English, Thou Art Cruel


You may have heard this before. But there is good reason to despise the English language. Especially for non-native speakers! Thing is, I love to write. I really do. So it pains me to admit that sometimes my writer’s block stems from loathing the English language and all of its dysfunctionally absurd “exceptions” to established rules of grammar. Follow me for a moment…

  • WOMB is pronounced “woom” and TOMB is pronounced “toom”, but BOMB is pronounced “bahm”.

Oh, uh… okay. :-/

Image result for wait what

  • A “pair of glasses”, a “pair of scissors” and a “pair of pants” actually refer to one item or article. But a “pair of shoes” refers to two items.  It could be argued that you’d look pretty silly with only one pant leg. But I think you’d also look pretty silly with only one shoe.

Here is a list of words that at first glance you would think rhyme. Think again. All of them are pronounced differently. ALL. OF. THEM.

Tough
Trough
Though
Through
Thought
Thorough

  • Colonel is pronounced “kernuhl”. So Colonoscopy should be pronounced “kernoscopy” right? WRONG.
  • It would also stand to reason that “take out” should not be “brought home”, but yet, it almost always is.
  • If one person doesn’t “show up” for a “showdown”, it ain’t gonna happen.
  • A “flight of stairs” involves no air travel whatsoever.

Oh, and don’t even get me started on Contranyms. That’s a can of worms even the most confident native English speaker would find disconcerting. If you dare, here’s a list.

Yet, I persevere. Because my love for writing outweighs my disdain for the words from which I must choose. 🙂

Categories: commentary, writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Life As A Decoration


I recently attended an informative and deeply inspiring (read: long) industry conference in Anaheim with my wife. It was held in one of the second-floor ballrooms at the Anaheim Hilton, a hop, skip, and a jump from Disneyland’s front door. There was Magic Kingdom spill over into all of the surrounding stores and buildings that made the whole place feel like an extension of Main Street USA. It’s one of those places where everything feels like a souvenir. 🙂

Anyway, after snaking our way into the parking structure (a process that added at least a good 20 minutes to our overall travel time), we found a parking space and headed toward the venue. We arrived late (because of the crazy parking) and managed to grab a seat in the 5th row from the back. It was a great turn out. All together there were about 350 attendees, with a majority coming from various parts in and around L.A. County, along with a good contingent from Las Vegas I believe, and then a smattering from locations other than the West Coast.

Throughout the program, which lasted from about 8am to 4pm (or as the homeschoolers might call it, first subject to second snack), there were multiple speakers who took to the stage to regale us with their personal stories of triumph over circumstance, the virtues of perseverance, and general advice and suggestions on how to obtain success. All while juggling chainsaws and baking cookies. (Ha! Not really, but it feels like that sometimes.)

In usual fashion, each speaker was given a brief introduction to the audience so that we would have a better understanding of who they were, and would appreciate the experience or level of expertise from which they would be speaking. But in all of what has become very typical of these types of events, there was something that REALLY stood out to me… glaring gender disparity.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not the guy that goes looking for “issues” to champion, or conjures up faux social injustices to expose. But this just sort of nagged at me throughout the day. The part that really puzzled me wasn’t the fact that the disparity was so obvious (at least to me), but that so many people seemed to be completely oblivious to it, or at least indifferent toward it.

Let me explain…

One introduction went something like this, “Mr. such and such is an amazing individual who did X, Y and Z! In addition to being wildly successful, he’s also friendly, humble, and a real go-getter! He lives in a beautiful house in such and such city, has X amount of children, AND AN ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL WIFE. I MEAN, SHE IS DROP DEAD GORGEOUS!

To be fair, in and of itself, there was nothing wrong with that statement. This person was simply offering a compliment to the speaker’s spouse. But there are two very important implications that lie underneath that benign statement…

1) that there was some apparent correlation between the beauty of the speaker’s wife and his success, and,
2) that what was most important to disclose about his wife was how attractive she was.

And these become the ongoing subliminal messages we transmit…

Men, become someone so accomplished that you can snag a drop-dead gorgeous wife.
And women, the most important thing about you, 
and the only thing that anybody really cares about, is how you look.

Now, I must state that there were also several speakers who were female. But not one of their introductions included references to the attractiveness of their husbands. No one mentioned how “stunningly handsome” or “captivatingly good-looking” the men were. It was usually a reference to what he did, such as, “…and her husband is an engineer,” or “…he comes from a military background.”

