Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Plight of Men

(this is a rough mess of my thoughts, I would like to edit this and turn it into a true piece of writing - but for now, here it is.) 

I was browsing pinterest and kept seeing different posts of those “quotes” that said things like and “always be with someone who can’t stay mad at you, who can’t stand not talking to you, who is scared of losing you,” and “one day someone will walk into your life and make you see why it never worked out with anyone else.” It makes me incredibly sad to see these posts come up as pins that my friends have put up.

As a female, most of your life you are told to look for “Mr. Perfect” to “never settle” and to “wait for the right guy.” We live is a society that sees love as temporary and that your search ends when everything falls into place.

Excuse me?

Those who know me, know I’m a bit of a feminist. Or, in actuality, an equalist. Many feminists don’t actually want equality, they want men to feel bad for how they have “hurt” women in the past. I believe today, men are just as prejudiced against as women.

Go ahead, pull out your pitchforks and torches.

Why do we expect so much of men. Why are our young boys not told to wait for “Ms. Perfect,” to “never settle,” to “wait for the right girl.” Instead they are expected to ride out on fine white horses, dressed in armour, swooping a maiden from the clutches of despair.

No woman should want this. If he does come up on a horse, wearing armour, and swooping you up, thank him and tell him to get his grubby hands off of you until you have a proper introduction. That’s just creepy.

Women are told, “if a man can’t take you at your worst, he doesn’t deserve you at your best.” In other words, “if a man doesn’t want to handle you being a bitch, you should dump him and find a stronger doormat.” We are sending this message to our young ladies that men should bow the knee to her every whim. If he criticizes you, dump his ass. You deserve to be treated like THE BEST, because YOU ARE. We walk around with falsely inflated egos of who the “right guy” should be. When he doesn’t come riding up on a horse, women seek out guys for  “a good time” and to let loose with.

“Oh, he’s not real relationship material. I just like leading him on because he pays attention to me.”

Can you say, friendzoned? Guys pushed off to the side because he doesn’t meet some imaginary ideal of “the one.”

Speaking of “the one,” I have recently been asked on multiple occasions if my current boyfriend is “the one.” I don’t know why people seem to find it necessary to ask this question. If I say “no” then they would tell me to dump him and go find the “right guy.” If I say “yes” they fawn over me and question how soon do I think he will propose, when do I want my wedding to be, have I already thought about what I want? Instead of answering these people’s question, I simply reply, “I don’t believe in ‘the one.’” It allows me some breathing room from whatever people may say next and it keeps my boyfriend from any potentially awkward questions about marriage.

So I don’t believe in “the one.” I must believe in multiples “ones.” No, not really that either. I think that after a basic level of chemistry, any two people can make a relationship work. For some it may be more difficult, it may require expertise communication, but it can work. I also believe that once you love someone, you will always carry a bit of him or her with you. This is hard for me to grapple with when I think of my boyfriend carrying bits of some of his ex-girlfriends around, but I must honestly say to myself that I carry a bit from my previous relationship. This little bit I carry does not make me love my boyfriend any less, it does not mean I hold him in comparison, it does not mean I have any judgment, it just means that these people before changed my life and me. I learned from them, I grew because of them, and I am grateful for the parts of my life they have (and do) make up. In fact, they enable me to love my boyfriend more, see all that is in him better, and withhold judgment from him.

But back to men. The oppressive man. The big man who built a glass ceiling. The man who is lost because no girl will give him the time of day. Yes, poor men. I’m not going to talk about the harm done to women through stereotyping; there is plenty of that out there. Have you ever considered though, what men must go through? They are told that they should be strong and powerful, big men who are in control of their lives, they are told they should be men who are well liked and can get any girl to sleep with them. Then women tell their daughters that they should find a guy who is chivalrous, who is kind, who will put up with her faults and not care, who are utterly and completely romantic. We, as women, are often brought up to believe that if a man doesn’t like something about us and mentions it, we should take offense that he dare insult us and kick him to the curb.

You don’t like it that I complain and nag you about doing dishes all the time? Well, SCREW YOU.  I’ll find someone who will put up with what I have to say and learn to do the dishes right!

