday, February 12, 2013 4:41:52 PM
Subject: Orders/Shipping - Order #776594

Dear Ms. Shannon,   I understand the incontinence that you were put through during this time and we apologize for this. However our answer remains, there is nothing else we can further extend to you at this time. The package was scheduled to arrive at the specified time, but due to the damage it was sent back to us so we could mail out a replacement package to you at our cost. The original claim was denied by UPS. We are in the process of reopening the case. If our shipping fees get adjusted we will do the same for you. Sincerely,Customer Service

From: Stacey Shannon
To: Customer Service
Sent: Tuesday, February 12, 2013 2:34 PM
Subject: Orders/Shipping - Order #776594

O.K., fair enough.  I look forward to hearing from you regarding the UPS claim.  

And just to be clear, I was merely inconvenienced during the lengthy wait for my package, not incontinent.  

Thank you, Stacey Shannon 

And...you, "Customer Service" representative are OWNED!  At this point, I've had such a good laugh they can keep my $6.95.  It was worth it.  

But, a bit later I received this as a postscript...

Dear Ms. Shannon,
   My apologize for the grammar error, it was a human/ electrical error. We will let you know about the claim as soon as we get more information on it.
Customer Service

Oh Dude, just turn off the computer before you hurt yourself...

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Oh, so THAT'S what that tail is for...

It's not so much "deer in the headlights" as "rabbit in the headlights"...

One late night, about 25 years ago, I was driving home from work.
With my previously mentioned boyfriend who was neither a boy nor a friend. (See Wine for my Horses, Chocolate for my Girls).
I was driving.
In my car.
Because my 40-something boyfriend did not have a car.
Because his credit was bad.
Because he had declared Bankruptcy.
Because he had opened (and closed) a failed nightclub in Florida.
That is the story he told me. Now I wonder how much of it was true.

And by the way, in one of my many, many head-shakingly embarrassing "Hellooooo McFlyyyy" moments of my clueless 20's, why did it not occur to me that a 45 year old man who tends bar for a living, has no car nor home of his own was probably not what we would call "a keeper"??


We were driving home from work, down an unpaved road in one of the many housing developments of the Pocono Mountains of PA when a rabbit darted in front of my car.  Now, for my Pennsylvania wildlife-challenged Readers Dear, let me explain something to you.  A white-tailed deer will often stop and look at the headlights of the car that is about to hit it for a moment or two until it decides to run out of harm's way. Hence the phrase "deer in the headlights".   A rabbit?  Not so much.  A rabbit will run, but not in a logical, straight line. It will zig-zag back and forth in front of the car.  So, try as you might to not hit it, the rabbit will make it really difficult for you. And, true to form, this rabbit zigged as I zigged and zagged as I zagged.  All the while bartender-boy sat in the shotgun seat half-joking, but not really, about my driving.

In recent days, for some reason, every time I close my eyes I see that rabbit   I see the darkness of the night held back by the soft glow coming from my single-chick-Ford-Mustang headlights.  I see that brown little bunny, frantically bounding back and forth from ditch to ditch, with his little powder puff tail in the air.  I remember the dismay I felt, willing him to just pick a spot, sit still, and let me drive around him already so I could just go home and rest.  And I can still feel my right hand as it itched to flip the bird to my smart-ass not-a-friend-boyfriend.

Some days you're the headlights, some days you're the rabbit.  This day, this month, (It's January again.  Awesome.) I am the rabbit.  Frantically running around in a spastic zig-zag, trying to avoid the truckload of grief heading my way with it's annual delivery.  I zig -- "hey let's plan a girl's night".  I zag --"I'm  entirely too much of a hot mess to be around anyone."  I waffle between inertia and frenzy.  Zig. Zag. Zig. Zag...the headlights are upon me ...

I know they are coming.  I know it's going to be bad.  I don't deny it anymore. I'm not even going to fight it. I know I should just pick a spot, sit still and let the headlights, and the attached truck, wash over me.  But, oh, how I want to run.   There is only me, the headlights and and my white, puffy tail, waving in surrender.