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In a day and age where erotic images of nude women are not at all hard to come by, it’s hard to imagine a time when a curvy woman in a crop top, hot pants and fishnets was considered very risque.
Local burlesque troupe Timeless Entertainment and Carmichael’s Pub on Wayne Ave. in Dayton are ready to time-warp you back to the days when sexy meant posing on the hood of a hot rod in a polka-dot bathing suit.
Spectators and participants alike are welcome to attend the Pin-Up Pageant at 8 p.m. on Saturday, August 20 at Carmichael’s. The pub hosted another pin-up pageant just this past weekend, so if you want to see what you’re getting into before signing up, check out the photos at ActiveDayton.com.
Anyone can participate - no prior experience necessary. For those new to this style, Femme Fatale Fitness in Centerville is hosting a pin-up workshop the day of the pageant, where you can learn the secrets of vintage-style makeup and hair (including those tricky Liberty Rolls) and get tips on perfecting your pin-up pose.
The prizes include cash, vouchers for free classes at Femme Fatale Fitness, and the opportunity to be featured in the Carmichael’s Pin-Up calendar for 2012. The overall winner gets a free burlesque class at Femme Fatale and gets to choose which month she poses for in the calendar.
The cost to enter the pageant is just $20; for the workshop plus the pageant, just $35. If you’d rather just take it all in as a spectator, there is a $5 cover. Find all the information you need and RSVP on the Facebook event page.
I’ve been interested in burlesque since I knew it existed. There’s just something about it - the flashiness, the femininity, the luxury and seduction. When I think of burlesque and the pin-up style, I think of pearls and velvet, curls and curves, scarlet lipstick and big lashes - all with a wink and a nod. And even though this was all popular long before my time, I still see the appeal in it. It’s a type of entertainment that manages to be bawdy and classy in the same breath.
I highly recommend the documentary “Behind the Burly-Q,” which is available on Netflix, if you want to learn more about the history of burlesque entertainment and hear stories from veterans of the trade. Interested in the pageant but can’t make it this time around? You can follow Timeless Entertainment on Facebook to keep up with the burlesque events being hosted in the Dayton area.
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Another blog I follow has been debating this week about the romantic merits of some classic gestures like being serenaded, gifts of chocolate and flowers, candles and rose petals in the boudoir, and taking baths together. Some women love these displays of affection, while for others, the cheesy factor is just too much.
Obviously, romance is a word with many individualized definitions, and what is romantic for some is a buzzkill for others. In addition to the those mentioned above, I came up with a few more examples that tend to draw strong opinions from women:
- Public displays of affection
- Public marriage proposals
- Holding the door open for you, opening the car door for you, or pulling out your chair
- Playing footsie or holding hands at the table
- Ordering your food for you
- Surprising you with anything - a date, a gift, a night without the kids
- Expensive gifts, like diamonds
- Frequent compliments
- Paying for your date
- Buying you lingerie
- Creating something just for you - a poem, a song, a painting or sculpture, etc.
- Getting a tattoo of your name or face
What are some of the things from that list that you consider romantic? Which ones make you shudder? I know some women who hate being surprised, and others who would be offended if their date ordered food for them.
My husband proposed to me in public in the middle of Chicago, but I don’t think a lot of other people really noticed it happening, so I was spared the pressure of a stadium or theater full of people waiting for my answer - which I doubt I would have liked. But I also remember the last day of school in 6th grade when my English teacher’s boyfriend proposed to her over the school intercom during the afternoon announcements, which I found (and still find) charming, endearing and romantic.
Roses don’t do much for me, but I was touched when my husband brought home a bouquet of painted daisies when I was having a bad week. Being a writer myself, I would be swayed by a well-written poem (extra points if it’s a sonnet).
Sometimes, though, it takes just a few words to make a heart melt. Last week, after doing something that sent me into a hysterical laughing fit, he said, “I like making you laugh.” Such a mundane sentence, but it definitely struck a chord. He’s not a very verbal person, in that he rarely puts words to his affection (beyond saying “I love you” and giving me a ton of cute pet names), so to say something like that was meaningful just because it was unexpected and uncharacteristic of him.
What does your spouse/significant other do that makes you feel loved? Or, if no such person exists in your life at the moment, what could a potential partner do to win you over?
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Today, I uploaded my 100th photo of my dog Balto on Facebook.
That’s my boy!
Yes, I have a problem. Balto knows it, too. He has started cringing, or at the very least ceasing his cute behavior, whenever I pull out my camera-phone.