I’m ashamed to say, that in a way, I’ve been this woman. I’ve had these thoughts. We rarely think that the man coming to us and telling us that we are out of line is speaking truth to us. We are told to take the offensive, to manipulate, to shame him into becoming our little puppy dog.

I want to briefly address the three quotes I brought up earlier.

“Wait for the boy that would do anything to be your everything.”  To me, this says, wait for the guy without a backbone. Maybe I have some weird expectations about relationships, but I believe a guy shouldn’t have to “do anything” to be something for anybody. Think if this was reversed and feminized, “wait for the girl that would do anything to be your everything.” Can you see the rage that women would throw at this, crying out “you are telling women to grovel! No woman should give up who she is for a man! This is asking women to follow a man blindly!”

hmm, seems a little backwards doesn’t it? We secretly hold these expectations for men when we wouldn’t allow this sort of attitude towards women.

“Always be with someone who can’t stay mad at you, who can’t stand not talking to you, who is scared of losing you.” A healthy relationship calls for moments of anger, moments of silence, and moments of independence. Each of these statements is calling men to once again belittle themselves to a woman. Someone who can’t stay mad at you? This one could make sense, but I have a feeling it implies that the man is too weak to stand up to the woman for long, that he is so head over heels that he doesn’t think straight. A man should stand up to a woman, and a woman should stand up to a man. Anger will happen, how you deal with the anger and work through the issue is what’s important. If someone just stops and says “oh, I just love you so much, I don’t care anymore, whatever you say,” it doesn’t solve any issues but creates a bigger problem. If you can’t not talk to your S.O for more than a day, you need to develop a sense of independence. Constantly relying on someone to help you through the day is not going to make you a strong person. And someone who is constantly scared of losing you? That obviously means they do not think they are good enough to keep you around and have to “earn” your love. This is the kind of situation that turns into one partner using the other. This phrase just lends itself to bad psychological functioning, in operant conditioning, the withholding of love to get someone to do something is one of the worst things you can do to a person. It affects them deeply. Lady Macbeth uses this technique to get her husband to kill the king. He didn’t want to, but was swayed by her refusal to truly love him if he did not commit the act.

“One day someone will walk into your life and make you see why it never worked out with anyone else.” This goes straight back to “the one.” I don’t think I need to further explain it.

So maybe we should think a bit before we raise our children. Especially our daughters.

We should think about what kind of women we want them to be in relationships, how we want them to act towards the men they come into contact with and who they eventually will date and marry. We should think about how we treat our sons and who we tell them to be.

Maybe we should think about how we treat the men around us. Do we treat them as true equals, or do we have inflated egos that need a bit of trimming back? Should we joke around telling men who they should be, when we so steadily argue about them stereotyping women? Times are changing, should humankind not change with them? What better time to change the way we act and think, to be honest and true, and truly treat others as equal to ourselves?

Friday, August 24, 2012


At first, I wanted to begin this post by mentioning how terrible of a blogger I am, but then realized that I cannot even call myself a "blogger" because my blog entries are so sporadic it would be nearly equal to calling myself an athlete, a musician, or a stylish individual.

To anyone who has happened upon reading this and is just as pleasantly surprised that I decided to update this electronic communication as I am, I'm going to ego-boost myself and say you are in for a treat. And not one with sprinkles, but a moment of literary excitement. In all honestly, this post will probably be quite dull, and they will hopefully become better as time goes on. If I manage to keep up with this blogging thing. 

From the title of this post, you may be able to guess that I am no longer in France. In fact, since I left France, I have travelled to Switzerland, Korea, Alaska, and have finally arrived at the first stable home I have had in months. 

Welcome to Melbourne, Australia! (Melbourne, by the way, in Aussie speak, is pronounced with a very, very light "r" sound. It is almost non-existant.)

Arriving in Sydney, I saw the most beautiful sunrise of my entire life. I tried to capture a picture, but ended up awkwardly getting a photo of the chest region of the man sitting next to the window. After tossing all the snacks I had hoarded for my first weeks in Australia (they do not appreciate you brining food into the country) I had my bags sniffed by a very adorable puppy and I was sent off to board a plane for my new hometown. 

