Finding Joy in the Chaos
Please Don't Stop the Music

By: Janelle (7/21/14)

I'm not sure I could survive without music.  There is just something about it.  It gets you through hard and sad times.  It pumps you up when you need some energy.  It keeps you going during a long drive.  I have always loved music, but I can't really explain why.  Maybe it was my refuge as a kid and I just emotionally connected to it for some reason.  I can remember performing "concerts" in my room complete with dance moves and a hairbrush microphone.  To this day there are very few songs that don't immediately take me to a specific time, or place, or remind me of a specific person in my life.  To name a few .... 

There's "That's the Way It Is" by Celine Dion, which I first heard during a visit to the campus of Duke University.  I was convinced it was an omen that I was meant to go to school there....the lyrics are still fresh in my mind - "when you want in the most, there's no easy way out."  Well it obviously wasn't an omen, but I still love the song.  Or the time I heard "If You Asked Me To" during a trip to Sea World with my mom.  I'm not really why these Celine Dion songs stick out to me, but to this day that is one of my favorite songs.  I can't hear "Still Fly" by the Big Tymers without thinking of driving to Taco Cabana with my college roommate at all hours of the night.  Whenever I hear Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the U.S.A." I am immediately transported to homecoming festivities during my freshman year at TCU.  It was just a month after 9/11 and I vividly remember swaying, arm-in-arm with my friends belting this song at the top of our lungs while fireworks exploded above us.  "Roses & Rainbows" got me through my first miscarriage and "Take Me Home, Country Roads" makes me think of my family reunion that takes place every year in West Virginia.  "I Can't Make You Love Me" makes me think of just about every guy I ever thought I was going to marry before my husband, and also it happens to be the song that Carrie Underwood performed to audition for American Idol.  "The Way I Am" by Eminem was my "white girl anthem" in high school.  I used to blare it as I drove into school in my little beat up Toyota Camry.  There's "Best Friend" by Tim McGraw that Tim and I danced to at our wedding.  And "You've Got a Friend in Me" that I used to playfully sing with my little cousin who lived with us when I was a kid.  "Back in Black" springs to mind whenever I'm at a sporting event listening to the national anthem because my phone, whose ringtone used to be the first few bars of that song, embarassingly went off during a moment of silence prior to the national anthem when I was at a baseball game.  I can't hear "Play That Funky Music" without thinking of one of my high school proms because it was the only song my friends and I danced to that night.  Mariah Carey's Dreamlover was the first CD I ever bought and I remember my parents almost refusing to let me get it because Mariah's stomach was showing on the cover.  So scandalous back in those days!  Bands like Jars of Clay and DC Talk remind me of some of the songs I used to sing in church.  And "Total Eclipse of the Heart" makes me think about a play my youth group performed when I was in my teens.  

When I lived in California I used to bawl my eyes out as I listened to "Home" by Michael Buble or "Back Home" by Yellowcard.  I hated living in Southern California and couldn't wait to get back "home" to Texas, or anywhere east really.  The Yellowcard lyrics perfectly summed up my feelings about The Golden State: "Another sunny day beneath this cloudless sky.  Sometimes I wish that it would rain here.  And wash away the West Coast dreaming from my eyes.  There's nothing real for them to see here.  Another starry night in Californ-i-a.  I'm sure back home they'd love to see it.  But they don't know that what you love is ripped away.  Before you get a chance, before you get a chance to feel it."  There are songs that have given me the strength to say "no" to dealing with people's BS, like "My Give a Damn's Busted" and "Not Ready to Make Nice."  And cheesy songs I've listened to when I needed encouragement at work - Chip on my Shoulder (from the Legally Blonde musical) or Eye of the Tiger (go ahead and laugh, it's ok).  

There are many, many things in this life that I'm grateful for.  And God's gift of music is certainly one of them.  I've often said I'll eventually compile a list of my top 50 or 100 favorite songs, but I'm not actually sure I could do it.  They all mean something different at different places in my life and I need certain songs more than others at times.  But I can tell you unequivocally that I do have an all-time, hands down favorite song ever.  I'll leave you with it's lyrics.  

Sittin' in the morning sun​

I'll be sittin' when the evening comes. 

Watching the ships roll in

Then I'll watch them roll away again, yeah. 

I'm sittin' on the dock of the bay

Watchin' the tide roll away, ooh

I'm just sittin' on the docket of the bay

Wastin' time.

I left my home in Georgia

Headed for the Frisco Bay.

Cause I've had nothing to live for 

And look like nothing's gonna come my way.