We adopted Balto last October when one of my friends from high school posted a photo of him on Facebook saying her boss had found him in Cincinnati but already had two dogs and couldn’t keep him. He was found on Baltimore Avenue, hence the name, which he happens to share with a famously heroic husky who led a sled dog team to deliver crucial life-saving medicine to a remote outpost in Alaska. The story was later turned into an animated movie. His full name, though, is Baltimore Lando Calrissian Becker - the middle name is after a character in Star Wars played by Billy Dee Williams. (This is what happens when geeks get a dog.)
We love Balto to bits, and in many ways he is one spoiled pooch. We’re not completely irresponsible: we exercise him often, don’t overfeed him, bathe and groom him regularly, and he is well-behaved and trained. Well, mostly. He’s still a puppy so he has his disobedient moments, but they’ve been fewer and farther between as of late. I’m a big fan of the Dog Whisperer and tried to follow Cesar Millan’s methods for the first month or so, but caved to my own affection for this dog.
So, no, we’re not perfect “pack leaders,” but he’s far from a problem dog - he stays in our unfenced backyard off-leash, he’s good in the car and great with other dogs, he LOVES people (his only problem there is jumping on them) and he almost never barks. Let’s just hope he stays this well-behaved as he gets older. I’ve heard dogs’ personalities can change drastically after they reach age 2, and he’s about 15 months, as near as we can tell.
I have a feeling this doesn’t bode well for me when I become the mother of an actual human being. Not necessarily the parenting part - I think I’ve shown that I can be a responsible, if somewhat lenient, parent - but I am going to be one of those moms who inundates her friends, family and strangers with photos of her kid. I’ve already got the Mommy Goggles for Balto - everything he does is just the cutest thing ever, he’s so handsome, etc. It’s hard for me to walk by the pet aisle at the grocery store and not pick him up a new chew toy or ball. I talk to him all the time as a proxy for talking to myself and have humanized him in many ways. Sometimes his facial expressions are so human, it’s hard not to imagine what he’s thinking.
I will say I now have plenty of practice chasing after a very active, very mobile creature. He is a lab-terrier mix, and he sure has the lab energy! He is FAST as all get-out and incredibly agile, switching directions completely in the blink of an eye. When he gets really wound up, he runs from one corner of the house to the other at top speed with a look of sheer ecstasy on his face and sometimes makes little “huffing” or grunting noises, which makes me just die laughing.
I’m just wondering if this ever wears off - as a doggy mommy or a human mommy. Do you ever stop thinking your pet/kid is the smartest/cutest/funniest/bestest thing that ever existed? Is there an end to the snapshots, or do I just have to learn to curb the urge to share? (Believe me, I have more photos of Balto on my phone than I have even posted on Facebook.)
Anyone else consumed by puppy love? I’ll indulge your stories here. :)
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This is for all the fiancees out there, eagerly awaiting the wedding day (or just wishing it was over already) so you can finally breathe that big sigh of relief you’ve been holding since you got engaged.
But you may want to take another gulp of air after your ceremony, because it ain’t over yet. Here are five of the most well-intended but irritating things you can expect to deal with after you’ve tied the knot:
First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a baby in the baby carriage. Or…not. But even if babymaking isn’t on your calendar for a while, expect everyone else to be asking about your plans. This is especially true for parents and other family members eager for you to start popping out the grandbabies, but also applies to coworkers, friends and acquaintances, and almost anyone who hears you’re recently married. While it’s just post-wedding small talk to most people, that doesn’t change the fact that it’s a pretty personal question about a pretty personal decision, and you don’t need to feel pressed to give a specific answer. “Someday” is good enough for most people - or, if you’re not sure kids are even in the long-term plan, throw in a “maybe.”
“How’s married life treating you?” is probably the second most commonly asked question of newlyweds, following the baby question. I’ve even been guilty of asking it. although I’m not sure what answer I (or anyone else) expect. Marriage itself doesn’t change a lot of the everyday stuff, at least in my experience. Sure, you’re now living together (if you weren’t already), and you’ll have to get used to a scrawling a different signature on your checks and being called “Mrs. New Name.” But overall, life still follows the same pattern of get up, go to work, come home and do it all over again, except now you’re doing that pattern in tandem with another person. One tongue-in-cheek way to brush off this question without getting into personal details is, “Well, we haven’t gotten a divorce yet!”
Invitations for dinner, lunch, brunch, or other catching-up appointments may follow your wedding, particularly from those who hadn’t seen much of you while you were wrapped up in the planning stages. Fact is, you just got done putting on this huge, expensive, time-consuming event - even if you hired others to take care of most of the details, you and your spouse were still the stars of the show, and that alone is exhausting. You’re well within your right to take a few days, or weeks, or maybe even months to yourselves and dodge those invitations as needed - although you might throw a bone to the friends or relatives who traveled from out of town to see you on your special day and aren’t likely to see you again soon.
