Monday, August 22, 2011

Meet Zooey

She's a Mastadore. What's a Mastadore you ask? WELL! It's a Labrador and Mastiff mix. Which also means she will likely weigh about the same as me when she's full grown; perhaps even bigger. In fact, because I've neglected to introduce her for the last 3 weeks, you don't get to see her in her true new puppy form. She's doubled her weight and grown exponentially since we brought the little beasty home. Thus, I felt it was high time to show her off before her puppy years are gone merely a found memory in the shadow of the pony she'll turn into. It's like watching a furry newborn grow at super speed. She's grown out of her food dish, she can almost leap over her gate, and soon the doggy door will be a very snug fit. Thus, we must document that I had the ability at one point to pick her up and tote her around. Trespassers BEWARE!

But for now, before she becomes a Mastardorous-Rex, she is our wee little Zoe Zoe; and I'd like you to meet her:

Look at that FACE! It's ridiculous how CUTE she is! RIDICULOUS!

She plays kissy face! Kissy face Zoe Zo!

Likes to play ye old tug 'o war. I foresee some serious tugging in the future. I better keep boxing.

But in the end, she's just a big old softy.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Dating 101: Be Approachable

Yesterday, I attended FHE (two weeks in a row! Hurray for me!), and naturally, as I am in a Singles Ward, there’s always that element of dating and marriage hanging like a used towel over the laundry rack of our lives. Because I’ve been in a Singles Ward for… Lord, love a duck!... almost 10 years, I’ve gotten used to this wet towel dripping over my head. We all have.  It’s what Singles Wards are for, after all, to get the masses of single Mormons good and married in a timely manner. Eternal families and all of that. And I’m totally okay with this! In fact, I’d say I heartily support it! I want to get married and have some wee ones and maybe even a puppy so sure, I’ll attend a singles ward if it helps my chances! Though, I guess the irony is I’ve actually only gone on dates with members of my same Singles Ward maybe… oh… 4 or 5 times? Over 10 years? And only pseudo-but-not-really actually considered “dating” someone in my singles ward once. Though, to be honest I did go through an “ugly period” circa 2003-2005 so we won’t count those rather unsightly years. Shudder. But I’m not here to talk about the mission and goals of a singles ward and if anyone has actually undertaken the task of measuring outcomes; i.e. marriages brought about by mutual Singles Ward attendance and dating (though because the Church is genius; I’m sure they have); it would be an interesting discussion to contemplate if Singles Wards are actually fulfilling its original mission and if not, why we keep them around. Perhaps the Singles Ward mission has changed and expanded over the years to include other noteworthy and amiable tasks such as missionary work, sense of community, a place where singles can gather with other singles and learn and grow with each other in this strange era known as 20 something’s; but regardless of the expanded purpose of singles wards, marriage will always be part of the ultimate foundational elements as to why they exist. 

Good thing I just told you I wasn’t going to talking about the value of Singles Wards just to go on for a paragraph about the value of Singles Wards. Hurray for tangents! Let’s move on to the purpose of my contemplations, shall we? Indeed.

The real contemplation I’m having has to do with a little advice given at my FHE last night by my sweet Bishop’s wife. I want to make it clear that I think the Bishop and his wife are adorable and kind and in every way have our best interests at heart. And as a single that’s been in the game awhile, I’m always open and even eager to receive advice from the good people who clearly got it right because duh, they are married and I’m not… yet. Hopefully, yet. Maybe, yet… gulp. I’m good at a lot of things; for example, Scottish and British accents. Yes, it’s true. I’ve been blessed with an uncanny ability to imitate a pretty decent Scottish brogue, “Ack! Pass meh thas-uh toob oov haggas laddy, end dunt beh sluh wit’ het, aye?” Ask me sometime! You’ll be wow’ed!  BUT! As good as my Scottish brogue is, my dating skills are not. At least, I don’t think they are cause I’m still pretty single.  So, I’ll always take good advice, accept blind dates, and generally just give it my best shot with what I know… and a lot of things I don’t know. And there are, I’m sure, A LOT of things I don’t know. Which every time something doesn’t work out, I learn something very valuable I didn’t know before. So that’s, good right? And I try and make those necessary changes to next time… NEXT TIME… I’ll do things a little bit… or a lot… better.

At any rate, at this FHE last night the good Bishop and his wife gave us some advice about dating. Most of it I’d heard before; make marriage a priority (check!), make yourself available (school over? DOUBLE CHECK!), flirt (see: Scottish brogue… what? That’s not sexy?), and for heaven’s sakes BATHE! Okay, that last one they hinted at more than outright saying “some of you smell like socks” but there you have it. Pretty straightforward.