So I'm just gon' sit on the dock of the bay

Watchin' the tide roll away, ooh.

I'm sittin' on the dock of the bay

Wastin' time.

Looks like nothing's gonna change

Everything still remains the same. 

I can't do what ten people tell me to do

So I guess I'll remain the same, listen.

Sittin' here resting my bones

And this loneliness won't leave me alone, listen.

Two thousand miles I roam

Just to make this dock my home. 

I'm just gon' sit at the dock of a bay

Watchin' the tide roll away, ooh.

Sittin' on the docket of the bay

Wastin' time. 

On Feminism, part 2

By: Jenny (7/10/14) 

To quote Janelle:

"I certainly think that women ought to have the right to vote.  To work.  To be leaders.  To be respected.  To walk around without fear of being raped.  I certainly agree that women doing the same job as a man, just as well as a man should be paid the same.  I think that women still face micro-inequities in the workplace that, in part, keep women from rising to the top in their professions.  I think women are still shouldering the majority of the burden at home even when both spouses work.  And most of all I want women to excel and feel empowered.”

These are indeed the reasons I am a feminist, and there are probably dozens more.

And I think you can be a pro-life feminist.

But to suggest that “modern day feminism” mainly means wanting to dress like a skank and wanting to have indiscriminate sex is silly and reductionist.  Having said that, I do NOT think people should be judged by who they sleep with, but that is because I am a Christian, not necessarily because I am a feminist.  And I think the pro-life movement and the feminist movement SHOULD have a lot in common on the issues of birth control—the surest way to reduce the incidence of abortions and public assistance to poor families is to provide access TO BIRTH CONTROL.  I did indeed stand with Wendy Davis because the very same Texas legislature that sought to reduce access to the constitutionally protected right to choose also gutted funding the prior year (or so) to programs that funded sex education and affordable birth control and other non-abortion services.  Why on Earth wouldn’t these two groups see what they DO have in common, and work to make sure both of their goals are met?  It’s a win-win, fewer abortions and more women with birth control access and knowledge to protect themselves—but the two don’t want to align with each other.

I am a feminist because that word simply means to me that the deck shouldn’t be stacked against women for lack of representation, lack of opportunity, or lack of access to education. 

​But we live in a world where women are not safe.  Where women are killed, kidnapped, raped—for going to school, for exercising any independence, for simply existing or questioning authority (of men).  And here, in our relatively safe little corner of the globe, we live in a nation where women only recently attended college in equal numbers to men, where 20 years ago there was virtually no representation of women in Congress, and where statistics currently suggest that 1 in 5 women will be raped in her lifetime, and 1 in 4 a victim of domestic violence.  It’s not a gender-blind utopia.

As for the “silly” complaints, my high school guidance counselor suggested I consider teaching or nursing as opposed to law or medicine.  I, like many others, had difficult experiences with violence and harassment as a young woman.  I could see that not very many women appeared in the ranks of the partnerships of the law firms I interviewed with.  My generally-very-happy reality was punctuated with reminders that things weren’t really equal, that there were barriers, seen and unseen, that must be overcome and/or addressed.  Scarier still, it seemed that most of those barriers were “unintentional.”  And so I am a feminist.

I am a feminist because I think our obligations as humans are not impacted by our gender.  We are to work, to love our families, to compromise, to learn, to serve others, to set out to achieve our dreams.  I think Janelle and I agree on this…

But you can call me a feminist every day of the week.

I'm Not a "Feminist"

By: Janelle (7/9/14)

In case the title of this post wasn't clear, let me just say it again.  I do not consider myself a feminist.  Never have.  (Probably) never will.  This does not stop Jenny from repeatedly telling me that I am actually a feminist who is just in denial.  I once told her that I thought maybe I could consider myself one at work -- a stunning admission really.  I must have been particularly sleep deprived that day.  In any event, if you hadn't figured this out already I'm sure Jenny would proudly tell you that she does consider herself a feminist.  (Good gosh, do we have anything in common?)  Anyway, in light of the fact that I've recently been called "anti-woman," I thought I'd take the time to set forth my thoughts about modern day feminism and why I don't consider myself a feminist.  Though I most definitely consider myself pro-woman.  Here goes.  

I've never been someone who gets all riled up about the issues that appear most important to women's rights groups nowadays.  Let me elaborate.  I certainly think that women ought to have the right to vote.  To work.  To be leaders.  To be respected.  To walk around without fear of being raped.  I certainly agree that women doing the same job as a man, just as well as a man should be paid the same.  I think that women still face micro-inequities in the workplace that, in part, keep women from rising to the top in their professions.  I think women are still shouldering the majority of the burden at home even when both spouses work.  And most of all I want women to excel and feel empowered.  Sounds like I'm tailor made for the feminist movement, right?  WRONG. 