Oh, you thought the hard work was done just because the wedding is over? Think again. Whereas before you were consumed with budgets, vendor contracts, guest lists and cake samples, the no-longer-the-bride has to get her dress cleaned and figure out what she’s doing to preserve it (if anything), apply for a new Social Security card with her married name, get a new driver’s license and passport to match, use those to change her name everywhere else, make sure everyone has an updated address and handle any registry returns. Then there’s figuring out how to handle taxes, joint finances, insurance and beneficiaries…the paperwork alone may make you question your own wisdom in deciding to go through with this in the first place. What makes it harder is, unlike the wedding, a lot of these things don’t have deadlines and are easy to put off. My wedding dress stayed in the trunk of my car for months following the wedding before I finally had it dry-cleaned.
Nothing makes you regret inviting more than a handful of people to the wedding like writing out thank-you notes. These could just be grouped up with other post-wedding to-do’s, but I think they deserve their own special category, because they are their own special kind of hell. Now don’t get me wrong, they’re not something to be blown off - that would be just plain rude. But writing them is plain no fun, especially because it doesn’t feel like it’s been that long since you sent the notes from the bridal shower and the bachelorette party. There are only so many things that can be said about a salad spinner, so you learn to write in your biggest, swoopiest handwriting just to fill the space. The best thing you can do is get them out of the way ASAP so you can get around to the more fun parts of newlywed life.
Are there any newlywed annoyances you think I should have included? Have you been guilty of making post-wedding small talk? Share it in the comments.
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Fall is a wonderful time for a wedding, and I’m not just saying that because I got married in September.
I think fall is the most photogenic season; fall leaves and sunsets make for the kind of wedding photos you’ll want to blow up and hang over the mantle. While Ohio weather often delivers surprises, by mid-autumn we’ve usually cooled down enough that you can have your photos done outside without your whole bridal party melting.
If you’re having a fall wedding this year, or maybe planning ahead for spring or summer of 2012, mark August 14th on your calendar for the Dayton Bridal Expo at the Dayton Convention Center downtown.
The expo runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., with fashion shows sponsored by David’s Bridal and Men’s Wearhouse at 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.
Admission is $8, cash only. If you register ahead of time at http://www.daytonbride.com, you can save $2 off admission and be put on their mailing list for updates and special promotions from area vendors.
The website also has a list of participating vendors, including DJs, stationery designers, tux rental and sale services, destination vacation specialists, photographers and caterers.
I went to one bridal expo with my sister-in-law, who got married nearly a year before me. I was engaged at the time but nowhere near the planning stage. The expo was in Columbus, and so were almost all of the vendors, so all the cards I filled out at each booth resulted in me getting a LOT of mail from vendors who would not have been of much use to me for my Yellow Springs wedding. (Indeed, I intentionally chose vendors very local to the Yellow Springs/Fairborn area, with few exceptions.) So if you’re not having a wedding in or near Dayton, you may want to look for an expo closer to your wedding location.
Bring a tote bag for all the freebies and maybe a folder for brochures, pamphlets, business cards and coupons. Because trust me, you will leave with a LOT of them. Put the ones you actually want to keep or revisit in the folder, let the others fall to the bottom of the bag.
During the fashion show at the Columbus expo I tried to eat a small box of chocolates that were really candles sculpted to look like petit fours (a kind of cake). Luckily I saw the wicks before I took a bite. I guess the advice here is: It’s easy to get overwhelmed at events like this where everyone is trying to get your attention, so it’s important to actually pay attention.
This advice should be obvious but it bears saying anyway: Don’t feel pressured to adapt to the trends. And that’s exactly what will be on display at expos like these: the latest, greatest, trendiest of everything. Asymmetrical cakes that looked like they were made of Play-Doh were on every cake table at the expo I attended. Other trends still making the rounds: youthful, poppy colors like pink, green and orange, especially in combination with brown; personalizing everything right down to the napkins; and invitations shaped in unconventional ways with origami-esque envelopes. Go with an open mind, because you might get some ideas you’ll adapt for your own wedding, but just because everyone else is doing them doesn’t mean you have to.
Make the rounds more than once. At an event of this size and with anticipated crowds, you may not get to see everything on the first go. I advise cruising through once with a map of the booths (which are usually provided when you arrive at events like this) and a highlighter/pen/pencil. Don’t approach any booths or linger too long, but mark the ones that catch your interest so you can come back to them and give them due attention on your next walkthrough. If any booth gets so crowded that you can’t even see what’s on display, you can mark it as one to revisit when the pack has dispersed.
