Surly Girly

Opening her mouth and removing doubt
Pressure Point
February 18, 2005

Picture this: I'm racing down the freeway on my way back from lunch, when suddenly the sensation of having to go potty *right now* hit me. (Any girl whose ever had her gall bladder removed knows that sensation well.)

I'm 15 minutes away, running 30 minutes late and there is very little alongside the highway, so my best option is to grit my teeth and drive like a maniac to get to my office. I immediately SLAM on my breaks upon entering downtown. EVERY Northbound road is one-way and is under construction and/or completely detoured 6 blocks over, so there is really only this one road I can take and its just CRAWLING. Then the 'check gas gauge' light flicks on. So as I'm crawling along.. at a snails' pace.... having to alternately clench my butt cheeks and practice rhythmic breathing...

Pressure Point by the Zutons comes on my radio. (Side Note: that song reminds me alot of Jon Spencer Blues Explosion)

I had to laugh outloud - which was very nearly a costly mistake. I coasted in to work and threw my keys at the valet along with my gas card and ducked into the bathroom, just in time.

Anyway - that was my lunch hour. Now I've got Pressure Point stuck in my head. How's your day going?

posted by LoneStarCupcake  @ 4:15 PM

Dragging up


Last night I watched "Connie and Carla" which I think may have been pretty well panned in the reviews. I enjoyed it immensely - but then I've always loved drag queens - the campier the better.

When I went to bed last night I got to thinking about drag queens and what the appeal was. I'm pretty liberal-minded, even for most, so I've no problem with men who want to dress as women, and even men who want to dress as divas 'round the clock. But what's the stigma exactly? It's just makeup and clothing. It's not threatening.. It's not like these folks are dressed up wearing armour or some sort of war-garb.

But anyway it got me to thinking about society generally - how lucky I am to be a woman. As a woman, I can play sports, I can behave anyway I like, I can cry, I can take an interest in arts and fashion, I can play with dolls or footballs, I can scratch my behind and hog the remote. I can take an interest in automechanics or carpentry. I can be aggressive in my career path, or I can stay at home and nurture my family. I can do all of these things in any degree I choose - and nobody questions my femininity or my psychological well-being. Being able to do all of these things at once makes me a "SUPER MOM" or some nonsense - sort've a rennaissance lady.

But for a man? A man that does all of those things is definitely going to have his masculinity questioned. A man that cries is considered weak. A man that plays with dolls - well forget about it. A man that pays attention to fashion and beauty is called a metrosexual. Think about that one - a label with "sexual" right there in it. As if his drive/sexual preference/y chromosome is in any way different than another man's. When all it is is attention to trends, fabrics, colors, and grooming.

Take it one step further, and I completely don't blame the men that dress as ladies. The ones that do it "socially" - its a chance to be the yin and the yang. A chance to be all of the things that a woman can be. A chance to be fabulous and funny and bold and brave and sexual - AND wear great fabrics and colors and textures. A chance to play the coquette and benefit from chivalry.

When I go to my job wearing a suit and with my hair slicked back, I'm not considered a freak.. So how come a man that goes out in a frock and some glittery lipstick is considered one? We're both just using fashion to tell the world how to treat us. My suit says "I'm talented and I want to be treated as an equal to men", and the Divine Ms. Didi over there just wants to be treated as an equal to .. well maybe as an equal to Esther Williams or Liza Minelli - but really, what's wrong with that?

posted by LoneStarCupcake  @ 12:27 PM

February 16, 2005

In the Star today, there was an article about students participating in a high school culinary program. In an "aren't we old" sort of way, we started talking about the lack of vocational programs (save automechanic/shop) that we had access to. We started talking about all of the programs that are out there offered to high school students to help them shape their career today (programming, engineering, law enforcement, business, health sciences, etc.) - and how many students leave high school exposed to so many more career options than we ever knew were available. We got to talking about the courses of study we pursued and how that course got us to where we are now, and what career path we would have chosen knowing what we know now.

I'm probably pretty well suited to what I do. I like the work I do. I like the types of projects I work on (I'm not so enamoured of the politicking though), but ultimately I don't belong in a corporate setting. Maybe I still see myself as an artist.

I lettered in high school in Theatre. Seriously. I never appeared in a play (other than this smarmy skit we did for a teachers' in-service) but I did spend hours backstage working in set design. I loved it. I loved translating a scene in my head into something that everyone could view and interact with. I loved learning how to build bookflats, stretch and paint the canvas, organizing props and scenes, and I loved being backstage "behind the magic."

