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Saturday, February 26, 2011

5 Inexplicable Rules That Now Make Sense...

My parent's were strict. No sleepovers before 10. No dangly earrings before 13. No phone calls from boys before 14. No make up before 15. No dates before 16. No mini skirts, night clubs, cleavage or swearing...EVER! (See how well I turned out?). My parent's weren't strict. We had the freedom to watch Benny Hill, listen to Redd Foxx AND Richard Pryor and understood the ins and outs of sex (no pun intended...or was there?) well before 12. My parent's were a bit schizophrenic in their rearing style. The voices they heard, they categorically ignored. The voices they didn't hear set the rules. Dichotomy is NOT too strong a word. They were consistent, even when I (sliding through opened windows, applying make up on the way to school, having my girl friends call 3~way) was not. You didn't talk back. You maintained eye contact. You protested to open ears (and hearts). It was a wonderful hindsight.

All of this is building up to the parachute jump, so are you strapped in? Great. I'm the same way. My Suns are granted liberties that make their peers look at me with painstaking admiration. They sing arias and do little dances around my feet. They like me and stuff. But asks my Suns about me and I'm pretty sure, they've got their own stories to tell of unfair punishments and ridiculous rules. And all that I can say to that is:
One day it'll all make sense...

1. Speak when you enter the room.
Then: If there is one thing (amongst millions) that I absolutely have NO use's small talk. I've had office jobs (and subsequent employee reviews) that detail my unwillingness to enter a room and share trifles of conversation with random people. For years, I'd scratch my head puzzled about the importance of saying "Good morning" to somebody I'd JUST SEEN the night before. It seemed useless, random and a waste of my ever important time. And telling me that it's "rude" to enter a room without speaking did little to persuade me that I had a problem, and much to convince me that YOU did.
Now: I enter rooms tossing rose petals, butterfly wings and bon mots at random strangers. I'm lying. But I do speak when I enter a room...even if I shared the entire roof with you the night before. Why? I've discovered in my "old age" that I'm actually glad to see you standing on this side of the dirt instead of lying beneath it. We've known each other for a while, so I can admit that even as I typed it...I hate that cliche! But some of the best generalizations are based in a truth, so yeah...I'm glad you're alive. Saying hello...good morning is one way to acknowledge that.

2. When visiting friends, ask for "the tour" before wandering from room to room.
Then: Visiting my friends (and the friends of my parents) was like a field trip that required a passport and inoculations. As soon as the door cracked open, the smells were different. The textures foreign. Even the language wasn't quite the same as at my house. (Who says "icebox" when they mean "refrigerator"...weirdoes!). Why should I not take advantage of cultural immersion and become finely acquainted with their customs and traditions by looking beneath the bed and rifling through their clothes hamper?
Now: There is nothing that irks my left nerve ending more than a child randomly opening drawers, closets and cabinets. (Yes, there are people who allow their children this "freedom"). When I was a child, I thought it was yet another effort to curtail my magnet school programmed curiosities by mere peasants. As an adult, I see it for what it is: Civil lawsuit prevention. Look, I don't mind little Charquonishettitia asking me a billion questions about the African masks in my sacred space. I have no problem addressing Quentarianolia when it comes to the random wafts of incense and sage. I even invite your precious little MercedesLexusQuantus to peruse my jewelry, refrigerator and handmade soaps...but I draw the line when your lovelies decide to go prospecting for gold amongst my cowry shells. Can you reign them in, please?! Because trust me, the moment any of my homemade pieces are broken, you ARE going to pay me.

3. Stay out of "grown folks" conversation.
Then: “Are you honestly trying to tell me that my witty repartee is unwanted?!! My point of view on all things dope, fly and def are not needed?” (Don't judge me...#80's baby). What do you mean, "stay out of grown folks conversation?!!!" I'm almost grown!
Now: "If you don't get your fresh face, narrow tail out of my mouth...we gonna have a discrepancy!!!" Yep, just like that! After rearing my own Suns did I realize the error of involving children in adult conversation. They are irrational. Really. Children are an amazing, interesting, delightful bag of flesh and bone selfishness that rarely employs censorship, courtesy or etiquette. True, it's refreshing endearing...when it's YOUR children! But the rest of us think your kid is an obnoxious windbag and we want you to pelt them with Flintstones vitamins until they shut the hell up. You know those people in your Facebook/Twitter world with a snarky response to EVERYTHING? Yeah...those are YOUR kids and we blame you!

4. Did you just call me by my first name?
Then: "Mommy!" "Momma!!!" "Mama!!" "Mom!" "Mum!!!" "Lois".... *thwap!* And there I was giving my Mother the side eye and wondering if "Lois*" had become some vile swear word overnight and nobody told me. My Mother took a NO NONSENSE approach when it came to what we're were to call her. A woman who, for all intents and purposes (that's the correct way to use that, BTW), appeared sane, revered, respected and loved by all would turn into something akin to a less playful, slightly rabid Tasmanian Devil in a psychotic fugue when called by her first name. **
Now: While I stifle the urge to rip out throat boxes and grind my teeth into chiclets sized dental plates, I HATE hearing my Suns call me by my first name. So they don't. When I hear other parents being referred to by their first name, I've found gripping something bolted into the floor helps me to remain seated and smiling vacuously. I have no other explanation for this phenomenon besides the pain of labor and the inconsistency that are accompanying hormones. It's scientific. Don't question science, heathen!

5. Don't put that fish grease in there!!!.
Then: It's all grease. Uggh, I've got a tummy ache and why do my eggs taste funny?!
Now: Get that crap outta here!

