It’s a football game not a funeral

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Ah, another “older” woman berating today’s young ladies for wearing clothing she deems “unclassy.” This time at an Alabama football game. Isn’t it refreshing?

One day we’re yelling at men to stop objectifying our daughters. The next we’re slut-shaming these same daughters because their collarbones are showing. At a football game. In 95-degree heat.

Give me a break. Today’s young women are under enough pressure trying to find their place in a world that constantly tells them they need to be:

  • prettier (but without looking like they’re trying)
  • smarter (but not too smart)
  • richer (but not wealthier than the boys)
  • taller (but not too tall)
  • skinnier (but not too skinny)
  • curvier (but not too curvy)
  • successful (but not too successful)
miniskirt

That’s me in the miniskirt and motorcycle jacket senior year of high school.

They certainly don’t need us older women judging them for the clothes they wear. My lord, Madonna and Jennifer Beals in Flashdance were our fashion role model in the 80s! And don’t try to tell me you didn’t dress like either of them at some point. We all did. I wore short skirts with cowboy boots, sweatshirts hanging off my shoulder, a skintight floral print tank dress, tight jeans with crop tops. Thank goodness there were no bloggers to call me slutty or question my integrity. (If the church ladies did, they kept it among themselves.)

 

This particular writer also assumed girls were dressing “skimpy” just to look good “for a boy”? So what if they do? Sometimes I want to look good “for a boy,” even as a 44-year-old single mom. I’m sure that writer wants to look good for her husband sometimes.

Then there are times I want to look good so other women, like this particular writer, won’t

siblinghhs

Those were extremely tight white jeans. And my annoyed little brother.

judge me for being “too sloppy, too frumpy, too fat, too matronly,” or looking like I’ve “just given up on life.” Sometimes I dress sexier than usual so I can take a selfie to remind me that I’m still attractive. And that I’m not dead inside.

All of this is okay. I don’t need your permission to dress in a way that I think might attract a nice man I might cross paths with on a given day. Or for the women in my circle or those who judge me based on what I’m wearing. Or for myself. My daughter doesn’t need your permission or your judgment either.

We want more men to respect our brains, our jobs, our sports, our parenting, our skill at walking in high heels, our chainsaw-wielding, our driving, our writing, our lawn-mowing, our emotions, our child-birthing, our independence, our political opinions, and yes, even our looks. Yet we women continue to tear each other down over clothes we deem not “classy” enough.

What is “classy” anyway? Is it classy to insinuate that a whole generation in a spaghetti-strap sundresses are sluts? Should we assume if you cover up with a scarf that you’re a cold fish? That you’re ashamed of your body? Of course not. Why do we think anything at all about how another woman is dressed? And if we do think an unkind thought, why would we voice it?

People are always posting platitudes about being kind and putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. It’s time we older women took our own advice and started being kinder to our younger counterparts. We can learn a lot from each other if we just stop judging.

 

 

 

 

 

Low Places

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The smell of corn dogs and funnel cakes coated the air and Bob Seger’s “Main Street” played on the staticky speakers when Jake spotted me standing in line for the Tilt-a-Whirl. He wore a purple button-down and jeans. And that smile. Always that smile.

That memory about a junior college crush led me down a rabbit hole of journal entries and early 1990s music. Back then “big-hat” country played on all of our stereos, and Garth Brooks was its king. Listening to him, 20-year-old me swore the connections I made then would last forever.

Read the rest of my piece on how Garth Brooks shaped my college memories at Kelly J. Baker’s Cold Takes as part of her Albums Series.

JBJ is always there

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You say you’ve cried a thousand riversJBJ2008
And now you’re swimming for the shore

I was thinking about this video on the way to work this morning as I sang along to I’ll Be There For You. I taped it from MTV and watched it over and over and over … when it comes to Bon Jovi videos, this one is tops for me. Probably because Jon looks so fine in the brown leather pants, the shirt unbuttoned to his navel, and that hair, oh, that glorious hair, and because I wanted someone to feel that way about me:

I’ll be the water when you get thirsty, baby
When you get drunk I’ll be the wine

Those are some of my favorite song lyrics. Even as a teetotaling 17-year-old, I loved the imagery. Someone loving you so much that he gets a high just from being with you? Back then I understood “getting drunk” as acting silly, giddy, and having fun while nursing a wine cooler. (As an adult, I’d learn more than I’d ever want to know about what it really meant. I’ll expand on that in a later post.) “Getting drunk” was something college kids and grown-ups did, not something high school me did. I just loved the metaphor. And still do.

Twenty-four years later, I could still watch the video on repeat, only now I can see Jon and his leather pants in high-def on my 42-inch flat screen. YouTube through a Blu-Ray player is an awesome invention. <clicks play>

Party down on New Year’s Eve

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We made good on our New Year’s Eve plans by getting dressed up and going out. We had a fabulous meal at Rosie’s Cantina, our favorite restaurant, and we walked around Bridge Street until it was time for our movie, Alvin & The Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, to start. She giggled throughout the show and that’s what made it fun for me. We got home around 10, watched the ball drop at 11, played Just Dance 3, saw fireworks from our back patio, counted down to midnight here, and welcomed 2012 like only we can.

Songs that remind me of boys

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Music can set the mood, offer motivation, or take you down memory lane. Well, let’s take a stroll through my glorious teenage years when my hair was big, “holding hands meant something,” and these songs played on the radio.

1. Wild Wild West, The Escape Club – 10th-grade crush – He had the bluest eyes, spiked hair, was “so fine,” to use the vernacular of the ’80s, and was a year younger. “I love her eyes and her wild, wild hair” was the lyric, which I, of course, changed to “his eyes and his hair.”