I think modern day feminism has championed issues and positions that do the exact opposite of empower women.  Instead, they turn women into victims.  When someone says "feminism" to me, I think of a story I read about women being offended and feeling threatened because a bunch of immature college boys made a penis sculpture in the snow.  I think of liberal celebrities whining about the objectification of women while wearing low-cut, revealing clothes (if they are wearing anything at all) or singing about giving oral sex in the back of a limo.  I think of women like Sandra Fluke somehow making a name for themselves by advocating access to birth control as a God-given right (and of course by "access" I mean, paid for by other people).   I think of the women who were outraged that a Miss USA contestant had the audacity to say that women should learn to defend themselves from attacks (the horror!).  I think of stupid (in my opinion) campaigns to ban the use of the word "bossy" to describe girls and women, as if there aren't more important, actually helpful things we could be doing with our efforts.  Here's a thought - why don't we just own the word bossy?  But I digress.  Modern day feminism makes me think about the misguided woman who was praised by many for filming her own abortion in some sort of sick attempt to show other women how empowering it is.  Yes, I've cherry-picked a few examples but these are all real stories and if I knew more about how to build this website, I would hyperlink the articles for you so you could see the insanity for yourself.  I'm sure I could find dozens more of these sad examples of what modern day feminism has become, at least in my opinion.  For some reason, modern day feminism seems to have become synonymous with being offended by things that are not actually offensive, claiming gender bias at anything and everything, and sexual liberation/abortion and birth control on demand.  

One of feminism's latest darlings seems to be Wendy Davis, a woman currently running to be the next governor of Texas.  Now, on the one hand I am very torn about Wendy Davis because she is a Horned Frog. And Lord knows if I'm loyal to anything it's TCU.  But that's about where my loyalty with her stops.  Yet she's been championed by feminist groups because she famously, in pink running shoes and with a catheter, fought against a Texas bill that would have banned abortions after 20 weeks and would have required abortion clinics to meet certain standards that are required of ambulatory surgery centers.  Feminists all over the Country were proud to "stand with Wendy" and were tweeting her praises.  I simply cannot relate to these women and I most definitely did not stand with Wendy.  As I watched Wendy's filibuster of the Texas bill, I was so deeply saddened by what it was that she was actually fighting for.  You see, banning abortions after 20 weeks seems pretty reasonable to me.  And it seems reasonable to me to require abortion clinics to meet certain safety standards for crying out loud.  I mean, isn't it "pro-woman" to want women going through an abortion to be safe while doing so?  This is the part where Jenny tells me that it's not that simple and that it's expensive to meet these standards, etc.  But I just don't get how it's good for women to have places exist like those that many of us read about in horror during the Kermit Gosnell trial (a case that Wendy Davis apparently knew nothing about).  Rather than want to protect women from these horrors, modern day feminists seem to fight against these types of things because they restrict a woman's "right" to an abortion and amount to the government trying to make a woman's health care decisions.  I mean, I guess that's the argument.  I just don't get it.  

I also don't get how it's empowering to dress like a skank, but get offended when people oogle you.  Or to sing about kinky sex while dry humping the stage during a concert.  Or cry "gender bias" at every little possible thing that involves gender.  Or scream about how strong and independent you are as a woman, yet at the same time make a federal case about someone else paying for your birth control.  I mean, are we strong and independent women or are we not?   Are our reproductive lives only our business and responsibility or not?  I realize that true bias does exist.  And I realize that women face real challenges.  But ranting about non-issues distracts from the true problems and struggles that we face.  I've gotten off on a tangent here, but here's the bottom line for me.  I believe that women are strong.  We are capable.  We can be independent, be leaders, be world changers.  And if I actually thought that the modern day feminist movement focused on any of those things, I would consider joining the movement.  But since it seems to be a movement aimed at (1) demanding abortion and birth control; (2) fighting for the right to wear whatever a woman wants and sleep with whomever she wants without judgment; and (3) fighting silly issues that don't really matter in the grand scheme of things, I simply cannot consider myself a feminist.  I refuse to believe that these are the issues that matter to most women.  They certainly don't matter to me.  What does matter to me are things like pay equality, work-life balance (for women and men), women excelling in business, and a re-balancing of the workload expectations at home.  If there's a feminist movement that focuses on those issues alone, then sign me up.  I'll be the poster child.  