I arrived in Melbourne surprisingly awake and quickly found my bag and my supervisor for my program. He gave me a tour of the City (yes, with a capital 'C') and brought me to my host home. I set up my computer and since that moment have spent far too much time on the internet and not nearly enough doing anything else. Anything. 

I spent the first few days rather tearfully, missing my boyfriend who I had just visited in Alaska, my family, and my friends. I sat infront of my computer, annoyed at the time difference and my inability to communicate with someone at a reasonable hour. In all honesty, I wanted to just get on a plane, head back to the US and find a local high school to teach at. 

But by day three, I was feeling fine. Not exactly overjoyed at the prospect of being so far away from my social centers for three months, but past the point of breaking down in tears when I woke up each morning and faced the idea of going through the day. I met another student from the United States and have gotten to know my fellow boarder, a girl from Colombia (who doesn't really speak English) well. 

Starting school was a relief from the confines of my host family. As much as I appreciate them and how they care for me, I wanted to escape. Which, funny enough, was the reason I chose to do my student teaching abroad in the first place. I met my teacher and the English staff, all of whom are friendly and wonderful and have already invited me out for drinks next week and a game night in the future, and other staff in the school. I spent much of this first week observing classes. By the end of Wednesday, I was tired of observing and began to interact more with the students and talking to them. 

If you don't know me, or have a misconstrued perception of me, I can really be quite socially awkward. Sitting in classrooms at a school in a foreign country where I was unsure of social norms and customs made more an even more awkward version of myself. By the end of this week however (despite still being awkward) I have forced myself into talking to students and getting to know them. I feel intrusive into their daily lives, but they are going to have me around for the next nine weeks so they might as well get used to me :)

Today was Friday (ha! all you American people who are just starting Friday when you read this!) and after school the teachers have drinks and snacks in the "social staff room." Yes, they drink at the school. Don't worry, no students are around! I met more of the staff (after they noticed my accent) and have hopefully found some new friends! 

I do have one actual friend from the school, another student teacher named Lena, who came from Germany. We are known as "the girls" and "the international ones" to the administration and much of the staff. She studied English and history at her school in Germany and is learning to teach those here. We get along quite well and we have a good time together and plan on spending some time this weekend together! 

So, that wasn't much of a literary treat, sorry folks. But I promise, if I write again, I will try and make it more enjoyable! Oh and stay tuned, this weekend I will be filming my first video as part of a cooperative video blog called "vlogteachers" with my friend Stephanie. The video will focus on my life in Australia (not teaching) and I hope to at least update that once a week! 

Thursday, June 28, 2012


I interrupt this irregular blogging to bring you an important news update. I have found, and am staying in, the most quaint hotel possible. It absolutely oozes European charm and class.

Let me give you an idea of what I'm talking about.

It's something out of a Jane Austen novel. Simply remarkable. Let me quote the book that is in each room describing the hotel, "surrounded by the quiet beauty of our 5-acre park, the hotel offers our guests the comfort of personalized rooms, 24 in all...leisure facilities include bicycles and canoe-kayaks for rent as well as fishing equipment. Spa services including massage, special treatments, and fitness are available for health of body and mind..."According to my sister, it sounds much better in French. Though, most things sound prettier in French, it's the vowel sounds. 
The park and gardens surrounding the hotel do live up to the hype. Well, the "quiet beauty" part of it. Not including the guy with the chainsaw, cutting apart logs that had fallen in the river, while in a canoe.  That's some mighty talent if you ask me. My mother, sister, and I took a leisurely stroll around the surrounding gardens, trying to pretend we fit in with the French natives. We are, unfortunately, complete failures at such an act, by oohing and ahh-ing at every flower, tree, and bend in the river and managing to take at least a hundred photos between us.

Granted, a large portion of those pictures were trying to get my mom to use the "continuous" function on my dad's fancy Nikon to take a jumping picture of me and my sister. Most of those pictures are of the upper region of my chest, which I will not share for the public to view. We were, however, successful after a while, but this photo is probably my favorite, our landing poses. Two new dance moves anyone?