In an age where being arm candy could easily be the extent of someone’s aspirations, it doesn’t surprise me that no one noticed this pattern of referring primarily to a woman’s appearance, and by contrast, mostly referring to a man’s accomplishments. It seems to happen all the time.

shiksa_evolution_illo

Illustration by: Zohar Lazar (as it appeared in a Hollywood Reporter article dated June 19, 2015)

Next time you’re out with someone, pay attention to how other people refer to the men and women they know, or how they are introduced. There’s a good chance it’ll fall along the lines of “she’s pretty” and “he’s successful”.

I have one daughter. And it saddens me that she’s growing up in a world that constantly reinforces the idea of beauty over brains. Especially when to me, it is a person’s intelligence that really makes them attractive. So I plan to do everything I can to make sure my daughter understands that being smart isn’t a liability, and that her purpose in life is infinitely bigger than simply being a decoration.

I’m curious what other people think about this.

Do you believe gender disparity exists? And if so, what can we do to eliminate this type of default thinking?

Categories: commentary, opinion | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

KNOWING LOVE


This is a picture of my wife at 4 years old.

andrea-at-4

Every time I look at this picture, I smile and think to myself, “I wish I’d known her then. I would’ve been her friend!” Seriously, I would’ve friended her so hard. lol I would’ve rode bikes, made mud pies, endured protracted doll activites, discovered bugs in the yard, and listened to every fantastic tale her young mind could conjure. I would’ve done all of it. Gladly.

I used to lament the fact that I didn’t know her when she was younger. That is, until I understood something very important…

She is still that little girl.

That 4-year-old little girl lives inside of her. And every time she shares with me stories of her childhood, or introduces me to cousins she used to visit in the summer, or I sit and watch while she reminisces over faded, old photos of Canadian farmland, I learn more about her 4-year-old self… and her 13-year-old self… and any other year-old versions of her that I may not have witnessed firsthand. And I fall in love with each and every one of them.

Because they are all still there.

As I picture this beautifully blonde, rambunctiously creative, spirited little girl, I realize that I love and have loved… all of her, throughout time. It is impossible to separate the woman she is, from the girl she was. They are one and the same.

So I no longer wish I’d known her at 4-years-old, because… I do. I know her as a preteen in the school performance at Play Mountain Place. I know her as the high school graduate who set off on her first year at UC Santa Cruz. I know her as the coed who took a summer trip to a lake house with friends. And I know her as the woman who bought her first house in Pasadena. I know… HER.

Instead, I now wish that I will continue to know her until she’s 104-years-old. Because I can’t imagine a more amazing gift than over a century of knowing and loving someone like her.

Happy Valentines Day, my love. ❤

Categories: marriage, personal, relationships, stories | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Blinding Pain


Indulge me for a moment as I reflect on PAIN. The electric word, pain, it means forever and that’s a mighty long time, but… wait, no. Wrong lyrics. It’s more like I have stood here before inside the pouring rain. But it’s my destiny to be the king of pain.

(TANGENT: Over the years I have come to the conclusion that there is a song for every occasion. And my life is a never-ending jukebox of extended play soundtracks, product jingles and sitcom theme music. But I digress…)

Pain comes in various levels of intensity that I personally believe can be classified by the initial or ongoing reaction of the body. For instance, there is the OUCH variety. As a parent you become intimately acquainted with this type of pain, since it is usually the result of being caught in the crossfire of flying toys, or stepping on a Lego brick for the 2 millionth time. Then you have the NAG variety. This is pain attributed to something like a paper cut, or in my case, the silent and invisible slice of the skin that occurs when you’ve lost your patience while trying to open the 124 jumbo pack of size 4 diapers. After the initial intake of breath from the sudden sharp cut, this pain follows you around for a day or so as it reopens repeatedly because you’ve forgotten about it, and failed to take it easy on the tickle attacks. Of course, there is the THROB level of pain. Most of us are probably familiar with these dull waves of soreness that gather in your arms, feet and legs when you finally sit down after a long day of errands, decorating and playing host to a couple dozen tyrant gradeschoolers for a birthday party.