But then, my dear Bishop’s wife said something to the affect of: “Be approachable. Don’t appear too independent or self-reliant; or you’re not approachable. Men need to feel needed. They want to be your hero.”

And this one I had to mull over for awhile. Let me tell you something about me. Turns out, I can be a little intimidating. I know! 5 feet 1.5 inches tall and running around speaking in Scottish brogues freaks people out! At least it’s not an Irish accent… that would be a little “pot ‘o gold” creeper, eh? Now seriously internet, I understand I can be a little intimidating I guess because I’m… what’s the word… sassy J, tend to have some er… strong opinions on certain things (Go to School! Don’t do Drugs!), and truly, I DID just become a MASTER of Public Administration (the gloating will never end I tell you!); all could put a few dudes off. But I used to think, I really didn’t care about those dudes because I just wanted to be me, and me was okay, and someone out there would like the me I am. AND, I don’t think this is what Mrs. Bishop meant. I think she still wants us to be us. Me to be me. And you to be… well… maybe not YOU!... but you over there… you can be you. 

Here’s my conundrum: I want to be approachable and maybe I’m not. I bathe. I smile. I hope that I am feminine and girly in most respects; but truth be told I am pretty self-reliant and independent. I really like being able to take care of myself from paying the rent to hanging a shelf to getting my oil changed. And the irony is, the longer I am single, the more and more self-reliant I am becoming. That’s the nature of it, isn’t it? You’re almost forced into self-reliance and independence whether you like it or not! This isn’t to say I’m not above asking for help – because I definitely will if I need help. But a lot of the times, there’s not someone there TO help so, I have to figure it out on my own. It’s the nature of singleness… it’s the nature of single women. We just have to “man-up” and do it ourselves because, well, who else is there to help?

I don’t think the Bishop’s wife intended to tell us to be less than we are. But I’m not sure how to maintain who I am if who I am is man-repellant because I’m appearing too independent. Does my having a decent job, some education, and the ability to pay my bills on time or utilize a stool to reach the top shelf make me less approachable? Less attractive even? I don’t think so. But, there is an “approachableness” perhaps lacking somewhere and I’m not grasping it.  I don’t subscribe to the accolade “I don’t need a man!” and then scowl and spit in all mens general direction… but hey, I sure WANT one sometimes. And its wanting the companionship and stability and family more than a issue with co-dependence or that I can’t do it on my own.  I DO need “him”, but maybe not in some of the more obvious traditional ways right at the moment. Doesn’t mean I won’t later. Those who know me know that when I get married and have children, I want to stay home with them because personally, I see that as incredibly valuable, important, and exactly where I can best use my knowledge, skills, education, and abilities to better myself and better the world. Not to mention doing my best not to raise serial killers, or worse, 40 year old deadbeats living at home working part time at Blockbuster so he can get free video game rentals which he plays every night until 4am just to get up and slobber down some cereal with his Mountain Dew and do it all over again. Shudder. You see my priorities here. And because I want to be a homemaker for awhile at some point, THAT is when I will need the “him” in my life to fulfill that financial/provider role that I don’t necessarily need right now. Does that make sense? Then there are needs like, I need him to be kind and loving and non-judgmental and understanding and accepting of the fact that I get weepy during those Humane Society commercials or love the X-Files. I need him to be a companion and share the load… help carry the burdens of this mortal coil… I need him to go to the movies with me and camping and be there when I need someone to check the pressure in my car tires cause honestly, tires freak me out. I always think they will blow up if I keep poking around. And I need someone to bring me Gatorade when I’m sick or at least pat my head and say, “it’s okay wee one.” That’s what I need. That’s how I need a hero. And I’d really love for him to be my hero. But this damsel can climb down her own tower sometimes; so maybe, he can take care of the dragon while I’m mapping out our getaway route. Eh?

So, here’s the question then, how do I, an independent almost 28 (WTF! When did that happen!) Single woman who would like marriage and family to be in her future, nay, would like a few more dates in the future (baby steps) still be true to herself and BE approachable. I’d like some man-pinions on this as to the difference between approachable and not. How can you tell? What separates and approachable girl from one who isn’t? I already know that I don’t have to “dumb myself down” nor should I go to the other extreme and chuck my “awesomeness” in men’s faces because I’m insecure and bitter (and a MASTER! Okay I’m done J). Naw. I’ve grown up and learned enough to know that nagging, bitterness, “men are pigs” attitudes don’t get you anywhere (though we’ve all had our frustrating moments… ha!). I’ve softened a lot since high school and hope, HOPE, have refined my character enough to edge out some of those other unseemly albeit immature flaws that may have held me back in the past. I also believe that a good man won’t mind that I have a strong opinion on the value of education or the fact that I really don’t like carrots. It’s true… I keep trying to eat them and I just don’t like them. 