I decided to study architecture (since my engineer father would never hear of me going to college to study theatre arts of any variety) and because I was really fascinated with how you could evoke an emotional response by shaping the surroundings. Since I was planning to go to college (1989) shortly after the stock market crash in 1987, my parents talked me into doing a dual degree program at U.T. for architectural engineering. My parents reasoned that an engineering degree would always be in demand, regardless of the nation's financial indicators, and that if I enjoyed the architecture, I should just add that on top. That way I'd always be employable. Not wanting to displease my pop, I agreed and enrolled in the college of Engineering instead of the college of Architecture.

After my freshman year (struggling with the higher maths and physics, but surviving mostly), I had a internship at the large engineering firm where my dad worked. I noticed that all of the graduates with degrees similar to mine were slaving away at drafting tables and it frankly looked pretty boring. But ever the trooper, the next Fall, I embarked in year 2 of the 5-year program. I enjoyed my electives immensely and had a political science professor that I loved, but I really began struggling in the stat/thermo and dif.eq. classes. I wasn't interested in them, I had plenty of distractions (hey, I was a good kid let loose in Austin with a fast crowd), and I was beginning to rethink my career path. By then it was too late to switch back to the Architecture school (my grades slipped and I was ineligible for transfer between colleges). At the end of year 2 I'd pretty well made my mind up that I didn't want to continue.

The summer between soph and junior years was a rough one. I turned 20 but my friends were all 21. I was living at home, waiting tables and waiting for the semester to start again. My parents and I were having a particularly rough time (I think the seeds of rebellion were beginning to sprout) and I'd been used to having my freedom. I think I agreed to continue at arch.e. even though my heart wasn't in it just to keep the peace. The first part of my junior year was spent screwing around mostly. I blew through an insane amount of money, started the beginning of credit card debt, and blew off classes. I was pretty sure that I would never be an engineer. At the end of the Fall semester, I proclaimed to my parents that I would take a semester off and begin anew in the Fall studying the topic of my choice, paying for school myself if that's what it took. I remember the fear in my parents' (and in my relatives') eyes and the lectures about how hard it is for adults to "go back" to school once they leave. I was determined, after all my parents had always told me I could do anything I put my mind to.

I started back to school after the summer and started studying political science. I was really enjoying myself and found the classes pretty interesting - plus having gotten all my maths and sciences out of the way, I was taking classes that were much easier to me. Although freedom gained (and now working at the same time), I found it pretty easy to cut classes. I also found it pretty easy to go out to bars/clubs on any given night of the week. I also found the internet.

I didn't do so hot in school that year - but far better than when I was studying the engineering courses, but I made it to Graduation. I found out the week of graduation (yes the WEEK of, graduation gifts in-hand, parties planned..etc.), that a professor had decided to fail me from his class because, despite the fact that I handed in all the assignments, I never went to class. Nice of him to let me know that in such a timely fashion. Anyway, I had to return the gifts and return to Houston, a failure with her tail between her legs. I pretty much had my major rebellion at that point.

I moved to Philadelphia with a girlfriend (for all of about 4 weeks) and returned to Austin having failed at that too (and I couldn't go home again). By failing the course, not only did I need to retake the class, but I also needed to take additional courses to raise my GPA up high enough to graduate. I also was going to have to pay for this one myself. And get myself out of debt.

So there I am, floundering and trying to get out of debt enough to enroll again. I was working on campus in the Economics department (and teaching myself HTML and graphic design by working on the department web site). After 2 years, I'd still not enrolled, but realized that my growing web and graphic design skills (all self-taught) made me imminently employable. (The year was now 1996 - remember the Silicon Valley boom? It was just beginning). I had internet friends living in San Diego with the promise of a start-up where I could be webmaster and graphic designer. I uprooted (against everyone's better judgement but my own) and was determined to make something of myself. While waiting for that business to get going, I got a job freelancing doing desktop publishing and web design and was making some good money. Then a boy came along and got me all confused. I uprooted (leaving behind a pretty lucrative job offer for a permanent position) and moved to Washington to play house.

In Olympia I changed jobs a couple of times, each time doing some web design, but mostly getting into the graphic design side and then finally into copywriting and creative design. I finally finished my political science degree at U.T. via correspondence (I just wanted the diploma at that point) while working as a designer/marketing Girl Friday for an energy company (solar/renewables - how 'green' of me).