2. Rock Me Amadeus, Falco – 8th-grade crush – I think we sat around singing the song during math class, and he would quote some “Saturday Night Live” joke about “I mean, hey, french toast …” I don’t even know what that was.

3. When It’s Love, Van Halen – Summer-after-my-senior-year fling – He is an actor now, and during the summer of ’90, we hung out when two of his friends were dating my friends. He made me laugh, and he was different from all the boys I knew. It was fun while it lasted. (See also: Epic, Faith No More)

4. Neon Rainbow, Alan Jackson – Senior-year crush – I had the biggest crush on this basketball player. We finally went out, and he promptly fell asleep during the movie on our first date. I like to think it wasn’t me … he was just bored by the Steven Segal movie! I think we went out once more and that was that. Now we’re Facebook friends.

Things seemed much simpler then. But were they really? I think so. What about you?

And what songs remind you of your Teenage Dream?

 

Happy Birthday, Riley!

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Riley turned 10 on Monday! I cannot believe I have a 10-year-old. 🙂

She celebrated with a sleepover (the five girls were loud and fun), a Justin Bieber cake, pizza, and ice cream. Her dad and I got her an iPod touch, and she is thrilled. She has already downloaded Angry Birds and Ninja Fruit. And she and I are having a blast with FaceTime. It’s a cool feature from Apple, and I look forward to using it more. She thinks it’s hilarious to FaceTime me when she’s in the kitchen and I’m in the living room.

I love that she is technologically savvy but not too savvy. We keep a close eye on what she sees and hears online and what she plays. She doesn’t know any passwords to buy or download anything. And it’ll be that way for a long time.

When Riley was born, she made my life infinitely better, and my love for her is one that can never be measured.

 

 

Even at 9, I knew how to rock

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StereophonicThat stereo over there was my pride and joy when I was 9 years old. I got it for Christmas and I played it practically every day until I got a bigger one when I was 16.

This model, from JCPenney, had a tape recorder, a record player, an 8-track, and an AM-FM radio and two speakers. It also had a microphone jack, which I used often while singing along with Olivia Newton-John and other stars of the early ’80s. I would rock out with my permed hair, my headbands and legwarmers. And I have pictures to prove it.

Once I upgraded to a two-tape-deck stereo (bye, bye 8-track), this one was relegated to music duty in the shed, where we shot pool, roller-skated and played basketball.

A few weeks ago, Riley and I were at my parents’ house and saw that they had cleaned out the shed and rescued the stereo. Miraculously, 30 years later, it still worked. We played Charley Pride and Merle Haggard records and Alabama cassettes. We didn’t have any 8-tracks around the house, but maybe we can dig one up somewhere. Only one speaker works; the wire on the second one was likely gnawed by mice looking for dinner.

After leaving the stereo at my folks’ house for a couple of weeks, I finally brought it home with me. It now gives the guest room some character and some tunes. And still looks pretty good.

What was once a 9-year-old’s symbol of growing up has now become a 39-year-old’s symbol of childhood. Funny how that works. Rock on, y’all!

Justin Bieber is cute. My girl watching JB? Cute overload!

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Last night, Riley’s BFF’s mom and I took the girls (and BFF’s little brother) to see Justin Bieber’s Never Say Never 3D. I went into it expecting your typical cheesy Disney/Nick platitudes and overprocessed pop, and was pleasantly surprised. It wasn’t any of that.

It was good, and I came out a Justin Bieber fan. Seriously. The kid can sing and he seems to be a good boy. He exudes happiness on the stage, and he appears grateful for his opportunities. I particularly loved Justin’s grandparents, who helped his mom raise him. His grandfather tears up when describing the day his daughter and grandson left Ontario for the U.S. It’s touching.

The best thing about the whole night? Watching my daughter and her friend freak out over this cute little pop star. “Ohmygosh, we can touch him! Ahhhh!” they said when we got to our seats in the theater. The two of them, nodding their heads to the beat, wearing their 3D glasses was a priceless sight.

It reminded me so much of myself in my early days of discovering musicians and music. For me, it was Shaun Cassidy, then Bon Jovi and New Kids on the Block in high school up through today and Amos Lee and Jonathan Tyler & The Northern Lights.

My friend McLovin said it best via Twitter: Musicians. They start stealing our hearts early and never give it back. They just get new faces.

She is so right.

Rock on, baby girl! Never lose your love for the beat. 🙂

Bon Jovi 45 and other treasures

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When it comes to divorce, it’s about more than a marriage ending. It’s also about splitting up all your stuff! While we’ve taken care of everything in the house, we still need to dig through the boxes of past lives in the attic. So that’s what I was doing when I found this:

Yes. That is a 45 rpm. A record. A vinyl disc with a hole in the middle. You play it on a record player. It cost me $1.63 plus tax at Walmart, probably in 1986.

“Living on a Prayer” was in a box with two old diaries (one from high school, one from junior college), three New Kids on the Block t-shirts (two concert, one fan club), old cassette tapes and VHS videos, old letters (sadly, none about love), high school and college transcripts and other memorabilia.

One of the aforementioned cassette tapes contained some rare gems mined from Top 40 radio back in the late ’80s and early ’90s. Like this:

And this:

And my theme song:

I’ve been rocking like it’s 1992 in my truck (the location of the only cassette player I have) on the way to and from work every day. Man, I love these songs … and the memories they bring … before I got serious about a boy, before responsibilities, when the possibilities of life were endless …

Then the tape stops and I’m snapped back to reality. But only until it flips to the other side and I hear this (Dude? Cornrows? Really? SMH):

And this:

Peace out, y’all!