The fashion show is a great way to take a breather and, if chairs are offered, get off your feet for a few minutes. It’s usually worth the oooh’s and aaah’s even if you’ve already got your dress and bridal party wardrobe taken care of. If you’re really not interested, you might take the time to ask more questions of the vendors while everyone else’s attention is diverted elsewhere.
Have you ever been to a bridal expo? What was the experience like for you?
stole the idea from was inspired by this blog at one of my favorite time-wasting girly gossip sites, TheFrisky.com. While the Frisky’s bloggers pretty much all live in NYC and have a guaranteed different shopping experience than we do here in the midwest, it still stands that there are some things that can make a routine shopping trip (for groceries, clothes, furniture, anything) a huge pain in the keister.
Here are some that come to mind (without copying the Frisky’s list… gotta at least try for some originality, even at this late hour):
Mysterious Disappearing Employees. When I want to be left alone, they’re around every corner, asking me if I’m finding everything okay (usually when I’m just browsing and not even looking for anything in particular). But when I actually need help finding something, suddenly everyone is on break.
Out of My Size. I’m right there with most of American women in that I wear pants in the 12-14 range. But the fact that so many of my shopping sisters are going after the same pants I want means those sizes are the ones most frequently out of stock, while there are no shortages among the 0-4’s.
Isn’t Made in My Size. Or rather, in my most recent experience, isn’t made in my husband’s size. He is tall with long arms and a linebacker’s neck, but apparently, his combination of measurements is a rare animal in the department store jungle. Finding him a decent selection of new dress shirts turned into a multi-weekend, multi-mall experience.
Unkempt Dressing Rooms. Clothes on the floor. Clothes flung over doors and draped on door handles. Clothes crammed into corners or piled on the tiny little bench in the dressing room. Big sale weekends are the worst for this. I almost never buy anything without trying it on so I’ve seen most of the dressing rooms in the I-75 corridor area. I at least try to do my part by putting my own rejects back on the hangers and putting them on the reject-cart.
Mall Kiosks. You know the ones I mean. I don’t know whether I feel pity for the people who have to work in these, or if I am allowed to just outright loathe them. A 4x8 stand barely counts as a place of employment, yet some of these salespeople take their jobs dead seriously - they’re more persistent than bill collectors. Every trick in the book has been invented to avoid them - pretend to take a phone call, duck into a store or behind a crowd of noisy teenagers, avoid any kind of body language that could communicate interest in their product - yet they still exist. I’m mystified.
Slooooooow checkout lanes. I don’t understand how a store can boast 20-some cash registers, yet even when a decent number of them are open, checking out adds another 15 minutes to the shopping experience. And I don’t even know who to blame - slow cashiers and/or baggers? Customers paying in pennies or telling the cashier their life stories? Me, for choosing the wrong lane time and time again? In any case, the checking lane traffic jam can ruin an otherwise pleasant experience.
Where are Your ** Bathrooms? I guess it’s just bad karma, but I find I ALWAYS have to go at the most inopportune time: when the shopping cart is full and I’m about to check out, when pumping gas, when I walk into the refrigerated section of the grocery store, and best of all, when I’m in a store at the mall that has NO bathrooms and the nearest public bathroom is on the opposite end of the whole mall. So if you ever see a crazy redhead sprinting across the tiles, it’s not my newest kiosk-avoidance tactic, it’s a matter of life and death. Or at least, a matter of dry or wet pants.
Those Darn Trends. I don’t pay a lot of attention to trends. If I like something and it’s trendy, hey, bonus points for me, I guess. But if it’s trendy and I don’t like it, it’s not ending up in my closet. The problem here comes when I am looking specifically for something that’s not trendy. Last fall I had a little corduroy fetish and wanted some corduroy pants to wear to work as it started getting chillier. Could. Not. Be. Found. (Ok, white lie. I did finally find one pair. And just a few weeks ago I ruined them by spilling the contents of a take-out box on my lap on the way home from dinner. Just my luck.)
Those are the big ones that come to mind. Share your pet peeves and shopping horror stories - or if you work in retail, tell us about the bad customer behavior that drives you up the wall. We’re all guilty of something, right?
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Men and women alike, we all harbor them. Indulgences. Secret hobbies. Quirks. Things we allow ourselves to enjoy, but are embarrassed to share because someone, somewhere, told us we’re not supposed to like them - or at least, not like them too much.
