Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Greatest. Gift. Ever. Given. Period.

I feel I have a talent for giving fairly decent gifts. They're not necessarily (read: ever) expensive or particularly unique. What they are is this: perfectly picked. That's right. I feel I have a knack for picking out really excellent gifts to suit particular people(s). How does one cultivate such a talent? Well, you can start by trying to pick me out the perfect gift every month and I will give you feedback on a scale of 1-10 of how perfectly the gift fits me. Who's in??!??! Anyone?... ... ...

Okay, another tip for picking the perfect gift is to listen and observe. I guess that could be categorized into two separate advices... advice..i... but, nevermind that. You listen to what people say they want, and you observe what they may not HAVE but rightly SHOULD have (clearly for more advanced gifters). The latter advice is an art really, an art that one must painstakingly cultivate by constant observation - particularly around special personal days and Christmas. I increase me gift-dar scans immensely around such times. I also really really ENJOY the process of picking out an excellent gift for someone. Think about a time when someone pegged exactly what you wanted/needed and gave it to you for your Birthday/Christmas/Just Cause. Right? Usually the best gifts are things you've been wanting for awhile but haven't gotten yourself or from anyone else (cause they don't have the talent I... and now we... possess). Or their items you never knew you wanted but when someone gave it to you - you think "Wow! That's really perfect!" I love that look on the faces of friends and loved ones - particularly when it's cultivated by something I've given them. It's a veritable natural high. I proverbial pat on the back. And who doesn't need proverbial pats on the back? Uh huh.


In contrast, nothing gives me MORE pains than having absolutely no idea what to give someone. You know the types of people I mean; the ones who are impossibly hard to shop for. Socks? Gloves? Shirt? Even such simple generic gift-fall-backs are difficult to pick out with confidence for certain people. It's likely these individuals have been gifted more gift receipts than gift cards (ba dum chi!). (Speaking of gift cards - an excellent gift in my mind - particularly to Nordstrom, Banana Republic, or Urban Outfitters (hinty hint hint hint... October 12th Birthday... hinty hint...)). My Grandpa Petty is one of these individuals. He's really hard to shop for - and furthermore - he's such a fantastic guy you really want to get him something special! It's offensive to think socks or a tasteful (and otherwise... cough) flannel button up will truly convey how great you think this man is! But phew... what do you get one of the greatest people you know who also happens to be incredibly impossible to shop for? ... ... .... exactly. You have that person in your mind too, right? Well fear not! I bring you a story of hope. Settle in.

A few weekends ago, I went home to Emery County for my grandparents 70th Birthday, Birthday Party. They both turn 70 within about a month of each other - so we thought a combo party in the happening town of Emery seemed just the ticket! And just the ticket it was. Of course, I can shop for my Grandma Jo. She has fabulous taste in clothes and naturally, I enjoy shopping for fabulous clothes/jewlery/any general shoppery myself, so entering Coldwater Creek and selecting some lovely earrings to fit her classy style was enjoyable and effortless. However, as previously mentioned, Grandpa P was a different story. I called my mom, my brothers, what were we going to give Grandpa? No one knew. Everyone guessed at those "generic" gifts (gift cards to Cabalas... Olive Garden... socks? Gloves? Cowboy paintings? IOU something better than what I got you? Alas!), and every suggestion was received with a "meh.. yeeeah... I guess." Nothing was hitting home - and as a very serious giver of gifts - this was a very difficult week in my first-world life. I appreciated the prayers. ;)

Well, as it was inevitably going to do, the day of the party arrives. Seth, his new wifey Emily, and I decide we are going to drag the dregs of Price (and if you want a town to drag dregs... Price is it) and find Grandpa something at least tolerable. We found ourselves at the "Farmer's Store" and shifted through leather wallets (has one), Cowboy paintings (meh...), and various zoo animal figurines (what the?). We had all but decided on getting him a painting, when we both stopped in front of what would become, the greatest gift of all time.

There was a pause....

An observation...

A squat...

A light touch on the box...

A an exchange made across sibling wave length... a confirmation... this was it. Thee gift.

Seth and I both had an excited glint in our eye as we realized... not only was this probably the most perfect gift we could've found, but it was likely to beat my Aunt Chris's gift hands down! HA! Now listen, Aunt Chris has also been given my talent for picking out gifts... particularly for Grandpa. She's on the wave length! She always gives something that brings that sparkle to his eye. SHORE she's his daughter but that point is moot! We wanted the sparkle in his eye THIS time and by heaven, this was the gift to produce it! The Sparkle! The excitement! We added a little ribbon and loaded it in Seth's truck. What glee! We were giddy school kids!