I Am Not Old

By: Janelle (7/8/14)

Jenny is one of my favorite nerds.  Her haiku today is just more evidence of that.  Her "grown up" post also cracks me up.  If I know one thing about Jenny it's that she's not really a grown up.  She's a kid at heart and truth is, I kind of hope all my friends stay that way.  I don't want to be a stuffy grown up who can't laugh at herself.  Laughter is what gets me through the day most of the time.  Laughter is what keeps my marriage healthy. The best times with my boys are spent laughing.  If the day comes when I can't laugh at life anymore, just pack me up and ship me to the nuthouse.  I would certainly like to have my stuff together, but like Jenny, I've also given up that ludicrous dream.  Since I don't feel like a grown up most of the time, and since I'm much younger than Jenny, I'm not sure I should have a list just yet of the things I refuse to do now that I'm older.  But I don't want Jenny to feel old and alone so here goes.  My list of things I refuse to do as I gracefully and beautifully age: 

      1.  Wait for a table at a restaurant (we agree on something!)

      2.  Eat Fun Dip 

​      3.  Have fake nails (we agree on something again!) 

      4.  Buy my jewelry at Claire's or Icing 

      5.  Be ashamed of who I am 

      6.  Get my hair cut at Fantastic Sam's or Great Clips 

      7.  Be friends with people who annoy me or add drama to my life 

      8.  Shave during the winter 

      9.  Stay in cheap motels 

      10.  Use pencils 


By: Jenny (7/8/14)

My view is that haiku is the best form of poetry, because it is equally wonderful when six year-olds write it and when literary giants do.  Also, because it is blissfully short.   My life in haiku: ​Work purgatory Office supplies bring comfort File folders are bliss Kids yell from next room Someone may be bleeding, true But all are breathing Diets bring results Discipline, health, joy, new pants But chiefly hunger Target shoppers know   Joy wandering free, alone Hiding from real life
Things I No Longer Want to Do Now that I Am Officially Grown-Up

By: Jenny (7/4/14) 

 Now that my friends are turning 40 on a regular basis, everyone acts like it’s so painful.  (Janelle cannot relate to this, since all of her friends were too young to drink at the turn of the century.)  I’m not sure how old I would want to stay, if I got to pick an age and stay there, but I will say that I find certain freedoms in getting a little older that I appreciate.  I thought being grown-up would be equivalent to having my sh!t together, but I’ve given up that ludicrous dream.  I’ve decided that being grown-up actually means having more responsibility but feeling less constricted by the supposedly fun demands of youth.  To that end, I present you with my list of things I now refuse to do, at the non-descript age of 37: 1.      Stand up at a concert 2.     Stand in line for a table at any restaurant, ever ​ 3.     Tailgate in any kind of bad weather 4.     Splash in puddles  (I will watch, though) 5.    Wear uncomfortable clothes (not shoes, shoes are still game) 6.     Eat snack foods shaped like any thing they are not 7.     Be friends with mean people 8.     Have blonde hair (this isn’t much of a sacrifice) ​ 9.     Go to sporting events when it is hot 10.   Eat twizzlers 11.   Wear any cosmetic manufactured by Wet and Wild 12.   Have fake nails 13.   Camp 14.   Drink Bud Lite.  Ever. ​ I see now that many of these items have something to do with standing in line.  I don’t want to create the misimpression that I am opposed to physical activity.  I am just opposed to certain types of physical activity that will not burn sufficient calories to enable me to eat more French fries and/or pretend like I am awesome.  Standing in line is not awesome.  Standing in line outside in Texas is really not awesome—there are really hot temperatures and gobs of giant mosquitoes.  Nonetheless, here is my point—I don’t feel old.  I just feel a little less inclined to be uncomfortable unnecessarily.  Now if I could just get someone to bring baggy overalls back in style for non-infants…
Crafts and Convictions

By: Janelle (7/2/14)

     When Jenny and I discussed the idea of this blog we contemplated that one of us would write a piece and then the other would respond to it, or comment on it with her own perspective.  So I suppose since Jenny has written, tangentially, about the Supreme Court's recent decision in the Hobby Lobby case it's my turn to respond.  But I honestly don't know where to start for a number of reasons that are far too complicated to articulate here. 