Why am I saying all of this? Because on Tuesday of this week I was finally at the point of no return with one of the more devastating levels of pain… which is BLINDING. Blinding pain is when the pain is so intensely excruciating that you squeeze your eyes shut uncontrollably. It’s the kind of pain that wakes you up from a dead sleep and laughs at your feeble attempts to ignore it for the sake of rest. It’s the kind of pain where panic sets in because you are quite certain it will never go away and you seriously consider the horrific thought of what it would mean to endure this kind of torture for the rest of your life. Yep. That was me. It was a toothache. And you can chuckle all you want, but when your head feels like someone is shooting bolts of electricity through the roof of your mouth and directly into your brain, no amount of head-holding, temple-massaging, hot packs, or acetaminophen is going to provide you any relief. It was the kind of pain that you can’t run from though you desperately wish it were possible.

(TANGENT: This is second only to MIND-NUMBING pain in which the pain is to the point where the body shuts off all sensory perception and you knock out. This happened when I was 12 and was hit by a car. You can read that story here.)

Fortunately for me, I have a wife that likes having me around and wants to keep me around for a bit longer. So she set up an emergency appointment for me with the dentist that afternoon.

A little background on my relationship with dentists… I’ve developed a bit of apprehension about visiting them. Why? Well, not because I’m the kind of person who’s afraid of going to the dentist’s office. But it’s more about how the dentist treats me. As a kid, if I had a cavity the dentist would say something along the lines of, “If you don’t lay off the sweets, all of your teeth will fall out.” Now I know that this approach works for some people, but for me it just felt eye-roll worthy. As I got older, the dentists I visited seemed to only get worse. Instead of a jovial “Lay off the sweets,” I’d get a more accusatory “You’re too young to have this going on in your mouth!” or something equally degrading. Their comments were the antithesis of encouragement. “Hey Doc, I’m fully aware of the crummy condition of my incisors. That’s why I’m here! Can we skip the personal insults and just cut to the part where you fix my teeth and take away the pain? Thanks.”

I was happy to find that my wife (you know, that crazy-beautiful lady that tolerates my imperfections) had let the dentist and office staff know of my previous experiences. Because of this, they were extremely gracious. The dentist who took care of me that day was not only compassionate, but genuinely concerned about my overall comfort level. God bless her. After an initial examination I was told that my wisdom tooth in the upper right was broken and infected. I was given antibiotics, pain medication, and scheduled for an extraction appointment in 3 days. The next few days brought my pain level down from BLINDING to NAGGING with the occasional BLURRY thrown in for good measure. In any case, I made it to today.

My appointment was at 7am, which allowed me to get up this morning a whole half hour later than usual. I pressed through the rain, into the car, down the street, and into the familiar strip mall that contains our dental office, along with a smoke shop, a juice bar, and a much-frequented 99 Cents Only Store. As before, the office staff received me with knowing kindness and before I knew it, I was in and out with a mouth full a gauze and one less wisdom tooth!

The cause of my blinding pain, now mercifully extricated.

The cause of my blinding pain, now mercifully extricated.

I’m still taking the antibiotics and the occasional pain pill. But the blinding pain is thankfully in my past.

Categories: health, personal, stories | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Commuter’s Prayer


Happy New Year everyone! 🙂

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s talk about perseverance…

On my way to the office this morning, I used @waze as usual because it typically helps me plot a better course to my destination. Unfortunately, what Waze couldn’t know was that the road I was traveling on had flooded. It’s not always easy to tell how deep the water is, but as I’d soon find out, it was deep enough.

Deep enough that after quickly driving through it (because speed is always appropriate in the rain), my Cabrio with the little engine that could, simply couldn’t any longer. Waiting in line just shy of the 405N on ramp, the car puttered and summarily shut down. 😨

Mind you, it was pouring rain. I should mention that the car has no heat, so the windows were fogged over and I had soaked shoes after putting out the garbage cans in the rain before leaving my house.

I must admit that the thought of leaving the now familiar discomfort of my car, standing in the middle of the street, attempting to push what has become an oversized paper weight, under pelting rain was… not my idea of a good start to the day.

On top of this, for whatever reason, people think honking at a stalled vehicle is some sort of automotive prayer. So I had a choir of cars encouraging me with their blaring horns of intercession to do something other than sit there and cry. Which is what I probably would’ve done. But I’m not one to concede defeat so easily.

Instead, after a prayer of my own, I attempted to start the car, all the while believing that the engine would turn over and purr like a kitten. It was more like the gurgle of a garbage disposal, but I’d take it!

After a few starts and stops, I was back on the road in L.A. commuter traffic going a swift 15mph! 😃  And even though I arrived at the office 30 minutes later than I’d planned, the positive take-away is that I arrived, without needing a tow, or a push, or another car choir lamenting my obviously deliberate inconsideration.

Categories: humor, personal, stories | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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