Here are some of mine:
Daytime television. I work at night and we don’t have cable or DVR, so sometimes it can feel like I’m scraping the barrel as I flip through the few channels we do get over the antenna. I usually skip over the soap operas and game shows and end up watching reruns of old sitcoms. Roseanne has become one of my favorites - the writing is pretty sharp and the characters are easy to care about. But the guiltiest of the guilty pleasures has to be the reruns of old seasons of The Real Housewives of (Insert City Here). At first I just had it on as background noise while I cleaned the kitchen or folded laundry. I didn’t want to like it. I thought it was vapid and IQ-draining and stereotyped and everything bad about reality TV. But eventually I fell victim to the over-the-top drama and petty disputes. Sigh At least I have something to gossip about with my coworkers.
Lady Gaga. I resisted her for almost a year after she became a star, but she makes herself pretty darn hard to ignore. I’m not saying I idolize her or approve of everything she says and does, but at the very least she’s an interesting spectacle who makes catchy, fluffy music I can dance to in the car, and there’s nothing wrong with that. (Sidebar: I wish we still lived in an age where we could use the word “Lady” as a title. I’ve never been fond of Mrs. or Ms., but Lady Becker? Yes please!)
Advice columns. Especially relationship advice columns, not because my relationship is in trouble, but because I married my high school sweetheart and skipped the whole “being single/dating/breaking up/getting over it” thing. It’s all foreign to me so I am fascinated by others’ experiences with it. It also makes me grateful for what I have. Sure, I’ve got problems, but at least I’m not stressing out about when to say “I love you” or what to say on a first date.
Puzzle books. My mom used to buy these for my brother and me when we went on long family trips. Logic puzzles, crosswords and word searches were always my favorites. When my husband and I flew to Washington last winter to visit family, I saw a puzzle book at the airport and HAD to have it, if only for old times’ sake. I know “there’s an app for that” nowadays, and I do play digital Scrabble, but puzzle books never run out of battery life.
Real estate listings. Oo, this one is a doozy. It’s all about the fantasy - dreaming about a life in such and such house, how I would decorate it, what my furniture would look like in it, waking up every morning in that master bedroom with the skylights and going downstairs to the kitchen with the granite countertops and stainless steel refrigerator, the pitter-patter of my dog’s toenails on a hardwood floor…I love every minute of it, even if I have no intention of (or money for) buying a new house soon. It’s also fun, if bittersweet, to look at the houses I’ll never be able to afford in this lifetime. I don’t know of any English majors/grads living in spotless, ultramodern, million-dollar riverfront condos, do you?
So what are your guilty pleasures? And please, folks, keep it clean. I know the phrase “guilty pleasure” might bring to mind any number of dirty jokes; I can promise you they will be removed.
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Ah, the mix tape. When you want to whisper sweet nothings but are coming up with just plain nothings, leave it to the pros to wax poetic for you.
As Plato said oh so long ago, there’s nothing new under the sun, so there’s a good chance that what you want to say has already been written - hopefully by someone who knows how to rhyme. Extreme’s “More Than Words” when that’s all you ever needed her to show. The Cure’s “Lovesong” for the long-distance relationship or the spouse overseas. Nazareth’s “Love Hurts” for the post-breakup, I-want-you-back mix - or J. Geils Band’s “Love Stinks” when you don’t want them back.
Hmm. Is it just me, or did the 80s really take the tacky, technicolor cake on love songs?
It seems that as long as there is rewritable media, the mix tape format will endure.
When I say mix tape, I really mean everything from the old-fashioned, recorded-off-the-radio cassette, to a CD burned when CD burners were the hot new thing, to a personalized playlist or Pandora radio station. (I’m not sure what will come next. Beaming songs directly into your lover’s brain?) They make a great gift - they’re inexpensive, easy to put together at the last minute, portable and thoughtful.
But before you go putting your library on shuffle and presenting it to your sweetie, take note: there is an art to the mix tape. Some songs just scream (or gently croon) to be included, while others should be used selectively. Of course, this all depends on your sense of humor and how much sweet and sappy you can put up with, but some general rules of thumb still apply.
So if you have an upcoming mix-tape-worthy occasion, you may want to keep these tips in mind.
Decide first what the intent of your mix is: to communicate a specific message, or to just compile a bunch of songs you both like. For instance, “Tainted Love” might be the song you both karaoke to in the car, but the title alone leaves some room for interpretation, which might not end up in your favor.