Too add to the serene quality of the hotel, there is a fountain just outside our window that mixes with the sound of the small river to create an entirely naturalistic sound of continuous flowing water. Oh, and as if it couldn't get any more charming, there are doves cooing and birds twittering all around. (This, I find much more annoying and potentially terrifying than peaceful. My family disagrees.) 

The room itself is wonderful. I have taken several pictures to showcase its glory and to make you jealous. There is a small nook off to the side, a beautiful view out a large window, and bathrobes and slippers were provided. The tub, I would like to point out, is probably one of the most excellent pieces of the room.

We drove to town for dinner, ate at a small restaurant, and returned to find our covers turned down, the shades pulled close, a small lamp lit (nice mood lighting, actually) and chocolates for us to taste. My things I had left on the floor and to the side of the room were picked up and neatly arranged on top of my bag or on the small chest. A little awkward, but a kind gesture nonetheless.

Oh, our bathroom also includes a bidet. I was generally unaware of these until I noticed them around Europe. If you do not know what they are or how they are used, this Wiki article details the process quite clearly. How to use a Bidet

Anyway, I do quite enjoy this hotel. My mother said it was a little much for her, but I find the care and general quality to be rather refreshing and appreciated. Apparently, I am a four-star kind of hotel goer. 

In final notes, during the many attempts at a jumping picture, this gem showed up. I think it shows the quintessential summer, don't you? 

Sorry about picture formatting, I still don't quite get it. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A Story

Let me recount for you, an incident that perfectly describes my first week in France.

It is seven in the evening, the sun is still shining brightly and keeping the air a balmy 75 degrees, the wind rustles through the cherry trees and the pollen is attacking my face full force. As is customary for family dinners in France, we are gathered around an outdoor table to have a drink and snack just before dinner. Strawberry beers are opened and the family is lounging around, laughing and conversing in an incoherent stream of nasally vowel sounds.

I sit, gripping my tissue ready to once again wipe and blow my nose, when a beer is opened. Previously shaken, the beer acts as beer does and overflows over the bottle onto the table. 

Looking directly into my eyes, as if eye contact can surpass language barriers (let me tell you, it cannot) something is yelled in French. The far end of the table is lifted up pushing the spilled beer into a central location, keeping it from falling to the ground to only become an ant colony. I believe it is my duty to lift up my end of the table if the beer comes drifting my direction.

Apparently, I was wrong.

My role in that situation was to lift the table to pour the beer off the end, which I later discovered after the initial frenzy quieted down.

Nick, comical soul that he is, described the whole scenario briefly; “Jessica! Do something in French!”

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Third Wheeling a Meet the Extended Family

My advice: don’t do it.

If someone offers you a mostly paid for trip to a foreign country where you don’t speak the language with your sister and her boyfriend, especially if that country is known for being a place all about love, smile, say “thanks for the offer,” and turn around and run away. The exercise is good for you.

The trip started out great, my sister and I flew together across the United States and the Atlantic. We got to the airport and could see the floofy red hair of Nick across the baggage claim. And then, everything got worse.
We're on a plane!

Grandma, who only speaks French
Throughout the trip we met Nick’s extended family, his aunts and uncles, cousins, and grandmother. Wonderful people. They were smiling, laughing, serving great food and desserts, and speaking in a language that I could never understand. I know a total of seven French phrases and they are as follows:

“bonjour” hello
“je m’appelle Jessica” My name is Jessica
“oui” yes
“merci” thank you
“bonne nuit”  good night
“je ne sais pas”  I don’t know
“tais-toi” shut up
“je suis une vache grosse” I am a fat cow

Somehow, I was never able to use that last phrase. A pure shame.

We started in Paris. The city of love.  Yes, love must be in italics when you write about Paris, it’s that sappy. Now, my sister and her boyfriend have been a couple for practically three years. They already have a three-year plan for their future, which I heard more than once while travelling (I barely have a three-month plan for my future.) I think they are more of a publicly cuddly couple than most.

Dancing in Versailles

Canoodling in a park

Paris was a sappy montage of scenes from a romance movie made for single middle-aged women who mourn the loss of their college-aged love. Barf.