When we arrived in Emery, it's all Seth and I could do to refrain from giving out our perfect gift immediately upon arrival. The anticipation was suffocating! But wait we did... through pre-chit chat... Zumba demonstrations (thanks mom)... and dinner eating before it was finally time. The cake was ready! We were ready! The gifts were poised! And Seth raced to the truck on my urging to bring over our genius masterpiece as Grandma opened her earrings (loved them... ooooooof course) and read the combo-card (signed by all Cox children, Mom, and Snoopy the Beagle).

Finally! The moment had come! Oh... Grandpa's eye had begun to sparkle while Seth totted the box across the lawn. I could see it begin to glow as he set it down in front of him, "Happy Birthday! From all of us!"

I held my breath...

He looked it over...

Touched it's box...

Suppressed a gleeful grin...

He spoke...

"Well... isn't that just perfect."

Huzah! The rest was a whirlwind!

The pocket knife was out... grandpa was opening our gift immediately! He was a man on a mission. He wanted this amazing gift out and put together pronto. He wanted to caress the clay encasing... personally witness the horse and horse shoe engravings upon it's cylindrical face. He even seemed (did!) to forget that there were still a few more gifts to come from OTHER family members. The only gift in his eye that night was OUR excellent gift. (Okay fine... so Aunt Chris gave him a GPS  and lets face it... was pretty stinking clever too... a close second ;)). As he hungrily cut strings, tape, and begin piecing together the greatest gift ever given, it was all Seth and I could do to not grin ear to ear at our triumph... to beat our chests and yell "We are Spartans! Er... Geniuses!" to all who would listen!

 Later, while helping Grandma in the kitchen, she told me, "That was so perfect! We were looking at those just the other day and I really wanted one but we didn't get it!" I glowed with pride, "Yes well, we couldn't believe you didn't have one already!" Seth mentioned Grandpa had told him the same thing as he put it together. On! On to the victory!

I guess you want to know what this perfect gift was, right? Well, it was genius, I tell you, genius (did you get that? GENIUS!). Both Seth and I wondered aloud, while we totted it from the Farmer's Store, "Why do they not have one of these already? It's basically perfect!" And it WAS perfect my friends... truly... Alright, I'll stop the suspense.


The Greatest Gift Ever Given
(deafening applause ensues)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Something to be said of chivalry

Last night, I had the opportunity to listen to Elder Richard G. Scott; an apostle for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, give a talk to the "youth" of the Church. We call these youth-specified meetings CES Firesides, and among an array of topics, the issue off marriage and dating is one all singles are eager to get more insight, direction, and advice upon. Inevitably, some facet of these talks will focus on the subject, sometimes as a brief mention and sometimes as the entire topic.

Elder Scott talked about marriage, his dear wife Janine, and a variety of other principles. However, the principle I found most fascinating and led me to some reflection, and one he only spent about 5 minutes upon, was the idea of chivalry.

I find myself very old fashioned. I like doors being held open for me, I like "ladies" being treated like "ladies" and given the respect that they once were the consistent recipients of in the days of yester-year. Now, adjust your spectacles because I'm about to get entirely fuddy duddy on you, but I wonder what happened to the days of men standing when a woman enters the room, or when she leaves the table. If such a gesture were to be practiced today... most of us women would look at the standing man like "er... what are you doing?" It's just not... done anymore. Where are the days when men would check their "man-language" aka "overt swears and crass comments" in the presence of a woman simply because it was not to be said in front of ladies; when men would offer jackets, an arm, a kind word, because that's the gentleman thing to do. These are all things we see in on-screen adaptations of Jane Austin movies or from our grandfathers, but as to the modernity of chivalry, well... let's say that the noticeable lack of such things add evidentiary support to the lament, "chivalry is dead," or more optimistically, "dying." Elder Scott mentioned one such nicety that I had never even considered, not even heard of, and I'm one rural traditional hick when it comes to these sorts of things. He lamented that he'd noticed a lot of men, when standing in line, stand infront of their wife or girlfriend. He said this act of standing in front of your "companion" in line was disrespectful and disgraced the value of a woman. In fact... he said it was "downright stupid." This caused me some reflection... as you can see. Not only on the death of chivalry, but on the differing values of generations. We all know that opening the door for a woman is gentile, but who knew that once upon a time, standing in line infront of the women you are with is insensitive and unchivalerous? Perhaps it's as unknown as making sure the man is walking on the "road side" of the sidewalk rather than the woman. It's true.