This one is obvious but easily overlooked: choose songs that have specific meanings to you and your partner. Examples: A song you danced to together on a cruise or at your wedding, your favorite makeout song, or a song that uses his or her name. Be careful with that last one, though - think “Sweet Caroline,” not “Stacy’s Mom.”
Avoid resorting to the popular love song of the moment on the radio. One or two is okay, but this is a musical love letter, not a time capsule of today’s Hot 100. One mix tape I got was definitely stuck in the times, including Crazy Town’s “Butterfly.” Know that song? No? That’s because it was played nonstop during the summer of 1999 until everyone was just plain sick of it and never wanted to hear it again. You probably don’t want your honey skipping over half the songs on your list because he or she heard them at the dentist’s office, the grocery store and in a commercial for an online dating site.
Variety is desirable. Boyz II Men, Seal and Sade have all performed some beautiful love songs, but they tend to bleed into each other. Likewise, you should not aim to make a Greatest Hits compilation of your lover’s favorite band - they probably already have one. Remember: this is a MIX tape. Choose songs that will get different reactions - one to make him or her laugh or cry, one to elicit a specific memory, one to sing or dance along to, and maybe even one for the bedroom, wink wink.
Don’t overdo it. A mix tape is a good gift idea or last-minute fallback every once in a while, but if you create a new mix for every occasion, you might start to look a little cheap. Just saying. Nobody stays with a one-trick pony.
Musically talented? Try making a mix of covers. My younger brother is a talented musician and singer, and my mom used to love to listen to him practice on his keyboard in his bedroom. So when he moved away to college, he recorded himself playing and singing several of her favorites and put it on a CD for her. And when he saw an old piano in the corner of the reception hall at my wedding, he ran out to the car to listen to and write down the lyrics to Ben Folds’ “The Luckiest” on a napkin so he could come back in and play it for us. All together now: Awww!
Mix tapes alone are a little cliche, but in a sweet way, because they can also be creative - kind of like the macaroni art every child makes in grade school. But if you’re going to go for a cliche gift, don’t go for the cliche songs unless they also have a special meaning in your relationship. Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On” has been done and overdone. Olivia Newton John’s “I Honestly Love You,” Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes,” Sting’s “Every Breath You Take” … basically, if it’s been used in a movie (let alone many movies), spin the wheel again, my friend. If you must use one of these, maybe look for a remix or modern cover just to switch it up.
Lonely or recently single? Create a mix tape for yourself! Music can uplift a sorrowful soul or nurture your heartbreak, depending on what stage of grief you’re in. It might be a good idea to start sad (Sinead O’Connor’s “Nothing Compares 2 U”) so you can expunge all those bad feelings, maybe include something angry (Jasmine Sullivan’s “Bust Your Windows”), but then end it on a happy note (Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” or Cee Lo Jones’ “F* You”). Or you might make the mix you’d love to leave on your ex’s doorstep - but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend actually delivering it. It’s like the therapy exercise of writing a letter you never intend to send: use it to get things off your chest but keep it to yourself.
Here are a few of my personal favorites:
Michael Jackson, “Butterflies” - not one of his more well-known songs, but it’s lovely.
The Beatles, “When I’m Sixty-Four” - whimsical and catchy.
Bryan Adams, “Heaven” - I heard an a capella version of this that made me cry.
Doobie Brothers, “Black Water” - this is our car karaoke song.
Eric Clapton & B.B. King, “Come Rain or Come Shine” - I’m a sucker for the blues.
Bob Marley, “Turn Your Lights Down Low” - who knew reggae could be romantic?
Queen, “You’re My Best Friend” - because this is what it all boils down to.
Your turn: What are some of the best and worst mix tapes you’ve gotten? If you were to make one today, what songs would you use?
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You’re probably familiar with the symbol of the yin yang - an orb, half black and half white, with a small white dot in the black side and a small black dot in the white side. It’s a symbol of balance, a way of saying that nothing is ever completely one way or another, and that opposite forces naturally give rise to one another and exist in equality.
Yin and yang are also terms for feminine and masculine energy or essence (yin being feminine and yang being masculine). Read this way, the yin yang illustrates that the masculine yang coexists with feminine yin, and vice versa.
Nowadays, heterosexual men who like shopping, chick flicks and manicures are called metrosexual, flamboyant or, in some cases, hipsters, but it used to be that men who expressed interest in traditionally womanly things or were emotionally sensitive were described as being “in touch with their feminine sides.”
But let’s look at the inverse: women who are in touch with their masculine sides. What does this mean for femininity?
Speaking for myself, I have been pretty aware of my yang side for most of my life.
