Wednesday, September 23, 2015

You're Being Anal

My friends and I were having lunch in the break room the other day.  For the sake of protecting their identity, let's call my friends Frick and Frack.

Discussing the incorrect behavior of others is a fun group activity which we all enjoy and today was no exception.  Frack was complaining about someone, I forget who it was, but she was going into some detail about this person's transgressions against her.  Then, Frack said, "He was being anal, you know what I mean?"

Well, I thought I did.  It's the 2nd in Freud's stages of development.  Having majored in Psychology, at least I know that much.  People who have an "Anal" personality are usually compulsive and overly controlling, they like things just so.

Also, being a long-time fan of Saturday Night Live, I remember Phil Hartman's Anal Retentive Chef, obsessively wrapping and sealing every piece of trash.

I also remember the many times I watched the movie Annie Hall, in which Diane Keaton says to Woody Allen, "Anal is a nice word for what you are."  So yeah, I knew what being "anal" meant.  Or so I thought.

Frack kept on asking if I knew what she meant.  I kept on replying in the affirmative as did Frick.  But Frack was suspicious that we were clueless.

She kept saying, "you know what "anal" means, don't you?"

I said, "it means someone who's a control freak and very fastidious."

"No," Frack replied, "it means they're being an asshole."

Frick and I were quick to correct her.  "That's not what it means," I said.

Frick chimed in, "It's like Anal Retentative, someone who's a neat freak - haven't you ever heard of Anal Retentative?"

That's right, folks, there's an extra syllable in there.  Re-ten-TA-tive.

By now I was pretty annoyed with both of them.  "It's not pronounced Re-ten-TA-tive, it's just retentive and it does not mean being an asshole, it's one of Freud's stages of development."

Frack would not be corrected, "No, it means you're an asshole, don't you know that?"

I said, "Don't talk to me about Anal, I majored in Psychology, I have a bachelors degree in Anal!"

That did not come out right.  There was a moment of silence....  followed by a fit of giggles.  Yep, we may be a bunch of middle-aged women but we have the sense of humor of 12-year-old boys.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Open Mouth, Insert Foot - Conversational Dead-Ends

We've all done it, said something we regret. Something that brings the conversation to a screeching halt, followed by awkward silence and the sound of crickets chirping. It's a conversational dead-end.
I frequently find myself saying the wrong thing.  My very wise father-in-law once said, "don't open your mouth unless you're changing feet."  While I can't offer a cure for foot-in-mouth disease, there are a few common phrases that are almost never a good idea.

  1. Lighten up - It may seem like a good idea to say this when you're friend is getting all hot and bothered about something.  They're raging and you want to calm them down.  You say, "lighten up, buddy, it's okay."  But think about it, does this ever work?  Do they ever just calm down and get over it?  No.  Instead they now direct some of their anger at you.  Here's why.  They are upset - whatever they're griping about is important to them.  You have essentially said, "your problem is not important, you're just making a big deal out of nothing." That's never a message people take kindly to.  A better response - get on board.  Agree with them.  Say, "You're right, I can't believe those jerks, how can they be so stupid, I HATE them and I hope they DIE."  (okay, maybe that's going a little bit too far but you get the idea)
  2. Welcome to my world - think about the times you've had this said to you and how it made you feel.  Did you feel welcome?  Didn't think so.  Typically, this comes after a complaint has been lodged.  Your friend airs her/his grievances and you say, "welcome to my world."  Basically, this translates as, "you think you've got it bad, hah! I deal with that kind of crap all the time."   It's never a welcome phrase.  What your friend really wants is commiseration and empathy.  You still get to join in the complaining but drop the one-upmanship. Say, "Oh I know, that really sucks, I hate it when that happens."
  3. It is what it is - who's the genius that came up with this one?  We know it wasn't Bill Clinton.  People say this all the time in reference to their friend's or even their own complaints.  I may be alone in this opinion (a common occurrence). This phrase usually comes after someone discusses a bad situation.  For example, "the boss is making us work on Saturday this week, I hate working on Saturday, it's not fair!"  Then the friend/co-worker/stranger on the street will shrug their shoulders, throw up their hands in defeat and say, "It is what it is."  Brilliant!  This means, "yeah, it sucks but there's nothing you can do about it so just accept it."  For some reason, this always grates on my nerves.  I want to say, "NO - it's not okay - I'm mad as hell, and I'm not gonna take it anymore!"  But maybe that's just me. 
So, let's hear it.  What are some phrases that get on your nerves?

Monday, September 7, 2015

Women Over 50 - I'm in Good Company

My uncle told me yesterday, "You know you're getting old when people start saying, You're looking good rather than you're good-looking."

One way to feel better about getting older is to list some good-looking celebrities who are the same age or older than you.  It's hard to find some that will actually admit their advanced years but they are out there.  Back when I turned 40 I began noticing celebs who I thought were my age were now suddenly only 35.  I don't know how they got away with that, having played high school students in the 80s but hey, I'm not here to judge...  Okay, I'm totally here to judge but that's not the point.

I'm taking a cue from Steve Martin in Father of the Bride, who had his secretary research celebs who were older than him, such as Mick Jagger.  We don't need a secretary though, because we have IMDB.