Elder Scott is an elderly man, one who grew up in a different time and a different era. Among the vast technological advances, Civil Rights movements, feminist movements, equity in the work place and higher education; social norms and a sense of propriety have changed too. Evolved? Progressed? That's debatable - but "changed" - that's for certain.

Of course I'm not here to tell the world of men "be gentleman!" cause truly - I feel their hands are tied. Men have lost some of that chivalry that was once expected, but why? I believe feminism has caused the death of chivalry in society just as much as men's idea of chivalry has wained into just plain laziness and non-attentiveness. Some feminists would argue that chivalry and gender equity are mutually exclusive. Why treat women differently than you would your basketball buddy? Well, because we're NOT your basketball buddy, that's why. And I'm one who believes that women and men are different not just physically, but emotionally, spiritually, and yes, socially. We could make an argument discussing the "social construction" of gender and how dressing babies in pink for girls and blue for boys sets them on a "gender path" society has created rather than one that's naturally embedded into us from before the world was. I, respectfully, disagree that we only differ in body parts, and I think most women would agree with me... that though we lobby for equal pay for equal jobs (dammit!), that we should have the same rights to vote, speak out, and rally for our values as much as anyone, and that women should pursue higher education opportunities that propel them into the workforce, we are still women. We are still different. And a little chivalry... a lot of chivalry... goes a long way in telling a women that you value her womanhood. You value her differences. And you respect her as a daughter of God rather than someone with different body parts made to churn out babies. It goes beyond that... it goes above that... and for me... having a man... a gentleman... offer me a jacket or open the door or speak more gently than he would during a football game with his pals, says more to me about his idea of a woman's worth versus an attempt at "gender equity" by suggesting we "go Dutch" on a date or (and believe me this has happened) that I should CALL HIM for a date "sometimes". Maybe some women swing that way and it could be considered very "modernist" of them. But not THIS woman. Not most women.

So men, don't be afraid to be gentleman and ladies, let them and for heavens sakes ACT like a lady if you want to be treated like a lady. Times are changing and society has tried to destroy the idea of "gender roles" and create a neutrality where we're all the same. But we're not all the same. I feel gender celebrates our differences and allows us to value one another how we were meant to value one another - as males and females - separate and distinct yet compatible - both bringing different abilities and strengths to the table. Chivalry isn't dead unless we kill it. Like Elder Scott... I think it's pretty stupid that we let such propriety die because society tell us so.... because we value gender neutrality more than the value of gender.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

I put the blonde in Scooter...

School has started. Work has significantly picked up. And my church calling has turned out to be more arduous than I’d thought (hoped). These are the excuses I have to offer you as to my bloggy absence the past week… ish. Plus, I’ve not had anything particularly of note to inform you of… nothing worth reading at any rate (cause ya know, most of my stuff is SO worth reading), until now. Dun dun dun…

Story time!

So, to fill in the void that is single living (you know it’s true – there’s always a little void), I’ve done such things as travel, attended various little local activities and events, bought a Toshiba flat screen TV (mmm..), and shopped my little heart happy. At one point when I was living in Provo, I believed I was suffering from a mid-mid life crisis and entertained such desires as moving to Australia, getting a pet kitty, and buying a scooter as ways to “shake things up”. That round of feeling like I need to do something new and enjoyable, I got a cat – Lila – the white fuzz foot. Needless to say I don’t have Lila anymore because ALSO as a 20 something single, life tends to change as the wind changes. We’re a rather vagabond-esque breed, moving locations every year or several times a year, schooling and working and seeking and discovering. Many times, change isn’t entirely anticipated and what was once set in stone, become pie crust promises – easily made – easily broken (though not to get all down on Mary Poppins excellent analogy – pie crusts aren’t THAT easily made – am I right? Easily broken though… true that). We all start to feel a little restless at times, am I right? When you need something new and exciting – something that’s changing or progressing - I feel it’s a little bit of human nature to not only watch your world evolve – but evolve with it.

So void filling. Here’s what I’ve come up with.

Ta dah! Meet Holly.