I grew up playing with my brother, nearly three years younger than me. He sometimes played with my Barbies and Pound Puppies, while I sometimes played with his Hot Wheels and dinosaurs.
I remember a three-foot-long white jet plane he had; the cockpit opened to reveal two seats, and I had a small Barbie baby that perfectly fit in one of the seats. We made up all kinds of missions for the baby fighter pilot to fly, and interestingly, it was my brother who lent his voice to her character.
I also remember my dad’s reaction when he came home for lunch one day and found my brother and I playing the Pretty Pretty Princess board game together. Jonathan was fully decked out — clip-on earrings, plastic bead necklace, crown and all. Papa didn’t find it very Pretty Pretty.
Even as I entered my adolescence, I didn’t consider myself a girly-girl, although I wasn’t really a tomboy either. I hated pink. I didn’t swoon over the pretty boys of N’Sync and Backstreet Boys the way my girlfriends did. I did like wearing dresses for dances, painting my nails (which never lasted because I was, and am to this day, a nail-biter) and riding horses. But I also liked going fishing on camping trips, playing racecar games on my brother’s Nintendo 64, and drawing lots and lots of dragons.
So for me, it’s always been pretty normal to exist somewhere in the middle of the gender-identity spectrum. My masculine interests don’t make me feel any less feminine. I can be a weight-lifter and a pole-dancer at the same time and enjoy both for different reasons.
The media loves stories about people crossing traditional gender boundaries, but there’s a notable double-standard. When men are seen being feminine, or even just well-dressed, it prompts the lascivious “Is he straight or gay?” gossip - think Adam Lambert and Russell Brand for some recent examples. When females do something masculine, it’s often framed as being empowering - think Danica Patrick. Rarely is their sexual orientation questioned - rather, a woman in a ‘man’s realm’ is often sexualized or fetishized.
While I do think this is a distortion of feminism, I suppose I’d rather see the tabloids glorifying a woman for her masculinity than trying to guess how much weight she’s gained or how much plastic surgery she’s had. At least it recognizes an aspect of her personality and individuality, not just her body.
Politics, which is still very much a ‘man’s realm’ despite an increased representation of women, provides us two examples of powerful women demonstrating different gender roles: Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton. Palin comes across as more feminine, emphasizing her role as a mother and wife and appealing to the public’s emotions, while Clinton appears more masculine, highlighting her political and career achievements and demonstrating decisiveness and a tough attitude. In public apperances, Palin was emotionally expressive, with her wide smile and winking, while Clinton was outwardly stoic and businesslike.
This has played to the tastes of each of their audiences while giving one another ammunition against the opponent. Palin’s interest in hunting and hockey played a large role in the 2008 campaign partially because it added a bit of toughness to her traditional feminine persona, a desirable trait for someone in the executive branch. Her opponents twisted it to make her look ignorant, primitive or backwoods. Likewise, when Clinton’s voice cracked and her eyes teared up when speaking about caring for her country at a publicity event, some praised this ‘break’ in her steely demeanor while others decried it as a sign of weakness or doubted her authenticity.
You might just say that each of these successful, high-profile women is in touch with her masculine side, in different ways, and that appealed to at least part of each woman’s political constituency. So we see that it’s okay, even desirable, for women to be at little masculine while men are expected to be close to 100% masculine. Remember how much John Boehner was mocked for getting teary-eyed, arguably at moments when tears weren’t entirely inappropriate? Or for being tan?
As the yin yang shows us, one gender does not cancel out the other. Both genders can be, and often are, represented and expressed in the same person, regardless of their biological sex. So the question of what it means for femininity to be in touch with one’s masculine side, is a trick question. Likewise, it doesn’t devalue masculinity to be in touch with one’s feminine side.
Instead of framing it as a weakness or a strength, we should just see it as another way of being well-rounded. It can even be construed as a skill, because a person who can relate to the opposite gender gains a certain amount of perspective and insight into an experience that is otherwise alien.
And when it comes to getting along with one another on this big, diverse planet, a little perspective and compassion can never hurt.
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Make sure you start getting organized right after the proposal. Take time in selecting all of your vendors, like the reception site and music. Select your bridal party without feeling pressure about who to include. Know what kind of “style” you’d like your wedding to portray.
And do the other million “you-must-complete these tasks soon” ideas.
Oh, and whatever you do, don’t procrastinate.
While these tips can seem both useful and sensible, there’s really only one tip you need: don’t read all of these tips.
Or, at least, don’t spend most of your day wondering what that next item on your “wedding checklist” was and how you must complete it in that very moment.