Several years later, I moved to Kansas City in my first role as an Account Manager (hired for my ability to lead web projects). During that time I made more money than I'll probably ever make again working for an Enron-clone that collapsed when Enron did. Now I'm working in a new industry (financial), but doing marketing/account management still and mostly enjoying it (even though I took a big pay cut - stupid economy *kick*).

I think the path I took to get here makes me really good at what I do. I also think that what I do is exactly in line with my ultimate goal when I started the whole education/career path of evoking an emotional response by controlling the medium or environment. And I do it pretty well, if I say so myself.

All of my "hobbies" are much the same. I love cooking because of the emotional/sensory responses. I love interior design for the same reason I loved stage design. I love people and understanding what makes them tick. But here's where this (LONG LONG LONG) chapter in my life brings us to the topic we sat and discussed at lunch, making our lunch hour stretch into the afternoon.

SO .. what path would I have chosen, knowing what I know now?

I think that my absolute dream job would be to work for a magazine as a writer - either about food or travel. Or perhaps working in a test kitchen for a gourmet magazine. Or perhaps even doing what I'm doing now (marketing/account management) but for an industry I'm passionate about - such as food/travel/interior design. And if I could find a good fit, I could even see myself continuing in the corporate environment (although I'd love to burn a big bonfire of pantyhose and never wear another pair again).

So I guess its a pretty good thing to look back and say "yeah, I took a random path to get here, but I'm where I'm supposed to be." And it tells me that perhaps those high schools with their special magnet programs maybe aren't so critical since I got here without their help. (Bring it full circle, baby).

posted by LoneStarCupcake  @ 4:52 PM

February 15, 2005

Wow. Blogger helped me get all that out of my system. I just wrote a whiny, apologetic entry about how I've been busy and unmotivated and uncreative so thats why I ignored my shiny new blog for 2 weeks, only 2 days after establishing it. And Blogger completely ate it. 'Talk about editorial conspiracy! Now I really have NO excuse not to get down to it.

So, here I am writing this for me, mostly. But I am writing it for "you" too. Even if "you" (or "y'all" as my Southern Heritage might belie) really means nobody at all, I am narcissistic enough to think I have something interesting to say to somebody out there — the proverbial book inside me, as it were. Although for the life of me I'm not sure what my story is. So I figure if I write down little snippets here and there, the story will emerge.

In any book's inside cover, there's a blurb about the author so here goes:

I'm in my 30's - the early ones, but not for too much longer. As I've already mentioned, I'm from the South. Houston, Texas is where I grew up, but I identify much more strongly with Austin, where I went to college and then lived for another handful of years. I've also lived in California (San Diego), Washington (Olympia), and now I'm in the midwest (Kansas City) and settled down for awhile with a nice (big) mortgage.

As I said, I'm "settled down," whatever that means. I got married in May '04, at the ripe ol' age of 32, for the first time. The Big Guy rounds me out pretty well. For my liberal, he's conservative. For my serious, he's goofy. For my book-larnin', he's street smart. (etc.) But he reminds me that I'm beautiful, sexy and intelligent - and that is what gets me out of bed every day.

He brings into my life a wonderful family - his parents that I've come to love almost as much as my own, his fabulously funny and talented sister and her man, and two wonderfully sweet, funny, (stunningly) beautiful daughters. Bug is 8, and thinks its funny when you call her a drama queen. She is very thoughtful, and is so smart about the world of grown-ups that it would break your heart. Bear is 4 and has a great "evil laugh" when she laughs with her whole body. She has complicated moods, but in the wee hours of the morning she will curl up under your chin and fall asleep and make you feel warm and protected, even though you're supposed to be the protector.

My own family (my mom and dad) are two of my very best friends. We had a rough life in our teenage years (family joke is that we grew up together because they were so young when they got married and had me). Now we are fully mature (at least somtimes..) and have learned to love and respect each other in all new ways.

I'm also a "foodie" even though that sounds pretty undignified. I love cuisines of all kinds and can spend hours with cookbooks and the food network. I'm "known" for desserts and baked goods, although I'd like to think I'm pretty good at all of it. If money were no object, I'd probably go to a culinary academy just for fun and then open a catering business or a restaurant or something.

What else about me... I am a Marketing Manager by profession - which means I do alot of hand-holding, ego-soothing, pandering, and pounding my head against my desk. I'm trained for copy-writing, graphic design, creative direction, and if anyone out there who knows of an agency looking for a new Account Services Exec or Mgr., let 'em know I'm looking. The corporate side makes me weary and I've been doing it for too long now.

That's an outline anyway. The (rest of the) devil is in the details.

posted by LoneStarCupcake  @ 4:26 PM


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