So here are some talented women who are either turning 50 this year or have passed that milestone in the last few years but still manage to look amazing:

1.  Viola Davis - on the cover of AARP - she owns it
2.  Shania Twain - with whom I share a Birthday
3.  Elle McPherson - still drop-dead gorgeous at 51
4.  Sandra Bullock - People Magazine's Most Beautiful Woman 2015 at the age of 51
5.  Courteney Cox - Your friend and mine, born in 1964
6.  Sheryl Crow - At 53 she still has a golden voice to go with her golden tresses
7.  J.K. Rowling - One month older than me, and not bad looking for a writer
8.  Brooke Sheilds - Like me, born in 1965, I feel like we grew up together
9.  Vanessa Williams - Fabulous at 52
10.  Mary-Louise Parker - One year older than me and my favorite suburban pot dealer
11.  Sarah Jessica Parker - Also born in 1965, she will always be a square peg to me

Yes, my list goes to eleven.  There are many more famous women over 50 but these are several I admire.  I was hoping to put Salma Hayek and Halle Berry on the list but, alas, they are only spring chickens at just 49.  We'll get you next year, my pretties.

Now, I can't fool myself into thinking I look as good as these ladies.  But, maybe I could look that good if I had piles of money and a team of experts at my beck and call. Let's compare:

  • They have personal trainers ~ I have Aqua Zumba
  • They have make-up artists ~ I have Maybelline 
  • They have hair stylists ~ I have Loreal
  • They have designer clothes ~ I have mom-jeans from Walmart
  • They have personal chefs ~ I have Lean Cuisine

All in all, not too shabby.  I can work with it.  I've heard that comparison is the thief of joy but not if you have good excuses. 

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

3 Hard Truths About Dieting

Disclaimer:  This is not dieting or weight loss advice. I am the last person to be giving anyone advice on how to lose weight.  I am not an expert.  I am not a doctor.  I don't even play a doctor on TV.

However, as a chronic dieter, I have found these truths to be self-evident to me, if not to the general public.

Additional Disclaimer:  For the purposes of this post I will refer to overweight humans as "fat." This is not meant to offend anyone.  If you think it's wrong for a fat person to be called fat by anyone, including themselves, then we are just going to have to agree to disagree on that. "Fat" is not a dirty word.  It does not denote self-loathing.  It's just a word which, in this context, means excess poundage upon one’s frame.  I'm not going to sugar coat it, ahem, Splenda coat it, by coming up with seemingly non-offensive terms such as pleasantly plump or plus-size or she's got a great personality.  If the word “fat” hurts your precious little self-esteem then, go have a cookie and you’ll feel better.

Hard Truth #1:  There is no “Ah Ha” Moment

I have often heard people ask a dieter, usually a dieter who has had some success, "What was your Ah Ha moment?"  You may hear this on TV, perhaps in an infomercial for a weight-loss plan in which some D-List celebrity is asking some "regular person like yourselves" what spurred them to try (insert whatever miraculous diet plan they are selling).

They are asking for that one and only, bright-shining, pivotal, life-changing, split second in time when the dieter had an epiphany, if you will.  The fat person suddenly and without warning came to the realization that, “Holy cow, I’m Fat.!!!”  As if it had never occurred to them before.

You will hear the successful dieter give answers like:
·        I saw my reflection in a shop window and couldn’t believe how fat I was
·        I saw myself in some holiday photos and couldn’t believe how fat I was
·        I got on a scale at the doctor’s office and couldn’t believe how fat I was

You get the picture. The thing is – there is no Ah Ha moment.  Fat people know they are fat.  It didn’t sneak up on them and then suddenly, “who’s that fat person in the mirror?”  They know they should lose weight.  They’ve known it for some time now. 

There are actually several moments when the fat person is reminded of the fact that they are, indeed, fat.  But there is no one moment that changes everything. Just like there is no one and only decision to lose weight. (but that’s another story)

Hard Truth #2:  You WILL Feel Hungry

I don’t know of any diet out there that doesn’t make the claim that you won’t feel hungry.  It’s a lie.

You will most assuredly feel hungry.  If you are reducing the volume of food you put in your stomach, it will retaliate with hunger pains (or is it pangs?).  That’s just basic science, ya’ll.

Don’t panic.  It’s not the end of the world.  Think of those hunger pains as pounds vacating the premises.  Ignore them.  You’re a grown-up.  You can take it.  If it’s really too much for you, eat a banana and move on.

Bottom line is, do not go into a diet plan thinking that you will never feel hungry.  You will feel hungry every day, especially for the first two weeks of a new diet plan.  After that, it gets easier.  Also, the hunger may make you grouchy.  You, and those around you, will just have to put up with it.

Hard Truth #3:  There are No Shortcuts

Sticking to a diet is not easy. We all want it to be easy. We all want someone or something to do it for us. That’s why the weight loss industry makes billions of dollars. Our hard-earned dollars! 

Nothing will do it for you.  No weight loss plan, no diet pill, no drink mix, no packaged meals, and no weekly meetings will do it for you.  Some of these things may help you but, in the long-run it’s all down to you. Weight watchers will give you plenty of tips and support but YOU are the one who has to do the work, the shopping and the chopping.  YOU have to go to the grocery store and bypass the Hostess cupcakes to get to the produce.  YOU have to drag yourself to the gym when you don’t have time or energy or motivation to do so.  YOU have to deny yourself cheetoes in favor of iced water.  It’s all down to you.

There you have it.  My 3 Hard Truths.  I hope I haven’t discouraged anyone.  Perhaps you have a hard truth of your own to share.