*Yes, my mother's name is Lois. No, she wasn't that bad. Yes, the therapy bills are ENORMOUS!
**I'm kidding, people! My mom is the awesomeness...which explains me! ;^)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

How To Keep Them Coming Back...

I'm a blogger. I think we've covered that extensively and you're pretty well versed on the subject by now, so I can cease with the introductions. I'm an article picker. What does that mean? That means I spend at least an hour a day trolling the "interwebs" perusing stories, articles, pictures...and the like. It's reasonable entertainment and usually nets me juicy tidbits on trends in marketing, finance, technology and the latest antics of whatever butt implanted pop star is currently doing something "butt-implantish". With that said and an adequate amount of frustration mounting, I thought I'd attack point out some of the most annoying things done in the name of supposed web savvy that keep me from ever visiting your site AGAIN!

1. Misleading tags.
Tags identify the information we, your faithful readers, are searching for. The goal of a tag is to let me know I'm in the right place to find whatever subject I came flying down the information superhighway for in the first place. If your tags are misspelled, unrelated or a part of some inside joke, I'm sure to miss the reference and feel slightly duped. Think of your site this way: How often would you visit your local drugstore for their DVD collection?
Aspirin? Yes.
Prescriptions? Of course!
But DVD's? Not so much!

2. Widget parade.
There's only so much information my itty bitty brain decides to process and comprehend. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. So, if your page is inundated (and yes, I mean INUNDATED) with clocks, temperature, spinning fairies and a veritable animal farm of widgetry, I'm looking for the "X" in the corner like a woman seeking a life raft in Lake Superior .  Not only are the widgets a bit of sensory overkill (which we'll discuss a bit more, later), it slows the loading of the page. If I can brew a cup of coffee, engage in a small battle of wits on Twitter and check email all before your page loads...guess what? It DOESN'T! Buh~bye!

3. Preachy, plain rarely updated content.
Barrel of laughs, ain't she?
Yeah, I know I just said to tone things down a bit, but leaving me with a largely blank page and simple text, is a creativity red flag! It makes me think your site is boring, your ability to cut and past is nonexistent or that you've failed to pay a web designer. All of the prior does little to endear me to your what brought me in the first place: your content. Likewise, unless accompanied by a finger wagging graphic, your reader should rarely feel scolded or judged. This is especially true in the blogosphere. Except mine...because you KNOW I'm right. Of course I am...don't be ridiculous! (See what I did there?).

4. It hurts my EYES/EARS!!!
I get it that your inner Barbie Dream House school of webdesign begs for hot pink excessively curlicue text on a neon lime green background, but some of us are concerned with the ongoing developement of our eyesight. And while your favorite song may involve some variation of random lyrics about illicit body parts, violence and escaping the police hear it blasting from your desktop as you hurriedly close the window before your boss hears it, is a violation of common sense, if not decency. Seriously, with as much time as most of us spend online (or gazing at handheld devices) it should be pretty obvious that the experience is supposed to be a comfortable one that doesn't jeopardize our ability to maintain gainful employment. Tone down the neon flashing colors, don't saddle your site with revenue driving pop ups and make the volume button one touch and easily identifiable so that I'll return.

Visiting your site should be similar to a visit to your home. As I sit on your couch is it necessary for me to move loud garish pillows about? Am I busy emptying your wastebaskets and tidying your magazines? Am I placed in a corner with a dunce cap and gruel? Or is it warm, welcoming and inviting enough for me to make myself comfortable. The idea is to inspire the desire to bookmark YOU for a return visit.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Cliche Busters

I realize we adopt and use cliche's for a variety of reasons. Sometimes they're apropos, fit the situation or circumstance and provide an adequate response to life's little quandries. Other times, they're just annoying. In fact, most of the time...they're annoying. Why? Because frankly, there are times when these time weary turns of phrases are just plain off the mark. Need examples? That's why I'm here...

1. It's the thought that counts.
When confronted with a person ready to "tally up points" during gift giving time, the thought only counts if it comes with the disconnected head of the person who gave you the homemade card and last minute chocolates. The idea behind "it's the thought that counts" is this: At least the giver thought of me. Unacceptable as most of us appreciate being a forethought, not an afterthought. And this is the only warning you're goimg to get since Valentine's Day is just a hop, skip and jump away.

2. Any friend of yours is a friend of mine.
Not only is this a bad's pretty dangerous. I mean think about it...Charles Manson had friends too, right?

3. Can't judge a book by it's cover.
I'm pretty sure this made lots of sense before graphic designers and test marketing became a booming business. Nowadays, though, you can tell ALOT about the contents of a book by it's cover. Large gothic print and dripping blood usually implies horror. Wispy, ethereal seeming fonts and women cloaked in breath constricting bodices are romantic novels. And whimsical text coupled with a pair of high heels or a shopping bag...some type of mind numbing chic~lit. See how easy that was?

4. Crime doesn't pay.
This leads me to believe you don't know any lawyers, celebrities, politicians...
(Or maybe you do and you're just good at keeping secrets.)

5. Do unto others as you would have other do unto you.
I've seen the way some of you treat yourselves. Do me a favor...don't. This cliche only applies to a person steeped in self love and healthy adjustment principles. In fact, I'll give you a little along. On the average day, how many times do you refer to yourself as "stupid" or "crazy". Multiply that by the number of times you think, tweet, update FML and that's the number of light years I'd like you away from me. Thanks!

From time to time, I'll be posting these "cliche busters" because...well, it's enjoyable and it makes us all laugh. See? Sharing is caring...