Being engaged for nearly a year has made me realize that I don’t necessarily need to sacrifice hours out of my day to read about what I should be doing at that time. This is where we hear about brides losing sanity as each day goes on - “bridezillas,” if you will.
I’m trying to steer clear of that path and not get so caught up in the planning part. Sure, I want to invest time into it, of course, but I also don’t want it to consume my life and stress me out to the point of no return.
So, what do I do? How can I possibly go about planning a wedding without reading every great tip out there?
I’ve realized that there are really only a few points to keep in mind during the whole wedding planning process that will keep you sane. Of course, seeking help from other sources - friends, family, internet - are necessary.
The key is to not get consumed by all of it.
First of all, you have to know who you are. Yes, I’m talking about getting in touch with yourself before even thinking about how to go about planning that grand wedding.
Just think about the basics: what is your general personality? Do you like being around large crowds? What is more important to you: social setting or who makes up the social atmosphere? Are you a more casual, laid-back person or are you more energetic and outgoing?
These few questions can point you in the right direction as far as the reception and ceremony site. From there, everything will start falling together (music, overall style/theme of the wedding, color scheme and so on).
For my wedding this October, I knew it was most important for me to have a casual, relaxed atmosphere with my friends and family. I didn’t need any fancy reception hall, crazy-expensive appetizers and an open bar.
I just wanted a welcoming atmosphere where I knew people could relax and enjoy each other company. After all, they’re your guests - you want them to feel at ease!
With knowing I wanted a “relaxing” atmosphere, it wasn’t difficult to see that Ronald Reagan Lodge in West Chester, Ohio was the perfect choice.
Located in Voice of America Park in Butler County, the lodge is just gorgeous. There’s a pond, gazebo, and plenty of greenery. It’s a nice, peaceful setting for everyone to enjoy themselves. From here, knowing I wanted a relaxed (yet modern) style for a wedding, the rest of my vendor selections seemed easier than I thought.
Secondly, you must peruse - not intensely study - all types of wedding pictures for inspiration. Once you start reading books with a seemingly endless amount of tips, it can be hard to know where to begin.
But glancing at pictures, whether it be wedding cakes or reception centerpieces, gives you quick ideas and outlets to showcase creativity. I, for one, know that most of my “bookmarked” tabs on my browser are, well, wedding picture ideas. They eventually led me to this idea for my cake! It won’t be exactly like it, but the general colors and offset square tiers are the same.
Next, if you must read wedding tips and other advice, only read what you need to know. For example, in some of my wedding books I own, there are sections dedicated to “picking out the perfect ceremony site,” “deciding between a DJ or band,” among other big decisions.
But why read all of them if you already know what you really want? I knew I wanted a DJ all along. They are very portable and usually far less expensive than any band. But then I started reading some “pros” about choosing a band over a DJ - it’s different, unique, and that “live” music atmosphere is sure to get the crowd going.
‘Okay,’ I thought, ‘I could do that. Maybe I could get some jazz or other musicians in the reception place.’
But why should I do that and not what I really wanted to do? Suddenly, I was thinking about something I didn’t really want from the beginning. I’ve been to many weddings and loved the overall interactive DJ atmosphere.
Don’t get me wrong. Reading about incorporating live music at weddings was fun. But all it really did was made myself question what I really wanted and if it was “good enough.”
But that’s what many wedding books can do - make you think you may want something when you actually don’t.
I know these books are designed to get you to think and start brainstorming. I’m just saying you don’t have to read every sentence and every section of every wedding book to do so.
This leads me to my fourth suggestion: tap into your creative self and just start brainstorming yourself. For example, the other day I was trying to discover alternatives to the traditional flower centerpieces. As beautiful as they can be, most are also expensive. And also a bit…well, large.
Call me crazy, but I think it’d be nice to see who you’re sitting across from at the table.
My inspiration and brainstorming lead me to this idea used for a centerpiece. And I didn’t go read a million wedding tips to do it.
With my wedding in October, I wanted something to complement the “fall” aspect. Colorful fruits with perhaps some fall leaves scattered on the table seems to do the trick! Inexpensive, fun, and creative. Perfect.
All in all, what most of these tips are actually trying to tell you is to just simply be yourself. It goes back to the very first thing I mentioned: know who you are.
This is supposed to be your day, right? If we all think of it that way, wedding planning can suddenly seem far less stressful and much more enjoyable.
And rewarding at the end, of course. After all, we can’t be so caught up in the journey that we forget about where we’re going.
Oh, and back to the “bridezilla” comment. I do tell my bridesmaids and those close to me to let me know if I ever get this way. It’ll be clear to them that I’ve read “a million wedding tips” too many.
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