I would have done the same thing, had I been in their shoes. I mean, it’s Paris, right?
Making out at the Eiffel Tower
From Paris, we travelled to Toulouse and Agme (there should be an accent over the e, but I can’t figure out how to do that.) The south of France is absolutely stunning and gorgeous. Rolling hills of vineyards and farmland, beautiful country cottages, bright flowers, and warm sunshine.

It is wonderful, I do say
It’s a killer on the allergies.

Now, when I say I don’t understand French, I mean when someone speaks French is sounds like someone hit the keyboard of a computer with their face several times and those are the words they are speaking.

For example: “g fbnyhd fghhbv gvbhn” would probably translate to Oh, don’t you just love music? I went to a concert last weekend and the soloist gave an award winning performance. In fact, I bought tickets to see her again this next weekend.
Or maybe, I like burgers. They have meat in them. MMMM….meat. Or maybe, Stick friend love smile for dinner. Happy.

My sister would try to translate for me. But, she’s still working on learning the language herself. She would listen and be able to give me a word that described the conversation before she started listening again. Her boyfriend (who is fluent) could probably have translated, but he was just so into talking with his family who he hadn’t seen for two years that he was a bit distracted.

I spent most of the week doing what I do best; I spent time over-analyzing and thinking in my head about pretty much anything. As I already spend most of my time in dream world, this was a chance to do pretty much solely focus on what was happening in my brain. It’s a bit of a mess up there, full of cobwebs and dusty old file cabinets and many pages of crumpled up manuscripts and poems that just weren’t good enough.  But the sun shines through the windows and it smells like fresh cut grass and pavement after the first summer rain, so I like it there. As people blabbered around me and I got one-word categories that described conversation I flirted around in that room and did some good thinking. Alienation can sometimes do a body and brain good.
Wondering things like, what makes French Fanta taste so damn good? 

Self indulgent picture of me
Returning from Agme, we spent a day at the beach on the coast, facing the Mediterranean Sea. I swam a bit, walked a bit, and turned half my body a fascinatingly vibrant shade of reddish pink. Suggestions number two: if a publicly cuddly couple invites you to the beach, avoid that too. It’s only awkward. Especially if making snarky comments makes your sister a little grouchy. (Or a lot grouchy.)
The Mediterranean meets France

Some French McDonalds, carrying a 40-pound bag up and down several flights of stairs, and a metro going the wrong way down the track later, I boarded a plane for good old jolly England and a land of people who spoke my language!

More photos to come as I go through them! 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Alaska Airlines

Timeliness: B+ (but it was Seattle's fault)
Service: D
Seats: A
Comments: We had to wait some extra time before we could actually take off in our University of Idaho Vandals emblem incrusted plane. This was because of some unfortunate construction being done in Seattle at the time. The seats were relatively comfortable, and since the flight was short, it didn't really matter much either way. Kailyn fell asleep almost immediately, so that speaks something for the seats. The service, however was terrible. I wouldn't want to be a flight attendant on such a short flight either, but the women were obviously annoyed with the whole ordeal. I was rather hungry and as they made their ways down the aisle offering a drink (short flight only has a few drink options - strangely enough they were: water, apple juice, beer, and wine) they only handed snacks to those who ordered drinks. As I had a bottle of water, had no desire for apple juice, and it was a bit too early to drink - no snacks were given to me. I had to wait until we reached the Seattle airport to satiate my hunger.


I will always love PDX as an airport, probably because my first excitement with flying originated in that building.

Throughout this blog, because I'll be travelling so much, I'm going to grade the different airports and flight services.

Overall Rating: A
Style/ Look: B+ (artwork is a plus)
Food/ Shopping: A (local options!)
WiFi: B (a little slow)
Flooring: C (I don't think its changed since the early 90s)
Navigability: A (easy to follow signs)
Restrooms: A
Seating: A (the chairs are actually rather comfortable)
Amenities: open areas for restaurants, seating, phones, vending machines, drinking fountains
Comments:  This was my first time going to terminal A in  PDX. This section of the airport is likened back to the old days when you would walk outside to get on the airplane. The seating was comfortable and open, and, as the flight was only 35 minutes to Seattle where we had a 3.5 hour layover (thanks, sister) it was nice place to rest and wait.