I’m all about balance, equity, and of course, open to thoughts and opinions on how better to make the dating world a little more condensed and understandable. An impossible task perhaps! But, in the immortal words of High School Musical, We’re all in this together.  Let the man-pinions (and woman-pinions) begin!
Also note - I am pleased with myself and don't think I need to change "who" I am cause I like who I am. That's not the issue here - it's understanding and making good adjustments and adaptations to accomplish a goal - which in this case is marriage. I believe that "being yourself" is being true to the core you - but allowing yourself to change for the better. If you're an angry raging bag who hates people - THAT may be on instance where change is a good thing. It's for you and for the proverbial "him" - and I think we all know that. So I GREATLY appreciate the "be yourself" reiteration and I fully support it - but what I'm looking for here is a reasonable expectation of change and a better acquaintance with the male psyche that will help me and any woman with the goal of marriage and family be more marriageable while STILL maintaining her core self.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

That's Master Cox to YOU!

Well I finally did it everyone! Last Saturday at approximately 3:02pm I walked away from the OSH building forever! Well, forever as it pertains to graduate classes for my MPA degree. I am now a Master of Public Administration! I won't lie, I definitely shed a tear or two as I drove away - contemplating the last 6 semesters slash full two years of my life and everything it took to get there. What a long and painstaking road. But now, it's done and I'm done and IT'S ALL DONE! D-U-N, DONE!

I even got an email last week confirming that the University of Utah had indeed posted my degree to my account and they were sending it to my listed address. The moment I get that very costly piece of paper I'm getting it framed and tacking it to a wall! Any wall! Including virtual walls! I am taking a picture to post for you, dear Internet, as PROOF!  I wonder if there's a way to strategically swab some tear, sweat, and blood stains on it. The degree that is... not the wall(s). What?... ... ... it was hard. Arduous. Painstaking. Intense. Destroyer of social life. I gained 10lbs! It's true. After work and school and homework and having no time - you tend to eat crap and not care... and then subsequently have zero energy for exercising. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. Master's degrees make you fat..ter.

But they also (ideally) make you smarter.

And poorer...

But more educated...

which is another way of saying smarter.

Hmmm... ANYWAY!

Do you want to know what I've done with my first school-free week?!?! Let me tell you! It got really crazy really fast.

FIRST! I did NOT do homework, rather, I went to Family Home Evening ( a little Mormon get together every Monday night intended for "family" togetherness... but as I am a single person, i.e. not married with children, , my singles ward meets together as a "family"... aw), AND exercised. I can't waste a moment getting rid of those 10 "Master" pounds. On Tuesday I played Ultimate Frisbee with no qualms of how I shouldn't be neglecting my Wednesday night class readings. Why? CAUSE I DIDN'T HAVE ANY! Ah ha! I then made some banana bread. Wednesday I DID NOT go to class. And that's all that needs to be said. Thursday, I went to the Twilight Series concert in Pioneer Park; Friday I spent with friends watching the Movie Under the Stars at the Capitol; Saturday... oh man Saturday... all my Saturdays in the past have been filled with either hours and hours of homework or hours and hours of class. THIS Saturday, however, I went to boxing class, did LAUNDRY, cleaned the HOUSE, GROCERY shopped, got a little crazy and went to a matinee alone, and THEN a graduation party for an hour. Also note that before bed every ONE of these nights I congratulated myself with an episode of the X-Files. I've started watching them all over, you see. And I'm on Season 2, Episode 9. What I wouldn't do to Agent Mulder. Grrrrowel. 

And now it's Sunday. For 6 semesters Sunday evenings have been the hardest evenings to endure. It's when I think of all the assignments still to finish and the reading yet to do and all the schooling hub bub that lies ahead. But not this Sunday. This Sunday I churched, watched more XFiles, took a 2 hour Scooter ride, applied a chocolate facial (Target), and now here I am telling all you fine people about my crazy school free week like you're still listening.

But listen Internet, you only graduate with your Masters once (unless you're one of those crazy people who wants two Master's degrees... shudder), and I think its worth rambling on and on and on about. Now if you'll excuse me, I have an engagement with Agents Mulder and Scully and then later, a LEISURE novel. Just try and stop me! Mwahahahahahahhah! (lighting bolt... clap of thunder!).