     The issues involved in the case are some that I care very deeply and passionately about.  And when it comes to the issues at play, yes, I am on the side that "won."  But here's the thing - as happy as I was on Monday, I hate that the immediate reaction to a decision like that is to identify winners and losers.  That implies that there is one right answer to all of society's problems and even though some people may firmly believe that there actually is one right answer, our government doesn't function like that.  We have political parties, separate branches of government, and debate for a reason...because there is no one right answer, and the ultimate decisions should ideally be made by compromise from both sides.  But for whatever reason, our Nation and our political discourse has become increasingly divisive.  We have stopped taking the time to try to understand why another person thinks the way they do.  That's one of the things that I appreciate most in my friendship with Jenny--we disagree on most political issues, but we have had a number of rational, civil (sometimes sarcastic) discussions about these issues.  At the end of the day, Jenny hasn't changed my viewpoint on most issues (and I know I haven't changed hers), but she has helped me understand my own convictions more clearly and she has helped me realize that I'm not the only person with deeply-held convictions.  This is something that our politicians and political pundits seem to have forgotten.  Everyone is racing to claim the latest "win" in legislation or in a court ruling that we've forgotten that most Americans are just regular people with very personal beliefs that shape their world view.  There IS common ground to be found if we are willing to work to find it. 

     I tried to understand some folks' point on the Hobby Lobby case today and I was called stupid, a troll, anti-woman, and stereotyped as a Bible-thumping, gun nut (full disclosure - there are both Bibles and guns in my house, but that's not the point).  Ultimately I was left wanting to bang my head against the wall, feeling no clearer on some of the issues from the liberal perspective.  I had these "discussions" with people who obviously had convictions not unlike mine, yet they were so full of their own partisan rhetoric that we could not have a civil conversation and I felt more angered by their positions than I was when we started the conversation.  They cared little about explaining their point of view and more about yelling at me about why mine was wrong.  Such is the case with politics these days it seems. 

     I feel like I'm just rambling now so I guess I should have a point.  The point, I suppose, is that having a genuine, civil conversation with someone wherein you learn what makes them tick so to speak, is healthy.  It's good for them.  It's good for you.  And it's good for the national discourse in this Country.  We should try it a little more often.  And also, I am not crafty AT ALL either so at least Jenny and I have that in common. 

The Supreme Court  (this post isn’t really about the Supreme Court)

By: Jenny (7/1/14)

     Yesterday a Supreme Court decision supposedly on religious freedom and women’s right to access birth control came out.  Just to cut to the chase—Janelle is on the side that “won,” and I generally think it’s weird that corporate entities get to claim individual rights.  Oh, and also I think that it’s weird to claim your religion prevents you from paying from birth control when it does not evidently morally prevent you from buying most of your inventory from a place where birth control and even infanticide have been enforced rather than encouraged.  But I digress.  This post isn’t supposed to be about Hobby Lobby.   

     The truth is, I am a Michael’s kind of girl.  Every time I pretend like I’m going to do a craft, I go to Michael’s.  Maybe it’s because I have a good friend who works there.  Maybe it’s because I have fond memories of the bizarrely large fake florals section in the Michael’s of my youth.  Maybe it’s because I hate stores with lame, rhyming, punny names.  It could be any of this, but to me, the Michael’s vs. Hobby Lobby rivalry might as well be the Texas vs. Oklahoma game.  Or to put it in terms I actually care about, it’s like the Target vs. Walmart scenario.  Sadly I cannot impose my political will on Hobby Lobby because I DO NOT CARE ABOUT CRAFTS AT ALL and the one time every two years I do something “crafty,” Michael’s always has my back.  

     But I digress again.  On days when big Supreme Court decisions come out, social media is full of ire and joy.  When I was a little younger, I had more patience for it—hell, I’d occasionally march in the streets.  But now, I think it’s strange that people cannot accept and acknowledge that sometimes two rights will butt up against each other, and decisions get made.  And although Facebook annoys me on days like yesterday for all the manufactured drama and political posturing, I am left with a stark reality that a younger version of myself wouldn’t want to acknowledge:  people who disagree with me on Very Important Issues are usually doing it from a place of good intention, and they are still lovely people who adore their kids, try their best, and generally show up in the world.   So say what you want.  To me, now, I just remind myself that when Janelle and I sit down to lunch, we find more in common—even politically—than our social media personas would suggest.  The trick is in having a genuine conversation, which seems impossible in politics.  But just because Congress evidently cannot do it doesn’t mean the rest of us shouldn’t try.  Maybe it’s the old social work training in me, but it seems like acknowledging the validity of another person’s point of view isn’t the same as conceding your own.   Having said that…Michael’s has excellent deals on framing.