I’ve been thinking about getting a scooter for some time. Done a little research and crunched some numbers – but all and all I wasn’t entirely committed until one fateful day last week when my good friend heidikins told me that a mutual friend was selling her Scooter – her lovely old school teal Scooter – for a steal of a deal. Internet, it was love at first sight… and first driving attempt, wobbling down the street with a look of excitement and anxiety all at the same time. How could I say no? Go ahead; look at it again… yep. Filled up my desire for excitement and change with a little teal Scoot Scoot affectionately named Holly. And why not? WHY NOT? I’m a downtown girl living the downtown life; my work is located a mile from my house – school maybe 3 miles from my house – essentially – my life is easily contained within a 5 block radius. You could say it’s almost a social injustice to not have a scooter with such downtown livin circumstances…. right up there with a crippled public education system and poverty. Well… maybe a few levels down the social injustice ladder. But still there!

Alright so all this aside – wanna hear a great story that involved the Scooter and a leather clad man called James? Okay… here goes…

So. I acquired Holly last Friday and naturally, drove her on down to the Farmer’s Market Saturday morning, parking her in Gateway summer parking. Now, I’m one of those people who double checks 5-6 times they have their keys in their pocket or they’ve turned off their headlights before leaving their vehicle. Nothing worse than doing something ridiculous that costs you time, annoyance, and money that could’ve been prevented if you weren’t such a brain-dead idiot (foreshadowed!). So I double check all these things – key in pocket, helmet locked in compartment, Off/Run switch off, etc. before I leave the Scoot to go buy me some local deliciousness.

Returning a few hours later, I hop on the Scoot to drive 'er on home and begin a day full of errands and homeworking and laundry and all those necessary Saturday tasks. Flip the switch to run… roll it off its kick stand (NOT an easy task for a wee person - I have calf bruises), and push the start button. Cricket chirp. Nothin. Er… flip the switch again, make sure the key is turned to ya know "On", and push the start button again. Tumble weed. Really? REALLY?!??! Flick the lights – functioning. Roll it around – shake it up – check the gas and battery gauge – flip the switch again – say a prayer - push start and…. Solitary wind carrying chirping crickets entangled in a tumble weed. Great.

Great… my battery must be dead. TRUE the lights work but it won’t even turn over so NOW what. Well, I call my friend Camille back who’d just left the Farmer’s Market and ask her if she has little jumper cables. This kinda freaks me out since the Scoot is so small and jumper cables seem so… electrifying… but what else can I do? Camille suggests I utilized her Ken Garff roadside family and friend’s maintenance deal and I readily accept. I trust anyone else sans myself with figuring out the mechanics of this that and the other on gas powered vehicles.We give them a call to see what they can do for Miss Holly. They promise us a 15 minute wait and we settle into discussing how annoying car issues are and how sad I am Holly may have a weak battery issue. She seemed so healthy. So robust.

1 hour later… yep… 1 hour later, hard-ass James rolls on his Warrior motorcycle (grug grug grug), leather vest and arm tats intact, with his little battery jumper box. James is cool. James is hard core. James checked my battery and says it’s fully charged. He hops on the Scooter (threatening us not to tell any of his friends that he’s sitting on a sissy scooter – and we promise we won’t mention it at the  Wild Hog Hard-ass Convention we’re speaking at next weekend), turns the key, pushes the start, and Broooooom! Starts right up! What? What??!?! Holly prefers two sizes too small jeans James to me? Is it the black leather boots? The oily VanHalen t-shirt? What?

“So… this Scooter is an automatic.” explains James.

I smile… “yeeeah… okay…” acting knowledgable... as if this has provided me with answer.

“So… you have to hold in the brake when you push start… or it won’t start. It’s like a safety switch…” he tries to convey matter-of-factly but I can see in his bushy browed eyes, goatee-chopped mouth, face he’s thinking “how do you function in life sweetheart?”

Blonde moment for me. Yep. Nice flat cement parking structure – why would I need to pull on the brake to start my Scoot? I mean, right? Makes no sense! Oh… maybe because I WANT it to start. Maybe THAT’s it. Thanks James. Tell T-bone and Death Fist hey if you see them before we do.

I laugh and sheepishly say, “Thank you” to James and offer him front row tickets to the Hard-ass Convention before holding in the brake on Holls and buzzing on home… perhaps with my head not as high as I’d arrived. Scooters must just bring out the blonde in me – which really doesn’t bode well does it? Indeed. But I sure make being a complete fool look good right? RIGHT??!? Look again...